Tommy Frink, that was his given name. His father, Edward
Frink, an alcoholic, inveterate gambler and swindler, with the capacity to
psychologically maim all around him, particularly those close to him. Tommy’s
mother for instance. The sweetest creature ever to walk along Poplar High
Street in the East End of London, that area historically perceived as notorious
and synonymous with violent crime. With a graceful, elegant entrance she could
captivate the entire audience of the local pub. Margaret Wlison, known as
Maisie, loved by all and envied by many. He ruined her. Wooed her with flowery
words and promises of endless riches. That was his way, a silver tongue and
ability to deceive, his natural charm and good looks seducing many a victim.
Maisie fell under his spell at eighteen, was pregnant by nineteen and married
out of duty. That was the word, although all who knew Maisie’s father, Billy, a
tall, strong, well respected enforcer, thought differently.
At first all was well, Billy saw to that. One foot out of
line and Billy had the necessary words with Eddie. Taught him some manners.
Then one day Billy was caught. He was demanding money with menaces and one
menace too many put his victim in a terminal coma. Murder and a twenty five
year minimum sentence. Freed of his watcher, Eddie resumed his natural
inclinations, womanising, gambling and drinking. And of course “persuading”
unfortunates to part with cash by one means or another. One thing though, he
doted on Tommy, thought the world of him and Tommy idolised him.
Tommy, awash with impressions of a deluded world, grew up
with a tarnished character. When Eddie finally cracked and in a drunken rage
beat Maisie one last time, Tommy, at twenty, was cast adrift to make his own
way. With Billy’s stature and Eddie's propensities he was well set to make a
dubious mark. Eddie, in his incarceration, was reunited with Billy who
naturally reaped a vicious vengeance.
Fast forward twenty five years and we find Dexter Cunningham
sitting on the terrace of his penthouse apartment overlooking the Thames on
London’s south bank. The air cooling as the evening approaches, the brief
shower accelerating the process and creating that aftermath smell he enjoyed,
that damp earth aroma. The river was busy, the tourist boats returning from
their informative trips, cutting through the water, adding to its already
choppy nature. The scene was alive, vibrant and full of the meaning of life.
Watching, he felt he had a poetic streak but if that was the case it belied the
fact that he was a ruthless opportunist that spent his life abusing and
He clicked his fingers and a voice almost immediately said,
“yes sir.” James, his man, gliding on air, moving with a silent casualness,
impeccably dressed and always available. He lived in the shadows, was reliable
and trusted. The epitome of efficiency.
“James, I am expecting a lady at eight can you please
arrange something for dinner. Maybe some seafood. She likes delicate tasting
foods. And champagne on ice. Nice and cool and something very smooth.”
“Certainly sir. Something now perhaps?”
“A strong G&T but with a good shot of lime would go down
very well, thank you. And a small bowl of Jalapenos.”
Dexter Cunningham is rich, in fact he is extremely rich, the
result of years of watching his father operate, learning, then honing a natural
talent that allowed him to bribe, fleece, blackmail and deal in corruption with
far, far better results than Eddie could ever achieve. He had amassed a fortune
on the backs of many unfortunate victims having perfected all his father’s
talents and improprieties but resisted the drinking as a way of life,
preferring to indulge only in the finest and in moderation to achieve full
enjoyment. Dexter always got his way. He clicked his fingers and things
happened, they simply fell into place.
His wife, Hilary, lived mostly in the country house with the
twins. Dexter mostly in London on “business” which involved liaisons with the
numerous women he was associated with, the sort of women that thrived on being
pampered and adorned with the trappings of wealth. In his circle there was no
Hilary, depending on denial, lived extremely unhappily. Sure
she had all the luxuries and the lovely twins to indulge but she felt cheated,
deprived of the sort of life that had been promised. She was glamorous, tall,
slim and elegant. Dexter had instantly struck a chord when she first
encountered him, after all he was debonair, handsome and rich. Had everything
and could promise the world. And she was mesmerised, immediately smitten. In
short he swept her off her feet. With ease. He of course just wanted a trophy,
a wife who could enhance his activities and add a homely impression to his
portfolio of attributes. He had no intention of being “the perfect husband” and
did not even want children, they were merely something to keep Hilary involved.
Dexter was kind to her, did indulge her but at the same time did nothing to
disguise the habitual philandering that she found so disgusting, so demeaning.
Picking up the phone she dialled the London number. “Hello
James, is he there?”
“Yes Madam, I will pass you over.”
She heard in the background, “it’s your wife Sir.” and a
rustling of movement.
“Hilary, what do you want? I’m busy, I have loads to do this
“I bet you do, anyway we need to talk about the children and
their next stage of schooling.”
“That’s your domain, I have told you before, I don’t want to
be bothered with this sort of trivia. Especially when I’m so involved.”
“It’s not trivial, it’s important to ensure their future. We
at least need to discuss it. After all you will have to pay the fees and I
don’t want another argument about you not knowing the cost.”
“Well I’m not coming down there, you will have to come to
London if you must have this conversation.”
She heard some mumbling and the rustling again, then James,
“Sir is available in two days and you should come to dinner. Eight o’clock
would be appropriate.”
“Thank you James, tell him I will be there.”
That evening Dexter entertained. James served dinner, then
was dismissed for the evening leaving Dexter to enjoy what was the latest of
his conquests. The penthouse was very high tech, all he had to do was click his
fingers and things happened. The blinds closed, lights dimmed, music played. It
was all so easy. It impressed and he seduced. He would see the lady a few more
times, lavishing her with expensive gifts, then when he lost interest he would
It was not his place to judge but James was uncomfortable
with the way Dexter treated women and his wife in particular. He retreated to
his domain and stayed in the background as he always did. An extremely capable
and likeable person but felt increasingly out of place as Dexter’s man. His
life was becoming complicated, leading him to question his employment.
Hilary arrived at exactly eight o’clock and Dexter was
waiting. He was his usual charming self, welcoming her with the passion of a
husband returning from a long enforced absence.
“Hilary, darling, you look as wonderful as ever. I am
pleased to see you. I have been so busy and realise I have been neglecting you.
I will endeavour to come to the house more often, to see the children, so we can
have a good time as a family. How about a family holiday, somewhere hot and
relaxing. I’m sure we all need a break.”
“Don’t give me that same old crap Dexter. You don’t mean it.
Listen to yourself, you are deluded if you think just coming now and again will
make things right. I’m sick of all your nonsense. I’ve asked that you make more
effort many times but it all just falls on deaf ears.”
“Darling let’s not row, it’s a lovely evening and we should
be enjoying it. Dinner is ready. Let’s at least enjoy some good food and wine.”
Sitting on the terrace after dinner, “so what do you want to
say about the children.”
“Their schooling Dexter, we need to decide where to send
them. It’s that time.”
“But as I said, this is your domain. I don’t want to get
involved. Just sort something and I will be happy with it. I trust you to do
the best for them. I’m simply too busy to get involved. I’ll come down in a few
weeks and you can tell me the arrangements and we can make sure they are both
“The cost though, last time with this sort of thing you
sniped at the cost. I’m tired of the arguments. You do not know how much your
behaviour upsets me. You said you would stop but if anything it’s getting
“So that’s what this is really all about is it? Well I can
tell you, you will be disappointed and you will remain disappointed.”
“Oh Dexter, I am at a total loss with you,” and she walks
into the sitting room.
“Come on Hilary, we can be friends can’t we?” Said Dexter
“No Dexter, I’ve had enough. I want a divorce.”
“That, my dear, will
never happen. You are mine. I own you. You will do as I say, when I say and
what I say. Like now. I want you now.”
He clicks his fingers and James appears. “Pour us champagne
please James, and then you can go. Thank you.”
James pours and leaves.
Dexter clicks his fingers and the blinds shut and the lights
dim. Then he clicks his fingers and the soft music comes on. He then clicks his
fingers and she dutifully comes next to him.
The next click he hears is the safety coming off.
James enters in response to the loud report. He takes Hilary
in his arms, “Ok?” he asks. Then says, “everything is organised. He will be
found in the river in a few days time. It will be no surprise he has been shot,
everybody knows he’s a
right bastard living on the wrong side of the law with any number of people
wishing him dead. The apartment will be cleaned, I will see to that. It has
been prepared, there will be no traces. You were here waiting for him to
return, when he did not you assumed he was with one of his fancy girls. That
will be believed. Return to the country house and just wait. I will come when
it all blows over. To be with you. Can you do this?”
“Sure James it’s no problem and thank you. We have waited a
long time for this.” She strokes his face, kisses him on the cheek, hands him
the gun and quietly leaves to start what is sure to be a new and exciting
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