41 - Money Bags and a Broken Gearbox
One of the hottest days for years and the air was oppressive. Inside the old workshop building, with its corrugated iron roof, the temperature was approaching forty degrees. Even though it was a cavernous space and the doors were open the static air was overpowering, alive with humidity and energy sapping. Dillon Walton slid out from beneath the twenty five year old blue Ford rust bucket on an old battered red creeper with casters squealing and announced to the owner who stood sweating in a suit and tie. “Sorry mate, it's a total. Needs thousands of work and the old crate is only worth a monkey at best,” he said, wiping his face with a damp towel and unbuttoning his greasy overalls.
“I understand that but I need it fixed and fixed by tomorrow.” replied the man slightly exasperated. His hair was matted. He loosened his tie and undid his top button. “Boy it’s hot in here, how’d you stand it?” He was grinning. He seemed to have a stuck on grin.
“Practice,” said Dillon, then, “waste of your dosh if i were you i’d…..”
“I know all that,” said the man, getting agitated. Not helped by the heat, “scrap it, dump it, it’s all been said already. But I need it fixed so how much?” Everything was said with a grin.
“Replacement gearbox and then some extras. Gearbox about two and a half, labour five hundred and extras about five hundred,” said Dillon with a shrug of his shoulders.
“Three thousand five hundred then?” the man said hopefully.
“At least but expect more. All the unseen stuff. That’s just an estimate, have in mind up to five grand and you’ll be covered.” Dillon looked at the man with a sideways glance. Suspicious.
“When can you get it done?” the man quick to reply. Too quick maybe. And that grin was disconcerting.
“Busy at the moment,” replied Dillon, “and this heat is slowing everything down. Say a week.”
“Tomorrow. If I can pick it up by five you’ve got six grand. I’ve brought a thousand with me which you can have now as a deposit.” The man is now talking through an assertive grin with a kind of steely no messing stare and will not be taking no for an answer.
“Your money matey. The grand now and five when you collect and you have a deal. Call in at four and it’ll be ready. Cash though. Will only take cash. No cards and definitely no kites. Understand?” Dillon, now really suspicious. “And what’s your name?”
“Vince. People called me Vince the Grin at one time but Vinny will do nicely,” he said smiling. “And I understand your terms perfectly. Until four o’clock tomorrow then.”
With that he walked out the workshop with the casual swagger of a very confident and capable man.
Dillon Walton straight out of the East End and a full of beans chap. Five feet ten maybe even nearly six feet if taken to an accurate measuring stick. Long blond hair tied in a ponytail. Slim but strong. Big arms and hands. Probably does not weigh more than ten and a half but don’t be fooled. He’s had the occasions and coped. Good looking. Wears snazzy almost shiny shirts, jeans and black boots with a low Cuban style heel. Biker boots maybe. Big wide belt with massive metal buckle. Often mistaken for a rock star. People come up to him and ask for his autograph “you’re that rock star aren’t you? Can I have....” but his mate Billy steps in quickly with hands up in front “no pictures, no autographs,'' and shoos them away with a laughing smile at Dillon.
This is his workshop. Has been for over twenty years, successful and always busy. He is popular and fair. Will tell it how it is with no nonsense. No attempt to intimidate or take advantage. Many of his customers are women which is no surprise. He has the looks, the charm and humour to melt their hearts. His best mate Billy works for him, partners really. Dillon’s business but Billy gets fifty percent of the profits. Tall, dark and just as chirpy. They are what is normally termed a proper pair.
“He’s a mug, he is,” said Billy walking up to Dillon and leaning on his shoulder. His overalls dropped and tied around his waist by the arms displaying a very muscular physique, “what’s all the must get it done thing about then?”
“Not sure Billy, “said Dillon rubbing his chin in thought, “one thing I’m sure of though. That one’s no mug.”
“Six grand though. Not to be sniffed at. I’ll get it all sorted in a couple of hours. Got the old Ford outside. Could use the box on that. Easy dosh.”
“I don’t know about that. The easy money bit. Did you clock his whistle? Well smart and all snapped up. Church’s shoes. They're worth more than that pile of junk. He’s not poor and this motor has a reason. Why else keep it alive?”
“Whatever Dill, we don’t want to know. Let’s just get it done sharpish and take the spondoolies. I’ll have that old box out and first thing get the whole caboodle in and working.”
Dillon said, “OK but I’m going to look through the car. Check it out. Something’s not right.”
“Billy, look at this. In the boot. Two bank money bags with this.” He holds up a newspaper clipping with the headline “Bank robbers escape with over one hundred thousand in cash.”
“What’s the date on the clipping?” Billy says.
“Twenty five years ago.”
“Crikey, that’s a turn up and no mistake. Our man’s a villain.”
“Still doesn't explain the car though. Why fix it?” Dillon muses. “Oh well like you say Billy let’s just get it done.”
Vince Johnson walked away from the workshop and headed for the station. A twenty minute walk. There he got a taxi to take him the ten miles to his brother-in-law's house which was about a ten minute walk from his house. Vince obviously well to do. His appearance gave that away. One look and you knew. Expensive clothes with neat dark hair and a youthful face although it was clear he was getting on.
“Come in Vinny. Did you get it?” said his brother-in-law on answering the door.
“Thanks Stan.” Vince replied, “Yes, still in the lockup. Bit of a mission but got it going. The gearbox was the same. It would drive but what a row. Definitely on its last legs. Took it to the garage. That one in the centre of the industrial estate. They did not want to fix it but a bit of monetary persuasion and they’re doing it.”
“Don’t know why you keep it. Has it got an MOT?”
“Yes but only just. Needs doing in about two months. Last time it cost a fortune so hoping that this time it will not be so expensive.”
“Why do you keep it Vince? All that money for what?”
“It’s the one we used, isn't it. All those years ago. Don’t want to let it go. Without it we would not have got where we are. Would we?”
“Suppose not. It’s your money. You can afford it so why not I suppose.”
“You come with me tomorrow? We can give it a spin, make sure it’s up to the task.”
“Sure Vinny would love to. Tell you what I’ll pick you up and we can go there in my car then drive about a bit in the Ford and you can drop me back. It’ll be ready for the next day then.”
In the morning Vince went to the bank and withdrew the five thousand. In the afternoon Stan picks him up and they get to the garage at three forty five.
“All done and running smooth,” said Dillon. “Gave it a service. Changed the oil, filters all that sort of thing so it’s all up together. Should be good for a while and the next MOT shouldn't be a problem.”
“Thank you,” said Vince, genuinely pleased. “By the way, what's your name?”
“Dillon. Dillon Walton and this is Billy. He did most of the work.”
“Thanks Billy. Much appreciated,” Vince said grinning at Billy and shaking his hand. “All right if we leave Stan’s car here a while, just want to take the Ford for a spin, make sure it’s alright. Big day tomorrow and it needs to be right. Pay you when we get back?”
“Sure no problem. Leave Stan’s keys though.” Vince was still a bit suspicious.
They drive out the workshop and head for the dual carriageway where they can open it up a bit.
“Still drives well Stan. They’ve done a good job fixing it up. Worth the money. You all set for tomorrow. We’ll meet you at eight as we said. I’ve sorted everything so there should be no problems.”
“Let’s hope so. Can’t afford any slip ups.”
Back at the workshop Vince has the bonnet up talking with Billy who is explaining what they have done. Stan is talking with Dillon.
“So Stan, what's with this car? Why get it fixed? Saw the money bags and a news clip in the boot. About a robbery.”
“Long story Dillon. Twenty five years ago Vinny was Detective Inspector Vince Johnson Flying Squad. He caught the bank robbers after a shoot out and kept the bags as souvenirs. The car he bought new from a garage on the coast. There was a lady who worked there, part of the sales team. My sister Jane. Vince took a shine, they went out and then got married. Ten years later Jane persuaded Vince to leave the police and start his own business in security which they have built up to be very successful. He has kept the car in a lock up away from home. Could not part with it. Jane doesn’t know. Thought it went for scrap years ago. They had a special place on the coast. A restaurant that had since closed but has just reopened. Tomorrow is their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary and Vince has planned to pick Jane up in the car that introduced them and take her to the restaurant. Their first date place. It will be the first time there for over fifteen years since it closed and became a clothes shop. She will be really surprised. I know because I know her so well. My wife and I are going to be there waiting for them”
“A good story Stan. A good story indeed,” said Vince smiling.
Vince strolled over and said with a genuine grin, ”Well Dillon all is good. You have done a great job. Here’s your money,” handing over a large envelope.
“No more to pay Vinny,” said Dillon, “The gearbox is out that old wreck out back so only a small cost. The labour was three hours and all the bits adds it up to a touch over the grand you have already paid. So we’re quits. No arguments please. Oh and have a good day tomorrow.”
After they had left Billy is standing next to Dillon. “What’s up with you then Dill,” he says,” you just done us for five grand.” So Dillon told him Stan’s story.
“Yeh, that’s all great and good and all that. Isn’t It?” said Billy with a bit of a disappointed look, “but it does not pay the bills. Does it? In my book a deal’s a deal and that’s all there is about it.”
“You're right of course Billy,” replied Dillon, “but sometimes, just sometimes there are exceptions.”
“Not when they cost us five grand,” said Billy.
“I don’t know Billy. I sometimes think one of your problems is that you just simply don’t have any romance in your soul.” said Dillon looking at Billy and then turning to close the door.
“Pub time Billy. It’s been a hell of a couple of days.” he said as the door clicked shut.