GUN by Chris Green
Bors Ryman works as a tyre technician in the old mining town of Camborne in Cornwall. Most evenings after work, he picks up his girlfriend, Suzi Foxx from outside HairCraft salon and takes her to The Cock Inn. They have a bite to eat, play pool, darts or dominoes and chat with the regulars about rugby. Most girls that Bors has known have found the pubs he likes to frequent a little unsophisticated. They have shown little interest in rugby, or darts, or dominoes for that matter. Because of this, his previous romances have never lasted long, but he has been seeing Suzi for several weeks.
Bors himself does not play much rugby these days. After all, he will be forty soon and rugby is a game for younger and fitter men. But he likes to go and watch his team, Camborne RFC, especially when they are having a good run. They are currently having a bad run, due to the loss of their fly half, John Scorer and their blindside flanker, Trev Padstow. No one is sure what happened to the pair. They mysteriously disappeared halfway through the season. Camborne have only won one game since.
Having been thrown out of his accommodation over rent arrears, Bors is staying at his friend, Breok’s, this despite Breok supporting Camborne’s great rivals Redruth RFC. Suzi’s flatmate Tamsyn apparently does not like the idea of Bors staying over. The flat is too small for that kind of thing, she says. So, after their chilli con carne or chicken and chips and a pint or two of cloudy Cornish cyder at The Cock, once or twice a week Bors and Suzi get their rocks off in his Mitsubishi Lancer. He has made it more comfortable with a duck feather duvet and pillows, a can of California car scent and a DVD player with cinema surround sound.
It is on one such occasion in the car park behind Tesco that a gun falls out of Suzi’s handbag. At first, Bors thinks it is her phone that has dropped down between the seats. Suzi often loses her phone. It is not until after they have finished their business in the back seat that he realises that it is a gun. Guns are quite unusual in Cornwall. Bors has never seen one before. This is the type he understands from the movies to be a semi-automatic pistol.
‘Fucking hell, Suzi!’ he says. ‘What’s going on?’
‘Oh. Don’t worry about that,’ says Suzi. ‘It’s …… only a toy. It’s a present for ….. my colleague, Hannah’s son, er, Vincent. He will be ten next week.’
Bors picks it up. It does not feel to him like a toy gun. It seems too heavy and has too much detail. He remarks on this.
‘They are very realistic these days, aren’t they?’ says Suzi, taking it from him and slipping it back in her bag. ‘But, I suppose that is the point.’
‘But…..,’ he begins.
Suzi does not let him finish. She is practised at the art of distraction. When it comes down to it she finds Bors is the same as all other men she has been with. They might just as well have an on off button.
While Suzi has not been in the habit of lying to him, the incident begins to sew the seeds of doubt in Bors’s mind. On the way home, after dropping Suzi off, he is unable to rid himself of the thought that it might have been a real pistol and that Suzi may be concealing something sinister from him. What does he really know about her? He knows she is twenty nine – or thereabouts. She has a fleur-de-lys tattoo on her thigh and she is a Gemini. She takes more of an interest in sport than most women do and even seems to understand the rules of rugby.
He knows nothing about her background. He has a vague recollection of her saying early on in their relationship that both her parents were dead, although he cannot be sure. You don’t take in everything that someone says early on in a relationship because you are more concerned with getting your own biography across. He knows from her accent that she is not from Cornwall but he is not good at placing dialects and she has never offered any details of her origins. She appears to have no children and has never mentioned any brothers or sisters. Sometimes, without being specific, she has alluded to former lovers, and so far as he can tell is not without experience in amatory matters. But for a woman of …… let’s say thirty three, on the surface Suzi Foxx comes without obvious baggage.
When Bors goes to pick up Suzi outside HairCraft, the following day she is not there. Normally she is outside waiting for him. He waits impatiently on the double yellows just down the road but still she does not arrive. He decides to park the Lancer and go in to remind Suzi that he is here. Maybe one of her hair appointments arrived late or something. He might get the opportunity to check out Hannah at the same time and perhaps ask her about Vincent and his birthday. A gun does seem to be a strange kind of present in these days of drug gangs and terrorism.
‘I’m sorry but we don’t have anyone called Suzi working here,’ says the alarmingly young receptionist. ‘I’m Teegan. Can I help?’
Bors realises he has never actually been into the salon before. Suzi always had him wait outside. ‘Is Hannah here then?’ he asks, out of desperation.
‘We have no-one called Hannah here either,’ Teegan says. ‘You could try the Pound Stretcher shop next door.’
Bors tries her phone. It is switched off. It is nearly half past six. He makes his way to The Cock Inn. He is not sure what the misunderstanding is, but surely Suzi will turn up there, full of apologies.
‘No Suzi, tonight then, Bors?’ says Big Hank. Hank is the one who arranges the monthly country and western nights at The Cock. Once a month he dresses like Roy Rogers and rides to the pub on his horse and tethers it up outside. You can’t be done for drinking and driving with a horse, he says each time. The joke is now a little stale.
‘I expect Suzi will be in later,’ says Bors.
‘Like that, is it?’ says Jago. Jago is the dominoes champion at The Cock. He is quite possibly the only one who understands the scoring, or perhaps he makes up the rules as he goes along. All that Bors knows is that he has never beaten him.
‘She’s trouble, that one,’ says Hank.
‘Better off without her if you ask me,’ says Jago.
‘No one’s asking you,’ says Bors.
‘The guys are right, Bors. I don’t think that you can trust her,’ says Bodmin Bob the barman. ‘I saw her at Newquay Airport today. She was catching a flight. Düsseldorf, I think it was.’ Bodmin Bob has just returned from London, having done some business there. While everyone agrees that Bodmin Bob is dodgy, no one is quite sure what his business is. Some think that he is a drug dealer while others think he is a fraudster. There is even speculation that he is a people trafficker or a hit man. No-one can explain why he is working as a barman at The Cock.
Bors can’t remember Suzi mentioning any plans to go to Germany. While he has to admit he sometimes switches off when she is talking, especially if he is watching a game, he is almost sure he would have remembered something like that. While he still wants to think the best of Suzi, what with the gun and the hairdressers and now this, it is becoming increasingly difficult. He doesn’t want to lose face here in the bar, though. Not in front of Big Hank and Jago. He will never live it down.
‘Ah, I’ve just remembered,’ he says, in a flash of inspiration. ‘Suzi’s sister Heidi lives in Dusseldorf. And it’s her son Vincent’s birthday tomorrow. He will be ten. I remember her buying the present for him.’
‘That’s nice,’ says Hank. ‘What did she buy him?’
He is about to say a gun, but catches himself. ‘A rugby shirt,’ he says instead. ‘A Phil Scrummer number 8 jersey.
‘They play a lot of rugby in Dusseldorf, do they?’ says Jago.
‘She should have bought him a gun,’ says Hank. ‘Ten year old boys like guns.’
After leaving The Cock, Bors drives round to the address that Suzi has given him for her and Tamsyn’s flat. He knocks loudly. He is determined to find out what is going on and if he can’t get the information from Suzi, then he will be able to get it from Tamsyn. The burly wrestler type that answers the door is visibly unhappy at being disturbed by a drunken dolt, claims no knowledge of the pair and instructs Bors to leave forthwith before he punches his lights out. His girlfriend’s web of lies appears to be extending.
Over the next few days, Bors keeps a low profile. There is no word from Suzi Foxx and her phone stays switched off. He is disappointed, embarrassed and angry. He does not like being made a fool of. He keeps his distance from Breok, and at work, he indignantly greets customers and changes their tyres with extreme prejudice. He steers clear of The Cock Inn. He doesn’t even go along to Big Hank’s Country and Western night. He gives Camborne RFC’s final home game of the season against Redruth, said to be the fiercest rivalry in rugby, a miss. He isn’t even aware of the mysterious disappearance of Camborne winger, Will Wilson, before the game. Missing Will’s dynamic runs, Camborne lose by a single point and as a result face relegation.
Breok has always found that people in this neck of the woods usually have the courtesy to knock when they come round to visit. Equally SWAT team raids are unusual in Cornwall are so he is doubly shocked when early one morning such a team forces its way into his house using a battering ram.
‘Hands in the air!’ screams the officer with the Breaking Bad beard.
‘Where is she?’ hollers the one wearing Men In Black sunglasses.
‘Who?’ asks Breok. This meets with a blow to the head from the one with the Die Hard facial scars.
‘What’s the fuck’s going on?’ asks Bors, emerging groggily from his room. This meets with a blow to the head from Samuel L. Jackson.
‘We’re looking for Clara Hess. That’s who,’ yells Jean Claude Van Damme. ‘Now! Where is she?’
‘Who? What?’ says Breok. He appears to be adjusting to his new role of crime suspect quickly.
‘We know that she has been at this address, knucklehead,’ shouts Breaking Bad beard. ‘Keep your hands in the air.’
The other four begin to roam, methodically trashing the place, tipping over furniture, tossing Breok’s belongings here and there, as if Clara Hess might be hiding behind the bookcase, in the closet, under the settee, in the fridge.
‘Why are you wrecking my flat?’ says Breok. ‘We have never heard of the person you are looking for. Where did you get this information?’
‘Aha! We have your friend Robert Trescothick in custody, birdbrain, and he has been very helpful,’ sneers Breaking Bad beard.
‘Who?’ says Bors.
‘Robert Trescothick, asshole.’ says BBB. ‘You might know him better as Bodmin Bob,’
Bors does not see Bob as one to co-operate with the police, but then you never know, do you? There’s not a great amount of subtlety with this bunch. And, of course, they may have caught Bob red handed doing whatever it is that he does. But who is this Clara Hess, and where does she fit in? He reflects that it is safer if for the moment he pretends he does not know Bodmin Bob. This is a miscalculation. It earns him a hefty blow to the midriff from Die Hard, who has just returned to the fray.
‘Look here, smartass,’ he says. ‘You have two choices. Come down to the station and tell us what you know or come down to the station and we turn off the cameras and the tape and give you a good kicking.’
At this point Bors wants to mention solicitors, but a fist in the windpipe prevents him. There is a sudden crackle on Breaking Bad beard’s radio, an unintelligible voice barks something through the static. Die Hard turns around. BBB hollers something in a cryptic language that probably only armed officers are able to understand. It seems to hail a change of plan. Without further explanation the SWAT team vanishes.
‘Did all of that really happen?’ asks Breok.
‘It certainly feels like it did,’ says Bors.
‘Must have got the wrong house, don’t you think?’ says Breok.
Bors is not so sure. He does not mention it to Breok but he has the growing feeling that Suzi Foxx and Clara Hess might be one and the same. He is not even sure any more about Breok. When something like this happens you do not know what to think. To take himself off the radar he decides to go to stay at a local bed and breakfast until it all blows over.
When later on he sees the headline in The Cornishman ‘CAMBORNE RUGBY STAR FOUND DEAD ON BODMIN MOOR’ he begins to suspect that the SWAT team’s inept raid might have been in connection with this. The report says the body of Will Wilson is believed to have been lying in the undergrowth for several days before being discovered by a local man out walking his dog. …… Wilson is believed to have been shot several times by an automatic pistol ….. Police are combing the area …… They are also investigating whether there might be a connection with the disappearance of Camborne’s other two rugby stars earlier in the season. …. No trace of them was ever found …. Anyone who might have any information that might be of help in tracing the killer is being asked to contact ………
The next few days bring some startling disclosures. Two more bodies are found on Bodmin Moor, fitting the description of John Scorer and Trev Padstow, the two missing Camborne rugby stars. Bodmin Bob is released without charge. Breok along with Clara Hess and several others whose names are not familiar face are arrested and face charges of murder or conspiracy to commit murder. It is all over the papers. At work they are all talking about it. There is much speculation about the possible motive. Rumours are rife. A rival rugby team, Redruth or Launceston perhaps? The Devon Mafia? A European takeover? Everyone seems to have heard a whisper somewhere.
Bors does not know how to respond. In a way, he feels very close to it all. He might have seen this coming with Suzi Foxx or Clara Hess or whoever she was, but never in a million years would he have suspected that his friend, Breok would be involved. Breok Trevanian, the skinny lad from Tolcarne a gunman, unthinkable? He has known Breok since his school days. He cannot bring himself to look at the Cornishman report and especially not the pictures of them being taken into custody.
‘Hands up mister,’ says a small voice behind him, as he is leaving work.
Bors turns around to see a young lad pointing a gun at him, a semi-automatic pistol. The boy is laughing. Out of the corner of his eye, he catches a glimpse of Suzi Foxx wearing a summer print dress walking towards him.
‘Hello Bors,’ she says sheepishly. ‘Put that thing away, Vincent! …. It’s all right, Bors. It’s not a real gun, but they look so realistic these days, don’t they? …….. Hey! I’m sorry about all the trouble that I’ve caused you. I know I shouldn’t have lied about everything. The thing is I couldn’t tell you much before because ……… Well, if you’d like to come round to my new flat later, I’ll tell you then. ……. Oh, this is my son Vincent by the way.’
© Chris Green 2015: All rights reserved