Hitman by Chris Green
You don’t expect to see hitmen at English village cricket matches. But the man dressed in black with the Moscot sunglasses on the bench on the other side of the ground is Cosa Nostra. Sophie and I are sure of it. He is wearing a gun beneath his dark suit. We could tell he was armed as soon as he got out of the black Mercedes with the tinted windows. He parked by the sight-screen and walked slowly over to the seat with the olive skinned lady in the red floral dress. She is clearly his cover.
Little Dissing are playing Over Snowey, the combined population of both villages is less than three thousand. Why would a Mafioso have an interest in what is going on here, we wonder? I think of mentioning it to PCSO Trescothick but I can see there would be no point. He is three sheets to the wind. There was a lunchtime session at The Butchers Arms before the game and everyone went out of their way to buy him a drink so he would overlook some minor misdemeanour or other. I look around for Ken Bicknoller the manager of the village gun shop but he seems to have disappeared. Probably gone off to shoot some flightless birds.
‘You did pay your income tax bill in the end, didn’t you?’ Sophie says.
‘The day before the deadline,’ I say. And I moved on that money that was resting in my account.’
Perhaps the lunchtime celebrations were a mistake. Wickets are tumbling. Rob Mullis is out to a reckless sweep shot to a ball he should have left. Little Dissing are now 29 for 4.
‘Aren’t you supposed to be doing the scoreboard?’ Roy Tackler says. ‘It’s still saying 13 for 0.’
‘Sorry,’ I say. ‘I got distracted. What do you make of those two sat over there, Roy?’
‘Probably holidaymakers,’ Roy says.
‘But why are they sitting over there? Why not come over here where the refreshments are?’
‘I’m sure there’s a good reason. Perhaps they want some privacy. They might be talking a few things over. You’re married, George. You know how these things work.’
‘They don’t look like they’re here for a cosy little chat. He is a hitman, Roy. I’m certain.’
‘Look! You missed it,’ Roy says. ‘29 for 5 now, mate,’
‘Ugg White charged down the wicket, missed the ball completely and was stumped, first ball. Pissed as a fart, I’d say.’
‘Oh dear. Ugg is not a hitman then.’
‘Ha, ha. You need to pay attention, man, instead of going off on these flights of fancy.’
Duggie Douglas and Wayne Bridgewater are dispatched in quick succession without adding to the score. I add the numbers to the wickets tally on the board. The man in the dark suit and his friend sit impassively the other side of the field. They offer no applause when Slogger McNally hits the ball skyward and there is no interaction with the boundary fielder when he takes the catch. 29 for 8. These are not cricket fans. They are here on some nefarious mission. Before the day is out, someone from these parts is going to be sleeping with the fishes.
Sophie’s friend, Mandy comes over to us and asks if we know who the two strangers on the bench are. Mandy has been organising the catering in the hospitality tent and wonders if she ought to take something over to them.
‘They are not from around here, are they?’ she says. ‘But they look so left out over there. They are probably too shy to come across. And it’s such a hot day. I’m sure they would like a glass of something cool. Perhaps I could take them a plate of sausage rolls and vol au vents too. Why don’t you come, Sophie? We could ask them over and introduce them to everyone.’
‘They do look as if they might want to be alone,’ Sophie says. ‘George thinks the fellow might be, well, I suppose there’s no other way to say it, from the Mob. The Mafia, you know.’
‘Oh, don’t be silly. Come on, let’s go and see who they are. …. Oh, that’s a shame. They seem to be leaving.’
I look up and notice the Mafioso and his companion are slowly making their way back towards the car. His gait is definitely the gait of a gangster. You can tell he is armed to the teeth, weapons hidden all over his person. Is it my imagination or is he whistling the theme tune to The Godfather? He is probably going off to make someone an offer they can’t refuse.
From a safety point of view, I should be pleased that the pair are leaving. But in a sense, I am disappointed. I will miss them. Very little of any consequence ever happens in Little Dissing. Graffiti appearing in the play-park is a bit of an event here. We look forward to the fish and chip van calling every second Thursday and the annual cricket match with Over Snowey is on a par with Glastonbury Festival or the World Cup Final. There is a cheer from the crowd now as Ed Lock tries to hit the ball back over the bowler’s head but misses it by a mile. Oblivious to the cricketing shenanigans, the visitors quietly get into the parked Mercedes.
‘Who on Earth were they?’ Tony Ostler the racehorse trainer from Nether Dissing asks.
‘I don’t know, Tony,’ I say. ‘But if I were you, I would check on your horses when you get home. Or at least before you and your good lady go on up to bed.’
© Chris Green 2019: All rights reserved