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Crimes & Thriller


Allan Hawkins




‘The Reunion’

The Reunion

Gerald joined the slip road feeding the motorway and felt relief that his  journey would now speed up. His passage had been slow on the A roads, causing him irritation. It was a fine day and he had set out early to avoid heavy traffic. He estimated that he would reach his home near London well before  midday. September was his favourite time of the year and he enjoyed the smell of early, Autumnal cold air, the scent of the trail to the Winter which he enjoyed. 1-Ie was appetizing his early retirement and not experiencing the problems of  some of his colleagues, who found adjustment to civilian life difficult. His dangerous and threatening career was now behind him, but how close behind, he was about to find out. Vehicles on the M4 were very sparse at early morning and  frequently he found himself to be the only road user for as long as ten minutes,  which pleased him , as he could exceed the speed limit and not have to worry about unmarked police cars.

His Peugeot diesel 306 was powerful enough for him to cruise over the  required limit and that would get him to his wife, Laura, quickly, as he had missed her company over the weekend at a conference which he did not want to avoid and to which he could not take her. It was a meeting of security  consultants and a chance to meet some old and very special friends, the emphasis being on special. These get togethers were infrequent and kept secret, the hotel location and date was changed regularly, but there was no possibility of ever  obtaining one hundred percent security. On a daily basis in his life there was always the chance of being recognized by someone from the past. Even if the odds were several millions to one, somebody, somewhere, could get lucky one day and  win the lottery, and he could be recognized

He had not drunk much the previous evening and had demolished a full English  breakfast washed down with Earl Grey tea at a service station. When he had visited the gents he had

1 inadvertently made eye contact with a middle aged man in a baseball cap, but had dismissed it as some old queen looking for a quick thrill. On reflection, he would realize later, that was the chance recognition he had missed. He was getting careless and that could cause him his life.

On his last tour of duty in Northern Ireland he recalled that during one of his operations a terrorist had obtained a view of his face before making an  escape, a very rare event when a killing area had been enforced. This had not caused him much anxiety, as he had returned home and the chances of being  spotted by that person on the mainland were infinitesimal. On this occasion he was about to learn that someone had won the lottery.

He turned up the radio and stabbed the preset button to classic FM. He was pleased to hear a movement from his favourite Beethoven piano concerto, the  rondo from the number one. The warm day, full stomach and good music lulled him  into a state of comfort. He felt good and had enjoyed the weekend.

The red Ford escort came upon him very suddenly. A glance in his rear mirror  a few minutes before had revealed an empty road, and now this car was only about  fifty yards behind him with flashing headlights and a desperation to catch up with him. He could see two men in baseball caps on the front seats and even at  that distance he could hear the blaring drum music as their car drew up closer  behind him He had always thought baseball caps and gold earrings to be  menac-ing. Gerald began to ease his foot off the accelerator, encouraging them to overtake him in the fast lane. No other cars were visible and he expected  them to pull over, overtake him and leave him behind. They drew level and  shouted through the open window, the obscenity barely audible through the revving engines as he noticed they were older than he had estimated; they were certainly not kids showing off Reality swept over him. The baseball cap, the  service station, the eye contact, his past had stumbled upon him by that infinitesimal chance.

2 The Escort sped off and then swerved in front of him, remaining a dozen or 50 yards ahead and not pulling away. Gerald experienced sudden panic which his training quickly eliminated. He blasted the horn, as he wanted them to think he  was a driver pushed into road rage. If they could be lulled into thinking he was not aware of the true situation, that would give him a slight advantage, and slight advantages could build into overall advantages which could make a differ-ence to the outcome. This produced an immediate effect of the driver displaying two fingers out of the window and his partner turning in his seat,  wielding a car jack and grimacing, yes, they were also acting out being full of  road rage. He slowed down to about fifty and they did likewise, determined to  block the way ahead. Gerald experienced fear, which gave him a buzz, the adrenaline was flowing. He changed down to third, suddenly pulled out and accelerated rapidly away from them, but the Escort was more powerful than he expected and started to chase him. Apprehension returned and his mouth felt dry at the thought of the outcome. He made a quick assessment of the situation. They had stumbled upon him by chance, they could be armed or have no weapons and be  on their way to a safe house. The last of his assumptions was the most likely or they would have already used a weapon, in which case they would try to finish him by ramming his car or cause him to halt and beat him to death. They were  playing a game of cat and mouse. He continued to accelerate and checked the rear  mirror; he was at maximum speed and prayed they would not gain on him. Unbelievably, there were no other vehicles to be seen, but he hoped to catch up  with someone very soon, which would give him more options. He was about five  hundred yards ahead and as far as he could judge they were slowly gaining on him. He passed a sign showing an exit from the motorway was a mile ahead. He had a few options, he could carry on or leave the motorway and join an A road, to go  either east or west, or he could rejoin the motorway and go back the way he had  come

3 or yes, that was it! He would have to take them out. If he managed to  lose them they would always be out there looking for him, and they might get  lucky again. The exit was not far. He slowed to allow the escort to close on him and as he was level with the exit, he pulled hard left on the wheel and shot up the slip road. The following car was too close to him to do the same and  continued ahead along the motorway, deprived of it's quarry. Gerald reached the  round-about, raced across the empty road and re-entered the slip road to rejoin the motorway. The hunters had become the hunted! His advantages were increasing.  Unbeknown to his wife, his weekend away had been for a reunion of the regiment  he had left several years ago. The special services had taught him much, one of them being to have the edge, in this case his beloved Browning, which could be the equalizer in this game. He reached across, opened the glove compartment and  pulled out the automatic pistol loaded with thirteen, nine millimeter rounds and  made the weapon ready. It was going to be an interesting day.

"Shit, we've lost him, we'll never find him now." As Liam spoke, his eyes,  which he had flicked up to the rear mirror, widened in disbelief and with horror. "Christ, he's behind us!"

"What!" Pat checked his wing mirror. "He's rejoined the motorway. If he's back in the game he must know he's got an advantage. Make a run for it! Go,  go!"

Gerald's position in the middle lane was perfect, as they were just ahead in the fast lane and starting to pull away. Their acceleration would help him. The  best tyre for his purpose was the offside rear. When that blew they would  hopefully spin around and cross the centre reservation. His luck improved at the sight of a very heavy goods lorry bearing down towards them on the opposite fast lane.

He wedged the Browning between the arm of the wing mirror and window strut,  it's weight of over two pounds needed support.. He would have preferred the double grip and also realised

4 that the shell cases would fly out of the breach, into the road and  might be found. He could do nothing about that, they could not be linked to him, and even if the rounds were found, his Browning could never he traced by the rifling, as his pistol never existed and had no means of being identified, that  was a concession given to his regiment. He fired rapidly at the tyre. The third  round shattered it, which was fortunate as the Browning jammed, the only criticism he had of this man stopper. He rushed ahead as the Escort catapulted  over the safety barrier, bounced off the heavy lorry, rolled over onto the hard shoulder and exploded. Gerald raced ahead, leaving the carnage behind him and praying the lorry driver was unhurt, and noting the black smoke drifting across  the motorway.

"Oh God Gerald, am I glad to see you back!" His wife ran across the drive to him as he arrived home and got out of the car. "It came on the early news that a  car on the motorway had crossed the central reservation and smashed head-on into an oncoming lorry. They think a tyre must have blown. The two occupants of the car were killed instantly, or rather fried, but the lorry driver was uninjured;  apparently he saw another car but was too shocked to remember anything more about it. Did you see any of it ?"

"I remember an ambulance rushing past me at some time on the journey; it must have happened behind me, I missed seeing it."

"Anyway you're safe and well, enjoy the weekend darling?"

"Not really." Gerald replied in a tired voice. It was all a bit boring. Some reunions are like that, but then again, some can be quite exciting, perhaps next time'?"