Barker 2 – Who, what, where, when?

The weather was good.  No, the weather was bloody marvellous for once and the traffic light.  Say what you like about rising fuel prices but it does stop people driving if they don’t have to.  Anyway, I made very good time, and was in Farnham in 55 minutes.  Cyclops had looked the address up on the mapping system and had sent me some directions which was just as well as the gaff was in a place called The Sands which was to all intents and purposes the middle of nowhere surrounded by trees.

I have to be honest and say I was not expecting such a big house in such a plush location and I have to confess to doubting Cyclops research for once.  Let me do my estate agent pitch.  Built a little over one hundred years ago it had been a large surrey farmhouse with pitched tilled roofs that had been extended.  It was a big house. No actually it was a magnificent house.  At a guess  from the outside I would have said maybe 5 or 6 bedrooms and sat at the end of a long sweeping driveway set in about over 2 acres of garden screened from any other of the other big houses by trees.  It was a very very des res. I stopped just inside the entrance of the drive and quickly rang Cyclops.  I left a quick message which was “check this address for me any way you can”.

I drove up the drive and there was a sign saying parking pointing to the right.  There were a few expensive cars already parked and what look like catering vans much further away from the house.  I parked next to what looked like a slightly stretched Black Audi A6.  There were a few people wandering about and they were all smartly dressed. trained observer in me told me that something was going on.

I am often asked what clothes do I wear on jobs like this.  I would love to say that my budget and sense of style would run to Mr Bonds designer wardrobe, the truth is that what really works is being man at M&S. Let me digress from the story just to give you a little insight into our trade craft.  One of the first rules is to “Dress up to dress down”.  In other words if you go out  looking smart ie wearing a jacket, reasonable trousers and a tie you could go to the Dorchester or Ritz maybe a wedding and not stand out unreasonably.  If you ended up in a pub is North London you take the tie off undo a couple of buttons on your shirt and nobody would really give you a second look.  Just some geezer in a boozer.  If you went out in jeans and tee shirt you would probably be OK in the pub, but in the smarter surroundings you might struggle.  Just imaging turning up at a wedding wearing a tee shirt with your best Sex Pistols Slogan slapped on the front.  They may not  notice you, but I wouldn’t count on it.  To be honest you would stick out like a set of bulldogs bollocks as my old RSM to put it so quaintly.  It is also important not to draw attention to yourself, be grey or beige but not red, orange or lime green.   You want to merge in not stand out.  This is not a fashion show and Whilst there are times and places to be flamboyant, this is generally not the time to flaunt your Jean Paul Gautier Basque and suspender set, although I have to tell you I do look rather fetching even if I do say so myself.   This turned out to be an occasion when the golden rule proved to be so so right.

A chunky young man with short hair and quite a smart appearance despite the cheap looking blazer and grey trousers holding a two way radio approached me in a brisk business like way.  Unfortunately his aftershave reached me before he did which let him down a bit.   A squaddie moonlighting for a security company I’ll wager.

“Bride or groom sir?”

“I am here to see a Mr Barker”

“Yes sir, but bride or groom?” he said a little taken aback.

“I am here on business” I said emphasising the word business and looked him in the eyes.  He flushed slightly but held his ground and eye contact.  Discreetly his eyes did a rapid discreet tour of me.

“I am Sorry sir I didn’t realise I thought you were a guest” he said in a pleasant way.

“No problem young man, I am expected, but I am not quite sure he wants my presence to be public knowledge”

The young man grinned slightly.

“Something funny young man” I asked quizzically

“Well, I don’t know who you are sir, but I suspect your presence is not quite the sort of presents everyone else will be turning up with” his grinned widened and he almost started to laugh and I felt myself smiling back

“Very good” I said smiling “most witty”.

“sorry I couldn’t help it”

“No crime against a sense of Humour” I said

“That’s not quite the way the CO sees it” said the lad.

“I can imagine.  Anyway how about you direct me to Mr Barker”

“Right OK, just bear with me one moment please”  He talked into his radio. “I am afraid I don’t quite know where he is, other than probably in the house.  Guests are being sent to the reception area in the marquee at the back of the house.  The controller says He had an appointment for earlier this morning.  If you go to the main entrance of the house somebody will find him for you.”

I thanked him.

I was pleased that I had adhered to the golden rule of dressing up.  My “Never Mind The Bollcoks” tee shirt was just not it for this sort of gathering.  As it was, nobody gave me a second look as I ambled toward the large tiled porch over the front door.

However my dress code might have been alright, but something was not right and I felt ill at ease.  In the words of Bollo from the Mighty Boosh ” I had a bad feelin about dis”

The front doors were open and I went in to a wide long carpeted entrance, which was totally devoid of any of the original features or character the house may have had.  Some vandal of an interior designer had gutted and the original house and then painted it a sort of Barbara Cartland Pink or shades thereof.  I dare say the decor and fittings were expensive but it was totally naff.  It was bling naff and clearly this property had not been renovated as a family home but for a foreign or corporate client.  I don’t know why this should have got my goat so much, after all I didn’t have to live here.

This cheering thought had just hit me when a man of about 40ish came towards me.  He was about 5 foot 10 with fairish hair and a soft pudgey face and expensively dressed.  He looked as if he had been thin when younger but he looked as if he was going to seed and seemed slightly stressed for some reason.

“Can I help you?” he asked with just the very hint of a Brummie accent

“I am here to see Mr Barker”

“Ah yes Sir, thank you so much for coming so quickly I really am sorry for the short notice” He gushed extending his right hand which I shook.  It was soft, clammy and spongy with all the appeal of a 3 day old dead trout.

Who the hell was this bloke, because it certainly was NOT the Dave Barker I remembered?

I was about to ask the question when a young woman of about 30 something joined us.  She was a shade under 6foot tall, slim, tanned, blonde big breasts long legs and dressed in something stunningly elegant and bloody expensive even to my untrained eye.  She was the epitome of the magazines ideal of gorgeous.  Personally, I prefer a bit more meat, but I wouldn’t have climbed over her to get to Boris the Blade!

She looked at me with a hard, cold, businesslike stare.  I maintained eye contact and she smiled ever so slightly.  Hey up Norman,  was that a mischievous little twinkle I saw in those eyes? She turned back to look at “Barker”.

“Darling” He said “This is my former troop commander Colonel Norman.  Sir I would like to introduce you to JJ,  my fiancé, who at 3pm will become my wife”.  She looked me straight in the eye again and held out her thin hand which I shook.  She had a surprisingly strong grip for brown stick insect.

Barker? Colonel? Troop commander? Barker? WTF?

“You’re a very lucky man” I said  to “Barker” “I wish you all the very best together and I hope you will be very happy” and smiled at her.

“You have a lovely smile Colonel” She cooed unctuously “You should wear it more often”

“Thank you, I should say I really prefer to be addressed as just mister if you don’t mind” I said diplomatically trying to recover some kind of foothold on reality.

“I understand” she purred maintaining both a steady grip on  my hand and unflinching hold of the eye.  I am glad she did because I bloody didn’t.

“Sorry, my fault” Interjected “Barker” “Careless really, but the whole day has got me a bit twitchy”

“Yes I see” I said even though I didn’t.

“David my love” cooed JJ “I don’t suppose this is a social call, and I know it is probably all very important, the security of the nation and all that, but there are lots of people to see to and time is running short.”  she eyed me again “Please don’t keep him any longer than necessary Col….sorry mister Norman”

“Oh don’t worry I won’t” said with 100% commitment.  She smiled again turned and with a sly little look over her shoulder waggled her bottom into a room on her right.

“Look” He said “Time is of the essence as I am sure you will appreciate I would love to talk about some of the told times but I have a problem” He was steam rolling rather than talking and so far as you will have gathered I still had no idea who the hell this bloke was or what I was doing there.

“I…”He continued

I held my hand up and said “Stop”.  He did.  “You said you were blackmailed and that it had come to a head” He looked suddenly shaken

“Ssssh man for god sake don’t tell the whole bloody world”

“Well lets go somewhere private and you can tell me what’s going on”.

He turned and strode off and I followed down the hall towards the back of the house.  He turned left into a short passage and there was a door at the end.  It opened into an office he went in and I followed.  It was furnished with modern flat packed office furniture and there was something else that just didn’t sit right with me. It was all a bit cheap or temporsry.   He sat behind the desk in a “leather” executive chair and gestured for me to sit on a small Ikea looking leather settee.

“Lets start at the beginning” I said

Barker put his hands finger tips together and rested his elbow on the desk and looked down.  No actually he looked down and left rather than at me.  Whilst not 100% reliable it is a good indication that somebody is being less than truthful.

“I am being blackmailed by a man called David Minton.” He said very quietly, almost nervously and looked up, but not at me, in fact his eyes were all over the place.

“Thats not what I mean by the beginning” I said

“What do you mean why?” He said slightly shocked looking down again.

“I don’t know you.  You are not the David Barker who I used to work with, so why did you say you were” I asked very pleasantly

“Ah yes I am sorry we are old friends and he has talked about and gave me your details and said to ring you to get this matter sorted” I responded heistatly

“Where is Barker?”

“In another part of the building he is keeping somebody company, but we will go to him in minute”

“So tell me about David Minton,what does he have on you that enables him to think he can blackmail you” I clarified.

“I cant tell you that” he blurted

“Look if you don’t then how can I help you”

“You don’t need to know”

“Ok have it your way” I said “But look at thgis my way.  I am brought down here by a deception and then you wont tell me anything.  I cannot see how I can help, you are wasting my time and your money”

“Money”

“Yes your money, you dont think I do this as a hobby do you?”

“Oh no of course not” He looked at me directly for the first time and was about to say something but then glanced at his watch and smiled and said “How rude, would fifteen hundred pounds be sufficient to cover today and to engage your services” He was used to dealing with money and was comfortable with paying people for short term professional services.

He went to a drawer in the  desk unlocked it and took out a wad of notes and counted out 1500 in fifties.  Just as he was doing this my phone vibrated.  “Barker” was preoccupied with the money so  I slipped the phone from my jacket pocket and stole quick look.  There was a text from Cyclops which simply read “rented 5250pcm uf”.

“There” said “Barker” “Thats that out of the way” passing me the money, which I started to count myself.

“Don’t you trust me?” he said with just a bit too much aggression to hide his apparent hurt and indignation.

“Mistakes happen and I don’t want to be short changed any more than you want to over pay me.  I don’t like misunderstanding over money” I replied diplomatically. “It can spoil the best of friendships” and smiled.

He snorted slightly and I could see that a vein in the right temple was throbbing and he had a tick in his left eyelid.  This bloke was only just in control himself.

Having checked the money I smiled again at Barker and something like that’s fine and put it in my inside pocket.  “Come on then lets have a look at Mr Minton shall we” and gave him yet another of my best smiles.  He sort of smiled back but it looked like a cross between a bad tempered scowl and a painful grimace and he stomped out of the room without saying anything. If I kept smiling like this I was in danger of getting cramp in my face.

“Right then why dont you tell me what is going on” I tried again.

“Alright I’ll tell you” he said looking at me and then he looked down again ” Minton, has made a number of demands and a figure of fifteen thousand pounds had been agreed.  he then turned up here today and it all came to ahead.  That’s all you need to know really” he said defiantly looking me dead in the eye.

“Is that it?”

“Yes” He replied defiantly

“Not exactly a story brimming with detail is it what do you expect me to do about it?”

“Get it sorted so he leaves me alone” He snapped back

“Look, lets get a few things straight.” I said “Do you really think I am going to get involved in something with such a flimsy brief.  If you do then think on.  Why have you not gone to the police what the hell have you done to be ready to pay 15K and why has he turned up today of all days?”

He stood up suddenly and put his hands up in surrender

“OK OK.  He knows things about me and has threatened to expose me to the other side.  Plus he has photos which he says he will show if he is not paid off”

“Well that’s pretty obvious, but what sort of things does he say he knows”

“About some of the operations I was involved in.  Possibly we were involved in.  Says he could go to the papers or even the other side and that we would be exposed and our safety compromised and there are aspects to my covert life that are very damaging and embarrassing and he said he would tell JJ and if he did that the whole wedding would be off”

“Go on” I said more than just a little intrigued.

“No no I cant say anything else”.   He still hadn’t said very much but it was better than nothing.

“Alright if you insist, so why did it come to a head”

“Well he turned up here to day and started demanding the money.  I had the cash ready but then he said he wanted extra to take care of other people and about other things.  I said no way and then there was a fight and I neutralised him”

“How do you mean?” I said

“Brought him down so he was no longer a threat” he growled

“Neutralised him, brought him down?” I repeated “What, you killed him?  What the hell are you talking about man?”

“No, well yes, he’s not dead as such”

“Look, he’s either dead or he’s not dead which is it?”

“Not dead”

“Where is he then?” I asked more than a touch relieved.  If there is something I know about the boys in blue is that they take a dim view of you killing people.  They put up tents, tape and wander round in white boiler suites in a very business like manner and ask all sorts of pertinent and often tricky questions.  Their whole road show is guaranteed to ruin a wedding plus they also tend to be very suspicious of people like me when bodies turn up and you are in the vicinity.

“In the cellar.  He is tied up in the cellar”

“Show me”  I said and stood up

I followed “Barker” from the office to a utility room at the other side of the house and then through a door there was a short flight of stone steps down into an dark, cold, tiled, store room.

He went down the steps and stood to one side and I followed.  The light from the open door way illuminated the room, but “Barker” didn’t turn the light on.  Outside I could hear caterers and the sound of organisation, a jazz band started tuning up and running through a few warm up numbers.

It sounded busy.

In here it was cold and had a muffled silence.

From what I could see the room was quite big maybe 4m wide and 6m deep with shelves of stuff around the wall. There, about two metres inside the room lying on the floor in the dark and trussed up like a Christmas turkey was an older but unmistakeable Dave Barker.  However he was not alone, he had a room mate, a chunky woman who I reckon was about 45 years of age – give or take.  It seems the term now is BBW or big beautiful woman.  Well I wasn’t sure how big or tall she was, because she was lying down on the floor, nor could I say how beautiful she was because most of her face was covered with duct tape but there was a quite a bit of her.  They were both very still and appeared to be unconscious.

“I thought you said Minton was here” I asked angrily

“He is” Replied Barker.

“No, thats Dave Barker I know, ex para, ex policeman and…..”then I saw the real Barkers eyes open and look to his left into the room.  It was a look, just a look, but had he shouted he couldn’t have warned me better.

Instincts are funny things and mine had already told me to be ready, so I don’t know if I heard him first or saw something catch the light a bit further into the room, but a figure came at me head on.  His right arm was out slightly in front of him and something in his hand caught the light. The eye said to brain “knife” and at the same time I felt the weight of fake “Barker” On my back and an arm around my throat pulling me backwards off balance and causing my legs to buckle slightly.  The figure in front of me lunged purposefully at me with and the weapon – whatever it was, was aimed at my stomach.

My bad feeling about dis just got worse.

5 Responses to “Barker 2 – Who, what, where, when?”

  1. havingmycake says:

    Ruf loved your description of the dress code. He is a fellow ‘Never Mind the Bollocks’ tshirt wearer 🙂

  2. dl says:

    Bloody hell! Nothing like that ever happened in Farnham when I lived there. Especially in Sands!

  3. Sally says:

    Well, despite teh odds, you appear to be alive… so when’s part 3?

  4. AnnAnon says:

    Excellent to have found you, UN. Bookmarked x

  5. JH says:

    Ah weddings, dont you just love em, always bring out the best in people.

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