Reprise, for those coming to this late…..
Serge “the blur” D’erbeville and Harry “madman” Yorke, have put together one last job, the theft of almost half a million pounds in wages and other money from the back office of their old peoples’ care home.
They plan to escape to Acapulco and live out their few remaining days with the sun on their backs and beautiful girls on their laps.
They have brought in a younger wanna be hood – Danny boy, to provide a get away car and to help organize a diversion to pull all the care staff out of the offices so that they can simply lift the money and get away.
Serge, the best get away driver the Krays ever had, has been mentally preparing for this, his last drive and Danny boy has suggested that dropping MDMA – Ecstasy into the afternoon tea urn will be the most effective diversion.
Now read on………
Danny slams his forehead hard onto the hard plastic of the glove compartment. The pain is immediate, he feels the skin split, a trickle of blood, warm against his flesh, travels down his face and drops off his chin.
“F***, F***** F*******, MotherF*******”
This is going so terribly, gut churningly wrong, a wave of anger and horror and something else rises in him and before he can stop himself, he has balled his fist and punched the windscreen.
“F*****, S***T, W***K” – he is running out of words, there are actually no words, no language bad enough to describe what has happened, is actually still happening.
Next to him, ram rod straight, hands at exactly ten to two on the steering wheel, knuckles, mis-shapen, swollen knuckles, white, the only sign of any tension, sits Serge, his face still covered in splashes of blood and in the back seat, oxygen mask clamped to his mouth, fighting for every breath is Harry.
Danny starts swearing again,a chain of M’s and F’s and C’s, a counterpoint to Harrys’ gasps and wheezes and all the time Serge sits in silence, impassive, staring out at the deserted car park at the wrong end of a half built industrial estate.
Danny finally manages to string an almost coherent sentence together
“what the F*** did you have to do that for, what were you thinking of……the poor bloody girl” and his words tail off and as he stops speaking Serge turns, looks at him full face, no expression, no emotion, nothing.
“She got in the F** way, in our F*** way” and from the back seat, between agonizing breaths, Harry is mumbling agreement. There is suddenly nothing funny or retro or quaint about these old men and Danny realizes that he is completely out of his depth.
It all seemed to be going so well, Danny had a plan, looked at the old geezers, yeah he knew that they had been connected, were faces from way back, but for christsakes, look at them now, hardly able to walk, in an old peoples’ home. Danny most certainly had a plan which didn’t involve a three way split of the cash, but did involve another car, another driver and a sharp exit for himself and a nice long holiday on the Costa del Sol.
What were the old blokes going to do, smash his face with a walking frame.
So, he goes to see Marcus, club bunny boy and scores 100 pills, tells him he wants them for some old ravers and Marcus goes off on a back in the day, free parties, 1990s club bunny rift and Danny stands there waiting for his to finish, to run out of steam and then he pockets the little bag of white tablets, mumbles something about payment at the end of the week and before Marcus can realize that he is being royally shafted, Danny is in his motor and away.
The motor for the job is more complicated, Serge and Harry have some vision of the cars they used to drive, some time before Danny was even born and Danny has to use all his powers of persuasion to sell the idea, his idea of the camouflage car.
“It’s gotta look like an old bloke car ,nothing that will draw attention, trust me”
Which is why they spend the Saturday before the last Friday of the month in a car park on another industrial estate and why there is a loaded pause when decanting, with some difficulty, the two old men from his own motor to show them the get away car and they see his choice for the first time
“What the F**** is this piece of s***t?” Sergess’ tone is flat,betrays nothing.
Danny goes into explanation over-drive, hands and mouth moving too fast, too much
“It’s a Ford, old blokes drive a Ford, nobody will notice you, no-body will be looking for two old men in an old man car, trust me”
Serge does not trust Danny, he can see the naked greed in his eyes, can measure the calculations that Danny is making, knows that Danny is busy under-estimating them. Serge knows something that Danny doesn’t and when he thinks about it, when he is alone he cannot help but grin to himself. He may be an old wolf, but he is still a wolf.
But the car, the car is a surprise, fast, powerful, easy to handle. Serge cannot remember the last time he drove a car, but his body remembers. Hands, feet repeat movements that haven’t made in decades and he feels more alive in those moments than he has been for years.
Later, sitting in the day room, he turns to Harry
“What do you reckon?”
They are both busy ignoring the fact that Harrys’ life is shrinking, the labored breathing, the concentration of in and out and in is pushing most other stuff out, not enough space now for very many words.
Harry nods, fiddles with the oxygen feed, there’s a pause
“S’allright mate” and Serge leans back, rolls another skinny prison style cigarette.
It’s raining on Friday, has been raining since 2, 3 am, Serge knows this because he has been awake all night, rehearsing the plan in his head and running through the other plan, plan B alongside the official version of what will happen today.
At breakfast, Harry looks tense, can’t make eye contact with him and finally, pushing away an untouched plate, stands up and walks towards his bedroom ,each step careful, deliberate, the oxygen cart at his heel, bustling along beside him.
Serge lights a cigarette, but cannot smoke it, mouth too dry and stubs it out into his too watery scrambled eggs.
At 11 am, Danny arrives, all chat and banter, even managing a half hearted chat up of the Slovakian bird who does the cleaning, Serge shakes his head, her name has dislodged itself. He shrugs his shoulders, really what does it matter now.
The three of them sit on the bench that has become their bench, all of them silent, staring into space, Danny occasionally checks the time on his phone. Serge can’t help a grin, they look no different to any of the family groups dotted around the half realized planted area.
Danny leans across and palms the little plastic bag to Serge and then it is safely inside his pocket while his glance into middle distance never falters.
The next part of the plan is straightforward, Danny will drive off, Serge will, while Harry distracts the tea girls, drop the little bag of pills into the tea urn and once chaos ensues, Harry and Serge will make their way towards the back office and Danny and the get away car will be there, ready and waiting.
Serge needs to make just one phone call, needs to nip Danny’s little extra plan in the bud and needs to gather up one extra item, something that has not been discussed with Danny boy.
And everything works, there is a moment when Harrys’ diversionary tactics, a terrible coughing, wheezing and throat grabbing sound so real that Serge wonders if they have left it too late, wonders if Harry will make it through today, but then Harry looks at him, winks and for just a second or two and Serge sees him as he used to be , 1969, Kings Rd, bird on each arm and he feels a shot of something, youth perhaps, coursing through his veins and while the pinny clad girls rush to Harrys’ aid, he strolls towards the tea urn [ the tea always too weak, too milky, sweetened to a generic quality] and slips the pills inside.
He is back in his seat before anyone actually lucid has even noticed.
He checks the time on the wall mounted clock as Harry is carefully lead to a chair and the girls resume their dishing out of tepid tea and cut price biscuits. Serge is delighted to see that nearly all the staff on duty, decide the break the rules and help themselves to tea and biscuits.
Twenty minutes pass, Harry is silent, but Serge can feel the tension radiating from him, his own foot is twitching and he is trying to keep still, keep focused.
And then, things begin to slip, a couple of very old women slide out of their chairs, land in crumpled heaps on the floor and start to laugh. The staff, who have begun to talk rapidly together, take a few moments to register what has happened and seem puzzled, not sure of their roles.
Serge nods at Harry and slowly, casually, they walk out of the room as Mr Bird begins to sing, a surprisingly tuneful version of the Kinks “Waterloo Sunset”, Serge finds himself humming it as they head towards the back office.
Someone in the day room has obviously hit the panic button and off duty staff and managers are running towards them, but magically, no-body stops them, no-body challenges them.
They reach the back office and next to it, the emergency exit, the non alarmed exit, the exit the staff use when the want a cheeky fag break.
Following the plan, Serge pull down the handle on the door and as he opens it, Danny boy, face white above the steering wheel, screeches to halt on the graveled pathway.
He is out of the car and into the building in seconds. The old men seem surprisingly calm and all three of them turn and walk towards the office door, which is, as they knew it would be , unlocked.
Danny, his palm slick with sweat struggles with the door handle and it is Harry, his breathing suddenly unlaboured who opens the door and steps inside in front of the others.
The first thing that Danny sees is a table piled up with brown envelopes, wages slips, bank cash bags. The second thing he sees is the Slovakian girl, Svetlana or something, sitting at the table, punching numbers into a calculator.
There is a pause and they all stare at eachother, she is trying to make sense of what they are doing here,is beginning to stand up, her hand reaching for her phone and Danny can feel it all slipping away and out of the corner of his eye he sees Serge bend down and reach for something and then bang, he has smashed into her face with the oxygen canister and immediately blood shoots from her nose, splatters onto Serges’ face and the girl drops to the floor, screaming in agony.
Everything slows down then, Serge moves towards her, picks up the oxygen canister again and he’s bringing it down on her face and her head again and again. His face is blank, unreadable and he’s not even breathing hard and Harry is just standing there,waiting, waiting for him to finish.
And then she is silent and Serge carefully wipes the canister on her skirt and Danny will himself to not empty his guts of everything he has ever eaten in his life. The two old men have said nothing to eachother, they move towards the table, grab money bags and look at him as though nothing has happened.
But Serge has another surprise for Danny. There is no other car at the far end of the industrial estate, no other get away driver. There is just Serge and Harry and Danny and a fourth cast member, Serges’ revolver.
It’s currently sitting quietly in Serges’ lap and Danny is waiting for Serge to kill him. He has considered pleading, weeping, bargaining, but one look at Serge has made clear to him that there really is no point, so all three of them are sitting in silence, except of course for Harrys’ gasping breaths and then it dawns on Danny, they are actually sitting in silence.
It takes him a moment or two to actually process this and then, very, very slowly and very, very carefully, he turn just his head, nothing else and looks onto the back seat. Harry is completely still, completely silent, just the hiss of oxygen escaping from the mask still clamped to his face.
Danny turns his head back towards Serge, very slowly and very carefully. He breaths out
“Serge” he says “Serge,mate”, but his voice drops off as he begins to hear the only other sound in the car. Serge is singing very quietly to himself.
“The girl from Ipanema goes walking……..”
Danny rests his head back on the glove compartment, but gently this time, He can hear sirens in the distance and while he waits for what he knows will come next, he finds himself humming along with Serge.
“That when she passes, each one she passes