Thursday, 31 March 2011

A Note About "Thieves"

People remix music tracks all the time.  Below is a remix of a Chekhov story titled Thieves or sometimes The Horse Thieves.   There are several English translations available printed or online at Project Gutenberg.

If you contact me I can send you it as a Word Doc to make it easier to read.

If you are a publisher or would like to hire me to write something (anything!) for you then please also get in touch.

Stories I Stole

Thieves: A Story Stolen from Tchekhov

Gary was a medical orderly with a drink problem who kept his job because his cheery chatter and empty headed talk distracted terminally ill patients, taking them away from their diseases to a place where nothing was very important. On Christmas Eve he accompanied a patient from the Estuary View health centre in Whitstable to the main hospital in Canterbury. As he was about to leave Gary overheard one of the late shift doctors complaining. His wife needed their car the following day and he had been rostered onto nights at the last moment when one of the other doctors had called in sick. Gary offered to drive the doctor’s car back to Whitstable for him; Gary would be saved a journey by public transport and the doctor’s wife would have her car. The doctor agreed and they exchanged addresses. It was a short walk from the doctor’s house to Gary’s flat.

Snow was forecast but nobody was expecting the sudden storm that swept in from the North Sea, quickly laying a layer of white over everything and making driving conditions extremely hazardous. Gary turned the heaters on full blast as he drove the car carefully up the steep hill out of Canterbury. A bus slid sideways across the road in Blean but luckily he was able to turn down Chapel Road and continue his journey. The lanes here were rural and never gritted. Before long Gary could hear the wheels spinning and was forced to stop the Doctor’s car. He gasped when he climbed from the warm interior into the swirling snow and hugged his arms around himself as his teeth began to chatter. Glancing around he heard dogs barking and, peering through some trees by the side of the road, could just make out a red glow through the gloom. He climbed back into the car and started it. After a few moments he was able to get the vehicle moving and inched his way through a set of high iron gates and onto a driveway so far sheltered from the falling snow by overhanging trees. He drove along beside a tall fence topped with sharp nails until a squat cottage with a high thatched roof appeared in the glare of his headlamps. He could see three windows and it was from one of these that the red light was leaking.

Who lived here? Gary thought there was something familiar about the cottage and soon remembered where he had seen it. The man who lived here had been murdered recently during a violent argument amongst drug dealers. The local paper had run an exclusive story and used a picture of the ramshackle building on the front page beneath the headline CRACK COTTAGE. Gary had been to school with the man’s daughter, Lucy, though he hadn’t seen her for many years. He didn’t much like the thought of turning up at such a place on Christmas Eve driving someone else’s brand new BMW but he liked the idea of spending the night alone in the snow even less. Besides they were sure to have plenty of Christmas drink in.

He climbed out of the car and rapped on the window with his knuckles.

“Is anyone home?” he shouted, “My car’s stuck in the snow and I’d love to come into the warm!”

He was immediately surrounded by a pack of ferociously barking dogs. Gary had experience of dogs and knew how to handle them. Showing no signs of fear he picked out a large Doberman as pack leader and kicked it hard on the nose. One of the smaller dogs began a shrill, pitiful howl and a moment later Gary found himself caught in the beam of a powerful torch.

“Let me in Mrs. Turner, please. It’s freezing out here and my car is stuck in the snow. Can you believe how fast it came down? Don’t be afraid, I went to school with you daughter Lucy.”

“It’s Christmas Eve,” said the woman “and all the people we want to know are already inside with us. Besides you could try using the front door to knock.”

“Am I alright parked where I am Mrs. Turner?” asked Gary.

“I’m not Mrs. Turner.”

The woman raised the torch to her face and he saw that indeed she was not. It was Lucy. There was another car parked in the driveway, a magnificent red Mercedes. That car suggested someone else was inside besides Mrs. Turner and her daughter. He central locked the car for safety and put the keys in his pocket before following Lucy indoors.

Gary came through the front door into a large sitting room with a wood burner flickering away in one corner. A man sat on the sofa playing with a games console, eyes focused on a large widescreen television fixed to the wall. His rounded head was shaved and a small blonde beard clung to his chin. Gary recognised him as a local car thief and drug dealer nicknamed Kalashnikov. As a medical orderly Gary made a few quid on the side dealing in stolen pharmaceuticals. He had done business with Nik once or twice. Stretched out on the floor near the wood burner lay another man with a coat over his face. A pair of gleaming white trainers stood in front of the burner surrounded by a dark puddle of melted snow.

The man on the sofa nodded hello.

“What a snowstorm! I can’t believe how quickly it’s come down and with hardly any warning. The car just couldn’t get any purchase on the snow and none of the roads have been properly gritted.”

Nik was completely engrossed in his game and paid no further attention to Gary whatever.

“I saw a bus slide sideways up in Blean. That’s going to block the route out of Canterbury even if the snow doesn’t. Where are the women?”

“Mrs. Turner is at her sister’s on Sheppey and the girl’s cooking supper.” Nik answered.

Silence. Gary made a show of warming his hands, holding them out towards the orange fire that flickered within the glass windowed body of the burner. He stretched himself and looked around. Where was all the booze? Outside he could hear the dogs milling about and growling from time to time.

“You from Herne Bay?” he asked Kalashnikov.


To pass the time he thought about Herne Bay. It was an old-fashioned seaside resort with the remains of a pier and arcades along the seafront. It was the kind of place people used to go on holiday before you could get a summer package to Mallorca or the Costa Del Sol. Old people still went there in coach parties and gangs of youngsters would lounge around on sunny days; staring at each other, drinking and later either fighting or having sex on the beach. Gary was barred from a couple of the pubs but he was often to be found in the Mechanical Elephant, a large establishment near the seafront, nursing pint after pint of their cheap guest ales. He liked a stroll along the beach now and again on a hot day. It was amazing the amount of female skin that exposed itself at the first sight of sunshine.

There was a sound from the next room and a moment later Lucy came in barefoot and wearing a red dress. She glanced at Gary from the corner of her eye and tiptoed across the room taking tiny little steps, thrusting her bosom against the thin material of the dress. Kalashnikov laughed then beckoned to the girl. She went over to the sofa and he showed her something in the game. As she leant over him from behind the sofa her long hair, tied in a plait, flew over her shoulder. It glowed auburn in the light from the stove and Gary saw there were red ribbons twisted into it. She laughed as Nik chuckled.

“That’s sick!”

There was a sudden sound from the stove as the wind roared outside making the logs pop and crack.

“God that made me jump” said Lucy.

“It’s just the wind,” said Nik.

He turned to Gary.

“What do you think Gary? You’re a medical man, a man of science. Are there such things as Devils?”

Gary was pleased to be given the chance to talk at last.

“Well, how can I put this?” Gary said with a shrug “Speaking scientifically I would have to say no, that’s all just superstitious rubbish. But if you ask me as a man, an ordinary man like you Nik, I would say, to cut a long story short, yes Devils do exist. I’ve seen a thing or two in my time. I went to the Falklands with the army when I was scarcely more than a boy. I’ve seen too much you might say and while I’m not talking about those kind of Devils” Gary pointed to the screen where a ghoulish character was hacking away at a woman with his extraordinarily long fingernails, “I have come across a few Devils, ordinary Devils you might say.”

“Where?” said Nik.

“No need to go far from home” said Gary. “Take last year. You know I do a bit of er...medicinal supply as you might say. I was in Herne Bay, along the front. I was sitting there with the window down, looking at...the view and this bloke came over. Puts his hand on my arm. My wallet and phone were on the passenger seat and I thought I could see him looking at the car keys as well. “Hold up chief!” he says and gives the car a once over. “What are you up to?” he asks me with his teeth bared. I knew right then he was a Devil, you could see the evil glitter in his black eyes. “What’s it to you?” I said and started the car. “You’re dealing ain’t you!” he says and before I could say a word he goes “Well not on my patch! Fuck off out of here before I bust you up!”

Suddenly the man on the floor threw off the coat and sat up. To his amazement Gary saw it was the very man he had just been talking about. He had black hair, a black goatee beard and coal black eyes as well. He was dark skinned with a livid pink scar on his neck.

“I did come and have a look at the car but I never said anything about dealing, that’s just a lie.” said the man.

Gary was stunned.

“It wasn’t you I was talking about mate. Lie back down and have some more kip eh?”

The man stood up, stretched sleepily and made a loud yawning sound. Gary had no idea who he was but he looked like a pirate from a storybook. He sat himself on the sofa next to Nik and watched him play. Lucy pointed at the screen where the ghoul was now climbing into a convertible BMW.

“Hey Johno! Bring me a car like that and I’m all yours babes.” she said to the black haired man.

Then Lucy left the room. At last the booze arrived in the form of a bottle of Bourbon. Lucy brought food as well; chicken drumsticks and sausages, bowls of chips and a jar of gherkins. The scent of Bourbon drifted into the room as Lucy poured a glass for everyone.

The other men ignored Gary as they talked and ate. Lucy blanked him as well though she did invite him to sit on the sofa. She pranced around, fetching things for the men from the table. Every time she passed by she seemed to accidentally brush against Gary’s leg or bend over so that his eyes couldn’t fail to appreciate the tightness of the red material over her firm buttocks or fall into her cleavage as she poured him another glass of whiskey. She didn’t seem able to sit still at all but was constantly getting up then sitting back down next to him, her bare shoulder brushing against his cheek at one point, making him shudder with delight. Lucy kept smoothing her dress as well, moving her hands over the curves of her body in a most sensual manner.

Gary was irritated to note how the two other men nursed their drinks; he didn’t want to feel he was drinking on his own at Christmas. But he couldn’t stop himself pouring a second glass and then a third. He ate up all the chicken as well. With the drink inside him Gary felt he had to try to make friends and decided flattery was his best option.

“There’s some great lads down in Herne Bay.” he said.

“Great in what way?” asked Nik.

“Well, you know. That license thing I read about in the local rag? Real entrepreneurs.”

Gary was referring to a story in the local paper about a criminal gang of car thieves who operated out of a garage in Herne Bay. He was guessing that if not directly linked to it Nik would at least know those involved.

“If you knew them you wouldn’t admire them. Bunch of drunks and thieves.” said Nik.

“That’s ancient history now.” said Johno after a short pause. “There’s only old Ben left and he’s blind.”

“Yeah, poor old Ben. Some Turkish bastards CS gassed him a couple of years ago and messed his eyes up. He was a top geezer in his day. All the pigs knew him and drove good motors because of him too. Everywhere he went people would come over and shake his hand, try to buy him a drink. You know one time they broke into the airfield at Manston and stole a fucking private jet? What a caper! Took a pilot with them and flew it over to Russia. Sold within an hour of landing to a wannabe oligarch. I tell you they don’t make thieves like that anymore. Nah, nowadays they’re all druggies and chancers who would rather go off with a sleeping drunk’s motor than plan a proper job. That’s just an embarrassing way to live if you ask me.”

“What about Johno?” asked Lucy.

“Johno ain’t a Herne Bay boy,” said Nik, “He’s from London, Peckham ain’t it, though I must say he’s a good lad, we ain’t got no complaint’s about him.”

Lucy gave Johno a sly look.

“No wonder they shot you!” she said.

“Eh? What’s that?” said Gary.

“Yeah, well,” said Johno, laughing casually, “It was after that story in the papers. When the whole racket was blown and most of the lads were safely inside well these Ukrainians, the other end of the deal if you like, they wanted to get old Ben. They set up a meet by the power station in Battersea. Old Ben ain’t stayed alive so long for no reason has he? I rock up in a motor with tinted windows only for the U-kra-nians to open up with fuckin’ Uzis. A thousand rounds they fired and six of them ended up in me.”

He opened his shirt to display a series of angry pink scars; four in the torso, one in the shoulder and one where a bullet had passed through his neck. Lucy let out a low moan of mingled admiration and concern.

“They must have had a look and thought I was done. Would have been gutted I wasn’t Ben so they didn’t make sure did they? Just split and left me there fo’ dead. I heard later that a woman called 999 from a train. She was looking out the window and saw the muzzle flashes. There were blues on the scene within minutes otherwise I wouldn’t be sitting here now.”

Hardly aware of his actions Gary had polished off another four glasses of Bourbon whilst he listened to the other men talk. A familiar feeling of boozy good nature stole over him; added to a general festive spirit he felt like bragging about something brave and foolhardy he had done.

“I remember once...” he began.

But Gary was slurring his speech by now. Perhaps because of this, or for the fact the black eyed man had shown him to be a liar, the others completely ignored him. He made a couple of efforts to comment on their talk or join in but soon realised they were not prepared to pay him any further attention. Despite the drink he began to feel uneasy.

Kalashnikov acted for the most part like an entirely respectable citizen. He spoke at length about one subject after another and you would never have guessed that here sat a man who had been to prison twice, had robbed and conned without mercy and, if his rep was to be believed, would not hesitate to kill should circumstance require such extreme measures. But Johno was something else. He kept lifting up his shirt to display his bullet wounds to Lucy, clearly enjoying the mystique his brush with death bestowed upon him. He was pure gangster and not afraid to show it.

The console was switched off, the television muted. Lucy cleared away their plates and the remains of the food before coming back in with a large box of chocolates, some salted nuts, a bottle of Moet champagne and three glasses. Gary watched as Johno popped the cork then splashed the frothing champagne into the three glasses. Then the three of them began drinking toasts to all the mutual friends they had inside for Christmas and to other gangsters Gary presumed were dead.

“Rest in peace Andy!” said Kalashnikov clinking his glass against Johno’s. “There won’t be a better bloke in Heaven or Hell. If he were still alive he’d be here right now with us Johno, life and soul he was, life and soul. And if Marty and Colin were here rather than the Scrubs well, we’d all be having a laugh a minute eh?”

Lucy left the room and came back a while later wearing a lime green halter neck top that showed her flat belly and a pair of tight white jeans. There was a belt slung loosely around her waist that glittered with diamonds.

“Look what Nik bought me.” she said to Johno, spreading her hands on her bare belly and shaking her hips so that the diamond encrusted belt sparkled in the firelight. Then she went over to a pile of shopping bags and began to take things out, dress after dress and several pairs of shoes. She showed them all to the men with an expression of delight on her face, as if she couldn’t believe such treasures belonged to her.

Nik stood up and turned on the stereo. A hip-hop beat thudded into the room and a moment later a woman began to sing. Gary didn’t know the tune but the others clearly did. With a cat-like leap Johno sprung off the sofa and began to move with a rhythmic, street dance series of steps. Lucy gave a little whoop and joined him, standing in front of the dark skinned man. With her arms raised high in the air she too began to move, circling her hips and bending at the knees she sank lower and lower. Johno placed his hands over her naked belly and lifted her back to her feet, pulling her closer to him as he did so. Johno’s trousers hung low around his waist as he danced. Gary kept expecting them to fall right down to his ankles but somehow they didn’t. At any rate he found it hard to take his eyes off Lucy whose lithe movements were perfectly in time with the rhythmically slouching beat. She seemed to radiate both power and sensuality and his befuddled brain began assaulting him with pornographic visions until he found it hard to believe he was truly awake and witnessing the scenes before him.

“That girl is really something.” he thought to himself. “What movements, what rhythm.”

The dance grew more energetic. Gary felt as though he were inside a music video. Suddenly the belt flew apart on Lucy’s hips, scattering diamonds all over the wood laminate flooring. The pair kept dancing. Gary began to wish he had made more effort in his life to learn to dance. Then, as abruptly as the show began, it came to an end. Nik smiled as Lucy placed a hand on Johno’s chest, feeling the rise and fall of it and doubtless his beating heart. She was flushed and beautiful in the firelight. Johno leant over her and said in a hoarse whisper.

“I’ll wait until you’re asleep tonight, then I’ll creep into your room and slit your pretty throat with my favorite knife. I’ll take the rocks and all those designer garms and burn the place down. I’ll get myself a little villa in Barbados and live there forever.”

“Barbados.” Lucy said huskily.

Johno said nothing. He sat back on the sofa and stared into the fire.

“Well I should be off” said Nik, “I promised old Ben I’d call by and see him tonight. Goodbye Lucy, Merry Christmas.”

He stood up, pulled on a coat and opened the front door. Gary jumped up too and followed him to the door. He looked out and watched as Nik took chains from the boot of the Mercedes, attached them to the wheels and then drove off. The trees that sheltered the drive drooped, their lower branches almost touching the ground beneath the weight of the snow. When Gary went back inside Lucy was crawling around on the floor, collecting the diamonds and counting them into her hand.

“What a girl.” he thought to himself. “If only Johno weren’t here!”

He sat back on the sofa, further aroused when Lucy began to crawl on the floor at his feet, searching for the last few gems. I would certainly grab her and give her a kiss if Johno wasn’t here he thought to himself. After that well who knows? She was hardly a virgin and anyway in this den of vice surely anything goes? Lucy left the room having found the last of the diamonds. She turned the light off as she went leaving Gary sitting in the firelight. He watched the light patterns the flames made on the ceiling. He imagined he could see Lucy there, full-breasted and flushed from the dance.

“If only Johno would fuck off!” he thought.

Johno came in and sat down. He began to smoke something that stank like a cat. After a few minutes puffing, when a huge cloud of grey-blue smoke surrounded him, Johno passed the joint across. Gary didn’t smoke at all, let alone skunk like this, but he was aware the drink seemed to have disappeared and felt he was nowhere near out of his head enough for the festive season. He filled his lungs and then nearly died coughing, feeling his chest heave and burn, water pouring from his eyes. Johno chuckled.

“Prime green Peckham sensimilia bro.” he said. Then he stood up and left the room.

Gary sat pinned to the sofa. After a while the pain in his chest began to subside and he was able to breathe more normally but his heart still raced at a frantic speed. Whenever he turned his head his vision wobbled as though there were flickering flames in front of his eyes. He moved his hand across his face and saw it blur, a stroboscopic effect that meant he could see four or five separate images of his hand at once. Time passed.

Johno came back into the room. He picked up his trainers from in front of the fire and began to put them on. Lucy came in and sat down next to him.

“Don’t go Johno.” she said.

He smiled and carried on lacing his shoes.

“I know you’re going to cut my throat and rob me later, then you’ll fly away and love many other girls but Johno I don’t care. There’s only one thing I care about and that’s that you don’t go. Stay with me tonight...” Her voice was like velvet. Gary couldn’t believe Johno would be able to resist.

“I wan’ gowan an’ celebrate.” said Johno.

“But how will you go? You don’t have a car.”

Johno leant close to Lucy and whispered in her ear.

She laughed and looked quickly in Gary’s direction.

“He’s pretty out of it isn’t he? What a dick!”

With that Johno got up and left. Gary took a lot longer than he planned to jump to his feet. He rushed towards the door but Lucy had closed it and now stood barring his way.

“Get out of the way!” he shouted, “That’s not even my motor!”

“Why leave?” Lucy asked, touching his cheek.

“To check on the Doctor’s car...”

“Why do that when you can check me out?” she said, gazing up at him fondly.

“Get out of the way or he’ll take the car!” Gary shouted, hitting Lucy angrily on the shoulder and trying to barge her aside with his chest. But Lucy stood her ground. She was hard as iron.

“Let me go!” he shouted, exhausted. “He’ll take it!” Now she looked right at him, blushed and then laughed.

“Don’t leave me lover, I’ll be bored on my own.”

Gary gazed into her eyes, hesitated and then put his arms around her. She did not resist.

“Don’t be silly,” he said, “Let me go.”

Lucy said nothing.

“I wasn’t so out of it. I heard you telling Johno you wanted him to stay the night.”

“There’s no exclusive deal,” she said. “I love who I want to love when I want to love them.”

She touched his cheek again.

“Don’t you want a kiss?” Lucy asked.

As he leant towards her Gary thought he saw something cold and calculating in her eyes. Remembering the doctor’s car he now easily thrust her from the doorway and ran outside. The trees were still there, stooped beneath their heavy burdens. The snow lay all around, white and soft and cold. Of the doctor’s car there was no sign, just another set of tire tracks on the white drive. He began to shout, raving, throwing wild threats and insults into the frozen air. He ran down the driveway, into the darker places beneath the trees. Horrible visions loomed towards him out of the grey-white gloom. A man, lifting his shirt to show he was riddled with bullet holes. Gary could see the snow through the gory apertures, could see right through the pierced man’s body. Stick-like hands that were in fact snow covered sticks tugged at his clothes and clawed at his face. He fell forward into a drift and saw nothing. He lay there and felt the numbness creep into his face then pushed himself off the ground and clambered onto his feet again. He was freezing cold now, his clothing pressed damp against his skin. He began to shake violently from a mixture of cold and rage as he staggered back towards the cottage.

There was nobody in the sitting room. It was warm though and after a moment the melting snow began to drip from his clothes onto the floor. Gary walked through into the kitchen. Empty. Something in the sink was ringing with a steady ting ting ting sound. He went over and saw an empty mug with a teaspoon in it. Water dripped from the tap onto the spoon. Every drip moved the spoon and tapped it against the bone china mug making it ring like a little bell. As he waited, transfixed by the sound, the mug filled gradually and the note changed pitch. He opened another door and saw a small bedroom, also empty. He walked along the hall and opened the next door he came to. It was a bathroom. There was nobody inside. He opened the last door and saw Lucy lying on a small bed with a quilt pulled over her. She was pretending to be asleep.

“Where’s my car?” he said, grimly.

Lucy didn’t stir.

“Where’s my car?” he repeated, even more grimly, tearing the quilt away from her body. “I asked you a question you bitch!” he shouted.

Lucy started up and rose to her knees. She was only wearing a thin nighty and tried to gather the quilt to cover herself but he wouldn’t let her. She followed his slightest movements with the eyes of a trapped animal. He could see flecks of hatred glowing red in her pupils like embers from the wood-burning stove.

“Tell me where that car is or I’ll batter you to pieces!”

“Get out of my room!” she wheezed hoarsely.

Gary lunged forward and grabbed a fistful of Lucy’s nightie at the neck. Then he completely lost control. He threw himself at her, grabbing her arms, squeezing as hard as he could, trying to force his knee in between her tightly clamped thighs. Hissing with rage she slithered in his clutches until she had one arm free and punched him on the top of the head. His senses seemed immediately dulled, his ears rang and there was a banging in his brain. He lurched away from her and received another crashing blow to the temple. He reeled back and clutched at the door frame to stop himself from falling over, then made his way back to the sitting room. He felt in his pockets and found his wallet and the doctor’s car keys were gone. Then he collapsed, face down, onto the sofa.

When he came round the sky outside was lighter and it was Christmas day. The banging in his brain made everything difficult but he managed to get himself together enough to leave the cottage, taking a poker from beside the wood burner in case the dogs appeared and leaving the door open wide. The blizzard was over, the sky was clear and the sun shone with blinding brightness from every snowy surface. He trudged along the driveway trying to think of what he might say to the doctor. It would certainly be a good idea to have some answers ready but such thoughts dissolved and eluded him. As he walked along all he could think of was Lucy and the men he had spent time with. He kept seeing Lucy in her rage as he staggered away from her, one breast visible through the torn material of her nightie. His mind was all confused. He tried to remember why there were doctors and medical orderlies, why businessmen and bus drivers in this world? Why aren’t there just free men? The birds and beasts are free aren’t they? So is Johno. They fear nobody and need nobody. Who was it decided that we have breakfast, then lunch then go to bed at night? Why is a doctor senior to an orderly? Who says sleep with just one woman and call her your wife? Why not do things the other way around - lunch at night and sleep by day? Oh to jump in a car not caring who owned it and fly along a country road racing the wind like a fiend from Hell! Oh to make love to girls and laugh at everyone!

Gary hurled the black poker into the white snow and laid his head against the cold trunk of a Birch tree, lost in thought. The grey monotony of his days, the low wages, his subordinate position, the grubby way he stole pills from time to time seemed utterly contemptible and sickening. Nik and Johno broke all the rules and lived a fine free life. If I’m not like them it’s only through lack of opportunity he thought to himself. If given the chance to become a true criminal I will take it.

Eighteen months passed. In Spring, after Easter, Gary, fired from the health centre many months before and drifting around out of work, left the Smugglers Inn in Herne late one night and wandered aimlessly down the street. He was soon out of the village where there were open fields to either side of the road. The warm air carried the scents of the season as it shifted in the night breeze. He looked up and saw many millions of stars winking from the depths of a dark blue sky. The world is well made thought Gary, it’s only people that fuck it up. Why is a drunk man valued less than a sober one? Why is having a job so important to people that they look down on those out of work? What right have they? Why do the sober and well fed live in large houses whilst the drunk and unemployed man must roam the streets and sleep beneath hedges? Whose idea was this? The birds don’t have jobs or earn wages; they just enjoy themselves. Why was it wrong to take a laptop from the seat of a convertible then sell it and drink the proceeds when the owner was covered by an insurance policy? Why?

A car shot around the corner behind him. Gary had to throw himself against the hedge to avoid being hit. The red Mercedes sped off up the hill. It was probably a different car but it made Gary remember his experience of Christmas Eve eighteen months earlier. He thought of Johno’s boastful threat and Lucy lying on her bed in the torn nightie with her throat cut. He walked back into the village glancing at the richly decorated houses of stockbrokers and advertising executives, each with a trophy car parked outside. It would be a good idea to burgle a rich man’s house at night, he thought.