Extract 2 – The Man Who Played Trains

Spargo sat alone in the hotel bar, picking at crisps and nuts. Sipping at the whisky, he remembered the no alcohol warning he’d been given at Raigmore when they dosed him with painkillers. He limped to the bar again. Came back with a coffee.

‘Looks like you’ve lost fifty dollars and won five.’ The voice was distant and had a soft Texan drawl. ‘Don’t much like drinking alone,’ it continued. ‘You mind if I come over?’

Spargo grunted. The last thing he needed was company. He swivelled in his chair and caught sight of a tall, lean man lifting a chair.

‘Couldn’t help noticing you were driving a Volvo,’ the man said as he carried the chair towards Spargo’s table. ‘Great cars. Had one just like it in the Gulf.’

Spargo willed the man to go away. It didn’t work. He turned again, this time seeing him properly for the first time and taking in his weather-worn features and long dark sideboards. Also the white shirt, the white designer jeans and the jewellery. Draped around the man’s neck was a heavy chain – solid gold, Spargo guessed. On it hung a heavy medallion – more gold – that swung hypnotically when the man moved. And there was still more gold, two signet rings, a watch and its expanding strap. The only metallic object he wore that wasn’t gold was a heavy belt buckle of brass. There was, Spargo realised, something of Elvis about the man…



EXTRACT 1 – The Man Who Played Trains

Mr Luis pronounced Mister like Meester. Sinister, the way a Mexican bandit might say it. Didn’t look sinister though, not upstairs on the bus. If anything he looked a wee bit camp with his knees tight together and his hands clasped in his lap. To Midge this was part of the man’s cover, a certain coolness Midge would have been happy to emulate – and may have done had the rolled-up Argos bag he carried not kept slipping from his lap.

‘It is not convenient that you do not have a car, Mister Rollo.’

Midge, lost in the double negatives, gave a nod and a grin: ‘My idea,’ he said. ‘Taking the bus. Not so conspicuous. Clever, eh?’

Not so much clever, as necessary. A pick-up from the airport and then a drive into town to do the man’s bidding – the first job he’d had for months – and he had screwed up. He didn’t have his car on the road. Hadn’t taxed or insured it and he daren’t drive without, not the number of times he got stopped by the police. For most jobs he got part-payment up front. Always used notes, sealed in a registered envelope…