It’s Thursday night in central London, and the damp air envelopes the city as an eerie silence pervades through its soulless streets. In an isolated street Davies sits patiently in his van with six others. “You all ready then “his says confidently, without glancing back, “Yeh” comes the monotoned reply of the other gang members “Give everything quick butchers” he says over the ominous sound of clunking metal as the semi-automatics are loaded. Davies casts a patriarchal look over his ‘boys’ which is reciprocated by the unspoken badge of respect they hold for him. Like a well rehearsed play they all take their cue, Tom and Harry go silently towards the front door, Charlie, Dave and Jenkins stealthily creep towards the back door.
Davies himself covers Tom and Harry and follows them to the front. Freshly pressed suits and shoes that glimmer in the muggy night contradict the shabby attempt at disguise as the balaclavas, are pulled on and stick like a second skin over the perspiring heads of the gang. 42 Pool Street , an ugly pile of Georgian bricks in a less than salubrious Street and frequented by the ignoble and dishonest members of society that were the rival gang, who were unaware of what lay ahead of them as the peels of raucous laughter rang out from inside the house. Tom approaches the door, followed closely behind by Davies and Harry; he bangs the door, 3 times, with his clenched fist and waits for someone to acknowledge their presence. A wary voice comes from behind the closed door and asks them what they want. “We’re here for Duncan” comes the reply.
At first the voice behind the door makes a vain attempt at telling them that Duncan is busy, the voice behind the door is joined by another and a muffled dialogue is heard, before the door is slowly unbolted and opened to admit the callers. The voice behind the door is silenced, before he has time to warn the others of the gravity of his error in letting them in, as Tom pulls the gun from underneath his double breasted jacket and shoots him. The others in the house are alerted by the shots and from the sound of heavy thuds to the back door as Charlie and Dave kick the door in.
Another shot is fired, it injures Harry in the arm and as he squeals in pain, a gun battle ensues from the direction of the front room. Harry waits in the shadows and when the coast is clear he runs from the house and hides until it is all over, the wound he received has only grazed his arm but the glistening ruby red of the blood looks impressive and he plays the hero. Davies, unknown to the others, has also been shot, a bullet lodged in his leg, he doesn’t let on and no-body notices as he fights on. As one of Duncan’s men takes aim at Charlie, Davies alerted by the steely glint in his eye and shoots him dead.
Duncan himself in all the confusion and chaos is shot by one of his own. Dave and Tom, horror struck and in awe of the scene that unfolds in front of their eyes as the men they have just shot screech in pain as they slowly die. All around Davies’ men there is confusion, muffled voices of the gang whisper and shout to one another, searching for other members of the gang. Silence hovers once more in the house and the sounds of dying men fade into dark, cold oblivion. One by one they leave the house and quietly enter back into the van, no-one has noticed that Harry is already in there.
The thudding noise of the men’s heart beat echo in the silence of the van, the smell of sweat and fear tell the story of what has just occurred. They vow never to mention tonight ever again but to meet in a year’s time. They leave the van, each reflecting in his own way as the golden flames engulf the van and with it all traces of the night. The smell of gun-powder mingles with the blood and dust and the bodies of Duncan and his loathsome gang lay scattered, dead and dying amongst the smoking ruins of 147 Pool Street. Later the Police would come and the men from the mortuary would bag up the bodies of Duncan and his men.
The police would carry out half-hearted enquiries. The builders came in and restored the house. It is now a woman’s and refuge centre. No one-cared enough to find out who carried out the slaughter in Pool Street although the word was out that everyone who was anyone knew who committed the deed. Duncan and his fellow gang members had been notorious in and around 1950’s London for too long. Duncan a psychopathic Scottish man had made his name in drugs and vice. His victims were brutalised and shown no mercy. The Streets because of the addicts and pushers became areas of terror for the common people.
Honest people were senselessly murdered for the few shillings that they possessed by the addicts in attempts to raise the ready cash to buy more drugs. When crime reached to such an epidemic level that even the police were powerless to intervene, and children now were beginning to be dragged into an evil life of corruption and crime and with very little future. Duncan and his associates ruled 1950’s London with malevolent terror and fear. Forty-five years later five old men meet in a country pub for their annual reunion. A toast is proposed the missing member of their group, Tom who died some five years previously of a heart attack.
Davies, as usual, smartly dressed in black Armani, creases down the front of his trousers as Sharpe as a knifes edge. The Gold buttons on his blazer dazzling in the pub light. From underneath his sleeve, a Rolex watch signifies his wealth as did the chauffer driven pearly white pristine Rolls Royce. A permanent tan, built up from his numerous holidays to his villa in Portugal, contrasts against his perfect white smile. He is reformed in every sense from the idealist gangster that he used to be. However, deep down in his memory, the gruesome scenes from that Thursday night so many years ago come back to haunt him.
Although in his own mind he knows what he did he can justify that not only was it a personal matter but also for the good of others. Charley, the youngest of the gang, looks far older than his years, deep lines in his face caused by chain smoking, the nicotine stained fingers on his misshapen hands tell a story of many brawls which took place in and out of prison. His tattered suit, which has seen him through many reunions glimmers with the dull shine of constant wear. His jacket hangs loosely from his bony shoulders is wrapped around him in a vain attempt to hide his creased and faded shirt.
He still looks up to Davies, it was probably the nearest he got to a father figure. He has never questioned Davies about that Thursday night forty-five years ago; Davies always did what was right in his eyes. Jenkins, now an alcoholic, hands trembling as he raises his glass to his dry lips. His skin the dull yellow of someone with kidney disease. His bloodshot eyes stare vacantly out of the plate glass window. He lives alone, going from hostel to hostel. His wife and children no longer have contact with him due his drunken antics.
He drank to drown out his memory of the Pool Street Massacre, as it became known, and now he can not remember why he drinks. Dave, a born again Christian, sits quietly with his orange juice, he is a neat man, and his neat grey hand-knitted jumper sits neatly over his Marks and Spencer shirt. His silver grey hair is combed over from the side in an attempt to hide his bald patch. He nervously glances at his watch, hoping that know one notices him doing it. He has promised his wife that he will meet her in time for evening service. He listens quietly to the others, occasionally smiling at a joke that he doesn’t quite get.
The lonely months that followed after that night forty-five years ago left him a desolate man who suffered from haunted memories. He sought forgiveness and he found it within the church with the happy clappy people. Harry the last of the group, sits in an upright position, the hairs on his moustache are neatly combed and stand to attention. His navy blazer bares the badge of his regiment. He now answers to the title of Major, enlisting with national service and working his way up to he reached his position. He reluctantly retired during the eighties, for him the Army was an escape from real life.
The bullet wound that he received, September 1952, helps him to captivate an audience as he tells them stories of ‘heroism during active service’. As the day draws to an end, each man takes the time to reflect on events of September 1952. The characters of the men shaped and formed by what life has thrown at them. Each person has his own views of the events of that night. Some will say these men are heroes, some say that they did it for power; some say it was a cold blooded gang land killing. But for Davies, Harry, Dave, Tom, Jenkins, and Charlie only they can know the truth behind the stories that live on.