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Lindy could feel herself drifting in and out of consciousness. One minute she felt slightly of this world, the next, she was somewhere else. She smiled a Cheshire cat smile as she drifted through her dream state. As her eyes gave a slight roll she was back in a safe place, the faces of her family were all smiling down at her. They may not have been the kinds of faces that would make anyone else smile, but to her, they were perfection. But now the smiling faces of her family were starting to fade. They were beginning to mix with that unpleasant, now familiar sound of high-pitched cackling. The low and base-like groans and guffaws of her environment were moving themselves to the forefront of her consciousness.
Whatever they’d force fed her again was surely wearing off now. Lindy was confused. The smiling family faces, the cackling, the encroaching sounds of debauchery, it was all mixing into a sickening cocktail of bewilderment. It was like a bad dream that she couldn’t wake up from.
CRACK!!…Lindy felt an almighty thwack across her back. Now she was awake, wide awake, and the lucid reality of where she was all came flooding back in a second.
Tommy took a long hard drag of his cigarette. The bloody war was still vividly fresh in his mind, but he knew the family business had to take precedent over the torturous memories that remained in his head. Once again he swept away a ghastly flashback and focused on the task in hand.
“Right boys”, Arthur’s voice boomed through the hollowed out terrace houses. “Today’s the day. We’ve got a long journey ahead of us, but no doubt Dublin is gonna bring us fresh money…and with any luck some fresh women”.
The five men laughed and cheered at the prospect, even Tommy cracked a smile at Arthur’s simple and jovial outlook on what was truly very serious business. Arthur raised his dwindling glass of whisky to the rest of the room, that was obviously where his Dutch courage was coming from thought Tommy,
“To Ireland”, Arthur toasted, as he swigged back the last shot of whisky from his glass.
“And to the Shelby Bothers Limited”, added Tommy, subtly reminding the boys that they were on a working mission and not a jolly. Arthur may have been the head of the family, but Tommy had masterminded the whole Dublin mission. And if all went according to plan, when they touched back down on English soil Tommy was going to propose to Arthur that he should take charge of drumming up new money. Tommy knew he had the brains, Arthur was more like a foot soldier, but like everything in Tommy’s life, a strategic plan would have to be devised if Arthur was going to be persuaded to take a step back from running all fronts of the business. The 5 men: Tommy, Arthur, John, Albert and Frank exited the house with bounce in their step, and jumped into the horse drawn wagon that was waiting out the front. If they pulled this mission off, Shelby Brothers Limited would be sitting on a wad of cash larger than any of them could have ever dreamed.
Johnny Maguire surveyed his impressive knuckle duster. Many a skull had been cracked with this beauty. Johnny didn’t see himself as an evil man, but growing up in Dublin’s inner-city slums didn’t leave one with much choice other than to form a tough outer shell that even the most beautiful of women could not penetrate. It was a hard world he’d been born into, but he loved his kin, he loved his homeland and he resolved to himself that however much money he made from his life of sin, he would never leave behind what he loved. The Dublin slums were his home, and that’s what they would always be.
It had been about a month since Tommy Shelby had visited him with a business proposition. He’d recognised the name Shelby immediately; it was well known throughout many parts of his beautiful country. The proposition was a grand one, a robbery of sorts. Johnny Maguire was no stranger to robbery, after all, he’d made an honest living out of it for most of his life, but this was going to be the riskiest escapade of his criminal career to date. Tommy had learned Johnny Maguire’s name through talk in the trenches. He was one of the most skilled and accomplished petty robbers of his day and had just the amount of local knowledge and experience that Tommy needed to complete his squad.
Everything was in place for the move that could make or break his career. Soon Tommy and his men would be arriving by boat. Being the gentleman that Johnny Maguire was, he planned to show his hospitality by taking them to some of the finest taverns and whore houses that Dublin had to offer. All very discreetly mind, they didn’t want to be drawing too much attention to themselves the night before the grand plan was about to go down! He packed his revolver, pushed his jet black hair underneath his peak cap, and set off in search of his Irish partner in crime, Seamus Lee.
The short cane had split across Lindy’s back for the umpteenth time since this wretched ordeal had begun.
“This is your last fucking chance bitch”, a sharp voice spat in Lindy’s ear. “I’m doing those Smith bastards a bloody favour by keeping you here, you’d think you would at least put out when you’re supposed to”.
Lindy’s mind was lucid now. This despicable woman could drug her to heaven and back with whatever opium concoction she liked, she was not going to break her. She still held faith that sooner or later her whole bloody family was going to burst through the door of the whore house where she was being held captive, and shoot every wretched bastard in this god forsaken place.
She couldn’t comprehend the events of the last week. This time last Friday she was sitting in the family headquarters with her brothers, in beautiful London town, drinking rum and counting the cash from their swindling of a deal with the Smith family. Now she was lying on a brown stained mattress, both hands tied to a bed frame, rolling in and out of consciousness while this Madame kept her topped up with opium – it was the only way to shut her up and stop her from attacking the punters. She knew that the Smiths were holding her to ransom. She knew this because Madame Black had a big mouth. She also knew that the Smith’s wanted her kept alive; she was no ransom if she was dead. Undoubtedly, if the Smith’s hadn’t wanted her kept alive she would’ve been put out of her misery by Madame Black on the first day.
Madame Black was a spindly woman. She wore all of her jewellery every day. Beads, feathers, hats, rings, she was completely adorned. Her fiery red hair was a perfect frizzy mess piled on top of her head. Everything she wore was old and tired, but it had all once been of the finest quality, and for that reason she thought she looked like the queen of the manor.
Lindy was supposed to be a useful extra body to bring in some funds during her stay at the house. Madame Black had rubbed her grubby, nicotine stained little hands together at the prospect of this curvaceous, exotic looking beauty being added to the menu. But Lindy had decided she was not about to be some fat, drunken, lecherous old man’s replacement for a wife that couldn’t keep her man in check. The first client that Madame Black had smarmily sent her way…she’d given him something to write home about! She’d taken a chunk out of his face with her teeth and then proceeded to stare at him with daring pleasure as he screamed and grabbed at his face in agony. After he stopped screaming he started beating. He had laid his fists into every part of Lindy, and after he’d left, yelling curses down the street, Madame black had made sure she whipped any parts of her body that he might have missed with her blessed cane.
Lindy was as tuff as old boots. She was only 23, but she had been through more than any other female she knew, and coming from the heart of Stepney that was some feat. Her life had been tough living under the roof of her alcoholic father, but that part had been a walk in the park compared with some of the other things that she had lived through. However, this ordeal was becoming more than she could bear. In all honesty, it pained her to believe that actually, she was close to breaking point. Although she’d never let anybody see this, especially Madame Black and her vile punters. Despite her waning heart, she resolved daily to herself that she was Lindy Romano of the notorious Romano familia! And she would not end her days in a whore house in a back street of Dublin.
“Did you hear me you Romano scum?” spat Madame Black. “Don’t make a fucking scene, or this time I’ll put you in the gutter myself.” Madame Black lowered her voice, almost trying to make a quiet plea with Lindy, “Look, he’s blind drunk. Just let him do what he’s gotta do. It’ll be over in no time”.
Over my dead body, Lindy thought. She stared right through Madame Black without saying a word. She was in her own world, considering whether to lash out at her – she was close enough. No, she would wait for the punter. Maybe she could take a whole ear this time, as a trophy perhaps. Madame Black left the room swiftly. Lindy knew she was becoming too much trouble for this woman to bare. Within a few seconds a large shadow moved closer along the wall leading to her room. And then there, in the door, stood a man of about six foot, one eye half closed, swaying and grinning. He had beer stains all down his filthy shirt and the buttons that were missing exposed a fat hairy belly protruding from underneath.
“Hello darlin’”, he slurred, “Madame Black tells me you’re a right goer”.
Tommy breathed in the crisp Dublin air. It seemed so much fresher than Small Heath. The plans were in motion. They had reached Dublin in the Frank’s fishing boat. Tommy, Arthur, John and the other two men would be meeting Johnny Maguire and Seamus Lee at a remote house on the outskirts of Dublin. Maguire used it as a regular hideout when he needed to lay low. The horse and cart picked them up at 7pm under the cover of darkness, just as Tommy and Johnny had arranged. As much as Tommy loved horses, one of the first things he planned to buy with the takings from this heist was a car. No more jigging along on horseback unless it was a racehorse. The Shelby’s were moving up in the world.
They were transported seamlessly to the remote house, where Johnny and Seamus were waiting. Arthur and John did their usual bravado. Tommy didn’t care. He was the brains, his brothers were the brawn, and a bit of chest puffing helped to assert their dominance anyway.
The plans were discussed at length. They were just over twenty-four hours away from attempting something that would bring them great fortune, or a noose around the neck. They were going to rob a bank! None of the men present had attempted something as daring or risky as this before. Robbery wasn’t Tommy’s preferred method of making money, but since the brothers had been away at war the business had taken a real hit. Aunt Polly had done the best she could to keep it going. She hadn’t done a bad job, but a substantial cash injection was needed if they were going to actually be able to execute the plans that Tommy had for expansion. He knew all too well that in this business, capital was important, and he had devised the perfect plan to make sure that after their Dublin trip, robbery would not have to be on their agenda as a means of making money again. This was the big one. The robbery to end all robberies.
Lindy said a prayer, she knew God was watching, protecting her as much as he could. The grotesque drunk never managed to have his wicked way with her. He’d gotten pretty close, but the bumbling fool had been so inebriated that after slobbering all over her he had been unable to unbuckle his belt. While trying to free his goods with one hand he had rolled around on top of her like a slime covered whale, until he rolled so far over, that he rolled off the bed and landed with an almighty thud on the wooden floorboards. He was so drunk that he didn’t even attempt to get back up and try again. He just laid there in a semi-vegetative state. After a minute or so he had started snoring, and a stream of thick dribble began to tip its way over the edge of his mouth and down his cheek. Lindy had just stared at him in disbelief. What a lucky escape, and she hadn’t even needed to take a chunk of disgusting, lard coloured flesh into her mouth with her rock solid teeth either. She might not even get a beating for this one, what a turn up for the books!
Madame Black had got her two heavy men to drag him back down the hallway and leave him outside around the corner. Lindy thought that Black was almost relieved that this one had passed with relatively little drama. It occurred to her for a split second, that the two women’s roles were seemingly reversed. Actually, she was the one breaking Madame Black down, which gave her an incredible sense of hope and resolve. Her bothers must have found out where she was being held captive by now. They were probably already on a boat to Ireland, with half of the fucking East end in tow!
Whether her brothers were on their way to rescue her was becoming beside the point now. Lindy had had enough of waiting like a sitting duck in this hell hole. The uncertainty, amongst other things, of what was occurring beyond these dilapidated walls was absolute torture. It was time to devise a cunning plan and formulate an escape. She had to stay sharp. Perhaps attacking every cretin that tried to get near her was not the best course of action. It was time to get smart, time to play the game. As much as the thought of allowing any of the ‘clients’ to have their wicked way made her skin crawl, she was beginning to think that compliance might be the way forward. Compliance would surely mean no opium. No opium meant a sharp mind. A sharp mind meant the real Lindy. The skilful, clever, manipulative prowess that she had had to display so many times in her life was about to come out to play…
Tommy span the barrel of his revolver and watched the bullets flash round. Arthur and John were sat across the table from him, both with brandy in one hand and a cigarette in the other. The other men were scattered between the various rooms in the downstairs of the house. They had all been very impressed with the size of Glenda McFadden’s house. Glenda was a forty-seven-year-old widow who had been left to live all alone in the six-bedroom house after her husband died. She was a respectable woman with a penchant for bad boys, and on many lonely occasion Johnny Maguire had stepped in and been just the bad boy she had needed. Putting up Johnny, Seamus and these five gangster type men was like being in one of the films she had recently seen at the pictures. Glenda’s usual sein mind would have run a mile at the prospect of harbouring twelve hardened criminals, but going to the pictures had given her stars in her eyes. She trusted Johnny, and she believed he would keep her safe if any of the men tried to act up. What an experience this was going to be!
“Okay lads, I’ve got a treat for yous”, bellowed Johnny as he entered the sitting room where Tommy and the boys were sat. They turned their heads towards Johnny, awaiting the unveiling of the aforementioned ‘treat’.
“Come on then Johnny”, Tommy probed, “do tell us what this treat is, on this night that we are supposed to be doing nothing but laying low and preparing for tomorrow night’s job?”.
“Yeah spit it out”, John chimed in.
“Well!” exclaimed Johnny, “as we’re brought here together on this fine night, on the outskirts of my beautiful city, I thought it would be rude not to show you some of the wonderful sights that Dublin has to offer. We can start with The Fox and Hound, move on to the Fighting Cocks, teach ya some of our old shanties, and if you’re lucky, take a trip to Monto to visit Madame Black’s, for some of the finest whores in town!” He stood there tall, hands on hips and proud with a wide grin spread across his handsome if somewhat haggard face.
Arthur and John grinned at each other. Booze and whores, just what they needed to drown their pained and troubled minds. At this point Tommy was forced to interject.
“Johnny – I don’t sing. Arthur – we’re here to undertake serious business, and you’re actually considering going out and boozing it up before the jobs even done?”. He stared at the other men in disbelief. Arthur…he could be such a brash idiot at times. And John, he may have fought in the war, but he was still a young, impressionable boy at heart. Tommy felt like he had to be their bloody father half the time. What a pair!
“Now listen here Thomas”, Arthur was about to feign wisdom and authority again, “I’m the head of this family and if I say we’re avin’ a drink, were avin’ a drink, right?”.
“Arthur, we need to lay low, serio….”
Arthur cut him off before he could even finish his sentence.
“Come on John Boy”. He stood up from the table and pulled his peak cap snugly onto his head. “Tommy! Get your backside up lad, Madame Black’s waiting for ya!”
The men that were sat in the front room laughed at what they thought was Arthur’s good humour.
“Who’s coming then boys?”, Arthur looked around to the rest of the men. Tommy’s crystal blue eyes shot around the room at each man in a split second. He didn’t even have to say anything. They all knew instantly that drinking and whores was not on the agenda for them now. Tommy had spoken without saying a word.
Arthur was a stubborn mule. Being the oldest son, he didn’t like Tommy telling him what to do. Tommy knew this all too well. The best Tommy could do, he decided, was to effectively chaperone Arthur and John, along with Johnny and Seamus, and make sure that they didn’t cause a scene or start any trouble.
“Come on then lads”, Tommy conceded, “We’ll have a couple then straight back to the house!”.
The five men: Tommy, Arthur, John, Seamus and Johnny, exited the house into the crisp Dublin air. They walked briskly along the dark road, cigarettes burning brightly under the dark skies, overcoats catching in the breeze.
Glenda McFadden watched them through the window as they went. She was surprised that Johnny had upped and left her with these men that she hardly knew, although they all seemed to have been perfect gentlemen so far. Her mind skipped back to the five gangsters strutting down the middle of the road. How desirable and formidable they all looked, with their peak caps pulled low, their broad shoulders, their strong walk. Glenda swooned at the thought of them. It was such a shame that tomorrow night they would be risking their lives…they could all be caught and arrested, or worse still – killed! Glenda reflected on the hours that had passed since she had met the other men. As much as Johnny Maguire had had her heart until this point, there was something intriguing about this Tommy Shelby. He was incredibly handsome, incredibly dominant. Despite the fact that Arthur was the head of the family, there was something about Tommy that made Johnny Maguire almost pale into inexistence.
She didn’t know why, but her impulses were telling her she needed to let Tommy know exactly how she felt about him. Yes, they lived in different countries, and Johnny would probably be around all the while, preventing any real fun from happening. Nevertheless, she resolved that when Tommy got back, any chance she could sneak, she was going to give him the come on. Show some ankle, maybe even a slight bit of chest. The thought of two rouge gangsters wanting her was beyond the bounds of her excitement. When Tommy returned, the forbidden games would begin!
Amazingly, Johnny’s ‘tour’ of the city had, so far, passed without occurrence. Tommy was relieved that the men’s behaviour had been pretty impeccable – they must have actually listened when he instructed to them exactly how the drinking session was going to go down. A few drinks in one pub; a couple in the next. The lads were merry and already discussing their plans to move on to the brothel. Tommy was tense but the other four men were in good spirits.
“Right then boys, Madame Black’s it is!” beamed Johnny.
“What’s the quality of these toms then Johnnyboy?”, Arthur gave Tommy and John a nudge and a wink, “better than old Lizzie Stark I wonder?”
Tommy considered the irony of visiting a whore house the night before a bank heist. The whole situation was quite contrary. Still, it had been a while since his last female encounter, “all work and no play”, he thought to himself. As much as Tommy wasn’t into the habit of visiting whore houses ‘en masse’, he wasn’t about to stand around in the waiting area while the other guys got their kicks. He decided he would go with the men and if there was a decent tom who caught his fancy, why not? After all, they chose their professions…it’s not like they were being forced into it or anything…
Lindy had laid quiet for some time now. No screaming, no hissing or spitting vile obscenities down the hallway. Her mind was lucid and she could feel the courage building inside of her as each minute passed. There was no concrete plan in place but nevertheless ideas were buzzing round her head like glowing fireflies. She had overheard the interactions of the punters and the girls many times. Some of the regulars would lay their tales of woe and wife troubles out for a good ten minutes before they got down to business. If she could just build a relationship like that with one of the punters, she’d have him untie her in no time. There were a million reasons she could give the unsuspecting client for needing to get both hands free. And as soon as that happened she was going to be out of there like a shot. The two heavy men weren’t much cause for concern, they weren’t even there half the time. They were just on standby in what sounded like a pub across the road. And if Madame Black tried to put one hand on her…Ha! She’d throw that spindly bitch into next Tuesday! Thoughts of sweet escape swelled Lindy’s head. Nothing had ever mattered more. Now all she needed was to find a stupid, unsuspecting fool who was looking for a shoulder to cry on.
Tommy, Arthur, John and their two Irish cohorts stepped into the foyer at Madame Black’s. Johnny had assured them that while there was a plethora of brothels in Monto, Dublin’s red light district, Madame Black’s had the best girls at ‘good bargain rates!’
‘Nice’, thought Tommy. He wondered what Johnny’s version of ‘the best girls’ would actually transpire to be. ‘Mind you’, he reasoned with himself, ‘Glenda McFadden wasn’t so bad for a middle aged widow’, hopefully Johnny Maguire’s judgement was somewhere in line with his own, if not, a brandy in the foyer it would have to be!
Tommy quietly surveyed his surroundings as he stepped in the entrance hall at Madame Blacks. He’d never seen anything like it in the streets leading up to the venue where he now stood. Women of all sorts had adorned the steps of the numerous Georgian terraced houses, some in their finest attire, some in nothing but their nightwear. It was a far cry from the one quiet room of Lizzie Stark that he was used to back in Small Heath.
The main front room of the house had been turned into a lounge come bar come reception area. A couple of men were sat down on the sofas, allowing themselves to be wooed by some young ladies. The house was almost a relic of a once glorious home. Everything looked expensive yet ancient, ironically as did Madame Black, Tommy thought.
“Well! Good evening Mr. Maguire, and good evening gentlemen”, Madame Black chimed, cocksure, seller mode in full swing. “What can I interest you in this evening?”
“Nothing but the finest girls for my companions, Madame Black”, Johnny replied, “and I’ll have my usual darlin’, of course!”
“And see this one ere”, Arthur gestured in Tommy’s direction, Brummy accent as strong as ever, “fix him something a bit feisty, he likes the feisty ones”.
Tommy wasn’t sure exactly where Arthur thought he was getting this knowledge from, because it definitely wasn’t from him. Nevertheless, Madame Black responded with a knowing smile and whispered close to his ear,
“I’ve got just the girl for you then my darlin’”. Tommy smiled quizzically at how he’d stepped into this whore house less than one minute ago, yet he’d already had a particular tom allocated especially to him. Feeling mildly entertained by the whole scenario, Tommy decided to go along with the joviality that everyone else in the room seemed to be displaying,
“Come on then”, he conceded, with a slight eye roll, “let’s see what you’ve got!”
Madame Black led the men down the hall, suitably suggesting a girl for each. Of which they all seemed pleasantly content with. As Arthur went into the last room, before leaving just Tommy and Madame Black stood at the end of the long corridor, he turned and gave Tommy a salute.
“See you on the other side soldier”, Arthur smiled a content smiled and went on into the room.
Now, just Tommy and Madame Black stood at the end of the long, slightly dank corridor. Strangely, the last door wasn’t open like all the others had been. It was closed shut, and he stood staring at the six dirty door panels facing him. Suddenly, without the presence of the other men, Tommy felt an ominous wave come over him. The hallway was quiet and lonely and he could sense this Madame woman’s tense nerves.
“Wait ‘ere one second darlin’, she said, attempting to feign confidence, “I’ll just check she’s ready for ya”.
Madame Black dived inside the room and slammed the door behind her. “Best girl?” Tommy thought. Everything was starting to feel off. Just as he was considering what move he was going to make from here, Madame Black came out of the room, beaming a relieved smile, she was definitely more relaxed now.
Lindy had smiled compliantly at Madame Black, when she had hissed at her to ‘fucking behave herself, or she’d be done for’. No more vicious Lindy; sweet, charming, seductive Lindy was about to kick into action. She laid there, hand tied to the bed, wondering what horror was about to greet her this time. All the vile men that she’d ever known flashed through her mind. What would he be? 17 stone of fat? Black teethed? Vile smelling? Violent and sadistic? She felt almost paralysed with fear as a tall shadow approached towards the room. She realised to herself that what she was about to encounter might just add yet another life scar to her already traumatised soul. She took a deep breath as the shadow began to develop into a human form around the corner of the door.
Tommy surveyed the sight in front of him. He was completely taken a back. There, in front of him laid a girl. Her body was covered from head to toe in greenish, fading bruises. Her lengthy dark brown hair was matted around her head. Her face…it looked like it hadn’t been washed in a month. Her eyes…his eyes fell fixed on them for a moment…they didn’t match the rest of this mess of a woman; they were turquoise like the ocean and they glinted like beautiful diamonds. He stood for a second, almost dumfounded at the scene before him.
Lindy stared in disbelief at what greeted her. The man in the doorway couldn’t be further from the horrors that she had imagined. He was tall, handsome, beautifully dressed and his eyes shone like a beautiful blue sky day. They shone like the blue skies she had looked up to so many times throughout her life, praying for a miracle to take her sadness away. She looked deep into the blue sky eyes, and all in a split second felt like her many prayers for freedom and miracles could be answered all at once.
Tommy gathered his thoughts and his composure,
“Is this a fucking joke?”, he called down the hallway as he started to turn his body and leave the room. Lindy could feel her prayers disappearing in a split second before her eyes.
“No mister, mister please wait”, she implored. “Don’t leave yet. I…I know I may look a right old mess but…”
Tommy took a step further towards the door.
“Mister pleaaase”, she whispered in a hush tone.
This was not what Tommy had hoped for. A messed up begging girl, tied up to a bed, filthy, covered in bruises, that he should be walking away from right now. But her eyes were speaking to him, they looked full of so many emotions: desperation; hurt; hope. He stood for a second considering the situation he was now in. He took another step towards the door, but this time he reached out and quietly pushed it shut. As he turned round slowly to look at her their eyes met again. Suddenly he wanted to know more about this bruised and battered beauty. Sex definitely wasn’t on the cards now in his mind. Despite this, he felt compelled to stay and discover more.
Tommy sat down on the end of the bed and lit a cigarette. He offered one to the brunette girl and surveyed her as he lit it up. They stayed looking at each other for a long moment. He was her beautiful escape plan. She was an intriguingly mysterious…whore.
Lindy considered the best way to play this. She couldn’t just dive straight in and ask him to untie her, that’d never work. No, she had to seduce him – get him on her side first. Tommy took his coat off and laid it over the foot of the bed. Lindy noticed he had a gun strapped in a harness. Who was this mysterious guy? She didn’t want him to leave. Visions of him scooping her up in his arms and marching out of the brothel flashed through her mind.
“So…”, she probed tentatively, “what would you have of me Sir?” She decided at this point slutty and seductive was her best hope for direct action. “If you want you can…”
Tommy cut her off by waving his hand dismissively in the air,
“There’ll be none of that today” he commanded. Lindy couldn’t believe it; he was a Brummie! She actually didn’t care if he was from Birmingham, Liverpool or Dorset. He was from that beautiful mass of land that she knew as home. Suddenly, she was filled with more hope than she could handle. And he didn’t want to simply ravage her and leave either? What was going on here? This was too good to be true! Before she could stop the words from falling out of her mouth, she found herself going completely against all the plans she had made. She tried to stop her lips from uttering the pleadings that she had warned herself would get her nowhere, but his English familiarity tipped her over the edge.
“Mister, you’ve gotta me out of here. Just…just untie me please! I’ve got to get out of here! If I stay another day in this place…..”
Tommy was completely taken aback by her change of behaviour. Was she a crazy woman? Why was she here? Where was this sudden desperation coming from? He stood up abruptly from the bed. This was not the time to be getting into a counselling session. His mind had to be focused on tomorrow night, not some crazy girl pulling at his arm begging to be rescued.
From down the corridor he heard John calling him.
“Come on Tommy, what’s taking you so long?” A shroud of laughter followed from downstairs.
“I told you they was the best girls in town didn’t I Tommy lad!” He heard Johnny Maguire’s voice chime into the joke.
“I’m sorry”, Tommy added, pulling away from her and immediately feeling a real sense of remorse in his actions. “I don’t have the time for this, I’ve gotta go!”
And with that sentiment, he turned and bolted out of the door in a flash. Gone, like a thief in the night.
Lindy laid there stunned. She couldn’t move, she couldn’t breathe, couldn’t think. She was frozen. The stunning blue eyed man, her chance of freedom, he was gone before she could even react. A single tear rolled down her face as she laid frozen in time. That night she would cry a river of tears. She would cry like she hadn’t cried since she was five years’ old. She would cry like the day she’d lost her darling mother, all over again. The man she thought for a stupid second would be her saviour, he had deserted her, deserted her like she really was some common whore.
Glenda McFadden’s house was jovial that night. The men had arrived back there with their souls quenched of the desire for women and alcohol. They were relaxed and at ease. But not Tommy, his soul couldn’t be further from quenched. He sat in the corner, brooding. The other men drank on, raising their glasses and toasting the good life. Glenda kept shooting Tommy lingering, seductive glances. What was it with these women? Why did they keep throwing themselves at him? More to the point, what was Ms. McFadden thinking? If Johnny Maguire caught her disrespecting him like that, he’d probably put an end to her – Johnny definitely wasn’t the retiring type! Tommy’s thoughts flashed through his head: the shiny eyed girl in the whore house, desperate for him to untie her from the bed; Glenda McFadden dancing precariously on the edge of safety, threatening the whole harmonium of the group – and the robbery; yes, there was the robbery! This was what he needed to focused on. Time was drawing closer and he needed to be lucid. This was not the time for women to be complicating the mix.
Gradually, one by one, the men started to drift off to sleep. Some retired to their rooms, some just slept where they fell. Tommy still sat. He hadn’t moved all night. His thoughts were with tomorrows events, but they were also with the girl he had left begging and pleading in the whore house. He had so many questions that he couldn’t clear from his mind. In fact, he hated to admit it, but he was worried about her. She had looked so young, so desperate. His mind began to envision her cleaned up and fresh, standing behind the bar in The Garrison. Why was he having these ridiculous thoughts? But no matter how hard he tried, when he closed his eyes, she was there, pretty eyes shining at him, pouring him a whisky, in the realms of his imagination.
Lindy laid lifeless on the bed, her face smeared from dirt and tears. She tried to remove the lost hope from her mind. But no matter how hard she tried, when she closed her eyes, he was there, blue eyes looking into her soul, untying her from her nightmare and whisking her away, in the realms of her imagination.
Tommy looked up from the patterned carpet that his eyes had been transfixed on. He surveyed the scene around him. The room was quiet apart from the content snores of Arthur and John. And there, standing a few feet away from him, was Glenda McFadden. She had a lustrous, determined look in her eye.
“I saw you watching me earlier”, she spoke cool and collected, voice smooth like a sea of velvet.
“Glenda, it’s late, you’re drunk, go to bed, go be with your man”, Tommy dismissed. He tried to act calm and nonchalant, but he could feel his emotions stirring inside, they were ready to blow.
“Don’t you know though Tommy, he’s not my man is he? He’s just a friend who keeps me company sometimes.” She reached out a hand to brush Tommy’s face. “I could keep you company if you like Tommy?”
Tommy had had enough. He had to get out of there. He had to remove this woman from his presence before he flipped out and jeopardised everything that he’d worked so hard to arrange. He stood up an inch from her face; their eyes met for a split second. She was hopeful, he was resolute.
“Woman I said go back to bed!” his stern voice ricocheted against the walls of the quiet room, blue eyes burning like fire crystals. Tommy had let Glenda know in no uncertain terms that her advances were futile and as he did, he stormed out of the house with great speed and conviction, into the cold night air.
Tommy was walking. Fast, brisk, deliberate paces. His heart pounded like a marching drum on its way to war. His brain wasn’t sure what he was doing, but his heart was. His feet matched the drum of his heart as they marched to their own song, one foot in front of the other, with complete conviction of their direction.
He didn’t stop walking until he reached his planned destination. It was well into the deep hours of night now. As he rounded the corner heading towards the row of Georgian houses, Tommy surveyed his surroundings: the two women sitting on the steps on one side of the street; the horse tied up at the end of the road; the drunk, stumbling man making his way down the stairs a few houses up. He marched on, peak cap pulled low, masking the top half of his face. Tommy had a plan, it was a pretty basic one but a plan nonetheless. He leapt up the stairs to Madame Black’s and entered into the foyer. Madame Black, clearly startled at the sudden rush of adrenaline entering her house, jumped up from her chair in the lounge area and came into the doorway with wide, surprised eyes. Tommy didn’t even stop to talk to her. He took a roll of notes out of his pocket and slammed a couple in her hand.
“I want the girl from earlier”, he said as his voice disappeared down the hallway. Madame Black started walking briskly down the hallway behind him.
“You’ll have to wait your turn!”, Madame Black attempted to order, “She’s with a client. He won’t take kindly to being interrupted!”
Tommy didn’t listen to a word Madame Black said. She was completely insignificant to him. Her noise was like crickets humming in the distance. He reached the end of the hallway with her hot on his toes. Without taking a second to gather his thoughts he flung open the door to the room. The sight that greeted him was a sad one. A scrawny little man was writhing all over the young woman whom Tommy had had his early encounter with. The flimsy bit of cloth that she had been wearing when he met her earlier was pulled up around her neck. She laid there virtually naked – vulnerable and down trodden. The expression on her face over the man’s shoulder was that of quiet dismay and anguish. Tears flowed silently down her face, making a track of clean skin where the salty droplet cut through the grime, awaiting her impending fate.
Her eyes darted up to the door as it flung open. Who now? she thought. Madame Black? Another monster? Her heart froze its beating for a second, as the realisation dawned on her that it was none of the devils that she had expected. It was the man who was supposed to be her saviour! He had returned!
The spindly little man jumped up off of Lindy, trousers unbuckled, everything just about contained inside them.
“What the fucks goin’ on ere?” he shouted, wide eyed and caught off guard. He came eye to eye with a tall blue eyed man, who had a relentlessly determined look on his face.
Tommy took the wad of cash out of his pocket again.
“Take this, and fuck off!” Tommy ordered to the weasel as he pointed down the hallway, his broad chest puffing with anger under his crisp white shirt.
The man was only of short stature. He was meek and feeble looking and his features slightly resembled that of a sewer rat. He took one look at the substantial amount of cash in his hand, one look at the blued eyed man’s foreboding expression and scarpered down the hallway without another word, off into the night. Tommy’s breathing was rapid as he turned to Madame Black.
“Can I have my turn now?” he said as he looked at her, eyebrows raised, eyes piercing deep into her soul.
Madame Black was quite taken aback by this young man’s enthusiasm. She didn’t care how she got paid though. The first client had paid; this young man stood in front of her had also paid; doubling her intake with just one body was a bonus! Mabey this cockney bitch had finally got the message that giving it up would make everybody’s life a whole lot easier.
“Certainly Sir”, she said in a most gracious expression. She gave a little courtesy and exited the room with a smarmy smile and a feeling of triumph.
Glenda McFadden was feeling distraught. She had been so sure that Tommy had been responding positively to the advances that she had been making throughout the evening. She grew angry that he had been so abrupt with her. What was wrong with this fella? Why wasn’t he jolly and care free like the rest of the men after they’d had a few drinks? Johnny Maguire was certainly never able to resist her!
It was true, Johnny usually couldn’t wait to get into the comfort of Glenda’s house and get his kicks while he laid low. However, what Glenda hadn’t known this evening, was that Johnny had heard her advances to Tommy. He was still awake in the room next door. He had sat there seething, as he heard the words leave her mouth. From the second he realised what Glenda was doing, Johnny knew he was going to make her pay. ‘Dirty whore!’, he thought to himself. ‘She’s dirtier than the whores at Madame Blacks!’ The irony of his whoring escapades being completely normal, but Glenda’s actions making her a ‘devilish slut’ did not occur to Johnny. If Tommy had accepted Glenda’s advances, Johnny would’ve been out there like a rocket and shot the pair of them!
But the point was, Tommy hadn’t succumbed to Glenda the filthy slut, he thought to himself. Johnny was just as intent on successfully completing this heist as much as Tommy was and he didn’t want to forsake it on the count of a stupid drunk woman. Tommy had been nothing but a businessman throughout their whole encounter and not only that, Johnny respected him for all the bravery he had heard about in the trenches. Glenda, on the other hand, would soon feel his cold steel!
Tommy wasn’t about to waste any time. He leaned in close to a stunned Lindy. She could feel the heat of his breath on the side of her face as he spoke in a low but hurried tone.
“You want to get out of here I take it?” he said as he hurriedly started untying the first hand from the bed frame. Lindy stared at Tommy, mouth hanging slightly open in shock and disbelief. She managed to give a half nod as she stared at the beautiful face that was concentrating on untying her reddened wrists. Tommy stopped for a split second and looked directly at Lindy. He wanted some clarification before he complicated his already entangled life even further.
“Do you wanna get out of here or what?” He questioned again, this time making sure he had her full attention.
Lindy snapped her brain back into gear. Suddenly it dawned on her. It was actually happening; she was being rescued! Instantly she regained her composure and resolve and, matching his intense stare with her own she replied resolutely,
“Of course I do!”.
There was no time for small talk now. Lindy’s brain began to rush with adrenaline; thoughts of freedom; thoughts of revenge. Tommy leaned across her and as he did she remembered the revolver he was carrying concealed in his harness. She eyed it up as his body came close to hers across the bed. She could feel the last rope loosening its wicked grip and she started to pull her hands away from the bed frame, a rush of liberation travelled like a wave through her body. It was her time now! With beautiful precision she reached inside his overcoat and pulled his revolver from its holster, just as the last thread left her unshackled wrist. Within a flash she had wriggled down under him and off of the bed. Tommy whipped around and stared at her, eyes wide, wondering what he may have just enabled. They stood face on at each other, Tommy froze for a second, Lindy stared right back at him, his own gun now clasped between both her hands, her chest pounding furiously, hazel eyes wide and wild.
“What the fuck are you doing!?” Tommy questioned in a husky whispered tone. He put his hands cautiously out and up, slightly into the air, half wondering if this filthy, beautiful, somewhat crazy woman was about to turn the gun on him. Within the beat of a heart Lindy looked resolutely at him and started to make for the door. She turned back just as she made it to the door frame,
“What are ya waitin’ for then? She questioned. “Let’s go!”
She started to move at pace down the hallway, Tommy two steps behind her. He was just about to grab his gun back out of her hands when one of Madame Black’s heavy men appeared in the hallway. Lindy didn’t even need time to think. In one swift shot she pointed the gun and pulled the trigger, placing a bullet straight through the middle of the man’s chest.
“Fucking hell woman what are you doing!?”
Tommy couldn’t help but raise his voice to a shouting level from the sheer panic that had set in, as he realised he was losing control of the situation. This woman was crazy.
Girl’s screams started coming from all around them as the gun shot echoed through the house. One girl looked around the door to see what was happening, half naked and petrified. Lindy brazenly continued passed her without a second glance and started heading down the stairs. Just as she did, Madame Black rounded into the bottom of the stairwell.
“What the fuck’s goin….”
She hadn’t even managed to finish her sentence when her eyes met square on with a gun toting Lindy. The huge whites of her eyeballs exposed themselves as, within a split second, the realisation dawned on her that she was about to meet her maker. “Oh my God please…” she started, but her pleadings were cut short, as without hesitation Lindy lifted the gun and slammed her second bullet of the day straight through the middle of Madame Black’s forehead. Tommy realised just how terrible this situation had now become and he took a calculated lunge for his gun. The two bodies collided into the wall, four arms strung around each other high in the air, with four entangled hands gripped around the revolver. Lindy thudded into the wall and felt the heavy weight of her rescuer press against her. She was almost powerless against his weight and strength. Tommy hurriedly retrieved his revolver from Lindy’s pinned body, all the while giving her a knowing glare to never pull a stunt like that again.
Part of Tommy’s brain was saying leave this insane whore well alone, she’s free, now go. But another part felt that he wouldn’t be satisfied until he’d learned who she was and how she ended up as she had. Whatever his thoughts were he knew that he had to get the hell out of Monto and quick, or it wouldn’t be robbery that he would hang for. They exited the building into the cold street. The rustlings of disturbed sleepers could be heard as windows started to open and voices started to buzz from them. Lindy took a decisive look around her and clocked eyes on the horse tied up at the end of the road.
“This way, we’ll take the ‘orse”, she commanded, cockney accent undoubtedly strong.
Tommy was definitely not used to being told what to do by a woman, well maybe none bar Aunt Poll. But Lindy was right, there was a horse and he and the whore were going to be riding out of here on it tonight. That was about the only thing he was sure of right now.
The sound of men shouting drew closer, at any moment they would appear round the corner and from that point on anything was possible. But Lindy and Tommy were both well skilled when it came to horses. They untied the tall, muscular animal. Tommy jumped on, pulled Lindy up and she swung in precisely behind him. And with one swift, agile kick from Tommy they were galloping away into the dark of the night.
Then it came. A loud crack like a firework exploding, followed almost instantly by a shrill wail of pain right next to Tommy’s ear. Immediately he felt the unknown girls body fall limp around his shoulder. It didn’t take more than a few seconds for Tommy to realise the girl had been shot. He couldn’t stop now. They’d be caught for sure. He had to keep riding, holding her arms around his waist, and hope that she had the strength to hold on until they made it back to the safe house.
They made it back to the house in a flurry of breathlessness and blood. Tommy way physically exhausted from riding the horse flat out and Lindy was semi-conscious and pretty unresponsive. He rode the horse into Glenda McFadden’s stable and Lindy fell limply into his arms as soon as he dismounted. He carried her into the house, barging the front door open with his shoulder. The quiet house suddenly erupted into a hive of action and noise as the men in the house, and Glenda McFadden, were greeted by Tommy cradling a strange women covered in blood and placing her on the large dining table.
“Get a long knife – get two long knives…. fucking hurry up!” Tommy shouted at Glenda. “Arthur, bring the whisky!”.
“What the hell’s goin’ on Tommy?” Arthur questioned in a semi-shouting, alarmed state, frantic steps, some going left, some going right, as he looked for the whisky.
No one had any idea who the hell this girl was or why her and Tommy were covered in blood. Everyone had awoken and gathered round the dramatic scene that was unfolding. Tommy laid Lindy down on her front and ripped of the flimsy bit of material that was covering her shoulder, where the bullet had entered her body. Within no more than fifteen seconds he had coaxed the bullet out from a woozy and moaning Lindy. He grabbed the bottle of whisky from Arthur,
“Brace yourself girl”, he said as he sloshed a spray of whiskey into the open wound. Lindy let out an almighty wail and Johnny Maguire instinctively placed a very large hand across her moth to muffle the screams of agony. Tommy let out a long relieved, exhausted breath and slumped down onto the dining chair. Finally, he let his breath slow. After a quick minute of regaining his composure he gave an ironic smile at the events that had just transpired. Rescuing whores from brothels had definitely not been part of his grand plan!
Tommy watched the girl as she slept. After they had packed the wound up he’d got Glenda to fill up a hot bath and then swiftly dismissed her from his presence. He had carried the weak and exhausted body of the girl and placed her in the hot water. He would have rather just let her wash herself down, but she had just sat there, eyes glazed in what appeared to be a state of shock. So slightly indignantly he’d picked up the sponge and began to wash the dirt off her himself. The water flowed from the sponge over the unwounded side of her body, and as he swept the sponge across her face it revealed soft, clear, slightly olive skin from underneath a layer of black grime. For a small moment he noticed her beauty and his thoughts became lost within it.
Then he snapped out of his hypnotised daze. Being soft was not for the likes of him! He stood up abruptly.
“Right come on girl, get yourself out of there, I’ve got business to be getting on with”.
Lindy slowly turned her head and looked at him, and began to very slowly and carefully amble herself out of the tin bath. As she attempted to take on the almighty task of stepping out of the bath the weakness took over her and she began to collapse back down in the water. Tommy jumped to her aid and held her strong as she regained herself and stepped out of the bath onto the wooden floor. He supported her weight as she took baby steps over to the bed, where she laid down and he wrapped a towel around her dripping wet body.
The events had all passed in the early hours of the morning. It was now mid-morning and Tommy was sitting next to her on the edge of the bed as she slept.
“D’you want tea?”, he asked in his ‘showing no emotion’ voice, just loud enough to stir the girl awake. Her eyes flickered slowly as she came back to the human plane. She had been dreaming about the man that had been her saviour, a hero when everything had seemed so bleak and desolate.
“….what’s your name?”, she said quietly after a long pause, her crisp words breaking the silence as Tommy had waited for her reply about the tea.
“I’m Thomas Shelby”, Tommy responded, still trying to maintain an air of nonchalance.
“I’m Lindy”, she responded, “….I guess I owe you a thank you.”
“I was just doing what any decent human being would’ve done. You needed to get out of there and I got you out.” He nodded to himself, trying to reaffirm his words as they left his mouth.
“I need to get back to London”, Lindy cut in, getting straight to the point.
“We’ll be leaving for North Wales in a couple of days. You can come back with us if your strength is up. If not, you’ll have to find your own way back”.
There was no chance Lindy was not getting on that boat. She started to picture her beautiful return to her beloved London and her beloved family. Home was just around the corner!
Tommy’s crazy antics had meant the men’s plans would have to be postponed for a couple of days at a minimum. Dublin’s police force would be looking for a murderer and they couldn’t risk trying to execute their plan if this was the case. More laying low, more waiting, more payment for the other men and Glenda. Tommy questioned himself as to why he hadn’t been able to stop himself from acting on his instincts again. It had put a real spanner in the works.
The air in the house was very tense. Johnny was plotting his revenge on Brenda, Brenda had built up a distinct dislike for ‘the little whore girl’ as she now referred to her, the men – despite having been promised a larger share of the takings – were getting cabin fever, Tommy was having great trouble focusing on the task in hand as pretty little Lindy gradually regained her tenacity and fire.
Full of jealousy, Brenda had given her the most unflattering dress she could find in her wardrobe. However, her plan to humiliate Lindy had backfired. Brenda was a waif of a woman, a feature which she believed was at the height of fashion. Lindy however, was busty and curvaceous and she filled the dress in all the right places.
“How grotesque”, Brenda had been heard mumbling in the earshot of Tommy, as Lindy glided across the room barefoot and exotic looking, dress clinging tightly to each curve, “an overweight, barefoot whore”.
It was clear by the fixation of the men’s eyes following Lindy around that, much to Brenda’s annoyance, her attempts at making them all repulsed were falling on deaf ears.
Tommy and Lindy’s relationship had moved quickly over the few days that had passed. Lindy was not shy of a spot of whisky and they had talked for hours about life, about everything. Lindy had told Tommy all about her Italian family back in London. He really admired the fierce loyalty that she spoke of them with. It was true that Lindy had done a lot of the talking and Tommy a lot of the listening but an inexplicable, mutual bond was developing between the two of them that neither could deny or resist.
Lindy wanted Tommy, Tommy wanted Lindy and their chemistry was at a point of combustion, although both of them were too proud…too traumatised by the recent events perhaps…to actually take the bold step past deep conversation.
Often Brenda would hang around outside the room, listening, seething with jealousy. She couldn’t believe this brazen bitch had outshined her. She had to ruin their growing connection. Whether Tommy was interested in her or not now was beside the point. It was a matter of principle.
The eve of the heist had finally arrived and the air in the house was full solemn concern. Gone was the jovial mood of the first night. It had been replaced with deadly serious men who had had far too much time to mull things over.
The group of men had been huddled around in a small study room with the door shut for many hours. Brenda was still trying to remain part of the action by offering the men tea at annoyingly regular intervals but Lindy had been sat in her room, thinking about Tommy, thinking about the real freedom that was less than a stone’s throw away. The thought of her protective brother’s faces when they saw her brought her to tears and took her breath away.
Tommy came into the room and shut the door behind him. Lindy turned, smiling from ear to ear as she threw her arms around him with gratitude and excitement. The expression on Tommy’s face quickly turned her smile to caution. He was straight faced, expressionless.
“Lindy…I’ve got some bad news”.
Her heart sank to the bottom of her feet within a split second. Her smile faded instantly as the colour began to drain from her face.
“There’s not going to be enough room on the boat for you, you’re going to have to find another way home.”
“What’r you on about?” She demanded, shock turning to anger within the space of one small sentence.
“Look, I’m sorry Lindy, but the captain says once all the moneys on, what with all the boys, there’s going to be no room left for any more…”
Lindy cut Tommy off before he could finish his explanation,
“You said I could come with YOU!!! You said you would make sure personally that I got home SAFE!!”
Her voice grew loud, as a months’ worth of frustration and anger came flooding out. It wasn’t just the fact that her hope of a ride back to her loved ones had been dashed on some ridiculous technicality. It was the disbelief that this man, whom she could feel desired her on every level, who went out of his way to return to Madame Black’s and save her life, was just going to now give up on her and ditch her for his spoils.
“YOU FUCKKING BASTARD!”, was the first major thing that was heard with clarity from the men downstairs. What ensued, from what they could hear, was an exchanged of impassioned shouting and crying, screaming, something sounding like it smashed against a wall.
“Fucking hell Tommy”, Arthur thought out loud from the study downstairs, “what are ya’ playing at?”
“Don’t worry Arthur”, assured John, cocky and smiling, proud of his big brother’s ability to evoke suck emotions from the female gender. “You know Tommy, he’ll av’ his end away n’ shut her up. Then we’ll be on our way, just give him 10 minutes”.
The men all laughed, for the first time in the whole day. The mood was finally lifted out of its sombre stance, and six of them soon began a livelier discussion about the evenings events that were about to unfold. All the while the yelling and noise continued to travel through the floorboards from Lindy’s bedroom. Glenda McFadden gave a satisfied smirk as she heard the barrage of abuse that was being unleashed in the room above.
“For fuck’s sake woman! I. will. give. you. the. fucking. money. to get a ferry across yourself!!”.
Tommy tried explaining in simple syllables, wide eyed and breathless, turning and running his hand through his hair in despair. Women! He knew they always complicated things. This was exactly why he should’ve never gone back to the whore house. And he told her this fact as well. Lindy had become irate. She may not have even realised it herself, but the fact that Tommy was about to leave her had become the real reason for her fit. She knew that getting the ferry was a perfectly viable option. But she wanted him so much, she couldn’t let him just walk out of her life, how could he? Her time in the brothel had perhaps made her more vulnerable than before, but she was experiencing a feeling of need, of desire, of overwhelming emotion, something that she had never experienced. All of her life men had been a tool, a tool for achieving a goal, whatever that goal may have been. This was a whole new feeling to her. The notion of ‘love’ didn’t even occur…it wasn’t something she would’ve recognised in this context. Love for family was the only love that she knew.
Out of nowhere Lindy didn’t know what came over her. She lunged at Tommy, pounding her fists into his chest, slapping his face over and over until she felt a strong force whip her round. Before she could even blink she was facing away from Tommy in the other direction, with a vice like grip around her body. The force moved her to the bedroom wall and pushed her face up against it. Once again the force whipped her round and there was Tommy, so close to her face she could feel his fast paced breath on her cheek, his hand was pressed against her neck holding her tightly against the wall so she couldn’t move, couldn’t continue with her flurry of blows.
They both froze for a second, the first silence between them for the past thirty minutes. They stood like a statue of two people bonded together, with nothing but their heavy breath and the strength of Tommy’s weight against her body between them. Tommy looked into her eyes. They were shining like diamonds. He ran his hand over her hair as it hung long and dark around her shoulders, the both of them listening to the intense silence. She was a thing of beauty. It didn’t matter about her past, or where he’d rescued her from. She couldn’t be further away from a ‘whore’. She was like an exotic queen of a distant land and he wanted her in every way possible.
Suddenly, instincts over took him. He Leaned into Lindy and kissed her hard. The anger dispersed from Lindy’s body in a split second as she returned the impassioned kisses with an equally intense force. The tension of the week’s events had reached an unfightable crescendo as they began ripping frantically at each other’s clothes. Tommy pushed her harder into the wall as their bodies pressed together in a flurry of undeniable desire and passion.
The sweet sound of beautiful love-making drifted down the staircase and infused through the walls of the house. The men, not too fussed either way, exchanged cock-sure glances and grins as the boss ‘conquered his prey’ in the room above.
The pair, sprawled across the giant bed, moved closer to a beautiful climax that was long overdue. Lindy couldn’t contain the sheer ecstasy that she was about to reach and began to release a scream of pleasure as the waves of the most beautiful orgasm rolled over her. Tommy put his hand hard across her mouth to prevent half the countryside for hearing. Their intense stares screamed louder to each other than any vocal tone could anyway. What they had just experienced had taken them to a place that neither of them had been before. As they laid there, intertwined, pounding hearts slowing in unison. Neither of them were sure if these new found feelings should be approached with trepidation or dived in to full force. But one thing was for sure in Tommy’s mind, Lindy was coming back with him on that blasted boat and that was the end of it.
During the humiliating ordeal of having to endure beautiful Tommy Shelby laying with that loathsome whore, while the whole house guffawed and carried on with their street urchin behaviour, Glenda McFadden had turned a deep shade of maroon. This was not part of the plan. Her insides twisted with hatred and jealousy and her mind flirted with thoughts of wiping Lindy of the face of the Earth. Her thoughts were rudely interrupted some time later, when Tommy appeared down the staircase, cigarette hanging loosely from his lips, grinning from ear-to-ear like a young lad who had just been shown what life was all about. Arthur and John gave him a steadfast pat on the back and it seemed no sooner had he appeared, it was back to business for the band of criminals. There was only one thing to concentrate on now. The small matter of robbing a bank!
Darkness finally closed in around the country house. Two of the men arrived back with the cars that had been arranged. The atmosphere had turned very serious. This was no laughing matter anymore. It was deep into the night by the time the cars left the driveway, leaving Lindy and Brenda stood tentatively in the front room together. They were both on tenterhooks, both thinking about the fate of the same tall handsome man.
The cars pulled up in darkness around the back of the bank as had been mapped out by Tommy in the plan. They silently filed out of the cars and rolled them down the wide alley to directly behind the back doors of the bank. Johnny Maguire and Seamus Lee brandished their provisions: bolt cutters for the door and chloroform for the guard. Albert began to execute the first part of the plan. He made his way to the front doors of the bank and tapped on the main doors. Just loud enough for the guard inside to hear. There was quite a delayed wait as a surprised looking man of about 50 spoke through the door.
“Who is it? What do ya want at this time of night? Be off with ya!”
“Please Sir, I’ve been hurt real bad. I don’t wanna meet mi last days in this here street!”
The night guard wasn’t opening the door for anyone at this time of night, that was a fact. Luckily, Albert had kept him distracted for just long enough. Johnny and Seamus had broken off the lock of the back door. Like a rather large panther in the night, Johnny snuck up behind the guard in the dark and stuck a chloroform filled cloth over his face. He struggled for no more than a minute until his body went limp and collapsed to the floor. With no time to waste Tommy entered the code of the vault. Anybody could be bought for a price it would seem.
The vault opened with ease and the men felt they were on the home run when they started loading up the cars with cash. They were down to the last few bags when a female voice called from up the stairs,
“Georgie baby, what’s going on?”
The men froze and glanced round at each other in complete shock. There was only supposed to be one person in the bank that night, and that was the guard!
“He must’ve brought a woman in here with him!”, Arthur exclaimed.
“Fuck!”, the men seemed to chime in unison. No sooner had they realised they were not alone in the bank, the figure of a scantily clad woman appeared at the top of the stairs.
She let out an almighty scream that rang out through the empty streets. Within seconds dogs were barking, windows were opening and the silent street began to wake up to the screech of a petrified woman. If Tommy and the men couldn’t escape this, they would never see daylight again.
“Do you want tea?”, Glenda asked Lindy. “Its times like this we women need to put our differences aside. I do a lovely tea, extra sweet.”
Lindy knew that Glenda was far from enamoured by her. She just couldn’t work out why she had been so icy before. Well, she thought, after the events of earlier that day, she could fully understand why Glenda might be pissed off. She and Tommy had been quite disrespectful to do what she they did so obviously in this woman’s house. But Glenda hadn’t liked her from the start, and for what reason? she thought. She decided that Glenda must just be a wry old bitch who hadn’t got her leg over in years.
“Tea’ d be lovely ta”, she smiled. She was well aware of the notion of keeping your enemies close.
The women drank tea from intricately designed china cups and a beautiful tea pot, just how Lindy had always imagined the aristocrats did ‘afternoon tea’. The only difference being it was now about 4 o’clock in the morning, and they were women waiting for their criminal lovers to arrive back from robbing a bank. ‘Slight difference’, Lindy thought to herself. ‘Oh well, fuck those posh bastards’ she countered in her own mind, as she lifted her pinky finger and swigged back the last part of the tea.
The women talked into the early hours of the morning. Lindy told Glenda all about Tommy and how amazing he was, Glenda listened and smiled affectionate smiles. In fact, Lindy had come to the conclusion that Glenda was actually alright, even if she was a bit of a posh bird.
Not long after they’d finished drinking the tea, Lindy started to feel the tiredness really kick-in.
“I think I’m gonna go n’ get some sleep Glenda”, Lindy started. “In fact this tiredness is making me feel a bit woozy”.
“Yes you go on up my darling. You’ll need your rest if you’re going to keep up with a man like Tommy”.
Glenda smirked an accomplished smile as Lindy staggered up the stairs. As she reached the doorway to the bedroom, she grabbed at her stomach in pain. What was going on? She felt horrendous. Before she had even made it to the edge of the bed everything began to feel very disorientated. Suddenly Lindy’s consciousness turned to nothing but black.
The shouting of a city street up in arms gradually dissipated more and more into the distance. Tommy, Arthur, John, and the four other men had managed to escape with only the back of their cars being seen as they drove off through the city. The further away from the commotion and noise, the quieter the early hours of the morning became. However, they weren’t home safe yet. They still had a boat to catch and the Irish Sea to cross. And in no time at all the city of Dublin, and no doubt its coastline also, would be swarming with police looking for the perpetrators of the robbery.
Tommy ordered the cars to pull over on a quiet country road on the outskirts of the city. Breathless and determined, he turned to speak to the other men who were split between the two cars.
“Arthur, John and the rest of you, I want you to carry on to the boat point. Johnny I need you to come with me.”
“No deviating from the plan Tommy, that’s what you said.” Johnny prompted Tommy, “What’s going….”
“I need you to come with me back to Glenda’s. It’s just down the road. We’ll be there and back before you know it.”
“Oh here we fucking go”. Interjected Arthur. “He’s lost his mind over a ‘fair maiden’ again.
Tommy have you gone fucking mad? I tell you what, as the oldest brother, I’m ordering you to forget about this bloody woman before you get us all killed!”
Johnny, never one to turn down ample opportunity, decided that this was the perfect moment to teach Glenda a lesson for acting like a desperate whore. He was a crazy creature, still amped off the adrenaline from the heist.
“Tommy, here’s what’s gonna happen”, Johnny confidently suggested. “I’m going to go and get the girl…that’s what your crazy head is planning isn’t it? Glenda knows me. I’ll need to explain nowt. I’ll get the girl and bring her to the boat quick as you like. You’ll barely even notice I was gone. By the time you’ve made mine and Seamus’ split, I’ll be here. Ok brother?”
Tommy contemplated for a split second.
“Right go…GO!” he conceded. And quick as a flash, Johnny Maguire was riding solo in one of the cars off into the night.
It had been about twenty minutes since Lindy had passed out in the doorway of her temporary bedroom. She had hit her head on the way down and now was lying motionless in a pool of blood. Glenda approached up the stairs,
“Lindy, sweety, are you okay? I thought I heard a bang.”
She rounded the top of the stairs and walked into to the bedroom.
“Oh my goodness, what an earth has happened? Tripping and hurting yourself you silly girl.”
Her face turned from feigned concern to one of dark malice.
“That’ll teach you to whore it around in my house, in front of MY Tommy”.
Glenda slapped a full palm across Lindy’s face.
“Wake up bitch!”
Lindy let out a semi-conscious groan.
“What did you do?” she managed to muster.
“I drugged you you cheap little whore, and it won’t be long until your peasant presence leaves this world for good. Don’t think Tommy’s going to come back and save you. Oh no! He’s long gone on that boat across the Irish Sea. It’s just you and me right now, and soon it’ll be just me”.
Never one to miss a chance to get one over, Lindy retorted back, eyes still closed, barely able to get her words out in her drugged injured slumber,
“Piss you off when we made love under your roof did it?” Lindy knew exactly how to rile her opponents, which certainly wasn’t difficult in this instance.
Glenda felt the bitter jealous rage rise inside of her. Why wasn’t this girl begging for her life? How dare she disrespect her in her own house again?
Glenda’s mind snapped. What was there left? Johnny hadn’t said a word to her since the night he went drinking with the other men, Tommy had shunned her like she was nothing but common trash. No Tommy, no Johnny, no husband, nothing. Today, this little jezebel was going to pay for all the pain she’d caused. Glenda took hold of one of the plump pillows laying on the messed up bed. Filled with rage she shoved it down over Lindy’s limp body. Immediately Lindy a small degree of life kick back into her. Just enough to wriggle, to try and put up a fight. She couldn’t go out like this. She’d come this far. She’d overcome kidnap, Madame Black, vile men and a million other traumas. How could a frail little woman be the death of her? It was no use. In her drug induced state she didn’t have the strength to fight off Glenda. She could feel her life slipping away as her nails clawed down the side of Glenda’s arms.
Finally, she stopped struggling. The pillow was still firmly over her face as her last thoughts drifted through visions of her family. They were waving goodbye to her as she slowly slipped away. Tommy was there; he was stood with her brothers, smiling, with his beautiful eyes piercing through her soul. And then nothing.
Johnny Maguire had made it back to the house in good time. He was going to get the girl, and leave Glenda a stern message, most likely by way of beating, he had decided, and that was it between them. She would never see him again. ‘But would that be enough?’ he questioned. ‘Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, after all’, he reminded himself.
As he had hopped out of the car in the silence of the night, he had heard raised voices coming from the house. Carefully, he came in through the back door and followed the voices to the upstairs bedroom. His eyes couldn’t believe the scene that greeted him. Glenda McFadden, straddled over Lindy, holding a pillow firmly to her face. And what looked like the last attempts of movement from Lindy until her arms fell lifelessly by the side of her body.
It didn’t take more than a split second for Johnny to decide that not only was this woman a disloyal whore, she was also a psychopath and clearly not to be trusted with their heist secret.
Tommy counted up the split of the money with Seamus Lee. Once the task was complete they started loading the money bags onto the little boat. His adrenaline was high. The money was finally loaded onto the boat. They had to leave as soon as possible. Any waiting around would jeopardise the whole god damn mission. If Jonny and Lindy didn’t arrive within the next minute or so, they would have to leave, and then…the woman who had consumed his every thought since he had met her, like no woman had ever done before – he may never see her again.
Lindy lay lifeless in the back of the getaway car, as it bumped along the potholed road. Johnny Maguire looked back every minute or so to check that she had some sort of life in her. Every so often she would let out a struggled groan, which reassured him that she was still breathing. They hurtled down the road with Johnny’s foot to the floor. He was determined to deliver Lindy to Tommy alive. Glenda McFadden however, was not so alive. He felt a slight remorse about putting a bullet through the back of her head, but also felt that his actions were quite justified considering.
“Right that’s it Tommy, we’re leaving”. Arthur commanded. “Frank, untie her!”
Frank gave Tommy a glance to see if the instructions were approved. Tommy stood still for a split second, then he shook his head, breathed out a sigh of disappointment and gave Frank the nod. Frank quickly got to work untying the not that the little boat was harboured to the bank with. In no time at all the boat began to move away from the shore. Slowly but surely it began to inch away, motor still off, silently, so as not to attract attention. Tommy stood on the edge of the boat with his head down, peak cap leant so low his face was barely visible. He lit up a cigarette and looked up to the sky. The war had taken most of the emotions he had, but life didn’t seem to be done taking yet. He took a long pull on the fresh cigarette and decided it was time to wipe thoughts of Lindy from his mind. He had a boat full of cash, he was on his way back to his home, Small Heath and the Peaky Blinders were about to be in big business.
In the distance, the whir of an engine was suddenly growing closer. Tommy’s ears pricked up. Was it Johnny and Lindy? Was it coppers? Vigilante citizens? Tommy stepped down into the boat where the other men were gathered, just out of eyes shot. As the vehicle drew closer Tommy could see the silhouette of a large frame and a peak cap…it certainly fitted the description of Johnny, but where was Lindy? As the car drew closer to the shore Tommy could see that it was definitely partner in crime.
“Turn the boat round!” he called, a little too loudly for Arthur and the other men’s liking. Frank knew there was no point arguing the toss with Johnny and Tommy. Reluctantly he started up the engine and steered back to the shore.
Johnny ran round to the back of the car and hauled a woozy Lindy up in his arms.
“What the fuck happened to ‘er?” asked John.
“Glenda McFadden turned psycho on her Tommy. Don’t worry, I’ve dealt with her. Just get this girl back home. I think she’ll survive, thanks to me.”
Tommy received the lifeless girl into his arms and looked at her with complete despair. Everything that she had gone through, yet she was still hanging on in there, just about. She was a fighter, such an admirable quality in Tommy’s eyes.
The men said their goodbyes, their thank you’s and once again the little fishing boat set sail from the shores of East Ireland. Johnny didn’t want any extra money for saving Lindy, although Tommy would’ve gladly given him more. But carrying around any wads of cash now could’ve been a sure fire way to find himself in the dock. He was content anyway in the fact that he could soon reunite with his good friend Seamus Lee, and obtain his share of the takings.
Lindy sat with Tommy as the sun came up. He wasn’t the romantic talk type. So they sat, quietly, in each other’s arms; in peaceful contemplation. Lindy was still recovering from the shock and the near-death experience. Finally, she felt in a safe place; in Tommy’s protective arms, on the way home to England – to London. She did wonder what would happen once they reached English shores. Obviously Tommy was a Brummie boy and there was not a lot of chance of him leaving his newly developing empire. Still, she thought to herself, once she’s settled back to life and reunited with her brothers, a little stint in another town could be an adventure.
Tommy laid back on the deck. He’d been up for over two days now, and he decided a few hours’ kip with a beautiful woman by his side would do him the world of good. Arthur, John, and Albert were all asleep. Everyone except Frank, who was steering the boat. Tommy closed his eyes and smiled an accomplished smile. Everything was falling into place. The Shelby empire would soon be a financial powerhouse. He could buy his own race horse….and a car. He decided he wanted to take Lindy on the journey with him, make an honest woman out of her. She wouldn’t need a life of crime anymore, that would be his business. All she would need to do would be to sit pretty and be his beautiful, devoted, fiery wife. His mind was made up, once they got back to England he was going to ask her to marry him!
Lindy woke up feeling slightly better, if not still slightly groggy. She had no idea what Glenda had tried to poison her with. Who cared now anyway? The devil woman was dead, she thought. All she felt now was excitement and peace. ‘My god’, she thought to herself. ‘Lindy Romano is in love, who’d ever have thought it!’.
She stretched a long cat stretch, gently removed herself from Tommy’s heavy arm, and walked over to the side of the boat. She was amazed that she could see the land; it was so close! She stepped on a gap between the railings. The sea breeze ruffled through her long dark hair and the waves sprayed gently on her face. She felt so alive. She raised her arms out to the sides to feel the wind rushing through her soul; it was such an exhilarating feeling. A wave of black passed across her eyes. ‘Was that an after effect of the drugs, or the blow to the head?’ she thought. Either way she thought she’d better step down quick as suddenly she didn’t feel so safe having moments of dizziness standing on the edge of a wide open boat. Then another dark wave came. Then there was blackness, and nothing else.
Tommy woke up to a violent shaking sensation. He jumped up in an instant only to be greeted with an inconsolable, almost incoherent, Frank. He was blathering and crying. Tommy gripped him hard by his shoulders. He looked around. Where was Lindy? He gave Frank a stare that seemed to penetrate his soul. Frank’s eyes were fixed on Tommy’s.
“Frank…”, Tommy started, “what the fuck’s happened?”
“I don’t know Tommy”. Frank’s panic turned very quickly to a solemn reflection. “She was standing at the side of the ship…I…I don’t know. I just turned around and she was….she was gone”.
Tommy stood for a second, his head slightly tilted to the side, eyes wide with terror, breathing becoming more rapid by the second, as his brain computed what Frank was trying to tell him. The other men had awoken now and were starting to stand up, wondering what the hell was going on. He stood, face to face with Frank, he had him gripped tightly by his coat now.
“NOOOOO!!!”, he yelled at the top of his lungs, still gripping tightly to Franks overcoat. “NOOOOO!!!…..”, he ran over to the edge of the railings and let out another deathly yell. “LINDY!!!”
Before anyone could stop him he had his overcoat off, and had dived into the freezing cold Irish Sea.
“Oh my fucking God Tommy!!!” yelled John as Tommy’s body dived down under the water and disappeared. The four men ran to the edge of the railings and screamed over at him. There was nothing. The sea had gone very quiet. What felt like a lifetime later Tommy’s body came bursting out of the water, gasping for air. Before they knew it he dived back down under again. The men waited, tense and so ever hopeful. Lindy was a sweet girl, and if she was lost at sea this would not bode well for the family…for Tommy. Once again Tommy came bursting out of the water minus Lindy.
Tommy was like a man on the edge of insanity, and Frank was quite worried about who his rant regarding the ‘bastards’ was referring too. Tommy trod water in the sea for a further minute, as his yelling became gradually quieter until he was muttering to himself as he floated in the sea.
“Get that fucking rope will ya’”, Arthur shouted to Albert. Albert tossed the rope over the side and the brothers pulled their distraught sibling out of the water. As soon as Tommy was back on board the boat he shook the men off of him, walked to the other end of the boat and sat down with his head buried deep in his hands.
Not another word was said until they reached the shore. Tommy had apparently gone into autopilot. Once they hit land he began acting like there had never even been female on the boat: giving straight talking orders to the men, sorting out their journey back to Small Heath, dividing the money between the family business and Albert and Frank, who had never seen such amounts of cash in their lives.
John told Aunt Polly about Tommy’s heartbreak, and she had tried to talk to him, but Tommy was having none of it.
“It happened, it’s over, finished and no more needs to be said about it”, was his final response. A man who didn’t know Tommy so well could be forgiven for thinking he was a heartless creature, that Lindy had been nothing more than a fling and that that was why he had been able to get over the tragedy so quickly. But Aunt Polly knew Tommy better than that. She knew he was suffering a silent agony, an agony that Tommy was probably denying existed even to himself. But at night, when the world was silent, and Tommy had nothing but his thoughts for company, he would lie and shed a river of internal tears – but not a drop of liquid would leave his eyes. They were tears that only God would see. His beautiful Lindy. She was gone but he would never forget her beautiful eyes that shone like diamonds, her hair that hung over her shoulders, his exotic queen of the land. His heart was broken, an unfixable wound that he could only hope would one day stop bleeding, and turn into deep scar tissue instead. He had been betrayed by life again. He was done with love.
News finally got back to the Shelby’s that Seamus Lee had not been seen since he departed from the boat point the night of the robbery. Tommy decided the Lee’s were not to be trusted and there was now unfinished business between the two families.
On a stony shore two boys flew their kite above the sea. It caught the wind like a beautiful bird soaring above the waves. The sun shone and the breeze whispered gently underneath the promenade. As the boys travelled slowly along the edge of the beach with their kite they saw the outline of a body lying on the pebbles.
Intrigued, the boys moved closer to get a better look. The body appeared lifeless. As they got closer, they realised that it was a young lady. Her long dark hair was matted with sand and her face was a pale shade of blue. The boys got up closer and froze. Was the lady dead?
“No you shake her!”, they goaded each other.
One of the boys got close enough to push her with his foot, and the body rolled further onto its front. Suddenly a barrage of coughing erupted as water came flooding out of the young lady’s mouth, followed by a long awaited gasp of air.
“Where am I?”, the girl spattered.
The boys looked at each other, neither of them wanting to say the first word.
“Thi…this is Wales miss…Aberystwyth to be exact”.
The body of the girl slowly opened her eyes and spoke the only two words, through all of her confusion, that she had the strength to muster…
~~ FIN ~~