A time to fuck up, a time to bollox

Of course, everything could go wrong.

In the course of the last eight days, I’ve spent two lying low, three being questioned by police and three being questioned by Viking lunatics.

To bring you up to speed…

Juan was late. There’s a Manx saying, “Traa Dy Liooar” which roughly translates as “time enough” or “mañana”. Juan is a past master at applying this to the most important of situations.

All he had to do was wait outside in the car, then come in, guns blazing, at the right moment.

But no – he had to sit up on Douglas Head admiring the view, having a spliff, eating a McDonalds.

So, when Mr Mogilevich showed up, I greeted him like a long-lost brother, got another kiss in return and made him a cup of coffee.

We sat down, and he presented me with his suitcase. I opened it slowly.

I didn’t expect roubles, for a start. That was going to be a problem.

But I smiled and complimented him on his fine business suit and began to discuss the weather, the Manx Grand Prix and anything else I could think of to hold his attention while I waited for Juan.

Nothing. Twenty minutes later, Mogilevich had gone and I was in possession of millions of worthless Russian roubles. Belonging, as I now know, to the Russian mafia.

That felt like trouble, somehow.

As I left the office through the back door, there was a man in a long brown hooded robe. Godred.

So I had a discussion about the horrors of crime when Vikings aren’t involved, the terrible financial misfortunes of secret societies, and the powerfully driving mysteries of suitcase contents.

Needless to say, I wasn’t going to put my life in danger by refusing to share my windfall and so divided a portion out for Godfred.

This, in turn, led to heated discussions about roubles and their worth on the world markets. A closer inspection of one bundle led to a further discussion of the possible penalties for passing forged roubles.

Now, I know I can on occasion be unlucky. I’ve lost enough in the casino to know that. But a bungled con against the Russian Mafia that leaves me the proud possessor of bundles of forged roubles with the expectation I’ll slice off some for the Manx mob, then hand back the cash plus interest to the Russians? And still save a pub in the process?

Come on.

As if that weren’t enough, the police found the bike before we’d had a chance to change the plates. Fortunately everybody kept quiet and there’s no way the coppers could have pressed charges. I thought for one moment they were going to fit us up for something. Three days in a cell over a plate on a bike I didn’t own?

That’s as close as I want things to get. Time for a plan B. And Christ knows what we’ll do about Mogilevic.


The Trouble with Vikings

Of course, with a scheme like this there’s one thing you should never forget.


The Sons of King Orry is a secretive organisation which really runs the Isle of Man. Behind the government, behind the Manx Intelligence Agency, there sits a group of men. Thirteen of them, to be precise, all descendants of the original and first Viking king of the Island.

They sit in the shadows, plotting and conniving while their agents do their dirty work. They own the police. They direct the fire brigade. They control civil defence. Their tentacles reach into the Financial Supervision Commission. The Chamber of Commerce is their unwitting tool, the newspapers and radio stations their voice.

Nothing happens here without their knowledge and permission. From the tiniest sixteenth of an ounce traded by sixth formers to the largest of arms deals, they’re in on everything.

Naturally, I’d thought our scheme was beneath their notice, but first thing this morning I got a call on my mobile.

“Charlie Quoker?”


“Godred here.”

That jolted me. You see, when King Orry landed in the Isle of Man more than nine hundred years ago, he was in fact Godred, shortened to Gorry. And of course when you say it out loud “King Gorry” becomes “King Orry”. Godred’s how all members of SOKO identify themselves. In my entire thirty-four years, I’ve only ever had one phone call from Godred, so I knew this was trouble.

“My lord,” I replied. No harm buttering him up, is there?

“Quoker, we’ve become aware of a little job you’ll be doing for us today, and we wanted to thank you for your loyalty and consideration.”

And then, click. He put the phone down on me.

For a moment, I worried. Who had let something slip? The Island’s skeet is pretty good. If you fart in Ramsey in the morning, everybody in Castletown knows that night. It would only have taken a few hints from anybody involved in the operation, and the whole jig would be up.
But then I realised, when you’re dealing with the Sons of King Orry, nobody has to say anything. They just know. And they always want a slice.


FX: Murder by delusion

It’s on.

Mr Mogilevich called last night, and said “da”. It felt like the Man From Del Montevich.

So tomorrow at 5.30pm we meet and I can take the case from him at the office before Juan bursts in with the gun, shoots me dead, snatches the case and makes a run for it up towards Westbourne Road.

There’ll be a Z1000 waiting for him there which will rag through the Manx Grand Prix traffic.

With a bit of luck, he’ll be through onto the other side of the course before the roads close, giving us plenty of time to sort out the cash, change the number plates on the bike back and all get changed.

In the meantime, if all goes to plan, he’ll panic and leave (who wants to wait for the police to find you with a dead body and no explanation except for a money laundering meeting) and I can then get up, take the fire exit out and head up towards St Ninian’s via the Quarterbridge on the Fireblade parked behind our office.

I’ll get changed, burn the suit with the fake blood on it, take off the contact lenses and sideburns, wash out the hair dye and get ready to do some serious drinking at Rob’s bar.

Mr Mogilevich will – by my reckoning – be eager to get on the first plane off the Island back to whatever third world Eastern European hellhole he was born in.

Nervous? Me?