Jimmy Kiley held the blade of the knife between his thumb and index finger. He raised the handle slowly to his forehead lining it up with the target, then dropped the knife down, pulled it back past his ear and launched it forward. It span several times then clattered into the board and bounced back, falling harmlessly to the floor.
‘For fuck’s sake!’ It looked a hell of a lot easier to do on the television than it was proving in practice.
The side door to the warehouse was pushed open and a man shoved through. The left knee of his jeans was ripped, his face bloody and bruised.
‘Macca,’ Kiley exclaimed loudly. ‘Glad you could join us.’
‘What’s this about, Jimmy?’ Macca said, shuffling forward, cautiously eyeing the circular structure off to one side.
A second man entered the cold, dimly lit space. He placed a gun at Macca’s back and prodded him forward.
‘You know what it’s about, Macca,’ Kiley said, closing the gap between them. ‘You’ve been a naughty boy.’
‘I swear, Jimmy, I haven’t done anything.’
‘Now you know that’s not true. What did we agree about showing people my movies?’
‘I haven’t shown anyone your movies.’
‘Reggie!’ Kiley shouted, his voice echoing round the large, empty space.
A man pushed himself off the warehouse wall and staggered forwards. In his right hand he held a video camera.
‘Oh fuck,’ Macca muttered.
‘Oh fuck, is right.’
Kiley grabbed Macca’s elbow and guided him to the circular board, the rogue knife lying on the floor at its base. ‘Don’t even think about it, Macca. Just step up into the stirrups and put your hands through the loops.’
‘What the fuck is this?’
‘A spinning knife board. I’m going to have a little knife throwing practice. You’re my assistant for the afternoon.’
‘I don’t think so.’
‘I’m not giving you a choice. Now step up into the stirrups.’
The second man clattered Macca on the side of the head with the handgun.
‘Step up, Macca,’ Kiley ordered.
Once in place and tied securely, Kiley ordered Reggie over to them and took the video camera from his shaking hand.
‘You never got to see the last movie we shot did you, Macca? Big Johnny Croft running for his life. You probably could have charged an entrance fee if you’d decided to share that one around.’
‘It was only Reggie.’ Macca said. ‘He’s part of the gang for fuck’s sake.’
‘But not the inner circle. Well, not until now.’
Kiley turned the small in-built screen so that Macca could see it.
A massive, muscular man in a tight-fitting t-shirt and jeans was running across a field towards the camera. Behind him, at the far end of the field, the doors to a white van opened and four large dogs bounded out. They quickly spotted the man and set off in pursuit, barking excitedly.
Croft ran for ten more metres, then turned to face the dogs. A former professional boxer he was going to try fight over flight. He caught the first dog to arrive with a hard right as it leapt towards him, sending it sprawling off to one side. The second dog landed before he had time to adjust to its attack. It was quickly joined by the two others.
Croft fell to his knees under their weight, his arms swinging savage punches to thick skulls, sharp teeth and muscle-packed bodies.
‘The burger fat smeared round his neck was an inspired idea,’ Kiley said.
Macca didn’t reply, his eyes glued to the screen.
‘You have to give him his dues, the fucker fought to the bitter end. Two of those dogs had to be put down afterwards.’
They watched the screen for a couple more minutes.
‘One of my better ones,’ Kiley said. ‘I hope you’re going to be as big a star as he was.’
He passed the camera back to Reggie. ‘You’d better go and get that set up.’
He watched the new cameraman scurry away, then reached down and picked up the knife, turning it in it hands. ‘Don’t worry, Macca, these are nice and sharp.’
‘Please, Jimmy. It won’t happen again.’
‘I know it won’t, Macca. I know.’
‘I thought you’d like this set-up, my friend; appreciate its creativity. It has a certain … I don’t know, theatrical quality to it.’
Macca tipped his head back, seemingly gathering his thoughts. After ten seconds or so he dropped his chin and spat in Kiley’s face.
‘Some friend,’ he said, his eyes blazing defiantly.
Kiley wiped the saliva away calmly, holding Macca’s gaze.
‘We had our moments, Macca, but you betrayed my trust. You knew what that would mean. And you know me, I always like to mix business and pleasure.’ He tapped the blade of the knife against the hardboard. ‘Time for the grand finale, don’t you think?’
Kiley pulled a wry grin, placed the blade in his back pocket, grabbed hold of the board and gave it a hard tug. As the wheel gently started to spin he gave it another hefty heave, then turned on his heels, walking back to his mark, where a row of nine knives were lined up on a small table.
‘Try and smile for the camera like the assistants on the TV do, will you,’ he ordered. ‘You look like a right sour bastard.’
‘You’ll feature in one of your own movies someday, Jimmy.’
‘I doubt that Macca. I’ll always be the director, never the star.’
Kiley reached the white chalk line and turned. Macca was rotating at a steady pace.
He glanced over at his new cameraman. ‘You breathe a word of this to anyone and this will seem positively humane in comparison to what I’ll do to you, do you understand?’
Reggie nodded his pale face, unable to find his voice. His stomach was writhing, his guts threatening to fill his underpants. He’d never expected to be part of Kiley’s inner circle and he’d be quite happy to return to minion status.
‘Zoom in on him,’ Kiley directed. ‘I want to be able to see his face when I watch this back. And when I manage to hit the bastard, I want you to imagine that it’s you who’s tied to that board.’