Back on the ground in the departure lounge Jake stood in front of the misted window shaking his head. He never believed Billy could get that crate off the ground, never mind keep it up in the air. He looked down at the G notes clutched in his hand and smiled. “Not a bad night’s work.” He muttered giving them a kiss, as he turned away and returned to his radio. He was going to report in that the airstrip was closed due to adverse weather conditions and he was closing down all operations for the rest of the night. He switched on the transmitter, slipping on his headphones at the same time. He picked up the microphone and flicked the switch on the base. He was just about to sign off when the door burst open almost flying off its hinges in a gust of rain, it nearly gave him a heart attack. Two thick set men stepped inside wearing long raincoats and wide brimmed hats. They both held Thompson Machine guns and waved them about. The barrels dripped with rain water, but they still looked deadly to him. Jake took off his headphones and backed away from the radio, he slowly raised his hands. One of the hoods lowered his weapon. “Where’s Frankie the Weasel?” He growled gesturing him to relax. Jake lowered his hands. “Who der hell is Frankie the Weasel anyway?” He replied acting a little dumb.
“A miserable looking punk who wouldn’t say boo to a goose.”
The other hood closed the door. “We know he was heading this way. We found his car and this is only place open in miles.”
“You mean a little sleaze of a guy with wire rimmed glasses and a large battered suitcase?”
“Sounds like him, so where is he?”
“He bribed a seat on a flight out of here about twenty minutes a go. They were lucky to get off the ground in this.”
The door burst open again causing them all to jump. The second hood kicked the lounge door closed and stepped forward. He glanced around the scruffy room. “I might have known he would have headed for a two bit operation like this. Where is the flight heading for and no lying?”
Jake swallowed hard. “It’s about a four hour round trip to some government experiment island in the ocean.”
“I don’t think Frankie has any notions of completing a round trip Boss.”
“You don’t say, it doesn’t take a genius to come up with an idea like that.” Replied the first man as he removed his dripping hat revealing a long scar down the side of his face, he pointed to the radio set. “Trust Frankie to draw a bum steer. Get on that blower and get that plane back here before they reach that damned island.”
“I’ll need a good reason to call them back, the Island will expecting them.”
“If you want a reason Buster then I will give you one. Frankie has been creaming off the top at one of our casinos and has suitcase with maybe million bucks belonging to us stashed in it. We would very much appreciate it being returned to us.”
“I can’t bring them back for that reason. It has to be a life or death emergency, the flight has been logged.” He lied.
“It would be in all our interests if you brought that plane back Buster.” He said waving the barrel of his Thompson under Jakes nose. “I would call that a bit of an emergency wouldn’t you smuck?” He added placing 500 bucks gently down on the desk top. “But if you insist for a life or death emergency situation then that can be arranged as well. The choice is yours.”
“One million bucks you say!” Jake exclaimed swallowing hard.
“You heard me right, so what’s yer name radio man?”
“Sure, with a couple of kids.”
“You wanna see them again?”
Jake looked a little nervous. “Sure I do.”
“Right then Jake listen very carefully; we have had our suspicions about Frankie for some time now. We knew the crook was ripping us off, but not to the extent he actually was. So we put tail on him, he must have known because the next thing he did a runner with a lot of our dough. You understand now Jake? So you can do us all a favour and bring that plane back eh?” The man with the scar explained checking the time on his wrist watch. “The next few minutes would be acceptable.”
The other hood spoke. “Jake you get in touch with that plane and explain there has been an emergency back here. Then you can pick those five bills up and you will see your family in the morning.”
“Sure guys sure.”
Fifty miles from land, flying over the ocean Bill fought with the controls keeping the Dakota as level as possible. It was taking a hell of a buffeting, causing every rivet and bracket to creak and groan the length and breadth of the aircraft. The wind and rain beat ferociously against the cockpit windows. The engines kept misfiring and spluttering. He had to nurse them along the best he could. Hank pushed one of the radio earpieces against his ear. “Got something coming through, it’s broken up with static and interference.”
“Just get down what you can; it’s probably a severe weather warning.”
After a minute Hank put the head set down. “You ain’t gonna to believe this Bill. Our Frankie back there is a pretty big fish with the mob.”
“Go on run it by me.”
“Our passenger is only Frankie the Weasel the mob accountant. He’s only gone and ripped them off. He has a million bucks in that fancy suitcase of his. I couldn’t make out most of the transmission. Something about the mob being back at the base giving Jake a bit of a hard time, they want him brought back now.”
“I’m not surprised they want him back. Shame we didn’t receive that little transmission because of the weather isn’t it?”
Hank smiled and ripped up the transmission slip. “Yeah I agree a real shame.”
The Dakota hit some turbulence and dropped about twenty feet, causing some of the cargo to break loose and nearly giving Frankie a heart attack sat back in the passenger section. “Can’t you two bums fly this rust bucket in a straight line?” He shouted mopping his brow. He glanced behind him at a stack of swaying packing cases and crates. “How about sorting this heap of crap out in here before somebody gets hurt.”
Both pilots ignored him.
Billy whistled softly through his teeth. “A million bucks and Frankie has no idea where we are heading.”
“A lot of dough, a man could start a new life on half of that.”
“Yer not kidding Hank are you thinking what I’m thinking. It would solve all of my problems in one stroke.”
“And mine too.”
“We could say we dropped him off at some remote location.”
“Like into the middle of ocean?”
“Yeah at least he’ll get a soft landing.”
“Sounds about right to me Bill, we had better sort out some kinda plan.”
Bill climbed out of the pilot’s seat. “Keep us on the same heading; I’m going to secure the cargo back there. I need to do a little thinking. I’ll see how our mate Frankie is coping as well.”
Hank nodded and took a firm grip of the stick.
Billy made his way back along the swaying fuselage; Frankie watched his every move, still clinging to his suitcase.
“Some of the cargo has worked loose, it needs re-strapping.” Billy quipped glancing at the suitcase.
“Hey who’s flying this crate then?”
Frankie turned and tried to look through the window, all he could see was the lashing rain and the odd streak of lightening. “Where are we heading?”
“A small island in the ocean, we have to drop of some research equipment for an experimental station.”
“What, some military dump?”
“Yeah, you’ll be able to get a boat outta there as soon as this storm lifts. There are a few Islanders still living in the village. They will oblige you for a few bucks.”
“You ain’t leaving me on no damned experiment island fly boy.” Frankie smirked. “That ain’t part of our deal Buster!”
“Hang on Frankie, our agreement was to fly you out, you didn’t seem too bothered where to at the time.”
“Well fly-boy the situation has changed; you will fly me to the mainland.”
“Sez who Frankie, you ain’t got no weight to throw around up here. One mistake Buster and we are all in the drink.”
“Perhaps not, but wot about my partner here.”
Bill looked down at the muzzle of a handgun poking out from Frankie’s overcoat and nodded. “If that thing goes off then we will all end up in the ocean as shark bait.”
“Then you had just better do as yer told. Do yer drop on that crummy Island, and then fly me to the mainland.”
“What about the fuel, we can’t fly forever in the weather.”
“I’m sure we can pick some up on the Island.”
“Ok Frankie, you can put your shooter away. I ain’t about to argue with you up here, so take it easy.”
“I thought the answer would be a simple one.” He smiled lowering the weapon and slipping back into his pocket. “How far are we off from landing on this crummy island?”
“About half an hour.”
Billy walked back onto the flight deck. “Our mate Frankie back there is armed and demanding we fly him to the mainland. I think it’s about time to act.”
“Just be careful Billy, and watch that shooter. He just might be crazy enough to use it; he’s a lot to lose.”
“Don’t worry; he won’t know what hit him by the time I’ve finished with him.”
The Dakota lurched wildly, Hank fought to bring it back onto the level. The storm was showing no signs of abating. The wipers were struggling to clear the rain; they were flying solely on a temperamental radar system and by the seat of his pants.
Billy picked up a heavy spanner and weighed it in his hand. “This will do Hank, one whack with this then out of the door he goes. The big fish back there will meet an even bigger one down there.”
“Hey make sure you don’t get sucked out with him, and watch the turbulence it will get pretty rough once you open the exit.”
“There’s a million reasons back there while I’ll be careful Hank.”
Back down on the airfield the two hoods had made themselves comfortable sat in the easy chairs with their feet resting on the small coffee table. Their machineguns where resting across their thighs. The hood with scar looked across at Jake sat at the transmitter table. “Did that transmission get through?”
Jake shook his head. “I can’t be certain, but the signal strength was strong.”
The other hood lit a cigarette and blew out a cloud of smoke. “Can those two fly boys be trusted Jake?”
Jake looked a little nervous. “I dunno. I don’t know em that good. They just turned up a few months ago needing a base to fly from.”
The hood with scar nodded. “Easy money eh?”
“Yeah when yer could prise it off them, they have a lot of overheads to contend with.”
The other hood glanced at his mate; a faint smile crossed his cruel features.
Billy walked down the aisle clinging onto anything he could get hold of. “You fancy a hot coffee Frankie with summit in it?”
“Yeah why not, the service on this flight stinks as it is; your coffee can’t make it any worse can it?”
“Hey Frankie I’m only trying to be friendly.”
“I like it the way it is. I don’t know you and you don’t know me, and that’s the way it’s gonna stay.”
Billy shrugged his shoulders and produced a metal thermos flask from under a seat and poured out a mug full. He held out the steaming coffee. Frankie reached out for it and that was the last thing he knew. The scalding coffee splashed into his face and the spanner cracked him across the forehead sending him reeling back into his seat will a groan. A thin trickle of blood ran down his face. A second vicious blow across the side of the head finished him off causing him to slump forward. Bill quickly checked his pulse and felt none; he carefully went through his pockets removing a bulging wallet and a revolver, but there was no key to the case. He quickly made a second search and found nothing that resembled a key. He rubbed his unshaven chin, wondering where he had concealed the key. He gave up in the end knowing he could gemmy the locks later. Billy wrenched the suitcase from beneath the body and took it back to the flight deck and placed it down behind his seat.
“Ok Hank, try and keep her level I’m going throw Frankie to the fishes.”
“Yer sure he’s dead?”
“Take it from me Frankie the Weasel is about as dead as one can get.”
Hank gripped the stick already dreaming of his new life of riches.
The fuselage door slammed back with a vengeance almost knocking Billy off his feet. The wind and the rain gusted in like a hurricane howling down the fuselage, anything that wasn’t tied down flew around before being sucked through the doorway and lost in the darkness. The Dakota bucked and lurched, it dropped a hundred feet as Hank fought with the stick to bring it level again. Billy dragged Frankie’s body towards the exit, trying to keep his balance. He rammed Frankie’s hat back onto his head and rolled the body through the doorway and out into the darkness. He managed to force the door closed and lock it. He sat down in the nearest seat gasping for his breath. He checked the contents of the dead mans wallet, apart from about 30 grand in G notes there was nothing else of any interest.
After a few minutes he was back on the flight deck.
“Everything go alright back there Billy.”
“Perfect Hank, just perfect.” Billy smiled as the spanner cracked into back of his unsuspecting co-pilots skull with a sickening thud. He slumped forward over the stick without a sound. The Dakota fell into an instant dive. Billy scrambled into the Pilots seat and pulled the stick back as far as possible, he gave the engines full throttle, they roared and the plane shuddered as she struggled to drag her nose up out of the steep dive. Eventually he managed to bring the protesting Dakota back onto an even keel.
“I can do a lot more with a million.” He muttered glancing across at his dead co-pilot still slumped in his seat.
Billy altered course and headed for the mainland. He flew for another half hour before the storm blew its self out. They were still flying over water. He flicked the auto pilot switch on and clambered out of his seat. Leaving Hank still strapped in his. He took a screwdriver from the little tool kit and set about opening the suitcase. He forced open the first lock with ease. It flicked back with a loud click. He forced the second lock; the clasp clicked and sprang back. Bill wiped his sweating brow and moved his other hand to lift the lid. The next thing the dark sky over the ocean momentarily lit up. The Dakota exploded into a ball of fire followed by a secondary explosion as the fuel tanks blew. Flaming debris cascaded down through the darkness and plunged into the ocean far below.
A couple of hours later Jake received an emergency transmission. He slowly removed his headphones and placed them carefully onto his table. His face had turned ashen white. “The Island base has reported a large ariel explosion about ten miles out from their location. They sent a rescue boat out shortly afterwards and found bits of wreckage floating around. They believe it’s from the remains of a Dakota. There were no survivors picked up. They have called off the search until daylight, but I wouldn’t hold out much hope for Frankie, those are shark infested waters and as for your suitcase that has to be a lost cause.”
The man with scar nodded. “That’s good, that’s really good. We got Frankie the Weasel, that no good palooka paid the price.”
“Yeah a good nights work boss, lets get outta here.”
A look of puzzlement crossed Jakes face “Hey what about Billy and Hank my pilots, we can’t just forget about them?”
The hood with scar walked across to Jake and placed his arm around his shoulder. “Come, let’s talk.”
Jake nodded. “They were two good pilots. What do I tell their relatives? That they should never have taken off in that storm?”
They both walked slowly towards the window. “Everyman has a price Jake, and I’m afraid your flyboys had one to, and they took the bait. We wanted Frankie the Weasel dead, and your boys duly obliged. No witness’s to worry about, just a simple aviation accident due to a storm; it will probably never be solved. Most of wreckage will be on the bottom of the ocean. The sharks will finish off the rest. The insurance company will pay out and everybody will be happy. Besides Jake, flyboys and barnstormers are two a penny at moment.”
They left Jake looking out of window at the breaking dawn and both headed towards the door.
“Just one thing before you leave?” Jake asked still looking through at the windswept debris scattered over the runway. He stared at the deserted area..
“Sure Jake, fire away. Questions are free.”
“There was no million bucks in that suitcase was there. It was just a plan based on mans weakness?”
The door closed quietly behind them. They were gone without another word.Jake whistled softly through his teeth. “Well I’ll be damned.” He muttered.