13 August 2022 – 2pm
It was a warm afternoon in Como, when Marcus stepped out the Uber, eyes shielded against the sun. Fumbling in his pocket, he removed the sunglasses and put them on. That, plus the rapidly thickening beard and growing hair, should give him some cover, he thought. The embezzlement was all over the Milan news. Effigies of him were being burned in the streets. A mural painted in his honour after the Europa League win was defaced with the words ‘Tradimento’. Betrayal, eh?, thought Marcus. That fucking Zlatan.
The Italian Post post office was closed for another half hour. Fuck, he thought, Time for a drink. Looking around however, it was the choice between the pharmacy and the church rising monsterously against the skyline. Being as he’d been to the pharmacy about two weeks ago after being given a dose by a local good-time girl, he didn’t need it again. And the church? …Nah. Marcus looked at his watch, a posh Rolex he’d bought on a whim after landing the Milan job. It was 2:19pm. May as well wait, he thought.
At 2:30pm precisely, the door was unlocked and he was allowed inside. He walked up to the counter, where a thin young man with a pencil moustache was waiting for him to complete his business.
Marcus enquired as to a package
“Certainly, signor, your name?”
Marcus told him
” I have nothing by that name”
Really, said Marcus?
Marcus thought. When Zlatan called him with a list of instructions, first of which was to drive to Como in a small Fiat and pick a package up at the post office at 2:30, he couldn’t believe it, but he numbly followed them. What would Zlatan have used as a name…
Marcus asked him if there was anything. Used the term ‘Stupid Oaf’
“Signor, I must ask you to be more polite!”
Marcus apologised. Mentioned the Stupid Oaf name
“Signor! Once more and I shall be forced to call the Polizia”
Marcus sighed. It was this kind of day. He apologised again and explained
“Ah, si. Let me check”
The clerk exited the area and came back with a waist strap with a bag hanging off it, the kind beloved by the corpulent and American. “This is it, monsieur” said the clerk. Cursing Zlatan under his breath, he took the bag and strode out into the sunshine. Upon opening the bag, Jacques saw a set of keys and a phone in the bag and nothing else. WTF? The phone chimed and a text appeared on the screen. “Try church. Zlatan.” HOW IN THE NAME OF F…. OK, ok, Marcus thought, I’ll indulge him. He strode over to the church and entered the coolness of the vestibule. He looked around. No-one there. Suddenly, he froze. His heightened sense caught a snatch of a walkie-talkie conversation. Polizia! Shit! Marcus dived into the confessional box and sat still hardly daring to breathe. He couldn’t see anyone in the other box and the curtain reached the floor, so his heart-rate began to return to norm…
“Marcus” A familiar voice intoned from the other side
Jesus fuck, whatahhhh?!?! thought Marcus. So surprised was he to hear that voice, he overbalanced and fell out of the confessional, to land in an undignified heap, entwined with the curtain
“Get back in here, you stupid oaf” Zlatan thundered
Marcus untangled himself and re-entered the confessional, still stunned at Zlatan’s appearance.
W-w-what are you doing here, asked Marcus
“Making sure you dont screw up”
I’m…fine, thought Marcus. And told him so.
“Sure. Yeah. Anyway, to business”
Yes, Marcus thought, how am I going to get out of Italy?
“The Zlatan knows what you are thinking. You’re not getting out of Italy”
Marcus gulped. What was Zlatan THINKING?
“You’re going to live in a cottage near the Italian border. The key is there and my driver will take you right there. You will stay there until I can fix this mess”
Marcus inquired, what about money? food?…women?
“I’ve set up a weekly food shop to be delivered. Everything is paid for. Women? Definitely not. Only The Zlatan has the women. I have a pretty tennis coach now right here. She is using the backhand to great effect. DO NOT LEAVE THAT COTTAGE if you want to stay out of jail. The groundsman has been instructed to call the police, should you leave!”
Jesus, Zlatan, thought Marcus, that’s harsh
Marcus looked through the divider and saw emptiness. He’d gone. Shit.