Albert Lewinski was the funniest man I ever knew.
As Albie Lewin, comedian and eccentric dancer, he toured the halls, headlining all of the Moss Empires, appeared in over a dozen pantomimes at the London Palladium and even turned up from time to time on the BBC.
He was a brilliant front-cloth comic, sharp and witty, with a delivery not unlike Max Miller, but without the Cheeky Chappie’s reliance on innuendo to get the laughs. As a dancer, he was a cross between Nat Jackley and Billy Dainty, but with a style that was very much his own.
He’d walk onto the stage wearing a lounge suit two sizes too big for him and with a mournful expression on his long, lugubrious face that would have the audiences laughing before he’d even opened his mouth. He interspersed the jokes with some extraordinary dancing, bending and contorting his body into some impossible shapes, all the while keeping up a steady rhythm with his feet that was metronomic and almost mesmeric in its precision.
I worked with him only the once; a summer season on Weymouth pier. This was in the late 1950’s when live variety theatre was in terminal decline, its audience stolen away by two television channels offering the same kind of fare but with the benefit that people could watch it from the comfort of their living rooms.
Seaside towns were really the last safe haven for those of us who had seen our nightly engagements slashed to mere subsistence levels, a long way away from the glory days of our profession when every provincial town and city had its own thriving theatre and bookings were plentiful.
It was on Weymouth Pier that Albert met Rose O’Shaughnessy, the woman who would go on to be both his manager and his wife. With her copper hair, green eyes and porcelain skin, Rose played up her role of the beautiful Irish colleen to maximum effect, setting her sights on Albert early on in the production and working on him relentlessly in an effort to secure her prize.
That Rose was a beauty there was no doubt, but unfortunately for her, and ultimately Albert, that beauty was only skin-deep.
‘Did you see her, Pete?’ he said to me in the dressing room after our first dress rehearsal. ‘Back row of the chorus. The red head.’
‘I saw her, Albie.’
‘Well, what do you think?’
‘A pretty girl,’ I said. ‘But no prettier than half a dozen girls in the line.’
‘Yes, but did you see the looks she was giving me? Me, for God’s sake!’
‘You’re too hard on yourself, Albie. I’m sure there are dozens of women out there who would love to have some kind of loving relationship with you.’
‘Yes,’ he said, looking out through the dressing room window at the deserted, rain swept pier. ‘I can see them now, queuing up past the turnstile.’ He gave a bitter laugh. ‘Frankie Howerd stands more chance with women than I do, and he bats for the other side.’
‘I still think you’re being too hard on yourself.’
Albert sat down heavily at the dressing table and started to remove his make up. ‘But the looks she was flashing…’
‘Just be careful, Albie,’ I said.
‘What do you mean?’
‘For a start she’s young enough to be your daughter.’
‘I know,’ he said. ‘So?’
I sighed and tried another approach. ‘I mean you’re a relatively wealthy man. You can still draw them in and there’s your television work as well. You have a lovely house in Wimbledon and you drive a Bentley. I’d say you were quite a catch.’ And an easy target, I thought, but kept that to myself.
‘Measles,’ he said, slathering cold cream onto his cheeks.
He regarded me in the mirror. ‘I’m like measles. Easy to catch but nobody wants it.’
I raised my eyes to the heavens. What was it about comedians? About half of those I ever knew were miserable as sin. Perhaps it was a prerequisite of the job. Maybe out of their inherent misery came the magic it takes to make people laugh.
‘Just be careful.’ I repeated. But he wasn’t listening to me anymore. Instead he was sitting there, going through his ablutions and humming a haunting refrain from the end of the first act that featured the chorus girls who took it in turns to take the solos.
Rose O’Shaughnessy was one of the soloists. She had a sweet, lilting soprano, and it was her solo that was playing in Albert’s smitten mind.
It was twelve months later that the wedding invitation dropped onto my doormat.
I couldn’t attend. The ink was barely dry on a contract that bound me to a long tour of the Commonwealth countries as musical director of Fields of Green, a revue that had wowed audiences in the West End for the better part of a year, and was now ready to stretch its global wings.
Starting in South Africa the revue did good business there and in neighbouring Rhodesia before packing its trunks and heading off to the Antipodes.
We were away for a total of fourteen months and in that time the rout of variety theatre had escalated to a fatal degree. The owners of the Moss Empire chain had closed down and sold off nearly two thirds of their theatres. Rock and roll, and stars such as Tommy Steele and Cliff Richard were filling venues that had once been the domain of so many variety acts. Acts that had carried the country through world wars, great depressions and suchlike, performing at venues, once the great hubs of popular culture, reaching across multiple generations, that were now little more than glorified nightclubs and concert halls. It was a sad state of affairs.
I was reduced to playing piano to indifferent guests at some of the four and five star hotels in London. But, apart from that, available work was meagre and I wondered how some of my contemporaries had been affected.
I made the drive to Wimbledon in my second-hand Morris Oxford one morning in June, eager to reconnect with Albert and discover how the downturn in variety’s fortunes had affected him.
Hardly at all was my conclusion as I drove through the high wrought iron gates set into an equally high and newly built wall surrounding Albert’s house.
The house itself was undergoing some major construction work and one side of it was swathed in scaffolding. No work was taking place that day, but then it was a Sunday!
The Bentley was no longer in evidence. In its place on the drive stood a powder blue and silver Rolls Royce gleaming majestically in the morning sunshine. A young man wearing crisp white overalls was leaning over the bonnet, polishing the paintwork with a piece of calico. Sweat was beading on his handsome face as he worked. His dark, curly hair fell over his brow and he kept running his fingers through it, pushing it back from his handsome face.
As I pulled up on the drive he stopped polishing and stood back, hands on his hips, regarding me seriously. ‘May I help you, sir?’ he said as I stepped out of the Morris. His voice had an unmistakable American twang attached to it.
‘I’m here to see Albert Lewinski,’ I said. ‘Is he around?’
‘Who is it, Carl?’ a familiar female voice sounded and Rose O’Shaughnessy stepped out from the shadowed portico and trotted down the steps onto the drive. ‘Oh, it’s you, Peter,’ she said as she emerged into the sunlight. ‘I thought you’d dropped off the face of the earth’
‘I’ve been abroad. Hello, Rose. Is Albert around?’
She didn’t exactly scowl at me but there was no warmth in her eyes as she regarded me disdainfully. ‘What do you want with him?’
‘Just a social call really,’ I said, refusing to wither under her scrutiny. ‘I’ve not long been back in the country and I thought I’d catch up with some old friends.’
‘I understood that Fields of Green finished its run in New Zealand six months ago and the whole cast and crew returned home back in February.’
‘It’s nice to know you’ve been keeping tabs on me.’
‘Don’t flatter yourself, Peter. I ran into Sally Dimmock in Harrods at Easter and she told me you were all home.’
Sally was in the chorus of Fields of Green and had remained with the show until the run ended.
Sweet girl, Sally,’ I said.
‘Sweet, but unambitious. She’ll always be a chorus girl.’
‘Unlike yourself, Rose,’ I said pointedly.
She brushed off the barbed comment, changing the subject smoothly. ‘So why has it taken you so long to come and see my husband?’ She emphasised the last word, to make a point I suppose. ‘He missed you at the wedding. Hardly any of his so-called friends in the business showed up. He was heartbroken.’
I wonder why they stayed away? I wondered, but kept the thought to myself.
Growing tired of the verbal sparring, I said, ‘Is he inside?’ and made a move towards the front door, but Carl blocked my progress, positioning his tall, well-muscled frame between the entrance and myself. I took another step forward but as I moved so did the American, a challenge in his eyes.
‘It’s all right, Carl,’ Rose said. ‘Let him through. It will please Albert to realise that not all his friends have abandoned him.’
Carl stepped aside but continued to glower at me. ‘As you wish, Rosie,’ he said in an overly familiar way.
‘You’ll find him in his study,’ she said to me. ‘It’s at the back of the house. You can find you own way.’
‘Thank you, Rose,’ I said, but she had already lost interest in me and was hanging onto Carl’s arm, whispering something into his ear. It was obviously something humorous because, seconds later, they were both laughing uproariously.
I entered the house, convinced I was the butt of their private joke and decidedly uncomfortable with the intimacy they were displaying.
Once inside I could hear the clacking of a typewriter. I followed the sound and it led me towards the back of the house. Soon I reached Albert’s study, large, airy room lined with neatly arranged rows of books. A huge mahogany desk dominated the room and Albert was sitting behind it, his head bent low over a large Olympia typewriter. I tapped on the open door but he didn’t look up as his fingers flew over the keys.
‘I didn’t know you could type, Albie,’ I said as I walked into the room.
The clacking stopped at the sound of my voice and finally Albert looked up. ‘Pete!’ He beamed at me. ‘What the hell! Bloody good to see you.’
He rose from his seat and I was alarmed to see he was using the desk to push himself upright, His hand reached for a walking cane and he used it to help him come out from behind the desk. He was limping badly but he stood there, still grinning and leaning heavily on the stick.
He noticed me staring. ‘Don’t worry about this,’ he said, anticipating my question. ‘Arthritis. Paying the price for too many years playing the silly bugger on stage.’
‘So, you’ve given up performing?’
‘Played my last date two years ago. I’d been struggling on for a year previous to that. But in the end it became too painful to continue, so I finally heeded my wife’s advice.’
‘How do you manage, financially I mean.’
‘Well,’ he said. ‘As you know, I always wrote my own material. Now I just write for other comics.’
‘And that’s successful?’
‘It was a bit dicey at first but again I have Rose to thank for my new career. She’s a wonder, a well-travelled wonder, and has contacts across the globe. She secured a contract for me writing for an American TV variety show. They call it vaudeville out there and there are still a lot of comedians, hungry for new material. I tell you, they pay a lot more than the skinflints in this country. Can I get you a drink?’
So we sat, drinking and reminiscing for the best part of the afternoon.
As I rose to take my leave I broached the subject that had been niggling away at me since my arrival.
‘Does the arthritis stop you driving? I noticed the Roller on the drive.’
Albert gave a rueful smile. ‘She’s a beauty isn’t she? I’ve only driven her once, but it was too painful. Luckily we have Carl now. He takes us anywhere we want to go.’
‘He’s a Yank.’
Albert chuckled. ‘Something else to thank America for. Rose met him on one of her trips and brought him back with her. He’s been a Godsend. Not only a great driver, but very handy about the house.’
‘I can imagine,’ I said, not too subtly.
‘It’s good for Rose to have someone around who’s more her own age. Saves her having to rely on a creaking old relic like me.’
‘I’m not sure I would be happy about that,’ I said.
‘But then you’re not me,’ Albert said. ‘He makes Rose smile, keeps her happy, and if Rose is happy then so am I.’
I dropped the subject and left, with promises to keep in touch and to meet up later in the year.
And that really was that…at least for another six months or so. I was too busy trying to breathe some life into my own flagging career to give Albert and Rose much thought.
It was in the January the following year that Albert Lewinski came crashing into my life once more.
‘FAMOUS COMEDIAN PLEADS GUILTY TO MURDER’ was the headline splashed across the front of the News of the World.
I usually tried to ignore the gutter press, but that one had me reaching across the newsagent’s desk and handing him my pennies.
The story underneath the headline was lurid and shocking. Albert had been arrested for the killing of his chauffeur, Carl Spencer. The court case was brief, with Albert pleading guilty to shooting Spencer when an argument with the American got out of hand. The story was accompanied by photographs; of Albert in his comical, baggy suit; a handsome head and shoulders shot of Spencer; with a picture of Rose in a glamour-girl pose taken from a theatre programme from a few years ago.
While the paper never actually came right out and said it, the inference in the story was clear. Albert had gunned down the younger, virile man in a fit of jealous rage. Had I been just a casual reader and not known the participants involved, I would have taken the story at face value and moved on. But that wasn’t the case at all and the next day I found myself driving once more to Wimbledon, my resolution to confront Rose and uncover the truth of the story. I had my own suspicions.
It was early evening when I arrived at the house and was surprised to find the place lit up like a Christmas tree. Every room of the house was brightly illuminated; there were a dozen or more cars parked on the drive; the front door was open wide and loud rock and roll music was spewing out of the house and filling the evening air with its irreverent cacophony. A party was in progress.
I made my way into the house, barging through small thickets of party guests who were either too inebriated or too stoned to take much notice of me.
I searched all of the downstairs rooms in my hunt for Rose and finally had to ask one of the guests, a young woman with a peroxide blonde beehive, if she knew where Rose was. The young woman swayed drunkenly for a moment before winking at me lewdly and jerking her thumb at the staircase.
I finally located Rose.
She was staggering out of one of the bedrooms, obviously the worse for wear, adjusting the straps of her black sequined party frock, copper hair awry, a half-glazed look in her eyes. Beyond her, in the room, two young men sat on a king-sized bed, clothes dishevelled, lipstick smears on their lascivious mouths.
‘Rose,’ I said, taking her by the shoulders and shaking her until I had her undivided attention.
‘Oh, fuck me, the spectre at the feast,’ she slurred and broke into a fit of giggles.
I slapped her.
She blinked furiously and started to cry.
‘Why all this?’ I said angrily. ‘Why the party? Do you think so little of your husband and his predicament?’
She grabbed my hand and dragged me back into the bedroom. ‘Get out,’ she snarled at the young men who had risen from the bed and were adjusting their clothing.
‘Just who the hell do you think you are, Peter?’ she said when we were alone.
‘I’m Albert’s friend, and I don’t think for one minute he’s guilty of murdering your chauffeur. I’ve known him years and you couldn’t meet a more gentle soul.’
She glared at me. ‘You know nothing,’ she spat. ‘You’ll be saying next that I shot Carl.’
And there it was, in her eyes, the admission that would never pass her lips. ‘Get out,’ she said.
‘What happened, Rose? Was your American hunk cheating on you? Had he grown bored with the sweet little Irish colleen act? Had he glimpsed the real you?’
She flew at me then, bellowing at the top of her lungs, her fingers hooked into claws, sharp painted nails ready to rip the skin from my face.
I hit her again, knocking her backwards onto the bed.
I had the truth now. My suspicions were confirmed. I left the house and drove home.
Somehow I had to make this right.
‘COMEDIAN LEWIN TO HANG!’
So screamed the headlines and I had no idea what I could do to stop them becoming a reality.
They had set the date for the execution in ten days time.
The police were not interested, nor were the various solicitors I consulted. Albert had entered a guilty plea and that was all anyone was interested in. The wheels of justice would grind steadily on and there was nothing I could do to stop them.
I was finally given leave to visit Albert in Wandsworth Prison just two days before he was due to be executed. Somehow I had to persuade him to change his plea. I wasn’t sure if that would make any difference, but it was my last chance to avert a tragic miscarriage of justice.
‘Well you’re about the last person I expected to see,’ Albert said as he walked into the small secure room they had allocated us.
‘I know you didn’t do it, Albie,’ I said. ‘You have to change your guilty plea, make them realise they’re about to execute an innocent man.’
‘And why would I do that, Pete? I’ve made my decision and I’m sticking to it.’
‘But Rose shot him. She’s as good as told me.’
Albert smiled. ‘I know,’ he said quietly.
‘Then it’s she that should hang, not you.’
‘But she has such a lovely neck, Pete. You must agree; she has the most beautiful neck. It would be a travesty to damage it.’
I was growing exasperated. ‘For God’s sake, Albie! Don’t you care about what’s going to happen to you in two days time? I’ve tried to convince the police that you’re innocent. I’ve spoken to lawyers. I’m running out of options.’
‘Then I think it’s time you stopped, Pete, don’t you?’
I stared at him, mouth agape. ‘You can’t mean that, Albie. Surely you don’t want to hang?’
He shrugged his shoulders. ‘Rather me than her.’
‘You can’t mean that.’
He leaned back in the hard chair. ‘But I do. Look, Pete, you’re a dear friend, and you were there at the start of all this. You knew years ago, how much Rose meant to me, and in that time my love for her has only deepened.’
‘But she betrayed your love, threw it back in your face…’
He held up his hand to stop me. ‘I’ve lived more in the last five years than in the fifty that preceded it, and that is something I’ll be grateful for until I draw my last breath. I consider myself to be a very lucky man.’
‘I think you’re a fool, a deluded fool.’
Again he raised his hand to stop me. ‘I could spend hours trying to persuade you that you’re wrong, but I’m afraid time is a luxury I no longer possess.’ He pushed himself to his feet and stuck out his hand. ‘Thanks for coming, Pete. We won’t be seeing each other again, so goodbye.’
I had no more words. I shook his hand and then pulled him towards me, hugging him tightly. ‘You bloody fool,’ I mumbled through my tears.
‘Maybe,’ he said. ‘But just think, the day after tomorrow I’ll give my last performance…my last dance, at the end of the hangman’s rope. You have to agree, that’s one hell of an exit.’
I watched him as he hobbled out of the room. He didn’t look back at me, and he was right. I’d never see him again, but I would never forget him.
Albert Lewinski was the funniest man I ever knew…
The assassin awoke at a little after dawn that July morning and took a taxi to the golf course. He wasn’t expecting many people to be playing at that time of day, and wasn’t disappointed when he saw there was only one other player at the opening tee. He picked up his rental clubs and trolley from the hire shop, and went outside into the early morning sun.
The other player didn’t seem to be in any hurry to tee off. He was staring back at the clubhouse and repeatedly checking his watch. Dressed in almost regulation golf gear, including a pair of checked trousers that wouldn’t seem out of place in a circus, he transferred his attention to the assassin as he strolled towards the tee.
‘Hi there,’ he said, in a voice that rang with a New York accent. ‘Do you want to play through? My partner hasn’t shown up yet.’
‘I can wait,’ the assassin said.
‘It could be a long one. I phoned his wife and he didn’t come home last night.’ He stuck out his hand. ‘Gerry Webster,’ he said.
Reluctantly the assassin took his hand, and shook it with a distinct lack of enthusiasm.
‘You really should play though. I could be here for a while.’
‘I’m a single,’ the assassin said. ‘I have no standing. A group always takes priority.’
Webster looked at him curiously for a moment, and then burst out laughing. ‘Horse shit!’ he said.
‘Golfing etiquette,’ the assassin said, resisting the urge to punch the New Yorker in the face.
Webster was still chuckling. ‘When did you last read the rulebook? The USGA changed that rule back in 2004. Singles count as groups now. Besides this place is so laid back no one’s going to say anything, rules or not.’
Webster looked about forty but he could have been older.
His tanned face was unnaturally taut and unlined. Plastic surgery or Botox, the assassin surmised. ‘I wasn’t aware of the change.’
‘You and half the golfing community. I play alone a lot, so I checked the rulebook, to stop assholes giving me a hard time and, brother, believe me, some of them do.’
‘Well, if you’re sure.’
‘Hey, fella, no sweat. You go ahead.’
The assassin thanked him and took a ball and tee from the golf bag. As he bent to place the tee, Webster said, ‘I know you, don’t I?’
Without looking up the assassin said, ‘I doubt it.’
‘Darndest thing. I never forget a face, and when I saw you walking across, yours just jumped out at me.’
‘We’ve never met,’ the assassin said, and went to pull his driver from the bag, his mind trawling through its archive of memories, trying to recall Webster’s name or face. He drew a blank. But it unsettled him slightly.
He took a couple of practice swings and then steadied himself. Taking a deep breath he drew back his club… and Webster’s mobile phone rang.
The New Yorker raised his hand by way of apology and took the call.
‘What do you mean you can’t make it? I’m here, waiting to tee off…did you…did she…all night? You lucky, sonofabitch. Okay, we’ll make it next Friday.’ He rang off. ‘Sorry about that,’ he said to the assassin. ‘Some guys have all the luck. Oscar, my friend, picked this woman up in a bar yesterday evening. Spent all night with her. I didn’t ask for details, but that’s never stopped Oscar before. Now his wife is screaming for the divorce lawyers, so he won’t be playing today.’
The assassin stood patiently, waiting to take his shot.
Webster seemed oblivious. ‘This woman, right? Wanted to work her way through Fifty Shades of Grey, starting from page one.’
‘Do you mind?’ the assassin said.
Webster held up his hands. ‘Hey sorry, buddy. You don’t need to hear about it. Take your shot.’ With his hand he made a zipping motion across his lips.
The assassin readied himself again. Took a breath.
‘Hey, we could go round together. Seems a dumb idea to be following each other.’
The assassin sighed loudly.
‘We could make it more interesting,’ Webster said. ‘Say twenty-five bucks a hole?’
‘I don’t think so.’
‘Too rich for you, eh. Fifteen bucks a hole?’
The assassin closed his eyes, and tried to calm himself.
‘Okay!’ the assassin snapped. ‘Just let me tee off… in silence.’ The last thing he wanted was company today, but he couldn’t see a way he could shake the man off. Webster would follow him around the course, and at every hole the assassin would have to suffer the man’s inane chatter. Perhaps, if he engaged him in competition, the New Yorker just might have to concentrate on his game.
‘A hundred dollars a hole,’ the assassin said.
The suntan on Webster’s face paled significantly. ‘A hundred? Er, yeah, why not? What’s your handicap? I play off nine.’
‘Scratch,’ the assassin said.
‘Oh,’ Webster said, and lapsed into silence as he watched the assassin swing back and strike the ball cleanly and accurately, driving it down to the centre of the fairway.
‘Not bad,’ Webster muttered as he planted his tee. ‘Not bad at all.’
The assassin slung his golf bag over his shoulder and watched as Webster teed off, quietly seething. This wasn’t the morning he had planned and he hated unexpected changes to his arrangements.
He had spent his life honing his craft and the bedrock of the craft, the foundation that had enabled him to become the best, the most sought after, hit man in the business, was organization. And this day had been planned meticulously.
Up early, shower, shave and breakfast, taxi to the course, and eighteen holes before returning to his hotel for a nap before setting off to the Gala to make the hit and take out the First Minister, then back to the hotel for a late supper and an early night.
And this idiot was ruining it.
By the time they reached the 10th hole the assassin was nine strokes up, and Webster was eight hundred dollars down, virtually silent, and continually mopping sweat from his brow with a checked handkerchief almost as gaudy as his pants.
Grand Bahama is the northernmost of the islands of the Bahamas, and some would say, the most beautiful. But the beauty of the island was secondary in the assassin’s decision to pick up this contract. It wasn’t even the money, although the 100k payday was not to be sniffed at. The real attraction of flying all the way out here was to indulge his passion: golf. The lucrative fee, and the chance to finally play at a legendary course he had only read about in golfing magazines, was a combination that was impossible to pass up.
The Lucayan course was opened in 1962. Designed by Dick Wilson, it was designed to test a golfer’s skill, favouring precision over distance. Each of the holes presented their own challenges with trees, sand traps and water hazards. The devious mind of Wilson also came up with the dogleg fairways and elevated greens to further challenge the unwary golfer. The assassin was finally enjoying himself, pitting his wits against the architect responsible for designing the Palm Beach Course in Florida and the Desert Rose Course in Las Vegas; two of his favourites.
His tee shot had reached the green, and the ball nestled a yard away from the hole.
He took out his putter as Webster took the flag from the hole.
As the assassin crouched down to readthe green, Webster said. ‘Flowers. Ben Flowers. Christ, it’s been bugging me all the way round. It is Ben Flowers, isn’t it? I’d recognize that swing anywhere. The Oxford Pro-Amtournament in Vegas 2007. You were up there with the leaders.’
Webster had the sun behind him, and the assassin squinted as he looked up at him. ‘You’re mistaking me for someone else,’ he said.
‘I don’t think so,’ Webster said. ‘I never forget a swing – especially one as good as yours.’
‘The name’s Kirkland, Miles Kirkland.’ It wasn’t, but that was the name on the passport he’d flown in on.
‘So you’re calling yourself Kirkland now. That’s okay. Sometimes circumstances happen we have no control over. What was yours? Ex-wife chasing alimony?’
The assassin straightened up. This wasn’t good. Not good at all. He’d used the name Ben Flowers when he was fulfilling a contract to take out a mob boss in Las Vegas. Joining the Pro-Am tournament had been important part of the cover he’d used to get close to the gangster, who was a golf fanatic. All those years ago and still someone could identify him. It beggared belief.
He ambled across to where Webster was standing, holding the flag, grinning like a loon. ‘I’m right, aren’t I?’ he said.
‘You got me. Alimony, yeah, something like that,’ the assassin said, and stuck out a hand. ‘Ben Flowers.’
As Webster extended his, Kirkland moved fast, curling his fingers into a fist and striking Webster in the throat with a short, powerful jab that shattered the man’s larynx.
Clutching his throat, his eyes bulging as he fought for air, Webster dropped the flag, staggered back, tripped over his golf bag and fell to the ground. Calmly, the assassin walked across to where he lay, drew back his foot and kicked him in the head, knocking him unconscious.
Quickly he looked about him. The only other people on the course that morning were a man and a woman, elderly, grey-haired and several holes away, immersed in their game.
The assassin reached down, scooped Webster up and threw him over his shoulder. Despite his apparently slight frame, the assassin was well muscled and prodigiously strong. He carried Webster across the green to one of the built-in hazards of the course: a dense cluster of trees and undergrowth. Standing to the left of the fairway, many a golfer had been forced to concede a hole after losing their ball in the almost impenetrable greenery.
The assassin picked his way through the undergrowth until he found a spot close to the centre of the copse. He shrugged his shoulder, let Webster fall to the ground and went back to the green to retrieve the man’s golf bag. Once back at the green he checked again to see he wasn’t being observed. Satisfied, he retraced his steps.
Webster was where the assassin had dumped him. Gradually the man was coming round, still holding his damaged throat and moaning softly. The assassin selected a driver from Webster’s bag and dropped the rest of the clubs to the ground. Standing slightly behind Webster’s head, he spread his legs, balanced himself and swung back with the driver.
‘Fore!’ he called softly, and with a power long-honed on the driving range he brought the club arcing down, connecting with Webster’s skull, splitting it open and killing him instantly.
He looked down at Webster with distaste, dropped the bloodied driver, and picked his way back to the green.
His ball hadn’t moved, still just thirty inches from the hole. He picked up his putter from the grass, sighted the ball and made the putt. The ball glided across the grass and dropped into the hole. He reached down, plucked the ball from the hole and tucked it into his pocket. And then returned his putter to his trolley and walked from the course.
Game over… until later.