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   Chapter 9 SLAINTE, BELFAST

Dead Centre By Owen Jones Characters: 16580

Updated: 2018-02-09 19:01


Gareg Griffiths, or GeeGee, as some people who had known him from his school days still called him was the owner of several hundred acres of land in south-west Wales in the area of St. David's, Pembroke. He had several hundred sheep on it, which people took care of for him and he rented some of the best land out to arable farmers. It was of varying quality and could be put to various uses, which it was being.

He liked the idea of being a sheep farmer, a shepherd, but actually took no part in the business himself. His parents had been farmers, but Gareg had joined the Parachute Regiment, Two Para, on leaving school and the army had put him through university. After four years, he had applied to and been accepted by the SAS.

It was there that he had met Bob, who had actually come from his own regiment, although he had not been it when Gareg had left. There was ten years age difference between them. Gareg admired Bob and had a great amount of respect for him. He knew that the feeling was mutual. They had worked together in the SAS for nearly twenty years and knew each other better than most siblings. There was no-one in the world that Gareg cared about more than Bob.

Gareg had never married, but he still hoped to find a partner and marry one day. Life had been just too busy for him to find a wife when he was in the forces. When he retired from the SAS, he had been at a total loss as to what to do. If he had had a family, it might have been different. He had inherited the farm, of course, when his parents had died in a car crash twelve years previously, but he had no practical knowledge of running it.

He had missed his parents a great deal for years, although he had not lived with them for a long time. He had often phoned them for their advice and sometimes just to hear their voices.

His only hobbies were target shooting, fishing, fine wine and fine food, so he had opened a restaurant in St. David's. However, the only cooking experience he had was over a campfire, so he had had to hire a chef which left him little to do except order the wine, and so he had taken that job on and built up a wine importing and exporting business. There were now several well-respected vineyards in the United Kingdom and Gareg was in on the ground floor of promoting their wares.

However, he had kept in touch with both regiments and had had many worrying conversations at reunions, and letters at his farm from old comrades who were at their wits' end after leaving the forces. It had been a difficult time for anyone to get a job in the early twenty-first century, but it seemed that no-one was employing ex-servicemen at all. Some men missed the action so much that they had gone to Africa to become mercenaries or to France to join the Foreign Legion, but the older soldiers had just had to sit at home and watch daytime television, driving their wives mad with their gloominess and irritability. Most drank too much and some committed suicide.

Gareg took it upon himself as a senior officer to try to help these men find acceptable jobs after leaving the army and that had been the start of another business. He had called it 'The Dead Centre Agency' or Dead Centre for short and the strapline was 'Because we always hit our target'.

He had found jobs for hundreds of ex-servicemen and women. He and his team were soon specialising in head-hunting for large firms, especially in the fields of security and specialised local knowledge, wherever it may be required. He had men and women on his books who could shoot a fly off a wall from a hundred yards, plant explosives, track men, build bridges, navigate rivers, march for days, live in the bush indefinitely and drive or fly any vehicle they were given. They were also all experts at disguise, totally fit, very versatile and great story tellers. There were few better after-dinner speakers than ex-SAS soldiers.

One day a man had approached him to go on the agency's books. Gareg had known him for years from Hereford.

"What would you like to do?" Gareg had asked him.

"I don't really care, sir. I've only got two months left to live. The doc said I've got an inoperable brain tumour. Thing is, I can't get it off my mind, if you know what I mean, sir. Too much time on my hands and nothing to do with it but think about dying in hospital, and it's killing me, but not quickly enough for my liking.

"Pity I'm not a Moslem, or I could volunteer to be a suicide bomber."

That man had died a natural death, but it had got Gareg thinking and one night when he was drunk at a reunion dinner, he had related the story to a doctor, who had replied:

"I know a few people like that as well. I see five or six every year. I could send you their details for a small consideration."

Half-jokingly, Gareg had taken him up on his offer and a few days later he had received an email with a name and an address. Gareg had gone to visit the man, who was a retired army serge

ng it. Bob was grateful to Gareg for finding a way for him to remain actively involved and so was Gareg. It had also made them both wealthy men.

Bob did not know it, but Gareg gave him fifty percent of any fee they were paid after the deduction of all expenses. They had used to clear a quarter of a million dollars a job, but that had doubled recently.

However, they had never gone short. They had always had all the money they needed when they were in the army too and a fantastic, almost limitless expense account. Money as a commodity or as something to be collected had never been an interest of either of them and had certainly not been a problem since they had joined the SAS. After leaving, the army paid them a decent pension and Dead Centre had made them millionaires.

They wanted for nothing but the regular shot of adrenalin. They knew that they were addicts but could do nothing about it and didn't even want to try to.

Gareg and Bob did discuss the morality of what they were doing from time to time over a bottle of whisky or two, but neither of them thought that what they were doing was any worse than what a lot of politicians did and they knew that their participants were volunteers who died to make money for their family and go out with some form of dignity.

Most participants were found by professionals, but most clients were sent to Gareg's web sites by 'friends'. However, these websites were powered by Wordpress, set to privacy mode, which was meant to discourage search engines from indexing them, although there was nothing incriminating on them anyway. They were pretty hard to discover without the exact URL and were hosted on hired servers located outside Wales. He wasn't even sure where they were located any more, but had some recollection that it was in Latvia.

People really had to know that the sites were there in order to access them. To say that they were hidden was an understatement. However, they were there and people did leave messages on them. The web sites or blogs, as they were really, were maintained by another of his operatives, who was paid a weekly wage for updating them as and when required and forwarding all correspondence that had arrived to Gareg's desktop peer-to-peer.

Despite this, Gareg often did not know how his clients had found him. The latest inquiry was a good example. A man had left a garbled message about his wife leaving him for her lover and wanted them both killed if she did so. He said that he had heard of the 'service' from 'a friend of a friend' and, although he could get it done cheaper elsewhere, he was prepared to pay the exorbitant rate because there would be one fewer person 'to spill the beans' and 'give the game away' this way.

The man also assured Gareg, although not by name, that he was very wealthy and that money was no object. Gareg replied that he would be contacted soon and told Bob about the matter. However, for the moment, the Irish affair was the next thing to sort out

Gareg went to Belfast and called the contact number he had, while Bob flew to Johannesburg to interview a new candidate on their list of participants. His doctor had referred the potential participant because he had a terminal respiratory disease and was worried about the long term prospects of his mother.

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