Sunday 2:00 pm
Tony Cascarini was apprehensive as he rode the bus to Stamford Bridge, he kept telling himself that if he didn’t kill Sir Geoffrey, someone else would. Was he doing the right thing? Did he have any alternative? The fee for the contract was the largest he’d ever heard of — half-a-million pounds!
For what seemed like the fiftieth time, he weighed the pros against the cons.
• If he didn’t do it, someone else would, so Sir Geoffrey Fender would end up dead anyway.
• He was an expert marksman, an ex-Hertfordshire County Champion who had almost made the British Olympic team – so he had the talent for the job.
• The fee would enable him to pay off all his debts, or rather the debts his wife had accumulated, and he’d be able to afford to get help for her addiction.
• It would be unlikely that he’d get caught as this would be his first, and last, job.
• The cons, or rather the one big con, was that if he did get caught, he’d spend the rest of his life behind bars.
That morning he had rechecked the items that he was supposed to have supplied to the real assassin.
• The V.V.I.P. pass from Chelsea Football Club that gave him unquestioned access to all parts of Stamford Bridge. This pass was signed by Chelsea owner, Roman Abramovich himself; and not just a stamp, but personally signed in blue fountain pen ink. He realised that the clients had some powerful friends, but he was sure that Mr. Abramovich had no idea what they were up to.
• The forged ID credentials that certified that he was an employee of Tottenham Hotspur Football Cub.
• The official Tottenham Hotspur leather sports bag.
• A ticket to the Chelsea v Tottenham game. It was for the exclusive executive box F. There was no price on the ticket as the public could not purchase tickets to this executive box.
• A detailed blueprint of the Stamford Bridge Ground. Marked in red was the position of the presentation platform. It was on the half-way line and close to the West Stand. This is a two tiered stand with the row of fancy executive boxes sandwiched between the two tiers. On the plan, a red line had been drawn from executive box F to the corner between the West Stand and the Shed End where “Door WS19 - key 19” was written.
• A simple key ring with two keys. One was marked “19,” the other marked “17.”
Everything seemed very well prepared, but he knew that so many things could go wrong. He reached his stop and got off the bus for the short walk to Stamford Bridge. He felt very conspicuous; it seemed to him that everyone was looking at the bag containing the rifle. In fact, they were, not because it contained a deadly weapon, but because it was emblazoned with a large Tottenham cockerel emblem. Not the thing to be showing off in Chelsea territory.
It was only when a young Chelsea fan yelled at him – “Tottenham wanker!” that he realised why he was getting so much attention and he quickly turned around the bag so that the Tottenham emblem would not be noticeable.
He neared the players’ entrance and slowed down when he saw a dozen or so autograph hunters waiting for the Tottenham bus to arrive. He could walk into the ground at any time with his V.V.I.P. pass, but he wanted to be sure that the bag holding the gun would not be searched, so he had to wait for the Tottenham bus to arrive in order to carry out his plan.
He waited on a corner in view of the players’ entrance, but not close enough to be observed by the officials at the gate. It would be an understatement to say that there were butterflies in his stomach, he felt like throwing up. It was a good thing that he hadn’t eaten breakfast that morning.
At last, the Spurs bus pulled up to a mixture of cheers and jeers. He made his move. He stood in front of the bus behind the autograph hunters. When he spotted his target, he barged through the crowd and shouted out,
“Carlo, come e il vostro polso? Hai pienamente recuperate?”
The goalkeeper looked around and walked over to him. He seemed pleased to hear someone address him in his native Italian. He said, in Italian, that his wrist was fine and that he was on the bench for the game. The conversation continued in Italian as they walked through the gate towards the players’ dressing rooms.
The officials at the gate assumed that he was a Spurs player and the goalkeeper assumed that he was a reporter from an Italian newspaper. They were unaware that they had helped a potential killer enter the ground.
He said “Buona fortuna e arrivederci,” to Carlo, and climbed three flights of stairs that led to a long corridor. There was a door at the end of the corridor on which was a stenciled sign stating “19. NO ADMITTANCE UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE.” He used one of the keys to open the locked door. There was another corridor leading to a second door marked “17.” He used the other key to unlock this door and went through into a small room.
The walls and floor of the room were unpainted plywood. In one corner there were several cans of blue paint, together with a pile of brushes and cleaning materials.
A plain wooden chair faced one of the walls. This is where he was to sit when firing the deadly rounds. A beam of light streamed through a hole in the wall and shone on the chair. Through this hole he would place the barrel of his weapon.
He had plenty of time, the game kicked off at three o’clock and it was only half-past-one. Sir Geoffrey would be making the presentation at half time, so he had more than three hours to wait.
He carefully unpacked the rifle and assembled it ready for use. He sat on the chair and positioned the gun barrel through the hole in the wall. He thought that whoever had selected this position knew what they were doing. When he looked through the telescopic gun sight, he had a perfect uninterrupted view of the centre of the field.
A true professional would have settled down and waited in the room, but he wasn’t a professional and he didn’t have the patience, or the nerve, to wait for a couple of hours. He decided to leave everything in position and make use of his V.V.I.P. pass.
He made his way to the V.V.I.P. lounge in a sky-box overlooking the field. There was a lavish spread of food laid out on a long table. He didn’t think he should eat, even though he felt quite hungry and he knew he shouldn’t have anything alcoholic. He decided on a cranberry juice and settled in an overstuffed armchair to watch a match, that had kicked off earlier, on one of the massive television sets.
People were now beginning to filter in but he made it clear that he didn’t want to talk to anyone. He was beginning to feel more comfortable and decided he could manage a bite to eat. He took a plate and filled it with smoked salmon, anchovies, caviare, sour cream and slices of fancy toast. He settled back in his chair and soon the reason why he was there drifted into the back of his mind.
The salty food had made him thirsty and he didn’t think one beer would hurt, so he ordered a pint of Carlsberg. As he took his first sip, he almost dropped the glass. Entering the room and walking in his direction was Sir Geoffrey accompanied two men. One was Billy Boy, a detective, who he knew by sight. Of course they’d be in the V.V.I.P. lounge, he thought. Why the hell did I come in here?
Sir Geoffrey and his companions walked right past him to the other side of the lounge. He decided that he’d better just finish his beer and leave. But to rush out right away might look suspicious.
Seeing Sir Geoffrey brought him back to reality. “My God, I have to kill that man in an hour,” he thought. He began to feel sweat trickle down the back of his neck. He gulped his beer hoping it would cool him down. It didn’t.
It was then that Sir Geoffrey looked right at him. The politician had a confused look on his face, it was almost as if he recognized him and knew what he was about to do. He couldn’t stand it any longer; he finished his beer and hurried out of the lounge.
When he got back to room 17, he sat in the chair shaking. He tried to tell himself that there was nothing to it. Maybe Sir Geoffrey had thought he was somebody else that he knew. But the experience had shocked him; his victim had looked right into his eyes as if to say, “Don’t do it.”
A loud cheer startled him. He looked through the hole. The Chelsea team had just run onto the field. He was now feeling really bad. He was hot, his hands were shaking, and his stomach was churning. He decided to lie down on the floor. He got on his back and stared up at the ceiling. He tried to meditate, but when he closed his eyes all he could see was the face of Sir Geoffrey staring at him.
After a while, a loud cheer indicated someone had scored. He didn’t know, or care, which team it was. He returned to the chair and looked through the sights to make sure everything was still ready. He looked at the scoreboard clock and was surprised to see that it read 40 minutes. Only five minutes to go before half time. So probably another fifteen minutes to the presentation time. The thought of it turned his stomach. He rushed to the corner of the room and threw up his smoked salmon into one of the cans of blue paint.
He pulled himself together and sat in the chair. He positioned the sights of the gun on the microphone at the centre of the platform. He was ready.
He watched a police officer speaking into the microphone, Sir Geoffrey was standing next to him. He moved the sights to the white handkerchief sticking out of Sir Geoffrey’s suit pocket.
He waited, and waited. He couldn’t bring himself to squeeze on the trigger. He closed his eyes and took his finger off the trigger. He couldn’t do it!
When he opened his eyes, he saw Sir Geoffrey fall. He’d been shot. He looked at his gun. It hadn’t been fired! Someone else had shot Sir Geoffrey.
He had to get out of there. He quickly disassembled the weapon and stuffed it in his bag. By the time he let himself out of door 19, he saw people rushing for the exits. He joined them and headed for the closest way out.
He didn’t notice a man in a Fed Ex uniform walking in the opposite direction towards door 19.