|The horse-drawn hearse click-clacked over the cobbles. The mourners, military and civilian, processed slowly behind. As the entourage pulled up at the lychgate, the military contingent formed a guard of honour as the heavily embellished coffin was unloaded. Shoulder high, Commander Basil De Bound made the final journey to meet his maker.
"Ashes to ashes ..." Much wailing accompanied the lowering of the coffin. Then a rally of shots echoed across the valley, spooking the horses, and causing the watcher to jump. His assignment complete, he retreated into the shadows. Several of the mourners were aware of his presence and give a sigh of relief as he dodged away.
"My condolences ..." The vicar shook hands with each in turn. Cars were loaded, moving off in various directions. The honour guard marched in file to the Range Rovers parked in the next street. A tarpaulin covered the luggage compartment of one. As they sped away in convoy the tarpaulin moved.
"Reports of my death are much exaggerated." The voice came from the man under the cover. "Now my new life begins." With his hair shaved and a week's worth of stubble he did not look anything like the dapper officer that had just been interred.
"I'm sorry we couldn't tell your family the truth." Sergeant Alias Jones spoke without looking back, the fear was the watcher was still watching. "We'll be back in barracks in a few minutes, then you can come out of there."
"Passport, driving licence, mobile, bank cards, keys ... I think that's everything, Com ..."
"Billy, Billy Jacobs, nice ta meet ya." The Yorkshire accent was a nice touch. Jeans, Doc Martens and a check shirt completed the neo-nazi character. "The George and Dragon on Market Street, 7.30 tonight." He read from the leaflet. "D'ya think I should 'ave a knuckle duster or some'ut?"
"I think your fists will suffice." The CO looked Basil up and down. "You know what you have to do?"
"Yes, but I don't like it. Is it really necessary?"
"Absolutely. They need to know you're one of them. Now, don't bother with the erks, we want the ring leaders. Get in with them, find out what they're planning."
As Billy Jacobs approached the George and Dragon he spotted a black face hidden in the shadows. He threw open the pub door and stared down the gathering. As the door re-opened he turned to see a black guy. "You're in the wrong place; we don't want your sort around here." Billy grabbed the guy by the neck and shoved him outside. As a crowd gathered the bloke was on the ground and he was putting the boot in.
Nose bloodied, the black guy managed to get up and run. "You gave him a good'un." The man speaking wore a suit and a narrow black tie. "Come on in, let's get this meeting started." The man introduced himself to the room as Micheal Smith. He went on to give a rousing speech full of hate and venom. This was followed by a general piss-up, but our man noticed Smith and two others stayed sober.
He wasn't surprised when the three disappeared into a back room, to be joined by a guy in a smart suit, carrying a briefcase. Was this the head honcho? Mental notes taken, Billy left the pub and headed for his bedsit. "They didn't see you, did they." Billy addressed the black guy sprawled on his bed, mopping his nose.
"I'm really sorry, Jase, you know I didn't want to do it."
"You 'ad to, mate. I'm just glad you left your steel toe caps at 'ome."