Chapter One: The Shootout At Struans Bar
6.10 pm - Struan’s Bar, Glasgow, November 1981
It was dark outside when the little killer came into the bar blasting. He was only there for answers, not to ask questions.
The fleshy-faced bartender, a tough scot from Dunfermline, had a brief moment to register the door calmly swinging open and a short figure emerging dressed in a dark suit, white shirt, dark tie, black leather gloves and sunglasses. The most remarkable thing about the well-dressed visitor was the pistol grip pump action shotgun attached to a one point sling looped around his shoulder. He looked like he knew his way around it comfortably.
The bartender, with reactions he wouldn’t have given himself credit for in his more lucid moments, made a fast grab for the old .38 revolver underneath the bar. He never made it. The killer’s first blast took him full in the chest, sending him hurtling back into the bottles, glasses and optics of the bar. The BOOM caused the rest of the of the bar to either flinch or swing into combative action. Hands instinctively started to reach into the small of the backs or down to undefined weapons tucked into waistbands.
There were twelve in total, all male, all tough looking and all of the criminal class who had been a part of the Glasgow underworld since they were teenagers. All as of that night they were dead men walking. There was the rack of the slide and the inevitable boom of the killer’s weapon. He knocked them down one after the other like bowling pins. Never stopping, never standing still, but not running either, he ambled at a steady pace along the length of the bar, moving and firing, racking and shooting. Bodies quickly dropped or were flung aside by the rounds from the pump action shotgun and quite often two targets would be taken in the same blast, either from buckshot or solid shot rounds. Two men in the last booth, both dressed in expensive business suits – they could have been accountants or solicitors – took cover behind the leather-backed seats as they searched for their personal weapons in shoulder holsters.
“Yeh fucker,” cried one. It was the last words he ever spoke as the shotgun blast took his head off his shoulders; the second boom removed the other man’s pelvis, causing him to splay on the floor like a rag doll, his legs now useless. A second blast to the chest stopped his screaming.
With the targets in front of him either dead or dying and no longer a threat, the little killer pivoted on his heels, the shotgun turning with him like the turret on a tank seeking out an available target. The room was a mass of red gore, shattered glass and moaning in agony. What had once been a private bar had been turned into a massacre within seconds, smelling of cheap whiskey, stale beer and blood.
A shattering noise resounded from the kitchen in the back. Someone had knocked over a pan by the sounds of it and it had clattered to the floor, giving away the person’s position. The little killer moved cautiously from the small corridor and into the kitchen, the barrel of the shotgun leading the way. A small elderly man wielding a meat cleaver stood in the centre, shivering with the fright.
“Drop it. Don’t think about it. Just do it. Don’t make me ask you twice,” said the little killer, the barrel of the shotgun pointed dead centre at the cook’s head. The cook blinked twice, nodded and then dropped the cleaver onto the tile floor.
“Where is Conor McLachlan?”
The cook looked from the face of the killer to the black hole of the end of the shotgun barrel. Both were unforgiving. He could feel the sweat running down his neck.
The rack of the shotgun instantly changed his mind. “He doesn’t come here, he prefers the fancy clubs. This is just for the lads to hang out here…I swear I dinna know!!! I beg yeh….”
The little killer reflected on the answer. The cook was probably telling the truth. This bar was just the watering hole and meeting place for the members of the gang. No “civilians” would be allowed to enter, nor would they want to, probably.
“I believe you,” said the little killer.
The cook let out a cautious sigh of relief, and then the shotgun blast took him square in the face.
The killer walked out of the service entrance at the back of the bar and into the dark alleyway. It stank of rotting vegetables and old beer bottles. Almost instantly, at the other end of the alleyway, a pair of headlights came to life and then the vehicle started to amble forward. The car, a jet black 1970’s Jaguar X6, looked in the dark of the night like a panther prowling its terrain as it drew up next to him and a small, weasley-looking man in a matching dark suit and tie got out. It was Jojo McKay, the killer’s “squire. “Everything go alright, Mister Grant? No problems, boss?”
Gorilla Grant shook his head, a mask of fury still stamped on his face from his recent executions. “No problems, Jojo. Let’s move it. We still have much work to do tonight. You have everything ready for the next job?”
“Absolutely. I’ve got it all at the lock up.”
“Then let’s make a start,” said Gorilla Grant, unhooking the sling of the shotgun from his shoulder and placing it carefully into the rear of the Jaguar before climbing in himself. Jojo closed the door behind his boss and scurried round to the driver’s side. He liked it when the boss was in a good mood, when his jobs went well. These days, nobody liked to upset Gorilla Grant, especially if those who wanted to keep their kneecaps in the same place. Jojo was Gorilla’s man, had been for the past few years. Whenever the boss had an important “gig,” Jojo was there to help, get everything sorted, get all the gear in place. They worked well together. Oh yes, Gorilla and Jojo went back a long time, and now they had had everything that they would need for the next job in Gorilla Grant’s little overnight battle plan. Chains, padlocks, explosives and petrol…above all petrol. Tonight, Gorilla and Jojo were going to set the town ablaze.
Chapter Two: Inferno
7.00pm – Cambuslang, Glasgow
What was left of the building had once been a three-story property on the junction of Main Street and Greenlees Road. The downstairs had been a women’s clothes shop unit, while the upstairs had once been offices for a firm of accountants. It had been an unremarkable building in a busy row of commercial premises. Two years ago, the current property owners had given their tenants three months’ notice to move out. These days, to the casual eye, it was merely another empty property lying unused. Most people passed by without giving it a second glance. It was a sign of the times, thanks to the witch in Parliament. Unemployment, loss of hope and despair were normal here in the North.
However, the property wasn’t all it seemed. The casual observer wouldn’t have noticed the high-quality locks protecting it, the metal grill shutters on the front to stop thieves breaking in (and also to stop people seeing in) and nobody would certainly have noticed the tough looking “minders” who took shifts sitting inside the property with only a kettle, a radio and a sawn-off shotgun for company. It was in fact the safe house and stash for the drug pipeline run by the McLachlan crime family. The drugs would be moved into the city, usually via the docks, and then stored in a discreet, armed and safe environment, namely this out of business property on Greenlees Road.
At 6pm there was an estimated street value of drugs totalling nearly three million pounds located in its safe room, expected to net a profit for the McLachlans of almost three times that much once it was cut down and passed out to the dealers and the addicts. An hour later, the property and the drugs inside had gone up in flames.
First there had been the smell of sulphur and then the homemade bombs had ignited, not so much an explosion but a slow burn that had taken the two “minders” inside by surprise. Whatever had been placed inside those explosive devices had been powerful enough to engulf the property in minutes and had spread quickly up through the rear and onto the main staircase at the back. At the same time, a similar device had been pushed under the gap between the shutters in the front. Thirty seconds later, it too had ignited and had set about burning into the shop front before working its way up the building.
The men inside had been trapped. All exits were either locked from the outside or had suddenly become a wall of fire, and it hadn’t taken long before the minders had succumbed to smoke inhalation. By 6.30pm, the building, front and back, was an inferno. Passersby on the way home in the dark were treated to a spectacular event as the building became engulfed. A series of loud bangs and pops could be heard from inside. Fire service sirens blared. They would spend most of that night trying to extinguish the blaze, as it turned out, unsuccessfully.
By that time the damage had already been done. The property had been gutted, two men had died and the biggest drug pipeline stash in Scotland had gone up in flames.
Hit two had been completed.