My Friend Kabir

Read Time: 4 mins

Kabir Khan sat anxiously waiting for us to give him an answer. Perhaps he had solicited the wrong crowd. Perhaps he was just desperate. We quickly decided that it was both and went in for the kill.

“We will lend you the twenty thousand, but we ask for forty in return.” I made the counteroffer.

“Of course. No sweat.” He sniffled. Kabir had one of those perpetual runny nose illnesses, caused by his addiction.

“It would be a pity if you were to disappoint us, Kabir. I consider you a mate.” I tapped him on the hump of his rather beefy shoulders and handed him the envelope with the cash inside. I meant what I had said. Kabir had kept me alive on many occasions. An undocumented immigrant, I needed and appreciated all the help I could get.

Everyone and their mother knew that Kabir sold drugs. He was smart enough to sell outside the neighborhood. Business savvy enough to sell under the going rate. Intelligent enough to avoid the law, and Midas for finding a ready market for his product, the illegal night clubs in Leeds. But because he used most of his own product, the old attic was a little dusty. Still, he was one of my best mates, and I didn’t betray my mates.
I watched him do his penguin shuffle getting back to his little flaming red, Nissan Micra. I was amazed that he could fit into the driver seat. Kabir was not a small man. The car did a curtsy to one side as he entered and stayed there. It was his pride and joy. He had bought it cash, even though he made enough money illegally to afford a much nicer vehicle. But he also gambled a lot…. Unsuccessfully.
Sure enough, Monday morning rolled around. We were all there in the parking lot of a storage depot, watching his lopsided Micra slip and slide in the snow. The Micra seemed to breathe a sigh of relief when he exited. He extended a nervous handshake to the leader of our gang.

“Good morning, Gabriela.”

“Where’s my money Kabir?” She was in a rush. Gabriela hated coming out when it was cold. But this was London. To me, the outsider, it was always cold.

Kabir walked past her and gave her bodyguard Elliot a warm embrace, and he promptly shoved him off.

‘I have your cash right here.” Kabir reached into his coat and retrieved a padded envelope.

“Count it.” Gabriela kept her eyes fixed on Kabir.

From the weight of the envelope, I already knew he was short. But I counted it anyway.

“25,000 quid, Gabby.” I informed her, I looked apologetically at Kabir.

“Could someone please remind this, well-fed gentleman, what our agreement was?” she sneered at him.

“Twenty thousand for forty thousand, by today.” Elliot sat on a metal bench behind us. He was one of those guys who had no moral dilemmas when it came to hurting anyone.

“Yes, I fully intend to deliver the rest by this evening. I just need to make a few stops. Consider this a gesture of good faith if you will.” Kabir had a nervous smile. His entire demeanor hinted that he knew he may not survive the morning.

“Good faith, was me lending you twenty thousand pounds, because I considered you an honorable businessman.” Gabby walked off toward her car, and gestured Elliot toward a forklift parked nearby.

“Consider this a gesture of good faith, Kabir.” She snapped her fingers.

I could not see harm come to Kabir, so I shoved him aside, and allowed Elliot to remove the forklift. He drove out to the Micra and flipped the little automobile on its side.

“This evening it won’t be your car that gets flipped, Kabir.” She had the tone of a headmistress, probably was one in another life. Then she and Elliot drove off in her pink Range Rover.

Kabir, relieved, gave a nervous chuckle.

“Why would you dig such a hole for yourself mate?” I asked him.

“I owe someone who is a lot more terrifying than Gabby. So, I paid him first.”

“How much are you in for?”

“Twenty-three grand. Plus, interest.”

“Gabby will want a leg broken at least.”

“You won’t hurt an old mate, would you?”

“Course not. But Elliot doesn’t really like you.”

“I already took care of that problem.”

No sooner had the words left his mouth, than my phone rang. It was Gabriela.

“Boss?” I answered.

She screamed instructions over the phone, then hung up.

“Elliot just got nicked by the old bill.” I said to no one in particular.

Kabir laughed, his chubby cheeks filling out the hood of his jacket as he pulled it over his head.

“Help me flip my car right side up, will you?”

“You set Elliot up? That is dirty, mate.”

“I told you, I owed someone much nastier than Elliot or Gabby.”

“Who is to be feared more in east London than Gabby?” I asked him as we heaved the little car right side up.

“The same people who allow her to run her empire. The National Crime Agency.”

“Gabby is a snitch?”

“You did not hear that from me, mate. You said it.”

I was lost in thought as I sat squished in the front seat next to Kabir. He agreed to give me a lift to where Gabriela was parked at the side of the road.

“You should consider a change in careers. Like, before three thirty this afternoon.” He heaved the last sentence out, between sniffles.

“Who will fill the void when Gabby is gone?” I already knew what was being implied.

“You are a good man. I am sure the NCA, with a little prompting, would, see the value of keeping you around.”

“You cheeky bugger.”

I extended my hand to shake his, and he inserted another envelope.

“The rest of what is owed to Miss Gabriela. I do not want her settling any debts from her prison cell. See you around mate.”

I stood at the side of the road for a moment. The lopsided Micra was the perfect representation of what my head felt like. I was fully aware that there were others pulling the strings in this game. In this life of ours, there is no loyalty. You take the opportunities as they are presented to you. Your very existence untenable, but you keep your head down, eat little, and live long. Gabby had forgotten that one must always keep an eye on the little guy.

9 responses to “My Friend Kabir”

  1. Awesome, Nigel ~

    But could you please translate this line for ignoramuses like me?

    got nicked by the old bill


    Liked by 2 people

    1. Lol…” got arrested by the police”

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Thank you David 😂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This is a well written story Nigel. Your story telling skills is so undeniably excellent.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Why Thank you Michelle. Always appreciate you dropping in to say hi and leave a comment. Hope you are well

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I had fun dropping by reading your story Nigel.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Locker coming soon???

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Yes it is Nigel.


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April 2023
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