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Authors: C David Ingram

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The Stone Gallows

BOOK: The Stone Gallows
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Stone Gallows

C. David Ingram



Myrmidon Books Ltd

Rotterdam House

116 Quayside

Newcastle upon Tyne


Published by Myrmidon 2009

Copyright © C. David Ingram 2009

C. David Ingram has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.

This novel is entirely a work of fiction. The names, characters and incidents portrayed in it are the work of the author's imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or localities is entirely coincidental.

A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.

ISBN 978-1-905802-63-0

Set in 10/12.25pt Minion by Falcon Oast Graphic Arts Limited, East Hoathly, East Sussex

Printed and bound in the UK by CPI Mackays, Chatham ME5 8TD

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publishers.

This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, re-sold, hired out or otherwise circulated without the publisher's prior consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.

1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2

First ebook edition 2011

For Peter and Robin Ingram


Prologue 1, January 2008

Prologue 2, August 2008 

Chapter 1, Thursday November 13th, 2008 

Chapter 2, Friday November 14th, 2008 

Chapter 3, Monday 17th November 

Chapter 4 

Chapter 5 

Chapter 6 

Chapter 7, Tuesday 18th November 

Chapter 8, Wednesday 19th November 

Chapter 9, Thursday 20th November 

Chapter 10

Chapter 11, Friday 21st November 

Chapter 12, Saturday 22nd November 

Epilogue, Thursday 20th November

Prologue 1
January 2008


I was going to kill him.

An hour ago, John Coombes – my partner and
mentor – had been nothing more than a deeply unlikeable human being. Sixty minutes trapped in an unmarked police car with him had caused me to revise my opinion. He was the anti-Christ, my duty to the human race clear: God
me to kill him. I was sure of it.

It's amazing how quickly people can go from a state of mild irritation to one of homicidal rage. This was the first time the two of us had pulled a surveillance duty together; although I didn't know it at the time, it was also to be the last.

I even knew how I was going to do it. There was a disposable pen sitting on the dashboard and I was going use it to sign my name on the inside of his skull, jamming it through his eye or up his nose in a gratuitous but undeniably spectacular display of violence.

I was going to kill him because he was making a noise.

a noise. An irritating, repetitive, childish sound. Like nails scratching a blackboard, or an amphetamine-fed Jack Russell given free rein with a squeaky rubber bone. The kind of noise that makes your soul wince in horror and discomfort until the most hideous act of violence seems like the conduct of an utterly reasonable man.

I'm a reasonable man. I swear.

But. . . even reasonable men have limits, and I was long past mine.

He'd been doing it for at least ten minutes, using a plastic straw to try and suck the melting ice out of his paper cup, making a disgusting
schlurp schurlp
sound, and showed absolutely no sign of stopping.

Any detective who has ever worked surveillance would testify that those ten minutes had been an eternity. Hell, it wasn't as if Coombes had a whiter than white service record. I might even be able to claim that I was performing a public service.


I made sure that my voice was calm and reasonable. If he sensed just how irritated I was, he'd keep on doing it. Coombes was that type of guy.

‘Yes, Cameron?'

I indicated the straw. ‘Do you mind?'

He sighed like I was asking him to donate his entire liver to my alcoholic second cousin, before tossing the cup in the back seat. We settled back into miserable silence.

There is only one rule to surveillance duty and it's mind-bogglingly simple: don't take your eyes off the subject for a second. It doesn't matter if you have been sitting there for an hour, a week, or even a month, you're expected to maintain a constant level of focus.

In the past, whole investigations have been abandoned because the people involved haven't taken the job seriously enough. In one memorable incident, a key suspect was lost forever because the two detectives assigned to the case had been in the bookies across the road watching the three fifteen from Newmarket. They lost more than their fifty pounds each way that day, I can tell you.

Of course, none of that mattered to Coombes. He shifted his weight in the passenger seat of our unmarked Mondeo. ‘I need to pee.'

I grunted as I turned and fished the paper cup out of the back seat I showed it to him.

He looked at it, then me. ‘What do you think I am? An animal?'

‘Yeah, I saw that on David Attenborough. The famous cup-peeing gazelle of the Serengeti.'

We were three hours into a six hour shift. I'd been sensible, not over-eating or drinking. Coombes had munched his way through a quarter pounder with cheese, plus fries, plus a bloody chocolate doughnut. And, of course, nearly a litre of caffeine-laced soft drink.

Of course he needed to pee. Coombes was always pissing about. You would think a time-served detective would know better.

But then, Detective John Coombes could hardly be described as the shining light of Strathclyde Police. I'd been his partner for about one month, and it had taken me less than two weeks to work out that he was perhaps not as dedicated as one would expect of a public servant. In his mid-forties, he was soft in the gut and work-ethic, with flabby hands and straw blonde hair that was thinning badly. I was supposed to be learning from him but so far all I'd discovered was the best places in Glasgow to get free food. The city had plenty of restaurants and bars where the subtle wave of a warrant card would net you a courtesy Chicken Fried Rice or pint of Heavy, and Coombes seemed to know them all.

Speaking of which. . . ‘There's a pub round the corner,' he said.

‘The Docker's. We could take a little break.'

I checked my watch. ‘It's after midnight. They won't let us in.'

‘The landlord's a friend of mine. Besides, it's only five past. They won't even have had time to hose the vomit out of the toilets yet.'

‘Sounds classy.' I pretended to think about it before shaking my head. ‘Maybe another time.'

‘Come on. You new fish are all the same. We've been watching this bloody guy for two weeks now. He might be dirty, but he's smart. He's not going to do anything that we can pin on him. It's a waste of time.

Nobody's going to know if we sneak off for a quick one.'

I wondered if we would be expected to pay for it, or if it was one of the many places where the landlord owed Coombes a ‘favour'.

‘I'm not comfortable with the idea.'

His face had a disgusted look on it. ‘Look, Stone, I'm not peeing in a paper cup. All I'm saying is, we'll sneak away for one pint. . .' He wagged a finger at me. ‘Just one, mind you, and then we'll come back.

We can sit here in the cold and the damp and smell each other's body odour and you can hand over to whoever they send to replace us with a clear conscience.'

There was a park less than thirty yards away from where we sat. No lights, no walls, plenty of trees to slip behind. I nodded in its direction. ‘You could jump in there. Take you less than sixty seconds.'

He sulked for about two minutes, crossing and uncrossing his legs.

Then he opened the car door. ‘Fuck it. I'm going for a pint. You can sit here on your lonesome.'

‘Don't do it, Coombes.'

He laughed. ‘Why? What are you going to do? Report me?'

I took a deep breath. Being a cop is like being part of a big family.

Coombes may have been a shifty bastard, but he was
shifty bastard. And I was still very much the new boy. If I made a complaint about him, it would be my word against his, and the repercussions for me could be grave. At the very least, it would isolate me from everybody else. Don't work with Stone, they would say, he's a clyping bastard. The worst case scenario was that I would be viewed as a trouble-maker, and probably not be considered for promotion any time in the next thousand years.

I decided to compromise. ‘You got your mobile with you?'

Coombes patted his pocket.

‘I'll call if anything happens.'

‘Good boy.'

The car door slammed and I listened to him whistle as he walked off into the night. ‘Arsehole,' I whispered, to myself.


‘Little bastard. Fuckin' get it to stop.'

‘She's teething, Gaz. She can't help it.'

‘It's been greetin' a' day.'

Maria tried to placate him. ‘Her gums are sore.'

‘My fuckin' ears are sore. Get it to shut the fuck up or I'll gie it something to fuckin' cry about.'

‘She can't help it.'

‘Fuckin' hell, man.'

Gaz liked to say fuck. It was his favourite word, serving most of his
needs in one juicy little syllable. Adjective, noun, verb, intensifier,
modifier and convenient thought-gathering pause. Not that he had a
great deal of thought to gather. Gary Tiernan was never going to be on
Mastermind, even if they allowed him to choose Scottish Ned Culture as
his specialist subject.

He hated quiz shows anyway. All those smartarses who wanted to
show off how much they knew about something nobody gave a shite
about. Great shell-suits of the eighties. The Golden Age of Buckfast Tonic
Wine. Seriously, who cared? To Gaz, the only things worth knowing were
the three F's. Football, fighting, and of course, fucking.

Even so, it would be cool to be on the telly. Give the lads a laugh. He
could imagine himself on that big black bastard seat in his best Burberry
baseball cap, the crusty tones of that old fart Magnus Fagness, or whoever the fuck it was.

-And the clock starts. . . now. What does the abbreviation NED stand

-Non Educated Delinquent.


-I fuckin' know it's correct, ya bam. Wanty get a fuckin' move on, pal?

It was just after eleven pm. He'd sprang out of bed at the crack of
noon, waited until almost one before cracking open his first can
of Supersonic. Now the twelve pack that had been in the fridge was
gone, as was the pleasant buzz that had lasted throughout the late
afternoon and early evening, replaced by a deadly roaring numbness,
a slow motion plane crash of a building hangover that would
cost him the best part of the next day. Not that it mattered. It
wasn't as if he had a job to go to. He stretched on the settee, a thin, 
ferrety boy with a narrow face and angry, disappointed eyes.

The crying. It was doing his fuckin' head in.

Nobody said it would be like this. They waffled on about the joy of
having kids, of being a dad. Being part of a tiny little life, watching it
grow and learn. The wonder that is fatherhood.

It was all shite. Shite at one end and puke at the other, and constant
fucking noise in the middle. A dog would have been better. Nice wee
Rottweiler puppy that would wag its tail and learn to fetch a stick. And
you could housetrain them. Unlike the wean. Eight months old, didn't
talk, didn't walk, didn't smile. All it did was sleep, shit and scream.

BOOK: The Stone Gallows
4.52Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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