God Put A Smile
A Cal Innes Story
by Ray Banks
.......Stop me if you've heard
.......A priest walks into a
pub, interrupts a conversation between two guys and asks one
of them, a private detective, if he wouldn't mind paying him
a visit the next day. The P.I.'s had more than enough to drink,
and he agrees. Then he and his pal get back to their pints.
.......So now it's the next day,
I'm trapped in the priest's chintzy living room and the sheen
of comedy is tarnished by a thumping hangover. The air's cloying
thanks to an electric fire turned up to eleven. What seemed funny
the night before, like some bad joke, now looks to be my passport
to hell. Tea in a china cup sits by my side, untouched. The tie
I wore for the meeting is now a wet piece of cloth stifling me.
The heat in this room is unbearable; I'm dripping sweat.
.......On top of all that, this
Father Kelly is asking me awkward questions.
......."I don't know what
faith I am," I say. "I never gave it much thought."
......."How were you raised?"
......."Okay, I suppose.
Doctor Spock'd probably have a few things to say, though."
......."I meant what denomination,
......."Catholic. But I'm
......."You can never lapse
.......Father Kelly is sitting
in a beaten-up armchair watching me with placid blue eyes. He
reminds me of the priest I saw when I was a kid, Father Mulrony.
That same quiet way about him, the same self-control that became
evident when my dad crashed Christmas Mass one year and puked
in his own lap. Mulrony kept on going, didn't miss a beat, while
the rest of us scrabbled to get him out of there. My father called
Mulrony a Fenian cocksucker and we were black affronted in proper
.......And now it looks like
I'm still Catholic. I don't know how comforting that is. Or what
it really means to the man in front of me.
.......Kelly's fingers slip together
and he looks at his knuckles. He pauses so long it looks like
he's counting each grey hair. His long fingers are in direct
proportion to his lanky frame and gaunt features. He looks like
he's seen a lot of shit in his time, but this is the real faith-shaker.
......."Can I ask what this
is about?" I say.
.......He looks up at me, crooks
an eyebrow. "I know you work at the boxing club with Paulo."
......."I don't work with
him, but we share the same premises, yeah."
......."Do you remember
a lad called George Bailey?"
......."Doesn't ring a bell."
......."He was about fourteen
when he attended the club, part of his probation."
......."He dropped out not
long after he arrived."
......."Not so usual."
......."He felt he wasn't
much use there, felt he was being picked on. He needed something
more sedate, less confrontational. His social worker agreed that
it would be best if he came to work with the church."
.......I get an image, frosty
around the edges. A short, skinny lad with muscles like a knot
in a piece of string. I remember him getting leathered three
times a week. The other lads sniggering behind his back. Soft-spoken,
almost effeminate, threw a punch like he had a handbag in his
fist. His name could have been anything, though. I tell Father
he says. "It's been a few years, but he hasn't changed much.
He's still quiet, reserved. He does some work with Guiding Light."
.......Now Guiding Light, I've
heard of. It had a feature in the Manchester Evening News
and everything, a bus that goes round the estates, bringing the
power of the Lord and the PlayStation to the inner-city kids.
The bus parks up, the kids go in, have a whale of a time. It's
the church's way of stopping the kids from shitting on their
own doorstep. Me, I never joined the welcome party. Something
about it smacked of cult.
......."So what's the problem?"
......."There have been
rumours," he says.
......."What sort of rumours?"
.......He clears his throat.
"You have to understand, whatever I've been told was in
the strictest confidence."
......."Nothing like that.
I just mean I was told in confidence. And I wouldn't want to
break that confidence."
......."Then why are we
......."Because I've heard
good things about you, Mr. Innes. I've heard you're -- "
......."Discreet, I know."
Suddenly it's Innes karaoke. Play the tune, sing the song. "I
know I'm cheap, if that's what you mean."
......."Please. This is
.......I try to get comfortable.
Should've bitten my tongue. "I'm sorry, Father. Go on."
.......And for once, Father Kelly's
composure seems to gutter out. "George has been accused
of sexually abusing a child on the estate."
.......I don't say anything.
Kelly's looking at the floor, like it's his fault. I'm waiting
for it all to sink in. But I must have a blank look on my face.
......."I need to know if
these allegations are true, Mr. Innes."
......."Who told you this?"
......."It was in the strictest
......."Okay, then who is
he accused of... " I can't finish. My gut churns. I reach
for the tea, take a sip. It doesn't help. The tea's stone cold
and a skin has formed on the top.
......."I'm sorry, Mr. Innes.
I can't tell you that either."
......."Well, was the victim
male or female?"
.......He shakes his head. "I
was told "
......."In confidence, I
know. Everything you've been told, it's confidential."
.......I replace the cup and
wipe my mouth. "Then what am I supposed to go on, Father?"
......."You can ask questions,"
......."That can stir up
more rumours. Where's George now?"
......."I don't understand."
......."I take it you've
given him a holiday or something," I say.
......."Why should I do
......."To get him out of
......."It would be as good
as admitting guilt," he says. "George is innocent until
......."That's very Christian
of you, Father, but the real world doesn't work like that. You
were told in confidence, and so were about three other people,
and those people tell three others. Before you know it, the sewing
circle's charged and you've got a full-blown paedo on your hands.
After that, you can expect pitchforks and flaming torches."
.......He shakes his head. "You
don't have much faith in human beings, do you?"
......."Oh, I have plenty
faith in human beings. Especially in their ability to behave
like a bunch of animals if the wrong buttons are pushed. Look,
you want me to help, you're going to have to give me something
to work with."
.......Father Kelly looks at
the electric fire. His hands slip apart and rest on the sides
of his chair. In the glow from the fire, he looks about eighty.
......."Do you believe he
did it?" I ask.
.......He doesn't look at me.
Just keeps staring at the orange bars. It takes me a while to
realise how hard this must be on him.
......."I don't know, Mr.
Innes," he says finally. "I really don't know."
.......I sit in my office and
play with my lighter. Click it on the desktop, flip it round
and click the other end, then light it. A tiny flame appears.
It must be running out of gas. I use what's left to light an
Embassy and sit back, slide the lighter across the desk. From
the one window in my office, I've got a great view of the bins.
I've seen foxes out this window some early mornings. Right now,
there's a raggy cat with one eye intent on something out of sight.
.......Information came my way.
Father Kelly thought about it, started talking, and once he started
it all snowballed, came spilling out like a long-delayed confession.
As he talked, a clearer image of George Bailey came to mind.
I remembered the skinny kid in detail. He had a touch of the
Daniel O'Donnell about him then. Slender, spoke with a soft Irish
lilt that the other lads took to be a sign of his homosexuality.
But he was jittery, easily spooked, and when it came to the ring,
the kid was roadkill. He wouldn't even try to defend himself,
looked on with wide eyes as the gloves battered him black and
.......I remember thinking he
was a lover, not a fighter. The memory makes my throat dry now.
.......George Bailey was born
to a mother who didn't want him. She'd offered him up for adoption
as soon as he could scream. He'd been abused in one foster home,
shuffled off to others who had too many children to pay attention
to the introverted boy in the corner. When he finally took a
half brick to a kid's head in a playground fight, he got himself
.......And then, on to the Lad's
.......I flick ash from my cigarette,
wish I had a drink.
.......He hadn't any priors that'd
add up to sex offender, but Bailey was an easy target for rumour.
Or so Father Kelly helped me to believe. He still hadn't told
me the whole story. Who'd accused Bailey in the first place?
Kelly said he was protecting the victim, but that was it. True
enough, if this went to court, I didn't want to be involved.
It wouldn't look good. It's one thing to hire a private dick,
but it's a whole different matter if that P.I.'s done time himself.
Any testimony I'd give might as well be written in red crayon.
But that's just fine with me. I've had my fill of courtrooms,
with their pompous barristers and eye-watering stink of Mr Sheen
It's Paulo. I didn't hear him come in.
......."Yeah, I'm fine."
......."Then why're you
sitting in the dark?"
.......I didn't know I was. True
enough, my eyes sting. "I lost track of the time."
......."You coming for a
......."Nah, I think I'll
give it a miss."
......."Kay. Well, see you
.......He doesn't leave. I can
feel him standing there.
......."You remember George
Bailey, don't you?" I say.
......."Yeah, I remember
the lad. Didn't last long. What about him?"
......."What'd you think
......."Not much. A little
......."He strike you as
......."What you getting
at?" says Paulo.
......."I don't know, mate.
That's the whole trouble."
.......The next day and I've
wrapped up warm. I've got The Coral playing on the tape deck,
a cigarette on the go and I'm heading towards Rusholme. I would
have walked but the weather's vicious. Manchester winters drag
on worse than those in Leith, and the wind smacks rain-soaked
fists at the windscreen. The wipers are fighting a losing battle.
.......I can't talk to the victim.
I wouldn't know what to say to him even if I knew who he was.
And there are enough questions to keep me occupied. I'd half
thought about telling Father Kelly where to stick his job. I
didn't need this, and he wasn't paying. I was supposed to do
this on my own time, on my own money. And I could think of better
things to be doing. Sleeping, for one.
.......But no, he dangled the
carrot and me being the biggest ass in the history of the world,
I can't stop until I get my hands on it. So this is why I'm driving
down to Rusholme. If I can't talk to the accuser or the victim,
I'll talk to the accused. I doubt he'll give me a straight story,
but I might get something out of him.
.......I come off Stockport Road,
pass Longsight market on my way up to George's place. It's Saturday
and the traders are out in force, stalls already set up. People
have braved the weather to get their hands on some knocked-off
gear and it's hell looking for a parking space. I find one on
Grenville Street and get out of the car, pull the collar of my
jacket up against the wind. One foot drops two inches into a
.......Sometimes I wonder why
.......I trudge up towards George's
house, a shabby-looking terrace. His gate is rattling on its
hinges and his front garden's turned into a jungle. The curtains
are still drawn in the front room and the house is in darkness.
I check my watch. Probably too early to go knocking on the door,
but I'll do it anyway. Rap three times and wait.
.......And wait some more. No
sound in the house. I'd told Father Kelly to give the lad a day
off; he should be home. I get down on my haunches, flip open
the letterbox. The hallway is dim, a damp smell coming from somewhere.
.......My mobile starts to ring.
......."George, my name
is Callum Innes. I'd like a word with you. It's rather important."
.......My mobile keeps going.
I answer it crouching. "Hello?"
......."Mr. Innes, it's
.......That's about all I hear.
His voice is cracking, and there's too much background noise.
I stick a finger in my ear and raise my voice. "You're breaking
up," I say.
......."Mr. Innes, I think
you'd better come to Ordsall."
......."Is George there?"
.......The line goes to static,
cuts out. Then jumps back in with Kelly saying, "... here,
the bus is on Hulton Road."
.......And then silence apart
from the wind whipping my head. With my heart sinking, I turn
on my heels and run back to my car.
.......I push the engine to its
limit, barrelling across Manchester. As I hit Salford, push round
towards Ordsall, the rain begins spotting off. And as I turn
into Hulton Road, I see the Guiding Light bus parked by what
passes for a common.
.......I don't look at it long,
.......I kill the engine and
hop out. Father Kelly is doing a King Canute, trying to hold
back this bruiser with a scratch on his cheek. His composure's
long gone and he looks like he's about to have a heart attack,
his hands clasped to his chest. Pleading with the guy. Behind
the bruiser is a mob of fathers, mothers, kids screaming about
like it's their birthdays and Christmas all rolled into one.
Chinese whispers has come full circle.
......."Now listen, Mr.
......."You listen, pal.
I don't give a shit what you think, we want that lad in there."
......."You already had
him, Mr. Dalgliesh. He's in no state to -- "
......."Fuck off, we're
not finished with him."
.......A chant is starting up.
......."I'll call the police."
......."You call the fuckin'
police. You do that. Get him out of our fuckin' street."
.......I step up by Father Kelly.
The hardcase, this Mr. Dalgliesh, looks me over like I just pissed
in his cornflakes. "Who's this bastard?"
......."Easy nowt, I'm giving
him five minutes to get the paedo out here."
......."You a union man,
......."I know you?"
......."Nah, mate. You don't
......."Then I don't deal
with you. You tell him, padre. You get him out here else we go
in and get him."
.......I look behind me. In the
bus, I can make out a shadow. George Bailey.
......."You won't do that,"
......."Don't fuckin' bet
on it. He's a sex case. He should be on the list. We'll make
sure he is."
.......Dalgliesh gets in Kelly's
face. "You got five fuckin' minutes."
......."Oi," I say.
"Take a step down. I'll go in there. I'll bring him out."
.......Father Kelly looks at
me. I take him to one side. "What do you think you're doing?"
......."I'm trying to stop
you from getting killed. Listen, I need to get in that bus and
bring him out before this turns nastier than it already is."
I reach into my jacket pocket, give him my mobile. "You
get on to the police. Once they're here, I'll bring George out
and we'll let them handle it."
......."Good." I look
across at the crowd. The chant's still going, rippling from the
back to the front. People are jostling each other, faces twisted
into masks of hate. But behind Dalgliesh, a woman is holding
a girl for dear life. She looks frightened, as if the swell is
about to swallow her and her daughter whole. I catch her eye,
then Dalgliesh notices and goes over to her, wrapping huge arms
around her shoulders. The husband. The wife. The daughter. The
protected family unit.
.......I back away, head towards
the bus. Feels like the death mile. As I leave Father Kelly behind,
he fiddles with my phone. I wish he'd get out of here to make
the call, but he wants to be part of the action. Christ.
......."George, open up!"
Banging on the door of the bus. "C'mon, man, I'm not pissing
about. I'm on your side. Open the door."
.......I see him moving about.
He appears at the door. "It's okay, George. I'm with Father
Kelly. Open up."
.......He stares at me, face
a bloody mess. Looks like he's been worked over already. The
door opens with a hiss. I climb aboard and it closes right behind
me. George moves away, never takes his eyes off me.
.......He doesn't answer, just
eases himself into one of the beanbags littering the floor. It's
dark in here; I can't make out much. But there's blood on the
carpet and George is holding a wad of tissues to his head.
......."They do that to
.......He sniffs painfully. "I
don't know how many," he says. "And I don't know why."
.......I lean against a bookcase.
Famous Five, Secret Seven, The Hardy Boys,
Tintin. Good old-fashioned stuff. Stuff I used to read.
Leaflets on drugs, sexual health and alcoholism sit on a table
next to it.
......."They think you abused
a kid," I say.
you a paedophile."
.......He closes his eyes, dabs
at some dried blood on his upper lip. "I didn't do it."
.......I walk towards him. He
flinches. "I need to know if you're telling the truth, George."
.......George looks up at me
with shining eyes. "I'm telling the truth."
.......I stare at him. From what
Kelly said he'd be about nineteen, but he looks a lot younger
than that. Something to do with the expression on his face, the
sheer terror at what's happening, the inability to grasp it,
to deal with it. It's a victim's face, not someone who's been
.......Something cracks against
the window like a gunshot and I duck. George's head drops into
his hands. Outside, I can hear the chant hit an unbearable volume.
Look down at George, his arms are up around his ears, he's curled
up into a ball.
......."I need you to come
out with me," I say.
.......Another crack at the window.
A stone. The mob's getting edgy.
......."George, wake up.
I need you to come out with me." I look out of the window.
Father Kelly's nowhere to be seen. I pray he's called the police,
because the crowd is advancing. We haven't got long. "C'mon.
I really need you to get up and come out with me. You'll be safe.
I promise I won't let them hurt you."
.......He shakes in his seat.
His fingers tremble against his hairline. From somewhere under
the folds of his jumper, I can hear him muttering.
.......More stones tacking against
glass, the crowd getting louder.
.......George sounds like he's
.......The mob hits the bus with
all their strength. My legs buckle and I grab onto the bookcase.
A copy of The Blue Lotus bounces onto the floor. A brick
smashes through one of the back windows and I hit the deck. The
bus begins to rock on its wheels. A concentrated effort, organised
.......It's too late now. There's
no going back. I can smell smoke in the air.
.......A roar from outside, and
the bus tilts. The television hooked up to the PlayStation slides
from its cabinet, falls screen forward onto George's back. I
see it in slow motion, pinned to the floor. George grunts and
sprawls forward. I pull myself to my hands and knees and crawl
towards him. The bus lurches from side to side, my stomach flipping.
I get to George just as the cabinet topples, the door catching
my temple hard in a white flash and then nothing, just the rain
against the windows and the far away roar of a community in meltdown.
.......Our five minutes is up.
.......I come to with blue lights
in my eyes and the sound of dying sirens ringing in my ears.
My neck has been forced into a brace, my hands stuck by my sides.
All I can see is the top of what I take to be an ambulance. I
don't know how much time has passed, only that the cavalry came
......."You're going to
be all right," says Father Kelly.
.......It doesn't bloody feel
like it. I'm paralysed from the neck down, and I hope it's from
restraints. If not, I don't know what the hell I'm going to do.
......."What about George?"
I say. My lips are dry; it hurts to speak.
.......There's a silence. He
doesn't need to tell me. It's all right there. I knew just before
I blacked out. A lad can be battered only so long before he gives
......."They know about
him," he says.
.......Which means he legged
it. Stirred it up and bolted before the police arrived. I let
out a breath that cuts through me like a serrated blade. I'm
suddenly very tired. This whole fucking thing was jinxed from
the start. I close my eyes again and drift off into unconsciousness.
.......Paulo brings me a cup
of tea, two sugars. He sits it down on my desk and stands there
looking daft. Outside my window, the rain still falls. Whoever
said it only rains in people's imagination of Manchester needs
their head examined -- it's pissing it down out there.
......."You should be home,
taking it easy," he says.
.......I turn as best I can in
my neck brace and look at him. "I'm taking it easy. You're
making the tea, aren't you? Besides, I sit here and at least
I have company. I sit at home and I end up watching Fifteen
To One. I can't do that. Makes me feel stupid."
.......I blow on my tea, take
......."It's not healthy,"
says Paulo. "You're making me all edgy just looking at you,
man. Get yourself home."
......."I don't want to.
But if I knew company meant you bitching at me, I wouldn't have
bothered coming in."
.......He leans against my desk.
"Christ, you're in a bad mood."
......."I'm on painkillers,
I can't move my head properly and I fucked up major. So, yeah,
I'm in a bad mood, but I think it's warranted."
......."Fine, I'll tell
her to come back tomorrow."
......."There's a woman
outside wants to see you."
.......I reach for my cigarettes,
get a stabbing pain at the top of my spine. Flick one out and
light it up. The past few days have been quiet, just me and my
window. I've gone over what happened on Hulton Road more times
than I care to admit, tried to work it out differently, but it
all ends the same way. I haven't slept. The brace and the thoughts
are more than enough to wake me up every half hour. A dull ache
in the back of my head and the breath crushed out of George Bailey.
I talked to police, but Dalgliesh is gone, nobody seems to know
where. Although from their attitude, it doesn't look like the
police are going to pursue it much further. As far as they're
concerned, a mob of locals bagged a paedophile and nobody's going
to be shedding very many tears. Whatever ropey case the plod
could have brought together, it didn't hold when their suspect
was dead. Dalgliesh incites a riot, and he's a local hero. Give
it a couple of months, and everything'll be back to normal.
.......In the meantime, I've
done some checking up on Gerry Dalgliesh.
.......I take a drag, set the
Embassy in the ashtray. "I might as well see her,"
......."Well, sort your
head out first, man. You don't want to blow out business."
......."I know. Rent's due."
.......Paulo leaves the office.
I pull myself round in my chair, face the door and try to look
as professional as I can.
.......When the door opens again,
it's Mrs. Dalgliesh. I try not to look surprised. She stands
there with her bag clutched to her stomach and stares at me.
......."Mr. Innes, isn't
......."That's right. You'll
forgive me if I don't get up."
she says. She closes the door behind her, then comes over and
takes a seat. She breathes in and her bag makes a squeaking noise
as her fingers close tightly on it. Then she exhales.
......."What can I do for
......."How are you, Mr.
......."That's good. I'd
heard things. I just didn't know. After that boy --"
......."Well, I was lucky,"
......."Hmm. I saw you there.
So did Gerry. He said you were in on it."
......."In on what?"
......."He said it was the
Fenian bastards sticking together. Catholics, you should never
trust them. Stuff like that. It goes way back, Mr. Innes."
......."I'm sure it does."
And it explains a lot. The whole religious bigotry thing rearing
its ugly head again. I'd seen enough of that when I was kid.
"What's on your mind, Mrs. Dalgliesh?"
you should know about my husband."
......."I already know plenty
about your husband, Mrs. Dalgliesh. I did some digging when I
got out of the hospital."
......."You did?" Suddenly
that frightened twinkle appears in her eyes again.
......."His name is Gerry
Dalgliesh, he's forty years old, he was a plasterer, he's being
investigated by the Social so they've put the kibosh on his dole.
He did a little time as a union rep, which explains why he was
dishing out ultimatums as well as his piss-poor attitude to negotiation.
He's also missing in action. And that's the only thing I don't
know about your husband -- where he is. Because he's certainly
not living with you. Hasn't been for a good couple of months."
.......She sighs. "You've
been by the house."
......."I had to,"
I say. "I needed to do something with my time. And I'm blaming
him for my neck. Hope you don't mind."
......."You think you know
it all," she says.
......."I don't know where
......."What would you do
if you did know?"
......."Probably shop him.
Then the police'd take him in, but there wouldn't be a whole
lot they could do. Everything he's done, it's vague. It'd be
tricky to pin anything concrete on him."
.......She nods to herself. Her
forehead wrinkles, her mouth slightly open. She's practising
a speech in her head. Then she finds her voice: "Mr. Innes,
I love my daughter more than anything else in this world. I want
you to know that. I'd do anything for her."
......."Except tell the
truth," I say.
.......Mrs. Dalgliesh stops.
......."Your husband had
a prior for indecent assault. I'm no brain surgeon, but I'm not
as stupid as some people like to think, either."
......."He also had a scratch
on his cheek. He get that brawling? Or did you give it to him?"
.......She ignores me. She came
here to tell me something and she's not about to let me dictate
......."He'd been drinking,"
she says. "I heard him in Jo's bedroom. And I heard Jo --"
.......And it was all so muffled
she couldn't have been completely sure. Even though their marriage
was dead in the water, she couldn't believe it. Even though he
stopped knocking her around after a few drinks, found some other
outlet, she didn't believe he was capable. She didn't want to
believe it. But when Jo collapsed at school, her mother took
her to the hospital.
......."God," she says.
"You don't know what it's like. They said she was bleeding
on the inside, and the way they looked at me. They
said they'd have to notify the police and I took her. I took
her away before they could."
.......Jo could have died. She
knew that all too well. She turned on her husband, confronted
him. And that's when he told her George Bailey was responsible.
......."I didn't know what
to believe, but I knew he was lying. He had to be lying. But
then I could have been wrong. He has that way, Mr. Innes. He's
persuasive. So I asked Father Kelly to look into it. I had to
be sure. You have to believe that, Mr. Innes. I just had to be
sure. This is the man I married, Jo's her daddy's little girl"
.......She breaks off, runs a
hand over her mouth. Then she shakes her head. Tears are in her
eyes; she looks as frightened as the last time I saw her. Protecting
......."You have to call
the police," I say.
......."You can. You have
......."He's my husband."
......."And Jo's your daughter.
You want to think about that?"
......."I can't put her
through it. All the questions"
......."But you want to
put her through what her father's doing?"
......."He's not living
with us. It's okay."
.......I dump my cigarette. "It's
not okay, Mrs. Dalgliesh. He's not living with you now, but if
you don't do anything about this, what's going to happen when
he comes back?"
......."He won't come back."
......."We both know he
I say. "If it's going to stop, Mrs Dalgliesh, then what
the fuck are you doing here?"
.......She shakes her head. "I
can't call the police. I can't do it."
......."You know he did
.......My head is throbbing,
my neck aches. I light another cigarette. "A young lad died
because of him, Mrs. Dalgliesh."
......."So tell me where
he's staying," I say.
.......Now I'm sitting in my
car across the street from the address Mrs. Dalgliesh gave me.
She wouldn't tell me, but she wrote it down. I asked her if she'd
press charges. She promised me she would, but we'll see. I came
here last night and watched the house, popped Pro Plus along
with my painkillers. Sure enough, come eleven thirty, Gerry Dalgliesh
staggered home. I sat here all night, weighing up the options,
my heart beating like a fucked clock. I had a few ideas. I had
more than a few. But I was in no shape to act them out. And I'm
not sure I could've gone through with them anyway. There's revenge
and there's justice. The way I've been feeling, the two could
easily blur together like a view through a haemorrhaged eye.
And it wouldn't be right.
.......Twenty minutes ago, I
called the police. Told them to where to find him. Also told
them to pay a visit on Mrs. Dalgliesh, that she had something
she wanted to share.
.......A patrol car arrives right
on cue, parks outside the house. I try to look inconspicuous,
but they don't notice me. Two uniforms get out, walk up the path
and ring the doorbell. They wait. I picture Gerry Dalgliesh going
nuts with worry in there.
.......That's not the case.
.......When the door finally
opens, he's in a T-shirt and scabby jeans. He hasn't shaved.
He looks like a hangover on legs. The older constable reads him
his rights straight off, but he doesn't look like he can hear
it. He stares straight ahead. The guy's lost so much and he's
about to lose a lot more. And normally, I'd feel sorry for him,
but I'm too numb right now to feel much of anything.
.......One of the constables
places a hand on Dalgliesh's arm and he flinches. He doesn't
look at them. Stares straight ahead.
.......Right at me. There's a
flash of something, but it's not recognition.
.......I nod to him, start the
engine as the coppers do their duty and escort him to the back
of the car. He's frowning, like he's trying to work out what's
.......I hope he does work it
out, just as the cell door slams shut.
.......The sun is shining, but
there's a bite to the air. I roll down my window and breathe
it in as I head towards Father Kelly's church. I need to light
a candle for George. Just so he knows at least someone down here
is thinking about him.
.......It must be the Catholic
Copyright (c) 2004 by Ray Banks.
Midnight" was Ray Banks' first appearance
in Thrilling Detective. Previous Cal Innes stories have
appeared in Handheld Crime, Hardluck Stories, Shred
Of Evidence and Plots With Guns. His first book, "The
Big Blind" will be published by Point
Blank Press later this year. Ray can be contacted through
his website, The
How's that? Not as good as being born up a
tree, but there you go.
Like what you've read? Head here
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...... ."And I'll tell you right out that I'm a man who
likes talking to a man who likes to talk."
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