Authors: Edward Holmes
Shot In The Night
Copyright © 2014 Edward J Holmes
Design by James, GoOnWrite.com
James and all who have endured with me and made me smile.
a country where owning handguns is illegal and to own any other firearm is a
difficulty, you would expect gun crime to be low. In the United Kingdom it is,
in comparison to the likes of America, but for some their lives are ruled by the
weapons. In some cities it is cheaper to buy a gun than a pair of trainers.
The gun is an equaliser; it allows for the weak to become strong and the strong
to become ruthless. It was a handgun that was about to change the life of one
weapon was a pistol, one with a well travelled history from where it was made
in Eastern Europe to the streets of Liverpool where it had been bought to
commit a crime. Now in early December it was in the hands of Joey Boulton, a
young lad three weeks shy of his fifteenth birthday. He knew that there would
be little in the way of presents for him, what with it coming after Christmas
and his mother having to buy toys for his brothers and sisters. No, Joey would
be getting his own money from now on and he knew where to start.
a black tracksuit with a grey hooded jumper underneath, he crossed the boundary
between his own little part of the city of Rakspeath, into the Elsworth area.
Too many suburbs of the city were at war with each other and these two were no
different. The gangs here nothing compared to crews operating in Croxteth or
Norris Green, the hatred of the young men here growing over the influx of drugs
into their small communities.
was quiet, walking with his hood up and a baseball cap on his head as well. He
walked the streets, his hands stuffed in the front pocket of his jacket. His
palms were sweating as he held the pistol, the metal warming next to his
constant touch. Joey was on edge now, the further he went into Elsworth the worse
he felt. The streets looked different at night, and it had been nearly three
years since he had been around that area, since he was too young to be mixed up
in the gangs. He had played football on the small park with boys from school;
back then it had been about who was a better player, now they were his enemies.
streets had an orderly outline to them, the houses built after the war, not
meant to last but still standing with minimal council maintenance. At that
hour, seeing a youth on the street was not something to be questioned. No
police patrolled here in the night, partially out of safety, mostly out of
fear. The aim here was much like in a warzone; to win over the hearts and
minds of the populace, but just like in Iraq or Afghanistan the authority
figures were so far from the everyday lives of the people, there was no
connection. These people had lives, they were not just statistics of drug
users or days truant, anti-social behaviour orders or crimes; they were
individuals and needed to be treated as such.
that to his advantage Joey moved silently along, the thin material of this
clothing doing little to protect him from the chill night air and the sweat on
his forehead making him colder every passing second as he looked around for a target.
The cold was however keeping people off the streets making his mission much
harder. All he wanted was one mark so he could tax them. He did not have the
tools to hit a house but he had enough to make a street dealer lose his cut
was struggling to find someone willing to stand out on the streets, other than
some young kids who were drinking near the convenience store. Then he saw the
park from his youth and three lads on the corner under a street light. They
were dressed like him but with bottles of beers in their hands and one of them
was smoking. Even from across the road he could smell the sweet odour of
weed. The smoker passed the blunt on as he blew the smoke out into the air and
then took a swig from his bottle. He stood in the middle of the group; the
others laughing at his joke as they leant against the chain-link fence. Joey
reckoned that was the leader; the money man he wanted.
was a good hundred yards away from them when a car pulled up. One of the lads
walked over to the driver’s window and passed him something before walking
back. He was in shadow from the broken street lamps near him. Once the car
was gone he ducked onto the street with the pistol drawn. Raising it, he took
aim and started firing, turning it on its side like something out of an action
film. The bullets flew across the street, the recoil something Joey was not
expecting sending round after round away from his targets.
boys on the corner started to run, heading off in all directions. He heard a
scream and a man yelled, dragging his leg before falling to the ground. Joey
continued firing, keeping the others running away. He walked over to the lad
who was on the floor the weapon pointed at the boy’s chest.
your goddamn money?” Joey yelled at him knowing his time was short. The young
dealer on the floor was holding his leg, screaming in pain as blood pooled
beneath him. Joey could see his scared face, and it dawned on him that he knew
was the last thing that Joey ever thought as a bullet went through his skull,
dropping him to the floor like he was a rag doll, his pistol clattering to the
ground. A bloody hole expanded from the back of his grey hooded shirt, where
the bullet had entered. Just another dead boy on a city street, killed by a
bullet fired in anger.
one of those strange people who like the cold; probably because I run hot
compared to most people. It’s why I prefer the winter compared to the summer;
still either one is better than spring and autumn. So it was with some
annoyance that I turned up the thermostat on the heating in my office. I was
an employer now so I had to make that personal sacrifice when one of them
wasn’t a big office and it was only streets away from another private
investigation department, not that it really mattered; since I’d opened the
office I’d had only three cases. Two of them had been the work I really didn’t
want, following cheating spouses and the third was a missing persons case that
the police had had no luck with.
on the other hand, had more luck. Since most routes of search had gone cold I
went technical, tracking down the money and finding a husband who had absconded
to the Caribbean rather than tell his distressed wife he had lost all of their
money in a failed business venture. Well, not me specifically, but Harris
Barkley. I’d been using him for years to run down leads for me since he was
such a whiz when it came to computers. I’m not saying he was the super genius
you see on television who could hack into the Pentagon and steal launch codes
but he wasn’t far off.
was in his early twenties, weedy as is the geek stereotype and with bright red
hair. He had got in deep with the Irish mob when he was younger because they
to realised his usefulness and had him helping them launder their money.
Harris had been clever enough to make himself a rich man by skimming off the
top. What he hadn’t been too smart about was where he had placed himself, and
that was in the house of one of the weed farms. It was raided as part of a
general crackdown and fortune was on his side when I was involved. I kept him
out of jail by getting him to turn on his employers that day. They never knew
it was him that had resulted in five of their top guys getting sent down after
shipments worth over a hundred million pounds had been taken over the course of
was, however, paranoid and I’d made sure that he had gone off their radar by
faking his death and getting him set up in out in the suburbs away from
trouble. He did the rest; he made a new identity for himself, which had lead
to his new name Harris Barkley. I knew all of his real details which made us
close, closer than anyone he had left living from his past life. I had a soft
spot for him since then and he had been working for just over minimum wage at a
call centre doing technical support; so I offered him a job working for me. He
wasn’t stupid and had asked for a big pay raise and at the moment I could
afford it. I’d smiled at him when he had made that demand knowing full well
that the man had enough money stashed away to live an easy life.
in the year I’d had a big win at the bookies. It took over a month to get the
money from the tight independent but it had been worth it. With my paycheck
from the police after taking time off for stress; the less I get into that the
better; I had enough to start up the office and still have a nice nest egg
after a blowout trip to Oktoberfest. Not that the trip to Germany hadn’t been
without incident or monetary reimbursement from a thankful German police force
but that’s a story for another time.
it was me and him in that small office space in between Piccadilly and the
Northern Quarter. It was boring sat there; him typing away on his computer
occasionally taking phone calls still doing his technical support gig and me
slowly reading my way through Manchester Central Library. At the moment I
didn’t care; I was enjoying the peace and quiet. However that was about to change
with a knock on our door.
was a tentative tap that roused me from a near slumber, so much so I nearly
fell off my plush desk chair. Harris was far too interested in his computer to
do anything so I stood up and walked around my desk towards the frosted glass
door. I stopped in front of it and tried to make myself look as presentable as
possible in the small mirror that hung next to the opening. I took my blue
suit jacket from the hook at the side and put it on, deciding against wearing a
tie. I opened it to be greeted by a middle aged woman. She was nothing like
the femme fatales you read about; no, she was just an ordinary person.
I help you, miss?” I asked in my politest voice.
hope so. Are you John Harper?” she asked in a thick Liverpudlian accent.
ma’am would you like to come in and sit down. How about a cup of tea?”
smiled, “A cuppa would go down a treat; milk and three sugars if you don’t
let her inside and put on the kettle, Harris still not paying any attention to
our guest. I’m not the greatest people person in the world but that man
preferred his online pals to real world interaction. Considering some of the
people I had met, that was a good idea. Taking over a cup for her and one for
myself, I sat down at my desk opposite the woman.
took the drink and nursed it, warming her hands. I looked at her with my
trained detective eye and saw a worried woman who hadn’t been sleeping. She
was wearing a sturdy coat and thick trousers and considering the early hour
must have caught one of the early trains. It had been over a minute of silence
and I guessed she was a little nervous about speaking first so I asked again, “So
what can I do to help you,
don’t know what I’m doing here to be honest but I’m at my wits end with
everything that has gone on recently. My brother said he knew you back in the
day; and that if I ever had any trouble to look you up. Now I don’t mind
admitting that I ain’t got no time for busies, but I don’t know where else to
turn,” she said shaking as if to start crying; it must have meant a lot to come
to one of the dreaded busies aka a police officer. One of my weaknesses I
suppose and I nearly got up from my seat but she held up her hand, “I’m sorry.
It’s just been so difficult.”
well how about you tell me what has happened and who you are and I’ll try and
sort out your problem.”
sorry, I didn’t say. Where are my manners? I’m Sheila Morrison, my son killed
a man and I’d like you to get him off.”