Long Time Dead (Gus Dury 4)

BOOK: Long Time Dead (Gus Dury 4)
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Long Time Dead






Also by Tony Black

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

Chapter 36

Chapter 37

Chapter 38

Chapter 39

This eBook is copyright material and must not be copied, reproduced, transferred, distributed, leased, licensed or publicly performed or used in any way except as specifically permitted in writing by the publishers, as allowed under the terms and conditions under which it was purchased or as strictly permitted by applicable copyright law. Any unauthorised distribution or use of this text may be a direct infringement of the author’s and publisher’s rights and those responsible may be liable in law accordingly.

Version 1.0

Epub ISBN 9781409051381


Published by Preface Publishing 2010

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Copyright © Tony Black 2010

Tony Black has asserted his right to be identified as the author of this work under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988

This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, resold, 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.

First published in Great Britain in 2010 by Preface Publishing 20 Vauxhall Bridge Road London SW1V 2SA

An imprint of The Random House Group Limited


Addresses for companies within The Random House Group Limited can be found at

The Random House Group Limited Reg. No. 954009

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

ISBN 978 1 84809 183 2

The Random House Group Limited supports The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), the leading international forest certification organisation. All our titles that are printed on Greenpeace approved FSC certified paper carry the FSC logo. Our paper procurement policy can be found at

Typeset in Times by Palimpsest Book Production Limited, Falkirk, Stirlingshire

Printed and bound in Great Britain by Clays Ltd, St Ives PLC

For Matt ‘Doc’ Neal




Also by Tony Black


Paying for It

Chapter 1

THE DOCTOR WAS A NO-NONSENSE west-coaster, type that called a spade a shovel and if you didn’t like it would add,
You got a problem with that?

Problems I had. In spades. Or should that be shovels?

‘What were you drinking?’ he said.

‘Black Heart.’

… the condemned man’s tot.’

Like I’d argue. He laid hands on my head, tilted my face to the light, opened my eyelids with his thumbs.



No response.

He motioned me stand, said, ‘Open your shirt.’

The unbuttoning was a trial. My hands shook like fluttering starlings. The doc looked at his watch.

‘You in a hurry?’ I asked.

A frown. ‘Are you?’

I got his meaning. Didn’t answer.

The stethoscope felt cold, made me flinch. What made the doc flinch, I could have done without knowing.

‘You’re dangerously underweight,’ he said.

I hadn’t been on any scales that I could remember, said, ‘You weighed me with your eyes, did you?’

He took off his glasses, frowned again. ‘Mr Dury, I can count your ribs.’ He put back his glasses, stood fists on hips. ‘You’re malnourished.’ Then the killer: ‘How frequent are the hallucinations?’

I hadn’t told anyone about those. Either this guy was good or moonlighting as a stage hypnotist.

I sat upright in the bed. ‘Halluci–

A hand on my shoulder, was meant to calm me. ‘You were flapping arms on Princes Street like Freddie Krueger was after you … You’re a sorry state, son.’

My heart stilled when he called me son. My own father had never shown such concern. I grabbed the crisp white linen of the bed sheets, lifted them up to my throat. I could remember nothing. ‘How did I get here … I mean, what happened?’

The doctor exhaled slowly. I felt as if I was back at school, in the headmaster’s office after some dust-up or a smashed window. ‘An old lady on a mobility scooter ran into you. She must’ve been going at a fair clip, mind … put you into the window of Burger King. Out like a light you went.’

He didn’t even smile; I had to fight to suppress a laugh. Well, if you can’t laugh at yourself, you really are in bad shape.

‘She’s okay, by the way,’ said the doc.

Like I gave a fuck – she put me in hospital; lied: ‘Glad to hear it.’ I touched my elbow; the skin was broken and reddened. As I looked at my fingers I saw they were stick-thin, yellowed by nicotine and black under the nails. I was plugged into a saline drip. I looked, and felt, like complete shit. Worse, I was choking for a drink.

The door behind the doc opened. I caught sight of Hod. He held out a bottle of Lucozade, bunch of grapes. He was motioned in. Doc said, ‘Try talking sense to him, eh … He’s living on borrowed time.’

I’d heard it all before. Been to the meetings, the therapy, the interventions. The ex-wife couldn’t help me – what made them
think anyone else could? I felt like a man at the end of a long road; I was tired. Done. I needed no more looking after than I could give myself, and that wasn’t much. I didn’t care, though, because I’d lost all cares. As you stare down that dark well of despair, there’s the most astounding sense of relief, a release almost. A surrendering. A feeling of putting it all in the man upstairs’ hands. Fuck it, like anyone could do a worse job of it than me. I looked at the clock on the wall. It said 3 p.m. I’d be off by half past, if I could get a drink in me.

‘What’s this?’ I said to Hod.


‘You serious? Nothing else … ?’

Hod bridled. ‘Gus, your liver’s fucked. You’re up Shit Street, and you want me to bring you sauce.’ He shook his head, sliced the air with his hands. ‘No can do, buddy.’

I tried to get out of bed. My head swam.

Hod flattened me back with his forearm. ‘Don’t be so fucking stupid.’

Oh, I was that all right: ran over by an old grunter on Edinburgh’s main drag – this was a new low, even for me. I wanted out. I wanted a bottle to climb into. I wanted to wash away the contents of this banged-up head of mine. I needed out, away. Anywhere but here. I struggled with Hod, but I didn’t have the strength; I was piss weak.

‘Okay, okay … you got me,’ I said.

‘Are you quite settled?’


‘Good, because I need you to get yourself together pronto.’

Hod’s eyes widened. He had that stare of his on, one that says,
Whatcha make of those apples?
He had my full attention as he handed me a copy of the evening paper. Front-page splash was a story about a hanging at one of the city’s universities.

‘The fuck’s this?’

Hod snatched back the paper, read aloud: ‘Lothian and Borders Police announced the death of nineteen-year-old Ben Laird at a
capital press conference this morning …
… His mother, the actress Gillian Laird, dismissed police claims of an erotic asphyxiation accident and pledged to spare no expense to root out her son’s killer.’

‘Erotic … what?’ I said.

‘Asphyxiation … Think they call them gaspers. Y’know, tie themselves up to get turned on.’

Sounded like too much work to me. I took the paper back. ‘This him?’

Got nods.

I could see the family resemblance now: the lad’s mother was Scottish acting royalty, but she’d been front-page news herself recently. ‘Hod, this is the chick that came out, yeah?’

A grin spread over his chops. ‘That’s the one … Left her husband, some big film director, for a twenty-year-old glamour model.’ He put open hands in front of his chest to mimic a sizeable rack.

‘She just dumped the film guy and swapped sides?’

‘He was a bit of a swordsman, lives over in the States now. Put it about for years. I’d say she got fed up and took the
course of action.’

I shook my head. ‘Some family … The glamour girl was a pole dancer, yeah?’

‘I dunno what nationality she was!’

‘Ha-fucking-ha … The one she’s sleeping head-to-toe with, she’s the one the papers ran the scoops on: had worked in the Pubic Triangle, and been a junkie and all that.’

BOOK: Long Time Dead (Gus Dury 4)
8.04Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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