Today's post is a short story that I wrote four years ago and has been sitting on the hard drive of a broken laptop since then until I finally bought a piece of kit on eBay to turn it into a USB drive. It arrived today. Best £3 I've ever spent. Enjoy...
Exhibit 9A: Initial interview with Ian Murray 21st July 20--
D.I. Henderson: Ok, the date is 21st July [inaudible]. The time is 17:37. This is a formal interview being conducted with Ian Murray. Interview is being conducted at Cairndow Police Station, Argyllshire. Present are myself, Detective Inspector Henderson of Strathclyde CID, and Sergeant Anderson of Cairndow Constabulary. Before we start, Ian, can we get you anything?
Ian Murray: No.
D.I. Henderson: Good. So, why don’t you give us your account of the events that led up to this morning’s incident. Take your time, we have as long as it takes.
Ian Murray: Er, ok, well, it were all Jacob’s fault.
D.I. Henderson: This would be Jacob Levi, yes?
Ian Murray: Yeah. Here, have you found him yet?
D.I. Henderson: We’ll come to that in a while. Continue. How was it Jacob’s fault?
Ian Murray: Well, he were one said we should go for a walk. Were his fault we got lost.
D.I. Henderson: I understand you’re on holiday here.
Ian Murray: Yeah.
D.I. Henderson: Camping, is that correct?
Ian Murray: Yeah. By a loch like. Not this one. Another one.
Ser. Anderson: Loch Long. Ardgarton Campsite. We’ve spoken with the owner, he’s confirmed two births rented for three nights.
D.I. Henderson: And you’ve been in Scotland how long?
Ian Murray: Drove up four days since.
D.I. Henderson: Where were you before Loch Long?
Ian Murray: Er, Loch Lomond I think.
D.I. Henderson: Ok, just a couple more questions, so I can get everything clear in my mind. You are from Leigh in Lancashire, is that correct?
Ian Murray: Me and Carl, aye. Jacob ain’t though, he’s from somewhere in’t south.
D.I. Henderson: Do you remember where?
Ian Murray: Nah. I mostly zone that cunt out when he starts speaking.
D.I. Henderson: Ok so, I’d like to understand the dynamic between you.
Ian Murray: How’d ya mean?
D.I. Henderson: I mean, how do you all know each other? From your tone, I assume no love is lost between you and this Jacob.
Ian Murray: Do you blame me after what he’s done? Well me and Carl, we’ve been mates since we been lads. Carl met Jacob at uni.
D.I. Henderson: Durham, yes?
Ian Murray: Yeah.
D.I. Henderson: Thank you. Ok so, you decided to go for a walk. Continue.
Ian Murray: So, yeah, we went for a walk. Late setting off ‘cause Jacob wanted to take a shower. Couldn’t have one when we got back. No, course not. So it were like four o’clock before we even set off. We drove up road to this Forestry Commission place and had a look around and found out where we were going.
D.I. Henderson: And how was it?
Ian Murray: It were good. I hate walking, but at the start there I was actually enjoying it. We’d been watching Withnail & I before we came up and we’d been quoting it all week. Y’know the kind of thing, ‘We want cake.’ and ‘I demand to have some booze’ and ‘Monty, you terrible cunt’, that kind of thing [laughter]. Getting some right looks from straights coming down path, but we didn’t give a shit. And then climb started. Could have carried on up path, but them two wanted to go up hill and gay it up on’t scenery.
D.I. Henderson: Sorry, what’s gay about scenery?
Ian Murray: Scenery’s fine, for a bit. Me and Carl were knackered half way up, but Jacob’s rushing off up hill. Can’t wait to get his journal out and write down all his feelings about the grass and the heather and mountains and all that gay-arse shit. Course, then Carl gets his journal out too. Jesus, Carl were a top bloke, but he were always a bit funny, were always reading books and studying and shit. He were always one out of our lot that were going to go to uni.
D.I. Henderson: You don’t approve?
Ian Murray: Nah, it’s not that. Fair play to him, I couldn’t wait to get out of school and get earning, but he were good at that shit, I got a couple of Cs ‘cause of Carl. He changed when he went to uni though. Changed when he met Jacob. Wanted to be like him, went all pretending he were middle class. There were nothing wrong with who Carl were, he worked hard, his old man worked hard to make sure all his kids got a decent education. Jacob’s kind never had to work at anything, he had everything handed to him on a plate his whole life and look where it’s got him.
D.I. Henderson: Ok, ok I think we’ve gone off track here. So, you went up a hill and the others were jotting things down in their journals.
Ian Murray: Yeah. So we led around for a bit and chatted some and it were fine. And there were me thinking, we’ll be heading back down in a minute. We’ll be climbing down the hill and back along the path and getting in’t car and driving down to village and spending rest of day in pub. And then we’ll stagger back to campsite and have a few smokes and get the midges stoned and that’ll be that. And instead this. ‘Cause that pompous Jew cunt has other ideas. He’s making himself a walking stick out a branch he found. Cutting twigs off it with his penknife and giving it all, ‘Oh Chaps, now come on, one simply must enjoy the bounty that nature has provided us with. We’re on vacation, surrounded by all this wonder, I simply insist that we make the most of it’.
Ian Murray: Was then I got to thinking how much he sounds like fat one in Withnail & I. Which tells you everything, right! Prick. And I’m thinking, fuck’s sake, I just wanna get pissed, but of course I can’t say owt, ‘cause Carl gets all protective over his bum chum, that’s why I ended up getting my own tent, so I could get some peace from pair of ‘em talking about poetry and shit. Anyway, Jacob races off wrong way, down other side of hill and Carl goes after him, me standing there a sec, wondering whether to tell ‘em both to go fuck themselves and head back on me own. And then I remember Carl’s got car keys, so I followed them. Slowly as possible just to fuck with ‘em.
Ian Murray: T’other side of hill were half as high as way we came up and it led to a kind of field, tree line off in distance ahead of us and more heather and bushes and shit like that all around us. Ground’s a bit squelchy. That should have been our first clue. I tried telling ‘em but Jacob’s blathering on about some butterfly he’s seen and Carl’s too distracted to listen. And this butterfly he’s going on about, well it flies off towards trees don’t it and he goes running after it, Carl in pursuit, me thinking, nah fuck it, let ‘em wait for me to catch up, I ain’t running, I’ve already climbed a fucking hill today.
Ian Murray: Must have been twenty minutes before I saw either of them again. There were a path through trees, but were obviously only that way ‘cause trees had been planted that way. Forestry Commission, innit. Were like walking in a ditch, firs or pine or whatever they were on either side of me on’t high ground and I can’t see more than a few feet ahead of me ‘cause of the way the ground moves. I had to get up near the trees ‘cause the ground’s getting more squelchier. Then at last I hear happy couple up ahead of me and I’m thinking, fucking hell, finally decided to wait for me, eh? I gets to them and I see, no, they hadn’t been waiting at all. We’re now not only deep in’t forest, we’re in middle of a fucking peat bog. And that was when I lost it.
D.I. Henderson: Lost it?
Ian Murray: Yeah, had a right go at them, didn’t I. Felt bad after of course, but right then I were fuming. Running off, leaving me, not even caring if I got lost. Were like they were surprised to see me, like they were both thinking, oh yeah, Ian were with us. Well I told ‘em what I thought of ‘em right there and then. Carl’s kicked off with me, not getting it, not getting why I’m angry, but Jacob, fair play to him, he’s apologised, said it were all his fault and asked me to forgive him for being thoughtless. Too busy chasing butterflies. Says he gets all single minded with things like that. Well it right took wind out of me sails it did, ‘cause I couldn’t stay angry with him after he said that, no matter how much of a prat he is. Fuming with Carl though, we’re supposed to be mates. Supposed to mean something where we come from.
Ian Murray: And, well, like dynamic, like you call it, changed at that point, ‘cause like I say, we were in the middle of a bog then. And I’m saying we should go back, but Carl’s saying how we’ve come this far, we should just keep going. Well Jacob agreed with him for a while, but after we’d been walking for over another hour and we’re still surrounded by trees and bog’s getting worse and we’re having to take detours through the trees to keep going, well even then he starts saying we should turn ‘round. But Carl always were an arrogant fucker and he’s determined to see it through to end. Says it’s Forestry Commission land, has to be a way out eventually. I think he saw it like as a personal challenge by then and the worse things get, the more determined he gets to keep going. He’s marching ahead of us and me and Jacob keep giving each other looks.
Ser. Anderson: Looks?
Ian Murray: Well, like we were both shitting it that we were going to die out there, but Carl’s getting all macho about it, like the forest’s his enemy and he has to defeat it. I reckon he’s watched too much of that Ray Mears survival guy, him. I’m pissed off cause it’s been hours and I should be in’t pub, not out in the middle of fucking nowhere and there’s one bit where we had to climb over this tree that’s come down and I slipped and me foot sinks in the peat up to me knee and me boot came off when I got pulled out. So I got shit all over me jeans and I have to put me hand in’t bog to get me boot out and then Carl has a go at me for washing peat off me arm with water we had, ‘cause we don’t know when we might need it. Oh, says me, I thought you reckoned we’d be out of here by now. If we’d turn ‘round when I said, we’d be in pub by now. But no, too fucking arrogant to know when you’re beat and look at us now. So he had a pop at me.
D.I. Henderson: You mean he hit you?
Ian Murray: Nah, cunt just grabs me by jacket and tries to tell me what were what. Gobbing in me face, he were shouting so loud. Says how I’m jealous of him, cause he’s gone off to uni and I’m stuck in Leigh working for cunts I hate. Says he doesn’t know why I came up here when all I’ve done is moan and sulk and slag off scenery. Reckons I reckon I’m too good to sleep in his tent, which were why I went an’ bought me own. Real nasty shit yeah, says I’m always lounging around and leaving him to do all work. It’s only a couple of fry ups and some soup I tell him, I were expecting to eat in pub and chippy and that. And that’s another thing, he says, we’re on holiday, if I love pub so much, I should have stayed at home and pissed me holiday up with t’other wasters in’t White Horse. Or gone to fucking Marbella. I tries telling him to calm down, but he won’t hear it, just kept going on and fucking on.
D.I. Henderson: And where was Jacob when all this was going on?
Ian Murray: Oh, he’s just standing there, speechless like. He were as shocked as me.
D.I. Henderson: Then what happened?
Ian Murray: Well this went on for a good quarter hour like, ‘til Carl just blew himself out and let me go. Then he seemed to sag a bit and went sat down on this boulder and got right quiet. Staring off into space. What space there were. I were red in’t face, fuming with him, but I know well enough what he’s like. I ain’t about to mess wee him. When we were lads maybe, but not now. Not then.
Ian Murray: So we just sat there, three of us like, rock each, everyone dead quiet, just some birds singing and water running off in’t trees somewhere. I wanted to see what time it were and were then I noticed I’d dropped me phone somewhere. Not that there were any reception up there, that were the first thing we thought of when we saw we were lost. I were looking around for it, skenning whether Carl had knocked it out me pocket. And he’s skenning ‘round and looking at us, with that look, not saying owt.
Ian Murray: Then Jacob pipes up, giving it all, ‘Can I make a practical suggestion? It’s getting late’, he says, ‘it’s going to start getting dark soon, and while we should obviously keep going for as long as the light holds, we should maybe think about gathering firewood’. Carl heaves a huge sigh and says, ‘Good idea Jacob, we should do that’. All praise for his boyfriend, innit. All the good it did him.
Ian Murray: So anyway, we got up and moved on and Carl’s darting into tree line, picking up wood on’t ground and Jacob’s got his penknife out and slicing bark off trees. Kindling he reckons. I helped a bit and found a couple of carrier bags in me pocket to carry it all in. Bog weren’t getting any better, but it weren’t get no worse neither, which were good. I were tired, me legs were killing me like, but weirdly it seemed a bit more fun now we were, y’know, resigned to be out there all night. Were adventure like. Even so, I had that song stuck in me head. Place Called Home. Y’know, P. J. Harvey. And I were dying for a pint.
D.I. Henderson: Go on.
Ian Murray: Well, there’s ain’t much more to tell. It got to like ten, who knows, and we came to a bit of clearing and made decision to stop for night and get warm. Me and Jacob got fire going and Carl took placky bags and wrapped them round some branches, for the moisture like, and we just sat there for ages, staring in’t flames. Everyone were exhausted like. Then Carl turns ‘round and he says, he says to me, ‘Ian lad, I’m sorry ok. It were myself as much as you I were angry at. Was just pissed off, ‘cause I knew you were right, we should’ve turned ‘round when you said we should, and well, I’m just sorry, ok’. I said it were nothing. Not to think about it, we’ll be in pub by lunchtime, I said. He just laughed. Then he says something about being upset to see me the way I were. Knowing I were a clever lad like and struck in’t job I hate. Think it were last thing he said to me.
Ian Murray: Me eyes were stinging off smoke and I thought best close then a mo. All that Scotch air, must have knocked me right out, ‘cause next thing I were dreaming. Running through trees, ton of ‘em everywhere I looked, everywhere I ran, just mother fucking trees everywhere. Didn’t know where I were going or how to get home, but I knew somewhere there were a place called home. And then I could hear it, that song playing and I knew if I just followed the sound I’d find White Horse. Could almost taste first sip of me lips.
Ian Murray: And then all this grunting started. Distant like, muffled. Well it must have been loud ‘cause it woke me right up. It were getting light, but were this mist everywhere and it felt like I were in’t shadows. Summit were wrong but it took me a minute to figure it out. Then I twigged. Jacob. Jacob’s standing over me. Oh God!. Jacob were standing over me and he’s covered in blood. Got his knife in his hand. I had sleep in me eye but I can see it’s got blood all over it. He’s got this manic look on his face and I can see he’s about to go for me, so I rushed to me feet, as he rushes at me. Don’t ask me how, but somehow managed to grab wrist with knife in and we’re struggling and I look down and Carl’s just lying there, dead, covered in stab wounds, fucking blood everywhere.
Ian Murray: Well that did it. Soon as I saw that I screamed out of anger like. Summoned up all me strength, throwing Jacob to the ground and I just fucking ran. Anywhere, didn’t matter, I just ran for me fucking life.
Ian Murray: I could hear him behind me, shouting, screaming my name. I just kept running, wheezing, chest hurting, fear keeping me going, crazy look in’t crazy fucker eyes. I were running downhill, which I reckoned were good, until I took a tumble and went flying. I figured I were done for, that if fall didn’t finish me off, that crazy Jew cunt would. But the heather and shit on’t ground slowed me down. I got up, me ankle hurt, twisted it when I fell, but I kept going.
Ian Murray: Fall probably saved me life, cause the tumble brought me near the path down to here. I could see water and houses and got angry ‘cause I saw how near we’d been to safety, that if we’d kept going half an hour more Carl’d still be alive. I hobbled down and found here, the police station and raised alarm. That’s it. That’s what happened.
D.I. Henderson: Well it’s certainly an intriguing story you’ve told Ian. Of course that’s all it is isn’t it? A story.
Ian Murray: I don’t get ya.
D.I. Henderson: Ok so, me and Sergeant Anderson have been making enquiries with the campsite owner, a Mr McGraw. He remembers you, but states categorically that only you and Mr Calhoun signed in. He remembers noting that the two of you weren’t sharing a tent.
Ian Murray: Right. Wait, what? Jacob was there too. He were asking where showers were. Me and Carl were shaking our heads at him.
D.I. Henderson: Officers in Lancashire also spoke to Mr Calhoun’s mother. She was upset, naturally, but she doesn’t remember ever hearing the name Jacob before. In fact Naomi Calhoun, Carl’s sister, says that she waved you off when you left on Saturday morning and is adamant that not only has she never heard of a Jacob Levi, but there was definitely only two of you in the car.
Ian Murray: But Jacob were there, he were riding shotgun, boring the ass of me playing his fucking classical music. Why are they saying this? This a fucking set up.
D.I. Henderson: And why would anyone be trying to set you up Ian? Durham University have no record of anyone called Jacob Levi studying English in the last five years and when we rang genuine university friends of Mr Calhoun, kindly supplied by Mr Calhoun’s mother, none of them could recall ever hearing the name. You yourself say that you are unable to recall where he is from. All of which leads me to one inescapable conclusion: That there were only the two of you that came on this trip. You went for a walk, you got lost, you argued, and at some time in the early hours of this morning, you yourself Ian, you stabbed your friend to death as he slept.
Ian Murray: [sobbing] What’s going on? It’s a lie. I wouldn’t kill Carl like, he were me friend, we were mates from when we were lads. What about his journal eh? You must have his journal. His journal must say about Jacob, Carl were so in love with him.is HiHis Hi
D.I. Henderson: Oh we have Mr Calhoun’s journal and it certainly mentions a Jacob.
Ian Murray: Oh thank fuck.
D.I. Henderson: No Ian. We haven’t had time to go through it all yet, but it would seem that all of the references to Jacob are in relation to your incessant complaining about someone at work. I understand that you told Mr Calhoun that Mr Jacob Levi was your boss’s son and had been employed by his father as foreman over the summer. Some kind of holiday job. Yet when we spoke to your employers, they told us that no such person exists. In fact I understand that your employer is Muslim rather than Jewish.
Ian Murray: This is fucking ridiculous. Jacob were Carl’s uni mate, Jacob had been staying with him all summer, they were joined at hip like. Jacob murdered Carl.
D.I. Henderson: Now come on Ian, don’t you think that this charade has gone on long enough? We have the murder weapon and it has been sent for forensic analysis. When the results come back I fully expect them to show that your DNA is all over the weapon.
Ian Murray: No.
D.I. Henderson: Ian Murray, I arrest you for the murder of Carl Calhoun. You do not have to say anything, but it may harm your defence if you do not reveal something that you may later rely on in court.
Ian Murray: No. No. No, it were Jacob [screams] NO!
D.I. Henderson: Ok so, I can see we’re not going to get anywhere else this evening. Take him back to the cell Sergeant. I’ll arrange transfer to Glasgow in the morning. Interview suspended at 19.05.
Exhibit 9B: Carl Calhoun’s Journal
First full day in Scotland and I feel brilliant. 22 years old, why the hell has it taken me this long to make the journey up here? Woke at dawn and wandered down to the water’s edge. A thick fog was lying on top of Loch Lomond, the cool, still waters indistinct through the fug. I closed my eyes instead, got a lungful of pure Scotch air, that also brought an array of early morning sounds.
I heard birds chirping and children laughing and couples bickering from too little sleep and too long spent together in cramped conditions. I was glad to be single for the first time in a long time. A light breeze rippled through the trees, a noise rich in nature, that also brought the aroma of frying bacon and I thought, this is it, this is what it feels like to be alive.
I opened my eyes, and there in the distance, Ben Lomond loomed out of the murk, over-towering and ancient. I saluted it, the beacon with two backs as I have renamed it. The beach here is all rocks and stones smoothed out by the ebb and flow of generations. I skimmed stones for a while, absorbed by my own thoughts. Then I removed the book of Burns poems from my pocket, sat on the bank and become lost in the density of dialect.
I am increasingly glad that Ian chose to buy his own tent. Not only is it relaxing to have my own space, but all he’s done since we set off yesterday is bitch and moan about EVERYTHING! We’re supposed to be on holiday and yet all he’s done is go on and on about his boss’s son. If he hates working for Jews so much why doesn’t he just quit? Jesus. Go somewhere else then I told him. I’m sick of hearing about it and I told him so, started giving him the mantra of A.A.: Accept the things you can’t change and change the things you can’t accept. Put up or damm well shut up. Cheeky get didn’t even offer to do any of the driving up here, had to do it all myself. And the cooking. Too used to his mum doing everything for him. Ian’s a clever lad, he just need to apply himself. Either that or find a woman that’ll whip him into shape. Give him a good kick up the arse.
Do like this camping lark though. I like the idea of carrying your home around with you, like a tortoise. Camping’s changed so much since I were a lad. God, I feel old saying that, but it’s true. Can remember having to come home early from one family camping trip cause the tent pole snapped in the night and we had to pack up in the night and head
Get it done.