PAPERBACK BOOKS
HANGMAN ON THE WALL 

HANGMAN ON THE WALL

When Detective Sergeant Dempsey Suter is called out to what at first seems a routine murder investigation, he notices two strange details; the killer has drawn a black line on the victim's chest and placed a small piece of black rubber in his mouth, after cutting out his tongue.

A package arrives on Suter's desk the following day. It is from "TY" who wants to play the word game "Hangman" literally. Suter must guess letters to find a word.
A wrong guess means another murder....

Can Suter stop the killer before the 'game' is finished and Suter himself becomes a target?

In Store Price: $24.00 
Online Price:   $23.00

ISBN:1-9208-8473-4
Format: A5 Paperback
Number of pages: 330
Genre: Fiction/Thriller
 

Out in late June 2004

Author: Chris Kent 
Imprint: Poseidon
Publisher: Poseidon Books
Date Published:  2004
Language: English

HOME PAGE

ABOUT THE AUTHOR  

 

Chris Kent lives in Sydney Australia and is currently writing full‑time. “Hangman On The Wall” is his second novel. “I love to write, to put into words the images and ideas I have,” says Chris. 

I see writing as a continual learning experience, and I hope to continually keep improving. Once again I thank Poseidon Books for giving me the opportunity to have this novel published. Hopefully the feedback I receive from people will be of benefit.”

PROLOGUE  (1959)  

The boy was sitting up in bed reading his favourite book by Enid Blyton. His stepfather had sent him to his room and the boy could now hear him arguing with his mother. A glass of untouched orange cordial lay on the boy’s bedside table. His stepfather had bought it in just after sending the boy to his room, with strict orders to drink it before it got warm. The boy knew what this meant. He had fallen asleep very quickly twice before when he drank the cordial, and he had since found out that his stepfather had mixed in a sleeping pill (which his mother used). The boy suspected that the cordial given to him tonight had the sleeping pill in it; his stepfather had demanded loudly that he drink it.

He finished his book and got out of bed. He was reaching for his half-finished model battleship, which had been a present from his mother for his eighth birthday, when his stepfather came in. He looked at the untouched cordial and said angrily, “I told you to drink that cordial!! I’ll be back in two minutes. If you haven’t drunk it by then, I’ll force it down your throat!! Now do as I say!!”  He stalked out of the room, yelling to his mother, “I’m gonna kill your little bastard brat one of these days!!”

The boy made a sudden decision. He grabbed the glass, sipped a tiny bit of the cordial, and then threw the remainder out the window. He hopped into bed and laid his head on the pillow. Just as he did this, his stepfather came back in. He glared at the boy, noted the empty glass and a dribble of cordial running down the boy’s chin. “Lucky for you, boy,” he said as he picked up the glass, turning out the light as he went out, closing the door behind him. The boy lay in the darkness listening intently to the sounds coming from the lounge room. As usual, his mother was arguing with his stepfather, not giving in to his angry yelling. The boy knew his stepfather had been drinking heavily, and wished his mother would not argue with him when he was in this condition; his stepfather was capable of anything, as the bruises on the boy’s body proved.

After a while, the yelling stopped. The boy heard the sounds of heavy footsteps and a door slamming. Maybe his stepfather had gone out…that would be good. He could hear his mother crying softly in the bathroom, next to his bedroom. After a few minutes he heard her go to her bedroom, and the house settled into an uneasy silence. The boy wondered where his stepfather was; he hoped he would not come back for a while. One good thing about his stepfather was that his job as a travelling salesman for a drug company meant he was sometimes away for days at a time, even a week. These were wonderful times for him and his mother; they could do things together like they used to before his stepfather came into their lives.

The boy was thinking of the great times they had when he heard the back door slam. His stepfather went straight to his mother’s bedroom. The boy knew that the yelling would probably start again, but he was frightened when he heard his mother scream out loudly. The boy could hear sounds coming from the bedroom…things thumping against the walls, and cries of pain. He decided to get up and see what was happening. He was scared, but the curiosity of any eight- year old boy compelled him to investigate. He quietly got out of bed and carefully opened the door. The noises from his mother’s bedroom had stopped, but he felt that something was wrong. He crept along the short hallway to the bedroom door, which was opened slightly. He moved slowly forward to peek around the edge of the hallway’s wall, taking care not to touch the door. What he saw was something he could not understand, but he instinctively knew there was something wrong. His mother was lying on the bed face down with her dress pulled up over her head. The boy could just see a bit of her face; there was a piece of cloth stuffed into her mouth. His stepfather was wearing only a blue singlet. He was kneeling on the bed behind his mother. The boy saw that he was holding his mother’s hips tightly with his hands, and his legs were interlocked with hers. He was making grunting noises and moving his legs and hips in a strange way, like a series of jerks. The boy stared at this scene for what seemed to him a long time. Suddenly his stepfather let out a loud growl and stopped his jerky motions. He let go of the boy’s mother and got up off the bed. The boy saw his mother collapse onto the bed, quiet moans coming from her. She tried to pull her dress down but his stepfather hit her and she stopped.

The boy hurried back to his bedroom. He knew his mother was hurt in some way, but he didn’t know what to do. He climbed into bed, and it was lucky that he did because his stepfather came into his room, switching on the light and coming over to his bed. The boy pretended to be fast asleep; he hoped his stepfather would not touch him. After a few seconds he heard his stepfather go out, switching off the light. The boy lay on his bed, listening for any sounds.

Presently he heard heavy footsteps going past his bedroom; the back door was opened and closed. He waited a few minutes and got up again. He went straight to his mother’s bedroom, but nobody was there. The boy decided to go out the back and see what was happening. He sneaked back along the hallway, past the bathroom, through the lounge room and the kitchen. He saw no one. He silently opened the back door and peered into the night. He could see and hear nothing. He went out into the back yard. He saw his stepfather’s station wagon standing silently in the driveway. As his eyes adjusted to the darkness, he saw a thin stream of light coming from the tool shed situated behind the laundry. He tiptoed over to shed’s main door but it was closed. He knew it would make too much noise if he tried to open it, so he went around to the side of the shed where there was a window. There was a wooden box standing under the window (which he had put there a long time ago, so he could look inside and spy on his stepfather).

He quietly climbed onto the box and slowly raised his body to get a good look. The sight that greeted him almost caused him to fall off the box, but he gripped the windowsill and stared, transfixed at what he saw. His mother was dangling from the roof of the shed, a thick rope around her neck. Her face was a strange colour and her body was limp. The boy knew that his mother had been hung…he had seen a hanging on a TV Western show, at his friend’s place (his friend’s family was one of the few that had a TV set. The boy and his friend were supposed to be in bed, but they had sneaked out and saw some of the Western before his friend’s father had caught and punished them). The boy’s stepfather was standing near his mother’s body, smiling. The boy saw this smile and was filled with a feeling he had never experienced before….rage.

       He wanted to do something to his stepfather right then, but his intelligence and reason took over, as he realized he could do nothing. The only answer was to get the police. Just as he was thinking about how to do this (there was no phone in the house) his stepfather turned to leave the shed. The boy jumped off the box and went to go back to the house, but his stepfather came out of the shed, closing the door and heading for the back door. The boy crouched down at the corner of the shed, watching his stepfather intently; he went to open the back door but changed his mind and went over to the car. This gave the boy the chance he needed. Still crouching, he moved quickly to the far side of the house and went around to the front door. He knew if he tried to open the back door his stepfather could easily see him. He quietly entered the house and went straight to his room. None to soon, because just a few seconds later his stepfather came through the back door. The boy had enough time to jump into bed and fake sleep. His stepfather came in, not bothering to switch on the light. He came up to the boy’s bed, reached down and shook him furiously, almost like a rag doll. The boy made no attempt to resist or open his eyes. His stepfather lifted him up and threw him back on the bed, slapping him on the face and giving him a clip on the ears. The boy did not react. His stepfather grunted, cursed and left the room. The boy heard him making noises in his bedroom. After a while he heard him stomp along the hallway and out the back door. The boy wondered what he was going to do to his mother now, but in a few moments he heard the car start up and move past his bedroom window. His stepfather was leaving.

The boy waited a few minutes, then got up. He went straight out to the shed to see his mother. She was still there, swaying gently in the light breeze caused by the open door. The boy reached up and cautiously felt her foot. It was ice cold; he knew she was dead. Tears filled his eyes as he wondered what to do. He was mesmerized by the vision of his dead mother. He stared at her body for many minutes before deciding to get the police. He went back to his room, got dressed and set off for the police station, which was not very far away. He thought about waking the people next door, then realized they were away on holiday. After thinking about waking up other neighbours, he decided to go straight to the police station.

It took the boy fifteen minutes to walk (and run) to the station. The officer on duty was very surprised to see a dishevelled little boy run into the station, saying “My Mummy’s dead! Please help me!” He said, “Now tiger, what’s the matter?” but all the boy could say over and over was “My Mummy’s dead!!”

The officer called the duty Sergeant.  He knew the boy was not the practical joker type (which the officer obviously thought), and he immediately directed the officer to go back with the boy to his house. The officer was sceptical but obeyed. During the short trip in the police car, the officer asked the boy a few questions. He became more sceptical when the boy said his mother was hung up “like they do on TV Western shows”, and that his stepfather did it. He also told the officer about the cordial.

On arriving at the house, the boy led the officer straight to the shed. The officer’s scepticism vanished when he saw the body. He ran back to the car to call the station on his two-way radio, leaving the boy in the shed. When he came back he saw the boy staring at his mother’s body. “This is no good for you, son. Come on, let’s go inside the house”. 

They waited until other police, an ambulance and the big black Coroner’s car came. The boy was well treated by everybody, especially the Sergeant, who had called his wife. She met them at the police station, and they went to the Sergeant’s house, where the boy had a hot bath and a big breakfast. Then the Sergeant’s wife led the boy to a spare bedroom.

The boy got into bed and was instantly fast asleep.

                               ________________________________________

 

When he awoke later in the day, the boy was taken to the police station, where the Sergeant introduced him to Mrs. Barton, who was with the Child Welfare Department.

Mrs. Barton was very kind as she explained to the boy that he could not go home anymore. She was going to find him a nice place to stay, where nice people would look after him, make sure he had clothes, toys and food, and make sure he still went to school. “You will be fine, my little man,” said Mrs. Barton cheerily. “We will always take good care of you”.

The boy nodded and wondered where he would be going. Would he meet new friends? He was scared, but knew he must be a good boy, so that one day he might be able to find his stepfather. He would never forget the vision of his mother…. his hatred of his stepfather slowly began to grow inside him. 

HOME PAGE

All Prices in Australian Dollars                                                                    CURRENCY CONVERTER

(c)2004 Poseidon Books           All rights reserved.