Six Minutes to Six by Louis Warner

The crumpled body of Ross Clyde lay on the ground. A red mist of blood seemed to hang in the air as Gamoni stood brandishing a sawn-off shotgun. Looking down at his clothes, Gamoni realised what he had just done, he had killed a man. Trembling, he dropped the weapon and stumbled back, blood dripping down his cheap nylon shirt. Gamoni was not a killer; he was a pencil pusher, a driver at best, a nobody in reality.

5 hours earlier…


The Camorra. The name resonated through DI Allen Hemmingway’s ears only to be quelled by the audible thumping of his heart. The usually boring but necessary morning briefs on criminal activity in Coventry was never more interesting than a half arsed attempt at an armed robbery or joyriders but today was different.

DCI Sam Drake stood in front of a whiteboard, trusty marker in hand, “Gentlemen…and lady,” nodding at DI Karen Smith, “please, quiet.” The mumbles of those present subside, “The Camorra are in Coventry.” Raising his hands to quell any new murmurs from the confused and slightly nervous audience, “I would like to introduce one of our colleagues from Aberdeen, DCI Ross Clyde.”

Nodding to the audience of uniformed and plain clothed officers, DCI Ross Clyde took a step forward, “Thank you Sam. Get yer notepads ready fellas, this is going to be heavy. We believe that members of the Camorra organised crime group have infiltrated Coventry and are beginning to takeover a large proportion of the construction work with in the city centre, notably the new university buildings. The Camorra originates from Naples, although we believe them to have no centralised structure of leadership. The reason I have taken the 9 hour journey from Aberdeen to here is that as early as the 1980’s, the Camorra have conducted illicit activities such as trafficking illegal cigarettes and drugs throughout Aberdeen and Scotland and now we believe they are attempting to replicate this here.”

Amid the silence of the audience, a single hand rises slowly only stretching out halfway, “Sir, why Coventry? Why not Birmingham or somewhere bigger?”

With an audible sigh, DCI Clyde responded, “Well, Coventry, like Aberdeen is quiet and small enough that there is no major anti-organised crime police, but big enough that money can be made here through licit and illicit activities. The new bars and shops that have sprung up in recent years were put down to investment due to students, but in reality, the same thing happened in Aberdeen, they launder money through these, they are engrained in the society here and they have been for some time.”

DCI Drake stood up, “Okay, I think we’re all interested to know what we’re going to do about this so without further ado…” Spinning the whiteboard around, a detailed map of Coventry with markers placed at varying locations is unveiled, “We are going to track these basta…people down and dismantle their organisation. Our first objective is intelligence, what do we know? Well, very little. That is why today, we are to observe, I say that again OBSERVE, addressees across the city.”


Armed with a list of addresses, DI Allen Hemmingway and DI Karen Smith set out. Hemmingway knew that the addresses they were going to observe had been selected for a reason, but he couldn’t think of anything worse than sitting around for hours. Opening up his laptop, Hemmingway began to search for recent arson attacks on small businesses. He knew that if the Camorra were extorting local businesses then someone would have made a stand and refused to pay, leading the Camorra to ‘encourage’ cooperation.

“Turn left here!” Hemmingway snapped, nearly reaching for the steering wheel. “We’re going to 234 Lavender Avenue…Johal Newsagents. The telegraph says their car was set alight a few days ago. That was my old beat, there’s never any trouble there.”


Pulling in, Hemmingway and Smith parked in the seemingly tranquil neighbourhood. Approaching the shop, Smith notices burnt debris near the kerb and a strong viscous smell of burnt plastic and metal. As Hemmingway opened the door to the shop a bell jingled, reminding him of his childhood when he would go to the corner shop to buy sweets for himself and cigarettes for his mum. “Hello!” Hemmingway boomed, filling the shop with his resonate voice.

A small man of approximately 60-65 peered over the counter, “Hello, can I help you?” He seemed timid and unsure as to why someone had announced themselves instead of collecting their items and approaching the till. Rustling past floor to ceiling multi-bags of crisps, Smith answered.

“Hello Sir. I am DI Smith and this is DI Hemmingway, we were…”

Cutting off his partner mid-sentence, Hemmingway continued, “…we were wondering if you could talk to us about the incident with the bins?”

Raising his hands to his chest and rubbing them as a form of self-comforting gesture, the old man retorted, “I have told you all there is to know. It was kids, young kids. Now leave me alone!”

Confused by the old man’s reaction to a relatively innocent question, Smith attempted to reassure the old man, “Sir please, I understand you are scared but we are here to help.” The old man slowly stopped rubbing his hands although by now they were visibly red and dry, Smith continued, “We know it wasn’t kids that burnt your bins. Can you tell us who it was?”

Leaning in, the old man began to whisper as if surrounded by eavesdroppers, “They came a week before the fire. They said they know where my daughter works and where my grandchildren go to school, they said they’d hurt them if I didn’t pay. I’ve heard all sorts of crap like that before. Doing this job you get used to it, you don’t refund something and suddenly they are in your face, but this was different.” Somehow the female voice of DI Smith had calmed the man, Hemmingway stayed silent, he preferred to listen anyway.

“I gave them all the money I had but they said it wasn’t enough. They came back the next day but I don’t make enough money to give them you see. Early the next morning I received a call from the fire brigade saying that there had been a fire, I rushed in but luckily, it was just the bins. When I opened the shop to see if there was any damage there was a note on the floor.” Reaching under his till, the old man produced small note, written on it: PAY this is only the start.

Hemmingway new that incremental increases in harassment was a Camorra trait, especially during extortion. Leaning in Hemmingway asked, “Did you see what car they were driving the two times they visited you?”

Thinking for a second, the old man whispered, “Yes, yes! It was a black BMW 3 Series, but I didn’t seen the number plate.”

With a reassuring smile, Hemmingway whispered, “Thank you.”


Briskly walking back to the car Hemmingway said, “I know where they are! Call Clyde, get him and the rest of the team and tell them to bring the big red key.”

“What’s the big read key?” Smith asked feeling as though she should know already.

“The battering ram we use to take down doors!” and with a smirk and simultaneous chuckle, Smith dialled DCI Clyde.


Earlier in the week Hemmingway had read a report of a black BMW 3 Series which had refused to stop. The car was registered to a Mr Gamoni, but the address listed was a Henley Lane construction depot, not the owner’s home. Pulling up just outside of the construction depot gates, several armed officers including DCI Clyde lined up and prepared to breach the depot perimeter and then the site office door.

Intelligence had shown that the Camorra often appoints an individual with no criminal links as a weapons keeper who is paid monthly for their services. The weapons are often stored far enough away that they cannot be linked to the Camorra, but close enough that they can be used if needed. Nevertheless, Hemmingway never trusted intelligence reports, often quoted as saying: the term ‘police intelligence’ is almost oxymoronic.


DCI Clyde in the lead, the assault team poured into the construction depot, spreading out, expecting contact at any minute. A loud reverberate thud signalled that the assault team had gained access to the building. Hemmingway moved up, Smith in tow. Inside were three men sitting at a kitchen table, they had been caught off guard but the lurid and incessant outcry of Police! would mean that the whole neighbourhood would be aware of who was visiting.


Clearing the rest of the building was relatively easy although time consuming. The occupants were arrested and taken back to the station for processing whilst Clyde, Hemmingway and Smith as well as other detectives began to investigate the building in more detail.


Entering a small Kitchen, DCI Clyde reached for a glass from the above cupboard, in doing so he noticed a small handle. Turning the handle, the entire kitchen began to rotate, including Clyde. A startled young man appeared on the other side.



The crumpled body of Ross Clyde lay on the ground. A red mist of blood seemed to hang in the air as Gamoni stood brandishing a sawn-off shotgun. Looking down at his clothes, Gamoni realised what he had just done, he had killed a man. Trembling, he dropped the weapon and stumbled back, blood dripping down his cheap nylon shirt. Gamoni wasn’t a seasoned killer, he was a pencil pusher, a driver at best. A nobody in reality.