The Dead Bin
by Gary Clifton
Chapter 2: The Rat Squad
Internal Affairs: Sorry parasites one and all, failures on the street. To a man, incapable of scoring an honest collar; their existence depends on exploiting someone’s misfortune.
I hadn’t gotten wind of Harper’s troubles the next morning when Internal Affairs was doing their damnedest to skip a shiv in my guts. I didn’t have room for any more abdominal scars.
“Look dammit,” I said, “for the fifth time: when he handed over the smack, he yanked the pistol out of his windbreaker pocket, tried to hide it under the McDonald’s bag, but when he pointed the damned thing at my head, he fumbled with the trigger. I brushed it aside, got out my piece, and shot the sucker in the left eye. He pulled the trigger simultaneously. That means ‘at the same time’ to you, Sarge. Only the dumb mope missed... sort of.”
“Detective Washington wasn’t in the room. His lies don’t match yours. We already got three calls from the victim’s lawyer, an asshole named Grifford.”
I didn’t tell the dummy I already knew Grifford, slightly. The goon’s round had grazed my neck; he was aiming between the eyes. Never smoke linoleum before you go to shoot the cops. It screws up coordination, like trying to nail peanut butter to a tree.
My name is Davis McCoy, by the way. That hot July night, I’d been twenty-one years a Dallas cop, the last three assigned to the Greater Dallas Narcotics Task Force.
Washington and I had gone out to make a dime-bag buy off a low-rent dealer. I did the undercover, and Washington waited outside the apartment door as my cover, as we’d done a hundred times before.
When the doper had tried to blow my head off, I did the same to him. Now the Internal Affairs dorks were trying to invent enough facts to whack off my ’nads for a legitimate, self-defense shooting. What irony, in view of some of the crap I’d gotten away with in my career.
Growing up in a slum, I’d seen a thing or two, nothing this stupid IAD dip could or would ever understand.
“This isn’t your first kill, McCoy.” The fat little sergeant leaned close. “We know you’re a drunk. Been attending the meetings?”
“Yes, mother.” I swallowed hard to keep from climbing across the desk and throttling the little rat. He did bear a remarkable resemblance to a common barn rodent.
“Yes, mother,” he mocked in return, skewing his face. I half-expected whiskers to twinkle, like Mickey Mouse.
My life had always been a kaleidoscope of goofy, traumatic events. What the hell did this guy know? The “yes, mother” subject instantly cranked up some very old memories.
I’d grown up in the Argentine District of Kansas City, Kansas. My mother and I were living in a second-level walk-up above Willie’s Cigar Store, a gambling joint that operated all night. Gunfire was common. Willie Randolph ran the joint. He was a big noise in the neighborhood.
“You better listen to me, McCoy,” the fat sergeant said condescendingly.
Mom was down in her back from too much hard labor and could only work part-time bartending at the Green Frog Saloon down the street. Money was harder to come by than new socks. The old man had run off years ago. Mother and I were way down in the hole as they say.
On a freezing January morning when I was 11, I rolled out at 4:30 a.m. to run my paper route.
“Careful out there, baby. Them streets is full of scoundrels,” Mother admonished as I stepped out into the bitter cold.
“Yes, mother,” I said on auto-pilot.
Not twenty feet from the door, Mr. Randolph was arguing with a doper called “Lowball.”
Numb-head kids were never invited to grown-up quarrels, and I hurried a block further down to sack up.
Then, the sharp crack of two handgun shots. The ability to separate handgun fire from loud noises is a talent unique to slum people. Mr. Randolph was chasing Lowball in my direction, when the doper stopped, turned, and fired two rounds. Then he yanked furiously at his jammed pistol.
Mr. Randolph put one from his .38 in Lowball’s belly. He folded like a wet shirt. Mr. Randolph studied me, twenty feet away, for what seemed an hour. That was it. My comment, “Yes, Mother” was going to be the last thing I ever said to her. Then Mr. Randolph turned and walked away.
I loaded up and hustled up into white man’s town where nobody ever got murdered. And in a half hour, two fat cops picked me up, slapped me around, added a few kicks and demanded what I’d seen. The answer was “Nuttin.” Later that morning, the school nurse patched up the cuts on my face.
“McCoy, dammit, pay attention. You drunk again?” the IAD clown said.
“I ain’t afraid of no dumb-assed cops.” I leaned forward in my chair.
“What? I don’t scare you?” He sneered. “You ain’t much of a cop, McCoy.”
“Mr. Randolph never killed a sucker he didn’t need to.” I smiled. “Me neither.”
I stood up. “No, sarge, you don’t scare me at all. And I know for a fact the grand jury no-billed me this morning.”
“How the hell do you know...?”
I had a lady friend in the District Attorney’s Office who’d tipped me earlier that morning, but I wasn’t going to share that source with this dip.
“You’re a big, tough boy, McCoy. One day you’ll stumble and I’ll have your ass. Is that smart mouth what got you that scar on your face?”
I stood and smiled, still cautious not to kick this guy through a wall. I imagined his eyes burning into my back as I walked out. Funny, I’d been one hundred percent correct — this time — and the rat squad knew it.
They were nibbling at a piece of me, and they wouldn’t be long in coming for the rest.
Copyright © 2017 by Gary Clifton