The Dead Bin
by Gary Clifton
Davis McCoy, a veteran detective on the Dallas police force, is relegated to the “Dead Bin,” a kind of “doghouse” reserved for cops who have annoyed their superior officers. When McCoy investigates a series of bizarre homicides, he has to work his way past hostile management as well as the criminal underworld. Even the most hardened veterans of law enforcement will be amazed by what he finds.
Chapter 4: All in a Day’s Work
So much violence out there. We must send someone out against it. But what fool would be so foolish as to go out there in the dark when he could stay here with us, safe behind the wall. — ancient police proverb
The next step in my skid into the cop-land outhouse began with a not so simple foot chase. All downhill, it was easy — the skid that is — not the foot chase.
“Help, for God’s sake, help!” the sleazy little doper shrieked as he ran toward the Dallas School Depository.
The cop business is as busy as the main gate of the State Fair of Texas. Crime doesn’t wait for administrative stupidity. Life has to proceed — or end suddenly. But it couldn’t stand still.
The usual tourist crowd standing slack-jawed around Dealy Plaza in the blazing June sun, hoping somehow to invent a new myth on the JFK assassination, suddenly got a camera full.
From the west, through the Triple Underpass in the simmering noonday sun, emerged a smarmy little man, bathed in sweat, more staggering than running along the sidewalk.
The fleeing man’s sunken blue eyes were wide with terror, his upper lip displayed a scraggly, pitifully thin mustache, his bare forearms filled solid with penitentiary tattoos.
A hairy gorilla emerged next, chasing the frantic little man.
Then, incredible to sightseers, a husky, trim, African-American man, in a dark blue T-shirt with the logo “Dallas Police” across his back, emerged from the underpass and swept past the gorilla. Several tourists would later swear they heard the man utter, “Move over, gorilla breath,” as he reached out for the fugitive.
“Help, they sent an ape to kill me!” the runner shrieked. Suddenly he veered up the Grassy Knoll, stumbled left at the School Book Depository, and tried to clamber over the wooden fence at the top of the knoll before falling, out of gas, back onto the Elm Street side. The cop in the blue T-shirt athletically pounced on the runner sprawled in the grass.
That would be me, poor Davis McCoy, in that gorilla suit. After the last Internal Affairs dust-up, business as usual was in full sway. The guy in the blue T-shirt who could run like hell was my long-time partner, Milton Washington.
I struggled up the grass, dropped a knee in the frantic, downed man’s back and handcuffed him, hands behind. I stood and pulled off the gorilla head. Only then did the less perceptive in the crowd realize it was a costume. I swatted the dude across the head with the mask. “Dwight, you stupid jerk, your lawyer told you last week we had a warrant for your ass. Sale and delivery.”
“Now it’s no bail, Simple Dwight,” Washington said. “Loser like you gotta know by now, you run from us, you only go to jail tired.”
“Damnation, Washington,” I didn’t know it was you, man. Honest, man, I wouldn’ta never run. Gimme a break, Milton.”
“It’s my partner’s case, asswipe.” Washington pointed his chin at me, I was standing but bent over, holding my stomach.
“Hey, McCoy,” Dwight pled upward, “why dincha say it was you? Thought you was some kinda damned hit-man in an ape suit.”
“You shoulda turned yourself in, Dwight.” I gasped for breath. We’re holding a contest for dumbass of the year, and I’m thinking I’ll nominate you.”
“Hey, dude, gotta stay on the street. I owe that dork Kuznov five large.”
“You’ll have to work that out,” I said. I bent over and vomited, long and hard, holding my stomach in pain.
Washington stood up and stepped over to support me. “We can get you witness protection,” he said to Dwight, looking back. “Or that Russian whacks off your package ’cuz you can’t pay him, and then runs you through a wood chipper like he did Chicago Peewee last month. Poof, Dwight-burgers. You either spill on that Russian or it’s hard time in the joint. Or Russian surgery.”
“Ain’t no snitch.”
“Dude,” Washington said, “‘snitch’ rhymes with ‘bitch’, unless they stick you in a women’s prison. Your choice. Talk or be some alpha con’s wife. Makes us no difference.” He nodded toward me.
Dwight lay on the grass, sobbing as a marked Dallas squad car spun up the knoll. A burly sergeant stepped out. “McCoy, all three of my ex-wives could outrun you any day.”
Several other marked cars, red lights flashing, worked their way up the grass to the delight of a camera-heavy crowd of gawkers.
Still head down, I shot the sergeant the finger without looking up. Washington caught the sergeant’s attention, eyes narrowed, and stifled the conversation.
The sergeant motioned Washington aside. I overheard him whisper, “Milt, your partner fall off the wagon again?”
Washington, handsome and poised, didn’t respond to the comment. “Sarge, go ahead and stick him in a holding cell at the Sterrett Center. His name is Dwight Elsworth. We’ll drop by in a bit and finish the paperwork and formal book-in.” The sergeant jotted the name in his notebook and turned to the prisoner.
“I got rights.” The doper squealed a familiar refrain. “You gotta call my lawyer, H. Brooks Grifford.”
“Sure thing, Dwight. I’ll call him right away.” Like I said, I knew Grifford slightly, another greasy, low-rent Dallas lawyer who specialized in defending garbage.
Washington walked back to me.
“It’s not what you think, Milt.” I struggled for breath, still bent double. “It’s gotta be 110, and this damned costume is insulated against the North Pole.”
Washington patted my shoulder, paternally. “I know you aren’t on the booze, partner. Screw that guy.” He gestured toward the pudgy sergeant. “Like they told you in the program: one day at a time.” His skepticism was obvious.
“I’ll be okay in a minute.” I gained my feet. “I’ll dump this get-up and finish booking Dwight into Sterrett.” I had not missed a meeting and was due for my six-month chip. Bad reps are hard to overcome.
“I’ll go to Sterrett with you,” Washington said, chuckling.
“What’s so funny?”
“Man, I’ve seen guys walk backwards faster than you can run.” The chuckle expanded to a belly laugh.
“Washington, this isn’t going to be another racist ‘black guys always run faster’ slur, I hope. Hell, man, I woulda caught him... eventually. Well, maybe next week.” I joined Washington in laughing.
A tourist snapped a picture of the strange scene. I’d been a high school football star linebacker and had played a year of college football before the grade monster got me. I recollected in the good old days, I could have run ten miles. I’d been out of the bottle for months. I just needed a little rehab time to reinvigorate my legs.
Dwight, just another of the thousand or so small-time dealers in Dallas — hey, maybe five thousand — was barely on our radar. We’d squeeze him like always, factoring in a slim chance he might spill on Kuznov, a hardcore Russian Mafioso suspected of connection to half the crime in town.
Ordinarily, chances were Dwight would go quietly to the joint, but that wouldn’t quite work out in this case: another hairpin curve would spring up in the progression of things.
Copyright © 2017 by Gary Clifton