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Bewildering Stories

Challenge 726 Response

The Gorilla Suit

with Gary Clifton

In Gary Clifton’s The Dead Bin:

  1. In “All in a Day’s Work,” why is McCoy wearing a gorilla costume?
  2. In “Kickin’ Back,” how does McCoy’s athletic career compare to those of the other policemen mentioned to date? Why is Janet a single mother?
  3. In “A Moment of Terror,” McCoy raises the question of murder. Is he right to do so? McCoy’s strong feelings about Internal Affairs notwithstanding, should the incident be investigated?

A: The gorilla suit is a prop. In real life, McCoy would have found a place to hide. I got the idea from an interrogation room in the Homicide unit of a large eastern city.

A suspect, who later got the death penalty, had been arrested at the scene of the rape, murder, and attempted concealment by burning of the body of a ten-year old girl. He was throwing himself against the walls in a holding cell. A detective had been to a costume party over the weekend and was supposed to return his clown suit to the rental shop that day. He donned the suit, subdued the suspect, and then returned it.

The perp’s lawyer showed up. The arrestee’s attempt to explain that a giant clown had slapped him in the mouth was priceless.

I later saw Wambaugh use a similar situation in a book, which was eventually made into a movie.

C: Of course the situation of the doper’s death would be investigated. Any firearm discharged is a big deal. Just pulling out a pistol draws IAD and, often, the shrinks. I marvel at TV cops who fire hundreds of rounds, rarely hit anything, aren’t deaf afterwards, and never make a report.

Did McCoy really murder an armed man who had just murdered a police officer and was still trying to shoot? The rule book says suppress the threat and don’t stop until it is suppressed.

Gauging how the most collected of humans will react under dire stress is impossible. I once hit a longshoreman in the head with a three-legged footstool, causing considerable damage to head and stool. And this after he had basically whipped both my partner and me.

A year later, he was on trial for shooting up his neighbor with a machine gun and for assault on federal officers. I said after lengthy, contentious cross-examination, “Counselor, I’ve had a year to think about it and, with your client chained to a chair over there, I believe I can safely say I hit him probably fifteen times when now I can see that fourteen might have worked just fine. Turn him loose, and he can try his luck again.”

The judge ordered the lawyer to drop his line of questioning and move on. It didn’t hurt that photos showed us more beat up than the prisoner.

B. [BwS] For the record, we learn in Chapter 4 that McCoy had been a first-string — and better — linebacker in high-school football. He played football at university but couldn’t keep his grades up. In Chapter 8, the Homicide Lieutenant, Logan Oliver, sneers at McCoy’s successful athletic career. Big mistake there, one would think.

Copyright © 2017 by Gary Clifton
and Bewildering Stories

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