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 7: A Personal Problem
The spectators who sit farthest from the ring will always be the most vocally expert second-guessers.
I sat in the rear seat of a marked car, feet outside on the ground, head in my hands. I had just lost the best friend I’d ever known, I was the one who’d waived the Kevlar vests. Flashing emergency lights created a surrealistic, psychedelic-like atmosphere. Yeah, I cried like a baby.
“Your courage fail you, smart ass?” It was the same rat-faced sergeant from IAD. “Fall off the wagon? You don’t look so tough now, boy.”
Courage? Tough? Back in the Argentine, like most kids, I’d fought fifty guys on the street plus the Golden Gloves for seven seasons. They gave us soup in the evenings after we worked out. “Broke” was a term as common around there as “stick ’em up.” I didn’t have a pistol, but I was handy with my hands.
Ol’ Elmer Spearman got me a few club fights in a wire pen in the backroom of his bar. Sometimes I made seven, eight dollars, fighting guys ten years older and fifty pounds heavier. No, my courage had not failed, only my poor ability to think.
“Come outta the trance, McCoy. Cryin’ ain’t gonna bring back your partner. No balls is what you got,” the Sarge taunted. “Good lord, man, no call for backup, no vests. You jump aside and let Washington take those bullets, boy?”
They pulled me off him on the pavement, but it went into the report.
* * *
I sat with Washington’s family at the funeral and felt like a full load of hammered garbage. Elaine said she knew I was not at fault, but I could see blame behind her eyes.
After the funeral, I dropped by my regular doctor.
For weeks before Washington’s death, I’d been having bad stomach aches. In the exertion of the gorilla chase, I felt I’d ruptured a gut. My parents and my wife had all died of cancer, and I sure wasn’t immune. My mother’s symptoms had been identical to mine.
Dr. Epstein scribbled on a chart. “Glad you came in, McCoy.” His gaze over half-glasses was somber at best.
“This stomach pain is a bitch, Doc. Bothered me for several weeks, but the other day—”
“Alcohol abuse stresses the pancreas, liver, and stomach. I’ll submit these samples for testing.”
“I’m full-grown and fully expendable, Doctor. How bad do you suspect?”
“Don’t jump to conclusions, McCoy, but malignancy is always a possibility. Let’s see what the tests determine.” With that, he walked out.
* * *
I played catch with Tim, pretty much as usual that evening. Later, alone with Janet, she studied my face carefully. “All your problems, McCoy? You can and will get through them.”
My in-the-bed duty that night was flaccid. Her optimism might have been tinted if she’d known what I suspected: I had the Big One in my guts. Years earlier, I’d slug big guys around for old Elmer Spearman, but this might be a little tougher opponent. I vowed not to tell anyone under any circumstances until absolutely necessary, especially Janet and Tim.
Copyright © 2017 by Gary Clifton