The Dead Bin
by Gary Clifton
Chapter 8: New Horizons
Punishment? Ask any con. Jail time isn’t about rehab, only how to outsmart them next time.
IAD dawdled for around a month. I was assigned to Dispatch and Communications on the day shift. Dwight languished in the Sterrett Center, and I never gave him or the Russian a thought. I didn’t think much of any other police business as a matter of fact, only the constant vision of Washington lying dead and his family’s faces at the funeral. And a rotten stomach.
IAD called me in several times and questioned from squeaky chairs and accused and speculated, then sent me to the shrinks. Psychiatrists’ chairs were even squeakier, and the docs were so scared I was going to pull off their heads and eat them that they couldn’t get me out quick enough.
Even after the marathon of non-versations with shrinks and others, everybody in the Department still figured that in some devious, negligent way, I’d gotten Washington killed. They weren’t far off the mark.
* * *
Then one morning, the uniformed communications supervisor walked over. He was a snarky little man — civilian, by the way — with a habit of constantly punching up his glasses with his left thumb. “McCoy, they wanna see you in IAD.” He leered. “Too bad, you were just getting the hang of doing something productive. Only took a month.”
I walked out. At the door, I heard the supervisor say to a co-worker: “Bet they fire his ass. Not that it’ll do Washington any good.” I agreed. But they could only fire me. My friend had already tipped me once again. The Grand Jury had found in my favor: no crime committed.
I sat for an hour’s reaming across a battered desk from two high-ranking suits and a uniformed deputy chief. After the deputy chief’s rant exceeded five minutes, I knew they hadn’t been able to sustain termination.
“Wipe that smirk off your face,” the deputy chief snapped. “Report to Lieutenant Oliver in Homicide at eight tomorrow morning.”
I walked out, still tainted, but not fully condemned. Everyone in the place, including me, wished to high hell I’d taken the bullets instead of Washington.
That night, I treated Janet and Tim to a Big Mac and a super-sized drink. My dinner lay on my stomach like gravel.
The next morning, I stood before Janet’s bathroom mirror, finished shaving, tied my necktie, slipped my Glock in my waistband, and raised my trouser leg to slip the S&W .38 backup pistol in my boot. No casual doper-wear today.
“Good luck,” she pecked my cheek as I left. “Boy, you look like a million, handsome.”
“Not fired, I guess, but still near to the gates of Hell. We’ll see.”
* * *
The lobby of the Dallas Police Department on South Lamar is often easy to confuse with a circus riot, animals and all. The din was ear-splitting but music to my ears. I’d survived. Maybe I could do something to avenge Washington... maybe. Cops in uniform were wrestling a biker type into an elevator. Two hookers in scanty clothes sat handcuffed to a bench cursing at high volume.
Two bad-ass, tattooed types brushed close by me. I could feel their eyes on my back. I turned and faced them both down. They turned and found reasons to exit the lobby. I stepped into an elevator, trying my damnedest to show the resolute swagger of a man going to his execution.
The Homicide Lieutenant, Logan Oliver, a balding little man with gold-rimmed glasses, was sitting behind a wooden desk like the King of Siam. I’d worked with him in patrol fifteen years earlier in the Fair Park area. He was a sleazy, backstabbing little rat, afraid of men, women, dogs, and evil spirits. Beyond that he was okay.
With his expression set to maximum hostile, he thumbed a manila folder, which I assumed had my name on it. “Grew up in Kansas City.” he began. “Your entry investigation shows something about ‘The Argentine.’ That where you learned to kill suspects?”
“You’re holding the record of men I’ve had to kill?”
“Three, for heaven’s sake. Three.”
He’d left out the three others I’d tried to shoot and missed. I waited.
“Snap out of it, McCoy, I’m talking to you. File says you played a year at Oklahoma Southern. What position? Water boy?”
“Came in pretty handy the time the purse snatcher was choking you to death that night on Grand Avenue.”
“I woulda handled it without you. You flunked out of college, managed to get on with the Department at twenty?” He thumbed the file.
I resisted the urge to throttle him. He was trying to get at me. That wasn’t going to happen. “Lieutenant, the men I killed were trying to kill me. I didn’t ask to come to Homicide.”
“Don’t flatter yourself, McCoy. You’re no homicide cop.”
“Lieutenant, I’ve always been a better cop than most, including you.”
“Your assignment is in the Cold Homicide Unit, in the basement.” He gestured downward. He exuded anger like poison gas.
“Cold Homicide. ‘Loser Squad’ would be a better handle. If that’s all, Lieutenant...” I rose and walked out the door.
As I stepped into the hallway, I heard a tall, dimwit detective named Clark say: “Drunk mope, screws up everything he touches.”
I turned and caught his eye. They say success goes to one’s head. Clark’s was never going to make it, because his neck ended in empty space.
My look worked just fine. Several guys sitting near him found reason to study their desktops or feet. I walked over to the elevator.
So, I’d made the Dead Bin as it was popularly known: dead cases, dead people, dead careers. But I might fool that little weasel, Oliver. I also made a mental note to find a private place to kick the guts out of that wiseacre detective Clark. And maybe that dork of a Communications Supervisor, too.
Copyright © 2017 by Gary Clifton