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The Dead Bin

by Gary Clifton

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Dead Bin: synopsis

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 13: Horror Beyond Belief

Surprising how often roads lead to the same place.

I was about to learn that, as we slept, not far away on McKinney Avenue, Couples, a ladies-only bar, was doing its usual brisk business. Several ladies were sitting or standing, engaged in various stages of passionate sexual foreplay. A tall, slender blonde, was talking with a pretty, younger blonde at a corner table. They kissed, then left together.

In a cheap nearby motel, the pretty young blonde was spread-eagled, gagged, naked, and tied to the four corners of a bed. The older blonde caressed her body while the girl squirmed in a sensuous reaction. The blonde raised a decanter above the prisoner, poured the contents onto her stomach, then tossed in a lit match.

The woman on the bed screamed through her gag. Flames rose, she screamed louder. Then silence. The sadistic murderer threw on some clothes and hurried out. The night manager would report seeing the fleeing, skinny blonde run across the motel parking lot.

* * *

The next morning I walked into the Dead Bin to find Homicide Detective Red Harper sitting at the third desk, the Dallas Morning News open in front of him. Harper and I had been partners in Homicide until I got transferred to Narcotics. He was never without a nasty cigar stub in a corner of his mouth.

I was a head taller and twenty years younger, but I wasn’t anxious to wrestle Red Harper. Street-wise and tough, he always swore he’d never shot anyone he didn’t have to. Funny, Mr. Randolph, from my childhood, had the same reputation.

“Hey, Red. Slummin’?” I asked.

“Naw,” he said. “Got crossways with a sleazy lawyer over that death scene at the Crawford Mansion.”

Maggs walked in as Harper answered. “Would that be H. Brooks Grifford?” she asked, taking her chair. “We heard you’d fallen into disfavor.”

Harper and Maggs had worked together in Homicide for the last three years after I’d left. “Damned sure would,” Harper snorted. “How did—?”

“We tried to interview Martha about an old homicide yesterday. He showed up and then showed his ass at the same time,” Maggs said. “I heard you were gonna land down here. Welcome to nowhere.”

“Oh well, damn the brass.” Harper tapped his open newspaper. “Maggs, you remember those kinky murders a year or so ago? Guy picked up two victims at the Blue Frog, on Harry Hines. Tied them to a bed in their apartments and set fire to them. We never got anywhere on the case.”

“How could I forget?” Maggs said. “What a mess. That file is down here, cold somewhere. Why you asking?”

“Similar murder last night.” He gestured to the newspaper again. “Hooker picked up by another chick in a lesbian bar. Found tied to a motel bed down the street, burned alive.”

Maggs leaned over and scanned the article. “This is female on female in a motel. The Blue Frog suspect was a man who murdered one female, then a male victim both in their apartments.”

Maggs studied her nails. “Maybe the perp knew the first two personally, but last night’s victim was a random bar pickup? Got into their apartments, but this latest vic opted for a motel?”

“Blue Frog is a male gay bar,” I said. “Me ’n Washington arrested a guy in there who’d staggered in and tried to pick a fight. Purely a homophobe.”

“The female Blue Frog victim was a hooker,” Harper said. “Illegal immigrant, I think? Problem there was hookers tend to be sexually gender-neutral — woman, guy, customer’s dog — no difference.”

“The male victim?” I asked

“Never ID’d. Probably gay, we figured, and maybe a prostitute. Degraded DNA was very weak. We gotta mitochondrial partial sample. No matches. “

“That’s a very descriptive account in that paper,” Maggs said. “Goes into detail about lesbians and prostitutes. Article even gives the name and address of the club where she was picked up. That’s about a hundred times more than the public needs to know.”

Maggs tossed the fat Blue Frog file on my desk. I spent an hour digging through it. Prominent was a color photo of a pair of high-heeled, bright red, knee-length boots standing in the corner of the debris in the victim’s bedroom.

“These boots in evidence?” I asked.

“Naw.” Harper shook his head. “Some evidence tech got his jollies taking a photo of them. We wouldn’t have kept the boots. No reason. Photo only.”

“File shows the female Blue Frog vic was named Zophie Petrovic.” I jotted down the name.

Harper shuffled papers. “We ID’d her mother. Works in a sewing shop. Central European type and typically wouldn’t cooperate with the cops.”

I scribbled the address in my notebook. Mama Petrovic was going to get another visit from the cops.

“McCoy, we can knock on any door we please.” Harper grinned. “But if that dork Lieutenant Oliver gets wind we’re working on a fresh homicide, he’ll have a colon hemorrhage.”

“Only looking at the old case, guys. But it just so happens I gotta snitch who may be very close to last night’s murder.”

I spent several hours looking at files and plying the computer for crimes with similar circumstances. Interviewing Dwight slid to the back of my desk.

Results were limited and I headed out for the day. Dwight was safe in jail. He could snitch on the Russian later. To interview him would remind me of Milt Washington, and I was in no hurry pick at that scab.

So we had three horrible murders: two girls and a man tied to beds and burned. Two of the cases were cold, which gave plenty of leeway to poke around.

Proceed to Chapter 14...

Copyright © 2017 by Gary Clifton

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