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The Dead Bin

by Gary Clifton

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Chapter 14: A World Apart

Tricky, this designation of heterosexual as “normal.” Normal is only the rule of the majority. Men’s prisons are crammed with husband and wife combinations, both with wives or girlfriends on the outside. Define which is “normal.”

I worked my pickup through heavy traffic up McKinney Avenue. The renovated area, called “uptown,” was home to many quaint restaurants, a railed trolley, and young people who lived in a thousand condos in cozy lofts and newer buildings built to look old.

The exclusive ladies’ club was smack in the middle. In the dope-cop business, you meet a lot of people. Usually they’re looking for an angle.

Couples was owned and operated by Jack Fronski, as tough a customer as you’d ever meet in Dallas or anywhere else, I’d wager. Jack could kick some serious ass and often did. A truer match for any guy on WWE never existed. Jack’s only angle was to make a buck.

A husky female bartender whom I knew slightly was dressed like a lumberjack and on duty in the early evening slack period. I stepped in out of the swelter. “Need to see Jack.” I flashed my badge.

“Busy,” she more or less snarled.

“Look, genius, you know me, and don’t delude yourself for one second I won’t run my foot in your ass and walk back to Jack’s office.”

“Good God. Wyatt Earp, here to kill off my hired help,” Jack’s voice boomed from the rear. The bartender had tripped an alarm button of some sort. “Christ, McCoy, good bartenders are hard to find.”

“Need to talk in private, Jack.”

“Look, McCoy, I’ve had Homicide on my ass in here all day. If it’s about that chick got killed outta here last night, dude, I’m tapped out. And hey, sorry about Washington. Good guy.”

I nodded as she motioned me back to her office. Did I say Jack was a woman? She was in body only; they’d only installed the wrong engine at the factory. With man-cut hair, men’s blue jeans and Doc Martens, she was an imposing figure in any crowd.

A beautiful girl of about 18, halter top and short shorts, was sitting on a sofa in Jack’s office. With lots of flesh showing and flashing gray eyes, she naturally caught my eye. “Forget it, Tarzan. She don’t swing your direction.”

“Can she type?”

“Jesus, McCoy. How would I know? Wanna beer?”

I shook my head “no” and watched the secretary’s tight shorts slink out the door. “Your murder last night. Workin’ on a second similar case. A year or more ago. The Blue Frog murders?”

“You in Homicide now? Christ, this ain’t the Blue Frog, dude.” She flashed a toothy grin, displaying a gold tooth.

“Cold Case Unit. The Dead Bin. What about your murder last night?”

“Dammit, it wasn’t my murder.” She lit a menthol filter-tip. “Been tellin’ cops all day: tall, skinny blonde, probably a hooker, didn’t talk to nobody, but the chick she left with... Like I already said a hundred times, far as I know, she goes by the name of Lola. Lola Blue. No way of telling if that’s the real name. I’ve seen her around. Nobody really knew the victim, a real cutie. Heard her name was Elgard.”

I tossed a copy of the photo of the red boots and Zophie’s driver’s license picture on her desk. “She come in here? That’s the first victim from the Blue Frog.”

“Hell, I dunno.”

“Foreign girl, called Zophie.”

She studied the photos. “Yeah, hell yeah. Zophie. Sexy little trick with them red boots. Never did get any of that. Christ, I’da loved to have seen her standing back in my office naked in them red boots.”

I tossed a photo of Elgard on the desk. “That’s the victim from last night. Any way to connect her to Zophie?”

She nodded. “Yeah, I looked at this face all day. But don’t recall no connection to that Zophie girl. Which don’t mean they weren’t kissin’ cousins.”

“If you hear anything —anything — you got my cell number.”

“Fear not, Sherlock, I’ll call, but don’t get your hopes up. And leave my secretary alone out there. And the bartender.” Her heavy laugh followed me out the door.

* * *

Tim dashed across the lawn of my apartment with gloves and baseball, then stopped suddenly. “Mr. McCoy,” he pointed, “there’s a man down there in a shiny car looking at us with spy-glasses.”

I followed his stare as the dark car spun away. Maybe a coincidence? Maybe some dude with a strong death wish? I’d be more careful. And the visitor, if he was attached to life, should follow suit. I’d lay hands on him soon enough, I figured. But even geniuses sometime calculate the time frame wrong.

Tim and I played catch, I had spaghetti, then Janet, was asleep by 11:00 pm and up again at 5:30 a.m.

Proceed to Chapter 15...

Copyright © 2017 by Gary Clifton

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