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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 16: Tough Guys

No matter how in bluebilly hell tough a dude is, somebody is tougher, often by a factor of about five.

Kuznov operated from a dolled-up storefront on Harry Hines. Painted on the window: “K.V. Imports.”

“Kuznov keeps a couple of goons inside. I’ll call for a uniform so he can’t say he didn’t know we were cops.” I dialed my cellular.

Harper stepped inside the entryway. Big mistake. I should have entered first and asked Harper to call for backup.

Dispatch promised officers right away. I switched off the phone and followed Harper inside, except I didn’t quite make it. A goon in a yellow muscle shirt struck me a glancing blow to the chest as he crashed through the double doors and sailed headlong down the two steps to street level. He hit the concrete like a limp rag, grunted, then lay still.

I pushed through the doors. A second goon in a red muscle shirt landed at my feet, groaned, and attempted to crawl away. Harper was a good cop, highly trained in interrogation techniques. He was well aware of proper public relations, too, but he could, on occasion, revert to slightly south of friendly, like an angry grizzly.

Harper was standing at room center with the usual nasty cigar stub clamped in a corner of his mouth and holding a third goon in a black T-shirt off the floor. He tossed the man into a wooden chair, which shattered. The man sat, stunned, on the floor.

A very attractive blonde behind an entry-desk started to rise.

“Lady,” I said, “if you’re thinking of calling the law, we’re already here.”

She sat back down, as stunned as the third goon.

Harper brushed off his lapels. “First two suckers actually put their hands on me, damned fools.” He pointed to the man sitting in the chair wreckage. “This one threw a punch. Coulda ruined my cigar. Stay, jerk-off,” he commanded, pointing a finger at the downed man.

The blonde secretary eyed the muscle man on the floor and stifled a smile.

Kuznov, thirties, blond hair uncombed, cold blue, watery eyes, appeared in a doorway behind the blonde. “McCoy,” he said through a heavy Russian accent. “Thought you got your ass fired for getting your partner killed. Why harass me? KGB is in Russia.” He studied his two fallen bodyguards with mild amusement, apparently forgetting the one on the front sidewalk.

“One of your girls, Zophie, was murdered.” I said. “We got fifteen witness who say you did it.”

“Zophie? I know no such person, my friend.” Kuznov’s demeanor was dead calm, showing a slight smirk.

I fanaticized choking him until gangrene set in. “I’m not your friend. Girl was Zophie, a year or more ago. Picked up at the Green Frog, tied to her bed, burned alive.”

“Oh yes, I recall from newspapers. Such violence, these Americans.” He gestured at his goon still sitting in chair debris on the floor. “Horrible, but still not my girl.”

I was hot. “We and Immigration manage to prove you paid her way into the U.S., we stuff the whole deal up your ass.”

Kuznov’s smirk morphed to a leer. He rested a hip on the blonde’s desk.

But then who should appear but H. Brooks Grifford, greasy attorney-at-law. Grifford looked down at the goon, still sitting in broken chair residue, then at me. His eyes, even bluer than Kuznov’s, were livid with raw hatred.

“I call my lawyer.” Kuznov smiled at me, his expression a ringer for a giant monitor lizard’s.

“Grifford, you ride around in your own fire engine to make emergency calls? Or were you just lying out front in the sewer?” I held his venomous gaze.

“My client denies everything,” Grifford spewed. Kuznov looked at him, amused.

“We’re here about a little murder of one of Kuznov’s girls, Zophie. Tied to a bed and roasted last year,” Harper said.

“You’re trying to frame my client, McCoy. I don’t like you at all.”

“Aw shucks.”

“You’ll face an assault charge over this.” He pointed to the stooge on the floor, then gestured towards the casualty on the front sidewalk. “I already took care of your gooney bird ape partner.” He pointed at Harper.

“They won’t file a complaint, Grifford.” Harper grinned. “Word gets around all three got their asses kicked by a fat old man, they’re out of work.”

I broke into the genteel conversation. “Another Kuznov girl murdered last night: Elgard. Picked up at Couples over on McKinney Avenue. Everyone got a nice alibi?”

Kuznov and Grifford exchanged glances, but neither commented. We started to leave, and I turned back. “Kuznov, you need two new hired help.” I pointed to the men on the floor.

“You owe me chair, McCoy.” The Russian’s smile was like a cold north wind.

Through the glass front door, Harper and I saw a uniformed patrol officer bending over the first goon, the one Harper had pitched out onto the sidewalk. The guy was sitting on the curb, head in hands. There were traces of blood even on the back of his yellow muscle shirt. I could imagine what the front must look like.

“You said two goons.” Harper rolled his cigar stub.

“Son-of-a-gun, lost count.”

Proceed to Chapter 17...

Copyright © 2017 by Gary Clifton

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