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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 19: Old Handicaps

If the shoe doesn’t fit, it’s still evidence.

Next morning, I pushed my way through the lobby of the Police Department amidst the usual din. A large, black-bearded man was screaming at the desk sergeant. A skinny man with green hair and a large gold ring through his nose was handcuffed to a chair. Downstairs, we checked our mail, messages, and inboxes.

Maggs was digging through two heavy boxes of Crawford records.

Harper was due in court. Maggs and I sat forth in pursuit of truth and justice.

Resource, Inc. was squeezed into a single-story building on Hi-Line Drive off Stemmons Expressway within blocks of the shop where Rosa Petrovic labored over a sewing machine. The owner, a rotund man, fiftyish with a graying comb-over, was not happy to see us.

Visible through an open door behind him, a handful of workers were sitting at tables or bending over them, banging or bending metal devices which would soon be orthopedic foot, ankle or knee aids. Shoes were piled on several tables. Maggs and I faced the owner across a cluttered desk.

“Officers, I told them other cops last year, our records show we delivered that shoe with the ankle brace to Holzhauser Shoes in north Dallas.”

“They’re out of business,” Maggs said. “And we still got a murder. Several, actually.”

“Owner of Holzhauser’s died,” the owner said. “Dunno what happened to their records or nothin’.” He scratched his left ear. “Already been through this once. Probably, one of their employees stole the shoes. Can’t imagine what you’d do with a size eleven orthopedic shoe.”

“Who does the shipping?” I asked.

He stared at the folders on his desk. “Me. And I can guarantee you I had no reason to steal shoes. We only got seven employees and most been with me for years.”

“Employee files?” I asked.

He sighed, opened a desk drawer and tossed across several folders. “One retired, then died a few months before the Blue Frog murder deal. Hired one to take her place. Me, my secretary out there, she’s the new hire, and the five in the back. That’s it.” He stood, looked at a copier and shrugged. He handed me a pile of paper. “Have at it.”

I gathered the folders and nodded to the copier. “We’ll copy these.”

“It’s all the records I got.”

We swung by the Police Department to make copies and play computer tag. An hour of digging disclosed Wendi LaPenn had been busted and convicted several times for prostitution. She had an address on Cedar Springs. Oddly, no info was on file to reflect any relatives, aliases, or any first name beyond “Wendi.”

“Suppose this chick really might actually be named Wendi LaPenn?” I asked. “She’d be the only hooker arrested that had only one name.”

“I think it’s a clerical screw-up some way,” Maggs said. “Computers are not infallible, and this chick might have a false set of ID’s.”

“Fingerprints oughta trump that,” I said. “Maybe Wendi has a pair gloves with fingerprints added. She wears them when she gets busted.”

Maggs shrugged and grinned wanly.

Equally disappointing, we found no record of any kind for Lola Blue. “I thought Vice had a line on every hooker who ever passed through Dallas,” I huffed. “Probably been busted under a different name.”

We took the time to cross-reference the Soundex System to pull up every case with H. Brooks Grifford’s name involved. They were numerous.

“Good grief, McCoy,” Maggs exclaimed. “This guy was appointed by the U.S. State Department as a member of the legal delegation to Iraq. It’s been fifteen years. Look: he was captured, so it says, and held prisoner by some warlord for several months. Here, see: he sued the U.S. State Department. Government pays him a disability pension. Disability? What gives?”

“Pull up whatever we got on Martha Crawford and Kuznov while we’re here,” I advised.

We accumulated a stack of hard copies a half-inch thick.

“We need to have a sit-down with Stick Terrell, the skinny pimp.”

“Let’s do it,” said Maggs.

While Maggs was driving us out of the parking structure, I caught a shard of stomach pain that doubled me over. “Think I need a snack, Maggs.”

She looked over at me. Clairvoyance was not necessary to read “Booze is the problem” into her expression. “Maybe an undertaker?” she asked.

My gut-ache subsided somewhat, and I began shuffling through the stack of Resource, Inc. records in my lap. Somewhere in them might very well be a “Get out of The Dead Bin Jail, free” card.

“Got a favorite eating place?” Maggs asked. Her expression said I looked like hell.

A cheeseburger from Jack Fronski at Couples filled the crevasses in my gut. Jack fell in love — or, at least, lust — with Maggs, who seem to enjoy it, but she skillfully ignored the attention.

When we left, Maggs said, “McCoy, we walked the tab.”

“Hellfire, Maggs, no cops dare take a free lunch these days. He just put it on account.”

“Crapola, McCoy. You need to be careful. Our good captain is a total ass, and it’s a hell of a lot easier to let the cat out of the bag than to try to put it back. He catches you copping a free lunch, he’ll be all up your butt.”

“Yes, mother.”

She drove us back to Homicide, where we found Harper. We devised a devious plan to locate and screw with a very annoying pimp who was of considerable interest in our current investigations.

Proceed to Chapter 20...

Copyright © 2017 by Gary Clifton

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