The Dead Bin
by Gary Clifton
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 28: Open Spigot
Remorseful? Hell yes, he’s sorry. He just got busted for shooting at the cops.
The uniforms pointed out a pedestrian gate near the Cutlass parked just outside the rear fence. Harper and Maggs frog-walked Wendel, lost in tears, preceded a foot by his chest, bathed in sweat, to the front. We could use Harper’s Plymouth to interrogate. I moved the Cutlass around closer.
With the a/c blowing full bore, Maggs squeezed into the rear seat beside the distraught prisoner. Harper and I sat, equally squeezed in the front seat. I’d stopped and bought four soft drinks. Maggs opened a Dr. Pepper for Wendel and held it so he could drink. He smelled like a wet dog.
“Why run, asshat?” I asked. “Especially why the hell start shootin’ at the law?”
“Got a couple warrants. You know how they treat guys like me inside. Man, I’m so sorry.” He dissolved in tears.
“May have something to do with them boob.” Harper chewed on his borrowed cigar.
“Sorry,” Wendel repeated.
“Me, too, dude. Eight cigars, crushed just like that. Eight, for God’s sake. Gonna get me a metal cigar case.”
“You know you’re looking at attempted capital murder of a police officer, Wendel.” I twisted backward in my seat. “That’s about six hundred years.”
“Oh, screw me. Nobody can do six hundred.”
“Well, Wendel,” said Harper, still miffed more about his cigars than being shot at, “you do as many as you can. A hundred or so. Then readjust your life plan. Eight mother-loving cigars.”
“Of course we want to help you,” I lied, considering the weight of such a lie in Hell. “What happened to your brother, Norman?”
“Bitch left town. Never said goodbye or nothin’.”
Maggs leaned across and gave him another long pull on his Dr. Pepper.
“Norman, a rodeo guy? Maybe a calf-roper?” I asked.
“Calf-roper for years, then spent some time as a clown. Bull crushed his ankle twice. That’s when he took to workin’ the streets. Man, he had to.”
“Your mother, Rita, worked at Resource, the orthopedic shoe outfit?” Harper asked.
“Yeah, she worked at that crummy outfit. For pennies. Retired, then died.”
“She steal an orthopedic shoe for Norman? We found it at a crime scene.” A vision of Norman’s burned body tied to a motel bed flashed briefly.
“If she did, she had it comin’, those cheap bastards.”
“You pay for her funeral?” I asked.
He looked at me like I had a red rose growing out of my ear. “Cain’t afford no funeral.”
I didn’t bother to tell him the tightwad Resource owner had buried his mother. “Know what a piggin’ loop is?#8221; I twisted toward the back seat again.
He showed a toothy grin. “Yeah, rodeo rope-knot. Me ’n Norman used to play grab-ass with tricks we turned. Some a them fruitcakes wanted to be tied up. We accommodated their pervert asses.”
Sweat dripping down his face washed away makeup to reveal beard stubble.
Wendel calling another human being a pervert was like a cannibal claiming to be a medical researcher. “Norman? He work with another male prostitute before he left town?” I had a good notion the male Blue Frog vic was Wendel’s brother.
Maggs held his drink to his mouth again.
“Naw, that pimp Stick set him up with a straight chick. Skinny blonde name o’ Lola somethin’... Blue... Lola Blue. I... I dunno her except for that. Really weird chick.”
Harper, Maggs and I saw instantly. The unidentified male Blue Frog victim was undoubtedly Norman Penski, Wendel’s missing brother. Lola, in all likelihood, had killed him. As to why he’d allow her to tie him up with his own gimmick was another question.
“Where would we find this Lola Blue?” Harper asked.
“Dunno. Skillman... Maybe Gaston Avenue.”
“We’ve had two female prostitutes murdered. One a year ago, another a couple days ago. That last one was tied to a motel bed and burned alive. Had your business card in her apartment.” I didn’t tell him his brother had ended up the same way.
He looked puzzled. “No clue.”
“Foreign chicks, both. The one the other night was Elgard.”
“Oh, hell yeah, Elgard, and her roomy was Sophie... no, Zophie. That pimp Stick again. First, me ’n Zophie played sex games with his johns. She had real boobs bigger than my add-ons. Then Zophie got murdered. Hell, I’d forgot. Now you say Elgard was murdered, burned on a bed. Good God. It’s the same...”
“You could help yourself by upping a suspect,” I said.
“Dunno who, dude, that’s the truth.”
“Tell us about the Russian, Kuznov,” I said. “And no crap.”
“Mean sucker. Also kinky as hell. Cut my throat if he suspected I said—”
“Harper might cut your throat if you don’t. When was the last time you were in his office?”
“Uh, yesterday, man. He loved my boobs, made me give him a—”
“We get it. He in on killing the two tied-to-bed girls?”
“Well, like I said, Stick would be a good choice, but Kuznov owns that pimp. He could damn well been involved, but he would never’ve done no actual killing, especially the way they were murdered.”
“Kuznov keep a stash in his office?”
I was out of patience. “I said no crap, dude.”
“Yeah, we did a couple lines.”
“The servos you bought from the hobby shop?” I asked.
“You musta been into model cars or the like?”
“Oh yeah, them little steering gadgets. I’d always messed around with model cars and the like and didn’t have no place when Mama died. Hadda get out on my own. Sold all three to Stick. Dunno why he wanted them. He’s kinda goofy.”
“The Russian: he the head-knocker in this girl smuggling operation?” I asked. “The Russian mafia must smuggle in girls, and then Stick is the street guy, right?”
He nodded agreement. “Hey, dude, that’s heavy stuff. I heard a couple times the Russian uses some damned liquor company’s permits to smuggle in girls, and a lot of heroin. The old man who runs the liquor outfit, I don’t know much about. That Russian is hooked up with Stick. Man, like I just said, the Russian’s the boss, and Stick is a flunky.”
“You ever meet the old man, the liquor guy?” Harper asked.
“Yeah, went over there once with Zophie and put on a show for the old bastard.”
Harper pulled a DNA kit from his pocket and scraped a sample from the inside of Wendel’s cheek.
“For the love of God, am I gonna get life in prison?” Wendel began to sob again.
“You’d be the only maggot ever took a shot at me who did.” Harper angrily rolled his borrowed, now unlit cigar stub across his mouth.
“We send you to the Russian’s office with a wire on. You got the ’nads to do that?” Maggs asked.
“I dunno. What reason would I have to go in? I mean a reason to give Kuznov so he don’t blow my ass away right off the jump?”
“We’ll think on it.”
We booked him into the Sterrett Center. Let the manager worry about which restroom he’d use.
Copyright © 2017 by Gary Clifton