by Gary Clifton
“Yeah, Billie, you’re a real badass.” Muldoon leaned across the table. The stench of sweat, cigars, and last week’s brutality filled the room. He gestured to the skinny, morose loser standing behind me.
The skinny cop blasted the back of my head with a big-city telephone book. A beautiful array of stars against a black background drifted by in slow motion. I struggled back onto the seat.
“Tol’ ya, copper. I came home and found her on the floor. Tried to give her mouth to mouth. Got her blood all over me.”
“You don’t listen so good, dickweed.” Muldoon scratched his nose. “We know you smashed Allison’s head with an iron skillet.” He looked over my head at the skinny homicide dick.
No way, no damn time was I gonna admit nothin’ to no cops. I’d never get outta the joint again, no matter what I said. “Lawyer,” I replied.
The skinny dork came with another telephone book roundhouse. He was young with dark hair and one of those weenie moustaches that never quite made it. I could taste blood and feel it seeping down my upper lip. Lousy punk had hit me in the head hard enough to cause a nosebleed. And here I thought they’d quit making phonebooks.
“That your best, wimp? You hit like an ol’ woman.”
“Lawyer, tough cookie?” Muldoon held up a hand, calling off the skinny cop. “Dream on, loser. Neighbors say y’all was hotsie-totsie in love. She was your main squeeze.” He slid a yellow pad and pen across the table and waved a handcuff key. “Gotta write it down.”
The past year, Allison and I had lived together with her daughter, Haley. God, I loved them both more than life. I paid the rent and other bills. Volunteered for some extra shifts at the plant to pick up a little extra cash to buy Haley nice clothes and stuff. Then Allison started makin’ noises about marriage. “Bad idea,” I’d said. Damn, I shoulda listened to her.
“Another phonebook adjustment, asswipe?” Muldoon threatened. He was big, mid-forties, with a sixty-inch gut. He had a nasty cigar stub in a corner of his mouth. “Tell us why big bad Billie beat a skinny little chick like Allison to death?
I’d actually smelled trouble first... literally. She came home two hours late from work smelling of a man. Don’t ask what that is, but by God it was, believe me. Said it was from a guy she sat next to on the bus. Shoulda jiggered right then. A clerk in a ladies’ lingerie department, she’d always brought back the odor of panties and stale air.
A few days later, Haley and I walked down to the bus stop to wait for her, but Allison didn’t get off. When we were walking the block back, here she came from the opposite direction. “Got a ride from a co-worker,” she said. Love was such that I never snapped on either deal. Swallowed the line like a hungry rat, because that’s what I wanted to believe.
A couple of other warnings whizzed right by. Then she walked in from work a month later. “Billie, I’m leaving you.”
I guess my expression asked enough questions.
“A guy from work. I think it’s the real thing. I... I’m really very sorry.”
“The real thing? My God, Allison, we’ve filed the papers for me to adopt Haley!” Naturally, I blubbered up like a woosh. “I was just goin’ to pick her up at day care.” Unbelievable, horrible. My world was going down in flames, freefalling like the giant roller coaster at Six Flags Haley loved so much. I was trapped in some sorta goofy horror movie.
“I’ve arranged for Craig to pick her up today. We... me ’n Haley are spending the night at his place. I came by to pick up some clothes.”
Yeah, like the dimwit flatfoot said, I picked up that damned skillet and lit into her. Given three seconds to think it out, it woulda never happened. I’d have walked out. But by that time the only woman I’d ever really loved was dead, her head scattered across the kitchen floor like a busted watermelon.
I pondered taking a run at finding this Craig clown and whackin’ his sorry ass. Instead, I dialed 911 and waited for the cops.
Chained like an animal to a steel table in the cop house, I sat there, ears ringing after several more good ones from the phonebook mope. Allison’s brains and blood were still on the front of my shirt, blending into driblets from my bleeding nose. Great God, what was going to happen to Haley? Allison’s mother lived down in Houston. Maybe she could...?
“Okay, genius, I didn’t do it.” I looked up at Muldoon. “Now, about that lawyer?”
“Billie, you ain’t nearly as damned tough as you think.” Muldoon rolled the cigar stub across his lizard lips and looked up at the woosh behind me. What this jerkoff hadn’t said was that although I was covered with Allison’s blood, they had no real murder case against me without a confession. I tell them why, I’d be telling them what, and I’d be signing up for the three-needle cocktail. Screw that.
Allison was gone, and these toads weren’t gonna get one lousy detail.
“Muldoon, maybe you wanta tell your wife back there to get back to work with that book, ’cuz I said all I’m gonna. Kinda makes me wanna puke that you two big, tough cops ain’t men enough to beat the story outa me. Turn me loose, and I’ll kick both your asses, and you damned well know it. “
Skinny delivered another with the phone book.
“Gettin’ tired, junior? Didn’t mommy tell you wooshes not to hit no girl? Tell me again what you said: ‘Spill it, you lesbian dyke freak’.”
Muldoon smirked and said something, but my ears were ringing so loud I couldn’t understand.
Copyright © 2020 by Gary Clifton