Flash Fiction: Cosmo in the Mourning by Gary Clifton

Special Agent Cosmo Pierre LeBleu sat in the center of the Houston DEA squad-room surrounded by undercover types.  Cosmo was pudgy, balding, with thick glasses. He looked as out of place as Al Capone in church.

Group Supervisor Waylon Kitchings, tall, African American, with cold street eyes, called attention.  “Her Highness, the Judge, says no warrant on a single buy.  We gotta set on the place one more night…and make another buy if possible.”

“My ass,” Special Agent David Griffith growled from the rear.  “Let’s shoot this bunch of gangbangers and snort the shit ourselves.”  He plopped both lizard boots on his desk.  “We been on these suckers three weeks.”  Taped to a wall behind him was a Texas Tech banner and a Red Raider poster.

“Since you volunteered, Griff, tonight’s crew will be you, Rosetti and uh…Cosmo over there.  Cosmo, if you can approach, try for one more buy.  Heavy storm blowing in from the Gulf tonight, guys.  Be careful.” Kitchings stepped into his office.

Rosetti, wearing a mini-skirt somewhere between very short and grounds for arrest, swayed over to Griffith’s desk. “Nice work, all mouth.”

“Christ, Rosetti, that mope, Cosmo, couldn’t buy dope from a blind piano tuner. He’s a lawyer for God’s sake. How did he get that fat ass through the academy?”

“Boy, what a redneck. That dude is a poor little rich boy whose mama made him go to law school…a hobby cop. He’s definitely an odd-wad, but no bigger jerkoff than several others around here,” she gestured across the squad-room.

“We gotta eat before an all nighter,”  Griffith said.  “Wanna grab a burger, Cosmo?”

“Naw thanks,” Cosmo studied his feet. “Restricted diet.”

At 10:00 P.M., Cosmo sat in a blinding rainstorm in the Yellow Cab undercover vehicle with a full view of the front door of a warehouse building.  There was no other entrance.

Griffith and Rosetti were locked in a passionate embrace in an old pickup behind shrubs on the opposite side of the building. The mini-skirt hung on the rear view mirror. Lightning revealed windows fully steamed.

“Two guys entering the front door,” Cosmo’s voice on the radio crash-dived their mood.

Griffith fumbled for the microphone.  “Okay, Crossbow..er, Cosmo. We’ll be over in a minute.”

“They gotta door-key,” Cosmo crashed the party again.

“Hold your position, we’re coming.”

“Me too, baby,” Rosetti purred.

“God, Spinelli, I think I love you,” Griffith blurted.

“Spinelli!  Good God!  Rosie Spinelli is a skank.  You’re screwing her too, you three timing jerk. I oughta tell your wife.”  Rosetti grabbed a handful of clothes and was out the door into the storm in the same outfit she’d worn at birth.

“You guys on the way?” Cosmo crackled on the radio.

“Keep on keepin’ on, Dude,” Griffith grappled for clothes. “Do what you gotta do and we’ll be there in a minute.”

Seventeen minutes later, Griffith pulled the pickup beside Cosmo’s yellow cab. Rain continued in angry sheets.  Rosetti, recaptured in the maelstrom, sat in wet, bedraggled, mostly re-dressed, silence besideGriffith.

“They won’t answer the door?” Griffithcracked the pickup window slightly to shout.  “We’ll settle this crap.” Griffithbailed out, stumbled through the rain and ducked under the small overhead entry roof.  He banged on the door, then gave a push. It opened.Griffithdrew his pistol and stepped inside.  In two seconds he scrambled out, fled to the pickup and bounced in beside Rosetti, his face frozen in horror.

At dawn, they clustered back up in the DEA squad-room. Lightning flashing at the windows rattled the walls. Kitchings, obviously freshly awakened, eyed the trio with his hard eyes.  Cosmo had donned dark glasses. Kitchings spotted Rosetti’s mini-skirt, wrong side out, then staredGriffithdown.  “You gonna by God tell me when you walked in those turds were all butchered like that.  Houston P.D. Homicide is out there now. Both doper’s hacked into pieces…like with a machete…or Christ, they’re hinting around about a vampire at work.  What the hell?”

“Uh…boss, Cosmo was on the door.  Me ‘n Rosetti were in the secondary position.  We didn’t see…”

“Sure you don’t mean the missionary position?” Kitchings craned his neck at Rosetti’s skirt and her disheveled condition.  He turned to Cosmo. “What the hell did you see?”

“Uh…two guys went in…but never would answer the door, sir.”

Cosmo was reprieved when Kitchings’s cellular rang. Kitchings answered, turned aside, and talked intently for over a minute. Griffith’s gaze drifted to Cosmo’s sneakers, stained dark by rain…and an odd crimson smear. Cosmo fiddled with his fingers nervously. He didn’t noticeGriffithlooking at him.

Kitchings clicked his phone off. “Houston P.D. lifted an odd ball third party DNA sample from the crime scene. No fingerprints, but they it think tracks to a nation-wide serial killer. Guy has eliminated…uh, murdered I guess… thirty-eight major dope dealers over the past three years.  Cosmo, you sure there wasn’t another…”

“No sir,” Cosmo continued studying his hands.

“Musta been inside when these two mopes walked in.  Trying to match DNA to a series of crimes with no suspect in databases is a bitch. We might never catch this guy,” Kitchings said quietly.

“Who the hell wants to?”Griffithsaid.

Rosetti, hair in wet tangles, tugged her inside-out skirt slightly downward. “Anybody gives a crap about not having to sit out there another night, raise their hand.”

Griffith thought Cosmo was staring at Rosetti through his dark glasses with a slight, odd smile. Griffithnoted it was the first time he had ever noticed Cosmo appear to look up at another human – if that was what he was doing behind the glasses. Rosetti, who enjoyed showing a lot of flesh, paid no attention.  Cosmo shifted his sneakers so the reddish stain was covered.

Rosetti looked over at Griffith, her eyes narrow slits of deadly venom.  “Texas Tech Sucks,” she whispered hoarsely. Cosmo’s smile increased slightly. He continued  the nervous finger massage.


Gary Clifton: Federal Officer for forty years (ATF/FBI) with additional contract investigations for a couple of initials only agencies.  M.S. in Psychology, Abilene Christian University. In 1984, while on Secret Service detail, Washington, D.C., I spent many deep night shifts typing a war story which was later published in National paperback by Paperjacks of New York and Toronto as Burn Sugar Burn (their title, not mine).  Have never really pursued writing in the years since.


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R Thomas Brown

R. Thomas Brown is the Flash Fiction Editor at Spinetingler and writes the Short Thoughts on Short Fiction series. His writing appears around the web and links can be found at his website. "Hill Country" will be coming out in 2012 from Snubnose Press. When not writing or reading, he is a clueless husband and father of three inspiring and exhausting children.

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