Flash Fiction: Unrestricted Diet by Gary Clifton

“Body parts all over the dammed place, McCoy,” the Homicide Captain tossed me the folder.  He was dead-on.  She’d been thirtyish, attractive and hung around a neighborhood bar, Juggies.

Red Harper chewed his nasty cigar and surveyed the scene, a beautiful day in an immaculately manicured city park, now strewn with bits, pieces, and strings of flesh which we assumed were human only because a severed blonde head was posed on a park-bench.

“This hadda take hours and a buncha knives,” the M.E. said.  A laconic Hannibal Lector clone, he was immune to the suffering of others.  “This is re-assembly, not autopsy…and I’m bettin’ we don’t have all the parts.”

Street talk quickly told us a “narcotics officer” had been hanging around the area, including Juggies .  A suspicious Shell Service Station guy had jotted down his license.  “Silver badge and a piece under his jacket,” the kid said.

On a morgue gurney, the victim grew from a carnage-heap to the outline of a human although a few parts remained in the original stack.   “Ovaries and part of the liver missing,” the M.E. said flatly.  “That’s never worth a crap.  We’ve had some identicals lately.”

“Animals?” I asked.  Harper and I had caught a couple of the mutilation murders the M.E. had mentioned.  Clues were elusive.

“Yeah, two legged ones with a knife.”

A case like this would eat at my ass like a sack of mosquitoes, not withstanding the Captain, the press, and the public piling on.   We needed to bag this perverted toad  quick.

The “Narc’s” old Mustang had come through one of those dollar down, pay forever used car lots strung along Gaston Avenue.  The dealer, a greasy guy with aNew Jerseyaccent actually wanted to play hardball.  “Don’t give up no records wit’ out no warrant.”  He’d been watching T.V. cop stories.

Harper served a warrant all right – upside the genius’s head.  The New Jersey Flash landed in a corner, eye-blinking stunned.   He upped the records without another word.

Narcotics guy’s car was purchased by Marlon York, age 31.  I used my cell.  “Gotta sheet for indecent exposure and aggravated sexual assault…and he’s sure as hell no cop,” I said to Harper, who was driving.

Harper studied the traffic soberly.  “Already know him…father’s a captain in the Traffic Division.  Friend o’ mine.  Kid ain’t worth a pinch o’ dog-shit.”
So we cranked up the find-a-dirtbag-meter and by dark located Marlon York’s shabby apartment near downtown Dallas.  I talked Harper out of kicking the door after nobody answered.  We sat, and aroundmidnight Marlon morphed out of the darkness.  Of course when we approached, he ran like hell – all over downtown.  Harper and I got separated.

I cornered Marlon in a blind alley off Main.  Pudgy and greasy in a dirty t-shirt, he cowered behind a dumpster.  He pointed the chrome plated pistol in my direction, his hand visibly quivering in the limited corner streetlight.

“You pick her up at Juggies, Marlon?”

“Eat shit, pig.  You know who my old man is?”

“Yes, Marlon, and after I blow off your Goddamned head, I’ll explain to daddy.”

“Lemme go…ain’t did shit,” I half expected him to try to run past me in the alley.  That wasn’t going to happen.

“What happened to her ovaries, Marlon?”

“Oh my God,” he dissolved in tears…”you got no idea of the pain…the urges…the guilt.”

“I feel your pain, Marlon…ovaries, we were on ovaries.” I wondered if I could hit him with the Glock in the dim light.

“Ate ’em,” his hysteria was at the break for freedom stage.  “Oh God help me.”

I knew instantly Marlon was good for the previous, identical cases. “You’re probably beatin’ a dead horse there, Marlon.  Heard down at the corner God don’t much like you.”  I thought he might seek help closer to earth.  Speaking of closer, where the hell was Harper?

“You used the badge to get her into your car.  We’re gonna find the knives in your apartment, right?”

“You gonna die too, smart guy,” he hissed.  He pointed his pistol in my direction as a gunshot roared behind me.  Marlon’s head exploded like a burst cantaloupe.  I ducked and whirled.  The dim light twinkled off the badge on the shooter’s chest.

“Were you gonna let him talk you to death?” Captain York stepped forward, tears visible even in the darkness.

“How did you…?”  I leveled my Glock in the center of his face.  Cop or no, if it was between him and me macho style, I’d already worked up a conclusion.

“Harper called me,” he lowered his pistol.  “Said you were going to sit on his apartment.  I followed your chase.  My only son…an unspeakable monster.”  He knelt over Marlon’s body in tears.

“Damn, Captain…I’m not sure what to say.” I stammered.

“I coulda shot you in the back of the head…let my boy go,” his voice was unsteady.

He was right, but the world had kicked his ass.  He wasn’t about to shoot a cop in the back.  “Yep,” I said.

Then, rather casually, he stuffed his pistol in his mouth and pulled the trigger, the red spew spreading like a fourth of July sky-rocket in the poor light.  The sound of sirens wafted in on the sticky, evening air.

Harper strolled up, lighting a fresh cigar.  “That ain’t exactly the way I had it figured when I called the Captain, partner,” he exhaled toxic cigar poison and pointed his chin at the mini-pile of cadavers.  “Sorta figured the Captain would help us talk sense to the kid, not ramp up a murder-suicide.”

“Another needless act of pointless barbarism solved, Harper,” I said, holstering my piece.  “I’m afraid it wasn’t Marlon’s only one.  He mighta copped to a couple others.”

“Chasing scumbags makes me thirsty,” he rolled the cigar across his mouth.  “You buyin’ the first round?”

“We gotta help squeegee up this damned mess first,”  I gestured at the carnage.  “Then I’ll buy two rounds.”

###

Gary Clifton was forty years a federal officer (ATF/FBI).  In 1987 published a novel, Burn Sugar Burn (publisher’s title) in national paperback.  In 1987, published three short fiction pieces via Writer’s type.  Short fiction pieces in Fedruary editions of Spinetingler and The Broadkill Review, with other pieces pending by online magazines. Clifton has an M.S. from Abilene Christian University.

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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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About 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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