Prose Header

Another New Guy

by Gary Clifton

Part 1 appears
in this issue.


In minutes, Dennis was a passenger in Long’s Ford, hurtling down Commerce Street at warp speed. That the traffic was very congested quickly became some of that never no mind, because Long swerved up on the crowded sidewalk, blew the siren, and drove several blocks, scattering pedestrians. Man, Dennis had to pee again.

They roared out R.L. Thornton Freeway, often on the shoulder, twice on the grass and several times only God knew where, because Dennis was cowered on the floor, eyes clamped shut.

Long screeched to a halt in front of a run-down juse in a shabby neighborhood, marked by refrigerators on the front porch and motorcycles or flat-tired trucks parked in the yards.

“Okay, Perot, this mope murdered his mother-in-law and a vacuum-cleaner salesman from Amarillo with a machinegun. Ate both of ’em with fried rice and a side salad. Man, that’s disgusting. How can anybody eat salad?” He no-salad scowled at Dennis. “I’ll kick in the front door and grab this turkey. You go to the back. If he comes running out, just shoot his ass.”

“But Mr. Gulliver said—”

Long was on the front porch in four steps, the Thompson held in front of him, kicking down the door. Dennis, constricted by bladder pressure, hurried to the rear, trying not to vomit or wet his pants. Did that old guy in the robe say anything about this scenario?

As he stepped into the back yard, a pit bull, the size of a rhinoceros and obviously more pissed, capable of eating any creature dead or alive under 250 pounds, charged him. Dennis clawed for the Colt, praying he could find the loaded one.

Divine fortune intervened. The beast’s chain stopped him four inches short of Dennis’s crotch. The animal’s breath was worse than the stagnant coffee Dennis had consumed. Blessed relief flooded Dennis. He heard heavenly music which staved off the urge to faint.

Just as Dennis was foolishly thinking he’d maxed out on the astonishment meter, a Frankenstein’s monster in a leather outlaw biker’s vest smashed through the rear door. That’s right: smashed. None of that knocking the damned door off its hinges business. The door flew across the backyard in many small pieces.

Frankenstein tripped as he tried the three back-porch steps and fell squarely on the dog, nearly crushing the beast. But nearly isn’t fatal. The dog shrieked in pain, surprise, and a lifetime of short-chain frustration syndrome.

Frankenstein bounded up like a Christmas pop-up toy and was climbing the rear six foot chain-link fence quicker than a cat could go up a willow tree.

The dog, disappointed at not being able to tear Dennis to shreds, turned his attention to the fleeing man. He bounded up the fence and at the limit of his chain, took a giant bite out of the seat of the man’s blue jeans, which included a large chunk of Frankenstein’s ass. The man fell to the ground, writhing in agony, bleeding like a broken faucet.

Long came out the back door, Thompson in one hand, a pearl-handled, chrome-plated revolver in the other.

“Damn good work, Puckett,” Long complimented as the dog turned on him, ready to hand out a little more agony.

Dennis was mesmerized when, in graphic slow motion born of terror, the dog lunged at Long. Casually stuffing the chrome pistol in his belt, Long fired an ear-splitting burst with the Thompson point-blank into the dog’s face. He missed.

The pit bull, common sense overcoming valor, hid under the porch.

Long stepped across the yard and stood over Frankenstein, now screaming in pain on the ground. “You want some, too, tough guy?” He waved the Thompson.

“What the hell I did?” the man groaned.

“John Sunshine,” Long said, doing a Dirty Harry imitation, “you’re under arrest for violation of Title Eighteen, Section... something or the other... Aw hell, for eatin’ your relatives while in possession of a machinegun.”

“Good grief, I ain’t John Sunshine,” the man managed. “He lives here, man, but I’m just the a/c repair guy. He left a half-hour ago. Oooohhh hell, I’m bit in the ass.” He fainted.

“Wonder why he ran if he ain’t John Sunshine?” Long looked down.

“Maybe because you were chasing him with a machinegun?” Dennis ventured.

Desperation seized Dennis again. He had to choose between an exploding bladder or peeing in the yard. He chose the latter, undaunted when a fat lady next door holding a poodle with pink toenails walked past to see the commotion. Apparently, public urination was common in the area. The lady paid zero attention to Dennis.

Police began arriving in lots of five. Gulliver arrived at the scene and looked around. “You shoot anybody, Paulson?”

“No, sir,” Dennis’s eyes were as wide as silver dollars as he fought off early stages of anaphylactic shock.

“Well, snap to, kid. Long will drop you off at the undercover surveillance as soon as they finish here. Sure you didn’t shoot anybody?”

Dennis, speechless, shook his head like a dog with a rat. Gulliver left.

Dennis slumped on the rear steps, flaccid from adrenaline drain, certain the two cups of stale coffee would eventually be fatal.

The pit-bull crawled from under the porch and whined pitifully at his feet. “Yeah, dude, me too,” Dennis sighed. “You might oughta get back under there.”

The Dallas Police Department took statements, and photographed and stood around swapping war stories with the feds in the heat. At some point, somebody remembered to call an ambulance for the dog-bitten man. Dennis would later learn he had not bled to death.

Long ordered Dennis into the Ford and, seconds after blastoff, they were hurtling through and around traffic.

Long brought ’er in for a landing in the alley behind South St. Paul on the edge of the caverns of downtown Dallas. Gulliver was there with several other agents, including two or three who looked as if they might have spent the early part of the day in a dumpster.

Long’s regular partner, Caroline Ortega, darkly beautiful and chesty, seemed incapable of frowning. Dennis would spend the next several hours struggling not to gawk at her bust line.

Gulliver and the others quickly inserted Dennis into a giant yellow rabbit’s costume that was several sizes too large. He topped it with the head-piece, adorned with lovely white rabbit ears. Dennis had pulled on the costume over his suit coat, with the two Colts stuffed in his waistband with Roy and Trigger.

Gulliver topped off the disguise by handing Dennis a can bearing the words “Help the Homeless.”

“Okay, Purcell, we’re behind an orthopedic shoe store. Walk ’round front, wave your can, and when this guy—” Gulliver flashed a photograph— “walks up, grab him. He’s a witness in a bombing a couple nights ago. He works in the store, but we can’t drag him outta there. It’s a handicapped zone.” He guffawed. “Means we got no place to hide. Name is Billy Ben Clamdoodle. And Purcell, he’s easy to spot. Left ear is twice as large as his right, and he has a wooden foot.”

“Sir, the name’s Proctor,” Dennis said.

“Well, hell no, it’s Clamdoodle. When you catch him, we’ll run out and help.” Gulliver stepped back into the shade after ushering Dennis forward into the blazing August sun.

In fifteen minutes, Dennis, dressed in layers, was totally soaked in sweat. The moisture doubled, then quadrupled the weight of the rabbit suit. The Colts in his waistband began to chafe. He’d moved Roy and Trigger to the rear and the leather slid down inside his underwear.

Then, plain as Fort Worth, the suspect rounded a corner and limped right past Dennis, left ear flapping in the hot wind. “Freddie Ben Whistlebuff, hold it right there,” Dennis commanded.

The odd eared man gave Dennis an up and down. “Hey, we on candid camera?” he asked.

“Federal Officer,” Dennis honed his pitch. “You’re under... arrest? Well, maybe you’re just under witness?”

“Arrrgggh,” the man screamed. At that, he was northbound on St. Paul at a running side-straddle hop. A wooden foot can do that.

Dennis, burdened with too many rusty guns, Ol’ Roy, and a wet rabbit suit, followed. The chase neared Main Street. He wondered how, if all the moisture in his clothing had come from his body, he could possible weigh four hundred pounds.

“Stop, dadgummit.” Dennis didn’t sound too convincing. “Or I’ll shoot.” Roy and Trigger slid further down into his shorts.

Billy Ben ran east down the center of Main Street in clogged traffic. “Helllp, a damned giant killer rabbit is after me,” he shrieked.

Dennis thereupon learned another way to make pedestrians scatter was to chase a wooden-footed guy with one ear twice as large as the other down a congested four-lane street while wearing a soaking wet yellow rabbit suit.

From a corner of his eye, Dennis saw Gulliver, Ortega and others bringing up a distant rear.

Billy Ben, still in the center lane of Main, ran past a uniformed cop directing traffic at Ervay. The cop watched Billy Ben lumber by, then yanked his Taser and zapped Dennis as he passed. Gulliver, Kobock, and Ortega came puffing up. Dennis lay across a manhole cover, groaning and twitching spasmodically.

“Hellfire, Pruett, you let him get away,” Gulliver said.

A passing BMW nearly decapitated Dennis, still on the ground.

“Well, folks,” Gulliver continued, “Parker’s failure to perform his duty means we gotta do the apartment surveillance tonight.”

Long whizzed up the sidewalk in his Ford and the entire party drove to Adair’s Bar for a quick cold one. Dennis, a life long non-drinker, had three, wondering if anyone in Dallas ever ate lunch.

Gulliver stood near the front door, visiting with a shapely blonde. Then, both were gone.

As darkness settled, Long, Ortega, Dennis and several others reassembled in a vacant lot a block south of Gaston Avenue. Kobock instructed Dennis to continue wearing his rabbit suit, which had assumed the smell of the city landfill.

“Billie Ben Clamdoodle lives in the upper corner apartment, Paulson,” Kobock pointed. “May need some close up undercover in that suit.” He’d apparently forgotten Dennis had spent the afternoon, chasing the mis-eared man in the same disguise.

In the fading light, Dennis noticed Gulliver parked fifty feet away, locked in a passionate embrace with the blonde from Adair’s. He squinted to see better.

“Snitch,” Long said calmly.

“Heck, he just met her.”

“Gulliver’s probably gonna pump her for information.”

“I read about snitches in a police magazine.” Dennis said. “When they become reliable sources, their information can be used for probable cause.”

“Maybe,” Long said. “Since he only met her an hour ago, he’ll concern himself with that probable cause stuff when he learns her name and finds out if she’s on parole or married, or a snitch for Internal Affairs, or wears falsies.”

Kobock leaned closer. “As you may or may not know, this hump, Clamdoodle was a witness two nights ago. Perpetrator blew up the Mayor’s gazebo.”

Dennis wondered what a gazebo might be, but certainly was not going to ask. It sounded suspiciously like an intimate private part.

Long opened his trunk. Dennis, expecting a spray of automatic weapons fire, ducked behind another car. Long pulled the top off a large cooler of iced beer. “Am I the only one thinks this new guy is nuts?” he asked.

Several hours passed, but the sultry heat did not. Members of the surveillance team struggled with a round of yawns, then another. At 2:00 a.m., the beer ran out.

“Oh well, we’ll continue this surveillance tomorrow,” Gulliver said.

In thirty seconds the entire crew was driving away, Dennis hidden beneath the dash of Long’s Ford. Long dropped Dennis at his motel.

“Out front at seven in the morning, Potter?”

“It’s Proc...” But the green Ford was already in launch mode, smoking tires screeching across the asphalt.

Dennis bought a sack of vending machine chips, ripped open the package and devoured the contents. Then he realized he’d eaten part of the sack.

His abdomen was pistol-tote raw. The leather holster had scraped his backside painfully. He’d consumed only a Milky Way, two quarts of coffee, seven beers, some chips and a cellophane sack in 24 hours.

As he stumbled into his room, the telephone rang. It was Uncle Billy. “How’d she go the first day?”

“Saint Genevieve’s underwear,” Dennis gasped, “have I only been here one day?”

Copyright © 2016 by Gary Clifton

Proceed to Challenge 663...

Home Page