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The Dead Bin

by Gary Clifton

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Chapter 36: Discovery

Crimes are usually solved by accident, some toad’s mistake, or blind luck. Once in a great while, actual evidence figures in.

Harper and I found Main Street Pawn open for business at 10:00 a.m. The pawnbroker, a surly man with a handlebar moustache, was wearing a jeweler’s glass over his right eye. He examined the claim ticket I’d cabbaged from Stick’s Cadillac at the Auto Pound. Outside, thunder sounded again; a rare Dallas August rain was re-booting.

“Isaac Terrell... Yeah, this ticket is valid, and I remember it well. He’s Stick the pimp. Brought in a damaged ring for repair couple days ago. He’s a regular customer. Comes in to buy and sell jewelry every week or so. Likes gold.”

“Is this the only piece he has in here right now?” I asked.

“Think so... Lemme check,” he pulled a heavy, bound book from beneath the counter. “Yeah, right now, only this ring. Suppose y’all wanna see it?”

We both nodded, and he walked over to a massive safe, twirled the knob, walked back, and tossed a small, brown envelope on the glass-topped counter.

The diamond ring clinked on the countertop. The stone was askew but still intact. Only three bent but intact ring stands held the diamond in place.

“That’s a real stone, by the way,” the man said tapped the countertop. “No zircon there.”

I studied the ring through a small magnifying glass lying on the counter. Stick had been fatally careless. A speck of tissue remained wedged beneath one of the stands. The ring had not even been washed. “When you do a repair like this, is it customary you clean it for the customer?” I looked up.

“Yeah, sure. Susie homemaker drops her wedding ring in the garbage, we do the complete job. That way, we can charge more.” His greedy smile, displaying yellow teeth would have been a good advertisement for dental care.

“Stick does other business with you, you say?” I asked. “Got a record?”

He turned the book around. The bent ring was the only item he’d left with the shop.

“He buy or pawn anything besides jewelry?” I asked as an afterthought.

This guy wasn’t going to tell us anything we didn’t ask.

“Uh... the .25 automatic, I guess.” He studied the countertop.

“Go ahead,” Harper said soberly. “Holding out on us is bad business for a guy like you. We’re lookin’ at multiple homicides.”

“Stick?” the man said. “I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.” His hands trembled as he handled the paperwork.

“We just need the information,” I said. He didn’t need any more knowledge of our business.

The pawn guy tossed his Federal firearms ledger on the counter beside a box piled with the yellow Federal forms gun buyers must sign.

“Stick bought a .25 a year or so ago. Had it here in pawn last month. Redeemed it two weeks ago.” He ran a finger down the pages. He then dug through a box of the yellow forms and tossed out two, reflecting the original purchase plus the redemption from pawn two weeks later. My notes verified the serial number matched the gun we’d taken off him last week.

Harper growled, “Dude, you’re selling a firearm to a convicted felon. That’s Federal trouble.”

“He said on the yellow form he had never been convicted of a felony.”

“We’ll let the judge know of your innocence,” Harper said sarcastically.

“I’ll give you a receipt for the ring and these two forms,” I said, gathering up all three.

“Them yellow forms is government property. And the ring, I’m liable for that.” His greedy eyes were showing alarm.

“The ring is not lost,” I said. “And the yellow forms, I’ll make a call to ATF. They won’t mind. They’ll be glad to find two Federal felonies.”

The man accepted the receipt like it was a wet diaper. I could feel the poison of his hate-stare as we walked out.

Proceed to Chapter 37...

Copyright © 2017 by Gary Clifton

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