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Clean Sweep

by Gary Clifton

The call came into the Dallas Alarm Office as a home invasion murder. Homicide sent veteran Detectives Margaret “Maggs” Williams and Davis McCoy.

The street was glutted with emergency vehicles. A uniformed sergeant met them at the door. “Bruce and Sandra Wilcox are in the den. All beat to hell but refused an ambulance. Their son, Kevin, 18, is dead in an upstairs bedroom, single gunshot to the chest. They say two guys pushed in, duct-taped them, smacked them around. When Kevin came home, the two forced him upstairs and capped his ass.”

McCoy asked, “Who would want to do this?” Both parents’ faces were bruised with minor cuts.

“Dunno,” Bruce Wilcox sobbed. “Kevin was a good kid with no enemies.” A slender man of fifty, he repeatedly stroked a scraggly handlebar mustache. “Two guys broke in, tied and beat hell outta us, then murdered my boy.”

“You recognize either?” McCoy asked.

“Naw, they were wearing Goofy Halloween masks.”

“Describe them,” Maggs said.

“Dark clothes, one wearing pink tennis shoes,” Sandra blurted. She was slender with frizzy, bleached-blonde hair.

Upstairs, when they examined the deceased, Maggs remarked, “Meth face. Kid’s been using.”

McCoy found a stash of meth and a small baggie of what he recognized as cocaine taped to the bottom of a dresser drawer.

Maggs nodded knowingly.

While Maggs was driving them away, McCoy called Homicide Detective Red Harper, the toughest guy in Dallas. McCoy asked Harper to see what he could find on Kevin Wilcox.

McCoy and Maggs were enjoying health food when Harper called. “Betcha Mom and Pop didn’t tell you that little toad Kevin got busted four months ago for sale and delivery to an undercover Dallas narcotics officer. Did two months in rehab. Been out two months.”

“Fits,” McCoy remarked.

“Somethin’ else, McCoy. Computer shows a nosy neighbor called in a suspicious vehicle a couple of days ago. Red Corvette parked two doors down from your murder scene. Licensed to Elmo Gentry, who just happens to be a counselor at Kevin’s rehab center.”

Maggs and McCoy drove to the rehab facility. Elmo had gone home early. Following a brief argument in which McCoy threatened to kick somebody ass over teacup, the clinic manager upped Elmo’s address. His apartment was a mile away.

When they rolled into the complex, a red Corvette was blocked by vehicles with flashing lights. Another uniformed sergeant told them: “Male, Freddie Balero, age 19, two arrests for possession, one for sale and delivery to an undercover Dallas cop. Got off with rehab. Damn sure rehabbed now. Took two in the back of his head.”

“Pink tennis shoes?” McCoy asked.

The sergeant nodded.

“Witnesses?” Maggs asked.

“Neighbor drove by. A moustached man and a woman with frowzy bleached-blonde hair standing beside a blue Honda. Didn’t see ’em leave.”

“Pink Shoes live here?” Maggs asked.

“Naw, his ID gives an address out in the ’burbs. This condo’s owned by Elmo Gentry, male, age 35.”

“Elmo around?” McCoy gestured to the red Corvette.

“No, we’ll wait on him.”

McCoy said, “Sarge, I don’t think that’s gonna be necessary.”

A brief search turned up two Goofy masks in a kitchen drawer. McCoy smiled at Maggs and called the rehab clinic director. He listened and hung up. “Code three to the Wilcox place, Maggs; I believe we’ve just struck gold.”

The Wilcox place had been cleared of the crime scene and appeared peaceful. The backyard was surrounded by a vine-covered fence. Maggs walked down the side.

She came back on the run. “Boost me over the fence. Wilcox and his wife are digging in the backyard. A body is on the ground.”

Once over the fence, Maggs tripped the gate switch. She and McCoy circled to the rear. A blue Honda, trunk lid up, was parked near where the Wilcox couple were digging furiously.

“Folks, we feel your pain,” McCoy said.

Bruce Wilcox whirled, brandishing his shovel. His wife dropped to her knees. Maggs pulled her Glock.

“How...?” Bruce gasped.

McCoy smiled. “We were drivin’ by and heard the sound of grave-digging.”

“This bastard murdered my son.” Wilcox gestured to the body on the ground. He looked at Magg’s pistol and dropped the shovel.

Maggs said, “And the revolver in your hip pocket. I bet ballistics matches that gun to the slug they pull out of Pink Shoes Balero now lying dead on Elmo Gentry’s floor.”

The perspiring man tossed his pistol aside and slumped to the ground. “How did you figure—?”

McCoy said, “You forgot to tell us your son had been busted for sale to an undercover cop. In rehab, he bunked with the kid in pink shoes. Y’all visited the rehab center. You recognized the bunk mate and that dope-dealing counselor, Elmo, when they forced their way into your house.”

“I, uh, didn’t—”

“Save it. Kevin owed Elmo and the kid in pink shoes for product. They killed him when he didn’t pay, and you retaliated. You capped Pink Shoes in Elmo’s apartment, probably encountered Elmo while you were fleeing the scene and forced him into the trunk of your car. Elmo needed killin’ but, sir, we’re supposed to take care of that chore, not you.”

Maggs leaned over the body. “Ol’ Elmo was too big to carry, dead. You marched him here to ground zero and brained him with shovels. Gunshot would draw attention. Good thinkin’. However, your DNA will be all over Elmo’s condo and Elmo’s will be in your car trunk.”

Maggs pulled out her handcuffs., “You’re under arrest for murder, sir.”

Bruce dissolved in tears. “My wife is innocent.”

McCoy grinned. “Of what? Looked like she was doin’ her damnedest to help plant him. Betcha Elmo’s brains are on her shovel.”

Sandra dissolved in tears.

Maggs whispered in McCoy’s ear. “Damn shame they didn’t ditch the pistol and bury this maggot where we couldn’t find him.”

McCoy nodded. “Couldn’t agree with you more.”

Copyright © 2020 by Gary Clifton

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