SINNING IN THE RAIN
by GARY CLIFTON
Travel brochures tout Dallas as a warm winter climate. Which is true, sort of. Snowfall and extended bitter cold are rare, but the area occasionally is targeted by what locals call a “blue norther”. Sharp wind out of the northwest, borne on humid, forty degree air, creates a form of freezing hell. On this night, the nasty cold front had been proceeded by a rainstorm with chilly, gusty winds, lightning, downed trees, flooded streets, and major traffic tie ups. Whether the temperature would drop enough to freeze was anyone’s guess and everyone’s concern. Outside the temporary headquarters of the Greater Dallas Narcotics Task Force, nature flexed her muscles, shaking the rafters and doing her damnedest to blow the old warehouse building on Gaston Avenue into the next county.
The motley accumulation of hippy and hobo attired dope cops huddled on battered chairs listening intently to Captain Rosa Morales over the din of the storm. She turned to a wheeled blackboard and drew another line or two on an elaborate diagram on the black surface. A radio on an officer’s desk in the rear was softly rendering “White Christmas”. A few holiday wreaths, colored lights, and holly hung in no particular pattern around the squad room.
“Okay, guys, I know it’s the evening of December 23rd and tomorrow will be Christmas Eve. But I don’t have to repeat the extreme priority of this case. An hour ago, the wiretap snagged the perps bragging about abducting, raping, torturing, and mutilating undercover narcotics detective Sally Randall before discarding her in pieces in a dumpster two days ago. Take down these two tonight and it’s tomorrow off for all of us to spend with our families, attend religious services, get drunk, or whatever the hell you freaks call a holiday.”
Her declaration was followed by scattered chuckles and a desultory smatter of applause.
She tapped the blackboard with her chalk. “There’s only one door, one very small window, and these two…” she pointed to mug photographs of two surly, scowling men taped to the board, “Gomez and Carrasco are the pair we want. We’ve fingered the right guys, now we just have to catch them.”
Detective Danny Dwight slumped in his chair behind Detective Margot LePlatt. “Why not jes’ take the armored truck, ram the wall, and kill the bastards?" Dwight; big, fat, stupid, with the body odor of two dead cats, had harangued Margot for a “date” for weeks. He’d squeezed behind her when the meeting began thirty minutes earlier. “It’s Christmas for Christ’s sake. Then we could smoke all their shit." He laughed like a braying mule. Despite physical shortcomings and recurring questions of planted evidence, Dwight had survived as a narcotics cop for several years. Margot, however, knew him to be as evil as the cartel dopers with whom they did daily battle, who had just butchered her friend, Sally. Equally as disgusting as his smell was the Santa Cap he wore at a jaunty angle.
Morales, slender, fifty, with no nonsense eyes, stared hard at the fat man. “Chief wants them alive, Dwight.”
Dwight guffawed again. “Yeah, to lay in jail at taxpayers’ expense for a year before a greasy lawyer and a dimwitted jury turns ‘um loose.”
Morales ignored the comment and turned back to the board. “LePlatt and Washington will sit on the door. We make no attempt at entry until we know they’re in there. Wiretap says they’re due to cook off another batch tonight, so we know they’ll show up eventually. Swanson, you and Cobacci will cover the rear. Dwight.” She pointed at the fat man. “You’re primary backup at this position." She pointed to the small, side window. Doubt anybody’s gonna climb in or out of that little hole, but keep it under surveillance, Dwight. All five of you know the drill: You confirm they’re in there, no contact until we arrive with backup. These animals are stoned, have nothing to lose, and will kill you. And this weather is a bitch. Merry Christmas." As she looked skyward, a massive clap of winter thunder rattled the windows.
At the rear of the room Detective David Colbacci and Detective Maria Swanson exchanged pleasant, but furtive glances. It seemed everyone in the room except Morales knew they were an item, meeting for regular, red hot, cheap motel trysts in spite of both being married. Colbacci, a former star tight end at the University of Southwest Indiana, was big, handsome, robust, going to slightly pot-bellied. Swanson, who’d demonstrated latent tendencies to exhibitionism all her life, was wearing cut off blue jeans which showed a tad more than the law allowed and a thin tee shirt, braless beneath. Margot wondered how she hid her pistol and badge or kept from freezing to death.
As the group stood around the squad room sorting Kevlar vests and examining shotguns, Dwight lumbered over to Margot, preceded ten feet by his smell. Margot, attired in her regular undercover outfit as a streetwalker, was ravishing in yellow leotards with long, shapely legs and a chest line straining through a knit shirt which many assumed, incorrectly, to be add-ons. “Baby doll, I was wantin’ to share some car time with you tonight. See what comes up. Morales is such a bitch.”
Margot held his gaze for what seemed a full minute. Dwight had never picked up on Margot’s reputation of inducing the most hardened criminal to relax while she appeared to insert herself into their minds. A squad joke was that Margot had obtained confessions from thugs who made up crimes, just to prolong the conversation. A few seconds staring into her bottomless, brooding, dark eyes and they were hers. Dwight had stayed too long.
He wilted like last Halloween’s pumpkin. “Uh, Margot, jes’ wantin’ to make friends with you…and that cute daughter of yours, Shelby. Maybe I could jes’ drop by sometime.”
Margot instantly “saw” his thoughts. He intended sex, voluntary or not, with both her and her eight year old daughter – violent sex. Margot had many, many years’ experience in bending the minds of men with evil thoughts. She’d been a twenty five year old peasant with an eight year old daughter when the Baron had lured them into his vast castle in Romania 387 years earlier. Once bitten, both would retain their current physical condition for eternity. Margot’s enticing eyes had grown steadily more compelling each year since.
Margot had migrated from place to place, teaching in universities, working as both a lawyer’s aide and a lawyer, did a stint as a physician in the Congo, and various other occupations until she found a police officer’s job in New Orleans in the late 1800’s. Her recurring problem was always the same. After five or so years in the same job in the same area, the lack of aging by both she and her daughter drew attention of kibitzers and Margot had to move on and re-invent herself and Shelby.
Margot had seen early on, neither she nor Shelby were a perfect fit for the mold of her kind. For instance, both could tolerate daylight, even bright sunlight with dark glasses, and had no problem sleeping during the night. More perplexing, both could subsist on cooked meat, although a taste for blood and raw flesh was always on the tips of their tongues, literally. Margot had gradually come to the realization that although she had long been able to dominate the thinking of others, particularly men, by basically penetrating, then seizing their brain, little Shelby’s power was far more absolute than hers. Shelby could literally read thoughts over the telephone. She made Mama so proud.
Margot stepped into a hallway alcove and dialed Shelby on her smartphone.
“Hey, sweetheart, sorry, but mama’s going to have pull a very late nighter tonight. We have to catch…”
Shelby had already picked up on Margot’s thoughts. “You’re gonna catch those two badguys who did awful things to Aunt Sally, Mama. It’s okay. I’ve got the door locked and Algora is here with me.”
Shelby was speaking of the family pet, a 125 pound, half Siberian wolf, half German shepherd female. Only Margot knew the truth. To an invader in the LePlatt household, Shelby was twice as formidable as the animal.
With Jennifer Washington driving an old battered undercover Dodge, they set up a surveillance position behind bushes with a full view of the meth lab door. The semi-rural area in south Dallas County was still being buffeted by the cold storm. Margot picked up the car radio mike. “Radio check. LePlatt and Washington in position.”
“Swanson and Cobacci are in place behind the building,” Swanson’s sensual voice replied.
“Big Daddy Dwight’s in position,” Dwight gruffed.
Swanson and Cobacci had driven to the scene in an old F150. Within five minutes of Swanson reporting in on the radio, the windows of their pickup were fully steamed. Close examination would have disclosed Swanson’s scanty jean shorts hanging on the rear view mirror, her T shirt wadded on the floor.
After an hour of watching, a shiny Lexus whizzed up to the front door of the lab. Two squatty men exited, and using the light from a cellular phone, fiddled with the door lock and entered. “Call it in, Margot,” Washington said.
Margot grabbed the mike. “All units, two Hispanic males have entered the premises. Show time folks.”
“Uh, be five minutes,” Colbacci mumbled into his radio from the darkness within a one minute walk away.
“Unit One responding with five cars,” Captain Morales responded. “Seven minutes out.”
Dwight did not answer her call for cover. “Dwight’s asleep on the job again, Jennifer,” she said with disgust.
In the dim light, a man’s head re-appeared in the meth lab doorway. He stepped briefly outside, looked around, then ducked back inside the door.
“They’re gonna book,” Washington said. She eased out the car door, pistol in hand. “Gonna take a closer look.”
“No Jennifer, wait for back up.”
But to Margot’s horror, Washington hurried toward the building. The door burst open and Washington went down in a blaze of shotgun fire. The maggots inside had a security camera and had seen her coming.
“Officer down!” Margot barked into the microphone and piled out into the blowing rain, her full length, yellow rain coat over an arm.
But Margot hadn’t started gaining an edge on dumb men yesterday. She hid her Glock .40 caliber in her rear waist, and assumed the streetwalker’s sway as she walked in full view of the security camera directly to the door, smiling broadly. She walked past Washington’s body, face up on the asphalt, eyes staring at eternity in the blackness above.
The chubby man who had just murdered Washington, instantly disarmed by Margot’s beauty and casual approach, leaned the shotgun against the inside door face and motioned to his partner, still inside.
“Hey, baby, lookie here at them tits on you. C’mon in so we can party, honey." Margo looked closely into his eyes and walked right in. The crashing and screaming inside was only slightly audible over the noise of the storm.
Dwight, finally wakening to the increased radio traffic, arrived at the lab doorway seconds ahead of Colbacci, who was driving the F150. Swanson was desperately donning clothes in the passenger seat. Margot stood outside the door, struggling with the knob.
“It’s locked,” she cried, school girl like.
Dwight, seeing Washington lying dead in the rain, spat: “Damned women cops. Women only good for one thing. Outta the way, bitch." He brushed past Margot.
His big, beefy foot took the door in a single kick just as Colbacci, Morales, and several other officers bailed out. In ten heartbeats, Dwight scrambled back out, shrieking hysterically. “Mother of God, it’s inhuman. Don’t go in there…don’t anybody go in there." He lost it in tears.
Margot knelt and felt Washington’s pulse. The mother of two small boys and married to a Sergeant in the Traffic Division, Washington was dead.
The storm had abated somewhat, but wind and thunder still rattled the Task Force headquarters building. Outside, the sky was graying with a promise of daylight. The chill in the cold, wet air was miserable, but the rain had not frozen. Morales stood down front, facing the bedraggled, stunned room full of tired dope cops.
“Margot, tell us one more time, please.”
Margo stood, wearily. “The dopers arrived, Washington approached the door when she thought they were about to flee and the guy in the photo on the right on the blackboard there gave her two shotgun blasts. I ran to the door and it was locked from the inside. I waited for backup." She didn’t include anything that had transpired between her arrival at the door and the time backup had made the scene, or disclose what had become of her yellow raincoat.
Morales pointed her chin at Colbacci who stammered: “Me ‘n Swanson was in the secondary position. Margot called, we responded and found her distraught at the door. Dwight kicked the door, entered and came out hysterical.”
Morales leaned sideways to peer at Swanson’s blue jean shorts which were on backwards. “Sorta hard to get in a primary position in the cab of that truck, right, Colbacci?"
She pointed at Dwight amidst a room of subdued laughter. Dwight blurted, “Christ, Captain, I went to help, kicked the door, then…oh my God!" He dissolved in tears again.
Morales cleared her throat. “The medical examiners think six or eight men attacked the two dopers with machetes and axes…or maybe a large animal escaped from the zoo. They said it’s the worst carnage they‘d ever seen. Whoever or whatever musta gotten away out that side window just after Dwight kicked the door. You see anything like that, Margot?”
Margo shook her head. “Checking on Washington at the time.”
“Anybody give a damn if two more dopers bought it, please raise a hand,” Colbacci quipped.
Morales sighed. “Well, as Dwight said, no trial and acquittal for those two. Jesus, what a mess. Somebody or something did us a solid.”
Outside in the hallway, Dwight strutted up to Margot. “Hey, baby, I see that blood splatter on your left boob. Get a little too close to something? You might consider being a little nicer to me, missy, or I might have to drop a word on ol’ Captain Morales that you had more play in this game than you admitted.”
Margot locked in on his eyes and he became hers again in seconds. “Danny, you were such a stud out there tonight. Baby, go home, take a shower and drop over to my place. Shelby’s getting ready to leave for school. Come by in say…two hours. We’ll have a special treat. And baby, if you drop a word you’re coming over, it’s all finished between us.”
Dwight shook his head like a dog with a snake. Jotting down the address, he barely avoided drooling as he strutted away. Margot watched after him, disgusted.
Margot’s cellular buzzed. “Hello, Shelby. Sorry I’m late coming home this morning. Can you get yourself ready for the school bus?”
“Sure, Mommy. I’m already dressed.”
Margot could picture Shelby, small, frail, pigtails, heavy dark rimmed glasses, in her plaid school uniform. “Catch the bus. Mama has a quick report to type and I’ll be home in an hour.
Thirty minutes later, Margot was just finishing her report when her cellular buzzed.
“Mama, you gotta come home right now. A bad man broke into the house." Shelby’s voice was uncharacteristically hurried and agitated.
“Calm down, Shelby. What happened?”
“I was sitting inside the front door waiting for the school bus when this fat, ugly man in a Santa cap knocked. He showed me his police badge through the door glass and when I opened it, he pushed in a grabbed me. Mama, he said he was going to have some of my switchy little ass, then some of yours when you got home. When Algora attacked him, he stated screaming that he was Officer Dwight, but then Algora tore off his man parts.”
“My God, baby, mama will be home in twenty minutes." Dwight, once obtaining Margot’s house number had gone directly there with malice in mind. Somehow the thought had occurred to him after he’d walked out of Margot’s control zone.
“Mama, he’s still alive. I dragged him down to the basement and locked him in the cage. Mama, it’s Christmas. Do you suppose he could stay for Christmas Mass Dinner?”
Margot recognized Dwight’s voice as screams from the basement wafted in over the phone. “Well, darling, that would be a very appropriate celebration of the Sacred Mass. Can you please stick some garlic and a handful of those rotten earthworms in the crockpot? And rinse out the blood bucket?”
“Oh Mommy, you’re the best in the world. Can we have ice cream afterwards? I already checked. The knives are all sharp and the chains okay. And I hooked up the pressure steam system so we can scald some of the smell and hair off him. We don’t want to get food poisoning or…gas like the last one. Yuck!”
Margot laughed. “Outstanding. Mama’s on the way home, baby.”
“Mama, can you drop me off at school with a note for being late? We can say the dog got sick. Today is Last Supper Pageant and I don’t want to miss it.”
“And Mama, I’m glad you took care of those two bad men who hurt Aunt Sally." Shelby was in her mind again. What a perfect child.
Gary Clifton, forty years a cop, has over sixty short fiction pieces published or pending with online sites including Bewildering Stories, Flashes in the Dark, Spinetingler, and Black Heart Mag. He's been shot at, shot, stabbed, sued and is currently retired to a dusty north Texas ranch. Clifton has an MS from Abilene Christian University. Gary’s stories have previously appeared four times in HelloHorror. Blood Passion appears in the January 2013 issue, Measure Once, Cut Twice appears in the April 2013 issue, Mother’s Nature appears in the August 2013 issue, and Mind's Eye appears in the October 2013 issue. Each of Gary’s stories appearing thus far have been part of the Margot LePlatt series.
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