Here at The Flash Fiction Offensive, we often present stories from the criminal POV. Tom and I have a fascination with the lifestyle, and frankly crooks tend to tell a better story. But it makes you forget sometimes just how rough the honest, hard-working cops have it. So today, here to tell their side of story, we give you...

Mentallys by Gary Clifton

Stench matched the carnage. She appeared young, and was tied to a bed, burned beyond description.

"Electrical wire." The M.E. bent close. "Christ...something...a yellow telephone stuffed in her vagina. Autopsy's gonna be a bastard."

"A mentally," Harper spat in cop-speak, "Another goddamned lunatic."

Her name was...had been Marirose Carter. We found her mom just across the Oklahoma border. Her grief matched the neglected, weed-infested farm. "Marirose was doin' good," she sobbed. "Big insurance company job. Sent me a money order ever' month." She said Marirose's daddy, Rodney J. Carter, had been a no-show for years. "Living up roun' Kansas City somewhere.” We didn't tell her about the method of death...where we'd found the telephone. Turned out, there was an ass-load she didn't tell us, either.

A half-day on the street showed Marirose was a hooker who'd worked on Gaston Avenue. She'd never seen the inside of an insurance company. "I wondered why a honcho sent money orders," Harper said as he gnawed his cigar.

Marirose hung around a lesbian club on Mckinney, Doubles. "Yeah, McCoy, she came in," bar owner Billie Meade, the toughest chick in Dallas, said, in-between exhaling menthol smoke. "Country sexy and a fine lookin' bitch, but I never got none of her. She chipped around with some of the ladies here a little, but she had some old fuck, fat, rich, gray, drove a red pickup.

"Rich?" Harper chomped his unlit cigar. "Who is he?"

"Didn't come in...picked her up out front."

A lab tech's telephone call handed out the first nail for a murdering monster's coffin. "McCoy, letter we found at the fire scene...partially readable, from the psychiatric hospital in Longview. Lotta gory, sick-assed detail. 'Can't wait to have your naked body like I done when you was my little precious.’ Signed: Master, for Christ's sake."

"Whores play games like that," Harper said.

"How'd he know where to write her?" I asked.

The manager of the burned apartment building knew Marirose. "If she was whorin' up there, never saw much traffic," the fat lady said as she nursed a tall-boy. "Had sort of a regular. Fat old dude with a red pickup." Harper nearly swallowed the cigar stub when she handed over the truck license number.

The tag came back to a guy in Pleasant Grove. "Sold that truck two months ago," the redneck declared. "Old fat dude...said he was an electrician. Needed it for work. Didn't get no name. Law don't require..."

Back in the car, Harper said, "Sumbitch might never transfer the truck title."

"We can't monitor outgoing mail like we oughta," the Superintendent of the Longview Psychiatric Hospital said as he examined the burned letter. "No doubt we had this loony locked up. Date's not on here, so no way of knowing when we hadda let him go. Gimme a bit to question the staff."

An hour back toward Dallas, the superintendent called my cell. "Night-ward attendant read a letter like this. Patient had gone to the shitter. Trustee...part time electrician while he was here. We ain't supposed to read their mail. Patient: R.J. Carter...released three months ago."


"Rodney...Rodney J. Carter."

"Christ, McCoy, you don't think...?"

"Rodney hosing his daughter would rank about five hundred down on a list of goofy shit I've seen. Betcha the wiring to the bed wasn't a new game...the telephone in the twat...things just got out of hand. Killed her, then set the fire to try to cover."

We worked the phones the next day and found a Rodney Carter working for an electrical shop out in Mesquite. That produced an address in a shabby apartment off Grand Avenue. We slipped the lock with a Visa card. We didn't find Rodney, but we photographed his collection of sex toys. "His daughter, for Christ's sake." Harper chomped his cigar. "We need to pay the grieving mama another visit."

We rolled up to the Carter place in late afternoon to find the house fully engulfed in flames. The sheriff and the volunteer fire department were out in force—none of which did a lick of good, because ol' Mama had been wired to a bed, doused with gasoline and burned alive.

"Sheriff," I said, “dunno how to say this exactly, but I'm bettin' there's a telephone up her private parts." It was a cellular and it wasn't yellow, but it damned sure was there.

"You suppose ol' Rodney dropped by from time to time and selected Mama to be on his pervert team?" Harper said. We briefed the skeptical Sheriff on Marirose's murder and cut a trail back to Dallas.

Like rank-assed rookies, we sat that night—me on Rodney's apartment, Harper on Doubles. We knew we had a better chance at winning the lottery, but at 11:41 p.m. Harper tagged my cellular. "Got the mu'fucker stopped northbound on Mckinney. Tried to get out and run...slapped his fat ass around some."

Fat Rodney was unable-to-fully-focus-the-eyes, textbook nuts. "What I had with Marirose was a beautiful thing," he drawled dreamily, cuffed in the back seat.

"Wiring Marirose to the bed wasn't new," I said. "Just overdid it...and then you did Mama too, right?"

"Ol' Mama certainly was slam-assed in the middle," Harper spat out. He turned back in the seat. "I oughta pull off this dipshit's head." Harper was tough enough to do it.

We stuck Rodney in the Sterrett Center and meant to sleep a night on it. "He'll walk sure as hell as a headcase," Harper said. "A mentally...and her mother was just as damned nuts."

At 4:19 a.m. the jailer called. Ol' Rodney had hanged himself in his cell with electrical wire he'd managed to pull out of the overhead. "Used a wire too damned long. The drop plus his fat ass...head popped off," the jailer said.

Harper and I hustled down there. Rodney's eyes looked nuts, even in decapitated death. "The lab squints will keep his brain in a jar sure as hell," Harper rolled his cigar. "Maybe them lop-sided eyeballs, too."

Gary Clifton, forty years a cop, published a novel in national paperback and has short fiction pieces published or pending on several online sites. He has an M.S. from Abilene Christian University, and is now old, retired and watching for signs of early senility. Now what was it you just asked?

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