Dick Killer

What's the old joke about the criminal who couldn't shoot straight?

Gary Clifton is back with his story of one crooked bastard who was left so hard, he didn't stand a chance in hell of ever getting it right...

Dick Killer by Gary Clifton

Bent Dick Gronk’s nickname had nothing to do with his genital area, although any thought of the little maggot automatically brought “crotch” to mind. Hatched in Southeast Oklahoma, he never developed to fully human.

Tired of feeding the chickens and his mama whaling on his ass with a hickory stick, Dick migrated to Longview, Texas, and joined an outlaw biker gang—an outfit where members needed DNA tests to determine if their girlfriend might be their sister. Burglarizing anything available soon got Dick five years in the joint.
Dick paroled out, grew a greasy beard, never took another bath, went back to his biker buddies. He expanded his resume by taking on arson jobs. It seemed half the folks in East Texas wanted crap burned down, and pretty damned quick. Dick soon had cash to buy a new Harley. Then he fled from a routine traffic stop and slide that hog under a Greyhound Bus.
Twenty-seven broken bones, six months in the hospital and Dick was released, bent all to blazes. Injuries had left his neck stiff and half turned to the left—couldn't twist his neck or look straight ahead without full body rotation. Dick went back to the arson business, but thereinafter, all activity was an off-center orientation situation. His biker cohorts named him "Bent Dick." He stole another Harley, got some from his biker ol' lady, and ate at McDonalds...all at a half turn.  


Being some kind of cop was far from Dennis Leroy Printer's mind when he grew up in Uncle Elmer's shack on Bayou LeFleur, Huntington Parrish, Louisiana. A gentle, sensitive lad, he always figured on a life as a preacher or teacher—someplace without mosquitoes. Against Uncle Elmer's wishes, Dennis went off to College of the Ozarks in the far-off land of Arkansas.
Dennis was about to graduate when the U.S. Department of Justice recruiter visited. The recruiter spun tales of Eliot Ness, moonshine whiskey wars, high-speed car chases and the like, which scared hell out of Dennis. Then when the dude sprang the pay scale, Dennis signed up on the spot. Preaching and teaching could wait. "Yer gonna end up in someplace like that Detroit City place, Boy," Uncle Elmer warned.
Dennis was hired as a Special Agent, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, sent off agent's school in Georgia, then assigned to Tyler, Texas...a far pull from that Detroit City place. He soon learned the moonshine whiskey "bidness" was as dead as Eliot Ness and his duties would be confined to bombs, arsons, and criminals with guns. An old-timer, Ellsworth C. Clapsaddle was assigned as his training officer.

Ellsworth's pants were four inches too short, he seemed to never change clothes, was borderline literate, and chewed a wad of black stuff at all times. Dennis wasn't about to ask the ingredients of that black stuff. And it was day three before Ellsworth uttered a damned word.

The collision was not exactly inevitable, but likely. Bent Dick burned down a dance hall in Anderson County, then a guy paid him $500 to take down a western wear shop in Henderson County. Bent Dick bragged once too often in a Longview beer joint. An anonymous caller told Dennis the arsonist was Bent Dick Gronk. Dennis had been on the job two weeks.
The supervisor ordered all hands on deck. Dennis and Ellsworth with three other teams were dispatched to watch Bent Dick 24/7. Dick was living in his girlfriend's uncle's place down in Funk's Hollow, an unincorporated cluster of single-wides, shanties, and outdoor crappers in Gregg County.
Ellsworth and Dennis watched as Bent Dick cranked his Harley and lit a shuck down Highway 149. "Bent up dude's sittin' crossways on that sucker," Ellsworth uttered, his first words in a week.  
Dick had a five gallon gas can strapped onto the passenger seat—damned odd behavior. Ellsworth drove while Dennis frantically called for backup. When Dick pulled up to the Last Chance, a closed down beer joint, the issue became imminent. When he doused the front with gasoline and tossed on a match, critical mass was at hand.
Only as Bent Dick fled—leaving the gas can behind as handy evidence—did he have the sense to see the plain car watching. Speeding away, Dick detoured though yards, pastures and the like. In a cornfield, he lost the Harley, slid through the stalks, then jumped up and ran like blue billy hell... Sideways, of course.
The cavalry arrived, complete with a baying bloodhound. Bent Dick ran several hundred yards up a creek and took refuge in a hackberry tree. The dog and cops were temporarily stymied.
The chase, years of poly substance abuse, gallons of pain pills for his stuck neck—twelve he'd ingested an hour earlier—were all in play. The outshot: only 26, Dick was operating with the heart of a 97-year-old chain-smoker. When the dog came closer again, Dick skinnied down the tree and side-straddle-hopped for the highway. He should have stayed in the tree.
Dick burst from the weeds and unable to navigate straight-ahead, nearly collided with Dennis leaning on the trunk of the battered, overheated government junker. Dennis sprang to life. Unable to recall instructions given in agent's school, he stammered, "Halt, you lop-sided peckerhead."
And halt ol' Dick damned sure did. He stopped, eyes rolled back in his head, and dropped deader than last Easter's ham. "Arrgghh," he gasped.
Ellsworth, who still hadn't said twenty words in two weeks, said, "Hot damn, rook, first arrest and you scart this sucker to death."
"This mean a transfer to Detroit City?" Dennis asked.
And so it came to pass in the piney woods of deep East Texas, Dennis Leroy Printer of Bayou LeFleur, Louisiana, would be known as the badass who scared Bent Dick Gronk slam-assed to death. He never did get to that Detroit City place.
Gary Clifton, forty years a cop, has short fiction pieces published or pending on nearly forty online sites. Clifton has been shot at, shot, stabbed, sued, misunderstood and is now out to pasture on a dusty north Texas ranch. He has an M.S. from Abilene Christian University.