Contributor: Gary Clifton

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Christian Jonic had gotten drunk that Saturday night. Then, cellular hell invaded his stupor at 3:08 A.M.
"You asleep?" asked his partner, Houston Homicide Detective Maria Martinez.
"No," he heaved himself upright. "Just hopin' you'd call." The room spun wildly. Two years a tight end for the University of Houston, Jonic was fifteen years a Houston cop, the last five in Homicide.
"Somebody just murdered Fat Fender Fred."
"Damn, Detroit Blue's trial starts Monday...sure he's dead?" Fred was the principal prosecution witness against Blue in the murder of a fellow pimp.
"Shot deader than good manners...Telephone Road, off the Gulf Freeway."
Jonic and Martinez worked their way through the jumble of emergency vehicles tumble parked around a black Cadillac. Fat Fender Fred slumped in the driver's seat, his head a bloody stub of gore. "About six in the head with maybe a .25...looks to me," Jonic said. The sticky hot August, pre-dawn gulf air was mostly liquid.
A patrol officer leaned close. "Witness got a partial tag number," he said, handing Jonic a notebook page. "One number short of Continental."
"That's Detroit Blue's car, sure as hell," Martinez grinned. She was twenty-nine, smart, beautiful, and was preceded thirty seconds by boobs the size of a bulldog's head. Unmarried, she dated no cops, male or female.
"Detroit guy, huh?" the patrol officer asked.
"Naw," Jonic gave his temples another squeeze. "Always drives a blue Continental...dunno why the hell they called Fred "Fat Fender".
"His fat gut...looked like a pickup truck fender," Martinez studied Fred's remains. "He's got more holes than grandma's pin cushion."
Jonic, so hung-over he doubted if he'd live to see sunrise, said: "If we can shake out a judge on Sunday, we can get an arrest warrant and snag his sorry ass. We grab him right away, we may find a pistol. He stays over on South Calhoun...but he definitely won't be there now."
"The judge?" the patrolman asked.
"Kid," Jonic massaged his forehead. "Judges live in River Oaks. Detroit Blue lives on South Calhoun."
Coffee and eggs at Denny's ressurected Jonic somewhat. Several hours judge shopping by telephone and they held a warrant of arrest for one Reginald Wilson, also known as Detroit Blue.
They spent the day kicking doors and asses across the Third Ward where the crime scene was situated. At dusk, a snitch told them Blue was hiding in his Auntie's house on South Scott. By the time they clustered up behind the church of something marvelous, the sun had dropped behind the western horizon. The August, humid heat hung around..
"Can't let this toad bust a cap in one of us and claim he didn't know we were cops," Jonic called for a marked squad-car. The unit rolled up carrying a pair of young male officers, one black and one white.
"I'm James Little," the black officer recognized Jonic and Martinez from previous crime scenes. Little was bigger than Jonic with a round face that never quite stopped smiling. "This is my partner Kevin Clark." Clark was husky, blond, and a head shorter than Little. They shook hands all around in the southern police fashion.
Jonic drew a crude map of Auntie's house on a sheet from his notebook on the hood of the patrol car and passed around a mug photo of a scowling Blue. "This guy is a mean-assed nut job. Let him shoot you and he'll walk as a mental case. Little, bring your shotgun and take the front door with us," he gestured to Martinez. "Clark, you cover the back door. We only have an arrest warrant which limits any right to when you do, don't tell me."
They parked two doors down and stepped out into the sweltering humidity. The neighborhood was quiet, rodent quiet, too quiet. Blue's Continental was nowhere in sight. Clark hurried to the rear. Jonic kicked the front door, followed by Martinez and Little holding the shotgun. The small house had only two small rooms and appeared to be vacant.
Blue burst from a closet, waving a .25 automatic pistol. The muzzle flash was the only indication he'd fired the weapon - the sound of his shot lost in the roar of Little's shotgun. The blast slammed Blue against a wall, a smear of blood as he slid down the wall.
A quick check confirmed Blue was alone in the house. Little leaned against a doorjamb, dropped the shotgun and slumped on a sofa. "My God, I'm sick..." He lost consciousness, eyes open and rolled back. Two gasps and he stopped breathing. A flashlight exam disclosed massive crimson flow from his inner thigh. Jonic ripped open his trousers. Arterial blood was pumping like a broken fire-hydrant. The little pistol had found a sweet spot
Martinez dialed 911. Clark rushed in. Horrified, he burst into tears. They tried mouth to mouth, a drapery sash tourniquet, some prayer and considerable profanity. Little had died in less than two minutes. From the floor, Blue, whom they'd thought dead spat: "Good riddance, pig."
Clark, distraught, kicked Blue. Jonic dragged him to the front porch. Martinez, pistol drawn, stood over Blue just inside the door. The sharp report of Martinez's pistol surprised even Jonic. Sounds of approaching sirens wafted in on the humid air.
Jonic left Clark on the front stoop and stepped back inside. In the dim light, Martinez, the beauty whose smile overcame strong men, stared unblinking into Jonic's face, eyes cold death.
"Listen partner, he grabbed at your pistol...I saw it. You were in deadly fear of your life. Don't waver, no matter what they toss at you," he gestured toward the incoming assistance. "Blue needed killing."
She stared long and hard at Jonic. He thought she might shoot him too. Finally, she holstered the Glock and nodded. Martinez, he realized, was harder than granite - or any man he knew.
An E.M.T. squeezed past Clark, sobbing on the front step.

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Gary Clifton, forty years a cop, has over forty short fiction pieces published or pending with online sites. Clifton, who has an M.S. from Abilene Christian University has been shot at, shot, stabbed, sued, lied to and misunderstood. He's currently out to pasture.
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