Contributor: Gary Clifton

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Look up "no good scumbag" in Webster's and John Ralph Dupree's photo would appear. He laid around his aunt Mildred's house in south San Antonio, swilling sweet apple wine and sleeping most of the day. The neighbor's Basset Hound barked long and often, disturbing John Ralph's slumber. Not the sharpest of minds, he bragged around the neighborhood he was "gonna shoot the dog and blow hell out of the neighbor's house." He did both - dog and neighbor ended up deader than good manners.
The cops sent out Chris Alvarez, eight years in Homicide and Polly Klevis, in the murder squad two months. Alvarez was big, tough, and thought himself to be quite an amateur comedian. Polly, naturally anxious to prove herself in a male dominated business, had been a quarter-miler at Baylor and could outrun anybody in San Antonio.
Witnesses repeated dimwit John Ralph's threats and the two cops had a warrant for his arrest in three hours. Aunt Mildred said he'd fled to his father's place In Louisiana. The next morning, Alvarez and Polly de-planed in Baton Rouge and were humming east along Interstate 12 in a rented Dodge.
"John Ralph's ol' Daddy is a country preacher with seventeen kids still at home, most not potty trained," the local sheriff declared.
They found the place, north of Lake Pontchartrain propped haphazardly on a third acre of ground grudgingly given up a foot or so by the surrounding swamp with the aid of a bulldozer and many big rocks. Alvarez asked Polly to scout the rear while he spoke with Daddy.
Polly's scream drifted for miles across the soggy bayou. She came on the Baylor run around the corner, eyes wide as silver dollars. Alvarez, pistol drawn, charged to the rescue. "It's the Loch Ness Monster!" Polly screamed before she skidded headlong into a mud-sink puddle.
Alvarez found Big Willie, neck-chained to a magnolia tree at swamp's edge. He was big and tough, too. Willie was surprisingly calm. He sat in placid splendor, munching one of Polly's shoes. "Drop it fella," Alvarez ordered.
"Burp," Big Willie replied, wistfully eyeing the second shoe, just out of chain-reach. Brown Bears are like that.
John Ralph did his bit for justice by dashing from a battered shed up by the house. "Polly!" Alvarez pointed. Minus shoes, muddy as the tar boy, she had John Ralph in a hundred paces. Alvarez lumbered up, cuffed the sobbing, pathetic little screw-up, surrounded by a regiment of smelly kids.
When they checked John Ralph into the Baton Rouge Parrish Jail for overnight holding, the officers on duty inspected Polly's muddy, bedraggled state and single shoe. She managed to hide partially behind Alvarez.
"My demented sister," Alvarez seized the stage. "They sent me down to grab John Ralph here, but I knew she was hiding around here somewhere. Give her shoes and she'll bolt sure as hell." The jailers, journeymen in a silent trade, nodded sympathetically. John Ralph went to the slammer wailing like a scalded dog.
Motel shopping, Alvarez drove Polly down Government Street. A red light stopped them beside a Baton Rouge squad-car, blue lights flashing. The uniformed officer stood, shaking a finger at slender young man. The scruffy kid sported a stringy mustache, with penitentiary tattoos on both forearms.
Suddenly, the kid broke and ran. Polly, already mad as hell, bailed out in full chase mode. Astounded, Alvarez followed in the Dodge. The officer, more astounded, followed Alvarez. Polly was gaining.
At the brightly lit Capitol Inn, the fugitive veered through the lobby, danced across the dining room, knocked over three tables, then plunged over a railing into the indoor pool. Polly followed. When Alvarez and the uniformed officer arrived, she had the man in a standard choke hold. "I got him, Officer," she said upward.
The cop inspected Alvarez's credentials. "I just told this mope if he wasn't off my beat in sixty seconds, I'd run him in," he studied the scene. "But what the hell, he's still here. Kid, you're under arrest." The officer handcuffed the crestfallen punk and winked professional courtesy to Alvarez. "We'll find a charge," his smile was good ol' boy subtle.
The Capitol Inn desk clerk whose name tag ID'd him as Norbert, had been in the john and missed the chase. He stood behind the counter, a paragon of professional motel-clerk-ism. Norbert leaned over to inspect Polly's dilapidated condition. "Hit by a bus?"
"My sister. She's a little off," Alvarez said soberly. "Taking her to the Institution tomorrow. Give her shoes and she'll run sure as Sunday."
Norbert's face was grim understanding. "We have insanity in the family too, Sir. It's too bad you can't just put them to sleep."
A policeman burst in, out of breath. "Where's the lady who just whupped the guy in the swimming pool?" he blurted.
"Rook, it's the jailhouse for you. Guy musta died," Alvarez grinned again.
"No, no," the cop, out of breath, continued. "That clown was wanted for eighteen rapes. Ma'am you're gonna get a medal."
"I don't understand." said Norbert.
Polly drew her pistol. "Alvarez, you overgrown chunk of not funny monkey shit, I'm gonna shoot off your 'nads, if you have any. That oughta get a laugh."
"Oh my," Norbert exclaimed.
"Me, too, Norbert," Alvarez echoed.

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Gary Clifton, forty years a cop has short fiction picecs published or pending with over sixty online sites. Now retired, he has an M.S. from Abilene Christian University
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