A GOOD THING - DAVID HARRY MOSS
Craig peered through the window of the crowded open-all-night diner hoping to spot the homicidal junkie who killed first and then robbed. Craig had a good idea what the man looked like: white male, medium height, medium build, slope shouldered, walks with a limp. Craig had been on night duty for two of the three previous robbery/murders.
Craig smiled at Rita when she brought him his coffee and pastrami on rye. Rita threw her chest out and smiled back. Craig liked pretty women and they liked him.
“You look good in your cop uniform,” Rita said. They had something going even before Craig and his second wife divorced.
Craig grinned and sipped hot black coffee. The steam warmed his face. He liked the spicy coffee smell. He sat at the end of the counter facing the window so he could see outside where snow flakes that looked like torn tissue paper fell. It was night time but that part of the street stayed busy until late. There were people going in and out of bars and in and out of a strip club flashing red and yellow bulbs arranged in the shape of a naked buxom female. Zipping cars, buses, and taxi traffic gave the busy street a quick pulse.
Craig had his police car parked by the curb. Looking beyond the car Craig spotted a white man, medium height, medium build, slope shouldered, gray hooded sweatshirt, with his head down and limping on the opposite sidewalk. Craig’s heart began beating fast. He sprang from the stool and tossed Rita a ten dollar bill for the coffee and the uneaten pastrami on rye.
“Got to go.”
“Hey,” Rita yelled. “My place or yours when we’re both off duty.”
Without answering Craig bolted through the door.
Before getting into the car Craig’s eyes darted along the street in the direction where he had last seen the man in the gray hooded sweatshirt but the man had blended into a throng and Craig didn’t see him. Craig took a deep breath and made a sharp u-turn and drove slowly, looking into shadows. The busy late-night places gave way to a long block of squat gray buildings holding asleep restaurants and retail stores. Craig had the car windows down, listening.
“He has to be around here somewhere,’ Craig kept telling himself. Anticipation made Craig’s gut churn. Up ahead the street got busy again with a few bars and a line of upscale hotels. He saw a man in a dark overcoat exit a bar. He pulled the car against the curb and shut off the lights and waited.
A few minutes after the man in the dark overcoat turned a corner Craig heard the gunshot and tromped the gas pedal. His police car took the turn on squealing tires.
Craig spotted the suspect, the white male, medium height and build, gray hooded sweatshirt fleeing through the alley toward dimly lit and seedy Cedar Street. A handful of curious minded people drifted from a corner jazz bar across the street.
Craig sprang from the police car and ordered, “Stay back.”
Craig followed the flashlight beam into the garbage littered alley. He stepped around broken whisky bottles and a soggy brown plastic garbage bag. By an overturned trash barrel next to a dumpster Craig saw the victim, a middle aged white man in a dark overcoat sprawled face up on the wet bricks with a spreading dark stain on his white shirt. Craig squatted and touched the man’s throat checking for a pulse. “Dead,” Craig muttered.
Up ahead Craig saw the killer limping away. Craig was in top shape and could catch him without effort. Instead Craig grinned and aimed the flash on the dead man. He caught the glitter of an Omega watch on the man’s left wrist. Craig guessed that the thief, the killer, drew the man into the alley with the gun, robbed him of his wallet, shot him, and fled without bothering with the expensive watch. A druggie who only cared about cash was how Craig saw it.
Craig looked around. The people who had come out of that bar were too far away to see anything. Craig took the dead man’s Omega watch and dropped it into his pocket. It would go well with a diamond ring, a gold wedding band, and a gold neck chain he had lifted from the victims of the robberies two weeks and four weeks ago. He guessed the value of the Omega watch to be $1500, the value of the gold neck chain to be $1200, the value of the gold wedding band to be $1100, and the value of the diamond ring to be $800. In due time he’d unload it all on a fence he knew.
Craig rubbed his cold hands to warm them and called it in. “Victim dead. A possible suspect fleeing on Main Street. Armed and dangerous. Black male, dreadlocks, tall and thin, red jacket.” Why spoil a good thing? Craig hoped that the killer would not get caught by a good cop and he hoped also that he would be on night duty when the killer struck again.
BIO: David Harry Moss is a writer and an actor. His mystery fiction can be found in print in Gary Lovisi’s Hardboiled and online. As an actor, he has appeared in dozens of films most notably Silence of the Lambs as an F.B.I. agent. Currently, he lives in Pittsburgh but has also lived in Phoenix and Minneapolis. Other favorite habitats include New York City, Los Angeles, the Florida Gulf Coast, and Paris.