Detective Gus Treta grinned when the door came open.

“You coming out?”

Yarnell shuffled into the hallway. His eyes darted back and forth as if expecting something else.

“Homicide questioned me yesterday.”

Gus forced a chuckle. “Getting sloppy. You’re my best snitch, but I work drugs…murder’s a whole nuther deal.”

“They told me.”

“Detective Jones?”


Gus shook his head. “Ol’ Gravedigger. That man bury you if you’re not careful. What’d he ask?”         

“About that dead smack dealer.”      


“Dealer been informing about drug rip-offs. Seems cops don’t like their ‘formants getting killed.”

“What’d you tell Gravedigger?”


“Get rid of the gun?”

“What gun?”

Gus clapped his hands. “Keep telling it like that. The shooter–whoever he is–don’t want nothing coming back on him.”

“No problem.”

Gus studied Yarnell. “Not why I came.”

“What then?”

“Leave town. Let Gravedigger forget about you.”

Yarnell rubbed his chin. “How?”

“Some white boys dealing meth off Myrtle Street. Could take their cash.”

Yarnell hesitated. “They bad enough I have to kill ‘em?”

“No killing less’n it’s necessary.”

“Like last time?”

Gus wasn’t sure he liked Yarnell’s tone of voice. “You said everything was fine ‘til the dealer went for his gun.”

“Shoulda told me he was working with the law.”

“How’d I know he was somebody’s snitch?”

“Now, Homicide’s involved.”

“Get yourself that travel money.”

Yarnell appeared to think it over. “Don’t your badge get a little heavy?”

Gus felt himself tighten. “Judge crams one scumbag in, parole board kicks two out.”

“Still, you a cop. Gotta hurt being crooked.”

“I got bills to pay.”

“Me too.”

“Then we got to act for ourselves.”


“Now, else we missed our opportunity. I’ll be backup.”

“You got an extra gun for me?”

“There’s a sawed-off twelve gauge in the car.”

Yarnell grabbed his coat. At a black Cadillac outside, Gus popped the trunk and handed Yarnell a Remington. They got in and drove off.

“How much them boys got?”

“Three pounds.”

“Sweet. Good thing we’re partners.”

“Only cuz you do what needs doing.”

“Depend on me, Gus.”

“I’m counting on that.”

Detective Treta cruised past vacant buildings sporting repossession stickers. He pointed at a seam of light.

“Second-floor apartment on the left.”

“Got it,” said Yarnell.

Detective Treta parked.

“Any last questions?”

Yarnell shook his head.

“I go in, do the dirty work. What’s left to ask?”

“That’s what I like about you, Yarnell, consistency.”

Out of the car, Gus led the way. On the second-floor, he indicated the apartment door and turned the handle. “Unlocked,” he whispered.

“Rear bedroom?”


“No killing.”

“Only if necessary.”

Detective Treta threw open the door and let Yarnell go through. Only objects in sight were white repo stickers on the floor and a glowing propane lantern.

“They gone,” exclaimed Yarnell. “Now what?”

Gus stepped in.

“Guess we take care of other business.”

Yarnell turned.

“What other business we got?”

Gus held a 9mm Sig Sauer in his right hand.

“Remember when you got tagged for illegal possession of a firearm?”

“Last year. So?”

“You didn’t do time.”

“I cooperated.”

“Right, you narced out the gun seller, plus several dope dealers.”

“Hold on, you know I’m dependable.”

Detective Treta nodded.

“And consistent. Got me thinking. You were downtown with Gravedigger for a long time.

Might’ve said something about me.”

“I didn’t give you up before. Why give you up now?”

“Simple math, Yarnell. You were looking at three that time ‘til I stepped in. Now it’s murder of a police snitch. You had a decision to make and knew I couldn’t help.”

“Got me wrong, Gus.”

“With Gravedigger there,” continued Detective Treta, “I could depend on you to be consistent.”

Yarnell dropped his weapon to waist level.

“You’re forgetting I’m holding this.”

“What, you give me up to Gravedigger and now you’re gonna shoot me?”

“Wasn’t how I wanted it.”

“Being downtown so long, you probably went into withdrawals from all that heroin you do. Stuff weakens a man.”

Yarnell braced the shotgun against his hip.

“Sorry ‘bout this, Gus, but I got to look out for myself”

“You’re gonna shoot a cop?”

“Got to. This is what you called necessary killings.”

He tightened the trigger.

The room stayed quiet.

“Forget it, Yarnell. I fixed the firing pin. But just so you know, you were wrong about one thing.”

“What’s that?”

“You accused me of being crooked, but it’s not like that.”

“What the hell you call it then?”

Treta raised his automatic.

“Just slightly bent.”

R.T. Lawton is a retired federal agent and past member of the MWA Board of Directors, with over 100 stories in publications to include Easyriders, Outlaw Bikers, Deadwood Magazine, Blood on the Bayou anthology, Flash Bang Magazine, 2013 MWA anthology, Woman’s World, and 36 sold to Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine.

Copyright © 2017 R.T. Lawton. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of the author is prohibited.

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