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Dark Tales from Gent's Pens

85_ym_closure_mknowles.jpg
Art by Mike Knowles 2021

Closure…

 

Kenneth James Crist

 

You might as well call me Crank. Everybody does. I was Crank when I was still a copper and I’ll be Crank when I die, which will happen sooner or later. I plan to have it carved on my tombstone. See, the idea of dying doesn’t bother me. What bothers me is what pretty much bothers all cops. Dying while looking stupid.

I’m not a cop anymore. I retired from that shit quite a few years ago. Now I draw my pension and my Social Security and I live my life the way I want to. I take care of business. We’ll get to that.

Crank Howland. It’s Kerry, actually, and I never minded my real name, but once, while I was working narcotics, I developed leads that took us to a house on Wichita’s north side that was so full of methamphetamine that the cleanup crew had to wear hazmat suits. I got the handle then and it kinda stuck. Meth was known as “crank” among this particular bunch of biker trash, you see.

Nowadays, I stumble outta bed whenever the mood strikes me or the prostate demands, and after a wicked pee, I go find any type of hot brown liquid that might be handy, preferably loaded with caffeine. After I get the handful of pills down, for cholesterol, blood pressure, acid reflux, joint pain, and memory loss, plus the vitamins and iron and a testosterone booster, I head for the north crapper and get that outta the way. Then I hit the shower and I’m ready to get to work.

Martha likes to sleep in. She’s number three. I married the first two, then I gave up on that shit. Martha is younger than my daughter and pretty set in her ways. I don’t bug her much and she leaves me alone, too. She works as a dental hygienist and has a little two-seat sports car I can hardly cram myself into. She likes to eat out, and she doesn’t cook. She also likes lots of kinky sex and, even though I’m old, I ain’t dead.

I would describe my typical day for you, but you see, there are no typical days anymore. Another thing I gave up. The case I just finished with two days ago was a murdering piece of shit named Buck Cardington. He was arrested in connection with the disappearance of two girls from East High School more than four years ago. They were found eventually in an old barn in Butler County, almost forty miles from Wichita. They had been repeatedly raped and sodomized and tortured in various grisly ways, then made to kneel in the dirt and shot in the head.

The cops and the district attorney thought they had an airtight case and the papers had him headed for death row, even though the death penalty hasn’t actually been used in Kansas since 1965. But, he walked on a technicality. Seems the DNA they used to match him up with all the jizz and spit they found on the corpses was obtained illegally, or at least ruled that way by the pussy of a judge, who was so scared of being overturned on appeal, he let this fuck-stick go. And of course, once he was acquitted, because of the double jeopardy rule, he could never be tried again for those crimes. I had no doubt he would eventually be caught again for something equally heinous, but there were two families out there to consider. They needed closure. And they would get it. And then there are the families of his future victims. So, you see, from my point of view, there is some pressure to get this done.

Tracking these guys down is never that difficult. And eliminating them wouldn’t be, either. But when I say the families needed closure, that’s just what I mean. They need to know this bastard suffered for what he did to their children. This is the part where it needs to get nasty.

I started by finding out where he was living. Not hard to do, since all court proceedings are available to the public unless sealed by a judge. I never use contacts within the police department, even though there are lots of guys there who would be more than glad to help me. I can’t risk someone remembering that I was inquiring about this guy or that one, when they turn up later.

Buell “Buck” Cardington actually lived on my old beat on the northeast side in a run-down duplex with a chubby sometime prostitute named Samantha Healy. It had been speculated, but never proven, that Healy helped lure the two girls he’d killed into their van and maybe even helped with some of the nasty stuff. I decided early on that I wouldn’t mess with her unless she got in my way.

I needed a place that was remote, but not too remote. I needed people close enough to hear the action. Maybe hear the screams. But far enough away I could ease outta the area and not be seen.

My transportation is a 1990 Ford F-150 pickup truck. Hunter green and rust. Talk about a blend-in vehicle. This is farm country out here. This truck doesn’t get a second look. I bought it at the Wichita Auto Auction a couple years ago, then took it to some guys I know. I call it my “sleeper” and my “joke truck”. Privately, I call it the War Wagon.

We crammed the biggest V-8 motor we could fit into it, fitted with special heads, valves, carbs and a supercharger with a demand system, so it didn’t pull all the time, only when needed. We fitted a beefed-up six-speed automatic tranny, with a lock-up converter and a Dodge Ram rear end. It would do just a tad over a hundred and forty.

Since the girls had been found in Butler County, I decided ol’ Buck should be found out there, too. Butler county had become much more populated in the years since the girls were found, though, and it was harder to find a good place.

I finally decided on an abandoned mobile home, settled on its foundation and slowly going to ruin on a side road only a half mile from the nearest farmhouse. The Burlington railroad tracks ran by a quarter mile south. Just about perfect.

Buck liked to drink and carouse and it made him an easy target when I was ready. I had scoped out his two favorite drinking establishments and both were as nasty as he was. The Slicker was an old clapboard building on north Broadway. The back parking lot was butted up against an auto salvage and the War Wagon looked right at home there. It took a couple evenings to get his routine down, but then when I was ready, it was no trick to just wait by his car, with my truck right there, backed in, and when he staggered out, I thumped him with a blackjack and rolled him into the back of the truck. Took a look around to make sure I was unobserved, then hopped up into the back and trussed him up with plastic flex-cuffs.

I had spent a week getting the old nasty trailer ready for him. Each time I went out there, I drove up the Burlington tracks until I was behind the house, then drove the truck down the embankment so it was out of sight. I would then make my approach from the back using natural cover.

The explosives might have been a problem, were it not for a publication called The Anarchist’s Cookbook. Anybody can get a copy and it makes for very interesting reading. The difference is, I actually do the things outlined in the book. Like making my own plastic explosive on a hotplate in my garage. Can’t make the shit in the house. Martha would have a cow.

The detonator was constructed in my garage, too, along with the pressure switch. I wore surgical gloves the entire time I was working with the components, knowing very well that the department of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives would be called in by the Butler County Sheriff and they would collect every speck they could find.

Each time I went out to the trailer, I took a brand new plastic gas can full of gasoline and set them inside the place. I wanted a fire, and not just a fire. I wanted a conflagration. The only thing I wanted blown clear was fuck-face Cardington’s wallet, with ID inside.

#     #     #

“What the fuck, man?”

Fuck-face was awake. He was no longer trussed up. At least not like he had been. He was now suspended from a block and tackle, with his toes touching a bathroom scale.

I walked over to him and offered him a snort of meth, just to clear his head. He snorted. Then I said, “You and I need to come to an understanding, Buck.”

“Fuck you, Man! You’re a cop! You can’t get away with this shit…”

“Not a cop anymore, Buck. Retired now, but still taking care of business. Now shut up and pay attention.”

“Let me down, cocksucker and I’ll kill yer ass!”

“No, Buck. Your killing days are over. Your dying day is here now…”

“Oh, what? You gonna cut me up? What?”

“Nope. I’m not gonna do anything to ya. You’re gonna do it to yourself.”

“Yeah, fuck you, Man…”

“Listen to me, Buck. Your life depends on this…you ready?” He merely glared at me.

“I took your wallet, Buck. It’s lying on the front steps. Underneath that bathroom scale is about eleven pounds of plastic explosive. See all these gas cans? They’re all full. There’s a pressure switch in the bathroom scale, Buck. When I lower you down and your full weight is on the scale, it will prime the fuse. Nothing will happen until the weight is removed. Then the whole thing goes bang. Understand?”

Suddenly, fear and concentration overruled booze and meth and he was cold sober. “Like—like one of those Bouncing Betty mines they used in ‘Nam…”

“Bingo! You win the booby prize. I want you to know this is for the two girls from East High…”

“Hey, Man! I was acquitted for that, Man! Not guilty! You understand that, Cop?”

“Yep. I understand. And I know you did it. Look around. See the video cameras, Buck? As I leave, I’ll start them running and a live feed will go out over the Internet and it’ll be uploaded to my private server at my place. You know about YouTube, Buck? Of course you do. Lotsa porn there and I bet you know just how to get to it. After I look the tape over and edit it just a tad, it’ll go up on YouTube. Anyway, all you gotta do is stand still. As long as you stand on the scale, you live. Try and jump and run, you’re fucked. The plastic has an explosive velocity of twenty-four thousand feet per second. Think you can outrun that. Buck?”

Buck continued to swear and call me names, as I lowered him down until his full weight was on the scale and he felt that tell-tale click of the pressure switch arming itself. Then, suddenly, he was my buddy. He begged and wheedled and moaned and cried as I was leaving.

Forty feet outside the door, I used the remote to start the cameras. I made it to my truck and drove on out. Buck lasted a long time. Pissed himself several times. Shit himself once. Cried, apologized to me and to everyone he ever hurt. Begged some more. Screamed my name over forty times. Of course, I edited those parts out. Then I took it to the public library and used one of their computers to upload it to the net. The video makes very interesting watching. And the families can watch it any time they want. It shows how to destroy a man, be he predator or saint. How to reduce him to a blubbering, whining gob of protoplasm. He lasted nineteen hours, standing on ol’ Betty. They say the explosion was deafening. And the fire burned a long time…

Kenneth James Crist is Editor Emeritus of Black Petals Magazine and is on staff at Yellow Mama ezine. He has been a published writer since 1998, having had almost two hundred short stories and poems in venues ranging from Skin and Bones and The Edge-Tales of Suspense to Kudzu Monthly. He is particularly fond of supernatural biker stories. He reads everything he can get his hands on, not just in horror or sci-fi, but in mystery, hardboiled, biographies, westerns and adventure tales. He retired from the Wichita, Kansas police department in 1992 and from the security department at Wesley Medical Center in Wichita in 2016. Now 76, he is an avid motorcyclist and handgun shooter. He is active in the American Legion Riders and the Patriot Guard, helping to honor and look after our military. He is also a volunteer driver for the American Red Cross, Midway Kansas Chapter. He is the owner of Fossil Publications, a desktop publishing venture that seems incapable of making any money at all. On June the ninth, 2018, he did his first (and last) parachute jump and crossed that shit off his bucket list.


Mike Knowles has spent over 40 years working mainly in comics, along with contributions to TV, Radio, animation, gonzo-style journalism for a “top-of-the-shelf” magazine and odd spells as a digital artist. Not to mention three gruesome years writing gags for comedians (even though they begged him not to. But what did THEY know about humor? 

https://www.facebook.com/mikeknowlescomicauthor

I wrote for the comic papers.

In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications 2021