Welcome to Flash Pulp, episode four hundred and two.
Tonight we present Tony Dibbs, Actual Psychic Cop
This week’s episodes are brought to you by The Melting Potcast
Flash Pulp is an experiment in broadcasting fresh pulp stories in the modern age – three to ten minutes of fiction brought to you Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings.
Tonight we present Tony Dibbs, a man with absolute power.
Tony Dibbs, Actual Psychic Cop
Written by J.R.D. Skinner
Art and Narration by Opopanax
and Audio produced by Jessica May
He was dressed in the uniform of the plainclothes detective. In an age of t-shirts and low hanging shorts, however, his cheap suit and tie marked him a cop as quickly as if he were still knocking around pavement squatters in his patrol blues – but Tony Dibbs didn’t mind, he was proud of his occupation.
In fact, he was proud to be Tony Dibbs, Actual Psychic Cop – so much so that when speaking in the third person, as he often did, it was entirely how he referred to himself.
The shack in question was two stories high, but old enough that the extra space didn’t mean extra money. The siding was wood and original to the place, but rot had set in and the nails had begun to give. Pulling free of their bonds, patches of the long white slats had warped, and were now really only being held together by luck and the natural settling inherent to decades of being ignored.
As he reached the halfway point of the yellow front lawn, the road-facing screen door swung out like a yokel’s skewed jaw. A woman in a cotton nightshirt stepped onto the stoop.
“Yeah?” she asked, her eyes having pegged his profession immediately.
“Fuck off, Tasha, or we’ll talk about last Saturday night,” answered Tony Dibbs, Actual Psychic Cop.
Tasha was uninterested in discussing snorting a one-night-stand’s cocaine, in the bathroom of a dive bar, with the man of the law, and, as if a nosferatu, an imperceptible shuffling step carried her back into the shadows beyond the house’s entrance.
Percy, Tasha’s inconstant love interest and source of inestimable weekend drama, was in the backyard, nestled close to a flaming barrel in which he was igniting garbage he could not afford to have tagged for the city to remove.
“I’m no fire warden,” began Dibbs as he approached, “but I’m pretty sure setting light to bags full of half-eaten McDonalds is a crime in this town. Probably falls under the same law regarding leaving burning bags of dog shit on people’s steps.’
With a slow turn, Percy looked over the officer, then shrugged his shirtless shoulders and prodded his smoldering pile with a singed length of tree branch.
“Must be a pretty slow day downtown if they’re paying you a salary to come hassle me about waste disposal,” he answered.
“Oh?” asked Tony, “you figure that’s what I’m here about?”
The lumber paused in its rotation, then churned through a flattened collection of boxed wine husks.
“I don’t see what else it might be,” replied Percy, but his eyes were now intent on the point at which his stir met the flames.
“Remember that time, when you were ten, and you felt bad about shooting your neighbour’s dog with that pellet gun but you insisted on blaming it on the kid across the street anyhow?”
The stick stopped.
“Who?” asked Percy.
“You know, Bobby Mills, the kid across the street.”
“No – I mean -”
“You should’ve learned a lesson about coming clean back then,” replied Tony. “You sure you don’t have something you want to say?”
“I’ve got plenty I’d like to tell you, but maybe you should explain what the hell this is all about before I start providing commentary on that fugly suit?”
Tony nodded. He liked a little fight, it made the job more interesting.
“I wouldn’t talk,” replied the cop, “you have exactly two collared shirts, and one doesn’t really fit anymore. You only have the other because you won’t stop going to job interviews that will never hire a high-grade dumbass such as yourself.”
Percy pursed his lips and tossed a stack of crudely shredded cardboard boxes onto the fire. It pulled a smile from the detective. He didn’t require his special talent to read the meaning behind the red creeping into his target’s face.
“That’s a mighty fist,” said the psychic, “take your swing so they can paperclip the photo of my black eye to your resisting arrest sheet.”
Instead, Percy asked, “why are you here?”
“Two years ago you and your brother, a former meth head, murdered your mother.”
The stick in the fire began to move again. “Uh – former?”
“Your brother’s dead.”
“Shit. I guess it was inevitable, but I always hoped he’d, you know, pull out of it.”
“If he pulled out at all it was so he could then back flip into a pool brimming with rocks. He couldn’t even speak when I wandered by his gurney down at Cap City General. He still told me plenty, though.”
Up the short hill, behind the gauzy curtains that offered a view from the home’s kitchen, a round face of five appeared at the window.
“How’s your talking going, Perceval?” asked the curly haired girl.
“Perceval,” snickered Dibbs, knowing full well that young Sierra was the sole person allowed to use the name. The child was, in fact, the real reason Percy ever bothered coming back. She wasn’t his but he’d grown fond of her.
With an eye roll, Tony motioned that he should send her on her way so they could get on with business.
“All’s well,” answered Percy, “I’ll be in soon, Stay Puft.”
“Don’t give me your nice guy bullshit,” Tony muttered, in a tone low enough to keep fireside, “I know about Clifford the Big Dead Dog, remember?”
The child disappeared into the shadows.
“Yeah, the mutt thing is true, but I’ve felt shitty about it for years, and I’ve changed a lot since I was fourteen.”
“You people never change.” answered the cop, “I’ve seen what you people are really like. I’ve seen the memories of the deviant porn you people dig into when you think no one’s looking, I’ve rifled through the lies you people tell your loved ones to keep them out of your way.”
“Who the fuck are you and what the fuck do you want?”
“Tony Dibbs, Actual Psychic Cop – and that brings me to the matter of your mother, and your murderous tendencies.”
“Screw that – she asked me to help her a bunch of times, but I did no such thing.”
“Did you miss the psychic part of the title, asshole? In the end you and your brother put a plastic bag over her head and divided her earthly goods to buy crank. Almost got away with it too. The Medical Examiner was an idiot to call it a heart attack, her cancer docs had tested her system up and down, and, except for her lungs, she was as strong as a horse.”
The fire burned on, and Percy watched it. Finally, he said, “yeah, when Ma went I did have to sell a lot I didn’t want to, but every penny went to paying the ridiculously overdue rent on the shitbox behind us. I’d already learned Maury’s lesson for him, and I’ve never touched meth. Did he tell you all this as he was sick or something? You can’t seriously be trusting the blathering of a dying addict?”
“They never do believe me,” replied Tony, “but that’s always part of the problem. I can’t haul you in for something the M.E. screwed the pooch on just because I have the ability to pick through your brain like a roasted chicken carcass. Tough to keep oversight on the ability to see everything, you know? They learned that back in the NSA days.
“Still, you’re coming in one way or another.”
“You just said there’s no proof!”
“Yeah, well, the jury won’t know any better, will they? I know a guy who’s planning a robbery later this evening, and he’s pretty excited about the idea of shooting someone.”
The fire-tender turned then, confusion plain on his face, and Tony hit him hard across the mouth with a cheap looking revolver.
“Now your blood’ll be found on a weapon at the crime scene, such a shame,” said the officer.
“But – I didn’t – I haven’t -” he began to answer, but the ringing in his ears was too heavy to continue.
“That’s what they all say. Good luck explaining things to the judge, be sure to start with killing your mother before getting to my psychic powers,” replied the self-appointed arbiter.
Smiling, Tony Dibbs, Actual Psychic Cop, returned to his car.
Flash Pulp is presented by https://www.skinner.fm, and is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License.
Intro and outro work provided by Jay Langejans of The New Fiction Writers podcast.
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