This week’s Crime Fiction Friday is an original from MysteryPeople favorite Billy Kring. We hope you’ll enjoy the sly humor and fast-paced action of “The Hanging Judge,” all set here in this fair city. You can find copies of Kring’s crime novels on our shelves and via bookpeople.com.
The Hanging Judge
By Billy Kring
The bats under Austin’s South Congress Street Bridge swirled upward in a brown-furred, leather-winged cyclone because of the body hanging in their nesting area.
Below the bridge six kayakers floated on Town Lake. They displayed signs saying, No Hanging Around This Area, and Pretty Fly For A White Guy, and John Holmes Wishes He Was This Hung, upholding the unofficial city motto: Keep Austin Weird. One kayak with an albino couple dressed in black turtlenecks and white Andy Warhol hair shouted an angry mantra of, “Bats have rights, too!”
Homicide Detective Joe Hardin stooped under the yellow tape, went to the edge of the bridge, and leaned over the rail into the vortex of winged mammals as he studied the rope from the knot on the bridge rail to the suited body dangling below. He snapped photos with his iPhone as bats shot toward his head like small brown jets.
Walkers and cyclists on the bridge approached the scene until a look from Hardin nudged them on down the road. A shirtless jogger with a P90X body and major attitude bent low to come under the crime scene tape. Joe opened his jacket to show the shield on his belt, “This is a crime scene, Ace.” He glanced beyond the man and saw his Homicide partner, Detective David Ornelas walking to the scene.
P90X thought about pushing it, then looked in Joe’s eyes. He shot Joe the finger as he trotted away saying, “This is America, not Nazi Germany!”
David ducked under the tape and said as he passed the angry man, “Don’t get your lederhosen in a bunch.”
Joe said, “Glad you could make it.”
“Got any gum this morning?” Joe gave him the flat pack of Eclipse gum he habitually carried. “Who do we have?”
“Judge Matthew Rodgers.”
David thumb-pushed three pieces of gum out of their pockets and returned the pack to Joe. One piece of gum remained.
“Why didn’t you just take all of them?”
David waved his hand in front of his mouth as if moving away dragon breath, “Lethal halitosis this morning. I’m saving your life here.” David looked over the edge. “Who called it in?”
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