Nick PT Barnum's Misdemeanor Homicide

If you enjoyed this short crime fiction you may like this one:

Part One

 Pulling one hand from the warmth of his pocket, Detective Peter O’Brien bent down to grab the dead man’s chin, pushing his head to one side to get a better look at the gunshot wound. The small, charred hole had blood oozing out like a slow leak.

"This was the cause of his demise," he said. " Man’s got a hole in his head and life just poured out. The poor bastard.."

" With today’s technology we can’t patch up that hole, huh?" Fuentes replied.

"I don’t think so," O’Brien grimaced. " That hole just ended all his hopes and dreams."

"Well, maybe he didn’t have any hopes and dreams. I mean living here on the streets can really kill any desire to fulfill dreams. Am I right?."

O’Brien nodded, his face the very picture of contemplation. He looked around at the heart of the PT Barnum Housing Projects, about a dozen Bridgeport police officers watching their breath freeze over the crime scene. Then he looked over and saw the shift commander laughing hard in the yellow and blue strobe of the emergency lights. Captain Paul Wilson was also acting commander while Captain Frank Roque was on medical leave.

Fucking Asshole!

The shift commander walked over to O’Brien and the dead man. He glared at Fuentes, but quickly returned his attention to the dead.

"Okay, did anybody talk to this guy before he bit the dust?" asked the commanding officer as he blew warmth into his cupped hands with a couple of bursts.

" The poor soul was ten-seven when we got here,’ Fuentes replied.

The ten-seven was the police code for " out of service."As Officer Alfredo Fuentes just applied it to human life.

"Beautiful," said the shift commander. "Did anyone go through his pockets?"

"Not yet," O’Brien replied.

The shift commander blew several more bursts of warm air into his cupped hands and moved closer to the body. "Where the fuck are his pockets?"

"He’s got a pair of swimming trunks under the sweat suit," said O’Brien. " I think he keeps all his belongings in those pockets."

Fuentes grinned as he watched the shift commander straddle the body, one foot on each side of the dead man’s waist, and he began tugging violently at the sweat pants. The tugging moved the body a little away from the curb leaving a thin film of matted blood and brain matter on the asphalt.

" Watch for needles," Fuentes said.

"Needles?" he glared. " I wouldn’t have to be checking his fucking pockets if you guys were doing your job."

Fuentes nodded obediently.

With the yellow and blue strobe light dancing off of O’Brien’s pale face, he moved a step closer to Fuentes as if to give him some type of moral support. Peter O’Brien was a veteran of the Bridgeport Police Department. He had seen a lot of shift commanders come and go. He didn’t particularly like this one, but his day shall soon come too. O’Brien was a barrel chested, meaty man with a completely shaved head. His eyes were light blue, but that night the whites of his eyes were blood shot. The cold air also gave his pale head some redness. It was added color he really didn’t care for.

Officer Alfredo Fuentes was once a Jai-alia player in Milford. He was very strong, and his body would support that statement. He stood about six feet, and he had a receding hair line. His complexion was on the olive side, but that night, he too was redden by the cold February air.

The shift commander pulled his meaty hand out of the dead man’s pocket causing some change to spill out. There wasn’t enough for bus fare, but there was enough to make some noise on the street.

" I can’t find a wallet," he half shouted. " But I’m not going to keep looking. This dead son of a bitch stinks like shit. I’ll wait for the meat movers to come. I know you guys called them, right?"

" Of course," O’Brien replied.

"They should be on their way," Fuentes added.

The shift commander nodded slowly. " How many times was he hit?"

"Two times," O’Brien answered.

"I just see the one hole."

O’Brien lifted the body by the armpits revealing a second hole above the left shoulder blade. " Two times."

The shift commander nodded slowly again.

"I have some men asking questions," said O’Brien. " We should have another detail of officers coming by in the morning to continue the rounds of questioning."

"Yeah," he looked away. "Damn, can’t wait until the shift is over. I’m tired and I want to lay these bones down."

O’Brien nodded.

"Don’t know why this mother fucker decided to get shot on my watch. He couldn’t wait until my shift was over? That mother fucker!"

The two words that ran through O’Brien’s head were Mental Case. He couldn’t believe that someone actually gave the shift commander a badge, stripes, and sent him out into the streets of Bridgeport with a bad attitude. The city wasn’t a bad city, but it had its share of violence, filth and despair. O’Brien didn’t want to paint a pretty picture, but it had to be protected, respected, and treated like home. The night was long, but he didn’t really need the shift commander’s chorus of complaints. He gets that from the blue jacketed rookies who want to carve their names into the city as a super hero. After a while, they learn that it’s just impossible. They are so much better off just protecting and serving.

"Where the hell are the meat packers?" he shouted.

"They’ll be here, relax," O’Brien flexed.

His poorly aged line face moved closer to O’Brien and he tightened his lips. "Don’t try me."

O’Brien nodded but didn’t back down. The fact that O’Brien was able to keep a straight face, he knew he avoided a departmental complaint. The shift commander was very good when it came to issuing such complaints. He was the type of commander that would write you up even if you shook four times at the urinal. He was simply a son of a bitch.

The medical examiners finally arrived and motored up to the dead man. The driver of the ME truck jumped out first. He looked at the body which was sprawled on his back, legs in the gutter, arms partly extended, head facing the entrance to the projects. The dead man’s brown eyes were fixed under half lids. The expression was that of extreme horror and despair. It appeared to the naked eye that he knew he was going to be shot.

"Bullets was the cause of death," Fuentes said.

"Yeah, well with our legal system the way it is today, I bet with a good lawyer the murderer can get off easily with a slap on the wrist," said the lead ME.

Fuentes looked confused.

"Think about it, " he continued. " He will tell the jury that the man died of a heart attack because he heard the bullets coming, and then he’ll prove that in court."

Fuentes chuckled, but without disrespect for the dead.

A uniform female officer walked up to O’Brien and tugged on his jacket. She moved closer and lowered her voice. She wanted to tell him about a witness and she was acting as if conveying the information was simply an embarrassing display. Or perhaps it was the simple fact that she wanted nothing to do with the shift commander.

"What is it?" O’Brien whispered back.

"There’s a young woman who went into section B across the street. She told me that she was there when this man got shot. She said she was the one who called the police."

" She saw it?"

" Yeah, she said it was a thin black man wearing dark clothes. She said he shot the man twice and ran off toward Railroad Avenue."

" Two sides of Railroad Avenue," O’Brien half whispered. " A thin black male?"

It wasn’t much for O’Brien to work with. There were thousands of thin black males who wear dark clothes living in the city. He had to narrow the gap. He looked at the female officer and nodded vaguely. " Go chat with her. See if you can get me something more."

" Yes sir."

O’Brien smiled.

The shift commander started barking orders at the medical examiners. His arms were flailing like a madman. The expression on the medical examiner’s face was that of a flustered school child to whom the logic of a simple math equation had just been revealed. What really crossed the lead medical examiner’s mind was another death. The death he was considering was a beating. He wanted to pick up the corpse and beat the shift commander to death with it.

The medical examiners moved quickly as they tagged and moved the body off the street and into the wagon. O’Brien understood the shift’s commanders need to get the body off the road as quickly as possible. There was just no need for a dead man to be on the streets of this fair city.

The less eyes on it, the better.

© 2012 Frank Atanacio

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Comments 39 comments

henderson0683 profile image

henderson0683 4 years ago

Nice hub check my vid out please

Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 4 years ago from Shelton Author

thank you henderson

writer20 profile image

writer20 4 years ago from Southern Nevada

Great story you had me from the beginning.

Voted up and awesome-truely meant, Joyce.

TToombs08 profile image

TToombs08 4 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

Frank, your writing is always so polished, professional and not to mention, above else, enjoyable. Voting up and more. :)

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lovedoctor926 4 years ago

Good imagery, very intense and passionate. You kept me gripped till the end! Keep up the good work:)

Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 4 years ago from The Beautiful South

Wow, this is just like one of my favorite unsolved mysteries shows. Along with my own sense of distrust, lol. Great write.

Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 4 years ago from Shelton Author

Thank you so much TTombs and @ Marlene I kept you gripped. hmm why didn't I feel anything? LOL thanks for stopping by and Jackie Lynnley thank you so much for stopping by :) Frank

thelyricwriter profile image

thelyricwriter 4 years ago from West Virginia

Frank, you did it again pal. Talent stands tall in you. Write you must. Now I am talking like Yoda:) I was hooked all the way through Frank. Main point that stands out is your character. Very good writing. Peace:)

Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 4 years ago from Shelton Author

thanks so much Yoda

PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 4 years ago from Dallas, Texas

Frank, Good one. Can't wait for part 2. I can almost hear the theme song from "The First 48 Hours" playing. Dring, dring, dring, dring; lights flashing. These guys better get the scoop from that witness before someone snuffs her. You've painted the scene well with clearly defined, vivid characters. I already despise the commander. But then, doesn't everyone?

Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 4 years ago from Shelton Author

thanks so much pegcole..LOL

Vinaya Ghimire profile image

Vinaya Ghimire 4 years ago from Nepal

What I loved in this story is the use of dialogues and also the characterization.

Interesting storytelling. Good work Frank.

Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 4 years ago from Shelton Author

thank VG

Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 4 years ago from Shelton Author

yeah LOL thanks Alastar.. now a days who knows right? LOL glad you caught that

Rosemay50 profile image

Rosemay50 4 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand

Awesome story frank, had me engrossed from start to the end of this chapter, will be looking forward to the next. As with your poetry your imigary is perfect, puts your readers right there on the scene.

I too loved the 'heart attack' reference, very clever

Ruchira profile image

Ruchira 4 years ago from United States are a master in crime novels. They always keep me on the edge.


sharing it across with many votes

Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 4 years ago from Shelton Author

thank you so much Rosemay and Ruchira for stopping by my page bless you both :)

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Sueswan 4 years ago

Hi Frank

" That hole just ended all his hopes and dreams."

Loved it.

Nick P.T. Barnum would make a great TV series.

Looking forward to part 2.

Voted up up and away!

Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 4 years ago from Shelton Author

thanks so much Sue.. you're the best!

Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

I'm with Sue, this would be a good TV series. Enjoyed it!

Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 4 years ago from Shelton Author


Cyndi10 profile image

Cyndi10 4 years ago from Georgia

So good, Frank. But then I'm never disappointed when I read your work. Lots of great dialogue, both the mental and verbal. I loved the medical examiner thinking of picking up the dead body and beating the shift commander with it. That guy was really not well liked. Thanks for a great read.

Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 4 years ago from Shelton Author

thanks so much cyndi10 for visiting my streets

dmop profile image

dmop 4 years ago from Cambridge City, IN

Fantastic start to a likely good story, it seems like it could be a book quite easily. Voted up and awesome.

Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 3 years ago from Shelton Author

thanks so much dmop for readin my Nick Barnum tale :)

phdast7 profile image

phdast7 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

Another very good slice of the rougher side of life. You are not predictable in your writing, but the quality and interest is dependable ... I think what I was trying to say is that I am never disappointed by your stories. Good Hub. :)

Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 3 years ago from Shelton Author

Thank you Phdast7 :)

Becky Katz profile image

Becky Katz 3 years ago from Hereford, AZ

Kept my interest, as usual. I don't know how I missed this, I thought I had read all of them.

Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 2 years ago from Shelton Author

thanks Katz for reading my Nick Barnum

carrie Lee Night profile image

carrie Lee Night 2 years ago from Northeast United States

Great work! :) I should start calling you the Godfather of Crime Drama :) Loved the raw material and dialougue. Have a happy New Year :) PS: I have been off the grid for a while....happy to be back.

Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 2 years ago from Shelton Author

glad you're back carrie lee happy new year to you too

SheGetsCreative profile image

SheGetsCreative 24 months ago from Seattle, WA

Thumbs up as always -- I enjoy your writing style so much! Even had to go Google PT Barnum Housing, just to see if it really existed.

Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 24 months ago from Shelton Author

thank you she gets...:

Melissa Orourke profile image

Melissa Orourke 22 months ago from Roatán, Islas De La Bahia, Honduras

I enjoyed reading this! Great graphic descriptions! Thank you.

Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 18 months ago from Shelton Author

thank you Melissa

Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 16 months ago from Shelton Author

thanks Joyce

Shyron E Shenko profile image

Shyron E Shenko 10 months ago

The homeless man had expired

And the shift commander’s foul mouth

Cursing the poor soul

On such a cold night for bringing him out

O’Brian did not need the shift Commander’s tone

He could do a better job alone

For every vile word the shift Commander said

Made everyone else wish he could replace the dead



You just described a bitter cold Chicago night. Looks like I missed a lot of your stories, but I will get caught up when thing settle down a bit. Some great lines in here too, like “He will tell the jury that the man died of a heart attack because he heard the bullets coming, and then he’ll prove that in court."

Blessings and hugs my friend

Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 10 months ago from Shelton Author

thank you so much for reading my misdemeanor Shyron... bless yiu

Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 10 months ago from Shelton Author

I just noticed the little poem you wrote LOL Thanks :)

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