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Gator Bait

by DG Critchley

About the Author: DG Critchley is a native New Englander who hightailed it to South Florida as soon as he was informed that grown-ups can live anywhere they want, and that in spite of opinions to the contrary, he was considered to be an adult. He does still keep an ice scraper by the door, because you never know. His most recent stories have appeared in anthologies such as Mid-Century Murder (Darkhouse Books) and The Killer Wore Cranberry (Untreed Reads). He is a frequent contributor to Pulp Adventures magazine.


A number of street-level dealers had been disappearing in Miami over the last year or so. Miami Dade cops weren’t particularly concerned about fewer dealers on the street. Still, missing dealers were reported across Broward County as well. Fort Lauderdale police had asked the FBI to determine if it was an unusually tidy turf war or something else, like a vigilante. And that’s how I, Travis Tredman, your friendly neighborhood FBI Special Agent, ended up waist-deep in the Everglades looking for anything remotely resembling a clue.

The latest disappearance was a charming gentleman named Ralph Carolli. Mr. Carolli was a notorious crime figure, at least according to Mr. Carolli. The truth was that Ralphie was a bottom-feeder, a street-level drug dealer, and about as subtle as a kick in the teeth. The Miami-Dade cops were well aware that Ralphie Carolli wasn’t using his van to deliver hot meals to orphanages. But, despite the fact he was dumber than a box of hammers, the cops couldn’t figure out who his supplier was. So he kept “slipping through their fingers.” Ralphie thought he was a criminal mastermind. Most of his associates considered it dumb luck, with the emphasis on dumb. In truth, Miami Dade PD kept him on the streets, hoping the idiot would lead them up the supply chain.

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