The door to the oversized, architectural fiasco mansion opened. A silver haired, six foot two inch man wearing a tux with red cummerbund stretching over a forty-four inch waist said, “I assume you are the detectives?”
“When you go through puberty, your voice is going to change. No offense intended, are you going through a sex change?” asked Pickles.
“I’m Mr. Sampson’s administrative assistant, Fleming. Please leave your firearms in your beat up truck. Mr. Sampson doesn’t allow firearms or curse words in his home,” said Fleming clearing his throat attempting to bring it down into the soprano range.
Gillis ignored Fleming. He tapped Pickle on the arm, “Ask him if he has more than one name. I think he’s taking steroids. Steroid takers can react violently, I’m giving you a head’s up. Another thing, you take too many steroids they shrink your package, know what I mean, Dill?”
Pickles stared at Fleming, then looked at Gillis, “Hold on, Gills. I’m supposed to be the bad cop. I won the coin toss.”
“I had a mind burp, Dill. Excuse me. I’m the good cop, you’re the bad cop,” said a contrite Gillis.
Pickle nodded and fist bumped Gillis. He said, “He’s not doing steroids. If he was he’d have pimples. One thing I’ll say for Phlegm, he has good skin but the comb over leaves a lot to be desired. Hey, Phlegm, you do Botox? Do you have another name to go with Phlegm?”
Fleming turned a shade of yellow and green, and said, “I have one name, like Madonna. The name is Fleming. Mr. Sampson is very generous and I’m covered for free Botox injections whenever I need them.”
Pickles turned his back to Fleming, closed his eyes and concentrated on his bad cop role. When he was emotionally ready, he screwed up his face, twisted his lips into a snarl, turned back toward Fleming and barked, “Guns or cussing not allowed? Is that so? How about I shove my gun up your tight ass? That is, unless you’re Folsom Sampson, which you already admitted you’re not. If you’re lying, and you are Sampson, I’m going to bust you for exploding an investigation. You want to cop a plea deal and rat out your boss, maybe I’ll put in a good word for you with the B.O.”
Fleming’s color was changing so rapidly, Gillis couldn’t get a good read on it. He took note of Pickle’s use of the word exploding instead of impeding. For a brief moment Gillis felt overwhelmed. He had so much work to do to get Pickle ready for the detective first grade exam and only two years to do it.
Fleming jabbed a finger at Pickle and said, “You. You are an …”
“Don’t say something you’re going to regret, Phlegm. Why were you called Phlegm? That brings up disgusting images in my mind. If anybody named me Phlegm I’d a changed it faster than a whore turns a trick,” said Gillis.
“I’m going to report the both of you to whoever takes reports. You’ve not heard the end of this,” squeaked Fleming.
Pickles said, “I didn’t hear anything bad, did you Gills?”
Gillis still wasn’t sure what Pickle meant by B. O. It couldn’t have been body odor. He decided to let it slide. He said, “Not me.”
“The only thing I heard was Phlegm insulting my mixed racial identity. You hear that, Gills?” asked Pickles.
Gillis slipping into his good cop role, said, “It embarrassed me the way he was talking about your ancestors. What if your four or five fathers showed up? How would they feel? I don’t think Phlegm knew about your four or five fathers. Let’s cut him a bit of slack and hold off on reporting the pervert, Dill. The man’s only doing his job. Besides, you don’t want to get your gun dirty by sticking it up his ass. We’re not carrying pistol condoms.”
Gillis turned to face Fleming. He said, “We’ll hold on to our guns, Phlegm. If you’re not Folsom Sampson, we don’t care who you are. You might be Liza Filtz for all I know. We’re here to see Dipthong”
“You mean Mr. Sampson?” said Fleming reassuming a snooty attitude.
“Gills, I think I heard you say Ping Pong. Maybe we should arrest this guy for making fun of the way you talk. We’ll shove him the same cell with Benny Melendez, the street mariachi player. You want some of that, huh, Phlegm? You want to hear mariachi music twenty-four seven. It’s enough to drive someone from here to Saskatchewan. You’ll need a passport if you want to take that trip. If you try to sneak over the border, it’s okay, it’s a problem for the Canadian security. My guess is you don’t have a passport on you. You know what I’m talking about?” said Pickles.
Fleming, who majored in logic at the university, couldn’t follow the conversation. He was trying to wrap his head around an enigma and found it more difficult than solving a Rubric’s Cube. His tongue wouldn’t move. He gestured, it didn’t help. He turned and walked inside the mansion, Gillis and Pickle followed.
Fleming stopped five feet into the entrance way. He was back on familiar turf. He took a deep breath and turned to face Gillis and Pickle, “I’ll ask you to remove those, those, rubber soled, lower blue collar, black work shoes.”
Fleming, unwittingly played into the bad cop character that Pickle won honorable mention with at the Police Christmas party. Pickle stopped. He untied his right shoe. He glanced at the smirking Fleming who held blue disposable booties for both Pickle and Gillis. Later, Pickle would tell Gillis it was the smirk that brought out the award nominating performance for his bad cop routine.
Pickles scaled his shoe at Fleming’s head. Fleming easily stepped aside and watched the black, steel toed, blue collar worker shoe sail past him and smash into Van Gogh’s Starry Night on loan to Folsom Sampson for safe keeping while the Museum of Modern Art updated its security systems. Pickle’s black shoe put a three inch tear into the canvas and a distinct black smudge making the starry night darker.
Pickles walked over to the painting, gave it ten seconds of his attention, picked up his shoe and asked, “This one of the paint by numbers paintings? Whose Vin Goff?”
Gillis thought Pickles was overplaying the bad cop role.
Fleming, who fainted, opened his eyes staring up into the ceiling and not a starry night, gurgled, “It’s Van Gogh, not Vin Goff, dolt. Do you know what you did?”
“I can answer that question with a question,” said Pickle. “Where can we find Sampson?”
Fleming wiped the tears out of his eyes, and pointed, “He’s…He’s in his office over there.”
Gillis and Pickle stepped over the prone Fleming and walked to Sampson’s office. They didn’t bother knocking. Gillis twisted the nob and flung the door open letting the door nob whack the wall leaving a small indentation. The two detectives walked into Sampson’s office. Sampson sat on an executive chair behind a large polished cherry desk. A golden, life sized sculpture of the deceased sat on the floor on next to the desk. A smaller golden replica sat on the corner of Sampson’s desk. Four commissioned paintings of the deceased hung on walls.
“What was that racquet in the hall? Where is Fleming? Why didn’t you knock? I hope you didn’t damage the wall. All my walls were painted by the obscure but rising Latino artist Don Won. Do you know who I am?” said Sampson.
Gillis flashed his shield and Pickle chucked Sampson the bird. Gillis said, “I’m Gillis, the good cop. This here is my partner, Pickle, the bad cop. We’re here to talk to you about the murder of a monkey. We don’t want any monkey business from you neither.”
“Do you know you used a double negative?” said the Ivy educated Sampson.
“Let’s get something straight, I’m an optimist. I don’t allow no negative thinking into my mind, so quit the crap about double negatives,” said Gillis.
“Nice one, Gills,” said Pickle.
Sampson gave a disgusted look, opened a drawer and said, “Mind if I vape?”
Pickle was standing in front of the desk, said, “You vape and I will twist the two mushrooms that kinda look like ears on the sides of your head until they fall off your head. I’m okay with this, if you agree.”
Sampson closed the desk drawer. Then he glared at Pickle now sitting on the edge of his desk holding a one of a kind commissioned blown glass work by Lo Ming of the deceased monkey. “What do you think you’re doing?” he demanded.
Pickle looked at Gillis and tossed him the blown glass monkey. Sampson gasped, “No. No. It’s a rare commissioned piece. It’s one of kind. It’s a replica of my beloved Till.”
Gillis didn’t track the blown glass. He was preoccupied clipping his nails. Till floated happily toward Gillis. On Till’s descent, he performed a half twist, and made a perfect head first dive onto the Italian marble floor shattering into a thousand pieces.”
“Ye gads. That was priceless. “Where is justice?” bellowed Sampson
Before Sampson could say another word, Gillis smiled, playing good cop, and said, “Sam Justice is working vice. He’s on the night shift. Being priceless is a good thing. It means whatever this thing is supposed to be, it’s not worth anything. If you go eBay, you probably can find an upgrade for about five fifty.”
Sampson began crying. He laid his head down on his desk and beat the desk with both fists sobbing loudly.
“When you’re finished with your tantrum, we’ll get on with our interview,” said Gillis.
“Yah. We can do it the hard way or we can do it the Pickle way, which makes the hard way look like the easy way. The third way is to write out your confession and tell us how you had your cook prepare the monkey’s guts.”
© Ray Calabrese 2018