Gillis and Pickle stared at their burritos. Each one weighing more than a pound. They were covered with a thick, cheap yellow cheese spreading over the burrito’s side like slime. Pickles took a large bite of the cheese and refried beans. He looked up at a tall thin, brown skinned male, whose left are was a tapestry deserving to be hung in a museum of fine tattoos. Pickle said, “Great queso, what kind is it, Pancho?”
The kid behind the counter said, “No hablo inqles, senor.”
Pickle turned to Gillis, “You understand him? I’m fluent in Spanish and I’m positive what he said is not Spanish.”
Gillis always sensitive to Pickle’s need to be right, said, “You nailed that one, Dill. The kid isn’t speaking Spanish. They only speak Spanish in Spain. He’s speaking Mexican. Only a fine ear like yours can distinguish the subtle differences. From what I understand of Mexican, he said he doesn’t speak English.”
“Tell him the cheese is very good, Gills.”
“Muy bien, gracias,” said Gillis.
“I got to give it to you, Gills. I wouldn’t be surprised if you take over for Cap when he retires. You understand all the minorities,” said Pickle.
“I’ve thought about it. I’d make some changes. First, I’d give you a promotion, then I’d change Wendy’s job and make her my administrative assistant, on call twenty-four seven.” Gillis paused for a moment. “I’d put you in charge while Wendy and me went to conferences at only the most exclusive resorts. It would all be on the taxpayer’s dollar.”
“You’re always learning, Gills. I’ve got to hand to you. And, to think you’d trust me with running the department in your absence. That’s the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me.”
Gillis saw that Pickle was on the verge of crying. He changed the subject, “I love this place because they don’t charge us since we’re cops and we overlook the fact that every worker is an illegal immigrant. You can have my refried beans. I don’t want to have gas when Wendy shows up to spend the night with me.”
“You got to be worried about Wendy, Gills thinking how tough the divorce will be on her financially. Pat might take everything.”
“My mind’s been working overtime on that one, Dill. I’ve already made a call to Jimmy D. I asked him if he had any openings on his all nude review. I think Wendy would make a great team member given her physical qualities, if you know what I mean.”
“Know what you mean, Gills. Have you told Wendy about Jimmy D’s interest in her?” asked Pickle.
“I’m waiting for the right moment. You know, when she’s complaining how Pat ripped her off and all that. I’ll be her hero when I tell her about a great career move.”
“Gills, if a cop ever becomes a saint, it’s going to be you,” said Pickle.
“I appreciate it, Dill. I’m Methodist. Before that I was a Baptist. Before that I was a Fundamentalist. Before that, I was a Buddhist. Before that I was searching for love in all the wrong places.”
“What do you think you’ll be next, Gills?”
“The way I see my spiritual life evolving, if the Catholics allow priests to get married, carry a gun, and work as a private detective on the side, I might consider making the move,” said Gillis. His voice dripping with sincerity.
Gillis and Pickle methodically worked their way through their burritos. Every now and them they’d take a sip of Dos Equis. Suddenly, Gillis swiveled on his stool and faced Pickle. He said, “Food helps me think, Dill. I believe I’ve solved the case. We might be able to wrap it up in a half hour or less. Let me lay out the case to you. One, we got a serial killer loose. Two, the serial killer has a thing for the insides of the victim. Three, the serial killer has no use for the head, unless Wendy missed something and didn’t do an autopsy on the brain. This gives me an excuse to stop in and check it out. I want to make sure she’s not thinking of reconciling with Pat. Four, the two victims are friends of Folsom Sampson. Five, Folsom has something on Cap. I think he’s blackmailing him. If this wasn’t true, why did Cap get so upset when we said Folsom was our prime suspect. We got to tiptoe around him. And six, this is the big one, all this leads me to recommend we need Lady Zonga’s help to break the case.”
Pickle stopped eating chips. He twisted a half turn toward Gillis. He said, “You’re blowing my mind, Gills. You seared all the pieces to the puzzle and found the corners. You picked up Humpty Dumpty and put him back together. You found a four leaf clover when nobody could find a three leaf clover.”
Gillis cut Pickle short. He still had Wendy on his mind. He said, “I agree with all you said, Dill. When I look at the puzzle from over here, the only way we bake the cake, chill the wine, and get lucky and score with one of the department ladies is if we see Lady Zonga, pronto.”
“Which one of the department ladies do you have in mind for me, Gills? I still see one problem. It’s a problem bigger than the half time Super Bowl show.”
“What’s that, Dill? Lady Zonga’s got the inner eye. Recall how she helped us solve the suicide?”
The Mexican burrito maker was behind the counter listening to the conversation. He said, “You got the wrong lady. Who you need is Señora Mendoza. She can read signs better than anyone I know. She was the one who told me what day I could sneak across the border without getting caught. Her prices are high, but she’s worth it.”
Gillis said, “I thought you couldn’t speak English?”
“I graduated from the university in Mexico. I only put on an act because I didn’t want to tell you guys the cheese was stolen and moldy.”
“You mean to say she’s better than Lady Zonga who figured out the guy who killed himself committed suicide?” asked Gillis.
“She would have predicted the event a week before it happened, it which case, it wouldn’t have happened because you could have interfered and stopped it.”
“She’s got to be good,” said Gillis. He added, “You want to work for the department? We need new blood. Especially Romanian blood.”
“I’d like to, man. Making burritos is my life’s calling. My name’s Tomas, ask for me next time you come in and I’ll make sure you get queso no older than two weeks out of date and with minimal mold.”
“You’re a dude, Tomas. I’m going to give you an address where you can get a forged green card. Mention me and they’ll throw in a coupon for hamburgers from Rusty’s,” said Gillis scribbling an address on a paper napkin.
Gillis finished his beer and Pickle’s beer. He stood up, punched his stomach and belched. His belch was louder than a recess at an elementary school. When he finished, he said, “A sign of good meal is that it tastes as good coming back up as it did going down.” Gillis tossed a thumb’s up to Tomas. He tapped Pickle on the shoulder, “Let’s head out to Folsom’s place, maybe we’re missing something, Dill. We’ll look at the stuff we didn’t look at yesterday. I’m going to keep my eyes on Fleming. It’s not a far stretch to say the administrative assistant did it.”
Pickle looks at the empty stool between them. “I could swear I put my beer on the stool. I must have been so thirsty I finished it. Don’t forget the cufflink. If Fleming or Folsom is walking around with one cufflink we got our man.”
“I can see why the department teamed you guys up,” said Tomas over his shoulder while working on four burrito’s.
“The kid’s got smarts. We got to keep recruiting him, Dill,” said Gillis.