Fleming was working on his third piece of cheesecake. He wiped the crumbs off his lips with a linen napkin, and said, “Sorry we got off to a bad start. I’m Mr. Sampson’s administrative assistant, butler, chauffeur, cook, and confidant. Between us low blood sugar people, I can’t stand the man, but the pay is great, and he gives me health insurance. My only job is to kiss his ass. It’s a tough job, but the pay is great. I personally think the man is a turd. Know what I mean?”
“Know what you mean, Bro. I can’t stand the man either,” said Gillis playing good cop as if he were seeking an Oscar for Best Actor.
“Question, Bro,” said Pickle. “Can I call you Bro instead of Flemo? Bro removes you from the suspect list. Flemo keeps you on the list. I want to make sure I get it right.”
“Fleming isn’t even my real name. Mr. Sampson made me change my name to fit his image. My real name is Lance Foggy. Please call me Bro. I’ll help you all I can.”
“Makes sense, Bro. I can see why Foggy wasn’t working. If it were me and I had to pick a name for you, I’d have chosen Froggy. See, that way I combine a classy name with your name. Easy to remember. Easy to spell,” said Pickle.
Gillis said, “Spot on, Dill. You know how to pull complicated issues together.”
Fleming, Foggy, Froggy, or Bro reached for another pieced of cheesecake. He spoke with a mouth half full, “Binging on sugar really elevates my my blood sugar level and gives me the sugar high I’ve been craving. Thanks for the tip, detective Gillis.”
Gillis said, “One more tip, always carry a candy bar with you. It will help in emergencies. If you notice a slight weight gain, pay no attention to it, it’s only your body readjusting.”
Gillis reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out a glossy photo of the cufflink found inside the newly deceased. He slid it across the table to Fleming. “Ever seen one of these? We found it in another carved up monkey.”
Fleming reached for the photo, “What was the monkey’s name?”
“Phil, rhymes with pill, dill, chill, trill, mill, fill, kill . . .”
Gillis interrupted Pickle, fearful that his soliloquy might go on for hours. “Bro, take close look at the photo. I got a hunch you’ve seen the cuff link before. My hunches are usually spot on. It’s why I’m certain a certain woman by the name of Wendy will be spending the night with me.”
Fleming stared at the photo. He pushed it out to arm’s length. He pulled it closer to his face. He turned it toward the windows before turning back to Gillis, “I recognize it. Why?”
Pickle leaned toward Fleming while picking up the last piece of cheesecake. He said, “Man, you make this? It’s awesome. It’s the best cheesecake I’ve tasted.”
“Between us, Sampson thinks I cook. I send out for everything, including the cheesecake. It’s from the Cheesecake Factory.”
“You don’t cook?” asked Gillis.
“For one thing, if Sampson thought I ate anything with sugar in it, he’d fire me. He’s a health freak. He eats tofu. He eats kale. He nibbles on chia seeds. No wonder he still has a high voice. What makes it worse, he loves vegan food. Every night he wants vegan. I told him my mother and father were vegans and I was breastfed only with vegan milk.”
“Are you vegan?” asked Gillis.
“Hell, no. I need meat. My father was a butcher and my mother was a barbecue cook at Rolly’s. The reason I look so bad is because it’s hell living a lie,” said Fleming.
“It’s time you’ve come out of the carnivore closet. We’ll support you. I can put you in touch with a carnivore social support group. They meet at Barry’s Barbecue every Thursday evening,” said Gillis.
Pickle wiped the crumbs of the cheesecake off his plate with the tip of his forefinger, then started wiping them off Fleming’s plate. Pickle knew Gillis’ plate is off limits. It’s a seniority thing in the police department.
Fleming stood, picked up the three plates and put them in the dishwasher. He walked to the refrigerator and opened the Freezer. Gillis and Pickle stared at a freezer stuffed with frozen vegan dinners.
“While you’re at it, Bro, tell us about the cufflink. You said you saw it before,” said Gillis. “We’d like coffee. You use Maxwell House?”
“Who’s Maxwell House? Is it a new coffee shop? I’ve never heard of him. Sampson only orders the finest, smallest, richest coffee beans in the world. They’re grown on a single estate in Jamaica. Over a hundred dollars an ounce.”
“In that case, give Dill and me a pound each when we leave. I prefer my fine ground. Pickle prefers a coarse ground,” said Gillis.
“Considered it done. I like to short change his turdness whenever I can. How do I know about the cufflink you ask?”
“That’s what we’re asking, we don’t know how you know about the cufflink. We think it’s the clue to the murders,” said Pickle. “ He added, “I could go for another piece of cheesecake and Jamaican coffee.”
“Where do you pack that away, Dill,” asked Gillis trying to keep the conversation rolling.
“I got high cannibalism. It runs in the family,” said Pickle using a credit card to floss his teeth.
“You mean metabolism,” said Gillis immediately regretting what he said.
“Two easily confused words, metabolism and cannibalism. Metabolism refers to music. You ever hear of heavy metal or Metallica? Heavy metal evolved into heavy metabolism and Metallica took it the rest of the way. Cannibalism is how fast you burn up your cannibals. You know some foods are high cannibals and others are low cannibals.”
Fleming was about to speak. Gillis cautioned him to stop. He said, “Dill is a master of linguistics. It’s better to accept whatever he says as accurate. I’ve seen some question his mastery and it never turns out pretty. Eventually, they’ll admit they’re wrong.”
Fleming poured two cups of the expensive and rare Jamaican coffee, brought them to Gillis and Pickle in rare fancy gold embossed China cups. He placed a quarter of a cheesecake in front of Pickle. “I’ll give you each a cheesecake along with the coffee when you leave.”
“Nice cups. I could use two cups tonight to set the scene with a new lover,” said Gillis.
“They’re very rare,” said Fleming.
“Before we leave you can file a stolen property report. Dill and I will quickly investigate and file it away under unsolved crimes. File your insurance claim and we’ll back you,” said Gillis.
“It’s seems highly irregular,” said Fleming.
“Happens all the time, Bro. Cops are paid pitiful wages and this is how we supplement. It’s a win-win situation,” said Gillis.
Fleming said, “I’ve never done anything like this. It’s, it’s kind of exciting.”
“You’re getting a taste of the dark side, Bro. It can be addictive,” said Pickle finishing up the cheesecake.
“Now, about the cufflink,” said Gillis. “Man this coffee is smooth, dark, and rich. Love it. Make it two pounds each when we leave.”
“The Green Leaf. That’s the answer,” said Fleming.