13 ~ Pickle Practices Staring Contest With a Mirror


Gillis and Pickle caught site of each other and broke into boisterous laughter. Pickle gave Gillis a high five and Gillis returned the gesture by offering Pickle a fist bump. 

Pickle said, “Thanks, Dill. I needed something to break the tension.” He turned toward Sampson and said,  “I can think of two-hundred sixteen reasons and anyone who kills you will get The Killer of The Year Humanitarian medal, punk.”

Pickle’s comment struck a raw nerve with Sampson. “I had enough. You come in here an insult me. You destroy a painting. Carelessly toss a rare blown glass image of Tell and your partner is too busy clipping his nails to catch it and Tell shatters into a thousand pieces. To top it off, your partner tore a page out of a first edition for evidence. And, you have the nerve to me a punk?”

Pickle turned toward Gillis, “Gills, do I have the nerve to call Sampson a punk?”

Gillis shook his head yes, then went back to texting Wendy Flox.

“Gills says I have the nerve to call you a punk. Why are you asking me if I had the nerve to call you a punk, punk? Before you speak let me inform you whatever you say is useless and will be twisted to make our case tighter than a . . .” Pickle turned toward Gillis, “Gills, I need a metaphor to complete my sentence tighter than a … can you give me an assist?” asked Pickle

Gillis sent his text off to Wendy, raised his right hand to his chin giving deep thought to come up with an appropriate metaphor. After a long minute, Gillis said, “At first thought the only metaphors I can come up with are offensive to most human beings. Here’s a lame metaphor, I think it will work, ‘It’s tighter than sausage on a stick.’”

Sampson butted in, “That doesn’t make sense. You should sue your English teachers for malpractice.”

 Gillis looked at Sampson, “You know a good lawyer who won’t charge up front money and will only take a ten percent of my winning lawsuit?”

Before Sampson could answer, Pickle butted in, “Can we make this a class action law suit? I want a piece of the action.”

Sampson began pounding his fists against his temples. Gillis put his arm around him, “Calm down. You keep hitting your head we’ll have to charge you with self inflicted assault and battery. Right now, we’re going to look the other way. Sit down and try to relax.”

Sampson turned away from the window and returned to his executive chair. “The mayor will hear about this, believe me. I’m calling my lawyer as soon as you two leave. You can expect a lawsuit.”

Pickle was still sitting on the corner of Sampson’s desk. He placed his right hand on top of Sampson’s head and pressed down, “Don’t take offense. I’m trying to keep you from blowing your top.”

“Dill’s got a point Foolsum,” said Gillis pleased with the text he sent Wendy Flox.

“It’s Folsom, not Foolsum.”

Pickle removed his hand from Sampson’s head. He bent over and spoke into Sampson’s ear, “Where were you between midnight and two? How do you know Till? Why were you jealous of Till? What did you do with his guts? What did Till ever do to you to get you so angry you decapitated him?” 

Pickle straightened up and grabbed Sampson by both shoulders and pulled him toward him, bringing him eyeball to eyeball. Pickle and Sampson engaged in a staring contest. Sampson quit after one minute ninety seconds. Pickle, still not blinking, said, “I practice staring contests with myself at home. Most of the times I come out in a tie with the mirror. More importantly, where’d you get the contacts? They are fantastic. Did you know you can get Lazik surgery and no longer need contacts?”

Sampson’s head looked like it was going to pop. He took a long second and composed himself. He said, “First, thank you for the compliment about my contacts. I checked into Lazik surgery, but decided against it. With contacts I can change the color depending on my mood. ”

Pickle released Sampson’s shoulders and pushed him back into his chair, “Thanks, Sampson. This is the second good lead we’ve had in the case. Before we leave I want your chiropractor’s name. Maybe he’ll give me the same deal on contacts.”

“I don’t got to a chiropractor. I go to an optometrist,” said Sampson looking all around his room for his rare bottle of Jack Daniels Whiskey. 

Gillis ignored Pickle and Sampson and went back to the bookcase. He pulled a book out of the case, opened it, thumbed through several pages and said, “Very interesting, very interesting and may I say very incriminating.”

“Put that book back. It’s a rare signed first edition by Hemingway. There are only two copies in the whole world.”

Gillis stuck the rare copy between his shirt and belt, “It’s evidence. My guess is the monkey’s DNA is on every page. The DA will want to see this. What do you think, Dill?”

“Sampson uncooperative, Gills. I’m thinking we should send him to timeout until he learns to play nice.”

“I am not a child. I haven’t been sent to timeout since I was four. And then, it was only because I was upset I spilled milk on my favorite shirt,” said Sampson. 

Sampson stood up, scooted around the desk, and scurried over to Gillis. He reached for the book behind Gillis’ belt. He grabbed hold of it. Gillis twisted and grabbed hold of the opposite end of the book and attempted to pull it away from Sampson. Sampson applied a death grip to the Hemingway book. Gillis crouched into a hammer thrower’s stance and started spinning. Sampson went round and around and around until Gillis let go and sent Sampson and his rare Hemingway flying through the air crashing into a large tropical fish tank. The fish tank toppled releasing twenty gallons of water and a dozen rare tropical fish swishing across the floor. Sampson’s sole victory was that he was still holding the now water soaked and ruined first edition.

Gillis said, “I concede, Sampson. You put up a hell of a fight. I want you on my team next time I’m in a tug of war.” 

Gillis surveyed the catastrophic damage. He said, “A bit of advice. Be more careful who you let touch your valuable items. Not to worry, Pickle and me will track down whoever is responsible for the carnage. As for you Sampson, I advise you not to leave town. We’ve got our eyes on you.”

“Yah, Sampson, we’ve got our eyes on you. I advise you clean up this mess before you get any visitors. Decaying fish leave an awful smell if you know what I mean. BTW, watch for broken glass,” said Pickle.

A half hour later Gillis and Pickle sat outside Captain Courageous’ office. 




© Ray Calabrese 2018


Today’s Quote on What We Think

You are what you think. So just think big, believe big, act big, work big, give big, forgive big, laugh big, love big and live big.

Andrew Carnegie

“Look to this Day” From the Sanskrit

“Look to this day!
For it is life, the very life of life.
In its brief course lie all the
Varieties and realities of your existence;
The bliss of growth,
The glory of action,
The splendor of beauty:
For yesterday is but a dream,
And tomorrow is only a vision,
But to-day well-lived makes
Every yesterday a dream of happiness,
And every tomorrow a vision of hope.
Look well, therefore to this day!

Such is the salutation of the dawn.

From the Sanskrit.”

Excerpt From
The Optimist’s Good Morning

Something to Think About

Our conduct should show that we are on this earth to play a magnificent part in life’s drama, to make a splendid contribution to humanity.

Orison Swett Marden


You are important! You have a wonderful gift to offer this world. What is it?

Are you still searching for it?

In quiet and stillness you will know and once you know let nothing distract you from cultivating it and sharing it with others.

12 ~ Gillis Claims He Could Breed If He Wanted to Breed


Gillis said, “Fess up, Sampson! Who’s this London character? I’ll give you ten to one odds, he’s an ex con with a penchant for violence. Is he using Jack London as an alias? What’s his real name? Is he the boss of bosses? Are you afraid to talk because you think London or one of his boys or women as the case may be, will crush you like they’ll crush a bug enjoying a margarita on the sidewalk. They’ll delete you faster than Windows 10 can crash. They’ll make you beg for bullet the same way a homeless man begs for a buck on a street corner. You cooperate with us and I’ll put in a good word with the district attorney about giving you immunity and a new identity.”

“What’s the good word?” asked Pickle.

Gillis thought about it for a minute. He should have used words instead of words, maybe sentences or paragraphs. He understood Pickle’s confusion. Instead of adding to Pickle’s confusion, he said, “I don’t want to say it out loud because if Sampson doesn’t think it’s good enough he won’t cooperate. Then if he thinks it’s good enough, he won’t say it is good enough and he’ll try to negotiate for even more good words.”

“You got a mind better than Einstein. As for you Sampson, you could use a new identity because your current identity is about to expire,” chimed in Pickle. 

“Good one, Dill,” said Gillis immediately regretting he gave Pickle any encouragement.

Pickle liked Gillis’s attention, so he continued, “Give us a description of this London. Does he know the Queen? Does he have a condo in the House of Commons. He must be English because of his name. We’ll put his face on Crime Stoppers, America’s Most Wanted. I’m listening to what Gills was reading and he wrote out a confession. Gills, think we should confiscate the entire library as evidence against London, Phlegm, and Sampson? I’m thinking we uncovered a large criminal enterprise and you, Sampson, are the boss of bosses and using London as your cover.”

 “What are you talking about? I am not the boss of bosses of any criminal organization. Neither one of you heard of Jack London the famous author. It only provides clear evidence of your lack of breeding.”

Gillis jumped in, “Stop right there. I could breed if I wanted too. Me, I use condoms. Pickle got a vasectomy. There’s no need to insult us because we are both being responsible about breeding. I could say you were dumb because you didn’t know how to use no double negative. But I won’t. Pickle and me don’t care if Jack London was on the best seller list or not. Killers come in all shapes and sizes. I figure he wants to take over the operation and you’re next on his hit list.”

“You don’t make sense. You can’t confiscate my entire library. I want my first edition and the page you ripped out of it back,” Sampson hollered.

“Don’t go raising your voice at my partner. He’s part of the solution. You are becoming part of the problem. If you’re not the bosses of bosses, who is the boss of bosses,” demanded Pickle.

Sampson pointed his finger gun like at Pickle, “And you, you with the vocabulary of a third grader are a bully, sir.”

“You got an attitude problem. Are you angry with me because I’m Asian, Mexican, Native American, African American and white? If you are, I am going to sue you for attempting to filet my career,” said Pickle.

“What are you talking about? You can’t filet a career,” shouted Sampson.The mayor is a friend of mine. I’ll get to the bottom of this and someone is going to pay.”

Pickle made a threatening gesture toward Sampson with his right arm. Sampson pushed away from his desk, slid off it and ducked under his desk. 

Gillis said, “I can handle this, Dill.” He walked over and stood behind the desk near where Sampson was hiding from Pickle. He bent over a bit and peered under the desk at Sampson. He said, “Sampson get out from under your desk. We don’t have time to play hide and seek. Be a big boy and climb back into your chair and stop acting like a child. We still got a few questions to ask you. The quicker you answer them, the quicker we’re out of here and on the trail of the killer.”

“Not so fast Gills,” said Pickle. Pickle lifted his right arm and smelled his armpit, “it’s not me that smells. Is it you, Gills?”

Gillis raised his left arm, smelled his armpit, then put his arm down. He said, “Not me. I showered this morning. It’s got to be you, Sampson. You know how that makes my partner and me feel. You are disrespecting us by coming to the interview reeking of B.O.”

Sampson crawled out from under the desk, stood up, and straightened out his shirt. He said, “I do not have body odor. I use a very expensive body lotion I imported from Paris,” said Sampson.

“It smells like armadillo crap. If you never smelled armadillo crap, it smells like you. How’d you know Till was dead?” badgered Pickle 

“I reported it to the police, duh! What would you think if Till’s head was sitting next to his feet? I want you two to leave,” said Sampson

“Did you forget something, Sampson,” said Pickle.

“No, I was very explicit. Get out of my house,” demanded Sampson.

 “You forgot to say please. Please is a common courtesy word people who are not murderers use. You can see why we suspect you. I am going to read you your rights,” said Gillis jumping in ahead of Pickle.

Sampson rose to his feet, and turned to face the window.

Pickle said, “My turn, Gills.”

Gillis walked around the desk and stood next to Sampson. He said, “Listen up, dirtbag. I can leave and turn you over to Pickle, there’s no telling what he’ll do. There’s rumors, that’s all I can tell you, there’s rumors.”

“What, what kind of rumors?” asked Sampson. Terror filled his eyes.

“I’m talking the worse kind of rumors,” said Gillis.

“Yah,” chimed in Pickle.

“How did you know Till? You related to the monkey?” asked Gillis playing the good Cop.

“If you know anything about evolution you know we all come from monkeys. I suppose in a distant way we’re related,” said a hopeless Sampson.

Pickle jumped in, “If you was having sex with Till, we’re going arrest you for incest.”

“Hold off on the charge, Dill. We’ll treat it like Vegas. What goes on in Sampson’s house stays in Sampson’s house as long as the murder didn’t happen in the house. I got a new theory on the crime. I don’t think London was the killer. He wasn’t bright enough to write this book. He plagiarized it. We’ll nail him for stealing words. What I’m speculating, Sampson, is the killer was a hit man and you was his target. He mistakenly confused the monkey for you,” said Gillis.

Sampson’s mind couldn’t keep up with nonsensical ramblings of Gillis and Pickle asked, “Why, why would anyone want to kill me?”

© Ray Calabrese 2018

“The Victory” Poem by Sidney Henry Morse

The Victory


To do the tasks of life, and be not lost;

To mingle, yet dwell apart;

To be by roughest seas how rudely tossed,

Yet bate no jot of heart;

To hold thy course among the heavenly stars,
Yet dwell upon the earth;
To stand behind Fate’s firm-laid prison bars,
Yet win all Freedom’s worth.

—Sydney Henry Morse.