25 ~Pickle Discovers a Clue to the Case in the Men’s Restroom


Gillis played with sugar packets arranging and rearranging them. Pickle test tasted packets of soy sauce, duck sauce, barbecue sauce, and spicy mustard. Pickle was on his third round of packets and began slurping the entire packet. Gillis said, “You’re hungry.”

“I didn’t say anything, Gills. How’d you know?”

“Wild guess. Let’s nose around, Dill. We’ll walk up to the buffet bar. Remember what Do Re said about the food. Look but don’t touch. You remember what we’re looking for?”

Pickle’s eyes sparkled. He was back in third grade and he knew the answer, “I sure do, Gills. I looking for senior trying to sneak extra food off the buffet to take home.”

Gillis, always sensitive to Pickle’s desire to be right, said, “Right on target, Dill. While you’re at it, if you notice anyone with only one cufflink, let me know. Take your time at the buffet bar. We’ll talk after Do Re brings us our pizzas.”

Pickle puffed up more brightly than a peacock. “I’m on it. Do you mind if I go to the restroom first?”

Gillis shrugged, “I’ll wait.” He continued rearranging sugar and sugar substitute packets.

Five minutes later Pickle returned. He slid into his chair. He bent toward Gillis and whispered, “I found some unexpected information that may help us with this case.”

Gillis nodded and signaled Pickle to continue.

Pickle reached into his pants pocket and pulled out a slip of paper. He read it, “Call Sara at 555-6767 if you want a good time.”

“How’s this going to help us?” asked Gillis.

“Sara might have seen something. Do you mind if I call her and question her alone tonight?”

“Go for it. Let me know if you had a good time. Let’s head to the buffet bar,” said Gillis.

Gillis and Pickle stood in the buffet line behind fifteen seniors. Eight of the seniors were  pushing walkers. Each of the eight walkers had a built in tray device. The seniors with walkers placed two large plates on their tray device. The remaining seven seniors had baby pouches strapped to their chests and carried a single plate. 

“Question, Gills.”

“What is it, Dill?”

“Are the seniors afraid the Golden Wok is going to run out of food? Why are they stuffing food into the baby pouches? Why do they need two plates? Watch out, one of the seniors is trying to pull his walker out of line and take a cut near the front of the line. Another senior with a walker is swearing at him. They’re swinging their walkers at each other. Should we step in?”

“Ignore it, Dill. When seniors fight over food, the early bird special, coupons, you need backup. We’re not wearing our Kevlar vests. If they take hostages, we’ll call in the SWAT team. You see that? Beautiful move, He faked swinging his walker, and squirted the guy in face with his urine sack.”

The guy who got squirted, “I’m going to sue. I just had my cataracts removed.”

The guy who did the squirting, “You sue and I’ll ban you from playing bingo.”



Gillis said, “I saw something on Unsolved Mysterious on cable about seniors at buffets, Dill. The world’s greatest scientists can’t figure it out. The scientists point out for every ten seniors who head to buffets only seven survive.”

“They got a seven in ten chance, Gills. Those are good odds given the price. Five ninety-nine for all you can eat. I heard a senior say he eats enough so he doesn’t have to eat for two days.”

Twenty minutes later Gillis and Pickle made it through the buffet and back to their table. Two pizzas boxes were on the table. “See anything unusual, Dill?”

 I saw a senior stuffing her handbag with chicken wings. Then she started packing food in her cheeks like a squirrel as she went through the buffet.”

“That’s normal according to the scientists. Once you pass a certain age, all you think about is food, how to interfere in your kids lives, and what the neighbors are doing. I meant about our case,” said Gillis.

“Can’t say I did. How about you?” asked Pickle picking out a slice of greasy pepperoni pizza.

“Don’t eat the pizza,” said Gillis.

“Why?” asked Pickle holding a grease laden piece of pepperoni pizza inches from his mouth.

“I’ll tell you in a minute. Put the pizza down carefully and wipe your hands on your shirt. I think I solved the case,” said Gillis watching the grease drip off of Pickle’s slice and slide down his chin and dripping onto his shirt.

“Something bothering you, Gills? What are you thinking about? You buried your face in your hands. What am I missing Gills? Who’s the killer? What tipped you off?”

21 ~ Gillis & Pickle Help a Carnivore Come Out of the Closet


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.

18 ~ Gillis Tells Wendy He’s There For Her


Gillis turned toward Wendy Flox, “Hey, Babe. Glad it’s you picked up the assignment. We’ll leave as soon as you’re through here. Dill will take your car  and you ride with me. We’ll pick up some Chinese takeout and go to my place where I’ll teach you the finer points of love.” 

Wendy ignored Gillis and walked past him to the corpse, “Who found him?”

I did,” Fluke and Fluck answered together.

“You two in a barbershop quartet seeing you answered in harmony?” said a straight faced Wendy.

Fluke looked at Fluck. Fluck looked back at Fluke. They said in perfect harmony, “No, but we’re trying out for America’s Got Talent. We’re going to bill ourselves as “The Singing Cops.”

Pickle said, “It’ll be a fluke if you win. I think most voters will say, ‘Fluck it.” 

Gillis burst out laughing, “Oh that’s rich. That is really, really good. Can I use it at the coffee shop tomorrow morning, Dill?”

“It’s yours partner. I think you might be a little late coming in tomorrow by the look of lust in the lady’s eyes,” said Pickle staring at Wendy Flox.

“Will you two stop it. It is not a question, it is a statement. I’ve had a rough day. Pat left me for another woman. So lay off the crap today,” said Wendy fighting back tears.

Gillis rushed to her side, “I’m here for you, Babe. I promise no more of the sexual banter that we’re famous for.” He winked at Pickle.

“Thanks, Gillis. Anyone see or find anything unusual?” said Wendy.

“I told detectives Gillis and Pickle about something strange I saw in the victim’s stomach cavity. I thought it was coin. Detective Gillis thinks it’s a piece of bone,” said Fluke.

Flox slipped on latex gloves, turned on her high-powered penlight, and used a pencil to lift part of the skin flap covering the victim’s cavity. She moved the penlight around and poked with with the pencil. She stopped in the upper left of the cavity and reached in with her gloved hand and pulled something out, “You’re both wrong. It’s a gold cufflink. Get me an evidence bag.”

Gillis turned to Pickle, “We find out who’s wearing the match to the cufflink we got our murderer, Dill. Did you happen to catch if the Cap was missing a cuff link?”

“He was missing his left cuff link, Gills. I assumed Clara pulled it off during a fit of passion. I love it when you pull it together Gills.”

Wendy looked up, “Are you talking about Clara Dunn?”

“I don’t know what she’s done, but I know what she’s doing and it has two names, Santiago and Courageous,” said Gillis.

“Add a third to the list,” said Wendy.

“Clara is getting around and building up a fine resume for being sexually active. What name do you have in mind?” asked Gillis.

“Flox!” said Wendy bursting into tears.

Gillis grabbed hold of Wendy’s two shoulders and shook her, “Get a grip, girl. We’ve got a case to solve and Pickle and I need you. I’m willing to put our relationship on the back burner until we clear the case. Once we clear it, I’m going to personally beat the crap of your cheating, lying, philandering skunk of husband. Who, by the way, you should throw under the bus. If you move in with me, we can share expenses. Are you on the pill? I don’t like to use condoms. We’ll talk about having my babies when things settle down.”

“You know how to cut to the chase, Gills,” quipped Pickle. 

Flox pushed aways from Gillis. Flox, Fluke, and Fluck stared at Gillis and Pickle.

“Listen up, Babe. You got to do something with your hair,” said Gillis.

“I’m not your babe. Don’t speak to me. Don’t touch me. Don’t come around my office unless it’s official business. I thought Pat was the lowest form of human being and now I know someone lower. It’s disgusting.”

Gillis glared at Fluke, “Sorry she feels this way about you, Fluke. I don’t know what you did to upset her, but it’s best if you and your singing partner move away from here.”

Gillis turned back to Wendy, “I love it when you’re angry, Babe. The way I see it, your projecting a lot of your inner anger onto Fluke. He’s a couple of cookies short of a dozen. He’s not the brightest light bulb in the room. Fluke has a tough time finding a parking space in an empty parking lot. I can guarantee he’s a safe distance from being called a genius.”

Wendy lifted her eyes to the dark night, “Why? Why me? What are you trying to teach me surrounding me with men who don’t have a clue.”

Gillis broke into Wendy’s prayer, “That’s just it, Babe. I’m out there looking for a clue. Let’s go, Dill. We got a big break in the case with the cuff link.”

Gillis and Pickle sat on a red faux leather stool at the burrito bar. The only known burrito bar in the country, a Bazooka Burrito trademark. The bartender is a certified burrito-esta. An empty stool was between Gillis and Pickle. 

“Looking at the deceased made me realize how hungry I was. I hate it when my blood sugar gets low,” said Gillis.

“Got to hand it you, Gills. You had Wendy eating out of your hand. You have a gift of talking. I think you ought to be a politician. You could talk circles around the group that’s out there. The country needs leaders like you. Women love you. Men respect you. I can’t see anyone of sound mind voting against you,” said Pickle.

“Oh, I’ve thought of it, Dill. I tossed it off the plate, there’s too much to do in the city. I see it as my job to make the city safe from pizza delivery cars, robo calls, and old people trying to use walkers to cross crosswalks. If I can clear those problems in my lifetime, it will be all worth it,” said Gillis. “Besides, I don’t think Wendy wants to be First Lady. She’d rather play second fiddle to me. I’m going to discourage that. I’m all in favor of women taking an equal place with men. That’s why I’m tossing her so much respect.”

“Gills you need to lead the next workshop on learning to think like a woman,” said Pickle.




© Ray Calabrese 2018

17 ~ Gillis Plans to Chronicle Messages Left on Bathroom Stall Doors


Gillis pulled into Green Tree Park, turned off the road and pulled onto the grass. He gunned the motor causing the tires to spin making large ruts in the well kept picnic area. He drove his pickup around the picnic area practicing spinouts. When he was satisfied he mastered the spinout, he cut over to the bike and running trail and took a left to head toward the park pavilion. 

“Dill, here’s a tip. When you have a crime scene in the park, you have to get off the road, and take the bike trail. It’s quicker and the bikers usually will get out of your way. If they’re wearing headphones you get up close and blast the siren, scares the hell out of them and teaches them a good lesson.”

“I learn something new everyday from you, Gills. Thanks for being my mentor. BTW, the young kids will love playing with all the dirt you kicked up in the picnic area,” said an appreciative Pickle. 

Two blasts of the siren later, Gillis reached the park pavilion. He drove across the grass, and cut over to the parking lot and pulled into a handicap parking space. Pickle reached into the glove compartment, pulled out an oily rag, got out of the pickup, and draped the rag over the handicap sign. A moment later, Gillis joined him.

Pickle said, “The handicap folks have a great lobby, Gills. They get all the best parking spaces. Never seen anything like it.”

 “No kidding, Dill. There’s even a three hundred dollar fine for parking in these spaces if you don’t have a valid sticker.”

“What handicap space Gills? I don’t see any,” laughed Pickle.

The detectives fist bumped. They turned and walk over to the crime scene. Gillis spotted two patrolmen on the scene. He said, “Looks like Fluke and Fluck. Don’t know why they don’t  change their names, Dill. Somebody’s always writing about them on the commode stall walls. A lot of what is written is pretty creative. I’ve been thinking of using my vacation to travel across country and chronicle the writing on bathroom walls and I’ll take plenty of photos. My goal is to put together a coffee table book of women and men who will perform all kinds of weird sex acts along with their phone numbers.”

“Brilliant, Gills. Brilliant. Can I go with you?” asked Pickle.

Gillis had different plans. He said, “I got a hunch Wendy will be riding with me. She’ll get the lady’s stalls and I’ll get the men stalls. It will be a big seller.”

“Did you read her text, Gills? Did she sext you? Can I see the photo?” begged Pickle.

“Haven’t had a second to check it out. I sent her a quick text, telling her I’d be a bit late. I told her there is a key under the mat. Told her to go in and make herself at home, take a bath and lounge around in one of my tee shirts until I arrive.”

“You got all the moves, Gills. Jagger could have learned from you,” said Pickle.

I know what you mean, Dill.” 

Pickle waved to the officers, “Hey Flicker, how they hanging?”

Fluke adjusted his belt, folded his arms across his chest, and said, “Up yours Pickle.”

“Hey Fluke, fluck you,” saidPickle

“I’m senior here, guys, leave Fluke alone. He took a lot of ribbing at the briefing at the start of the shift. I keep telling him to change his name,” said Fluck.

“No offense Fluke and Fluck,” said Pickle.

“None taken, Pickle,” said Fluke and Fluck.

“This how you guys found the corpse? Where’s the head? Gutted right? What’s that over there?” said Gillis.

“That’s where Fluke puked. First time he’s seen a gutted corpse. It’s to be expected. The head’s over there. No witnesses. We come through this time of night to chase out teenagers drinking or having sex, that kind of thing. Slow night, usually we can confiscate four or five six packs of beer. I haven’t bought beer in ages. We confiscate it, tell the kids we’re letting them off easy and to drive safely even if they’re stoned. Between us it’s the paperwork connected with a DUI, it’s not worth it,” said Fluck.

“I hear yah. Did the same thing before I made detective,” said Gillis. 

“I think the ME might have something for you when the body’s examined,” said Fluck.

“Wendy’s here? Where is she?” said Gillis looking all around.

“Be gentle with her, Gillis. I hear she’s going through a bad breakup. Don’t know whose fault it is. Usually in these cases there’s always a third party interfering in what seemed like a perfect relationship,” said Fluck.

“I’d like to get my hands on the bastard. Wendy’s naïve and innocent. She was telling me she believes in one great love. Well, it looks the piece of crap she married proved that wrong,” said Gillis.

Fluck walked over to the deceased, shined his tactical flashlight on the victim’s cavity. “If I’m not mistaken, it looks like a coin in the cavity, right there.”

Gillis and Pickle bent over and stared on the spot where Loomis flashed his light. Gillis nudged Pickle, He said, “That’s a piece of bone. How do you figure it’s a coin Fluck, “What’s wrong with Fluke? Where’s he going. Oh, he’s puking again. He might need counseling to get that under control. Here comes Wendy. I’ll remember what you said when I hit on her.”

Fluck looked over to the ME wagon, “You and Wendy Flox? She broke up with Courageous’ son Pat, yesterday. You’re almost twice her age.”

“Hey, what can I say. I’m better looking than Pat. I got seniority over him. I’m further up the pay scale than him. And, I please the ladies, it’s a well known fact. Plus, a twenty-four hour waiting period on a breakup is all that’s expected. I think the twenty-four hour limit has been reached.”

Pickle chimed in, “Gills is right. You can go in any of the women’s room at headquarters. Check out the inside of the stall doors. You’ll find the women writing, If you want a good time call Gillis 555-2222.”

“How do you know what’s inside the stall doors?” asks Fluke, his face a combination of purple, yellow, and orange.

“Common knowledge, Fluke.”

16 ~ Pickle Gives Captain Courages Marital Advice


Courageous sat at his desk, his head bent low, his two hands pressed against the sides of his head. Not Margaret, my faithful wife and companion, is she really having an affair with the mayor? Courageous was having a hard time wrapping his head around. Sure he and his secretary, Clara, were banging each other’s bones. That was different. He was a man and he reasoned it was a well known fact men are the weaker of the two species and easily succumb to temptation. Hell, he thought, just ask Adam. What if Gillis was right? No, he couldn’t be. Margaret, his wife of thirty-seven years, was faithful, church going, Bible studying, compassionate woman who believed in the mayor and served as his confidant. What’s wrong with that? And, so it it went in his mind until Pickle butted in.

“I know what you’re thinking, Cap. We’re one step ahead of you,” said Pickle. “If you was looking more streamlined as opposed to looking like the Goodyear blimp, the Mrs might want you to have some horizontal refreshment instead of the mayor. You can’t blame her, she’s given you the best years of her life and all she gets is a guy with erectile dysfunction. Here’s my suggestion, have your stomach stapled, get a coffee enema. Starbucks may give you a discount if they’re introducing it. And, the big one, take three months off and go to a Tibetan monastery to master the karma sutra.”

“Are you insane?” Courageous said staring at Pickle.

“Cap, I can’t comment since I’m not a psychologist. Gills took a course in psychology. Gills am I insane?” asked Pickles sincerely.

Gills looked at him. Thought it over. Then said, “This is the way I see it. The most brilliant who walk among us are often criticized because their thoughts are so advanced. I see you so far out in front of the human race, Dill, not everyone understands you. Only, the most brilliant and sensitive people, like me, will get an inkling.”

Courageous watched the repartee between Gillis and Pickle and pondered what kind of hell he was living in. 

Adding to Courageous despair, Pickle said, “No need to worry, Cap. I have it on good authority the mayor doesn’t have gonorrhea.”

“How do you know all this? Never mind. Don’t tell me. What about Sampson’s book?” Courageous muttered indistinctly.

“What book, Cap? I use an iPad to read my books. Books are old school. You’re better off donating your books so you can get a tax write off  before they completely lose value. Sampson would be smart if he did the same thing. He’s got all these old books sitting collecting dusk in a book case. I’d gladly toss them in the trash for him,” said Gillis.

“If the police union wasn’t so strong, I’d fire you both. That’s what I’d do. I’d fire you both,” shouted Courageous

“Awe, you don’t mean that, Cap. That’s the stress your under talking. Pickle and me understand you have to satisfy two woman, your wife and Clara. That kind of stress can drive a man over the edge. Care to tell us how close you are to the edge? I’m trained to talk jumpers back to safety. I learned to do this when you assigned Pickle and me to psychological counseling. Changed my life. Changed Pickle’s too,” said Gillis

Courageous desk phone rang. Courageous held up his hand palm facing Gillis and Pickle, and put the phone receiver to his ear, “Yes. When? Keep it quiet. Don’t use police frequencies. I’ll send Gillis and Pickle over. It’s their case.” 

“There’s been another killing, decapitation, and gutting. On the way out, stop by burglary and see if Clara is helping Santiago. Tell her I need to talk to her.”

“Give my best to Mrs. Courageous, Cap. Do you want Dill and me to get some photos of the Mrs and the Mayor? It’ll be helpful in your divorce. We’ll do it on our off time for free.”

“Get out. Get out. Get out,” screamed Courageous.

Gillis and Pickle left Courageous’s office. 

“What was that, Gills?” asked Pickle looking back at the closed door.

“It sounds like he threw his revolver at the door. It’s a good thing he has us, Dill. We knock his stress down to a manageable level. Throwing things at the door is something I suggested to Cap when he felt overwhelmed. He must have had a stressful phone call right after we left.”

Gillis pulled his pickup truck out of a handicap zone knocking the rear bumper off of the handicap van in front of him. 

“You gonna leave a note saying you hit him?” asked Pickle.

“Why?” asked Gillis. “If anything, whoever it was who parked there can go get three estimates and overcharge their insurance. They’ll get the bumper fixed and have a few bucks on the side.”

“Gills, you always think of the little guy,” said Pickle.

“It was the way I was raised,” said Gillis.

“Gills, we got to solve the case. The pressure’s getting to Cap. I’d hate to see him have a nervous breakdown. Deep down he loves us. He’s like a father to me. How about you?”

“I know what you mean, Dill. Cap’s coming apart right in front of us. The cookie’s crumbling. Humpty Dumpty’s falling off the wall. The egg yolk broke. He’s driving a six cylinder car and only two cylinder’s are firing.”

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

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