Case 356: Doing The Holiday Limbo

limbo2I awoke groggy. The dirty scumbags that I must have fought last night did a number on me. I felt terrible.

I pulled myself to the kitchen for some juice–something, anything to erase the feeling in my mouth that a bird had built a nest in there. I pulled my Phillip Marlowe coffee mug I bought at Navy Pier out of the sink. It was mostly clean.

Plopping down in my easy chair, I sipped on the cold OJ looking out my State Street window. It was spitting snow outside on a cold, gray Chicago day after Christmas.

Ah, Christmas. OK, never mind the scumbags.

I slowly remembered as the late morning haze wore off that I was at my Mom’s all day yesterday for Christmas day in Oak Lawn and had a little too much ham and Christmas drink. Plus my brother Tommy and I had got into a spirited game of Ice Ball, our unique version of football and basketball outside on the driveway hoop. I dominated as usual…but at what cost?

“Oww!” I screamed out loud, trying to reach the spot behind my neck that hurt.

Ah, there’s no place like home for the holidays.

This was that weird stretch of days between Christmas and New Year’s. Surreal days where everything is different, and stores are open and closed. Some folks are working, some aren’t.

I know I’m not.

After returning from Europe, and wrapping another quick case (the intense turkey giveaway scandal involving many big wigs at Jewel grocery stores, including their marketing director-turned evil crime lord), my boss had given me the holidays off. That case had ended, as they usually do, with an extended chase though Chicago and a prolonged gunfight (as well as a knifefight, a slapfight, a regular fistfight, and a nasty bit of name-calling.) But I brought the bad guys to justice in the end—as I am wont to do.

So, now what?

The juice was doing its job. I was slowly waking up to the morning, which would only last about seventeen more minutes now since it was 11:43 am.

(From Filton Sibley, Detective in the book Interludes of Evil: Doing the Holiday Limbo. Filton is assigned to protect a witness before a big trial, but things go awry, as you might imagine. And yes, there is limbo dancing…)

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The Final Struggle

I’ll be honest – it was quite a fight.

My guts felt like they were about to burst, as I took blow after blow from my opponent.

No matter how I tried to attack; no matter how expertly I wielded my weapons; both hands stabbing and cutting…I knew I was losing this battle.

It was a futile exercise; one that I knew I would not win on this brisk night on the Gold Coast in Chicago.

All of my detective skills, my fighting techniques, and my keen sense of balance were no good to me here.

I leaned back, and stared at my slick opponent. Yes, he was a greasy one.
And then burped loudly. Everyone in the restaurant turned, shocked at my rudeness.

“Salute to the Chef?” I shrugged.

Dropping my knife and fork into the pizza pan in defeat, I paid my bill and exited Due, the sister deep-dish pizza restaurant of the world famous Pizzeria Uno, one of Chicago’s oldest traditions. My stomach slightly proceeded me into the chilly night air, the Lake Michigan wind biting at my face from a few blocks to the east.

I smiled and said to no one, “Ah, Chicago. My kind of – ”, and then I burped again.


(From “Interludes of Evil”, a Filton Sibley, Detective Novel by Ric Jonsen. Now available for FREE at Smashwords, and Lulu. Coming soon to all digital stores, free!

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Case 339: A Lovely View

My grip weakened on the slick metal of the helicopter landing ski.  The pilot jerked the machine left and right trying to shake me.  In minutes, I would be free-falling into lovely downtown Chicago.  You would think I could find something better to do on a beautiful Sunday afternoon.

But no, I had to be chasing another millionaire-who-wants-to-control-the­-world type. Of course I had been stupid enough to jump on a helicopter taking off a 34-story building. But I wasn’t about to let this guy slip away again. I tossed my arm around the ski, and peered up at the copter cabin.

A hand opened a door and pointed a pistol down at me.  I swung my body like a kid on the monkey bars.  The gun fired, the bullet rushing by my chest.  With the next swing I catapulted my legs to kick the hand with the gun.

The gun fell away from the copter, but my foot got caught in the open door. We swayed as the helicopter fought against the misplaced weight. A twisted face looked out to laugh at me. With my other leg, I caught his neck in the scissor lock, an old trick I learned from Saturday morning wrestling. It wasn’t all fake, you know.

He gagged and I pulled hard. He tumbled out of the door and caught a ski with one hand. As he dangled, he looked at me as if apologizing for shooting at me, punching me, and other thug-like things as I closed in on his employer the past few weeks.

I kicked him dead in the face and he fell away from the copter, screaming.

“Apology not accepted,” I said, and waved bye-bye to him with my free hand.  I watched him splash into Lake Michigan as the pilot had flown us east out of Chicago.  Methodically, the craft flew lower and lower to the water.

My feet grazed the water as the copter fought the lake wind to skim across the lake waves.  Spring had sprung in Chicago, but the lake felt like hard ice.  Any lower and I would be broken like a china doll skipped over concrete.

Above, the door swung closed and open again. The copter dipped toward the water again and I made my move. Not a great one, but it was a move. I swung up as before, straddling the door upside-down. My head now just a few feet from the water, I reached for the cabin entrance.

There was shouting as someone moved towards the door. I pulled the small pistol in my tennis shoe out and fired towards the opening. With a burst of stupidity, I dived into the helicopter.

“Get him!” Johnstone screamed as I struggled to stay in the seat. I made a quick survey of the cabin. Another goon sat bleeding next to me. Johnstone, the millionaire in question, sat in front with the pilot. Only the nephew, Willy, remained in the back. A pistol shook in his hands.

“Now Willy,” I tried, knowing the kid was scared. He was only sixteen, but Johnstone had used him as a goon. The kid wasn’t ready for this kind of action. “Don’t let your Uncle make you into a killer. He’s the one I’m after. Not you.”

“Shoot him, Willy!” Johnstone yelled from in front. The copter shook heavily. Willy tumbled back and the gun went off. The pilot slumped in his seat. Johnstone turned to the controls quickly as the copter trembled and began to spin.

I fell towards the open door. Willy let go of the gun and clutched the seat next to him. In front, Johnstone struggled to pull the copter up. Below the choppy waves of Lake Michigan grew closer, but Johnstone held the copter steady and finally willed it upward.

Grabbing Willy’s gun, I pointed it at Johnstone. “Give it up, Johnstone. We’ve got all the evidence we need on you, now.”

“Like what!!?” He said, defiantly.

“We have the recovered drug shipment signed in your handwriting and witnessed by 34 men. We have rescued four hostages from your estate. Not to mention the home video you made about how you plan to take over the world and admitting to all the crimes.”

“What did you think. Nice video, eh?”

“Well the camera was a little shaky, but I would rent it for a dollar.” I cocked the gun. “Now. Adventure’s over. I’m taking you in.”

“You seem to forget whose driving this thing, Mr. Sibley.”

“What difference does that make?”

“I don’t know, I saw it on Barnaby Jones once,” he shrugged, then pulled the stick to the right.  I tumbled to the edge of the seat and my legs went out the door.  The gun slid out of my hands as I hung on.  He laughed.

“You see, as always, I am in control!”

I huffed, climbing back in. Ahead, Chicago loomed as he flew back into the city. Weaving in and out of buildings, I sat near the white-faced Willy. He was too scared to move.

The craft slowed to a hover over an abandoned construction site. Johnstone turned with a small pistol in hand. “Well, I would love for you to take me in and to go to prison, but I have places to own, people to be.” He signalled for Willy to get out. He did, quickly. “You see Mr. Sibley, in twenty four hours I will have a new face, a new name, and I will find a new way to acheive the power I crave.”

He cocked the pistol and smiled. “Goodbye, Mr. Sibley!”

The craft shook as a bullet ricocheted off the door.

“No! Willy, I’ll shoot him,” Johnstone yelled, turning back to the controls frantically.

The craft wobbled as he lost control and I tripped backwards and out of the helicopter. I landed eight feet below, hard. The copter hovered and weaved in the air. Through the flying dust and debris I could see Willy standing over me with a gun.

I gulped as he cocked the gun and looked at me with a cool eyes that belonged to a young boy robbed of a real childhood. Then he turned and took aim at the copter only a few hundred feet away. He fired three shots. The third hit the fuel tank of the copter. Willy hid his eyes from the explosion. I stood as pieces of metal fell to the ground and the shell of the copter landed on a detriorated brick building.

Willy dropped the gun, shrugged, and looked at me. “He was a lousy uncle.”

(From “Interludes of Evil”, a Filton Sibley, Detective Novel by Ric Jonsen. Now available for FREE at Smashwords, Lulu, Nook, iBooks, and more)

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“Snowpocalypse”? Really people?

Ice builds up along North Avenue Pier while temperatures hovered around zero degrees Fahrenheit on January 7, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. Most of the city’s schools were cancelled today as wind chill temperatures were expected to exceed -30. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Every year I hear the same thing. People in Atlanta, or Nashville, or some place south of Louisville start ranting and raving about the snow, ice, or cold -as if it’s the newest thing.

Welcome to Chicago. We may not be the coldest city (I had a case once in North Dakota in the winter, and…they win), but we know cold here. We don’t cry and bitch and moan. We just deal.

It’s just frozen water, c’mon.

Just the other night I had to a chase a suspect through the slick wintry mix streets shortly after a good pounding of snow. I wore a thin parka, but still the cold bit through. I was slipping and sliding all over the place, but then so was the perp.

I cornered him in an alley. He slowly turned, defenseless. Except for his huge shotgun.

“Some winter huh?” I said, smiling. He didn’t smile back. That’s when I went completely third grade on him. I dived behind a snow covered dumpster and grabbed some white stuff.

Now I don’t usually brag about this kind of thing, but I have always been able to make a pretty mean snowball. I don’t throw them badly either. My little brother Tommy had come in from the cold with many a whelp on his face, much to my mother’s chagrin.

The top of the dumpster exploded and I realized that I was about to be the one with whelps tonight. (I should always remember to bring my gun, even when I’m just going down to the Jewel to get some snacks and toilet paper.)

He fired another shot that covered me in snow, but gave me just the cover I needed. I rolled out from behind the dumpster and beaned him in the face with an icy snowball. He reeled back and I got to my feet, firing another iceball that hit him right in the eye. Before he could even get his gun back up, I was on him and pulled the shotgun out of his hands.

I gave him one more head shot, this time with the butt of his own gun. He slipped on the ice and fell back, hitting his head once more for good unconscious measure.

Yeah, snow and ice can certainly be dangerous. Much more so when you’re a two bit meatball trying to play mobster and you’re up against the Official Snowball Fight Champion of Forest Lawn Elementary! (There was no real title, but everyone remembers I’m sure!).

The new Filton Sibley book is on virtual shelves everywhere. Find it here >

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Case 401: Laundry, Interrupted


It’s called CleanLand, and if I have todo laundry (not one of my favorite things), at least I can get a good beef and sausage combo there around the second load.

But this laundry day would be different, and I knew the minute she came in…

I stuffed a load of all colors into the largest washer I could find, and shoved the requisite change in. I bought and threw in some detergent and boom! I was doing laundry. I sat for a sec half wondering why I always wait so long to do laundry, and half deciding if I was up for a vending machine breakfast of champions.

Then it happened, as it usually does. In walked trouble, and I knew it from the minute I saw her. The day had instantly changed from light laundry, some chow, and a good bit of loafing…to danger, screaming, and flying bullets.

She was mid-thirties, athletic and tall, but was dressed to the nines and definitely wasn’t here for laundry OR beef. Her harried face had the look of panic, and she frantically looked for the first friendly face. I tried my best to pretend I was examining my fingernails, as if I knew what I would do with them if I found something besides gnaw it off.

“Pardon me sir,” she said. I sighed and looked up. “I really need some help, do you live around here?”

This was looking up. Maybe she was an heiress and wanted me to take her back to my place.

“I do,” I said standing, and offered my hand. “Filton Sibley, how can I help?”

She pulled a strand of hair behind her ear and shook my hand tentatively. “I-I’m visiting from out of town but I’ve…lost something.” She looked around and hushed her tone and volume. “It’s my daughter. Someone has her and if I don’t…” She put her hand to her face with a pained look, and tears welling.

“Did you call the police?” I asked, still hoping I could avoid being the police today.

“I’m a little scared to.” She looked around again and sat down. I sat too. “They told me that I shouldn’t contact the police and that I deliver something for them. But, I don’t know…what to…do…” and then she really began to sob. Folks were looking in our direction, including the testy Asian woman who told me I shouldn’t put so much soap in with my laundry load.

I tried my best to comfort her, but this wasn’t my forte. “Listen, everything will be okay. When did they take her?”

“Earlier this morning.” She sniffed and wiped her nose on her sleeve. “We were getting out of a cab to sightsee, and they must have known we were tourists because they followed us and -”. More sobbing.

I wracked my brain. What’s the procedure for this? I could never remember the stupid police codes and procedures. I was more of a consulting detective, not an actual cop. One thing was for sure, this lady was a mess, and her daughter was toast unless I went to work.

“Okay, um…” I paused, realizing I didn’t know what to call her. Ma’am? Babe?

“Judy.” She sniffed again and reached in her purse, pulling out a tissue. I’m sure her sleeve was thankful. “My name is Judy Talbot. My daughter is Kaylie.”

“Well, we are going to get Kaylie back Judy. You need to know, I’m a detective for the Chicago police department. I know exactly what to do.”

I had no idea what to do. But, nothing would happen sitting here.

“Hey you,” the Asian lady yelled. “Stop messin’ with that lady and watch your load.” She pointed to the washer, which was foaming over because of too much laundry soap. I thought of several lewd replies regarding my load, but thought better of it. This was no time for laundry, again.

“Let’s get out of here and see what we can do, Judy,” I said getting back up and heading to the door.

“But your laundry,” she pointed.

I walked over to the washer and put my knapsack over it. I looked at the Asian lady staring a hole at me. “I’ll be back. And if I’m not, you can have the clothes. And the extra soap!” Then I had a brief moment where considered how nicely my Bears sweatshirt might actually fit her.

cover_200Read the whole case in “Interludes of Evil”, the debut novel of the smartaleck Filton Sibley, Detective

(Now available for FREE at Smashwords, and Lulu. Coming soon to KDP Kindle Select.)

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Case 353: Foresight

So, here I was.

On a freakin’ vacation for the first time in…um, never. And I end up in a mansion full of crazies solving a murder. Wow, that does sound like fun.

England of all places, but hey, I had followed a rather voluptuous chick, who had subsequently dumped me in soggy old London. But that was OK, because at the first hotel I checked into I met a saucy little chambermaid. Vacation looking good. A jolly holiday indeed.

Then I got a phone call.

If only I’d had Foresight not to answer it…

Chapter 1

The gray landscape laughed at me. Not that I had said anything particularly funny.

Here I was, on my first trip to Europe, dumped by a girl in Paris, finally starting to enjoy myself in London with a cute little room-service babe, and I get summoned out into the cold, damp middle of nowhere…freezing. Definitely out of my element.

A herd of sheep whisked by. Mocking.

“Shut up,” I said through clenched teeth, standing and shivering at a fork in the country road. I should have never answered the phone.

I had settled into a cozy London hotel room with a bubbly little room-service girl. The phone rang, and I picked it up between kisses.

“Hello,” I mumbled through my new friend’s lips.

“Yes. I would like to meet with you; it’s very important.”

“How important could it be? Do you really think I’m going out in this rainy, damp weather when it’s so nice here?” I squeezed. She giggled.

“It could be worth 100,000 pounds to you.”

I dropped the girl on the floor. “Where do you want to meet?”

That was two hours ago. I was kicking myself now. If I didn’t need the dough so badly, I wouldn’t have agreed. But the chance at that kind of money…well, opening my own detective agency had always been kind of a dream.

So after a quick goodbye to my lady friend and a taxi ride to the middle of nowhere, here I stood. A stray lamb scuttled past. He didn’t openly mock me as I stood out in the cold drizzle without a heavy coat. He just shot me a sheepish grin and ran off.

I would’ve yelled out some derogatory sheep comment, but headlights in the late afternoon murkiness caught my attention. As the car approached, I recognized the make: a 1994 light blue Bentley. Sharp.

The car rolled to a stop. I stood nervously, my taxi long since departed. A tall figure emerged from the back seat. The driver stayed put.

“I say,” the figure spoke out, opening a large, tan umbrella. “You’ll catch your death of cold.” He motioned for me join him. I walked over and he offered me another umbrella. I gladly accepted.

He was a man in his late fifties—exceptionally fit but drawn in the face. We walked to the edge of the road. As he looked out over the hilly, rocky terrain, he sighed, visibly shaken.

“There’s an old tale of a man who escaped from Dartmoor prison,” the man started suddenly, staring straight ahead. “He wandered into these moors and found the terrain even more terrifying than his previous entrapment. They say he threw himself off a cliff and met his death. He could find nowhere to run.” He sighed again and looked at me. “That is the way I feel.”

I nodded, unsure. What am I, a shrink? Should I ask about his father?

He stared for a minute making me all the more nervous.

“I’m sorry, lad.” He extended his hand, “I am Winston Forsythe, the third. Forgive my ramblings; I am not myself. What is your name again?”

“Sibley. Filton Sibley.” I shook his hand. Strong grip.

“Oh, yes. What a terrible name,” he laughed. I bit my lip. I had had about enough.

“What exactly can I do for you, Mr. Forsythe?” I said, getting impatient and a little chafed.

“I’m afraid someone is going to try to kill me,” he said, looking away.

“Yeah, that can be a problem.” I smirked, looking past him across the bleak landscape. “So, Mr. Forsythe, why did you call me?”

“I have an acquaintance, a Mr. Bill Schroeder of the CIA. He is a friend of yours, is he not?”

“Yes, he is not.”

“Nevertheless, he suggested I contact you while you were on vacation in London.”

“How did he know…?” I started, wondering how the CIA knew my whereabouts. I smiled. They must be keeping tabs on me, especially since I showed them up on the Bedd case. “You said something over the phone about money?”

“Of course.” He smiled weakly. “Find out who the murderer is, manage to keep me alive, and I will pay you 100,000 pounds.”

“Sounds easy enough,” I shrugged. “When do we start?”

“Immediately, if possible. The killer has left me several notes. Here,” he offered a scrap of yellowed paper, “read this.”

“Tonight you die, Forsythe.”

I nodded. “Wow. Gets to the point fast.”

“Doesn’t it? I’ve received many leading up to this. I received that one this morning.”

“So you have some suspects in mind, I would hope?” I asked.

Forsythe nodded. “My house is filled with them.”

“Well, I guess we could start there,” I said.

“Would you like to go into town and pick up some of your things?” He asked, walking toward the Bentley.

I smiled at the thought of the room-service babe, but then I thought about the pile of dirty laundry in the corner, the musty motel room, the outstanding bar bill…

“No.” I walked around the car, running a hand over the fine automobile and smiled. “I think I’ll just use some of your things.”

cover_200Read the whole case in “Interludes of Evil”, the debut novel of the smartaleck Filton Sibley, Detective

(Now available for FREE at Smashwords, and Lulu. Coming soon to KDP Kindle Select.)

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Case 341: Death by Subway


You know those days it just doesn’t pay to wake up? Especially in my apartment (don’t tell my mom…I haven’t done laundry in about a month).

Someone is tying people up in front of subway trains in the bowels of Chicago. Pun not intended. But I’m on the case, and I have a pretty good idea what lowlife industrial criminal genius is behind it.

He’s a plant-mutilating “businessman” using the subway system of our fair city to do his dirty work. That just doesn’t smell right.

Somebody’s gonna get his hands dirty, and clothes (meaning me, FYI). I guess laundry won’t wait forever.

Time to hit the escalator down to the subways…coming?

Chapter 1

It was a little embarrassing.

I was reaching for my gun, ready to run in the two thugs who had attacked me and endangered the innocent subway riders on the morning subway train. But as I am wont to do, I got a little distracted seeing my favorite supermodel on the Today show, and I had forgotten to strap on my holster. In my defense, she was showing how to make some killer brownies.

Now there I stood, weaponly naked, facing down some crooks on the morning train. What was I doing working so early anyway?

The goons got up slowly, both smarting from vicious punches that, while illegal in boxing, had temporarily put them out of commission. Now the pain was fading, and they were not at all pleased.

I recognized their faces. They were a couple of henchmen for C. Edward Waas, an industrial mogul I had been investigating. Yesterday they had shot at me. The day before that, they had ransacked my apartment – although with my apartment, you couldn’t really tell.

This time, they both brandished knives. The passengers were getting squeamish. I wasn’t too thrilled.

Quickly, I spun and ran for the back door of the train.

While not recommended during train movement, it’s relatively easy to move from car to car on the subway. Unfortunately, I had forgotten I was on the last car. I stared at the tracks rushing behind as the train reached breakneck speed between stations and I stood precariously in the doorway with nowhere to run.

“You’re finished now, Sibley,” said the taller, gangly thug. They were coming towards the doorway, blades up.

“Yeah,” laughed the shorter, chubby one with the stained shirt, mostly likely from a greasy breakfast. He was pointing his knife at my chest. “This is where you get off!”

I smiled at an elderly lady sitting near the door. “Would you be a dear and hold this open for just a sec?” She sighed and did as I asked, obviously disgusted at the chicanery going on between the thugs and I, but not even about to give up the seat she’d had since Logan Square.

I grabbed onto a metal pole, usually used by passengers to hold onto while the train was in motion, except I used it to firmly plant a foot in each man’s chest. They fell backward, knives clanging onto the train car floor. I grabbed the shorter thug and shoved him towards, then through the door, and onto the rushing tracks. When I whirled around to the tall guy, I caught a fist in the jaw. The blow knocked me onto my knees. He shoved me, and I fell towards the open door and close to the edge of the train car.

With my face inches from the dark, loud tracks, I struggled to keep from flying into the black abyss. I felt the taller man grabbing at my legs, trying to get enough leverage to shove me off the train.

With all my might, I kicked both legs up and caught him off balance. The train slowed suddenly, and he tumbled over me, screaming. He landed on the tracks with a thud, his scream silencing abruptly.

I managed to get a grip and hold on, although I was still mostly hanging off the end of the train. As the trained entered the station, I nodded and smiled at waiting commuters, trying to act natural.

“Hey, Sibley?” A voice laughed.

“Oh, hiya, Pete,” I nodded, pulling myself up.

“I know this is a stupid question, Filton,” Officer Pete Smith smiled, “But what are you doing?”

I jumped from the back of the train, up to the station platform. “Just a routine track inspection, Pete. Nothing to worry about.”

The cop nodded, pursing his lips in doubt. The little old lady exited the train (by a regular door), and grumbled as she passed me. “You’re welcome, idiot. And now I have a chill!”

I looked back to Pete. “Oh, by the way Pete. I noticed a few anomalies on the track back there. You may want to run them down to the station.”

One of the thugs stumbled along the tracks, dazed and bleeding.

Pete shook his head, giggling. “What do I book these anomalies for?”

“Public endangerment, resisting arrest, resisting deodorant…”

As Pete grabbed the guy and pointed another officer to the thugs, I started up the never-working escalator steps that led to the streets of downtown Chicago.

The clock mocked me as I exited the station.

9:02 a.m.

Geez, I hate mornings.

cover_200Read the whole case in “Interludes of Evil”, the debut novel of the smartaleck Filton Sibley, Detective

(Now available for FREE at Smashwords, and Lulu. Coming soon to KDP Kindle Select.)

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