“Mother’s Day Mayhem”
Filton Sibley, Detective, Case #476
Copyright, 2019 Ric Jonsen
It was early, on a Sunday, so already two strikes against the day for as far as I’m concerned. But at least it was a beautiful Chicago Spring morning, and as a confirmed night person, I didn’t always see a lot of mornings.
It was also Mother’s Day, and my mother and I followed the same routine we had observed every Mother’s Day for the past 13 years. Church, lunch at Billy Bob’s Cowboy Steak House, target shooting down at the police range…we had it all planned. Even though Mom had moved out of the city and we didn’t get to see each other that much, we made sure to be together on Mother’s Day every year.
She picked me up in front of my apartment at eight that morning and we hugged.
“It’s good to see you, honey,” she said, releasing me from her motherly hold. She then said the words everyone who has ever had a mother has heard. “You look like you’ve lost some weight, hon.”
“No, Mom, I weigh one-eighty-five, just like last year,” I answered.
“Well, you’re eating a loaded baked potato today at Billy Bob’s and I don’t want to hear another thing about it,” she said, turning the key in the ignition and pursing her lips as the car roared to a start. Hey anything topped with melted cheese and bacon is fine with me, so I didn’t argue. We headed north out of the city towards Mom’s Baptist Church in the suburbs.
I looked at my mother, noticing that age had not affected her persona. You would never guess this gum-chewing, steering wheel-tapping lady had just turned 60. She flipped through the radio stations until she found the Top 40 countdown.
“Oh, I love this song!” she shouted excitedly, and pumped up the volume. Unlike me, Mom had changed with the years. She had become a modern woman of the 80’s. After Dad’s death, she worked her way out of the house and eventually became an integral part of a legal office in the suburbs. She made good money (probably as good or better than Dad ever did) and I still beam with pride at her accomplishments.
She stopped tapping and singing and looked at her fuel gauge. ”Uh-oh,” she whispered.
“What’s wrong, Mom?”
“Almost out of gas,” she said, and turned into a gas station.
“I’ll get it Mom,” I volunteered, jumping out of the car when we had stopped. I walked up to the pump and inserted the nozzle into the gas tank. I leaned against the car as the gas pumped and my eyes moved over to the attendant in the small cashier’s booth. A car idled next to the booth and the door to the booth was ajar. My mind drifted off to other things.
Mom’s old Pontiac held a lot of memories. The time Dad ran over my first dog Fluffy. The day I was pretending to drive the car, and accidentally started it and drove into my bedroom. The drive-in movies where I would fart and blame it on my little brother. The time Dad ran over my second dog Fluffy II. Yes, this old car held many memories.
I finished pumping the gas, and walked over to the booth to pay. The attendant stood strangely upright behind the glass and smiled queerly.
“Ten bucks, unleaded,” I informed, sending my twenty through the drawer to him. He nodded, and winked at me. I looked at him. He winked at me again. ”Listen, fella, I think you have the wrong guy. Now just give me my change!” I ordered.
He mouthed something and pointed down with his hand close to his chest. I sighed. I know I’m a good-looking man, and I keep my body in tip top condition…besides the occasional beef and sausage combo of course. So even though I don’t swing that particular way, it was understandable that he was interested.
“Sorry buddy, I’m just not your man.” He scribbled a receipt and gave me my change through the drawer. I shook my head and retreated to my car. Then I looked at the receipt as I got into the car - and froze.
“What took so long?” Mom asked.
”Hmm,” I mumbled, thinking perhaps I wasn’t so attractive after all. I read the note aloud. “Please help me, I’m being robbed.” I reeled around in my seat to look at the booth. The attendant struggled with someone in the booth. I hopped out of the car and raced to the booth. The gunshot stopped me in my tracks. The attendant fell against the glass of the booth, as his assailant burst out of the booth with a bag and into his idling car.
“Mom! Move over!” I screamed, opening the driver’s side door.
“What in the world?” she asked, a little panicked as she unbuckled her seat belt and moved over to the passenger’s seat.
“That attendant was just shot! And that car holds the shooter!” I floored the accelerator in pursuit of the fleeing killer.
My mother’s car, while basically a big square metal box on wheels, rode well at eighty miles an hour. The killer tried to lose me several times, but each time I stayed with him. Mom enjoyed the wild car chase but worried about missing Sunday School.
“Don’t fret, Mom,” I said as we screeched around a sharp left, “I think we can catch this guy and still make the second service!”
Several police cars had joined the fray by now and we were heading toward the city. The Sears Tower loomed ahead as we roared down the expressway. I smiled.
“Now, he’s on my turf!” I shouted and changed lanes, driving up a ramp.
“You’re going to lose him!” Mom advised.
“No, I’m not, Mom! I’m just going to confuse him.”
The old “he takes the low road; I take the high road” trick. I sped up, weaving through downtown traffic at seventy miles an hour. By the time I came down to lower Wacker drive, he had just gotten there.
“Filton, don’t you wreck my car! I just had it washed.” Mom screamed. I turned in front of the killer’s speeding path. “He’s going to hit us!” she screamed again.
His car screeched to a halt just before hitting Mom’s side of the Pontiac. I pushed Mom down and climbed over her and out of the car. His car was empty, the door open, and other cars began to honk at our traffic blocking vehicles.
“Filton!” Mom shouted, pointing as she got out of the car, “there he goes!” Mom’s terrifyingly accurate vision had once again reared its head. She always had the most uncanny sense of sight and hearing of any person I have ever known. She once saw me mouth a swear word from a quarter mile away and sent me home to my room. When I got home, I locked my door, jumped in the bed, and whispered from under my pillow, I know you can hear me and I hate you!
“Well, Filton, are we just gonna stand here?” Mom queried, hands on her hips.
I looked around. The police were just about to pull up. Mom was right, the guy was getting away and I had to act.
“Stay in the car, Mom, I’ll get him!” I ran towards the streaking criminal following him into a nearby construction site. Using my deducing skills which I had attained over the many years of detective work, I followed the perfectly shaped footprints in the fresh mud. They led to a shack marked “Employees Only”.
With no weapon to speak of, except my wits, my hands, and perhaps some loose change I could maybe throw at him, I cautiously entered the shack. As I entered the dark room, a hand grabbed me and shoved me to the floor. The lights came on and the guy pushed a gun to my nose.
“Okay, hot shot!” he growled. “Just had to get involved in something that’s none of your business!” He cocked the gun, and smiled. “Now, say goodbye hero!”
I cringed and looked for a way to avoid this Mother’s Day Massacre. I didn’t believe what I heard next.
“Filton?” It was Mom. “Fil-ton!” Just like she used to call me in for dinner as a kid. Time froze as her voice echoed in my mind evoking memories of summer fun cut short by that voice. Her calling me meant that play time was over, although a lovely meal likely awaited.
I looked at the killer, who was looking around at her call.
“You heard my mom, play time’s over!” I shouted and knocked his gun away, kicking him away from me. He reeled back into a heavy laden shelf that tumbled its contents onto him as he hit the floor. Picking up the gun, I held it on him as Mom yelled again.
“Filton, I know you’re chasing a criminal son, but we’ve already missed church and if we don’t hurry, we’ll miss a good table at Billy Bob’s!”
“In here, Mom!” I answered. She opened the door and surveyed the room. Several cops entered after her. I showed them my badge and told them the story. They picked him up and put him in cuffs. As they took him out, Mom walked over to me.
“Well, you must be hungry after all that action, honey. Now come let your mother buy you a nice thick steak. You know, you really could put on a couple of pounds. You’re just too thin dear…”
She continued her barrage all the way back to the car but, in a way, I enjoyed it.
Every boy needs his mother. Whether he’s twelve and she’s making him wear those pants she’s let out five times and the K-Mart Special tennis shoes that get laughed out of school. Or whether he’s sixteen and she’s stays up until midnight to type a fifty-page report that’s due for school the next morning. Or whether he’s thirty-six and fighting for his life against a homicidal maniac.
Everybody needs their mother. Mayhem aside, I was so happy to be with mine on her special day.
And to be honest, I had secretly been craving Billy Bob’s Cowboy Steak House for months, and it did not disappoint.
Author’s Note: This story was written more than thirty years ago for my mother who passed away recently. I gave it to her for Mother’s Day all those decades ago, and it will always be dedicated to the special kind of mom and influence she was. She always encouraged my creative work, and I like to think she loved Filton almost as much as she loved me. Love and miss you Mom! Happy Mother’s Day!