Many of you are thinking, “It’s a mystery that he keeps writing these things.” I might agree.
My name is Deviled Yeggs. I am a Detective Sergeant, working homicide in the big city of Tracy. My partner is Jim Wednesday. It was Tuesday when Jim got the call.
Jim grabbed his coat and said, “Let’s get moving, Deviled. We have a case. Buzz the bee got waxed.”
I asked, “You mean ‘whacked’ don’t you?”
“Well, maybe, but I mean waxed. Someone found him buried in wax.”
I shook my head. “Jim, I would say we pull the oddest cases, but nothing surprises me anymore. Ain’t Buzz the bee the one that has been on the missing person list for over six months? Where did they find the body?”
“A bee hive down on Orange Blossom lane.”
“I thought our friends in Missing Persons were better than that. Don’t you think that a bee hive would be the first place to check?” I asked. I thought for a second as I was getting in the car, “Hey, Jim, could this have been an accident? Don’t bee hives have bee’s wax in them? Maybe he just got stuck and the worker bees just kept going.”
Jim frowned, “No, Deviled, it was homicide. You see, it’s the body. It’s the bee’s knees.”
I scratched my head, “Jim, we’ve been working cases for years. We have seen hundreds of bodies. There has not been a single body that I would rate as the bee’s knees.”
Jim sighed, “Deviled, the body is like most other bodies. It’s just that the body has no knees. Somebody took them, Deviled.”
“I’ve changed my mind on this one, Jim. This case is definitely weird. We have a body encased in wax in a bee hive, and the body is not the bee’s knees, because it has none.”
“Yep, that sums it up.”
When we got to the bee hive, we managed our way through the smoke-filled landscape and questioned the person who found the body. His name was Batiste Pooh Hebert, a Cajun pooh bear from southeast Texas. Since he was Cajun, his family name was pronounced “A Bear.” He was wandering through Tracy. Thought he’d sneak over to the hive and get some honey. It had been a long time since he’d gotten his honey fix. He was in bad shape. He had been vague on what his home address was. He didn’t want to fork over the beans. I pressed him. He said it was a small town between Port Arthur and Baytown. I pressed him further. He gave us his complete home address. He was from Winnie.
Back in the office, we waited for the scientists and such to do their thing. Jim was convinced this was a body part harvesting operation, but all we had was one bee who was missing his knees.
When the Medical Examiner called, he said, “The victim died of asphyxiation by wax. Removal of the knees was postmortem.”
I asked, “Was it an accident and then mutilation of a corpse? What did you learn from the wax?”
The ME replied, “It’s none of your bee’s wax….”
“Sorry, Doc, it is my business.” I was getting a little hot under the collar.
“No, No, Sgt. Yeggs, it was not bee’s wax. It seems to be a hard body wax used in Brazilian body waxing. It is even scented.”
“Sorry, Doc,” I cleared my throat. “How about time of death?”
“Hard to give a good time. The body was well preserved in the wax, but what I can say is in the summertime when all the trees and leaves are green and the redbird sings.”
“What’s the basis of that conclusion?”
The ME replied, “Well, there were a few green leaves preserved next to the body and some red pin feathers. Our trace evidence people did some fine work on this one.”
I turned to Jim, “I’ll be blue ’cause you don’t want my love.”
“What on earth are you talking about, Deviled?”
I was already thinking of a different motive for this murder. Somehow, I pictured the guy who killed Buzz lightyears away. I replied to Jim’s question with two words “Unrequited love.”
“Deviled, I worry about you. You never use words like ‘unrequited’. You might need a vacation. This case is a simple case of body part harvesting. I have already been making inquiries. I think I have a few leads.”
I was still staring into the clouds out the window – seeing sheep and trains and one that looked like Abraham Lincoln, without his hat. “Vacation, hunh? Okay, Jim, you take the lead on the body part thing. I’ll go get Poached, and we’ll follow my hunch. Maybe we’ll cross paths at some point. Hey, there’s a new guy on the force, smart kid. His name’s Boo Boo. I think with his background, he could be your honey expert. If he knows honey, he might know bees.”
Jim looked concerned, “Are you breaking up the team, Deviled?”
I patted him on the shoulder, “You afraid to take the lead? I’m just thinking we might get there faster by taking both angles. We’ll compare notes after.”
I grabbed the phone book and found what I was looking for. I made a few calls and then met Poached in the motor pool. Poached Yeggs, my nephew and a royal pain in my backside, drove the car.
“Where are we going, Deviled? Are we about to make an arrest? Have you got this one solved already?”
Poached was a pain, because he asked a lot of questions. I showed him the address and replied, “Some other time that’s what you say when I want you. Then you laugh at me and make me cry ’cause you don’t want my love.”
“Deviled, I think Detective Wednesday is right. You need a vacation. You are not making sense. You seem to never want me to help. I have never seen you cry. As for the love thing, as an uncle, you are the greatest, but you seem to be the one that doesn’t want me around.”
I cleared my throat, apologized, then drifted into my reverie again, “You don’t seem to care a thing about me. You’d rather live without me than to have my arms around you when the nights are cold and you’re so all alone. Two. Three. Four. Five. Six. Seven-eight. Stop!”
Poached slammed on the brakes. “What is wrong with you?”
I replied, “Poached, you’d think I was crazy whether I told you my hunch or whether I kept it to myself. All I’ll say is that Buzz the Bee died in the summertime when all the trees and leaves are green and the redbird sings. I just hope this redbird will sing.” When I saw the puzzled look on Poached’s face, I added, “We are here to talk to Vanessa Redbird. She lives on Twain Lane off Miller Run Road, near the corner of Miller Run and Roger Avenue. She lives in a nest in the eighth tree. Her street address is Two Two Twain Lane. It’s a lane built during the rails to trails program. This used to be the Lionel tracks. Dang me. That’s her walking up now.”
“You must be Detective Sergeant Deviled Yeggs. I’ve heard a lot about you.”
“Oh? I hope it was good.”
She smiled and said, “Sort of. Your brother, Scrambled, is a friend of mine.”
Poached and I looked at each other. Poached was a little shocked at hearing his Dad’s name used by a questionable Redbird from the wrong side of the tracks, or what used to be tracks. Scrambled had always been the prankster. He had a very short attention span. Our old man wanted him to follow along in the family business, but Scrambled didn’t have the head for it. Besides the short attention span, he didn’t have a sunny side up expression. Scrambled was more like the guy who did bad, but not illegal, things. At least, we’ve never caught him doing anything worthy of jail time. I suspected him of deflating footballs during one of the Super Bowls not long ago, but no one caught him. But now that we have a known associate that has done time… Poached gave me the nod. He was ready to handle any bad news about his Dad.
I tried to dodge the Scrambled Yeggs that she is offered on a platter. I changed the subject. “We aren’t here about Scrambled. Tell us what you know about Buzz the Bee.”
“Okay. Buzz was the Bee’s Knees. I loved him so, but I haven’t seen him since last summer. Now I hear that he bought the farm. I asked my old boyfriend, but he knew nothing about it. All he said was, ’Once upon a time you used to smile and wave to me, and walk with me, but now you don’t ’cause you don’t want my love.’ I told him to get lost. Why could he not get over the fact that I had fallen for another guy? And who could resist those knees?”
“Where can we find your ex?”
“Oh, he’s an athlete. He’s a mascot for a football team down in Arizona.”
I looked at Poached and said, “Road Trip!”
We arrived at the mascot’s apartment. He went by the name of Hardy, the Cardi-nal.
I looked him in the eye and said, “When Vanessa gave you the bum’s rush, you must have told her ‘Some other guy is takin’ up all your time. Now you don’t have time for me ‘cause you don’t want my love.’ You might as well come clean Hardy. We’ve got you red-handed. Or maybe that is red-winged, like the work boots.”
He broke down. I could say he was red in the face, but he was a red bird. He cried in his beer … and the TV dinner he had just heated in the microwave. He said, “She said that she loved me. She wanted to get married. Then that bee with the beautiful bee’s knees showed up. Well, he doesn’t have those knees anymore, does he? No!”
I softened my voice a bit. “And you don’t have them either, do you?”
Hardy cried, “After a few months, they just starting staring at me. They were talking, too. Not words, more like the knees were knocking. I had to get rid of them. I thought why not sell them. If the girls thought they were cute, maybe the knees were worth something.”
As I started to cuff him, my phone rang. It was Jim Wednesday. I handed the cuffs to Poached.
“Deviled, you will never believe where I am. I am in Arizona, outside the door of the apartment of a guy who sold some bee’s knees a couple of months back on the black market. I took the lead. I followed the evidence, and I am about to close the case. What do you think of that?”
“I’m happy for you, Jim. You solved the case. You deserve all the credit. Maybe they’ll finally make you sergeant, but don’t break the door down. The door’s unlocked. Poached has your guy in bracelets, waiting for you to take him in.”
Later, after Jim got over the shock, he said, “You know, Deviled, you are a good yegg.”
“Slow down, Jim, and keep that to yourself. My old man taught me all he knew, but I went straight – straight from high school to the police academy. If they knew I knew how to crack every safe in town, they might ask questions about that bank job last summer. You know the one where the bank manager and his staff were trapped inside that antique bank vault, the one that could really trap you? I told them that the vault wasn’t locked – that the vault door was just jammed shut. If they knew I cracked the vault in less than a minute to save those folks, they might start suspecting me of all kinds of unsolved cases.”
- The bold/italics text are the lyrics to You Don’t Want My Love by Roger Miller. Of course, Dang Me is another Roger Miller hit.
- The counting (of the trees down Twain Lane) is something Roy Clark added to the Roger Miller song (on the 8-Track live performance that I mentioned in an earlier post. Roy counted during a musical rest, a six beat rest, starting at two, so seven-eight were run together).
- The idea of Two Two Twain comes from my favorite movie, Murder by Death, a Neil Simon Classic (1976). Peter Sellers plays Sidney Wang (a parody of Charlie Chan). They were looking for 22 Lois Lane, the home of Lionel Twain, played by Truman Capote. Wang’s number two adopted son, who was driving the car, thought he was lost until Sellers says, “Look, Two Two Twain’s house. We in right place.” Or something to that effect.
- The Bee’s Knees was mentioned in a recent Amy Blount blog post. I already knew how Buzz would meet his demise, but I was stuck. A combination of her using “Bee’s Knees” and getting the Roger Miller song stuck in my head, my latest earworm, caused all the pieces to fall into place. Now THAT is the true mystery.
- The real Buzz the Bee (Yes, I know he is a cartoon character on a cereal box.) has really been missing for over a year and a half. As a means to raise public awareness for the shrinking honey bee population, the cereal company removed him from the box along with a public service announcement stating that they would send wildflower seeds to any child who wanted to save the bees. It is suspected that the bees are disappearing due to problems caused by humans, but the exact cause is unknown, probably a combination of factors. The cereal company decided that they would tackle the concept of a shrinking source of pollen. As a result, over a million packets of wildflower seeds have been distributed. Their campaign is called #BringBacktheBees. The problem with honey bees disappearing goes beyond a shortage of honey. Many plant species rely on bees to pollenate them.