I’m Detective Sgt. Deviled Yeggs. I work homicide in the big city of Tracy. My partner is Jim Wednesday, but he’s off today, getting fitted for his tuxedo and making a few honeymoon plans. Either that or running for the hills. Poached Yeggs, my nephew and Jim’s and my junior detective, is filling in as my partner for the day.
“Poached, it’s only for a day. Jim will be back tomorrow.”
“But when Jim goes on his honeymoon, we’ll be a team again, right Deviled?”
“No, Poached, I worked it out with everyone in the big city of Tracy. Not one single soul is going to ‘off’ anybody while Jim is on his honeymoon. It’s all worked out. No murders while Jim is away. So, Poached, you might want to think of loaning yourself out to other divisions. I know that Vice is looking for people.”
“No, Deviled, I’ll stick by you.”
“Yay! My lucky day.” That’s when the phone rang. I answered but it was for Poached. It was George Evident. He was partnered with Poached when Poached walked a beat, at least for a while.
When Poached put the phone down, he said, “He could have talked to you, Deviled. We have a potential murder out on Lonesome Pine Trail. It seems someone got beamed up, or out, or away, something. All they found were his footprints.”
I would usually argue that without a corpse, we don’t usually respond to the call. It might be nothing, but if Poached isn’t sniffing clues, he’s being obnoxious with everyone in the office. He’d almost brought Gisele, the Captain’s secretary, to tears asking her questions about coffee making. First, she never makes the coffee. Second, the coffee in the office is the worst tasting coffee in the city. Third, she’s a bit paranoid. Who wouldn’t be, working for the Captain? So, I thought, ‘Why not look at some footprints?’
When we reached George Evident on Lonesome Pine Trail, George was standing next to a filthy late-model automobile.
“I’m so glad you two are here. The witnesses were trying to slip away. They are a bit skiddish, and they don’t make any sense. They say some guy was beamed up – right in front of them.”
I said, “They can wait until I know what is going on here.”
“Two witnesses saw a flash of light and the guy that was standing near this car wasn’t there anymore. They ran over, from opposite directions actually; they don’t know each other. Well, they didn’t know each other. When they got to the spot where I have a few traffic cones placed, they saw charred ground everywhere except for two perfect imprints of men’s size nine shoes.”
Poached asked, “Who’s car?”
George reported, “Belongs to a Mr. Beemer Maximilian Wurst. He does not answer his cell phone. The car has not been reported missing or stolen, and Mr. Wurst has not been located.”
“Okay, George, now where are the witnesses?”
George was startled. He spun around to look. “But they were just standing next to the car!”
I walked around the car and saw two people, sitting on the ground, locked in a passionate embrace, kissing each other.
I turned to George. “I thought you said these two didn’t know each other?” I asked.
The couple separated. The young woman blushed and looked away. “Kismet” was all she said.
The unshaven man with shaggy hair exclaimed, “Woah, you must be the detective dude. Like, we’ve been waiting here for a half hour. Callie and I found out that we had a lot in common, so, you know, Dude, like biology.”
“Is that your take on it, Callie?”
She continued to look away. “It’s more like opposites attracting in the face of a traumatic experience, but I guess it could simply be biology at work.” She bit her lower lip.
I was a little peeved with George for not separating the witnesses. If they went from not knowing each other to being romantic in thirty minutes, they probably compared eyewitness accounts and their statements would be tainted.
I talked to the “Dude” while Poached interviewed Callie. “Okay, can I have your name?”
“My name’s Biff Barth, Dude. I’m a surfer. Been out catching some gnarly waves, you know.”
“But Biff, we are about as far away from the seashore as we can get here in Tracy.”
Biff laughed, “Woah, don’t you know it, Dude. When I visit the folks, I have to catch the waves … in my mind.”
I thought, ‘Oh, boy! I hope this is something about nothing. I’d hate to see Biff on a witness stand.’
I sighed, “Okay, Biff Barth, what did you see?”
Biff grinned from ear to ear. “I saw this dude standing near this car. The dude was like totally tubular, Dude. I heard a songbird, so I turned away just as I hear thunder and a flash of light. When I looked back at the dude, he was, like, gone, man. It was like Scottie had beamed him up, you know? Far out, Dude! I ran over, and where he was standing, there was kind of this shadow everywhere except where his shoes had been. It was like… Dude!”
I rolled my eyes. This case will never go to court. This guy is a nut case. “Biff, it’s Detective Sgt. Dude. Excuse me, Detective Sgt. Yeggs, not Dude. And you could not have heard thunder. There is not a cloud in the sky. And what do you mean ‘totally tubular?’”
Biff laughed. “Woah, I’m talking to the dude with the stripes! I had no idea, your Sergeant Dudeship, Sir! But that’s what I heard. It was like thunder, man. And the smell. That was strange. It made your nose tingle, but I hadn’t smelled anything like it before. Maybe like the inner workings of a volcano, your Sergeant Dudeship, Sir.”
I wondered what else had been tingling Biff’s nose.
I excused Biff and compared notes with Poached. Callie Johnson had also been distracted and only saw a flash of light, as if there had been lightning. Since the high voltage power lines were nearby – and no clouds, she thought it might be something connected to the experiment that the man was setting up. She said that the man had some kind of experimental equipment around him, and he was busy making adjustments. She too heard the songbird. That was her reason for walking down the trail. She was bird watching, working on her doctorate in ornithology.
And as for her attraction to Biff, she knew it was a mistake, but she knew that she would probably go out with him later, if that didn’t screw up our investigation. She said that George had told them not to discuss what they had experienced, so they started experiencing each other instead. In the opinion of Poached, her assessment of a ‘mistake’ was just the tip of a really bad iceberg.
Poached said that she too had smelled a strange smell, a burning smell but not wood or diesel. She thought that the man might have erected something near the power lines, and he was vaporized by an electrical arc. Only problem was, when she was watching him, there was nothing that tall. She knew that he was much further away than the standard ten feet clearance. It couldn’t be an explosion. There was no shrapnel, only the footprints.
The crime scene investigators showed up. Poached and I decided to go to lunch. With no body to deal with, we might just wait until Jim came back to revisit the case of the man who was beamed up.
Lonesome Pine Trail, or the Trail of the Lonesome Pine, was established by Daniel Boone in 1775. This also became the title of a book by John Fox Jr., which led to movies of the same title and a song. Of course, there are nature trails and such with the same name.
Biff Hooper and Callie Shaw were characters in the Hardy Boys mysteries. As for the bad mistake, Callie was Frank Hardy’s girlfriend.
Of course, Beemer Maximilian Wurst’s initials are BMW. When we were fortunate in renting one recently with no luxury up-charge, I thought “what would happen if a Beemer got beamed up?” Thus, the first half of another Yeggs adventure. The second half in a few days – in June.