The Season Gets Kicked Off – A Yeggs and Wednesday Mystery

I am Detective Sergeant Deviled Yeggs.  I work homicide in the big city of Tracy.  My partner is Jim Wednesday.

I said that I work homicide.  That may be past tense after the incident this past weekend.  Captain Al Hart sent Jim and I duplicate messages to report to his office before we did anything else on Monday.  He sent the message through social media, texts to our phones, and e-mails.  The Captain is usually Neanderthal in nature, but he never uses all caps.  He did this time.

So, Jim and I figured he couldn’t get angrier if we showed up late for work.  We met for our usual power breakfast to discuss our plan of action.

When we planned our attack of the guy that we call ‘All Heart’, Jim asked, “Who were those two girls that I saw Easter with at the game?”  Easter Yeggs is my oldest son.

I chuckled, “That’s a great way to change the subject.  They are sisters.  One is Tally Ho.  She got Easter interested in the high school fencing team.  The other is Sally Forth.  She has gotten Easter to join the high school orienteering team.  Glyce and I are not complaining since Easter’s grades have improved in order to stay on the teams, and his physical conditioning is top notch.  But we know it won’t last.  He has a crush on two girls at the same time?  And they are sisters?  Once either of the girls thinks that Easter is more sweet on the other sister, Easter might just have to leave town.  That’s if he catches wind of it first.  They might be calling for our services, if he gets blindsided.”

Jim looked confused.  “Wait!  Two sisters, Tally Ho and Sally Forth.  Is that their entire name?  Their first names rhyme.  Their last names are not the same.  How does that work?”

“Jim, you know how it works.  The mother or father writes something stupid on the birth certificate, and the kid has to live with it.”

“This coming from a guy named Deviled Yeggs, talking about his son, Easter Yeggs.  Okay, sorry I asked.”

I replied, “Now that I have updated you on the status of Easter’s love life, are we ready to tackle the Captain?”

As we entered the squad room, we heard the Captain yell, “You two, get your backsides in here.”  He didn’t say ‘backsides,’ but this is a story suitable for family consumption.

Captain Al Hart was redder in the face than we had ever seen him.  “I’m watching the college football game on the tube Saturday, and the game has been placed on hold by the order of the police.  I’m a police captain.  I can’t even do that!  Then, the camera pans around and both of you yard-birds are standing there with your clipboards in hand.  You do realize that the game was televised nationwide.  You do realize that the Armed Forces network picked up the game, and our soldiers around the world were watching you two IDIOTS instead of watching the game!  You made a laughingstock out of the entire police force.  What were you thinking?”  As loud as he was yelling, I could have capitalized every word, but that’s hard to read.  Just assume extreme shouting, accompanied by laughter from our ‘friends’ in the squad room.

I replied, “We were investigating the crime scene.”

“What crime scene?!”

Jim replied, “The murder of Twinkle Toes MacGillycuddy.”

The Captain exploded, “Who are you two to decide murder or natural death?  He kicked the opening kickoff of the season, and he collapsed.  He was pronounced dead at the hospital an hour later.  How is that a murder?”

I replied, “Sir, all deaths that are unexplained have to be treated as a homicide until we know better.”

Although we didn’t think it possible, Captain Hart screamed even louder.  “You could have waited until after the game!  Wednesday, you were working crowd control.  Yeggs, you weren’t even supposed to be there!  Why was my biggest troublemaker in this department at the game?  Explain that one before we go any further!”

I smiled, which really got him boiling, “Sir, my wife is a professor at the university.  She has been at Tracy Regional University for Science and Technology for many years now.  She was voted the professor in whom you could T.R.U.S.T.  Didn’t you see her receive the award at halftime?”

“You know they cut to the studio at halftime!  But that means you were not on duty.  You had no authority to shut down the game!”

Jim answered, “Sir, we did not shut down the game.  We stopped play until we could do a minimum of investigation.  We retrieved the game ball and discovered what we thought.”

“And what was that?”

I replied, “Twinkle Toes MacGillycuddy did not just kick off to start the game, he ‘kicked off’ this mortal coil.  He kicked the bucket, Sir.”

“And now you are making fun of a deceased young man?  He was supposed to be the first Heisman Trophy winner from the local university.  He was the place kicker and quarterback for the team.  That got the award for Steve Spurrier back in 1966.  It was going to bring that trophy here this year.  That is until Twinkle Toes dies, of natural causes, at the hospital.”

Jim replied, “You know how this works, Sir.  He was not breathing, not responsive, and with no pulse at the stadium.  To prevent the 80,000+ fans from panicking, they pretended to treat him as if he were unconscious.  They got him out of sight as quickly as possible, into the ambulance.  The death certificate was signed and dated by the physician that received him at the hospital, but the team doctor should have done that on the field.”

“And why did you take the game ball?”

I responded, “It was the murder weapon.  I was not making light of the deceased, Sir.  He literally kicked the bucket.  The ball was especially marked for purposes of kicking off the season, supposedly a Heisman season.  They were going to put the ball in a glass case if Twinkle Toes won any post-season awards.  It wasn’t the only game ball, just the first ball that was used.  But someone doctored the ball.  A very small bucket was hidden inside the ball.”

“Are you saying that if you literally kick the bucket, you die?  That’s ridiculous, I saw you kick that bucket of trash clear across the squad room last week.  I was hoping at the time, but nothing happened.  Why ain’t you dead?!”

“It was the wrong bucket, Sir.”

“Wait!  Even if you can kick a specific bucket, and die, how did they know that Twinkle Toes would kick the ball at the start of the game?  A murderer could not take a chance on the coin flip.  Explain that!”

Jim replied, “We confiscated the coin, once we found it.  It was clean, but it was already decided that our team would kick off the game.  The visitors get to choose for the coin flip.  If they win the toss of the coin, they choose whether they want to kick off or receive the ball or they can defer to the second half.  No one from the other team wanted Twinkle Toes to get his hands on the ball first, and the TRUST Trustees’ coach had announced that they would choose to kick off both halves in mock tribute to ‘sportsmanship’ – really bragging that he could beat the other team even after giving them that advantage.”

“So, who killed Twinkle Toes MacGillycuddy?”

I replied, “The umpire confessed late last night, early this morning by the time he signed the confession.  He thought that the doctored ball would simply break his foot.  The judge will probably reduce it to manslaughter upon trial.  Seems the umpire’s wife’s cousin is Crazy Legs Fishbein, out in California.  He is now the front runner for the Heisman, since Twinkle Toes is deceased.”

The Captain looked confused.  He wasn’t talking.  He sat behind his desk, blinking rapidly.

When Jim realized he wasn’t blinking Morse Code, he gave a mock salute.  “See, Sir, you asked the same questions that we asked at the game.  If you had been at the game, you would have solved a murder that will be National News for a week or two – all by yourself.  We solved it, simply because of your leadership.”

Captain Hart’s volume decreased almost to a whisper.  “Glad you see it that way, but the brownnosing still won’t get you promoted to Sergeant, Wednesday, and I don’t care how many mouths you now have to feed.  Now, get back to work!”

As we left the office, I grumbled, “Jim, I am less than pleased.  You don’t get promoted, and I don’t get paid overtime for working all weekend and missing Glyce’s awards dinner with the Chancellor.  You get paid for the weekend, being on crowd control duty, but I forgot to clock in!”

That’s when Gisele, the Captain’s secretary, walked up to us with a smile on her face.  “Boys, I doubt if the Captain would mind me telling you personally, besides, he’ll never hear it from me.  The commissioner wants you to report to City Hall immediately.  It seems that they have a press conference in about an hour and he needs you two to be there to feed him answers to questions.  How would you like to have your faces on every major news network and every sports network in the country, a few worldwide?  You’ll be behind the commissioner, but you’ll be in the frame.”

We beamed and I said, “Almost better than gettin’ paid.  Don’t tell the Captain.  He’ll explode once he sees it on TV.”

Credits:

Tally Ho – Thought to be a derivative of “Taille Haut.”  “Taille” being a specific type of sword, and “Haut” meaning “raised up.”  So, the phrase used for the fox hunt was originally meant to say, “Swords Up!”  Tally Ho got Easter into fencing due to the sword connection.

Sally Forth – Sally Forth was a comic strip from 1968-74, written by Wally Wood for the US Armed Forces newspapers.  Sally Forth, not connected to the original comic strip, is presently a syndicated comic strip with a few people contributing over the years since 1984.  As for the origin of the word: A “Sally Gate” was a small gate in a prison or fortress, from the Latin salire.  The command to “Sally Forth,” or “Salle Sortie,” is thought to be a command to marshal forces in a surprise attack through the Sally Gate.  This is usually done by the besieged army inside the fort to harass the enemy that is performing the siege.

As for Sally Forth getting Easter into Orienteering?  Military style orienteering is the ultimate competition of topographical map reading and endurance cross country racing.  You run through the woods following a marked map to find markers at various map features in the competition area (for example: cliffs, gullies, road intersections, hilltops, forks in a creek, etc.  The winner gets the most features found without going beyond the maximum time, ties being decided by least time spent on the course.  Strategy is used when you study the map to eliminate back tracking, avoid terrain too hard to run through, and maybe sacrificing a station that requires too much time to reach.

“Twinkle Toes” has been the nickname of a few sports figures: a few soccer players, an Aussie Rules Football player, an Australian Rugby player, a baseball player, and one American College Football player, Leo Paquin of Fordham, part of the “Seven Blocks of Granite.”

I chose the Irish name of MacGillycuddy, using the spelling of the mountain range in County Kerry, Ireland, MacGillycuddy’s Reeks.  (For family names and meaning ‘the son of,’ ‘Mac’ is usually Scottish, while ‘Mc’ is usually Irish.)

“Kicking the Bucket” has no agreed origin.  It is thought that it originated with people who were hanged while standing on a bucket and then the bucket was kicked out from underneath them.  Others think that William Shakespeare had an influence from Henry IV, Part II, “… he that gibbets on the Brewers Bucket.”  But others theorize there is a Catholic origin from the practice of carrying holy water in buckets.  Thus, kicking the bucket might be deadly, indeed.  As for an American contribution, the Americans, for a time, used the term “kicking off” instead of kicking the bucket, but that sounds too much like a football term.  As for kicking a bucket of trash across the room, my mother worked for a small gasoline distribution and sales company for a short time.  She worked in a large bullpen with other bookkeepers and typists.  When her boss kicked the trashcan next to her desk for the umpteenth time one week, she told him that he was lucky that the saying wasn’t true.  Then again, if she’d asked Deviled Yeggs, he would have told her it was simply the wrong bucket.

“Crazy Legs” is a legitimate nickname for a real American football hero, Elroy “Crazy Legs” Hirsch.  The nickname stemmed from the way his legs would twist while running and avoiding being tackled.  He played for three different colleges, helping both Wisconsin and Michigan reach number 3 in the rankings in consecutive years.  He joined the Marines near the end of World War II, being promoted to lieutenant.  He then played in professional football from 1946 through 1957, playing for the Chicago Rockets (AAFC) and the Los Angeles Rams (NFL).  He has been inducted into both the college and professional football halls of fame.

“Fishbein,” as far as I know, has no connection to football but is the name for the North American Bridge Championship trophy, named in memory of Sally Fishbein and honoring her husband, Harry Fishbein.  (I wonder if Sally was a Forth before she married?)

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