I’m Detective Sgt. Deviled Yeggs. I work homicide in the big city of Tracy. My partner is Jim Wednesday. We are again ‘blessed’ with Poached Yeggs, Junior Detective and my nephew. I have just returned from vacation.
Poached greeted me when I came into the squad room. “Detective Sgt. Yeggs! So great to see you. We haven’t had a single homicide since you’ve been gone. And did you catch my greeting? I’m in the squad room and I didn’t say, ‘Hello, Uncle Deviled!’”
I replied, “Yes, Poached, you were fine until you bragged about it. In doing so, you let everyone in the squad room know that I am your uncle.” The other officers laughed, except for Poached. He turned red.
I tried to sooth his feelings. “Sorry, Poached. You may not have had a homicide, but we did. We had a few.”
Jim asked, “On vacation?”
I nodded. “Yeah, sit back, this may be a good one.”
“You know that Glyce and I and the three kids went to Charleston, SC for a conference. Glyce was the keynote speaker, so they put us up in the hotel, in a luxury suite no less.
“Her speech was excellent, even though I have no clue what she was talking about. Okay, a little of it made sense, but mostly, our stay was a fully paid vacation. We all did the carriage ride. We went on the ghost tour. Glyce skipped a few touristy things. Glyce had some panel discussions to attend. She had a book signing for her latest book. But while she was signing books, I took the kids to the market to do a little shopping. We were going to take a hotel shuttle afterward to Patriot’s Point and see the USS Yorktown and the other historic ships there, and then Glyce was going to pick us up in the parking lot and take us to dinner at Shem Creek. Only problem is, I nearly got arrested before we’d done any of that.
“You see, I took the three kids down a back alley that our hotel concierge suggested that would be a shortcut to the market. This ain’t the slave market. They have this great market area that has restaurants, but it also has crafts of all kinds. I eventually bought Glyce a nice sweetgrass basket there. They ain’t cheap, but they are handmade and really interesting and soft.
“Anyway, I digress. In the alley, there was a puddle of melted chocolate. I grabbed the kids and made sure they didn’t step in the puddle.
“Blaise said, ‘Father, do you notice the fragments of shell in the puddle? The inner surface is white and the outer surface is green. It looks like a giant candy-coated chocolate shell.’
“‘You’re right, Blaise.’
“’Oooh, Daddy, look at those beautiful white high heels next to the wall.’ Sophie exclaimed. ‘Can I have them?’
“’No, Sophie, in a strange way, I think they belong to the puddle.’
Easter added, ‘Dad, I’m getting hungry. Can we get a snack at the market? Anything except chocolate. This puddle has put me off chocolate for a while.’
“All four of us were staring at the puddle when some rookie cop at the end of the alley pulled his weapon on us. He yelled, ‘Stop. Put your hands in the air!’
“We complied, but I said, ‘I’m a cop. I’m from out of town. I have my credentials in my left coat pocket. I could get them or ask you to, but please, put your weapon away. You are pointing it at a bunch of children and their father.’
“A voice came from behind the rookie. ‘You heard the man, Bubba. Don’t point your gun at children.’ The voice came from a man wearing a trench coat, in spite of the heat. He introduced himself, while I still had my hands in the air. By now, Sophie was crying. ’Hi. I’m Detective Sgt. Francis Marion. I work homicide here in Charleston. Keep your hands up and I’ll check that pocket.’ He was gentle. He saw the badge, but he took no interest in who I was. With the badge, there was probably a concealed weapon, so he made sure I wasn’t carrying. I wasn’t. I was on vacation. I had a weapon in the glove compartment, locked in a case, but not on me.
“Det. Marion escorted us to the police station where we all sat in a conference room. He would have preferred an interrogation room, but his captain said that there were three children present. Okay, the captain said that there was a crying female child, a teen-ager, and a small adult, claiming to be six years old, but that got us more comfortable chairs, hot chocolate for the children, and coffee for me that was slightly better than the coffee in this squad room. Sorry, I still contend our coffee is the worst on earth.
“Det. Marion asked a lot of the standard questions, but he never asked my name. When he finally got around to asking Blaise a question, Blaise let him have it, ‘Sir, you may be a good detective in Charleston, but you would not last long in Tracy. You have not asked us the key questions regarding our identities, how we can be located both here and back home, and what we have to gain by melting Green M&M. Would you care to start this interview over and do it right?’
“Det. Marion was starting to explode. I am married to an explosive person. He had all the signs that Glyce shows before the roof comes off. I tried to curb Blaise’s tongue, ‘Now, Blaise, he has his procedures. We have ours. Please, apologize to the man. He has a hard job to do. I ought to know. I do the same thing that he does back home.”
“’No, the kid is right. I saw your badge and never read the information.’ He picked up my credentials again, and his face reddened. ‘I’m going to have to tell Bubba that he pointed his gun at the guy I have been trying to find for three days now.’
“’You’ve been looking for me?’ I asked.
“’Yep, I searched the national crime database for murders of cartoon characters who are used in television advertisement. Every time I found a solved case, it was solved by Deviled Yeggs. You are Deviled Yeggs, are you not?’
“’I am, but how can I help? Besides, that puddle was fresh. Why have you been trying to find me for three days?’
“’First, this wasn’t the first puddle of chocolate. Second, every time I called your squad room, I got this kid claiming to be Poached Yeggs. He said you were on vacation and before I could ask where you were, the idiot hung up on me. I hope you aren’t related.’
“’Poached is my nephew. He was probably following orders from my wife to keep me from getting drawn into a case, but that isn’t procedure. I’ll talk to him.’
Poached turned red, again. Everyone else laughed – at Poached – for the second time since I arrived.
“I asked Det. Marion, ‘If this wasn’t the first, what else do you have?’
“’Red M&M was the first puddle. Blue was next, a day later. Then there was the puddle with a large peanut, Yellow, yesterday. Now today we have Green. That only leaves Orange and Ms. Brown. Orange is a bit neurotic. He is in hiding. Ms. Brown does not seem to be too worried.’
“I asked, ‘Any suspects? What about motive?’
“’Other than the surviving two candies, I have no idea. The family lives in a nice home across the Cooper River in Mount Pleasant, nothing fancy. Their work is seasonal, Halloween, Christmas, Valentine’s, anything that involves giving candy. Half the year, they are dining at Shem Creek and sun-bathing. But I have no idea why they sun-bathe. Ms. Brown is the only one who can get a tan. They had no enemies, although Red’s mouth got him in trouble a lot. Yellow walked into trouble a lot, never caused any trouble, but He just seemed to be a bit … naïve.’
“’I wasn’t going there.’
“Easter asked, ‘Dad, if they melt in your mouth, not in your hand, what were they doing all melted?’
“Det. Marion answered, ‘We’re thinking a high-powered laser. Once you’ve cut through the shell, it’s pretty much over at that point. We think; I’m not an animated chocolate candy expert. That’s one of the things we wanted to ask your Dad.’
“I nodded, ‘That’d be my guess, but just a guess. By the way, have you put a tail on Ms. Brown?’
“’She keeps slipping into the shadows and losing the tail. She is our prime suspect.’
“’Oh, no. What time is it? You said Shem Creek a minute ago. We’re supposed to meet Glyce at Patriot’s Point and then go there.’
“Det. Marion asked, ‘Who’s Glyce?’
“Blaise answered, ‘That is what Father calls Mother. It is supposedly short for Nitroglycerin. You don’t want to be around Mother when she gets angry. Her real name is Trinity Naomi Tesla Yeggs. It could be TNT Yeggs, but not nitroglycerin, and definitely not Glyce! It unnerves me that Father never calls her that.’
“’Blaise, cool it. I called your mother Trinity once and for three days she got no sleep. When I called her by her real name, she thought I was in love with another woman. So, it will remain Glyce, forever, understand?’
“That’s when Sophie spoke for the first time since she started crying in the alley, ‘Daddy, why can’t all the colors get along?’
“’What do you mean, Soapy?’ I asked, while giving her a hug.
“’Ms. Brown is melting all the members of her family, and why? Because they aren’t the same color she is. Why can’t all the colors like each other?’
“I looked Sophie in the eyes, and asked, ‘Where did you get an idea like that?’
“Sophie replied, ‘I was walking around the hotel yesterday. I saw the brown candy in the bar. She looked sweet, so I went into the bar and sat in the next booth behind her. She was talking to someone about getting more gas for her laser. Then, Mr. Swamp Fox here says that the M&Ms were melted using a laser. Why can’t the colors get along?’
“I hugged her and said, ‘Just think, Soapy, every time you open a bag of candy, do you ever see the candies fighting? They always get along. Now, if people could do that too, we’d have a much better world.’ I turned to Det. Marion, ‘Have you checked the gas suppliers? Maybe smuggled supplies from offshore? I doubt if she’d use a registered gas supplier, too easy to trace.’
“Easter said, ‘Now that Sophie solved the crime, can we get something to eat? I’m starved.”
“’Okay, Easter,’ I said, ‘If Det. Marion will give us a ride to Patriot’s Point, we’ll probably get there about the same time your Mom gets there. Who’s ready for a steampot?’
“Det. Marion scratched his head. ‘Did you say Easter? You’re oldest is named Easter Yeggs? And I thought being named after the Swamp Fox was bad. Mind if I join you for dinner? I might have to get to know you folks a little better. As your unofficial host in town, I’ll pay, and I know where you can find the best steampots on Shem Creek.’
“I went by their police station the next day. Through their contacts and informants, they found an unregistered gas supplier who sold Ms. Brown the gas for her laser. Turns out, there were two motives for the murders. Ms. Brown was a bit obsessive-compulsive, a real neat freak, and the others were slobs. The other reason was the money. There was plenty of money, but the money was tied into a trust that went to the group as a whole. The wording of the trust essentially turned it into a tontine, unable to access the money unless you were the last one. Most states make a tontine illegal, but this one was written in such a convoluted way, it went through by means of loopholes.”
“There you have it. Another case, solved by a member of the Yeggs family.”
Gisele, our captain’s secretary yelled, “Hooray, Soapy!”
First, I dreamed up the idea of Deviled Yeggs being on vacation to cover up for the truth during the 6-week gap without a story. With the preparation for the comedy night and other medical issues, I had no time for Deviled Yeggs and company. Then I got an irate e-mail. Not from a fan, no, from Blaise Yeggs. He said that I was negligent in writing the exploits of his father, and that he, that is, Blaise, had not appeared in an episode in some time and I must rectify that error. His words, a six-year-old. Okay, this was my attempt at doing so. The vacation ‘ruse’ was to cover up for my ‘negligence.’
M&Ms were created by Forrest Mars, Sr., son of Frank Mars, founder of Mars Candy. He had seen a British candy-coated chocolate used in the Spanish Civil War. The Mars Company created their own similar coating with a patent in 1941. There was a trademarked “M” stamped on the candies. The candies were called M&M after Forrest Mars, Sr. and Bruce Murrie, son of the then-president of Hershey. Bruce Murrie had a 20% interest in the venture. The candy-coating is designed so that the chocolate does as the slogan says, “Melts in your mouth, not in your hand.”
The M&M characters first appeared in black-and-white in advertisements in 1954, but the present CGI characters first appeared in 1994. These characters started with Red (plain), originally voiced by Jon Lovitz, and Yellow (peanut), originally voiced by John Goodman. A year later the Blue campaign began. Of the different colors, Green and Ms. Brown (voiced by Vanessa Williams) are the two female characters.
Francis Marion (1732-1795) is otherwise known as “the Swamp Fox,” immortalized before the Disney miniseries (1959-1961). As a captain and later a lieutenant colonel, Marion perfected the art of guerilla warfare during the Revolutionary War with quick strikes against Loyalists and British regulars. Each withdrawal from combat, into the swamps, was even quicker than the strikes. Colonel Banastre Tarleton was sent to either capture or kill Marion, but he despaired of ever finding “the old swamp fox” along any of the many swamp trails that Marion and his men used to escape. Thus, his nom de guerre was cast. It was about this time of Marion’s evading capture that the South Carolina governor commissioned him a brigadier general of state military forces – odd, since, at the time, his small band of men were the only military forces in the state that were loyal to the revolution. The forested area just north of Mount Pleasant, SC is the Francis Marion National Forest, an area frequently traveled by the Swamp Fox many years before, and one of many landmarks (cities, counties, and townships) in about a third of the states in the USA named for Francis Marion.
As always, there were no fictional characters harmed in the writing of this story.