For those who have not read the previous chapters, click HERE for chapter 1, click HERE for chapter 2, click HERE for chapter 3, click HERE for chapter 4, click HERE for chapter 5, and click HERE for chapter 6.
I’m Detective Sgt. Deviled Yeggs. Maybe I have read too many Agatha Christie novels, but I thought I would invite all the people involved in the case of the Devil Smuggler into one room – not all the bad guys, but all those who helped in one way or another plus Jack.
The first to arrive was Hugh McAdoo. He downloaded some financial reports on the computer. He and Jim Wednesday, my partner, studied them and discussed how the financial trail connected George Smythe with the local crime family and Will Mill Fill. There were also payments made to the various lieutenants, and some were talking. They did not want to be deported. They could connect the dots between local crime and George Smythe, but none of them knew who Will Mill Fill was. I was getting greedy, I wanted to hand over a solid case on Paula Red Apple or Fuji Apple himself, but that did not pan out either. In fact, the only member of the Apple family that we could pin charges on was Tiddly Pomme Apple; even then, it was small stuff. And other than message carriers, George Smythe’s men had done only small crimes, other than Timothy Hay.
As for Timothy Hay, he was willing to testify and he wanted imprisonment, as long as it was in the USA. He did not think he would survive if he got deported and went to jail back home. His statement heavily involved George Smythe as the person who fertilized Janis Ozolins, but he gave the dead man switch to someone who Timothy Hay could not see clearly, not the face at all. The build could have been Will Mill Fill, but when your build is average, that could include half the men and a lot of women in Tracy. I threw in the women in that the person that received the device was wearing a heavy, full length coat, and the manner of walking could be either gender, no discernable form, not even a good look at the hands.
The next to arrive was Glyce with Pauline in tow. I thought I noticed a moment of recognition between Hugh McAdoo and Pauline, but only for a moment. I shrugged it off as my imagination playing tricks. Here was a guy who rarely left Washington, DC, and he had no reason to know a college graduate student from mid-America.
Mashie Niblick strolled in next. He seemed to have not been sleeping, but his energy seemed to self-restore when he saw Pauline.
Scrambled Yeggs, my brother, came in next. When he saw Hugh McAdoo, Captain Al Hart, and Jim and I, he turned up his collar and sat in the far corner of the conference room. I have no idea why. Everyone knew him. Everyone was pleased over his undercover work, but maybe Scrambled did not want people to get a close enough look. He has been friends with the underworld for years, but to my knowledge never did anything illegal, other than defacing public property and that behavior as a teen. I’m glad he did not get caught for that, because he stole my cans of spray paint to do it. My fingerprints were all over those cans.
Finally, Poached Yeggs came in with Will Mill Fill, otherwise known as Jack. Jack’s eyebrows were raised when he recognized Hugh McAdoo. It took him a few seconds to recover before he said, “Hugh, it is wonderful to see you here. This buffoon that I have been assigned to has been on every wrong rabbit trail in town. Give me free reign, and I’ll solve this thing. You know I can. I have solved cases around the world.”
Mashie retorted, “You solve them alright, Jack, with someone dying in a pool of blood.”
Will Mill Fill sneered, “And that is just sour grapes because you were too incompetent to realize that your own operatives were working for the other side.”
I interrupted the ‘discussion’ before it escalated to blows. “If you two need to settle some past issues, we can take you to the gym for a nice sparring match, but we need to review what happened the day before Janis Ozolins died and the events of that morning, now that we have ample statements from those involved.”
“Oh, I am dying to hear the pack of lies that you have constructed. I know you have not been following my suggested line of inquiry.” This time, I got the sneer from Will Mill Fill.
Al hart piped up, “Get on with it Deviled, I have work to do.” I am sure his ‘work’ was playing solitaire on his computer, but I started anyway.
“On the morning before Janis Ozolins was murdered, there was a meeting at the Hoidy-Toity Golf and Monopoly club. They were nominating their new slate of officers. The person who was elected Treasurer was George Smythe. Janis, who rarely attended such meetings, was there at the out-going president’s request, to receive an award for his many years of service. Janis recognized George Smythe as being the leader of an organized crime ring in Latvia, basically running things at the port cities. Of course, George Smythe is not his real name. We will stick to the manufactured names. In Latvia, he was known as “the Devil.” Smythe had been a member of the club for a few years, but stayed clear of the greenskeeper, even having one of his lieutenants set up tee times.
“Janis went to a friend that maintained the membership records and was allowed to see the records of when Smythe became a member, and cross checked that with the other people who became members at the same time. Timothy Hay was among them, and Janis knew Hay quite well, often getting tee times for one or two foursomes. Janis rarely saw the others, only recognizing two or three of them.
“Mashie Niblick had used the fertilizer spray system on several of the greens that morning. He had a big date with Pauline Pearl. Janis said that he could leave the equipment in his office and spend some time cleaning up before his date. Janis felt Mashie might run for the hills instead of going on the date, calling him a flight risk. As Mashie was leaving, Janis told him that he had something to show him when he returned from the date. Mashie and Pauline then left for their evening activities.
“Janmis’ confidant in membership records thought nothing of telling a club officer, the newly elected VP, that Janis had looked into membership records. He had the authority to do so, but since he had not done it before, she let her know. The new VP is a lady that mostly plays monopoly. In innocent conversation, the VP bumped into George Smythe and mentioned that Janis Ozolins was nosing around in the membership computer files. It did not take Smythe long to figure out whose records he became interested in.
“Since Timothy Hay was the one who Janis knew well, Smythe got Hay to go by the greenskeeper’s office after Mashie and Pauline had left. Janis recognized Hay as being someone who joined the club at the same time as Smythe. He was a bit alarmed and tried to make excuses for Hay to leave, but then Smythe entered the room. Hay used a seven-iron in a quick motion to knock Janis out. He was still alive when Smythe took the fertilizer sprayer and sprayed Janis in green goo. Janis died from asphyxiation, basically drowning in the goo. Mashie, why would Timothy Hay use a seven-iron?”
Mashie smiled, “If you look at the names that golf clubs were called in ancient times, a mashie is what they now call a five-iron, a niblick is what they now call a nine-iron, and a mashie-niblick is roughly the loft of the modern seven-iron. They knew the wound would be measured, and they hoped it would point toward me or someone close to me.”
Will Mill Fill spoke up, “And well it should. You have been involved in several cases in Europe where there was a mole. I have told Hugh and others that you were the mole, and you loved womanizing, getting women to do your dirty work. But I hear that there is a part missing from the sprayer, something that is required for the sprayer to work. You find that part, and you’ll find the true killer. All this story of yours, Detective Yeggs, is just a fabricated tale, all unsubstantiated, all without evidence. You find the evidence and that will win the day.”
I snickered, “I am so glad you put it that way. Back to my story. We had someone who played golf with the gang that surrounded Smythe. He learned that Hay was the weak link, due to a drug problem. When we brought him in on drug charges, he fingered Smythe as the one who sprayed Janis and removed the dead man switch. Hay did not see the person that Smythe gave the switch to, but he saw the exchange that night. He thought it was an average sized man.”
Will Mill Fill shouted, “It could have been a woman. I think it was. I’ve told that idiot that you put with me who it was. You have been screwing up your investigation from the start!”
“Watch who you call an idiot! I searched the apartment of Pauline Pearl and there was no dead man switch, but I did find your stupid bit of evidence!”
I interrupted, “Hold it, Poached, you are not a buffoon or an idiot. You found the evidence, but let’s take this one step at a time. Jim, would you like to show the financial records?”
Jim projected the records from his computer onto the projector screen. He asked, “Notice who was being paid off? Equal payments came from the same source, a shell corporation that ties into the Rotten Apple Gang. Equal payments to George Smythe and David Johnson.”
Will Mill Fill laughed. “Who is David Johnson?”
Hugh McAdoo answered that one, “He is the case breaker. David Johnson flew into Tracy by late afternoon the day Janis Ozolins was murdered. He flew in by private jet, avoiding all the terminal cameras. From the security footage found on a warehouse camera near where the jet taxied, we saw a very familiar person get off the jet. Odd, when you arrived by private jet to the same location, the person that got off the jet, using the same warehouse security camera, was a friend of yours, Tom ‘Butch’ Cassidy. Turns out he calls the person who arrived the day before ‘Sundance.’ Private jets do not have the security that the airlines have, but you have to show some ID. The pilot identified you, Jack, as being David Johnson. You have gotten really good at creating false ID. The bank that was blocked in making the offshore transfer caved and identified you also. So, we have you in the area at the time of the murder and with the same motive as George Smythe. We think you were the one who smuggled the smugglers from Latvia into the US, gave them their new identities, and even set them up for work with the Rotten Apple Gang.”
“You will never prove it. Now where was the dead man switch found? I demand to know.”
“Please, Poached,” I chuckled. “He has no authority to demand, but you found it.”
Poached smiled, “You had to go to the bathroom suddenly one day last week. Must have been something in the chili from the night before. I would have no way to know that. My chili was just fine, and since I made it, why would yours cause such a reaction?” Jack snarled but kept his tongue. “So, I looked around your hotel room and found the dead man switch under a sofa cushion. I took it to forensics, and they identified your fingerprints.”
Jack leapt from his chair, took a swing at Poached, and said things that are not nice in mixed company. For the first time in years, Al Hart was useful. He used his bulk to subdue Jack while Jim Wednesday applied the cuffs. Al, Jim, and Poached took Willard Millard Fillmore or David Johnson or whatever into custody, reading him his rights along the way. Somehow Scrambled had disappeared during the commotion. That left Mashie Niblick, Pauline Pearl, Hugh McAdoo, my wife Glyce, and me.
I asked, “Mashie, how on earth did that dead man switch that only had your fingerprints end up in Jack’s hotel room with only Jack’s fingerprints? I was the only one who knew which evidence box the switch was in, and I only told you that it was in a Cold Case evidence box that no one would dare look into.”
Mashie shrugged, “The only one that I told was Pauline. I used a burner phone and called Glyce’s private cellphone number, not the school phone. I thought that would be safe, but I just had to talk to Pauline. She had to be told about Jack’s tactics and that she was his intended victim.”
I shook my head. “Mashie, you have to learn how to trust people. We had already kept her informed. And Pauline never left the house. She couldn’t have done it. I think the only one that could have pulled this off is Grandpa.”
Pauline beamed. “Oh, Deviled, the next time you see your grandfather, tell him that little Paulie says ‘hello,’ and that Bubbles La Bamba says ‘hello,’ too.”
I turned to Glyce. “What are you doing telling Pauline about all Grandpa’s old tall tales? I am trying to figure out how this happened. I just hope we have enough evidence without the dead man switch. It is damning, but I know it was planted! So, how did it happen?”
Glyce smiled, she walked over and cupped my chin with her hand. “Deviled, you have spent your career redeeming your family name, and maybe it did not need redemption. Okay, maybe your father not so much, but even he has helped provide information on the Rotten Apples. Each of us must be redeemed individually. Maybe Grandpa was not lying to you about being an agent of the government, steeling from hidden treasure troves around the world and obtaining secrets from foreign enemies. Maybe he was not lying when he bragged about dating Bubbles La Bamba, the infamous fan dancer. Millennium Yeggs might be using the prison as a retirement home. You have never asked how Grandpa can not only escape when he wants to go on a vacation, but how does he get a passport?”
Then I remembered something. “Okay, Pauline, if you know Bubbles La Bamba, what was her name for Grandpa? He said that if anyone called him that except her, he’d punch them.”
Pauline looked at the floor. “There are two people who call him by that name, but one affectionately adds “uncle” in front of it. Bubbles called Millennium Yeggs ‘Millie,’ and Bubbles’ granddaughter calls him ‘Uncle Millie’ every time she visits him at the prison and at the cabin in the mountains, one of his escape locations.”
I scratched my head in disbelief, then Pauline added, “And Uncle Millie taught his little Paulie everything he knows. And don’t worry, Deviled, you and I are not related.”
I was worried, and I wanted more questions answered, and it seemed Hugh McAdoo knew about this all along.
Tiddly Pomme apples are the smallest apple fruit. They grow to the size of a golf ball. Thus, Tiddly Pomme Apple could never be convicted of anything other than small stuff.
Agatha Christie bristled when critics would claim that she provided some of the key clues at the very end when the detective had everyone gather together. And that was not a plot method only used by Agatha Christie. Many of those who wrote in that era also did the same thing, like Rex Stout creating Nero Wolfe, someone who almost never leaves the brownstone. Thus large group meetings were necessary for Wolfe to piece the details of the case together, even though Archie Goodwin and the other more mobile operatives had done the majority of the ‘detecting.’
Butch Cassidy, also known as Robert Leroy Parker, teamed with the Sundance Kid, also known as Harry Alonzo Longabaugh in the Wild Bunch in the late 1800s. They were villains of legend.
I loved the name “Bubbles La Bamba” for the fan dancer, but I got nervous. It was such a great name; it might already be in use. If you search for it, you might find advertisements for “Bubble Bopper” singing fish – the fake trophy fish that sing. Bubble boppers sing Ritchie Valens’ hit, “La Bamba.” This is not a paid endorsement, just a strange coincidence.