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, click HERE for chapter 6, and click HERE for chapter 7.
I’m Mashie Niblick. I have no idea at this point what my real name is or what my employment will be tomorrow. I just heard a massive bombshell of a story from the woman that I thought I knew.
I looked at my old friend, Hugh McAdoo, and I could tell he was hiding something. He was hiding a lot.
I asked Deviled Yeggs if I could start asking questions. I was just as curious as Deviled about all this, since Pauline was involved. I just gave Hugh McAdoo a dirty look, and he caved.
Hugh said, “As for the vacations, when Millennium Yeggs wants a little vacation, he escapes prison all on his own. He picks up a car that the organization keeps parked nearby and he drives to the mountain cabin that Pauline mentioned. I meet him there and give him enough money for his trip and a pre-paid debit card. When you use the prison as a residence, your savings grows. It’s his money; I just manage it. I give Millennium fake diplomatic credentials, a different identity every time, and he runs off to Aruba or wherever he wants to go. I call ahead so that the embassy knows he will be in the area with diplomatic credentials, in case anything comes up. But with Millennium Yeggs, I have never met a more honorable man. He simply likes getting a tan on the beach, meeting beautiful women, and then bragging to everyone in the cell block, showing them the photos from his vacation, especially the photos of those women he claimed to have dated.”
Deviled exploded, “My grandfather is being catered to by the federal government, but he resides in prison? I go up to visit once each month, and he could be living in the house next door instead?! Is that his way to avoid babysitting?!”
Hugh explained, “It was Millennium Yeggs’ idea. He was a Yegg, a safecracker, when we caught him stealing from a Federal Reserve Bank. Yes, thought to be impossible, and we did catch him, but after he had gotten in and out of the vault. Instead of prosecuting, we recruited. He knew he deserved jail time. He knew with his skills, bars could never hold him. And after receiving his fourth citation for service “above and beyond the call of duty,” heavily redacted if you want to read them, he thought he had made enough enemies in foreign countries that a prison might be the safest place to live. Now your father, 1000 year old Yeggs, learned all his skills from his grandfather, not Millennium. Millennium wanted him to go straight, and finally Millennium got his wish with you. After Millennium was caught and trained as a spy master, if you will, he only stole things for us. Okay, if there was something shiny in the vault, he might lift it and give it to some woman he wanted to impress. As far as I know, he was always a gentleman with the ladies, just a generous gentleman.”
I thanked Hugh, but then I turned to the woman who I thought that I knew. She was Pauline, the damsel in distress, my heroine of the perils of Pauline, and I was the hero that rescued her in the nick of time. Now, with what she was hinting at, she never needed rescuing.
“Pauline, I thought I knew you. First, who is Bubbles La Bamba?”
Pauline sighed, “My grandmother, the woman who raised me, just before my grandfather moved here to Tracy. I spent my high school, bordering school, that is, and early college years away, after they moved here, and then found a graduate position at TRUST. I wanted my own place instead of living with them, and they graciously understood. It was great being back here to visit with my grandparents, but I never told people they lived here. They are the only family that I really know. When Grans told me of her dear friend, Millie, I started visiting him at the prison. I was once interrogated by Hugh here. He tracked every visitor that Millie had to ensure that secrets were being kept. Since Millie was instrumental in getting my grandparents together, Grans wanted me to learn his story from him, straight from Millie. What she never expected was that he taught me how to slip into high security locations and slip out without anyone noticing. Thus, I could leave the Deviled Yeggs home. I could do what I had to do. And I could return.”
Deviled interrupted. “But Mashie did not know what evidence box to look into.”
Pauline laughed. “Deviled, you need a more imaginative password for your work account. I studied all the old Cold Case files. When I saw that the suspected perpetrator died in prison five years ago and he was paid by the Rotten Apple Gang, specifically Red Delicious who was in prison at the time and still is and Gala Apple who met her demise a year ago, I thought that might be the box. The fact that the dust was slightly shifted helped confirm it. Don’t feel bad. You did a great job of adding dust, but it wasn’t perfect for the trained eye. The timing had to be right to get Jack’s fingerprints on the device. Poached thought I had given him medicine that would induce diarrhea only, but it also contained a knockout drug. That allowed me the opportunity of getting Jack to hold the device while he was out cold, and the diarrhea, upon awaking, gave Poached the opportunity to search the hotel room the next day. Don’t worry, I did not corrupt Poached that much. He only wanted to have access to Jack’s hotel room for a search. Since they were always together, he needed help obtaining separation. With his request, the plan took shape quickly. After all, Jack was going to kill me and then place my fingerprints on the device. I felt justified.”
Deviled sighed. “I just hope the other evidence holds up. We have to drop the switch.”
I came up with something. “Deviled, Jack is into all kinds of crazy religions. If you convince him that it is his past crimes messing with his karma, something like that, he might flip all on his own. Besides, one hired murder is better time than the penalty for treason.”
Hugh added, “Knowing Jack, that might work. He always had an exit plan to keep him away from the painful side of things. You can play the dead man switch up to the point of offering a deal, as long as the deal is at least one life sentence and death penalty is off the table.”
Deviled smiled and waved me to continue.
I pressed on. “Okay, I am curious to know why you avoided telling me who Bubbles La Bamba really is just now and how does she know Deviled Yeggs’ grandfather?”
Pauline raised her head and looked me in the eyes. Her eyes were moist. “If you know your history, you know Bubbles La Bamba, but you do not know the truth. Her name was not “Bubbles La Bamba.” It was Mary Noan, as in “marry no one.” She was a beautiful young lady, but her parents lost their business and home in a bad business deal. She ran away as a teen-ager. The man who would eventually become her handler – sometimes manager, sometimes pimp – found her and taught her fan dancing. She became a worldwide sensation, more famous than Gypsy Rose Lee. Besides the fans, she used bubbles, thus the name. Her manager would arrange for private dances if you could afford to pay. It was said that she made love to kings, princes, presidents, and prime ministers, but never twice. The truth is that most of that was spread by others to increase her fame. When I asked her if she had done the naughty deeds with any famous people, she told me only a couple of them and she never said who. The tabloids claimed hundreds. She did not even dance for that many. She found it fascinating to be accused of liaisons when she was not even in town.
She continued, “And as for Millennium Yeggs, on one of his assignments in France, he saw Bubbles on stage. He gathered enough stolen goods to pay for a few private dances, knowing that he would only get one chance. Her rules: one and done. When she entered the room, she thought he was supposed to be a prince. He was an ordinary Joe. She did her dance and while stark naked, she suggested that they get more intimate. Millennium looked away and said that he could not tarnish the memory of his wife, who had died years before in childbirth. Your father, Deviled. Then he added, that he did not think she wanted to be in this life either. Embarrassed, she quickly got her clothing on, but she stayed, and they talked. He even admitted what he had stollen in order to buy the time with her. In Lisbon, a few months later, Millennium had different credentials and he was in disguise. Bubbles started her dance, but then recognized him. They talked until dawn. By then, she was madly in love with him. Two more times, Tokyo and San Francisco, the same thing. Then again, she knew that Millennium had set up another meeting in Chicago, but when she came into the room, determined to ask him to marry her or forget this mess, there was a different man sitting at the table. She asked what happened to Millennium, and the man asked, ‘Was that his name? He just had me come here and sit down. He told me that I would enjoy the show, but ma’am, I am a young preacher. The show that you would perform would give me impure thoughts.’ For a second, Bubbles thought that Millie had done a horrible thing. Then, she pieced together all that Millie had said over their conversations. Millie knew that Bubbles needed a means of escape from the life she had been guided into. His life was not that escape. She knew that it was time for her to quit running away. She talked with the young preacher all night, just as if he was Millie. And the next day, she left with the preacher and a few months later after becoming a Christian she became his wife. The reason why Bubbles disappeared from public view was that Bubbles was not Bubbles anymore.”
Pauline looked at Deviled. “And you knew Bubbles, too. But first, to finish the story, Bubbles and the preacher had a child. She was a wild child. I was born when my mother was seventeen. My mother never lived to be twenty. She thought she had escaped her “preacher-kid” upbringing, but Grans kept up with us and adopted me after my mother’s death. I was barely two years old. And what I remember the most of those early years, something that I still love today, is that my grandfather would ring his hands when he got nervous. One day it would be one tune, another tune the next. Grans and I would sing along, and then Grandpa would quit ringing his hands. He wasn’t nervous or stressed anymore. He knew God loved him and that we did too.”
I heard a crash behind me. Deviled had dropped something. Deviled asked, “Your grandfather is Rev. Oswald Tozer? His wife is Mary Tozer?”
Pauline smiled, “I knew you and Glyce loved them. I kept that a secret. I am sorry.”
Glyce went over to give her a hug. “Sweetie, there is nothing to be sorry about. You are practically family, but we have two of the biggest dunderheads on the planet for men. When will they figure things out? And my husband calls himself a detective!”
With that Pauline walked over to me and asked, “You have been trying to find the perfect time. This world never affords perfect times. Mashie Niblick, I am ready for that kiss. Right here. Right now.”
“This is a police station with cops looking at us!” I exclaimed.
Glyce went over to Deviled and talked about another happy ending, distracting his gaze. Then Pauline took me in her arms, and we had our first kiss. I had always thought that it would be hard maneuvering around her large nose, but somehow, when it came to the moment, I never noticed.
Then two weeks later, Deviled went to visit his father and grandfather at the prison. Pauline and I were invited to dinner that night and we were there as Deviled walked in the door with two black eyes and evidence that his nose had been bleeding.
Glyce asked, “You had to call him ‘Millie,’ didn’t you?”
Deviled looked at her and pleaded his case. “He was bound by three sets of shackles. I was out of arm’s reach, even if he got free. I said, ‘I’ve been visiting with an old friend of yours and all I have to say is, ‘Hi, Millie!’”
Deviled looked away, “Then 5 seconds later, I am looking up, seeing stars, nose bleeding like crazy, and Grandpa, with no shackles holding him offering me a lift off the floor. And he was smiling! And for the life of me, I have no idea how he does it!”
Glyce looked at Pauline and said, “What did I tell you?! Dunderheads!!”
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.
The Perils of Pauline started with a 1914 serial. The plot was simple. Daddy dies. Pauline can only inherit if she marries. The person managing the money until Pauline marries wants the money. Then try to kill Pauline. She is then tied to the railroad tracks or about to be cut in half by a saw in the sawmill, etc. at the end of each episode. Next episode getting rescued just in time for the next diabolical plan. “Mwa-ha-ha.” This movie spawned many others, but it also spawned remakes, a few of them, serials and movies.
Special Note: When I had written only two or three of these stories, there was a dear friend that was having some medical issues. I developed the character of Oswald Tozer and wrote him into a story to make him laugh and encourage him. In a way, I identify Rev. Tozer with this dear friend who has a very saintly wife. I am not casting any aspersions onto her character by the person of Mary Tozer, a.k.a. formerly Bubbles La Bamba, notorious fan dancer. That is not her at all, except that we have all sinned, and when God washes our sin as white as snow, our backgrounds do not matter anymore.