I’m Detective Sgt. Deviled Yeggs. I work homicide in the big city of Tracy. My partner is Jim Wednesday. Poached Yeggs, Junior Detective and my nephew, has the day off.
I nudged Jim to wake him up. I never knew when Capt. Al Hart would walk in. He has been a bit distracted with Jemima Lucado shadowing him, but he seemed to enjoy being looked up to by someone, and Jemima seemed to enjoy when he yelled at Jim and me.
Jim snorted, “Deviled, I need my sleep, but while you have me awake, when is it that babies sleep through the night? You have had three. You ought to know.”
I chuckled, “I told you before, but I think you were dozing. When they get bigger, they sleep better. Their little tummies can’t hold much, and they need their nourishment to grow, so they wake up for more food in the middle of the night. Think of it this way, Jim. When is it that you sleep through stake-outs?”
Jim looked offended, “Deviled, we agreed to never speak of such things, especially in the office. I am sure the captain has listening devices in here.”
I nodded, “Yes, he does, but I checked earlier this shift and I moved the only one that is still working close to the intercom speaker and he should get nothing but a buzzing noise, blissful feedback. That gives us a week or two before he figures out the problem or calls in the experts. No, Jim, my point is that I give you the early shifts, and then after mealtime, I take over because you fall asleep. Full tummy, nap time. Same with Holiday Wednesday. Don’t worry. It won’t be much longer. That kid is growing like a weed.”
Our conversation was interrupted by Pauline and Mashie who burst into the squad room. Pauline said, “Deviled, can I ask you for some advice?”
“Sure, what’s up?”
Pauline frowned, “Mashie just proposed…”
“Great news! When’s the wedding?” I asked.
Pauline rolled her eyes, “I didn’t say yes or no. I felt that I needed to ask someone about what the circumstances are before I commit to this. And Glyce isn’t answering her phone.”
Glyce is my wife, her nickname is short for nitroglycerin because of her explosive emotions. Her real name is Trinity Naomi Tesla Yeggs. Glyce, pronounced “gliss,” is easier to say than TNT Yeggs.
“Hmmm, she hasn’t called me today, and she always calls at lunch. Her faculty meeting may have run over. What are the circumstances of this proposal that are troubling you? And please, since Mashie is turning ten shades of red already, the juicier the story, the better.”
Mashie went to the far corner of the room and grabbed the newspaper, pretending that he could read. Harsh, I know, but sometimes he doesn’t act like he can. He has a master’s degree in something, but …
Pauline leaned in close and whispered, “Mashie got a call from Hugh McAdoo. They have a simple job for Mashie in London. He has to pick up a couple who have been in deep cover for a long time, make sure no one has tailed them, and then get them back to the US. His only problem is that Hugh wants him to be a couple, since he will be working with a couple. Hugh has no problem setting Mashie up with a fake wife for a while, but Mashie feels like he would be unfaithful to me, even if he never kissed her, or … whatever.”
I smiled, “Awfully honorable of him. I think you have had a profound effect on our mutual friend.”
She nodded, “He is quite the gentleman, and I do believe that he loves me, but the circumstances of him proposing so that I can be his real-life wife in London is a bit much. And everything is so sudden. We would have to be married and packed ready to go to London within six weeks. I mean, no wedding showers. No wedding coordinators taking over the wedding with ridiculous suggestions. No in-laws arguing over the details.”
I laughed, “And the way you describe it, it sounds like the best option. But do you want to marry Mashie?”
She nodded her head and looked at her lap.
And I also asked, “And I suppose you have someone in mind for the pastor who might officiate?”
“Without a doubt, Grandpa would be wringing his hands in delight for the opportunity.”
“Have you asked your grandmother?”
“No, I wanted to talk to Glyce first. If she talked me into going through with this crazy idea, she was my first choice of matron of honor, and I think Mashie wanted to ask you to be best man, but don’t let him know I told you.”
At that moment the office phone rang. The caller ID said that it was Glyce’s cellphone. Under normal circumstances, I would pick up the receiver and have a private conversation, but instead I put the call on speaker and hit record. My gut said that this was not going to be a normal conversation. For the transcript of the conversation, highly one-sided, “G” is for Glyce, “S” is for Suspect, and “D” is for me.
D: Hello, Sweetie, I missed your lunchtime call. Are you still in the faculty meeting?
G (with a slight slurred speech, in a low monotone voice): Deviled, you blithering <tap> rotten <tap> arrogant <tap> idiot. I am not at the meeting. I passed <hic> up <hic> on the stupid meeting. Doctor Erasmus <tap> was going to bellow his bilge <tap> about appealing <hic> to all <hic> the staff and underlings <tap> to worship his new <hic> curriculum change and bow down like he had invented a new religion <tap>. And I refused to listen to the ninny <tap>. But, please <hic>, I have a little <hic> problem, my dear. I am lost. Nothing to sneeze <hic> at. I have no idea where I am. This nice man is keeping me company <tap>, but I am not sure of <tap> his intentions, do you understand? <tap> Since the man will not <tap> tell <tap> me where we <hic> are, I was wondering if you <tap> would be a dear and come get me. You are a detective. It would be a wonderful idea if you detected my location and solved my probl…
S (in an altered voice): Never mind finding her. I just wanted you to hear her voice before I killed her. She’ll be dead long before you get here. I just wanted to send a message to you and that partner of yours that you messed up ours plans and I can mess with your lives any time I want to.
D: You have no idea who you are dealing with. You have messed with the wrong person my friend.
S: I ain’t your friend, and I have things well in hand. I might enjoy the situation, since you could never get here in time.
D: That’s what I meant. I could never get there in time. You better not shake the merchandise. Nitroglycerin explodes easily.
S: I can do anything I please.
And the line went dead.
I mumbled, “I need to replay the recording. I missed some of what she said.”
Pauline said, “Don’t worry. I know what she said, she taught me too.”
I asked, “What did you get for taps?”
Jim burst in on our conversation, “You’ll be playing TAPS at her funeral if you don’t start figuring our where she is!”
I asked Jim to calm down, and I turned to Pauline.
She said, “I have B-R-A-E-B-U-R-N-C-O-U-N-T-Y.” I nodded in agreement, and then Pauline added, “And for her indigestion issues, she did her little hic for A-P-P-L-E-L-I-N-E.”
“Great. I missed the second “L.”
Pauline laughed, “That came out more like a belch. She varies her style at times.”
Mashie stammered, “I agree with Jim. We need to call out an all-points bulletin or whatever you call it these days. She needs to be found and you two are playing a silly game with her digestive issues, and I have no idea what you mean by taps.”
Pauline put her hand to Mashie’s cheek, “If I go with you to London, you will need to learn the code and get good at it. It may save a life. We cannot help Glyce unless we know where she is. Besides, I really think she is not in much trouble. Glyce was slurring less words near the end, so that was just a ruse.”
Jim and Mashie asked, “What code?!”
“We thought that the wife of a police detective might become a target, so we developed a code,” I explained. “If she tapped the phone with her fingernail, the first letter of the word before the tap was the letter of the message. If she had a hiccup, the second letter of the word before was a letter of a different part of the message. Two message streams at once. I always had to right everything down and put the pieces together, either sending or receiving. She got so good that she could create code in her head and simply have a conversation. Then again, she is a bit smarter than I am. We also found that the exercise kept her calm. She had less explosions of her emotions when she was speaking in code or deciphering code. I think she had shifted from the hiccups before. She would get angry with me at faculty dinners because I was missing a letter here or there, so Pauline has just helped me understand Glyce’s new wrinkle in the code.”
Jim asked, “But she is still in danger! Why aren’t we moving?”
I scratched my head. “She identified who has her, Braeburn Apple, but I missed the “L” near the end. One word is “County” and with the “L”, maybe County Line. Braeburn interrupted before she could finish.
Pauline suggested, “The next word was going to be “problem.” If she hiccupped, that could be the start of “road.”
“We can’t go knocking on every door up there. Richard LaLanne bought up half the properties on that road, and Braeburn might use any one of them for a hideout. If Braeburn was a silent partner in that venture, it could explain what he was ranting about us messing with his plans. He could be hiding anywhere along that road. I hate to chat and run, but Jim and I are going to the Orchard. It’s on the way to County Line Road. Maybe if Paula Red is forthcoming, we might get a lead. I can’t have civilians going with us to interview a mob boss. So, we will have to leave you.”
With that, Jim and I left, but Mashie told me that Poached was playing golf at the club with his father, Scrambled. He was going to get both of them to cut their round short and meet us on County Line Road. We mobilized George Evident and a few others to wait in the area once we had an idea of where they might be.
Paula Red Apple was not forthcoming as I had hoped. She claimed they ran a legitimate business, and I was harassing them. When I mentioned Braeburn, she said that boys would be boys and anything he did had nothing to do with them. She hinted that we should ask Turnip Greens over in Stout County.
As I pulled out the cellphone while Jim drove to County Line Road, Tuesday Wednesday called. I said, “I was just about to call you.”
Tuesday replied, “News travels fast. My husband, whom I assume is driving, must be so worried about Glyce that he forgot to call me, but the Leafy Greens volunteered the information you need. It is quite rotten when the criminals let you know about a crime on your own turf and your husband does not let you know. Anywho, I have good news for you and bad news for me. My snitch … Ummm. Det. Wolfe’s informant inside the Leafy Greens is blown. We have him in a cell for protection, but we may need your help there. Turnip told our guy to relay a message to us that the Leafy Greens had nothing to do with Glyce’s kidnapping. Braeburn is at the green house with the red door at the corner of Sam Ketcham Road and County Line Road. Turnip wanted to make sure he had no problems with the police. This was a random act made by a stupid Apple – Turnip’s words. Turnip knew where Braeburn was because they keep tabs on any Apple moving into the Country Line Road area, especially since the Richard LaLanne incident. I will meet you at the country store a block away, and we can set up the raid. The house is on the Stout County side of the road, and I will bring a warrant with me. Let’s get this done so that I can start looking for a new snitch.”
We were about to raid the house when Glyce opened the front door. Mashie and Pauline had come with Poached and Scrambled. It was a family reunion of sorts. The only ones that looked confused were Jim and Mashie.
Glyce said, “It’s about time you got here! Braeburn and his two friends are knocked out and tied up in the bedroom. One of Braeburn’s thugs isn’t doing too well. Pauline, he did the same thing that Dr. Erasmus did two weeks ago after the staff meeting. I did the same thing to him that I did to the good … check that … perverted old fool professor, but the thug hit his head pretty hard when he went down. We may need an ambulance.”
I gave her a big hug.
Jim muttered, “But you were slurring your words. You must have been drugged. And there were three of them. How?”
“The initial drug had worn off, so I went into acting mode to keep them feeling comfortable. As for the skills: Judo, Jujitsu, and a bit of dirty street fighting. How do you think I keep my girlish figure, Jim? And Deviled, can you take me back to my office at Tracy Regional University for Science and Technology. I think Dr. Erasmus keyed my car. If I was not distracted, Braeburn would have never gotten the drop on me.”
Sam Ketcham was Dick Tracy’s partner in the comic strip, with a comic book of his own.