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, is …
Who am I kidding!? I do not even know if I have a job or if we will ever go back to Tracy. I have no idea what Poached is doing, but I can guess that he is imprinting his derriere into my office chair so that if I ever go back to work again, the feel of the chair will feel wrong, off, uncomfortable. But my wife, Glyce, said that none of us complains. She said “none of us complains until she is ready to go home,” but once she decides to go home, I cannot see it possible that anyone would complain about that.
But then a strange turn of events happened. These events started with Blaise playing with his binoculars. He saw something and pointed it out to me. I had to look closely with my own binoculars before I realized that we might have a dead body on our hands.
We were in Zion National Park. We were taking the trail up the valley next to Checkerboard Mesa. Since Glyce made every hike into a learning experience, we lagged behind the throng of visitors. It was getting late in the day, and we were walking out of the canyon.
Blaise pointed and said, “Father, there is someone that is lying down at the base of the mesa. He may be injured!” It took me a while to figure out where Blaise was pointing. Blaise adjusted my view by recognizable landmarks. Indeed, there was a body lying of the rock, and the body was not moving.
I told Glyce. She made all the decisions on this trip. Okay, most of them, everything except choosing everything except what each of us will wear. She made an odd decision. She, Blaise, and I would go off trail to see if the person was still alive and might need help. Easter would take Sophie back to the RV and use the police scanning radio to find the ranger’s frequency and report our discovery and request help. It was unusual in that she placed great responsibility upon the teen-ager, Easter, who spent much of his time trying to anthropomorphize cloud formations. It was wise in sending Sophie as she cannot stand the sight of blood, and if this person fell, there might be a lot of it scattered around.
And we did not just drive through each park and take a few photographs. No! We took hikes. We studied history. We examined rock formations. We observed wildlife. We absorbed the National Park. This latest hike is one of the lesser traveled hikes, but even that is an odd description in that Zion National Park has become a place of interest for the younger generations to commune with nature, if you consider being shoulder to shoulder with tons of people communing with nature. I think that is why Glyce lagged behind and assigned discovery challenges for each of the children. Thus, Blaise was examining the checkerboard pattern of Checkerboard Mesa, and …
The next two conversations were not in my presence. I record them courtesy of others. The first was recorded as the RV, owned by my captain, Al Hart, has a recording device attached to the radio in case a conversation needs an official record. For the dialogue, Easter (E), Ranger (R), and Sophie (S).
E: Come in Zion National Park Rangers, May Day, May Day. This is Easter Yeggs reporting a possible major injury or death at the foot of Checkerboard Mesa. Come in please, over.
R: Please say your name again, over.
E: My name is Easter Yeggs. My father is Deviled Yeggs, detective Sergeant, homicide, in the big city of Tracy. You can call to confirm his bonafides, but please hurry. The body was discovered by my brother Blaise Yeggs. Blaise and my parents left the trail to see if they could provide first aid and they sent me here to radio you since there is no cellphone signal in the park. Over.
R: Wait! You expect us to believe that your name is Easter!? And what is this about a wildfire? We see no smoke in the area. And there is no one that should leave the trail. The indigenous flora and fauna will be damaged, and it may take decades for the area to return to normal, if it ever does. Over.
E: I was born on Easter Sunday. With the last name of Yeggs, my mother could not resist. There is no wildfire. My brother is named for Blaise Pascal, the philosopher, physicist, and mathematician. My sister, Sophie, is named after a different philosopher, physicist, and mathematician, Sophie Germain. And what else could my parents do if there was any way possible to save the person who is on the ground and not moving?
S (crying): And please hurry. You rangers are more worried about finding out who we are than saving someone’s life!
E: Ummm. Over.
R: Where are you and where are your parents? And note, if this is a hoax, you will be in violation of several federal statutes. Over.
E: Our RV is parked at the parking lot near Checkerboard Mesa. We are the only RV in the lot. We were about to relocate near Moab to see the parks in that area. Come to the RV. Mom has us all wear avalanche beacons. I know where they left the trail, and you can use my beacon to find them. Over.
R: Do not go driving off to Moab before we get there. Over.
E: I’m not old enough to drive!
He forgot to say “over” or “out” but the rangers were on their way. They had called Tracy. Poached allowed me to insert the recorded telephone conversation. In the dialogue: you have Ranger (R2) – since the other ranger was checking out Easter’s story, Poached (P), and Officer Plain Jayne Crane (J).
P: Hello, Tracy Police Department, Homicide, Junior Detective Poached Yeggs speaking
R2: Another one? How many Yeggs can there be? No, no, please don’t answer. This is the ranger station at Zion National Park. We wish for you to provide confirmation of one, Easter Yeggs.
P: He’s my cousin. He is the son of the best detective in the whole wide world, at least he has the best closure rate, Deviled Yeggs, who is my father, Scrambled Yeggs’, brother.
R2: Oh, this is making me sick. I doubt if I could eat an egg for a month after this. Would Easter Yeggs play any pranks? Would he call in a false report of a crime? He says that his parents and Blaze are off the trail searching a downed hiker.
J: I am officer Jayne Crane. I was just walking by your call, and Poached had it on speaker. Easter worked under my supervision on community service. He is lazy, but he would never give a false report. He is honest, even about his own laziness.
R2: He has a juvenile jacket? That does not sound like a responsible young man.
J: Sorry, I did not mean to give you that impression. He kissed a girl in public during the height of the pandemic lockdown, and naturally, that nearly led to a riot. He and his girlfriend did community service, but when his girlfriend saved the city from a gang war, all was forgiven. Easter Yeggs is a straight arrow.
P: And I have never known Easter to lie. Aunt Glyce would not stand for it.
R2: Aunt Gliss?
P: It’s her nickname. The wife of my uncle is Trinity Naomi Tesla, that is TNT, Yeggs, PhD, and many other degrees. Her nickname is Nitroglycerin, which her friends and family shorten to Glyce.
R2: I think I’m going to throw up. I don’t think I could stand another weird name. We may have to check this out just to put faces to all these names.
P: Glad I didn’t mention my brother, Rotten Yeggs. (but I think the ranger had hung up by then)
While all this was going on, we had reached the deceased. I worried that Blaise might become upset, but he was looking at the scene as a means of furthering his education, totally detached, cool, calm, and inquisitive, as if the body had not been alive possibly one day before. I am sure Glyce had already noticed, but he pointed out the lividity of the body, with the color pooling in the lower regions and the top blanched.
The body was male and had only a leather loincloth, belt, and sandals. He had no markings of violence or bruising from having fallen down the mesa wall, no obvious broken bones, no clearly visible puncture marks. There was a strange marking in the middle of the person’s forehead, looking like a crown.
When the rangers arrived, we found out that their names were Rick and Kit. Ranger Rick seemed to be in charge.
I described the scene, where we had walked, what areas were well preserved although there were no discernible footprints, what I knew of that we had found. Blaise had spied a spear, crudely made, in one of the cracks of the mesa, at least what we thought was a spear, through his binoculars. Glyce had found a slip of paper with a code written on it, 1 S 18 10 11.” Maybe it was a 5 instead of an “S”, and all numbers.
Glyce then took over the report and estimated time of death, roughly at being dawn if not earlier. The body was mostly in rigor. Lividity was complete in that the skin did not blanche when pressed. Even with lividity and the body being cold, she still checked for a pulse. It was great having her on this discovery. In developing her curriculum, she had advanced degrees in physical therapy, kinesiology, and psychology, but she had nearly all the classwork necessary for a medical doctor. Ranger Rick was impressed, but for some reason never asked why she knew so much.
Ranger Kit then asked what I made of the scene and the strange bruise or marking on the deceased’s forehead.
I replied, “The bruise or mark looks like a crown. This is Checkerboard Mesa. Could he have been playing a game of chess or checkers? He could be the king in chess, or he could have been kinged in checkers. I doubt if the marking was a fatal blow.”
Ranger Rick added, “No brush burn from sliding down the mesa wall. If the marking on the forehead, that might not be a crown, might have been fatal, which means he died right here.”
Glyce added, “Lividity shows that the body has not moved, in my opinion.”
Ranger Kit asked, “But who is this guy and who was he playing some sort of giant version of a game with?”
Ranger Kit had already called in for transport and a forensic team in case this was not an accident.
Ranger Rick started to try to talk me into not leaving for a couple of days. They might need more information, taking statements from each of us. Then Glyce walked into our conversation.
Glyce said, “I do not want to get in the way of this investigation, but I have been bothered for the past week or so about Zion National Park. As a family, we have been reading the Bible before going to bed for this entire trip, but lately, I have been reading even more. There are the pillars of the Virgin, the Angels Landing, The Great White Throne, the Patriarchs… I wanted to understand a bit more. Then, the code on the slip of paper got me. Could the “S” be Samuel? That would make the Bible verse 1 Samuel 18:10 and 11.”
Blaise chimed in, “That’s when Saul threw his spear at David.”
I chuckled, “Eidetic memory. And sure, we can move back to the RV park for a couple of days.”
Glyce added, “But I have an idea that may answer some questions. This may sound silly. Could the deceased be named Saul? Could he have been attacked by someone named David? It could just be two actors or two unknown people doing a role-playing game, but some of my students have used social media to set up a role-playing experience. It might be a start.”
Ranger Rick and I exchanged glances and smiled.
In the end, Glyce was right. The body was identified as Norton Sahl, often called Nort Sahl. The cause of death was a heart attack. He had been reenacting scenes from the 1 Samuel at different locations around the park with his friend, Barry David. There was video evidence that they had been editing, once they tracked down Barry David. Mr. David was arrested for the abandonment of a corpse and with violation of several rules of the National Park Service.
But before the rangers discovered all this, the visitor’s center found an RV slot in the campground near the visitor’s center, so that we could be available for consultation more readily. We had been staying at an RV site convenient for Zion, Brice Canyon, and the north rim of the Grand Canyon. But by the end of the next day, they thought they had squeezed as much information out of us as possible. I told Glyce that we had just about enough time to reach the RV park in Moab by dark.
She leaned in close and gave me a hug. She buried her head against my chest as she had done at the wedding reception. It reminded me of how this grand vacation had started.
Glyce purred, “I have a better idea. I have noticed how you have been in your element the last two days. I was reminded why I fell in love with you. You are good at what you do. … And you care. I think you need to get back to work. Deviled, let’s go home.”
“Do you dare argue with me?”
Zion National Park is a lovely national park in southern Utah, USA. There is a biblical theme to the park. In the SW corner, near the park’s visitor center are three mountain peaks known as the Patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) and a huge white mesa in the middle of the park is called the Great White Throne. Of course, the park is named Zion. I have travelled and hiked there long before it became a hiking “destination.” These days, you cannot drive in some areas of the park when shuttle buses are running, and you might wait in line for hours to get on a list for a hike. In the 60s when my Dad and I visited the park, we drove along any of the roads and hiked up to the point in the Narrows where it said a permit was required before you could hike further. The permit was to prevent drownings due to flash floods. The Narrows can flood without any rain in the immediate area. The park organization was the same when my wife and I went through the park in the mid-70s, but the amount of people visiting the park in recent years has exploded and controls needed to be made to prevent the increase in visitors from destroying the natural beauty of the park. Without having visited the park recently, I do not know if the Yeggs could get away with lagging behind and separating from the main group on the hike. The Checkerboard Mesa hike is less travelled than many of the others, but with a beautiful mystery valley as a great destination. The Narrows and Angels Landing are among the more favorite hikes. The Angels Landing is strenuous, and the Narrows requires a weather report, among other things.
The area around Moab, Utah, their planned next RV parking destination, has a few national parks nearby: Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Mesa Verde, and Black Canyon of the Gunnison and are all within a day’s drive.
Ranger Rick, along with Ranger Rick Jr., are magazines published by the National Wildlife Federation (NWF). An Army Ranger refers to his/her gear as his/her “Ranger Kit,” but you could also make a connection to Kit Carson, famous trapper, explorer, wilderness guide, and Army officer.
Inspiring Nort Sahl, Mort Sahl (1927 – present) is a political satirist and comedian. He also wrote jokes for John F. Kennedy for JFK’s speeches. As for Barry David, there is Larry David (actor), Harry and David (love the chocolate covered dried cherries), Terry David Mulligan (Canadian actor), Garry David (Australian criminal), Gary David Goldberg (American writer), etc.
But the second half of 1 Samuel tells of how Israel demanded a king, how Saul and then David are anointed as king, how the Spirit left Saul and rested upon David with the ensuing manhunt by Saul to eliminate David. It was necessary that David become king, for Jesus to be in the kingly line of Judah.