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, was sitting in my desk chair when I returned from our extended vacation. I called ahead, but he must not have gotten the memo.
The Captain had no idea if I would ever return. Jim Wednesday was now a Detective Sgt. Poached was promoted to an official detective position. But if they occupied the desks in the squad room, where was I going to work? If the Captain had his way, I would be back on a beat.
Poached acknowledged me first, but he made no move to get out of my desk chair. With the ice broken, Jim welcomed me back. “Welcome back, stranger … Or are you simply strange?” He made some odd signals with his head to others in the squad room. “You may be wondering where you can sit. Poached, now being a full detective, needs a desk of his own and there were not any other desks available. … That puts you as the odd man out. … Captain Hart suggested a place temporarily.”
“Okay, Jim, spill it. Quit hemming and hawing. Where do I sit? On a trash can in the corner? In the parking lot? Where?”
Jim nodded, having been signaled by people behind me. “Let’s go into Interview Room #1.”
“Which side of the table will I be on? The interviewer or the suspect?”
Jim’s eyes rolled. “Please, don’t make this harder than it has to be.”
Jim led me to Interview Room #1, and I noticed that brown paper covered the windows. When I opened the door, Captain Hart and the Police Commissioner were awaiting my arrival. There was a cake on the desk and an ice chest filled with soft drinks in the corner.
The Commissioner yelled, “Welcome back, Sgt. Yeggs!” And then a couple of people who were behind the door dumped confetti on my head. One of them hit me with his bucket. There were cheers from those in the squad room.
Then Captain Al Hart, who is “all heart” (quite sarcastically), grumbled, “And welcome to your new office and congratulations on your promotion.”
I asked, “Office?! This is an interview room! The lieutenant office is vacant due to budget cuts. If I got a promotion, why not there?”
Captain Hart growled, “Don’t push it, Yeggs. You are not promoted to lieutenant. We invented a new rank, Detective Staff Sergeant, borrowed it from the military. No extra pay, but more work. You will still work homicide, but you and your team may get involved in vice and robbery. Rescuing your wife from members of organized crime has left a power struggle in the big city of Tracy. Fuji Apple does not like loose ends. Since you seem to know the Rotten Apple Gang better than most, you’ll also consult with the lieutenant at Organized Crimes.”
“With all that extra work, why not a pay raise?”
“Don’t push it, Yeggs. I wanted to boot you to the curb with Jim and Poached clearing a lot of cases in your absence, but the Commissioner insisted on the promotion. When he talked pay raise, I insisted that I had a budget to keep.”
“You are all heart, Sir,” I said with very little sincerity.
As the Captain and the Commissioner left the room, Captain Hart said, “Unless there is a phone call, your only case to handle today is that case of soft drinks in the corner, but if you spill anything, you have to clean it up. I don’t have budget to have the custodian clean this room. Got it!” Everything seemed to be spinning around. It wasn’t until they left that I saw that the cake had my name spelled wrong, “Welcome Back, #$^*$# Sgt. Dribbled Eggs.” I was about to shout a complaint toward the Captain, but then I remembered. The Captain’s wife used to make cakes until she came down with a rare form of Palsy. As the cake looked a little lopsided and my name spelled wrong, I wonder how difficult it had been for her. It tasted great!!
They at least had my new desk chair on the interviewer side of the desk, and not the usual table. Poached swore that no one had sat in the chair after they got it out of the box and put it together, but I have learned not to trust my nephew that much. To emphasize that I was the old man of the detectives, the new chair had a high back for neck support, a special lumbar support, and vibrating massage pad, with heat. I was about to complain again about yet another insult, but they might take it away.
Jim said, “The Commissioner set all this up, the promotions and everything in the office. Captain Hart made sure that this interview room would not get painted, and the floor needs some work. If you are here when we need a third interview room, the conference room is set up as an interview room or you can come visit us in the squad room. Captain Hart suggested that you could take the day off without pay as another option when your office is needed to interrogate someone, but if we are that busy, with your new position, you will probably be one of the interrogators.” Jim snickered. Then he asked, “And what was this all about with a career day the day before the kids start back to school?”
Poached and Jim were sitting in the chairs that are normally used by the suspect and his/her lawyer. I smiled, thinking of the previous day. Glyce and I, fresh back into town, had gotten a call to attend the event. I said, “They did not have a lot of extracurricular activities last year with the school lockdown restrictions in place. You know that Easter and Jemima took advantage of the community service punishment just to have time together. The superintendent said that the juniors and seniors needed contact with local career people so that they could get ideas on available careers. We both gave talks. The kids had fun. Afterwards, they had refreshments and after most of the teen-agers were gone, our three kids huddled in the corner with us.”
“I asked Easter what he wanted to do for a living. He is a senior now and he had never told me anything. He shocked me. He said that he wanted to be a meteorologist and work as a storm chaser. He figured that if he got on a good team, he might make enough money to pay for most of his schooling. He even suggested starting out as the driver.”
Poached laughed, “Wait! He doesn’t have a driver’s license!”
I nodded, “You’re right. He told the rangers at Zion National Park that he was not old enough, but the truth is, he has been so scatterbrained that he never got around to taking the driving portion of his driver’s education class. He wants me to teach him.”
Jim sat up in his chair. “Not Glyce? She is the teacher. Why you?”
“Simple, Jim, Glyce has explosive emotions. If she saw Easter driving straight for a bridge abutment, she would scream, and Easter thinks he might panic with her screaming. Besides, he is thinking ahead. I can get him onto the police academy driving range for some practice at high speed turns in case he does get a job as a driver for a storm chaser. He might need those skills to avoid a monster tornado. Easter has been thinking this through. Before he met Jemima, I didn’t think he thought anything through. I thought that he just looked at the clouds to see the funny shapes. As it turns out, he was studying them.”
Jim smiled, “And what of your other two?”
“Blaise is his usual smart, but obnoxious, self. He skipped another grade. He is nine and entering the eighth grade. And don’t think that Sophie is disappointed that she will graduate last. She is elated that they won’t have any classes together. Blaise wants to be a physicist. Glyce suggested that he follow his namesake, Blaise Pascal, and shift to philosophy, theology, and helping the poor. Oddly, Blaise said that he would consider it, but don’t hold your breath. As for Sophie, she said that she was twelve, in the seventh grade, and she had time to make such decisions. It surprised me. She was always the one who knew exactly what she wanted.”
At that moment, the door to my “office” opened and my family came in, including my grandfather, Millennium Yeggs (escaped from the prison and bold enough to walk into a police station like he owned the place). My Old Man, Thousand Year Old Yeggs, stayed in prison where he belonged, but he wasn’t that bad of a guy. Glyce and the kids gave me hugs and words of congratulations. She had gotten a call before she dropped the kids off for school that she needed to go down to the precinct for something special. While Easter and Blaise argued over who got to eat “Dribbled” and who was stuck with the “Eggs” cake, Sophie, known by all of Tracy as Soapy Yeggs, came over to give me another hug.
“Daddy, I have thought it over thoroughly,” she whispered in my ear. “I want to be a policewoman. I see that the lieutenant’s office is still vacant. Should I put my name on the door?”
I leaned in close to her, “But you said that you needed more time to decide, and you have your artwork to consider and your cooking and your sports. You have so many options, why follow in my footsteps?”
“I am going to get a college degree, not your path of getting to be a detective. If I spend much time on patrol, I will be surprised. My goal is much higher than a detective, even a Detective Staff Sergeant, whatever that means.”
“It means Detective Sergeant, but with a lot more work. Don’t expect a big Christmas this year with no pay raise.”
She laughed, “I want to be like you; I want to help people, Daddy. I talked to the Captain. I may shadow the public relations people during my optional attendance days this year.
I hugged her again. “And is your mother okay with this decision?”
She whispered, “I think she hopes that I will find something else to interest me between now and when I graduate high school. After all, I don’t even have a boyfriend, yet. … And, Daddy, I hear your heart racing. I am not looking for a boyfriend either.”
With that, I gave her a big hug and asked her what part of the cake she wanted. She said she would like a big slice of the #$^*$#.
And I was okay with both of Sophie’s choices.
Regarding the title, Sophie’s Choice was a 1982 film starring Meryl Streep as Zofia Zawistowski (Sophie). It was a dark drama about a woman who continuously lied about her past, a past that included being sent to Auschwitz, where she faced a horrible choice. The title of the story uses Sophia Yeggs’ nickname instead.