Editor’s Note: This is the second part of the post on Monday, The Secret Code.
I’m Detective Staff Sgt. Deviled Yeggs. I work homicide in the big city of Tracy. My partner is Detective Sgt. Jim Wednesday. I made a quick phone call to Jim to ask for a really big favor that he and Det. Poached Yeggs, my nephew, were going to have to do. I had run out of vacation. In my new position, I am permanently on second call, meaning all divisions of detectives call me if the assigned detective is not available. I rarely get a full night’s sleep anymore. If I go in and sign in, I get overtime pay, but I get nothing for the nuisance phone calls. It was a holiday weekend, but I had no idea how long our little emergency was going to last. I had to be sure someone would answer the phone calls, and I hoped crime took the weekend off.
I said, “Jim, I have to leave for the weekend. Something has come up. It’s very important. I can’t say what it is or where we are going, but I hope to be back by the end of the weekend. Cover second call for me. Get Poached to help and you can split the time. Glyce and I are both out of here as of the next five minutes.”
For those who do not know, Glyce is my wife’s nickname, short for Nitroglycerine, due to her explosive emotions to the extreme, good or bad. Her real name is Trinity Naomi Tesla (TNT) Yeggs. Her parents were prophetic in naming her, but she is learning how to control her emotions, a little.
Jim stammered, “What about the kids?”
“Glyce is calling Pauline Niblick now. You already have four kids and with second call, you aren’t going to get much sleep this weekend.”
“And you aren’t going to tell me where you will be if I have a question?”
“Won’t.” And I disconnected the call. I could trust Jim. He had been my partner for a long time, but I had to work out what had just happened before I let anyone know what was going on.
Glyce and I took turns driving our family SUV for a few hours. We never had the radio on. We hardly spoke other than to announce a driver change, a need for a bathroom break, or a need to get gas or food. Mostly dead pensive silence.
When we were about an hour from the cabin, Glyce broke the silence. “And all GrandPa told you was that he and your Old Man were at GrandPa’s secret mountain cabin, and your Old Man was about to have a meltdown. He wanted desperately to crack a safe somewhere, confess to the crime, and go back to prison where he belonged. Do I have that right?”
“Yep,” I said. “Sums it up nicely, although it is not that terribly nice.”
“Just wanting to know what we might be facing. My intervention skills are a bit rusty – more information, better results. And your Old Man has not learned any marketable skills while in the big house?”
“Nope,” I shook my head. “He reads a lot, but I have no idea who would even hire a multiple time loser, career criminal with no marketable skills other than as a lock pick. And it is not like he has contributed to Social Security, or he has a nest egg set aside for retirement. The only options that I see is him going back to prison or moving in with us, and that is not going to happen.”
Glyce lapsed back into silence.
When we arrived, GrandPa (Millennium Yeggs) greeted us at the door. When we entered the room, there was a fire in the fireplace. My Old Man (Thousand Year Old Yeggs – thus Old Man) was staring at the fire and never acknowledged our presence.
“Hey, son of mine!” GrandPa yelled at my Old Man. “We have guests. The least you could do is say ‘Hello!’”
“Why should I say ‘Hello?’” asked my Old Man. “I guess it’s just that lawman that failed in keeping me in prison where I belong. Only time in my life I did anything worthwhile was snitching on my fellow inmates to solve a crime or two. Now that’s gone.” His eyes never blinked. He simply stared at the fire.
Glyce tried to stop her explosion. “He did not come alone, Old Man! His wife came too. A wife you have never met! When there is a lady in your presence, you will stand and say ‘Hello!”
My Old Man did as he was told. Then he turned to me and said, “My, my, she does explode!”
“Shut up, Dad, or we will continue this conversation at the closest emergency room.” Then Glyce added, “Or the morgue.” I then asked, “Now, why are you two here instead of in prison? The prison never called us. Is this some kind of prison break?”
GrandPa shook his head. “It’s the strangest thing, Deviled. The Feds have been feeding money into the prison, carefully disguised as prison reform, to pay for my room and board and a little extra for the trouble I cause. But with budget cuts, they worked out a deal for me to be released and my son here, and about a hundred others, to be released due to the prison being overcrowded. No matter how much trouble your Old Man caused to keep himself off the parole list, they were not letting him stay another day. I brought him here so that I could discuss options and the only option, the only one he came up with, was to rob a bank or crack a safe and get caught.”
I rolled my eyes. “Did you tell him that with my new position, that I might be the one throwing the cuffs on him?”
My Old Man growled, “I ain’t that stupid, Son. I’d go outta state. If I robbed a place in Tracy, they would have to send me back to the same overcrowded prison. You never were that smart.”
Glyce snickered, “He is smarter than you give him credit. Old Man (his nickname since kindergarten), have you done anything in prison except read?”
“Nah. I break up a fight or two every day. That’s about it.”
“And what have you read? The Bible? Anything wholesome?”
My Old Man smiled, “I read the Bible several times. Interesting book, but I can’t wrap my head around what any of it means. I read the classics; just about everything Mark Twain ever wrote. I like Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe. Only non-fiction is gardening. They let me grow some vegetables in my cell. I didn’t have much sunlight to work with, and I had to use my hands. Wasn’t allowed tools. I read about a prisoner that was called the Bird Man, but I could never get into birds. … Let me go. I’ll use a fake name. I won’t embarrass you, Son. I just want to go back to jail.”
GrandPa spurted, “We are not letting that happen!”
Then suddenly, my Old Man stood erect. “This is the first time I have ever seen my daughter-in-law. If I can’t go back to jail, I want to see my grandchildren. I hear that Scrambled has two and you have three. I want to visit them.”
This time, I exploded, “No way! That is NOT HAPPENING!” Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a dagger fly in my direction from Glyce. “Glyce, Honey, he corrupts everyone he is around. Even GrandPa taught Pauline how to crack a safe. I am not bringing criminal behavior into our home.”
“He is my father-in-law. He has never seen the children. And what did Jesus say about forgiveness, Deviled? If we cannot forgive, God will not forgive us.”
“But I am a cop. I put people away. I am not in the forgiveness business.”
GrandPa chuckled, “You are not that tough of a cop, Deviled. You can forgive. You must let the past go. You can remember the past, how your Dad was robbing a bank to get enough money to save your mother’s bakery, and then a tunnel collapsed on him and he was caught. I think he would have made a good try at making it work that time, but it seemed fate had other plans. If he tries to do something illegal, I can always get Hugh McAdoo to hide him somewhere as a favor, once Hugh does another favor for me.”
“What favor?” I asked.
Glyce interrupted, “No, let’s get this intervention finished. It started out as an intervention for the Old Man. It became an intervention for my dear husband to forgive his Old Man. Let’s get both of those taken care of.” She turned to my Old Man, “You and GrandPa are coming home with us this weekend. Deviled has asked too much of his partner, Jim Wednesday. Pauline is having fun with the children, but I am sure, being a newlywed, she has better things to do on a holiday weekend. You are both going to spend the weekend with us, and if Deviled does not forgive his Old Man by the time we get home, he will sleep on the couch.”
My Old Man said, “I hear he is on the couch often.” He then laughed. “But that still doesn’t say anything about where I am on Tuesday!”
Glyce continued, “I have worked a lot with a mission in the city center. They occasionally have semi-permanent residents that help keep the peace, so to speak, with those spending the night. I think I can pull some strings.”
My Old Man shook his head, “I told you that I read the Bible, but I have no idea what any of it means. I cannot counsel anybody.”
Glyce patted him on the arm. “You break up the fights. The counselor does the counseling, and you can sit in on the sessions.”
My Old Man growled, “You’re trying to turn me into a holy roller. It ain’t gonna work.”
Glyce smiled, “We’ll see.” She then turned to GrandPa. “And why do you need a favor from Hugh McAdoo?”
GrandPa looked out the window into the darkness of O-dark thirty. “Now that my enemies know that I am out of prison, they might come to get me and get my family too. I already called Hugh. They are going to find a cadaver about my size and drop it into a cabin in the middle of one of the wildfires, in case word has leaked that I have a mountain cabin. They’ll get someone to ‘identify’ the remains. I’ll get a new identity and move somewhere far from here.”
Glyce started to tear up. “No, GrandPa. We can’t make this trade. We can’t get the Old Man and lose you. You can get a new name and maybe change your looks a bit and stay near us in Tracy.”
GrandPa chuckled, “Good, then I can attend my own funeral. Always wanted to do that.”
My head was spinning. I never heard of witness protection keeping you in the same town. My Dad wanted to rob a bank with a fake name while his DNA and fingerprints were on file in the national database. This whole conversation had just gotten weird.
On the way home, we talked about my mother. My Old Man and I sat in the backseat and talked while GrandPa and Glyce drove home. I truly got to the point where I forgave my father. He finally got to the point where he could truly make a commitment to work hard at the mission, even attend the counseling sessions. I told him that Easter had a girlfriend, and her father was our pastor. He also did some of the counseling at the mission.
We arrived mid-morning on Saturday, not having slept since leaving town, and Mashie was making individual omelets, to order, in the kitchen. To order within reason. With our three kids, they were asking for frogs and snails and who knows what. We barged into the kitchen as they laughed when Sophie wanted dragon’s breath in her omelet.
Mashie yelled, “Just what I’ve got here. Do you see dragon’s breath?”
But Sophie never answered. She ran past Mashie and into my arms, crying. We’d only been gone one night, but then, we never told them about the trip. It was sudden, without warning.
Pauline said, “Blaise, your parental units are back early. Aren’t you going to say something?”
Blaise swallowed a fork full of omelet. “Welcome home, Mother, and you too, Father.”
Glyce shook her head. “If he doesn’t hug me by lunchtime, he’ll pay dearly.” But Blaise went back to eating. But even the high school senior gave his parents a big hug.
Easter asked, “Is this my grandfather?”
Old Man came forward, with a few tears, “Call me, Old Man. Everybody does. And a little later, I can teach you a few tricks.”
Glyce and I screamed, “Noooooo!”
My Old Man laughed, “I wasn’t gonna. I was just testing your resolve on this forgiveness thing. It’s all new to me too.”
Then Mashie said, “Deviled, if your neighbor complains about his dog becoming a bobtail, it’s what Easter wanted in his omelet. You know, puppy dog tail.”
Pauline punched him. “You didn’t!”
Mashie replied, “I know, but that’s what Easter wanted until I talked him into alligator tail instead.”
Pauline shrugged, “Dr. Yeggs, please don’t ask about the strange things in the fridge. Mashie did some unfortunate midnight grocery shopping.”
I had wanted to show my Old Man a normal family. That might have to wait until he met the neighbors.
Often prisons have such releases. Often there is recidivism. Often the inmates learn more in prison about crime than they do about how to lead a normal life, but sometimes a few are reformed.
“O-dark thirty” is an unofficial military term for inhumanely early in the morning. Zero-thirty would be thirty minutes past midnight, since the military uses a 24 hour clock. Thus, “O-dark” conveys the idea of near midnight, but could pertain to a couple of hours later.