I’m Detective Staff Sgt. Deviled Yeggs. I work homicide in the big city of Tracy. My partner is Detective Sgt. Jim Wednesday. But right at that moment, I had more help than I knew what to do with. I even had Federal help. You know that you are in trouble when someone knocks on your door and says, “We are from the government, and we are here to help.”
Hugh McAdoo said something similar last night when he arrived. He also said something about staying at our home and not a hotel. I thought he was kidding, but by the time that I got over the dizzying news that GrandPa’s fingerprints that I found at a safe cracking job were not his fingerprints and that they belonged to someone who had been dead for decades, I turned around to find Hugh, sprawled on the sofa, snoring.
The next morning, my wife, Glyce, woke me up to whisper something in my ear, “If I knew you had let Hugh sleep on the sofa, you would have been sleeping on the sofa with him. And Beth Anne’s twin boys are doing fine. Thanks for asking.” I mumbled something about not being awake yet.
But now after Hugh and I made it into the office, I found that the Commissioner wanted me to head the taskforce. Otherwise, why give me the promotion, which does not have a pay increase?
The taskforce gathered in the conference room. The Commissioner was in the back of the room with the Chief of Police and a couple of guys in suits that neither introduced themselves nor said anything. Hugh said that they had come with him, and they were told to not say anything. More spies? I had no idea. Lt. Slick Mickie Tagliolini, head of Organized Crime, was there along with Sgt. Nick the Pick Poquette from Robbery / Burglary, and Jim Wednesday with Poached Yeggs. And sitting next to Captain Al Hart was by Dad, Thousand Year Old Yeggs, consultant.
After the introductions and the awkward silence from the two government people who refused to speak, I gave an overview.
“I thank each of you for being here on a Saturday morning. This is an unusual case that may have an international connection. It may involve all or at least most of those present. At roughly 5:23pm on Thursday afternoon, the safe door was blown off at the Trueheart Bank at the corner of B. O. Plenty Blvd. and the Diet Smith Expressway. The night watchman was killed in the first blast in trying to break the safe open. The burglars exploded the front doors off their hinges and then did a very sloppy job on the vault doors. It does not seem that the night watchman was involved. The security camera shows him running to the front of the bank when the first explosion on the vault doors occurred.
The burglars were using masks. There were three involved, two men and one woman. Their rough descriptions are in your packets. They seem to have had no idea of how much explosives to use. It was as if they were after destruction more than anything else, but at the present time, we have no idea what was taken. We are still inventorying pieces of what is left. Some of the contents of the safe caught on fire. The bank manager said that this time of the month is typically the least likely time to have excess cash. These thieves did not get away with much, and it is highly possible that theft was not the ultimate motive.”
Sgt. Poquette spoke up, “Why no alarms? Why no calls to the police station about explosions? We should have witnesses.”
I replied, “The explosions were masked by a thunderstorm. We had a wide area power outage. We thought it was the thunderstorm that knocked out that area of the city, but we now think the burglars sabotaged the nearby transformer. They knocked out the backup generator at the same time that they blew the front doors. We wouldn’t have the security footage if it were not for an uninterruptible power supply that formed an electrical bridge between the power outage and the generator kicking in, just to keep the computers running. The UPS lasted just long enough to film the second explosion on the vault. Nothing to see afterwards, to see if they left the vault with anything. They had enough power for the security cameras, but the bank manager forgot about the alarms on the UPS, thinking that the generator was sufficient. The explosives were amateurish, but the attention to all other details, down to the weather report, was a sign of decent planning. We have not finished combing for trace evidence, but we found fingerprints.”
Everyone leaned forward except for Hugh and my Dad.
I continued, “The fingerprints were identified on an international database as being the fingerprints of Millennium Yeggs, my grandfather. A reverse search, however, with known fingerprints showed a completely different set of fingerprints for my grandfather, with several copies made at different times by different organizations. I will let Hugh McAdoo, one of our Federal colleagues, explain.”
Hugh arose and said, “The fingerprints were that of Raul Rosales, an accomplished safe cracker who worked for the Rosales family. He died of a heart attack. In other words, the prints left at the scene of the crime were made by a man who has been dead for over two decades. And Arturo Rosales took his cousin’s prints and tried to pin a crime on Millennium Yeggs, who was working for us at the time of Raul’s death. Beyond that, I can say no more.” I marveled at how the story he told me the night before was similar, but then almost a totally different story.
My Old Man jumped up. “Did you say Arturo Rosales?”
Captain Al Hart said, “Consultants sit down and shut up. You wouldn’t be here if Mr. McAdoo hadn’t insisted.”
Hugh interrupted, “Let him speak. Mr. Yeggs, why does the name Arturo Rosales matter? He’s been dead for a couple of decades. He was killed in a military coup and the family no longer runs the country.”
My Old Man asked, “But is the family still around? Are they into crime?”
Hugh chuckled, “Big time. Mario Rosales, Arturo’s only surviving son, runs a huge illegal drug trade. They have tentacles all over this hemisphere. His sons diversified many of the assets, but organized crime is their main source of income. Wait, one of Mario’s sons is named after his grandfather, Arturo. Why do you ask?”
The Old Man shrugged, “When I was in the big house, I was on the Red Delicious cell block. Red ran the prison in those days, having more guards that worked for him than the warden. Red only got nervous two or three times in all those years, each time when there was a message from Arturo Rosales. And this may be a coincidence, but the name “Rosales” is a botanical group of plant life.”
Al Hart interrupted again, “Yeah, like you would know about that. Shut up and sit down!”
I interrupted, “Let Dad talk. He spent years studying plants. And if he is going where I think he’s going, this might just involve everyone in the room.”
My Dad beamed with pride. He finally knew something that might be useful and not just working as a snitch while in prison. “It is natural to consider that the rose is a big part of the Rosales group of flowering plants, but the group also includes fruit vines like strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries. It involves trees like the elms, hawthorns, and the banyan tree. For the introduction into illegal drugs, cannabis is part of the group. And,” he paused for dramatic effect. My Old Man was loving this, “it includes flowering trees that bear fruit like peaches, pears, almonds, and … apples.”
Lt. Tagliolini jumped up, his chair skittering backward, “You can’t be serious! Red Delicious is at the top of the food chain. He does not have a boss above him!”
Hugh raised his hand and continued, “Arturo Rosales gives his various branches autonomous control unless something goes wrong. His corrective actions are usually deadly, but all he asks is for some annual payments. It could be that Red Delicious, then Gala, and now Fuji made the payments and wrote them off as a wild company party or a long vacation, one that they did not take. I had not told Mr. Yeggs the name before now. I was unaware that he had this background information, so we haven’t started working on that connection.”
There was recognition in Lt. Tagliolini’s eyes. He may have an idea as to what had been disguised as payments. Or maybe the Orchard shipped more than just apples to the Rosales family.
Hugh concluded, “But might I add that the fingerprints show that the Rosales family took a set of fingerprints from their dead uncle in order to frame Millennium Yeggs at a future time. I do not think that the Rosales family believes that Millennium Yeggs died recently in a wildfire. I believe the leaving of fingerprints was used to force Millennium Yeggs into the open to have him killed.”
Captain Hart interrupted again, “But a dead man cannot leave any prints. You have just said that Raul Rosales died decades ago and Millennium Yeggs died a few months ago.”
Hugh smiled, “You can work wonders with a good set of prints and a 3-D printer.”
One of the unknown members of the taskforce left the room. The other remained quiet. You could barely tell he was awake.
I gave directions for Tagliolini and Poquette. Jim Wednesday and Poached already knew they had the murder of the security guard to work on, although that was collateral damage – solve the safe cracking and you solve the murder.
I turned to Hugh, “Who were the two masked men?”
Hugh said, “The guy that left, probably to start working on connections between the Rosales family and the Rotten Apples, is a DEA top dog from Washington. The stoic one in the corner is an ATF guy that I knew that could be trusted, but I am thinking that the explosives were home grown in this area, probably stored in some bunker on the Orchard property.”
My Dad then interrupted, “And do any of you two know why my father does not answer his phone?”
Hugh shrugged, “I was wanting to talk to Mashie Niblick while I was in town and neither he nor Pauline are answering their phones either.”
I gasped, “But the Niblicks said they were on an assignment for you.”
Hugh shook his head, “Nope.”
“And how do you know that GrandPa has never left his new home?” I asked.
“We have security cameras in the general area. We have cameras in every room. We can tell when he moves from one room to the other. And we drop in on him every few hours, just for a face-to-face. He has had no visitors. The place is well guarded. He could never leave.”
The Old Man laughed, “But he isn’t there. He has enlisted Pauline, who he considers the granddaughter he never had, although Sophia is a great granddaughter, and I think Pauline enlisted Mashie. Would any of the three know how to trick the cameras to play in a loop?”
Hugh shrugged, “Nothing surprises me about Pauline. She seems to have mad skills that no one knew she had. As for Mashie, if anyone could get past all that security, it would be him. He had a knack for being invisible. It was a class that Millennium Yeggs taught at our agency. Mashie learned it well, but that was after Millennium got tired of teaching. Millennium called it ‘How to be invisible in plain sight.’ We had more added to the course before Mashie came on board, but he was the master. Are you to trying to say something?”
We both nodded. I said, “GrandPa has enlisted the Niblick’s to help him escape the cabin where GrandPa was safe. …”
And my Dad finished, “And now the three of them are on the Orchard grounds trying to find Arturo Rosales or whoever Rosales sent here.”
Hugh hung his head. “I’ll make a few calls to get extra troops into the area. I will use the same code as we make for rogue agents. I am not calling them that yet, but if they take anyone out, I can’t protect them on US soil, and that will become a homicide for Deviled Yeggs to close. One good thing though. Millennium never used a weapon. Mashie was more into protecting people than causing harm, and if Pauline knows anything about wet work, she did not learn it from us.”
Organized crime chief: Slick Mickie (like the Teflon Don) Tagliolini (a ribbon pasta). Why not?
Robbery / Burglary chief: Sgt. Nick the Pick Poquette, as in pick pocket. Again, why not?
The bank has been identified as the Trueheart Bank, as in Tess Trueheart, Dick Tracy’s wife. And who couldn’t trust a bank named “Trueheart?” As for the address, B. O. Plenty and Diet Smith were friends of Dick Tracy. Since Diet Smith was an industrialist, he might have built the Expressway and named it after himself. And who wouldn’t want a bank on “Plenty” Boulevard?