Protect and Serve  – A Deviled Yeggs Mystery

I’m Detective Staff Sgt. Deviled Yeggs.  I work homicide in the big city of Tracy.  My partner is Jim Wednesday, and …

“Daddy?”

And …

“Daddy?  You seem to be miles away from here.  Are you alright?”

And … my daughter is in my office on a school day, and I have no idea why she is here or if she has permission to miss school.

I finally replied, “Yes, Sophie, I am alright.”

Sophie touched the metal bar on my table.  “What are these steel bars doing?  There is one in the middle of your desk and another on the floor.”

I sighed, “Sophie, my office doubles as an interview room.  If we interview or interrogate a criminal or someone suspected of a crime in this room, we slide the handcuffs through the loop on top of the table so that the suspect cannot attack us during the interrogation.  If the person arrives from the jail or the prison, the guards have them shackled and their ankle shackles are tied to the loop in the floor.”

“Thank you.”  She said no more.

“I could do a demonstration by putting handcuffs on you, or you can simply tell me why you are in my office on a school day.”  I smiled and blinked provocatively to let her know I was in a joking mood, partially joking.

Sophie rolled her eyes, “Daddy, I joined the Policeman’s Wives Auxiliary today.  Did Mommy not tell you?!  It was their monthly meeting.”

Suddenly everything went black.  “Tell me which policeman that you married, and he’ll be a dead man.  You are only twelve years old!”

Sophie giggled, “I’m not even dating yet.  You and Mommy won’t allow it.”

“But you have to be a wife to be in the auxiliary.”

Sophie beamed, “They made an exception in my case.  Auxiliaries, like the one here in Tracy, are a dying type of service.  Many wives work, like Mommy.  Mommy has never attended a meeting, and she rarely helps during events.  They thought of changing the name to ‘spouses’, but almost all the male spouses of female police employees also work, but the organization does great work.  Besides, the school won’t let me use my time when I am knitting and crocheting things for the mission as my public service time for school credits and the Auxiliary allowed me to petition to take Mommy’s place.  The vote was not unanimous, but I am now a member.”

“And you have permission to miss school for this?”

“Does Mommy tell you anything?!  I have enough hours of school time that I can miss for community service.  I have all my assignments in my book bag.  Rather than asking you to take me home, I thought that I could do my homework in your office, but this is the strangest desk that I have ever seen.”

“That’s because it is not a desk.  It is a table designed to interview hardened criminals.  In the corner of the room are banker boxes with my files.  The shoe boxes on top are for pens, a stapler, tape, and paper clips.  The gun safe is the only real normal furniture in the room.  It is not much of an office at all.  Let me see…”

The phone rang, a ring that signified a call from within the building.  The desk sergeant announced, “Deviled, I am sending one interesting character up to your office.  One, Fuji Apple.  He seems agitated, but not angry, more nervous in my opinion.  He came alone.  Seems that he drove himself, no driver in the car that I can see from the security camera.”

I thanked the sergeant.  “Sophie, for now, you need to go to the next room, the one behind the mirror that is behind me.  There is a small table in there where you can do your homework.  It’s about the size of your desk at school.  I am about to have a visitor.  I may not need to handcuff him, but he could become dangerous.  You cannot be in here while he is here.”  I ushered her to the room and signaled Jim to come to my office.  I made a quick call to Lt. Tagliolini of Organized Crime.  I was about to have the boss of the Rotten Apple Gang walk into my office.

When Fuji entered the room, Lt. Tagliolini went by and into the observation room.  He would turn off the lights.  So much for Sophie getting any homework done.  I could see the lieutenant’s point.  If he were in the room, Fuji might be more on his guard.  I was, for all intents and purposes, a homicide detective.  I led the raid of the Orchard a few weeks ago, but otherwise, if no one has been murdered, I am not an immediate threat to Fuji.

Fuji looked at the only available chair as the chair for the suspect.  I motioned for him to sit, but he sighed before sitting down.  I was at the head of the table, and he was, through office positioning, in a lesser role.  It showed that I had power over him, and he was used to being the one at the head of the table.

“What can we do for the prominent boss of the Orchard?”

“You can cut the crap to start with.  I know you led that raid of the Orchard last month.  I suspect you had something to do with a shipment of apples that went south of the border.  It all seems to come back to you, Detective Yeggs.”

“That’s Detective Staff Sergeant Yeggs, but we won’t quibble.”

“Ooooh!  Big promotion gone to your head.  Another promotion and they’ll have you cleaning the toilets.  But I came to you because you ruined everything.  I now have a criminal south of the border who has ordered a hit to kill me.  I cannot trust any of my employees.  One of them might be the hit man!  And it’s all your fault, Detective Sergeant … whatever!”

“Why would a criminal want you dead, Fuji?  And why come to me?”

“You raided while we were entertaining his son, Arturo.  We had sold apples to the Rosales family for a project to feed the poor in his area, but something happened with the shipment and Mario Rosales, Arturo’s father, did not get everything that he expected.  Add to it that Arturo was arrested for robbing a bank here in Tracy, arrested in my home, Mario is holding me responsible.”  Note: what was missing from the shipment was gold, hidden in the pallets containing the apples, his payment to his superior crime boss.

I asked, “And how is this police business?  We also arrested your sister, Paula Red.  Her DNA was found at the bank in a spot that could only be accessed after the explosion of the vault door.  Arturo and one of your men that provides muscle, Buff Apple, were caught with explosive residue on their hands.  It was a sloppy job, Fuji.  If you are to do a better job as a crime boss, you are going to have to improve your skills.”

“How dare you call me a crime boss.  I run a legitimate business.  I sell fruit.  I run an orchard and that’s it.  My sister may have been involved with these people, but that is for the courts to decide.  I had nothing to do with it!”

I chuckled, “Interesting, but there has not been a crime committed here.  I do not see how this is police business.  You can go.  Good luck with Mario Rosales.  I hear he never fails once he puts out a hit.  You could be the first to survive.  Jim can show you to the door.”

Fuji blinked.  He blinked again.  He made no move to leave the room.  He started to say something, but it sounded like, “bu… bu… bu…”

The light on the wall phone flashed.  It was someone in the observation room.  I picked up the phone to hear Sophie’s voice.  She seemed to be crying.  “Daddy, you said that we are to love our enemies.  You are a policeman, sworn to serve and protect.  This man’s life is in danger.  You can’t just kick him to the curb!”

“This is a police matter.  Auxiliary personnel are not allowed to interfere with police business.”

“But you said that you had to take your faith to work with you.  Circumstances don’t matter.  Were you lying to me when you said that?”  She broke down into sobs.  I was always a sucker when she started to cry.  I stared at the far wall, right through Fuji Apple who seemed to still be stuttering with a glassy look on his face.  How was I going to get out of this one?  More importantly, how was I going to satisfy Sophie that I was showing love to my enemy, the latest boss of a crime family that had caused Tracy problems for decades?  You could say that I was praying, but my brain was doing the same “bu… bu… bu…” that was coming out of Fuji.

That’s when it came to me.  I gave Jim the hand signal to play along.  “Fuji,” I said, clearing my throat because it was exceedingly dry at that moment.  “If you have evidence that Paula Red was involved in a variety of criminal activities in Tracy, we could put you and Ginger Gold into police protection.”

“I am not admitting to any criminal activity.  Paula Red may have been involved in such things, but I know nothing of it.  Besides, she is my sister, and I do not wish anything worse for her.”

“She is up for murder while committing a felony.  A little prostitution, illegal gambling, protection rackets, even drug trafficking …  That stuff won’t make it any worse for her.”

“How disgusting to think my sister would be a prostitute!  No, you will not get me to do that.  And I am not a crime boss!”

“But Fuji, I know that you are not the typical crime boss.  A typical crime boss would make sure that those around him were loyal or they would suffer a heavy price for not being loyal.  You already suffered a mutiny when Richard LaLanne – we call him the Abominable Abdominal due to his twelve-pack abs and super strength – recruited a few of your people to join his organization and start a gang war between the Rotten Apples and the Leafy Greens.”  Fuji shrugged as if to say he knew nothing about that.  I continued, “You are probably well aware that there is already someone, maybe more than one, who is loyal to Rosales in your own family.  If they bump you off, they get to be in charge.  That Apple that is loyal to Mario Rosales knows you came here.  He probably thinks you are giving us evidence against him right now.  I doubt if you can make it back to the orchard in one piece.  But don’t worry, since you do not wish to have police protection, Jim and I are really good homicide detectives.  We’ll catch the guy that kills you.  Or woman; they do a good job of killing people too.”

Fuji sputtered, “But I need protection so that won’t happen!”

Jim took over, “Sure, sure.  But if you were in witness protection, we could protect you.  Deviled is right, you did not think this through.  Coming here was not the act of a crime boss.  It was the act of a concerned citizen, scared out of his wits.  You do not have the mind of a crime boss.  You do not have the guts to pull it off.  But as a witness, you could do a good deed and live happily ever after.”

Fuji sputtered, “No way!”  But we could tell we were getting to him.  He did not have the guts for this stuff.

I went off script, and I hoped that Captain Hart did not burst into the room and shut down our little conversation.  “Okay, Fuji, Jim and I will take you back home.  We will sweep your car for explosives and then have Poached drive it to the Orchard.  We will set up a roving patrol inside the Orchard and around the Orchard grounds, plenty of people in uniform, lots of uniforms.  We will have off-duty detectives near you all the time until this blows over.  We can scare most criminals off with a continuous police presence within your grounds.”

Then Jim added, “But if we are there, the hit man, who is one of your employees, maybe a member of your own family, will still have access to you, and he might suspect that this trip downtown was something bad, but with us protecting you, he will know that you have given evidence against the Rosales family and maybe against him personally.  You would not survive even with police protection.”

I started to laugh, “And Jim, just wait until next month.  Mario Rosales is already short one monthly payment.  With us crawling all over the Orchard, all Rotten Apple crime activities will be curtailed or halted.  How can Mario get paid next month?”

We were both laughing, but Fuji almost cried.

I smiled, “You see, Fuji, at this point, your only logical choice is to give us evidence and go into witness protection.  You are not a crime boss.  A crime boss would never make a suggestion like you just made.  Your sister was the crime boss, and you were an accomplice in that you profited by her criminal activity.  If I had to guess, Red Delicious knew that you could not pull it off, but he was such a male chauvinist that he could not have your sister to seem to be in charge.  Gala was different. She was Red’s wife, and she could be seen as grooming Big Macintosh Red, but to give the reigns to Paula Red?  Nope, he wouldn’t do that.  So, you are not a crime boss.  You are a puppet.”

Fuji broke down and began to weep.  He started to confess his involvement in being the public figure to make the Orchard look fully legitimate.  Lt. Tagliolini came in, thanked Jim and I, and he ushered Fuji into another interview room with a couple of members of his team.

With just Jim and I left in the room, Sophie ran in and gave me a big hug.  “Daddy, you’re the best!  But Captain Hart said some bad words when he saw me in the observation room.  He said more bad words when you volunteered to protect Mr. Apple.  He also said that you were fired, but after you got Mr. Apple to confess, he had to change his mind.  He said a few more bad words and then added, ‘next time.’  Does that mean you will get fired soon?”

I hugged Sophie with one of my patented bear hugs.  “Captain Hart says that all the time.  He cannot imagine that someone who grew up in a home with a criminal for a father could ever be a good cop.  He just doesn’t understand these things called ‘forgiveness’ and ‘redemption.’”

“I’m glad you understand forgiveness.  I might not get all my homework done after all this excitement!”

I hugged her even tighter.  I knew she would get her homework done.  I had a feeling that Captain Hart was about to come into the room and tell me that I had to take Sophie home and work from the house the rest of the day.  He would not allow a pre-teen, even a pre-teen who was a member of the Tracy Policeman’s Wives Auxiliary, to hang out in the squad room.  Who knew who might burst through the door next?

Credits

Sorry, this story involves information from several of the past stories, but I think enough information is provided to not make the storyline confusing. If so, you can do a search on Deviled Yeggs.

And if you are offended by the Tracy Policeman’s Wives Auxiliary name, the Auxiliary voted, including a few male members and decided to not change the name.  Nearly all the work that they do is done by the few wives who are stay-at-home mothers.  Maybe the Auxiliary just got tired of everything changing for political correctness.  Just don’t blame me.

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