I’m Detective Staff Sergeant Deviled Yeggs. I work homicide in the big city of Tracy. My partner is Jim Wednesday. Poached Yeggs has been loaned to Burglary / Robbery for a special case. They did not let me know why we were operating one man down.
I submit this report as a Sophia Yeggs mystery because she broke the case wide open, really catching the bad guys red handed. But I hesitate in giving her the credit. We do not need any more Nancy Drews than we already have, and hopefully, just the fictional ones. The professionals at detecting, like me, do not need to be going on rescue missions. And the caper may not end with a happy ending. That being said…
My cellphone rang. It was Sophia, my only daughter, my middle child, according to the caller ID. We finally broke down and got all the children a phone of their own.
Sophie whispered, “Daddy, please, read your texts.”
I replied, “Sorry, Sophie, can you repeat that and do not whisper this time.”
Sophie whispered, “Daddy, please, read your texts. Your TEXTS.”
I replied, “You sent me a text? Will I need an interpreter to explain the emojis?”
Sophie whispered, “READ. TEXTS. Good-bye.” And my daughter hung up on me. That had never happened before. Of the three children, Sophie and I always kept the communication lines open.
I went to my messages and found a few screens full of texts from Sophie. I scrolled to the beginning of them. She used a bunch of shortcuts, but here is how I translated them.
Sophie: Daddy, I fell in a hole. I am fine. Do not worry, but I can’t get out. There is too much ice and nothing to grab onto near the top of the hole. But I also wish to report a crime, I think, maybe.
Sophie: I am on Twain Lane, about 500 meters from the intersection of Miller Run Road. I was helping Callie out on a little bird mission of mercy. I would pour out bird seed when I spotted songbirds along the lane. I put out suet when I saw a nuthatch or chickadee. So, don’t get mad about crime sleuthing.
Sophie: Oh, what crime? I knew I forgot something. I guess being scared makes you forget, but I am safe if I don’t make noise. With the trees not leafed out, you can see into the backyards of the houses on Roger Avenue. I heard glass breaking. I turned to see a guy walk into a house on Roger Avenue. I used the binoculars and the glass in the door had been broken. Then I looked at the next house and it looked like that house had a broken backdoor.
Sophie: Please come quickly. Bring a zoom lens camera and maybe you can see the guy break into the next house. Once you get the pictures, come rescue me. Send me texts so that the cellphone will vibrate. When I hear you get close, I’ll put the phone next to a tree root and it will sound like a woodpecker. But hurry. The bandits may have already hit their last house.
I texted back: On my way.
She replied: Finally!!!
I showed Jim the string of texts. He went to find the Burglary boys. They would block Twain Lane so that the thieves could not escape, but not close enough to tip them off. They would ensure to not make any noise until they were ready to close in.
When I walked down Twain Lane, I looked at the houses on Roger Avenue with the zoom lens of the camera. Three houses in a row had been entered. Two had a glass panel broken and the third had the door jam broken by a crowbar. As I focused on the next house, the thief came into the camera’s view with a crowbar in his hand. He broke the door jam and entered. I texted Jim Wednesday and Poached Yeggs, since I had them as a group. I then started texting Sophie. One goofy emoji after another. I had no idea what they meant. I had no idea what kind of trouble I might be causing myself in the long run once the emojis were interpreted.
Suddenly, not far away, I heard what sounded like a woodpecker. I followed the sound and saw this adorable face smiling up at me from a hole in the ground. It looked like it might be an old abandoned well, an almost perfectly round hole. It was mostly filled in, but Sophie was standing with her head just below ground level. With a cushion of snow on the bottom of the hole, she had not been hurt in the fall.
She looked toward Roger Avenue and then back at me and offered me her hands. I lifted her out, but I had to get down on the ground. I lifted and rolled to pull her to safety; otherwise, I might have slipped and fallen in with her. I would determine who left the safety hazard later.
As I heard sirens and an amplified voice telling the burglars to put their hands in the air, I saw the guy who broke into the house running out the back door.
I yelled, “Police! Freeze! Hands in the air!”
He momentarily froze. He could not see me off in the woods. When he thought he might still make a break for it, he started to run, but Poached emerged from around the house and tackled him.
By this point, Sophie had looked through her binoculars to determine that he was the one who broke into at least two of the other houses.
With the bad guys captured, I turned to Sophie, “Okay, Nancy Drew, why were you snooping when you should have called 911?”
Sophie shook her head, “It was a moment of sheer stupidity. I heard the broken glass. I saw the guy go into the house. I wanted to see if the house was really broken into or evidence that this was a robbery instead of someone forgetting his keys. And I was looking so intently at the houses that I fell in the hole. Honest, Daddy!”
I held her in my arms, if for no other reason but to keep her warm. She had been outside a long time.
Sophie said, “And Hollywood has it all wrong, Daddy. The best arms to come to the rescue are not the boyfriend who is just as clueless, it’s big Daddy arms, like yours.”
I squeezed her tighter.
When we reached the car that I had parked two blocks from the entrance to Twain Lane and three blocks from Roger Avenue, Poached Yeggs, my nephew and fellow homicide detective, was leaning on the hood of the car.
Poached said, “And here comes the hero and her Dad.”
I sputtered, “Don’t encourage her, Poached!”
Poached laughed, “This ring of burglars had been tearing middle-class neighborhoods to pieces. The burglars knew who had security cameras and who did not. They knew where there were business security cameras on adjoining streets, so there driving in and driving out were through blind spots. They knew who had alarm systems and who did not. They never hit a house unless both adults were at work. The neighbors that were at home thought a delivery person was dropping something off. The people in the truck all had uniforms.”
Poached continued, “They called me in to do the computer research. They were doing leg work with all the security firms to see if there was an employee leaking information, but some neighborhoods had three or four different security companies represented. Those lines of inquiry were taking too long. I tried hacking into one of the security firm’s records, and they quickly blocked me and started a reverse trace. When that caused them to get huffy about us violating their security platform without a warrant, it gave us the opportunity to ask if they had already been hacked. That opened Pandora’s box. It was not a leak in personnel, but a good hacker, good enough to not trip the alarm like I had, but enough evidence to know the hacker had come and gone. The other firms checked and found a similar hack. The hacker was not after the security feeds or secured information, just who had an account. The rich folks and the paranoid people who could barely afford a security system were safe. As usual, the hard-working folks, barely getting by, were the most vulnerable, but even then, most folks have computers, tablets, televisions, and other such things that can be resold easily. Every time it was grab the high-end items and load them on the truck and leave quickly.”
I smiled and nodded, “And the hacker is probably still at large. I wonder if any of these guys will talk?”
Then Poached turned to Sophie, “Cuz, you do not know how lucky you were to fall in a hole. If they had spotted you, your goose would have been cooked. Their whole method was based on no one knowing. There’s no telling what they would have done. No more sleuthing, okay?”
Sophie nodded, “I can wait to do more sleuthing when I become your boss.”
Then the two cousins giggled and sparred with each other in a fake boxing match.
I asked, “Is anyone interested in hot cocoa before going back to the precinct to start the paperwork?”
Poached said, “Hot cocoa, yes, but paperwork sounds like sergeant’s work.”
I growled, “Detective, you have a lot to learn. You cannot learn it simply sipping cocoa and telling tall tales.”
Then, Sophie gave me a bear hug that rivaled any that I had ever given her, “Thank you for being there, Daddy.”
I asked, “Why do you call me ‘Daddy?’ You are getting a little too old for that. Aren’t you?”
She said, “It’s partly due to the cringe factor. I see how it seems to shock both you and Mommy.” Then she squeezed any tighter.
Little did she know that each time we heard her say ‘Mommy’ or ‘Daddy’, we wondered if it would be the last time. Sometimes you cannot wait for the child to grow up, but then there are times when you want to hold on tight in hopes that they never do.
The first use of “Credits” had these in the green block below. I have not visited Twain Lane since then. Credits from None of Your Bee’s Wax, the fourth in the Deviled Yeggs series (20 December 2018). The two credits discuss why there are two roads that intersect named “Roger” and “Miller” (one song’s lyrics help solve the crime and the other was an expletive that was uttered in the story) and the other near forest-like lane is called “Twain Lane.”
… You Don’t Want My Love by Roger Miller. Of course, Dang Me is another Roger Miller hit.
“… The idea of Two Two Twain comes from my favorite movie, Murder by Death, a Neil Simon Classic (1976). Peter Sellers plays Sidney Wang (a parody of Charlie Chan). They were looking for 22 Lois Lane, the home of Lionel Twain, played by Truman Capote. Wang’s number two adopted son, who was driving the car, thought he was lost until Sellers says, “Look, Two Two Twain’s house. We in right place.” Or something to that effect.”
And in the gold block below is a Credit in From the Mouth of Babes, the 41st episode (12 April 2021).
Nancy Drew is a fictional teen-aged girl who solves mysteries. The publisher of the Hardy Boys series wanted a female counterpart to encourage young girls and get a lot of book sales. The Hardy Boys series started in 1927 with the Nancy Drew series following with the first story in 1930. Several people ghost wrote the Nancy Drew series under the name Carolyn Keene.
Pandora’s Box has become anything, even something seemingly innocent, that brings a great deal or trouble to the world. In Greek mythology, Zeus created Pandora, a human, who had a box. She was not supposed to open the box, but she did, unleashing every form of evil onto the earth. While some think that this refers to all evil in the world is caused by women, Pandora’s Box need not be gender specific (although it is said that the Greeks of that day thought women to be evil), and in looking at Eve, she may have eaten the fruit first, but only because Adam was not bold enough to do so. From the narrative, he was close enough to have stopped her or objected.