I’m Detective Staff Sergeant Deviled Yeggs. I work homicide in the big city of Tracy. My partner is Jim Wednesday. My nephew, Detective Poached Yeggs, is in the office for a change.
Jim put down a report from the medical examiner’s office. “We may be having another visit from Anna.”
My heart skipped, “Oh, no. Not again!”
Poached was confused. “Who’s Anna?”
Jim said, “Anna Filaxis, the report is in the required reading for new detectives. You had to have read the report.”
Poached shrugged, “Those required reading reports are three inches thick. I read them, but there is no way I can commit all that to memory. Isn’t Anaphylaxis a medical condition or something? Like your face swells up and you struggle to breathe. Stuff like that?”
I threw my copies of the report on Poached’s desk. “If you cannot commit the required reports to memory the first time that you read them through, keep reading them, again and again! Anaphylaxis is an allergic reaction that can be triggered by a lot of things, but the chief triggers are food allergies, insect bites, medications including vaccines, and latex. It can affect a lot of things, just about everything on or in your body, from skin to the heart and everything in between. The reaction can be different each time. The severity can be different each time. But anaphylactic shock can occur, and you can die. With an unfortunate death of this nature, it shows up as death by natural causes. It is not just a swollen face. Let’s not be insensitive here.”
Jim interrupted, “And Poached, long before you were even a patrolman here, we were getting a few strange cases of anaphylactic shock deaths, a couple in the Spring and a couple in the Fall, at least a couple that were suspicious. No one ever suspected anything, at first, until one family reported that their grandfather who passed away was not allergic to anything and had never had any type of reaction like this. They demanded an autopsy. Within a week, there was another old man who was allergic to things. He had an epi-pen. He shot himself with epinephrine and immediately went into shock. The epinephrine did the opposite of what it was supposed to do. In both cases, a small injection site was discovered in the neck / shoulder area. They would have probably thought it to be an insect or spider bite. But the toxicology report showed a new exotic poison in their system. The symptoms look like Anaphylaxis. Who knows how long Anna had been doing her thing until we had a complaint? In interviewing the families, both reported seeing a female nurse, from a distance, walking away from the house. Since then, there have been a few people seeing someone unfamiliar in the neighborhood, but most cases go by without any witnesses. There was never an adequate description. Only a small build and female. For convenience sake, we called her Anna Filaxis. Otherwise, we have no idea what her name is.”
I took over. “With the poison isolated, T.R.U.S.T Medical Center developed something that they think may work as an antidote. Your aunt Glyce worked out the psychological aspects and physical therapy aspects, if we could get to the victim before they died. It is called Code Purple. I hesitate in saying that out loud, because everyone in this office is supposed to react to those words. That includes you!”
Poached threw up his hands, “What do I do?”
Jim exhaled impatiently, “As a homicide detective, you might be in charge of finding Anna and apprehending her. Everything we have for treatment is experimental. Since she uses it to kill people, she must have an antidote that she knows will work. The other detectives are at our command. When we get a corpse, we have to be on the lookout for another. They almost always come in pairs. Then Anna is like the wind, no sighting for months.”
Poached said, “This woman must be some super sick serial killer.”
I stopped him there, “We are thinking she is a contract killer, specializing in euthanasia. But euthanasia is supposed to be painless, and this manner of death may be rather painful. While we have had distraught family members, there were always those family members who could not quite fake being too upset. Nothing we could prove, but we suspected. The only ones that were not retirement age with medical problems, not always life-threatening medical problems, were witnesses that never got their day in court. Those became immediate red flags, but again, no proof. In those cases of a witness conveniently dying, we poured over the money trail, but it was hidden too well, not the defendant, the defendant’s family, or the lawyers. And before you ask, Anna usually visits the neighboring counties before and after. Since these are nearly impossible to detect, they do not always get flagged. This one, in this report, is just a possible, an elderly woman in her seventies. We need to track down the next of kin. We need to find out if the lady had allergies in the past. Who is in the will? And we may be wasting our time, maybe another death by natural causes, by anaphylaxis.”
My Dad walked into the squad room as I mentioned ‘wasting our time.’
My Dad said, “Shun, Shun, I yush came by cause Maeve want me to.”
“Have you been drinking, Dad?” I asked.
“W-w-w-w-why?” And Dad staggered a little. “I have na take a drop.” Poached helped his grandfather into his desk chair. It looked like Dad was about to fall.
“Shun, Maeve says, Mae shays,” Dad coughed a couple of times. I noticed his neck was red as he loosened his collar. “She says she sees this girl, comes to the mission every six mons, mons.”
“Six months,” Poached suggested, and my Dad nodded.
“Mae thinks she at mish, on false pretens … sis.”
Poached said, “False pretenses. And?”
“She nice Asian girl. Stay to self. Different hair color, hair sty. Different nae address evy tie. Refooshes counsel. Never talk to Mae. But Maeve smart. She see same face, evy tie.” He was starting to pant.
I yelled, “Listen up, everyone. CODE PURPLE. We’ve got a live one. My DAD!! Jim, shut down the Mission and capture Anna. Poached, you work evidence collection and have a witness. You and I have to stay out of the main part of the investigation since we are related to Dad. Captain Hart, take over the case, please! Dad, have you had an insect bite recently?”
Dad pointed to his neck, saying a spider must have bitten him on the bus. After a few questions, he said an Asian girl with black hair, butch style, brushed past him about that time. He never saw her get off the bus, but she wasn’t there when he got to the precinct. She couldn’t be the mystery girl at the Mission; the mystery girl had long purple hair. Then he stopped, and asked, “A wick?” Of course, a wig. She had different hair color and style every time she came to town. She stayed at the mission, no credit card record, few questions asked, and those could be dodged with false information. They thought she was homeless, thinking she might find work, or she’ll move on, which she does, going to the next town to do the same thing. Best hiding place was in plain sight.
By that point in our interview, I had found a thumb tack on Dad’s collar. It had not penetrated very deep, but none of us knew how much was too much. Poached double-gloved and captured the evidence. Captain Hart arranged for a silent takeover of the Mission with multiple precincts to try to sneak up on Anna, if she was still there. Gisele had already called T.R.U.S.T Medical Center. They would be ready by the time we got there. When I turned around, Steve, the EMT at the precinct, was bringing in a gurney and his medical gear.
Steve said, “Step aside, Sarge, I have this.”
“I’m going with you.”
“Against policy, Sarge.”
“No argument, Steve,” I said, “This is not just a poisoning victim. It’s my Dad. I can’t work the case since it’s a family member, and I know as much about your first aid for this type of case as you do. I am violating policy, but you can’t stop me. And time is of the essence.”
We got Dad strapped in as he started to show signs of swelling, and we rushed him into the waiting ambulance. The driver was the best I had ever seen. We got to the ER in record time.
An overweight nurse stood in the doorway and stopped us. “And what are you doing coming in here?” I looked at her name tag. There were five or six consonants and a “Y” in the middle and an “E” at the end.
I said, “We are here with the Code Purple victim. Name is Thousand-Year-Old Yeggs.”
The nurse grimaced, “What a stupid name.” But her name was unpronounceable. Go figure!?
Glyce walked up behind the nurse, ordering the nurse to step aside. Nurse ZTQYZXPE (having double-checked the spelling) responded, “You are not a medical doctor. You may be a department head, but that means nothing at this hospital.”
The doctor then stepped into the hallway. “Zee! This is our patient! Step aside!”
The nurse named “Z” said, “But this is a civilian!”
But by the time she had the words out, I had my shield in her face, my special shield for being a detective staff sergeant. (I would rather have had the pay raise.) “Detectives do not wear uniforms, Nurse ummm – a name I cannot pronounce!”
She stepped aside. Would my Dad die because I came with the ambulance? Or would he die because treatment was delayed by an officious nurse who had her personal set of rules?
As they ran down the hallway to room 6, Steve was rattling off the vital signs and the basic responses Dad either gave or failed to respond to.
Glyce leaned in close to my Dad, who was falling asleep, “Old Man, you are in good hands. We have you. Try to stay with us. Don’t drift off. I want you deliberately breathing. Inhale for a count of three. Exhale for a count of three. A little slower, Old Man.”
Nurse ZTQYZXPE muttered, “Why should I take orders from her? She calls the patient bad names. She should not be here.”
I looked nurse “Zee” in the eyes. “She has been working Code Purple from the beginning. And when your name is Thousand-Year-Old Yeggs, it gets shortened to ‘Old Man’ pretty quickly, like in kindergarten. And the patient is my Dad, and that lady you just insulted is my wife. Maybe you should learn how to show some respect.”
The ER doctor, Dr. Thad Tealer or was it Tad Healer, came into the hallway. “Sgt. Yeggs, I hear you caught the symptoms and announced the Code. What tipped you off?”
“When he arrived at the precinct, his speech was slurred like he had been drinking. He said he had not been drinking, no alcohol on his breath, but he started to stagger. His speech got even worse. He coughed a bit. He was starting to pant, saying half words or breathing between words. His neck was red. I checked his collar and found a thumb tack. Call Poached Yeggs for information from the lab. Poached will catalogue evidence from our end. He and I cannot be part of the gathering of evidence or interviews or apprehension. We are family of the victim. And my Dad’s neck and face started to swell before we had him strapped down. Anything else should come from Steve.”
The doctor nodded, “And was he delirious? He keeps saying, ‘Say May.’ But when we say ‘May,’ he shakes his head.”
I shook my head also, “He is doing his half speech to save on air. He is trying to say, “Save Maeve,” the woman who spotted a pattern for a homeless person who keeps coming into town. She probably wanted a quiet little investigation to see what the woman was up to, not realizing she had spotted the infamous Anna Filaxis. And it seems Anna got wind of it and started working on the witnesses.”
“I wish you had picked a better name.”
“What, Doc? Jane Doe was already taken!”
“But I hope, Sgt. Yeggs, that you are taking care of this person named Maeve.”
I nodded, “My captain is in charge. He used to be excellent, before he became the boss and a desk jockey in charge of the budget, and my partner, Jim Wednesday? He’s the best.”
With giving the doctor all that I had, I went into the small local waiting area, not really a room to itself. I don’t know what came over me. I knelt before a straight chair, and I slid the chair legs on either side of my knees. I laid my head, face down, against the chair seat, and I began to pray. I have no idea how long I was in that position, but after a while, a hand rested on my shoulder. It was an answer to one of my prayers. Our pastor, Rev. C.S.L., as we have nicknamed him, was smiling down at me. He didn’t say anything. He got another chair and pulled it up next to mine and did the same thing. Occasionally, he would say something out loud for my benefit, letting me know that he was praying for this entire situation. It helped me to redirect my prayers. And then he said, “Forever, and ever, Amen.” I guess that was the signal to sit in the chairs and talk. I had caught him up to the point where I had started praying when Jim Wednesday came into the area.
Jim said, “Some battleax of a nurse with a name that is unpronounceable said you two were in here. I have good news, bad news, and prayer requests. I think I’ll just tell the story. Maeve had locked herself in her counseling room, a door she never locks, one of those door-always-open and counselor-available things. Anna Filaxis knocked on the door wanting to be ‘counseled,’ but Anna sensed that she was lying. She put her off, saying that she was on the phone. They argued through the locked door. Anna tried to break down the door. When Anna’s flight instinct kicked in, she turned to run, but we were approaching from either end of the hallway. We were all in hazmat suits. She attacked in George Evident’s direction. She had her poison at the ready and she knows martial arts. George got in close and wrestled her to the ground, but that left him exposed. She scratched through the suit with the poison. George is now a second Code Purple, but we found her antidote. We hope that George will be fine. That ER doc was going to try the antidote on your Dad too, once they analyze it. Who knows? Maybe Anna reversed the labels in case she got caught. Captain Hart has Anna in interrogation. Poached has everything in Anna’s backpack, after someone else inventoried everything, making sure Poached doesn’t add anything or take anything out. And I came here to check on your Dad and George. How is he?”
I explained that I had been praying for a long time and no one had disturbed me with an update.
Then, Glyce entered. She ran into my arms, sobbing. “Old Man is in a coma. We may not have gotten to him in time. Nothing that I tried worked. Dev, I felt helpless. Hold me, but don’t give me a bear hug. This time, I need to endure the pain, but I also need to know you are there.”
As I looked beyond her, Maeve entered the area.
Maeve was crying, “They say I’m not family. I have to know. Is he going to be all right?”
Through her tears and choked sobs, Glyce said, “We don’t know.” Jim and the Rev. went to Maeve quickly as it seemed she was going to faint.
Note: Anaphylaxis is not a joking matter. Policemen may use a bit of dark humor at times. I have had the idea of a villain by the name of Anna Filaxis for a long time. Every time I hear a commercial about a medication that may result in anaphylaxis as a side effect, I have wanted to write her into the continuing story, but I feared it to be insensitive. I have suffered from allergies most of my life, and on occasion, I would have a reaction that caused my face to swell. My eyes, on one occasion, swelled completely shut, but I never got to the point where life-threatening symptoms developed. I ate a grape on the airplane from Miami, FL to San Juan, Puerto Rico, to visit my sister, whose husband was stationed in the Air Force on the island. My parents wanted to see San Juan. I got to hear the driving tour of San Juan, but the swelling only started coming down when on the road to the Air Force Base, never ever “seeing” San Juan. And the bizarre thing is that it was the first time that symptom had happened, but my malady was not going to interrupt the family vacation. (Hmm. I have said that before. I guess my timing is bad.) I never saw a doctor about it, even though it happened a few more times, once as an adult near the age of forty, but I never went into shock. As for this story, the cliff-hanger for this story is my way of paying honor and memory to those who suffered the worst of the anaphylaxis symptoms. It can be a serious problem. This portion of the saga of Deviled Yeggs will conclude in two days.
There was once a television show named M*A*S*H. It occasionally had an episode filmed in black and white, making it look like an old newsreel. They would turn the laugh track off for those episodes. This might be in that vein.
“Forever and Ever, Amen” is a song by Randy Travis.
And as for Nurse ZTQYZXPE, I jumbled letters together in the hope that it is unpronounceable, but I know a few people will try.
And Glyce wanted to feel the pain but know that her husband had his arms around her, much like our Heavenly Father does. We feel the pain, but we know He is there.