A Phoenix Rises – A Deviled Yeggs Mystery

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.

We were all in the ER waiting area, near the nurse station, except for Poached who remained at the precinct, double entry logging every bit of evidence, to show he was not tampering with anything.  I had gone with the ambulance to the T.R.U.S.T. Medical Center with my Dad who had been poisoned by a woman that we had nicknamed Anna Filaxis.  If it had not been a member of my family, I would be at the precinct interrogating Anna.  I heard from Poached that her fingerprints were not in the system.  He had observed some of Captain Hart’s interrogation.  She refused to give her name.  She rather liked the nickname we had given her.  Otherwise, she did not answer questions, but she had not asked for a lawyer either.

Glyce was still in my arms, softly sobbing.  Jim and Rev. C. S. L. were with Maeve Collins.  It was rumored that Maeve and my Dad were an “item” at the mission, although Dad was old enough to be her grandfather.  She was roughly the same age as Rotten Yeggs, brother of Poached, son of my older brother Scrambled.  If Maeve and my Dad were an “item,” it just did not seem natural.

What was really odd was that I seemed to have zoned out.  I looked around the area, and people were packed in like sardines.  I had not noticed their arrival.  It seemed the ER was making an exception for the Code Purple crowd.  Code Purple was the test of an antidote and therapy program to keep the victims of Anna Filaxis alive, if we got to them in time.  We had two victims.  My Dad inadvertently gave evidence that provided a description of Anna, and George Evident, the policeman who brought Anna to the ground.  Anna was determined to kill in order to maintain her freedom to kill even more.

But I had made no phone calls to let people know, forgetting to set up someone to take care of the children.  I had no idea how the pastor knew.  I had just knelt in prayer.  But Pauline Niblick had our three children in the far corner.  Scrambled was sitting with Pink Lady Apple.  My Dad was going to escort Pink Lady down the aisle when Scrambled and Pink Lady were married, since Pink Lady’s father was in prison.  Next to them were Rotten Yeggs and a tall young lady that I was later told was Rotten’s “teacher,” Zuzka.  It was strange that the only person there for George Evident was my old high school friend, Shirley U-Jest Evident-Lee, his aunt.

Dr. Tealer came into the area.  “Dr. Yeggs, we are noticing some hand movements, mostly twitches, with Mr. Yeggs.  It may seem futile, but you can talk to him and see if you can get a response.  Often patients in a coma can hear conversations around them.  It may be maddening to try, but with patience, we might get some response.  He is not on life support.  His body is trying to respond.  Maybe a little push from your end will help.”

Glyce wiped the tears away.  “Sorry for messing up your shirt, Dev.  I have work to do.”  With that, she was gone.

Jim came by.  “Deviled, the doctor said that the antidote had helped both of them, but even George is not doing well.  It’s a shame.  He was going to take the detective exam next month.  There’s always an opening in Vice, and he might help with Organized Crime.  We might still work with him, but he won’t be at our precinct if he makes detective.”

I nodded, “Good.  I’ve always liked George, and when he canvased neighborhoods for us at crime scenes, he always got more information from the neighbors than the other members of patrol.  He may become one of the best interviewers in the force.”

Shirley must have overheard.  She said, “Thank you.  You are talking about George’s future.  I’m only his aunt, but with his parents retiring to Arizona, I have kind of adopted him.  Just so he has family to lean on.  With you two talking about George taking the exam next month and already having a job waiting, I can focus on that rather than him never getting out of bed again or never leaving this hospital.”

Then, Jemima came into the area.  “Wow!  It was tough getting in here!  There was this nurse!  Nurse Z-T-Q-Y-Z-X-P-E!  I have no idea how to pronounce it!  She would not let me come here.  I wasn’t family.  I wasn’t clergy.  She wanted me clear outside the building, but then this nice doctor came out of the restroom.  I told him that I was almost family, since I’m dating your Dad’s grandson, and my Dad was here with you and he was clergy.  The doctor said that they were already breaking enough rules that one more wouldn’t hurt.”  Jemima gave me a big hug.

I said, “The next time you see the nurse, call her Nurse ‘Zee.’  Dr. Tealer does not attempt to pronounce her name either.”

Jemima released her hug.  She ran into the corner and suggested that Easter, Sophie, and Blaise join her in a prayer circle.  They stood in a circle, locked arms, and started praying.  At least, I heard a lot of soft mumbles.  Pauline leaned over them and placed her hands on a couple of shoulders, but she let them do all the mumbling.  It then dawned on me that if Glyce was with my Dad and Pauline was with the children, who was teaching classes?  Then I noticed the clock.  Classes had been over for some time.  Why do nightmares like this seem to go slowly and quickly all at the same time?

Rev. C.S.L. whispered.  “I got by nurse Zee when she was guarding the door, expecting your Dad’s arrival.  I heard she gave you a hard time.  I come to the ER on occasion and pray for all the people here.  I pray with them if they wish to have me do that, but I pray in the hall if they don’t, even harder.  When I saw Code Purple, I thought that was something that might need a lot of prayers.  But then, I saw it was your father.  Do I have permission to put him and your entire family on the prayer list?”

I gave him a verbal consent.  I thanked him for being there.  He went over and whispered to Jemima that she could have Easter drive her home, and he left.

Jim talked to Shirley.  That left Maeve alone.  I pulled up a straight chair and held her hand.

I asked, “How did you know that Anna was a repeat resident when so much of her appearance changed and her name and address changed each time?”

Maeve smiled, “The staff at the mission call me the human facial recognition computer.  With each new resident, I study their eyes, nose, mouth, ears, chin.  If they have been there within six months, I can tell you how many piercings and where, all that kind of stuff.  I think that if you care, you will notice these things.  The one you call Anna was about at that six-month limit, but something felt odd about her.  Then I realized that about a year ago, she had been there also, and even more times before that.  It could have been anything: a battered wife that needed a break and then returned to the abusive husband, a fruit picker that roams from town to town to catch fruits and vegetables ready to be picked, anything.  But with her, something was off.  She never seemed strung out on drugs or alcohol.  She had no visible bruises.  She refused to accept free counseling, and I offered several times.  She seemed intelligent, alert, educated, but she sat in the corner during meals.  She stared at the wall when we blessed the food.  And she was very protective of her backpack, obsessive about it.  I was going through my resident records to try to give you a timeline when she knocked on the door.  I never lock my door, but something told me I should, just this once.  I am so glad I did.  She said that she wanted a counselling session.  When she never had before, that raised a flag.  When she repeatedly tried the doorknob and banged on the door, I got scared.  I told her that a former resident was on the phone and suicidal, and I was talking him down.  She didn’t buy that.  She banged even hard.  I am so glad I had locked both deadbolts.  I think she tried to kick the door down.  The doorknob is broken on my office door, but the deadbolts held.  Then I heard the police shout.  Your partner, Jim Wednesday, he explained that Anna had poisoned “Thou” and had come after me.  She was covering her tracks before leaving town.”

I asked, “Thou?”

She snickered, “That’s my name for your Dad.  Thousand-year-old Yeggs is too long.  He insisted on ‘Old Man,’ but that sounded so disrespectful.  Of course, changing it to Millennium Yeggs is no good in that his father already had that name, and Thou was not a ‘junior.’  So, Thou was it.”

I explained, “I thought you meant ‘Thou’ as in King James reference to God.”

She laughed, “Your father may have repented and turned from his evil ways, but he is far from that kind of reverence.”  She paused for a little too long.  I was about to break the silence when she continued.  “But I love him.  Not as much as I love Jesus, but close.  I know you disapprove.  I am far too young, but my entire life is the mission.  I don’t run the place, but I counsel everyone who is willing to be counseled.  I set up group therapy sessions.  And I spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ whenever I have the opportunity.  With your father, he refused the group therapy sessions at first.  Part of the agreement for us giving him a roof over his head while he acted as our ‘bouncer,’ as he called it, he had to sit down with me for one-on-one counselling.  He went from mute with a thousand-mile stare to being willing to say a word or two.  Then he opened up about your mother and how he had done unforgiveable things to her and you two boys.  How he deserved to go back to prison where he belonged.  That opened the door for me to talk about God’s forgiveness.  He fought it for a while, but when he accepted Jesus, I have never seen such a change.  He obviously loves every resident.  He helps them; he even parrots my counselling, but when he does it, it is at that moment of weakness, not in a safe office, without any temptations.  He takes the vague idea, the head knowledge, and turns it into something practical.”

She paused again, “Face it, Sgt. Yeggs.  I do not date. I am too old to find someone on a college campus.  I’m an introvert, so I do not even try.  You may not like the idea.  I know you don’t.  Thou told me, but yesterday, he didn’t propose, but he said, ‘Who cares what my sons think about it.’  And please do not explode with anger, but your father donated sperm to the sperm bank.  If he doesn’t pull through, I want to have his baby.”

My heart stopped.  I stopped breathing.  The clock wasn’t even ticking.  Time had frozen.  Then I felt an electric shock go through my brain to get me back going again.  “I-I-I don’t know what to say?  I was always worried about you when he said that he loved you romantically.  I was sure there was someone at least 20-30-40 years younger than Dad who you might marry.  And I remember how his criminal activities robbed my mother of her business, and how she worked there until she died, working for someone else, when it was her father and uncle who built the place.”

Maeve looked me in the eye with a stern look.  “It’s time, right now, that you and your brother need to forgive your father.  Scrambled, come over here for a moment.”  Scrambled and Pink Lady came over, Scrambled was the only thing keeping Pink Lady on her feet.  Zuzka and Rotten came over too.  “I am doing a small intervention here.  Your father is going to pull out of this.  I am going to marry him, but for any of that to happen, we need to invoke Romans 8:28.  Your father loves the Lord, so all things work for the good for those who love the Lord.  He is going to pull through and you two are going to have a new stepmother who is young enough to be one of your children, maybe not you, Sgt. Yeggs.  But that doesn’t happen unless you forgive your father.  He is a new man.  Jesus is in his heart, and he overflows with love for everyone at the mission, but there is that hole in his heart.  He knows how he did your mother wrong.  She is gone and I think she still loved him even then.  But two people here still know that your father missed a court date, trapped in a tunnel that caved in after robbing a bank.  Your mother lost her bakery when the bail bond was due.  You two boys had hard times, but you have survived.  Now it is time.  Right now! You need to forgive your Dad.  I believe that you two forgiving him is the difference between him going home with me to the mission or going to the morgue.”

Scrambled complained about that being so long ago that it doesn’t matter anymore, but Maeve put her foot down.  She said that it did matter.  It colored everything that we did with our Dad.

We prayed and both Scrambled and I affirmed that the past was the distant past, as if it never happened.  If God can separate us from our sins as far as East is from West, we could forgive our father.

After the “Amen,” I said, “Welcome to the family, Mom.”

Maeve cringed, “That sounded a bit creepy.  Maybe I need to deal with this change, myself.”

We all laughed.  Then I added, “And call me Deviled or Dev.  Sgt. Yeggs is so formal.”

Scrambled suggested, “Scrammie is for Pink alone, and I do not wish to be named after the shutdown order for a nuclear reactor, SCRAM.  We’ll have to think about it.  And maybe you should think about what we should call you, Maeve.”

Pink Lady smiled, “See, I am having an influence on Scrammie already.  And, as you can see, Zuzka and Rotten are holding hands, ahead of schedule.  A hole family of men trying to become civilized.”

Zuzka said, “Rotten not ready to be Otto, but he try.  He be Otto soon.”

Rotten said, gently, “I AM not ready to be Otto, but I AM TRYING.  I will be Otto, soon.”

Zuzka said, “I know, I know.  I try harder, but we are in big crowd.  I get scared in crowds.  Language first to go.”

As everyone laughed again.  She wasn’t in a crowd.  She was with family.

I thought back that only a year ago, no, about six months ago, my Dad was the ‘Old Man’ and doing whatever he had to do to stay in prison and extend his sentence.  Rotten was rotten, in a cell block near my Dad.  Scrambled was irresponsible, absent in times of need.  Pink Lady may not have been but was known as the madame of the state’s largest brothel, making hard cider on the side, seemingly as a cover and a means of laundering money.  And Zuzka was a sex slave.  Almost everyone in this circle might not be here if it were not for my Dad.  And, of course, our Father in Heaven.

Glyce interrupted the group.  “Oh, you are all in one big circle.  I only have to say this once!  Goody, goody!  I wasn’t getting any response from the Old Man.  But I changed my tactics.  I took my keys out of my purse and I jingled them next to his ear.  I asked him what they were and then I laid them in his open, lifeless hand.  I whispered in his ear for him to hold the keys, and he grasped them.  Then I asked him, ‘What do you do with keys?’  And he twisted the key that he had grasped, like he was turning it in a lock.  Everyone!  He is still with us.  He is in a coma, but I know it!  He’s going to pull through.”

Shirley asked, “And what about George?”

Glyce grinned, “Shirley, go down the hall to room 7 and ask him yourself.”

Maeve asked, “Can I see Thou?”

Glyce winked, “Boldy walk to room 6 like you belong there. I think nurse Zee reacts to fear and tentative behavior. You don’t want to get thrown out of the building. And talk softly to him. I think he is tired of hearing my voice.”

Credits

For information on why all these people are in the ER special waiting area, I refer to the previous episode, When Everything Comes Crashing Down.  For the connections between all the characters in the room, search for Yeggs using the magnifying glass above.  This episode ties into a lot of previous stories.

The idea of hearing while in a coma comes from my brother-in-law.  He was in a serious car accident many years ago.  He was in a coma, and when he woke up, he could tell everyone various conversations that went on in the room, including the questions of whether he would make it.  So, take those conversations down the hall if it is your loved one in a coma.

They were making a lot of concessions to have this crowd in a niche near the nurse station.  Many hospitals have wide places or niches that are not a full room size, an area that collects wheelchairs, gurneys, etc., but to allow these people nearby is rarely done.  I faced what Jemima faced and it was my wife that I wanted to be with. I take notes whenever the doctor tells her something.  I was not allowed in the building until my wife was officially in an ER room.  Because of the nature of her emergency, she went straight to imaging and did not go into an ER room until she was ready to be released.  I had waited over two hours, in the car, in the parking lot, thinking “any minute now…” .

I gave Maeve the ability to recognize faces, regardless of hair color and hair style, a walking facial recognition computer.  I patterned this after my wife’s uncanny ability to remember faces – names – birthdays.  One day she was asked in class how she kept things straight and she went to each person in class, reciting their birthdays.  As she said, “If you care, you will remember these things.”  Do the rest of us not care?  Or is she that special of a person to remember?

SCRAM is the order and the name of the button to safely shut down a nuclear reactor.  Legend has it that the nuclear pile underneath the stadium at the University of Chicago, where the first nuclear criticality occurred…  For those who do not know, “criticality” is a self-sustained nuclear reaction, a good thing if you are running a nuclear reactor.  Anyway, there was the fear that something might go wrong.  They placed a safety control rod, that would instantly stop the reaction, above the nuclear pile, suspended by a rope.  They had one operator stand next to the rope, and he was to cut the rope with an ax if anything went wrong.  Remember this was a college style lab and they were in a hurry to get the answers they needed.  At this point, the legend breaks down into two camps.  Camp one: The person was called the Safety Control Rod Ax Man.  … Or this fellow was told … Camp Two: “Start Cutting Right Away, Man!”  With either idea, it spells SCRAM, and it has been SCRAM ever since.  And you thought nuclear physics was a stuffy subject.

And Thousand-year-old Yeggs was in ER room 6.  His recovery was not complete.  George Evident was in ER room 7.  His recovery was nearing completion. Many theologians today think that is the meaning of 666 – it’s not 777, thus not perfectly complete. When we go to Heaven, God will make us complete.

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