I’m Detective Staff Sergeant Deviled Yeggs. I work homicide in the big city of Tracy. My partner is Jim Wednesday. Poached Yeggs, homicide detective and my nephew, has been working with Jim and I.
In a previous story submitted by my wife, Trinity Naomi Tesla Yeggs, nicknamed Nitroglycerin for her explosive emotions, but called Glyce for short, she talked with our son, Blaise. (Link HERE) Our little ten-year-old son, who is starting high school met a girl during registration and she announced that they would be boyfriend / girlfriend status on the social media platforms. I was doing some undercover work, so Glyce set up the social media accounts for him, set a lot of restrictions, and also set up their first date. The date was so that there would be plenty of opportunities to take pictures of the “couple” and give them a chance to tell their friends at school that they had dated, a romantic form of street cred.
We picked an outdoor activity. With bike riding along the river trail and a family picnic with both families invited. Even Jemima and Easter took out time from their busy freshman year at college. That made six in the Yeggs party. There were another six in the Justice party, Margie, Blaise’s date being the youngest. The Justices had three girls. One was a high school junior and the other a sophomore in college, who brought her boyfriend, a man who had been a basketball player at T.R.U.S.T. (Tracy Regional University for Science and Technology).
Glyce and the Justices wanted a lot of supervision, but the photos would be properly blocked to make it look like it was an intimate date with just the two of them, but don’t let anyone on social media know. But then, if they were alone, who was taking the pictures? But a few were definitely selfies.
Dr. Roman Justice, PhD, was a professor of theology and philosophy at T.R.U.S.T. He pulled me aside to talk. “This social media thing is a bit crazy, but my first two girls have been through this. I think Margie went way too far in her initial encounter with Blaise, and I can assure you she will be on her best behavior, even if we turn our backs. For a first-love kind of thing, they do make a cute couple. Margie said that she researched your family. You deserve a promotion to Lieutenant. But the police department complains about budget cutbacks. I’ve known Dr. TNT Yeggs for many years. Sophie has gotten her picture in the paper a few times and Margie showed me photos taken on Easter’s storm chasing expedition this summer. I do not much like the pressure that these children are under regarding social media, but I will go along with it to a point. I do not think you or I would want them to go too far.
I smiled, “No. But you have me at a disadvantage. I know what Glyce has told me about your family and nothing more.”
Dr. Justice laughed, “There is nothing to tell. I married my wife right out of undergraduate. She became a nurse at the Medical Center until she became a nurse practitioner, and I got two undergraduate degrees and a masters and PhD. I have taught just about everything in the Philosophy department. We go to a church in this area. I think you were members before you went to the Metho-Presby church.”
I was a little startled. “It was a small church. I cannot remember seeing you there.”
Dr. Justice chuckled, “We went to the early service and then ducked out the back for an hour, picking up the children after they finished Sunday school. Having a theology doctorate, I intimidated the Sunday school teachers and when I volunteered to teach, no one would sign up, thinking that you had to be an expert to understand my lectures. It is a shame. Some of my best college classes are with the freshmen. They know nothing and they absorb like sponges.”
He paused, “But before I give you my life’s story, I want to show you what is in the extra picnic basket.”
I licked my lips, “I am hoping for cheesecake or pie.”
He said, “Not hardly.” He opened the basket to reveal a full basket of what looked like human bones, each in a freezer bag and labeled.
I took a deep breath, “I hope you have a good explanation. I am a police detective and I know what I am looking at.”
He waved his hands, “I had nothing to do with whoever this is being dead. I think that they are lab samples. They have been sent to me daily, Monday through Friday, delivered by courier. The courier would not say who sent them. The courier had no idea what he was carrying, each were boxed. I have the boxes if you want to confirm my theory. She may have left fingerprints.”
“You say ‘she.’ You have an idea who sent these?”
“Henrietta Higgs, the new forensic anthropologist at our illustrious local university.”
I huffed, “That ruins the idea that I had for identifying these bones specifically and seeing if foul play might be a cause of death. I could send them off to another bone doctor, but I think you know a lot more than you are saying. My guess is that the bones are just window dressing, broken pieces from skeletons in her lab. Let me guess. The bones started arriving within a few weeks of her flamboyant arrival at T.R.U.S.T.?”
The professor looked at the ground and nodded his head. He looked into my eyes and said, “I knew her in undergraduate, at the University at the state capitol.”
“Biblically?” I ventured.
“That was a bit crude, but yes, biblically. I was not always a Christian. I doubt if you were either.”
I offered, “When my Old Man, as we called him, went to prison and my mother lost her bakery after she mortgaged it for his bail, I took Christianity seriously. I had always gone to church with my mother, but I needed something in life that would make sense. I accepted Jesus as a teen, and I had this great idea of becoming a policeman and redeeming the family name. Recently, the family name has been redeemed over several generations, but I had nothing to do with it.”
The professor chuckled, “From what I hear at church and at the university, you had a lot to do with it. But also what I heard was that you might never see the influence you have had on your brother and his family, on your father, or even on your grandfather. Your grandfather must be a cat with nine lives. I have read two or three articles about how he was dead, but then I have seen him at church.”
“His death has been faked a few times to get enemies off his trail. But he goes to your church?”
The professor nodded. ”Sure, he and that lovely lady, Gwen Quinn. They are an odd May-December type couple, but they obviously love each other. But I am having a hard time in the conversation. What should I call you. I do not want to say ‘Deviled.’ That sounds silly, me being a theologian, but it seems wrong somehow. And Sergeant is too formal. You can call me Roman, or Rome.”
I laughed, “Rome, call me ‘Dev.’ Close family call me that. I doubt if this puppy love thing just to establish a social media presence will last, but you never know.”
“Dev, it is!” Rome said, “And now for the true confession time. I was as opposite of a Christian as you could get when I got to the University. I had grown up in the state capitol, but I wanted to be apart from my parents. Besides, freshmen had to live in the dorms on campus there. I went into Philosophy to prove that there was no God. Forget God being dead. I wanted to prove He did not exist. All gods. I wanted to free man of the delusion that we even needed a god.”
I interjected, “Looks like the world does not need the proof. The nations of the world are doing fine running their countries into the sewer without the proof.”
He smiled, “I was riding that wave of public opinion, but deep inside, I had to intellectually get to that proof. I went to a kegger for the radical nonconformists. The loudest, brashest, and drunkest of them all was Henry Higgs. She walked up to me, flipped her loose blouse up to show that she had no bra, and then asked me what was my raison d’etre. I told her that I had to be the one to prove there was no God. She laughed and called us soulmates. She said her goal in life was to be the archaeologist and forensic anthropologist that discovered the bones of Jesus Christ and put an end to all this talk about a resurrection. To seal the deal on us being soulmates, we left the party after a few more beers and the next thing I remember is waking up the next morning in my dorm room. My roommate was applauding, and Henry Higgs was starting to get dressed. I had a pounding headache, but Henry, who drank 2-3 times as much as I did was fine. She kissed my forehead and left for class. I asked my roommate what had happened, and he showed me Henry’s camera that she had loaned him. They were not artful photographs, but it was obvious that Henry and I had spent the night love making. The only reason that I thought I would ever see her again was that my roommate had not given her back her camera.”
He continued, “But later that day, she was knocking on my door with a bottle of wine in her hand. For most of my freshman year, we found places to stay, for a little while or overnight. Once we finished the freshman year, I stayed for summer school and found an apartment. It was small, but even then our finances were tight. Her alcohol consumption had to be reduced. I found that for her to want to sleep with me, she had to be a little tipsy. So, most of the time, we simply shared an apartment, occasionally being grumpy with each other. So, here I was in a perpetual bad mood and my research resulted more in proving God existed than proving that there was no God. By that next summer, I was convinced that I was wrong. Before my junior year started, I had accepted Jesus as my Savior. Then, three days after accepting Christ, Henry showed up at the apartment, naked with a bottle of booze in her hand. I tried to tell her what had happened in my life, but she told me we were having sex first. Odd, she forced the physical contact and then once I confessed that I had become a Christian, she was angry that I had made love to her. I could no longer be her soulmate. And as she slammed the apartment door in my face, she said that one day she would send me one of Jesus’ bones each day until I had enough to know that He never came back from the dead. So, these are not the bones of Jesus, but she is pretending to be true to her word.”
He shrugged, “She kicked me out of the apartment after I had prepaid the rent for our junior year of college. I had no money left. I stayed at a youth center. I cleaned toilets and such for the privilege of having a roof over my head. I could never study with all the noise, and I spent as much time at the library as possible. The Christian theology area of the University library is the quietest place on campus, but within the first month, I came into the area and a woman was sleeping with her head on the table. I tried to be quiet, but at one point she woke up. She growled at me, and I apologized. We started talking. Her name was Joy Rachel Johnstone. She liked to be called Jah-Ray. She was a four-year nursing student and she worked at the hospital to pay her way through school. Often it was easier for her to sleep in Christian theology than her apartment that was shared by other students or a bed in surgery recovery at the hospital. The hospital frowned at that, but they understood. She only went to that area of the library for the quiet. She thought it was quaint that I was a believer. I told her that it was indeed rather odd, thinking where my head was only a couple of months before. Within a month, she had accepted Jesus. We have told our three girls that we slept together before we got married. We would both pray together in our private corner of the library and place our heads on the table and wake up a couple of hours later, still holding hands.”
I smiled, “That’s a very interesting testimony. I am sure you use it in some of your classes.”
He laughed, “I have an apologetics course based on my research from my freshman and sophomore years.”
I changed the mood when I asked the next question. “Easter, you have heard, is studying to be a meteorologist and storm chaser and Jemima, his fiancée, rides shotgun and takes great photos. Maybe a storm photo on social media saying that Margie just became friends of the woman who took this picture of a tornado. That might increase her street cred. Sophie is older than Blaise, but she is now a year behind him in school because she enjoys school and does not like skipping grades. She wants to become a police detective, specifically my boss. Since she volunteered this summer to study cold cases and contributed to the closing of nearly a dozen cases, she might just accomplish her goal before I retire.” I paused. … “What about your children?”
He sighed, “My three girls are Nan, Fran, and Margie. If Margie was to be a boy, he would have been Stan, but with the third girl, we broke the mold entirely. Until now, she has been my tomboy. She is accomplished in most sports. But to start with Nan, Nannette. Nan was a good girl until her freshman year of college, a year ago. She would come home every other weekend, and she needed to shop for a bra. After three or four months getting her a new bra, we had an intervention. She was hanging out with the wrong crowd. She was drinking, and she was probably sleeping around, but she never really admitted to that. How else do you misplace your bra? The boyfriend she has today is a counselor at one of the Christian groups at the college. I see him over there recruiting Easter and Jemima. Nan has her head screwed on straight now. I think that Margie went to the wrong high school social media page because Nan told her not to go to that one. Margie might be a little headstrong, so Blaise has his hands full. We are trying to have the high school take the bad site down, but the school says that it is not sponsored by the school. We have taken our case to court, but the page is still there. It espouses for to be popular at the school, you must do these risqué things, like the baseball analogy – one further base each year of school – and taking Jello shots and other things. The site encourages tattoos. At least, they do not promote drugs. Fran, Francine, is the kind of child that wants everyone to get along. She might bend a rule or two at school, but she knows her limits. She has been open with us regarding the social media pressure of high school. You must have the right photos posted. You must have the right friends. And the numbers of likes and comments is important. Fran says that she laughs at the stupidity of it and cries over the stress at the same time.”
He smiled, “As for Margie, she is fun loving. She loves taking chances. I have heard that Blaise loves to experiment and that he has been told to not use Margarite as an experiment subject, but if he did so, she would go along with anything just for the excitement. Blaise may be trying to expand his scientific horizons, but Margie would be in it for the fun. She’s smart. She was not developing socially as we had hoped when she became old enough for kindergarten. Her birthday was in that late window, so we started her in school a year later, the oldest in the class instead of the youngest, but then she skipped second and fourth grades. She is only a year ahead of most of the children her age, and two years ahead of the rest. I really wish the school would fix that loophole in the online advancement exams. At least they require a certain courseload in high school. They can finish early, but they must still have the required courses completed. And I hear that Margie and Blaise are in every class together this year. I feel sorry for those teachers.”
I chuckled, “Think of it this way. The rest of the teachers’ day won’t be that hard to handle.”
We both were laughing at that idea when a drone landed on the picnic table near us. The drone detached its package and flew up over the table and hovered.
We went over to investigate. It was a layer cake with the inscription, “Happy first official date, Margie and Blaise, from your Uncle Scrammie and the Lily the Pink Bakery.”
“We better take pictures.” I suggested, “No one will believe this. Then again, what a unique advertisement gimmick.” I yelled. “HEY! Everybody! Dessert is served! Mystery cake from Lily the Pink! Delivered by drone!”
Everyone looked to catch a glimpse of the drone flying away.
Everyone, except for Nan and Fran, lined up for a slice of cake. Nan and Fran had to watch their figure. When they looked at Margie, she said, “I just biked fifteen miles. I’m having a big piece. Give me the piece with Blaise’s name on it so I can eat him all up!” The two youngest looked at each other and made goofy faces.
Jah-Ray and Glyce groaned.
When the excitement died down, Rome asked me, “Dev, now that you have used distractions and family questions to buy you some time, what do I do about the bones?”
I replied, “For one thing, I do not like people dissecting my techniques. I prefer being enigmatic. For another, if Jah-Ray and your daughters know the basic story of Henry Higgs, I suggest that you meet Dr. Higgs at a public place. Make it a public place that does not sell alcohol. Give me the time and place and I will have some spies in the crowd. And I am serious, people paid by our government to obtain secret information from others. If this doesn’t work, they can grab her and use bamboo shoots and stuff. … Just kidding about the use of torture. The point is, they will not be noticed, and they are trained at defusing volatile situations. Henry has done nothing illegal. Her threat of twenty-five years ago, give or take, was not a threat of harm or violence. She has not misused the postal service, using a private courier. The bones are not fresh as far as I can tell, so no improper treatment of a corpse. Most of the bones have machine marks, so I think they all probably came from skeletons in the lab. Maybe broken skeletons that have been replaced. She may be using this as an enticement to restart the relationship, which I am sure you would not go for. But think about her raison d’etre all those years ago, to use your term. She wanted to discover Jesus’ bones. That means that she assumes that Jesus existed and died and much of the Bible is true, maybe even agreeing that He died on the cross. She may have wanted someone all those years ago to sit down calmly and talk to her about Jesus. Why be obsessed over someone that she does not believe in? Weave that into a question for her to ponder. She might simply be seeking something to love while saying that she is seeking to destroy it. Maybe some of that course on apologetics might come in handy. If she spews venom, just walk away. If she makes a scene, the spies will make her disappear – that is, calm her down and deposit her back at her home with a few subtle threats of their own. If your calm discussion goes to a bad place, you may wish a restraining order, but that might be worthless since you both work at the same university.”
“Wow! And I thought you were just talking about the kids. I will formulate my series of arguments to have it straight in my mind. The last thing that I need to do is fall for her taunts and get emotional.”
Then I suggested, “And for the next date for Blaise and Margie, how about meeting at Lily the Pink. I hear that the waterslide is functional and the jungle has taken on a decided western Africa vibe with living plants from there. They have someone on staff who knows the medicinal properties of them. The place between the buildings has been looking like a giant construction area. Now it looks like an amusement park inside, but its really just a huge greenhouse to grow things using hydroponics. Unless you are looking for some water lilies or some vegetables, the heated waterslide is the only real attraction, a curved plunge from the second floor of the apartment building into the swimming pool, all inside a greenhouse. They are considering a bigger slide from the third floor, all to take solar heated water to the pool for nearly year-round pool use. A thunderstorm would be the only reason for cancellation and then only the pool use portion. Pink Lady, or one of her supervisors, might give a tour of the cider house and a taste test of all non-alcoholic flavors that are in the works. Gwen Quinn, whom you have met at church, can be the private chef for the party. Has your family met the mayor of Tracy? He might be there, if he is not engaged politically somewhere else.”
“Again, wow! With photos of all that, Margie’s social media will explode! Who knows, she may actually start liking Blaise.”
I looked at the two of them giggling and eating cake, Blaise insisting on eating “Margie,” too. “I think they already do.”
Professor Henry Higgins was the male lead character in My Fair Lady. Professor Henrietta Higgs is similar.
My sister is named Joyce and when she was a teenager most of her friends called her “Ja.” Jah-Ray was my tribute to her.
Sleeping in a recovery room in the surgical wing was my wife’s idea. She worked in surgery at a small hospital back many years ago, and she was on a rotating call list. One weekend each month she had call and one night every ten workdays she had call. She could not be more than 30 minutes from the hospital when she was on call in case there was an emergency surgery, but we lived 35 minutes away, 40 minutes if she missed a few traffic lights. The hospital was unkind. They could not accept that extra 5-10 minutes. They instructed her to stay in a hotel, but if there were no emergency surgeries that night, she would be out the cost of a hotel room and she would not be paid due to no hours worked. There were a few dollars added to her paycheck for being inconvenienced by being on call, but far less than the cost of the hotel. So, since my wife knew which surgery recovery rooms would be empty all night, she would slip into a recovery room bed after the work shift was over. She would have a television to watch, if she chose to do so, or she could sleep if the other nurses left her alone. She was not a patient, but the nurses that roamed the halls would stick their head in the door and ask what she was up to. Luckily, all the nurses kept her secret, and my wife awoke early and changed the sheets. A few more sheets going to the laundry, and no one had to know. Odd, the other nurses could go to the movies an hour and a half away and never be reprimanded, even though my wife was the only one in the surgical wing that was certified in surgery. One of her friends tricked the police into giving her a police escort to the hospital (no speeding ticket, no traffic lights to worry about, and no reprimand from the hospital for being late).