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 me.
Jim and Poached were on their own on the day of this report. I was home with Sophie. It seemed that the Moon Maid Middle School was unexpectedly closed. Glyce, my wife, had a duty roster between the two of us for staying home with a sick child and it was my turn. She left for work livid because I did not have bedpan duty or doctor’s appointments where you wait in the waiting room with 20-30 children who are obviously sick and coughing in your general direction. A thirteen-year-old can take care of herself. I had a day to sleep late and goof off. So, Glyce, short for nitroglycerin, had been shaken and was ready to explode. I got it easy, and she just knew that the next time it was going to be full-blown pandemic time when she had to stay home.
But then, the phone rang. It was my sister-in-law, Pink Lady. “Dev, can you come unlock a filing cabinet for me? The key was inside the filing cabinet when someone locked it. Bring your picks please.”
“Pink, I am a police officer. I am sworn to serve and protect people against those who pick locks,” I replied.
“Cut the jokes. I need your help.”
“Scrambled was always better at picking locks than I was growing up. I might have been the master at safe cracking, but why not your precious Scrammie?”
Pink Lady huffed, “Otto is out making deliveries. Scrammie has a wedding cake and three birthday cakes in the works. The bakery is not completed, especially the ovens. He has used up all the oven space and with Gwen off to the mountain cabin with GrandPa, it is Sandy Beech’s turn in the kitchen. She was planning on lasagna, and now she must go to a plan “B.” Since she is not that used to kitchen work for a few crews of employees, she is driving everyone else nuts trying to come up with something. Frankly, the crews would be happy with sandwiches. They fix their own sandwiches on graveyards since there is no kitchen staff for that shift. Please come over. The kitchen is on the verge of being the epicenter of World War III and did you know that Moon Maid Middle School is closed? One person said that the computers and the internet were down. Someone else said they had no water. I’m thinking it is the teacher version of the blue flu.”
I replied, “Sophie will be coming with me. I heard that the sewers had backed up at Moon Maid. You may have something there about the blue flu for teachers. I think they call it, ‘chalk dust fever.’ “
“But they use whiteboards!!”
“Exactly! If Sophie is ready to come over, we will be there soon.”
Sophie walked in behind me. “I heard you talking about me. What’s going on?”
“Your aunt, Pink Lady, wants me to come over and do a simple lock pick that your uncle Scrambled could do in his sleep. Are you ready for a road trip?”
“Great! I was coming in to talk to you anyway. We can talk in the car. Daddy, I want you to make me a boyfriend.”
I had gotten up, but I fell back into the recliner. “What?!”
Sophie smiled, “I want you to make me a boyfriend.”
I shook my head, “Honey, I cannot make you a boyfriend. If anyone can, your Dr. Frankenstein brother is your best bet.”
Sophie snarled, “He’s the cause for this request, Daddy! And if he made me a boyfriend, I would probably be dating a toad!”
I again got out of the recliner, and we walked to the car. “Sophie, I am disappointed in you. You are jealous of your little brother. Sure, he skipped grades and got ahead of you, but he is still your little brother. And before he had a girlfriend, you had no interest in boys.”
Sophie whined, “I think boys are icky for the most part, but I see Easter and Jemima. They seem to be meant for each other. And Margie and Blaise’s kiss on the front page of the paper? Sure, they said terrible things that were not true, but I look at that and think I am missing something. That’s why I want you to make me a boyfriend. All the candidates that I know in the eighth grade are losers.”
I laughed, “Sophie, you may be too hard on them. And you may not be looking in the right direction. How did you solve all those murders this summer? You looked in a direction that Jim and I failed to look. Maybe the right boy, the one that is not icky, is sitting behind you in class, not in front. Besides, I do not think your Mom is going to accept all three children dating at the same time. Blaise and Margie are only doing this for social media. I think they are starting to like each other, and I think Blaise’s logical brain is about to overload with the emotions that he pretended that he did not have. Sweetie, just trust that all these things will work out. God has already picked out a boyfriend, just for you. Trust God. He loves you more than I do, and I cannot measure how much I love you.”
She giggled, “Remember that when I’m your boss.” And we remained silent for the rest of the drive to Lily the Pink Enterprises. I prayed that what I had promised Sophie was something that God would deliver. It might take a while, but God could provide a ready-made boyfriend.
The security guard said that Pink Lady was somewhere in the jungle. I groaned. The guards called it the jungle, but it was the greenhouse, indoor pool, indoor beach volleyball arena, and so much more. The problem was that if someone was there and you had to find them, you could only see for a few feet in any direction before you saw fake banyan trees or real plants or a maze of walkways. I went pool side. With a few middle school children off from school, the lifeguards were manning the waterslide for their own entertainment. The more serious swimmers were in the water polo pool, swimming laps. But my reasoning was that if I could not find Pink Lady, I should be in the largest clear area so that she could find me.
As Sophie and I sat in lounge chairs watching the children splash into the water from the slide, a boy emerged from the pool. He looked about Sophie’s age, but maybe a little older. Vitamin Flintheart High School was in session, but maybe he was playing hooky to take care of younger siblings.
He walked up to Sophie. “Hi, we are in some of the same classes in school. Would you like to join us on the waterslide?”
Sophie smiled, but then it turned into a frown. “No, my Dad just came over to help Aunt Pink Lady with something. Since I’m off from school too, I came along. I don’t have a swimsuit.”
A familiar voice came from behind us. “Don’t let that stop you, Sophia. I have a nice pink swimsuit that should be your size. I still have your measurements from when we made the bridesmaid dresses.” Pink Lady handed her the swimsuit. It looked like the lifeguard suits, but it was her size. Sophie gasped and looked at me. I nodded. Sophie ran to the changing room, showered to get acclimated to the water temperature and the two children were briskly walking up the trail to the apartment building where the start of the waterslide was located on the second floor.
Pink Lady sat where Sophie had sat. I asked her, “Do you run a clothing store too?”
Pink laughed, “No, but most of these homeless families, especially Emmett’s, have absolutely nothing. I bought a lot of swimsuits with the company logo, not all of them pink. I especially have swimsuits for all the family members, and hopefully Callie will return to her size. You know, just in case there is snow on the ground, and you come over not thinking about the pool being open. Heavily snowing? I doubt if the pool will be open. The water will be redirected to melt the snow instead of coming into the pool. But I wanted these children to not have the excuse of no swimsuit.”
“So, this boy is named Emmett? Tell me his story.”
“I suppose the filing cabinet can wait a little while. Resurrection is taking a nap, and Jochebed consoled him.” I gave her a strange look of confusion, but Pink only smiled. “I will fill you in later. As for Emmett and his family, they lived on a farm on the outskirts of town to the southeast. I am sure you remember the flood last year. You volunteered a lot of hours with rescue, shelters for families, etc. Emmett’s family lost everything. They did not have flood insurance. They moved in at the mission. Emmett’s middle school was being some sort of officious idiots. They said that without a street address that is listed as a residence, he could not register for school. Emmett shrugged, lied about his age, and got a job at a fast-food place. He brought in money while they lived at the mission. Since it was well into the school year when they moved here, he continued to work there. Now, his parents work here and are tending the plants. Zuzka is teaching them about hydroponics. Since they were farmers, they are catching on quickly. We will probably turn the vegetables over to them exclusively, but I think they know enough to run everything. Emmett is the oldest of five children. He has two brothers and two sisters.”
About that time, Emmett reemerged from the pool and Sophie was with him. They were talking and laughing.
I waved for them to come over, “Emmett, I heard you say that you are in a few of Sophie’s classes. How old are you?”
He turned red. “Sir, I am fourteen. I did not go to school last year because of the flood. Now, we are in a different school district. Since I am a little older and I don’t know anyone, I sit in the back of the classroom and keep quiet. I saw Soapy in front of me in several classes. I knew I had seen her here, but I just never had the courage to introduce myself.”
I said a quick prayer of thanks. It was just as I had described to Sophie as we drove here, and God already had my prayer answered. Emmett had just not cranked up his courage to ask her yet.
I ventured another question, “And Emmett, I am Detective Staff Sergeant Deviled Yeggs of homicide in Tracy. What is your full name?”
Emmett beamed, “I am glad to meet you, Sir. My name is William Emmett Dalton, but everyone calls me Emmett, or Em for short.” Emmett laced his fingers with Sophie’s and they walked to the waterslide again.
But I sat there as if I had been hit by a truck. Pink Lady saw the thousand-mile stare. “What’s wrong, Dev?”
I explained, “One of my majors at T.R.U.S.T. was history and I gravitated to law enforcement history. The infamous Dalton gang included four brothers: Frank, Grat, Bill, and Emmett. There were others in the gang. The gang ceased to exist after a bold raid on Coffeyville, Kansas. They planned to rob both banks in town at the same time. Bill Dalton and one of the non-Dalton associates stayed outside town with fresh horses. The gang was caught in a crossfire and four gang members were killed.”
“I thought all the Daltons were killed. The famous photograph of them laid out, dead, is all over the internet.” Pink suggested.
“No, Frank and Grat were killed. The other two in the photo were other gang members. Emmett ‘surrendered’ if you think of a man with 23 gunshot wounds of having much of a choice was running away. He plead guilty of second-degree murder, but after a few years in prison he started admitting to folks that he had never fired his weapon. After fourteen years, he was paroled and then later pardoned. He went to California and became a silent-film actor and an author, cashing in on being the last member alive. He ended up becoming a real estate agent as migrants from the Dust Bowl of 1930-1936 started arriving in California needing a place to live.
“I mentioned that Emmett was the last living member of the Daltons. Bill and his partner waited for the gang to come out of town, but after a few hours, they decided to run for it. They joined another gang. The marshals learned that this other gang was using a house for a hideout. They surrounded the house, and Bill, whose real name was Mason Frakes Dalton, jumped out a window and ran through a cornfield where he was gunned down. They found a woman in the house who claimed to be Bill’s wife and she identified the body as Bill Dalton.”
Pink Lady smiled, “That is a very interesting history lesson.” Then Pink looked at me with a stern look. “But I am ashamed of you. What is your first name?”
Pink Lady huffed, “And what is your last name?”
“Yeggs, and I get the point, Pink. Just like you are not a Rotten Apple. You were just born into the family. I am not a yegg. I have the skills, but I do not use those skills. And just because Emmett is named after two members of the Dalton Gang, he is an eighth-grader that Sophie seems to have taken a liking to. If I can have a goal of redeeming the family name, Emmett can too.”
Pink leaned in close, “And let’s pray that he does. But as for those mad-safe cracking skills, that filing cabinet awaits. I was babysitting Resurrection Hill, who might get the nickname of The Pill Hill, but he is so cute and it hurts my heart thinking that not but a few weeks ago, his parents were killed. Anyway, he put the toys he was playing with in the bottom drawer of the filing cabinet. He closed the drawer and then he climbed onto a chair and pushed the lock. I asked him why he did that? He wanted to keep his things safe. I asked him where the key to the cabinet was. He said that he knew the key was important, so he put that in the filing cabinet too. Dev, it’s not funny! As soon as I could not retrieve his toys, he went into hysterics. Jochebed knew the trick to calm him down.”
But I was still laughing. We went to her office, and it took me about twenty seconds. I told Pink to not let my brother know it took that long. It should have taken less time, but I was rusty.
In the Dick Tracy comic strips, Moon Maid was Junior Tracy’s first wife. Vitamin Flintheart was an old actor who could not seem to find any acting jobs anymore and who seemed to be addicted to vitamins.
The idea of a closet full of towels and swimsuits came from my parents and my sister’s family. They took our defunct turkey processing plant and turned it into the “Pool House.” For many years, the pool house became a gathering place for family, extended family, the Shriners, and other groups. One third of the room was an indoor swimming pool, one third was a dining and meeting area, and the other third was a full functioning kitchen and two bathrooms. The roof of the old slaughterhouse was removed and the area became a badminton court. Each bathroom had tons of old towels and donated swimsuits – in case someone forgot to bring theirs.
Many reports say that all four Daltons were killed in Coffeyville, Kansas. After all, the famous photograph shows four dead outlaws. It is hard to make that claim with one of the authors writing about the gang being one of the four brothers. And to think, before there was a Dalton Gang. all four brothers were working as lawmen, but Grat and Bill started stealing horses to supplement their income. And while on the run, the other two joined them, along with recruiting other friends along the way.
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