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.
For this investigation, the commissioner ordered an “all hands on deck” and placed me as the taskforce commander. I had been in that role before, but Captain Hart had always made that call, with the suggestion from the commissioner or the mayor.
But this time, Captain Hart was our prime suspect until we could figure out what happened.
All we knew is that he told Gisele that he was going for a walk right after morning rollcall. He had left the building, and then within the hour, we got a call from security from Amy G. Dala’s dot com company that they had detained someone identifying himself as Captain Hart. They had shutdown the building. Amy’s bedroom had been breached and she was found unconscious at the entrance to the bedroom. The area around her right eye was swollen with a cut that their in-house doctor had stitched. Amy was now awake but very groggy.
What we did not know was who did it, whether anything was stolen, what a motive might be, and I could go on. They detained Captain Hart because he used his free access to her apartment privilege to talk with her and then he was the only one in their system that had been in the elevator. Who else could have done it?
Of course, the way things seem is not always the way things happened.
Jim and I sat in Amy’s kitchen with a hand-cuffed Captain Hart across the kitchen table from us.
I started the interrogation. “When did you beat the victim? Before or after you molested her?”
Captain Hart yelled, “Cut the crap, Yeggs! And get me out of these cuffs. And don’t give me those logical fallacy questions that have no good answer and are designed to trick the suspect into admitting something that he did not mean to admit. I taught you a lot of that stuff, and your present delivery is a bit sloppy. I have nothing to hide, but I am not answering that kind of question. AND GET THESE CUFFS OFF ME!!!!”
I looked at the cuffs. “Jim, look at these cuffs. They are foreign made. Security here spared no expense. I doubt if our keys would work.”
Jim snickered, “I am sure they wouldn’t work. Too bad you are not a yegg like your GrandPa. He would be out of those cuffs by now, but I doubt if you could pick them.”
Jim was probably right.
The Captain got even redder. “Listen, you two. Cut the jokes, you clowns, and solve the crime. And find the guy with the keys to these things!”
I tried to put on a serious face. “Captain, what we are working with is a computer system that says that you and Amy G. Dala were the only two people on this floor. The floor beneath this one is the twelfth floor. I think they call it the penthouse to avoid calling this the thirteenth floor. Most places simply skip that number and go to fourteen. But until we can figure out who else might have been up here, it looks like a locked-room mystery, but Amy is still alive. They have a sophisticated surveillance system here. They used to know exactly where each badge was in three dimensions. Amy’s tracking is still that way, but they thought for the average employee, they would track the badge by floor only. Your badge and hers were the only badges on the floor. When her badge suddenly dropped to the floor, the cameras in her bedroom came on to show that she was on the floor and blood was trickling from her head. While they dispatched a nurse and a security guard to her floor, they also locked down the building and called us at the precinct. But as they started the lockdown, you walked out of the elevator. You did not respond to their orders to stop. They tazed you and then cuffed you.
“Jim, Poached and I ran down in case someone had been killed. Nick the Pick Poquette from Burglary is here trying to see if anything is stolen. The doctor that has her office on the first floor has administered a rape kit and Amy was only knocked out. I was just asking about the molestation to get your reaction. By the way, why are you here if it is not to have your way with Ms. Dala?”
The Captain snarled, “I was here to tell her that we could be friends, but there was never going to be any hanky-panky.”
I summed up, “So, a nineteenth century gentleman approached a twenty-first century lady to administer a ‘Dear John’ letter in person. Twenty-first century people text. You wouldn’t have to come here. You would not be the only person who could have done it.”
The Captain leaned forward, straining his restraints, “The computer is wrong. I walked to her bedroom door, or really, the secret panel in the library bookcase. She had never given me the code, but she was standing in the doorway. She had hoped that I would return. I told her that I only returned to tell her that we could be friends, but I would not sleep with her. She said that me coming there to say that was honorable, quaint, touching, and old-fashioned, but she would have expected no less. She kissed me on the cheek and then turned toward the bathroom. I returned to the kitchen. There is a half bath next to the kitchen and I had taken my water pill. It was the last bout, but I had a full bladder. With that and washing my hands and singing Happy Birthday like Marilyn Monroe…”
I interrupted, “You can sing a verse of Old McDonald. Just about anything. I sing two verses of Amazing Grace.”
The Captain said, “You would.” After a pause, he continued, “When I came out of the bathroom, the elevator door was open. I thought that was unusual, but I got in and it immediately started down with me not telling it to. Their elevator is all voice commands, and you have to have an ID card or it won’t hear you. They had given me one when I came in with my name on it. When I got off the elevator, the guards started barking orders; I didn’t pay much attention. I started to flip them my badge they had given me, knowing I’d never need it again, and the next thing I knew, I woke up with cuffs on.”
I turned him over to Jim, and Jim tried to get the security people on the phone. At least, he was pretending to get the Captain’s cuffs off. I think he was of the same mind as I. As angry as the Captain was, he might start punching holes in the walls to find the true assailant. The cuffs might be for his own good at this point.
I went in to talk to Amy next. I suppose that being a homicide detective, I was accustomed to the victim not saying much when I asked them questions. Having a live victim, she should have been first, but the good doctor said she was not coherent yet.
When I entered Amy’s bedroom, I saw that the doctor had moved her to the bed and that Amy had her eyes open. The doctor looked up and shook her head. “You might get answers, but they may be more like cows jumped and moons glowing than anything real.”
I smiled, “Then I will ask you some questions. How does a nice doctor like you end up in a place like this? Is Amy your only patient?”
The doctor, Dr. Melanie Tormé, sat back in her chair. “Is that a pick up line?”’
Amy snickered, “Forget it, Mel. I’ve tried. He is happily married and impervious to flirting.”
Dr. Mel smiled and answered, “I suppose you mean how I got the practice here. Well, this lady on the bed here must have done some hacking…”
“Shhhh,” Amy shushed her. “He is also very straight-laced and a stickler for silly rules.” It seemed Amy was awake, but she had probably been given some strong pain killers. She seemed to not be feeling much pain and she had no inhibitions with what she said at the moment. This was going to be fun, but could I get information that would stand up in court?
Dr. Mel continued, “By some means, Amy here knew that I had just gotten all the nice things to hang on a doctor office wall, but I was flat broke in deeply in debt. She said that she would fix that and set me up in a practice if I did a few things that she asked. She had run the research, something she is great at doing, and Tracy needed an Occupational Health Clinic. She wanted a place where people could get a chest x-ray, pulmonary test, stress test, respirator fit test, etc. The full workup to get a job in many of the industries of the area. I might not be able to read the results, but I had consultants who could. But I wanted a family practice. She set me up with that too. My only requirement in paying her back is to do annual physicals on every employee, every other year if they are in great shape, and come running if she has a hangnail. You know how hangnails can be hard on computer programmers who type sixteen hours a day.”
Amy pointed to her face and said, “This is much more than a hangnail!” She turned to me and asked, “Detective, Sweetie, I know I would feel a lot better if you would kiss it.”
“It all depends on what ‘IT’ you are talking about.” I replied.
She turned back to Dr. Mel, giggling, and said, “I told you. Impervious! Or is it imp perverted? Let me think about that one.”
Dr. Mel patted Amy’s hand. “I think you understand why she might not give clear answers.”
I said, “I think I might want some of what you gave her the next time I get conked on the head.”
Amy shook her head, “I did not get conked. I got a left hook right to the old sheik bone.”
Dr. Mel patted her hand again. “That should be ‘cheek’ bone. If the blow was a little higher, she would be in the ER getting her retina reattached.”
“Retina!?” Amy said, “Computer! Note to shelf! Not to self! I forgot what I was going to say.”
Dr. Mel turned to me. “She has the computer wired to microphones all over the penthouse. She gives the right codewords and she does not even need to type anything. I can say ‘note to self’ and the computer ignores me, but Amy plays with all sorts of technology up here to see if it has practical applications or she dreams up ways to make it cheaper so that the public will buy it. But back to your question, that is how I got here. I have about two-thirds of the first floor. The 24/7 coffee shop has most of the rest, with Amy’s security people guarding the elevator, but you cannot get on the elevator without a badge. The coffee shop is for anyone, but the programmers pull so many all-nighters that they could keep them in business on their own. One more reason to have a doctor in the house. My nurse practitioners are handling the family business appointments while I tend to my one patient. But I am about the do a tag with a nurse. She is fixed for the moment. But if you want to move your family to our practice, feel free.”
I shook my head, “My wife is a department head at T.R.U.S.T. and part of her job blends with the Medical Center. We can’t beat the benefits. But as for the precinct, Captain Hart, if he is not arrested for hitting Amy, he might be interested in getting our respirator certification moved here. We could walk down the street for testing.”
Amy started making up a song, “Allie, my pal-lee, could never have hitty witty me. The thug was a mug two inches too short, the little crook. Al is taller and a right-hand baller, not good with a left hook.”
The rhyme had poor rhythm, but I got more than expected. Her assailant was roughly two inches shorter than Captain Hart, or Allie, her pal-lee. And he was left-handed. Made sense, left hook to the right sheik bone. Now she has me thinking it!!
Amy’s television awoke, and Poached was on the screen. “Hey, Detective Staff Sergeant Yeggs, I just had a breakthrough.”
“Yeah, you’re on TV!”
“It’s closed circuit. I’m at the guard station. The guards would not backoff from their story that Captain Hart and Amy were the only one in the Penthouse at the time of the assault. But I started looking at their elevator records to the Penthouse. They made no sense. It looked like the elevator went there a couple of times without anyone on the elevator. You can’t get on the elevator without a badge, but some non-person must have tricked the elevator into carrying him or her to the penthouse and then back to the fourth floor.”
Amy screamed, “I a-member! Retina, retina, that’s ticket. Put on a stamp and then lick it! Yes, yes, yes, yes! Detective Darling Sweetie Pie, come in real close and I will tell you a secret.”
I leaned over and she kissed me on my ear, a very slobbery kiss. “I had to sneak that in. Detective, Sweetie Pie, have all your soldiers go to the fourth floor. Northeast corner. If they don’t know north from south have ‘em get a compote, compound, what’s its?”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Northeast corner. Huge room. I mean Huuuuuuuge room. Ralphie’s man cave is bigger than my lady cave. When they get outside his door, I will give the computer a command. I can’t say it now. Cause the computer will do it now. I know what the salt and pepper – er is up to and what he wants. Makes sense. Makes sense.”
Poached asked, “Salt and pepper-er?”
I translated, “The guy that assaulted her. Assault. Salt and pepper? Her brain is a little scrambled.”
Amy quipped, “And you should know, Detective, Sweetie Pie. You have a handsome brother by that name.” I rolled my eyes. I knew Poached was going to tell his Aunt Glyce everything. Amy continued, “He hit my right eye on purples so I would have to turn off secured-ity to one folder of files. I am toe-titlely serpent that I am right. Follow my lead, Detective Sweet Pie. I go there almost every day, so he thinks it is where the money is, but no, no, no, no, no! It is my pursable files. You know. I told you about the guys I used to, you know!”
I translated, “Poached, all that is in that file folder is her version of a little black book.”
Amy nodded, “For my eyesh, eyesh. … eyes only. Get it! Get it. Only I can see it because only I have my eye! Like I said, my purseable files.”
“Personal files. Not personnel.”
Amy giggled, “You, Detective Sweetie Pie, are handsome and smart too!!”
Poached confirmed that Wise guy and the assault team from Organized Crime, led by Lt. Tagliolini were in position with a battering ram.
Amy then thought for a few seconds before speaking. She could not slur this line. “Computer! Retina Protection Override!”
The computer voice said, “Verify!”
Amy swallowed with all the concentration she could muster. “4QZ7.”
The computer replied, “Verified. Task accepted. Retina Protection overridden.”
Amy was looking at her laptop. “Enter now! Ralphie’s in the folder. Bring him to my bedroom. I want a face-to-face with him.”
There were some complaints, but as the taskforce commander, I overrode the objections.
A few minutes later, Ralph E. Newton walked in.
Amy said, “Ralphie, tell this nice Detective Sweetie Pie why you did it. You are the only one who could hack into the security system and pull this off. Wait! I could do it, but why would I hit myself in the face? In the FACE! Why?! You left your employee badge at your desk to make it look like you were working. Then you used your hacked invisible man badge to come up here and punch me in the face so that I would disable the retina thingie. But I have not figured out why! You and I go way back. Did you want to steal from me? Tell, Sweetie Pie. Tell him! Tell Him. Come on, Ralphie walfie tell him.”
Ralph finally spoke, “Is he one of your conquests?”
“No, no, no, no. Sweetie Pie is a true blue man in blue, whoop-tee-doo!”
Ralph looked confused. Dr. Mel said, “Medication. You know because you almost broke her face.”
“Almost? That’s good, I just wanted her eye to swell shut so she turned off the retina protection. I figured that one out. Your personal files, non-financial. In a file for your eyes only. Using your eye to unlock the file. Pictures and a few videos I expect of all your conquests.”
Everyone, including Poached over the closed circuit TV, gasped.
Ralph continued, “At one point, I thought of blackmail, but my only real reason was to get the pictures of us, with all our clothing on, sharing fries at a burger joint or using two straws to share one milkshake. You meant the world to me in college. Then within a year of graduating. You are a millionaire and I was your employee, nothing more. It was me in my cave and you with one conquest after another. How many joined the mile high club?”
Amy started to cry. “With you on that convention in San Francisco, five. But you were one of the five!”
Ralph shrugged, “Not good enough, Amy. For four years we were soulmates. I know you cheated on me, but I never cheated on you. And you may have made your first hundred million on your own, but my software made you a lot more. I know, I know. If you had not bought me all the toys, it would not have been possible, but Amy, I love you. Until you found your pot of gold, I was going to propose. I can’t reach into my pocket because of the cuffs, but I have a ring. I know your size. Will you marry me?” Ralph dropped to one knee and kissed her hand.”
I thought, ‘He assaulted her. He stole her personal computer files. And that proposal was so horribly pathetic.’
Amy was even more in tears, “Yes, Ralphie, yes. I told Sweetie Pie about us and about how I wanted to settle down, but I needed to find the right man. And here you were, in my own building. I have been given a lot of medication today, and tomorrow, I am going to hate you until this eye gets back to normal, but I have too many witnesses to back out now. I will marry you, but for the business, I will not change my name. Deal?”
Captain Hart, now out of the cuffs, turned to the Commissioner’s PR lady, “The press are waiting for an answer to why so many police in this one building. Say nothing about me in cuffs. Say that there was a security breach by a hacker operating solo. Security systems protected everything, and the hacker was apprehended. After an hour or two, we’ll take the cuffs off lover boy.”
Everyone else gave Captain Hart a dirty stare. He replied, “Hey!!! I was in those things all day long! Nice work, Poached, on solving the locked room mystery. Nice work, Detective Sweetie Pie for running an efficient taskforce. And, as usual, by tomorrow morning, I will be on both of your cases, harder than ever. As for Detective Sgt. Jim Wednesday, I owe him a few beers. He got me out of them cuffs!”
Melanie Tormé probably shortens it to Mel Tormé (1925-1999). He may have been best known as a singer, but he composed The Christmas Song among many, and he was a musician, arranger, actor, and author.
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