Deadly Scissor Kicks – 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.  Poached Yeggs, homicide detective and my nephew, has been working with Jim and me.

Our crime scene was at T.H.E.E. (Tracy Health and Exercise Emporium), where you could get the best Thee that you could be.  Sorry, their jingle becomes an earworm after a while.

When they opened for the early bird workouts, they found one of their weightlifting instructors on the floor of one of the aerobics and Pilates rooms with his neck neatly broken, if you could call it neat to have a broken neck.  The point was that there was no bruising, no signs of a struggle, no ligature marks if he had hung himself or was hung by someone.  Neat, clean, almost as if there was no evidence at all of a crime, just a guy who had more muscles in his big toe than I did over my whole body with his face pointing in the wrong direction and he was not breathing.

Jim and Poached were interviewing the staff.  Poached had brought a dozen coffees from the coffee shop at Amy G. Dala’s building.  He thought that if they could find any DNA, he would label each cup for evidence.  He had Jim ask them questions first and then he apologized, handed them the coffee, and then asked them roughly the same questions.  When they complained, he would say that he apologized up front and gave them a free coffee.  So they humored him with the same answers that they gave Jim, for the most part.

I think Poached might actually make a good detective someday.  I was handling the scene of the crime, absorbing every detail.  The M.E., Dr. Quincy Isles, was just finishing up.  They placed the body into a body bag and were about to zip it up when the M.E. told them to stop.  He turned to the crime scene guys and asked if they swabbed the victim’s neck.  They said that since that was what was broken, they did not want to touch it until after the M.E. examination.  He called them over.  As the body was moved, he thought he saw a glimmer of something wet on the victim’s neck.  The crime scene people were thinking sweat, but the M.E. disagreed.  He was thinking fluids of a more amorous nature.  The crime scene people carefully got a few samples.  He instructed them to treat it as a mixed sample and use the high intensity analysis.

I started thinking, ‘Poached, you may have solved the crime.’

As the interviews were drawing to a close with the morning employees, I got a call from Gisele that I was needed back at the office.  She wanted an idea of when we would be finished.  I told her that we were just about ready to return.

When we approached the precinct, it looked like we had something terrible going on.  It was never a good thing when there were no visitors parking spaces available and at least two television crews parked in front of the building.

I worked my way through a crowd downstairs and Jim, Poached, and I hurried up the stairs to the squad room.  When we opened the door to the room, the cameras were flashing in my face, and Gisele said, “There he is, at last!”

As the spots started to fade, I saw the mayor smiling at me, the police commissioner, the news crews, and my family, except for Easter who was with Jemima on another storm chasing adventure.  I think they were dodging hailstorms, or was it getting caught in a hailstorm to prove the toughness of their turtle shell?

The mayor, Boaz Salmon Yeggs, went to a microphone near the vacant lieutenant’s office.  The mayor was my nephew that I did not know existed two years before, and then not knowing he was my nephew until he temporarily became mayor after the raid on the brothel at Lily the Pink that ended that illegal operation and got the mayor, at that time, and his valet thrown into prison for murder.  It also got all the city council arrested, along with others, and Boaz pretty much became mayor by default, but now he was duly elected by a special election.

Boaz smiled at the television cameras.  “Our special guest has finally arrived.  He was at his job, ensuring that our streets remain safe.  Detective Staff Sergeant Deviled Yeggs, will you come forward please?  I have an announcement to make.  You have been promoted to the rank of Lieutenant.  You will remain in charge of homicide.  With the promotion, you will move into the office behind me.  Before it becomes official, the police commissioner will swear you in, a requirement when being promoted from sergeant to lieutenant.”

After the commissioner finished the formalities and pinned a bar on my shoulder although I was in plain clothes, the mayor went to the microphone again.  He was learning how to do this mayor thing.

Boaz asked, “I wish to dispel a few rumors.  The media does not like me much due to my honesty, and I just want to clear the air again.”  There was a rumble of laughter and a few groans.  He continued, “There is no truth to the rumor that city hall was worried after watching the video of then Detective Staff Sergeant Yeggs preaching recently.  There were so many people who came to the front of the church to accept Jesus or renew their faith that people at city hall thought we would lose our best detective in homicide.  No, that had nothing to do with it, but it did hasten a quick reevaluation of our budget.  May I say, Lt. Yeggs has the best homicide closure rate of any city in the country that is our size or larger.  He has headed several joint taskforces that have provided many opportunities for us to clean up this city.  One of those taskforces rescued my mother and freed many people at Lily the Pink who were enslaved in the sex trade.  In an odd way, it led to me becoming mayor.  But part of the budget cuts in order to make this happen is that this precinct will no longer provide coffee.  Those detained here have complained for years that drinking the coffee here was cruel and inhumane punishment and this move will change that.  The coffee shop at the Dala Enterprises building has agreed to deliver each morning.”  There was a roar of cheers for the end to the worst coffee in the world.

In the bedlam afterwards, I told the media that my only comment was that my closure record was due to tireless work done by my partners, the crime scene technicians, the M.E., and of course the work of the beat cops that gather information and are our eyes and ears on the street.  And having a captain that had once been a homicide detective who has been an invaluable asset to my growth as a police detective.  And when they asked if I would leave to become the next big evangelist.  I told them that my place was in Tracy, and I was very glad that after filling the pulpit for one Sunday, I was extremely glad that Rev. C.S.L. was back.  Afterwards, I wanted to wash my mouth with soap, but I had learned a few things from our new mayor.  Give them a little information, very little, and deflect praise to other people.

Sophie approached once the media had started packing up.  “You know what this means, Daddy.  You might be in a nice new office, but I will still be your boss one day.  My eyes are now on Captain Hart’s office.  I’ll have to change the furniture though.”

Captain Hart walked up, “And what is wrong with my furniture?”

Sophie furrowed her brow and gave him the most serious look that a girl in middle school could muster.  She said in a deep, officious voice, or what she thought was one, “Your furniture is old, like the guy who sits in there.”

Glyce was about to slap our daughter, but Captain Hart started laughing and gave her a big hug.  “For you, Sophie, I’ll pay for the new office chair.”

Poached asked, “And what about us?  We have been working here for years and Sophie is sizing up the captain’s office! Do we have a hope of getting promotions here?”

Captain Hart growled, “Jim, you and Poached only interviewed the morning crew at T.H.E.E.  The afternoon crew will start clocking in soon.  You need to get a move on!”  With that Jim and Poached ran out the door with Poached telling Jim that he needed a Crime Scene tech to handle the coffee and they needed another case of fresh coffee from the coffee shop on the way.

Captain Hart turned to me and said, “That’s how it’s done, Lieutenant.  It will be your job to bark orders at them next time.”  I nodded, but silently I was dreaming up excuses to do field supervision.  We had already developed team chemistry with my main focus being the paperwork and the big picture, Jim doing the majority of the leg work, and Poached doing the data searches and background checks.

Glyce said that she had to get the children back to school but she thought it was educational for them to be there when I got the promotion.  She kissed me and then herded the children toward the stairwell.  They complained that they were missing out on the refreshments.  Glyce told them to run and get a plate full and come right back.  The schools for each of them granted the half day adventure as long as they wrote an essay on the experience.

Gisele and Captain Hart approached as Glyce again gathered the two children.  Gisele asked, “Can we welcome you to your office?”

For the first time, I saw my name painted on the door with “Lt.” in front of it.  My knees started to wobble.  I was ready for this, but was I ready for this?

Gisele said, “I transferred your files to a real filing cabinet.  No more banker boxes in the corner.  I have ordered a really nice office chair, but your old one from the interview room fits you, for now.”  After we were all in my office, she closed the door.  “And, Dev, we know you can keep a secret and since you are a great detective, you might start asking questions.”

I asked, “Like, why are you two living together and has it become a physical relationship?  Please, Gisele, you and Captain Hart are friends.  I can be discreet.  And the mayor’s joke about me becoming another evangelist traveling the world, who made sure the budget people saw the video?  You?”

Gisele’s face reddened, but she nodded, “Yes, Dev, ummm, Lieutenant, Captain Hart and I sent links to the video to all the budget people and the commissioner and asked do we really want to lose you to the evangelism circuit.  It went through with no problem.  And, yes, Al emailed half of them and I did the other half.  He has always been hard on you, but he respects and trusts you.  As for us sleeping together, it is not what you think.  You know how the pension works.  If I remarry, I lose my first husband’s pension.  That is the money that I use for Lilith to go to Liberty University.  The story of a full-ride scholarship was just a story.  They cover tuition and books and a reasonable amount of supplies, but Al was secretly giving me the money for her meals and I used the pension to pay for her dorm room.  We went to the pastor of the church where you used to attend.  I know you disagreed with him on a few points, and you may disagree with him on this one, but he married us in his office with his secretary and Lilith as the witnesses.  It is just that we have not gone to the courthouse to make it official.  The pastor understood our problem and he said that in the eyes of God, we were husband and wife.  When Lilith has graduated and established on her own, Al and I are thinking about a small church wedding.”

I asked, “And how is Lilith doing?”

Gisele replied, “She is doing wonderfully well.  When they spread those false rumors around the school that she was ‘easy,’ I put her in home schooling.  The harassment was unbelievable.  Jemima and Easter were her only true friends.  Some others pretended to believe her side of the story, but when near her ex-boyfriend they agreed with him.  One of her closest friends even dated him and he did the same thing to her.  But now in a Christian environment, she is flourishing.  She has partnered with a boy who is a sophomore.  They write worship songs together.  Some of the local churches have paid them to lead worship for a Sunday, here or there.  Lilith insists that their friendship is just about the music, but Al and I are praying.  Joshua is such a gentleman, and so, so talented.”

Captain Al Hart said, “Since there could be a backlash about spouses working together or word getting back to the pension people, we trust you with our secret.” I nodded my agreement.

Later that day, the lab called about the twenty plus cups of coffee.  They knew that the DNA testing would be expensive, and we could probably eliminate over half of them.  They would prepare the samples, but only run those that we flagged.  I agreed to their request.  The city had pulled strings to get the budget for my promotion.  I did not want to spend a lot of money on unnecessary lab work on my first day as a lieutenant.

That night Glyce and Sophie fixed my favorite meal.  Really Sophie suggested it on the way to Lily the Pink where she is finishing her middle school.  She and Aunt Tensie did the main meal in a crock pot in Tensie’s lab, and Glyce did the fixings when she got home.  She was no longer working long hours at the university.  Pauline was back from maternity leave.  If Pauline did not have classes to teach, she brought Baffy with her, and the other days, Baffy went to Lily the Pink’s nursery, one of Pink’s exceptions, due to Pauline’s unpaid assistance on occasion.

The next morning, after sleeping soundly after a heavy meal with seconds and thirds, I walked through the squad room toward interrogation room #1 and I stopped before I grabbed the door handle and walked further to the lieutenant’s office.  I hoped no one saw that, but Poached snickered.  I turned around to try my lieutenant’s command voice on him.  I saw Poached and Jim watching a video of mixed martial arts fighting.

I burst in what I hoped would be an authoritative tone, “What are you two doing?  This is a place of business and you are watching videos!  Are you taking advantage of my first full day as the boss?!”

Jim stuttered, but Poached replied, “The reports on the afternoon interviews are on your office desk.  The evidence is all registered with all the coffee cups sent to the lab.  They said they wanted you to determine which ones to do, but I think I might just have it down to one suspect.”

I retorted, “Poached, I have warned you before.  If you get tunnel vision, you may lose focus on all others that may be involved.”

Poached signaled for we to calm down.  “I spent most of the night on this.  Callie was very upset.  She wanted me to do some things with her and I spent well past midnight piecing it together.  Watch this video.  The winner of the fight does not take long for the take down.”  It started with the usual punching and kicking, but then the woman in the white helmet, if they really call it that, and red hair did a cartwheel and a scissor kick during the handstand.  Without the opponent realizing it, the scissor kick trapped the opponent’s neck in a leg lock and the winner drove the opponent onto the canvas, unconscious.

I asked, “Are you saying that you think this is how the murder occurred on do you think that this woman killed a guy twice or three times her size?”

Poached answered, “I did facial recognition on the MMA fighter.  It matches one of the afternoon interviewees.  I think she changed her name, became a Pilates instructor, and has been killing people in this manner in three states.”

Jim slid his chair back and said, “Woah.  That is a tall accusation with only one night of video watching.”

Poached sighed, “It’s not just the video watching.  The fighter was named Janet Bash.  Her real name was Janet Basque.  She was trained in several martial arts disciplines.  She knew gymnastics, using the male pommel horse routines to perfect her upside down scissor kick, It was so quick, the other fighter could not respond.  Then when she was one or two fights from the belt for her weight class, she put a fighter in a coma.  She suddenly dropped out of sight for a couple of years.  Then, she appeared in Bakersfield, California as a Pilates instructor.  I researched it and many martial artists use Pilates to heal their bodies.  The vicious thrusts and blows add up the damage on the muscles.  She must have gone that route and true to her nature, she became an expert and started teaching classes.  When I met her yesterday, I thought I recognized her.  When I was playing the field in high school with all the girl athletes, several of them just loved Janet Bash.  I wasn’t a great fan, but I had seen enough to suspect she was the same woman.”

I was thinking about how Poached meant “all” the female athletes, not all of them that he dated.  He was quite the Don Juan in those days.  And I got him to quit that, not knowing it might solve a case years later.

Poached clicked a few keys on his computer.  “Then, a male fitness instructor ends up dead with a broken neck.  Within three months, after the investigation found nothing, she appears in Yuma, Arizona.”  A few more keystrokes.  “And another male fitness instructor is dead with a broken neck.  I hope to ask them later today if they can send pictures of the bodies.  See if the lack of bruising is the same, body position when he fell, something that looks similar.”

Jim picked up the narrative, “But the name is different when she appeared in Stout County.  Her name is now June Babineaux.  Same initials.  A year ago, the same thing happened in Stout County, a body builder this time, not an instructor at all.  Broken neck.  No trace evidence at all.  It has bothered Detective Wolfe and Tuesday ever since.  She told me about it when I described the scene of the crime.”

Poached then added, “All employees wand in and out at T.H.E.E.  Their key card is white, no identification on it at all.  So how did the dead man leave after he was killed, and Ms. Babineaux never left the building the night before?”

I shrugged, “They switched cards by mistake.  It could happen anywhere to anyone.”

Poached rolled his eyes, “But not when we have video proof of a technique that could easily become lethal.  The same thing happened three times before.  The interviews at T.H.E.E. were mixed.  Everyone said Muskel Gehirn was the top misogynist in all of Tracy, that assessment from the men and women both.  Half said Muskel and June hated each other.  The other half said they were dating.  June admitted to one or two dates, but she said he was not her type.  She was the only one all day to not mention misogyny.  I am thinking that Muskel played some kind of con on her about being awkward with girls.  He got her to date him and then after they became intimate, she realized she had been had and she did her trick on him.  Since the evidence of sexual intercourse was fresh, they probably had a tryst after work right there at the emporium.  He quickly got his sweats on.  He was wearing nothing else.  She was probably naked after their romancing.  In all the previous murders, she was probably wearing her workout clothing.  This time, she realizes that she needs the key card to exit the building and she grabs the wrong one.”

I nodded, “Good work, Poached.  Let’s wait until we have the DNA results.  Keep a presence at T.H.E.E.  I don’t want her wandering off to Doyle County or all the way to the East Coast.  I’ll put a rush on the DNA for her and the sample from the neck, but that is a mixed sample that will take a little time.  If she has a packed bag, bring her in without the DNA.  We might bluff her into thinking we have everything.”

Poached and Jim kept an eye on June, and she did not make any moves to leave.  They had further interviews, mostly with other employees.  The questions for her did not give her the idea that they had worked anything out.  Just the usual friendly conversation questions.

When we had a match on the DNA, Jim and Poached caught her at her apartment with a packed bag.  She had stayed one day too long.

Poached did the interview.  The key points were that Muskel had taunted her about how Pilates was not being real exercise.  She wanted a one-on-one to prove it, the way she had lured the other three to secluded spots, but Muskel showed up in tears, saying he was awkward around women.  She fell for it.  They dated five times before he ever made a move past the polite kiss.  That seemed to confirm the awkwardness.  Then it was three more dates before they made love.  Both of them said nothing to anyone else, but a few noticed the polite kiss in the hallway at times, thus the mixed idea whether they hated each other or were dating.  Then, on that fateful night, she stayed over after her last class to meet Muskel when he finished his class, the last before the doors closed.  They met in her classroom and made love.  They took a shower together and that turned into another round of love making.  As they left the shower, she said that he said that now that he had “nailed” her, he could tell her that she was a waste of the owner’s money and that she should stop working and be his live-in woman.  She did not wait to consider that was an awkward idiot’s way of proposing; she just broke his neck.  But this time, she was naked, and she left evidence behind.  We even found a few skin cells.

Gisele had her confession in record time.  She used the audio feed in the observation room tied directly to the dictate feature on her word processor.  She had the punctuation and spelling corrected before June had finished crying.

My first closed case as lieutenant and I almost got in the way.

Credits

Muskel Gehirn is Muscle Brain in German.

Pilates is used by some people to recover from martial arts muscle strain and injury.  USAdojo.com suggests that some martial arts teach ballistic stretching, damaging ligaments and joints.  Pilates can be used to recover from this damage.

Forensic DNA testing has come a long way.  Mixed DNA samples might not have been properly analyzed a few years ago, but there are ways of separating the data.

And having Deviled Yeggs finally get that deserved promotion, I feel uneasy. I’m on uncharted ground, since I had done the boss’ job on numerous occasions with the company not motivated in promoting me since I was already doing the work.  Maybe this fictional promotion was a way of healing myself.

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