I’m Lieutenant Deviled Yeggs. I work homicide in the big city of Tracy. Working for me are my old partners: Detective Sgt. Jim Wednesday and Detective Poached Yeggs, my nephew who is slowly becoming a good detective.
That new introduction just does not seem right. Ever since I was promoted, Glyce, my wife, has pinched me, once each day, not just on St. Patrick’s Day. Does that mean that she is proud of me, or do I give her the impression that I cannot believe what happened and she pinches me to assure me that I really am awake and I really am a lieutenant in the Tracy Police Department. I started with my first detective report that I always wanted to be the best Dick … Tracy ever had. Maybe I am on my way. Until my daughter Sophie graduates college and becomes my boss – the youthful goal of a girl about to graduate middle school and soon become a woman. Remind me to put the rock on her head. I do not want her growing up too fast.
But my task this morning was one of the most distasteful things that I might ever do. I thought I could be excused due to a conflict of interest, but Captain Hart said that I had to learn the hard way, and this might be the hardest.
I had to interrogate my father as a suspect for murder.
I started, “Mr. Yeggs, do you know why you have been brought here?”
My Dad frowned, “I thought it was supposed to be a little talk with my son, but since you call me, Mr. Yeggs. I will play along, Lieutenant. Does that make you feel more important to have a new shiny badge so you have the license to roust ex-cons out of their place of business and trump up charges to send them back to prison? I know the score, but I didn’t think it would come from you, my own son. I might not have been a good father to you. Nope, a rotten one, but I am trying to make up for it now. At least Poached and Jim let me leave the mission without cuffs. I got to go out with dignity. And make this quick. Maeve has her hands full. I need to get back to them.”
I asked, “For the record, state your full name, your place of residence, your place of employment.”
Dad stared, “Why don’t you ask my son, at least I thought I had a son who worked here! Okay, okay, I’ll play your games. Name: Thousand-Year-Old Yeggs, a.k.a. the Old Man, Thou, and Granddad. You called me Dad until a minute ago. I work and live at the mission. You are there enough. You know the address. I am the bouncer, by title, but I make sure that illegal drugs and alcohol are not on the premises. The nurse distributes prescription medications at mealtime. We lock those away so that no one can steal them and get high. Maeve and I distribute the bedtime medication, since the nurse is not there at night. The prescriptions are locked the rest of the time, and I have the key, along with the nurse. But if someone violates policy, I have them leave, but I have a dozen places for them to stay until they sober up. Is that enough? Now can I go back to the mission?”
“You will not be going back until you properly answer my questions. You do not realize how hard this is for me. Just give me a straight answer. Two days ago, where were you between noon and four in the afternoon?” I asked.
He immediately responded without giving the question a thought, “At the mission, alternating between holding Jayne in my arms until she went to sleep and pushing Ozzie in the stroller until he falls asleep. What’s that thing about twin synchro-whatsits?”
“Twin Synchronicity. Many twins have it, but usually only identical twins. You have fraternal twins. With synchronicity, they sleep at the same time. They get hungry at the same time. That kind of thing.”
“Yeah, your new brother and sister ain’t got that kind. They got the opposite. As soon as one falls asleep the other wakes up. Jayne cannot fall asleep unless one of us rocks her to sleep and sings to her. Ozzie does not want to be touched when he’s sleepy. I would drive him around town, but I do not have a driver’s license. So, I have burned a track in the carpet at the mission with the dual stroller, only with Ozzie in it since Jayne would rather be held. I go from the apartment past the offices, through the dining room, down the row of private rooms and in a half circle around the men’s bunk house room, and then through the kitchen back to the apartment. It usually takes a couple of laps to get him to sleep and as soon as he is in his crib, Jayne wakes up. Lt. Yeggs, your step-Mom and I have not slept in days! And Maeve has counseling appointments, she can’t do both babysitting and counseling.”
I nodded, “On a personal note, we called Lily the Pink. Greta Grunge is filling in at the nursery there so that Jochebed can babysit your two. You need to send the kids during the day to the Lily the Pink nursery. You aren’t employees, but a lot of mission residents are. Pink Lady can make another exception. Pauline Niblick already uses them. And for mission personnel (residents or staff), it’s free. Anyway, Jochebed could even wet nurse the twins if necessary. Jim Kaiser is going over to the mission with a security guard named Missy. I don’t know her, but Sandy thinks she’s one of her best. They will be working on your duties. It should make you feel good to be replaced by three people. But back to the questions, you took no time with your answer, are you sure you were doing that? And do you have anyone who can confirm your alibi?”
“Yeah, I’m sure. I have not had any trouble with a resident in a week. And babysitting is all I do when Maeve is in counseling sessions, and that is all day every day since we got back from the hospital. As for people that know what I have been doing, your new brother and sister, Jayne Olivia Yeggs and Judah Oswald Yeggs! Jayne and Ozzie for short.”
I responded gruffly, “Someone that can talk, someone who can tell time and know you were there for those hours. Maybe someone who hasn’t wet their diapers today.”
“Anyone at the mission coulda told you that! Dorothy Cahn watches every lap I take. Half the time she waves. Half the time she folds her hands to show me she’s praying. Any of the cooks. Half the residents might have wet their diapers today, but they all have seen me. It’s like they don’t even see me since it is constant. Poached and Jim could have asked around instead of bringing me here. I never leave the mission these days with two infants less than a month old! Why bring me down here?! Lieu-ten-nant!!”
“Do not get hostile, Mr. Yeggs. We have evidence that puts you at a house on Prune Face Way. The records show that Mr. Thousand-Year-Old Yeggs, an ex-con, went to Sally Daniel’s home to unclog her toilet and beat her to death with a pipe wrench. The wrench was left at the scene. The house was ransacked.”
“Son, I thought I taught you growing up, when I thought you would make a good yegg to never change your MO. That Modus Operandi thing. If you change the pattern, you might make a mistake that gets you sent to prison. I used to crack safes. I never used weapons. I never harmed anyone. I never ransacked a house, because I knew ahead of time where the safe was. Think this through. How do you have proof I was there?”
“Dad, we know someone with your name, your Social Security Number, your prison record, was hired by a handy man company here in town. You were good at unplugging toilets, so the company even had your recent work experience.”
“But I have never looked for a job as a handy man. Your wife, Naomi, is the one who got me the job and even unclogging toilets has been an on-the-job type thing. I grab my tools and work on it until its fixed or I admit I need help. Anything to save the mission a buck. We are a charity, you know.”
“The handy man company disagrees with you. They even have your general description. You are an African-American, six feet – three inches tall, size fourteen shoe, about 300 pounds or more.”
“What?! I am Caucasian. I ain’t over six feet. And I am barely 220 pounds. Okay, after Maeve makes lasagna, 240 pounds. Is this some kind of joke?”
I smiled as Captain Hart came into the room. Al said, “Thou, we knew it wasn’t you, but how did they steal your identity? Even down to the unclogged toilets? Your dates in prison are accurate. You’d be in cuffs if we did not have the physical description from the company and a witness at the scene, a nosy neighbor. But then, when the guy left with his canvas toolbox a couple of hours later, the nosy neighbor went to her friend’s house to see if the toilet was unclogged and found Sally on the kitchen floor, in a bloody mess.”
I continued, “The house was a wreck. The neighbor had no idea if anything was stolen. It’s going to take us a long time to figure anything out. The neighbor said Sally was a grandmother of six and her house had been filled with memories. She did not throw any of the kids’ stuff away. And Sally was a crafter with a lot of plastic tubs filled with all kinds of junk. All we could get out of her three children was that they did not want anything that had been theirs or anything of hers. They knew of no antiques or heirlooms in the house. The whole thing seems senseless.”
Then I saw a change in Dad’s facial expression. He wasn’t really smiling, but wasn’t in a defensive mode anymore. “What is it, Dad?”
“You said, African-American, 6’3”, size fourteen shoe, and overweight. An old acquaintance from prison stayed at the mission about two months ago. He followed me around. We talked. Joked about the old times. But it didn’t seem right then, nor now. I had no idea why he was there. He stuck to me like glue. Senseless? He might just be your man, but if there is a reason behind this, he’s far too stupid. Great guy, just not the sharpest knife in the drawer. If I were still in the crime business, I would hire him as muscle or as a bodyguard, but he could not have planned this. He went to my defense a couple of times in the exercise yard when I picked the wrong fight. Back then, I wanted to cause trouble so they would not release me. I couldn’t forgive myself for what I did to your mother. Sometimes, I overestimated my abilities to fight my way out of trouble, and J. B. Fenster always came through.”
I asked, “Do you leave your Social Security Number laying around? On any paperwork that he might find? He had your birthday, everything.”
Dad shrugged, “I don’t advertise any of that stuff. I doubt if I have it anywhere other than the tax paperwork and Maeve keeps that locked up. But the prison might have all that stuff.”
I looked at Captain Hart. He looked at me and nodded.
I turned to Dad, “Thanks, Dad. I had to make it formal. This interview may be needed at trial and it couldn’t sound like I was leading you into safe answers and such. You have given us several leads, and it has just gotten stickier than we had thought. The handy man company seems legitimate. They seemed shocked at what happened, and they promised to cooperate with us. But this means that the mastermind is a party or parties unknown, and they have access to prison records or there is another member of the team there. I am thinking that they wanted to set your old friend up as a handy man and use that as a cover for something. What something? Like I said, it seems senseless. If they did not write a description down at the company and we did not have a witness, you might have been railroaded back to prison, just on the stolen ID, but why?”
Dad had tears in his eyes, “Son, your brother and sister need me. I cannot go back to prison now. That was my old life and I have a completely new one. Please, Son, figure this one out. That’s what you are good at. Get this one solved, for me, for Maeve, and for Jayne and Ozzie.”
“Jayne and Ozzie? Really?”
Dad shrugged, “We tried Jayne and Judah and it just sounded off.”
Jim Wednesday came into my office by the end of the day. “Lieutenant, … That still sounds weird. Dev, I think Poached and I have a pattern. I have been calling police departments around the state. We might go to neighboring states next. There seems to be handy man murders all over the place. Since ex-cons are willing to work for lower wages, they are given a chance and nobody asks a lot of questions. We have found twenty handy man murders. In some places, two or three in the same town. They arrested the ex-con, and they are holding him over for trial. Your Dad is the first one with a witness and an alibi that is solid. Looks like you may be doing your taskforce thing unless the state cops take this one away from us.”
“Jim, if they did, it might be a welcome relief. This could get nasty, but I’m going to ask Lt. Tagliolini for George’s help. This thing has a lot of tentacles, one that stretches to the front door of Red Delicious.”
“Are you thinking Empire Apple?”
I nodded, ”I have a feeling that he will have a way of slipping through our fingers, but it sounds like a mastermind behind all those tentacles. Empire does have a couple of Ivy League degrees. We’ll see.”
As for the case of mistaken identity, soon after we moved to Pennsylvania, long enough to need our driver’s licenses renewed, my wife had the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) clerk stonewalling her. Everyone else had a nice new driver’s license and my wife was still waiting for hers. I went up to complain, since my wife is usually mousy about such things. She hates confrontation. I asked what the problem was, and the clerk said there was not going to be a problem once the police arrived to arrest the criminal who thinks she could simply walk in and get her driver’s license renewed. In asking agitated questions, since the DMV clerk was calling my wife a criminal, I found out that the driver’s license number matched someone who was stopped for a normal traffic violation of some sort. The driver assaulted the officer, resulting in grievous bodily harm, and fled the scene. I suggested that he wrote the number down wrong on the ticket. The DMV clerk growled and spun her computer screen around. Obviously he had scanned the driver’s license when he registered the violation. The driver’s license number was my wife’s number, but the photo was of a black man, maybe twenty years younger than my wife. He was well over six feet tall and well over 300 pounds, all information on the driver’s license that the clerk showed me on her computer screen. I looked at the picture and then I looked at my wife. I asked to speak to the clerk’s boss so that he or she could explain how my wife could be the guy in the photo in disguise. The supervisor turned red in the face and instructed the clerk to tell the police it was a false alarm and they gave my wife her new driver’s license. And, as expected, without an apology.
Did the supervisor fear a lawsuit from us? Was it their fault in issuing two driver’s licenses with the same number? Or did the criminal use a fake ID? Since then, there are watermarks and other fancy stuff imbedded into the state’s driver’s licenses. Some of it looking like 3D.
But boy, did my wife have some street cred there for a while.
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