A COFFEE CAPER

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My name is Ron Jacobs. I’m a homicide detective. I was called to the home of Arthur and Judy Dunlap in an upscale section of town just before 8 a.m. exactly one week ago. The housekeeper arrived moments earlier to find the body of Arthur Dunlap on the kitchen floor unresponsive with a kitchen knife stick in his back. We received the 911 call from Alicia Gomez who calmly reported the incident in broken English but repeated the word café, café several times.

When I arrived, the body was on one side of the kitchen by the coffee maker and oddly a large amount of dry coffee grounds were strewn on the floor beside him. I was careful to step around the coffee and not disturb the evidence, waiting for the CSI crew to arrive. But in looking around the room, I saw a variety of bags and cans of coffee on the counters. French Roast, Breakfast Ground, Dark, Light, Expresso and even imports from Italy and South America. Exotic brands I had never heard of, along with the familiar Café American ones.

I interviewed Ms. Gomez to find out more about her employers. She had only worked for the Dunlaps for about six months. She took the job after her friend quit because she said she couldn’t take all the arguing between Mr. and Mrs. Dunlap that occurred almost every day. But Ms. Gomez didn’t mind because she thought all rich people were crazy anyway.

I asked her what did the couple argue about? “Mostly about food,” she replied. She said they were food critics for two different magazines and rarely agreed with each other. The kitchen was the center of their lives. She was constantly spending most of her time cleaning up after the meal that was prepared the night before. And apparently, the Jacobs made a big mess every night.

Ms. Gomez would arrive in the morning to clean up and fix the couple breakfast. There was a rigid schedule for each day’s breakfast menu: Scrambled eggs on Monday, Poached eggs on Tuesday, sunny side up on Wednesday, Eggs Benedict on Thursday, and Florantine on Friday. But it was the coffee to accompany breakfast that was chosen separately every day. They were both very particular about their coffee. Sometimes they would have the same brand and sometimes they disagreed about which was the perfect choice.  That’s when the arguing would escalate and each would wind up brewing separate pots to their liking.

I asked where Mrs. Dunlap was and the housekeeper didn’t know. I went upstairs, and to my surprise, there was Judy Dunlap in her bedroom at the makeup table, an attractive middle-aged blonde wearing a nightgown, quietly sipping a cup of coffee. She looked up and calmly said, “Hello. I’ve been expecting you.”

“I’m Detective Jacobs. You want to tell me what happened to Mr. Dunlap?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she replied nonchalantly. “I was just sitting here enjoying a delicious cup of mocha java.”  “Would you care for one?”

It was obvious this cookie was not about to cooperate, so I told her to get dressed because she would have to come with me down to the police station. “Can I bring my coffee with me in a to-go cup?” she asked. “Be my guest,” I replied.

In the interrogation room, we grilled this suspect for three and a half hours. She was cagey, all right. But she didn’t lawyer up, so we went on for another hour. She went through another three cups of our coffee until she finally broke.

“Yes, I killed him! I couldn’t take it any more! Every morning he would get up and say the same thing: I’d kill for a good cup of coffee.  Over and over, morning after morning!  And this morning I’d had it!”  She looked down and said “Say, this coffee is pretty good. What brand is it?”

After four and a half hours, I left the examination room exhausted, but gratified that we were able to break her.  I turned to my partner and said, “Is it bad form for a homicide detective to say, I’d kill for a good cup of coffee?

 

End

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