After the Facts: An After Coffman Mystery
After The Facts
An After Coffman mystery
Copyright © 2002 by Vincent M. Lutterbie
To my mother, my wife, and to Tracy for their faith before the fact.
To Dave and Ed for their faith after the fact.
“Might just have to depend on dumb luck,”
I muttered as the shadows began to lighten in the cramped hallway outside apartment B-
23, of the Boulevard Estates apartments. The door, scarred with years of abuse and
neglect, stared back at me without comment, shades of tan, white and an unidentifiable
color vying for prominence as they were unappealingly peeling away from the pressboard
veneer. Dumb luck was all I was having on the case to this point, but a clue to its puzzle
might just be behind the door.
Please notice that I wasn’t asking for the entire puzzle, as that would be asking for far too
I was struggling with my conscience, as I wondered whether or not to pick the lock. I
pulled a quarter out of my pocket, surprised that I still had coins of that high a
denomination left. I quietly said, “Heads;” as I flipped it into the air. Of course it came
Figuring one flip was not legitimate odds, I flipped it again. Tails.
Flip…. tails. Flip….tails. Flip….heads; good enough! I took out my picks and went to
work on the door. The lock yielded its secrets as easily as a 5-year-old caught with his
hands in the cookie jar, ready to rat on any sibling in order to avoid his punishment. Of
course the door didn’t open easily, so I had to put my shoulder into it. Knowing,
however, the clientele of this elite establishment, I was fairly certain that no one had
recovered yet from the previous night’s wine binges and would not be bothered by any
noises I might make.
Cheap wine too, by the looks of the bottles and cardboard boxes in the trash bin outside.
How had we stooped so low as to allow wine to be packaged in cardboard? What was
that all about? At least there wasn’t a lot of rotting garbage in the dumpster, these people
weren’t into food all that much.
OK, I was in. Placing the quarter back into my pocket, I pulled some gloves on, and took
the edge of my shirt to wipe off any fingerprints around the door, not that any half smart
detective couldn’t make a match from the grime that rubbed off onto my shirt. I was
pretty sure that this particular grime would have no match anywhere else in the county. I
stepped inside; pulling the door nearly closed as gently as possible. There was evidence
of a chain having been forcibly removed from the door jamb at one time, but it appeared
to be from a long ago time when married people may have lived here, perhaps a jealous
husband breaking in on the spouse during a horizontal exercise session.