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After the Facts: An After Coffman Mystery
Vincent M. Lutterbie
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With a sigh, I approached the bathroom, expecting nothing to change here either. A funny
thing, the air seemed to move a bit, the dust motes had a different pattern as I walked
towards the doorless entrance. I encountered no surprises as I entered. The stool was
cracked and broken under the weight of many years and countless bottoms. I lifted the
top to the tank and took a look. It was somewhat dark in the room, so I turned to flip the
wall switch, and barely caught a movement as the world suddenly went even blacker with
a crack that I heard more than felt.
• • • Well now, I had discovered something, what it was, I had no clue, but it was
apparently a clue of some sort, and clues are supposed to be important in my line of
work. I was trying to put my wits back together, one wit at a time. My first coherent
thoughts were that I had a splitting headache and was flat on my back. That took awhile
to sink in. I then opened my eyes, found that they were not yet ready to focus on a
spinning room, and closed them again.
Too late! I rolled over and vomited all over the floor near the toilet.
So much for a clean apartment. Ah yes, the clean apartment! Bits and pieces began to
swim about in the squishy mess that had been my brain moments (or was it hours?)
before. I chanced another eye opening, but just with my right eye. Not too bad, I couldn’t
get any sicker anyway, unless the yellow that someone had assumed was a legitimate
color for the ceiling made me sick again. Breathing a bit more regularly, I closed my right
eye and opened the left. No real problem there either. Just knowing that both sides of my
face were working independently was a relief, but that in itself was yielding no results.
OK, I opened both eyes, and the room slowly swam back to normal, or what passed for
normalcy in this little slice of hell.
Now, I had to figure out why I was in this predicament. Two options worked their way
into my slowly returning consciousness.
One, that I had been clubbed from behind as I was turning around; that would explain the
dust moving. Someone could have entered the unlocked front door. The second option
was that part of the ceiling had fallen on me. I was voting for the latter, but my vote
generally does not count, and this time was no different. I pulled myself up and looked
around. No new holes in the ceiling, and the doorway seemed in one piece as well. OK, I
got clocked, but why? There was nothing to be found here; the place had been swept
Whoever conked me didn’t know that though, or else I would still be looking for clues in
the bathroom. Did I mention that clues are important in my line of work? They are, and
unless one or two of them fell upon me (perhaps an unfortunate metaphor), I would soon
be flipping burgers in the fast food restaurant down the road from my rented room for a
I stood up, holding the stool for support, hoping that it knew better than to move
suddenly. For once, my luck held, and I made it to my feet in an unsteady fashion.
Gathering myself, I slithered to the sink, wondering if the water still ran. Turning the cold
water knob yielded nothing. The hot water knob did turn, and of course the water was
cold, which suited me just fine. I splashed some of it on my face, and that did help a little.
I looked in the mirror, which was cracked, but clean, pretty much summing up my