“I am the great detective Valdez,” says Juan.
He pours himself a cup of coffee. He stomps around the room, drinking it.
“My hair is an illustrious Colombian black. My moustache is perfect—perfect! My donkey transforms into a terrible cybernetic mass driver that can devastate nations. And yet I receive no respect!”
He tosses back his cup. He refills it with fresh Colombian coffee. Then he stomps out onto the quad. He stands there under the hills, looking up and up and up in the nest of buildings he has built, amid the ivy and the stone, before the great terraced sign with workers swarming over its face reading, “YAOI COFFEE DETECTIVE SCHOOL.”
And he shouts: “I am not yaoi! I am not at all inclined to sleep with my sidekick! I ordered a sign that said COFFEE DETECTIVE SCHOOL!”
Then he sulks. His trenchcoat swirls about him as he sinks down and perches on a rock, brooding, the wind in his hair under the Colombian sky. He drinks his coffee.
“You,” he says, to his student C.M., who is passing.
Juan presses the cup into C.M.’s hands.
“Coffee is a sometimes food,” advises C.M.
Then Juan’s eyes flash. Then he is very tall. Then C.M. shrinks back and says, “Coffee! Of course!” and scurries off.
“I must drink,” says Juan. “I must drink or I will never reach the spiritual plane.”
El Diablo, one of the fresh young students at Yaoi Coffee Detective School, offers him papers and a fresh cup of coffee. “More on Mr. Bean’s disappearance, sir.”
“It is always ‘Mr. Bean (no relation),'” Juan says. He skims the papers, ignoring El Diablo’s swoonably shirtless chest.
“I will reach out my hand,” says Juan. “I will reach out my hand and pull him back.”
There is a scream. Juan jumps to his feet. He seizes the cup of coffee that C.M. has returned with and races towards the source of the scream. There, at the base of the sign, he can see the hapless corpse of one of the villagers. There are two men from the MISTER COFFEE DETECTIVE SCHOOL taking furious notes nearby.
“You!” says Juan. He gulps down his coffee, allowing him to wave his hands at them freely. “What are you doing here? This is my school! I am the great detective Valdez! This is my murder.”
One of the men looks over. He is Ratface, a lean and forceful young man. “Ha! Your sexualized caffeinated detective skills are of no use in solving a murder like this one!”
Juan reaches into his pocket. He takes out his detective magnifying glass. He attempts to focus it on the corpse, but his hands are shaking.
“It is acceptable to detect while wired and burning with sexual prowess,” says Juan. “You dare not come to this school, MY school, and challenge this!”
“You can’t even hold the magnifying glass!”
Juan hesitates. “You,” he says, to Ratface. “Bring me more coffee. You,” he adds, to the other one, whose name is simply ‘Bastard,’ “perform the detecting. I will stand here and observe.”
“Why should we cut you in on this serial murder, old man?” asks Bastard. Then he gasps and covers his mouth.
Ratface and Bastard look at one another in panic. Then Ratface offers, “Perhaps the Mister Coffee Detective School can work together with the Yaoi Coffee Detective School on this one. As a gesture of solidarity.”
“Perhaps,” muses the great detective. “Tell me of these murders.”
Ratface scurries off to bring him more coffee.
Bastard summarizes, “You’re aware of our sign problem.”
“Yes, of course,” says Juan. “Your school’s founder, Mystery Coffee, a masked hero with an inexplicable past, had intended that the school take his name. An act of vanity that I, the great detective Valdez, deplore.”
“If you look that way,” says Bastard, holding up a pair of magnifying glasses and angling them towards the distant terraces of the Mister Coffee Detective School sign, “you can probably make out what happened there this morning.”
Juan leans into the glasses. He looks far away.
Ratface returns. He hands Juan a cup of coffee. Juan gulps it down.
“It’s a sometimes food,” says C.M., in distress. “You’ll give yourself a stroke, sir.”
“I am attempting a shamanic experience,” says Juan. “It would be inappropriate to use salvia or marijuana in front of my students so I must resort to socially acceptable Colombian exports.”
“Oh, sir,” says C.M.
“So,” says Juan, “There is another corpse. Fresh?”
“You can’t get corpses this fresh anywhere but Colombia,” agrees Ratface.
“Agh!” shrieks Juan.
Then he hesitates.
“Ah,” he says. “Hallucination. So. Two murders, in our two separate and isolated school grounds. We have a conflict of jurisdiction. Who is to solve this case?”
“WE ARE,” declares a voice.
There is a swirling cape. There is a puff of smoke. There is the whirring, rustling sound of percolating coffee. Juan’s hands plunge into the cloud of smoke, grasping for sweet coffee goodness, but that is not what the cloud contains.
“Ah,” sighs Juan, disappointed. “Mystery Coffee. We meet again.”
“I might have expected such insensate groping from a yaoi coffee specialist,” says Mystery Coffee, drawing back, somewhat offended.
“Had it been intended,” says Juan, “you would have found it . . . pleasurable. But I am not actually yaoi and so do not find your submissiveness entertaining.”
“I’m not the submissive coffee detective here!” protests Mystery Coffee. He draws himself up, trying to stand taller than Juan.
“As you like,” says Juan, diffidently. “In any event, I see no reason to allow you to investigate murders at my school. You will find it unsuited for your heavy-handed bumbling detective work.”
“Ah,” says Mystery Coffee, smugly, from behind his mask. “But what you do not realize is that I have a third corpse.”
“Your security must be very lax,” says Juan. But he cannot hide the interest in his eyes.
Mystery Coffee retires to a table, conveniently erected nearby, surmounted by the constantly brewing Mr. Coffee(tm) brand device that has become, however inadvertently, the symbol of his school.
“Have some,” says Mystery Coffee. “We will discuss.”
Juan sits down. He drinks eagerly.
“But not too much,” says Mystery Coffee. “This coffeemaker is mystically linked to my spirit—it is, in a way, drinking my life bl—I said, not too much!”
“Mr. Bean (no relation) has been stolen by spirits,” says Juan.
“I must find him. I must bring him back. And the only way I can do so is to become wired.”
Mystery Coffee shakes his head and sighs. “Well,” he says, “You may drink of my soul for the time being.”
Juan drinks like a man dying of thirst.
“I do not truly have a third corpse,” Mystery Coffee admits. “But the constable of the town does. He was found murdered, cruelly murdered, in his locked tailor shop. He wrote in blood, ‘Seven in one bl—‘ But we do not know what else he might have said.”
“I see,” says Juan, tightly.
“Seeing as how the constabulary is firmly in my pocket,” says Mystery Coffee, “you can see why I have priority in this case.”
“Well,” says Mystery Coffee. “No. These lawmen, they get ideas of their own. They want all the authority. But they do not demand the credit, Juan. They do not demand the credit.”
“I see,” says Juan. “Your intention is to propose that we submit both corpses to the constable’s office, and allow him to conduct the investigation—then divide the credit for solving a true serial murder spree between us. ‘A glorious alliance between the Mystery Coffee and Ordinary Coffee Detective Schools.'”
“You have seen through me,” admits Mystery Coffee. “You’re too clever by half, Mr. Valdez—but you know that it would be a great victory for coffee-based detective education.”
“That’s true,” Juan agrees. “But why should I do this thing? I have already solved the murders.”
“Impossible!” says Mystery Coffee. Ratface and Bastard tense. “But come,” oozes Mystery Coffee. “What do you mean?”
Juan drinks one final cup of coffee and tips past the edge of reality into the Spirit World.
“I am now on the higher spiritual plane of reconstructing the mystery,” he says. He gestures broadly. Spirits scurry to take their places in a reenactment.
“First,” says Juan, “You built a false corpse out of partially hydrogenated tofu.”
The spirits scurry into the shapes of Ratface and Bastard, busily sculpting tofu into the shape of a corpse at the base of the Mister Coffee Detective School monument.
“Then,” says Juan, “your men came here, and drugged this worker so that he would fall off the sign.”
The spirits obediently reenact this, swirling around Juan on a distorted white-and-green plain.
“Your motivation was no doubt to silence the only man who knew that you had paid him to discredit my school by building a YAOI extension to the COFFEE DETECTIVE SCHOOL sign.”
The spirits reel in shock.
“Pardon?” says Mystery Coffee, dimly, in the distance. “I don’t see how you could reason that.”
“It was all to get my corpse away without my suspecting—lifting it right from under the noses of the great detective Mr. Valdez and his students by playing to my love of glory and using a classic grifter fake-corpse-that-looks-real scam! But you made one critical mistake.”
“Even your students aren’t callow enough to make ‘made fresh in Colombia’ jokes about corpses from your school’s work force.”
Mystery Coffee glares at Juan.
“Also,” Juan says, “I’ve been free-drinking your soul, which gives me a certain insight.”
“Ratface! Bastard! Kill!”
Ratface and Bastard draw their swords simultaneously. Juan glares at them biliously through the caffeine haze.
But in the distance Juan can see a man. He is glowing. He is sleeping. He is drifting in a cloud of his own white hair, peaceful, quiet, dressed in samite. He is Thever Bean. And Juan reaches out his hand.
Thever Bean opens his eyes. There are angels singing in the distance. After a moment, Juan recognizes that they are in fact his ears ringing from too much coffee.
He takes Juan’s hand.
The swords come forward. But, while they had anticipated many things, Ratface and Bastard could not anticipate Juan countering their attack by heaving an enigmatic bishounen onto them from the Spirit World.
“Gah!” says Ratface.
“Guh,” says Bastard.
“Oh,” says Mr. Bean (no relation) as they tumble into a pile. “Hello!”
“Curse you!” swears Mystery Coffee.
He swirls his cape around him and vanishes into a puff of percolating mist.
And that resolves the caffeinated mystery of the yaoi corpse, the mister coffee corpse, and the corpse in town!
Juan drifts in a tense, pulsing haze for a time.
“I’m glad you’re back,” says Juan, diffidently.
Thever Bean stretches. He smiles. He moves in for a kiss.
“No!” says Juan. “We’ve discussed this! This isn’t a yaoi school! We teach detection!”
“Detection is a sometimes activity,” observes C.M.
Then the caffeine takes Juan and he remembers no more.