(Editors note: Occasionally the blogger will feel it necessary to burden his readers with his muses)
The Easter Cake CaperLate one winter evening I was called to the scene of one of the most baffling and heinous crimes of my career. It would seem that some person or persons of unknown origins had perpetrated what many believed to be the perfect crime.
I arrived at the home of Mrs. Mary Bakesalot at half past seven. It was already dark and the sky threatened snow. The officer in charge, Officer Idontknowalot, greeted me in the entrance hall and waved me into the kitchen.
At first glance I could find nothing amiss, that is until I came around the island in the center of the kitchen and to my horror found what remained of what was once a remarkable work of baking art. Gathering myself, I asked Officer Idontknowalot if forensics had finished dusting for prints and photographed the crime scene. He assured me that they had just left and told me I could proceed with my investigation.
The grizzly remains made my stomach turn, but I fought the wave of nausea and reluctantly stepped over the crime scene tape to take a better look.
It was clear that the perpetrator held little regard for ceremony. The cake was mauled almost beyond recognition. I could see that the decorative icing that adorned the edges had been painstakingly applied with care and love. However, the center of the delectable dessert showed where someone had literally dived in face first. The imprint of the perpetrator's face was unmistakable.
I stepped back to take in the crime scene and noticed a chair off to the side just outside the yellow police tape.
"Was that there when you arrived on the scene?" I asked Officer Idontknowalot.
"Yessir, nothing's been moved or touched," he assured me.
Taking a closer look I noticed frosted crumbs on the seat matching that of the departed cake. Hum, I thought, then out loud I said, "that is interesting".
"What's that sir?"
"Nothing officer," I said without looking at him, "where are the family members?"
"This way, sir," he said pointing to a doorway off the kitchen. I followed him looking back at the crime scene and wondered who could have committed such an atrocity.
* * *
The doorway led to the living room where I found Mrs. Bakesalot and her two children Isabella and Zachary. After introducing myself I turned to Mrs. Bakesalot. She was a striking young lady, tall and lean. Here eyes were puffy and red where it was clear she had been crying.
"Mrs. Bakesalot, I know this is difficult for you but can you tell me what happened?"
"I can try, but who could do such a thing?" Her voice trembled and I thought she would start crying again, but to her credit, she straightened herself and after a few slow deep breaths her eyes met mine.
"I'm sorry Lieutenant, I know you are trying to do your job and I will do everything I can to help you."
She looked directly at me and rested her hands in her lap. I could almost feel her willing herself to control the urge to cry.
"My children and I spent the day baking our annual Easter cakes," her voice was even and controlled.
"So there is more than one cake?" I asked surprised.
"Not exactly, we baked one big cake," her beautiful eyes drifted to the doorway leading to the kitchen, "and several smaller cupcakes."
"Were those cakes damaged as well?"
"No, the kids each had one and I ate one as well. That left two and they were put in the cupboard."
"So these cupcakes were not out where anyone could see them or get at readily?"
"Now, can you tell me where you were when the crime took place?"
"Yes, I was next door. I took some banana bread to our neighbor. I was only gone for maybe ten minutes."
I looked over my shoulder at Officer Idontknowalot and he nodded and said, "We have talked to a Mrs..," he paused and flipped through his well worn notebook, "..Imheralibi, and she confirms Mrs. Bakesalot's story."
I turned back to Mrs. Bakesalot and asked, "Can you think of anyone who could have it out for your Easter cake?"
"No, that's just it; I don't have a clue who would want to do such a thing."
I thought about asking a few more questions but I could see tears welling up in her eyes and decided to give her a break. I turned my attention to the young boy.
"Now, what is your name again young man?"
"Zachary Bakesalot, sir," he said in his most official voice then added, "am I going to go to jail?"
"Why would you have to go to jail?"
"I don't know, on TV whenever a policeman comes to someone's house they usually take someone off to jail."
"Well we'll just see about that Zachary, in the mean time can you tell me where you were when you mother went next door?"
"Oh sure, I was in my room reading my books. I love books."
"I'm sure you do. Now, was anyone with you?"
"Yeah, my daddy was with me."
"Daddy? Where's your daddy now?"
He shrugged his shoulders.
"I'm right here officer."
Mr. Bakesalot came into the room from the hallway opposite the one I entered; trailing him was Idontknowalot's partner, Iknowevenless.
"Where have you been?" I asked Iknowevenless sternly.
"I was searching the house for evidence of forced entry without success," the officer nodded toward Mr. Bakesalot and said, "Mr. Bakesalot was showing me around."
"I see." I said, then asked Mr. Bakesalot, "Your son says that you and he were in his room reading at the time of the crime, is that true?"
I could see that the man was angry, probably with himself for not preventing the crime. He sighed heavily and said, "Yes officer we were in Zach's room upstairs."
The mystery was becoming as murky as a bowl of chocolate frosting. I had a notion that it was an inside job but my suspects were falling like an underdone pound cake. Everyone, it seemed, had an alibi. I surveyed the room and my eyes fell upon the youngest member of the family. I couldn't be sure but something in her expression gave me pause. Was that a smirk I saw?
"That's correct, sir."
"Can you tell me where you were?"
She glanced nervously around the room, and then said, "I was down here but I didn't hear anything," her words fell from her mouth faster than flour through a sifter.
Something didn't add up here. I turned back to Mr. Bakesalot and asked him if he was the one who discovered the remains of the ill-fated Easter cake. He nodded sadly.
"Was there anyone else in the room when you come in?"
He started shaking his head 'no', but then stopped, his face contorted as if he were thinking hard. I could almost see the light bulb go off over his head when he said, "Well yes, Isabella was in the kitchen, she was digging around in the trash can and I was about to ask her what she was doing when I saw the.. the.. cake." His voice was breaking but I pushed on.
"Did you not ask her about the cake?"
"Well no, surely she would have told me if she saw anything, and it couldn't have been her – the counter is too high for her to reach."
"Too high indeed." I mused rubbing my chin, louder I said, "Well that just about wraps it up here I think we can clear this case up right now don't you... Isabella?"
The collective gasp from the group was as loud as a cake mixer on high. Everyone turned to look at the small child in the oversized chair in the corner. She looked around at each person finally her eyes rested on me.
"How did you know?" She almost whispered.
"Elementary, my dear girl," I said standing to face the group, "first of all, there was no sign of forced entry which would indicate an inside job; secondly, everyone has an alibi, everyone that is except you, not enough for a conviction I'll grant you but it's a start. Thirdly, the chair near the crime scene belongs over by the breakfast table and there is evidence of the remains of the deceased Easter cake on the seat. This suggests that the perpetrator was vertically challenged and required the assistance of the chair to reach the counter. Given your limited stature it stands to reason that this apparatus would serve your purpose effectively, and lastly, and most incriminating, LOOK AT YOUR FACE!!!"