.The Cold-Coffee Caper—Based on a True Event

By Henri Bensussen

House-cleaning day, and Liliana bursts through the back door, a quivering exclamation point in polyester and spandex fueled by indignation. 

Robbed while distracted at the outlet store—“A woman by the coffee urn, it must have been her,” she says. Her purse gone, replaced by a coffee cup, a place-holder token and clue. Cops told her this happens all the time. Someone takes the cash, tosses away the bag with its precious contents. Victim left holding a cold cup of coffee.

Fine eyebrows, two little arcs, jumpy as window shades, her skin so fresh compared to mine, no scars or worry lines developed by age from negatives in a chemical bath. I wander through rooms arranging, straightening, while she’s on the attack, moving chairs and dressers, inspecting light fixtures, wielding her efficient mop and vacuum to search out the dirt of decades past as if that would uncover thief and theft.

She brings me a rusty dime and a dollar bill shedding spools of dust. “I found it under the bed,” she says, triumphant. Clear proof of my guilt.

I spread it out, this dusty bill eroded to a dime’s worth, the dime to a penny. Two hours later she heads to the bank holding tight to three well-earned 20s. 

Sitting at the polished table before a spotless window that frames a spring garden where every flowering plant is flowering, and drained by the morning’s dramatic turns, I wish a jinni to appear with a cup of coffee for me, and wonder: Who needed that purse the most—snatcher, owner or the jinni caught in a dust ball?

Henri Bensussen lives in Santa Rosa and is the author of the chapbook of poems, “Earned Colors,” and of essays, poems and stories published in various anthologies.
Jane Vickhttp://janevick.com
Jane Vick is a journalist, artist and writer who has spent time in Europe, New York and New Mexico. She is currently based in Sonoma County. View her work at janevick.com.

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