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Love Chocolate

too much of a good thing can kill

By Rajkumarie DeviPublished 3 years ago Updated 3 years ago 10 min read
Love Chocolate
Photo by Serghei Savchiuc on Unsplash

Officer Hamstein adjusted his face mask and looked around the second-floor apartment of the detached home as his team gathered evidence. They had received the call from the elderly landlady, Shyla Singh, who lived in the basement apartment, after her repeated calls had not been answered by the tenant and she had opened the door and found the body. He recalled his conversation with her.

“The deceased, Lucy Garland, lived alone in this apartment?” he’d asked, sitting down on the armchair. A distraught Shyla was occupying the sofa, her wrinkled hands clasped together and still visibly shaking.

“Yes,” Shyla said, voice trembling, teary eyes red.

“Please tell me as much as you can about Lucy,” Officer Hamstein said.

Shyla took a deep steading breath, “Before the Covid-19 lockdown, Lucy was often out. Sometimes, she would stay out the whole night, returning the next day or several days later. I had thought, perhaps Lucy had a boyfriend, but I’ve never seen anyone with her. She wasn’t one for confiding in people. She always kept everything to herself.”

Her breath shuddering, Shyla continued, “When the Covid-19 lockdown started, Lucy had to close her hair salon and only left her apartment for walks and groceries at the local grocery store. But about four weeks ago, all that changed. Lucy had sequestered herself in her apartment and stopped going for walks; she’d even begun having everything, including her groceries, delivered to her.”

“Did she mention anything to you that could have led to her death?” Officer Hamstein asked, “Did she appear depressed or suicidal?” even though suicide wasn’t an obvious explanation due to the lack of physical evidence, he couldn’t rule it out until he had the pathology report.

His team had already checked the bedroom and bathroom drawers and cabinets. They had only found one bottle of Nardil prescribed the previous year with more than two-thirds of the contents still in the container and a pack of Melatonin strips indicating Lucy had currently or at some time in the past suffered from sleeplessness.

Shyla sniffled and blew out a heavy breath into her mask, “Lucy mentioned her parents died 15 years ago and after her divorce became final two years ago, she’d had no contact with her ex-husband or his relatives. When the lockdown began, I was worried about her so I decided to call her daily to check up on her; I know how lonely living by yourself can be sometimes.” They spoke for another twenty minutes, Officer Hamstein gathering the necessary details for his report.

“That should do it for now,” Officer Hamstein said, “I’ll contact you If I need more details. If you think of anything important, please call me."

Officer Hamstein stood up and his knee hit the coffee table where a plate with an extra-large slice of dark chocolate cake, a cup of coffee and a half glass of red wine had been placed. Lucy had been preparing to eat a snack and watch television but had gotten up and on her way to the washroom had collapsed; Shyla had found her on the floor in front of the washroom door.

He walked into the kitchen and paused. Several cake boxes labelled with the name Love Chocolate Café were littering the counter and floor near the overflowing recycling bin. He wrote his thoughts down as he continued with the evidence gathering.

The next morning, Officer Hamstein entered the Love Chocolate Café and met with the owner, Melissa Townesend. He had called to make an appointment the day before. The lockdown had changed a lot of the old rules. The café was currently only open for deliveries. He showed her a photo of Lucy he had picked up from her mantle and inquired, “Do you remember seeing this customer?”

“Of course,” Melissa said, “that’s Lucy. She and her boyfriend were regulars for about a year before he moved to another province. Lucy still ordered cakes from us; she said it reminded her of their happy times together. She was going to be joining him in six months for their wedding. But then the lockdown put a hold on that. I spoke with her on the phone last week. She had placed a large order for chocolate cakes to be delivered. I had thought it was a mistake, so I called her to confirm. She sounded very sad and told me the wedding was cancelled. I was concerned but she said everything would be fine.”

Melissa checked her order book and said, “She hasn’t ordered anything since then.”

“Do you know what her boyfriend’s name is? Can you describe him for me?” Officer Hamstein requested.

“I’m sorry, I don’t know his name. We only said ‘hello’ to each other sometimes. It was mostly Lucy that I spoke with. For some reason, we hit it off and sometimes talked while she was placing her order. I always had the sense that they were in a secret relationship. He looked to be in his mid to late twenties and always wore a baseball cap over his hair. He was handsome, about six feet tall and had brown eyes. They were always laughing and happy when they were together. She was ecstatic when she told me he was moving to another province and she would soon join him there to be married.”

Melissa pointed to the right, “There’s a picture of them on our Love Chocolate wall.” She led Officer Hamstein to where the wall was covered with a gigantic board filled with photos of people eating chocolate cakes.

Melissa placed her finger on the photo of a couple eating chocolate cake. Officer Hamstein leaned in to get a better look. The man’s back was to the camera so he couldn’t see his face. But it was definitely Lucy’s laughing face that was caught looking directly into the camera.

Melissa thought for a moment and said, “I think we have a more recent photo of them that hasn’t been developed yet. It was the last day they were together before he moved away. I’ll try to find it and bring it to you if you give me the address of your precinct.”

Melissa paused briefly, “If you don’t mind my asking, why are you investigating Lucy?” her curiosity had gotten the better of her. Officer Hamstein explained. Melissa was shocked to hear of Lucy’s death. The last time she had seen her, Lucy had looked young and vibrant.

Officer Hamstein left the Love Chocolate Café. His next appointment was with Lucy’s ex-husband, Trey Macpherson. His team had found the contact details in Lucy’s cell phone.

Officer Hamstein explained to Trey the reason for his visit, but he didn’t seem to have any emotion one way or the other.

“I’m sorry,” Trey said, his expression blank.

Despite it being the Covid lockdown, he hadn’t worn a mask, so Officer Hamstein was keeping his distance and staying six feet away.

“I haven’t seen or spoken with Lucy since our divorce two years ago. I don’t understand what this has to do with me.”

Officer Hamstein was a little taken aback. He’d just told the man his ex-wife had passed away!

Trey appeared to sense the officer’s shock at his words and said, “Our family is suffering with the death of my little brother. I don’t have the strength to deal with Lucy’s death right now.” He sat down tiredly on a chair.

Officer Hamstein walked around the room before standing by a photo on the wall. It was of Trey with his arm around the shoulders of a much younger man. The teenager had obviously dyed his hair silver blond and it was left to grow past his shoulders.

“That’s Jason,” Trey said, “he just graduated from university and went to Victoria, British Columbia to work and continue with his Masters there. He contracted Covid-19 from another passenger on the same plane. He was quarantined and none of us could even visit with him in the hospital and then he just…passed away….” Trey’s breath caught and his voice trailed off.

“How old was he?” Officer Hamstein asked.

“Twenty-one.” Trey said, his voice choking up.

“How was his relationship with your ex-wife?” Officer Hamstein continued with his notes.

“During my ten-year marriage with Lucy, the two of them were very close with each other; Lucy was a big sister to him.”

“And after your marriage?” Officer Hamstein inquired, “Did they keep in contact?”

“No.” Trey replied. “My parents were very upset with Lucy for wanting a divorce. They’re old-school and don’t believe in it. They stopped speaking to her and made Jason promise to not contact her either.”

“What about you?” Officer Hamstein asked, “why did you not keep in contact with her?”

“I loved Lucy. But throughout our marriage, I could see that she didn’t love me the way I loved her. When we couldn’t have a child, she became unhappy and then depressed. By the time she requested a divorce, I was ready too. I couldn’t deal with her depression all the time. Even the medication she was on didn’t seem to help much. To tell you the truth, it was a huge relief after our divorce came through. My parents didn’t want any contact with Lucy and I didn’t want to fight with them for a woman who didn’t love me…so I just let her go…I cut all contact with Lucy.”

“I’m assuming you don’t want the details of the funeral, then?” Officer Hamstein asked.

“I’m sorry, I don’t.” Trey said, “I still have a lot to do for Jason.”

A short while later, Officer Hamstein left.

Two days later, he met with the Pathologist at the Coroner’s office.

“According to her medical file, the psychiatrist she was seeing prescribed Nardil (Phenelzine) for Lucy six years ago to treat depression,” Dr. Zhang said as he went through his report, “Lucy had tried many times but couldn’t get pregnant. She was also taking Melatonin to counteract the insomnia that was caused by the Nardil. The last update was from a year ago. She was weaned off the Nardil because she said that after her divorce, she’d met someone else and was feeling much better; happier.”

“Cause of death?” Officer Hamstein inquired.

“Cause of Death was a stroke triggered by the interaction between the Nardil and the food she had consumed.” Dr. Zhang said. “Her digestive and intestinal tracks were filled with chocolate cake, red wine and traces of Nardil. Looks like she didn’t have anything but chocolate cake for at least three consecutive days. The Nardil she took was likely expired. Nardil is a Monoamine oxidase inhibitor and can trigger a sharp and fatal rise in blood pressure when it interacts with certain foods. Lucy would have been warned about these.”

“Death by chocolate cake.” Officer Hamstein said.

“If she was depressed again, then she might have felt that the chocolate cake would give her a pick-me-up and make her feel better.” Dr. Zhang said.

“Yes. But too much of a good thing can kill you too.” Officer Hamstein said quietly.

“There’s one more thing,” Dr. Zhang said, “Lucy was likely unaware, but she was eight weeks pregnant when she died. The fetus died too.”

Officer Hamstein left the coroner’s office with a heavy heart.

The next day, Melissa Townesend visited him with the photo she had developed.

He scrutinized the photo carefully and then gasped. “Jason Macpherson!” he said, shocked.

He looked up at Melissa. “Are you sure this is her boyfriend?” he asked.

“Yes.” Melissa said.

“The man in the photo with Lucy is the younger brother of her ex-husband,” Officer Hamstein said, “He just died of Covid in B.C. He was twenty-one years old. Lucy was forty-five…that’s quite an age difference…plus the relationship…no wonder you said they were secretive about it.”

“He died?” Melissa asked, “Lucy...her entire world...gone. She probably wanted to die too.”


About the Creator

Rajkumarie Devi

Observing the world through different eyes and a different mindset.

Walking the path of enlightenment.

Love poetry, science fiction/fantasy and spirituality.

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