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The Muffin Man

                                                            Do you know the Muffin Man,
                                                                        The Muffin Man,
                                                                        The Muffin Man?
                                                            Do you know the Muffin Man
                                                            Who lives on Drury Lane?

“Hot muffins!  Fresh out of the oven!  Get your hot muffins here!”

The Muffin Man was a fixture on Drury Lane.  The lawyers who hurried past in suits and skirts could recall their parents telling them of the Muffin Man.  “Blueberry is best,” they said, “though he has peach and apricot muffins too if you want a change in your routine.”

The Muffin Man liked the lawyers.  They would hand him a five-pound note, grab a couple of muffins and hurry on to their jobs in the shiny glass offices without waiting for change.  It hadn't always been like that.  When the Muffin Man started out as an apprentice baker forty years ago, Drury Lane had been mostly residential, with a few shops:  a green grocer, a haberdashery, a tobacconist.  Back then everybody waited for their change – and counted it too.

One by one the other shops had all gone under.  Rent in the neighborhood had steadily risen and, with each increase, another shop closed down.  Now, except for the Starbucks two blocks away, his was the only shop on Drury Lane.  The Muffin Man couldn't understand how Starbucks made a go of it.  “Their tea is overpriced!  And those dry Bap rolls.  Yuck!”

Something else had changed in the neighborhood as well:  When the Muffin Man arrived at three in the morning to fire up his oven, he would sometimes notice girls standing in doorways or on the corner.  At first he thought they were lost or had missed the bus or something.  He worried about their safety.  But then he observed the short skirts and the bleached blond hair.

“Those girls are pr- pr- pro-,” the Muffin Man could barely get the word out, “prostitutes.”

Now the Muffin Man had a new worry.  The questionable ladies (he liked that term better) would drive away his customers.  “What will the nice lawyers think if they see one of those women standing in front of my shop?  They might not want to come in and buy a muffin!”

Once the Muffin Man had figured out what those women were doing, he began seeing them everywhere.  As late as six or seven in the morning, when the sidewalks were starting to fill with office workers, he would glimpse a bleached blond in a short skirt with bags under her eyes walking in the opposite direction.

Sales were down.  It couldn't be the Starbucks, not with those awful Bap rolls.  The Muffin Man was sure that the questionable ladies were driving away his customers.  “The neighborhood just isn't what it used to be,” he moaned, “How will I sell my muffins?”

                                                            They say he had a sword in hand,
                                                                        A sword in hand,
                                                                        A sword in hand,
                                                            They say he had a sword in hand
                                                            Chopped heads off, he's insane.

“The newspaper says that the killer used a sword.”

The society ladies who came to sit and eat muffins late in the morning could speak of nothing else.

“How awful!  What kind of a man could do that?”

“Some kind of pervert,” another lady said, nodding her head sagely, “Probably in his thirties and still living with his mother.”

“Probably can't even do it,” said a third, “That's why he kills.  Sexual frustration.”

It was around noon when the man from Scotland Yard dropped by.  “Excuse me, good sir,” he said, removing his hat, “Could you answer a few questions for me?”

“Certainly,” said the Muffin Man, “Care for a muffin?”

The questions were simple.  He was shown a picture of the girl or, at least, of her head.  “Ever seen this young lady before?”

“No, can't say that I have.”

“What time do you begin work?”

“Three in the morning.”

“Did you notice any strange men lurking about?”

“No.  But I'm in the back at my oven.  I wouldn't be looking out the front window.”

The inspector finished his muffin, thanked the Muffin Man for his time, and took another muffin.  “For my partner,” he explained.

                                                            The heads were neatly on a tray,
                                                                        On a tray,
                                                                        On a tray,
                                                            The heads were neatly on a tray
                                                            'Splayed resting on Drury Lane.

The following morning, three fresh bodies were discovered on Drury Lane.  London was in a panic.  There had not been a case like this since Jack the Ripper.  All three girls had been decapitated and their heads left where they would be spotted by early morning pedestrians.  It was a warning.  But to whom?

At a loss for physical evidence, Scotland Yard turned to their psychological profiler to attempt to get into the head of the madman.

“About 35 to 40 years old, Caucasian,” he prophesied, “physically unattractive, probably never had a girlfriend, lives alone or with his mother.

“Look for an older but well-maintained vehicle.  Not a sports car.  Probably a four-door sedan or a station wagon, though he has no use for the rear seat.   The car will have high mileage, as the killer lives in the suburbs and spends a lot of time driving around – looking for his victims.”

Throughout the city, Londoners were denouncing their neighbors or making frantic calls to the police to report having seen a vehicle that matched the description of the murder car.  The police could not keep up with all the tips flooding their switchboard.

                                                            The eyes were poked out on display,
                                                                        On display,
                                                                        On display,
                                                            The eyes were poked out on display
                                                            To see on Drury Lane.

“The murders will become more gruesome,” the psychological profiler added, “Because of the killer's sexual frustration, he will require more and more contact with the victims to satisfy his inhuman lusts.”

The Muffin Man's business was not hurt by all the attention focused on Drury Lane.  In fact, it improved, for there were many gawkers standing around trying to peer over the crime-scene tape.  And they were often hungry for muffins.

The inspector stopped by every day to learn if the Muffin Man had seen anything new – and to pick up a dozen muffins for the guys back at the Yard.  Investigating murders is hungry work.

“I've got your number on speed dial,” the Muffin Man assured him.

                                                            The bodies neatly gutted out,
                                                                        Gutted out,
                                                                        Gutted out,
                                                            The bodies neatly gutted out
                                                            The organs down the drain.

“This is definitely a sex crime,” the psychological profiler explained, “even though the girls are never sexually assaulted before death.  The murderer is probably unable to have sex – possibly a eunuch.  Look for a thin, muscular man in his thirties who has never played in an organized sport. 

“The killer must have great strength to overcome these girls so decisively, though it is probably all from lifting weights.  A eunuch would not have wanted to play organized sports lest the guys in the locker room notice that there was something missing between his legs.”

The Muffin Man's wife of thirty years fretted over his safety, but he assured her that his shop was quite secure.  Anyway, he told her, he had to get started even earlier in the morning now, for he was selling twice as many muffins as before the killings.  His three grown children offered to take turns helping him with the oven in the mornings and to be there if the killer might turn up.

“No, no,” the Muffin Man told them, “I'm quite alright working on my own.”

That afternoon the inspector showed up, this time accompanied by two constables.

“A break-though in the case, I hope?” said the Muffin Man, as he took three blueberry muffins out of the oven for his guests.

“We found a fingerprint.”

“Anybody I might know?”

“As a matter of fact, it was yours,” said the inspector, producing a pair of handcuffs, “Please turn around and put your hands against the wall.”

Moving impossibly fast for an overweight 60-year-old, the Muffin Man pushed a hot muffin into the inspector's face, kicked him in the shin and turned and ran out the back door, the two constables in hot pursuit.

                                                            The Muffin Man was never caught,
                                                                        Never caught,
                                                                        Never caught,
                                                            The Muffin Man was never caught
                                                            For murder on Drury Lane.

All of London was aghast.  Who did not know the Muffin Man who lived on Drury Lane?  How could it have been that nice old gentleman?  And where was he now?  The two constables who had pursued the Muffin Man were found in the alley, decapitated.  But where the Muffin Man had escaped to, nobody knew.

“At least the horror is over now,” Londoners assured each other, “He wouldn't dare show his face in this city again.”

                                                            Blood was written on the wall,
                                                                        On the wall,
                                                                        On the wall,
                                                            Blood was written on the wall
                                                            "Muffin Man has struck again."

That was twenty years ago and, while the pace of the murders has slowed, they never stopped.  Only last year, the headless body of another young lady was discovered on Drury Lane.

The muffin shop has been boarded up and padlocked ever since the Muffin Man ran out the back door.  But the women who walk the streets late at night will swear that they can see tendrils of smoke drifting up from the chimney and can smell fresh muffins baking when they walk past.

The police will occasionally undo the padlocks to inspect the building, but it is as tight as a drum.  The oven is cold and silent and the quarter-inch of dust on the floor is undisturbed.

They have no explanation when young office workers arrive at their desks in the morning with hot muffins.  When asked, they tell their co-workers that they bought the muffins off of a kindly old man in an apron pushing a hand-cart. 

But Scotland Yard insists that this cannot be true.  They have dozens of surveillance cameras covering Drury Lane from every angle and they have never seen a vendor who matches the description given by the office workers.

                                                            Who's afraid of the Muffin Man,
                                                                        The Muffin Man,
                                                                        The Muffin Man,
                                                            Are you afraid of the Muffin Man
                                                            Who killed on Drury Lane?

So, if you're ever on Drury Lane and you hear the call, “Hot muffins!  Fresh out of the oven!  Get your hot muffins here!” don't hesitate to buy one.  They're good muffins.  The best in all of London.

But if you're a questionable lady... well, then you'd better run.

                                                            Yes, I'm afraid of the Muffin Man,
                                                                        The Muffin Man,
                                                                        The Muffin Man,
                                                            Yes, I'm afraid of the Muffin Man
                                                            Who killed on Drury Lane.

Note:  The story is by Victor Aguilar and the poem is by Dan “buddho” Duna