When you have housemates, it is important to establish clear boundaries. Hence when I moved into this place I made sure that everyone saw my most important possession, a ceramic mug that states, “Don’t Bother Me Until I Finish My Third Cup of Coffee.”

Chad’s reaction was benign but clueless, a forced chuckle and an unconvincing, “That’s hilarious.”

“It’s not supposed to be funny,” I replied. “It’s a command.” Chad appeared confused, so when we bumped into each other the next morning I filled the mug with Ethiopia Uraga and held up a single digit, then pressed it against my pursed lips. Even a clever toddler would know I am telling him to shut up, but Chad is not very bright. Or more precisely, he was not…

Ashley, the art student, at first nodded pleasantly, but in the morning went into a whole spiel about how, “objets d’art, including your humble coffee cup, should not have words on them.” Her theory was that printed words and beauty are incompatible. It was only on my second cup, so I was in no mood for a lecture on aesthetics.

Gritting my teeth, I explained that my mug was not meant to please the eye, but to convey a message that would be difficult to render using recognized symbols. She replied, “You wouldn’t be so grumpy if you had less caffeine in your life and more beauty.” I grunted and moved on.

Finally, there was that fool Connor. You won’t believe what he asked me. “Did you make enough for everyone?”

I had just taken a sip from my third cup, so was able to restrain myself from beating him senseless at that moment. I calmly stated, “No, I did not. This coffee maker has a capacity of 12 cups, and I intend to drink all of them.”

“Wow, that is a fuck-ton of coffee,” he said.

“Don’t be vulgar, Connor. And no, it is not a large quantity of coffee. That is why I have my friend Francesca here.” I indicated my prized Gaggia Brera espresso machine. “Sometimes a need a latte around 3.”

“That’s a lot of coffee-making gear, brah. Could you let the rest of us use it to make our own coffee?”

I squared myself and looked him right in the eye, “Could I borrow your girlfriend once in a while?” Connor just about spit out his orange juice. (He had to be a juice guy.)

“That was inappropriate,” he said.

“I know. I was trying to make a point about your indecent request. My coffee makers are not allowed to service other people like cheap harlots.”

“Wow,” he replied, “You are pretty mental about this. You realize those are inanimate objects, right?” Now he had truly crossed the line. My dear Francesca was sitting right there. I suddenly envisioned what 20 pounds of Italian steel could do to a man’s skull.

It was just at that moment that Chad decided to insert his big dumb yap into the situation. “Wow, you guys seem tense! Why don’t you hug it out and play some foosball?”

“I’M STILL ON MY THIRD CUP, NUMBNUTS!” The words seem to come more from the depths of Hell than my own mouth. The next thing I knew, Chad and Connor lay lifeless on the floor, and my lovely Francesca was covered in blood. So much blood.

Ashley? She had already left for class, so the world will no doubt be subjected to paintings honoring her lost housemates. Or perhaps she can see beauty in how I defended Francesca’s honor?

Anyhow, that’s the whole story, Officer Menendez. I am ready to surrender peacefully if you let me finish this macchiato.