Writer’s Digest #18: Krispy Kreme Arson

Below’s my submission to Writer’s Digest #18, the 750-word contest talking about a cop who investigates a string of Krispy Kreme arsons. Here’s the one I sent, the funny version. I must confess I had John Pinette in mind when I wrote this police officer.

NOTE: New Amsterdam is a fictitious city in Michigan.

Krispy Kreme becomes Krispy Kritter: A True American Tragedy

By Richard Zowie

“What about breakfast?” my wife asked me as I kissed her.

“I’ll stop at the Krispy Kreme on the way to work,” I replied.

I’m a homicide detective in the Detroit suburbs at the New Amsterdam (or “Newam”, for short) Police Department. Hey! Stop that snickering! I love Krispy Kremes. Deal with it! I’ve had to tolerate people smirking, “BAD COP! NO DONUT!” at the sight of me eating a Krispy Kreme. When I was a traffic cop, one drunk driver offered to pay his DUI fine by giving me Dunkin’ Donuts. I arrested him, because his offer of Dunkin’ Donuts and not Krispy Kremes was insulting.

As I drove, I noticed a lot of police scanner chatter about fires. Devil’s Night isn’t until October, so what’s goin’ on? I thought.

Then, I saw smoke in the horizon, about a mile away, right off the exit I take to get to my Krispy Kreme, where they know my name and what I eat (Chocolate Iced Kreme-Filled, by the way). As I drove closer, I could see lots of fire trucks near the doughnut shop. Smoke still drifted in thick clouds from the charred building as the firefighters looked like they’d contained it. Krispy Kreme had become a Krispy Kritter. I radioed it in to dispatch and they told me to wait there for other cops to arrive. Besides the fire trucks there were ambulances.

I flipped on my lights and headed toward my heartbreak. The sweet smoke made me think of burning, fruit-filled donuts. When I parked, I sat in the car, stunned, staring glassy-eyed at the burned building, wondering what I’d do now. How many Chocolate Iced Kreme Filled donuts, Original Glazed and Apple Fritters went to waste in this tragic fire?

The other cops arrived. “You’ve been assigned this case, Joe,” said Stan, a robbery detective and a good friend of mine.

“Case?” I asked. “The fire department is investigatin’ this. Why would they need our help?”

Stan’s gaze at me widened. “You haven’t heard?”

“Heard what?”

“Well, for one thing, this Newam Krispy Kreme fire looks to be an arson. Someone even died in this fire. And there have been other Krispy Kreme fires today in other cities.”


Stan sighed, pausing. “They got the one in Allen Park—”

—not Allen Park! I thought. That was my backup Krispy Kreme shop!—

“—they also got the one in Troy, Grand Rapids, three in Ohio and then two in Indiana. The closest unscathed one is in Erie, Pennsylvania. We’re hearing they’ve all been ruled arsons. And since the one person died in this fire here, they’re assigning you, Mr. Homicide Detective, to investigate.”

At first, I said nothing. How could I? I was too stunned, too scared, too angry, too anguished. Finally, I erupted.


Everyone within earshot (firefighters, store employees, cops, rubberneckers and reporters) jolted and glared my way. Stan looked at me, incredulous, almost angry, as if I’d just slapped him. I could completely understand all of them. What kind of a monster burns down a doughnut shop? A health-food Nazi? Jillian Michaels, that fitness fanatic chick from The Biggest Loser?

I walked around, notebook out, and found Chief Eichmann. His face was shiny with sweat, and I could see his scalp glittering from perspiration through his close-cropped blond haircut. He looked exhausted. I showed him my badge, identified myself and asked him what happened.

The chief told me what he knew so far:

Witnesses saw a young man, wearing a Detroit Tigers cap, running from the scene.

The way the fire was set indicated the suspect may have served as a firefighter.

The fire began in the back room, where the machines that make the doughnuts are kept.

The deceased was an assistant manager who was trying to salvage the office computer and save the data on it.

What, he didn’t bother tryin’ to save the donuts? I thought.

I thanked the chief as I took notes and started making calls on my cell phone. The first one, to my wife to tell her to download some doughnut recipes. Then to my confidential informant to find out the word on the street. The sooner I figured out what scum burned down this store, the sooner they’d rebuild and the sooner I’d get my doughnuts again.

Copyright © 2009 by Richard Zowie. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or republished without permission.