I first read this in the late 90's, and it was even then a purple mimeographed copy. My memory is that the speaker offers coffee to the "client" and then they talk for some time about the "client's" intended victim, which the reader discovers near the end is to give time for the poison in the coffee to begin to work. The speaker advises the coffee drinker of his poisoning and tells him part of the cost of the antidote is to leave a written confession of his original intentions, to be published in the event anything happened to the person he was planning to have killed. The very end is something like, "Please, tell your friends about me," with the implication that the speaker is making the world safer by trapping those who would hire killers. Does this ring any bells?

I got no hits from searching Apothecary, Poisoner, or Chemist, all of which seemed faintly remembered or at least plausible titles. I do remember that it's a very short story.

I'll be so grateful if anyone can help me figure this out - such an annoyance to keep remembering more and more details, but come up dry on the title!

  • See if anything here rings a bell - I glanced through the Literature section but might have missed something.
    – bobble
    Dec 31, 2021 at 21:17
  • Thanks - these are all spot-on examples of the trope my short story used, but the story itself was not listed there. Good suggestion, though - it was fun to read through the list! Jan 1, 2022 at 18:31
  • @SarahAddELA: You can find instructions on how to accept an answer in the tour. Jan 5, 2022 at 12:28

1 Answer 1


The Hobbyist by Fredric Brown

From Wikipedia:

Brown's flash fiction short story "The Hobbyist" (1961) is about a man named Sangstrom, who is in a desperate search for an undetectable poison but winds up getting more than he bargained for.

  • More details at studymoose.com/the-hobbyist-by-frederic-brown-essay Jan 5, 2022 at 12:27
  • Thanks so much! I was just coming here to say I found it in a collection of audio short stories! I don't know how I ever would have gotten to the noun "Hobbyist" with only what I remembered, but as soon as I saw the title, it leapt to recognition! Thanks again Ayshe. Jan 6, 2022 at 21:46

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