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Monthly Archives: January 2016

A Deadman’s Pockets…

From the Diary of Doctor WatsonPostcard

There was little need to check the man’s vital signs, but I went through the motions nevertheless. Given my companion’s somewhat heightened sense of terror, I decided to break the news to him as gently as possible:

“He’s snuffed it.”

“My God! I’m next!” Hannay’s hands flew to his face, cupping those rosy cheeks in a girlish manner that put me in mind of my own dear wife and the ‘swooning maiden’ act she sometimes adopts when I show her my rhododendrons.

“We must fetch Sherlock Holmes,” he cried, tugging at my lapel. “Only he can save us.”

I brushed him aside. “Don’t be such a nancy-boy, Hannay. Pull yourself together.” I checked through the dead man’s pockets and found two items: a picture postcard of some obscure Scottish village and a small white card displaying a silhouette of a man and the slogan ‘Scudder’s Marital Aids’. Slipping both articles into my pocket I stood up. “His name’s Scudder and judging from his business card I don’t believe him to be involved in creative writing. Now, Hannay, this is very important – the word he uttered before he fell…”

Hannay rubbed his chin. “I thought he was asking for the Post Office.”

I shook my head. “No, that’s meaningless. I thought he said ‘Ostovich’, which is obviously Russian. This man is a secret agent.”

“But what’s that got to do with Scudder Card copyme?”

I walked over to the window and retrieved my cup of tea. “I think this has something to do with your writing, Hannay, but it’s also got something to do with spies.”

“But I don’t know anything about spying,” he wailed.

“Ah,” said I. “But in your recent novel ‘The Forty-Seven Arsewipes’ you went into great detail about the process of creating false passports.”

“Oh, you read my books?” His manner changed abruptly and he began pawing at my chest like a lovesick pig.

“Indeed,” I muttered, moving out range. “I didn’t like to say so before, but I’m rather fond of a good story and the depth of research that goes into your work might easily prompt a less intelligent casual reader to think you were involved in spying yourself.”

He shrugged. “Actually, I make it all up, but I suppose it’s possible…”

“Not only possible, but highly likely. You said yourself that someone was trying to steal your new novel.” I rubbed my chin the way I’ve seen Holmes do in such situations. “I believe that the men who have been following you are enemy agents. Scudder here was obviously involved – perhaps he was a double agent. A triple agent, even.” I peeked through the curtains and noted with a grim nod that the two men at the phone box where still there. “We have to leave.”

“And go where?”

At that precise moment in time I had no idea, but then a thought occurred to me. Pulling the postcard out of my pocket I studied the picture closely – it depicted a traditional Scottish village and the slogan ‘Frae Bonnie Scotland’. “We need time to consider our next move,” I said, waving the card. “We’ll catch the next train to Edinburgh and head for Newton Stewart – no-one will think of looking for us there.”

To be continued

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Posted by on January 29, 2016 in Detective Fiction

 

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From a Window…

From the Diary of Dr WatsonPhone Box men.jpg 250x

It was dark when Hannay and myself arrived at his apartment. My companion’s initial enthusiasm (spurred by the knowledge of the gun in my pocket), had by this time dissipated somewhat. He began to display signs of anxiety – sweating profusely from every pore, an inability to get his key in the lock, visibly starting at the click of the light switch etc. I made myself useful by making a pot of tea while he hurried to the window and drew the curtains.

“Here we are, old bean,” I said, handing him a mug of Darjeeling. “This’ll perk you up.”

Holding the edge of the curtain open, Hannay took the cup but his gaze was fixed on the street outside. “They’re back again, see?” He turned to me, a look of utter fright in his eyes. “What the devil can they want?”

I shrugged and peered over his shoulder. In the street below, two rather dubious looking men were standing by a telephone box, looking up at the flat. I determined to put a brave face on it: “Looks perfectly innocent to me – just a couple of chaps having a quiet smoke.”

Hannay shook his head. “No, they’re after my plot.”

I blinked. “Your what?”

“My plot,” said he. “They want to steal The 39 Steps.”

I considered this for a long moment, debating the consequences of such a proposition. “Sorry, what?”

He uttered a sound that underlined his apparent pissed-offness. “Watson! Don’t you get it? It’s all about my book – The 39 Steps. They want to steal the plot.”

I began to experience a growing sensation of annoyance. “What, you mean this isn’t about some international spy ring? ”

“Spy ring? God no, it’s much, much worse.”

My blood ran cold. “You mean – they’re writers?”

“Of course they’re bloody writers, damn it. Ever since I came up with a cracking good idea for my new novel, everyone’s been after it.”

I sighed. “You’re an idiot. Sorry Hannay, but I’m going home.” I began to put on my underpants, my socks and my string vest. However, a knock at the door startled us both. “Who the fuck’s that?”

“It’s them!” Screamed Hannay, “they’re going to kill me.”

I pulled on my trousers. “Don’t be ridiculous. It’s probably just someone who’s lost their way and seeking directions.” I hastened to the door and pulled it open.

Standing before us was a moustachioed man wearing a frock coat. He leaned forward slightly and muttered, “Ostovich.”

“What?” said I. But our visitor spake no more. He pitched forward and fell in a heap on the floor. And that’s when I noticed the knife in his back…

To be continued.

 
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Posted by on January 21, 2016 in Detective Fiction

 

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The Spy at Night…

To Sherlock Holmes Esq from Doctor Watson

Dear HolmesPub Sign

As you appear to be ignoring my messages, I have taken it upon myself to investigate the matter I brought to your attention the other day. Since our old pal Bill Sikes is unwilling to inveigle himself any further in the affair, I sent a telegram to ‘Vicki’s Titties’ (a public house of dubious repute) arranging to meet with Mr Hannay and attempt some sort of intervention.

When I arrived at the aforementioned hostelry last evening, I alighted from my Hansom in a flurry of excitement. I hasten to say the excitement was not of my doing, but created by a group of young apprentices in the midst of a series of strange tasks: some bigwig by the name of Lord Shagger had demanded they ascertain the cost of performing an appendectomy on the cheap, and to this end they pinned me to the wall and fired a barrage of questions regarding surgical cuts etc. I brandished my Doctor’s bag and swung it to and fro til they spotted the old fiend Dr Knox across the road (still on the run in regard to that body-snatching phase of his).

As the yobs turned to chase after Knoxie, I scurried into the public house and located the landlord. He glanced around nervously and bade me make haste to an upstairs room where I found our client, Richard Hannay.

“Where’s Sherlock Holmes?” said he, with what I deduced to be a rather unhelpful degree of resentment.

I explained that Mr Holmes was engaged on another matter, but that I would do all I could to help. At this, he crumpled in a heap on the fireside rug and began to sob loudly. Feeling somewhat embarrassed at this show of unmanliness, I determined to explore my feminine side and knelt down beside him. Slipping an arm around his shoulder I must admit I found the experience of human contact rather comforting (as you know, Mrs Watson has been somewhat distant lately, following her fling with that Italian ice cream seller).

It transpires that Hannay cannot return to his own flat as one of his admirers is tormenting him with threats of libel etc. (I use this term loosely, since his melodramatic plots are nothing more than completely ridiculous and unlikely to provoke anything other than utter boredom). However, I persuaded him that it was foolish to stay away from his own home and that we should go there at once and face whoever (or whatever) awaits us.

In the end, I only managed to convince him to take my advice after showing him my trusty weapon. His eyes lit up on seeing it, and he begged me to let him touch it. I agreed to this, since I didn’t see any harm in letting him feel its solid shaft and hair trigger, so long as the damn thing didn’t go off in his hand!

Thus empowered, he became considerably animated and minutes later, we hailed a cab and set off for his apartment. Had I known what lurked in the shadows of that deadly spot, I might have taken more notice of Hannay’s concerns.

To be continued

Watson

 
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Posted by on January 17, 2016 in Detective Fiction

 

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A Timely Missive…

Hand-delivered by Urchin

Deer Docter WatsenBig Ben small

I am sure yule forgiv this intrushon inter your privat life, but I have come upon a situashon what you might be abel ter help with (or indeed, your pal Mister Holmes). As you knowe, I have lately been on the strayt and narrow after being a bit of a robber fer most of my lyfe, so have been involvd in doin some cleanin fer the gover ment. In fact, I have been cleanin the basement in the monument what is knowne as Big Ben. An while doin so I have come inter contact with a gentleman by the name of Mister Hannay.

Anyway, I will get to the point of this letter: Mister Hannay is a writer what is interested in writin crim books and books about villins an that, an he was arskin me what I thought about stuff. Well, whil we was talkin, he arsked how many steps there was up to the tower, so I said there were about four undred.

He was a bit upset at this and said “So not thirty-nine, then?”

“No,” said I.

“Bugger,” said he.

Anyway, then he said he would have ter go and I watched him goin off down the streete. Then I appened ter notice that two surly-lookin fellers was following him, so I hurried on down and catched up with him and took him inter a nearby pub.

The long and the short and the tall of it, Docter, is that Mister Hannay needs your help. I have enclosed the address at where he is stayin and have told him to expect you shortly.

I ope this were alright

Yours sinseerly

Bill Sikes

 
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Posted by on January 13, 2016 in Detective Fiction

 

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And From the Comfort of His Armchair…

From the diary of Doctor Watson.baker Street fireside

“I still don’t understand why you let that man go, Holmes,” I muttered, spreading a dollop of butter on one of Mrs Hudson’s hot muffins. “After all, he could have led us directly to Fu Manchu.”

Sherlock Holmes leaned back in his chair and puffed on his favourite Meerschaum pipe (the one whose carved bowl depicted a mountain goat and an eager youth engaged in a variety of deviant pursuits).  “Really, Watson? How ironic.” And he smiled that sardonic smile of his.

I turned to Lestrade, who was also buttering Mrs Hudson’s muffins. “Have you any idea, Inspector?”

Holmes made a tutting noise that I interpreted as meaning our police companion’s opinion was not worth listening to. I realised later that the particular tutting sound Holmes had uttered was the one signifying a failure on my part to have reached the same conclusions as he had himself.

Lestrade shook his head. “I believe I may have a small inclination, Doctor.”

“Naturally,” said Holmes. (I noticed for the first time that my friend’s attention had not been absent from Lestrade’s features since we had arrived back at Baker Street). I shuffled round in my chair and turned myself towards the policeman.

Lestrade sniffed and held the well-buttered muffin to his lips. “Is this margarine?” He looked at Holmes, then at me. Then at the muffin. Which is when a rather strange thing happened – his arm began to descend back towards the occasional table beside his chair. He replaced the muffin on the tea plate and taking out his handkerchief, wiped his fingers.

I glanced at Holmes, who glanced at me, then we both glanced at Lestrade.

There was a long pause during which I began to feel the need to break wind. Thankfully, I was able to maintain my dignity by clenching my buttocks, since the expression of such an intimate bodily function in front of our guest would not have endeared me to my companion.

Lestrade frowned. “Just tell me this – what gave me away?”

Staring hard at Lestrade, Holmes steepled his fingers and smiled. “Everyone knows that a certain Asian villain is lactose intolerant.” He chuckled. “Well?”

Lestrade pursed his lips and raising both hands towards his brow, began to peel away the rubber mask that concealed his true identity.

“My God! Holmes!” I cried. “It’s Fu Manchu!”

Holmes rolled his eyes. “Really Watson, you must desist from that infernal habit of using exclamation marks after your exclamations.”

“Sorry, Holmes,” said I, feeling slightly miffed. “But it’s him…”

“Yes, I know it’s him,” said Holmes, with another sardonic smile. Then, leaping to his feet, he grasped the edges of his dressing gown and flung out his arms, displaying his massive weapon.

“Bloody Hell, Holmes,” said I.

“Indeed.” And in an instant he had whipped the Samurai sword out of its sheath and brought it down on Fu Manchu’s head. Or rather, within an inch of the little bald patch on the top of his head.

Manchu rose slowly to his feet, keeping his beady little eyes on the blade, lest it should slip and lop off one of his ears. “Mr Holmes. It seems you win again.”

“Oh, for God’s sake!” I cried.

Holmes smiled, lowered his weapon and returned it to its sheath. Then holding out one hand towards Fu Manchu, made a little ‘come hither’ motion with his slender, but firm fingers.

“Very well,” said the arch villain. “You win this time,” and reaching into his jacket, pulled out a leather purse. Withdrawing a small coin, he handed it to my companion. “As usual?”

Holmes took the sixpenny piece and slipped it into his own pocket. “Thank you, Fu.”

And with that, Fu Manchu turned on his heel and left the room.

“What the fu…” I began.

But Holmes held up a hand. “Don’t you understand, Watson?”

I shook my head, feeling that something important had passed me by. Again.

Holmes shrugged. “It’s a game, Watson. Just a bloody game.”

“Sorry, what?”

The annoyance must have shown in my face for Holmes stepped forward and took my hairy little face in his hands. “You know how I often say ‘Game On,’ Watson?”

I nodded.

He gave me (for once) a wry smile. “Sometimes, my dear friend, it pays to take things literally. “

The look of pure condescension on my companion’s face threw me into an absolute rage and before I could stop myself, I was swinging my arm back and would have given him a jolly good right hook, but as with many things, the action of raising my arm prompted a reaction, and I let out a rather sudden, and loud (and smelly), fart.

We did laugh.

Watson.

 
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Posted by on January 6, 2016 in Detective Fiction

 

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