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Monthly Archives: May 2016

Cletterin, Mollockin and Murderin…

Sunset Cold Comfort 350

To Sherlock Holmes Esq from Doctor Watson

My Dear Holmes,

I write these lines sitting by my window overlooking the meadow, watching the sun slowly sink in the gray of the sky. Or at least I would if Flora’s description of the farm had been stuffed with actual facts, rather than pathetically idealistic notions of country living. The truth of the matter is that I have been billeted in what can only be described as a bit of a shithole above a slightly larger shithole, locally termed ‘the cow shed’.

While it’s true that I can indeed see the meadow, this latter geographical feature might be more readily recognised by persons such as yourself, as ‘a field’. A field covered in cowshit. Indeed, the whole place is pretty much covered in cowshit – I’m beginning to think the substance must be revered as some sort of priceless local currency. Next, they’ll be telling me they grow potatoes with it!

However, I digress. I’m sure you will be less interested in my domestic situation than in the goings-on at the farm itself.

We arrived in the early evening just as the workers were gathering for their meal. Our driver (Adam Shitebreath) led the horse away while Flora bid me follow her up to the house. The farm itself is situated at the brow of a hill, which I imagine must present a fetching scene when viewed as a silhouette at sunset. Flora led me across the farmyard, taking care to tread on a series of filthy planks that had been laid out in lieu of a path, thus saving our footwear from the worst of the mud and aforementioned cowshit that covered everything.

Pushing open the back door (no-one uses the front door for some reason), I was led into a large kitchen area packed with men of various ages, along with a couple of odd-looking women. The genial hubbub ceased as I came into view and all eyes turned to me.

“Everyone – this is Doctor Watson. He’s from Londen.”

At the mention of my name, a low groan rumbled round the room and a single voice piped up “Ar be gon ter bring Mistress Doom backer loife, en?”

I looked to Flora for a translation, but she simply advised the speaker to ‘stop talking shite’, which was language I could understand.

We then pushed through the crowd towards the stairs, leaving the workers to their meal. I clutched my rucksack to my chest, mindful that poor Henri was still nestling inside.

Upstairs, Flora directed me along a series of complicated passageways that I assumed were leading to the room I was to stay in. Unfortunately, this was not the case and as the young woman opened the door at the end of a particularly long and dark corridor, I realised what it was she wanted me to do.

The smell was the first thing to hit me, followed by a familiar gurgling in my tummy. I swallowed hard, praying my luncheon would not resurface from either orifice. Thankfully, Flora guessed my predicament and crossed the room, drew back the curtains and threw open the windows, allowing sufficient fresh air into the place to quell my surging stomach.

I took a few deep breaths and turned my attention to the body lying on the bed. “She’s still here, then?”

Flora nodded. “I thought you’d want to examine her.”

“Well, yes, normally I would, but I’d assumed the police would’ve…” I looked at the body, the blood-encrusted knife glinting in the fading sunlight. I looked at Flora. “The police have been, haven’t they?”

She coughed. “I’m afraid they won’t come up this far.”

“What? There isn’t a constable in the village?”

She shook her head, then nodded. “There is, but he won’t come up here.”

I sensed my next question was one I probably didn’t want to hear the answer to. But it had to be asked. “Why not?”

“Because of the thing in the woodshed.”

“In the woodshed.” I swallowed hard. Again. “And what exactly is in the woodshed?”

Flora gave a regretful shrug. “Something nasty.”

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Posted by on May 25, 2016 in Detective Fiction

 

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Very Cold Comfort at the Farm…

At the Station 350

From the Diary of Doctor J. Watson

Having made it clear to my dear wife that I would be catching the early train, I should have expected some kerfuffle on my departure. It wasn’t enough that I’d spent most of the night seeing to her ‘womanly needs’, preparing breakfast in bed and then bathing her in that ‘special’ way, no – before I was allowed to leave, I was forced to endure one of her lectures on the perils of consuming unpasteurized milk and mixing with ‘loose-limbed country folk’. I shall have to cancel her subscription to Dairy Farming for the Middle Classes – it’s giving her far too many ideas. Quite what she imagines I’ll be getting up to on a farm is beyond me – although to be fair, I may have trumped on rather a lot about the young and vibrant Flora Poste, so perhaps the fault is my own.

I finally escaped my wife’s clutches in the front hall, and as I opened the door, I heard the familiar call of a certain feathered friend coming in to land.

Like most of Sherlock Holmes’ missives, his ‘French Letter’ had arrived in the nick of time. Fluttering down onto the pavement, Henri, as is his wont, walked the last few yards pigeon-toed up the path, then looked up at me as if to say ‘What’s Up Doc?’ I removed the small canister from the bird’s leg and unrolled the message, sliding the latter (the message) into my top pocket and the former (the bird) into my rucksack, where he proceeded to make himself comfortable.

Later, as the train chugged its weary way southwards, I re-read my companion’s letter over and over, his words echoing in my head like strange echoey things. It had not occurred to me that the death of Ada Doom might be anything other than a freak accident – perchance a slip of the hand while slicing an apple, or a knife-juggling trick gone wrong. Perhaps I was foolish to imagine a simple explanation, but I can see how my initial reaction that – as Holmes himself says – the case might be ‘an interesting distraction’ was completely wrong. I should have concentrated on the rather more obvious clue that Ada Doom’s death was in fact murder, and whoever killed her is more than likely still in the vicinity of Cold Comfort.

It was this very thought that reverberated yet again as I stood on the deserted platform at the curiously-named village of Howling. Gazing up and down, I noted that not only did I appear to be without a lift to the farm, but it was also pissing down with rain.

For some minutes, I was at a loss. Taking a look round, I was not heartened to find that the station itself was about as isolated as it’s possible to get, and the village, if in fact it existed at all, was nowhere to be seen.

As I stood at one end of the platform looking into the distance, I saw movement in the bushes further up the line and after a moment was able to discern a horse’s head, a cart and two figures trundling along at the other side of the hedge.

“Coo-ee!” called a female voice in a not-unpleasant tone. “Doctor Watson? Is that you?”

I collected my bag and hurried to the gate where I awaited their approach. The young woman waving from her perch on the rickety cart, was of course Flora herself – an image of radiant beauty and sparkling eyes (it seems my wife had good reason to be jealous). Beside her sat a man with a face so wrinkled it might have been made out of cheese. Mouldy cheese, with lots of wrinkles in it.

“Clar oop yer, dottor watton,” said the old man, leaning down to help me up.

I clambered onto the seat next to Flora and threw my rucksack in the back, quite forgetting about poor Henri, who let out an indignant squawk.

The old man (who I later learned was named Adam Shitebreath) hummed a strange tune as he hauled the cart around in a circle and set off back the way he’d come.

As the skies cleared and the sun began to break through, I noticed a dead pig in the back of the cart. I glanced down at Flora’s ample cleavage and wondered what I’d let myself in for.

To be continued

 
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Posted by on May 18, 2016 in Detective Fiction

 

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English Words, French Letters…

From Sherlock Holmes Esq to Doctor J. Watson

(Chateaux Pompadour, Rue de l’Ocean, Pornic, France)

Dearest Johnny

Chateaux Pompadour 350

As you will see from my current address, I am holidaying in a quaint little chateaux overlooking ‘Le Mer’ (excuse any shortcomings in my grammar – I haven’t locked lips with the lingo since prep school). After our last escapade, I decided to get away from it all for a while. Naturally, I would have invited you along, but given our recent adventures and the considerable time you and Mrs Watson have been apart, I thought it best to at least give her the opportunity of catching up on marital (ahem) activities.

You will be heartened that your missives are being forwarded to me via Henri the carrier pigeon, who is perched at my table as I write, awaiting the return communication. I perused your letter with great interest – the Starkadder brood sound fascinating and the case will no doubt provide an interesting distraction (I already have eight possible motives/murderers in mind). By all means sally forth down to Sussex and infiltrate the family. I will endeavour to join you in a few days, although Madame Pompadour and her large bosom appear to have one or two petites faveurs’ on her agenda before I am able to depart this tranquil idyll.

Incidentally, I recall the incident at Folsom Lake and it may interest you to know that Henry Poste and his lady friend (mistress, actually, not wife), may have been the victims of foul play. In fact, I wondered at the time if it might be Miss Flora Poste herself who was behind the shenanigans. I have no wish to cast aspersions on your former classmate’s family, but please have a care in your dealings with the young woman – just in case.

By the by, you might wish to pack your trusty revolver – if at least one of my theories is correct, there will be another murder in the next few days.

Be alert!

Yours, Sherl.

 
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Posted by on May 13, 2016 in Detective Fiction

 

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A Curious Communication…

Folsom Crash Paper 350

To Sherlock Holmes Esq from Doctor Watson

My Dear Holmes

I trust you’ve heard about the ‘Moriarty’s Ma’ debacle at Scotland Yard? I can’t believe Lestrade thought it was a good idea to let the Evil Genius have visitors, but that’s what a public school education does for you, eh? At least the aforementioned villain had the decency to let me have transcripts of his recordings before disguising himself as his own mother and disappearing into the mists once again. My account of what I’m calling ‘Not the Thirty Nine Steps’ will be appearing in The Strand Magazine next week.

More interestingly, I had a curious communication from the daughter an old acquaintance this morning: it seems that my former school chum Henry Poste has popped his clogs after a typically ill-fated adventure charting the inlets of the California River. He and his good lady wife (who I never met) fell to their deaths after the wind dropped and the water-cooled glider aeroplane they were travelling in plummeted into the murky depths of Folsom Lake. He always was a bit of a risk-taker, so it’s no surprise, really.

However, their daughter Flora has found herself in a rather sticky situation, and it is she who wrote asking for assistance. Having stayed temporarily with an old friend, she accepted an invitation from distant relatives the Starkadders. Arriving at the oddly named ‘Cold Comfort Farm’ last weekend, she was given a reasonably warm welcome, and while family relationships appeared normal at first, two days ago she was wakened during the night by a ‘blood-curdling’ scream. It transpired that the Starkadder matriarch Aunt Ada Doom, had been stabbed in the heart and is, unsurprisingly, dead.

Reading between the lines, I suspect Flora is concerned that something sinister may be afoot. I suggest we take ourselves off to Sussex without further delay. At the very least, she promises we shall be well fed, and if things take a turn for the worse, we will be on hand to intervene.

I look forward to your speedy response.

Watson

 
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Posted by on May 5, 2016 in Detective Fiction

 

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