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In the Belly of the Beast – or Not, as it Happens…

From Sherlock Holmes Esq to Doctor Watson:

Watson – I have been putting off sending this missive as I have been experiencing a rather strange emotion – a totally unfamiliar sensation – and in discussions with our friend Logan McRae, he surmised, no doubt quite correctly, that the feeling I have been noting at regular intervals, is none other than common-or-garden Guilt – tinged perhaps with a soupcon of Remorse. It is he who has convinced me that you require an apology…going against the grain, as it does, I have agreed to furnish you with an explanation for my last (no doubt “unforgivable” in your eyes) course of action, before leaving you “in the lurch” as you no doubt saw it.

I have been turning it over in my mind, and have to admit that at the time, I saw no other Solution; we were both Ms Adler’s captives In the Belly of the Beast, as you so aptly put it; the stench of hot vegetable oil was turning my stomach; the strength of Ms Adler’s perfume  (did she really say it was ‘Poison’?) was making me light-headed; your irritating nervous habits of constantly clearing your throat and drumming on the red leather upholstery were fuelling my senses of irritation and annoyance that we had been forced in to this frustrating state – all these several things were building in to a volcanic kernel of Fury at my own helplessness that I could not have ignored the compulsion any longer. To request a Toilet Break was my Way Out and I did feel something to think of you still ensconced in that Infernal – in the heat and the stench, comparatively so – Contraption, but I convinced myself that I was going for Help, and you would be free in no time…I did Not expect to have been deposited on the ground so close to the Local Constabulary’s Watering-hole.

Therefore, I trust and hope that you can see how a couple of minutes can have stretched to a couple of hours and then to a couple of days…need I go on? However, McRae has assured me that they have managed to narrow down the range of your present location to 100 miles or so…or a rough approximation….

Be strong! – Think of England! (or Scotland, if you’d rather…but perhaps this may have curbed your Nationalistic Fervour somewhat…).

Your Friend (I trust you will not be thinking of adding “Former” to that sobriquet).

SH.

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Posted by on May 2, 2015 in Detective Fiction

 

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McRae’s Lament..

From Sherlock Holmes Esq to Dr J Watson:

Watson –  I am impressed! – You are certainly beginning to use your grey matter in a manner fitting a true investigator  –  I offer my congratulations heartily, but with, of course, slightly grudging admiration, as you of all people know my inherent fear of having my accolades usurped…..even by my closest – doubtless you will say – only – friend.

Be that as it may, I have to reveal the true perpetrator of the jape as none other than our sometime collaborator Inspector McRae, whose intention, in his own words, was to “tak’ some of the air fae that windbag Watson” and “tak’ some o’ the stuffing oot ‘ees mealie-puddin’s” – whatever that may mean; he assured me it was all in good fun and held no malice aforethought whatsoever; however, with the intervention of time, I am beginning to suspect his intentions were not so pure, as a subsequent communication from his Office has hinted at a slight whiff of unhealthy hero-worship, and I am beginning to come to the conclusion that the whole incident was engineered in an attempt to weaken the strong bond which has remained steadfast and true through all our adventures and perils together, and which up till now, has managed to resist every attempt to rent said ties asunder.

However, we must put such petty matters aside to concentrate on more pressing situations – namely this case which you outlined briefly in your last missive; I shall therefore be at 221B this evening, poised and ready to receive your interpretation, fuelled by Mrs Hudson’s Premium Apple Turnovers, Mixed-fruit Muffins and Cockle Comforts – not to mention several pots of Builders’ Tea and a French Fancy to finish. Trusting your appetite is commensurate with the prospect.

Your friend, somewhat world-weary, SH.

 
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Posted by on May 20, 2014 in Detective Fiction

 

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On the Further Uses of Modern Technology…

From Dr Watson to Sherlock Holmes Esq:

Holmes
As you no doubt appreciated in writing such an emotion-tugging tale, my immediate thoughts on receiving it were that once again I had succumbed to the selfishness, self-loathing and utter desperation that clouds my judgment on hearing such desperate peril – I could not believe I had been so thoughtless as to consider for one tiny moment that you would hold me in anything other than the noblest and most honourable of estimations, a true friend of intimate and cherished acquaintance that could never be equalled by ordinary men.

I have never felt so low, Holmes, as I did in those moments when I feared that once again, I have betrayed your trust. Pause for effect. And then, Holmes, and THEN! I saw the light.

Throwing caution to the wind, I ran down to the nearest telegraph office and sent a telegram to The Tilted Wig, and do you know what? Within minutes I had a reply from the bartender (one Angus McCoatup) confirming that indeed Mr Sherlock Holmes and Inspector McRae have spent the previous few days in what I believe is commonly known as a ‘lock-in’ at that very same hostelry, downing samples of every alcoholic beverage in the place.

Hah! So you thought to confound me with another one of your puzzles, eh? Well, you certainly had me fooled, but then I realised that had you really been in that dire situation (as you claimed) you would have encountered two problems: firstly, unless your captors had confined you within a telegraph office I cannot imagine how you would have sent your previous message by telegram. And secondly, even you Holmes, would never have omitted to give precise instructions as to where your rescuers might find you.

Even so, I had my doubts and it wasn’t until I questioned the so-called Ghillie friend of yours and discovered him to be none other than that infamous music-hall comedian Fat Tommy McTrinder (he soon coughed up the truth when I plied him with a little of what he calls ‘the water of life’), and further confirmed that he has poor claim on being the ‘funniest man in Scotland’.

I should think you’ve had a jolly good laugh at me, Holmes, and for once I don’t hold it against you. However, I urge you to sally forth and make haste to Baker Street as an interesting case has come into our hands: it seems that a young woman has been shot dead in Leicester and the police have arrested some chap named Ronnie Light. Your old pal Edward Marshall (Upsadaisy) Hall is convinced of the man’s innocence and hopes we shall intervene in finding the real culprit. I have replied that we shall be in touch shortly.

Let me know when you are home.
Yours Waspishly, Watson

 
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Posted by on May 18, 2014 in Detective Fiction

 

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The Waspish Factory…

From Sherlock Holmes Esq to Dr J Watson:

Watson – I shall refrain from commenting on your waspish and acerbic reply to my heart-felt and despairing missive, as it seems churlish in the circumstances.

You seem to have totally failed to take in to consideration the fact that these were desperate and utterly ruthless felons whom I was up against, as our friend Logan will attest, or he would were he not sitting here on the cold, damp clay alongside me, bound and gagged and chained as I am – in fact, we are chained together, closer than any normal bonds will have it; closer, it seems, than you and I at this moment – I fear your good lady wife has been dribbling her poison more assiduously in to your ear than before, in her constant efforts to sever the bonds which bind, and have bound us, for far longer than her wheedling charms have been applied to your person – in more ways than one, need I add.

Should you feel I am exuding more emotion than is usual, it may in part be due to the fact that my hopes of returning to 221B and Mrs Hudson’s Double-layered Pork and Apple Pies are receding with each passing hour. In short, I fear I may never again clap eyes on your bluff, down-to-earth, manly form again. Despite your many shortcomings, I did value your contribution to my Life and Practice. Logan also sends his best.

Your friend, in Dire Straits, SH. 

 
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Posted by on May 17, 2014 in Detective Fiction

 

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On the Uses of Modern Technology…

From Dr Watson to Sherlock Holmes Esq:

Holmes,

How on earth you expect any form of instant response, I really cannot imagine. I received your missive last evening via your Ghillie friend two full days (according to him) after you entrusted the message to his care! As you pointed out, he was somewhat the worse for drink and given that he had to make his own way from Balmoral (in Scotland) to Baker Street (in London!)… Really Holmes, I don’t know what you expected me to do.

As I appear to be the only member of the Holmes/Watson team who has any sense at the moment, I naturally sent an urgent telegram to our detective pal Logan McCrae, who, at least, is actually in Scotland, and I trust that by now he has executed a suitably last-minute rescue and you are now sitting in the snug bar of the Tilted Wig in Aberdeen.

I am sending this response (also by telegram – and very expensive it is too) to that very same hostelry, so I would urge you to reply via the same method, confirming your rescue etc.

I might also point out that had you bothered to be at home the other day when I called round as requested, instead of going off to some ridiculous and poncy soiree (Mrs Hudson’s words) with several rather dubious members of the royal family, none of this might have happened.

Let me know when you return to Baker Street and I shall call round to offer a full examination of your faculties.

Yours, rather wearily

Watson

 
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Posted by on May 13, 2014 in Detective Fiction

 

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Dungeon Days…

From Sherlock Holmes Esq to Dr J Watson:

Watson –  As I sit here, chilled to the bone and still suffering somewhat from the after-effects of our wild night with our friend McRae, in Aberdeen’s saltier  establishments, I am filled with conflicting emotions; my already somewhat bludgeoned cranium, having suffered another glancing blow, can scarce cope with the series of images and feelings which are conducting a bare-knuckle match inside its confines.

I know you believe me to be nigh inviolate to these things, but I have to preserve a façade of invincibility to convince you of my immunity to life’s slings and arrows in order to encourage confidence in my abilities. Nevertheless, I am, at root, a mere Mortal, like all the other Souls struggling to make sense of this World of confusion and Pain, trying to unravel the twisted strands of Good and Evil, vying for supremacy, oblivious to the Casualties left behind in their wake.

However, you will be wondering where I am, no doubt, at this moment, as you perform your ablutions and take your first repast of the Day – you will scarce believe that as you feed your face with Kedgeree and Smoked Kippers, washed down with several cups of steaming Darjeeling that your friend and fellow-Investigator sits on the dank and foetid earth, several feet under the grounds of our Host’s Large and sprawling Pile, chained to an iron post, listening to the sound of his own innards complaining loudly of their hollow emptiness.

I trust the Ghillie on to whom I pressed this note, wrapped around several coins of the realm, will have delivered this to your good self; nevertheless,  I am not as naïve to believe that this will not happen until the coins have been exchanged for several large glasses of whatever poison the fellow chooses to imbibe – if he is anything like the average fellow, I look forward to another night in this hell-hole.

Your friend, somewhat worse for wear,

SH.

 
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Posted by on January 6, 2014 in Detective Fiction

 

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Balmoral Schmoral…

From Dr Watson to Sherlock Holmes Esq:

Holmes,

In continuation of my previous notes…

December 13th
Our evening with friend McRae turned into a bit of a drunken brawl when Holmes became embroiled in a ridiculous argument about the various methods by which he managed to evade death at the hands of Moriarty (I am heartily sick of telling him to ignore such jibes and simply rise above it), and the various methods he may, or may not, have utilised instead.

The upshot of the above was that our staunch defender Logan McRae, dragged Holmes and his nemesis (one Angus McShite) outside and gave them both a good talking to, which unfortunately resulted in Logan himself being awarded a rather nasty blow to the head. The following day, therefore, was deemed by all to be cancelled due to poorly heads and upset stomachs and so it was only this morning that we finally packed out bags and hailed  a Hackney to take us to the coach station where we boarded the Deeside Wanderer (a notably comfort-free omnibus with an equally unenthusiastic driver).

Some several hours later, we were dumped unceremoniously at the gates of Balmoral where we were greeted by one Abraham Rosenburg, a rather surly member of the King’s household. We were subsequently led through a maze of corridors to an attic room which in earlier times must have been used as a nursery, as the only furniture was a pair of undersized bunk beds and a very small chest of drawers.

At this point, Rosenberg allowed himself a little light entertainment in the form of what I assumed was an ‘in’ joke: he inferred that Holmes and I would be welcome at the back door at any time of night. This was followed by an evil laugh and the man reversed himself out of the room with a final “Heil Hitler”.

Naturally enough, Holmes immediately began to question me on the character of the man and in particular, what I might have deduced from his behaviour etc. I had to admit that I was a little puzzled and after some initial theorising (which Holmes denounced as ‘crap’), I gave up and asked him (in what I admit was a somewhat sardonic tone) for his expert analysis.

“Ah,” said the famous Baker Street detective, with a twinkle in his eye [Holmes insisted I put that bit in], “You clearly did not notice the man’s footwear, for if you had, you might have gained a small insight into his behaviour.” I feigned ignorance and he continued unabated. “Elementary, Watson, you see, the fellow was clearly wearing thigh-length leather boots, which, admittedly were hidden under his over-sized jodhpurs, but any fool could have worked out what they were by the small SS insignia stencilled on the sole of each boot.”

“Oh for God’s sake Holmes,” said I. “How on earth could you see the soles of his boots?”

“Once again, Watson, your talent for non-observation astounds me. If, like me, you had had the foresight to walk in front of the fellow as he led us up the driveway, and had you had occasion, as I did, to turn around on the pretext of questioning him on a paltry matter, you would have noticed the soles of both boots as he goose-stepped along the road.”

I did not venture my own theory that this goose-stepping was in fact some form of traditional Armenian dance, as this would not have gone down well with the aforementioned famous detective. I was beginning to feel somewhat downtrodden when Holmes began to explain about the references to the King in Rosenberg’s last words.

“But Holmes,” said I. “Surely the fellow was referring to the back door of Castle Zenda during our adventure in Bohemia?”

It was with some degree of delight that I watched Holmes’s face fall. “Oh,” he muttered. “My God, Watson, for once you may have hit the nail on the proverbial head…”

To be continued

Watson

 
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Posted by on January 5, 2014 in Detective Fiction

 

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