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Three’s a Crowd


From the Diary of Mary Watson (Mrs)

Finding myself locked in a cramped cupboard below decks with my husband might be, in any other circumstances, an opportunity for a bout of adult fun, but squashed together with Mr Gooseberry himself, Johnny and I would have to forego that particular delight until later. Assuming, of course, the Hooded Claw didn’t kill us all in the meantime.

The darkness crowded in on us and I began to feel a little uneasy. “Come on, then, Holmsey,” I muttered, “light another one.”

Holmes let out a sigh. “Alas, dear lady that was my last Swan Vesta.”

I blinked in the darkness but could only make out the dim shapes of the fat-headed detective and the noble outline of my dear husband’s face. “Right then,” I went on. “Mary to the rescue. Again.” Undoing the buttons on my evening gown, I reached inside my corset and unzipped the secret pocket I’d sewn into the fabric for just such an occasion. Pulling out the emergency flashlight, I fastened myself up again before fitting the handle into its base.

“What’s that whirring noise?” said Johnny.

I didn’t bother replying, and instead began rotating the small handle. After a moment, the lamp flickered into life, illuminating our faces once more.

“Oh, I say, “said Holmes. “That’s rather clever.”

“It’s a clockwork lamp,” I said, unclipping the handle and sliding it into the small compartment in the base of the device. “Mycroft gave it to me.”

Johnny sniffed. “Did he, now? And what did you give him?”

I narrowed my eyes and showed him my don’t-you-fucking-dare face. He quickly changed the subject.

“At least we can see where we are,” he said, brightly. Turning around he tried the door but it was firmly locked from the outside.

Gazing at our surroundings, all three of us immediately understood the predicament we were in – the small compartment appeared to be a store cupboard of some description, with a stack of built-in metal shelves on one side and an area of about three-feet-square, just large enough to accommodate the three of us, on the other.

“Living in a box,” muttered Holmes. “Living in a cardboard box…”

“What’s that, Holmes?” said John.

“Just a music hall ditty I heard the other day.” Holmes slid his bony hands into his pockets and leaned against the wall behind him, humming a tune.

Crouching down, I examined the floor, but if I’d hoped for a handy escape hatch, I was disappointed. “Do you think they’ll come back?”

“Who?” said Holmes. “The baddies?” He shook his head. “No need – we’re out of harm’s way so they can safely continue with their evil plan.”

Johnny nodded solemnly. “To kill poor old Phogg.”

“Well…” the other man made a face. “Along with twelve hundred other people.”

I stood up and held the lamp to his face. “What d’you mean, Sherlock?”

“Simply this, Mary – after they bundled me in here, I heard two of the rogues discussing their strategy with the Claw. Apparently, they cannot risk killing Phogg by himself as it would be obvious, so they plan to crash the ship into an iceberg and blame our old friend Captain Smith.” He laughed gently. “After all, he does have a reputation for accidents at sea.”

“That’s ridiculous,” said Johnny. “We’re in the English Channel. No icebergs for miles.”

“Ah,” said Holmes. “But this isn’t any old iceberg, Watson. This is an M21.”

“Oh, crap.”

I frowned. “What’s an M21?”

My husband took my hand. “You recall the details of Moriarty’s secret steam-powered undersea torpedo-ship?”

“Designed by the famous submarine boffin Bruce Partridger?” I nodded. “What’s that got to do with icebergs?”

Holmes interjected. “I’m surprised you didn’t hear about it, Mrs Watson, as you’re so well-in with my dear brother.” He gave a snort of derision before continuing. “Mycroft heard a rumour that Moriarty planned to use the Partridger blueprints to manufacture a series of gigantic sea-going icebergs that could destroy the British fleet.” He raised his head and gazed at a spot on the wall. “If I’m right, the Hooded Claw is in league with him and intends to sink this ship, making it look like a freak iceberg-type accident.”

“Oh my God,” I murmured. “And there are no lifeboats on board.”

“Indeed,” said Holmes. “Though even if there were, we wouldn’t be able to get to them.” He sighed. “No, Mr and Mrs Watson, I think we’re properly fucked this time.” He reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out his Meerschaum pipe. “Could I get a light please, Mary?”

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Posted by on December 9, 2017 in Detective Fiction

 

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A Claw in the Hand


Diary of Doctor J. Watson

“What are you waiting for?” hissed our captor. “Get going.”

“You can’t fool me,” I said, with as much bravado as I could muster. “I know who you are – Claw.”

The villain merely laughed and nudged me with his pistol.

Having risen to his full height, I noticed the man’s black shoes had been strapped to his knees, leaving his stockinged feet on show. The fool must have been crawling around on his knees since boarding the ship in an effort to conceal his true stature and therefore, his identity. However, the ploy might still work in our favour – someone would be bound to notice the discrepancy: how many priests walk around with their shoes half-way up their legs?

Sadly, my hopes of intervention fell by the wayside as we were shoved roughly along the passage. The two ‘nuns’ pushed in close, hiding their leader’s lower extremities from view, and the gun in my side persuaded me any evasive action on my part would end in tragedy. Grasping Mary’s hand, I whispered to her to stay calm, though I could already feel a familiar loosening sensation in my bowels. Buggeration! As if it weren’t enough that we were about to be killed, but to be killed after kacking my breeches… Damn it all – it was more than an ordinary Englishman could bear. I had to do something.

It was only then that I remembered my trusty revolver. In their haste, the villains hadn’t searched us, perhaps thinking we were simply too stupid to consider arming ourselves. Well, they’d soon learn that John Watson MD was not to be trifled with. In one deft movement, I slid my hand into my pocket and whipped out my weapon. Unfortunately, my action was so quick I took myself by surprise and a second later the damn thing slipped out of my fingers and flew into the air.

The man in the priest’s outfit reacted startlingly fast – flinging out his hand, he grabbed the weapon and dropped it down his cassock as if it were the sort of manoeuvre he did on a daily basis.

“Now look here…” I started, “That’s mine…” but a fat fist smashed into my face, cutting off my objections and knocking me sideways.

Mary let out a yelp, but her protests were short-lived. The fist’s owner snarled and for the first time I realised that not only were the Claw’s side-kicks not women, but they weren’t even attractive. The brute snarled again and waved a knife in my face.

“Do that again, son, an’ I’ll slit your gizzards.”

I wasn’t sure what gizzards were, but the man’s intentions were clear. The priest smiled at me. I smiled back. Then, giving Mary’s hand a squeeze, we continued towards our fate.

The journey to the lower decks took some time, as we were forced to use those areas reserved for the crew, negotiating narrow doorways and stairways. All the while, at least one of us had a gun pressed to our sides, no doubt to ensure our continued cooperation. I surmised most of the passengers would still be at dinner, as we only passed three or four individuals on the way, and in any case they were all too engrossed in themselves to pay us any attention.

I began to wonder what Holmes would do. For the next few minutes I busied myself thinking of questions he would ask in this situation, but my befuddled brain refused to work and all I could come up with was a vague plan to somehow overpower the deadly trio and escape to the safety of the dining hall.

As we neared our destination, the noise of the ship’s engines grew louder and the air thick with steam and stale sweat. The priest pushed us through a hatchway into a small storeroom that I guessed from the metallic thumping must be adjacent to the engine room.

Stumbling into darkness, I was given a hard shove from behind and instinctively stuck out my hands. Something warm and wet came into contact with my fingers and I immediately shrank back, wiping my soiled digits down my shirt.

Mary yelped and fell against me, before a loud clang told us the door had been locked behind us. Rubbing a sleeve across my face, I blinked in the darkness. With a sudden flush of fear, I realised that someone or something was standing in front of me.

“Who’s there?” I demanded.

I heard a sharp rasping sound and a match sparked into life.

“Ah, Watson,” said a familiar voice. “About time you showed up.”

“Holmes!” I cried.

“Hold your enthusiasm, old friend,” said he, holding the match up so we could see his face. “This complication is not what I had intended.”

With a sudden flush of concern I saw that my friend’s face bore the marks of a fight – his nose was bloodied and a splash of red splattered his shirt. I was about to tender my sympathies when Mary butted in.

“Just a minute,” she said. “Why are you dressed as a waiter?”

Holmes gave her a sardonic smile. “My apologies, Mrs Watson, but when I was interviewed a few months ago for the periodical Amateur Detective Monthly, I referred to your husband as ‘my rather stupid friend.’ At the time I regretted making such a patronising remark as unworthy of me. However, I now see that my description of dear Johnny’s worth was quite accurate.” Turning to me, he added, “because he’s a total prick.”

“Damn it,” I said, “that’s below the belt, Holmes, even for you.”

“Perhaps,” he said, “but if you had correctly interpreted our earlier meeting in the lavatory, we would not now be in this situation.”

“But…but…” I tried.

“But me no buts, Watson. Your lack of attention has allowed the Hooded Claw the opportunity to carry out the mission he came on board to do – to kill Phileas Phogg.”

And with that, the match went out and we were plunged once more into darkness.

 
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Posted by on November 26, 2017 in Detective Fiction

 

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Is That a Gun in Your Pocket?


Diary of Doctor J. Watson

At dinner, Phogg and his companion took their seats a few tables to the left of myself and Mary, who found ourselves in the company of three other couples, all of whom were dressed up to the nines. Mary snuggled up to Captain Smith, tickling his snowy-white beard and regaling him with stories of her husband’s adventures with the infamous Sherlock Holmes.

Given my wife’s usual low opinion of Holmes, I was a little surprised to overhear her lauding the man’s exploits as if he were a bosom friend. Feeling somewhat put out at this show of disloyalty, I fell into conversation with the couple closest to me – an Australian chap named Dundee and his blonde beauty of a wife, who he referred to as Sheila, though I gathered from her glowering countenance, that this was not her actual name.

While Mr Dundee entertained me with an account of some run-in with a cross-eyed alligator, I made the effort to respond positively, nodding and uttering occasional remarks. My attention, however, was entirely taken by three individuals over the Aussie’s left shoulder. I had noticed them shortly after taking our seats and endeavoured to keep the trio of so-called religious aficionados in view ever since. The brace of nuns sat on either side of the small Catholic priest, who occasionally returned my gaze with a polite bow of the head and a sycophantic smile. If he was trying to intimidate me, it wasn’t working.

Just then, a waiter serving our main course brushed up against me. He apologised and leaned down so that his mouth was close to my ear.

“A message for you, Doctor Watson.”

The man’s voice was low and could not have been overheard by my companions. I turned towards him, suddenly alert. “Yes?”

“The gentlemen’s cloakroom. Five minutes.”

And with that, the man was gone. I glanced at Mary who, as usual, had seen everything. Though still deep in conversation with the (clearly enthralled Captain Smith), she threw me a quick glance that told me she too, was on the alert.

A few moments later, I excused myself and strolled nonchalantly through the dining hall towards the cloakroom. On entering, I was relieved to note that apart from the waiter, I was alone. I coughed. “You have a message for me?”

The man approached and rested the palm of one hand on my chest. I looked down at his long, thin fingers, noting the clean fingernails and absence of a wedding ring. When I raised my eyes to his face, he smiled and slid his hand down my torso towards my nether regions.

“Now look here…” I started, casting his arm away. “What’s the meaning of this?”

The waiter pouted. “You want some, don’t you?” He patted my leg and rubbed his hand along the length of my weapon. “You can’t fool me…”

I sighed. “For fuck’s sake.” Reaching into my trouser pocket, I pulled out my revolver and stuck the barrel into his ear. The waiter yelped and fell to his knees.

“Gawd’s sake, I only wanted…” he whimpered.

“Yes, yes,” I muttered. “I can imagine what you wanted, but unfortunately for you, this is a gun, not an erection. Now fuck off before I lose my temper.”

He disappeared faster than a whippet up a drainpipe and I slipped the gun back into my pocket before taking the opportunity to relieve my bladder and wash my hands. When I emerged from the cloakroom, Mary was waiting for me.

“Well?” she said.

“False alarm.” I took her arm and began to head back towards the dining hall, but Mary pulled me to one side.

“The priest has gone.”

“And the nuns?”

She nodded. “They left shortly after you did.”

I rubbed my chin thoughtfully. “Better liaise with Phogg.”

Something prodded me in the buttocks. For a moment, I though the waiter had come back to try his luck, but a familiar voice persuaded me otherwise.

“Don’t turn around Doctor, or I shall have to blow your cheeks apart. Now, take your dear wife’s hand and make you way to the boiler room.”

Mary’s face had drained of colour, telling me all I needed to know.

“You won’t get away with this, you cad,” I said, hoping the villain wouldn’t notice the tremor in my voice.

“Au contraire,” he said, nudging me with his pistol. “I already have.”

As we started off down the passageway, I could only hope Phogg would grow suspicious at our absence and investigate. But as I was soon to discover, Phogg and his companion were only too aware of the situation…

 
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Posted by on November 5, 2017 in Detective Fiction

 

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Port Out, Starboard Home…


Diary of Doctor J. Watson

The following morning found me sitting by my fireside considering my next move. With Holmes still absent without leave, I had no sage companion to lean on (aside from Mary, who had already foisted her opinion upon me several times over breakfast that morning). In such circumstances, I called on my own expertise and began by running over the events of the previous day, focusing on four points:

1. Phileas Phogg and Passepartout would shortly leave our shores on what, even in normal
circumstances, could well prove to be a hazardous journey.
2. The Hooded Claw was clearly a dangerous individual, though as yet, I had no specific proof he intended to injure the aforementioned travellers.
3. Mister Claw, I deduced, may or may not interfere with said traveller’s arrangements in a manner that may or may not place all concerned in peril.
4. Mary wants a holiday.

Ruminating on the problem while chomping on one of my wife’s jammy doughnuts, I remained undecided, but as it turned out, my mind was made up via an external influence – a telegram:

Dr Watson

SS Mangochutney about to sail. Cabin booked in your name. Please come at once.

Passepartout

Without Holmes to guide my thinking otherwise, I settled on viewing the initial part of the trip as a vacation, therefore, should the whole thing turn out to be either beyond my comprehension, or simply a waste of time, my wife and I would at least gain some quality time together. If I was wrong, then the combined deductive powers of myself and my dear wife, would surely keep us from harm.

Breaking the news to Mary, I was rewarded with a gleaming smile and a twinkle in her wonky eye, along with the promise that she’d make me ‘shoot my luggage’ (whatever that means), as soon as we were on board.

We made haste to the docks and collected the tickets left for us by Passepartout (though how he knew I’d be bringing Mary, was a little puzzling). Once on board the liner, we were directed to our cabin, which I was pleased to see was of the first-class variety.

“Isn’t this lovely,” gushed Mary, unpacking her French knickers. “And look – we’re invited to the Captain’s table for dinner!”

I glanced at the invitation. “Captain Smith? Humph. I hope he’s recovered from that disastrous affair involving the world’s largest iceberg.”

“What’s that, dear?” said Mary.

“Oh, nothing. Just an insurance cock-up by the White Star Line. It was all covered up by Sherlock’s brother.”

Mary’s face brightened visibly and she patted her chest. “Mycroft’s a proper gentleman and very manly, don’t you think, darling. He has such a lovely smile and an absolutely enormous –”

“Yes, yes, I get the picture, thank you. Now, we’d better make contact with Passepartout and that fairy-fancier Phileas Phogg.”

Having located Phogg’s cabin on the deck above ours, I was a little disconcerted to find him the complete opposite to what I had imagined. Passepartout opened the door and bade us enter, serving cocktails before I’d even taken off my hat.

“Now then, Doctor Watson, how’s tha’ goin’ on, then, eh?” A tall, bearded fellow stepped out of the adjoining room and shook my hand warmly. “Rate glad ter see thee, lad. I ‘ope t’cabin’s up ter standard, an’ that?”

My arm positively trembled as Phogg’s vice-like grip brought tears to my eyes. “Er, yes, yes, of course,” I managed, extricating myself from his fat fingers. “We’re most grateful.”

As I smiled back at him, I glanced over Phogg’s shoulder and caught sight of Mary and Passepartout in what can only be described as a ‘clinch’. The pair broke free then and coughed loudly. Mary had the good manners to blush, and I made a mental note to put her over my knee and give her a jolly good spanking when we got back to the cabin.

“Now, look ‘ere, Doctor,” said Phogg. “My manservant ‘ere ‘as warned you about that bugger the Hooded Claw, so I just wanted ter let yer know that we believe him to be on board, in one of the third-class compartments.”

“Really?” said I. “Then he’s not in disguise?”

“Oh, he’s in disguise, alright,” said Phogg. “He’s dressed as two nuns and a small Catholic priest.”

“Two nuns and a…”

“Small Catholic priest, aye, that’s right.” He caressed his beard thoughtfully. “Though of course, he’ll be changing his appearance every few days, if not sooner.”

“D’you think he’ll try anything tonight?”

“Per’aps not tonight, but Ah wouldn’t be at all surprised if the bugger tried to throw one of us overboard.” He wagged a finger at me. “So watch out, or ye might wake up dead.”

By the time we returned to our cabin to dress for dinner, I was as nervous as a new bride and looking forward to an evening with Captain ‘Titanic’ Smith, with as much enthusiasm as a lobster in a pot. Nevertheless, I was sure the ‘Claw’ would hold off on his mission until we’d all had a good night’s sleep.

Naturally, I was wrong.

 
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Posted by on October 8, 2017 in Detective Fiction

 

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Avenues and Alleyways…


Diary of Doctor J. Watson

As I followed Sikes down the alley, the stench of the river assaulted my nostrils, warning me our route was now running perilously close to the banks of the Thames – one slip and either of us might disappear forever beneath those treacherous waters, sinking into the mud and slime of that deadly channel.

“Urry up, Docter,” urged Sikes, taking hold of my jacket. “I fink I just saw ‘im up ahead.”

We had reached the corner of the alley where the darkness was less all-encompassing. I could now make out the lights of the south bank glowing dully across the water in front of us. To our right, a dim figure was running towards a group of what I supposed to be warehouses by the water’s edge.

“That’s him,” I said, and we set off again along a solid, but slippery pathway.

The man vanished into a gap between the warehouses and, not wishing to play the hero, I allowed my companion to go first.

“Don’t you worry, Docter,” said he. “I’ll protect yer.” And with that, Sikes dashed into yet another dark alley.

Shading my eyes the better to see my way through the shadowy passage, I hastened along behind him, completely failing to notice a hand reaching out of the shadows as I passed a small doorway. A moment later, I was jerked roughly into one of the sheds and thrown to the floor.

“Now, look here…” I started, getting to my feet, but two burly figures pushed me back down, their filthy boots pinning my arms to the floor.

“No, Doctor Watson,” said a deep and gravelly voice. “You look here.”

Peering upwards, I could just make out the outline of my captor’s head and shoulders – the silhouette of his black Fedora telling me I had found my quarry.

“Ah-ha,” I shouted, hoping to sound a little less fearful than I felt. “So there you are, Mister Claw.”

The man bent down towards me and his fetid breath wafted over my face – garlic and stilton cheese, if I’m not much mistaken.

“Yes,” he muttered, holding up his right arm. “And you will feel the benefit of this specific part of my anatomy burrowing its way into that part of you where the sun does not shine, if you fail to heed my warning.”

Staring at the man’s arm, I gasped. On the end of his limb in place of a human hand, a glinting metallic shape glinted metallicly in the moonlight, via an appropriately located skylight above my head.

“Perhaps you’d care for a demonstration of my bottom-ripping tool? I’d be delighted to insert The Claw into your orifice, Doctor…” The moonlight glinted on his teeth and I noticed that they too had a metallic quality to them.

“Er, no, that’s alright, thanks,” I mumbled.

The Hooded Claw straightened up and stepped backwards into the doorway. “That’s what I thought. I trust our paths will not cross again?”

I was sorely tempted to utter some threat to the effect that myself and Holmes would track him down come hell or very high water, but the words melted in my mouth and I simply nodded.

A moment later he and his burly assistants were gone, and I was left staring up at the moon and wishing I was in quite a different location. It occurred to me I had made the silliest of mistakes and run directly into what should have been obvious as a trap. No doubt Holmes would not have succumbed to such a schoolboy error. I sniffed and would have taken a few moments to gather my dignity, but the thudding of footsteps in the alley warned me I was no longer alone.

“Oh, there yer are,” said Bill, popping his head round the doorway. “Fraid we lost him. Must ‘ave jumped on a barge or summat.”

“Yes,” I said. “He must.”

I got to my feet, but my usual steely resolve had petered out and I had no desire to do anything other than go home and hug my dear wife. “Right,” I said. “Which way out, Bill?”


Get The Watson Letters Volume 3: Curse of the Baskervillesnow!

 
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Posted by on September 28, 2017 in Detective Fiction

 

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Fright Train to Londen…


Diary of Doctor J. Watson

For one, long, deathly moment, the entire train fell silent, and in that moment, a hundred horrific thoughts flashed through my brain – what would Lecter do? What could he do? And more to the point, what did he want to do?

As our fellow passengers in the compartments on either side of us began chattering, I heard an odd clunk and felt a cold draught brush my face as if the carriage door had opened. I turned my head only to hear a horribly familiar sound: Th-th-th-th….

There was a piercing scream and I jumped up, ready to defend myself. Then the lights came on again.

I blinked. The carriage door was shut. Holmes and Mary hadn’t moved. In fact, Holmes had pulled out his Meerschaum as if this was the perfect time for a quiet smoke.

“Didn’t you hear that?” I yelped. “We have to do something.”

Sherlock waved a hand dismissively. “Oh, sit down, Johnny. And please try to control yourself in future – the other passengers’ll think there’s a bunch of pre-pubescent school girls in here.”

“Sorry,” I said. “But I thought I heard that awful Th-th-th noise Lecter makes.”

“You did,” said Holmes, lighting his pipe. “That was me. Rather good impression, eh?”

Mary laid a hand on my arm. “Doctor Lecter won’t come after us, John. He’d consider that rude.” Leaning forward, she slapped Holmes across the leg. “And you really should know better.”

Holmes winked at her. “Apologies, my dear.” He puffed away for a moment, then went on, “Mary’s right, though. Lecter’s only plan will be to escape. Let’s face it, if he’d really wanted to eat us, he’d be here now.”

A jolt followed by a low rumbling signalled that our train was moving again.

“There you are,” said Holmes peering out of the window into the darkness. “We’ll be back in front of our respective fireplaces before you know it.”

Letting out a long sigh, I sat down and tried to relax. Holmes was right – I was too tense. The events of the last few days had really got under my skin. I needed to let it go. Taking a deep breath, I held it for a few seconds, then let it out. Then another breath, then…

I had focused my gaze on the empty seat opposite, studying a particular spot to aid my brief meditation. And that’s when it happened. My impression was that the Paisley-patterned material had somehow been caused to ripple, as if some small creature were burrowing around in the very structure of the seat itself. Then, incredibly, the whole thing stood up.

“Jesus H. Christ!”

I was glad that, for once, it wasn’t me making the exclamations. Holmes threw himself against the window, while Mary dived into the corner. For my own part, I simply sat there staring at Hannibal the Cannibal.

“The beauty of being a psychotic genius,” murmured Lecter, “is that one never underestimates oneself.” He unzipped his Paisley-patterned train-seat-suit disguise and stepped out of it, revealing himself to be naked apart from a well-bloodied butcher’s apron. “You’ll forgive me for my tardiness, but I had to slice up a couple of railwaymen before resuming operations with my favourite detectives.” And with that, he produced a large kitchen knife and turned to Mary. “Th-th-th-th…”

If I’d had time to think about it, the sensible thing to do would have been to pull out my trusty weapon and blow the mad bastard’s brains out, but with only seconds in which to react, all I could do was use the one tactic I knew I could rely on from my days at prep school – my right foot. Summoning up all my energy, I kicked out and upwards, making instant contact with the dangly bits between Doctor Lecter’s legs.

“Urrgh…” he muttered, doubling up in pain. The knife dropped from his hand allowing Holmes to kick it under the seat out of harm’s way. Mary followed up quickly with the old handbag-over-the-head routine, effectively gagging and blindfolding Lecter in one fell swoop.

Wasting no time, I tore what was left of the Paisley-patterned train-seat-suit into strips and used it to tie our prisoner up.

A few minutes later, with Lecter trussed like an unbasted turkey and still moaning on the floor, and Holmes sitting on top of him just to make sure, I sat down again.

“Quick thinking, Watson,” said Holmes appreciatively. “Even I was taken by surprise.”

“But,” said Mary, “how did you manage to kick him in the testicles when he told us himself that he doesn’t have any?”

“Ah,” said I. “Something I remembered from my time in Afghanistan. There was a chap I knew from the 4th Foot and Mouth who had his leg mangled in a frightful explosion. Poor bugger was in a terrible state, but even after we lopped off the damaged limb, he’d get the feeling the leg was still there, swore he could still feel the pain of the wound.”

Mary nodded slowly. “So you thought Lecter could still feel his…” she coughed. “His bits, even though he doesn’t have any?”

I nodded.

“Although,” said Holmes, giving me a sardonic smile, “you couldn’t have known it would work.”

I raised his sardonic smile and gave him a sly wink. “Between the two of us, Holmes, I think we know which one has the balls.” And with that I sat down and opened my copy of The Times.

 
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Posted by on June 22, 2017 in Detective Fiction

 

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Conversations on a Train…


From the Diary of Doctor Watson

It was late the following afternoon when we arrived at the little station at Netherly Stratton. Lambton had his man drop us off and we spent a pleasant half hour enjoying tea and scones from the little kiosk. The platform itself was otherwise free of home comforts and with the nights drawing in, it was already dark when our train pulled into the station.

Our journey back to Londen was, initially, uneventful. Doctor Lecter acquiesced to being locked in the wooden crate in the baggage car again. Public opinion is not likely to turn in his favour until my account of our latest adventure appears in The Strand Magazine. Even then, the marque of ‘cannibal’ will, I fear be hard to shake off.

Sitting opposite Holmes, my dear wife at my side, I considered the details of the last few days and occasionally glanced at my illustrious companion. He busied himself scribbling notes in the margin of his copy of Potter’s Toxins and Murderous Mixtures – his current choice of bedtime reading. As the locomotive rocked gently from side to side, I detected the beginnings of a smirk on Sherlock’s manly features, though he kept his piggy little eyes on the book.

I was tempted to question Holmes on a few points, but I knew very well how he’d delight in showing off his powers of deduction, so I chose to keep my thoughts to myself. Holmes, however, was not to be robbed of victory. A short while later, the great detective closed his book and laid it in his lap. “Well, Watson?”

“What’s that, Holmes?” said I, feigning indifference.

He raised an eyebrow. “Your questions, dear fellow.”

I half-turned to Mary with the intention of starting up a conversation and thus ignoring the expected jibes, but she too raised an eyebrow.

“What?” I said, with more than a little venom.

“Go on, Johnny,” said my wife. “You know you want to…”

I sighed. “You know, Holmes, it would be nice if for once, you could explain your observations at the time they occurred, instead of keeping your horrid little secrets to yourself.”

Holmes sniffed. “Hardly little secrets, John. Merely details which, I presume, have thus far eluded your observations.”

Mary coughed loudly and gave Holmes a hard stare.

“Very well,” he said. “First of all, as you know, the young man known as Veronica was responsible for the murders of the grocer’s boy, his own aunt and uncle, and of course his step mother, Lucy.”

“And would have killed his father too, if he’d had the chance,” I said.

“Quite,” said Holmes. “However, such deadly intentions did not simply pop into his head, did they?”

I shrugged. “Might have.”

He shook his head. “No, Watson, they were planted there – planted and nurtured, given encouragement, nourishment, love.”

“Oh God…” Mary’s hand grasped my arm. Her face had turned pale. “You mean…?”

“Once again, Mrs Watson, your intellect surpasses that of your husband.” Holmes nodded solemnly. “Yes, Veronica’s murderous journey was no accident of nature. The idea was deposited in his brain by his doctor – the psychiatrist Hannibal Lecter.”

“You’re fucking joking!” I exclaimed.

“I’m fucking not,” said he. “If only I’d realised it sooner. In fact, it was you yourself who sparked my suspicions. When you reminded Lecter he had tried to eat you, it occurred to me that once again we’d been had. The canny criminal played us like a string quartet – a cheap one at that.”

I let out a groan. “If you knew that, why the hell didn’t you say anything?”

“Had I told you, Watson, Lecter would’ve seen it in your eyes in an instant. You too, Mary. I couldn’t take the risk – Christ knows what he might have done.”

I jumped up and reached for the emergency cord. “Then we must stop the train right now. Alert the authorities. The media…the…”

“Yes, yes,” said Holmes, flapping his hand at me as if I were a truculent child. “It’s all in hand, Watson. While you and Mary were supervising the crate, I took the liberty of sending a telegram to our friend Lestrade. He and his men will be waiting at the station when we arrive. If all goes to plan the crate will be unloaded and Lecter will be none the wiser until he’s safely locked up in the Londen Asylum for the Really Rather Mad.

I let out a long breath and sat down. “That’s a relief.”

Holmes nodded, then added, “Unless he escapes, of course…”

A shiver went up my spine and I grasped Mary’s hand. A second later, the lights went out and the train screeched to a halt.

 
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Posted by on June 13, 2017 in Detective Fiction

 

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