from Dr J Watson to Sherlock Holmes Esq:
In view of recent events, I thought I’d better let you have my notes following on from your description of the incident concerning my exploding bowels…
From my perch inside Dickens’ water closet, I could hear the infamous scribbler arguing with my companion. As I concentrated on arranging my toilette, the stench of sulphur reached my tender nostrils. Pulling my trousers up (hopefully for the last time), I heard the clatter of what sounded like rusty chains being dragged along bare floorboards by some long-dead moneylender. I immediately put this ridiculous thought out of my head and burst through the door to take in a curious scene:
Dickens was back in his chair by the fire, his face as pale as an uncooked pancake, while Holmes stood over him, staring across the room towards the door. I came out of the closet and turned my eyes towards an astonishing sight – a figure was in the doorway, his clothes ragged and dirty and his hands gripping the ends of the heavy chains that trailed after him. These chains seemed to consist of cash-boxes, keys, padlocks, ledgers, deeds, and heavy purses wrought in steel.
Dickens voice broke out: “Who the devil are you?”
I stared at the apparition, the stench of sulphur once again in my nostrils as the strange creature uttered these words…
“Ask me who I was.” The ghost (for I was convinced that this is what we beheld before us) spake again:
“Bugger off!” shouted Holmes.
“You don’t believe in me,” said the spirit, jangling his chains.
I was stood stock still in fright, my bowels trembling in my trousers, but Holmes took charge of the strange situation. Charging forward, he grasped the figure by the collar and shook him violently.
“Nice try, friend, but not nice enough to fool the greatest ghost-buster in town.” And with that he bopped the fellow over the head with a cosh (which presumably explained the bulge in his pocket) and the ‘ghost’ fell to the ground, groaning. Holmes grabbed the canister of sulphurous fumes that protruded from the stranger’s coat pocket. “Apologies Watson, I wrongly deduced that you were responsible for the atrocious smell.”
“Oh my fucking Christ,” exclaimed Dickens, hurrying across the room. “What can it be, what can it be?”
Holmes rolled his eyes and gave him a sardonic stare. “For God’s sake, Charlie, it’s just old Crowley up to his tricks again.” He slapped Dickens across the face. “You’re an idiot. Anyone can see this charlatan was simply playing you at your own game – feeding on your own pathetic insecurities. He had me going for a moment with that clever cast of Moriarty’s face on the door knocker, but now I see the truth. You see, Mr Dickens, the market for summoning up spirits isn’t what it was, so this inventive pea-brain was clearly hoping to induce some sort of collaborative deal with you on the basis of this…” He waved a dismissive hand at Crowley, who was rubbing his injured head. “This character.”
Holmes walked over to the fire and picked up his deerstalker. “Come along Watson, and please abstain from your pharting activities til you are safely within the bounds of your own water closet.” As he strode past the trembling Dickens, he added, “And if I were you Chas, I’d join forces with Crowley on this preposterous story. The man’s an idiot, but I must admit, he has an interesting creation here. ‘Man in Chains at Christmas’ – good title for one of your yuletide tales, I should think.” And with that he was off.
I nodded to Dickens and gave Crowley a swift kick as I passed.
And home (at last) to Mrs Watson.