from Dr J Watson to Sherlock Holmes Esq:
From the diary of Doctor Watson
I should have realised that leaving Holmes to his own devices might result in my companion discovering the local liquor emporium and, just as I suspected, on arriving at “The Gibbet and Post”, there was my boon friend supping Jack Daniels as if his life was dependant on it.
A rather dull looking fellow was seated with him and clearly much further down the road to drunkenness than Holmes. The poor chap’s nose was almost on the table in his stupor, but as I pulled up a chair, Holmes grasped the fellow by the collar and hauled him upright.
Holmes smiled up at me. “Ah, Watson, about time you showed up.” He waved an empty glass in front of my face. “Get me some chores, please.”
Foolishly I fell into this all-too-familiar trap, uttering “What Chores?” To which he glibly replied, “Doubles all round, Watty!”
When I returned form the bar (bearing three glasses of ginger ale), Dr Snodgrass was once more alert. He stared straight at me and said, “I am positive that there was no evidence whatever of any such violence having been used upon Poe when I went to his rescue at the tavern. However, one unusual fact was an item we encountered during his stay at the hospital – a pair of ladies undergarments hidden about his person.” And with that he closed his eyes and slid under the table.
“Did you bring your trusty revolver, old chap?” said Holmes, snatching a glass from my hand.
I nodded. “I did, but it looks as if I shan’t be needing it.”
Holmes downed his ale in one gulp. “Indeed not. We’ve been had, Watson.” He shook his head sadly. “Poe’s apparent last act was that of any writer worth his salt.”
I frowned. “Last act, Holmes?”
My companion helped himself to the Doctor’s drink before he went on: “It is clear that Poe was in poor health and that he foresaw his own death at the hands of the demon drink. But unknown to his friends and family, he in fact cured himself some weeks ago with the aid of Acme’s Patented Drink-Abstention Kit. And that, my dear Watson was why he chose to set us a mystery. You see, this whole thing…” he waved an arm around as if to encompass not only our immediate surroundings, but the whole of Baltimore. “The whole thing was merely a fabrication to entertain his many admirers and a leave them with a puzzle which will no doubt keep them guessing for years to come.”
“You mean…?” I gasped.
“Yes,” Holmes nodded. “Poe is not dead – but living under the assumed name of Mildred Flange in a small town in Pennsylvania, where he will no doubt sell clothes-pegs door to door.” He finished his drink. “I doubt if we shall hear of him again.”
Holmes would not be drawn further on the subject, so after lunch I set off for the Thomas Cook offices to book our tickets home.