From the Diary of Doctor J. Watson
Had my voice possessed an ounce of the gravitas of Sherlock Holmes, I am in no doubt the entire gathering would have suspended their movements entirely. Sadly, this did not happen, and instead every person in the room (save Flora and myself) began screaming and running around. However, in the instant before this travesty occurred, I caught a glimpse of Seth’s face and I could swear there was a gleam of vengeance in his dark eyes. Though it might have been shock, I suppose. Or dismay. In any case, I determined to advance his name to the top of my list of suspects, followed closely by Judith, Amos and Elfine (whose innocent, virgin-like charm is surely a front).
The sharp retort of my revolver brought the madness to a standstill, and every face turned towards me. I slipped my trusty weapon back into my trousers and allowed a very serious expression to take up residence on my ruddy features. “No-one must leave this room.” I narrowed my eyes for added effect.
“Aw, gorn zuk yer bollecks.” The voice came from a farm-hand in the corner. “Yorn thenk Oim gonner ang round ere time yer werk out oo mur’drer is, yer can gorn get fuck’d.” He nodded his fat head, lest there be any doubt vis a vis his intentions.
I glared at the man, then muttered, “That’s alright, you can go. But the rest of you stay right here!”
For a long moment no-one moved, then as one, the entire assemblage fled the scene via the stairs, window, dumb waiter and kitchen door. Three seconds later, only Flora, myself and the dead man were left in the room.
“That went well.” Flora patted my arm. “Never mind, you did your best.”
I grunted. “Best wasn’t good enough, though. Was it?” I sniffed and headed for the back door. “Just going to have a quick word with Ho…” I caught myself in time and coughed loudly.
Flora’s brow developed a frown. “Have a quick word with who?”
“Oh, er…H-Ho-Hossenfeffer. One of the bovine creatures.”
“Really? I don’t know that one.”
“Yes.” I nodded vigorously to hide my embarrassment. “I’ve developed a bit of a relationship with some of those lovely, er, cows.” Her frown increased, so I added, “There’s nothing sordid about it, Flora – I just talk to them.”
“Well, I’ll stay here and watch the er…” She pointed to the dead man.
“Yes. By the way, who is he?”
She cleared her throat. “You don’t want to know.”
It was my turn to frown. “Yes, I do, actually.”
She shook her head. “No, you don’t.”
“I most certainly do, Flora. Now spit it out – who is he?” I went to thump my hand on the table for emphasis, but missed and slapped my thigh instead. Unfortunately, my automatic reaction to that particular gesture, prompted me to shout ‘Hurrah!’ like a pantomime dame. I coughed again.
Flora graciously turned her gaze to at the floor. “You recall I told you the policeman who came up here was never seen again?”
I nodded, a sickening feeling growing in my loins.
She pointed to the corpse. “That was him. Undercover detective Sergeant Flange.”
My mouth dropped open. I closed it. “Flange? You mean like an outcrop or protuberance?”
“Don’t be a dick, Johnny. That’s just his name – Flange.”
“Oh. Right, well you stay here and I’ll just go and converse with my, ahm, bovine associates…” I headed for the door.
Outside it was already dark and I took a few gulps of fresh air – or rather, air tinged with cowshit and stale urine, but at least fresher than that of the room I’d vacated. Crossing the yard, I made my way down to the field where I’d seen Holmes, but it was so gloomy, I could barely make out the edge of the fence. Leaning over, I tried my best to effect a loud whisper. “Sherl! Sherlock! Where are you?”
A sudden noise behind me caused my to whirl round and pull out my gun, waving it in front of my face. “Don’t you bloody kill me too, you murdering bastard whoever you are…”
A figure slid out of the darkness towards me. “Well, that’s a nice way to greet your beloved.”
My wife stopped and smiled, and for once the sight of her gappy teeth and wonky eyes filled me only with relief, and dare I say it – love. “Thank the Lord,” I gushed. “My darling Mrs Watson – am I glad to see you!”
She handed me her bag and turned to wave at someone in the field. A gush of hot vapour and a pounding of Bakelite on rubber told me a steam-powered gyrocopter was in the throes of taking off. I frowned – only one man could have arranged such a mode of transport.
As the huge machine lifted into the night sky, my wife stepped forward and slipped a hand round my waist. “You don’t object to Mycroft dropping me off, do you, darling?”
I harrumphed. “I wasn’t aware you were acquainted with him. You’ve always given the impression you couldn’t stand to be near either of the Holmes’ boys.”
She rolled her eyes. “No, dear, it’s only Sherlock who gets on my tits – Mycroft and I frequently have tea together, in fact that’s what we were doing when your telegraph arrived. How else could I have got here so quickly?” She snuggled her nose into my shoulder and made that infernal purring noise that always gets me going.
“Well, you’re here now.” I lowered my voice. “Listen – there’s been another murder.”
Her eyes lit up. “Excellent! Lead me to it.” She paused, then “I’m doing this on the understanding you include me in your journals. And you’re to be truthful – I won’t be the butt of your smutty innuendos or those caustic comments about my womanly needs.” She raised an eyuebrow. “Clear?”
“Of course, dear.” Inwardly, I groaned. Outwardly, I smiled. “I shall write you as you are. For the most part…” As I pulled out my notebook, my wife set off up the track towards the farm.