From the Diary of Doctor J. Watson
Sitting by my window overlooking the meadow, watching the gentle rise and fall of my wife’s chest as she gently snores in our makeshift bed, I cannot help but feel that her arrival has only complicated matters. Admittedly, I am now in possession of facts I had not previously been aware of, but those facts have not, so far, helped me identify the murderer.
To continue my narrative…
Having collected Mrs Watson and walked back at the farm, I introduced her to Flora:
“Flora, this is Mrs Watson.”
The two women shook hands rather solemnly and I noted my wife’s interest quickly moved from the young woman’s face to that of the dead man, whose head was still resting on the table.
“Ah-ha. So the killer’s left handed?” Mrs Watson fingered the knife protruding from the victim’s back.
Flora and I glanced at each other and though we both opened our mouths, no sound was produced.
My wife gave me a bemused look. “Am I mistaken?”
I shook my head. “Not at all, Mrs Watson, it’s just that I haven’t had a chance to examine the body yet – the murder occurred only a few minutes ago, for goodness sake!” I moved forward and peered at the knife. “Left handed, eh? And your deduction is based on what, exactly?”
The slap was quick and painful. “Don’t you dare quote Sherlock Holmes at me, Johnny. I’m not some simple-minded farm-hand, you know?” As she said this, she glanced at Flora and I prayed to God my dear wife wasn’t lumping Miss Poste in with the agricultural workers – a bout of female one-upmanship was a circumstance I could well do without.
As I rubbed my face huffily, I was glad to see Flora hadn’t noticed the slight. In fact, the young woman herself was smiling, and for a moment a fearful dread filled my entire being. However, her next comment was not what I expected.
“Why does he call you Mrs Watson?”
Mrs Watson rolled her eyes. “Unfortunately, my husband is the victim of an abnormally severe Victorian upbringing and the accompanying severity of manners.” She leaned towards Flora and whispered conspiratorially, “On our wedding night he kept moaning ‘Mrs Watson, Mrs Watson’ and I thought he must be talking about his fucking mother, until I realised he meant me!” This last provoked a burst of laughter from both my wife and Miss Poste. I could feel my temperature rising.
“Language, my dear…”
But my wife cut me off with a raised finger. “Don’t, Johnny. Just don’t.”
Flora took Mrs Watson’s arm. “So what is your name, then?”
“Magdalena. But my friends call me Mary.” She glared at me. “My husband can’t get past the biblical implications of being named after a so-called prostitute, so…”
Flora nodded as if she knew exactly what Mrs Watson was talking about and her face adopted a pitying expression. “Poor Johnny.” She patted my arm. No wonder you’re always so uptight.”
“I am NOT uptight,” I retorted sharply. “I am simply a well-mannered Englishman.”
At this, my wife effected a perfectly executed aside to Flora: “He’s Scottish, actually – but don’t tell him.”
I thumped my fist on the table, but once again missed my mark and slapped my thigh. This time however, I was able to refrain from shouting Hoorah! Instead, I coughed, gathered myself together and leaned forward to examine the corpse. “So. Left-handed you say?”
Mrs Watson – who I shall from here onwards refer to as Mary (anything for a quiet life), ran a finger along the handle of the knife. “See – the wood is marked on this side where the holder’s fingernails have dug into it. No doubt over a period of several years.”
“Really?” Said I.
“Yes, and look here – you can see where the blade was sharpened with a degree of pressure on the right side of the knife. The person who sharpened it could not help but draw the blade towards them. Therefore, left handed.”
I must admit I was seeing my Mary in a new light. Though I had of course invited her here to aid my investigation, I was a little stunned at the intelligence of her deductions. I turned to Flora. “Who in this household is left-handed?”
Flora took a deep breath. “You’re not going to like this.”
“Perhaps not, but the truth must be told.”
“There’s only one person in the household who is left-handed.” She blinked. “Adam Shitebreath.”
I closed my eyes. “Bugger.”