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…