RSS

Monthly Archives: September 2018

The Undoing of Doctor Hirsch


Diary of Doctor J. Watson

“I’m sorry, Holmes,” I said, pulling up a chair. “But I just don’t understand how the woman could’ve strapped on these gloves and fitted herself with those horrendous dentures while you were sat here talking to her.”

Almost half an hour had passed since we had first entered the bedroom and looked upon the tormented form of Judith Hirsch. While I had hoped to continue my own investigation into the facts of the matter, it seemed selfish to keep what Mary and I now knew to ourselves, so I filled Holmes in on Caddy’s story, while the inspector added occasional details. My pipe-smoking friend listened attentively, making few comments and nodding thoughtfully from time to time. On finishing my account at the point where Holmes had called us upstairs, the four of us sat in quiet contemplation and for a few minutes no-one spoke.

Eventually, I leaned towards the Great Detective and tapped his knee.

Holmes coughed. “Yes, of course,” he muttered to himself. Then, glancing across at Mary and Caddy who had seated themselves by the fire, he gazed at each of them, their faces turned towards him in anticipation.

“To answer your question, John,” he said, patting his tummy, “I, unfortunately, was not in attendance the entire time, having found it necessary to spend several minutes in the Crapper.”

I let out a groan. “So you’re saying you don’t actually know what happened?”

“On the contrary, Watson, I know precisely what happened.”

He gave me one of his infuriatingly smug grins and said nothing more. Clearly, he was waiting for me to ask the obvious question.

“And what did happen?” I said with only a hint of annoyance.

Holmes leaned back in his chair and turned his face towards the still sleeping figure of Doctor Hirsch. Her ample bosom rose and fell gently in time with her breathing. “Judith here has endeavoured to throw us off the scent with a little bit of play-acting. Thankfully, it did not fool me for a second and I instead concentrated on those aspects of the case that truly required my attention. It was clear to me from our visit to The Slaughtered Lamb that something odd had occurred.” He swivelled his head back to look at me. “Whatever power overcame us during the short time we loitered at the inn, must be due to some sort of mass hallucination.”

“Really?” said I, stifling another groan.

“Yes,” he said. “Really. However, before I continue, I should like to hear the rest of Inspector Caddy’s tale.”

At this, Caddy jerked upright. “The rest? What on earth do you mean?”

Holmes smiled. “Simply that on making the possible connection of Miss Hirsch being the brother of the American David Kessler, you must have followed it up.” He smiled again.

Caddy swallowed noisily and took several deep breaths. “Ah.”

“You might begin,” urged Holmes, “by explaining exactly what drew you to the conclusion that Kessler was indeed her brother.”

Caddy gave a short laugh. “She told me, of course. When I commented on her American accent she described how she and her brother had embarked on a tour of the Londen sights, but that he had disappeared from the hotel where they were staying.”

“And she set out to follow him?” I put in.

“Yes.”

“To Titfield?” said Holmes.

“Yes,” said Caddy again, though with a lesser degree of certainty.

“But surely she already knew he was in Titfield?” said Mary, her wonky eye pivoting back and forth. “If she was following the trail of attacks, she must have known he’d been there.” She glanced at Holmes for affirmation.

“Indeed she did,” said Holmes. “What she did not know was where he was headed next.” He peered hard at Caddy. “And she could only have known that if someone in authority had told her.”

“Wait a mo,” said I, feeling somewhat left behind. “You’re saying Caddy knew where Kessler was headed?”

“Of course,” said Holmes. “He knew Doctor Hirsch had engaged the services of ourselves and that our first port of call would be the site of the so-called attack at The Slaughtered Lamb.”

“What d’you mean, so-called?” I said.

“Precisely that,” said Holmes. “The whole thing was a set-up between Caddy and Hirsch to lure the two of us…” he glanced at Mary. “The three of us into a trap.”

“But why,” I wailed.

At this point Caddy leaped up and declared, “Because I have a book deal that’ll make my name – a book that’ll blow the lid off Sherlock Bloody Holmes and his smarmy-parmy investigations.” He hesitated, then, “I mean…before I got to know you better…and…” Caddy’s mouth continued moving but any further explanation eluded him and after a moment he sat down again.

“What you failed to realise,” said Holmes rising to his feet, “is that you, Caddy, are not, and never were, at the centre of this investigation. No, in fact someone else had an interest in getting rid of you and your book deal and at the same time making a name for themselves with the biggest detective story this country has ever known.” He paused for effect. “The reason Judith Hirsch was following Kessler is because she is not Judith Hirsch, but is in fact…”

Stepping across to where Judith lay, he grabbed her bosom and ripped it upwards.

Incredibly, the woman’s face, hair and chest came away as if they were a single piece of fabric, and with a deft movement, Holmes tossed the attachments aside leaving behind the true face and torso of the person underneath.

Caddy sprang out of his chair like a firework. “Fucking hell!”

“Yes,” said Holmes, smoothly. “Inspector Schitt of the Yard, if I’m not very much mistaken.”

“But, but, but..” I stammered.

“But me no buts, Watson. As always, it’s elementary.”

“With the greatest of respect Holmes, it really isn’t.”

A low groan came from the person who apparently was not Judith Hirsch. The scrawny bald-headed features of Inspector Schitt turned towards us, his sharp green eyes blinking rapidly.

“For fuck’s sake…” he muttered. Pulling himself into an upright position he glared at Holmes. “Couldn’t fuckin leave it alone, could you, you bleedin…” He ran out of breath and coughed vehemently several times. Clutching at himself, he rubbed his chest. “Cost me ‘alf a month’s pay did that,” he said, gazing longingly at the disguise that now lay in a crumpled heap on the floor.

“Ah well,” said Holmes. “A disguise is only as good as the individual beneath it.”

With another burst of energy, Caddy leaped forward and landed a sharp right hook to Schitt’s jaw, knocking him backwards onto the bed.

Taking hold of Caddy by the shoulders, I held him back, but his anger had already subsided. Inspector Schitt, conversely, was out cold.

“Well,” I said, sitting back down. “That explains a lot.”

“Sadly,” said Holmes, “it answers only one part of the mystery.”

This was clearly going to be one of those times when Holmes explained everything, or nearly everything, so after lifting Inspector Schitt’s legs onto the bed and assuring myself that he was relaxed in his unconscious state, we all made ourselves comfortable.

“What all of you have singularly failed to realise,” said Holmes, waving a hand towards the bed, “is that this fellow is the only person who actually understood the problem. You see, unlike the rest of us, Schitt already believed in the possibility of an actual werewolf, therefore he was in the best position to hunt down the last of the bloodline and kill it in order to end the carnage.”

“What?” said I, aghast. “You mean it’s all true?”

“Of course,” said Holmes haughtily.

“But you said…” I began.

“I said,” continued the detective, “what it was necessary for me to say in order that the inspector here would not be duped into thinking we knew more than he did.”

I considered this for a moment. “So we could learn what he already knew?”

Holmes nodded. “It would also have served his purpose rather nicely if he could catch and kill the aforementioned wolf, while at the same time, make me out to be some kind of buffoon.”

“Not some kind,” muttered the man on the bed, “every fuckin kind.”

Holmes smiled at the inspector. “Now, now, Andrew, you know you’re not as clever as I am.”

“Oh, no?” said the old man with a snarl.

“No,” said Holmes, reaching into his inside jacket pocket. Pulling out a piece of yellowish paper, he passed it to me.

Taking the telegramatical communication, I unfolded it eagerly. “It’s a telegram,” I said unnecessarily. “It reads – Mister Holmes stop. Have located the gentleman in question stop. Is lodged at the Londen Tavern in Bishopsgate stop. Best wishes Lestrade.”

“Oh my God,” gasped Mary. “This means that…” She looked at me.

“Yes,” I said. “There’s an American werewolf in Londen…”

 
2 Comments

Posted by on September 16, 2018 in Detective Fiction

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Knives in the Night


Diary of Doctor J. Watson

Mary, Caddy and I hurried up the stairs after Holmes, each speculating on what new horror might await us. And indeed it was a horror, for as we burst into my companion’s bedroom, there on the couch lay the prostrate figure of Judith Hirsch, bathed in the eerie glow of moonlight.

But it was not the snarling mouth and fangs of her face that drew our attention, nor even the ripped and torn clothing that lay strewn about the room, revealing a barely-clad young woman in the throes of some demented seizure. No, dear reader, it was her hands that captured our collective gaze in those first few seconds, for at the end of each arm, held out straight and strong in front of her face, a pair of metallic gloves were strapped to her hands, each finger encased in a leather sheath that held at its end a razor-like knife-blade.

An expression Caddy had used earlier popped into my head – someone with knives for hands.

“My God,” I screamed, “she’s got knives for hands!”

“Precisely, Watson,” said Holmes, in a low voice, “and look here…” He pointed to the woman’s face. “Is this the mouth of a werewolf?”

Leaving Mary and Caddy by the door, I stepped closer to Judith’s shaking body and, fearing I might get my face slashed by those demonic gloves, knelt at her side and peered at the woman’s mouth.

Though the fangs were large and canine in style, there was something oddly man-made about them. I looked up at Holmes. “Wooden teeth?”

He nodded. “Yes, Watson. No doubt fashioned to go with her knifey hands.”

Moving back a few feet, I took my companion’s sleeve. “Look here, Sherlock, we need to examine her and find out how this bizarre transformation took place.”

“Precisely, old bean, which is why I took the liberty of borrowing your Gladstone bag before bringing Judith up here. “I popped a couple of sedatives into her drink. Any minute now, she’ll be out like a light.” He gave me a sardonic smile. “Does that meet with your approval?”

A wave of exasperation surged over me, but I knew it’d be useless to make too much of it, so I simply said, “Goodness sake, Holmes, you can’t go around dropping drugs into people’s drinks. Christ knows what might have happened.”

Holmes turned his beady little eyes on Judith for a moment. “You worry too much Johnny. See – even now she is succumbing. In a few seconds she’ll be sound asleep.”

“Hmph,” I muttered. “All the same…”

But he was right – even as we watched, Judith’s eyes closed and her mouth ceased its snarling. A short time later her hands were resting idly at her sides and her breathing returned to its regular pattern.

Kneeling down again, I carefully extracted the set of perfectly carved wooden fangs from the woman’s mouth. Wiping them clean of saliva, I held them up for my companions to see.

Mary peered at the dentures. “She’s not a real werewolf, then?”

“Apparently not,” said Holmes smugly. “Which I, of course, knew all along.”

Inspector Caddy had said nothing through all this, and still maintained his position by the door, a frightened aspect on his face. “If she isn’t one, then who is?”

We all looked at him and the possibility that one of us might be the werewolf flashed into my head. But that was ridiculous – if Mary, Holmes or myself were the guilty party, then we’d surely know.

Wouldn’t we?

 
2 Comments

Posted by on September 9, 2018 in Detective Fiction

 

Tags: , , , ,

Smoke and Mirrors…


Diary of Doctor J. Watson

I must admit I had not expected this turn of events in Caddy’s story. Though the appearance of Miss Hirsch at some point was inevitable, I’d hoped my theory might be proved wrong. Glancing at Mary, I spied a tell-tale crease at the corner of her sweet mouth, revealing that she too had been thinking along the same lines.

“And this,” I said, “was the first time you met Doctor Hirsch?”

Caddy nodded. “It was. In fact, though I only caught a glimpse of her as my aunt fussed over me in the hallway, I found myself transfixed by the young woman’s beauty as she hurried away up the stairs. Naturally, I buttonholed Aunt Agatha at the earliest opportunity, quizzing her as to who this blonde goddess might be, but Aggy is an aficionado of privacy, especially regarding the female sex, and it was all I could do to persuade her to reveal how Miss Hirsch had booked the room only a few days earlier. It seems the doctor needed a place to stay while attending to family business in the village.”

Mary offered our companion another biscuit, before asking, “And when did you see her next?”

“Curiously enough,” said Caddy, “it was the very next day during my visit to the crime scene where the boy’s body was found. Speaking to the detective in charge of the case, one Inspector Hopkins, I learned the body was discovered by a constable who, after taking a break from his beat to relieve himself, had apparently been so shocked at the sight of a bloodied corpse stretched out across the grass that he accidently urinated in the boy’s mouth.”

“Good thing the lad was dead, then,” I muttered. “By the by, Caddy, you said this Inspector’s name was Hopkins.”

“That’s right. Stanley Hopkins.” Caddy inclined his head a little. “You know him?”

I snorted. “Hah. Only too well. The man’s an ass. Constantly haranguing Holmes about his deductive methods. I’d heard the Yard had transferred him somewhere remote – no doubt to keep the useless bugger out of the way.”

Caddy smiled wryly. “He certainly is an ass in this case – the fool had trampled all over the crime scene, destroying any chance of finding a single clue to the killing.”

“But you did see the body?” I said.

“Yes. It had been removed to a cellar in a nearby butcher’s shop – the only place cold enough to store it until it could be examined.”

“And what did you find?” Mary leaned forward, her hand squeezing my knee as she spoke. Sensing her enthusiasm for the grisly facts through the grip of her slim probing fingers, I experienced a thrill of passion in my loins and was forced to shuffle around in my chair lest I betray my rising spirits. Luckily, Caddy didn’t notice my condition and went on with his tale.

“I scrutinised the body at the butcher’s, but Hopkins refused to allow me space for a proper examination. It was only when Miss Hirsch arrived unannounced that the Inspector stepped outside the room to berate her on the inappropriateness of a woman viewing a corpse. While he babbled on at her for several minutes, I took the opportunity to unfasten what was left of the victim’s clothing and found a great many slashes and cuts to his body that could only have been inflicted by someone with knives for hands, or…” He dropped his head for a moment and took a deep breath. “Or by a werewolf.”

Leaning back in my chair, I almost wished I hadn’t given up smoking. At times like this, a pipeful of hard shag would’ve helped me think. Curling my fingers into a fist, I stuck the end of my thumb in my mouth and puffed away for a minute. The charade seemed to work, for the next question came into my head like a bolt of lightning. “Do you happen to know if there was a full moon on the night of the attack?”

Caddy nodded solemnly. “There was.” He gazed into the fire for a moment, then went on. “Doctor Hirsch did me a favour, albeit inadvertently, so when she accosted me in the street a short time later, I was keen to hear what she had to say.”

“And her gorgeous blonde locks and luscious breasts had no bearing on your desire to speak to her?” Mary gave him a playful wink, though her wonky eye may have given him the wrong impression. Nevertheless, he admitted that his initial reaction to the young woman was aided by her devastating beauty.

“She is a beautiful woman,” he murmured, “but my first thought was to know why she had come to where the body was stored. And when she told me the reason, I was so excited I almost wet myself.”

Mary giggled. “Yes, Johnny does that.”

“Tch, d’you mind, darling?” I chided. “Let’s not tell all the world my inadequacies.”

“Sorry, darling,” she said, then turning back to Caddy, she gave him one of her ‘wanton’ looks that rarely fails to achieve the desired effect.

Naturally, Caddy complied. “Well,” he said. “When I first heard her voice, I was struck by her accent – it was that of an American. Which is why I had initially assumed her to be a native of that country.” A frown creased his brow momentarily. “What a fool I’ve been – it was simply a device to add a touch of veracity to her story. It seems the man who was attacked in the fish and chip shop in Walthamstow is actually the brother of Judith Hirsch.”

I stopped sucking my thumb and leaned forward. “You’re bloody joking?”

Caddy rolled his eyes. “Of course I’m joking, but that is what she told me and that’s why I’ve been following her – I thought if I could find Kessler, I’d solve the case and prove that Sherlock Holmes is a fraud.”

“Sorry,” I said. “What was that last bit?”

He blinked several times. “Oh, I didn’t mean to say that.”

Mary had straightened up, her face all seriousness. “Then what did you mean?”

Inspector Caddy coughed. “Er…just that as well as wanting to find the werewolf, or unmask whoever it is that’s going around pretending to be a werewolf, I’ve been trying to prove that Holmes and his methods are nothing more than smoke and mirrors.”

Now it was Mary’s turn to roll her eyes. “Well, that’s nothing new, dear.”

I gave her a sharp poke in the thigh with my finger. “I’ll thank you not to undermine Holmes, Mary. If anyone ought to do that, it should be me.” I sniffed. “And I’m not going to do it, so there.”

We sat in awkward silence for a few minutes, until our reverie was interrupted by a knock at the door. Before any of us could move, a head popped around the door and the Great Detective himself gave us a wide smile. “Ah, there you all are. Wonder if I might spare you for a moment?”

“What’s going on, old chap?” I said, getting up.

“Just a small issue with Doctor Hirsch. You might want to observe.”

With that he disappeared, leaving the door ajar. Hurrying into the hallway, I peered up the stairs after him and noted, with a sense of impending doom, that the window was filled with the light of the moon. A very full moon.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on September 5, 2018 in Detective Fiction

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

 
%d bloggers like this: