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Monthly Archives: November 2019

Mary and The Colonel


The Diary of Mary Watson (Mrs)

As we were tied up facing away from the end of the room, it was tricky to see what was going on, but I managed to shuffle my chair back and forth and twist around enough to watch the proceedings. The elevator-type floor descended, while Moriarty barked at his henchmen, their Lugers at the ready. He and Klopp stood side by side, with Fu Manchu and that forger chap next to them. I realised someone was missing from the group just as a hand touched my knee.

‘Mrs Watson,’ purred Colonel Moran, crouching next to me. ‘Feisty little thing, aren’t you?’ His hand slid around to my bottom.

‘Get off me, moron,’ I snapped.

‘You mean Moran,’ he said.

‘I know what I mean.’

He sniffed and sat back on his haunches, watching me. ‘You know, Mary, even with that wonky eye, you’re a startlingly attractive woman. If you and I were able to get to know one another a little, I could spare your life.’

‘Sorry,’ I said, ‘I don’t drop my knickers for villains.’

‘But you already did,’ he said, sniggering.

I turned away from him and in doing so, caught sight of what Johnny and Lestrade were up to—Lestrade had a small pair of scissors in his fingers and had managed to snip through his own ropes. Now his attention was on my husband’s bonds.

Turning back to Moran, I smiled at him and put on my ‘coy’ face, determined to keep his focus on me. ‘Of course, you’re not any old villain, are you, Sebastian?’

He gazed into my eyes and began fondling my knee again. ‘I’m not?’

‘No,’ I murmured. ‘I mean, for one thing, you’ve got a really big gun, haven’t you?’

Amazingly, the man became embarrassed and dropped his head to look at the floor. Luckily, he faced away from Lestrade and Johnny. If I could keep him occupied for a few more precious seconds, we’d still have a chance.

At that moment, the descending floor thumped into place, and Moran jumped up and stalked off to join Moriarty.

‘Mary,’ hissed Holmes. I looked over and saw he’d wriggled one hand free of the ropes and clutched the box of Swan Vestas. ‘Can you get a match out?’

Shuffling my chair closer, I managed to get two fingers into the box and with a bit of fiddling around, picked out a single matchstick.

‘Strike it?’ I said, glancing over to the crowd at the far end of the room.

He nodded, holding the box as close as he could to my fingers and the single match. With a quick movement, I hit the thing against the course side of the matchbox. It burst into flame, and I leaned over, holding it under one of the ropes tying Sherlock to the chair.

A movement behind me told me our plan was discovered, and Colonel Moran leaned down and blew out the match.

‘Naughty, naughty,’ he said with a sneer. Looking across at my companions he saw that Johnny and Lestrade had almost succeeded in freeing themselves. ‘Don’t bother, chaps,’ he said. Pulling a long knife from a sheath tied to his shin, he held the blade in front of my face. ‘Time for slicing.’ With that, he cut through my ropes, then moving across to the others, freed them of their remaining bonds.

‘Get over there,’ he shouted, indicating an area away from the tables. One of the minions hurried over to guard us, his gun pointing straight at Holmes.

Free of the chairs, we could now see what was happening with the new arrivals. I recognised Agatha Christie immediately and saw that she had a small gun in her hand. Unfortunately, five guns were also pointing right back at her.

If this was the famous novelist’s attempt at a rescue, she’d better re-think the dénouement.

 
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Posted by on November 14, 2019 in Detective Fiction

 

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Mary and the Professor


The Diary of Doctor J. Watson

We stood in silence for a few moments while Moriarty and Klopp huddled together. Though I could hear nothing of their conversation, from Klopp’s puce-coloured upturned face and Moriarty’s scowling mouth, there could be no doubt they were arguing.

Holmes leaned towards me. ‘I don’t imagine you have a sgian-dubh down your trouser-leg, Watson?’

‘Alas, no,’ I muttered. Then something else occurred to me. ‘But I do still have that jar of chilli sauce in my pocket.’

Holmes closed his eyes and smiled beatifically, as if in the throes of an orgasmic dream. Then his features dropped back into their usual expressionless gaze and he whispered, ‘Excellent.’

Klopp barked an unintelligible order at the group of white-coated workers nearest her, prompting the minions to hurry away. They returned in a flash, carrying high-backed chairs much like those in the dining room.

Behind me, Lestrade leaned forward. ‘What’s a sgian-dubh?’

‘A small knife,’ I said. ‘Don’t suppose you’ve got one?’

He shook his head. ‘Not a sgian-dubh, but I do ‘ave a pair of nail scissors and a needle and thread pinned under my lapel.’

‘Really? Why?’

He sniffed. ‘The missus makes me carry ‘em. She won’t sew on buttons, see, so I ‘ave ter do it meself.’

‘Think you could cut through my bonds?’

‘What bonds?’

‘The ones we’re about to be tied up with,’ I said, nodding towards the minions.

The white-coats lined us up, instructing us to sit. The expected ropes appeared. In a trice, they lashed all four of us to the chairs like pigs in blankets. Except with rope, instead of bacon. Obviously.

Holmes and I were close enough to speak in low tones. ‘I think I can reach the jar,’ I said.

‘See if you can conceal it in your hand and get the lid off.’

‘Of course,’ I said, wishing I’d done that earlier.

‘Good. I’ve got a plan.’ Turning to face Mary, who was next to him, Holmes said in a loud voice, ‘Is it true what they say about a woman scorned, my dear?’ I knew from his tone of voice that he had also imparted some secret message to my dear wife. Her answer confirmed it.

‘Scorned, Holmes? Fucking scorned? I tell you, if that Italian lothario came back in here now, I’d tear his bloody face off.’ Her voice had risen in pitch to a near scream. If I didn’t know better, I’d say she was really pissed off.

‘What’s that?’ said Moriarty, looking over. ‘The little woman rising from her baby carriage, is she?’

‘It’s ‘getting out of her pram’, you imbecile,’ said Holmes. He turned to me, ‘These bloody Scandinavians. Tch.’

Moriarty erupted. ‘Scandinavian? You think I’m Scandinavian?’

‘Aren’t you?’ said Holmes.

‘I’m an Icelander, you dolt, which makes me Nordic, not Scandinavian.’

Mary turned to Holmes. With a voice dripping in pure condescension, she said, ‘See, I told you.’

Moriarty glared at her. ‘Told him what?’

‘Oh, nothing. Just that I always knew there was something wrong with that so-called ice-cream seller.’

‘Something wrong?’

‘Yes. A Scandinavian lover wouldn’t have had such a tiny–’

‘No!’ he screamed. ‘Do not tell them. Do not, do not, do not!’

‘A tiny willie,’ said Mary, sniggering.

‘Now!’ shouted Holmes.

‘Sorry, what?’ said I.

Holmes stared at me and hissed, ‘The Chilli sauce, Watson. Throw it.’

‘I can’t get it out of my pocket,’ I said, demonstrating my inability to move.

‘Oh, for Christ’s sake …’

‘You didn’t give me a bloody chance,’ I said. ‘I’m not fucking Houdini.’

‘That, my dear Watson, is patently obvious.’

A sudden grinding noise came from the area at the back of the vast space. Twisting round, I saw that the floor we had arrived on had begun to move back up. I glanced at Holmes. ‘D’you think that’s …?’

‘Our saviour?’ muttered Holmes. ‘I do, Watson, I do.’

‘What’s happening?’ barked Moriarty, pushing workers aside as he stormed across the floor. ‘Who is that?’

Klopp hurried across to join him, shouting orders at the white-coated underlings. The pair stood gazing upwards as the floor reached its meeting point with the stone steps above and a second later began to slide back down again.

 
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Posted by on November 7, 2019 in Detective Fiction

 

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Mrs Christie is in the Building

From the Private Diary of A. Christie (Mrs)
Huge Island

Dear Diary,
The captain of our paddle steamer seemed a little put out by my insistence that he ferry Maudie and I across to the island, so I slipped him twenty pounds over and above the usual fare and promised him a feel of my bosoms if he made the crossing in less than an hour.

Needless to say, the man took to his task with enthusiasm, and we were soon speeding across the choppy waters to what I hoped would not be an almighty mess of bloody bodies.

During the drive to Dolphin Cove, I did some serious thinking. I may be a piddle-headed twit sometimes, but I felt sure something wasn’t right with my maid-turned-chauffeur. Being a staunch supporter of women’s privileges and the vote, etcetera, I could hardly object when one of my own staff turned out to have a bit of good old get-up-and-go. That said, I did take one small precaution before we left, which may have been a little pre-emptive on my part, but Maudie has only been in my employ for a few months and her announcement that she could drive a car floored me somewhat. Anyway, if it turns out I’ve made an error of judgment in bringing her along, my old jodhpurs might still save the day.

‘Nearly there, ma’am,’ said Maudie, half an hour later. I stood behind her and gazed out across the water at the stark image before us. Seeing it there, in real life, brought the book back to me, almost as if I’d based the novel on this very island. Strange, I mused, how one’s imagination can conjure up images of things that do not exist, and yet that exact image lay here before me, as if I’d created it myself and plopped it into the sea, readymade for a murderous gathering.

‘Be dark soon, missus,’ said the captain. ‘Might be needing this.’ He handed me a paraffin lantern and a box of Swan Vestas.

‘Thank you, my man,’ I said. ‘Tell me, did you take the party of guests across to the island a few days ago?’

‘No, not me, missus,’ he said. ‘That were some detective bloke from Londen. I rented ‘im moi boat. Fetlock Soames, I think ‘e said ‘is name were.’

‘Sherlock Holmes,’ I said.

‘That’s ‘im. Made me hide in the galley while he dressed up in me gear an’ pretended to be captain. Nice bloke, though. Gave me twenty quid.’ His face took on a pleading aspect, as if I had not already paid him, but allowing his expectation of fondling me later, I slipped him another ten pounds to keep him happy.

We pulled up at the small dock a few minutes later, and Maudie helped me onto the jetty while the captain stood there looking like a little boy who’d lost his lollipop. I waved a hearty goodbye and promised we’d be back shortly.

We trudged up the hill to the top and on reaching the crest found ourselves on the edge of a vast lawn. As I took in the scene in front of us, the flagged path snaking away through a series of shaped hedges, depicting odd-looking woodland animals, I was again reminded of how similar the whole thing was in relation to my book. Could the mastermind behind all this have used my novel to plan every little detail?

Walking through the ornamental gardens, past the Leylandii hedge we came upon the house itself. I’m no connoisseur of architecture, but it was obvious to me that the structure must be modern, perhaps built in the last few months and modelled on that awful Tudor Revivalist style so popular a few years ago. Even so, whatever else I might have thought of it, the place had a striking air of self-importance and I couldn’t help marvel at the mind that must have created such a monstrosity in order to carry out such a monstrous plot.

‘There’s the front door, ma’am,’ said Maudie, striding forward in a rather mannish way.

‘That’s alright,’ I said. ‘We’ll have a look round the back, first.’

Maudie scowled, but did not object. We walked off to the right, skirting around past the end of the tree-lined walkway, and followed the path to what I suppose they like to call the fenêtres françaises.

On rounding the corner, I’d spotted something sprawled on the lawn. The growing darkness made it difficult to perceive details, so as we drew closer, I left the path and strode over to where the thing lay, holding my lantern high. As I feared, it was a man, and he was dead. If I’d harboured hopes this adventure might turn out to be a bizarre game, the image of that tragic and bloody figure caused those hopes to vanish.

Heading towards the French windows, I saw that one door stood open. I peeked inside. There were no lights on, and I muttered another ‘thank you’ to the captain for the gift of his lantern. Making our way into what must be the drawing room, I noticed a chair in the middle of the floor. Several lengths of cut rope lay here and there, which indicated someone had recently escaped, though as the result of that escape had skewered him on the grass, I could only imagine the man’s fleeting thoughts of victory before meeting a truly horrible end.

Maudie had not uttered a word through all this, and when I touched her arm, thinking she may have descended into a state of shock, she looked up, smiled, seemed to realise her mistake, and frowned.

‘Ain’t it awful, ma’am?’

I agreed that it was and hurried her to the door and out into the main hall where yet another door stood open, inviting us to explore whatever hell lay beyond. Its location beneath the main staircase suggested it led to the cellar. Yes, I thought, definitely hell.

We stood together for a moment, peering into the darkness. ‘Off you go, then, Maudie,’ I said, waving a hand towards the stone steps.

‘Ooh, no ma’am,’ said she. ‘Oi couldn’t go in front of you. Oi’m only a maid, after all, ain’t Oi?’

I gave her my sweetest smile. ‘No, I insist.’

Was it my imagination, or the eerie glow from the lantern? I don’t know, but I swear her face drained of colour for a moment, before she gave herself a shake and returned my smile. Seeing her close up like that, the lines around her small mouth and eyes seemed more pronounced than usual, and I realised she had lied about her age when we’d first met. No doubt she’d lied about other things, too.

Holding the door, I waited until she’d begun to descend before removing my Remington Derringer from its hiding place in the back pocket of my corduroy trousers. Fitting snugly into my hand, the twin barrels promised two shots. I could only hope it would be enough.

Reaching the foot of the stone staircase, I noted the space where the floor ought to be, but there was nothing there. At the other side of the small room was a door but again there was no floor to hold it up. Given this unexpected circumstance, I paused, peering into the gloom. The meagre light offered by the lantern, illuminated the vast expanse beneath us and somewhere in the distance, I discerned the sound of voices.

‘Well, will yer look at that, ma’am,’ said Maudie, affecting all innocence. ‘There ain’t no floor.’

‘Come along, Maudie,’ I said. ‘Stop playing silly-buggers. You’ve been here before—you know what to do.’ I gave her a nudge with the Derringer in case any doubt lingered about my intentions.

Her smiled faded, and she pouted in the most unappealing manner. Then, leaning one hand against the wall, she reached over and pressed one of the smaller bricks. Immediately, a grinding noise started up somewhere below us. Looking down, I saw what must be the missing floor sliding up towards us.

 
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Posted by on November 2, 2019 in Detective Fiction

 

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