Diary of Mary Watson (Mrs)
Having been grabbed by the wrists and hurled through the nearest doorway, my first thought was to utter some grumpy complaint at Holmes, but at that very second, a tremendous noise thundered through the house, rattling its doors and shattering the windows.
“Jeezus We—” said Lestrade, but his words were cut off by a terrific crash as the ceiling we had until a moment before been standing under, collapsed onto the floor, throwing debris into the room where we now sprawled in a heap.
“Johnny!” I yelled, scrambling to my feet.
“No, Mary,” said Holmes, pulling me back down. “Your husband is more than capable of looking after himself.”
The three of us stared at each other, dust swirling around the room. After a minute, the rumbling from above ceased and Holmes helped me to my feet.
“A bomb?” I said, looking up at him.
“It would appear so, Mary.” He turned his beady eyes towards the front window, and I saw that the heavy curtains had protected us from the worst of the damage when the glass shattered.
“Watson,” yelled Holmes, crunching over the shards of broken glass to the shattered frame.
A noise came from behind us and looking round, I saw a dusty figure standing by the rear window peering in at us.
“Darling, you’re all right,” I gasped, hurrying towards him. Keeping my hands away from any broken glass, I leaned on the window ledge. “Are you hurt?”
He shrugged and gave me a dopey grin. “Take more than one of Blackwood’s bombs to finish me off, though it did blow me right across the bloody room and out through the kitchen window.” Taking out a handkerchief he began dusting himself down.
“Give us a hand, Watson,” said Holmes, and pushing past me he clambered through into the garden.
As the inspector and I followed suit, I saw Holmes had already run across the grass to look up at the house. Picking our way through the rubble where parts of the roof had collapsed onto the back garden, we made our way to where Holmes stood.
Johnny entwined his fingers in mine and pulled me into a hug. “For a moment, there, old girl, I thought I must be back in Afghanistan.”
Brushing dust away from his eyebrows, I nodded. “But at least then you knew what you were dealing with.”
Holmes muttered his agreement. “Quite right, Mary. Except that I, at least, should have foreseen such an event.” He raised his hat at me and gave a little bow. “My apologies to you all. I must be the stupidest man in Londen.”
“Ow, no,” said Lestrade, picking at a rip in his jacket. “I won’t ‘ear of it. You wasn’t to know that fuckin arsehole would go an do sumfink like that, was you?”
“On the contrary, Inspector, I should have known. Blackwood has demonstrated his ingenuity and dastardliness to me on many occasions.” He shook his head. “For once, he has outsmarted me.”
“But we’re still alive,” I said, patting his arm.
“We are, my dear, but we won’t be for long once Blackwood learns of our escape.”
Lestrade stepped forwards, and poked Holmes with a finger. “Yer know what we ought ter do, doncha?”
Holmes raised an eyebrow.
“We ought ter do what your mate from the Secret Service did, that time. What was ‘is name? James Pond?”
Holmes stared at him for a moment, then he grinned. “Bond, Lestrade. James Bond.”
“I didn’t know you knew anyone in MI5, Holmes,” said Johnny.
“MI6, actually,” said Holmes. To Lestrade, he nodded slowly. “You might be right, Inspector. The incident you refer to gave Bond his nickname. They called him the spy who lived twice.”
“He pretended to be dead?” said I.
Sherlock Holmes winked at me. “As I always say, Mary is the smart one. Yes. And I think Lestrade has a good point—if Blackwood thinks we’re dead, it could give us time to track him down.”
“We’ll need to be quick, then,” said Johnny. “This place’ll be overrun with sightseers before you can say—”
“Hark.” Holmes straightened up, listening.
For a moment I couldn’t hear anything but the still-insistent ringing in my ears. Then I discerned shouts and yelled instructions coming from the front of the house.
“By God, Watson,” said Holmes, “you’re right. Most of the damage would’ve been at the front of the house and from that noise, I’d guess we only have a few seconds to make ourselves scarce before someone thinks to search the rear of the property and finds us four standing here like a collection of scarecrows.”
I glanced along the street in both directions. The house backed onto a narrow lane which in turn backed onto the gardens of another row of houses. “But where can we hide?”
Holmes walked back towards the house and stood on a pile of guttering that had fallen from the roof. Stretching up, he peered over the garden fence. A moment later he’d re-joined us.
“Over that fence, across the lane and through the passage next to the house over yonder. That should bring us out into Oxford Street.”
Lestrade laughed. “Yer do know Oxford Street’s about the busiest road in the whole of Londen, doncha?”
Holmes glared at him. “Of course I know that, Lestrade, but I also know of a tailoring outfit called Marks Brothers who owe me a favour.”
And with that, he was off, climbing over the fence, peering both ways and waving at us to hurry along.
Within five minutes we had traversed two gardens, a narrow alley and skirted round a rather smelly midden that brought us out into, as Lestrade had pointed out, the busiest road in Londen.
But before we stepped out in into Oxford Street itself, Holmes pulled the three of us into another alley that ran behind a row of shops. Following him down a set of wrought iron stairs into what I judged must be a cellar, we pushed through a wooden gate and into a small, darkened area and found ourselves facing a large metal door.
Holmes gave a sharp rap on the door and within seconds it swung open. A bearded fellow wearing a patterned smoking cap, looked out. Seeing Holmes, he grabbed my companion by the shoulders and hugged him.
“Oh my Gawd, Mr ‘Olmes, Mr ‘Olmes. It’s been so long since you was ‘ere. Come in, come in and ‘ave a brew.”
Holmes glanced at me. “A place to hide, Mary, and with any luck, I’ll get a new suit out of them to boot.”
“Maybe they’ll sort me out some new togs an all,” said Lestrade, pulling at his torn jacket.
Holmes peered through the doorway. “Well, come along, you lot. And don’t worry about clothes—by the time Mr Marks has finished with us, your own mothers wouldn’t recognise you.”