Diary of Doctor J. Watson
True to his word, Moran sent in one his henchmen with bowls of chicken broth, bread, and a pot of tea. I noticed the patterned milk jug matched the cups and saucers, which, along with a single silver teaspoon, added a nice touch—not the sort of thing you’d expect from a master criminal and crack-shot assassin. When the thug had gone, Mary played mother and we sat for a few minutes concentrating on filling our stomachs. Lestrade’s slurping would normally have irritated me, but the knowledge the inspector would be dead in less than a day, pushed such self-interested thoughts from my mind.
Collecting the empty bowls, Mary piled them up on the tray and poured herself another cup of tea. “By the way,” she said. “I noticed Moran’s fingers.”
“Oh, yes? What about them?”
“Manicured. Seemed a bit odd considering his background. You don’t think he prefers men, do you?”
Holmes laughed. “Not if the stories about him and Lady Windermere’s fanny are true.”
“Just a thought.” She sipped her tea for a moment, then, “So, d’you have any ideas? Some clever scheme to get us out of this mess?”
“Several, my dear,” said the big-nosed detective. “But none that would bear fruit in our current situation.” He eyed the two thugs still guarding the door to the basement. “Left to our own devices we might have a chance but with our two friends here, I doubt we’d make it out of this room alive.”
“D’you still think Blackwood is involved in this?” I said.
Holmes shrugged. “It seems unlikely, given their previous relationship. However, I can’t imagine he’d allow Moran to take over Londen’s criminal empire without a fight.” He took out his meerschaum and began stuffing it with tobacco. “Besides, Blackwood still has that damned book of Ravensburg’s. Christ knows what he might achieve with that.”
Lestrade took a slurp of tea and swallowed noisily. “What exactly is this book he’s got, then?”
“Magic and witchcraft,” I said.
“Oh. Gonna murder us wiv magic?”
“I doubt it,” said Holmes. “Blackwood is far too clever to believe in such nonsense.”
“But you told me he brought himself back from the dead,” put in Mary.
Holmes let out a sigh. “Mary, Mary, Mary. The book may be stuffed with ancient spells and incantations, but we all know magic doesn’t exist. Whatever Blackwood did to apparently come to life again, will have a perfectly simple explanation. That book will prove effective for him only if he can make others believe he possesses supernatural powers.”
Lestrade grunted. “He’s done that, afore, an’all.”
Mary tapped his knee. “What did he do, exactly?”
Lestrade straightened up in his chair. “He made out he were able ter cast a spell over all the politicians an that in the ‘ouses of Parliament. Course, what he really done was try to gas them with cyanide, after givin his own men the antidote.” He winked at Holmes. “Would’ve got away wiv it, too, if it weren’t for Sherl.”
“Yes,” said Holmes, a smile creasing his face. “We chased him across tower bridge, which at the time was still under construction. Silly sod fell off and hanged himself from a loose chain.”
I nodded. “Still bloody survived, though didn’t he?”
“Perhaps, Doctor,” said Holmes, banging a fist on the arm of his chair, “we may be getting away from the point.”
“Which is, that by this time tomorrow we shall all be as dead as dumplings unless we come up with an escape plan.”
One of the thugs looked over. “Don’t mind us. We won’t say nufink, will we, Bert?” He guffawed loudly and after a moment, his mate joined in.
“And we shall have to do it,” added Holmes, “quietly.”
The door to the other room opened and one of the other thugs came in, picked up the tray with the soup bowls and went out, leaving the door open. For a moment, I wondered if it might be worth having a look inside, but just then Maudie Ratched appeared. She crooked a finger at Mary.
“Come along, girlie. Me an you are going to have some fun.”
I saw Mary press herself into her chair, gripping the arms with white knuckles. “I’m not going anywhere with you, bitch.”
Maudie produced a dagger and waved it around. “We can do it the easy way or the fuckin painful way. You choose—I don’t care.”
Holmes had his back to the door. He raised an eyebrow at Mary and, opening his hand, showed the silver teaspoon he’d been hiding. Mary gave a quick nod.
“Very well,” she said, standing. Crossing to me, she crouched and kissed my cheek. She did the same with Lestrade (which must have made his day) then, passing Sherlock, bent down to kiss him and slid the teaspoon up the sleeve of her dress.
“Bye boys,” she said, turning at the door. “If you hear screaming, it won’t be me.”