“Love does strange things to a bloke” These words have been echoing in my mind of late. They were spoken to me by one of the Baker Street Irregulars, a man that may have been made entirely of dust by the look of him, though I am sure they have been spoken by others as well. The statement is more than true, it is inescapable. My love for my late wife did strange and wonderful things to me but this concept goes beyond that of man and wife. A man’s love of the bottle can change him. Love can turn something that we merely desire into something we crave or cannot live without. Likewise as we grow accustomed to a thing it can become a necessity and we can learn to love them. With Sherlock I will never know which came first, his need for mental stimulation becoming an addiction which, when not stimulated with a good case would lead to other means of cerebral exercise, or if somewhere in his youth he received his first small conundrum which, upon its resolution, caused such euphoria that this became a physiological need. It is easier for me to pinpoint my own frailties, though only in retrospect, and it is just that which I have set out to do.
It was 17 September and I was in love, least I thought I was. I was too old to have a schoolboy crush yet that is how I felt. I had only had the pleasure of her company a few times and yet she was all I could think about and my desire to please her was soon becoming an albatross in all my relationships. Because of this when Sherlock arrived at the Bank Station where I had told him to meet me I was questioning my behavior with him as well. I began by nervously telling Holmes why I had asked him to meet me and then questioned if he was mad at me as I would if I were insecurely attempting to entertain a woman and could sense her displeasure. I explained this, too, to Holmes and he suggested that in such a situation I would indeed have made such a woman mad and most likely asked her to pay. I told him that we had split the cab and he told me that such thing was called “going dutch” and said I was an embarrassment however he needn’t have as I could already feel the blood rushing to my cheeks as my face grew warmer. To distract him I drew his attention to a letter I had found on the ground.
The letter was addressed to Holmes and it read thus:
“Dear Sherlock Holmes
If you are smart enough you might feel the motion
Here at the view of the brine ocean.
A place so big, grand and wet
A place you might go to find an octopus pet.
You can float amongst these creatures if you use your imaginarium
Even these these friend float on when they die you still want to bury them
If you like a tasty dish
Eat it here amongst the fish.
Too bad Sherlock, I think you’re a fairy them,
Come to the place where I said it’s the….
Here the letter trailed off as if the author was rethinking the metre he had chosen or perhaps even some words that were misplaced. Even so Sherlock knew that we needed to make haste to the Aquarium.
As we were leaving I fell into stride behind Holmes which he took exception to and he admonished me to walk abreast, not behind. I explained that i was fearful that if we came to a fork in the road I would head one direction and he another and I would wonder if he were mad at me. Exasperated Holmes lead the way and I meekly followed him to location where the crime had been committed.
I have been fond of fish since I was a lad and whilst in Afghanistan I had often wondered what my life would have been like if I had been a saw bones instead. I had acquired my sea legs out of necessity however and preferred to view fish from on land rather than floating above. I had visited an aquarium once before in France, I believe, and they were beginning to catch on other places as well. When we arrived at this particular aquarium we were met with clues so disparate that we may have had an easier time determine the crime had we not gone there. I should say I as Sherlock, as he always does, managed to sort out the important clues from the flotsam and jetsam. I will, to the best of my memory, enumerate the clues here and you can try and determine for yourself which of my observations were important and which were not.
There were three large fish, one small fish and an octopus pet floating behind the glass.
Five books were scattered on the ground in front of the glass all of which were opened to chapter 11.
One Lantern, the candle kind and not kerosene, hung to one side.
On the opposite side, nearest the octopus pet there was an exhibit that required an additional fee.
Beneath the lantern was a rubbish bin filled with empty billfolds.
Inside the tank was a small replica of a man in a diving suit whose purpose seemed to be to oxygenate the water. On it was emblazoned “this is real.”
Holmes at this point took particular notice of the books even nothing that they were filled with naughts. Holmes reasoned that the empty wallets were somehow associated with the books and a bankruptcy filing of some kind. I then noticed other things that wer out of place but may not have been important.
There were tire tracks leading out of the aquarium. What stood out was that these tracks appeared to be from some sort of pneumatic rubber tire which I had read about but never scene. Furthermore these tracks left lettering that read “Ferrari” which was outside the realm of my Italian lexicon.
On the wall behind us there was a portrait of what looked to be Van Gogh but with a mustache. It was labeled Sigmund Fraud which, no doubt, was a german monarch of some kind.
Here Holmes was distracted by the diver in the tank whose writing had since become smudged and could have read “this is not real” or “this is for real” but upon closer inspection it read “this is real” and was still irrelevant. He admired the octopus pet as his mind continued to mill away at the intellectual grist around him letting the chaff blow where it may so that only the kernels of truth would remain.
The pages in the books were bank ledgers and those that totaled naught were glued over other pages with much larger numbers on them.
We began to examine the books in more detail when a decrepit old man stumbled our direction shouting for what I assume was his wife and whose name was “Maude.”
Assuming he may work there Holmes asked him as much but, deducing that this ancient imbecile was in no state to work anywhere also asked if he was, rather, simply and completely lost. He continued to shout for his Maude the entire time we spoke with him. Sherlock asked him who Maude was and he explained that she was, as we assumed, his “broad.” (The term was an American one and recent referring, I believe, to the width of a healthy woman’s shoulders though Holmes suggested it was in fact in reference to the bosom) Holmes tried to explain to the man that the moniker was offensive to women but before he could Inspector Lestrade entered.
Lestrade wondered allowed why the police were involved if it were only bankruptcy since that, in and of itself, wasn’t a crime. Sherlock then, as if he had known it all along and indeed he might have, explained that it would be a crime if it weren’t real but was, rather, fraudulent. Someone at this Aquarium had committed bankruptcy fraud. I was eager to begin searching for the culprit and with Lestrade’s help it would have moved even quicker but, alas, he had purchased a ticket for the other exhibit and disappeared once again down the darkened hallway toward the Killer Whales which Sherlock had evidently viewed without me despite his protestations that he wasn’t angry with me.
Sherlock wondered if the culprit had chosen the aquarium because he had a connection to the sea. I thought this seemed far fetched buy at his behest we were off to the docks to see.
I find that the docks around London are either filled with commotion as seamen rushed to and from ships as they departed or docked or they were desolate, dreary and disheartening with all the trappings of life but no pulse. It was in the latter state that we found the docks in when we arrived. The only people there were a lonely couple trying to catch some fish for supper. I had gotten separated from Holmes on our way (as I had feared – we had been walking abreast and we both became lost in thought and were suddenly separated) but fortune smiled upon us as I soon saw Holmes appear on the other side of the dock.
Holmes and I approached this shabby duo and were told that we were scaring the fish away. Holmes suggested they needed more iron, to which I added calcium as a suggestion, so that they might be able to live without fear of brittle bones. Theirs was a sad tail as, from what I could discern, he attempted to fish all day (and was a very bad fisherman) and she wandered the streets with her lanterns warning people of danger if it were near. (meaning of course that one was useless at his job and the other had a job that was useless). The most animated the man became was when Sherlock blew out one of the lanterns. We were told that it was imperative they both remain lit. They digressed as they ruminated about the horse they once had and how they had to eat it and she continued to ramble on about how she could warn people if storms were coming. She explained that she was from the Iowa Territory in the New World where they have lots of strong storms including tornados. Holmes had to have been in a good mood for as we took our leave he wondered out loud to the couple about the gristle on the mans collar – that it seemed he had been eating quite well. With those words we were off and the sound of his wife’s haranguing became more distant until it faded into hustle and bustle of the city.
As I write I find that I must make one thing clear. Holmes and I, in the process of our investigations, find ourselves in the position, for our own safety, of eaves dropping on others conversations. This isn’t because we are snoops in the common sense of the word rather we are sleuths and it is part and parcel to the task at hand. I write this only because there are times when what we happen upon could be considered tabloid. We do not seek this out but we do find it and my duty is to catalogue and let you interpret.
Upon leaving the docks we traveled to a designer and builder of experimental carriages under the supposition that she would know where the tires baring the name Ferrari came from. To my surprise as we listened to the conversation within we had in fact stumbled upon the very establishment the fantom carriage had originated from. Furthermore from the conversation within we could tell that the proprietor hadn’t known that the Ferrari had been taken and was blaming her wheelwright and sometimes lover. (I say sometimes lover because he seemed taken aback at the notion that they were, in fact, lovers.)
I should also mention that once again on our trip to the carriage makers Holmes and I were separated. I felt it was an omen of some kind that we happened upon a couple who were angry with each other but Holmes dismissed the notion. Our entrance seemed only to spur them on as they continued to bicker. Holmes and I forcefully inserted ourselves between the two and only then did we receive any attention. The woman who ran the place was at first hopeful that we had seen an knew the whereabouts of her carriage and was disappointed to learn that, though we had seen evidence that it may have been at the aquarium, we were in search of someone who had committed a much more heinous crime than simply stealing a carriage. We were in search of someone who had committed fraudulent bankruptcy! She and her beau seemed even more exasperated by this and so Holmes and I engaged in a lengthy lecture about the proper times and places for bankruptcy and how, when used inappropriately, society as a whole is lessened both ethically and monetarily as the it falls on the taxpayers to unnecessary finance another’s debts. During this I emphatically repeated, sometimes more colorfully than he himself would, Holme’s words both to keep myself awake and keep the others attentive. This didn’t entirely work as the Woman nodded off once or twice. I only noticed because she was a rather broad woman and my eyes were drawn to here. . . shoulders.
Seeing that we were getting nowhere with these two Holmes left them with one final observation – that the workers collar had lipstick on it, a cosmetic the proprietor didn’t use. As their argument erupted once again Holmes and I left the scene to try and find someone who could be of more help.
Being who he is I have found that Holmes has access to places and people that most common folk do not. This is either because he is able, through deduction or deceit, to wile his way into a place, out of the place, or next to people that never could. I could never have predicted how many members of the royal family or general nobility would be in need of the services of a man like Holmes and meetings that used to intimidate or surprise me we’re now commonplace. Despite this I did still find myself in some state of awe as he and I walked through the halls of Buckingham Palace and somewhat giddy with anticipation unsure of who we were to rendezvous with. The latter became clear as we neared what I had only seen from the outside; the Queen’s Waving Window.
Before we reached the room we could hear the Queen talking with her Butler, Jeffery. She mentioned that she wanted to stope waving and a take a vacation but Jeffery reminded her that her subjects wouldn’t know she was there unless she sat there waving. The queen very much wanted to visit the Balkins. Jeffery then quipped, “It’s called the Balkins for a reason you know, because they are always making Balk.” Neither I nor the Queen seemed to understand this joke though I think Holmes may have appreciated some aspect of it as I saw a smirk on his face.
As we entered the Queens stand-in waver took her place in the window so that we could speak. Here stand in was an excellent waver for someone with such limp wrist and, unless I was much deceived, at one moment lifted her blouse in what was, I’m sure, an attempt to cover her face from wasp of some kind and “inadvertantly” bore her all for the crowd. I barely noticed however as my eyes were affixed to the radiant Queen herself.
Her Majesty wondered if we were there about the silver as she had evidently received some from the colonies that wasn’t to her standard. Jeffery’s disdain for the colonies was apparent and he suggested that when the sexual revolution reached the UK all the yanks said “the British are Coming, The British are Coming!” This was yet another bit of frivolity that I didn’t understand but Holmes must have. Try as I might I have been unable to find any evidence of a sexual revolution occurring anywhere (unless you count the many brothels I sometimes visit for humanitarian reasons).
I did however understand the pun involved in the joke and took the opportunity to explain it to Her Majesty in the kind of detail only a medical doctor can. Some feel that such language shouldn’t be spoken but, as it is all very clinical I saw no harm in it. It seemed to arouse Holmes though and he explained that he had never been with a woman. We excused ourselves and traveled poste haste to the nearest house of ill repute.
Once there Sherlock explained that he was voyeur ever since walking in on his parents whilst they were engaged in their marital duties. He wanted to watch me and a prostitute similarly engaged and asked that we pretend to be his parents. This was simply too much for me and my face grows flush as I think about it. Holmes and I are good friends and even disregarding the impropriety of engaging in such activity with another present I doubt I could even function with Holmes in the room and even less so if I were to engage in some sort of roll play where I was his father or, worse, his mother. Holmes wanted to shoot up as we did so and I could tell things were getting out of hand though, for educational reasons, I did feel that someone needed to copulate with someone. I explained to Holmes that it should be him and the prostitute as I had a special someone who made my stomach jump. Just then we both jumped as the Queen herself entered and explained that it was her who I had been seeing. I was taken aback by this for several reasons not the least of which was the oath of secrecy I had to take in order to see the Queen romantically in the first place. But now the secret was out for Holmes and Prostitute to see. Her Majesty was a tad randy but had on two many corsets for such things to be practical. Holmes, with his masterful eye, knew just which string to pull in order to disengage them all. was then so attracted to Her Majesty that I felt I could indeed perform regardless of who watched but I also knew that Holmes would be wanting to get back to the Aquarium so we compromised and Her Majesty and I copulated on our way.
We must have had quite a tussle on the way as the Queen had forgotten that I was the one who had told her she was like sandpaper. She also noted, to Holmes disdain, that the water in the tanks was brown as if someone had dropped crates of tea into it. Holmes began to weave us the tale of the crime but was stopped suddenly by me as I wanted to reach climax with Her Majesty at the very moment he divulged the culprit. I squeezed the Queens hand as Sherlock continued, until the very moment he revealed the criminal was none other than Paul Revere and i then emptied my testis into my trousers which is the only place a true gentleman finishes and the most I had ever done with Her Majesty. Shortly there after the “queen” unzipped the costume she had been wearing the entire time and revealed that she had been Paul Revere the entire time.
The next moment in time will forever be crystalized in memory along with two others however everything else is a maze of pain and sensation. I felt sick for having made love to this yank in the hansom cab on the way there but before my sulking could begin Holmes smashed the lantern to use as a weapon against Revere. I was standing a bit to closely however and was covered in kerosene which quickly ignited. I screamed and writhed on the ground attempting to put out the flames as Sherlock argued with Revere above. I don’t know what they were discussing or why as I lay dying but suddenly Revere smashed the tank and gallons of water extinguished the flames. I was struck by four fish and embraced by an Octopus Pet as they were washed away and I knew immediately that I wanted to keep him.
Revere explained that he would keep filing for fraudulent bankruptcies until the taxpayers in the colonies received equal representation though upon simple examination it is easy to see that his intent and action are at cross purposes. Before he could finish his fiendish tale Holmes removed the portrait of Freud to use as a weapon crashing it down upon my head as he did so. It must have caused a spark which reignited the kerosene that was already on me and I was one again aflame. Paul Revere escaped as Holmes, forced the choice of catching a criminal or saving a friend once again chose to save me and swore he always would. That notion is what kept me going during my months of hospitalization that followed in order to recover form the burns. From this case the only things I can be sure of are that I caught on fire twice and that Holmes chose me.