It was late September in 1883, the 24th I believe, and the fallen leaves swirled and crunched beneath my feet as I climbed the steps to 221B Baker Street. The morning mist was cool and dewy, and slapped my face like an unpaid strumpet, which coincidentally was where I had been returning from.
As I have previously stated, I offer my medical practices free of charge to the many brothels about town, and on this particular occasion, one of the ladies and I had a troublesome miscommunication, and I shan’t say more on the subject, other than to say she had a rash and I had a look-see.
I turned the key on 221B and as I entered the foyer, I unknowingly triggered one of Sherlock’s little playful traps. A wire attached to the doorknob struck a match across its box onto the bow and a flaming arrow launched out and hit the door an inch from my face before smoldering out.
I searched the flat for Holmes to shake my fist at, but alas he was not there.
So I fixed myself a cup of tea, walked into our little library/breakfast nook and sat in my favorite armchair—the blue one with the split on the side. At some point I must have fallen asleep for just a moment, or perhaps had a tiny stroke and missed some time, as the next time I took from my cup there was a large envelope covering the top, and I got a mouthful of paper cuts.
I certainly did not make paper flavored tea, and as the letter was not addressed to me, I simply waited for the recipient to enter, and enter he did.
As Sherlock Holmes strode into the library, replacing his naughty schoolmarm disguise with his normal attire, I had the good intention to comment on my recent brush with his flammable weapons; however, he was far more interested in filling his nostrils with the scent of crime.
“I smell a crime,” Holmes remarked.
I held the letter up triumphantly, and I told my good friend Sherlock that he was not unlike a scent hound, sniffing out crimes. Holmes snatched the letter from my hands, running his fingers along the creases of the envelope and mumbled on about how I must have thought that due to his wearing a Houndstooth jacket, then he went on stroking the cotton weaving of this envelope, the curious red waxy seal on the back. Holmes broke the seal, examined the letter, and read it aloud to me.
The letter read:
Most Valued Sherlock,
Flushie, flushie, sit on your tushie,
Upon this throne you sit and ponder, a lady would be upset if one would come to wander
Don’t slip on the wet tile in the corner, there’s some wet paper towels.
Holmes and I agreed that one sat on their tushie daily. I watched his eyes flicker across the paper once, twice, three times.
Sometimes Sherlock Holmes received cryptic letters from the most devious of criminals, sometimes from his brother Mycroft, occasionally from a rabid, but harmless fanatic of Holmes’s who sends puzzles and risqué self-portraits. Each of these letters requires a small portion of Sherlock’s brilliant mind to be put to work. This letter about wet tiles and paper towels didn’t even demand that.
Holmes tossed the note into the fireplace and we took a carriage to the public toilets on 46th and Saxon.
Those looking at a map may be hard-pressed to find the corner of 46th and Saxon. To those I would say why are you bothering to look, and also a lot of places can be a loo without everyone knowing about it.
The toilets at 46th and Saxon were inside a dull, gray shack. As usual, Sherlock Holmes sussed out the crime at hand immediately, but he was willing to step into the role of teacher to allow my performance in the most rudimentary of riddling.
There was a singe stall hanging wide open, with a single broken hinge. Directly across from it was a window that was popped open with a trail of toilet water leading out of it. At a single rusting, clogged sink there was a ruby red rosary (the same color of the seal on the book of the letter, I should think) that had been ripped apart and scattered in the bowl of the sink, as well as on the wet tiled floor below.
Obviously there were toilets, but more accurately the shack was one giant toilet. And outside, though it’s hardly worth mentioning, there was a transparent, clear carriage left abandoned.
The biggest impact of this crime scene, I thought, was the unbearable stench of the public facilities. The smell was something unlike any other smell, of all the smells I have smelled with my smeller, this smell was the smelliest, the most proficient at raping my nose.
As I voiced this concern of mine to Holmes, a scraggly old man appeared to explain the odious odor by saying that he had Fish and Chips the night before that didn’t exactly agree with him, you see he’d asked for cod and received halibut, and though we wanted to hear none of this tale, we heard far too much of it.
Thankfully for Sherlock and myself, this man soon excused himself to rest at another restroom.
With that strange man gone, I was able to see more odds and ends upon this scene, such as the collection of chess pieces stacked on the wet paper towels on the wet tile in the corner, and the bishop’s piece (I’d been calling it Mr. Sideways Man up until Sherlock’s correction on the name) was placed on top of all the others, like it had more significance somehow.
Through all of this, Sherlock had stepped back to smoke his pipe, quite bored by my lack of investigation skills but still polite about the time I needed. It was as if he was holding back his jumps of logic so that I too could feel what it was like to come along with him. And I wanted to come, I wanted to come so hard.
It was then that Sherlock collected beads of the rosary in his hand, and I was aghast at the sudden realization that he shouldn’t have touched it, as it was wet in a similar fashion as everything else, and it wasn’t from the humidity, rather…something most foul.
Holmes spun the rosary beads onto the floor with a splendid clatter, and he said in the most gravest of declarations, “Someone urinated on everything. Pee-pee all over the potty.”
I agreed with him, as I would have been a fool not to, and made a quick remark about how the gentleman who urinated all over was telling a joke, and put his pee-pee in Sherlock’s coke.
But surely, I told Sherlock that a urination no matter how messy it was could not be any sort of crime. But with a mighty flourish and the cranking of a wheel, Sherlock revealed the back doors of the bathroom were sliding into the walls, creating a large open area.
From across the street, a group of spectators jabbered away at seeing a glimpse of the famous detective and Sherlock’s sleuthing.
I was amazed at this revelation and claimed that the whole public was out there, anyone’s actions in here were for all the world to see. At last I saw what Sherlock was trying to show me. Urinating in a toilet was not a crime, but a public urination was a crime.
Sherlock called it an “unholy urination”, an “atrocious crime” and that we would “solve it together because we’re best friends.”
Normally, Holmes does not show me this level of affection and as it turned out this entire adventure Holmes was not only testing my mystery-solving mind, but also the limits of my patience and my willingness to embarrass myself.
Case in case in point: Holmes then asked me to rub his belly and tell him he was a good boy. He coaxed me into doing it, and he was off following the trail of the water out the door. Of course, I felt the need to remind him and myself that it wasn’t really water.
On the way down streets and along thoroughfares, Holmes explained the sciences with which he used to follow this criminal trail, but it was all too complicated to write down. What I did remember and write down was a crucial detail of our case, that is that the urine trail was practically pure water and that the culprit would be drinking a great amount of water to dilute the urine to such a pure state.
Unfortunately, the trail was wiped out when a cold English rain poured over us and washed away any evidence, but my friend Sherlock Holmes did not fail. He kept in his lockbox of memory all the clues seen and unseen, and told me that the rosary was imprinted with a unique symbol that he recognized at the base of a certain Cathedral, which he then brought me to.
Saint Mark’s Cathedral was a modest church, and by modest I mean shitty. Scheming ugly gargoyles surrounded the collapsing structure, topped by broken spires and all over it was just an awful color palate, if you ask me. There were stained stained-glass windows and the scribbling in the shape of a cross about (which to me did not seem too distinct in nature, but Sherlock Holmes is able to distinguish minute differences that others cannot. For example, once Holmes figured out I had been through some rough mischief when one of my moustache hairs was out of place. What that mischief was, I’ll never tell. Or will I? I probably will. It was in a brothel, and it wasn’t for work.)
As we entered Saint Mark’s Cathedral, we were assaulted from the high-vaulted ceilings by a very high-pitched voice. It seemed to be a young boy, his hands clasped near the altar, singing what may have been Ave Maria, or The First Noel as the words of such an operatic number were hard to make out.
When the music was finished and the singer stopped his notes, I began to applaud and told Sherlock how beautiful it was, and Sherlock was keen to correct my thinking.
The choir boy was upset by Holmes’s criticisms and stepped down to give Holmes a piece of his mind, and I have to admit both Sherlock and I were shocked at the quality and timbre of the boy’s speaking voice.
For you see, the choir boy was more of a choir man. As he stepped off the stage, his full beard became visible, and his thick, deep voice rang round our ears. Sherlock took the time out of his day to make fun of the choir man, calling him a “grown adult boy.” On occasion, Holmes’s wit is so profound and brilliant, I do not quite get the joke, but I chuckle along either way. This was one such occasion. Having exhausted his subject with his superior witticism, Sherlock moved to another target. His target in mind? A small altar boy.
Holmes started, as if it were some sort of code or chant, “Oh altar boy? Little altar boy? Little boy, little boy, so pure and fair. What do you have reading right there?”
The answer the boy gave Sherlock was the Bible, not a satisfactory response for his rhyme, I suspect, as Sherlock Holmes then yanked the book from the boys hand and flung it across the floor.
Once this altar boy stood up, I realized he was no altar boy, but the parish priest. He was small because he was sitting down. Either Saint Mark was known for being the Saint of Youthful Appearances, or some sort of optical illusion was going on in order to convince Holmes as well as myself that everyone was actually a little boy.
The parish priest told us that the choir singer was actually an “Injun man” who came by every day and sang, and while we talked of him, the choir man began to sing again.
Sherlock confided to me that he smelled sewer water and knew that something suspicious was brewing. This was compounded by the parish priest saying they were preparing for the arrival of a great man.
Upon hearing this, Sherlock thundered his voice through the cathedral, shattering a yellow stained-stained glass window, he cried, “Satan?!”
Sherlock then told me he would slay Satan with his gun, he would shoot him directly in the head, and then drag him back to me as his prize. As I write this down, I can see this was another moment where Sherlock was testing my limits, to see how far I would go with this frustrating friendship and work relationship. Would I think him mad? Could I brush off his continuing antics? As I look back on this instance, I wish that my reply would have been steadier.
Instead I looked at him strangely as one would a touched child and told him not to do that, please.
The parish priest informed us, or rather reminded us that Satan wasn’t a corporeal being, and I took a sudden interest in the cathedral’s supply of Holy Water. My hunch was that someone could be drinking the Holy Water, an affront like that would be connected to our case. Sherlock also saw the Holy Water as an opportunity to pour himself some, explaining that he would use it to throw in Satan’s face.
I told Holmes I didn’t think Satan could pee all over a bathroom. I woman passing by told him she didn’t have her baby four weeks early for Satan to kiss. Sherlock Holmes cared for none of this, and barely listened.
The parish priest, reiterating his earlier statement, said that a visitor would be coming that they’d be treating well. Sherlock’s next statements included, “I am a visitor and you are treating me terribly”, “I disagree with everything you stand for”, and “You can’t kick me out, I’m leaving.”
The parish priest said they hadn’t kicked him out, or even suggested so.
Sherlock said, “I hate this place and all the people that be.”
At once we were off to the train station. This particular train station was at the corner of 64th and Anglo. Please consult your maps and proceed to throw them away.
This train station was an unfortunate and unreliable one that I’d often go out of my way to avoid it. You see, on every first Thursday of the month for eighteen months, the tracks at this station were blown up with dynamite. On the nineteenth month, the criminals ran out of dynamite. Still, I don’t trust the station and neither should you.
An announcement was made from the train porter, he shouted, “This train? This train comes in about twenty minutes. Twenty minutes, next train. You miss it, it’s on you.”
Holmes stood by, the toes of his shoes shuffling and dancing along the shoddily soldered together tracks. He kicked a piece of fizzled-out dynamite to the side, and allowed me witness to a rare introspection that as a child he often would spend his time sitting and watching the trains go by. In this moment, I stayed silent, reveling in the sharing of this private memory—that is until I talked with Mycroft and he told me that no such memory would have existed.
Just then, a man approached us, studying his pocket watch and papers furiously. He mentioned to us that the trains were not running on time.
The train porter screeched an agreement that it was true, the trains were not running on time.
Sensing who had the actual information about the locomotion’s motions, Sherlock asked why the trains weren’t running on time. (He’d already deduced the answer when he ran the toe of his shoe between the tracks, but sometimes Sherlock likes to put on a little play as if other people were helping. That way, they can go home and think themselves as special as I am.)
The train porter shouted that some people were saying the trains were too slippery. The pocket watch man posited that in order to equally hit the track, the slippery substance would have had to come suspended from a great height, like a balcony or similar structure.
Suddenly, a very litigious woman passed by and informed us that she slipped and broke her ass(ets) on the track, but then she was miraculously cured. The train porter yelled at her that she couldn’t sue them again.
Though I was interested in the outcome of this argument, Holmes was already dashing off to the next location. When I finally caught up to him, he had a basket full of potions from the Witchery.
The Witchery was located at the corner of 2+2-3+3. The Witchery was founded by an actual witch in 1870, but it was closed for a brief period after that witch had been burned. The second owner was also a witch, and she burned down the store after a particularly vicious inventory. Since then, The Witchery was run by strictly non-witches, mostly flunking university students.
The shopkeep, whose nametag read Tristram, peddled Sherlock potions to kill warlocks, axes for breaking down doors where vampires might be sleeping, powders to kill male mermaids—mermen, as well as a variety of magic goops.
I was mildly annoyed at Sherlock’s choice of purchases, as we were both men who preferred the sciences, and he was chasing down a very silly route. Sherlock also called me stupid, which added to my annoyance. I then asked Tristram if a warlock or any similar type of nefarious creature could be publicly urinating in places, or could even produce the amount of urine we’d come into contact with. Tristram said that warlocks urinate to mark their territory, and that sent Sherlock’s brain racing.
“Marks, Saint Mark’s, Saint Mark’s Cathedral,” he muttered in a rapid patter, and he completed his transaction by nabbing some scepters, a saber, and a few “cool-looking” toad jars.
I couldn’t comprehend how Sherlock was paying for all of his materials, and Sherlock explained of a new form of payment called credit, and though Tristram claimed they did not accept the master of all cards, Sherlock with his wily ways forced it upon him.
As we were leaving, I overheard Tristram say, “He let me keep the card, that’s interesting.”
What happens next in this account, dear reader, I can hardly explain. That is to say that I cannot recall what action I did to incur Sherlock’s punishing side in this tale, but just as earlier when I had to do some confusing and embarrassing things, here Sherlock had me disguised in an elaborate camouflage to match his, only Sherlock’s was a complete disguise, and mine was only covering up my penis. Everything else there, no penis.
In addition to that, Sherlock hired a prostitute to have a go at me, or more accurately have no go at me, since she couldn’t in her words, fellate me without a penis. She took off, and Sherlock Holmes had me join him on the ground of a forest clearing to lie under the full moon and wait for the perpetrator to pee on us, which I never remember agreeing to.
Sixteen hours later, Sherlock clutched at the closest rock, planning his attack on the criminal when he came. A slight rustling through the leaves, and Sherlock launched himself upright, propelling the rock through the air and directly at a frightened woman, who claimed she was just out and about attempting to air out her vagina, also her words.
As I pulled Sherlock off of her, his fingers crushing the rock into his palm, I could hear him muttering again. This rock, upon this rock. I was only able to catch the end of his camouflaged coat flying out of the forest.
I cleaned myself up and met Holmes back at the bathroom, the scene of the crime. Also there was the choir man who was already singing on my arrival, the parish priest reminding everyone to mind their Ps and Qs, the train porter, Tristram, the frightened vaginal woman, the litigious woman, the smelly fish and chips man, and others I may not have mentioned. They all observed as Sherlock held up the rock from which he would build his entire case.
Sherlock Holmes called all of us children and drew our attention to the transparent, clear carriage that I hadn’t bothered to give any significance too outside. Sherlock threw the rock at it, and it bounced off with ease. Holmes claimed it belonged to the pee-patrator.
That carriage prevented someone from assassination as well as urination. That someone was none other than the Pope. And while Sherlock waited for the Pope to appear, I was declared the criminal, somehow I was the Pope in disguise, which I found very rude, and I was downright chuffed about that.
But what I did not know was that Sherlock was stalling for time, legitimately stalling, as there was a flush and the Pope appeared, swinging his way out of the single stall. In his own oddly-accented words, he claimed that all he was trying to do was spread the gospel.
I informed him it was more like he sprayed the gospel.
Because of the pee. The pee. Did you get it? I got it. Pee.