It has been some time since I have put fountain pen to parchment, and there have been a great many mysteries since this one that have vexed me. Why did Holmes fake his own death? Was it to elude Moriarty or to get out of the invitation to my birthday party? How did that questionable stain end up on my vest pocket? Was it food or something I didn’t want to investigate? Who put the bomp in the bomp bah bomp bah bomp? Who put the ram in the rama lama ding dong?
Still, with all the twists and turns this case took, I am compelled to transcribe it.
It was a blustery wintery day and I can recall standing on a poorly lit street corner just outside a local pub Holmes had wanted to visit, The Billowing Blurtle. The light in its lamppost flickered and darkened. Deep black clouds blotted out the sun and a blizzard was impending. Snow sloughed off a nearby thatched roof and fell just behind me, a splattering of snow sneaked under my collar.
I had, rather unfortunately, left my coat inside, and not wanting to wait for Sherlock outside any longer, though I had promised to wait for him there, I returned indoors of The Billowing Blurtle, warmed myself by the fire, and then stood by the window waiting for my dear friend, Sherlock Holmes.
I saw him appear behind a carriage in a flash and I called out to him “Yes Sherlock Yes! Sherlock Please! Quickly Sherlock!” though he could not hear me through walls and he had not even glanced at my visage in the window, I felt it my shouts added to the urgency in the matter. I had not wanted him to be trapped in the blizzard either, not when crime was afoot. Crime, as they say, is an all seasons…crime. Well, that sounded better in my head.
After a few sharp rattles of the doorknob, Holmes entered, looking slightly more disheveled than usual.
“The door was locked,” said he.
On my own entrance I must have locked him out of this pub. Where he had lain his keys, I know not, but he seemed rather affronted that I had done this to him, when really it was a basic procedure, locking one’s doors when home.
“I’m sorry, I must have locked it when I came in,” I told him.
“We’ve gone over this,” he said. “I notice everything except when a door is locked.”
This curious quirk of Holmes’s I had previously forgotten, and then remembered as the recollection struck me as if it were lightning. Holmes often failed to notice doors locked just as a crow fails to notice glass when flying at high speeds. In fact, I can recall a time when Holmes was trapped in a lavatory, when he himself had locked the latch and then failed to notice the locked status. He stayed in there until I rescued him and then proclaimed he needn’t any rescuing.
I likened Holmes’s prowess at all things aloud except for locked doors, as if it were “Kryptonite,” a phrase I thought I had heard recently with street urchins, and Holmes repudiated this with a blank stare and told me “I don’t know what that means.”
I was immediately ashamed at having tried to parlay some new verbiage at a man who knew everything. When Holmes says he doesn’t know something, it is not a saddened statement but rather one meant to discourage you from speaking further and making you as the speaker feel like a damned fool.
“Nor do I and I don’t know why I said it.” Having repaired his confidence in me, or so I hoped, as his constant companion, I offered a drink to clear things up, and referred him to Larry.
Larry was a streetwise man, which is to say he was a dirty hobo. He lived to stroll the streets of towns and curled up like a cat in the corners of London. Before heading out to his next town, he had taken shelter in The Billowing Blurtle and helped himself to drink, presumably on my tab, as I had unfortunately made eye contact with him earlier and this was enough of an agreement.
He was drinking Guinness, he said, and then corrected himself to say it was Guinness Light.
Holmes sniffed again that this was no such thing, and this was probably ale mixed with water. Larry then felt bad, which was not a difficult emotion for a dirty hobo to have and Holmes helped him to feel bad by calling him a terribly sad man.
Larry took this in stride and attempted to order several more pints. Eight and then two, which was far more than anyone could drink safely. I myself can drink half a glass of seltzer and take a nap.
Luckily, at least for distraction’s sake, the bar mistress and mister were having a bit of a tiff, and proclaimed they were closing the upstairs, so we’d have to head downstairs.
And though Holmes was ruminating on the curious nature of Larry ordering TEN drinks and having to be sent DOWNstairs, he was quickly put back on track by my delightfully loud observation that he had to head to “The White House of England,” to which he replied this was 10 Downing Street.
Perhaps it would have been more surprising had Holmes guessed our next travel destination before I sent up quite an obvious flare, but I must say that despite the tepid applause I was always impressed at Holmes’s interpretation of events. So there.
We arrived at 10 Downing Street, and alas we had arrived just after a crime had been committed. Holmes pointed out we could have made it to witness it in action had a door not been locked. Why we had to attend to the door, I’m not quite sure, as it was clear once we were inside that a full wall of the building was missing, with large black tracks leading out into the street, and an abandoned box of pacifiers lay at our feet. A trail of a glittery substance spread out across the ground, one that glued to our shoes and skin at the slightest touch.
With my unsuccessful observational skills called into play by Holmes, surely just for his own amusement, I pointed out that the pacifiers must have been used by a specific type of person.
Holmes waved me away saying that everyone was a specific type of person and that I was a specific type of person, that being an annoying sidekick. I agreed with him, and filed the insult down for later purposes.
Holmes surmised that the wall had been filled with babies, which the Prime Minister had been using to secure his own baby fund by selling children to Asia. He then called me a fruit, supposed that the glitter was mine, and then found a curious set of clues.
A wall hanging of the alphabet was missing an M, a casting call had been put out for a Mr. Rathbone to play Holmes in a cinematic venture, and a man stumbled by needing a cure for his poor breath. The M, Basil, and mint led Holmes to the mystery of embezzling babies.
After Holmes spent a good two minutes making fun of everyone in the room and that embezzling babies was an altogether stupid crime, Holmes then proceeded to make fun of the entire setup and then asked me why we were still there. I imagine Holmes was not too interested to take on this case, so I attempted to pique his interest by feigning knowledge of the carriage tracks.
I noted the uniqueness of the tracks and Holmes trudged over to take a look, seeing that the wheels had some sort of rubber coating to them could only lead us to a consultation with the rubber wheel man of London. Holmes complained that unless he was made of rubber or wheels, he wasn’t interested in meeting with him.
I had a feeling that Holmes didn’t have his heart set on this case, and that he was already looking for some outside inspiration from his incessant boredom. I had accidentally referred to his cocaine habit as heroin, and I feared that he was willing to pursue both of those options rather than to face this irksome case.
The Squeaky Wheel was the rubber man’s shop, and with the onset of the blizzard, I worried we might have been unable to reach the purveyor prior to problematic packed snow. I was just as concerned of those embezzled babies’ health as I was Holmes. Were they warm? Was a wall a decent home? Where were their mothers?
The Squeaky Wheel was open, or so the sign stated. As we entered the shop, there were wheels stacked up in every direction, cans of rubberized material spilled this way and that, and no one behind the shop counter. At the sound of our entrance, a thin man popped out from underneath a large carriage wheel and declared that he was the rubber man, though his nametag read Siegfried.
Siegfried spoke with a distinctly indistinct accent and declared that he had heard rumblings in the street of such a crime being committed. He admitted to Holmes that he did affix rubber to wheels and to rims, and only answered in the positive by saying “right” which could have meant yes, or perhaps that he correctly heard us. He had been rimming carriages for years, he eventually said and offered to go back into his brain case to find any curious customers.
Siegfried offered up a trot around lady he recalled, a blatinum blonde, and though we pushed him to describe the woman as a kind of horse, there was no traction there in the rubber man’s shop.
Though we started off with not a destination in mind, somehow Holmes and I ended up in McGinney’s House of Prostitutes. This establishment is not one frequented by Holmes or myself, and as far as I can tell in my research, the business only existed as some sort of pop-up venture during high snowfall and other weather advisories as a way to stay warm during poor conditions. A rather upstanding effort for a problematic business practice.
The owner was Mrs. McGinney, who offered us up the only blatinum blonde, a disturbing looking creature named Lips for a quick…interrogation.
Mrs. McGinney stated she inherited the House of Prostitutes from her husband after he died, and made some reference as to killing him. After Holmes told McGinney there was no statute of limitations on murder, she quickly disappeared and we both went upstairs with Lips.
Immediately taken aback by the sheer ugliness of Lips, the grouchy large lady covered in sequins, we both attempted to shoo Lips onto the other in order to avoid any human contact that surely would have wound us up in the care of the nearest chemist’s. After Lips nearly had a heart attack while trying to show off her undercarriage and Mrs. McGinney locked up the House of Prostitutes for the night, Holmes learned that the only other blatinum blonde in the HOP or House of Prostitutes was well known for her poker playing prowess.
Holmes and I escaped out the window, nearly colliding with an old man tap dancing his way down the street singing “da da da da.” He introduced himself, Tony Bennett, to Holmes. Holmes looked back at me and explained that Tony was the John Tesh of Jazz.
Holmes is one with an eye for details and having heard of this Tony Bennett prior to this encounter, he dared this character to sing the chorus of just one of his hit songs. This Mr. Bennett fellow gamely accepted and began to sing “Hey, hang around that Christmas tree with me.”
Just at this moment a guest came out to enjoy the music and loudly interrupted with “Oh my god, is that Tony Bennett?” and confirmed the identity of the man before Holmes or I could continue our investigation.
“Keep singing random syllables, you’re bound to land on something right.” Holmes offered.
Holmes and I went to the park to talk over details of the case. Occasionally Holmes needed the quiet to muddle his way through a particularly confusing case. However, no quiet was to be found here, only the cold.
I found that Holmes was inured to the unpleasant change in weather, and instead of what I thought would be a silent stroll in the park with yours truly, he immediately collided with Scott, a Baker Street Irregular who was taking his grandpa out for the day for a quick breath of fresh air.
Scott was a girl with a boy’s name and Holmes and I mostly ignored her exchanges of information as they rarely stumbled upon fact. But the point of having a circle of informants wasn’t always for the pursuit of truth, but rather for how things stood out in the world, which sometimes held as much water as truth.
This is to say, that there was some point of colliding with Scott that day as well as his grandpa. Holmes noted that Scott’s grandpa didn’t require the use of his wheeled chair to get around. And as Holmes and I questioned Scott’s grandpa as to which war he was in, a large pigeon landed on the snow and strutted around until Holmes snapped his neck.
Perhaps it was the frostbite or the cold getting to me, because the next few moments were a blur of confusion to my brain slowed by cold. I shivered against my shirt sleeves, as it appeared to me then that I never actually grabbed my coat from inside the pub.
After snapping the pigeon’s neck, Holmes declared Scott’s grandpa wasn’t ever his grandpa because he had killed Scott’s grandpa years prior. Therefore, this man was an imposter and was a Russian, Prussian, or Ottoman Empire spy named Vladimir. Then, once hearing the man’s sobs, Holmes again professed that this wasn’t Vladimir, but rather a giant baby in disguise.
Scott remembered that the information he’d meant to deliver to Holmes which was that the babies had been hidden in a meat packing plant. Holmes said he hoped that they were ground into meat with any luck. The giant baby recalled being stolen, but his flashback was interrupted before anything happened as it was deemed too boring by all listening.
Holmes also took the time to describe the imposter Tony Bennett as “Phoney Bennett” which was received with complete silence and he responded “Thank you” for the zero applause. I was too busy freezing to death to respond otherwise I would have applauded vigorously.
Perhaps the cold weather was finally getting to Holmes as the snow piled up around the dead pigeon’s frame, or Holmes was bored of the outdoors as he suggested we head back to Baker Street.
Mrs Hudson was attempting to clean things up and Holmes chided her for being amongst his things. He then allowed Mrs. Hudson to stay, told Scott that he could stop hiding as he’d already noticed he was there, and pushed Larry the hobo out of a cabinet.
I found over time that Holmes enjoyed having an audience to perform to when arriving at the conclusion of a case, so he could present the evidence and the culprit all at once. The fact that it was inside in a warm environment was much appreciated by me, who took a choice position near the fire Mrs. Hudson had started and warmed my iced-over bits.
Holmes then also invited the giant baby, Lips the prostitute, and kept referring to Larry until the three of them got tangled up together and fell to the ground. A small voice called up, “we’re all on the ground.” Holmes said, “One of them is dead.”
Holmes pushed on, and in one of his grand sweeping speeches, he wrapped up the case:
“Listen I brought you all here because I have some very important information for all of you. A crime was committed earlier today, presumably. No, it wasn’t your grandfather at all, it was always this baby. This baby? I know! I know! I know. The baby, it was always the baby. That’s not why I’m here. Nor why I asked you here.
For some reason a wall of babies was built in the prime minister’s residence. We’re not going to worry about that, evidently nobody cares. Why the prime minister was building babies in a wall, no couldn’t find him. I think he was impersonating Tony Bennett. Well, Mrs. Hudson. Where’s Tony? We forgot-Never mind.
First of all, that wasn’t actually Tony Bennett, second of all I never want to see him again. Uh third of all, my first inclination went—what are you doing? Inclination. Inclination. Scott, listen with your ears.
Who is it that would be embezzling—Oh no, I don’t see him. I don’t see the dead man’s legs.
I initially thought the only person I could think of that would be embezzling that many babies would be one Angelina Jolie. However further investigation revealed that it could not be her, because Angelina Jolie aside from maybe one or two roles has never been a platinum blonde. And if there’s anything the stupid prostitute told me, not you. The prostitute. You threw a baby on the ground.
Which led me to one conclusion, one conclusion that was then beaten into me over and over and over again until it became crystal clear. No, I’m admitting that in a couple of roles she was platinum blonde.
The point is there is only one person—that was uncalled for—there is only one person that has both the strength and looks of a man and yet convinces everyone they are indeed a woman. That would steal babies who wear meat and who could tolerate Tony Bennett.
Well, in such lengths, in long periods of time. Not a lord, but a lady. Well, let’s clear this up first. Prostitute, this is your baby. They’re identical practically. Now pick your baby up. If there’s anything we learned, it’s that killing husbands is absolutely fine. We’ve established that, okay? The brothel owner’s done it, the prostitutes done it, I killed my own father when I killed Scott’s grandfather. Everything is fine. It’s not important. The killer is Lady Gaga.”
With that discovery and Holmes’s shout that Lady Gaga could be in this very room, everything was thrown into turmoil. Was it the prostitute, Larry, the giant baby, we all wondered aloud? I wondered if I was perhaps Lady Gaga in disguise, which Holmes quickly discounted, even though I pleaded for once if I could be the culprit, just to be noticed again.
Then, Lady Gaga presented herself. It was none of those disguises, but rather, the man from earlier who needed a breath mint.
But Holmes wasn’t quite done yet. He turned to the newly presented Lady Gaga, and requested insight into the embezzling as he presumed she was investing babies until funds were accrued and then stealing their pensions. Suddenly Tony Bennett appeared under the previous guise of Mrs. Hudson and confessed it been his idea all along.
I was so thoroughly confused and shocked by all the admissions that I fainted, leaving Holmes to clean up what was left. But after the authorities had rounded up the combined criminals and I had woken back up, Holmes agreed that perhaps a locked door wasn’t so bad after all, considering all these strangers had entered our digs too easily, which I shall consider somewhat a brief apology for his insults against me.
Now that I’ve written this interesting tale, I find more questions than answers. I also realize I never retrieved that coat from The Billowing Blurtle. A shame, really.