A Scandal in Soho, continued (pt 4)

Chapter Two

in which Dr Watson gets a pep talk, and in which our heroes arrive at 221B Baker Street, don’t worry because the good stuff is coming up but just skip it if you don’t want to wait for the juicy bits, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

 

When I had finished photographing the crime scene Sherlock Holmes took me to one side. “I should like a copy of those myself when they’re developed. I have a dark room at my home not far from here, why don’t you come around and do them now? There’s a good fellow.”

In years to come, I would come to accept Holmes’ brusque, somewhat outdated manner of speaking as part of the natural order of things. It was one of his peculiarities.

shTAXII looked around for the Inspector, but he had vanished, apparently leaving the mysterious Mr Holmes in charge: “It’s against protocol,” I must have managed, because Holmes only looked at me and raised one eyebrow, as though I would never get anywhere in police work with such an attitude. And he was right of course.

“Good. Then lets make a start. We’ll hail a cab to mine.”

“Now look, what’s your game?” I said in the back of the London taxi.

Holmes, in response, only handed me his business card, as if it might answer my questions. Perhaps he had been asked them all before. If so, however, I was still none the wiser.

“What in the world is a Consulting Detective? And why does the Inspector trust you so much? And why should I help you?”

“The answers to all your questions are quite tiresome, my dear Doctor Watson. You’re a good sort of bloke. You trust the Inspector’s instincts that I’m the only man who can solve this case. And besides that, you’ve nothing better to do, and no desire to go home to your  lodgings.”

“Stop the taxi,” I called out. I would have got out and walked away then, but he went on:

“A simple process of deduction. Your shoes are good, but worn out. You do a good deal of walking, and you enjoy being active. No wedding ring, so no wife to go home to. Your watch is cheap and your trousers are threadbare – much too cheap for that jacket. You must have bought it in a second hand shop. You did almost convey an air of respectability, at first, but that tie ruined it. No doubt you live in London close enough for the Inspector to call you in, but it can’t be anywhere nice on a part-time policeman’s wages. You’re a man who values punctuality, yet you were late in arriving here. You must have caught the train. There were delays on the Northern Line. You’ve something on your mind? Possibly you’re thinking about a new career. The Inspector will try to convince you otherwise. Then you’ll tell him that you’ve seen too much death. But I’m telling you now: if you’re thinking about quitting, don’t. If you try to walk away it will follow you. Always. This work is in your blood. I knew it when I first saw you! The inspector trusts you, and so do I. Drive on, driver.”

I should have thumped him then and there, but I only said: “All right,” and the cab pulled away again.

 


previous part
read from the start
  continued

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