I have been living beneath the strange man who lives upstairs, nigh on ten months now. There is much comings and goings at all times of the night, and although I have reported such extravagances to the authorities, I have been informed that Mister Holmes is a singular man and as such, is prone to eccentricities.
Mrs Hudson, his housekeeper (if indeed that is what she is) – is to be found, on a regular basis, lying at the bottom of the stairs with an anatomy book and a bottle of gin.
Mister Holmes has a gentleman caller by the name of Doctor Watson, who seems a smidge too normal to be an acquaintance of the mad man. Still this world welcomes many types.
The other evening, I answered the door, as Mrs Hudson was slightly inebriated and Mr Holmes was nowhere to be found.
I was a little miffed and answered the door, abruptly.
“Yes!” Said I.
At the door was a six-foot tall woman, with a great deal of facial hair for one, I would assume, so delicate. She had the most brutish shoulders, but I attempted not to stare as the poor soul, who has probably been a victim of such wickedness throughout her pitiful life.
When all of a sudden, in the deepest of deep tones, comes a voice:
“It is I,” says the woman.
“Who is I?” Asks I.
“Why, it is me, Sherlock, your neighbour and friend from the top of the stairs,” says she.
Then on closer inspection, I see that it is indeed, Mr Sherlock Holmes in what can only be described as an excellent disguise.
“Well done,” says I.
“For what?” Asks the genius, that is Holmes.
“Why, the disguise, “I add.
“What disguise? Oh this. I was out with Mister Oscar Wilde and I had nowhere to put my key,” says Sherlock, as he runs up the stairs giving one the certain impression he is being pursued.
And talking of being pursued. Last Thursday I happened to look out of the window on to a sunny Baker Street when I see Mister Holmes running as if Old Nick was chasing him to the very heart of Hell. When I see that indeed he is being chased by the biggest hound I have ever set eyes upon. Mister Holmes keeps running, back and forth, back and forth, and each time he passes, he shouts one word that I may understand.
The first time he passed, the word was ‘Throw’ and the next time, a few minutes later, ‘The’, then even later still, ‘Dog’, followed by ‘A’, then ‘Bone’.
‘Throw the dog a bone’, was his secret message. How clever. I shouted on Mrs Hudson but she was in the process of drinking herself into oblivion, so I picked up the first bone I found in Mister’s Holmes’ parlour. Later I found out that it was a treasured dinosaur bone, still it stopped the dog.
Apparently the huge dog had been following Holmes and Watson since their little outing to the south-west of England. I helped Mister Holmes up the stairs as he was particularly flustered and looked as if he might collapse at any moment.
When we entered the parlour, once more, Dr Watson was sitting doing nothing much, other than looking at his fingers.
I helped Mr Holmes to a seat. “Why there you are Holmes,” said Watson, quite eagerly. “Have you ever noticed Holmes that each person’s finger has a different pattern – and may actually differ from all others in this world,” said Watson, smugly.
“And your point is?” Asked a rather angry Sherlock.
“Well, it could be used to solve crimes and such,” he said, even smugger.
“Yes, Holmes,” said an expectant Watson.
“Do shut up,” said Holmes, obviously having had enough of the little doctor.
One night, last weekend, Holmes and Watson did invite me out (not with Mister Wilde) but to help them solve a crime.
We entered the unsavoury East End of London, upon a dark and foggy night, on the chance that we might apprehend a devious fiend. From all accounts, he was short of height but carried a step-ladder with him, in order to do dastardly deeds – one of which was to unzip ladies’ dresses. Naturally the dress would fall and everyone would give a cheer. Each time, he carried out such an outrage, he left a card with the motto:
“You have just met Jack, the Zipper.”
As Mister Holmes says, he must be caught and we are just the men to do it.
2.The Strange Case of Jack the Zipper as told by Doctor Watson.
Of all the cases that my friend and colleague, Sherlock and I, have attended this was possibly the strangest.
It seems that humanity can know no bottom level to the depths of its depravity. When one thinks that one has heard all about the miscreants and their dastardly deeds, along comes another horrid and dark crime more heinous than the previous.
So if you are ready to listen and your loins are girded, then I will continue.
It had been a rather quiet afternoon, except for Sherlock who was in his room playing the most hideous music on his violin. He said that he called the music ‘punk’ and that one day all polite society would come to know its charms.
I very much doubt it. I very much doubt it, indeed. The song he had been composing was a little ditty called ‘The Queen Doesn’t Wear Any Knickers’. I must say that Sherlock sometimes walks a fine line between being eccentric and a very good chance of losing his head one day.
That aside, the afternoon was interrupted by Lestrade of the Yard calling upon us. He asked us to sit down and for Holmes to stop playing that wretched music – Holmes was reluctant to stop as he was half-way through his favourite song: ‘Anarchy In The Vicar’s Drawing Room’.
But stop he did and Lestrade told us of the fiend who was running amok in the East End of this fine city.
“He may be a midget, but he carries a ladder of six-foot or more long, which assists him in climbing up behind the woman and undoing her dress,” said the policeman. “He pulls down their zip and the dress falls to the floor. Then he shouts ‘you have been done by Jack the Zipper’. You can imagine the pain and distress this causes,” added Lestrade.
“The man is a blighter, there I’ve said it,” said I.
Jack the Zipper’s techniques seemed to perplex Holmes.
“Why aren’t the women aware of him putting a ladder on their backs?” Asked my friend and a good question it was too.
“Because the man is a fiend and that is what fiends do,” said Lestrade convinced that his explanation would suffice. With that Lestrade was out the door and into a Hansom cab back to the Yard.
I had grown accustomed to that look on my friend’s face, and knew it meant that Sherlock would lock himself into his bedroom for several hours while he cogitated the facts. I heard him start the first few bars of ‘Never Mind the Futtocks’, and decided to give him some time to himself, while I went looking for Mrs Hudson.
I didn’t have far to go as Mrs Hudson was lying face down on the floor, outside the young gentleman’s apartments at 221A. I had to admit that Mrs H was particularly heavy that day (which I later found out was to do with the amount of anatomy books she had concealed about her person) and so I decided to knock the door of the good gentleman to assist in her removal.
I was not ready for the wonders that awaited me in that grotto of 221A. The boy is a genius of Sherlock proportions.
In the corner of his main room stood a large contraption which he called a ‘radio’ or some such nonsense. He instructed me that it was to communicate with person or persons out with our immediate area. I must say, I’d never heard the likes.
I was about to attend to Mrs Hudson who was moaning quite loudly in the hallway, when a voice came through the contraption.
“Allo, ma name ees, Guglielmo. I am 13 yearsa of age. I have invented this radio thing to find young ladies of 13 years of age. Any ladies out there want to meet up, you calla me. Ask for tha Marconi family and we can hava kisses all night.”
Then there was a noise and the thing started buzzing. The young man from 221A, thumped the contraption which stopped the noise but also the contraption, apparently.
As the young man from 221A told me, he liked to invent things. I wondered if perhaps he could be useful for future cases. He then took me into a back room to show me his most important invention. It is called a televisor or television (as his granny had named it). The young man asked to be excused and I couldn’t help myself but throw a switch on the box to see what happened.
Again, it was noisy and crackling then a picture – without the word of a lie – a picture of a boy’s face. It was in monotones but still discernible as a boy. Then he started to speak, in a very strong Scottish accent, I may add.
“My name is Willie Logie Baird. I’ve invented this wee machine which is a scunner to work, in order to meet lassies. I live in Helensburgh and there’s only me, my mammy, and my new wee brother John. I need to meet nice lassies – so if there are any oot there, just ask for the Bairds. We can meet up for a smootch.”
That too then crackled and afterwards the picture disappeared. I was about to tell the young man who had re-entered the room, when Mister Holmes burst into the apartments shouting the words:
“There is no time to lose, the game is afoot.”
Apparently we were to go to the East End that very evening to apprehend the rascal known as Jack. Mister Holmes’ plan was simple – he would dress as a woman (something he felt very comfortable with) and would act as the bait for the Zipper fiend.
The three of us hid outside the public house known as the ‘Cocken-knee Bar’ – where only Cocken-knees were allowed to drink. I had asked our young man from the flat 221A to build a smaller version of the radio so that we may talk to each other, even although we were not standing next to each other. And that he did. Except he only made one of them. So really there wasn’t much point in having only one radio contraption (or walkie-talkie as his granny called it).
He apologised and said he would keep watch instead. Mister Holmes stuck the contraption under his dress for safe keeping.
Then Sherlock wandered into the Cocken-knee Bar looking like a right trollop (I think he may have done this before).
Things were going all right, Sherlock (or Eileen as he was known in the bar) was the centre of attraction of several men, when a little midget ran into the public house with a step-ladder and flung it up against Sherlock’s dress. The midget was about to undo the zipper when a voice came out from Sherlock’s undergarments.
“I woulda likea to meet young ladies. My namea is Marconi….”
The midget fell off the ladder in shock and me and the young man burst through the door and captured the fiend that is (or was) Jack the Zipper.
A job well done, even although I say so myself.
We lost Sherlock that night as he apparently ended up on a ship going to Hong Kong. He told me months later that he had been working on a case but to this day, he still receives letter from China addressed to a Miss Eileen Holmes.
bobby stevenson 2017