Posted by: Chris Wright | August 16, 2008

The Case Of The Limehouse Golem Pt I

The family’s connection to the famous Sherlock Holmes is something we usually keep under wraps, so to speak. The facts, involving as they do, the most unspeakable crimes, do not reflect well on Uncle Perry and his involvement quite frankly did little to accelerate the eventual capture of the infernal perpetrators.

The story begins with the Limehouse docks, that it ends on the Southend pier is testament to the inefficiency and boneheadedness of the constabulary, in particular Police Inspector Lestrade, whose inability to entertain any except the most fatuous advice led him to team up with Uncle Perry and devote extraordinary amounts of police time to the increasingly obsessive solving of a crossword puzzle in which Uncle Perry had convinced him, Moriarty was leaving clues. It is at this point that we should hand over to Uncle Peregrine Percival Oatenshaw – I can no longer trust myself to write impartially of this blemish on the family’s good reputation…

March 13th 1897

I have by some stroke of good fortune, come across a daguerreotype depicting a woman whose countenance is strangely familiar, the piercing eyes and aquiline features remind me of someone…damned if I know who… The Times today featured another article on the so called Limehouse Golem , the monster has dispatched another poor soul to an end they can scarcely have deserved. The body was found, as were the others, in a state of evisceration, the insertion of a length of copper piping sideways in the mouth producing an unnatural leer, stretching like a jack o’lantern from ear to ear. Ghastly business. I wonder what Holmes would make of it?

Only one clue remaining in today’s crossword – damned if I know the answer! ‘Light of my life, James? (4, 1, 7)

March 14th 1897

Splitting headache today, don’t mind admitting I may have had one over the eight last night. Mrs. Miggins gin surprise certainly struck the right spot. I do wish Holmes was here, this accursed Limehouse Golem has struck again, Lestrade was here at the crack of dawn this morning, brandishing the ‘News’, for all his bluster, the poor fellow hasn’t a clue.

Speaking of which ‘Giant Domesticated Citrus (9, 5)’

March 15th 1897

An early morning stroll in Regents Park, to clear my head, the first faint shoots of green are breaking out on the elm, a leisurely promenade with only the crossword for company. I wondered where Holmes had got to, his sudden disappearences were becoming more frequent and to my chagrin, never explained.

Armory half time anag. (8)?

Moriarty! The damned impudence!

Breaking into a trot, I made good time across the park and it was only 10 o’clock when I reached Baker Street once more.

“There’s been a lady asking for you, sir” said the page-boy as I stumbled breathlessly into the hall, “I showed her up to your chambers.” I slipped the boy a sixpence and climbed the stairs. Upon entering the chambers, the first thing that struck me was a foul stench reminiscent of burning dishclothes, I deduced that our visitor was a char and that she had been caught in a downpour.

The figure ensconced in my favourite armchair was bone dry and puffing contentedly on a Meerschaum, exquisitely carved and if my eye did not deceive me strangely familiar. The long thin fingers suggested an academic bent and I reluctantly abandoned my initial theory as to her occupation.

“My dear Professor Meerschaum – “ I began. She looked up from the crossword, a flicker of irritation crossing her handsome features. “My names not Meerschaum and unless I’m very much mistaken, yours is not Holmes?”

“Peregrine Percival Oatenshaw, at your service” I blustered, unsettled by her curt rejoinder. She glanced at me, a pair of sharp grey eyes fixed me to the spot. Blowing a perfect smoke ring, she watched it carefully as its wreathes gradually coiled and faded. Finally she spoke: “Of the Stomach, intestinal, ten letters beginning with ‘a’.

“Alimentary!” I cried, “Holmes! You’re back!”

“Indeed I am back Watson, and not before time!”

He sprang from the chair, tearing the dress from his perfectly toned frame.

“If I’m not mistaken, the games afoot! Come on there is no time to lose – we will need fresh provisions, perhaps one of Mrs. Miggins’ Pork Pies, we’re off to the docks!”

Irked as I was by his casual failure to even remember my name, I was startled to see that he had taken his disguise so far as to sport a garter belt and brassiere, Holmes was always extraordinarily thorough in his preparation, if not in his appreciation of my companionship.

“I say, Holmes!” I began, eager to test my new theory on the great man. I picked up the paper, discarded by Holmes, running my eye across the clues he had filled in…Jack O’Lantern, Limehouse Golem, Moriarty….

“Never mind that Watson” Holmes interrupted, “Get yourself across to Marylebone post haste and see Lestrade, tell him to meet me at Butlers Wharf at precisely thirteen minutes past three o’clock!”

Suddenly downcast, I sat down, Holmes had solved all of the clues bar one, the theory I had taken three days to construct had taken the detective less than five minutes. I gazed at the one remaining clue.

Peter on top of the world ? (8, 4) – Southend Pier!

Could it be possible that the great man had missed the most vital clue of all? I resolved to keep this to myself, in truth, the years of being the butt of Holmes’ tiresome practical jokes and constant, grating failure to remember my name had become irksome and I yearned to show him my true mettle.

It was with a fresh spring in my step that I set out towards the police station, there to meet with Inspector Lestrade….

to be continued

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