Posted by: Chris Wright | August 23, 2008

The Case Of The Limehouse Golem Pt II

I reached the Police station by way of Marylebone road in less than an hour, and announced myself to the desk sergeant, rubbing my hands in gleeful anticipation – if I could convince Lestrade of the merit of my findings, then we could apprehend the villain and perhaps even spare some unsuspecting soul from an excruciating end.

“Thank you Mr. Oates, if you’ll just take a seat, the inspector will be with you shortly.”

“eh? The name’s Oatenshaw, Peregrine Percival Oatenshaw”

“We have no Inspector Oatenshaw sir?”

“No, the name is Oatenshaw” I replied testily.

“I’m sorry Mr. Oates, sir, I thought you said Inspector Lestrade…”

“No!” I shouted “The name is Oatenshaw, I want to see Inspector Lestrade…”

The constable looked at me, one large hand scratching his head, pushing his cap to one side, giving him the appearance of a music hall turn, eventually he opened his mouth, closed it, then with a look of sly cunning, leaned forward across the desk.

“Now Mr. Oates, there’s no need to get excited sir, we’ll soon find your Inspector Oatenshaw.” Turning away from me, he appeared to touch his forehead with his index finger, making some curious gesture to somebody I could not see, deep inside the police station.

“Good grief man! Can’t you understand plain english?” I yelled, poking a finger deep into his serge clad chest “My name is Oatenshaw, I have come here to see Inspector Lestrade!”

I straightened up and suddenly found my arms gripped by two white coated orderlies whose presence I had not previously been aware of. I found myself being dragged at speed along the corridors, my feet unable to keep up, the toes of my shoes scraping along the floor, my spats snagging on every unseen obstacle. My impatience began to get the better of me and I started to kick up a fearful din.

“Lestrade!” I screamed, “call off these idiots immediately!”

The sound of a robust iron door being opened and I suddenly found myself weightless, hurtling through space into a darkening void. As suddenly as I had begun to analyse the situation, I was brought to a shocking halt by what I later deduced to be the police station wall. As I sank towards the floor, I heard the sound of a heavy bolt being drawn to and with that I must have lost consciousness.

I was woken by a bright light shining into my eyes, blinking owlishly, I raised a hand to ward of any further intrusions upon my dignity and was startled to hear the voice of Inspector Lestrade, as if from a considerable distance.

“Well I’ll be blowed, Oatenshaw – what in the name of god has brought you to this pretty pass?”

“Thank heavens!” I mumbled, my lip thick from the impact with the wall, “Inspector Lestrade!”

“You poor old chap” he replied jovially “wait till Holmes finds out about this!”

My heart sank at the prospect of Holmes’ supercilious and condescending manner, the relentless ribbing I would suffer, occasioned by this latest downturn in my fortunes. I could see him now, in my minds eye, murmuring reproachfully in Latin, a raised eyebrow and the hint of a cruel smile playing across his saturnine features. I groaned.

“My dear fellow,” responded Lestrade, “Are you quite sure you’re alright – why don’t you come along with me and we’ll sort this out in no time at all…”

Several hours later, I was sitting in front of a roaring coal fire in Lestrade’s quarters nursing a cup of the finest Darjeeling, a tea I find preferable to almost any other between the hours of three o’clock and four thirty – save for the possible exception of a Lapsang Souchong or even an Earl Grey. I was able to demonstrate to him the crossword puzzle, ending triumphantly in the answer “Southend Pier”

“But don’t y’see man – Moriarty is letting us know the location of these heinous crimes in advance – there’s absolutely no time to lose…”

Lestrade looked pensive for a second, his back to the fire, he rubbed his head and spoke.

“Do you mean..” he said “That Moriarty is inventing that damn puzzle in the News?”

“Precisely” I responded, helping myself to a slice of Mrs. Madison’s splendid fruit cake, “it’s quite clear that Moriarty has taken over the Evening News crossword, with the express intention of making a monkey of the forces of law and order!”

“Well it’s a damn difficult puzzle” Lestrade replied after a few seconds thought.

“For a man of my highly developed deductive powers…” I began.

“Five across, yesterday’s edition – don’t mind admitting, got the better of me!” he continued happily, seemingly oblivious to the import of my revelation.

I became dimly aware of a peculiar smell, and I dare say if my wits had been about me I would have acted rather sooner than I did. I wondered for a moment how Holmes would have responded to Lestrade’s extraordinary stupidity.

“It is devilishly cunning” I continued, taking a sip of the Darjeeling and closing my eyes in order to concentrate “..only a man of considerable and specialized knowledge would have been able to decipher his infernal mission. The fact of the matter is that the sophistry brought to bear upon this apparently innocent puzzle has turned it from a harmless pastime into a potentially lethal…Great Scott!”

Lestrade was staggering about the hearth, flames leaping up the tails of his coat – jumping to my feet I thrashed inexpertly at him with the rolled up newspaper, to little avail, succeeding only in fanning the flames to the point that the newspaper combusted – hurling the damn thing into a corner I seized the teapot and poured the contents into Lestrades collar – the flames died down and Lestrade sank exhausted into the armchair, a raised finger pointing feebly to the corner where the blaze had now spread to the newly papered walls. Calmly I rang the bell for Mrs. Madison and sank with some relief onto the ottoman. In a crisis, a calm head and decisive action are called for. The housekeeper would know what to do.

Later, as we stood outside the smoking ruin that only hours previously had been a fully functional Police Station, I turned to Lestrade, who, wrapped in a tartan blanket, looked for all the world like a romany gypsy. I passed him my flask, filled that very morning by Mrs. Miggins with a rather superior imported Armagnac and remarked

“Well Lestrade, it was deuced fortunate that I happened along, what?”

His response, as he was led away by the nurse was indistinct, but I could have sworn I picked out the word “Imbecile”. Shrugging it off as the untrammeled babbling of a mind gone haywire I reflected for a moment on the catastrophic impact that such a shock could have on even the most finely honed intelligence. Shaking my head sorrowfully, I made my way back to Baker Street, determined not to let this minor setback deflect me from the job in hand….

to be continued….

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