All Things Mysterious Volume Seventy-Nine
Lieutenant Jones and the Deadly Vegetable Part Two, co-starring Holmes and Watson!
‘How was it done?’
The bobby replied, ‘I don’t know, sir. Perhaps you should check with DC Bones.’
Lt. Jones stifled a chuckle. DC Bones! These Victorian-era English people were certainly interesting! Holmes seemed to know the man, though, and boldly strode through the foyer into the late doctor’s office where the preliminary investigation was taking place. Very preliminary, in fact, for the body was still lying on the floor, where the physician’s nurse assistant discovered him earlier that morning.
Holmes and Lt. Jones knelt beside the corpse and the cop, presumably Bones himself, didn’t seem to mind. Then he spoke.
‘You just missed the doctor’s doctor, sir. It seems the good physicianer was shot.’
Holmes packed and lit his pipe. ‘Interesting.’
Interesting it was; the problem was that they were no closer to finding the killer or killers of Goodbright and Finley.
Meanwhile Watson was at the doctors union building, showing his credentials as a doctor and was thus admitted to the research library.
Now, how to find the records of the doctors themselves? Ah! The cabinet marked ‘Records’ looked a good place to start!
‘Meat is murder!’ The crowd in the hall chanted the slogan as the speaker made her way to the podium. When the cheering died down, the woman said, ‘Yes! Meat is Murder!’ setting off another round of shouting.
‘My friends, we are all agreed that vegetarianism is the healthiest way to live. The question is, is the time past for aggressive action?’
‘NO!’ the crowd roared.
‘Must we take our fight to the streets?’
‘Will we win this fight, and save generations of animals from the supper table?’
After the usual interminable speechifying and a vegetarian dinner, the anti-meat activists milled about the hall, mingling, sharing war stories, and planning their next meeting. There were a few newcomers unseen at previous events.
‘I say, old chap, haven’t seen you before. ‘Ow long you been a veggie, then?’
The older man replied, ‘Oh, quite some years, I should say. Did you hear about the physician who died of vegetable poisoning?’
‘Ee got what he deserved, din’t ‘e?’
‘Was it murder, then?’
‘Course it was! Someone took care o’him right enough.’
‘That should create a few converts. Do you know who did the actual deed?’
‘Everyone thinks we did it! But I saw it comin’ right enough, after that doctor killed that bird’s fiancee. And--’ere now! What’s with all the questions?’
‘I beg your pardon, I meant no offense.’ And with that the newcomer strolled away to mingle with others in the crowd, which was starting to break up. As he did so, the cockney started after him, intending to learn if he was, or was intending to become, a full-fledged member of the group.
But the old man with the cane had blended into the background.
‘I don’t like it, I tell you!’
‘Are you sure we’re being followed?’
‘No, but we shall find out! Driver! The next right turn! Quickly!’
And the carriage which held Lt. Jones and Filomena zipped down a narrow alley, followed closely by another.
‘Now we’re sure.’
‘But who would want to follow us?’
‘I’ve an idea. Driver! To Baker Street!’
When they alighted in Baker Street, they disembarked and ensconced themselves in the doorway of 221A. The shadowy carriage turned slowly down Baker Street and stopped several doors down, clearly waiting and watching.
‘Now they know where we are. They now have the next move, and when they make it, there will be a reckoning!’
In the center of town the street vendors were hawking their wares. One in particular seemed to be doing quite well. All of the food vendors were in their own area in the center of the square, and there was something for every palate. A tall older man using a cane purchased servings of several foodstuffs and quickly took his leave.
As a bona fide doctor, Watson was granted entry into the records office of the doctors’ union hall. There he sought information about the late Messrs. Goodbright and Finley. And there were no records for either! Now what the dickens? He asked if there was a ‘morgue’ like in newspapers, for older or half-obsolete records for the deceased or disciplined or retired. Down to the basement he went, to pore through the cobwebby files that went all the way back to the fifteenth century, well before the organization of London’s medical men (and at that point it was all men). Aha! Here was something! Goodbright had left what would seem to have been a thriving practice in Brighton some years past. Rather abruptly, too. Now why would he have done so? Digging deeper, Watson found a police report filed at the time. Now this was getting interesting!
‘How did you come to know Doctor Goodbright?’
‘Why, we have a mutual friend up in Brighton and he was calling upon us to bring regards,’ replied Watson.
‘Ah. Had you any notion of his difficulties?’ queried Holmes.
‘I had heard that he lost his licence, but to think that he faced charges of manslaughter! Anyone could see that it was an accident!’
‘Are you quite sure?’ persisted the detective.
‘Of course I am! The good doctor innocently recommended nuts in the diet for extra protein. Who would have ever guessed that the patient had a deadly allergy? A tragic accident, that’s all. And it seems that Mr. Finley was rather older than he seemed, he’d been practising in Gerrard Street since before the war! His records had been shunted off to the ‘dead’ files.’
‘I see. All too bizarrely appropriate, I should think.’ Holmes puffed on his pipe and was maddeningly inscrutable.
‘Come, come, Holmes, what is on your mind?’
‘All in good time, my dear Watson, all in good time. But I believe that we are going to have visitors at any moment.’
Watson buttoned his lip and listened hard. ‘I don’t hear anyone coming up the stairs.’
‘They are already upstairs. It is our friend the Lieutenant and the lovely Filomena.’
‘How do you know that? I can’t wait to hear!’
Elementary, my dear Watson! Do you hear murmurs from number 221A next door, where we first encountered Lt. Jones? No? Well, they lead me to believe that he has returned from driving with the lady, and as for herself, she is adorned by a very distinctive perfume which even now assaults my nostrils.’
‘Really, Holmes, a bright twelve-year-old could have deduced that!’
‘Which says little in your favour, my good man. Come! To the front room where we may commiserate with our friends!’
The Lieutenant and Filomena duly appeared at 221B after having hidden from their pursuers.
‘They know that we are here, Holmes, and we shall be ready when they return!’
‘I don’t think you’ll be seeing them again, Lieutenant,’ said the detective.
‘Oh? Why is that? Do you know who they are?’
‘Yes. I hired them.’
Now what flummery is this? Why would Holmes have the Lieutenant and Filomena followed? Tune in next time for another exciting installment of the noted mystery blog All Things Mysterious!
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Now you too can own all fifty-six short stories and four novels about the iconic detective written by Conan Doyle in one handy package! Two-volume paperback set VERY reasonably priced!
In a case of life imitating art imitating life, in December 2016, a Russian worker died after she fell into a vat of chocolate at a candy factory. See 'Brand and the All-Seeing Eye' from June 2016.
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