Sherlock Holmes-Adler

Sherlock Holmes-Adler by Tim Butler

I was visiting a patient close to Fitzrovia when it occurred to me that I hadn’t seen my old friend Sherlock Holmes for some time. I decided at once to rectify this unsatisfactory state of affairs, and set out towards 221B Baker Street. But no sooner had I set off than I stopped dead in the street and clasped my palm to my forehead in bemusement. How could I have forgotten that after his change in station, Sherlock no longer roomed there! Accordingly I made plans to call on him the following day at his house in the pleasant suburb of West Norwood.

Arriving at the property on Auckland Hill I was shown into the library by a young maid, who apologised that the master of the house was temporarily indisposed. I imagined what state Sherlock might be in, perhaps wildly intoxicated with cocaine, or else exhausted by nights without rest while he wrestled with another “insolvable” case. My heart quickened at the thought of joining him on another adventure and I vowed there and then that whatever my friend was engaged in, no matter how dangerous, I would assist him in whatever way I could.

Then the door to the library opened and Sherlock Holmes stood before me as I’d never seen him before…
He was dressed in shirtsleeves with a waistcoat and tie, clean-shaven and smelling faintly of cologne. His brow was smooth and untroubled, his eyes were clear, his hair was immaculate and most incredible of all: he had filled out his formerly gaunt frame by around two and a half stones. In short, Mr Sherlock Holmes, consulting detective, the scourge of the world’s criminal underworld, looked a perfect picture of health.

“Why John,” he said, raising his arms in greeting, “how wonderful to see you!”
“And you Sherlock,” I replied, “you look quite well!”
“That is, as they say, due to the love of a good women.”
“Of course old friend, and how is Irene?”
“As beautiful as ever – why here she is”, I followed Sherlock’s gaze to the doorway were there stood his wife of just over three months, Mrs Irene Holmes (nee Adler).
“Mrs Holmes I presume,” I said making a small bow, ”and looking quite radiant, if you’ll permit me to say so.”
“Oh John, always so formal, won’t you please call me Irene? Besides, it’s Mrs Holmes–Adler, we decided to hyphenate.”
“Yes, we though it the progressive thing to do.” added Sherlock.
“So are you no longer to be known as Sherlock Holmes?” I asked.
“That’s correct, I am now Mr Sherlock Holmes-Adler, Gardening Detective.”
“Gardening detective?” I replied, ”what the devil do you mean by that?”
“It's a whole new realm of work John, I don't know why no-one's ever thought of it before. Clients come to me with a gardening problem that no-one else has been able to solve, a hydrangea that fails to thrive, pernicious weeds taking over their alpine garden and so forth, and I use the science of deduction to solve it.”

My spirits sank when he told me of his new profession. To think of my dear friend, the possessor of what was once the finest mind in criminal deduction, squandering his gifts on this triviality was more than I could bear. Luckily the maid came in with a tray of tea things at that point, and so distracted attention away from my embarrassment.

Mrs Holmes-Adler, as I must learn to call her, played mother and fussed around the fine bone china service. Placing a cup in front of each of us and pouring fragrant tea from a pot of eastern design. Sherlock held his teaspoon between his long fingers like a chopstick and tapped out a tattoo against the saucer. This was one habit from our Baker Street days that I hoped he would have dropped since achieving his new found state of domestic bliss. The incessant formless tapping used to drive me to distraction. It must have got on Irene's nerves as well as she quickly pulled Sherlock's cup away from him and filled it.
“There you are Shirley.” she said, returning the cup.
“Shirley!”, I spluttered, quite without meaning to.
“Oh it's just our little pet name, isn't it Shirley my darling.” replied Ms Adler.
“That's right dear,” Holmes replied, looking directly at me for a moment before taking up his spoon once again and continuing his tapping with renewed vigour.

Something stuck me as odd about his constant tapping, in fact it didn't seem as random as I had initially perceived it to be. Then all at once I had the particular sensation, so familiar from my many years spent with Holmes, of being at least two steps behind my friend as I realised that the rhythm he was tapping out was Morse code.

Like any military man I pride myself on being able to decode Morse on the fly, and while small talk continued around the table I concentrated on Sherlock's message.

-.. --- -. -


-.. .-. .. -. -.-


-.-- --- ..- .-.


- . .-


Then and there I knew that the game was afoot! There was clearly more to my friends supposed state of marital bliss than met the eye.

At this I claimed an urgent appointment in London and disposed myself to leave. While shaking hands with Sherlock he made mention, most casually, of a pain in his right eye after investigating a “case” involving mother-in-laws-tongue the previous week.
“Good lord,” I said, “dieffenbachia can be highly toxic, surely you of all people would be aware of that?”
“Do you think it will require treatment?” he asked.
I was about to reply that the consumption of large amounts of water and activated charcoal would flush the poisons out of the system, when once again I had an inkling that I was lagging behind somewhat, and that there was more to his enquiry that was first apparent.
“Of course,” I replied, “stop by first thing tomorrow and I'll give you a full examination.” And with that I left the Holmes-Adler household and returned to London.

The following day Sherlock was already waiting for me when I arrived at the surgery, he immediately took me by the hand and led me into the consulting room.
“Thank God you finally arrived John, I was beginning to think that you'd forgotten about me entirely. Now quickly, there's no time to waste, I require a full blood transfusion.”
“But Sherlock, a transfusion of that magnitude would be highly dangerous, why do you want to put yourself at such risk?”
Sherlock’s eyes flashed, “To prevent my certain and imminent death.”, he snapped back at me, “besides, Dr Erwin Keussler of Vienna has successfully carried out several full transfusions with no ill effects.”
Erwin Kuessler was one of the most eminent physicians in Europe,  and his work was well known to me. It came as no surprise that my friend was as well read on the subject as any practitioner in the field, in fact, it seemed, even better than myself.
“Kuessler has succeeded! ”, I exclaimed, “Why that’s incredible, in the last paper I read of his he was still experimenting on transfusion in dogs.”
“Indeed,” commented Sherlock, “several successful transfusions with no ill effects.”
“Good God man, you can’t be suggesting his techniques with canines as the basis for a transfusion on a human subject?”
“Watson you must trust me, I have considered every possible course of action, there is simply no other choice. We must carry out the procedure.”
“But Sherlock, dieffenbachia poisoning isn't fatal, whatever symptoms you may have had will have passed by now. I'm sorry if I've alarmed you, I thought you wanted to visit me here.”
“My dear Dr Watson, have you learned nothing during our friendship? I have been poisoned, but not by some houseplant. The only chance I have for survival is if you comply with my instructions without question and without hesitation!”

As usual there was no point reasoning with Sherlock, and as I prepared the transfusion he described the hellish pollutant which was now coursing through his being.

“The poison is called jorbot mewt, literally translated it means “the death binder”. Unlike other poisons, its potency is built up by regular exposure, rather than diminished. Once the subject's body is conditioned to receiving a regular dose, a dependency is established. Withdrawal of the poison even for a single day results in the victims death. It was once used by the potentates of the East to prevent their harems from escaping. My wife, has sought to make me dependent on her by serving me tea infused with jorbot mewt every day since our wedding.”

I took the hypodermic and pierced Sherlock's arm, he did not flinch. I attempted to emulate his admirable restraint as he proceeded to explain the most monstrous plot which embroiled him.
“The woman you know as Irene Holmes-Adler is the possessor of the most devious criminal mind on five continents, and it is my belief that she is seeking to neutralise me in order to carry out the most audacious crime of ever perpetrated in England.”

I fought to keep my hand steady as I attached the cannula to a glass vial. At once blood spattered into the bottle and started to fill it. I extracted a small sample to examine under my microscope.

“Good grief Holmes, what are you saying? We both know that Irene has a rather, shall we say colourful past, but this? Surely you go too far!”

“Watson, it’s quite enough that Irene insists on calling me by that ridiculous pet name, please desist from doing so again.”

“I’m sorry Sherlock, but how can you be so sure that Irene is this master criminal?”
“Do you remember the case of Thunderbolt, the Earl of Finsbury’s stolen racehorse?”
“Yes of course, you tracked the beast down because it needed medication for baldness.”
“Equine alopecia, Watson, the treatment for which was only available from one veterinarian in Hungary. With that knowledge the animal was easy to locate.”

“But not before he’d sired several heirs I’d wager.”

“Yes Watson, and each time at a handsome fee. All in all a simple case, except for one thing, the particular lack of clues pertaining to the thief.”

“Yes I remember we never found them, at the time you suspected Moriarty, but now you think Irene was involved?”

“Exactly so Watson. I took the liberty of looking through some papers I found amongst her things wherein I unearthed this.”

He produced a photograph of a small girl holding a fine looking pony by the reins, on the reverse, in a child’s handwriting was written,

“To Auntie Irene, thank you from Clara and Lightening Bolt.”

So Irene was the horse rustler?“
“I’m certain of it, but that is far from an isolated case. Do you recall the ruby of Naser al-Din?”

“One of your rare defeats, you passed three months in that sordid opium den after we failed to locate it.”

“Well I fear I may have discovered its whereabouts now – Irene had a very striking engagement ring made for a most reasonable price. It was a ruby ring.”

I looked up from my microscope in astonishment.

“Do you mean to say that Irene was behind all of these unsolved cases?”

“That is the only logical conclusion Watson, but there is more. Amongst her papers I found page after page of practised signatures, all in the name of Irene Holmes-Adler. There was also a kind of dossier on myself containing numerous likenesses and daguerreotypes, not to mention a complete set of your scribblings, clipped from The Strand magazine. She has been planning this scheme for months, if not years. I thought that living under the same roof as her would make it easier to understand her motivation, but I find she is more enigmatic than ever.”

“But what of the crime she is planning, do you have any inkling as to what is might be?”

“I do John, the clues were all there right in front of me, all they needed was a thread of logic to tie them together. First she had my study painted a rather gaudy shade of yellow with a frieze of small blue ducks around the ceiling, then she began to accumulate small bonnets and tiny pairs of knitted socks. She insisted that we leave London for the suburbs, my own move into the ridiculous profession of ‘consultant gardener’ was at her behest that I find a less hazardous occupation – less hazardous to who, you may well ask. Then one day she let it slip, she mentioned that we would be having a ‘little princess’ living with us soon. I believe she plans to kidnap Princess Beatrice, the youngest child of her Majesty Queen Victoria.”

I stood beside Holmes and placed my hand upon his shoulder,

“I’m sorry to tell you this Sherlock, but on this occasion, I fear your logic may have failed you.”
“Is that so,” he replied ”and what other conclusion is there to draw from the assembled facts?”

“It’s really not my place to speculate on such matters my friend. However, I can add one more fact to your stockpile. You have not been poisoned. Not by the jorbot mewt or any other noxious substance. There is no trace of any toxin in your blood.”

For perhaps the first time in our long friendship, Sherlock looked unsure of himself,

“But you saw her pour the tea Watson, I have experienced the binding symptoms, the attraction.”

“And I also saw Irene drink that very same tea,” I replied calmly, “if it were poisoned, how could she be unaffected?”

“I have on several mornings heard her locked in the bathroom, retching most violently, clearly she is attempting to clear her system of the poison.”

I said nothing, trusting Holmes to draw the correct conclusion.
“Watson,” he said at last, “what you're suggesting, it's quite impossible.”
“It may certainly be improbable,” I replied, “but it is by no means impossible. I’d say that Irene Adler has outwitted you once again. The great Sherlock Holmes, ensnared by a woman!”

Sherlock broke into one of his rare smiles as he replied,

“Not any woman Watson, the woman.”

- End -