|The Man with the Twisted Lip
Author: LittlePippin76 PM
Sort of a modern update of the ACD original, but mostly me having fun with Sherlock and John. Follows on from The Reigate Puzzle but stands alone too. Characters belong to other, smarter people. Please read and review. Now complete. Pip.Rated: Fiction T - English - Humor/Mystery - Sherlock H. & John W. - Chapters: 3 - Words: 11,360 - Reviews: 22 - Favs: 14 - Follows: 7 - Updated: 07-02-11 - Published: 06-30-11 - Status: Complete - id: 7132863
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
With the Reigate story, I sort of felt that I let the characters and chat get in the way of the actual mystery a bit. I didn't mind that too much, but I did think 'I'd better be more mystery focussed with the next one!'.
That didn't happen.
I hope you enjoy this anyway. It's all just a bit of vaguely humorous fun really! It's a three parter, and you'll get a chapter per day.
"I'm still not sure about the colour."
"Really? Do you think you could possibly get sure about the colour before I start the third wall? Because I'd like to be finished some time before its eighteenth birthday."
"I think the wallpaper at this end is perfect though."
"Good." It had taken John four attempts to get the 'feature wall' paper hung straight. He hadn't questioned why a tiny baby might need a feature wall in its bedroom.
"Do you think we should scatter some gold-leaf squares over the yellow?"
John turned around on the ladder and looked at his wife.
"Yeah. Not big ones. Tile sized or maybe a bit smaller. Just little squares of gold scattered over the yellow."
"Small, gold-leaf squares."
"You think it's a bad idea."
"Well, I think it might be… how I shall put this? I think it might be a pregnancy idea."
"OK, let's do this. We'll delay the gold-leaf squares until after the baby's born. Then, if you still feel he or she needs gold-leaf squares to decorate the room he or she isn't even going to sleep in for the first six months, well at that point I'll willingly put up as many gold-leaf squares as you so desire."
She smiled at him. "Thank you. You know I love you."
"I know." He came down from the ladder to kiss her for a while. "I love you too."
"And you're absolutely sure you couldn't tell from the sonogram?"
"I honestly couldn't."
"I love you, my crazy, deranged wife."
She laughed. "Careful! You're getting paint on me!"
"I don't care!" He kissed her again.
The intercom buzzed.
"I'll get it!" She said pulling away from him.
John went back up the ladder to continue painting. After a few minutes he became aware of the sound of someone sobbing in the front room. He could recognise that it wasn't Mary well enough, but he felt he ought to go and see what was happening. He wiped his hands on his paint-spattered t-shirt and wandered through.
Mary was sat on the sofa with Kate, an old school-friend, who was leaning on Mary's shoulder as she cried. John had known Kate almost as long as he'd known Mary and his heart sank a little at her presence here tonight. In his opinion Kate was quite sweet but somewhat inept at handling her own life, so she tended to lean on friends to help her slightly too often. This wasn't something John particularly minded in the general scheme of things, but he felt slightly annoyed that she felt she should put upon his six-months pregnant wife.
Before either of them had noticed him in the room, he knew that the issue would be with Kate's husband, David, who had a drugs habit. David appeared to try reasonably hard, but not quite hard enough, to kick the habit. After each attempt at rehab he would come back to Kate's waiting arms and she'd be overjoyed, but then a few months later he'd be up to his old tricks. Alas, Kate loved him, and every time he stopped she believed with her whole being that he wouldn't relapse this time.
"Do you know where he's likely to be?" Mary asked her.
Mary sat up, wiped her face and nodded. "I know he'll be at that place in Wapping. I know it."
"OK, let me just get my jeans on and I'll come with you."
"You'll do no such thing!" John said.
"John, Kate can't possibly go on her own! It's a drugs-house and she's… well, she's Kate!"
"And you're six months pregnant!"
"I'm not incapable, I'm just pregnant."
"I know, and even if you weren't, I still wouldn't let you go! Not because you'd be anything less than brilliant, and of course you don't need my permission, but I wouldn't be able to live with myself if something happened to you! I'll go!"
"You really wouldn't mind coming with me?" Kate asked him.
"Really, Kate, there's no point you coming. I'll go and find David and bring him home." He had a moment of wishing he didn't have to bring David into his nice flat while it was clean and nearly prepared for a baby. On the other hand, he remembered just last week he'd had Sherlock here with a deep cut on his forehead, dripping blood over the hall carpet and the bathroom and Mary hadn't been anything other than welcoming to him. "OK, give me the address."
So it was that John found himself knocking at the door of a grim looking house in Wapping. He'd changed out of his painting clothes and almost as an afterthought he'd retrieved his gun from the top of the wardrobe and the ammunition clip from his sock drawer. He'd prefer not to use it and almost regretted bringing it, but he hadn't been to this particular house before so it seemed wise.
After a several knocks the front door was opened by a huge, tattooed man who grunted at him.
"Excuse me, Mate, I believe a friend of mine is here. His wife's worried about him and I said I'd bring him home. Do you mind if I come in?"
There was a further non-committal grunt.
"Honestly, I'm not looking for any trouble. All I want to do is to come in, get my friend, pay any owed money, and leave."
There was a flash of interest at the promise of money and the man stood back to let John push past.
"His name's David Tollgate. Do you know where he is?"
Another grunt. John accepted it and started working his way through the house. He found David on the second floor, in a stupor, eyes unfocussed and with the evidence of recent vomiting over his clothing. John checked his pulse and his eyes and decided that though he was very stupid he wasn't in any immediate danger. He tapped David's cheek lightly.
"David? David are you with me?"
"John? John! Hey! Hey it's John! John… Watson!"
"Yes, that's right. David, Kate's at my place. She's worried sick about you!"
"Kate? No! No Kate's at work, mate!"
"No she isn't. David, today's Saturday."
"No it's not! John, mate, it's Thursday!"
"No, David, listen to me. You've been here three days. You have to leave now. You have to come with me, get cleaned up, and go home and promise, and I mean absolutely promise Kate that you're not going to do this again. And you have to keep that promise, because she's not going to hang around forever!" John doubted these words even as he said them. They were effective though, and David started to cry.
"Kate? My Kate? Lovely Kate! I don't want her upset, I really don't! Oh, poor, poor Kate!"
"Come on now!" John pulled David to his feet and helped him downstairs. John was still mentally geared up for some kind of trouble, so when a ragged, long-haired man pushed into him hard, he squared up to him slightly. The man appeared to stumble to the other wall and John settled down again. He was surprised to find there was suddenly a slip of paper in his hand. He turned around but the man had vanished.
He continued to lead David down the stairs and was somewhat relieved that the entrance hallway was empty and no-one appeared to want to hold him accountable for any of David's debts. On the street he looked at the paper he'd been given. He was surprised and disappointed to see it was Sherlock's handwriting.
'Lose the sop. Wait for me outside. SH.'
John muttered a curse to himself. He looked over at David, who was looking up at the sky, bemused by its presence. He knew there was no way of refusing Sherlock's instruction.
"David! Come on, let's find you a cab."
He had to walk a couple of streets before they were at a road busy enough to find a cab. He put David in it, gave his address and sent them on their way. As he walked back, he called Mary.
"Did you find him?" she asked, straight away.
"Yep. He's on his way to you. Sorry, love, I'm not with him. I'm really sorry."
"What's happened? What is it?"
"I don't know. David's fine, but, damn it, Mary, I think Sherlock's in there too."
"I know. I'm just hanging around to check on him. I'll be back soon. I promise."
He put his phone away and walked, feeling quite dispirited, back to the house. The long-haired man was stood outside, though when he saw John, he started walking towards him.
"Follow me," he said as he passed him.
John turned and followed Sherlock along several streets. After about five minutes, Sherlock straightened up, pulled the wig from his head and laughed.
"Oh, John! For a second I honestly thought you'd fallen in the mire like the rest of us. I was that surprised to see you there!"
"Me?" John said, furiously. "Sherlock, what the hell were you doing there? You said you'd stopped all of this! You promised!"
Sherlock quietened at the hurt look on John's face.
"John, I wasn't using in there if that's what you think."
"What the hell were you doing then? Let me see your arms!"
Sherlock was surprised but he dutifully held his arms out to John who examined them. Sherlock waited until he was satisfied.
"Good. John, just out of interest, do you really think that I used to dress in such a heavy disguise just to go and use some drugs?"
John thought about this for a moment. "No. OK, I suppose no, you wouldn't."
"No. I'm working a case, John."
"In a crack house?"
"Yes. This might be a surprise to you, John, but houses like that one aren't exactly the most moral establishments."
John bit his cheek and turned away.
"John, I'm not taking any drugs. I'm not! There have been a number of people who have entered that house who have never come out again. The wife of one such person hired me. Oddly, they didn't want Sherlock Holmes, known associate of the police, to come in. So I went in as Sticky, a useful little character I sometimes like to don. OK?"
John sighed. "Yes. Yes OK. Right let's get a cab."
"We don't need to, I borrowed a car. It's just down here." They rounded a corner and John groaned when he saw the flashy black Ferrari parked at the side of the road. Sherlock pulled a key out of his pocket and pressed the 'unlock' button. Further down the road, the lights of a small blue Peugeot flashed.
"What?" Sherlock asked him. "You didn't think anyone would lend me that one did you? Get in, I'll drive you home. Well, unless you want to come down to Sevenoaks with me."
"I don't. But home would be grand." He got into the passenger seat. "You know, I didn't think you could drive. I was fairly sure you couldn't, actually."
"Of course I can drive." Sherlock put his seatbelt on, put the key in the ignition and started the car. He nodded with satisfaction. John began to grow alarmed as it took a while for Sherlock to work out the mechanics of the clutch but he finally found first gear. He smiled at John and set off. The car kangarooed several feet down the road towards the Ferrari before it stalled and thankfully stopped with about an inch to spare.
"Oh!" Sherlock said, his eyes bulging. "Don't want to hit that!"
"Calm down! Look, it's just a bit harder than it looks, OK?"
"I thought you said you could drive!"
"I thought I could! I've seen it done!"
"Are you even insured?"
"Get out! Give me the keys and get out!"
Sherlock handed the keys across to John and got out. There was a moment as they walked around the back of the car where they danced slightly from side to side before John stopped and glared and Sherlock stepped out of his way. John got into the driver's seat and put his head in his hands.
"OK. All right. Where are we going?"
"Fine. OK, let's go. No, wait, I'm going to call Mary first." He took his phone out and looked at Sherlock for a moment. "I'm going to make the phone call across the road."
"Why? I don't mind that you're talking to your wife."
"You might when you hear what I have to say about you. I'm taking the keys."
John returned less than three minutes later.
"Right. Sevenoaks. Oh, Mary hates you by the way."
"No she doesn't!"
"I do then."
"No you don't!"
"I should though."
John started the car, reversed slightly and pulled out towards the main road. Sherlock waited until the first red light before he looked at John.
"I can still be Godless-father can't I?"
John tried not to smile. "Maybe. We'll see."
Sherlock smiled, content that at some point he would be forgiven for whatever had irked John this time. He let his head sink down to his chest and he thought hard about the case.
They were just on the outskirts of Sevenoaks when Sherlock raised his head again.
"You need to turn right here."
John dutifully manoeuvred.
"Keep going for a bit. I'll tell you." He looked over at John. "You know what I really like about you, John?"
"I'm a mug?"
"I can drive? I've got a gun?"
"No, though those are undoubtedly helpful. It's that you're extremely good at being quiet. You don't pepper me with questions even when you're curious. It's very helpful to me."
"Right. Good. Though you should know that on this occasion it's because I'm not talking to you. Still straight?"
"Yep. Turn left at the pub. So do want to hear about the case?"
"No. I want to drop you off and go home to my wife."
"Fine. Be like that then. Left here." He watched John drive for a moment, assessing the amount of tension in his eyes and jaw. "How's Mary?"
"Pregnancy going as expected?"
"Didn't you have a scan done last week?"
"It was last month."
"Oh. Well did it go OK?"
Sherlock nodded. "Good. I'm pleased. Do you know if it's a boy or a girl yet? I'm told you can sometimes tell from the scan."
"We asked not to be told."
"Yes. Your choice of words there. You're telling the truth but not answering the question. You do know, don't you? You don't think you should know, but you do."
John sighed. "OK, Mary wants to find out when it's born, and I sort of mostly agree, but when the sonographer told us to look away, I may have accidentally peeped."
"So what is it?"
"I can't tell you! There's no way you're finding out before Mary does! And don't tell her I know either."
"I won't need to. You'll give yourself away long before it's born."
"I haven't done yet! Now, where next?"
Sherlock looked out of the window. "I'm lost."
John pulled in to the side of the road and put his head in his hands. "You're the giddy limit, Sherlock! You know that?"
"Sorry. Look, just double back to the pub and I can find it from there. I think we went a junction too far."
"Look, I'm sorry! My geographical knowledge of places outside of London isn't that great! I feel that my excellent knowledge of London more than makes up for it! Don't you?"
"I said fine."
They drove in silence for a while.
"The baby hates me," John said.
"What are you talking about? Of course the baby doesn't hate you!"
"Oh I know it doesn't really hate me. It's just that Mary feels it kick all the time but when I try to feel it, it stops. It feels like it's not even born and already it's not talking to me."
"John, really, the baby doesn't know you yet. And I'm fairly sure that even after it's born it won't have the capacity to actually hate you for a good few years! It won't start hating you until it's at least two or three!"
"I was being sarcastic."
"I know. I was rising above it."
"Ah. No wonder I didn't recognise it."
"Are you sure?"
"Of course I'm sure!"
They drove on for a while.
"Have you thought of any names yet?"
"Yes, but we're not telling you them."
"Because you'll comment."
"No I won't!"
"Fine then. For a boy, we're thinking of Jack."
"I told you!"
"No, I'm not commenting! If you want an extremely dull name for your firstborn son, then Jack is definitely the way to go. Well done for thinking of it! What else is on the list?"
"I'm not telling you."
"Fine. Be like that. I'm lost again, by the way."
"OK, we're going back to the high street and you're going to ask someone for directions?"
"Because you're the one who's lost."
"Fine! OK then!"
They made their way back to the high-street and pulled over to ask someone at a bus stop for directions. Sherlock was apologetic that his driver didn't know the area well and he was extremely charming. For a moment the man in question looked eager to get in the car with them. They got away with just directions though, and were able to get on their way quite quickly.
John was fuming.
"Do you know what name might be nice for a girl?" Sherlock asked him. There was silence. "Phaedra."
"I'm not calling my daughter Phaedra!"
"Why not! It's nice! It's interesting!"
"It sounds like she's some sort of mythical being who'll set fire to people's heads!"
"That's not what it means! It's Greek. It stems from the word for 'bright'. I thought that was nice."
"I'm not calling my daughter Phaedra."
"Do you want to hear about this case or not?"
"If I do, will you stop trying to name my daughter?"
"So it's a girl."
"No, you were naming girls, so I said 'daughter'."
"Yes, I will stop trying to name you're daughter."
John sighed. "Fine. OK. Tell me."
Sherlock grinned. "Mr Neville and Mrs Fiona Sinclair have been married twenty-two years. He's worked in London's financial district for most of that time, but three years ago, he took a new job. His new employment was for an investment company called York-White, and they're based in Wapping. Years passed and he seemed perfectly content in his job and she was content that he was content and apparently didn't need any more details of her husband's work.
"On Tuesday of this week, Mrs Sinclair was invited to lunch in London with some old friends. The lunch was called off as one of the friends was ill. Mrs Sinclair was already on route, so she decided to continue on her train and meet her husband for lunch instead. She tried his mobile phone but he didn't answer. She decided to surprise him, and she got into a cab at Waterloo and gave the address for York-White Investments as Vinegar Street, Wapping. Imagine her surprise when the cab pulled up at the very house you found me in earlier today. She got out, but asked the cab to wait. Her intention was to find out from someone in the house whether there was another Vinegar Street, and to redirect the cab if necessary.
"When she was on the pavement, she heard a cry, and looking up to the dormer window in the attic, she saw her husband. He'd cried out, then he was pulled backwards away from the window. That's the last time that anyone saw him.
"The attic has been converted into a separate studio flat, which has been taken by an old army chap, Hugh Boone. He was severely injured in the first Gulf war, poor sod. He was left with a disfigured face, several burn left damage and a cut too, the scar of which pulls his lip up into a permanent sneer. He works as a concierge at The Harrington."
"That's four star!"
"Yes, is there a reason that a disfigured ex-soldier shouldn't be working in a four star hotel?"
"I don't think so, but I'm surprised that the management there agree with me."
"Well, he earns enough there to pay his rent on the studio every month without fail. Apparently he keeps himself to himself and he's never frequented the main house. Mrs Sinclair called the police and they dutifully searched the flat. Boone swears blind that he's never laid eyes on Mr Neville Sinclair. Alas for him, Mr Sinclair's clothes were found in the garden of the Wapping house, just as if they'd been thrown from the upstairs window. He was taken in for questioning and they're about to formally arrest him I'd imagine."
"So why are you involved? Does the wife not believe that this Boone chap did it?"
"Well, the twist in the tail of this tale, John, is that they never recovered a body."
"Just as I say. There was no body. No-one left the flat while Mrs Sinclair was watching it, and there was no-one in the flat except Boone when the police got in. Consequently, Mrs Sinclair isn't sure whether her husband is dead or alive and being held captive somewhere. She's leaning quite hard for me to suggest the latter to the police. The police aren't interested though they'd quite like to resolve the situation with Boone and they're running out of time. If it wasn't for the clothing, there's no reason to believe Mister Sinclair was ever there apart from Mrs Sinclair's word and the clothes, which could have been planted at any time. There's no way through from the attic studio into the main house, that, by the way, was the reason for my presence there today. Mrs Sinclair has hired me to find out what has happened to her husband and I have to admit, I'm enjoying the mystery. Here we are. Here's the house. I knew I'd find it eventually. I am glad you're here with me tonight, John."
John was surprised at the sincerity of Sherlock's voice at these words. "Why?"
"Because I have to go into that house and tell Mrs Sinclair that I believe her husband is dead. Despite what people might think, it's not the sort of job I enjoy. I feel I've only half solved this one. There's something eluding me, but I honestly can't think of any way that Mr Sinclair is still alive, and now I have to go and explain that to Fiona Sinclair."
John watched him for a while, and then nodded. "Yeah. It's a horrible job OK. But it's not going to get done while we're sat here. Come on. Let's go."