Sherlock Holmes was annoyed, and impatient, as he burst through the doors of the morgue at St. Barts this Friday afternoon. "Hooper, where's my foot?!", he bellowed as he approached the much smaller pathologist, who refused to cower in the face of his belligerent attitude.
"At the end of your leg, I would presume, Sherlock."
"You know very well the foot to which I refer, Dr. Hooper. Unhand it immediately!"
"Oh, you must mean Mr. Twickam's foot, Sherlock. The one I gave you to experiment on. The one Mrs. Hudson found while gardening! Really, Sherlock, why would you bury it in her rose bed?"
"Mrs. H. keeps the roses fertilized, religiously. She takes very good care of them, in fact, maintaining a slightly acidic soil, which is supposed to be beneficial. I was merely testing my theory that adding organic compounds, such as those contained in decaying flesh, would benefit any nearby plant, allowing it to grow more rapidly, and yield fuller blooms. In addition, I could assay the decomposition rate of the foot in soil of a more acidic nature than is usually found. Two birds, as they say. I chose that particular rose because it is named the 'Brother Cadfael' rose, after the fictional detective created by linguist Edith Pargeter in the late seventies. Interesting books, actually. Historical mysteries. I read them as a child. I thought I'd give the good brother one more mystery to solve. Mr. Twickam was a murder victim, after all…"
"All very interesting, Sherlock, but did you think to warn Mrs. Hudson? You're lucky she called me instead of the police when she found a foot in her garden! She's not a young woman, you know…"
"Who was married to a murderous drug lord. Who's to say what interesting things turned up in her garden in Florida, Molly! Surely she couldn't have been all that shocked. And what was she doing gardening? She only gardens when she had nothing, or no one, better to do. And she and Mr. Choudry have been rather occupied with each other of late…"
"Mr. Choudry, as it turns out, has been juggling several other women, evidently, but not overly successfully. They found out about each other, and drew lots to see who got to keep him. Mrs. Hudson was one of the losers, or winners, depending on your point of view, and your opinion of Mr. Choudry, so I suppose she will be spending considerably more time in her garden…"
"Go to go, Molly!"
"Sherlock, we need too…"
"You might want to call Mrs. Hudson, Molly, and ask her not to pursue her hobby for the next few hours at least. And make particularly sure to tell her to keep away from the hydrangeas, please…"
Molly found herself about to speak to the swinging door of the empty morgue, as the detective beat a hasty retreat, hopefully to Baker Street. The whole body part situation was beginning to get out of hand, so later that afternoon, Molly made plans with the detective/experimenter to come over his flat to review his inventory of experiments, past, present, and possibly future. Dr. Hooper, organized scientist that she was, had kept an assiduous inventory of all parts, tissues, organs, etc which she had provided to the man for the past seven years. It was quite a long list, as it seemed all he had to do was give her a smoldering look, followed by a smile, and she would have turned over the Queen's big toe had he asked for it, the fact that he may have buried it in Mrs. Hudson's petunias notwithstanding! It didn't hurt that his elder brother, the 'british government' himself exerted significant influence on his behalf. But still, records must be kept, and losses documented.
Shortly after ending her shift, Molly Hooper found herself wearily climbing the stairs to Sherlock's flat, carrying a cooler chest containing several cold packs, in order to transport any organs which may require proper disposal. In her large purse she had a tablet which would allow her access to her computerized inventory on the various detritus she had lent and/or given to Sherlock Holmes. She also carried a handwritten ledger, containing the same inventory. Sherlock was much too expert a hacker to allow her to rely completely on her computer records. As she climbed the stairs, she noticed that the door to the flat was open, as usual, so she entered without announcing her presence, and was surprised at what she saw.
Sherlock Holmes was stretched out on his couch wearing, not his customary designer suit and tightly fitted shirt, but a pair of jeans and a white tee. His bare feet were hanging over the end of the couch, trainers and socks strewn on the floor beneath him. His shirt and jeans were streaked with what looked like garden soil, and his hair was curling wildly about his face. Molly thought he looked perfect as he lie there, eyes closed, seemingly dozing.
"Stop staring, Dr. Hooper. I know I look a mess, but at least my landlady can garden in safety! I think I've recovered everything, apart from a toe or two."
"You've lost a toe, or two?"
"I think it may have been the neighbor's cat. I did see him digging amongst the petunias a few days ago." Sherlock moved to an upright position and stretched his arms fully, causing his shirt to rise just enough for the pathologist to catch a glimpse of his lower abs. "I've ordered us some takeaway. Chinese alright?"
"Sherlock, you've turned your neighbor's cat into a cannibal?"
"No, not strictly speaking, Molly. Technically, to be a cannibal, he would have to eat other cats. Evidently, I've turned him into a maneater, with a particular predilection for toes. I'd be sure to wear shoes the next time Mrs. Hudson throws a barbecue in the back garden."
Molly let loose a small snicker, and joined him on the couch. "So, are we eating first, or doing the inventory?"
"Let's eat first, Molly. I'm not sure how your stomach will feel after taking our rather gruesome inventory. Maybe we should just forget about…"
"Gruesome doesn't bother me, mate. I did an autopsy this afternoon on a Vietnamese immigrant who died shortly after ingesting a meal consisting of silkworm larvae and fried grasshoppers. My assistant passed out when time came to analyze the stomach contents. Personally, I found the cancerous lung tissue more…"
"Point taken, Dr. Hooper. Let me go wash my hands and pop on a nicotine patch! Watch out for the food delivery, will you?"
The man took off for the bathroom, while the small woman waited on the couch for the food delivery, which arrived before Sherlock returned. "Do you want to eat in the kitchen, or here in the sitting room, Sherlock?"
"The sitting room is fine, Molly. We can watch telly while we eat."
"You're just trying to distract me from the inventory, aren't you? It won't work, you know…"
"Dr. Who is on. A rerun, the one with the Weeping Angels. And David Something, that actor you like…"
"I don't 'like' him, Sherlock. He's a good actor, that's all."
"He's tall, and slender. He has great hair, you've said. If he had blue eyes, and was a sociopath, he'd be just your type, Molly/"
"I thought we'd gotten beyond the teasing, you git! We're friends! Besides, your eyes are more blue/green than blue, and you're not a sociopath!" But Molly was laughing as she spoke. They were, truly, friends, and had been for ages. They spent many an evening here in this flat, or at hers, doing precisely the same thing they were about to do. Watch telly and eat takeaway. Sometimes she helped him with his experiments. Sometimes they played games. She could never beat him a Cluedo, but was better than him at Operation. They would probably be doing it for years to come, as nothing seemed about to change, and Molly had reconciled herself to that fact, albeit a bit unhappily. So they settled onto the couch, digging into their containers of food, Sherlock using chopsticks and Molly relying on a fork, watching the Weeping Angels, with Molly Hooper trying not to blink while Sherlock Holmes looked on in amusement. Finally, the show over, Molly once again brought up the question of the inventory.
"Please, Sherlock, let's get this over with."
"Very well, if we must." Sherlock rose from the couch to retrieve his laptop, which contained his own inventory of the various body parts for which he was responsible. Molly had insisted that he keep it on his computer, as she had no access to his mind palace!
"Okay," Molly said, "let's start. I have a listing of one hundred and ninety-nine different body parts."
"See, this is never going to work. You're wrong right from the start. The correct count is two hundred!"
Molly looked a bit baffled. If anything, she had assumed that Sherlock's count would be less than hers, assuming he would lose track of one of the more minor organs in question. "Are you sure?"
"I'm never wrong, Molly. It's definitely two hundred." The detective looked at her curiously. "Perhaps you've miscounted some fingers, Molly. The smaller digits might easily be overlooked."
"No, I think I got all of them, even the ones the cat made off with, although I suppose I shall now have to check them off as destroyed. Sherlock, you have to remember that these organs once belonged to living breathing human beings, and should be disposed of properly!"
"Is that why you brought the cooler with you, Dr. Hooper. To relieve me of any unneeded part?"
"If you don't cooperate more fully, Sherlock, I will relieve you of some of your parts, needed or otherwise!" Molly looked at him sternly. "And we certainly don't want a repeat of the unfortunate garbage disposal incident of 2012, do we, Sherlock?"
"That was John's fault…"
"Perhaps you should have warned him that there were a few eyeballs in the container of spoiled milk, and he wouldn't have dumped it down the drain! I'm sure those people didn't expect their final resting place to be a garbage disposal, you git!"
"Well, much like a pet goldfish, I prefer to think of it as a burial at sea...eventually."
"And you never did explain what happened to that whole liver that disappeared last year."
"Didn't I tell you. That was the night John and Mary stopped in with some fava beans and a nice chianti. It was the only thing I had in the fridge…"
"Don't go all Hannibal Lecter on me, Sherlock." She sighed in exasperation. "I'll just write it off as destroyed in the experiment, okay?"
"But Sherlock, that still leaves a discrepancy in our accounts. Of one body part. Any idea what it could be?"
"Well, let's compare." He looked over at her tablet, and then his computer. "Damn! Our inventories are organized differently. Yours, by date. Mine, by type. Wait a minute, while I resort my list." After making a few keystrokes, Sherlock glanced once again from computer to tablet. "There's the problem, Molly. You've missed one! The very first one, as a matter of fact. See?"
Molly looked over to study the screen, and read the description of the organ missing from her inventory. One heart. From a healthy female, aged twenty-eight. Height 160 centimeters. Weight about 55 kilograms. Date of transfer April 1, 2008.
Molly remembered the date well, as she had always considered it a cruel prank on the part of fate that she would meet the love of her life, destined to be unrequited, on April 1st. April Fools Day!
"Not funny, Sherlock!"
"It wasn't meant to be, Molly." He turned a bit to the side, to give her the full benefit of one of his patently smoldering looks, followed by a sincere smile. "Well, maybe a little. But I'm sure that was the day you gave me your heart. Am I wrong?"
Molly couldn't look him in the eye, instead glancing down at her feet. "No, you're not wrong, Sherlock. You're never wrong, remember?"
"Then, the question now, as I see it, and just to keep this inventory correct, and up-to-date, is, do I still have it?" Molly found it hard to believe, but the detective seemed a bit nervous as he asked the question.
"Of course you do, although you never did seem to have much use for it," she replied, giving a bit of a bitter laugh.
"Well, it seems that I have recently discovered my own, Molly, and if we truly wish to keep a well balanced inventory, may I suggest that you hang onto mine, and I'll keep yours…"
Molly Hooper didn't even wait to hear his closing arguments in favor of maintaining a well-balanced accounting of body parts on loan, permanently or otherwise. She closed the distance between them with such force that the detective found himself on his back, with a rather passionate pathologist on top of him. Which suited him just fine. When they finally broke for air, he flipped her over and whispered, into her ear, "Now, perhaps, we can discuss some additional body parts in which I have developed an interest, Dr. Hooper." And the discussion went on well into the night.