Round and Round the Table
"JOHN! I need help!"
The wail coming from my friend was urgent enough to have me bounding down the stairs from my bedroom to the living room two at a time; instantly awake despite the illuminated display on my bedside alarm clock telling me it was 03:32. I'm going to kill him if he wants me to fetch a pen.
Sherlock looked highly peculiar – even more so than normal – as I entered the living room. His usually sallow skin was flushed, and he was pacing around and around the coffee table - like a teddy bear – my mind supplied, slightly giddy to see him not severely harmed.
He also appeared to be clutching at his buttocks, in a rather Billy Bunter-esque manner, as if trying to hold them on. Then I noticed the blood on his hands, and, for a moment, felt as if I had swallowed a quantity of cold, slimy pond water.
"Sherlock... What happened?"
He took in my paling expression and soft, croaky tones with a momentary look of puzzlement, which faded to irritation as quickly as could be expected from the World's First Consulting Detective.
"Oh, don't be ridiculous, John, of course I haven't been sexually assaulted. However, I have still had an outrage perpetrated upon my person, and I really cannot go to hospital about this – trust me."
He had not slowed his circling, and he was adding the odd funny little half-skip in between his words. The resemblance to a caned naughty schoolboy became even stronger. My stomach, which had soared with relief to realise I wasn't dealing with the type of assault that has always turned it, plummeted momentarily as I foolishly wondered if he was in to some kind of embarrassing kinkiness, then stabilised as I processed his exact words.
"So, what have you done to your arse?"
"Really, John, must you swear?" Round and round. Sherlock's modesty was a funny beast, choosing to materialise at the strangest times, and then disappearing totally at others. Some of the most foully creative invective I have ever heard, even in my time in the army, has spilled out of his mouth, yet sometimes he was as prudish as a nun, and the only way of dealing with him was to go with the current mood.
"So, what have you done to your backside?"
I saw a strangely sheepish expression as he made the sou-westerly transect, but he did not reply until he was headed nor-easterly again, with his back to me.
"It was for a case."
"You cannot tell anyone about this. Anyone. Do you hear me?" His voice was growly as he continued his circumlocution, and I suddenly had to fight back a giggle.
"Allright. Not even Anderson. Now stop whirling around the table like a demented rabbit, and tell Doctor about this embarrassing injury."
He stopped, for a moment, although he substituted skipping from foot to foot for pacing.
"I wanted to check out Murtaza's place. I was right, he has been processing stolen artwork; he's storing it underneath his wine cellar. A little anonymous tip off to the police, and I should think he's in custody by now."
"And this explains these new dance moves how?"
"I can't go to hospital. I may have had to have indulged in a little breaking and entering to get the information I need, and it would probably invalidate the case if it got out. Plus I just couldn't..."
I paused for a moment, but still couldn't put it all together. "Nope, sorry. Understand you've been a reckless tool again, but still don't understand the dance moves."
"I made a mistake". Through gritted teeth.
"Pardon? I thought I just heard you suggest you made a mistake, but I must have got that wrong."
"Piss off, John! This isn't funny. OK, I assumed that Murtaza's ludicrous social climbing routine was to gain him access to the properties the artwork was stolen from, so he could preselect the most valuable and moveable items. Turned out it's probably genuine. The man keeps pheasants for God's sake. And I deduced they've been having poachers, because why else would they station a gamekeeper in the woods all primed to pepper rapidly fleeing suspicious looking characters with game shot?"
This last was gabbled out very quickly, with the air of somebody getting an unpleasant task over with, and, as he finished the sentence, Sherlock dropped his trousers with one fluid motion, and presented his naked backside to me.
I was stuck between laughing and wincing at the sight of the myriad small bleeding pockmarks with the floridly technicoloured skin in between. In the end, I tried to put on my professional voice, slightly failing, as it quavered noticeably even to me.
"Ah. I see. Poacher's Bottom. Just like in Danny, Champion of the World."
"It's not funny, John!"
"No, no, not at all, of course. Right, trousers and pants off, take this jumper, but pull it up away from your ars… backside, and lie face down on the sofa. Probably easier if your middle's over the arm, and your legs rest on the footstool, so the – er – affected part is raised. You can watch the telly, take your mind off it. You'll need to". Sherlock obeyed, although his movements were slow and reluctant. I wondered vaguely how he'd even got home from the edge of Oxfordshire, but didn't ask.
"Good, Sherlock." I then poured him a large glass of Glenmorangie. "Down in one, it'll help. Excellent. Right, I'll just fetch some boiling water, towels, TCP and the potato peeler."
My patient bolted upright on his arms, folding in half like some bizarre lizard.
Oops! Poor Sherlock. Let's hope things –um – bottom out OK. Good job he has John to watch his rear. Next chapter, will Sherlock find life is even more of a pain in the arse?
Oh, God, sorry! I sound like Austin Powers.
Right, next is Chapter 2: Potato Peeler!
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