The Adventure of the Second Stain

"Sherlock, what did you do?"

John was stood at the foot of the stairs, shouting towards the opened kitchen door.

"Any number of things. You'll have to be more precise, John."

"You know what I'm talking about. The washing machine! What did you do to it?"

"I have nothing to do with laundry. Ask Mrs. Hudson."

"She's on holiday, remember? She's been gone for two days?"

All John heard in response was the faint tinkling of beakers.

"Sherlock, I need these clothes cleaned today, and I have to leave in five minutes."


John shook his head. "Sherlock, I'm not… I planned to have a working washing machine!"

"You should never wait until the last…"

"And I did not plan to have my last clean shirt cut into pieces for an experiment." John glanced down at his watch.

Sherlock appeared in the doorway. "It was the blend I needed, and I cannot be held responsible for your woeful lack of formal attire. Where are you taking her, anyway?"

"Does it matter now? I need to leave!"

Sherlock rolled his eyes. "Very well, I'll find a launderette."


"I'm bored."

"Bored enough to…" John looked at his watch again and started to turn the door handle.

"Yes – that bored."

John looked from his watch to Sherlock and back several times, shrugged his shoulders, and rushed out the door.

At 5:23 John stumbled into the living room and dropped into his chair. He closed his eyes and let out a sigh of relief. Only to open them a moment later and scan the room.

"Sherlock!" He addressed an unmoving blue lump on the sofa.

The lump growled.

"Did you go to the launderette? Are my clothes…"

A hand appeared and waved vaguely toward the staircase.

"In my room?"

The hand dropped back out of sight.

John heaved himself from his chair, and started up the stairs.

"Sherlock, what did you do?"

John was standing in the living room, shouting furiously at the couch.

"Haven't we had this conversation once today already?"

"Yes, and now we are having it again. WHAT. DID. YOU. DO?"

Sherlock groaned and sat up. "And as I said this morning, any number of things. Precision, John!"

"Sherlock!" John was holding up a blue shirt. "You know what I am talking about!"

"Ah. Yes." Sherlock looked over the grid of pale stains on the right side of the shirt. "Testing bleach brands. Very important for tracking down the tidier criminals."

"I have a date in twenty minutes and this is the only shirt that I could wear with my suit. There is a dress code, Sherlock! This is…"

"I'm sure you have other choices."

"No, I don't!"

"Well, it's no real loss – you've gained too much weight to wear that shirt and I know she'll prefer something less formal. Angelo's doesn't have a dress code. And perhaps the next time you'll think before you blame every mechanical failure in this building on me!"

And Sherlock marched into his bedroom and slammed the door behind him.

"Well, sir, your machine is as good as new!"

"Thank you. What was causing the problem, then?"

"You're not going to believe this, but the draining hose was clogged with little pebbles. Odd enough by itself, you might say. But then, the pebbles looked like nothing so much as human teeth! Gave me a scare when I took them out! But I don't…"