Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Lost Puppy
Based off the story 'Die Like a Dog' by Rex Stout
Additional material by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Chapter Three: The Case of Phillip Love
My gaze went to little Gladstone. "I've done it this time," I chuckled. "I went out this morning with a scheme to help our finances and before noon I brought back another mouth to feed."
"Not to worry Watson," Holmes said as he glanced out the bay window overlooking the street. "I think the bank is open."
"Constable Clark would like to talk to you Mister Holmes," Mrs. Hudson announced when she came up to take our dishes.
"Thank you Nanny, send him up," Holmes said as he patted his lips with a napkin.
Soon the door opened to reveal the solid and dependable Constable Clark. "Mister Holmes?" he said contritely. "Doctor Watson? Inspector Lestrade would like to see you. There's been a bad business out at 29 Arbor Street and Inspector Lestrade thought that you could help."
Holmes smiled at me. "It seems that Anton Mesmer was right about the power of suggestion. Your presence seems to have planted the idea of summoning us into his mind."
"Apparently so," I grinned back. "I'll get my coat and we'll go."
"I'm not sure about whether I shall go," Holmes snorted. "I am the most incurably lazy devil that ever stood in shoe leather–that is, when the fit is on me, for I can be spry enough at times."
"Come on sir," Clark asked hopefully. "It does seem to be right in your neighborhood. Literally I mean."
"I can't possibly go," Holmes sighed. "I have a little doggie to take care of."
"Holmes you are bored out of your mind and right now we need the fee," I remonstrated sternly. "You're going even if Clarkie and I have to carry you!"
"Oh very well," Holmes sighed melodramatically. "Can I bring the dog?"
"Why not?" I shrugged. "It will keep me from being dragged away in chains for taking him from a crime scene."
"Calm yourself my dear Watson," Holmes purred. "You'll wake up the dog."
I looked down at the floor. Gladstone was asleep in Holmes' hat.
"We'll have to leave him," I said.
"Nonsense," Holmes smiled. "We'll just take the hat."
"Shall I tell the inspector you'll be coming then?" Clark asked.
"What?" Holmes looked at him before waving in a dismissive gesture. "Oh. Of course. Don't worry. Watson knows the way."
"I'll get him there even if I have to drag him," I assured the constable.
"Righto sir," he nodded as he went out the door.
"Let's see it might rain again, so I'll need another hat," he muttered as he went to his room.
"Not to worry, with the amount of disguises you own you should have more hats than you know what do with," I snickered.
Soon Holmes returned, properly dressed but sans hat. His eyes darted about the room in irritation.
"Problem old cock?" I asked him as I leaned against the wall.
"It seems that I don't have any more hats," he admitted sheepishly.
"You do go through them quickly but you should still have one," I said. "What about that bowler?"
"Lost it fighting those miscreants last month."
"Ditched it while tailing the Schuster brothers."
"It was destroyed in that fight up the Thames."
"Your top hat?"
"It got ran over by a growler, old fellow."
"How about your fedora?" I asked before I corrected myself. "No wait. The dog is sleeping in it. Can you find your tweed cap?"
"For the life of me, I don't know where it is old boy," Holmes sighed as he surveyed the room. "I don't suppose you could lend me one of yours, my dear Watson?"
"No," I shook my head. "I don't own that many hats and I want to keep the few I have. Do you mean to tell me that aside of the one Gladstone is sleeping in you don't have a single hat?"
"Well, I might have one," he blushed.
Soon we were on our way through the interminable fog towards Arbor Street. As we made our journey, I couldn't help staring at Holmes. He respectably dressed and wearing his Inverness cape in case it should rain again, but as for his hat it was inappropriate to the point of absurdity. Although a deerstalker cap is appropriate for grousing in the country, it's just plain queer in an urban environment.
"Something wrong Watson?" Holmes asked as he looked at me and cradled the sleeping dog in his hat.
"Your hat makes you stand out," I said wryly.
"No, I mean you're falling behind," he corrected as we stopped by a corner to wait for traffic to clear.
"Sorry about that; the weather's making my old injuries act up again," I muttered as I fished around in my pockets. I groaned in frustration.
"Forgot something?" he asked me.
"Yes," I sighed. "I seem to have left my cigarettes at home. Too bad. I'd really love to suck on a fag right now."
"Why didn't you say so my dear Watson?" Holmes smiled as he handed me the sleeping dog. "I should be happy to service your needs." He fished around in his pockets and extracted a cigarette. "Here you go," he said as he put it in my mouth before taking the dog back.
"I could kiss you, Holmes," I sighed as I found my matches.
"You'll have to wait until we get home," he teased.
"I love you Holmes; I want to have your babies," I joked as I lit up.
"Please Watson," Holmes winked. "Let's just see how we get on with a pet before we make any big commitments."
When we arrived at 29 Arbor Street little had changed outside since I had last seen it. Holmes paused to look at the street but it was obvious that the rain had obliterated any traces left behind since the time of the murder.
The lobby nothing noteworthy, unless you count the body at the foot of the stairs and medical examiner and the police standing around. Four men in plainclothes were also standing in a corner. One of them was Mister Meagan, and the others must have been his fellow tenants. Meagan glowered at Holmes when we came in. I couldn't blame him for being insulted.
"Hello Mister Holmes, Doctor Watson," Lestrade greeted as we came in. "We've left everything the way we found it," he added.
Holmes put his hands on his hips and gazed disapprovingly at the footprints on both the tile and carpet. "Congratulations Lestrade," Holmes snorted. "Once again you've managed to pull defeat from the jaws of victory. I don't suppose that you and the lads could have postponed the dancing lessons until after you studied the floor? In this wet weather tracking a man's steps should have been easy."
Lestrade coughed in his fist as the constables and the medical examiner shifted their feet uncomfortably.
"Here," Holmes handed me Gladstone, hat and all, before he took out his magnifying glass and crouched to squint at the floor.
Lestrade looked at me. "I thought you said you didn't own the dog."
"He seems to have adopted us," I shrugged.
"We believe he was involved in the murder," the inspector insisted.
"The little fellow is impulsive surely, but I think that a homicide is beyond him," Holmes purred dryly as he scanned the floor.
Lestrade glowered at him before he collected himself and started again. "Could you read the number on his tag for me?" he asked as he fished in his pockets and produced a pad and pencil.
I did so and asked him why he was interested.
"We believe the puppy was owned by the murdered man," Lestrade said. "It's possible that the dog was present when the man was murdered."
"Really?" Holmes said lazily. "He seems a little young to testify before a jury, although I admit that his honest little face makes him very convincing."
"Really, Holmes," Lestrade snorted. "You'd joke at your own necktie party. Do you want to hear the particulars of this case or not?"
"My apologies," my friend drawled as he crawled on all fours. "Do tell inspector. Don't let me stop you."
"This morning a man named Phillip Love was murdered here. Love lived on Perry Street just a few blocks away. He arrived here with the dog on a leash, about ten-twenty this morning. The landlord, named Olsen, lives in the basement, and he was sitting at his front window, and he saw Love arrive with the dog and turn in at the entrance. About ten minutes later he saw the dog come out, with no leash, and right after the dog a man came out. The man was Victor Talent, a barrister, the tenant of the ground-floor apartment. Anyhow, Olsen says Talent walked off, and the dog stayed there on the sidewalk."
"Mm-hm," Holmes grunted as he crawled around on the floor and finally reached the body.
Lestrade continued. "About twenty minutes later, around ten minutes to six, Olsen heard someone yelling his name and went to the rear and up one flight to the ground-floor hall. Two men were there, a live one and a dead one. The live one was Ross Chaffee, a painter, the tenant of the top-floor studio. The dead one was the man that had arrived with the dog. He was just as you see him. Chaffee says he found it when he came down to go to an appointment, and that's all he knows. He stayed there while Olsen went out and summoned a constable. A Maria arrived at ten-fifty-eight. I arrived at eleven-ten and noticed Doctor Watson. Excellent timing I might add." He glanced in my direction.
Holmes merely grunted. "Watson, what do you make of this?"
I handed Gladstone to Clarkie and went to Holmes' side. "Strangled," I said while I knelt down over the body. "Ligature marks indicate he was strangled with some kind of cord or band."
"Yes," Holmes turned the dead man's head slightly. "Notice the bruising on the side of his chin?"
"Someone must have struck him in the chin and knocked him out cold," I nodded. I examined his fingernails. "No evidence of defensive wounds. Mister Love must have had what they call a glass jaw."
"Yes, and now he has a closed windpipe," Holmes murmured.
I looked at Love. He was a good looking man about my age. Face and bodily proportions were symmetrical and pleasing to the eye, but now he was dead, and it is only in the theatre that death doesn't spoil a person's looks. He was dressed respectably, with a wide brimmed hat and a raincoat to protect him from the uncertain weather.
As I eyed Mister Love's Mackintosh I thought of my own errant raincoat and glanced in Meagan's direction. This wasn't the time to get my raincoat back, and I was glad that I hadn't lent Holmes one of my hats. I had lost my shirt and literally lost my raincoat and I wasn't going to add any hats to the list.
I looked at the deerstalker cap on my friend's head and laughed. It had to be the one of the most inappropriate things to do in presence of a murdered man that you could think of and I coughed quickly to cover it up.
"Something amusing, Watson?" Holmes muttered.
"No, of course not old fellow," I said guiltily. "I'm just glad you chose to throw your hat into the ring."
Holmes looked up to glower at me before taking the deerstalker cap off.
"This was found in the pocket of his raincoat, Mister Holmes," Lestrade said as he dangled a dog's leash before him. "We believe it was used to strangle him with."
"Ah!" Holmes snatched it out of his hand and circled it around his neck. "Look Watson, the leash fits the mark around his neck perfectly." He looked back up at the inspector. "Congratulations Lestrade, you seem to have found the murder weapon. Well done."
Lestrade held his hand out expectantly, but Holmes simply rose and walked over to Constable Clark. He attached the leash to Gladstone's collar and disconnected it before handing it over to Lestrade. "The leash definitely fits on the little fellow's collar all right."
"Is it alright if we move the body?" the medical examiner asked.
"Hm?" Holmes looked at him. "Of course. Don't let me get in the way," he said as he stepped over the body to go up the stairs. He stopped at the foot of the stairs to inspect it thoroughly.
"If you don't mind, I'll take these gentlemen downtown to get their statements," Lestrade said. "Then I'll get Victor Talent's."
"Lestrade, wait," Holmes said as he trotted over to the inspector's side. "Not just yet. I want to see them first."
"Do you have any questions for them?" Lestrade asked as he took the leash from Holmes.
"No, I just want to see them," Holmes said as he surveyed each man from head to toe. "I know Meagan, but who are the other three?"
"My name is…" began the one whose clothes was spattered in paint.
"Their names are James Olsen, Chaffee, and Jerome Aland," Lestrade interrupted as he pointed at each man one by one. "The landlord, the painter, and the performer. The lawyer is missing…"
"And Meagan is a photographer," Holmes nodded.
"I never told you I was a photographer," Meagan protested. "How did you find that out?"
"I may not be a bloodhound but I'd have to have a cold not to smell the silver salts you use in your work," Holmes shrugged. "You should thank Lestrade, Mister Meagan; now that he's broken my ennui I believe that I shall be available to find your wife after all."
"What?" Meagan snorted. "Are you having me on?"
"I thought you were working on my case Mister Holmes," Lestrade added indignantly.
"On such an easy case as this one?" Holmes chuckled. "You're just not trying Lestrade. I should have it wrapped up in a day or two at the most."
"Well aren't we sure of ourselves?" Lestrade grumbled. "Care to share you theories with the rest of us Mister Holmes?"
"Not until I check the evidence," Holmes shrugged. "Even the greatest prophets should check their facts before they make their predictions. If you don't mind I'd like to have a look upstairs. I trust the thin carpet might give up some of its secrets to me."
"Is it alright if I take these men downtown Your Majesty?" Lestrade asked sarcastically.
"Alright. You may have them," Holmes said as he hung his inverness cloak on a peg on the wall. "I shall be down shortly to listen in, if it's all the same with you. Straight from the horse's mouth as it were. In the meantime Watson, you better hail a cab and have it wait for us. Won't be a moment."
"What about the dog?" I asked him.
"We'll take him with us," Holmes said as he started up the stairs. "He probably needs a walk anyways."
Constable Clark was good enough to hand me some evidence bags to put the little fellow's leavings in as well as a pair of gloves to pick them up with.
Next: What Jerome Aland Had to Tell