This is a continuation of the story, Doctor Watson’s blog: A Kindle Abandoned, Chapter 1. You may wish to read that chapter before beginning this one. Thank you to those who requested more of the tale…it gave me a good reason to return to it.
“Watson, I’m glad you could make it! I hope that your day off has given you sufficient rest after the digeridoo music.”
The speaker was my old friend, Sherlock Holmes, although he would have been difficult for most to recognize in his current garb. He was dressed as the doorman of the apartment complex in which I now found myself, having been led into a specific residence by him. Despite our long acquaintance, I was unaware of his identity until a moment before, when he had revealed himself.
I nodded absently to his inquiry, until it struck me that I had said nothing to him about my recent activities.
“Why, yes, I was able to take a healthy nap, although Mary did have me running a few errands. But however did you know?”
“It was as obvious as if you had a worn a sign, Watson. I noticed that you had a faded, but still visible, ink stamp on the back of your right hand. This stamp, in the shape of a kangaroo on top of a guitar speaker, marks the payment of attendance at a club. I have compiled an extensive database of such ‘pay stamps’, and this is one used by a somewhat offbeat establishment known as ‘Let’s Hear Those Oohs and Aussies’. The ink is purple, which is used on Tuesday nights. As is virtually unavoidable, you got a small spot of the ink on your jacket cuff. The brightness of the spot tells me that it has not been a week since it appeared. Therefore, it was the most recent Tuesday, ergo last night.”
“And the digeridoo music?”
“I am well acquainted with your preference for instrumental music, having entertained you many times with my violin. It was simply an educated guess that a place with such an emphasis on the Southern Commonwealth as a theme would choose to highlight that particular aerophone. That, combined with my noticing earlier a Twitter tweet that the famed digeridoo player Burragubba was in town was enough to risk that conclusion.”
“I suppose with all of that information it was obvious.”
“To the well-trained analytical mind, it was a trivial effort.”
“And it was natural to assume that I would take a day off to recover.”
“That was not a mere assumption, but an undeniable conclusion. While you have clearly made an effort to remove the kangaroo stamp, the fact that it is still apparent at all proves it. Given your occupation as a medical man, all traces would have been removed by the repeated hand-washing endemic to your profession. Ergo, you could not have been in your normal course of employ today.”
“I see, yes, it seems simple when you explain it that way. I can’t tell you how good it is to see you again, Holmes!”
“And I you, Watson. I am engaged now in an investigation, and would welcome your assistance.”
“I should be happy to help. Does it have to do with the missing doorman?”
“There is no missing doorman, Watson. If you were to check the employment records of the hotel, you would find that I am on the payroll here, although not under my actual name, of course. This is my third night on duty.”
“In conjunction with a case, I assume?”
“Precisely! It is a fascinating puzzle, although it has really just been set into motion this evening. Five days ago, I had been approached by the resident of this very apartment. She had been concerned by a peculiar package that had been sent to her and which she said had caused her no inconsiderable alarm. It had arrived by UPS, and upon opening it, she discovered that it contained five Somalian shilling coins, and a black teddy bear, which I recognized as a Steiff. This particular model was a limited run of only 600 ordered for England in 1912. As such, it was an object of no little value.
While you can surmise from the furnishings in this apartment that a $50,000 teddy bear was not a completely out of line gift for my client, it still seemed odd, as it was sent anonymously, and with no inscription or accompanying card.”
“You mentioned that she was concerned.”
“Yes, and that is the crux of the matter. Although she has not chosen to reveal the genesis of her fear, she felt it advisable to engage my services. As I was intrigued, I accepted the commission. I obtained a position as the doorman, so that I might better observe the situation.”
“I should think a building like this would require a background check.”
“True, if I was applying directly to the management. However, I was aware that the doorman services had been outsourced to a security company. I challenged the owner of that company, a mixed martial artist of some renown, to a cage match. When I lost to him, he offered me the opportunity to work off my debt, as he had an unexpected opening when one of his employees had quit without notice. In reality, I had arranged for the employee to receive an apparently winning lottery ticket. When he determines that it is not legitimate, he will no doubt retract his resignation.”
“I see. You said that he beat you?”
“Actually, Watson, I said that I had lost to him, and that is a significant difference. If I had defeated him, he would have won a bet, but seen no reason to place me here. Putting on a good show, but eventually allowing him to secure the upper hand, it was only logical that he would want to use me to fill the vacancy.”
“Wasn’t he angry that you didn’t pay him the money?’
“I would say he was more amused. He appreciated my nerve. I was aware that he himself had been a former grifter, and had risen from unfortunate circumstances. I calculated that he would see in me a kindred spirit.”
“For the first two nights, I observed my client coming and going about her business, as well as all of the other people who came in and out of the building. She was in the habit of walking to the Starbucks on the corner each evening to enjoy a latte and work on her laptop. Tonight, she did not emerge. Sensing that the game was afoot, I messaged you at that time to join me. You did not disappoint me, and we now find ourselves beginning the next stage of the journey. Look around, Watson: what can you deduce from the apartment?”
Although I knew that Holmes’ keen powers of observation had already taken in more details than I could catalogue in a week, I knew also that he found it useful for me to state my observations. There were times as well that his focus on minutiae might make him miss something that would stand out to a more casual observer.
“I should say there is only one resident, who from what you have told me, would be your client.”
“What leads you to that conclusion?
“I see only one end table next to the sofa, and the throw pillow there seems more worn than the one at the other end.”
“That was my thought as well. If you glance into the bathroom, which you can see through that open door, you will notice that there is only one sink. There is also one toothbrush, laying on the vanity. While it is possible that a second toothbrush is within the medicine cabinet, I agree with your supposition. What else?”
“Is the apartment as you had found it?”
“When I entered it with you, it was my first time as well. I waited for your arrival, so that we might apply both of our intellects to this first assessment.”
“Well, the door was open. That indicates to me that the tenant left in a hurry, or was distracted in some manner.”
“The evidence indicates more than mere distraction, Watson. I’m sure you have noticed the foot impressions in the carpet. In addition to yours and mine, there are three sets between the door to the sofa. These represent a bare foot, and based on the size and the ratio of the length to width, they are those of a female approximately 5′ 8” in height: the same as my client, and I presume they are hers. These drips of water accompanying them indicate that she may have answered the door after a shower…you can see that the bathroom mirror still retains some of the fogging effect.
This second set is that of a man’s shoe, specifically, a Bristol Wingtip from Pangaea’s No Bull line, size 11. The third set shows the same man’s shoe. As you can see, though, the impression is about 75% again as deep. This leads to the conclusion that the man was carrying something when he exited.”
“Right again! You no doubt noticed that black square scuff mark on the doorframe as we entered, about at your eye level While I have not taken measurements, I would wager that we will find a matching heelprint coming from the bedroom to the sofa. There is no doubt that as he carried my client from the room, her heel marred the door in that fashion. The fact that there are no other signs of struggle suggests that she was not resisting at the time.”
“That is a reasonable conclusion.”
“Good heavens! We must rescue her!”
“And I intend to go after her, my friend. However, her best interests will not be served by rushing about blindly before we have ascertained all of the facts available to us. Look at the table, Watson. You have failed to mention the most important clue of all, the one that may prove the key to the entire problem.”
I glanced at the piece of furniture Holmes indicated. There, laying face up and with its cover open, was a Kindle.
To be continued…in Doctor Watson’s blog: A Kindle Abandoned, Chapter 3.
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.