I was furious. Watson was now over 45 minutes late. We had plans to investigate the location of the last murder this morning at first light. However, Watson, unlike his colleague Mr Holmes, obviously did not enjoy rising early. I had waited long enough.
“Constable Brannock I would value your assistance this morning.” I called as I marched out of the police station.
“Yes sir,” he said and jumped into the cab still pulling on his overcoat. “Were are we headed this morning Inspector?”
“Firstly Baker St, then Cooper St.”
The cab pulled out at a quick pace and I let my mind run over the facts that we knew thus far. Firstly, Miss Jenkins was murdered in broad daylight in Cooper St. Later we discovered that she was in fact distantly related to Holmes, but that would be very hard for any one else to find out. Later Holmes saw a masked man and gave chase. And finally there was the death by poison, again in Cooper St. This last one was the case we were to investigate.
Whcn we knocked on Holmes' door Mrs Hudson informed us that both Holmes and Watson had been out the entire night, and that it had been very strange. We agreed with her on that point.
“Should we try to find Watson first sir, or continue on the investigation ourselves?”
“If Holmes took Watson with him it would be very close to impossible, and a huge waste of time to try and find them. However Holmes did not plan to take Watson with him. I am beginning to feel that perhaps Watson is in some sort of trouble.”
“Sir, if I may be so bold, I think that if Watson is in some sort of trouble, we will find him in Cooper St.”
“That is a brilliant deduction Brannock. I was just about to make it myself.” I should have chosen someone a little less intelligent to bring with me. I disliked it when people made better deductions than I did.
We took another cab to Cooper St. My mind was running through all the possibilities of all the horrible situations Watson could be in. I glanced out the window in abstraction. Then I looked closer. “Hallo! This is not the way to Cooper St!” I yelled out the window to the cabbie.
“Just thought I'd take a shorter path sir.” He replied.
Insolent man! I thought. But then I paused. “Where are we Brannock?” I whispered.
“I think we crossed the Thames sir.”
This was not good at all. “Looks like we may have to take an escape.”
Brannock opened the door and took a running step out into a bustling crowd. I followed suite, shutting the door behind me. That was a mistake because the noise alerted the cabbie. He swore, and then started glancing around trying to find us. In his distraction he forgot to drive his horse, and the cab sideswiped another carriage, causing both of them to break their wheels and cause a huge jumble in the intersection. I was close enough to see their faces as they climbed down from the drivers seats. The other driver said something like “How about that?” with a smile. Then our driver replied back: “It was good, however our constable got away.”
Brannock and I slipped through the crowd in the other direction, trying to get a sense of where we were. I did not confide my suspicions to Brannock, since that was all that they were.
We decided to continue on foot to Cooper St since the road was now all jammed up. We arrived from the south side, near some large abandoned houses. The windows stared down at us, shuttered and gloomy. A feeling of foreboding settled around me. “Well, Bannock,” I said cheerily, “Lets take a quick look at this crime scene and then set up the situation and see what we can deduce.”
The sidewalk and house were still cordoned off. We greeted the constable and started searching for clues. Everything appeared as it had been told to me. The man had been lying sprawled out in the middle of the sidewalk, near the gate of the abandoned house. There were no footprints on the gravel walk, and the shrubs appeared untouched. The murderer had left no footprints on the sidewalk. In fact, it looked like a perfect crime. We thanked the constable and walked further down the sidewalk, the way the man probably came from. We turned and looked back, trying to deduce where our murderer had been hiding in wait. Suddenly something caught my attention. There was a distinct blood stain on the sidewalk in front of us.
“Bannock.” I said, my voice low and filled with excitement. He looked where I was pointing, then hurried over to collect a small sample.
The pieces were coming together in my mind. The man may have been murdered here, and then dragged to the other place before the police found him. The motive? I glanced around and saw it. A little passage between the two storefronts, the perfect hiding place which the murderer wished to conceal.
Even as I stared into it, trying to imagine such a person, a masked face appeared out of the darkness. I watched with horror as it rushed out at us. One blow with a large board knocked Bannock out. Then he turned to me. His half-concealed eyes and upturned grimace brought a shock of recognition. Fear swelled through me. Then ... blackness.