Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The Case of the Crushed Roses: Chapter 4

Chapter 4
                Explosion at noted writer’s home, Chiara Noveau.  Breaking news story.
                The news bulletin floated through my muddled brain as I tried to concentrate on the list of florists I was to be calling and had already called. I had turned on the tele for background noise and the 6 o’clock news was on.
                Where could Sherlock be? I thought, it had been five hours since I had heard from him. I had gone through 14 of the florist shops in Brixton. Two had been closed, and only one had someone working there by the last name of Carlton. I had decided to take a brief tour of the shop for something to do and to see if it could possibly be the Timothy Carlton we were looking for. Upon stopping I had asked for Carlton, and had been introduced to a lovely young lady by the name of Christine Carlton. She had no recollection of a Timothy Carlton whatsoever so I was back at the flat trying to decide which of the 12 remaining florists on my list to call.
                In a headlining story there was an explosion this afternoon at the home of Chiara Noveau, where earlier today it was reported that the noted actress and author had gone missing. Police are still combing the evidence to try and find the source of the explosion, but it has been confirmed that it was a remotely detonated bomb. Two people were killed and several more are in the hospital. Police have confirmed…..
                Suddenly the words made sense. I bolted out of my chair and stared at the news story that was now showing pictures of wreckage with ambulances carting bodies away.


                I rang his cell, which went straight to voicemail. I tried again, same result. I sent him a text that read. “Saw explosion, where r u? CALL ME.”
                I paced the living room for a moment, debating whether to go round to the apartment or try the hospital, but then decided to call the police station. They would have the most up-to-date knowledge and I could
                I was patched directly through to Lestrade, hanging around with Sherlock occasionally had its benefits.
                “Lestrade.” The voice at the other end sounded tired.
                “This is John Watson, I just heard about the explosion. Was…”
                Lestrade interrupted me. “Sherlock was there, yes, but he wasn’t among the casualties.” I breathed a sigh of relief.
                “Right, uh…thanks.”
                “Has he turned up back there yet?”
                I paused for a minute. “No, thought he was out at the crime scene, his phone isn’t answering.”
                “Right…” Lestrade paused for a long moment. “He was out here going off about some papers and how we needed to look at them. We found a ransom note and he was insistent on getting it taken back to the lab to get it analyzed. I told Sherlock to slow down and come back in a couple hours after we had time to process everything. He didn’t like that very much and went to wait just outside the building. That’s when I got a call from the station on some of my other cases and told my team to pack it up. We were mostly out of the building when the explosion went off. It was pretty contained but it damaged the surrounding apartments. We’ve got teams over there combing the area and we’ve…picked up everyone in the apartment.” He sighed and seemed even more tired after a moment. “You got anything we might use?”
                I thought quickly, “Sherlock wants me to try and track down a Timothy Carlton. Seems that he might be connected to Chiara Noveau and he was at the crime scene this morning posing as one of your interns.”
                Lestrade swore in the other end of the phone. “And??”
                “No luck yet, but I’m working on it.” I went to the window and opened the curtain a bit. There were a few people walking about in the street, but no one who stood out. Sherlock definitely wasn’t out there.
                There were some indistinct noises in the background and Lestrade shouted indistinctly to them. “I’ve got to get back to the case, keep us updated will you?”
                “And if Sherlock turns up, send him back over here. We need everything he’s got right away. This is going to be a federal case now.”
                The phone clicked off. I held it loosely in my hand and sat down heavily on the sofa. Had to think, Sherlock was at the crime scene when the explosion went off. There was no sign of him, but that didn’t mean that something hadn’t happened. I honestly had nothing to go on with this case, beyond the fact that Chiara had been kidnapped, Sherlock was now missing, and I was unable to track down my only lead.
                *ding – dong* The doorbell rang insistently. I glared at it for a moment, had to think, not take in visitors. It rang again, so I got up and went down the stairs. I noticed a pile of mail on the floor and regretfully realized that I had not paid my half of the bills for the month yet. Mrs. Hudson was going to be rather upset.
                Upon opening the door I found a young man who I hadn’t seen before. He was dressed in jeans and a button-up blue plaid shirt, with a black peacoat on over it.  “Can I help you?”
                “This is 221B, right?” He had an American accent, although cultured and not as foreign-sounding as some Americans.
                “Yes, what do you want?”
                “And you’re John Watson?”
                “That’s right.”
                “Great, I’m Daniel Cavendish. Sherlock Holmes sent me over to relay a message.”
                I looked up and down the street. There were a few people hurrying along but no one suspicious. I looked at Daniel from the corner of my eye. “And what would that be?”
                He had caught me looking and looked over his own shoulder now. “Can I come in for a moment?”
                I shook my head. “No, that’s alright, I think we’d better do our talking out here.”
                He seemed uncertain for a moment, then nodded his head. “Okay. Um, Sherlock told me that he wants you looking into someone called Cort Ortega, and that he might be affiliated with the money laundering business.”
                “Hang on, Sherlock wants me looking into someone else now?”
                “That’s right.”
                “Why didn’t he just ring me up and ask?” This wasn’t making sense to me.
                Daniel furrowed his brow. “Well, maybe I shouldn’t tell you this, but I had the same question. See, I ran into Sherlock when I first moved to London and I know he can be a bit of a funny character sometimes.”
                I laughed. “And that’s putting it nicely.”
                “Well, I was walking past Chiara Noveau’s building, it’s on my way to work see, and I saw all the police tape. So, I stopped a minute to see what’s going on. Out comes none other than Sherlock Holmes. I didn’t think he’d seen me because he walked right into the crowd and went down the street. A few minutes later, he comes up from the other direction though, pulls me aside, and tells me to give you this message. Said it was urgent and that you’d know where to go once you got the right information.”
                “How the bloody hell does he think I’ll even get the right information?”
                “Don’t you have police connections?” I glared at Daniel. “Sorry, yeah, anyway, I thought that the message seemed a bit off and Sherlock wasn’t paying attention to me. Seemed to be looking at some other guy in the crowd. So when he took off I followed him. He went across the street there on Abbey way but I stayed on my side. He went down an alley about two blocks from Chiara Noveau’s apartment and then stopped. There was this really big guy that I think had been following him, because he turned down the alley not a minute later. Sherlock seemed to be just waiting for him. Anyway, they talked but I couldn’t hear because I was all the way across the street. Then the big guy just took a swing at Sherlock and he went down.” Here Daniel stopped and shifted, looking over his shoulder again. “Mr. Watson, I think Sherlock’s been kidnapped too.”
                I had been listening to this story with a bit of disbelief, but this was too much. I grabbed Daniel by his shirtfront and pulled him inside the door. “Right punk, I’ve had enough of this.” I shut the door to the street and got in Daniel’s face.
                “Your story doesn’t make any sense, why would Sherlock tell a random person, even if he DID know you, to give me a message when he could ring me up?”
                Daniel tried to back up. “Look Mr. Watson, I’m just trying to say…”
                “I don’t know what your agenda is, but you’ve got the wrong bloke.” I was quite mad at this point. Who did this kid think he was?
                “So maybe you’d better just take your story and scram.” At that moment the front door opened and Mrs. Hudson walked in with her arms full of groceries. I straightened up quickly. Daniel seemed to be a little shaken and kept his eye on me.
                Mrs. Hudson saw us standing there and smiled brightly. “Hello! Got a visitor have you?”
                Daniel stepped forward. “Daniel Cavendish, pleasure to meet you ma’am.”
                “And what nice manners too!” She looked at me still standing there. “Here John, take these bags while I get your visitor a nice cuppa.
                I spoke, “I’m afraid he doesn’t have time for that...” at the exact same moment Daniel said, “That would be very nice, thanks.”
                Mrs. Hudson looked at me a bit askance. “Where are your manners John? This young man seems to have plenty.” She tipped the bags forward and I had to grab them or risk Mrs. Hudson’s wrath.
                “Now, you just come with me Daniel, and we’ll get you all sorted.” She took his arm and proceeded downstairs. “You can join us John after you put those away!” I fumed for a moment in the stairwell and then took the bags to the fridge to get them sorted. I could hear snatches of conversation from the living room where Mrs. Hudson had planted Daniel.
                “Now don’t you mind John, he’s always had a bit of a temper. Shouted at me you know, first time I met him”
                “You don’t say?”
                “That’s right. Anyway, so nice to meet a foreigner round here. Espcially one with such nice manners such as you’ve got.”
                Some rustling sounds and clinking of glasses.
                “Where did you say you were from?” Mrs. Hudson was on a hospitality mission, I dumped some sacks of vegetables into the crisper and hurried to stuff everything else in wherever it would fit. Mrs. Hudson could sort it later.
                “Well, I’m most recently from Mississippi, but I’ve been living in London for the past year now.”
                “Oh, how lovely. So glad you came round! John and Sherlock never get many visitors, at least, ones that aren’t always on about particular cases and work and all that. None of them ever have any time to talk.”
                I burst into the room and Mrs. Hudson looked at me brightly. “There you are John, all sorted?” I nodded and stiffly sat down on the sofa.
                “I’ve made a cuppa for you too.”’
                “Not interested.” I wasn’t being very polite, I needed this young intruder to get out of my house.
                “Don’t be rude, you could do with a little livening up, use your manners for once!” I saw Daniel grinning into his cup of tea, the little git.
                I took my cup of tea and held it, pretending to sip a bit until Mrs. Hudson seemed satisfied. “There, right yes, where were we?”
                Daniel set his cup of tea down. “I was just telling Mr. Watson here, that I saw Sherlock today.”
                “Did you now? Oh, I hope he wasn’t rude to you. Sherlock never seems to know how to be ncie these days.”
                “That’s Sherlock for you,” said Daniel. “Anyway, I saw him across the street and I shouted to try and get his attention but I couldn’t get over there due to the traffic. Once I got across the street he and the, um, man he’d been talking to were gone, no where to be seen.” Daniel was obviously continuing the story.
                “That’s what you came round to tell me?”
                “Oh hush John,” said Mrs. Hudson. “You’ll have to go to your room if you can’t be polite.”
                Daniel seemed to be quite enjoying Mrs. Hudson’s tea. “Right, anyway when I got over there I found this.” Here Daniel pulled out a slim black object. He set it on the table and I could see that it was a phone. Cracked right down the middle of the screen with one crushed edge as if it had been stepped on. I picked up the phone. There were no other identifying marks on it, except for the engraving on the back which simply said…
                “SH,” said Daniel. “That’s how I figured out it was Sherlock’s and not that other guys.”
                “Well, isn’t that lovely!” said Mrs. Hudson, beaming. She was quite proud about being shown right by her visitor. “He just came round to return Sherlock’s phone. Not many people would have done that. I tried to turn on the phone but it wouldn’t light up. Daniel saw what I was trying.
                “That’s why you haven’t been able to get ahold of him all day, his phone’s been missing.” He took another drink of his tea.
                This really was Sherlock’s phone, which meant Daniel had been telling the truth. I stood up and pocketed the phone. “Come on,” I said to Daniel. “We’ve got to get to the police station.” Daniel looked up in surprise.
                “I’m coming with you?”
                “Yes, finish your tea. We need to find Sherlock.” Mrs. Hudson stood up too.
                “Oh dear,” she worried, “Is he missing again?” I smiled at her.
                “No he’s, um, just been without a phone for awhile and I was supposed to, um, meet him at the police station a while ago.” I hurried to put on my coat. “He’s probably been waiting for ages now.”
                “Well, get going then,” said Mrs. Hudson. “I’ll do a bit of the cleaning up then, although I really shouldn’t, not your housekeeper you know.”
                I smiled and nodded to Daniel, who had drained his tea and was on his feet.
                “Right, we’re off.”
                Out the door and into the street we went. I hailed for a cab.
                “So, what are we going to do?” Daniel seemed a little confused by the situation. A cab pulled up and I opened the door.

                “We’re going to find Sherlock,” I said. And with that, we were off.

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