THE DRAWING ROOM IS NIGH, the curtains are closed – only a chink remains open. Smoke drifts a lazy trail, disturbed briefly by a breath of ghostly air from the street below. All is deathly quiet and Mrs. Hudson is abed downstairs. Not even one little snore doth escape her nasal nostrobes on this hushed night.
From a curtain chink, the moon shines eerie – an unwavering slivery beam, angling asteeple through the deep-dancey shadows that be cast by a guttering green candle on the Hugo Victorious mantlepiste.
The contrasting effect is multipalied by the flickery of ghastly-lights, set at introvarts alongst the walls and turneyd a-low. It is a kaleidoscope of slow, strobic murtions emidst the mad, monstrupendous stillnest of inanimate urbjects and frunishings, all forced to take part in a strange ceaseless cycle of rhythermic patatterns.
Witsun stand at a really absur dangle, pouring whiskers down his throttle – or is it djinn? Who gnomes? I donut! His trouble shoulders him agay, or is it hith leg? I do knot gnome the answer to that either! He changeth his story so oftly – or was it Cone and Oyle, who jess could not get his fax strait? Agay, I gnome knot!
And me – I’m bored out of mine domekopf, skull-wise. No brain-cases, nor indeed, have any nut-cases cracked up recently to pit mine twits agayst and stir me to encompass active compost mentors.
How strangely strange I feel now: disorienterated, gibberish and disdelextical; malapropis, disgrammatic, alliterato; distortedated, didilated, extendebended, adriftose and akimbo –
Ahh – but enough of your problems, for I am anaespathetic, narcostic, intoxicata – doped up to the very iffy effing eyeballs.
But the needle – it is back in hymns box now – in her drawers. Wooden ones, that is. One of them, anyway. Und mine pipe it be litted with the special augmented meerschehaum mixcature, and I am floating back – back – back – backwards – in my easiest chair.
Now here cometh old Wattsy. Stagger he over the carpeth and point at me accusatingly, a mad burnish agleam in his eyes. With evry shufflering step, his breath glows stronger. Thank godly I am sitted down, or his broth would surely knock me to the floor.
“He loved the howling of hish baglier pipesh, Hoolmsh.”
“And she loved cats, Watters – so much, one could even say she was a catastrophile.”
“Sho, between the pair of them, they actually enjoyed lishtening to a dreadful chorus remarkably like banshees wailing – every bloody night! Darf buggersh! But tell me, Hoovsh – didju ever resholve the Caysh of the Frightened Old Shpinster?”
“A man wearing a raincoat with nothing underneath it perpetrated the crime in a flash, Wattles.”
“That reminds me of the Shtrange Case of the Arsh Winking Phantom, Hoobsh.”
“Wagging, clumphead! And we agreed to use a more euphemistic description – such as Butt or Bottom, if you’ll remember!”
“Ooh, and the Odioush Case of the Incredibly Windy Old Man! The one who couldn’t shtop – ”
“Yes! Well, I don’t think we’ll go into all that now, if you don’t mind, Wotsits!”
“No! Too damned sssh -”
“Alright, Wospers – that’ll do.”
Watspith pulls the curtel another chink and after a reflective pause says, “Ah, there’sh too mush traffic on the rude, Hulmshy.”
“Grimaad, Wattars – not at this lay tower, surely? Why, it’s too foggy outside!”
“Makesh no – ugh! Brrruupp – rrrlloaffflum – oopsh. Beggy pardon, Sherly.”
“Alimentary, respiratory, and quite expectorant, my dear Wattibonce – that’s what the spittoon’s for, anyway. Drool on, chug up, Johnny-oh, for I am mindless of such afflictations – being so caseless of late and at such a doped-up loose-end.”
“That’sh how I wash, Dolmsh. Doeshed up sho heavily on morphine, I hardly merember coming down out of the Khyber-Passh, where I got that damn Jhezhail bullet in the shoulder. Carried down in a delirium by my men. All good shtout-hearted shoulsh an shtick by yer through thick’ n’ thin t’ the very end. We made shtraight fer th’ gulf, going shouth through Afghanishtan and then on an don an don – through the darkiemosht wilderneshesh of deepesht Persia.”
“A longish trek, eh?”
“Glug, glug, guzzle, gulp! Ahh! Burp!”
“And since then, you’ve taken to the odd decanteurfuel when your shouldy plays up. Well, I do synthesize, Twatters – but I much prefabricate mine habit, it’s so – “
“Shh! What’sh that?”
Watsby draws another curtel chink. He is somehow being transformed before mine very eyes, into some strange alien creature – half human, half walrus.
“Take flight, Homersh,” he barks, whiskers twitching like a sea beast in heat. “Here cumsh the Buggershtree boysh.”
“What? How irregular! The Basket Tree boys – this time of nigel? But I have no cases – no work for them. No, I doubt it, Swatters – must be buglers.”
“You mean bunglarsh, doncha? I hope not, I’m in no fit shtayt.”
Pulls chink aside again. A shaft of moonlight cleaves his face in two – one side: dark and mysterious – the other; that of a mad bull walrus. “No, twasha nalley cat,” he honks. “Blarshted shtray moggiesh.”
“Whist you spray? Ashtray? Moorgeese?”
“Shtray! Moggiesh! Open yer earsh, Hommsh.”
“Not mine fault – too much slurring from that jungle-juice, Watsby, old boy.”
“I warned ye notta take it, Hoosh.”
“Not me – you – you sodden old military veteran. Ich oonterstain not too mersh ob whit du hast jurst sprechen, mein kampfy old Wattleberg.”
“Hmm – you’re a fine one t’ talk, I mush shay. Shpeakin’ in bloody Joimun Foreign tonguesh. Junkie lingo, should call it really, I shpose.”
Wattlesheim is definitely transformed. I remember seeing a walrus very like him at Regents Park Zoo once – I wonder if they are related, he and the walrus.
“Hoomsh. I’ve shed it before an dial shay it agen. You needle take sho much prosheshed coca. They make it with gasholine, y’know. It’ll make yer darf ashwell ash def.”
“Presently, Blotters. I’m under a floating darkness of mindfull, just now.” Did but Swatsy know also of the lysergic in mine meerschehaum.
Holmes puffs out great cloudbanks from his enormous curved pipe. They float up to the ceiling where they drift in a lazy blue swirl – leering like grotesquely taunting manifestations of the frustration and ennui that Holmes has been experiencing lately.
“And don’t think I haven’t noticed the hallushinogen y’ put in yer baccy, Hoolsh. You have my blocking vote on th’ shtuff.”
“Mindful, Watspoon – especially when you’ve just emptied a decanteurfuel of burnish brain-killer and rabid liver-rot down your throttle.”
“What’sh that – a Burmeesh main-tiller rapid river yacht?”
A sudden waft of highly inflammable toxins blasts Holmes, as Watson leans forward.
“Pshhht! I don’t know what planet’s atmosphere that is that you’re exhaling, Wafty, but it smells totally unbreathable. Just don’t get near any naked flames.”
“Oh, deleted brain-shells to you, Tolmsh.”
“You probably have, Twatters – and gut mould, too, by now.”
“Shh. There it ish again.” Woofters pulls that curtel chink again.
Ghastly moonlight shines through on to ghastly features. The moonlight is alive. It crawls over those features like some writhey snake. Smoke curls like phantom sculptors, bizarrely reshaping.
Mine gott! He is a walrus! That brigsly snout, all aquiver. Those tusks. Those sabred yellow tusks, caressing his thick, lowest lip, as if sensing the presence of succulent shellfish – and no greedy carpenter to share them with this time, either. The leathery baldy patch atop Wotsits’ even thicker head – how it crinkles when he lifts those shaggy brows. Those bulging, glossy, darkie eyes – all watery and pitifully mournful, carrying the traumas of ancient sea voyages all in vain.
“Why, I’ll be – it ish those Bakingstree boysh. I just shaw one a thems fayshesh in the moonlight.”
Woopers moves away from the curtel chink with a slitherish, waddeley gait. He brushes houndstooth lapels floridly – arms flapping like flippers in the water. His moistened brigsly nostrils are all agrimbo – flaring wildly, steam emerging from them in warm lethal gusts.
The scent of ozone, saltwater and seaweed – of oysters, oil spills and potent alcohol fills the air. An outlandish, nocturnal seascape floats before my eyes. Ghostly clouds drift across an astonished moon that shines down silvery upon the quietly lapping waves, picking out a grotesque and cumbersome sea creature that hovers forlornly by the shore.
Indubitably, in all my worldly experiences, I have never seen a more singularly strange sight before than this curiously transformed, Darkitor John Watsibonce. An agitated fully clothed walrus, standing before me on the shoreline: fidgeting, breathing ghastly fumes that almost clear my head with their abrasive quality, slurring words in a peculiarly lilting baritone, looking utterly foolish in the act, and above all – quite – quite – quite – drunk.
“Look, Hoobs – let ush rid arshelves a theesh Half Baked bunch.””
“I’m rather alienated from it all at this moment, Wartsy. Indubitably so!
Anyway, I don’t really understand what the problem is, actually?”
“Ellie Mentree, It’sh th’ damn witching hour, Hooliesh – y’ darf bugger!”
“Such mumbo-jumbo, Warpy! Witches, ghosts, demons – they never bother me! I have my own demons and they only assail me when I have no cases to work on.”
“Or when you’re on the needle and seeing thingsh, Hoolmsh.”
Wattoes pulls the curtel chink yet agay. His bristlies are growing out from his uppermost lip while I watch. Those most certainly are flippers protruding from his grubby shirt cuffles.
“They’re coming up the hallway now, “ Watney explodes. “That darft old bat, Misshess Huddersh mushta left the door on the latch. Quick, getcher blunderbussh, Hoopsh, y’ shilly bashtard – an I’ll get me walky-shtick – the one where I pull out the handle an’ it’sh a plucking great sword”
“What on urge are you burbling about, Wocksy, you saturated lush? Anyway, It’s all quite hallucinatory, really! I simply haven’t got the ergies and I don’t give a monkey’s if the Bashstree boys are coming – I’m far too spaced-out. Besides, you’re an enormous great bloated, drunken old walrus, Witsun!”
“Nonshense! Shtuff an’ buggerish’ nonshense, Hoolgsh – you halushinating junkie. Pull yer ff – fuh – gibbering, gaunty, gangling shelves together!”
Wimpies’ voice has become thick and curdly – like some strange sea creature’s bleating matey-call played through a distorted amplifier. He can’t fool me – I gnome he ist ein walrus – and a foul-breathed, foul-mouthed one at that.
“Oh, gawd, Hooldsh – It’sh all a happening horridly. The Baked beansh are a coming up the stairsh.”
“Idle mine ears disown me or you have too marsh candle-wax in yours, for I hear no footiesteps on the stair, my dear rotund tatty Walrus – but wait – my keen detective’s senses, though dulled by drugs, do detect something – just outside the door.”
“Ahhh – aahh, it’sh them – it’sh them – it’sh them ba – bashtardly Banshee boysh, they’ve turned into marauding vampiresh and come to shuck out our blood!”
The door creaks slowly open and in wanders a stray black cat, sniffing around.
“Oh, put a stopper on it, Whoppers, it’s a cat – you daft inebriated old buffoon. Now you’ve snapped me right out of my lovely trance and I can see that you’re not a walrus after all – and I do believe I liked you better that way. It was somewhat of an improvement. Oh, well – I shall just have to take some more.”
“Hmmph. Well, shanksh fer th’ complibent, Hoolmsh – I don’t ff – ‘kn shink. And I wash jush beginning t’ shee you ash shum glayzed-eyed, drug-crazhed, half-baked, emashiated gabbling shpashtic zhombie – and it wash sh – shertainly no im – ff – ‘kn – provement.”
“Stop drawling such expletory waffling nonsense, Wafters, you dippy old tart – and give the cat some ff – ‘kn milk. Then take it back down to the street – and while you’re down there, take yourself for a good stiff walk around the blockhead – er, block – to clear your block – er, head. And don’t forget to lock the ff – ‘kn door and take your – ‘kn key with you.”
Watson disappears briefly into the pantry and returns with a saucer of milk. He places it on the dark shiny wooden flooring at the carpet’s edge and watches while the cat sniffs it and then laps it up.
“Pussh. Come on Pusshy, come to uncle Johnny – darf little ff – ff – ‘kn bugger.”
The cat sniffs at Watson’s pointing sausagey finger. Watson lunges for the cat and catches it in both hands. Huffing and puffing, he staggers slowly down the stairs, with the cat mewling and struggling vainly in his strong arms.
Holmes relights his pipe and then reaches languidly for the drawer containing his syringe and bowl.
“When Watson returns, he’ll find the study locked. So he’ll have to go to bed and sleep it off, ‘kn boozy old codger – while I – Ahhhhh – “
The needle enters a vein in Holmes’ forearm.
“ – Take a wonderfuel mind-expanderdizing trip – through the far-reaching realms of some fantabulous magnifikabundant cosmos. Ahhh! Here it comes – “
I see it all, now – as if, through a crystal ball. There are loopholes in space and time: Strange distorted nether regions, all in flux – the machinery working mysteriously behind the backdrops of all creation. There are whole universes contained in spaces far smaller than quarks – and the Universe of which we are but a tiny part, is one of countless others nestled within some vast macrocosmic place.
There is a speck of dust floating amongst zillions. By crikey, that dust mote is our very own Galaxy. The Milky Way Galaxy! Close to the edge of an outer spiral arm of our Galaxy is a little yellow star: our Sun – a huge globe of incandescent plasma, more than a hundred times larger than the Earth and far hotter than the hottest volcanic furnace.
From space, the Earth resembles a shiny blue and white marble in the Sun’s radiance. Down through those white wispy clouds and across the wide blue oceans is a modest sized island, nestled against one edge of a very large continent – ‘although some people call it three continents’.
On a corner of this little isle, a squiggly serpentine shape broadens out to the sea. It is the River Thames. To the north and west of the Thames, as the crow flies and the rat scrabbles – amongst the highways, byways, avenues, alleyways, chimneys and dustbins in the sprawling metropolis of London – lies Baker Street.
Though whether or not there are any Bakers or, indeed, any bakers in it, is rather questionable. But, on many an occasion, there certainly is much yellow fog aswhirl.
Strange incidents and weird events have taken place right here on this Earth – indeed, even in dear old Blighty and yes, in London Town, too – just waiting to be discovered. Some of them will make wonderfully interesting cases for an unemployed sleuth who resides at 221B Baker Street.
Downstairs, in 221B Baker Street, Mrs. Hudders be abed. Escapeth not one little snorey from her nasals this hushful night.
Upstair, disturbid briefly by a breath of ghostish air from the street below, smoke driftes a lazy trail. Only a chink remains opal where the curtels be aclose – and the room is drawing nigh.
On the Hugo Victorius mantlepiste, a guttering green candle casts dancey-deep shadows that go angling asteeple from an unwavering slivery beam – where the moon probes eerie from a curtel chink.
In a strange ceaseless cycle of rhythermic patatterns ermidst the mad, monstrupendous stillnest of inanimate urbjects and frunishings, a kaleidoscope of slow strobic murtions be taking place. Turneyd alow and set at introvarts alongst the walls, the flickery of gasstlylights doth multipalie the contrasting effect.
Dokatori Johann Wattlesby stalks the darkly streets like a phantom walrus in the night, his toxic breath fuming dangerously in the chilly air like silently belching fog. A bog darks in some alleyway down street. It is the only sound disturbing the stillness of this moonlit autumnal night.
A stray black cat paws silently at the locked front door of 221B Baker Street. It rears up on its hind legs, reaching upwards and accidentally engaging the bell push. As he is not answering the door, the case is obviously not a stimulating enough problem for Sherlock Holmes.