In hindsight, the solution was obvious. That was Holmes' skill. His "parlour trick" as some victims had described it. I'd seen his leaps of faith, inspired deductions and uncanny conclusions many times. And yet the inevitable unlocking of the puzzle was always obscured from me until Sherlock lifted the veil of smoke from his beloved pipe.
Sometimes it took more than one pipe. Sometimes as many as three. In this case, the unstated conundrum set by his brother, Mycroft, had consumed five refills. It might have broken new ground, but the tobacco slipper had been returned empty to its customary...
"Wine. Please." Mycroft replied, when I gestured to the still warm tea pot. I summoned Mrs. Hudson and passed on the request. She eyed Sherlock's intruder with continued suspicion, having clearly not banished the crazed Scottish farmer he'd just been representing.
As she left, my companion chuckled quietly, "'My croft.' A lovely pun, given you were attempting to represent a crofter… from the Islands off the west coast I believe…" His speculation clearly hit the target. "But why the obvious mistakes, dear brother? There is more to this than is straight forwardly apparent."
He'd gone again. Inside that wonderful mind...
He ran into the room, his heart pounding, and his clothes soaking wet. Mrs. Hudson trailed in behind him, wringing her hands with anticipated concern.
"He just pushed passed me, Mister 'olmes!" she apologised. I nodded supportively and guided her elbow out of the room with whispered reassurances.
Our visitor immediately captured Holmes' attention. Remarkably for about a second more than his usual gaze would consume unannounced guests at 221b Baker Street.
"It's about m' small'oldin' Mr. 'olmes" he blurted out in what sounded like a Highlands accent. Possibly one of the smaller island settlements, I postulated. He did sound...
"So you're saying you didn't see Willie Mason leaving the store Friday night?" PI Dot Post eyed the man sitting in her passenger seat.
"I see no man, no ma'am. Course you know dat."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"I see someone leave that store, 'bout 11:45, I reckon, but weren't no Willie Mason. Nah, dis person got curly red hair an' wear army boots."
Dot glanced down at her own foot attire, her hand reaching uncertainly for her auburn curls.
"Aye, I see you, detective lady." He grinned maliciously. "I see you wit' de blood on your hands."
"Bad way to go," said Detective Renfield. He was standing over the body (or what was left of it) with his arms akimbo.
I sighed, adjusting my hat to better shade me from the hot sun. "Fourth case this month," I reminded him. "Maybe city hall will finally get serious about the pigeons after this."
"Nah, I wouldn't count on it," my partner said cynically. "A few bums get eaten by pigeons, what do folk like them care?"
"According the statistics, the pigeon population's tripled in just a few months," I remarked, thinking back to my interview with Professor Gendry....