Giving Sherlock a RUN (slow toddle) for his Money! - Lord Harold Der Artze - Gentleman Detective Chpt 3
Chapter Three - The Cop Shop - Where His Lordship meets the Lieutenant with his Dead Mans Fingers. And his Mother said his subscription to National Geographic wouldn't be worth it! Ha! She was WRONG!
“My good man.” Lord Der Ärzte jumped down from the driver’s seat of his black, shining open carriage, handing the reigns to a young officer who stood outside and under the blue light of Bakers Street’s police station. “Be a dear and help my Butler look after the horses.”
And with that, his Lordship strode through the open station's door.
The young officer turned to look at a bundle of tartan blankets on the carriage's plush seat. After careful prodding, it was ascertained by the nervous constable that there was indeed an ancient and sleeping, mummified man wrapped up tightly against the cold evening’s air. His driver’s top hat had been tied with a fluffy pink scarf tightly onto his bony head.
“Right, you are governor.” Was the constables’ only logical choice of reply.
The front counter of Baker Street Police Station was banged loudly by the now very excited Lord, who was busying himself looking over the heads of everyone in the office, working diligently behind the dark wood counter, in the hopes he would spy his target.
“Where’s Burty? Send him down so he can deal with this quickly.”
The grey-haired, rotund and very short-tempered Desk Sergeant sat still, watching the new customers’ performance. His hands rested placidly on the wooden front counter as he drawled out slowly. “And you are?”
Lord Der Ärzte’s eyebrow rose dangerously high. “Lord Harold Ersteg Boren Der Ärzte. Let me assure you, good fellow,” his lordship took a long, deep nasal breath, “if you just hop up and go get Burty, he will sort this little issue out in a flick of a lamb’s tail. Now there’s a good chap.”
The Desk Sergeant took his time writing his customer’s name down in his neatest handwriting. “And Burty is?” He paused with the nib only slightly elevated from his crisp white page.
The Desk Sergeant’s counter was repeatedly tapped with his Lordship’s gold and opal alumni ring, “Bertrude Grose-Perucke, Police Commandant and very good school chum of mine.”
Desk Sargeant painstakingly wrote the name down and then sluggishly looked up into his customer’s wide blue eyes. “Commandant Grose-Perucke doesn’t work here as a rule. In fact, I don’t think he even knows our little station exists. So, my poncy lad, I also doubt his high and mighty self would get off his high and might backside to come down here and deal with your little lowly issue. And if your gold ring touches my counter once more, I shall rip it off ya little pinky and shove it up ya toffy nose.”
It had to be said that there was a certain type of freedom given to an officer who was only one month out from retirement!
To his credit and the desk sergeant’s surprise, his Lordship did not get angry or vindictive. He simply did as anyone from his station in life would do. He ignored the annoying little man behind the counter and looked around for someone with more stripes on his arm.
Unfortunately for Captain Kupfer, he had more stripes.
“Yes, you, man!”
“No, there’s no need to turn your back on me.”
“The one with the duck in his hand.”
“Yes, I’m looking at you.”
“No, don’t try to chase the duck under the table and hide; I know you’re there.”
“That’s Captain Kupfer.” Announced the highly amused Desk Sargeant. His smile only increased as a dagger-loaded death stare was sent directly to his heart by the scruffy Captain, who rose slowly from the floor. “He’s trying to deal with a postal duck.”
Lord Der Ärzte blinked in his derailment, “A postal duck, aren’t they called drones?”
“Nah, can’t send no drones down here to Heaven’s Gate ‘cause they all get nicked as soon as enter the breathing space of the delinquents down here. Too much coppa’ in em! People gets five smackers the kilo for coppa. That’s a fortnight’s wage for the likes of me!”
“My, how odd!” Lord Der Ärzte was learning new things about the lower class every day.
“How can I help you, sir?” was mumbled resentfully before Kupfer then addressed the Desk Sergeant. “Sergeant, look after that express delivery duck; make sure she don’t assault the station’s cat… again. Young Constable Blushers asked far too many embarrassing questions, and I haven’t had the time to go and get the Birds and Bees for the Painfully Stupid but Interested Youth pamphlet from Mother Harper yet.”
His Lordship was totally absorbed in the antics displayed by the working class and had to resist taking out his notebook; instead, he decided to bring things to a head. “Captain, I have a package of fingers in my pocket that needs to be examined. I sent word to Burty to ensure I could use your rather large microscope.”
“You’ve got fingers in ya pocket?” The Captain casually reached under the counter ever so slowly for the shotgun, which the Desk Sergeant always kept loaded and secure.
“Yes. Exactly.” Puzzlement wandered across his Lordship’s face.
“What do you plan on doing with the fingers?” Kupfer’s finger was now resting gently on the trigger. “Eat them?”
“Lord Der Ärzte quaffed his sarcastic humour into the surrounding room. “Eat them? Oh yes, indeed.”
“Eat them, you say.” The gun was lifted ever so tenderly from its cradle.
“Well,” his Lordship continued, using sarcasm as his basis for a good old laugh with the lower class, “I was wondering if a nice creamed blue cheese sauce would work, but on second thought, I think I’ll just tell Banks to use a garlic butter pottage.”
The cop shop, to his Lordship’s surprise, had become deathly quiet. This was probably because everyone was pointing their blunderbuss or repeating pistols at him.
“Ahh lovely, we meet at last, Lord Der Ärzte. The Commandant sent a duck to let me know you’d be on your way.” Lieutenant Lucy Ehrlich walked into the high noon front office, a manila folder under her arm and a very pleasing smile on her face, “I think you can relax, Captain. Men, at ease.”
The young blond woman dressed in a street police officer’s uniform, including the mud-splattered brown boots, patted the tense Captain on his shoulder. He’d had a dreadful morning by anyone's standards, especially when dealing with Young Constable Blushers’ puzzled questions.
“Why don’t you pop down to Mother Harpers and get that pamphlet, eh? The fresh air will do you the world of good. Oh, and ask Mother Harper if she’s finished writing ‘Keeping Ya Bits Clean: A Basic How-To for Everyone.’ ”
The Lieutenant smiled at his Lordship, “Shall we go down to the morgue, your Lordship and check your little collection out?” She turned and summoned the two biggest constables in the room to follow her.”
By anyone’s standard, Lieutenant Ehrlich was an unusual woman. She was not beautiful, nor was she plain. Her green eyes were pretty in the right light and in the right shadow, her jawline wasn’t too strong. She wasn’t masculine, nor was she overly feminine. However, to the surprise of some, she was very smart, quick-witted and an even-minded, inspiring leader. Even if she were a woman!
Lieutenant Ehrlich’s police officers were kept alive and safe in an industry that didn’t promote longevity. They were healthy, fed nutritional food and expected to remain fit and active – except for Desk Sargeants, who were close to retiring. The other interesting thing about this new police force was how the Lieutenant ensured the police officer’s families were provided with clean housing, their children sent to school whether they liked it or not, and the wives were offered small filing jobs to keep on top of their husband's paperwork.
For a police officer… this ‘having a leader who cared’ was an unusual state of things.
Because of this caring approach, most criminals who tried to bribe one of Ehrlich’s mob soon found out upon meeting her that she preferred tea with milk and two sugars and was quite partial to a light fruit cake.
They also found out that if they tried to bribe one of her mob a second time, the cells in her stations were quite clean and modern.
If they were of the inkling to try for a third bribe attempt, they then found out how the cells were kept so sparkling clean. That was after they’d spent some time in Mother Harper’s Home for the Sick, Pregnant, and Chronically Stupid, recovering from being hit by a big stick that just appeared out of nowhere on the dark walk home one night.
Lieutenant Ehrlich was in an enviable position. The Council of Five owed her a debt, and she saw to it that they paid upfront every month.
“Lord Der Ärzte watched her very closely as she walked along the corridor leading to the morgue. His interest stood to attention whilst holding a very expensive box of chocolates along with twelve long-stemmed red roses.
The Morgue lived up to its purpose if its purpose were to be cold, dank and horribly eerie.
“Have your people not paid your electricity bill lately?” His Lordship did not enjoy shadowy environments.
“The morgue doesn’t have electricity, your Lordship. When the ‘Last Dragon’ attacked last year, she targeted most public buildings, ensuring the city couldn’t afford to rebuild or reassemble all its public buildings to be in a warm, dry and sanitary state straight away.” Lieutenant Ehrlich held the only candle as she opened the door to the station’s morgue. “And plus, your honour, the dead don’t care if it’s light or not.”
“Yes, well,” murmured his Lordship, “I care, and I like to see, especially if there are dead people around.”
The Lieutenant smiled, waiting patiently as his Lordship stood at the morgue’s double doors.
“I know the Council of Five, you know.”
“Yes, your honour, as do I.”
“Sangre De Ventosa is a… friend of mine.” A nervous little heel bob appeared from his Lordship.
“That’s nice.” Lieutenant Ehrlich continued to smile blandly as her two towering coppers stood watching his Lordship bob up and down.
“Beatrix is a dear friend as well.”
To this, the Lieutenant only gave a small nod and smile in acknowledgement.
“They asked me to give them some money to help out after the ‘Last Dragon’ incident, and Mother suggested it would be a way to de-clog the banking system a bit if we got rid of some of the capital, and since I like to have clean hands and don’t want anything to clog anything and then be put into a position where I have to clean it up, I said to Sangy certainly my dear boy have what you like.”
Externally, Lieutenant Ehrilich’s blond eyebrow raised slightly, “Well, that’s interesting; thank you for telling me.” Internally, her mind began writing a list of requests for the new police department since the ‘Council of Five’ now seemed to have an endless pocket at hand. “Shall we, your Lordship?”
As they walked through two white swinging doors and into Heaven’s Gate’s white-tiled morgue, the cleanest morgue in Bone Valley, the room lit up under the influence of gas lamps.
The Lieutenant proudly swung her dark blue and slightly worn uniformed arm towards the middle of the room where the large brass and glass microscope took pride in place. “Please, Lord Der- Ärzte, open your package up and place them on the viewing deck. Let’s see all those lovely fingers you’ve been sent.”
The Lieutenant watched as the tall, thin and dark-haired man who walked like a flamingo but seemed to have the attitude he was an eagle inspected the microscope with glee. A smile grew under his pencil-thin moustache, showing a full set of very clean white teeth.
She’d heard about Der Ärzte and his weird family. Money so old it bred itself. He owned most of the banks in the greater part of Bone Valley and its surrounding shires. Half the city’s buildings belonged to him, and he knew people who knew people and those he didn’t know wanted to know him. His mother apparently was a force to be reckoned with if crossed and had the reputation of being a right old harpy. But, funnily enough, no one had a bad word to say about him or her.
‘Yes, he was a toff. Yes, his mother terrified the very willies out of everyone. Yes, he was spoilt. Yes, she was a harpy. Yes, he was weird and odd in an off-kilter kind of way. But every one of his suppliers, business partners, charities and employees, from his bankers to his maids, had nothing but praise for Lord Der Ärzte. “
The Lieutenant smiled as his Lordship looked through the big magnifying glass, praising its clarity.
Often, when interviewed, the statement ‘Yes, he’s a bit of a pillock, but he has the best of intentions and always tries his hardest’ was given.
But then, there was one statement that had stuck with the Lieutenant.
She had reread her notes a number of times.
It was from a housemaid who worked at his Lordship's country manor. The maid had fallen and then nine months later found out what happens when you do. Instead of His Lordship sending her to the workhouse, she was set up with a room big enough for her and her son. Given full pay and allowed to wait till the baby was a year old before she started back at work with the child on her hip or playing at her feet.
When asked if the child was his Lordship, the maid laughed and said his Lordship was too shy to go play in the mud, so no.
Because she was so curious, the Lieutenant had asked further why his Lordship had shown such care for a housemaid, to which his employee had replied. “It’s because his Lordship learnt the hard way to value kindness and respect.” After that, the maid had said if the Lieutenant wanted to know anything more about her Master, then she would have to ask him in writing.
Lord Der Ärzte withdrew the brown paper parcel and placed it centrally under the microscope’s colossal lens.
“I have spoken to a number of your household staff and suppliers, your Lordship.”
“Yes, I know you were up at the country house about three months ago, just after we packed up and came back to the city. How is Mary’s little boy? I must make the time to go up and check up on young Thomas; I’ve got the train set he was asking for.”
After a quick pause, Lucy responded quietly, “He’s well, your Lordship. If you’d like to follow me.”
The three coppers and his Lordship climbed up the rickety wrought iron ladder to the viewing platform.
“Well, this Mori Tarty has definitely cut off an impressive number of digits. I’m very impressed. We’ll have a fine banquet tonight!” His lordship quaffed again and was disappointed once more when no one laughed at his high-class dry wit.
The younger of the two police took one look through the viewer and fainted on the spot.
Lord Der Ärzte looked down at the recumbent young man who was now flat on his back and off with the fairies, “Corporal Blusher, I presume.”
The older officer, who’d been around for a while and consequently seen a few things, nodded with a wry smile and took a closer look through the large lens.
“You actually gonna eat this guv’nor?”
His Lordship sighed; why did the lower class find it so hard to grasp his sense of humour?
“Why would I eat these fingers? I can afford a nice cut of meat!”
The older officer smirked towards his Lieutenant, who rolled her eyes. “Well, good ta know cause if you did plan on eating them, I’d have a bucket right handy so that you can puke ‘em straight back up and then get ya self a bed booked at Mother Harpers. These Lil buggers are poisonous. Apart from looking like a zombie’s hand, they’re called Dead Man’s Fingers for another very good reason.”
Lord Der Ärzte looked into the lens and smiled, “Ha! And Mother said the National Geographic magazine subscription was a waste of money.” He stepped back from the viewing glass and began tapping his lip in concentration with one long manicure finger. “Why would anyone send me fake finger mushrooms if their only purpose was to poison me?” He raised a quizzical eye to the amused Lieutenant. “That’s not a very nice thing to do!”
“Is it because you’re really filthy rich, and someone wants all your money?”
“No, that can’t be the reason.”
“Well, your Lordship, I would, at a guess, suggest then that someone finds you annoying and wants to frighten or kill you!” The Lieutenant smiled and examined the brown paper in which the deadly mushrooms were delivered.
“Oh, poppycock Lieutenant, I’m delightful. I’ve been told this by Mother on many occasions!”
The Lieutenant's eyebrow raised, “Really! Have you any enemies, your Lordship?”
The Lieutenant pressed the issue. “Are you definitely positive no one finds you incredibly annoying, spoilt, senseless, over-indulged, monotonous, pampered beyond belief, mollycoddled, cossetted, out of touch with reality or spoilt rich?”
His Lordship firmly stated. “No! And I don’t know why people keep asking me these types of questions. It looks though, Lieutenant, I must put my intellect to the test and hunt this hidden mysterious nemesis down.”
“Well, your honour. Mori Tarty works on Lovers Lane, just off Privates Square.” The Lieutenant pointed to the package’s sender’s label.
“Oh, a clue! Huzzah Lieutenant. You know you’re very clever for a woman; just look how quickly we zero in on solving this dastardly mystery.”
“Yes, your honour.” The Lieutenant smirked. “Would you like us to call around and speak to Mr Tarty?”
“No, Lieutenant, Banks and I will pay him a little visit!”
“Right, you are, sir.”
“But one thing before I leave, Lieutenant Ehrlich, one burning question which by answering you may be able to cast light upon the unknown darkness, helping me to move to a solution at rapid speed. One question that almost acts like a key to unlocking this dastardly mystery. One question which will place me onto the path of investigation and glory.”
“Yes, your Lordship.”
“I have no idea where any of these poorly named streets are. Do you have a street map I can borrow?
About the Creator
I have a dark sense of humour, which pervades most of what I write. I'm dyslexic, which pervades most of what I write. My horror work is performed by Mark Wilhem / Frightening Tales. Pandora's Box of Infinite Stories is growing on Substack