Lord Der Ärzte - Gentleman Detective - How Coffee and Chocolate Almonds can be used as interrogation tools.
In which more fingers for his Lordship are dug up and where his Lordship highlights the passive nature of gerbils and, thankfully, good coffee has no legs.
Chapter 6 – Coffee and Chocolate Almonds.
A shaft of lightning smacked the ground in a resonating roar, illuminating the graveyard into an eery half-shadowed glow.
A banshee-like wail of “It’s a sign!” erupted, piercing the darkness, then echoed across the grey headstones, reverberating back and forth.
Whispered irritation emerged from a freshly dug grave, “Will you shu’ up!”
Wrapped in a mud-stained cloak, Boris West, a local lad from Boot and Leg Lane who, up until this point, had only been accused of some five-finger discounting, looked up with wide, glassy eyes to the inky night sky. A dreadful feeling of impending doom gripped his slightly stained heart in its cold, clammy hands as the moon shone out from its clouded shroud.
Looking down into the freshly dug… he had to think of it as a hole as the word grave was too much for his poor nerves to cope with, he mumbled with wracked tensions. “This is wrong, Barry; this is so very, very wrong. We’ll pay dearly, you know! Pay with our lives.”
The shovelling stopped as the head of Barry (another local five-finger discounter from Boot ‘n Leg) popped his head out of the hole, hissing harshly, “Think of the money, ya stupid plonka. Think of all the lovely, lovely money we’re gonna get when we hand over these fresh fingers to ‘is Lordship!”
Raging anxiety rang through every one of Boris’s words as he neared tears, “Barry, we shouldn’t be doing this. If the coppers find us here, we’re done for! I’ve heard disturbing fings about that lady coppa! An I ain’t going down for no grave robb’n!”
“We ain’t robb’n no graves. We’s just digging around in the dirt near ‘em. So, shu’ up and keep a lookout, ya plonka.” Barry bobbed his head back into the grave, muttering his complaints to every shovel load of wet loam that went flying out of the hole.
“What if Muv’va Har’pa hears? Ooo, she’ll be cross! Look what happened when she got cross last time.”
With the old witch in his mind, Boris pulled his woollen hood down lower, ensuring it covered his features before he nervously began once more to pace around the open grave. Every high-strung step kicked dirt back into the rectangular hole and consequently into Barry’s face.
“Will you shu up! Muv’va Har’pa, she don’ know were ‘ere, an’ I doubt she would give a sparrow’s fart abou’ we’re doin’. So, shut up an’ frow me down the rope so we can pull the bucket up and get the hell outta here!”
Barry was determined to hit pay dirt, and he didn’t care who he had to hit with the back of his shovel to find it.
“Banks! BANKS! There’s a policeman, and he’s ringing my bell. Set the dogs onto ‘em. Banks!” Lady Der Ärzte bellowed like a common street fishmonger, “Banks, he’s ringing my bell really hard. He keeps putting his great big finger on the nub! BANKS”
“Mother, please stop your constant diatribe! Your turn of word is highly disturbing to my sensibility.” His Lordship rustled most furiously the Epoch newspaper. He really did enjoy reading it from cover to cover, but to have an opportunity to do so in silence and undisturbed seemed to forever escape him.
“And may I add,” his Lordship added with an overflowing tone of frustration as he looked over one corner of the large paper, “hopefully for the last time! We do not have any dogs. Nor cats, thanks to Banks. And, for further clarification, Mother, the one and only pet you ever allowed me to own was my Mongolian Gerbil, and I don’t think poor Mr. Wigglynose had an ounce of ferocity in its tiny little soul.”
The lace curtain was parted so her Ladyship could clearly eyeball the nervous police officer who stared back at her, his hand half raised towards the door’s double-headed knocker.
Her Ladyship cleared her lungs at full upper-crust volume. “If you so much as touch my knockers or ring my bell once more, I shall write a letter to Burty’s Mama and have you strapped into leathers and whipped with my riding crop!”
The officer blushed bright red.
“Oh, for goodness sake, Mother, listen to what you’re saying. Think before you bellow.” His Lordship sharply folded his paper, placing it on his lap; he then pulled his green velvet smoking jacket back into place. “You know, without a doubt, that you would not leather and whip that police officer, who probably has a very important message for me, simply because your riding leathers and crops, as you well know, are still at High-Hill House.”
His Lordship gently removed his reading glasses, placing them into his breast pocket before he took a deep breath and roared, “BANKS GET THE DAMN DOOR!”
“Sorry to disturb you, Lord Der Ärzte, remember me, Number 66, Sargent G. Ramsey.”
The middle-aged officer looked around Lord Der Ärzte’s ornate office. There were books galore, strange brass and glass mechanical devices, jars of multi-hued powders and a range of magnifying glasses. It was almost too difficult to drag his eyes away from the modelled buildings, taxidermy, and dragon hide, but he had his duty, “We’ve caught two suspicious characters who say they’re your associates.”
“Officer, as you well know, I know a lot of people. Could you please be more specific?”
Sargent Ramsey smiled. “They are described as follows. One Barry West of Boot n’ Leg Lane and one Boris West also of Boot n’ Leg. Both itinerant workers who have apparently been employed by yourself to acquire a large number of deadly mushrooms.”
Lord Der Ärzte sat quietly behind his desk, twirling a large magnifying glass in his hand. A smirk appeared on Der Ärzte’s face. “And I am dreadfully sorry to inform you, but I don’t know of whom you are speaking. But I would like to make a clarifying statement.”
Sargent Ramsey licked the end of his pencil and waited for his Lordship to continue.
“Well, Sargent, I don’t know what to say other than the full truth. So far today, I’ve been accused by a dead man who went into the police station to lay an accusation that I murdered him. Which, by his very actions, make his accusation ridiculous. And now you are here accusing me of employing two men, of whom I have no knowledge, to collect the very mushroom genus that Mr Tarty, the very man accusing me of murdering him, sent me himself in the hopes of killing me.”
Sargent Ramsey finished writing his Lordships statement down. “That sounds a bit roundy to my ears, your Lordship. But they were very clear when they gave your name, and I quote. “Yeah, he’s a tall skinny bloke with piercing blue eyes which pierce you and has a knobby way of speaking cause he’s a huge knob is his Lordship Harold Der Ärzte.”
His Lordship gently placed his magnifying glass down onto his red leather ink blotter and measured his words carefully, which for his Lordship was quite an unusual event.
“Sargent, I could say to you that my butler is an incubus with a dreadful guilt complex. The only way he can acquire nourishment is by sucking the very life out of his victims, and when doing so, he rejuvenates from an old withered geriatric into a young and vibrant man. But, he feels so wracked with guilt in doing so that he always waits until he is at death's door with incontinence knickers being waved about before he chooses a victim of such poor nature or deed that they deserve his attention.”
Sargent Ramsey stood still, his pencil wet and poised.
“But in doing so, Sargent, I would be talking a LOAD OF POPPY COCK!” His Lordship settled himself down as his yell still reverberated around the cornices of his office.
“Just as these two miscreants are talking an absolute load of nonsense. I do not, nor have I ever met these men. Nor do I wish to purchase, acquire or come across the mushroom ubiquitously known as ‘Dead Man’s Fingers’ ever again. I am still recovering from the last visit to your station, and Mother Harper said not to do anything strenuous for the next couple of weeks. So, murder and fungi collecting are off my platter of plans.”
The Sergeant placed his pencil on his notebook’s page, “How do you spell you-bick-you-us, your ‘onour?”
“I didn’t do nuffing. You can’t point those fingers at me. I didn’t even touch em!”
“Would you like a cup of coffee?” was the only response from the police Lieutenant seated opposite the terrified and now belligerent Boris.
“What real coffee?”
“Yes, the high council sends it down to us as a…” The Lieutenant’s green eyes crinkled at each corner as she smiled. “Well, I guess as a job well done.”
“What real high council coffee, not cockroach shells dried and ground up?”
“No. What an awful thought.” Lieutenant Ehrlich screwed up her fine-boned face.
“You’se can always tell, 'cause the leg’s they always floats to the top once you stir it with ya finga!” Boris looked into the warm cup filled to the brim with hot, dark essence.
“Stir away, my good fellow, stir away.”
The Lieutenant watched as Boris dipped a grimy finger in and swirled the coffee about. She relaxed back into her chair after a smile of wonderment grew on his face from taking his first sip of real coffee.
“Why are you’se treating us so nice?”
Lieutenant Ehrlich looked at the brighter of the pair, “Well, Barry…” she flipped over the manilla folder in front of her, which held all of Barry’s details. “You two haven’t been in much trouble for Boot n’Leg boys, but you both say you working for Lord Der Ärzte.”
Sergeant Ramsey’s notes were double-checked, ensuring she had read them correctly.
“Even though he denies knowing you. And yet my officers pick you up outside of ‘Old Bones Cemetery’ just off Long Stride Road, and in your possession, you had a… casket.”
“We did’n have no casket. Whatever that copper’s try’n to pin on us, they’re lying. We had a coffin, not a casket!” Boris nodded his righteous head towards Barry, who rolled his eyes.
“Jus’ drink ya coffee Boris. A casket is just a fancy word for coffin.” Barry raised his knowledge eyebrow towards the seated officer.
Ehrlich gave a warm smile in return. “I do apologise. Thank you for clarifying that. Would you like some chocolate almonds?”
“Who’s an almond?” Boris looked suspiciously into the ceramic bowl, which held a small collection of chocolate cover almonds, another gift from the high council to the station.
“It’s a tree nut.”
“Trees don’ have nuts; they have flowers and fruit an …an bees n stuff.”
One of Ehrlich’s trusted men smirked and swallowed his giggle into a cough.
“Think of them as the seed from the almond tree. People just call them nuts because it’s easier to say.” Ehrlich watched as the two grimy men looked into the bowl once more.
“Ah, couldn’t ya wash the shiny poop off 'em first before giving ‘em to us?” Barry looked up, “We mays be poor, but we hav’s our standards, just like the likes of you’se!”
The constable standing at the door made his excuses and went outside the interview room to have a good hack and cough.
Ehrlich smiled, “Not that’s chocolate. It’s a delicious roasted seed paste mixed with sugar and milk.”
Barry and Boris carefully placed one each into their mouths, and after a second or two, the rest went in their pockets for laters.
The Lieutenant picked up her quill; the folder was turned to a new page. “What were you doing outside the Cemetery with a coffin, lads?”
“We was filling it up with fingers!” Boris drank happily from his coffee.
“That’s right, mate. That’s exactly what we was doing. We was cutting fingers off for his Lordship.” Barry raised his cup and drank the last of his brew.
“Why did his Lordship ask you to do that?”
“Oh, he’s a right clever’n that Lordship; he said he’s gonna get down and dirty with the fingers so he can brew ‘em up and make a medicine for all the poor people's woes!”
“Did he now? Well… describe Lord Harold Der Ärzte to me, will you boys.”
Barry scratched his dirty chin with his dirty fingers, so all in all, he just pushed the dirt around. “Well, his Lordship has dark hair which is always slicked down all short back and sides, then he’s very tall, he’s got bright blue eyes, he’s very clean, dresses like a ponce in really richy clothes ‘n all and has a moustache, which why he bover’s wiv it I dunno, betta ta just draw it on in the morning. But I guess he finks it looks good when he has a ciggy and blows the smoke in ya face. Disgusting habit!”
“Oh well, then that sort’s it. It wasn’t Lord Der Ärzte you were speaking to, but rather an imposter trying to either frame or kill one of the richest men in Bone Valley!”
Barry and Boris looked up wide-eyed before Barry spoke up. “Got any cheese?”
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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