Chapter 4: In the Spotlight
The most deceptive fact is the obvious one. A mantra Sherlock always kept in mind. Most people would have drawn a false conclusion from the facts about him. Sherlock Holmes was 23 years of age, lived alone in a rented flat in Baker Street. He took the crowded bus full of students every morning to get to university. Yet, Sherlock wasn’t a student. Not that he hadn’t tried to be or lacked the resources. No, there was simply no subject that could hold Sherlock’s interest for longer than a mere two months. Getting all this information filtered through the tired voice of a professor that had to cough up the same bits if trivia every semester had killed his interest in academic courses. That is why, soon after his fifth attempt at sticking with a subject, he took a job at the university library. Now able to get all the information unfiltered through endless hours of reading. Of course, no one in the crowded bus thought twice about his identity and so the conundrum of Sherlock’s circumstances remained unnoticed.
After having left the crime scene and he contemplated this little curiosity that would forever remain unnoticed in the bus and made his way back to the library. His supervisor Mrs Blackmoore knew about his detective endeavors and was delighted to hear about them every time. That was also the reason she didn’t mind her favourite employee being called away every now and then, since it usually meant he would return with more fascinatingly gruesome stories of real murderers, their sliced up victims, and the exciting thrill of chasing down the killer. It should go without saying that Mrs Blackmoore was a sucker for this sort of entertainment and Sherlock was, in her mind at least, better than any psycho-thriller she could pick up at a bookstore.
After being freed from the tuna tin that was the bus to campus. Sherlock ran up the stairs and into the backrooms of the library. He quickly changed into a more presentable outfit he kept two or three versions of in the library. Sherlock didn’t care much for his own looks as he never understood the importance of appearances. For him they served no other function than to project a different person onto his usually dislikable and antisocial canvas. More suited for society than he usually was by a long haul. But when Mrs Blackmoore kindly asked him to wear something a little less shabby Sherlock complied, if only under a bit of protest. After having put on his straight-jacket, at least that’s how he felt in it, he went back to the front desk. Mrs Blackmoore was already keen to hear his morning-murder story and greeted him with an all too enthusiastic: “Good morning, dear!” Sherlock replied in a similar fashion albeit be it with less smiling and friendliness sprinkled over his words.
“Who died Sherlock and how?” Mrs Blackmoore asked eagerly.
“I haven’t even settled down or gotten a tea and you already want to talk about murder and bloodshed.” Sherlock said with the trace of a smile. Both of them knew he was faking his anger. He loved to tell her about it just as much as she loved hearing it. And so he told her the story about the poor Dr Hooper and the status of the investigation. Sherlock did not care for the standard procedure of keeping information about ongoing investigations to himself. Firstly, because he wasn’t really into following rules altogether and second, because the good old lady was like a cheap gossip magazine, no one would take her serious anyway. Mrs Blackmoore soaked up every word like a sensation starved sponge. After bringing his story to an end with the occasional interruption of a student returning a book, they talked a bit about the schedule for the week and other bits of interesting information which, in Mrs Blackmoore’s case; meant the worst gossip she could pick up. This was more a less the work routine Sherlock had endured for the last 2 years.
It was getting late and Sherlock was about to leave as Mrs Blackmoore brought something up:
“Sherlock, dear I know you always tell me how you analyse your crime scenes and all that and I have been getting a bit into it as well.”
“Do you want to create some competition for me then?” Sherlock said with a slightly mocking tone.
“No, no, you know I could never do that with all the blood and evil people lurking about. But I noticed something as well. See, there is this girl and she always returns her books.”
“They tend to do that, not just girls. Sometimes boys as well.” Sherlock said as he threw over his coat.
“Oh, let me finish. You know the one, the girl with the greasy hair and clothes that are about three sizes too big for her. She is like a clockwork. She comes in every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at the exact same time. But last week when you were away on that case she didn’t show up at all. Not once” Mrs Blackmoore said.
Sherlock stopped for a moment and considered her remarks. Of course, had been aware of this girl. It was hard not to notice her with her rather unfeminine clothes in this shoreless sea fashion victims. But that little extra information was intriguing indeed.
“Well, can’t do anything about that, can I? Maybe she is just unhappy with the way you serve her.” Sherlock said with a chuckle.
“Go home already.” Mrs Blackmoore replied and also started to giggle a little.
Sherlock pushed the door open and went outside. The cold air blew into his face so he wrapped his coat a bit tighter and started to make his way towards the parking lot.
In this dark cave Sherlock leaned next to a car that was obviously not his. Not that he could not have afforded it, but Sherlock did not know how to drive. He had never bothered and would not bother in the near future. After some time a man came down into the parking lot and unlocked the car. He was about 35 years of age, but appeared much older due to the way he dressed. His suit was that of an old gentleman, not a university professor. He wore his brown hair short and his beard neatly confined to a light mustache. His eyes were framed by thick glasses. The man gave off an aura of welcoming warmth wherever he came.
“You are late.” Sherlock said with a slightly annoyed tone.
“You know how these office hours go. They simply won’t leave.” The man replied.
Sherlock did no reply, but merely gave him a look of understanding.
Both of them got in the car and drove the first half in complete silence. During his ride home Sherlock kept looking at the text message he had received after the crime scene investigation. He had long been wondering when the first move would be made. Maybe Sherlock had started to believe the man didn’t really exist. After all the rumors were inconsistent to say the least. It wasn’t every day that one got recognized by the most dangerous man in the world.
“What do you keep staring at?” The man asked with an inquisitive tone.
“Just got some interesting news today. I might actually be a step closer to our friend.” Sherlock said with his gaze fixed in the distance. The man’s expression changed from baffled to happily surprised.
“That is good news then. Want to drop by tomorrow to discuss the details?” Sherlock was shaken out of his thoughts by the request.
“S-sure, why not. I’ll come over during lunch tomorrow.”
“Lovely, by the way. We are here.” Outside the car the plate of the Baker Street was visible and Sherlock grabbed his bag from the footwell.
“See you tomorrow.” The man said with a pleasant smile.
Sherlock gave him a nod. “Until tomorrow, John.”
The car drove off and Sherlock was left standing in front of his home. The black door with the number 221 was shining in the light of the few lampposts. He did not enter, however, since he could clearly deduce that something was rather wrong with this entire situation. The lights in his apartment were turned on. And an occasional shadow kept moving past the windows.