Part 3—A Propitious Return

Continued from The Gentleman Caller.

◊ ◊ ◊

Martin Freeman, John WatsonThe train from Penrith left on schedule, which meant they found no time for lunch.  Once settled in their seats, John heard his stomach complain.  Breakfast at Hedgehog Hill seemed ages ago.

“I need a sandwich,” he said.  “You want anything?”

“No.  Thank you,” Sherlock muttered, then looked at him.  His eyebrow rose when he noticed the laptop.  “What’s this one—The Adventure of the Ruptured Boil?  The Tell-Tale Abscess?

“Those aren’t half-bad,” John said, ignoring the sarcasm.  “I thought more along the lines of The Mystery of the Blue Carbuncle.”

“Good, God,” Sherlock scoffed, turning back to the window.

Dismissed.  John smiled, heading toward the dining car.  Until he needs a pen.

A few travelers lingered over empty soup bowls and early cocktails, but John had the car mostly to himself.  After ordering an outrageously expensive soda and club sandwich, he opened the laptop and began listing the details of the case in Keswick.  Once he got those down, he’d go back later and flesh them out.

Music played quietly in the car.  John didn’t notice—he was too engrossed in getting the events in their proper order.  But when he stopped to gobble the sandwich, the music tapped him on the shoulder.  Eva Cassidy.  I Know You By Heart.

He listened for a moment, smiling, then pulled out his phone.  “The Universe is conspiring,” he muttered, keying Mary’s number.

“Hello, you,” she said with a familiarity that made him sit up straighter.  She must have tagged his number and saved it.  His smile widened.

“We’re on the train back to town,” he said, “and Eva Cassidy just came on the overhead.”

“And you thought of me?”  Her voice squeaked as it rose.

“Of course.”

“Are… are you done with your… your case?”

He could hear her scrambling to cover her reaction, something John knew about all too well.  He imagined she might be blushing, which gave him an inordinate amount of pleasure.  So much so that he missed her next question.

“Sorry.  What?”

“I said, did you solve it, like Miss Marple?”

“Hang on.  Make us a bit more dashing.  Gibbs and DiNozzo from your NCIS, at least.”

“Okay, Agent DiNozzo, did you BookEmDano?”

John laughed.  “Toss in the CIA and MI5, and you’ll have all crime-fighting covered.”

“I notice you’re not answering my questions.  Does that mean you can’t?”

“Have I mentioned how astute you are?”

“Yes.”  She paused.  “Well, if you can’t tell me about it, if Interpol would drag you away or something, can you at least say if everything turned out okay?”

“Yes, it did.”

“You and your flatmate—no bullet holes or knife wounds?”

“We are giddy with good health.”

Mary laughed.

“What about you?” John asked.  “How’s the bruising?”

“Colorful.  Comprehensive.  I can’t wait for you to see it.”

“Well, then, shall we have dinner tonight?”


“Too sudden?  Not enough warning?”

“No, no.  I know a great curry house.  The owners are friends of mine.  They’ll take good care of us.”

“All right.  Where is it?”

“It’s in Farringdon, but a little out of the way.”

“Oh.  That’s just a hop in the Tube from our flat.  Text me directions and I’ll find it.”

“Okay, Poirot,” she said doubtfully, “but don’t blame me if you get lost.”

“Keep your mobile handy, just in case.  Say, 7:30?”

“Perfect.  John?”


“I’m glad you’re safe.”

“So am I.  I’ll see you soon.”

Watson pocketed his phone and looked up to see Sherlock standing by the table.

Good, John thought, his appetite’s coming back.

He pushed the untouched half of his sandwich to the other side of the table.  Sherlock sat down and fixed him with his patented you-are-an-amoeba-that-defies-classification expression.

“What?” John sighed.

“Don’t tell me you’ve resorted to knocking women down in order to date them.”

John pursed his lips.  “When shooting them doesn’t work, yes.”

As he had hoped, that shut up the great Consulting Detective, and he enjoyed the rest of the ride back to London in peace.

To Read Part 4—An Evening’s Embarrassment, click here.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Littlesundog
    Oct 26, 2013 @ 20:41:37

    I’m hooked… I can’t wait for the next installment!!


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