The Adventure of the Takimo Ten
– A Sherlock Holmes Story
It was a strange note: “Meet me in The Volunteer at 19:00”
Holmes had never been one for frequenting the local taverns, so I naturally assumed that there was some clue or other to investigate. But on arrival he seemed remarkably relaxed and – I shudder at the memory – proceeded to indulge in what can only be described as idle chit-chat. My first thought was that this was the unhappy result of a dalliance with some new mind-bending narcotic solution, so I resolved to accompany my friend until his worryingly convivial trip came to an end.
The inn was cramped with well-dressed imbibers; the tables awash with empty glasses. After a swift libation of our own, Holmes tilted his head towards the door and strode off decisively down Baker Street. A short session – thank goodness, I thought. But alas, it wasn’t to be. Holmes eagerly entered the very next public house we came across, a certain Metropolitan Bar. In this establishment the patrons were in full evening garb, whereas Holmes, in another off-character move, had opted for a dazzlingly orange raincoat made of the queerest modern fabric. A disguise, perhaps? No, his mind was far too befogged for that.
The evening deteriorated in a structured sort of way. Holmes would order us a couple of ales and no sooner had the empty tankards kissed the tabletops we would race out to the next house of debauchery. He insisted I match him drink for drink so I am ashamed to say that my memory of the evening dims slightly towards midnight. However, the final climactic event on the Jubilee line remains as clear as a Scottish loch in my mind.
Our tavern trawl took in The Globe, The Beehive and The Barley Mow, via a rather well-to-do venue that I could have sworn bore the name The Sherlock Holmes Hotel. At this point I began to wonder if I was the one under the influence of some evil vegetable alkaloid. My distinguished friend may be well known in these parts, but to have a hotel named after him? Preposterous. It was here that Holmes took up a crazed but virtuosic discourse on the art of cryptography that was so enthralling that for a moment I forgot the evening’s strange circumstances. The exorbitant bill for our brace of beers arrived and recalled to me Holmes’ exquisite knowledge of London alcohol prices, which had proved so profitable in locating Mr. Moulton in The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor. But soon we were outside again, barrelling ever onwards down Baker Street, a heavy mist descending upon my brain.
It was in the Barley Mow that I began to doubt my initial assumption that Holmes had taken too large a dose of opiates. A youngish woman – Verity, as she coquettishly disclosed – offered both of us a drink. It became clear that we had intruded upon her birthday celebrations when she brazenly invited us to guess her age. Though drunk, I assumed the usual form, and, judging her age to be thirty-one, I subtracted five, offering a bashful twenty-six. Holmes followed suit with twenty-seven. A look of frozen anguish transfigured her face as she murmured, utterly crestfallen: “twenty-two”. Now, forgetting for a moment this painful faux pas, how or why did Holmes, master of deduction, commit such an error? Unless something was seriously afoot, he would never miss a chance to show off his unmatched reasoning skills. I shot him a penetrating stare which, for a moment, seemed to sharpen his senses. But a second later he emptied his glass and hastened out of the door, leaving me to offer a weak smile of apology to the deflated Verity.
Stumbling into the mysteriously named Bok Bar, we met a most exotic-haired woman who, according to a local, had never let the hand of any man sully her beauteous locks with its touch. Alighting on a way to impress this local, and Holmes, I cautiously approached the sylph and told her that I was a travelling puppet-maker, looking for the best hair in the land to inspire my next creation. Merely seconds later my hands were wrist-deep in her lustrous mane, flattery having won the day. For a second I thought I saw a spark of envy in Holmes’ eyes.
It was in the last ale-house of the evening, The Marlborough Head, that we met the unfortunate Polish bargirl Ela, who had been abandoned at Heathrow airport a few years previously by a flighty lover. Holmes denied her heartfelt request to track down this deserter – “Frankly, it’s beneath me, Watson. Though I think my jacket made quite the impression on her.” Meanwhile, I was now convinced that Holmes wasn’t, after all, on a drug-fuelled binge; he was acting the part of a drunk – albeit very methodically – but he had a larger plan in hand, one which he couldn’t divulge to me at present. I decided, not for the first time, to see the hair-brained scheme to its conclusion.
Midnight was almost upon us when Holmes rose for the final time, his eyes gleaming. Grabbing his futuristic orange cape, he ran for the door. I could barely keep up as he descended the stairs of Bond Street station and I just made it into the carriage behind him as the doors to the last train snapped shut. As I attempted to catch my breath, my eyes took in the fellow occupants of the carriage and breathing suddenly became all but impossible. Holmes had sat down with a strange expression on his face: half drunk, half self-satisfied. The occupants of the carriage were none other than the feared Takimo Ten, out of their minds with drink, who had been terrorising Westminster over the last three months. Holmes grinned moronically.
Another case solved by a chain of events too baffling for I to even comprehend. Holmes promised to elucidate the matter after he had slept off the night’s excesses. I am still awaiting the explanation.
Next stop: BALHAM