'The Singular Experience of Mr. Giuliano F'
I find it recorded in my notebook that it was a bleak and windy day towards the Eleventh Day of November in the year 2013. Holmes had received an e-mail while we sat at our lunch, and he had thumbed out a reply. He made no remark, but the matter remained in his thoughts, for he stood in front of the fire afterwards with a thoughtful face, smoking his pipe and casting an occasional glance at his iPhone. Suddenly he turned upon me with a mischievous twinkle in his eyes
“I suppose Mr. Moose, we must look upon you as a man of letters”, said he. “How do you define the word 'Grotesque'?”
“Texas Chainsaw 3D”, I suggested
He shook his head at my definition
“There is certainly more to it than that,” said he, “some underlying suggestion of the tragic and terrible. If you cast your mind back to some of those narratives with which you have afflicted a long-suffering public, you will recognize how often the grotesque has deepened into the criminal. The word puts me on the alert.”
“Have you it there?” I asked
He read the e-mail aloud
'Have just had the most incredible and grotesque experience. May I consult you?”
– Mr. Giuliano F., firstname.lastname@example.org
“Will you see him?” I asked
“My dear Moose, you know how bored I am since we locked up Colonel Carruthers. I am ready to look into any new problem, however trivial it may prove. But here, unless I am mistaken, is our client.”
A measured step was heard upon the stairs, and a moment later a stout, tall, jowly and solemnly respectable person was ushered into the room. His life history was written in his heavy features and pompous manner. From his spats to his gold-rimmed spectacles he was a Conservative, a churchman, a good citizen, orthodox and conventional to the last degree. He plunged instantly into his business.
“I have had the most singular and unpleasant experience, Mr. Holmes,” said he. “Never in my life have I been placed in such a situation. It is most improper – most outrageous. I must insist upon some explanation.” He swelled and puffed in his anger.
“Pray sit down, Mr. Giuliano F.,” said Holmes in a soothing voice. “May I ask, in the first place, why you came to me at all?”
“Well, sir, it did not appear to be a matter which much concerned the public, and yet, when you have heard the facts, you must admit that I could not leave it where it was. Private detectives are a class with whom I have absolutely no sympathy, but none the less, having heard your name…”
“Quite so,” said Holmes…”Do go on.”
“I'm sure it must look very bad, Mr. Holmes, and I am not aware that in my whole life such a thing has ever happened before. But I will tell you the whole queer business, and when I have done so you will admit, I am sure, that there has been enough to excuse me.”
But his narrative was nipped in the bud. There was a bustle outside, and Mrs. Hudson opened the door to usher in two angry-looking individuals, one of whom was well known to us as General (Ret.) Rick Hillier, OC, CMM, MSC, CD, an energetic, gallant and capable officer. He shook hands with Holmes and introduced his comrade as Michael L. Blais, CD, formerly of the Royal Canadian Regiment and currently with 'The Canadian Veterans Advocacy'.
“We are hunting together, Mr. Holmes, and our trail lay in this direction.” He turned his bulldog eyes upon our visitor. “Are you Mr. Giuliano F., currently of Parliament Hill, Ottawa?”
“We have been following you about all the morning.”
“But why do you follow me? What do you want?”
“We wish a statement Mr. Giuliano F., as to the events leading up to the medical discharging of disabled combat Veterans shortly before completing the 10 years they need to qualify for a pension, the abandonment of Canadian Veterans under the New Veterans Charter, the death of 158 members of the Canadian Forces who have died as a consequence of war, non-combat injuries and suicide, not including four members who have died in the past week as a result of their service.”
“Dead? Did you say they were Dead?”
“Yes sir, they are dead.”
“Good God! This is awful! You don't mean-you don't mean that I'm suspected?”
“Wait a bit General Hillier,” said Sherlock Holmes. “All you desire is a plain statement, is it not?”
“It is, Mr. Holmes,” said the General, “and it is my duty to warn Mr. Giuliano F. that it may be used against him.”
“Mr. F. was going to tell us about it when you entered the room. I think, Mr. Moose, a brandy and soda would do him no harm. Now, sir, I suggest that you take no notice of this addition to your audience, and that you proceed with your narrative exactly as you would have done had you never been interrupted.”
Our visitor had gulped off the brandy and the colour had returned to his face. With a dubious glance at the two Veterans, he plunged at once into his extraordinary statement
We had all listened intently to this remarkable statement. It was Holmes, leaping up from his chair, who broke the silence
“My first impulse sir, is to drag you and others of your obdurate, sponging ilk, into the street for a sound and very public flogging.”
Then, reverting to the equanimous composure for which he had become famous, he continued
“On the face of it the case is not a very complex one, though it certainly presents some novel and interesting features of utter douchebaggery. A further knowledge of facts is necessary before I would venture to give a final and definite opinion.”
“I am entirely at your service gentlemen,” said Sherlock Holmes, ringing the bell. “You will show these gentlemen out, Mrs. Hudson, and kindly send the boy with this telegram…on second thought, I believe I will e-mail it myself.”
We sat for some time in silence after our visitors had left. Holmes smoked hard, with his brows drawn down over his keen eyes and his head thrust forward in the eager way characteristic of the man.
“Well Moose,” he asked, turning suddenly upon me, “what do you make of it?”
“I can make nothing of this mystification of Mr. Giuliano F., clearly the man is a crawler.”
“But the crime?”
“What is your hypothesis?”
“I have not all my facts yet, but I do think there are insuperable difficulties. Still, it is an error to argue in front of your data. You find yourself insensibly twisting them round to fit your theories.”
An answer had arrived to Holmes e-mail enquiry. Holmes read it and was about to save it to his phone when he caught a glimpse of my expectant face. He tossed it across with a laugh.
“We are moving in exalted circles,” said he.
The e-mail was a list of names and addresses:
Lord Harringby, The Dingle; The Right Honourable… What followed was an inexorable muster call of shame, MP's, Cabinet Ministers, and even up to the Prime Minister himself
Holmes leaned back in his chair with half-closed eyes.
“You must admit my dear Moose, that the idea of a joke is impossible. There are grave events afoot.”
We sat in silence while those fateful eyes still strained to pierce the veil
End of Chapter One
Moose and Wendle
Holmes in Profile – http://www.teleread.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/sherlock-holmes2.jpg
“The Adventure of Wisteria Lodge”
– Sir Arthur Conan Doyle