One afternoon Holmes and I were having tea in the sitting room when our landlady and housekeeper, Mrs. Hudson, opened the door to announce an unexpected visit.
“A man is asking for Sherlock Holmes.”
“He must be an American”, I commented. “Only that can explain that he doesn’t respect tea time.”
“Show him in, Mrs. Hudson”, my friend ordered while lighting his pipe up. “And tell him to leave the clothes down in the hall.”
“Holmes!” I blurted out horrified. “Don’t you intend to receive him naked?!”
“Explain it to this moron, please Mrs. Hudson.”
“The man is loaded with a large bundle of clothes”, she said. “But how have you known it, Mr. Holmes?”
“Why, yes!” I echoed her stupor. “How in the world did you deduce that?!”
“It’s blatantly obvious”, he said petulantly while Mrs Hudson was descending the stairs in search of our mysterious visitor. “Just like you, Watson, Mrs. Hudson considers tea time as something sacred. Unless our visitor carried something of her interest, she wouldn’t even have bothered to open the door. And you know our landlady’s fondness for flea market clothes. That’s why I told her to make him leave the clothes in the hall: so she can browse among those goods.”
“Holmes, you are a genius!” I couldn’t help but exclaim. “They should rename Piccadilly Circus after you!”
At that precise moment the door of the room opened and a man with the appearance of a peddler broke into the room and, without a word, backed up for a running start and, before neither Holmes nor I could do anything, lunged headlong into the wall.
“My goodness!” I said. And overcoming the initial stupor, I rushed to attend our visitor, who lay on the floor motionless. But nothing could be done: he was dead.
Hearing this unfavourable diagnosis, Holmes, who had been paralyzed by the surprise, fell prey to a hysterical giggle that I had never heard him. He looked out of his mind, and I perceived how a suspicious yellowish spot was spreading through his pants from the inner thigh. As my friend did not stop giggling, I was forced, much to my regret, to stop his hysterical reaction by means of a slap that blew his pipe away with such bad fortune that it struck me in the eye. I have delicate eyes, so I couldn’t suppress a yell of pain that shook the window panes. The combination of the slap and my yell made Holmes come to, ceasing to giggle and finally facing the situation in a more sensible way.
“Damn it!”, he said. “We have to get rid of the corpse.”
“What are you saying, Holmes? Do you not intend to notify the police?”
“The police?! Do you want to be hanged?! ”
“Hang us? Why would they hang us? ”
“For the murder of this man.”
Now it was I who giggled nervously.
“Holmes, won’t you be serious? We have had nothing to do with the death of this man. ”
“We wouldn’t be the first innocent people to whom a rope is put around their neck! ”
“Do you insinuate that the police would not accept our version of events? ”
“Not only would they not accept it, but we would had them cracking up and they would even sell tickets for Londoners to hear us tell our version of events. Maybe they would even take us on tour all over England explaining our version of events. There are no comedians who make the public laugh as much as those who tell incredible versions of events pretending they are true.”
I was astounded.
“But Holmes, our version of events is the pure truth!”
“Sometimes, Watson, the truth is so contrary to likelihood, that it’s more prudent to hide it.”
“So, were you serious when you talked about getting rid of the body?”
“I have never spoken more seriously. ”
I had a dizzy spell and had to sit down. Holmes, on the contrary, jumped to his feet and immediately got down to work. He had a trunk in his bedroom that now he was dragging to the sitting room. I watched him as in the fog because I was having a burst of sickness. Suddenly ragdolls started raining throughout the room. I thought I was hallucinating but then the fog dispersed enough to let me see that it was Holmes that was frenetically throwing into the air the content of the trunk (mostly, specimens of that popular ragdoll called Golliwog, with his black skin, frizzy hair, red lips and eyes rimmed in white).
“Do you plan to hide the corpse there?”, I asked.
“You will not want to go around with a dead man in tow, right?”
At this point I lost consciousness.
When I was back to my senses, I found myself inside a hansom cab in the company of Holmes and his trunk. We got off the cab on the outskirts of Clerkenwell and still travelled on foot a few miles loaded with the damn trunk. Finally we stopped in a field surrounded by small hills where half a dozen scary-looking individuals dispersed over there, were digging holes next to which some corpse, or large burlap sack stuffed with a corpse, was waiting to be buried.
Holmes handed me a shovel and we both started digging until we got a hole big enough for the trunk to fit. Then we filled the hole again with dirt and, exhausted by the effort, headed to Clerkenwell where we took a cab back to Baker Street. On the way, Holmes told me that that field was a clandestine cemetery used by the London criminals to get rid of undesirable corpses.