Scotland Yard suspected that a London druggist dispensed tonics and other remedies adulterated with deadly doses of arsenic to any patron whose hair was slicked with pomade. Eighteen individuals with this profile had died after ingesting a medicine prepared by this druggist named Peter Poisoner. Scotland Yard needed someone to infiltrate as an attendant in Poisoner’s shop, and Inspector Lestrade had mentioned my friend’s name as a detective knowledgeable about the ingredients of druggist’s trade and as someone stupid enough to accept such a dangerous mission.
Effectively, Holmes was quick to accept since that position would give him free access to laudanum, to which my friend was addicted.
I was not present during Lestrade’s visit to 221B Baker Street, and I was not informed of anything either (of which I complained bitterly once the whole thing was over). Only two days later, during dinner, Holmes begged me to write a prescription for a laxative.
“Are you constipated?” I asked naively.
“No, it’s you who is constipated”, he replied to my amazement. And he added that the next day I would go to a certain druggist’s shop near Temple Bar so that my prescription was prepared. It was useless to claim that I had no problems with constipation. He also insisted that it was imperative that I showed up at the shop with my hair abundantly slicked with pomade.
The shop was located in a cobbled street behind Temple Bar. Inside, the air was thick with the smell of ingredients drifting from the dispensary bench hidden behind a black curtain. I was attended by the apprentice, but when he retreated to the dispensary, the curtain was slightly removed and I saw a scary head with spiky hair staring at me with wild eyes. It was as if the word ‘Psychopath’ was written in capital letters on his forehead. The apprentice returned and I was informed that the druggist had elected to fill the request personally. A shiver ran through my whole body.
I sat on a wooden bench to wait. Suddenly the fattest and most duckling of the attendants who swarmed the shop stumbled upon himself and fell upon me. In no time, he rubbed my head with a sponge soaked in water stripping off me all the pomade.
While I got progressively angry because of this unjustifiable behaviour, the scary druggist came out of the dispensary holding a bottle full of a content of a mysterious green color. But when he looked at me he was paralyzed with an astonished face, turned around and, grumbling, disappeared behind the curtain. Immediately afterwards, a noise of broken glass was heard coming from the dispensary.
While I was still astonished, the duckling attendant pounced on me again and, in a flash, smeared my hair with pomade. I couldn’t believe the astounding behaviour of the fat attendant. And as I dried with my handkerchief the pomade drops that slid down my face, the druggist came out from behind the curtain with a resignation face and a bottle full of a brown concoction. But he popped his eyes out when he saw me, and hurried back to the dispensary bench.
I was trying to understand what the hell was happening there when again the fat attendant stumbled upon himself and fell on me like a sack of potatoes. Before I realized it, the scoundrel had stripped off me all the pomade by rubbing again my head with a sponge soaked in water.
When the druggist came out from behind the curtain holding a big jar full of the mysterious green concoction, he hastened to take a look at me, and jumped with the face distorted by bewilderment. He let out a scream and ran back into the dispensary.
I got up ready to leave that crazy shop when suddenly the duckling assistant fell again on me and spilled a whole bottle of pomade on my head. The hair oil trickled down my face and penetrated my eyes, so that I could not see anything. The culprit of that awkwardness wiped my face with a towel while asking for excuses. Then I recognized my friend’s voice and opened my eyes wide.
“Holmes!” I exclaimed astonished.
Indeed, the fat and ducky attendant was none other than Sherlock Holmes conveniently characterized.
At that moment, the sinister druggist came out from the dispensary stone-faced and holding again a bottle with a brown concoction. One look at me and he reacted in the strangest way. His eyes began to roll in their orbits while he laughed hysterically, and then he threw himself on the floor and began to screech like a madman.
Meanwhile Holmes had gone to the shop window and made a signal to a couple of police officers who were stationed in the corner. Shortly after, they put the shackles on the psychopathic druggist and took him prisoner.
Curiously enough, during the rest of that month I suffered from constipation.