The best of news! A man has finally come forward with a case worthy of my intellect! He wished his name to be kept secret – upon hearing the description of the case you will understand why – but I can tell you that he was a man of the Netherlands, speaking with interest upon the death of a lad named Pieter Verhaeren. This Verhaeren was a Belgian man who was a semi-prominent intellectual, a former radical member of the Flemish Vlaams Blok political party, and an avowed Flemish separatist. The party dissolved after they were tried for institutional racism, and Verhaeren left the country around that time as connections between Vlaams Blok and the radical National Party in South Africa were apparently very close to him.
He was in the local London area to give a lecture on promoting the “autonomy of all cultural nations confined under the yoke of a greater country” – controversially including Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, which he saw as not only seceding from the United Kingdom but founding a unified culturally Celtic state. While at the lecture a man, another Belgian, not Flemish but a Walloon – that is, a French-speaking Belgian – interrupted the lecture and verbally attacked Verhaeren for arrogant subversive treasonous efforts against his homeland. Four days later, Pieter Verhaeren – or what was left of him, as his body was burnt to the bones – was found dead, his remains in the basement furnace of the Hastings Hotel. It was a crime so cleanly done that it must have been done with foresight and coldness – meaning this was a crime of sheer malice. I have sufficient reason to suspect that the man who interrupted him, whose name I have learnt is Reynald Saint-Jerome, was the culprit in this crime – not the least reason of which my client has given me evidence that this Saint-Jerome met with Verhaeren the night before threatening to kill him, and was seen to be in the hotel during a particular period of time when it was possible for Pieter to be killed. The details which I have noted:
- The burning of the bones mean that Verhaeren’s body was segmented and thrown into the old-fashioned basement furnace of the hotel, his remains then collected later that night in a collection of ashes and thrown in the trashcan. He was identified by DNA evidence and a hip replacement that was marked for him, but there was little left to provide evidence for a cause or time of death.
- Though he exists and has residence in the local area, the paper evidence of the existence of a Reynald Saint-Jerome is extremely limited, and beyond two weeks almost completely null. He doesn’t appear in public records as either a British citizen or a working foreigner. These indications make it almost certain that “Reynald Saint-Jerome” is either an alias or is working as a phantom.
- Saint-Jerome (for I don’t know by what other name to call him by) had a strong motive insofar as he was an apparent Belgian patriot and a nationalist.
More to come whether or not he had the opportunity. This case couldn’t have come at a more opportune time!
P.S. This case came at a particularly useful time to cheer me up – I have been so insulted by that West African man, I will never enter his establishment again!
Two more cases have been brought to me for investigation by people who have heard of my success with our Sharon; somewhat to my irritation they are upon similar lines of Sharon’s earlier requests – concerns of infidelity, no less – but they shall pay handsomely. Indeed one “Tracy” took me around to her house and within fifteen minutes of entry into her premises I found… well, let’s call it a used male contraception device. I solved the case with such haste in fact that I hesitated to request payment for it – but she offered it anyway.
The second one was perhaps stranger; a man – Paul, let’s call, him – had asked me to investigate the infidelity of his partner – who I found out was another man! And I was stunned that he showed only pride and grace in his affliction – a vast cavern’s distance from the mores I am used to where I am from. Paul suspected his ‘partner’ of engaging in particular debaucheries of the night at some cabaret establishments, though he made his partner promise not to, since Paul declared his intent to ‘settle down’ with this man – even, though I am astonished to hear it, marry the man. I knew of men who were tried and sentenced to labor in Ireland for even entertaining such thoughts!
I still have not decided whether or not to take this case, though nothing more palpable and intriguing arises. Oddly I had thought of myself as a man rather unaffected by mores of social conduct, but this case has taught me differently. Perhaps it shall serve as good teaching of the morality which has evidently progressed along with the society around it.
Success to report! Not particularly satisfying success, I will grant, but success nevertheless. The man whom I will reveal is called ‘Trent’ (a hideous name for a hideous soul) wasted no time upon our Sharon’s leave to contact his mistress and arrange a meeting in a ‘motel’. His ill-fated brashness and, quite frankly, his utter foolishness made the case utterly easy – I would almost say disappointingly easy; I took on a disguise as a hospitality attendant of the motel, and he was completely oblivious such that I could gain irrefutable evidence. Sharon thanked me and paid me in accord with the agreement. Thank you to my current roommate James for making the connection!
Yet I would also like to end by levying a brief levy a complaint against one of my readers jmartysknight2e4 who responded to my request for an apothecary and sent me to the address of some vile opium den led by a West African street vendor! A most malicious prank, I find!
I am glad to announce that I, H. Hefner, have obtained my first client. I shall call her Sharon, and she is a lady in some minor distress of her male acquaintance.
Details to note: Sharon is in courtship with a “gent” and she has heard substantial account of gossip that he is an adulterer; he denies it but he has been distant and kept longer fewer hours away from Sharon, making odd excuses on particular occasion. Sharon is going away this weekend and upon telling him he seemed unusually keen and loving – perhaps artificially so. She has requested that I play a phantom; to follow him as a spy as her disappearance plays a honey trap. It is not what I am used to; it is not exactly a murder most complicated, but business is business, and rent is rent.
On another note, I must comment that the phrase “chemist’s shop” is very confusing to me; I went to a chemist’s shop and found it to contain nothing useful to a chemist; it is rather something of a bazaar of basic simplicities. I was told that the phrase chemist refers to the pharmacist in the shop, and yet the store manager was rather rude to me when I asked to buy some surely reasonable treatments. I still don’t understand how that could insult him!
I am announcing with this publication the opening of my brand new private inspector services to any and all who are stalked by crime and need my help to bring criminals to justice! And to all who care to acquire my business, I am also writing to inform that I am looking for certain equipment that would serve me in my business ventures. I would be most grateful to find these items served locally at a reasonable price. While many are general, some are particular and would require a shop of particularity.
First, a simple magnifying glass – any metal used for lens would suffice.
Second, an optical microscope – preferably with filament image and at least 10x magnification.
Third, a solution of solvent and alcohol that could be used for chemical separations.
Fourth, a good tub of black ink – which, I am stunned, is hard to find in a tub.
Fifth, a recent volume on toxicology, with information from heavy metals to the poisons of the most exotic animals of the orient.
Finally, a good revolver for the sake of protection against brutes.
In the meantime, however, do not underestimate the ability of an experienced and inquisitive mind; for there is no tool greater for the detective than that of the mind’s logical powers of deduction!
P.S. In addition, I am seeking a good local apothecary from whom I can obtain good pipe tobacco from the Colonies and a seven per-cent solution of cocaine – even morphine, if it should be available.
Good Day, fellow operators of this inter-net device! Permit me to introduce myself. My name is H. Hefner and I have just been newly acquainted with this portal of the inter-net called a ‘blog’ (what a strange word) which permits a common novice of these computing devices to publish and communicate to thousands without the heavy machinery of a printing press. I can only imagine the possibilities – that one could publish without shedding a drop of ink. Truly marvelous!
Sorry about the prior post; Hugh didn’t believe in, well, blogging so I had to demonstrate the whole thing to him yesterday, so I let him type whatever he wanted (and let’s say he was less than diplomatic). But finally that got him to cooperate, so I showed him a documentary about the making of the internet and the World Wide Web and all that stuff (online, ironically), and so he is convinced now (though he hasn’t completely wrapped his head around it.
There more; because I will be working full time at the Café Nero and because Hugh wants to explore the internet, I will have decided halt my blog for now; I am moreover handing it over to Hugh because he has some ideas on how he’ll be able to use it to pay me back. I figured he needs it more than me.
Thus it ended after five (and a half) posts – but a proud five and a half posts for Tales From the City. This is James Pattison Raikes, signing off (for now, at least.)
I am writing this to you James to express that I have no belief that you can simply conjure these words that I am writing upon your screen in a whole other room – and I need no greater explanation than that as a man of supreme logic I do not believe in the work of sorcerers!
Fabulous news, everyone! I finally got a job!
I’ll admit, it’s not very much, but it’s a paycheck. I’ll be working at the Café Nero just outside of King’s College, London, my old school! I’ll admit it might be strange running into some old classmates, but at least I’ll be around the ol’ place – and I’ll be able to stay in London!
As for Hefner, as I term him, he is the most fascinating figure I have ever encountered. He seems to know everything and nothing at the same time. He knows a strange lot about chemistry and biology, but of any modern technology? Nothing! I’m trying to explain a bunch of things to him – and he learns quickly, granted – but he seems to have walked out of a period play of some kind. Take for example, the refrigerator incident. He seemed astonished that I put food in such a small device that keeps them cool and not some industrial beast like meat packers (a refrigerator, for Christ’s sake?), but he then explained that it was indeed obvious that cooling down food would preserve them, for it would slow the metabolism of the bacteria and even proceeded to explain the chemical reactions of ammonia and ether that allowed it to happen. He wished to take a look inside, and I told him I’d rather he look it up on the internet – only to ask what an internet was. Who is this guy?
I was afraid at first to let Hugh to his own devices, but he keeps himself well occupied with the telly (which he was at first stunned to see as well) watching old BBC documentaries. I will keep you updated on the education of this ignorant genius, or brilliant fool, or whatever you wished to call him.
So I hadn’t logged on to my blog in a while; I usually just go straight to my blog screen and I log in automatically. Besides, I have been occupied with my new room tenant for the past couple days. So what do I do? I open up my wordpress, go to the manage section, and what do I find? A new blog that I have heard nothing about used by some Belgian so he can rant on and on about the English using my goddamn account! What?! What an idiot, I thought, who would hack into my account just so he can maintain his own blog!
I sent a message to him asking who the hell he was and what he was doing. Turns out, the fact is stranger than fiction; he’s some old posh Belgian man living with my rich aunt and for some reason he wanted to open up a blog without really understanding what the internet was first! When I happened to stay with my aunt last I used her computer that she never uses and made the mistake of doing an automatic log in for my account. Thus at the Widdecombe residence this Jerome character was able to log on using my account and through trial and error open up a blog site. I tried to be helpful I suppose, so I helped him create a new username, and gave him administrative privilege to his own blog, but I deleted everything from my account so that I would have nothing to do with it myself.
Honestly it could have been a lot worse – but let that be a lesson to all of you! Do NOT use an automatic log in on a computer that you don’t trust!
Which reminds me of this rather charming Monty Python clip: why AREN’T there more derogatory terms for Belgians?
What should we call the Belgians?