A New Partner, and the Case of the Missing Doctor
Dr Watson was away on vacation with his wife when Sherlock Holmes received a knock at his door. The man had been stagnant for days without a case or problem to be solved, and his old habit was well in effect by now. Another knock came at the door and then another moment passed before Ms Hudson opened the door and a light that had been absent from the room shone on Holmes sitting in his chair appearing nearly dead to the elderly woman.
“Mr Holmes!” She shouted rushing over to the man and slapping at his pale face.
“What is it Ms Hudson?” Came a sort of mumbled sentence from the man’s dried and cracked lips. “Why do you insist upon striking me?”
“I thought you dead! White as a ghost you are! What have you been at then? I will call the doctor immediately!”
“No, please, there is no need. I am alive, and well enough.”
“But you have not eaten for days, and this room, it smells of death, and I’ll not have my rooms smelling of such foulness.”
“Then I will open a window. In time. What brings you here Ms Hudson?”
“I had a gentleman come for your assistance, but I will send him away. Heaven forbid a soul see you in this way.”
“A case then?” Holmes suddenly sat up, his eyes becoming wide and brighter than they had been in days. “What are you waiting for woman, send the person in!”
“No I will not! Look at yourself, why, you’re hardly clothed. I would suspect you have not bathed in days either. You look near death, and Dr Watson would not have me allow for a meeting for you in this state.”
“I will be ready in moments. Go downstairs, prepare some tea. When it’s ready, bring it and the person along with you, I will be ready by then.”
“Mr Holmes, I don’t think—“
“Go, then, I will be ready!” He said as he shot from his chair pulling off his robe revealing that he had nothing on underneath.
Ms Hudson put her hand to her eyes and walked quickly from the room slamming the door on her way out. Holmes was dressed in only minutes, using a comb to pull back his unkempt hair. By the time he had pulled back the curtains to let in the hazy light of a cloudy day, the door opened, and Ms Hudson walked in with a tray of steaming tea, and a goateed man of moderate build and short sandy hair wearing casual clothing and boots.
“Mr Holmes, your tea.” Ms Hudson said forcefully.
“Ah, thank you Ms Hudson, and you sir, whom might you be?”
“Um, Jim Prenger.”
“And I am Sherlock Holmes, thank you Ms Hudson, you may go.”
“Um, yeah, I know who you are.” Jim Answered. “I came to see you.”
“Precisely, please sit. Would you like some tea?”
“I don’t drink tea.”
“Something else then? A spot of whiskey perhaps?”
“If you have a bottle to spare.”
Holmes went to a cabinet near the window, pulled out a crystal bottle and poured a full glass of the dark whiskey. He set it in front of the man and then poured some tea for himself, lopped in two cubes of sugar before adding in a fair pour of cream then sat in his chair.
“Now then, what has brought you here, Jim, or should I call you Andrew?”
“How’d you know my name?”
“Elementary dear fellow. You are the son of Dr Thomas Prenger, a prominent man of society, one such as myself of course would know of him. The only son of the man I might add. A man that had only daughters is always more inclined to abide by his own name to pass along a portion of himself, even if that portion is only a name of sorts. Andrew Thomas Prenger, a nickname of Jim, I could only venture a guess as to why you’d use such a common name instead of what you had been given. Perhaps to separate yourself from your father, or a disappointment in yourself perhaps, feeling that you do not quite measure to the man…”
“I get it. You’ve heard of my father. Yes, he is a doctor, and if you’ve heard of him, then you’d know my name. Fine. And I simply go by Jim because I’ve been employed or schooled with other Andrews at the same time, so differentiating myself from them was essential, at least to me. And as I’m sure anyone can see, I’m not a doctor.”
“Quite.” Answered Holmes somewhat unimpressed. “You impress yourself as a writer no doubt.”
“I am knowledgeable in it, yes.” Andrew answered seemingly annoyed.
“Then I ask that you please use your descriptive knowledge, and in detail describe why you are here. Please leave out no detail, no matter how insignificant it may seem to you, for I have found that often the smallest detail can become the most significant.”
“Fair enough. As you have already deduced, I am the son of Thomas Prenger, the renowned Doctor. I did not follow in his footsteps as he had probably wished, nor did I follow in the footsteps of my siblings into military service. By all accounts, I am the black sheep of the family, and honestly it suits me just fine. I have my own flat, I keep a steady supply of spirits in the cupboards, and a healthy supply of cheeses and meats for ready use whenever their need arises.”
“I live alone,” Andrew continued before being interrupted by Holmes.
“Most obviously, please go on.”
“So, I live alone. But my problem isn’t with me. My problem is that every Thursday evening I meet my father and some of his fellow doctors at a local tavern, Jackson and Daniels. Not the most respectable place for a person of higher class such as himself, but it was there that he attended before his more prominent days, and so it is still there that he frequents, that is, until two weeks ago, when he went missing. “
“Interesting, go on.” Holmes said sipping at his tea.
“On our last outing to Jackson and Daniels, my father was approached by a person of ill-favorable look. I didn’t catch his name, but he was about my height, darker hair, with thick boots, and he looked much like a man that worked with his hands for a living. But it was the gun inside his jacket, that I only caught a glimpse of, that caught my attention the most.
‘He was disrespectful, rude, and angry with my father. He said that he’d done him wrong, some great injustice, and he would have recompense for this. And then he said that he would wait for 6 more days and no more. My father did not seem to care much about this, or perhaps he knew this man to only be drunken, and therefore was not concerned. He waved the man off, simply saying that he would speak with him later. When the man had left, I asked my father who the man was, and what his problem could be, but my father would not answer. He simply said that he was just a drunk, and to pay him no mind. That was the last night I saw my father.
‘When the next Thursday came, I found myself at the tavern alone. This was most unlike my father as I would always be the one running late. But I waited, and still after an hour, he had not arrived. My father had never missed a Thursday you see, so this was a little suspicious. I waited until a whole bottle of whiskey had been finished, but still my father had not arrived, nor had any of his fellow physicians. I thought this seemed odd, so I sent letter to my mother that night. The next day the response was delivered to my flat that she had not seen him since the morn of Thursday when he was off to his practice. She was not yet alarmed until I had informed her that he had missed his Thursday rendezvous at the tavern. Inquiries were made with the rest of my family to no avail.
‘After receiving the response from my mother, I went to his practice. The office was closed. No notes, no signs, just closed. I informed the yard, but they said to contact them in another day, just to make sure he wasn’t drunk somewhere. I came back to the office the next day, and again the office was closed. But I did run into a patient who was just as unaware as I that the office was closed.
‘At this point I was receiving telegrams daily from my mother, who was becoming more and more worried. The yard got involved, but to no avail. There was simply nothing to go off of. He was just gone and the best they could do would be to put out posters, and a note in the papers. This proved fruitless as no answers ever came in response of either effort.
‘My father’s contemporaries were also questioned, but none had added anything of importance except that on that Thursday my father did not meet them at the club for lunch, which is why they did not show up on Thursday night along with him to the tavern. His nursing staff and receptionist were also of little help, only adding that my father never showed up to the office on Thursday at all. This left his disappearance somewhere between him leaving his home, and traveling to the office only ten blocks away.
‘The street alleys were searched and revealed nothing, and the shores have already been searched for any washed up bodies. Shop owners were questioned along the route to his office, but none remember any occurrences. Dogs were brought out, but stopped just outside of the home of my parents, apparently with nothing to go off of. So it would appear that my father simply vanished right in front of the house that morning.”
“Perhaps a handsome then? I gather Lestrade has already searched such a thing?”
“Yes, no handsomes reported a ride at this time of day on this street. So there it is Mister Holmes. My father has now been missing two entire weeks without a single lead as to why or where. I believe it to be this man that appeared in the bar that night, but no one knew of him, and the tavern does not know of him. And now I am here Mister Holmes, because I have no where else to turn.”
“Indeed, all avenues seem to have been exhausted for the casual mind and turned up little more than hearsay. I will take your case then, Mister Prenger.”
“Excellent. Then I expect you’ll keep me informed?”
“I did not finish, Mister Prenger. I will take your case, and you will be accompanying me every step of the way.”
To be continued…