Chapter 13: The 'Mediterranean Couple'

Previous: Unbreakable

Police are looking for a mysterious young couple
who appear to hail from this general area.
"It's a shame Bucky couldn't have stayed longer," I said to my good friend Sherlock Holmes. "I would have been interested in his 'take' on the mysterious 'Mediterranean couple', about whom so much has been written."

"That is one of the points on which I plan to speak with him at our next meeting, Watson," replied Holmes, "although I must say I have few hopes of making progress in this direction."

"Of all the strange and bizarre details about this case," I said, "the story of the mysterious couple appears to be the only one officially endorsed by the police. I wonder whether this is especially important, or whether --"

"Whether it's just another distraction, Watson?" Holmes finished my sentence. "The possibility cannot be discounted, especially because it would be a wise move for the police to make."

"Do you think they're using some 'mis-direction' here, Holmes?"

"That is the question." Holmes replied.

"If I were running the investigation," the great detective explained, "I would be very careful concerning the information I released. To the extent I felt forced to divulge details pertaining to 'the scene of the crime' -- or, in this case, since the police are not yet calling it a crime, whenever I described 'the location at which the body was discovered' -- I would stick very closely to the facts. I would be trying to gain the 'trust', so to speak, of the perpetrators, who would surely remember what they left behind.

"On the other hand," he continued, "to the extent that I wished to divulge information about the investigation, especially its progress and future directions, I would lie about every single detail!"

"Deliberately confounding the public?" I asked.

"Confounding the perpetrators, I would hope," he answered.

"So, you would lie about --"

"Suspects, Watson, and lines of inquiry," he replied. "Personally, I would never announce that I was looking for 'a man and a woman, both of Mediterranean appearance, aged between 20 - 30 years old', unless I were looking for somebody quite different. If I were actually looking for a young 'Mediterranean'-looking couple, I might tell the press I was seeking three middle-aged Chinese men, or a young Hindu woman.

"Several weeks ago," Holmes continued, "I was hoping -- with an optimism that seems foolish in light of recent events -- that the police might be thinking along the same lines. Perhaps, I thought, all this talk of a 'Mediterranean couple' was a decoy. Otherwise, on the surface, the story makes no sense at all, Watson."

"It seems fairly sensible to me, Holmes," I replied. "This young couple, according to the news reports at any rate, came to the 'safe house' late one night during the summer, possibly to see Gareth Williams. Is it not reasonable to ask why?"

"It may be more reasonable to ask why the police are looking for these people, Watson, if indeed they are looking for them -- if indeed they do exist. The stories about them in the press have been less than convincing. According to Richard Edwards in the Telegraph:
The only people believed to be unaccounted for in recent months who were seen at the flats on Alderney Street are the Mediterranean man and woman. Police have been told they were let into the communal front door, late one evening, either in June or July.
"If these two people were there in June or July, and Gareth Williams was killed in August, it would seem quite a stretch to connect them to the investigation, no? On the other hand, if everyone else who came to 36 Alderney Street since that time has been 'accounted for', does that not point us in a particularly interesting direction?" Holmes asked.

"According to the police description," he continued, "the point would seem to be that someone admitted this couple into the building, through 'the communal front door' -- but not into any particular flat -- and later recalled the incident, but not the exact date, and mentioned it to police. So here's another question for our list: Are we really meant to believe that somebody living in an MI6 'safe house' would admit random strangers through the front door?"

I whistled softly. The more Holmes spoke, the more bizarre the story seemed to become.

"More recently," Holmes continued, "the press has been reporting that police, having found the door to the flat locked from the outside, and a set of keys presumably belonging to Gareth Williams on the inside, now believe the 'Mediterranean couple' have, or had, their own keys! And why do they believe this? Because -- according to Stephen Wright of the Daily Mail -- nobody can remember having 'buzzed' them into the building!"

"Let me see if I have this straight, Holmes," I said. "The police found out about this 'Mediterranean couple' from someone who recalled letting them in, but now nobody can recall letting them in, so they must have had their own keys?"

"Precisely, Watson!" said Holmes. "Are you starting to see how all this fits together?"