Chapter 69: News From The Underground

Gareth Williams had attended
a performance by Jonny Woo ...
When I awoke Tuesday morning, Sherlock Holmes was sitting at his desk, writing what appeared to be a letter. "Fortune still runs in our favour, Watson," he said without looking up.

"What's happening?" I asked, still slightly groggy.

"I had a very interesting conversation with Buckingham Slate last night on the Underground," he continued. "Shall I tell you about it while you enjoy your breakfast?"

"Why not?" I replied, and began to eat. My friend took a few minutes to finish what he was writing, then sat back in his chair and resumed speaking.

"Bucky gave me names and addresses," he said, "of two people he thinks we should contact. Both, in his words, are 'attractive young blondes.' I told him I didn't think you'd mind."

I smiled and kept eating.

"I have just finished writing to both of them," continued Holmes, "requesting interviews at their earliest convenience. I assume you'll come with me to see them unless I can entice them to meet us here."

"Certainly, if I can help," I said.

... and had purchased tickets
for two upcoming shows ...
"Of course you can," replied the detective, "if they'll see us. We cannot know what will come of the letters I have just written. But I must say I am hopeful."

"Why is that?" I inquired.

"Bucky described both young women as very unimpressed with the police investigation to this point," he replied, "and he hinted that they could tell us things we would find very useful."

"What kind of things?"

"He wouldn't elaborate. He would only say, 'Go talk to them! They'll tell you plenty!' He was much more interested in talking about other things.

"I started by asking him about the designer dresses found in Gareth's flat. As you will recall, he talked about finding the shops where Gareth bought them. It seems a minor point."

I nodded in agreement and he continued. "But it proves that designer dresses were among the items found in the flat, and this brings us to an interesting question: Did the police not deny that any such items had been found?"

"I thought they did," I replied.

"I thought so, too," said Holmes, "but it could be that they simply released a carefully-worded statement which was intended to be misunderstood as a blanket denial. As such, it would have been seen to cover all manner of claims regarding items allegedly found in the flat, which allegedly indicated some perversion, or aberrant sexuality, on Gareth's part.

"From our point of view, with what we have learned from Jenny Elliot in Cheltenham, and what we have heard from Gareth's family, we have suspected that all the reports hinting at unusual sexual practices or interests were patently false and intended solely to provide disinformation. But apparently, from what Bucky told me last night, this is not true."

"I'm confused," I said.

"So am I," said Holmes, "but in a different way than you, I suspect. What has you baffled?"

"Nothing in particular," I said, "but I feel as if I've lost track of what you're talking about. Are you saying some of the claims the police dismissed as false were actually true?"

"I'm not sure of that," replied Holmes. "But according to Bucky, items other than dresses were found in Gareth's flat which would seem to indicate an interest in deviant practices, such as bondage and cross-dressing, if not homosexuality. But police also have an unconfirmed report that Gareth was seen in a gay bar."

"What items did they find?" I asked.

... at The Bistrotheque, one of
London's most fashionable clubs.
"Aside from the dresses," he answered, "Bucky says Gareth had attended a drag cabaret show featuring Jonny Woo at a club called The Bistrotheque, and police found tickets to two upcoming shows. They also found makeup, a couple of rainbow wigs, and evidence that Gareth's cell phone was used to access websites featuring torture and bondage."

"Is Slate certain of all this?" I asked. I was having trouble believing we'd been so far wrong about the young code-breaker with the seemingly ultra-clean lifestyle. "If it's all true, it would undermine the case you've been building, would it not?"

"I wouldn't go too far," replied my friend. "A man can walk into a gay bar without being gay. It is possible to enjoy a performance by a man dressed as a woman without being a transvestite. One can visit any website one likes without necessarily engaging in the conduct it promotes. And, more to the point, even if he was a gay transvestite with a bondage fetish, it would still be a stretch to imagine him padlocking himself into an airtight bag, unless he was also too stupid for words, which Gareth Williams patently was not."

"The little we know about his past doesn't seem to indicate any proclivity for torture or bondage," I said. "If all this is true -- and why would Bucky lie to us? -- something must have happened to Gareth here in London about which we still don't know anything at all."

"I believe Bucky," said Holmes, "and I think you are probably right."

"But what could have happened?" I asked, not expecting an answer. "And how could we ever find out?" I added.

"It seems to me," said Holmes, "that my best possible move is to post the letters I've just written. The sooner they go out, the sooner we may be able to meet two attractive young blondes."

"It sounds like a good idea to me," I said. "And in the meantime, while we wait for them to reply?"

Niccolò Paganini,
the Patron Saint of Violin Land.
"You can tell me about the research you did last night," replied the detective. "But there is no pressing need for any further research, and we have no other promising leads at the moment. The best we can do now, unless I have missed something very important, is to send the letters, then wait and see what the postman brings."

"It feels awkward not having anything to do," I protested.

"Are you bored already?" he asked. "Do you want some cocaine?"

"No! Of course not!" I replied.

"I didn't think so," he said. "How about a trip to Violin Land? I usually do one or the other, when boredom becomes burdensome to me."

"No, it's quite all right," I said. "We may be busy again as early as tomorrow. And it's not entirely burdensome yet."

"Are you certain?" Holmes replied. "Perlman plays Paganini at Royal Albert Hall this evening. Do you really have something better to do?"

"How could anyone have anything better to do?" I replied.

"I thought you'd see my point," said Holmes. "We both need, and deserve, a rest. We've worked hard on this case for nearly two weeks, and we will have more hard work to do before we're finished. Let's spend the evening soothing our souls with the magical sweetness of beautiful music. Tomorrow, unless I am much mistaken, will bring us something very different."