The New Neighbor
I don’t own Sherlock, that’s Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and the BBC. I’m just borrowing the characters and Baker Street for a bit of an experiment in genre.Author’s Note:
The Crafty Herbalist is based off the BBC's television series. Every time I tried to file this under the television Sherlock, it rerouted it.
This is my first attempt at writing mystery. I’m more a science fiction and fantasy author looking for a challenge in an attempt to bust through writer’s block on one of my originals. Please do let me know how I’m doing.
The foyer of 221B Baker Street was crammed with boxes when Sherlock and I returned after our latest case. We knew Mrs. Hudson had rented 221C the week before. There were workmen in repairing the mold and water damage the past few days. It’d driven Sherlock half barmy and me along with him. Only the memory of how miserable I’d been when he was “dead” kept me from spiking his tea. He can be a sorry git at times, but life’s more interesting with him around…and conscious.
A plump woman came in from the back just as I shut the door. Her hair was pulled back in a messy ponytail, and her clothes were ill fitting and care worn. I glanced at Sherlock, silently asking him not to be a jerk.
“Hello,” she greeted us with a smile and extended hand. “You two must be Dr. Watson and Mr. Holmes.”
“That’s us,” I answered as I shook her hand.
“Jennifer Northton,” she offered as Sherlock took her hand. “Pleased to meet you both.”
“Mrs. Hudson’s been talking about us, I take it,” Sherlock said.
Jennifer grinned. “Oh, she insisted we have a cuppa and a chat before I signed the lease,” she answered. “It sounds like life’s never boring around here.”
“Not a bit,” I agreed.
“Will you be bringing an animal with you?” Sherlock asked. His tone made it clear he didn’t think much of the idea.“Here we go,”
I thought and started preparing my apology.
“I beg your pardon?”
“Single woman in her early thirties, never married, and living on her own,” Sherlock drawled. “It’s a reasonable assumption.”
Her eyebrows rose, but she didn’t look like she was taking offense.
“Oh yes, your deductions,” she replied. “No, I won’t be adopting any animals.” She tilted her head to the side as she considered Sherlock and crossed her arms over her chest. “I’m interested to see what else you’ve deduced about me, Mr. Holmes.”
“You’re originally from Wales, but you’ve moved around quite a bit. Considering the way you hold yourself, I’d say you were raised in a military family. You’re a “professional” student, probably gained three or four stone the first few years on your own. You have recently begun dieting.” His lips tightened and the corners pulled back in that forced smile of his. “Congratulations on your success so far.”
I was prepared for embarrassment or anger in reaction. That’s how most people respond to Sherlock’s brand of honesty. Tears I could handle. I half expected to see her either slap him or quietly back away and never speak to us again. I never expected to see the day someone was amused by one of his deductions. Yet, as I watched her during his spiel, one eyebrow arched before the corners of her mouth quirked up.
“Ah well, maybe next time, Mr. Holmes,” she said. “If you’ll excuse me, I need to finish taking these boxes down.”
Oh, I wish I’d thought to take a picture of Sherlock’s face just then. You’d think he’d just been slapped with a fish. He found his voice just as Jennifer hefted one of the boxes, heavy with college texts.
“What did I miss?” he demanded.
“Everything,” she answered. “Y’all have a good ‘un.” She gave us another grin before heading back toward 221C.
The slapped with a fish look was back, but Sherlock slipped into his emotionless mask again in seconds. A muscle in his jaw twitched, a sure sign he was building up to a massive sulk, and that’s the last thing I need.
I pushed past him and started up the stairs.
“Come on, I’m starving,” I said. “I think we have everything we need for a decent fry up. Not all of us can live on cases and air.”
He was rehashing the clues he’d seen and his conclusions as he followed. I ignored him. It’d been three days since I’d had a full meal and a proper kip. Sherlock went straight for his violin when we entered the flat. I shrugged and went into the kitchen, dropping the morning paper on the counter as I went. Maybe figuring out our new neighbor would keep him occupied for a day or two if there was a lull between cases.
I put the kettle on and started bacon frying since I knew he wouldn’t. After the coffee incident, I didn’t mind so much. Although I’d forgiven Sherlock, I wasn’t about to ingest anything he prepared again.
I leaned against the counter and skimmed the headlines while I waited for the bacon to need turning. Haverton’s Apothecary was finally closing down. I smirked, thinking it was about time that quack was shut down. With the local naturalist gone, maybe business at the clinic would pick up a bit.