09 August 2010
Our Mutual Fiend: Part One
Illustration by the supremely-talented Mr. Stuart Linfield. Good show, sir!
“Rrrrarrrggggggh! Rrrrrrarrrrgh! Guuuuuuuuuurrrrrrrggggh! Muuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuh!”
“Heavy night, milord?” asked Botter, my man-servant, as I shuffled into the breakfast room.
“Very good, milord.”
I collapsed heavily into a chair at the table, my head thundering as if it were filled with elephants vigorously humping one another. Good heavens, what a stupendous night that had been, I thought. At least, I assumed it had been a stupendous night, I could not actually remember any of it. But I had been there, and I am naturally stupendous, so it seemed entirely reasonable to assume that the night itself had thus also been stupendous.
It was then that I realised that my man-servant was still talking.
“Buuuuuuuuuuuuh?” I groaned.
“Can I get you anything, my lord?” Botter repeated.
“Ffffffffffffeeeeeeeeerrrrrrgh,” I burbled. I cleared my throat, and tried again. “Coooooooffeeeeeeeeeeee.”
“Very well, milord. I’ll just prepare some,” Botter replied, picking up a sack of coffee beans from the table.
“Noooooooooo. Cooooooffffffeeeeeeeeeeeee,” I repeated, my arms flailing in the direction of the sack.
“But I need to – ”
“COOOOOOOFFFFFFFEEEEEEEEEE!” I yelled, as I reached forward and grabbed the sack from my man-servant’s wretched mitts. Botter duly stepped back, as I took the bag and proceeded to bury my head inside its contents.
“Are…are you all right, milord?” Botter asked nervously, as a full ten minutes passed during which I did not move an inch from this position – that is until I felt the cretin’s hand upon my shoulder.
“DO NOT TOUCH ME!!” I bellowed, springing back upright, spraying coffee beans from my mouth as I spoke. “Touch me again, and your hand shall find itself wedged firmly up your anus.”
“Very good, milord.”
“Hmph,” I grumbled, as I finished chewing the beans still in my mouth. “Anything new to report, Botter? Any post?”
“A couple of letters, my lord,” Botter answered, handing me the aforementioned couple of letters. “And a great big sack of mail from your admirers,” he added, placing the large sack on the table. “I am afraid we have lost another post-man, however. He threw his back out bringing that to the door.”
“Pfffft. The Royal Mail really needs to employ stronger men, if you ask me. Unless they are planning to change their name to ‘Royal Female’. HA!” I chuckled, as I flicked through the post disinterestedly. “AH! Look, Botter! A letter from Poppycock Press, my would-be publisher! I imagine they’re writing to offer me a small fortune for the privilege of publishing the manuscript I sent to them.”
I tore open the envelope and skimmed the missive within.
“BALLBAGS!” I roared, hurling the letter aside. “They are refusing to print my masterpiece! They say that it is much to crude and far too depraved for print! Bah, these fellows would not know a good thing if it came up to them, lowered its trousers and excreted a lump of solid gold upon their chests! A pox on them, I say!”
“Maybe you should tone it down a touch, milord, and resubmit? I mean, there is an entire chapter in there where you go into great detail about masturbating over an image of the Queen…”
“TONE IT DOWN?” I bellowed. “I am Lord Likely, not Jane ruddy Austen! I shall simply have to find a publisher with rather bigger balls, is all…”
My tirade was cut short by a knock on the door.
“Go and see who that is, Botter. I wish to fume some more.”
Botter nodded and scurried off to answer the door, while I sat in my chair, looking mean, moody and magnificent.
“It’s Inspector Spunkleford, milord,” Botter said, re-entering the room. “He wishes to see you right away, says it is most urgent.”
“Dear me,” I sighed. “Whatever is it now? Can he not find his way back to Scotland Yard on his own, or something? Fine, send him in.”
Botter nodded smartly, and withdrew, to be replaced by the portly form of Spunkleford.
“Ah, Likely!” boomed the big man, rather too enthusiastically for my aching head.
“Gah! A bit quieter if you could, Spunkleford, there’s a good chap.”
“Ha! Heavy night eh, old friend?”
“What? Why does everyone keep saying that? How can a night be ‘heavy’? Unless you are calling me obese. Are you calling me obese, Spunkleford? I mean, I concede I have developed something of a ‘champagne gut’ of late, but still….”
“Never mind, Likely,” beamed Spunkleford. “‘Tis not important. What is important is this rather interesting case that’s come up…think you’ll be interested, as it’s rather astonishing, you see…”
“Oh?” I said, leaning forward, my ears pricking up at the ‘a’ word. “Do tell.”
“Well, I’ve just come from the scene of a rather brutal murder. Chap seems to have been savagely attacked… but furthermore, he was EATEN.”
“Eton? Well, they’re rather wealthy, those college boys. He was probably mugged, I’d wager…”
“What? No, not ETON, Likely! EATEN. As in devoured. Feasted upon. Chewed up. That sort of thing.”
“Oh.” I paused. “OH!”
“‘Oh!’ indeed, Likely. But wait for it, this whole matter gets stranger still. You see, we have a witness to this ghastly crime, a night watch-man from a nearby clockwork book factory. Saw the whole thing, and he was therefore able to give us a full description of the assailant.”
“Oh! Well, it seems like a rather open and shut case then, Spunkleford. I don’t understand why you’re here, frankly.”
“Ah! Well you see, we got in a sketch artist to draw up a picture of the attacker, as we do in these instances. And…well, take a look for yourself, Likely.”
Spunkleford pushed a drawing across the table. I picked it up, looked at it, rubbed my eyes, and then looked at it again.
“…Charles Dickens, yes.”
“…been dead for twenty years, yes.”
“…don’t understand how a dead man could possibly murder someone?”
“No, I was actually going to say, ‘…but I really wish you would stop finishing my sentences, Spunkleford. It is terribly irritating’.”
“Oh. Sorry, old boy.”
I pondered upon this latest mystery. Having a world-renowned author embroiled in a murder investigation was astonishing enough to warrant my time and energy, but a DEAD world-renowned author embroiled in a murder investigation? How could I possibly resist?
“I’LL TAKE THE CASE!” I roared, leaping to my feet and then tumbling to the floor in quick succession. “And some more coffee,” I added from my spot on the ground.
- Lord Likely.
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