CHAPTER 5: The Woman In Pink
She lay still, absolutely motionless, upon the dark, gritty, rancid floorboards of the house. The peeling wallpaper behind her, turning brown as it curled further away from the wall. Sherlock, John and Lestrade looked glumly at the fresh cadaver that was lying before them. Sherlock stared at the corpse long and hard for about fifteen seconds before breaking the silence. "Shut up."
"I wasn't talking," replied Lestrade.
"You were thinking; it's annoying." Sherlock then continued his examination of the body. But something that drew his attention was what was scrapped on the floor beside the corpse. Five seemingly random letters
R A C H E
The letters began to roam around the detective's mind. The first thing that arrived was "Rache", German translation of revenge. Sherlock dismissed this entirely. Then considered, What if it wasn't finished? He looked at the corpse again, noting the placement of jewellery around the body. Every single one of the pieces was clean. Except for one. Her wedding ring. Sherlock removed it and studied it. Then returned it to its original position. Once he had all he needed, he stood up and returned his magnifier to his coat pocket.
"Got anything?" Lestrade inquired, seeing as Holmes was finished with his searching.
"Not much," he replied.
"She's German." The three men turned their heads upon hearing Anderson's voice within the room and saw the man himself standing in the doorway. "Rache, German for revenge," he said, pointing at the letters scrawled on the floor. "She could be trying to tell us
"Yes, thank you for your input," Sherlock answered, sarcastically and closed the door on Anderson.
"So she's German?" Lestrade asked confidently.
"Of course she's not. She's from out of town though," Holmes began as he scrawled trough the information coming into his BlackBerry. "Intended to stay in London for one night, before returning home to Cardiff. So far, so obvious."
"Sorry," John interrupted. "Obvious?"
"What about the message, though?" Lestrade inquired.
Sherlock, however, directed his attention towards John. "Dr Watson, what do you think?"
"Of the message?"
"Of the body. You're a medical man."
"We have a whole team right outside," Lestrade added.
"They won't work with me," was Holmes reply.
"I'm breaking every rule letting you in here!"
"Yes, because you need me."
Lestrade stalled for a few before stating his reply. "Yes, I do, and God help me."
"Dr Watson!" Sherlock called out.
"Hm?"John answered. He looked at Lestrade, thinking that he was waiting for him to give Watson permission to intervene with these events.
"Oh, do as he says. Help yourself," Lestrade said to the doctor as he made his way to the door. "Anderson, keep everyone out for a couple of minutes
John walked over to Holmes and kneeled down beside the corpse. "Well?" he asked. "What am I doing here?"
"Helping me make a point," answered the detective.
"I'm supposed to be helping you pay the rent."
"This is more fun."
"Fun? There's a woman lying dead."
"Perfectly sound analysis, but I was hoping you'd go deeper."
John studied the body all over, making a mental note of everything he could. "Yeah
Asphyxiation, probably. Passed out, choked on her own vomit. Can't smell any alcohol on her, could have been a seizure, possibly drugs
"You know what it was," Sherlock butted in. "You've read the papers."
one of the suicides? The fourth
"Sherlock!" John rotated his head quickly at hearing Lestrade call out the sleuth's name. "Two minutes, I said. I'll need anything you got."
"Victim is in her late 30s," Sherlock began. "Professional person, going by her clothes. I'm guessing the media, going by the frankly alarming shade of pink. Travelled from Cardiff today intending to stay in London one night from the size of her suitcase."
"Yes. She's been married for at least ten years, but not happily. She's had a string of lovers but none of them knew she was married."
"Oh, for God's sake, if you're just making this up
"Her wedding ring. Ten years old at least. The rest of her jewellery has been regularly cleaned, but not her wedding ring. The inside is shinier than the outside. The only polishing it gets is when she works it off her finger. It's not for work, look at her nails. She doesn't work with her hands so who does she remove her rings for? Not one lover, she'd never sustain the fiction of being single for that long so more likely a string of them."
"Brilliant," John added, with a small hint of embarrassment. "Sorry."
"It's obvious, isn't it?" Sherlock queried.
"It's not obvious to me," was John's reply.
"Dear God, what is it like in your funny little brains, it must be so boring. Her coat; it's slightly damp, she's been in heavy rain the last few hours - no rain anywhere in London in that time. Under her coat collar is damp too. She's turned it up against the wind. She's got an umbrella in her pocket but it's dry and unused. Not just wind, strong wind - too strong to use her umbrella. We know from her suitcase that she was intending to stay overnight but she can't have travelled more than two or three hours because her coat still hasn't dried. So, where has there been heavy rain and strong wind within the radius of that travel time? Cardiff."
"Fantastic!" John exclaimed.
"Do you know you do that out loud?"
"Sorry, I'll shut up."
"Why do you keep saying suitcase?" asked Lestrade.
"Yes, where is it?"Sherlock continued. "She must have had a phone or an organiser. Find out who Rachel is."
"She was writing Rachel?"
"No, she was leaving an angry note in German (!) Of course she was writing Rachel, no other word it can be. Question is why did she wait until she was dying to write it?"
"How do you know she had a suitcase?"
"Tiny splash marks on her right heel and calf not present on the left. She was dragging a wheeled suitcase behind her with her right hand, by that splash pattern. Smallish case, going by the spread. Case that size, woman this clothes conscious, could only be an overnight bag so we know she was staying one night. Now where is it and what have you done with it?"
"There wasn't a case!"
Sherlock froze and slowly stood up upon hearing this. He could not believe what he was hearing. "Say that again."
"There wasn't a case. There was never any case!"
"SUITCASE!" Holmes exclaimed as he strode out of the room and down the staircase. "Did anyone find a suitcase? Was there a suitcase in this house?"
"SHERLOCK! There was no case!"
"But they take the poison themselves. Chew, swallow the pills themselves. There are clear signs, even you lot couldn't miss them."
"Right, yeah, thanks (!) And
"It's murder, all of them. I don't know how. But they're not suicides, they're serial killings. We've got a serial killer. There's always something to look forward to."
"Why are you saying that?"
"Her case! Come on, where is her case? Did she eat it(?) Someone else was here, and they took her case. So the killer must have driven here. Forgot the case was in the car."
"She could have checked into a hotel, left it there," John suggested
"No," Sherlock rebutted "She never got to her hotel. Look at her hair. She colour coordinates her lipstick and her shoes. She'd never have left any hotel with her hair still looking..." He stopped suddenly. He held a hand to his head. He had missed something big, and now he knew what it was. "Oh... Oh!"
"Sherlock?" Lestrade asked, wondering if this was natural behaviour for Holmes. "What is it, what?"
"Serial killers, always hard," he began. "You have to wait for them to make a mistake."
"We can't just wait!"
"Oh, we're done waiting. Look at her, really look! Houston, we have a mistake. Get on to Cardiff. Find out who Jennifer Wilson's family and friends were. Find Rachel!"
"Of course, yeah, but what mistake?!"
"Pink!" After that, Sherlock Holmes disappeared down the stairwell. Watson was finding this evening's events a bit hard to comprehend. He decided to head back home. As he traversed the staircase, he could hear a faint mumble from Anderson. "Let's get on with it..." As Watson handed the overall back, he strode out the doorway, cane still in hand and made his way to the police tape barrier, hoping he could find Sherlock, but he was nowhere to be seen.
"He's gone." John turned around and saw Sergeant Donovan looking straight at him.
"Who, Sherlock Holmes?" John asked
"Yeah, he just took off. He does that."
"Is he coming back?"
"Didn't look like it."
"Right. Right... Yes. Sorry, where am I?"
"Do you know where I could get a cab? It's just er... well, my leg." He tapped the aforementioned limb with his cane.
"Er.....try the main road," Donovan suggested.
"But you're not his friend. He doesn't HAVE friends. So who are you?"
"I'm...I'm nobody. I just met him."
"OK, bit of advice then. Stay away from that guy."
John was a bit confused upon hearing this. "Why?"
"You know why he's here?" Donovan asked, rhetorically. "He's not paid or anything. He likes it. He gets off on it. The weirder the crime, the more he gets off. And you know what...? One day just showing up won't be enough. One day we'll be standing round a body and he'll be the one that put it there."
"Why would he do that?"
"Because he's a psychopath. Psychopaths get bored."
"DONOVAN!!" Lestrade called out, noting his requirement of the sergeant's assistance.
"Coming," she replied. But before leaving she said one last set of parting words to Dr Watson. "Stay away from Sherlock Holmes."
John was right. This had been an eventful evening. He couldn't see how it could get any weirder. Just as he was crossing the police tape, he swore he could hear ringing. He turned to his right and saw the most unlikely thing that could ever ring. A red phone box. John dismissed it as nothing important, unaware that someone, somewhere, needed to talk to him.