I was woken by the sound of a mug being dropped on a cold tile floor and a yell of pain. I snatched up my medical kit and sprinted down to the kitchen. The scene that greeted me was Sherlock Holmes in a chair nursing his foot. “What... huh…have… huh… you… huh… done?” I panted.
“I dropped a mug of hot coffee on my foot!” he told me slowly, obviously in shock. I had recovered control of my lungs by now and told him, “I am going to take a look at this. I want you to stay calm and quiet, and I will give you some sweet tea in a minute.” Gently I wiped away the coffee and blood to discover a rather deep cut surrounded by a ring of burns. I propped his foot up on another chair and applied pressure to stop the bleeding and put an ice pack on the burns. Then I bandaged his foot up. “I want you to stay sitting down with your foot up here, and I will be back in ten minutes.”
When I returned with a pair of crutches, Sherlock had an interesting tale to tell me. “I was sitting here wondering how to entertain myself, when I heard a knock on the door. I couldn’t get up of course, and no one else was home. I shouted to whoever it was to see if the door was unlocked, and miracle of miracles, you hadn’t locked it! Then a rather small, thin lady entered the kitchen. She had obviously been crying a lot. She told me that her name was Elsa Foxx and she had a mystery for me.”
When he had finished telling Elsa’s story, Sherlock and I both sat there understanding why this lady had been crying. After all, how can you carry on with life when your daughter has apparently committed suicide but you can see no reason for her to have done away with her own life? Sherlock broke the silence by saying, “Pass me those crutches, Watson, we’ve a train to catch.”
As we sat on the train to Fareham, I wondered what the scene would be where this girl had supposedly ‘done away with her life.’ Sherlock was obviously thinking the same as he muttered to himself, “Be prepared for all possibilities. We don’t know what to expect.” The operator announced that the next stop would be Fareham. Sherlock stood up and winced as he moved his foot. “Come on, Watson, we need to find a cab to the Foxx residence.”
The house where the Foxxes lived looked perfectly ordinary, aside from the fact that it had a bright yellow door that almost required sunglasses to look at. Holmes rapped the knocker twice and stepped back off the step. The door creaked open and taking up half of the doorway stood a toddler. “Hello! I is Matty!” shouted the boy.
“Well, hello there, young Matty. Is your mother around?” Sherlock, obviously slightly startled by this bundle of noise, asked.
“Yes she is. I go get her,” he replied, and ran off.
After a few minutes, a lady appeared. I could see what Sherlock had meant when he said she was small and thin. “Elsa, how lovely to see you again! Do you think we could come in? We are going to get to the bottom of your daughter’s death.” Sherlock warmly invited us in to the Foxx house. “Do you think we could see the room where…”
“Kazia,” Elsa whispered.
“Where Kazia died?”
We followed Elsa up a narrow spiral staircase, Sherlock struggling slightly with his crutches, to an attic room which appeared to have been Kazia’s bedroom. There was a body on the bed, a knife sticking out of its chest. A note lay next to the body. It read: I don’t deserve to live. “Wow, that is quite… ahem, unkind to a person,” I thought aloud. “Elsa, were there any signs that Kazia was having any difficulties in life at all?”
Elsa stared at the note and whispered, “Not as far as I know. She had a small row with Matty in the morning of that day, but that was over who got the last slice of toast, so not important.”
“Oh. Is there anyone who really didn’t like her?”
“No. Wait. Yes, yes there is someone. My husband hated her. He was always on at her that she needed to make more of herself. She would just tell him that she was perfectly happy the way she was. The day before her death, Max slapped Kazia in the face for no good reason. He shouted at her that next time it would be a whole lot worse.”
Sherlock swooped in with a question, “Do you have anything, apart from this note, that Kazia wrote?”
“Yes. I shall go and get a birthday card she gave me.” When she came back, Elsa handed me a piece of card with the words: Happy Birthday, Mother! Lots of love, Kazia.
“How recent is this?” Sherlock asked
“My birthday was a week ago.” Elsa told us.
“So her writing hasn’t changed since then?” he asked, suddenly interested.
“No. It hasn’t.” Elsa said, sounding confused as to why this was important.
“Did your husband give you a card last week?” Elsa nodded, “Could you get it for me please?”
As she walked away, Holmes turned to me. “I have a theory, Watson. And I’m hoping it’s correct.” At that moment, Elsa returned with another piece of card. The message was the same as Kazia’s card, except Mother was Wife, and Kazia was Max. Holmes took the card from Elsa, and held it next to the other one. “I see that their handwriting is rather different,” Sherlock commented. He then held Kazia’s card next to the note. “Aha! The writing is different!” Holmes then swapped Kazia’s card for Max’s. “Max’s handwriting is the same as the writing on this note!” He breathed. “Elsa, you mentioned that Max said: Next time it’ll be a whole lot worse. Do you think he would go so far as to actually kill her, and then pretend she killed herself?”
Elsa paused before whispering so quietly we could hardly hear her, “If he was drunk.”
Holmes asked her gently, “Was Max drunk that night?”
Elsa replied in the same almost inaudible voice, “Yes. He was. And he had his knife in his pocket.”
“From the handle of this knife used to kill Kazia, do you think its Max’s knife?” Sherlock asked.
Elsa whispered, “Yes,” before collapsing into my arms. I laid her gently on the floor, and checked her breathing and pulse. “She’s still alive. I think she only fainted.”
“Good. She will need to give evidence against Max in court.” Sherlock sighed. “I suppose we should send a telegram to the police requesting that they come down here and arrest Max when he comes home.” At this point, Elsa recovered. “What happened?”
“You fainted, no damage done,” I told her. “Do you know where Max has gone and when he will be back?”
“He went out to the shop to buy some more meat. He should be back quite soon.” As soon as Elsa finished speaking, there was a knock on the door, and a shout of, “Open up! It’s the police!” I flew down the steps and opened the door. “Are you Max Foxx?” asked the officer.
“No. I am Doctor Watson, companion of Sherlock Holmes, who is at this point upstairs.” I showed the man upstairs to where Elsa and Sherlock were.
Sherlock shook the man’s hand and greeted him, “I am Sherlock Holmes, detective. Who are you?”
“I am Officer Partree.” he told us. To Elsa he said, “I am guessing you are Elsa Foxx, wife of Max Foxx, and mother of the late Kazia Foxx,” he said, gesturing to the body on the bed as he said the last four words. At that moment, the front door slammed open, and then slammed closed. We heard a cry of, “Daddy!” from Matty, and then Max shouted, “Elsa, where are you?” Elsa went pale.
“What should I say?” she whispered to the officer.
“Don’t fret, love, just tell him you’re up here and you have some people to see him,” Officer Partree told Elsa calmly.
Still looking pale, Elsa called down, “I’m in Kazia’s room. There are some people here who need to talk to you.”
When he entered the room and saw a police officer and two men he didn’t know, Max was obviously very confused. “What’re the police doing here, and who are they?”
Sherlock made the first move, “Hello Max, I am Sherlock Holmes, and I am a detective. This here is my companion Doctor Watson.”
“And I am Officer Partree.”
Sherlock continued, “We have reason to believe that you killed your daughter Kazia, and made it look like she committed suicide.”
At this point, Max interrupted, “Hang on, what is your ‘reason to believe’ I killed her?”
“I was just getting to that. This note next to Kazia’s body was not written by her. This birthday card for Elsa last week from Kazia showed us that her handwriting is completely different. This other card to Elsa, this time written by you, has the same handwriting as the note. Also, Elsa told us that the day before her death, Kazia was slapped in the face by you, and you shouted at her that next time it would be a whole lot worse. My final piece of evidence is that you were drunk the night Kazia died, and this knife,” he gestured to the knife stuck in the body, “belongs to you.”
“B…but you still don’t know it was me…” Max faltered. As Officer Partree, Sherlock and I all stared at him, he finally buckled, “Alright so I did do it. I was drunk, and I hated the little idiot. She was asleep and it was the perfect chance. And just so you all know, I don’t regret killing her at all, not one little bit.”
“Max Foxx, you are under arrest for murdering Kazia Foxx,” Officer Partree stated, “and you shall serve the rest of your life in prison.”
As Officer Partree led Max away, I turned to Elsa, “Will you be alright if Holmes and I go back home?”
“Yes, thank you. I think Matty and I are going to move away from where Max is in prison as soon as we find a house, and Kazia has been buried.” She sighed, “I don’t think it’s good to stay here anymore.”
“You are quite right. We shall be taking our leave now, Elsa.” Holmes told her.
We all traipsed down the spiral staircase, Sherlock taking his time with his crutches. When we reached the door, Matty came running to us. “Bye!” he shouted as we opened the door. Holmes turned to him. “Bye Matty. You be good to your mother now, won’t you?” Matty nodded in response. Holmes then turned to Elsa, “I am sure you will be quite fine, but if you ever need anything telegraph this address.” He scribbled down Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson, 221B Baker Street. We stepped outside and walked down the path.
As we sat drinking coffee the next day, I said to Holmes, “That was certainly a very interesting case, wasn’t it Sherlock?”
“Indeed it was, my dear Watson. I just hope Elsa and Matty won’t find themselves caught up in anything like that again.”
“I am sure they won’t, Sherlock. Oh, and also, I forgot to say earlier, this time, try not to drop your coffee on your foot!”