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Portrait of a (High-Functioning Sociopathic) Lady

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28th August


A Scandal in Belgravia


Make no mistake about it: Sherlock is a phenomenon. You only get a faint echo of what the man can do from this little blog of mine. Doesn’t mean that things always go according to plan, though.


Early yesterday, a pompous City type, all starch and self-absorption, descended on Baker Street. At first, he was reluctant to explain his business, so Sherlock gave him the once-over and began to explain it for him. Realizing what sort of a ride he had just boarded, Wilhelm Gottsreich Sigismond von Ormstein (who must have had a really rough time at school) reluctantly admitted why he needed our help. Money that von Ormstein had invested for a quick profit with an eye to his upcoming wedding had disappeared in some kind of Internet scam, run by a phantom company called the Pax Foundation. Rather embarrassing, for a City high-flier. Sherlock yawned, stretched, and asked whether the girlfriend who had walked out on our friend Wilhelm when she discovered that he was sleeping with his bride-to-be behind her back was named “Irene”, and whether she had a background in computers. Herr von Ormstein’s expression at that made my morning.  Eventually, he confessed that he had indeed been dating a woman called Irene Adler, who was a tech genius, and that the break-up had been (his word) “complicated”.


Rattling through his reasoning for my benefit at his customary rate of knots (traces from two different colors of dried lip-stick on von Ormstein’s suit; the characteristic shaving pattern of the Lesser Spotted Love Rat; “cherchez la femme”; “Pax” being the Latin for the Greek “Irene”; plus, as usual, a lot more I don’t remember), Sherlock dragged me off to Belgravia, in order to inspect Ms. Adler’s apartment. Landladies are, to a woman, a helpful bunch (hope you’re reading this, Mrs. H!) and Irene Adler’s gave us a pretty fair picture of her tenant: American, small, skinny, dark hair and skin, darting eyes, and the expression of one crushed by habitual tedium. On reflection, I should really have paid more attention to that moment of déjà vu when we heard about Ms. Adler’s rants, to the few individuals who would put up with her, about how STUPID people are, and how they just blunder through life without NOTICING anything.  Checking her bookshelves for clues did not yield much (George Eliot; George Sands; a copy of Nabokov’s short stories open at “The Vane Sisters”; a Bible open at Psalm 119), but the landlady also told us where in Hyde Park her tenant had recently taken to eating her packed lunch.


Knowing Sherlock as I do, I was not surprised that he insisted on whisking me straight to that very spot by the Serpentine, so that we could confront Irene Adler face-to-face. However, a surprise was in store.  Of course, Sherlock fixed her at once with that all-seeing stare of his. Little had I suspected, though, that we would ever run into a woman who gave him The Stare straight back. Minutes seemed to pass as they gazed in concentration at one another. Eyes aglow, Irene Adler broke into a smile, like a bored child that had finally found a toy worth her attention. Sherlock smiled back; I considered suggesting that the two of them get a room; and then they both darted off. In opposite directions.


Running is no fun for an Afghanistan vet with a limp, psychosomatic or not. Even Harry would allow me that, if he could ever be persuaded to sober up for long enough to admit it. Nonetheless, I just about managed to keep pace with Sherlock until we identified the nearby tree in which Irene Adler had temporarily stashed the emeralds she had bought with the proceeds from defrauding her two-timing boyfriend. Even a stray scrap of lichen on a trouser-suit can give you away, if Sherlock is the one doing the looking. Adler, he predicted, would already have fled, since she knew that this time she had encountered someone she could not outsmart.  


Drunk with success, we headed back to Baker Street, where we were both promptly arrested and detained under the Prevention of Terrorism Act by police who had been sent there on an anonymous tip-off. Little Miss Adler had been working out where Sherlock and I lived while he was working out where she had hidden the jewels; when we were still in Hyde Park uprooting trees, she was at our flat planting evidence. Evidence which we could quickly refute, of course, but not before, in the ensuing confusion, the confiscated emeralds had somehow disappeared.


Rarely does one high-functioning sociopathic genius tangle with another, and I suppose that’s something for which we should all be very thankful.




Oh, that is just delicious. Brava! You must keep this, John. You really must. But then, I bet she made sure you couldn’t delete the entry when she finished writing it, didn’t she?

Sherlock Holmes 28 August 2010 23:44


That’s what the Tech Support bloke at the blog website said when I told him my account had been hacked. According to him, she’s managed to interfere with the site at such a fundamental level that this entry just comes back whenever they try to delete it. He wasn’t even sure how that was possible. What told you that it was Adler who wrote that entry and not me? And don’t you mean “bravo”?

John Watson 28 August 2010 23:47


“Bravo” is for a man, John. “Brava” is for a woman. Are you entirely indifferent to the niceties of gender? The entry is a tolerable facsimile of your deathless prose, but the true authorship is obvious: she gives herself away with Americanisms (“colors”, “vet”);  she recognizes, unlike you, that the full stop is under most circumstances preferable to the exclamation mark; she makes the same mistake about your sister that I did (must you leave your Blackberry where people with eyes can see it?); the contents of her bookshelf are there to help the slow of thinking; and finally, of course, there is the acrostic.

 Sherlock Holmes 28 August 2010 23:50


“Bravo”. “Brava”. Whatever. She’s a hacker, not a bloody opera singer. What acrostic?

John Watson 28 August 2010 23:51


Read sequentially the first letter of each sentence in the body of the entry.

Sherlock Holmes 28 August 2010 23:52


Oh, I see. That’s really rather sweet. I can almost forgive her that strip-search now. Almost. You two would make a lovely high-functioning sociopathic couple. If she hadn’t pwned you, and then scarpered.

John Watson 28 August 2010 23:56


“Pwned” isn’t a word, John. It’s an abomination.

Sherlock Holmes 28 August 2010 23:57


It’s your turn to buy the milk again, tomorrow. Keep an eye out at the supermarket. I hear that humble pie’s on special offer...

John Watson 28 August 2010 23:59