Sherlock spots the man before he even sits down at his table. Somewhere in the background John is rambling on about his day at work, and in the kitchen the cook is spitting in a green salad, and a young man who is definitely not over eighteen is perched on a barstool with his legs swinging off of the ground and ordering a
It’s white noise.
He’s at a table in the corner, away from the windows, sitting across from a woman (Blonde, Caucasian, lower-middle class judging by her lipstick, ink stains on the right sleeve and writer’s callous on her right middle finger indicate dominant hand, job that requires writing- fake nails make her a secretary) who is currently spearing a green bean with her fork.
Sherlock narrows his eyes, blocks out the noise, and concentrates on the man’s back.
Thinning hair. Mid-thirties, early-onset male pattern baldness.
Holds glass in left hand. Better-developed musculature there. Indicates left-handedness, labor-intensive job.
Jeans worn in seat of pants. Hems are ripped. Naturally faded. Not designer, then.
Mud on heels.
Large biceps, arms. Well-defined shoulder muscles. Carries things regularly.
Cut on right hand, covered by gauze. Placement would suggest work-place accident, except there’s another series of scratches, just above the wrist.
Fingernail scratches. Too thick for knives, too shallow for work nails, too insignificant for heavy machinery.
Long red hair on shirt collar. Probably female.
Handles steak knife with familiarity.
Sherlock’s in the zone now and he sets off, not pausing to remove his coat or scarf.
Back at the table, John groans and sits down heavily to watch, too tried from a long
day tending to patients to stop his companion.
Sherlock stops at the corner table and the man looks up, glaring at the interruption.
The girl smiles politely.
“Um… sorry, do I know you?”
Use of the pronoun “I”. Indicates singularity. From the way she looks at him, not a first date, but definitely a second or third. Probably second, from the way his foot jerks away from hers under the table as Sherlock approaches. From the front, the man is clean-shaven, bespectacled. Strong jaw, gritted now (clenching his teeth). Widow’s peak fading out into rapidly thinning temple-hair. Strong but unassuming.
Sherlock pulls a chair from a nearby table and sits down next to the table, throwing one of his long arms over the back nonchalantly. The construction worker/serial killer (Sherlock is sure about it, now- the man’s obviously got a thing for women with fake nails, judging by the watch strap, and he’s got mother issues- see that squint?) scowls at him over the wire-rimmed glasses. “Excuse me, but do you want something?” his voice is clipped, angry. “We’re sort of in the middle of something.”
Sherlock ignores him, turning his attention to the girl.
“You don't want to go with him. He'll have you chopped into a dozen bits before the night is out."
Her eyes widen. “What?”
“Chopped. Little pieces. With a knife. Big one, too, probably a hunter’s, with a serrated edge for cutting through the thicker muscles… anyway, you should probably go. I’m sure he’ll take care of the check.” Sherlock glances over at his table for a minute. John has his chin on his hands, watching intently, if with exasperation.
The man is outraged. “Look, just who do you think you are?” He says, raising his voice. The blonde’s looking pale- she’s focused on the throbbing vein in her date’s forehead and the steak knife he’s clenching in his hand.
“Joe?” she says, tentatively, and he looks back at her furtively.
“This guy’s insane.” He snarls. “Leave us alone!”
Sherlock raises an eyebrow. “I really don’t think that would be a good idea.” He gestures to the man’s shoes. “There’s a red stain on the sole of your boot- it could be jam, but I doubt jam leaves rusty flakes on the floor when you walk.” The man glances at his feet, and then at the linoleum floor of the restaurant- sure enough, tiny red streaks. “Going by the texture and thickness of the stains I’d say it’s probably blood, dried in the past few days, must be within a week or it would have all come off in Sunday’s rain, which means you stepped in it between now and Monday evening. Your coat is new and has been bought from a shop in West Wickam, and the mud on the back of your shoes is a type most commonly found in Croydon, so I’d say you’ve been there recently- probably on the weekend. You obviously don’t live there, however, because your pants have stains of a completely different kind of mud usually found in Greenwich- very distinctive silt type. On Sunday a young woman named Beth Ansem went missing from Croydon- mid-twenties, red hair, fake nails. There’s a red hair on your shirt and scratches from acrylic nails on your hands. You have rope burns on your fingers and knuckles, showing that you’ve recently struggled while tying something moving. By your deftness with the steak knife can see that you’re more than capable with a blade, and as you’re a construction worker you’re definitely strong enough to subdue a young woman and hack through her sinews. You’ve taken this lady on your second date tonight and when you finish the meal you’re going to ask her back to your flat, except it isn’t your flat, and you’re going to tie her up and chop her into tiny, easily disposable bits. Did I leave anything out?”
The man gapes at Sherlock for a long moment before bolting up from his chair and streaking towards the door. Suddenly the man’s legs meet with very solid metal, sending him face-first onto the floor and into unconsciousness. John gives Sherlock a thumbs-up from across the room and takes a sip of water, pinning the man to the ground with the tip of his cane.
The corner of Sherlock’s mouth twitches upwards.
In his thankfully quiet office, Lestrade is preparing to go home for the night when he gets a text message.
Caught serial killer. Come at once. Kelley’s Pub on Walker Street.
P.S. What do you want to drink?