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The East End of London

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Restless. So edgy, so tense.
For the past six years, I'm holed up in this miserable, dilapidated, seedy eastern part of London.
Monitor strapped on my ankle. Caught drug dealing. Confined to an area twelve streets square. If I make one step outside this designated region the monitor sounds a loud alarm; the police station is alerted. I'm located, thrown in prison.


Here I am. Might as well be confined in a cell.

Sitting outside at a cafe, table for two. Sargeant Greg Lestrade and I drinking coffee, smoking a cigarette. The weather is warm enough to warrant my sleeves rolled up. The Sargeant has been leading the discourse most of the time. Only grunts and nods from me.

          " You're very quiet today, Sherlock. Anything wrong?" Taking a drag, blowing the smoke out towards him, "I'm disgusted with this place. Want out."

          "Ah, but you know that's impossible. At least for four more years," his smile glossing over what I know is in his mind.

          " I know, I know," glancing at the passersby. A cross-section of all types of people out at this time of day. From moms with baby carriages tugging older ones along to old men shuffling. And then there are the winos and addicts. Easy to spot them.

Sargeant Greg Lestrade is the district police officer in charge. His promotion to Inspector will be a given if he catches me outside my perimeter. But, even with his ulterior motive, we've become good friends. Sharing a drink and smoke together, discussing politics.


          "It isn't enough that I saved you from an overdose years ago. You had to go back and begin to deal drugs," a full sigh, "what you need is someone to look after you."

          "If it weren't for my brother Mycroft, I would be in prison right now. He's the one that oversees me. But a right ass he is," taking another sip of the strong brown liquid.

          "Hey, if it weren't for him and his contacts higher up in the police department, you'd be behind bars," emphasizing by crossing his legs. His slim legs. He's still very fit for a man almost sixty.

          "For me, it might as well be four walls. I'm stifled, "rising, tamping my cigarette out in the blue ashtray and walking off without saying goodbye.


On West East End Street Mycroft procured a flat for me in an old apartment building with no elevator.

It's only three stories, and I live on the top floor. One bedroom, a bathroom, a large living room. It has a dormer window in the bedroom that leads out onto a roof. I sometimes sit out there in the evening and can see the larger buildings in the central part of London. I dream of walking there someday soon.


The only other concession Mycroft made to my living space is buying brand new kitchen appliances to fit into the eat-in kitchen. Otherwise, the furniture is from an antique store, well worn but still usable.


I receive a small allowance from my trust, Mycroft holding the rest until I show him I can remain clean.
But-I don't have my freedom.


I've met many of the residents and the people in the surrounding houses and shops. My closest friends are Molly, a woman in her forties, who tends to her sick mother and won't leave this area until mom passes.
There's George, short and pudgy, been in and out of jail for petty thievery and his violent temper. He lives across the hall from me, and most evenings we spend eating fish and chips and watching telly. And Frank, a man who comes and goes in my life. He loves telling me stories of what is happening in the rest of the city.

          "George, have to get out of here. You can help me."

          "Aw, come on Sherlock. Stop this talk, " remote in hand, flipping through the stations.

          "I can't take this place anymore. Want to walk freely around London."

          "Patience. It won't be long now," finding a station with a science fiction movie just starting. Harumphing, I sit back and watch although my mind is not really on the show.


Within these streets, dark and dirty is an anomaly.

A pub that has garnered a reputation for its uniqueness. An establishment called the Casbah. A Moroccan woman, Odessa, bought it and renovated the entire inside.

The walls are a stippled a tan color as if to mimic the desert sand. The bar inundates around the back of the pub, shifting in color from beige to a peanut brown. The dance floor and the band area weave around a series of poles carved to be cactus trees.
A separate no-nonsense room houses three felt tables, two wheels, and six one-armed bandits. Gambling is the main reason for her establishment. It has been a favorite stopping place for tourists whether from England or other countries.


          " Sherlock Holmes, your looks, your voice could lure the sirens out of their ocean beds. Man or woman," Odessa, the proprietor, will joke with me, reaching a hand up to run her fingers through my curls which always tumble around my face, unmanageable.

I'm very slim, disliking the outdoors and so I'm pale-skinned. My eyes are hazel, sometimes turning a blue, and women seem to find me attractive.


Most of the patrons are wealthy. Odessa insists on her customers wearing suits, ties, and dresses for the ladies. It's common to see jewels sparkling on wrist and necks of those around the tables.
I sing with the band, wait tables, assist in any way I can, trying to make sure the men visit the gambling room. I receive a small percentage of the take during this time.


I'm very adept at dancing, having taken lessons at an early age and can keep the ladies occupied in this way.

I haven't had a relationship since my years in secondary school, and it was he, a young man, who introduced me to the drug world and love. I've kept away from any romance since then.