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Romancing the Pearl

Chapter Text

The private detective stopped to look at the vicious serial killer, “and to think that I was nearly afraid of you! You are pathetic!” It was the end of a lengthy game of cat and mouse, but finally the last kidnapped girl was safe.

The man screamed as he was pulled away by the cop, “you have nothing against me! I am not the killer!”

Looking at the fighting bastard as his men pushed him in the car, the chief sighed. “Hope you’ve got something against him, Tanner, because I certainly don’t understand what’s going on!”

The private detective, unable to resist a touch of dramatic, laughed as he knocked on the top of the car. “Bring him to the Yard, I am going to explain everything…”  Turning over, he winked at a young recruit before going back to his flat for a good whisky.  

The void of his life disappeared for a while from the satisfaction of having done something right.

For once.

- The End -

Yep, that’s done. Satisfied and nodding to himself, John closed his laptop and looked around him for a little treat to celebrate. But the flat was bare of good chocolate, bearable alcohol or tolerable tea. I need to go to the shops.

He sighed deeply, happy that his novel was over. It was probably going to do great, as usual, but it was getting... kind of boring. His free time nearly one hundred per cent dedicated to writing, it was getting harder and harder to find something exhilarating to write about. The few non-earth-shaking dates he went on did nothing to rock his world. Maybe I can switch to medical drama instead? I am a doctor after all.

Getting up, he cracked his neck, thinking for the umpteenth time that he wasn’t a young man anymore. I shouldn’t stay at my desk for hours without moving a bit. Looking at the time instinctively, he realized that it was nearly time for the meeting with his editor. Fuck, I’ve got just enough time for a quick shower… I’ll go to the shops on my way back.

 

Tribute to his military background, he was locking his door fifteen minutes later.  Rushing down the stairs, one of his meddling neighbours stopped him. No, he sighed silently, not today!  

“Doctor Watson! How are you!” the old lady asked with a mischievous grin.

“Good, good, Ms Maxwell, but I am – “

“Always going somewhere, I know…” She paused, patting John’s arm. “You know, you should find a sweet young girl! My niece is –“

“Certainly perfect, Ms Maxwell, but I am not looking for anyone and –“

“Yes, yes, but my Ethel is really wonderful, she loves children and –“

“I’m sorry, but I have to go –“

“Oh, young man are all the same, always running. Always. One day you are going to be old like me.” She sighed. “And die, all alone.”

Feeling a bit bad, he tried to cheer her up, “you are in perfect shape, Ms Maxwell, you are going to outlive all of us!”

“You are sure that you don’t want to talk to my sister’s daughter?” She replied, full of hope.

“No, sorry, but now I really have to go!” He was about to go down the stairs when she stopped him again.

“Oh, I’ve got something for you, doctor, the delivery man gave it to me yesterday.” She started shaking her big bag, looking for the small envelope as John discreetly rolled his eyes. “Ah! Got it!” She extended her hand and gave the small white envelope to her neighbour.

“Thank you, got to go now I am really late!” Shoving it in his coat pocket he finally hurried out of the building.

 

 

“John!” Stamford called from the bar. “How are you!” Quickly waving for the barman, he asked for another whisky for his protégé. “We need to celebrate! The second instalment of The Dark Detective just reached the top of the Mystery list!”

Smiling, the doctor sat in a stool next to his friend, now editor. It was still weird for him to have a business relationship with his university mate, Mike… but he accepted the drink with a good spirit and lifted his glass at the glory of his hero success.  Not really listening to Stamford babbling about book clubs and paperback re-editions, the familiar feeling of being a fraud seized his mind. To think that so many writers are waiting for a breakthrough without hope, really talented people… When I… I simply got the chance to know the right person.  When he started to write a blog at his therapist’s insistence, he never thought that one day he would become a professional writer. Not wanting to write about the war, it was not something he liked to think about, he started to write short stories full of spies and detectives before setting on a taciturn hero, intelligent but full of himself, who always solved the case and got the girl. Keeping them to his blog, instead of websites dedicated to auto-publishing, he left his little nuggets of nonsense available to anyone to see without advertising anything. But here he was, two novels later and on top of the bestselling list.  To think that all this happened because I took a walk that day and stumbled upon Mike Stamford in that damn park!

“You are lost in your mind, John,” Stamford teased, “thinking about a lady?” The wink that followed was one of the worst attempts of a wink in the bar’s lengthy history.

“Can’t believe you’re still unable to wink, Mike. God, you are terrible!”

“Yeah, I know. But seriously mate, do you have any ladies on your mind? Or gents, I don’t mind.”

John was suddenly serious. “There is someone out there for me… I know. But I haven’t found them.” 

Winking a bit more effectively, the other man shook his head, “you need to go out to find someone, you are not going to just fall in the arms of a perfect partner!” Turning around, he spotted an attractive thirty-something, “go talk to her, she looks nice!”

“Mike…” his friend chided, a bit tired of the way everyone always tried to match him with someone.

“I just want you to be happy!”

“I am a famous writer,” John joked, trying to put the spotlight away from him, “I am happy.”

“You are a famous ANONYMOUS writer,” Mike stated, seriously, “does anyone know that you write? That you are the man behind John Baker?”

“No, and it’s better that way. When I am at work, I am a doctor. That’s all. Too many pitfalls come with fame.”

Shaking his head at the lost opportunity, Mike protested, “you know, every day I refuse interviews from major channels and -”

“Only magazines or websites and only in writing. That was my deal and I’m still holding you to it. And I am not talking about being a doctor, I don’t want people to add one and one and find me.”

“It’s true that knowing that you are an ex-soldier and a doctor would be a dead giveaway…”

“This is why it’s going to remain as we are right now…” Getting a USB drive from the back pocket of his trousers, he placed it in front of his old friend. “Are you interested in a third tome?”

“Oh my God! WAITER! Another round!”

 

 

A few hours later, he seriously doesn’t remember that much now, John tried to walk up the stairs to his floor without killing himself. These evil, evil, evil stairs. My next building is going to have a lift… I really need to move to somewhere better; I am rich now. First floor, second floor, AH! third floor. Holding the wall, he was able to reach his door without swaying too much. Finally! Getting out his keys, he put a hand on the doorknob when – to his surprise – the door opened by itself. Suddenly sober, he frowned. What the Hell! I always lock the door! Entering the flat cautiously, he groaned at the sight in front of him.

His neat flat was in shambles! Every drawer empty on the floor, his kitchen floor full of broken dishes, his books in disarray! The flat had been ransacked as if someone was looking for something! I don’t understand, I have nothing of value. Rushing to his bedroom as fast as he could, he opened his wardrobe and opened a panel to reveal a secret compartment.  Finally catching his breath, he checked that his military medals, dog tags as well as his sidearm were still there. Thank God, they haven’t found this!

He was about to call the police when his phone rang.

“Hello?”

“John Watson?” a man with a foreign accent asked.

“… yes.”

“I have someone who wants to talk to you.”

The sound of someone mumbling angrily replaced the static and echoes on the line. “John?”

“Harry? Is this you?” It was the first contact he had with his sister in weeks, “where are you?”

“Johnny, listen to me. You need to do something for me, okay, -“

“Of course, what’s happening? What do you -”

“Have you received something in the mail from South America?” She interrupted nervously.

Feeling for the envelope in his coat pocket, he squinted his eyes to read the address, “yes, got something in the mail from Colombia.”

“Yes, that’s it! You need to bring it to me!”

“What? I can send it by FedEx, it will be quicker and –“

“No! You need to bring it to me –“ the noise of someone taking the phone stopped his sister’s supplication.

“Better listen to your sister, Doctor Watson, bring the envelope to the Palace Casa in Cartagena and don’t talk to the police.” The ominous voice said, chuckling, “if you love your sister of course.”

A second later, the line cut off, leaving a shaken John holding the phone. Harry, what have you done!