I knew things were not going to end well when I saw how they were starting. Creepy declaring that the game is afoot, and putting on his special Sherlock hat, is never a good sign.
I say ‘special’, because it was actually one he’d made himself, and it was bright green. Sometimes it was hard to tell if he was meant to be Sherlock Holmes, or a Leprechaun with some sort of horrible vitamin deficiency. The rest of his costume didn’t make it any easier to identify him, since he didn’t have much else. His raincoat was a green vinyl thing left to him by his old granny (or so he’d have you believe), and pipes made him queasy. He did have a magnifying glass, but it was a little plastic one he’d found in a cereal box. All in all, it just wasn’t the best likeness.
“I suppose I don’t see how a birthday invitation in the mail automatically means someone’s been murdered.”
“That’s always how it starts, real innocent-like,” Creepy drawled. “And then suddenly some poor sap finds himself gettin’ shot full o’ holes, see, usually by some broad with gams that don’t quit.”
Oh yeah, and his impersonations left a lot to be desired.
“Look, it’s addressed to someone called Carl. It’s obviously been sent to the wrong house.”
“Way too obvious, toots,” Creepy waved a dismissive hand. “That envelope has no address or stamp, it was clearly delivered in person.”
“We should dust it for prints.”
“I don’t think Sherlock dusted for prints. Not routinely, anyway. It was the Nineteenth Century, and I think they only started-”
“Either someone thought this Carl stoolie lived here,” Creepy said, “and put this letter in our mailbox thinking it was his, which means they were watching him but didn’t know him and that he was here at some point, to give his watchers the idea that he lived here.”
“Or the envelope was left here intentionally as a clue, from someone who wants us to take the case.”
“Or a Charlie. Or a rube.”
“A rube, really?”
“Either way, it points to Carl being out of the picture,” Creepy dusted his hands. “Murdered.”
“Or any of those things you said, and Carl somewhere else and not murdered.”
“You’ve got a lot to learn.”
“So Carl is dead and he’s been invited to a birthday party and the card ended up here because either someone didn’t know him well enough to know where he lived but wanted him at the party and thought he lived here for some unnecessarily complicated reason, or someone knew Carl didn’t live here and gave us the invitation anyway.”
“Or a bunch of other explanations, like this letter actually being for Yool, the horrifyingly buff Christmas tree who has been here the whole time, or else something else like some kid taking mail out of someone’s box and why am I even bothering to say this, you’re not listening.”
“There’s only one way to find out why the poor stiff’s invitation was sent to us.”
“We have to go to that party.”
“Dressed like that?” I looked at the invitation. “It’s not a fancy dress party.”
“Let’s saddle up, trailhand.”
“Do you even know which role you’re copying anymore?”
“You can’t handle the truth.”