A Christmas Chairity Case

A Christmas Chairity Case

by Brad Keefauver

Hello, my name is Shanta Holmes.

Say it just like Sean Connery would say it: “Shawn-tah Holmes.” Then add more Connery.

I have to write up my own cases, because Mrs. Holmes is busy making cookies and explaining the whole process to the elves in that deep falsetto voice of hers like she’s on some cooking show. Ol’ Johnny might be crazy, but she’s good in the old sack, if you know what I mean. And as everyone knows, Santa’s sack has magic in it, as well as the dimensional storage of a government blacksite warehouse. That is what I meant.

So let’s get down to business. I want to tell you about the time old Charles Augustus Milverton got taken off the naughty list, the hard way. Call it an object lesson.

Charles Augustus Milverton was about the slimiest old grinch that the London gene pool ever produced. He had a way of getting all of the family secrets out of any house in London like he slipped down the chimney and bagged them all up.

I had just got back from my annual Christmas sleigh run, on a frosty North Pole morning, pretty much the same morning as every North Pole morning. When I had dropped the sack, tossed the hat onto its hook, hung up the coat, and just reached for that one last cookie on the table next to my big chair before settling in to relax, I saw that damned card on the table next to the cookie plate:

Charles Augustus Milverton

Appledore Towers,

Mount Crumpit, London SE

The one inevitability.

I turned it over and saw a badly scrawled message: “Will call at 7 AM. Me.”

Spinning it into the fireplace led Mrs. Holmes to ask me about it as it burned.

“Well, what was that all about?” she asked in her husky attempt at classic feminity.

“The worst person ever to inhabit a Christmas story,” I growled, sitting down and stretching my sleigh-cramped legs. “He’s paying us a visit. I’ve had a million children on my naughty list since I took up this profession, and none of them ever had such a potential to stink-stank-stunk up our sitting room like this one. And yet, I had to have Rudolph bring him up.”

“Such a red-noser, that Rudolph. But why invite the old grinch here?

“Because elves are damned lousy snipers, my dear Johnny. You’d think Storm Troopers were all elves under that armor, elves are so bad at aiming projectiles. Tried to have them take him out, but no such luck. So now I have to deal with him.”

Huddles, the kitchen elf, brought in some fresh cookies and a mug of fresh yeti milk.

“Company coming, Mistah H?” squeaked Huddles. “Should I bring up the guest cookies?”

“He won’t be staying long,” I replied. There was a barking from the lane outside as a hound-drawn sleigh pulled up.

Charles Augustus Milverton was a round, plump man of fifty wearing a red coat and pants trimming with polar bear fur. His black boots and red cap would have been more suited to a Nazi general than one of my many imitators, which was a purposeful divergence on his part. He wanted the very sight of him to make you want to punch his pink little nose. His gold-rimmed glasses and nasal voice would have equally inspired any schoolyard bully to knock him down just on general principles.

“Should Mrs. Holmes be hearing this?” Milverton asked.

“Johnny is my friend and partner,” I replied, voice tight with the restraint I was using to keep from laying the old grinch out.

“Then let’s get down to business. Your fiscal year for 1887 is done, and I want a piece of 1888. If I don’t get paid at the end of each month prior to December, I assure you, I have the means to make Christmas 1888 limited to all of London singing ‘Dahoo Dores’ while tears stream down the faces of every street urchin. What you can deliver, I can undeliver.”

“This is not a for-profit operation,” I stated flatly. “We don’t pay out monthly dividends.”

Milverton’s smile grew three sizes at that.

“I am aware of that. I am also aware of your funding sources. Your brother may not be aware of just how much a certain consultant I work with knows of his books. The money can be found, Mr. Holmes. The money can be found.”

“If what you say is true, then why aren’t you talking to my brother about this?”

“Your dear brother, Mr. Holmes, is in a sugar coma after he was treated to far too many compliments of the season by certain friends of mine. I thought it best to deal directly with you.”

I set my milk mug on the chairside table and rose to my feet. Then I gave Johnny a wink. She blushed, then nodded.

Milverton slid, as if on ice, to the side of the room with his back against the wall.

“Shanta, Shanta, Shanta,” he said, mispronouncing it in a most non-Connery way every single time. He opened his coat and pulled out a large revolver in his right fist, then another in his left. “Did you think I’d walk into enemy territory completely unprepared?”

The door opened and Milverton’s hound, Max, appeared with another revolver, pressed to the head of Huddles the elf.

“I see my ride has arrived,” he chortled. “Make the necessary arrangements, jolly old saint, and everything will go just merrily next Christmas. I do hate to dash away, but I have other stops to make this morning, and Easter is coming on quickly. The rabbit is behind.”

I looked at little Huddles, gun barrel pushing in the pointy tip of his left ear. The elf looked back at me and started to make what might have sounded like a long whimpering whine to our guests.

Myself and Mrs. Holmes being much more familiar with our domestic help knew that it was just the warm-up to a much longer, louder, full-pitched elven song that was a favorite of Huddles: the classic by Mr. Carl Douglas, aptly titled “Kung Fu Fighting.”

When the “OH HO HO HOOOOOOOO!” portion finally emerged from his lips, I saw Milverton’s eyes widen in panic, as the old grinch foresaw what animal abuse was about to occur.

Out of respect for PETA and dog lovers everywhere I will spare readers the details of what did occur next, and suffice it to say that Mrs. Holmes took advantage of the distraction to club Milverton with a wooden folding chair she kept on hand for just such occasions. The gun fell from his hand, and the chair-clubbing continued in a manner that might not have been written of here had Milverton been actually birthed from the loins of a bitch and not just called out as such by many insightful observers of his behaviour.

It was not until Boxing Day that Inspector Lestrade called upon us to bring his compliments of the season that year.

“Did you hear they found Milverton in the Thames, looking as if he had fallen there from a great height?” Lestrade asked.

“No, I hadn’t,” I answered. No one had told me a thing about it. Honest truth.

“It’s a real knotty problem, and I’d like to get your help on it. The pattern of bruising upon his body looked as though he took a savage beating from a folding chair, much like that one you keep for extra guests over there.” Lestrade gestured to Johnny’s favorite folding chair.

“Dear me!” I replied. “Do you expect a wrestler for this? Is Braun a likely suspect?”

Mrs. Holmes gave a demure smile of amused irony, her broad shoulders giving a quick girlish clench of delight at the thought of the beast of Fumbles Gymnsasium being suspect in a chair-thrashing such as she herself had given him the previous summer.

“I’ll put him on my list,” Lestrade replied, “but I’m sure you will have a more specific villain in your sights once you’ve looked into the case.”

“It’s Boxing Day, Lestrade,” I told him, “and in the spirit of the season, I am inclined to let this one go. Come, have a mug of yeti nog and join us in a chorus of ‘Dahoo Dores.’ I do love the classics at this time of year!”

As we raised our great mugs and joined in song, I could not help but turn my gaze to that regal and stately lady who stood opposite me. I laid one finger alongside of my nose and gave it a tap.

“Welcome, welcome Boxing Day!” I sang, knowing that Christmas 1888 would come along just as incident free as 1887 had.