Sunday, August 24, 2008

CJunk Oldies: The Case of the Crooked Faced Man

Over the many years of documenting the very singular tribulations and investigations of my most distinguished peer, Mr. Sherlock Holmes, I can hardly recall a more singular case than that of the Crooked Faced Man. Oft time, the sensitivity and confidential manner of Holmes’ cases exclude me from publishing their accounts. As such, the public is left with little or no knowledge of the astounding events that transpire within our fair metropolis. Surely the public craves to know the complete details of the adventure of the “missing millions”, the odd occurrence of the “disappearing revolvers”, or the peculiar incident of the “loop-less flags”, however Holmes always exercises the strictest confidentiality with his clients, and thus I fear the details of those and many more cases must remain sealed forever.

Fortunately, enough time has transpired between now and the shocking occasion of the Crooked Faced Man, that it may be revealed in full detail. As I recollect it, the incident first came to Holmes’ attention with the arrival of a telegram at our Baker street lodgings. On observing Holmes read the telegram, I took note of that most familiar concentration of his that seemed to take hold of his entire body. In the strict silence, I knew Holmes’ brilliant analytical mind was hard at work turning over the details of the telegram, which obviously represented a new case. Finally, Holmes looked up from the message.

"I knew Holmes’ brilliant analytical mind was hard at work..."

“Most penetrating news Watson, most penetrating. Surely you have read the papers already, tell me, what is the matter of most paramount interest in the news this morrow?”

“Well I should respectfully submit that it is the matter of the fluctuating polls," responded I, "and the surprising lead taken by the Conservative Party of Canada in the run up to the election.”

“Indeed, Watson, indeed. Now certainly you are a most learned and partisan fellow who follows matters of politics closely. Because my primary occupational concern is crime and the belligerent element, I am very much aware of political matters, however I believe your own knowledge extends beyond mine. So, if you would be so kind as to enlighten me Watson, a quick refresher as it were, on the primary political parties as it pertains directly to the case that so recently came to my attention.”

“Certainly Holmes. As you’ll recall, the two principal parties are the Conservative Party of Canada and the Liberal party of Canada, headed respectively by one Mr. Stephen Harper and, of course, our Prime Minister Paul Martin. Mr. Harper is a devoted young standpat and achiever, and Mr. Martin a prominent industrialist. Currently Mr. Martin’s Liberals are embroiled in scandal after scandal which has plagued them since the unpleasant party leadership battles. You might also recall the New Democratic Party headed by the rather peculiar utopian socialist Mr. Jack Layton, and of course rebel separatist Gille Duceppe, leader of the Bloc Quebecois.”

“Of course Watson, a very interesting cadre of political players. However, it would appear at this moment we need only be concerned with the first two. Furthermore, the issue of the Liberal leadership changes is of great concern. But I digress, it so happens that the telegram that most recently arrived has come from the higher powers of the Liberal party. They require our services, and have requested that we should meet them this very afternoon in old Ottawa town. Surely you won’t disapprove of a hansom cab ride at this hour of the day Watson.”

“Of course not Holmes, as you know I am always delighted to follow the exploits of your deductive consultations and offer what limited insight I can.”

“Then it is settled. We shall be off at once.”

Our journey through the brisk January air was uneventful, and we arrived at the national headquarters of the Liberal Party of Canada in a timely fashion. Awaiting us was a timid lanky fellow of tall stature who looked as though he was at the limits of his calm and collectiveness. Meekly introducing himself as Mr. Reid, he shuffled forth, fell upon his knees, and pleadingly implored Holmes.

“Oh horror, Mr. Holmes, horror! We are faced with ruin, utter ruination I tell you. And it is sabotage, there is nothing else for it but ruthless interference. You must help us Holmes, you are the only one who can!”

"You must help us Holmes, you are the only one who can!”

“Please Mr. Reid, collect yourself. I am of no help unless you impart to me the full details of your conundrum.”
“Of course. Oh but they are most heinous. The portents are utterly cruel and the gods frown upon us all! I can only assume you have read the papers and seen the news. The dastardly CPC have taken a 2 point lead! Oh woe to us. It all began at the outset of campaign. Scandal after scandal has been leaked to the public. Under the duress of these damning allegations the simple public cannot comprehend that the Liberal Party must be elected for the common good and preservation of Canada.”

“Very perplexing,” offered Holmes, “I can only imagine that you have made the simple deduction that some agent is at work within your campaign, bent on thwarting it.”

“Surely this is the case Mr. Holmes, and what’s more, we have several clues as to his identity. Last night one of our offices was burgled. The thief managed to acquired some documents of utter importance, documents whose revelation to the public would spell utter doom to our party, and hence, the country. The bandit left little trace of his coming and going, save this peculiar small white dimpled orb with the letters GMGC stenciled finely upon it. Also, a watchman questioned after the incident made clear that an unsightly fellow seemed to be showing a keen interest in the office building and surrounding area.”

Holmes took the peculiar white object from Mr. Reid and studied it in minute detail.

“Most enlightening. This single clue, and the revelations of the night watchman have made clear the vast majority of the case.”

“But how can such a trivial and perplexing object finalize the matter? What conclusions have you come to Mr. Holmes, I beg of you tell me now, I am at my wits end!” Reid was becoming hysterical.

“You will find, dear sir, that the matter is of trifling simplicity, however there are yet one or two details to be cleared up. Watson and I must make a short trip. On the completion of our venture, we shall contact you with the complete details of the matter, although I cannot promise that they will put your mind at ease.”

With that we left the wailing Liberal campaigner and hailed a cab. On Holmes’ instructions, the hansom turned towards the affluent Sussex neighborhood of Ottawa.

"With that we left the wailing Liberal campaigner and hailed a cab."

“Well then Watson, have you managed to attain a rudimentary grasp of the case yet?”

“I fear I can make neither heads nor tails of the matter, nor do I understand how you might have solved it already.”

“Surely Watson it is most elementary. But worry not, for it shall all be made clear in good time.” Holmes’ added, “I recall that on several previous undertakings you had presence of mind enough to pack your trusty revolver. Might I query if you have done so today?”

“Indeed I have Holmes! Are you suggesting that there is danger afoot?”

“If my deductions are correct then there may well be Watson. You are a sturdy fellow of stalwart bearing and constitution, and we have seen much danger together, I trust you are ready to face peril this day?”

“Of course Holmes, always!”

“Very good. I believe we have now reached our objective, and the right words to the maid shall show us to the study of this particular residence.”

Holmes and I indeed did find ourselves in the study awaiting the master of the house. We did not wait long before a man stepped through the side door. I attest to you now in all truth that never before nor since then have I seen a countenance more gruesome nor a complexion more dreadful. As a man of medicine, I know of no naturally occurring affliction that could so horribly distort the figure of a man. Indeed it looked as though his whole face had been twisted by some malevolent force of nature and had placed it upon the side of his cranium. I was utterly taken aback, and yet Holmes seemed to expect this very fellow.

“Good evening good sir” spoke Holmes casually, “we are here on most urgent business. I am Sherlock Holmes and this is Dr. Watson. We have only just returned from a conference at the local Liberal Party headquarters which has recently been burgled. I was wondering if you could attest to the presence of this object found at the scene of the crime, Mr. Jean Chretien.”

With that Holmes held out the curious white orb. Immediately Mr. Chretien’s features went pale, and then a furious anger manifested itself in his eyes. With a roar he lunged at Holmes. My friend was ready for the assault but stumbled back underneath the mighty fury of the fiend's attack. The enraged Chretien tightly clamped his hands around Holmes’ neck and was proceeding to suffocate him by the time I delivered a well placed blow with my walking stick. The ruffian stumbled back from the strike, but in moments stood straight again and withdrew a weapon from his breast pocket.

"With a roar he lunged at Holmes."

“Quick Watson, your revolver!” gasped Holmes.

Immediately I drew my weapon and emptied all six cartridges into the beast. He stumbled back and with a dreadful bellow crashed through the second story window and into the rose garden below. By this time Holmes had recovered and raced to the window. There I joined him and together we watched in utter amazement as the brute picked himself up and scuttled away. By the time Holmes and I reached the scene below, there was no trace of the hooligan.

Later that evening back at Baker Street, Holmes explained to me exactly what had set him upon the trail of the dreadful Jean Chretien.

“It’s quite simple Watson. The Liberal scandals, the recent polls, the night watchman’s peculiar account, and the strange orb, they all pointed to but one individual. Where the evidence meets, you will always find your quarry.”

“Certainly Holmes. I can understand the scandal, the witness, and the polls, but what on earth is the odd sphere?”

“Allow me to ask you this, are you familiar with the peculiar gentleman’s pursuit known as golf?”

“Certainly Holmes. Just the other day Lord Effington explained to me the meaning of the term 'niner'.”

“Well then, what you should have recognized immediately is that this is a “ball of golf”. As to the perplexing scripture on the side, GMGC, it stands for Grand-Mere Golf Club, the very club of which the beast Jean Chretien is a partial owner. With this particular evidence in hand, I could attest to no other suspect than the man himself.”

“Fascinating Holmes, and yet utterly simple now that you have enlightened me. Of course the criminal did escape our grasp. Do you think it is possible that he survived?”

“Possible!! Watson, I am sure he is still alive. Not only that, I am keenly aware of his whereabouts.”

“You mean to tell me you know where he is!” I ejaculated. “Surely Holmes we should set the constabulary upon his trail or even venture after him ourselves!”

“All in good time dear Watson, all in good time! I seem to recall that the next steamship destined for China doesn’t depart until late next week. Until then, I suggest we remove the matter from our minds."

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