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Thread: It Was a Dark and Stormy Night

  1. #1

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    It Was a Dark and Stormy Night

    It Was a Dark and Stormy Night

    An A1 Skating Mystery

    Disclaimer: It is not my intention, in writing this story, to make fun of my favorite skaters.

    OK, it IS my intention to make fun of my favorite skaters.

    So, with due apologies to Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie,.....


    Chapter One. 221B Baker Street

    It was a grey and dismal morning. The dank London fog seemed to penetrate to the bone as I trudged up the 13 familiar steps to the front door at 221B Baker Street. I rapped sharply with my favorite walking stick -- a heavy brass-headed cudgel of the type once known as a Penang Lawyer back in those heady days of empire when I served Her Majesty in India. Immediately were my exertions rewarded by the pleasant face of Mrs. Hudson, the landlady of the establishment.

    "Ah, Dr. Watson," the Goodwife exclaimed. "Tut, tut, and what do you mean, out in such weather without a hat! He has been asking after you all morning."

    The good lady took my stick and greatcoat, and I showed myself into the sitting room of my old friend. The lanky frame of Mr. Sherlock Holmes was coiled into his upholstered chair. Wisps of pale smoke from his every-present opium pipe levitated above his head, mocking the fog outside.

    "There you are, Watson," he exclaimed testily. "I have been expecting you this morning."

    I have long since ceased being impressed at Holmes' uncanny ability to predict my every action. But in this case the explanation was quite simple. The Great Figure Skating Mystery had just broken in the Times of London that morning. Holmes, knowing of my passion for the sport, rightly anticipated the state of agitation into which the astonishing news had thrown me.

    "Dick Button Murdered," blared the headline of the usually staid Times. "Figure Skating Guru Found Shot in His Country Home. Four Prominent Female Skaters Detained by Police."

    "Well, Holmes," I burst out. "Can you believe it" What do you make of this dreadful business?"

    Holmes took a long draw on his pipe.

    "I have only just glanced at the headlines, Watson," said he. "I was counting on you to come round with the details. I'm sure that you have already formed a theory about the case?"

    Now as a matter of fact I had been thinking about some of the more baffling facts presented by the newspaper account. But I did not wish to give my friend the satisfaction of criticizing my methods so soon. So I simply replied:

    "There are some aspects of the case that need clarification. I had hoped that you might have found out something from your friends at Scotland Yard and Interpol."

    "The case seems perfectly straightforward, my dear Watson," was the reply. "I am certain that no further evidence will be required than what has been reported in the newspaper account. Thereafter simple deductive logic will lead us, I have no doubt, to the full truth of the matter."

    My heart sank. Poor Sarah!

    "Well, read me the full story, Watson," Holmes continued, "and we will see where we are."

    I read from the headline story (twelve column inches, above the fold):

    "Police in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, responding to a telephone tip, arrived at the country home of Dick Button, two-time Olympic figure skating champion and long-time ABC television commentator, at 1:15 AM 29th April. Upon entering the premises they found Button, dressed in an outlandish costume and lying in a pool of blood, shot through the heart. Standing over the body, smoking gun in hand, was Olympic ladies gold medallist Sarah Hughes.

    "Upon examining the body, police discovered a message written in blood on the carpet, apparently by the dying man. The letters spelled out the name 'Sarah,' and just below, 'A1.'"

    Holmes interrupted.

    "Highly significant, don't you think, Watson? It's the usual scenario. The poor fellow is gasping out his last, and just manages to summon the strength to oblige the police by writing the name of his killer. When he has finished, imagine his surprise to find himself not quite dead yet. So he decides to add a critique of her performance: 'A1.' As if to say, 'Sarah, first rate! Sarah, simply the best!' Very significant indeed. Pray, continue," Holmes concluded with a chuckle.

    The Times report went on:

    "In a bizarre turn of events, after a thorough search of the house and grounds, three other young women prominent in the figure skating world were found hiding or attempting to flee. Russian Irina Slutskaya and Americans Michelle Kwan and Sasha Cohen were unable to give satisfactory accounts of their presence at the estate and were detained as material witnesses.

    "For background into a possible motive for the crime, the Times obtained the following statement from 1968 Olympic gold medallist Peggy Fleming, Button's broadcast booth colleague. In response to the question, 'Who could possibly have wanted to kill Dick Button in cold blood?' Fleming replied:

    "'Everybody. I've been within two seconds of throttling him myself. All that yak, yak, yak, then he turns the microphone over to me to smooth it all over!'"

    Holmes closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his aquiline nose.

    "Hughes, Slutskaya, Kwan, Cohen," he mused. ?Gold, Silver, Bronze, and -- what's the other thing, for fourth place?"

    "Pewter," I replied.

    "Not so prestigious as the others, I believe," mused Holmes.

    "True," I offered. "But in this case it was the young lady's first major international competition, and she acquitted herself quite respectably. Indeed, it was the bronze and silver winners who came away disappointed."

    "How so?" my friend wanted to know.

    "Well," I explained, ?the bronze medallist is a four time world champion who could not have been satisfied with anything less than the top prize. The second place winner came away believing herself to have been the victim of an illegal judging conspiracy. As you know, millions of dollars in commercial endorsement opportunities are at stake, even setting aside the 'thrill of victory,' and all that."

    "That is significant." Holmes pondered for a moment and then asked. "And I suppose that the young ladies can try again in four years?"

    "Miss Hughes and Miss Cohen, at any rate," I answered. "They are still in their teens."

    Holmes drew on his pipe, nodding. For a moment I thought that he had drifted off to sleep. Suddenly he bolted upright and fixed me with a peculiar stare.

    "Well, Watson," said he. "Don't be modest now. I am sure that you have formed an opinion of the case. Some hunch or guess? Some Message from Beyond?"

    Holmes must have his little joke at my expense. It is well known, even to the general public, that the remarkable Mr. Sherlock Holmes never 'guesses.' I can hear him now in my inner ear:

    "Observation and deduction, my dear Watson. Observation and deduction. I trust nothing less. I require nothing more."

    Nonetheless, at that moment -- little suspecting then what would eventually come to light! -- I flattered myself that I had indeed made some headway in the case, and this without the assistance of the celebrated Mr. Holmes.

    "Well," I began tentatively, "one thing seems clear to me. Miss Hughes is not the culprit."

    "NOT the culprit?" Holmes raised his eyebrows. "Miss Sarah 'Smoking Gun' Hughes, not the culprit?"

    "Certainly not," I opined with growing confidence. "It is entirely too pat. The smoking gun, the name written in blood. It is obvious that she is being set up by the real killer. And don't forget the phone call. Someone alerted the police just in time for the poor girl to be caught."

    "Quite true," Holmes mused. "And yet, Watson, we must never underestimate the cunning of the criminal mind. Could Miss Hughes have framed herself, expressly to obtain this very reaction? Is it possible that under that charming coltish exterior lurks an evil genius? Professor Moriarty in a sassy skirt? Don't forget, this is a girl who aspires to a perfect 1600 on her SAT's."

    I found Holmes' suggestion preposterous. But for the moment I said nothing further, hurrying on to the next point of my analysis:

    "Second, we certainly may cross the exquisite Miss Kwan off the list of suspects. Her moral character, her basic honesty, her friendly openness,..."

    "Her love of small children and animals," Holmes interrupted, "her kind heart, her indomitable spirit, her spotless soul, the wonderful extension of her free leg on her inside-outside spiral. Yes, yes. All universally acknowledged. Off the list she goes!"

    Of course I knew that Holmes was mocking my infatuation. But how often are we privileged to see an angel from heaven walking amongst us! Oh! how could I have guessed how sorely my faith was about to be tested!

    I plowed doggedly forward: "That leaves the Russian girl, Miss Irina Slutskaya, and the third American, Miss Sasha Cohen. I have not worked out the details in my mind yet, Holmes. But I believe that there is some significance in the fact that Miss Cohen, too, is of Russian extraction."

    "Quite so. Ukrainian actually," said Holmes, "I congratulate you on your observation."

    I never knew when Holmes spoke sincerely and when with sarcasm. But I took his words as encouragement.

    "My theory -- " I was in full feather now "-- my theory -- we will call it the Russian Conspiracy Theory -- is that this whole affair is wrapped up somehow in the Olympic judging scandals. The late Mr. Button was a vocal and influential critic of bloc voting on the part of judges from the nations of the former Soviet Union. I'll wager that we could crack this case like a walnut if we could get that French judge on the witness stand!"

    I sat down quickly after my outburst and mopped my brow with my handkerchief. Of course I realized that so far I had only the bare bones of a solution to the mystery. Holmes would certainly accuse me of letting my imagination gallop ahead of the facts. I spoke first, to head him off.

    "Of course," I said calmly, "there is much more investigative work to be done."

    Holmes templed his fingertips before him.

    "On the contrary, Watson," he replied shortly. "We have before us at this moment all that we need to solve the case."

    "I suppose, Holmes," was my retort, "that this is your perennial boast that you can solve this mystery without ever leaving 21B Baker Street?"

    Holmes turned to his writing desk and took out a blank sheet of paper. I looked over his shoulder as he wrote, in a column:





    Then after these entries he wrote the names of the four suspects in order, Miss Hughes, Miss Slutskaya, Miss Kwan, and Miss Cohen. He folded the paper once and put it away in the pocket of his smoking jacket. Giving the jacket pocket a complacent tap, he turned back to me.

    "My dear Watson," said Sherlock Holmes, "I have solved it already."


    End of Chapter One.

    What is Holmes' solution? If you don't know yet, don't despair. There are still 5 chapters to come.

  2. #2

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    Re: It Was a Dark and Stormy Night

    Hi DrWatson,

    Just like to point out that the immediate motive for offing the Button was found on that hokey rerun of the hokey Hershey Kisses FS program:

    the Dick was wearing a Harvard sweatshirt on a spring day at Yale!!!!!!!!!!!

    So, does this motive suggest who the villain was? (besides DB, of course!)

  3. #3

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    Re: It Was a Dark and Stormy Night

    In response to DrW, What is Holmes’ solution? If you don't know yet

    I think Holmes can cross the heavenly, regal, royal, divine, most lovely Chinadoll, Sasha Cohen off the list. Are you sure it is Ukraine and not China? Like Dick Button everytime when our ice princess, our most gorgeous woman/child Sasha Cohen is mentioned, I am so excited I end up babbling like a fool, where is my bib, I am drooling uncontrollably. (BTW, I know our DIVA ice princess will be entertaining your queen soon. Please do not even think about stealing her from us. She is ours, I hope she will return home to USA ASAP after the jubilee performance.)

    Ouch, what is this thing about pewter, you make it sound like our Chinadoll lives in the colonial times like a peasant who can not afford the best silver ware. I have news for you, she drives a mercedes. You all know that Sasha WUZ robbed, she should be first place. Of course even without a real olympic medal, her endorsement potential is so high that sky is the limit. Sarah, Irina, and Michelle, you watch out, not only will Sasha receive more endor$ment than the three of you put together, the kind of endor$ements will be spectacular, Witt, and Gordeeva like. Sasha will not do the traditional goody two shoe, or hockey chick kind of role and endor$emnt like any other generic lady skaters.

    Well, back to Holmes can cross off Sasha, because for the obvious reasons, she points her toes at all times, there is so much tension in her muscles when she skates, her extension reaches perfection. She even falls, steps out, two foot, and hands down gracefully. Besides she stated that she will stop at nothing to get to the top. If something is so obvious, you know it is a fake smoking gun. Bring on chapter two please. :lol: :rollin:

  4. #4

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    Re: It Was a Dark and Stormy Night

    I think you have to take Irina off the list, as well. How could anybody "off" Mr. Button when she allowed him to pinch her cheeks??!!??

    Sarah is too obvious, I agree about Watson and Michelle , so I'm going with Sasha. She is playing it cool right now, so no one would suspect her. Would the Olympic champ risk it all? Would the reigning World champ? Or "America's Own" and fellow Sullivan Award winner?? Me thinks its Sasha!

  5. #5

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    Re: It Was a Dark and Stormy Night

    it wasn't any of them... it was Peggy Flemming! :lol:



    awesome story... can't wait for the rest!

  6. #6

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    Hmmmmm... Is it my imagination or does this have RGirl written all over it?

  7. #7

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    Re: Hmmmmm.....


    I'm thinking the same thing...maybe we are the test audience for the real book?


  8. #8

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    Re: Hmmmmm.....

    Miss or Mrs. P.L., felicitations:

    How you flatter me to compare my feeble command of the Queen's English to that of the esteemed authoress, Rgirl.

    Cherishing yor friendship,

    I remain

    John Watson, M.D.

  9. #9

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    Re: Hmmmmm.....

    That's because, my dear friend Piel, great minds think alike! Can't wait to read the next installment! :D

  10. #10

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    Re: "Hmm..." Nothin'!

    RG1, Piel, "Dr. (cough, cough) Watson"--
    Even though I'm on sabbatical, my superpowers alerted me to "The Case of the Mistaken Watson." While I'm pleased to be taken as the creator of such fine (cough, cough) prose, Sherlock Holmes and mysteries in general ain't my cup of utterance--although I do admit to having had a long and torrid affair with the late Jeremy Brett, who, as we all know, definitively defined the role of Holmes on PBS.

    Anyway, I've never done any figure skating fiction, fan or otherwise. Figure skating is, however, a trope in one of my crummier short stories
    but it is definitely R rated--ie, read at your own risk.

    As for the culprit in "Dark and Stormy Night," I've read the three chapters thus far and the identity of the killer is SO obvious: Ottavio Cinquanta. Dick Button is the only man in figure skating with the qualifications and influence to oust Cinquanta as head of the ridiculous ISU. If Button took over, he would do the unthinkable and put figure skating and speed skating into separate unions. Uncle Dick would head the figure skating union, leaving the less visible, less glamorous, less rich, and less babe-infested speed skating union to Cinquanta. Ergo, means, opportunity, motive.

  11. #11

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    Re: "Hmm..." Nothin'!

    I'm a clavicle man myself!

  12. #12

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    Re: "Hmm..." Nothin'!

    My dear Ms. Rgirl, you must allow me to prescribe something for that persistent cough.

  13. #13

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    Some observations

    (or lack thereof):

    1. I have never seen Rgirl and Dr. Watson together.

    2. I have never seen FetalAttraction and Dr. Watson together.

    3. I have never seen Rgirl and FetalAttraction together.

    4. I have never seen BRIAN BOITANO with any of them.

    Draw what conclusions you may!

  14. #14

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    Ah, the lost art of medicine

    From our Dr. Watson, "My dear Ms. Rgirl, you must allow me to prescribe something for that persistent cough."

    We see someone practicing the (lost) art of medicine, so compassionate. Dr. Watson from London a retired physician and military surgeon is trying to help rgirl, our assoc professor who lives in NY. Dr. Watson so you keep your medical/ prescription license current just to help someone who lives across the oceans, "friends in the colonies". How precious.

  15. #15

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    Re: Ah, the lost art of medicine

    MM, *Dr. Watson,* Eltamina,
    My cough has cleared up, but now I have this *rash*--it shows up as ** all over me (no, they're not the Kurt Vonnegut *--it's quite normal to have one of those, although for some people, as the good doctor will know, their * takes over their entire being). Also, whenever I read the "A Dark and Stormy Night" threads, I can't stop:rollin:

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