As a schoolgirl, I loved Conan Doyle’s stories of Holmes and Watson. Then came the very smart, updated television series, ‘Sherlock’ with Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman and it got me thinking that I should try and write a series of ‘alternative’ Sherlock Holmes tales. What follows is my first effort, and it introduces some other peripheral characters and eventually the main protagonists.
I have taken liberties with Conan Doyle’s popular duo, and for that I beg my readers’ indulgence. It is my intention to write more about the adventures the two get up to in future chapters. Any comments on this introductory chapter including constructive criticism, will be most welcome.
As in all my stories, any sex play described is consensual and is performed by characters well over the age of eighteen.
The newspapers were so obsessed with the audacious escape from prison of the Great Train Robber, Ronnie Biggs, that they totally missed the fact that on the same day, Vince Hudson, who was serving eight years for his part in a totally separate, but equally vicious armed robbery, also managed to escape from prison. Two days later, a letter plopped onto the mat behind the front door of 221B Baker Street in London. Olwen Hudson saw it when she returned from her shopping trip. She recognised the scrawled handwriting on the envelope as that of her husband, and she took the letter into the kitchen.
Olwen put the kettle on to boil, and started to put her meagre supply of groceries away. Money was very tight since Vince had been put away, and Olwen was struggling to keep the wolf from the door in his absence. He wasn’t much of a husband, he was very handy with his fists if Olwen did something to upset him, and she’d lost count of the number of extra marital affairs he’d had. But he was her husband, and she’d married him ‘for better or worse’. And he’d be out in another three years, if he behaved himself. Till then, Olwen would just have to cope as best she could.
All her shopping was put away, the kettle had boiled and Olwen sat down at the kitchen table with a nice hot cup of tea. She lit up her morning cigar and reached for the letter, and ripped the envelope open. Inside was a single sheet of paper.
“Dear Olwen,” she read. “I don’t have much time, so I’m writing this in haste. I’ve escaped and I’m leaving the country. Spain is where I’m going first, but my ultimate destination is Brazil, just like Ronnie Biggs. There’s no extradition agreement between the UK and Brazil. I won’t be coming home again, so this is goodbye. I’ve had to empty our bank account to pay some people who are going to get me out of Britain. You can keep the house. I won’t need it where I’m going. Don’t bother trying to find me. We’re finished. Do you remember Donna, my probation officer? She helped get me out, and she’s coming with me. The silly bitch thinks she loves me. Stay safe and be happy. Vince.”
Olwen put the letter down on the kitchen table. She picked up her cup of tea with a shaky hand. Vince had left her. He’d never been eager for her to get a full-time job. She’d had to be at home, at his beck and call always, which was ironic, given that before she met Vince, she all the time took the dominant role in any relationship she had. He had allowed her to take in washing for some local people, and to do some cleaning locally as well. The money she earned went straight to Vince, although she did keep a few shillings every time she was paid, and secreted the money in a small tin that she kept hidden in her wardrobe. She used this money to buy her weekly supply of cigars. It was a habit she had acquired in her previous life, before she met Vince, who as well as being a vicious law breaker and a serial adulterer, was also something of a prude. He didn’t approve of Olwen’s smoking, and he insisted, sometimes violently, that she give up the filthy habit, as he wondered of it. Olwen had taken up smoking again when Vince went to prison.
Now she was on her own, and free to smoke where and whenever she chose. But, she wondered, as she savoured the leathery notes of her cigar, money was gonna be even tighter now. Admittedly, she had the house, but it was not in the best state of repair, and anyway, it was much too big for one person. What the hell was she gonna do? Olwen smoked, sipped her tea and wondered.
The newspapers were obsessed again, but this time with the situation in Aden, where British troops were struggling to keep order whilst being under almost constant attack from those who wanted to throw the occupying forces out of South Yemen. But all of this meant nothing to Olwen Hudson. She’d done everything she could to keep her head above water in the two years since her husband had left her.
These days, she lived on the ground floor of the three storey house in Baker Street. She’d closed off the two upper floors, which saved her having to heat them, and she’d moved her bed into the old sitting room. She was often hungry, all the time poor, but she was determined not to go under. Olwen was a survivor. She got occasional work, skivvying for some rich bloke and his snobby wife up in the West End, but it wasn’t regular employment, and Olwen had to work long hours doing degrading, menial tasks in order to receive the meagre wages that the rich couple seemed reluctant to give her.
The washing that she took in meant that she had a small, regular income, but as the seasons and the weather changed, drying the wet clothes became difficult. As the cold, wet summer of 1967 became Autumn, Olwen put yet another load into her ancient washing machine, added a small amount of washing detergent and switched the machine on. She sighed. Doing other people’s laundry was both time consuming and degrading. Her one treat to herself these days was the weekly cigar that she looked forward to on a Friday night, after a long week of working for other people.
Olwen looked at the calendar which was hanging from a nail on the back of the scullery door. She frowned. It wasn’t Tuesday today, was it? She got up and turned the calender page up. Ah! That was better. Wednedsday, November the first, 1967. A new month, and, Olwen decided there and then, a new begin for Olwen Hudson. She began to think how she could go about getting an increased, regular income. And maybe a nice, compliant companion to keep her warm in bed these cold winter nights.
Her thoughts were interrupted by a knock at the front door. Olwen got to her feet and went to see who was there. When she opened the door, she saw it was her best friend, Ella, and Olwen invited her in. Ella was a staff nurse at the nearby University School hospital. She was practical, very discrete and Olwen trusted her implicitly.
She sat Ella down at the table and bustled about the kitchen, making a fresh pot of tea. When it had brewed sufficiently, Olwen poured them both a cup, and gratefully accepted the cigar that Ella offered her. Both women lit up and smoked in silence for a few minutes. Then, in answer to Ella’s question about how she was coping on her own, Olwen, who had shown Vince’s letter to her friend when she’d called round soon after it had been delivered, poured her heart out, telling Ella about her money problems and her need to discover herself a special friend to keep her business.
“I’m still skint because my husband’s fucked off with another woman, and I don’t know what to do,” she confessed. “Sir and Lady Fuckwitt-Cunt expect me to drop everything when there’s the slightest speck of dust in their mansion, or they need a maid to hold the drink tray whilst their disgusting friends feel my arse or my tits. The women I can cope with. Most of them know how a woman like me likes some tit and nipple attention. It’s the men with their pathetic little willies that they expect me to rub, or on some occasions, suck that really give me the creeps!”
Ella smiled and patted her best friend’s hand. She knew that Sir and Lady Fuckwitt-Cunt were in fact Sir Gerald and Lady Ursula Fortesque-Hunt, and that he was a distant cousin of the Sovereign, whilst she had been appointed Lady-in-Waiting to the queen’s favourite daughter-in-law. They also were both members of a very discrete bondage and domination clique. Ella only knew this because some of the ladies in the clique were also members of another, equally discrete club on the King’s Road in Chelsea.
“This place is too big for you on your own,” she said. “Why don’t you consider taking in a lodger? It would help with your finances and you’d have company. I’d move in here myself, but I think Sadie would have something to say about that.”
Sadie was Ella’s girlfriend, and a very senior administrator at the hospital where Ella worked, Olwen knew. The two women were outwardly very respectable, but they were also members of a very select club in Chelsea that catered for their and other like-minded women’s sapphic needs. Olwen had been a long-standing member who was into the scene many years ago, but then she had met Vince, who had told her in no uncertain terms that sex between two people of the same gender was, in his words, “disgusting, perverted and totally unacceptable.” Olwen had meekly accepted this, and she hadn’t been back to the club since, although she and Ella had remained the best of friends.
“How the hell am I going to get someone to pay money to live in this dump?” Olwen wailed. “The place is falling to bits.”
“You leave that to me,” Ella smiled, getting go her feet. “My uncle’s in the building trade. He owes me a couple of favours. I’ve taken care of some girls that he’s put in the family way. If he won’t fix this place up for you buckshee, I might just have to let him know that Professional Nursing Standards insist I tell the authorities that he is the father in many of my latest unmarried mother cases. He’ll do it, don’t worry. His wife, my Aunty Doris, would rip his balls off and feed them to the cat if she ever knew how much Uncle Herbie slept around! I’ve got to go, doll, I’m on a late shift today, but I’m off tomorrow. Get yourself down to the club on Friday night night. We haven’t seen you there in years, and now that Vince has fucked off, you can be your true self. And I’ll have had chance to make a few enquiries with Uncle Herbie by then. I’ll have some good news for you, I’m sure.”
Ella took a last deep drag on her cigar and mashed the butt out in the ashtray on the kitchen table. Olwen walked Ella to the front door. They faced one another.
“Would you be forced to tell, who was it? Professional Nursing Standards about your uncle?” Olwen asked.
Ella snorted in amusement.
“Don’t be so dense, doll,” she chuckled. “There ain’t no such thing as Professional Nursing Standards where unmarried mothers are in the question. This bloody Conservative government looks after their own, and fuck the rest of us! The Tories regard unmarried mothers as the lowest of the low, which is rich considering the number of Cabinet members who, if they’re not fucking their little bum boys, are prowling the streets of London, looking for poor girls desperate enough to give a posh gent a blow job or a fuck in a dark alley for a couple of bob!”
Olwen shook her head in disapproval at what she’d just heard. So it wasn’t just villains like her long gone, un-lamented husband who mistreated women.
“I’m glad Vince has gone,” Olwen said quietly, blushing as she spoke. “You’re right. I need to get some regular money coming in. Who knows? If I get the right sort of lodger, I might even fall in love again! I hope your uncle can fix this place up for me.”
Ella giggled and drew her friend closer. She kissed Olwen briefly on the lips.
“Don’t tell Stella!” she laughed. “I’ve got to go. If I’m late on shift, Stella will wipe the floor with me, girlfriend or not! She’s a terror for sticking to hospital protocol! But I’ll see you in the club on Friday night. And for fuck’s sake, don’t wear that bloody drab pinafore slip! You’ve got gorgeous tits. Flaunt ’em! There’ll be plenty of women seeking in the club on a Friday night! You never know. One of them might be desperate for lodgings!”
When Ella had gone, Olwen went back to the kitchen. She collected the dirty cups and took them over to the sink to wash. She could still taste Ella’s soft warm lips on her own. How long was it since she’d had sex? Too long, she decided, and that cheap candle she used to jill herself to sleep these days was alright, but it was nothing like feeling the rasp of a woman’s cunt on hers as they scissored one another into orgasm.
“Fuck it!” Olwen said loudly, even though there was no one around to hear her decision. “Olwen, my girl, you’re going down to the Gateways Club on the King’s Road on Friday night, and if you can’t get yourself picked up and fucked, then you might just as well go and chuck yourself into the Thames!”
Thursday was Olwen’s designated shopping day. She ate her meagre breakfast and washed the dishes before sitting down at the kitchen table to write herself a shopping list. She’d only got as far as bread when there was a loud knock at the front door. Olwen got up and went to see who was there.
She opened the front door and saw a well built man wearing a bib and braces overall over a rather grubby white shirt.
“Good morning, my love!” he greeted her cheerily. “I understand you need some work doing here? Herbie Brown sent me round to have a look see what needs doing. He said it was urgent, and that he wants to start on Monday to get everything finished before Christmas. So here I am! Handy Andy at your service! Can I come in and have a butcher’s round the place?”
Olwen understood that ‘having a butcher’s’ was cockney rhyming slang. ‘Butcher’s’ meant ‘butcher’s hook’ which rhymed with ‘look.’ She was about to invite the man in when she spotted a uniformed delivery boy looking at the number on the house next door. She recognised the youth, and her heart sank. He came up behind Andy and coughed impatiently. Andy turned round to see who was there, and the boy neatly side-stepped him and thrust an expensive looking envelope at Olwen.
“This is for you, Mrs. Hudson,” he said. “My employer said I had to wait for your reply.”
Olwen looked at the envelope, and then at Andy. She made up her mind.
“Come in, both of you,” she said, stepping apart and allowing both men to enter. She shut the front door and led them back down the corridor into the kitchen.
“Cor! What a dump!” exclaimed the messenger sotto voce as they walked towards the kitchen. Andy, to his credit, said nothing.
Olwen ripped open the envelope and read the letter inside. It was, as she suspected from Lady Fuckwitt-Cunt as she continued to think of her. Her Ladyship was having an ‘intimate soiree’ this coming Friday. She required Olwen to attend today, Thursday, to clean her house thoroughly, and to also make herself available tomorrow, Friday, when she would be required to serve drinks and entertain Her Ladyship’s guests. A bed would be made available for her, as it was likely that the event would go on into the early hours of Saturday morning. Olwen was required to send her willingness to attend back with the messenger, and to make her way to the mansion in the West End by midday at the latest.
Olwen finished reading the letter and flung it down on the kitchen table. She glared at the messenger.
“Tell your mistress that I regret to inform her that I am unable to attend on either occasion,” she said defiantly. “I have arranged to have alterations and improvements to my town house. That’s why this gentleman is here.”
Olwen was never going back to wait on those monied bastards again. “Let them grope some other poor bitch,” she wondered to herself. She continued to address the stunned messenger.
“Please thank Her Ladyship for her kind invitation to her soiree tomorrow night,” she said with heavy sarcasm in her voice, “but I’ve another invitation to attend a gathering at a very exclusive club, and that takes priority over Her Ladyship’s ‘do’. Please inform Lady Fuckwitt-Cunt that I will be removing my name from her social circle as from today.”
Andy guffawed as the messenger’s face darkened and he stammered,
“Wha… what did you call Her Ladyship? That’s not her correct title!”
“It fucking well ought to be!” grinned Olwen, grabbing the messenger by the elbow and hustling him out of the kitchen. She shoved him out of the front door adding, “Good morning, and good riddance!” before slamming the door shut and returning to a still grinning Andy in the kitchen.
“Good on you, girl!” said Andy, giving her the thumbs up. “You got balls! ‘Having alterations and improvements to my town house’ indeed! Well at least you didn’t tell him no lie! Let’s get on with it, shall we? He wasn’t far wrong when he said this place was a bit of a dump!”
Andy suggested that they begin at the very top of the house, and work their way down. Olwen was relieved when he said there was no need for her to accompany him up into the attic. But she went everywhere else with him, and was impressed with his thoroughness and efficiency.
About an hour later they were back in the kitchen. Andy had notes on each room of the house that he had made with a tiny pencil on a battered looking note book. As Olwen poured him a cup of tea, he licked his thumb and glanced through the pages of notes he had made.
“It looks worse than it actually is,” he said cheerfully. He nodded his thanks and took a noisy slurp of tea.
“When Herbie sees my report, I reckon he’ll send a full gang round here. Three weeks tops, and this place’ll be back in top order, I guarantee it.”
“How many men is a full gang?” asked Olwen, “and what do you think it will cost?”
A full gang is twelve men, and that includes your craftsmen plus their labourers,” Andy replied, smacking his lips and putting his empty cup down. He looked pointedly at the teapot.
“And the cost?” repeated Olwen, pouring him another cup.
“Herbie said to tell you that there’ll be no charge,” Andy said winking at Olwen and nodding his thanks as she passed him his second cup. “Mind you, he warned me to try to keep it down as much as I could. I reckon the whole lot can be done to the highest standard for round about eight hundred and fifty quid.”
Olwen’s face was a picture. She was going to get her house done up with eight hundred and fifty pounds’ worth of repairs, and it seemed it wasn’t going to cost her a penny! She owed Ella a great deal for blackmailing her uncle into doing this work.
Andy didn’t hang around after he’d finished his tea. Promising that the gang of men would be here early on the following Monday morning, he left Olwen and went back to deliver his report to Herbie. Olwen sat in the kitchen, in a daze. Then she remembered her shopping, and quickly wrote out her list. She’d need a load of tea, and maybe a couple of packets of biscuits if she was going to have to keep a gang of men steadily supplied with refreshment whilst they worked. And to celebrate her good fortune, she’d buy herself a box of her favourite cigars as well.
Olwen was putting her shopping away when there was yet another knock on the front door. When she went to answer it, she found Ella, together with Sadie on the doorstep.
“Come in!” she smiled at the two women. “I remember you saying you were off today, Ella. I was hoping that you’d call. I owe you big time, sister. Your uncle’s man called round first thing. How did you manage to arrange that so quickly?”
They were in the kitchen now. Olwen put the kettle on the range to boil and looked at Ella expectantly. She also smiled at Sadie.
“Your girlfriend is a genius,” she said. “Come on Ella. Spill the beans! How did you manage to get your uncle to agree to do the work on my house?”
“When I left here yesterday I went straight to work,” she began. “I hadn’t even managed to go up onto the ward when I was stopped by Uncle Herbie. He had yet another young girl in tow.”