"Looking back to my journals, I see that it was an unusually cold morning in the November of 1892. I'd recently returned from a case in Jamaica, and was unaccustomed to the bitter chill of the Old Brompton Road. Kind readers will recall that horrific case of the mechanical skull - owned by the pirate Higgins of ill fame. As usual I had become engaged by mistake, to a young friend of my aunt Yvette, and that had left me with something of a reputation for cheekiness on the island. Under strict instructions to extricate me without causing offence, my maid had a dickens of a time forging papers and convincing the swooning beau of my unsuitability as a fiancé. As she explained, the Sultan of Morocco had himself offered 12 camels for me, but had then fainted in disgust at my unladylike lack of a corset.
As I approached the Museum, I was taken by a considerable desire for a pork pie with some mustard, and a pint of Guinness. In a moment I'd crept into a café and secreted myself at a table, my head full of the mystery that had been presented to me. The curator of the Knightsbridge Crime Museum had for many years been in possession of a kissing couch, said to have once born the weight of the murderer Paul Johnston. When the aforementioned had appeared at my office, I took the liberty of viewing him by clandestine periscope as he approached my doorknocker. Never have I seen a client in a more pitiable state of temper... I am a slight lady and, although skilled in Eastern wrestling, I cunningly hid my father's swordstick behind my back. I was fully prepared to offer the assailant a chance to taste my fists, but my surprise was great when I discovered that this brutish and dishevelled oaf was the curator of such public service. It was he who paid for my council, and I confess to wondering as to the cause of his horror, as I munched my pie.
The Crime Museum is within walking distance of a corner shop, so I was pleased to feel the comfort of a chocolate bar in my be-mittened hand, as I viewed the evidence. As the curator recounted, the sinister couch had been seized from Johnston's grasp as he attempted to engage its lethal arms. True to its masters nature, I was unsurprised to find that all the mechanical apparatus for the disposal of a human form were concealed beneath the Arabic cushion of the second seat. As I tested one of the steam-powered arms with a mitten, I shuddered at the thought of the merciless springs and greased blades within. The mechanism struck me as the mouth and arms of a giant squid (over which it would be unwise to rest oneself) and the wooden chest beneath contained a pile of socks - all that was left of the unfortunate museum staff who had been drawn in.
After dinner, my client regained his famous impression of nobility and I was pleased to see his horror averted. I was blessed with a fine payment and a choice of any item from the museum, as payment for my daring do. I'm afraid I had become very grumpy whilst wrestling the machine, and had complained bitterly at being lodged upside down for so long, my gallant companion holding my ankles. I still blush at the thought of my own language as I lost my hat, and I sat through dinner smudged with mascara and with my hair quite like a birds nest. As payment I chose a new hat."
from Gallows Man,
released May 12, 2010
Everything by Ian, except the narration by Vic