Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Missing Tax Returns


It is a rainy, misty day in Londondelphia and Vicki sits at her kitchen table, absentmindedly spooning Nutella from the jar and brooding. There are hundreds of papers scattered about and her hair is dishevelled.  She makes small noises of curiosity from time to time and rifles through the papers systematically, throwing some on the floor when she is done. The tea kettle goes off again and again distantly in the background.

Mr. B walks into the room with a slight limp.  For the sake of this story, we are going to pretend that Mr. B is a veteran of the Soviet wars in Afghanistan and partakes in opium, even though Mr. B was not even born when the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan happened and I’m not really sure how one would even go about finding an opium den in 2012.

“My God, woman, what are you doing,” Mr. B asks.

“The returns, Boykis, the returns!” Vicki turns towards him with a crazed gleam in her eye.

“What returns?” Mr. B gently turns the tea kettle off and pours himself some Assam, stepping over the mess.

“All of the information we need to file federal taxes for 2011 is missing.  Doubtless an enemy has stolen them for his benefit.  Think, Boykis.  Who would hate us so much that he would want to see our tax information?”

Mr. B rolls his eyes. “No one hates us. We have no enemies.” He pours some milk into his Assam and sits down beside Vicki.

“That’s what you think,” Vicki says, pushing a couple of folders full of mortgage information out of the way, onto the floor. “Moriarty’s spies are everywhere.  Especially when it comes to finding the two documents we need to be able to finish our returns. I bet,” she trails off and puffs on a hookah pipe lying on the floor.

“I bet they realized that we were working on taxes since they saw our attic light on late at night.  They knew we were missing papers, so every day they checked our mailbox while we were out.  One day this week, the electric man was supposed to come check our meter.  Under that pretense and since we live in a relatively crime-free neighborhood where no one is suspicious of normal activity, they came to our house dressed as the electrician and-” Vicki gets up and rushes outside in her bare feet.

“-yes.” She kneels down near the electric meter and traces the soil, rubbing it between her fingers. “The footprints here were much larger than that of a usual electrician. He walks around a lot for his job in checking the houses, so he has very snug shoes, which are smaller than the shoes that imprinted in this here dirt. They took our letters under that pretense and-” she walks over to the mailbox, delicately avoiding any of the soil.

“-yes.” She brushes the top of the mailbox with her finger and tastes it. “They were wearing gloves.  Usually the postman that comes here does not because he’s allergic to latex.”

Mr. B has appeared and is peering outside the front door with suppressed curiosity. “Aren’t you cold?  You should come back in.”

“Patience, Boykis!” Vicki cries. “These non-fingerprints are less than 24 hours old and we are hot on the trail!”

Mr. B holds out a stack of envelopes in his hand.  “Are these the documents you were looking for?” Vicki’s neck jerks up and she squints.

“Why, yes!  How did you find them?”

Mr. B gives her a pointed look. “You accidentally put them in the middle of your Economist magazine as a bookmark.”

Vicki’s whole body slumps, no longer primed for the chase.  She trudges back inside.

“Can I deduce something, if I may be so bold,” Mr. B asks, raising an eyebrow, ushering her in.

“What,” Vicki says, dejected. “Oh, yes, alright.”

“Can I deduce that you’ve been enjoying our watching the new BBC Sherlock Holmes remake, Sherlock, and have been so inspired by what you think is a great show that you wrote a fantasy blog post about something that kind of happened but you made a much bigger deal about it than it was in real life because you are a writer and are crazy?”

Vicki perks up. “Brilliant, Boykis.  You’re finally catching up to my staggering intellect, I see.”