In the Absence of Poison by Ava M.

It was about 5 o’clock when Michelle Walsh walked through the door. Sherlock Holmes and I were at home, 221b Baker St, not doing much, when Ms. Walsh came in sobbing. This is what she told us;

“My husband, Victor, is dead! I went to the police, but they found nothing.”

“As usual,” Sherlock cut in. I gave him a glare and told the lady to continue.

“Well, he got back from a doctor’s appointment around 1 o’clock, and was dead in the living room by 3, so I called the police!” She sobbed. “They said that it might have been a heart attack, but he’s only in his late 30’s. I didn’t understand, so I came right to you, Mr. Holmes,” she told us. I cleared my throat and she seemed startled to remember me.

“And you Mr. Watson,” she hastily added.

Sherlock began asking questions, and this is what we could gather.

Late 30s, works as an office assistant at Standard Chartered, but not high up enough as to allude to an assassination. No children, one brother, no known enemies. After Michelle left, I turned to Sherlock and asked what he had picked up.

“Well John, it’s raining outside, but she wasn’t wet, so she grabbed an umbrella before she left, so she must live in England because it isn’t raining outside,” he began, I started to ask him how he knew about the rain, but he cut me off. “I checked the weather, John, you keep forgetting I have a phone. Dyed black hair, naturally brunette. Ring on her finger, so she’s telling the truth about that. I don’t think she’s lying about anything, really. Right-handed. Also, she’s an alien from outer space.”

“What?”

“Not really, just checking to see if you were listening!” He smiled and got out of his chair.

“Off we go then!” said Holmes, gleefully.

“Off we go, where?” I inquired, quite confused.

“To examine the body, of course.” He said this as if I was an idiot who understood nothing, all though, to Sherlock, I was. We walked down the stairs, closed the door behind us, and flagged down a taxi. A short while later, I was standing in a large room, the living room of a flat on Cranbrook Drive, out near Oaklands. It was about 40 minutes away from Baker Street. ANyway, the room was nicely furnished, with a sofa, an ottoman, and a small coffee table. There was a doorway to the kitchen, and a hallway to the bedrooms. The only off putting thing about the room was the dead body. Sprawled across the carpet, was the body of Mr. Walsh. After looking around, I listened to Sherlock thinking out loud.

“All right, it’s a man, late 30’s no obvious injuries. Married, and happily too, judging by his wedding ring. Walsh, that’s an Irish name, but I looked him up on the way here, he was born in Wales. Anyway, he’s got a polo shirt on, so he was going out, but not for work. He had a doctor’s appointment so that would be it. The way he’s lying suggests he fell while he was walking. He’s right-handed, but was dead before he hit the ground because there is no sign of him trying to stop himself from falling.”

“How did you know he was right handed?” I cut in. Sherlock glared at me, then pointed to a mug on the countertop. A right-handed mug. I nodded, and he continued,

“No shoes, so he was going to be home for at least 15 minutes, no socks, so at least a few hours. His wife said he got home 2 hours before death, so that makes sense. No injuries except for his arm. An injection in his arm, so some kind of poison. Doctor,” he turned to address me, “what do you make of it?” Holmes stepped back, and I knelt down next to the body.

“Not much, um, dead about an hour, the injection looks fine. No swelling or anything. That’s about it, really.” I stepped back and Sherlock moved towards the door, proclaiming that a blood test was in order, to find out the cause of death and if it was poison. Right before he walked out the door he called for me to make an appointment to talk to close relatives of Victor’s, and that he would meet me at home.

After I got back home, I sat down and read for about an hour, and enjoyed some quiet time by myself. By the time Sherlock got back, I had nearly finished the book. He looked quite upset, so I assumed he couldn’t find much. As it was getting late, we walked down to the nearest sushi restaurant and played this game we had come up with. I would choose the most random people I could find and Sherlock would tell me the strangest things about them, it was really quite fun. After that, we stayed up a few hours talking about poisons, and since Victor’s blood contained no trace of any, unidentifiable ones.

“All right, what about botulinum?” He asked me, then continued, “It’s botox, and untraceable, so that could work. Easy to get, and it wouldn’t be suspicious to have a botox filled syringe lying around.” I quickly wrote down botox under my ‘Yes’ column as he continued to talk. “Or perhaps ricin, very deadly, can’t be traced, but very rare, so I’d say it’s a maybe. ”I scrawled ricin under ‘Maybe’ and we moved on. “Perhaps air bubbles in the syringe?”

“Only causes seizures,” I butted in, eager to contribute, “Wouldn’t work unless the whole thing was air, or something was wrong.”

“So ‘maybe’ then. What else, perhaps arsenic. Deadly, traceable, but only when you’re looking for it, and I wasn’t really, I just ran a general test. So ‘Yes’ then.”

“How about tetrodotoxin? You only need a little if you inject it, and it’s found in a fish, so it isn’t a poison technically.”

“That’s probably a ‘yes’, then,” I replied.

After that, we packed up and went to bed. Ready to talk to Michelle Walsh and Victor’s brother, Leo Walsh, in the morning.

 

We left at about 9:30 am, and soon arrived at the Walsh house, where Michelle was waiting for us. We sat down, she introduced us to her brother in law, Leo, and we began.

“Was there ever any violence, or recent arguments?” Sherlock asked, straight to the point.

“No, we were always really happy,” Michelle answered.

“Nothing, did he give you any forewarning of anything like this?”

“None.”

“Was he acting strangely?”

“Nope, just like normal, and then he was dead on the carpet.”

“What exactly was he doing, right before he died?”

“He was reading the paper, then got up to get his tea on the counter, then on the way, he fell.” Michelle started to cry, and Sherlock said thank you. As she walked out Sherlock turned to Leo.

“What about you, anything strange happens?”

“No sir.” Leo was very definite in this.

“What was the last thing he said to you? Do you remember?”

“We were on the phone and it was something along the lines of ‘Give my love to mother. I’ll see you soon.’”

“Strange. All right, I think we’re done here. Thank you very much.” After saying this, Sherlock left, and I followed him. “Watson, I think it’s time to meet this doctor.” He told me on the way home.

 

The next day, we arrived at the doctor’s office that Victor was at a few hours before death. The doctor in question was Ms. Luna Bulan. Luna was a striking woman of about 30, with dark hair pulled up into two buns on top of her head. She was about as tall as I am, which is to say, short. She also had grey-blue eyes. No makeup, but still very pretty.

We sat down and began to ask questions again.

“Hello Ms. Bulan, we are here to talk to you about one of your patients, Mr. Walsh,” I said.

“Oh yes, I heard about that yesterday. I’m terribly sorry, but you don’t think I had anything to do with that?” She asked, looking confused.

“Well, as he was at your office a few hours before death, you are on our suspect list.” Sherlock answered, “Anyway, we have questions. Why was Mr. Walsh here?”

“Well, he has a heart condition, so he’s been going to a cardiologist for years, and was coming to me for a checkup,” she explained.

“What happened at the checkup?”

“I gave him some shots, for outdated illnesses, of course. Then we did the regular run through.”

“Could you please show us the needles you used?”

“Sure, there are only two. We keep them for 5 days in case of a reaction.” She pulled open a drawer, rummaged through a few boxes, and brought out two syringes.

“Doctor, what are these?” Sherlock asked.

“Tetanus and diphtheria, and flu,” Luna and I answered at the same time. We laughed, and Sherlock took the syringes. Putting them in a Ziploc bag, he thanked the doctor for her time, and with me in tow, left. We got into a taxi and went to the lab, where he ran several tests for poisons in the syringes, finding nothing.

Once we got back to 221b Baker St, Sherlock picked up his violin and started to play. I did not know the song, or who it was by, but it was a really beautiful piece, or at least I thought so for the first hour. After I couldn’t stand it any longer, I left. Sherlock got upset if I interrupt his music, so as quietly as I could, I left. I went for a wander around Hyde Park, which is only a short walk away. I was out for about two hours, so I walked back inside, and was shocked to find he was still playing! For three solid hours! This was a new record. After I walked in, he played for another ten minutes, then stopped abruptly and whispered something that I couldn’t hear.

“Come on, John!” He shouted, and grabbed me by the arm. I wasn’t even going to ask this time, I just went. He would tell me soon enough.

 

We got into a cab and drove to Luna’s office. On the way, Sherlock had called the DI, Lestrade, and told him to make his way over to the doctor’s office. He told Lestrade about as much as he had told me. (Which was absolutely nothing) As we came in, Lestrade was waiting. Sherlock told him to arrest Luna Bulan for manslaughter, and left. I found it annoying that we couldn’t have stayed home and made a phone call, we had to drive for half an hour and turn around. Anyway, I was still confused, so I asked Sherlock how he knew it was Luna.

“Well, she wasn’t lying about anything, but we couldn’t find poison. Michelle and Leo were ruled out, so it had to be her, but how? The syringes. There had to be something wrong with them, the question is, what? I ran poison tests but there was nothing. We talked about poisons and how he might’ve died, and there was the one option that wasn’t poison and would have been undetectable. Air bubbles. Also, you said that it would only work if there was something wrong, and he had a heart complication so it would have worked perfectly. Now, is she guilty or innocent? Well, as innocent as you can get killing someone. People scratch themselves on the nose or ear when they lie. There are other signs of a liar and none applied. Besides, why would she kill Walsh? She wouldn’t. It was an accident: there must’ve been an air bubble that made its way to his heart and, well you know the rest.”

“Ah! There is someone here!” He exclaimed as we arrived home. “On to the next case, Watson!” I smiled and followed him in once more.