The Sherlock Holmes Pub
Great Scotland Yard Street
Cass moved quickly across the saloon bar to claim a table. Henrietta followed, dumping down her camera case, pinning it between her boots. The themed Victorian pub, a shrine to Conan Doyle’s legendary fictional detective, gleamed with burnished brass and mahogany. Dr Watson’s old service revolver was mounted in a glass case. The stuffed head of the Hound of the Baskervilles hung in a reconstruction of Holmes´ sitting room along with his violin. The Master Detective himself, in wax wearing his deerstalker hat and smoking his Calabash pipe, sat in a corner.
Henrietta spoke first.
“I think I’m in trouble, Cass. I appreciate you coming.”
He looked up from his pint.
“What kind of trouble? You been harassing people again, Attila?”
“Sort of. It was nothing, really.”
He watched her carefully, his grey eyes tightening.
“You better tell me.”
“I kind of jumped out on Pippa Middleton and her family.”
Cass stiffened in his seat.
“Inside the Goring Hotel.”
“What? And you didn’t tell the Graphic?”
“I didn’t get a picture. My flash went off when it shouldn’t have. They took my camera. There’s nothing to tell.”
“We could have put a team onto it. Written about it.”
“Without me! Without a picture I don’t get paid. No way. Better for me to wait till I get one.”
“The cops don’t invite suspects to a pub to arrest them, Henri. Much as they’d like to. Just cry Mea Culpa, you won’t go to the Tower for that.”
“I was told to come here.”
She looked to the door. The man who entered was tanned and lean with a vivid white scar on his cheek. He looked across the bar to their table then advanced on them. Henrietta’s eyes widened.
“Oh Lord, I know him! He’s Royal Protection. Now I’m really in the shit.”
The man sat.
“Thank you for coming. I’m Guy Royce, from the Yard. I remember you now, Miss Fox. You were much younger, then. Bit of a tearaway, as I remember. I see you haven’t changed your ways.”
Cass offered him a drink and moved off to buy him a malt whisky. Henrietta trawled her memory.
He helped her.
“The last time I saw you was South Molton Street. You and the pack were chasing the Princess of Wales through Kensington–.
“–and you were blocking me, every chance you got.”
“It wasn’t difficult. You weren’t a hard case like some.”
“A long time ago. I was eighteen! I’d just begun. What did I know? The Princess was dead six months later and I moved on.”
She relaxed, relieved the cop was a familiar face and pulled at a strand of hair that tickled her nose. She thought he had the looks of a bullfighter on hard times but the eyes of a tax inspector.
“Judging by that tan you’ve got, Royce, you’re on permanent holiday. That’s not from a bottle, eh?”
He looked her straight in the eyes.
“I hear from Royal Protection you’ve been a bit naughty. At the Goring Hotel, wasn’t it? With the Middletons? Those boys don’t like surprises around Prince William’s bride–to-be, Henri. You could get into serious trouble that way.”
She pouted, trying a contrite face on him.
He produced her tiny Lumix camera from his pocket, dangling it before her face.
“Do you remember a man called Milton? Matt Milton?”
Her eyebrows rose and she searched the past.
“Cat Strangler Milton, you mean? The nut with the placards?”
“Yes! That’s him. You remember. Although he wasn’t a nut, just a bit soft on the royals.”
“Stood by the roadside, a Union Jack wrapped around him? Always shouting how he loved Diana?”
She said. “Pathetic little sod, wasn’t he?”
Royce spoke more quietly now, not wishing to be overheard.
“Do you still have a picture of him anywhere? Anything at all?”
He scrutinised her camera in his hand, willing her to answer.
Henrietta understood the negotiation.
“I might. I’d have to look. It’ll be on roll film from those days, not digital. Could take a while.”
Cass Farraday entered the bargaining.
“What’s the thing about Milton, Royce? Why do you want him? Does she get off the hook if she finds a picture?”
Guy Royce just stared at him in silence.
Henrietta intervened between them.
“Okay. You can’t say. I’ll try very hard. I’ll look everywhere.”
Royce finished his shot glass of malt whisky and stood up. He slid her camera across the table top. Without another word he left the Sherlock Holmes, disappearing up Great Scotland Yard Street.