Sherlock Holmes and the Repulsive Affair of the Red Leech by Bob Bishop

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This Play is the copyright of the Author and may not be performed, copied or sold without the Author's prior consent

ACT ONE

PREAMBLE

The stage is in darkness. We hear the voice of DR WATSON over the sound system

WATSON: Can I tell them now, Holmes?

HOLMES: Tell who what?

WATSON: My readers about the giant rat of Sumatra?

HOLMES: I think not, Watson.

WATSON: Oh, go on, Holmes do let me.

HOLMES: No.

WATSON: Why not?

HOLMES: Because the world is not yet prepared for it.

WATSON: Oh, surely, it must be by now

HOLMES: No, it isn't.

WATSON : Well, what about "The Lighthouse Keeper and the Trained
Cormorant?" The world must be prepared for that one?

HOLMES: No. The man in the street does not wish to read about sex
and depravity.

WATSON: I do.

HOLMES: You could not be described as the man in the street, Watson;
not by any stretch of the imagination.

WATSON: Well, let me tell them about the Red Leech, then.

HOLMES: Certainly not more sex and depravity.

WATSON: Only a little bit.

HOLMES: Oh, go on, then I can't bear to see you sulking. But
change the names to protect the innocent.

WATSON: All right, then. I say, Holmes, have you seen my fountain
pen?

HOLMES: Ear.

WATSON: Where?

HOLMES: Behind your ear. The other one.

WATSON: Oh yes. Hem"The Repulsive Affair of the Red Leech ..."
How's that for a catchy title?

HOLMES: (Voice fading away) I'm not listening, Watson.

WATSON: Humph. "Of all the adventures that my friend Holmes shared
with me, none was more curious than the one which began in the late
summer of '96. The morning, as I recall, began quietly enough:
Holmes was engrossed in the day's papers, which had just arrived,
and I was sorting out my stamp collection

Lights come up on:

Scene One

The Consulting Rooms of Sherlock Holmes, 221b Baker Street, W1

It is the autumn of 1896. SHERLOCK HOLMES is discovered in an
arm-chair, reading The Times. DR. WATSON sits at the table with
his stamp album.

WATSON: Oh, drat it! Drat it!

HOLMES: Something amiss, Watson?

WATSON: Can't find my bally stamp hinges now.

HOLMES: Dear me.

WATSON: Everything vanishes in this house you can't put a
thing down.

HOLMES: An exaggeration, surely?

WATSON: It isn't an exaggeration, Holmes. What happened to the
Union Jack I bought ready to hang out for the Jubilee, then? Where did
that go?

HOLMES: Ah, where indeed?

WATSON: And you never helped me to look for it. It cost me seven and
sixpence.

HOLMES: They saw you coming, Watson Mrs Higgins at the corner
shop sells them for five shillings.

WATSON: Not silk ones! And mine had some bunting attached. Anyway,
that's not the point someone's made off with it, and now the
blighter's got my stamp hinges! It's too bad!

HOLMES: You have probably misplaced them.

WATSON: Nonsense! I haven't got up from this table. They were on
that chair, not five minutes ago.

HOLMES: What do they look like?

WATSON: What do you mean, what do they look like? Little tiddly bits
of paper.

HOLMES: Sticky on both sides?

WATSON: Jolly sticky, yes.

HOLMES: I should ask Mrs Hudson.

Enter MRS HUDSON with a cushion stuck to her bottom.

WATSON: Oh, I say!

HUDSON: Finished with the breakfast tray, gentlemen?

WATSON: (Eyes glued to her backside) Oh..umumyes.

HUDSON: I'll take it, then.

MRS HUDSON bends over to pick up the tray. WATSON makes a
half-hearted grab at the cushion. He thinks better of it, and
withdraws his hand, just as MRS HUDSON turns to face him.)

HUDSON: Was there anything else you was wanting?

WATSON: Oh, umyourmy.(He makes vague gestures) No, not
really.

HUDSON: That's good, 'cos I'm all behind today. Oh, Mr
Holmes

HOLMES: Mm?

MRS HUDSON crosses past WATSON to go to HOLMES. Again, WATSON makes a
furtive grab at the cushion, but misses. She turns. He hides his hands
and smiles at her. She turns back to HOLMES.

HUDSON: I meant to give you this, sir. A gentleman left it yesterday
when you was out. (She hands HOLMES a crumpled slip of paper.)

HOLMES: A message!

HUDSON: That's what I thought.

MRS HUDSON shuffles out again. As she passes WATSON he grabs again
at the cushion. This time he seizes it and pulls hard. Her skirt comes
off with it, but she fails to notice and shuffles out of the room in
her Union Jack bloomers.

WATSON: Oh, I say!

HOLMES: Nice work, Watson two cases solved in a single grope.

WATSON: My Union Jack!

HOLMES: Undoubtedly. I wonder what she did with the bunting?

WATSON: But it was my flag, Holmes. Mine!

HOLMES: Mm' yes.

WATSON: She could have got her own.

HOLMES: She probably thought it was an old one. Stop fussing you
got your stamp hinges back, didn't you?

WATSON: Fat lot of use they'll be, now the sticky stuff's all
used up.

HOLMES: Well, that will teach you to leave them on chairs. Now, let
me see what we've got in this note(reads) "Must see you
urgently on a matter of some delicacy. Will call tomorrow at eleven.
Crosby." Hmm. Could be the banker, Crosby, or I believe there's
one in the War Office. What do you think, Watson?

WATSON: (who has been recovering stamp-hinges) Bent!

HOLMES: Both of them?

WATSON: All of them. Bent and crumpled. There's only about two I
can use. Did you say something, Holmes?

HOLMES: It doesn't matter.

The door bell rings, off

WATSON: The door!

HOLMES: Possibly.

WATSON: A visitor!

HOLMES: Probably. What time is it?

WATSON: Ten fifty-two.

HOLMES: Crosby. He's early.

Enter MRS HUDSON, still in her bloomers.

HUDSON: Excuse me, Mr Holmes there's a visitor.

HOLMES: Excellent. Show him up.

HUDSON: I did.

WATSON: (Holding out her skirt) Do you want this?

MRS HUDSON goes out. INSPECTOR LESTRADE passes her in the doorway.

LESTRADE: No, thanks.

HOLMES: Inspector Lestrade. I was expecting someone else.

LESTRADE: Someone else?

HOLMES: A client.

LESTRADE: I'll be brief, then.

HOLMES: What a blessing.

LESTRADE: Do you believe in vampires, Mr Holmes?

HOLMES: Only when I look at you.

LESTRADE: What?

HOLMES: A bon mot. Ignore it. Vampires, you said?

LESTRADE: I did.

HOLMES: Your field, I think, eh, Watson?

WATSON: A South American bat, Holmes, of the genus Desmodus; or a
re-animated corpse from Eastern Europe.

HOLMES: There you are, Lestrade, take your pick. You refer, I
imagine to the former?

LESTRADE: No, Mr Holmes, the latter.

HOLMES: I see. Then perhaps you had better sit down.

LESTRADE sits at on the chair next to WATSON, who rescues his stamps
just in time.

LESTRADE: I am not an overly-imaginative man, Mr Holmes

HOLMES: Indeed you are not.

LESTRADE: So perhaps you will believe me when I tell you that not
two, but three corpses have been taken from the Thames this week, and
all with the same 'orrible symptoms.

HOLMES: 'Orribe?

LESTRADE: Very 'orrible, Mr 'olmes. They was all drained of
blood, like, and had little puncture marks right 'ere.

WATSON: Always the right ear?

LESTRADE: Not the right ear, Dr Watson.right 'ere. (Points to
his own neck)

WATSON: Good lord!

LESTRADE: Just what I said. Don't that sound like vampires to you,
doctor?

WATSON: It do! Erit does.

LESTRADE: There you are, then! What do you say to that, Mr
'olmes?

HOLMES: Cobblers.

LESTRADE: Eh?

HOLMES: You should visit the cobblers, Lestrade your boots are
irretrievably down at heel.

LESTRADE: Never mind my boots! What about the vampires?

HOLMES: More cobblers. You have been reading Mr Stoker's penny
dreadful, haven't you?

LESTRADE: I never read fiction, Mr 'Olmes. The "Police
Gazette" sees me through the week. I tell you, there's something
uncanny going on in my manor. Uncanny. And I don't like it.

WATSON: Can't we take a look, Holmes? I shouldn't mind a
shufty.

HOLMES: You go by all means, Watson, if the sight of bloodless
corpses intrigues you. I shall wait here for my client.

LESTRADE: How about it, doctor? I should value your opinion.

WATSON: Gosh.

MRS HUDSON enters with her hat on. Still no skirt, though.

HUDSON: Mr 'olmes, I'm just going down to the shops.

LESTRADE: Like that?

HUDSON: Like what?

LESTRADE: Wellumum

HUDSON: I'm short of a few things.

LESTRADE: Decidedly.

The door bell rings

HUDSON: I'll get it.

HOLMES: Perhaps Dr Watson should?

HUDSON: It's no trouble.

HOLMES: I was only thinkingahemof you opening the door, in
your bloomers.

HUDSON: There is no door in my bloomers, Mr 'olmes. I'll see who
it is. (Exit)

HOLMES: Strange woman.

LESTRADE: Why isn't she wearing a skirt?

HOLMES: Dr. Watson pulled it off.

LESTRADE: Dr. Watson?!

HOLMES: It was an accident.

WATSON: An accident.

HOLMES: He was after something entirely different.

LESTRADE: Was he?

WATSON: My stamp hinges.

LESTRADE: Stamp hinges? Look, don't bother about those corpses. It
was really Mr Holmes' opinion I was after. I'll let myself out.
(Exit)

WATSON: Dash it, Holmes, he'll think I'm some kind of dangerous
lunatic now!

HOLMES: Um. Sorry you missed out on the vampire case, Watson. But
here is our client, if I am not mistaken. Cheer up he might have a
werewolf up his sleeve.

WATSON: Doh!

Enter MRS HUDSON with CROSBY, the banker.

HUDSON: Mr Crosby.

CROSBY: Mr Holmes, is it?

HOLMES: Come in, Crosby. We got your note.

HUDSON: I'll be off to the shops now.

WATSON: Please take this.

HUDSON: No thanks, doctor. I got one like that. (Exit)
WATSON: Oh, really!

CROSBY: Was that your housekeeper?

HOLMES: Mrs Hudson. Fine woman.

CROSBY: So I see. Does she often walk around in her underwear?

HOLMES: Only when Dr Watson is around.

CROSBY: OhOh!

HOLMES: Crosby, meet my associate, Dr Watson.

CROSY: Doctor.
WATSON: Hullo. (They shake hands undomfortably: CROSBY is wary,
Watson embarrassed.)

HOLMES: Pray sit down, Mr Crosby, and tell us how we might assist
you.

CROSY: I suppose this gentleman is to be trusted?

HOLMES: Implicitly. Watson is the very soul of discretion.

WATSON: Rather!

CROSBY: Yes, wellI am Arthur Crosby of Crosby and Furlough

HOLMES: Bankers.

CROSBY: Exactly. Until recently I counted myself, Mr Holmes, a
fortunate man.

HOLMES: A wealthy one, at any rate.

CROSBY: Ah. Quite. Money is not my problem, Mr Holmes. Money I have
in abundance

WATSON: I wish I had.

CROSBY: Alas, Dr Watkins

WATSON: Watson.

CROSBY: Doctor Watson, yes. Alas, doctor, money does not buy
happiness. It is my money which has brought about my undoing. (He gets
emotional.)

HOLMES: Please explain.

CROSBY: Of course. Forgive me. It is my daughter, Mr Holmes; my
little Sophie, the very sweetest child who ever lived. She is gone!
Taken! Forgive me(weeps)

HOLMES: Watson

WATSON: Hankie?

CROSBY: Thank you. (He takes the handkerchief and blows his nose
loudly before handing it back to WATSON)

WATSON: Ur.

HOLMES: Your daughter, then a child by the name of Sophie, is
missing?

CROSBY: These three days, Mr Holmes. We are beside ourselves.

HOLMES: And you fear she has been abducted?

CROSBY: I know it, Mr Holmes, I know it!

HOLMES: By whom, then?

CROSBY: A man! In the middle of the night. I am a poor sleeper. I
have an old wound

WATSON: I say, do you really? I was shot in the(He gets confused,
unsure like the rest of us whether he was shot in the shoulder
or the thigh.)

HOLMES: Yes, all right, Watson. Carry on, Mr Crosby.

CROSBY: Well, I fancied I heard a noise, you see, in the room next
to mine

HOLMES: Sophie's room.

CROSBY: Exactly. It was a strange noise, Mr Holmes, very strange
indeed.

HOLMES: Can you describe it?

CROSBY: It was like someone shaking a duster, or flapping a cloth.

WATSON: Flapping?

CROSBY: Yes: flap-flap; flap-flap. Like that.

WATSON: Wow!

HOLMES: (Frowning at WATSON) Go on.

CROSBY: Well, it continued for some time, then it went quiet.

WATSON: Did it?

CROSBY: Yes. I got out of bed and listened at her door. I heard a
rustle and a slither, and a sort of moan.

WATSON: Oooh!

CROSBY: No. Lower than that. Well, I couldn't stand it any longer,
Mr Holmes, so I flung open the door.

WATSON; Good for you!

HIOLMES: Quiet, Watson. Did you see anything?

CROSBY: Oh, yes, Mr Holmes, I saw something! It was a moon-lit
night, and curtains were drawn back there was a man in there!

HOLMES: Aha!

CROSBY: A man, Mr Holmes! He had my Sophie in his arms, and it was
like she was still asleep. She looked so peaceful. Her head was thrown
back, and her long golden hair trailed almost to the ground. I gave a
shout

WATSON: Well done!

CROSBY: He turned his face toward me for a brief second. In the
moonlight I saw him quite clearly, and it was a face I shall never
forget.

HOLMES: Excellent!

WATSON: Did she wake up?

CROSBY: No, Dr Wilson, she didn't. For a second only the fiend
looked at me, then he was off, with my Sophie in his arms, out of the
window.

WATSON: Oh, I say!

CROSBY: Of course, I rushed to look out, but I slipped on the
floormat

WATSON: Rotten luck!

CROSBY: Yes. Only that day I had warned Mrs Abercromby about
polishing under the rugs. At any rate, it was to be my undoing. By the
time I reached the window, they had vanished into the night.

HOLMES: And this was?

CROSBY: Three days ago, Mr Holmes. Each day I have expected a demand
for ransom, but there has been only silence. I am beside myself with
worry. Oh, what am I do?

HOLMES: You have notified the police?

CROSBY: I dare not. If she has been kidnapped

HOLMES: Quite. You have acted wisely, but late. Oh, Crosby, Crosby!
If only you had come to me sooner! By now the trail will be cold.

CROSBY: I could not decide what to do. In the end I could stand it
no longer, so I came here yesterday. You were not at home.

HOLMES: All is not lost. But we must act quickly. Rest assured, Mr
Crosby, if she is to be found, we shall find her. Dr Watford and I
shall return with you immediately.

WATSON: Oh, really!

CROSBY: My carriage is outside. There is room for us all.

HOLMES: No, you must return alone. Your house may be being watched.
We shall take a cab and be only a few paces behind.

CROSBY: Thank you, Mr Holmes. It is an inexpressible relief. How
much?

HOILMES: Tush! You may insult me with money if and when your
daughter is safely found. Now, smartly to your carriage, and do not
look back.

CROSBY: I'll do everything you say, Mr Holmes. I shall see you
again shortly, then?

HOLMES: Indeed. But before you go the man's appearance you
said you recalled it?

CROSBY: He was tall and slender, dressed it seemed in evening
clothes. At any rate, he was in black from head to foot, with a cape
long, to the floor. But no hat; his head was bare.

HOLMES: And his face?

CROSBY: That was what struck me most: it was pale, deathly pale.
Bright eyes, burning like coals in a ghastly white face. It unnerved
me, Mr Holmes, it unnerved me!

WATSON: Old, or young?

CROSBY: Youngish, I think perhaps not more than thirty-five. I
think what struck me most was his teeth.

WATSON: His teeth?

CROSBY: Two at the front, unnaturally long and savagely pointed,
like fangs. I saw them plainly in the moonlight.

WATSON: Holmes! Holmes! Do you

HOLMES: Yes, yes, Watson. Thank you. I have a fuller picture. Go
now, Crosby: we shall be hot upon your heels.

Exit CROSBY

WATSON: Holmes! Did you hear what he said? The vampire has got her!
The vampire has got her!

HOLMES: Pull yourself together, man!

WATSON: Sorry Holmes, sorry. But I say!

MRS HUDSON enters

HOLMES: Say nothing. Here is Mrs Hudson.

HUDSON: I just popped up to see what you wanted for your dinners.

HOLMES: I thought you had gone shopping?

HUDSON: I got no further than the street corner. I've never known
it so cold out, and that's a fact. I came straight back. So what do
you want for your dinners, then gentlemen? Nice bit of rump?

HOLMES: Dr Watson and I shall not be requiring luncheon, Mrs Hudson;
we are going out.

HUDSON: In that case, Mr Holmes, I'll pop over the road and see if
I can't cheer up the vicar. He's been peeky all week. (Exit)

HOLMES: Well, that should certainly perk him up a bit. Come along,
Watson, we have dallied long enough.

WATSON: So the game's afoot again, eh, Holmes?

HOLMES: Yes, Watson. The game's afoot!

BLACKOUT

Intermission a dark place

The lights come up on a dark place, furnished with a single seat,
upon which reclines a most beautiful damsel. (SOPHIE) She looks pale
and out-of-sorts. A tall man, not unlike the description given earlier
by Crosby, hovers over her…

SOPHIE: Oh sir! You should not be here! It is wrong! Wrong!

DRACULA: I could not stay away. Your beauty draws me to you.

SOPHIE: Oh, do not say such things! You know I am powerless to
resist!

DRACULA: Then come with me, quickly, before your father hears.

SOPHIE: No! No! I cannot! Do not ask it!

DRACULA: I must ask it! Can you not see that we were meant for each
other? Let me take your handwhy do you draw back? I shall not hurt
you.

SOPHIE: Last night

DRACULA: Night! (The memory excites him) Yes?

SOPHIE: I forgot myself. It was madness! Madness!

DRACULA: It wasdelicious! You weredelicious!

SOPHIE: I was bewitched! We hardly knew each other. Suddenly there
you were in the moonlight I was in your armsyou looked so
strong, and handsome

DRACULA: I know.

SOPHIE: You drew my frail body close to yours; I could feel the hot
pulse of your passion

DRACULA: I know!

SOPHIE: Your eyes: searing, scorching, penetrating; your hands:
cool, caressing, undressing

DRACULA: I remember.

SOPHIE: And your kisses! Oh! Like fire upon my neck!

DRACULA: I remember!

SOPHIE: Suddenly dawn was in the sky, and you were gone.

DRACULA: But now I am back!

SOPHIE: Yes. Now you are back.

DRACULA: And yet you hesitate?

SOPHIE: Today I have felt so strange: somehow weak and drained.

DRACULA: Because you are in love, my little English flower.

SOPHIE: In love?

DRACULA: Yes with me.

SOPHIE: So that is how love feels?

DRACULA: Yes. I feel it, too. Come, my dear my carriage is at
the gate. A raging fire burns for you

SOPHIE: In your heart?

DRACULA: In the great hall of my castle.

SOPHIE: You have a castle?

DRACULA: Only a small one.

SOPHIE: (Standing) I love castles! Oh! I feel so weak. I don't
know if I can walk far

DRACULA: There is no need to walk at all: I shall carry you.

SOPHIE: Oh, sir!

DRACULA sweeps her into his arms as though she weighs nothing at
all.

SOPHIE: How strong you are!

DRACULA: Yes. So strong, and so hungry!

SOPHIE: Hungry? What must you think of my hospitality? Put me down,
and I will ring for a sandwich.

DRACULA: No! Do not bother for me. I shall be having a bite later.

DRACULA sweeps her away into the darkness, a smile upon his
features.

BLACKOUT

In the darkness we hear a carriage pull away and fade into the
distance, then the voices of HOLMES and WATSON

HOLMES: We'll wait under this plane tree, Watson. Give him time to
go inside.

WATSON: O.K., Holmes. I say! What a creepy looking house! All those
towers and turrets!

HOLMES: Yes.

WATSON: What did he say this place was called?

HOLMES: He didn't.

WATSON: So where are we?

HOLMES: Somewhere south of the river Hmm, that's odd.

WATSON: What is?

HOLMES: That awful smell is still with us.

WATSON: Smell?

HOLMES: Yes. I thought it was the inside of the cab, but it's here
as well. (sniff-sniff-sniff) Good lord, Watson it's you!

WATSON: Me? Oh that smell. It's just my garlic.

HOLMES: Since when have you been eating filthy foreign food?

WATSON: I haven't eaten it, Holmes. It's in my bag.

HOLMES: In your bag? Have you taken leave of your senses?

WATSON: It's for the vampires garlic repels them.

HOLMES: I'm not surprised it repels me. Get rid of it. Go on
throw it away. What else have you got in there?

WATSON: Nothing.

HOLMES: What's this wooden stake for? And isn't that my coal
hammer?

WATSON: Leave them alone they're my things!

HOLMES: Where did you get that crucifix from?

WATSON: It was my auntie Hilda's. Oh, don't touch that, Holmes!
It's my silver bullet.

HOLMES: Silver bullet? Sometimes, Watson, I fear for your sanity, I
really do.

The voices fade away

[end of extract]

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