“Lady and Gentlemen… Lady and Gentlemen, thank you. Your attention, please!”
Montague was a patient man faced with an arrogant audience. “Lady… Gentlemen, please, your attention.” To Montague’s annoyance, the dining hall’s general disregarding hubbub continued unabated.
“Hear yea, hear yea, time to shut ya gobs!” was bellowed out louder than an elephant’s trumpet by Whip.
Montague self-consciously adjusted his cravat as the dining hall noise settled as the gas lights bore down on his reddening face, “Yes, thank you, Maurice.”
The hall’s Whip was somewhat of an oik, but his loud and common voice had brought the banquet to a more convivial noise level. That, and his ability to rip an ear off with his bear teeth if push came to shove.
A throat clearing was required before Montague continued, “Lady and Gentlemen, thank you for attending our twenty-third annual get-together for the Gentlemen’s Group of…”
A louder and higher-pitched throat was cleared.
“Oh, yes, my apologies; I keep forgetting we are in the age of awakening. Yes, silly me. With you reminding me at every opportunity, I wonder why I keep making the fopa.” Montague cleared his throat once more and calmed his nerves, “What I meant to say was welcome to the twenty-third annual get-together for the Gentlemen And Gentlewomen’s Group of Educated Detectives. Now formally known as GAGGED.”
Montague hated the name but was outvoted at the last general meeting.
“We gather today to present the Sherlock award to the detective who cracked the biggest case in the last calendar year. And it gives me such delight to introduce to you all our esteemed winner...”
There was an audible groaning within the drinking audience, which was quickly put to an ending when Whip grabbed his silver knobbed truncheon and bounced it into his left palm, indicating it could be bounced on someone’s skull if he so chose.
“Yes… thank you, Maurice; I don’t think your particular talents will be needed this early in the evening. Please, lady and gentlemen, raise your glass, mug, or chalice to our newest member of the Sherlock Hall.” Montague picked up his champagne glass and raised it to the ceiling in celebration. “Lord Der Artz!”
A small and unenthusiastic clap limped around the banquet hall.
“Thank you, I thank you all very much for your adulation.” The tall, thin, but elegant Lord Der Artz rose from his seat, stared at the well-oiled crowd, and gave an audible sigh of resignation.
His Lordship was by nature a very shy and awkward creature who preferred to sit amongst his books and drum set. This thought of ‘I could be somewhere else right now’ kept jumping into his mind throughout the evening. Now as he stood to face his colleagues… well, actually his nemesis, it was all he could do not to regurgitate at the sight of his fellow detectives.
Oh, to be back in the library with his big magnifying glass. There was a whole new set of National Geographic magazines with actual coloured photographs of some new lost tribe that had just been found, which he desperately wanted to look at—particularly the ones which showed the women in their traditional dress.
His mother had called the photos sinful, but he had trumped her with the call to science and how images of the unknown engorged the mind with knowledge. She had replied that the photos would engorge something, and consequently, his mind would probably feel drained, but if he wanted to damage his brain with snapshots of brazen hussies, that was his choice.
Lord Der Artz was also very close to mastering his drum set. Well, mastering might be too big a word, but the neighbours had stopped complaining about all the cats who seemed to gather every time he expressed his musical desires. Admittedly, the gardener’s greenhouse, where his mother had condemned his drum set, was now fully soundproofed and airtight. So maybe that had encouraged the general diminishment of the feline chorus. Mind you; this added an extra layer of difficulty for his Lordship to express his musical abilities.
After one dizzy asphyxia-inducing drum rehearsal, he had placed a little fluffy fat cheeked gerbil into a cage and hung it by the door. When the creature stuck his nose out of the cage and desperately tried to reach the door for fresh air, Lord Der Artz would have his manservant break open the seals. Banks would then waft in fresh air and waft out the stinky drum sweaty air.
The whole saga didn’t seem to bother Banks, who had reassured Lord Der Artz that he had trained himself to hold his breath for 10 min at a time, so breathing wasn’t an issue. Also, the bee’s wax ear plugs were working a treat when moulded into the ear with a naked flame.
Sadly, as thoughts of his beloved drum set evaporated, Lord Der Artz realised he was under the influence of an instrumental woman, so he was somewhat in a quandary. He did not enjoy going out into the public arena, but his newly acquired girlfriend, whom he wished to keep happy, had insisted he made the effort. In her words, “go stick it to those jumped up incompetent bunch of drunken hoity-toity spoilt little brats who are too thick to find their own arse, with their own hands, between their own legs.” And when he had said, ‘these people don’t like me, and they make me sad’, she had replied, “go, and when you’re finished, I’ll make you happy.’ She won the argument with little to no oppositional debate.
Lord Der Artz smiled; his new lady had a turn of words and was to be obeyed, not only because she could punch a man to sleep for a week if they dared cross her, but because she was a rare woman who had promised him a happy ending. Also, she was a detective of the police kind and had come in handy when solving his triumphant case. But apart from that, she was nice to him, and an attractive woman being nice to his Lordship was a sporadic event indeed. She had a big heart in her chest, which made other parts of her chest quite pleasing, and this, according to his Lordship’s inner monologue, was a winning combination.
“Thank you, Montague, your words are very kind.” Lord Der Artz adjusted his monocle and surveyed the sozzled horde as he smoothed down his thin black moustache. “Lady and Gentlemen, thank you for awarding me the Sherlock Tolmes Award for Best Educated Detective, here on referred to as the STABED award.” His Lordship held up the very small glass chalice between his thumb and forefinger. “Holding this tiny commemorative cup, which I initially mistook as a tatty little egg cup you can buy for a little girl’s dolly from the one penny shop down the road, allows me to feel very gratified in knowing that my skills and talents have finally been noticed.”
His Lordship placed the award down very carefully on the dining table, ensuring an errant deep breath wouldn’t blow it off. Adjusted his peacock blue waste coat, Lord Der Artz looked out to the sea of his disgruntled peers in front of him. All the white-whiskered, fat and red-faced gentlemen detectives… plus one not so fat or whiskery, sat at their individual tables with lots of distance between them. Detectives were not the kind of people who could sit close to other detectives. Their egos tended to take up a number of seats. He stared at one particular guest who smiled a ruby-lipped shark’s grin. The attention from her diamond-blue eyes made his Lordship feel uncomfortable in so many way’s it was impossible to list.
“I will ensure to share your wonderous gift with my girlfriend, whom I am sure will treasure it close to her bosom. Either that or she will use it for target practice. And as some of you know from first-hand experience,” the woman’s brow furrowed slightly, “my beloved has an exceptional sniper’s eye.”
Montague smiled awkwardly at the gathering of detectives, trying very hard to ignore his Lordship as was their standard practice. But, surprisingly, tonight, after the woman detective had silenced a few of the closer tables with a whack of her fan, the general male detective population was beginning to lose the battle of loud verbal ignorance and so quiet a number of them sat quietly staring in disgruntled disbelief at either the woman or Lord Der Artz.
“That’s right. Not only have I proven to be the best detective in our growing and repairing city, out besting you all, but I also have a girlfriend. I have risen like our town from the ashes of a dragon attack to fly high like a phoenix. It is this award, along with my realisation that I am allergic to rubber and my having a real girlfriend, which is an excellent thing for me, that I now feel confident to stand before you, no longer a virgin and agree with you that it was high time you all made your acknowledgement of my virility public knowledge.”
Montague beheld the dark-haired, blue-eyed attractive young woman apprehensively. She may have been a sight to behold, but it was now fair rumour around town that she had also been the last sight of many a rich man whom a suspicious death had befallen. Interestingly though, not before bequeathing their fortune to the young ‘woman’ detective. For some strange reason, this beauty seemed utterly obsessed with Harold Der Artz, who had now found his footing and was proving to be an embarrassing but passionate oracle.
“I have not forgotten how over the years the vast majority, nay I stand corrected, every single one of you has questioned, nay shown derision, nay belittled, nay laughed at me and my detection methods, right up to the point where a number of you peed your tweeds. It still sticks firmly in my mind the quantity of articles you all have written about me in the GAGGED bimonthly magazine for members. Not only did you attack with hurtful words, but you included humorous pictures in both line and colour disparaging the size of my manly appendage, the functionality of my brain and brandied about the idea that I have a limited single-digit IQ. It was stated that my head was so empty if I ever picked my nose, I would be in danger of poking my eye out.”
His Lordship raised a fine finger and swept it across the crowded room. “And, may I clarify, lady and gentlemen, am I NOT unaware of the ‘Come-Fund-Us’ campaign you all engaged in to have me assassinated.”
The room was deathly quiet, shocking Whip and Montague, who looked at each other for confirmation that this silence was natural. Montague mouthed ‘Did you know?’ to Whip, who looked out in disgust at the untrustworthy toffs as he shook his head slowly in denial.
Lord Der Artz had become entirely animated in a thin and flamingo-like manner as he either nodded with his head or pointed with a finger. “And I must thank you for all of this bullying because, without your poorly thought out and disgustingly shameful executed campaign to eradicate me, I would never have met my girlfriend. Who, by the way, did I mention is real, is not made up and also not made of rubber!’
The woman detective began tapping a long red fingernail on the white linen cover dining table as her eyes narrowed.
“If you all had not been the biggest bunch of ineffectual buffoons, I would never have solved the case of the last remaining hidden dragon, and I certainly would not have found her hoard of treasure. Which, quite happily, has been placed into my family’s now amply stuffed coffers along with the Police Officer’s Health Scheme.”
Lord Der Artz went to take a sip of water from the glass in front of him, looked up at the audience, looked down at the glazed water, placed the glass down and continued dehydrated but also un-poisoned.
“ I am sure you will all be pleased to know that the dragon’s hoard has also been put towards the development of the “Education Fund Only For Future Police Identified Gamins Scheme”, formally known as E.F.O.F.F.P.I.G.S, ensuring the orphaned children of Police officers don’t have to follow their parents into policing but can ensure they have a brighter future in the easier, safer and much-loved profession of teaching. As well my girlfriend has set up a school to train Police officers to become world-class detectives so they can hunt down dishonest, lying, conniving criminals no matter which echelon of society they belong to. I’m sure some of you will be enjoying the observation of their skills first-hand at some point very soon.”
Glassy and bloodshot unbelieving eyes were squinting in the hall as food cooled and waiters waited to fill up still glasses. Montague took a step closer to Whip. Well, closer wasn’t entirely accurate; maybe a step further behind Whip so he could be used as a shield was more truthful.
“But best of all,” Lord Der Artz continued, “I must thank you all because, without your jealousy, envy and coveted hatred, I would never have felt motivated to prove all you conniving and incompetent imbeciles how stupid you really are. I would never have felt brave enough to step out of my comfort zone and develop beneficial friendships with people who, unlike yourselves, are competent, intelligent and in touch with reality. Yes, they might smell a bit, but they generally don’t seem offended when I gag near them, so that’s fine. Also, I would never have been forced to believe in myself when no one else did, not even Mother.”
Lord Der Artz picked up the small trophy, looked into the seething and squirming crowd, and flipped his long-fingered bird at them while blowing a raspberry. “Up your bum with a rubber drum and go twice as far with a chocolate bar. That, my girlfriend’s four-year-old son tells me, is the best and most insulting thing which can be said to any person on the face of our planet, and I am glad I have said it to you all. Get your calendars out and write my name on the top of today’s date a year from now. I’ll be seeing you all again, and I’ll expect a decent bloody trophy next time.”
And with that, Lord Der Artz proudly gathered his belongings and walked out from his celebration banquet, whistling a jaunty tune whilst walking through the front doors. A set of pale diamond-blue eyes, which sat above a sly grin, watched him stride out.
Well, my goodness, Lady and Gentlemen, that was unexpec… actually, no, it was quiet on the cards. May I also say, due to your unsanctioned actions to start a ‘Come Fund Us’ page, I formally state, ‘Here, Here’, for Lord Der Artz’s drum and chocolate statement. I hope you all follow his insult to the letter. And now, I hereby resign as Head Lense of GAGGED and will be offering my humble services to his Lordship. Whip!” With that, the Right Honourable Montague Richter, High Court Judge to the Council of Five, left the building.
Whip looked around and rubbed his greying whiskery chin. He threw his silver lance onto the nearest table with the disrespectful comment, “Here, this should help with the drum and chocolate bar!” and then followed Monty whistling the same jaunty little tune Lord Der Artz had used.
Stunned silence echoed after them until a throat belonging to the only Lady Detective in the room was again cleared. The beautiful raven-haired young woman stood and addressed the stunned crowd. I suggest, gentlemen, instead of a ‘Come Fund Us’ page, this time you simply write your checks out to me, Moriar Ty James. I haven’t finished with his Lordship or his embarrassingly common lady friend yet!”