Young Writers Society

Home » Literary works » Short Story » Fanfiction

E - Everyone

The Red-Headed League Part 2

by JuliasSneezer

“Mr. Wilson has been good enough to come here with a quality case. The one that may just change your mind. I’ve been through many cases, John, but this one, I have to admit, seems entirely unique.” Sherlock continued, excitement lightening his features, as if he had found a one pound note on the sidewalk.

Mr. Wilson straightened in the hard kitchen chair, and puffed out his chest with pride at the praise. He smiled a bit, pulling a wrinkly, dirty old section of newspaper from the pocket of his trouser pocket. He thrust his head forward, watching his pudgy hands as they made a courageous attempt to smooth out the creases before overturning it to Sherlock.

During all this, John gave a shot at (though he would never admit it) deducing their mysterious client. He didn’t glean much from his effort. Mr. Wilson seemed to have been the average British citizen of middle class, obese, slow, and rather pompous. He wore a pair of jeans, a button up shirt, and had a royal blue jacket slung over the back of the chair. There was a white logo on the upper left side, which was concealed with the sleeve. There didn’t seem to be anything overly extraordinary about the man except for his stoplight-red hair, and his constant look of discontent.

Sherlock spared John a glance and smirked, noticing what he was doing. Naturally, he couldn’t resist the urge to show off. He shook his head with a small smile, as if he were watching a small dog chase his tail. “Beyond the perfectly obvious facts that he’s done manual work, has been to China, has done an inordinate amount of typing recently, used to cycle and smokes, I can deduce nothing else.”

John didn’t even spare Sherlock an annoyed look as Mr. Wilson sat in the chair, gaping like a fish out of water.

“How in heaven’s name did you know all that?”

“Your right hand is larger than your left, not only suggesting that you’ve done manual work, but that you’re right handed.” Sherlock rattled off, looking mildly perturbed when Mr. Wilson interrupted his ramblings.

“Then how did you know about the smoking, and that I used to cycle?”

“The smoking was given away by the pack of cigarettes sticking out of your jacket pocket, the discolored tips of your fingers and teeth, and your breath.”

Mr. Wison frowned, turning his head down to his lap to study his fingertips.

“High tar. Excellent choice, by the way. I can see that you used to cycle because of that pin on your shirt. The Cycler’s Enthusiast Association, UK.”

“How did you know that I don’t do it now, though?” Mr. Wilson challenged, his pompous manner showing again.

“Because no one as obese as you could possibly be cycling frequently.”

John cleared his throat significantly, though he didn’t look at Sherlock.

Sherlock’s eyes flickered over to John, and to Mr. Wilson’s aghast face. “…sorry.”

Mr. Wilson just shifted in his seat stiffly, his frown still marring his features. “And China?”

“The fish above your wrist. I did a brief study of tattoo marks. I even wrote a post on my blog about it. The scales of the fish are stained a delicate pink. Only done in China. There’s also the most obvious clue that you have a Chinese coin around your neck. Recently returned then.”

Mr. Wilson’s irritable expression loosened somewhat, letting a slight bit of incredulity out. “Well, I never. I thought that you did some sort of trick. Really, there’s nothing to it at all!”

Sherlock’s pride at correctly deducing his new client gave way to irritation as a crease formed between his eyebrows. “Yes, nothing to it.” He lifted the crumpled advertisement, and handed it to John. “I had already memorized it.”

John accepted the paper from him, and looked down at the font.

TO THE RED-HEADED LEAGUE. On account of the request of the late Ezekiah Hopkins, of Lebanon, Pa. U.S.A., there is now another vacancy open which entitles a member of the League to a salary of fifty pounds a week for purely nominal services. All red-headed men who are sound in body and mind and above the age of twenty-one years are eligible. Apply in person on Monday, at eleven o’clock, to Duncan Ross, at the offices of the Leage, 7 Pope’s Court, Fleet Street.

John read over it twice before he looked up to Mr. Wilson. “Definitely interesting,”

Sherlock wriggled a bit in his seat, smiling. “Yes, definitely off the beaten path. Tell us a bit about yourself, Mr. Wilson.”

Mr. Wilson frowned, apparently this being outside his mental capacity. “What?”

Sherlock appeared to be practicing some serious self-restraint as he puffed a small bit of air out of his nose. “Tell us about you. What do you do for a living?”

“I have a small pawnbroker’s business at Saxe-Coburg Square, near the city. It’s always gotten me by, but lately it’s only just been able to get me a living, you know. I used to have two assistants, but now I only have nine. I would have quite the hard time paying him, but he’s more than willing to work for half the wages.” Mr. Wilson shrugged. “I see no reason to correct him.”

“What’s the name of this assistant?” Sherlock asked.

“Vincent Spaulding. Don’t know much about his age, he has the kind of appearance that makes it hard to place, you know? I couldn’t ask for a smarter assistant, Mr. Holmes: I know that he could be be3tter himself, and earn twice of what I can give him. But if he’s satisfied, again, why should I enlighten him?”

John felt his already meager respect for Mr. Wilson plummet, deducing rather quickly the kind of man that he was, and placed him immediately as the sort who he just smiled and nodded to, even if he thought he deserved a punch in the nose.

“Yes, jumping at the chance to secure such a good assistant for half the price. Quite genius, I have to admit.” Sherlock conceded.

John saw through his act immediately, and smirked a bit at his best friend’s attempt to appeal to Mr. Wilson’s prideful personality. He saw that it worked, when Mr. Wilson puffed his chest out even more, as if the back of the chair had something sharp poking out of it.

“Oh, he’s far from perfect, though, always has his face hidden behind a camera. I’ve never seen anyone so invested in photography.” Mr. Wilson shook his head. “Instead of taking time to improve his mind, he’s constantly going through those photos of his.” He frowned. “Never lets me see them, though, says that they’re not quite good enough to ‘present to the public’. The boy’s got a bit of pride on him.”

John strongly resisted the urge to tell Mr. Wilson that he had not even a minute ago asked why he should enlighten Vincent in the first place. Instead, John settled for mentally abusing Mr. Wilson as he continued.

“That’s his only fault though, he’s a fantastic worker otherwise.”

“He’s still with you?” John asked.

Mr. Wilson nodded. “Yes, him and a young lady who comes in every evening to do some simple cooking and cleaning. That’s everyone who lives in my place- Vincent lodges with me.”

Sherlock narrowed his eyes at that last bit. John glanced at him before returning his gaze to Mr. Wilson, trying to catch on.

“My wife died a while back, and I never had any family. We live pretty quietly, the three of us; a roof over out heads, and pay our debts. We just kind of… be.” Mr. Wilson continued. “The first thing that jarred us out of our regular schedule was that advertisement.” Mr. Wilson jabbed a pudgy finger into the article for extra emphasis. “Vincent came down into the office just eight weeks ago, and said that he wished to God that he was a redheaded man.

“Of course, I asked why.

“’Why’ he said. ‘There’s another vacancy on the League of Red-Headed Men. It’s worth quite a bit of money to anyone who can snag it. I’m pretty sure that there are more vacancies than there are red-headed men. The trustees are out of their minds, trying to find something to do with all that money. If my hair would just turn red, I’d be set for life.’

“Obviously, I was quite excited by this. I mean, I’m not one to brag,”

John’s eyebrows disappeared into his hairline, and he withheld a mirthless snort.

“But I didn’t doubt that my hair was redder than any of the others, so I decided that I wanted to give it a go. Vincent showed the date, the address, and a bit of history. Did you know that the founder was a red-head himself? Ezekiah Hopkins. He empathized with all red-heads, and left his enourmous fortune after death to the Red-Headed League.

“So that Monday I left to apply. It was a nightmare, Mr. Holmes, from every direction were hundreds of men with every shade of red hair! I didn’t even know there were that many colors of red hair. Pope’s Court looked like it was on fire. But there weren’t any heads nearly as red as mine. Vincent somehow got me to the front, and right up the steps to the office. We were let in very soon.

“There wasn’t much in there, just a couple wooden chairs, a kitchen table, behind it there was a small man, with hair even redder than mine! He spoke a few words to each candidate, but he always managed to find something wrong with them and sent them off. Getting a vacancy suddenly seemed like it would be very difficult. But when our turn came, the little man liked me quite a bit more than the others, and he closed the door as we came in for a private word.

“Vincent introduced me and said that I was willing to take the vacancy. The small man said that I was suited for it, and walked around me a bit, examining my hair. He then suddenly pulled my hair, and congratulated me on achieving the position. He said that he pulled my hair because they had been fooled before by wigs and dye. He went to the window, and shouted to the people below that the vacancy was filled.

“He introduced himself as Mr. Duncan Ross, and asked if I had any family. I answered that I didn’t, and he said that he was rather disappointed that I wouldn’t be passing my red-head to any children. I was very scared at first, because I thought that this would make me ineligible for the position. However, Mr. Ross decided that for a head as red as mine, he would be willing to accept me, children or not.

“He asked me when I would be working and I explained that I already had a business. I was scared once again, Mr. Holmes, that I would be ineligible for the vacancy, but Vincent said that he would take care of the shop while I was out. How could I pass up that sort of chance?”

“You couldn’t.” Sherlock answered.

“Right you are. Mr. Ross told me that Ten to fourteen hundred would suit him just fine. A pawnbroker’s business is mostly done in the evening anyhow, so it would work perfectly fine for me to earn a bit in the mornings. Besides, I knew that I could trust Vincent. Still do. I knew that he would tell me if anything interesting turned up.

I agreed to the times, and asked about the pay. As the add said, fifty pounds a week. I asked what sort of work I would be doing. He said that I had to be in the building the entire time. If I left, I had to forfeit the position forever. I thought that was odd, of course, but it was only four hours. And fifty pounds! It was rather easy to agree to. He then explained that sickness and business couldn’t keep me away. I was to be typing up the Encyclopedia Britannica. I had to bring my own laptop, but I would be using the table and chair. It was agreed that I would start tomorrow.

Note: You are not logged in, but you can still leave a comment or review. Before it shows up, a moderator will need to approve your comment (this is only a safeguard against spambots). Leave your email if you would like to be notified when your message is approved.

Is this a review?



User avatar
1080 Reviews

Points: 99780
Reviews: 1080

Sun Jun 25, 2017 10:56 am
Mea wrote a review...

Hey there! I saw this was Sherlock fiction, so of course I had to drop by and review.

So far, I'm really enjoying this. Both John and Sherlock are very much so in character, and I particularly love all of John's snarky comments as Sherlock does his thing.

Right now, the biggest thing that distracted me from the narrative was that the pay was only 50 pounds weekly. I think this is the fault of you "modernizing" this story from when it was set in the 1800s - 50 pounds is only about $60, and even for just four hours work total that's decent but not something that would be so highly coveted. For four hours per day, and 50 pounds covering the whole week? (Which is something that's not addressed here and confused me - how many days a week would he be working?) That's nowhere near minimum wage, let alone something that people line up for hours to apply for. Still, it's a simple fix of bumping the numbers.

Another thing I might suggest is to change his profession to not be a pawnbroker - they're just not as common in the modern day. Plus, the stuff about him only paying his worker half of what the labor is worth is something that would probably be impossible in this day and age with all the various labor laws. It's good for character development, but implausible, so see if you can find some better way to give us this idea of his character.

Something else to mention - when you said his hair was stoplight red, I assumed it was dyed. Maybe you should specify when you first mention it that it's not.

I also noticed a couple of typos. See here:

I used to have two assistants, but now I only have nine.

I think you meant only one?

And here:
I couldn’t ask for a smarter assistant, Mr. Holmes: I know that he could be be3tter himself, and earn twice of what I can give him

There might be a couple others as well.

I think that's all I've got for this! One last think - you never explained how Sherlock knew that Mr. Wilson had done a bunch of typing recently.

Anyway, tag me when you post the next part, because I'm enjoying this!

Hey, there, Mea! Thanks for taking the time to review my little chapter!

Thanks for the compliments on how I got John and Sherlock's characters to behave. It was pretty difficult, but I'm glad that I pulled it off!

Thanks for elaborating on the whole thing with the British currency. I live in America, so I uh... please forgive my blatant ignorance on the subject. I'll try and fix that.

I didn't catch what you said about Mr. Wilson being caught up in labor laws! I'm so glad that you mentioned it, actually, as it is something that I would've never caught.

Whenever I have the time to go back to it, I'll fix all the typos, and explain how Sherlock was typing. Again, I'm super busy, but I'll make sure to tag you whenever I post another chapter! :D

*How Sherlock knew Mr. Wilson was typing. There I go doing it again! XD

User avatar
373 Reviews

Points: 46306
Reviews: 373

Fri Jun 02, 2017 5:39 pm
PrincessInk wrote a review...

Hello Julias.

So here is the second part of the mystery, where the mystery unfolds itself. The first time, I read this section, I was wondering: When is Mr. Wilson going to really talk about the mystery? But then I remembered from reading the original story itself was about what happened AFTER, so never mind.

So I like the modern twist to this. Holmes has his own blog! And typing up the encyclopedia is another nice one. But in the previous part, I did see a fire in the fireplace and it's a little "old" to be in a modern setting? I don't know because I use heaters, not fires--but maybe some people still use fireplaces?

I also thought the sentence structure here was rather bland. Other than description and the talk, it was mostly, "He did this. He did that." Like this:

Mr. Wilson straightened in the hard kitchen chair, and puffed out his chest with pride at the praise. He smiled a bit, pulling a wrinkly, dirty old section of newspaper from the pocket of his trouser pocket. He thrust his head forward, watching his pudgy hands as they made a courageous attempt to smooth out the creases before overturning it to Sherlock.

You see? Try experimenting with different sentence styles to spice up the narrative, but remember that forcing unusual sentence order will make it worse.

When Sherlock called Mr. Wilson obese, I wonder if he does have more tact here. If he's smart enough to fluff Mr. Wilson's pride, he should be able to skirt around saying Mr. Wilson was too fat to probably have continued biking.

A little thing:

Ten to fourteen hundred

Is this military time? It makes me wonder how come it isn't just 10:00 A.M. to 02:00 P.M.? I'm not sure how the clocks work in England so switching to the time ^ may not be the best thing to do.

Anyway, I'm looking forward for the next part! It's really interesting to read a Holmes story from a modern perspective. I hope it helped. Just PM me if you want to talk :D


Hey, PrincessInk! Thanks so much for the review!

Sorry to say, but I can't take credit for the blog, or for how I wrote this story to be more of a modern sort of thing. I actually wrote it straight from a copy of the original story, in the sort of format that I think the writers of BBC's 'SHERLOCK' would have it if they had decided to write a story like this.

I agree with what you said about a couple of the paragraphs being very bland. After I had read over it, I totally understood. I'll try and improve that in the future! It's just that this is my first time writing fanfiction ever, so I'm a bit scared to really experiment with it. Heh.

It is military time, actually! In Britain, as far as I know, they use military time, and I had overlooked several charts to make sure that I got it. Of course, I could be wrong, I by no means consider myself an expert on Britain.

Thanks so much for the review! :D

PrincessInk says...

Wow! I didn't know that about the military time thing--that's interesting ;)

A non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity.
— Franz Kafka