Harris Burdick Essay #3
Archie Holmes and the Woman in Pink
“Good day, Lestrate,” Archie said, entering the room. “What have you got today?”
The man being questioned turned around to familiar words…but not a familiar face. A boy walked
towards him, about fourteen years old, with dark shaggy hair and piercing blue eyes. He had on a trench
coat with the flaps near the collar turned up. A dark blue scarf hid his long neck as the trench coat hid
his long body.
DI Greg Lestrate hesitated before asking. “Who are you? Where’s Holmes?”
Archie studied him for a moment, and then said, “Uncle Sherlock’s away on business. He’s asked me to
fill in for him. I hope that won’t be any trouble.”
“Why are you looking at me like that?” Greg asked unsteadily, for the gaze that watched him was a
rather unusual one. The look was a familiar one, one he had seen before and despised. “And who are
“Please, Mr. Lestrate, don’t speak. All your questions I’m sure can be answered by my appearance or the
things I’ll do today. If you would show me up, then, to the crime scene, we can move this business
And so Lestrate, though much confused, led the boy up to the third floor, into an empty room with a
wooden floor. A woman dressed in a hot pink suit lay upon the floor, stomach down, dead. Immediately
upon entering the room, Archie had begun to notice things about the woman.
“You said this was a suicide?” Archie asked Lestrate. He nodded.
“There have been four like it. They all took some kind of pill.”
Archie noticed an area by the woman’s left hand in the floor where the letters RACHE had been
scratched into the floor. The nails on the left hand were scratched away. Left-handed. Ideas busted into
Archie’s head as he observed.
RACHE, Archie thought. German for “’revenge”. He shook his head. Not right. Letters swirled through his
head as he tried to think. At last his brain clicked. Rachel, she was spelling Rachel.
“May I take a closer look?” Archie asked Lestrate, who had been watching him. He nodded.
As Archie took his place kneeling beside the woman, Lestrate asked, “So you’re a relative of Sherlock’s? I
didn’t know he had any, besides of course his brother, Mycroft. Are you Mycroft’s boy?”
“Indeed, though I would rather we did not talk about it. Privacy, you understand.”
“Yes, Sherlock was always like that. I remember hearing about you in the newspapers…people say you’re
quite extraordinary. Not brilliant as your dad is, but brilliant in your own way. You don’t get along with
your father, do you?”
“As I said before, I like to remain anonymous.”
“But as far as I know, Sherlock and Mycroft don’t get on well. How’d you meet him, then?”
“Please, Mr. Lestrate, if you could hold all questions and comments until I’m done with my
“Of course…carry on.”
Archie turned the lady. He looked at her coat. Putting on his gloves, he brushed his hand over the back
of the coat, testing the wetness. Back of the coat--wet. He tested the inside and outside of the flaps at
the collar. He took out her umbrella and tested that. Dry. He looked at her jewelry, her ring. He took out
his magnifying glass and observed closer. He looked at her hands. Taking out his phone for a moment
and putting it back, he stood up.
“Got anything?” Lestrate asked.
Taking off the gloves and smiling, he replied, “Not much.”
“She’s German.” A rather annoying man, Anderson, who stood in the doorway, said. The occupants
(being Archie and Lestrate) turned to look at him. “Rache--German for revenge.”
“Yes, thank you for your input, Anderson,” Archie said, shutting the door in his face.
Lestrate watched him and he moved about. “So she’s German?”
“No, of course not.”
“But the letters—“
“Yes of course, you would listen to pig-minded wackjob like Anderson,” Archie muttered. “Rachel--she
was spelling Rachel.”
“Rachel—yes. She’s from out of town, but not Germany. More like Cardiff.”
“Yes, isn’t it obvious?”
“It’s not obvious to me.”
Archie looked at him, annoyed, and said, “Her coat. The back is damp and the collar is dry, but only on
the outside—she’s turned it up against the wind. She has an umbrella in her pocket but it’s dry—hasn’t
been used. It was windy, too windy to use an umbrella. The coat is still damp and it hasn’t rained in
London lately, so she must not have come from anywhere beyond a two-hour radius judging by the size
of her suitcase. So, where was it rainy and windy within a two-hour radius of London?” Taking his phone
out and showing it to Lestrate, he said, “Cardiff.”
Lestrate looked at him. “That was amazing.”
Archie rolled his eyes. “Now, we know that she has been married 10+ years, but not happily. She’s had a
string of lovers, and none of them knew she was married—“
Lestrate laughed. “Now if you’re just making this up—“
“What is it like in that feeble little mind of yours?” Archie asked. “It must be so boring! Just look at her.
She has a wedding ring on her left finger, about 10+ years old. The rest of her jewelry has been cleaned
regularly, except her ring, which says it’s an unhappy marriage. The ring has been regularly removed by
the clean inside. Going by the rather alarming shade of pink she’s wearing I’m guessing she’s in the
media, so she doesn’t use her hands. Who does she take the ring off for then? There wouldn’t be just
one lover—no, she couldn’t take being alone—which says she’s had a string of them. Simple.”
“Are you going to do that every time?”
“Sorry, I’ll shut up. Now what’s this about a suitcase?”
“Suitcase—yes, where is it?”
“How do you know she had a suitcase?”
Archie pointed to her legs, where there were small dark spots going up. “There are splotches on her
legs. By the size and how far they go up on her legs you can assume it was a small one, travel-sized for
short trips. Now where is it, what have you done with it?”
“There was no suitcase.”
Archie paused and looked at Lestrate. “Say that again.”
“There was no suitcase.”
Pushing past him, Archie yelled down the stairs at all the officials and doctors. “Suitcase, did anyone find
As he started down the staircase, Lestrate said, “Archie, there was no suitcase.”
“She had to be carrying those pills! Those people eat, chew it themselves. What happened to the
suitcase, did she eat it?”
“Maybe she checked into a hotel?”
“No-no, look at her hair! A woman like that would never—“
It dawned upon him, and he grinned. “Oh—oh that’s clever.”
“What? Where are you going?”
“You said there were four of these?”
“Yes; is there a connection?”
“They’re murders. I don’t know how. Serial killings—oh I love those, there’s always something to look
“Do try and remember a woman died here.”
“People die in the hospitals every day, doctor, why don’t you go cry by their bedsides?”
Archie began to run down the stairs.
“Where are you going?” Lestrate called after him.
“To find the killer’s mistake. Go find her family—find Rachel!”
Lestrate was about to lose it. He was just like Sherlock. “What mistake?”
With one final word before departure, Archie shouted, “Pink!”
“Amelia! Come quickly!” Archie’s cries echoed throughout the flat.
Up the stairs from the first floor whirled a girl, about fifteen, who looked much like her twin brother
with her big blue eyes and long brown hair. She made her way quickly into the kitchen of the flat, where
a scientific laboratory had been set up. At the table, hunched over a microscope as he usually was, sat
“What, Archie?” Amelia asked. “Have you found something?”
“Not a thing. Could I use your phone?”
Amelia stared at him. “I was in the middle of something.”
“Well you aren’t any more.”
“Oh, don’t whine, it’s exhausting listening to you. Could you just hand me your phone?”
“In my room.”
“And you couldn’t have gotten off your lazy bum and fetch it?”
“What about Mrs. Hudson’s?”
“She’s downstairs. I tried calling, but she didn’t hear me.”
Annoyed and exhausted with him, Amelia sighed and took out her phone. Archie lay out his palm.
Glaring at him, she delicately put it in his palm. Looking up from the microscope, Archie looked at the
phone a few moments, and then went back to the microscope.
“Good.” He said. “Now, I need you to send a text.”
“Are you kidding me?”
“On my desk, there’s a number.”
Grabbing the phone, Amelia walked over to the desk and looked at the number. She put it into the
“Alright, now text what I say,” Archie said to her. “What happened at the hotel? I must have blacked
out. Meet at 221 Baker Street in one hour.”
Amelia did as he said, going as fast as she could.
“Are you doing it?”
“Have you done it?”
“Yeah—hang on!” She sighed and pressed the send button. “Sent.”
“Excellent.” Archie got up from his desk and went to sit in his favorite chair by the fire. Underneath the
chair he pulled out a small pink suitcase. He opened it up, and sat there, staring into it, his hands in front
of his face, balancing on his knees. He was in his thinking mode.
Amelia looked at the suitcase. “Wait, that’s the case—the pink lady’s case!”
“Yes.” There was silence for a moment. Archie sighed. “Oh, perhaps I should mention, I didn’t kill her.”
“I never think you’re the murderer, Archie, though it is a logical assumption, considering the text you
just made me send.”
He grinned. “What do you notice is missing?”
“From the suitcase? Easy—her phone.”
“Yes, her mobile phone. What happened to it?”
“Perhaps she lost it.”
“Or…” She smiled. “Or the murderer has it. Why would the murderer keep her phone?”
“I don’t know. Maybe as a keepsake, or…”
“Or maybe she planted it on him.”
“Oh, this lady was clever—very clever. But why? Why would she give him her phone? And why Rachel?”
“That was the name she was scratching into the floor.”
Amelia thought for a moment. Ideas raced through her head. Then, as her head buzzed, Lestrate walked
into the room.
“We found Rachel.”
“Yes!” Archie bounced out of his chair. “Who is she? Have you questioned her? What does she know?
What have you found out?”
“Rachel was Jennifer’s—the woman killed—daughter.”
“Excellent! Bring her in for questioning—“
“Archie, Rachel’s dead. Well, actually, technically she was never alive. Rachel was Jennifer’s stillborn
daughter. It happened about six years ago.”
“Then why write Rachel? Why would she think of her stillborn daughter in the last moments of her life?”
Lestrate and a few people he’d brought with him simply stared at Archie. Amelia heard vaguely the
conversation after that, but she didn’t focus on it. She was busy thinking. Rachel. Jennifer. Serial murder.
The four others. The pills. It didn’t make any sense. All the victims were different, not at all alike.
Jennifer planted her phone with the murderer, but why? What could she accomplish? Why Rachel?
And then, suddenly, the idea struck her. She grinned, and let in a huge breath, letting it out with a laugh.
The others looked at her.
“Archie,” Amelia said. “Look at the tag on the suitcase, at the e-mail. Tell me what it says.” She ran over
to her laptop, opening it quickly.
Archie obeyed. Running over to the suitcase and picking up the tag, he read aloud,
“So it was a mephone account,” Amelia muttered. She laughed. “Oh, she was clever.”
Typing in the e-mail, Amelia explained, “When Archie and I found the suitcase, we noticed her mobile
phone was missing. Why? Because she had planted it on the murderer. Why would she do something
like that? Because she had a mephone account. Typing it in her username is her e-mail, and her
password is—all together now—Rachel!”
She clicked the button, and the account was unlocked.
“So what?” Anderson, who had unfortunately joined the party, said. “So we can read her e-mails. How
will that help?”
“Anderson, don’t talk unless you have something not totally pathetic to say.” Archie said dryly.
“We can do a lot more than read her e-mails, Anderson,” Amelia said. “Mephone has GPS. We can track
“Granted that he still has it.” Anderson put in.
“Exactly,” Amelia said. There was beep. Looking at the screen, a red dot blinked on a map. “Lestrate, we
found him. Now go, go arrest him. That’s what you do best, isn’t it?”
“Come on, guys,” Lestrate said with a smile. “We have a criminal to catch.”
Lestrate and his men left, except for Anderson. He stuck around, saying he wanted to stay here until the
criminal was found. After a while, they could tell he became bored. So, naturally, he began to talk.
“For the record, just so I know,” He said. “Do you know who the murderer is?”
Archie and Amelia looked at each other and grinned.
“Of course,” Archie said.
“Then, so I know you’re telling the truth, impress me. Who did it?”
“Ah, ah, ah,” Amelia said, swinging her finger back and forth. “We should be the ones asking you that.
Think, Anderson. Use that tiny, feeble mind of yours. Who is smart enough to know just where to create
murders? Who hunts in a crowd, going unnoticed wherever he goes? Who can travel easily through the
city and not draw attention? Who is so often overlooked?”
Anderson’s face was blank. Sirens started as a police car drove towards their flat. When they arrived,
they took out an elderly man with white hair. Escorting him upstairs into the flat, Lestrate drew the man
inside the room. He was dressed in casual clothes, with a plaid hat. He had glasses on, as well as a long
string necklace with a circle attached at the bottom with a number and letter on it. Anderson looked at
him in surprise, but Archie and Amelia just smiled knowingly.
“The cabby,” Anderson said.
Amelia grinned. “The cabby. What better person to create serial killings? They know just the right place
to go to create a murder, and with people coming in and out of their taxi all day, they have the perfect
targets. I’m surprised you don’t hear more about cabby killers.”
Archie grinned a huge grin at his sister. “Well done, Mila. I guess we really are twins…you’re as genius as
Amelia rolled her eyes at him. “Well aren’t you full of yourself. And don’t call me “Mila”, Arch.”
He shrugged. “Either way, I’ve still got something to say.”
“Oh, here it comes.”
He grinned. “Archie Holmes has done it again!”
A loud, booming voice entered the hallway as a tall man entered the flat.
“Aye!” Sherlock said, bursting into the room in a fury. “Archie, what have you done to my flat? I told you
not to take my place while I was away!”
Amelia smiled at her brother. “Oh yeah, you’ve done it, Arch. You’ve done it bad.”
Archie stared in disbelief at Sherlock, and said, “Uncle Sherlock! Good to see you! I haven’t done a
thing…really…I mean…it was Amelia’s idea!”
And he took off running, out of the flat, out down the street, with Sherlock hard on his heels. Sherlock
chased him the entire way home that night. No one knows what exactly what went on, but we do know
Archie was never heard of filling in for Sherlock ever again.