“I knew it was going to be a bad day when I spilt my coffee in the waiting room. I’d been offered a drink from a steaming stove-top pot and had accepted. Holmes, I must admit I was freezing cold. After all it had been a chilling walk to the hospital.
The driver had not been able to take me to the door, as a coach had turned over at the end of Moorgate and prevented our carriage from moving into the forecourt. I wasn’t surprised at the accident in the least, given the pea-souper we had come through. I’m sure it was only the wild whinnying of the terrified horses, that had saved us from crashing into the lost coach ourselves.”
“Yes, yes Watson, all fair enough, but what happened inside the hospital? Start at the beginning and tell me at once, man.”
I looked at Holmes. His eyes were still weak and watery from the pneumonia he was recovering from. His breathing was stentorian and he could hardly bully me in his usual style.
I banged at the door and a manservant or an officer, I don’t know which, came bounding down the stairs to heave the door open.
As I was announcing myself he shouted at me in his excitement, and pulled me inside “They have him in a room upstairs. Thank God you’ve come Dr Watson”
“I reluctantly left the men and the wailing women in their broken carriage, for I had intended to help them, and plunged inside. I glanced at the officer and he was clearly shaken. We ran upstairs to the Governor, but I could not get in to see the man in question. A hospital doctor was with him and I should wait. I was shown into the Governor’s room where he offered me the coffee.”
I was just pouring it out, when the door was hurled aside by a wide-eyed beadle, and so shocked was I, that my turn towards the door caused me to knock over the pot, and I feared it had scalded the governor’s leg. But he professed no injury, and insisted I follow his good man and leave him to mend the damage.
Quite plainly the officer was very worried, and I was fast losing my desire to see he who could cause this kind of trepidation. When the beadle implored me to come with him, I followed at a close distance. We hurried this way and that, past moaning men, and men laughing at nothing and everything, down long corridors and the sounds of a struggle were plainly coming from behind the door we stopped at. It was evident a man was being severely beaten inside and I was anxious to prevent any more injuries this day, as I had already seen more suffering than I had been used to in a single hour in any practice I have previously been employed at.
Striding through the door I was horrified to see a huge man taller than any I have ever seen holding, as a man might grasp the two arms of a divining twig, the legs of a person whom he was dangling from the open window.
A scream kept emanating regularly through the aperture into the room and I swiftly realised it was coming from a man being held by his legs. It was the type of scream I will hear in my nightmares for many a night, I can tell you Holmes.
The creature turned his head around as we burst in on this horrific scene. But strangely. from behind a pair of pince-nez his eyes were sad, and tears were running down his cheeks. He made as if to brush them away, but realised that this would mean letting go of a leg, and so brushed his face sideways down his coat’s lapels instead.
“Tell him to stop!” he called out to me.
“What are you talking about my man” I said, “It’s you who has to stop. Who are you hanging out of the window?”
I noticed that the giant was almost the shape of a pyramid. His legs were large and encased in blue serge trouser material, the like of which I have never seen in a London tailor’s. Above, he wore a doctor’s white coat and under I could see a good quality black coat with long tails, and this costume all finished off by a gold waistcoat. It was cold in the room, but he would not feel it in his garb. It was clear from his strange shape, that if he had fallen over he would not have toppled, but just have tipped a little and sprung back up again. He was quite in the shape of a top, and wobbled a few degrees to the left and the right as he cried.
“Man, whatever’s the matter with you? Let that poor creature you have hold of, back into the room, and tell me what the blazes is going on here!” I had quite forgotten myself by now, Holmes.
“I cannot. I will not bring him back in. He has killed my mother and I will let him fall, or he will kill another patient.” said he.
“I beseech you sir, if this man has sinned against you I can assure you, my associate and I will see to it that the court has full reign over him and he’ll pay for his crimes. But you cannot act as judge and jury by yourself.”
I was pleased to see that Holmes was fascinated, and the more to hold his attention I paused and took a sip from my tea cup.. However his breathing grew so rushed and dangerous sounding at his haste to hear more that I hastened on with my story.
“I wish that you had been well Holmes and had seen this man, and I had been sick so as to avoid the sight of him I can tell you. “
“Yes, yes Watson. And?”
This gentleman who I was not yet convinced had taken his Hippocratic oath, if this was how he treated his fellow man, finally listened to the reason of my argument, and like a child lifting a toy soldier, brought the terrified creature in from the cold outside.
I swiftly ran to the window and closed it before the behemoth could change his mind again. The room was full of the stinking yellow fog we may be used to outside, but not in our rooms eh Holmes?, but it swiftly dissipated in the warmer climate inside.
The man stood still now, holding a small man or was he a child, by one ankle. Seeing this as a weakness, an officer of the hospital bravely ran forward and attempted to lay a hand on him, but he was swiftly dissuaded with a sideways swipe from the freer of the man’s plate-like hands. The beadle lay cowering in a corner after striking the door.
The giant spoke and I noticed his teeth protruded greatly from his mouth as though he wore badly fitted ivory dentures, Holmes. They gave his face a predatory look. All the while he peered at me through thick pebble pince-nez, which amazingly in spite of all, still clung to his nose . Finally his hair was black and dragged into a parting on the side of his head by his fingers, rather than by a gentleman’s brush, I shouldn’t wonder.
“Now this is the animal that murdered my mother” and he waved his hapless victim around.
“Good Lord Watson. You have truly had a fascinating morning. Say on!”
“Sir, let go of this creature will you?” And somewhat to my chagrin he did let him go immediately. His captive landed in an armchair, fortunately for him, as he had landed on his head. As much care was taken with of him as would have been taken with a rag doll finished with by a child, eager to move on to the next toy in the nursery.
“Your name, sir?” I beseeched him.
“Dr. Abraham Cohen” he said. “And this is my brother Dr Isaac Cohen, the slayer of our dear poor mother, an erstwhile patient at this hospital until an hour ago.”
Isaac was quite bereft of speech as he sat on the chair. He was an exact replica of Abraham save in size, and tears also flowed freely down his cheeks. But as huge as Abraham was, Isaac was a miniature. Holmes, it was quite extraordinary.
“Now tell me your story Dr Cohen” I said to them both.
© adewils 2010