Sherlock Miller Investigates

The Sherlock Miller series came about in three stages. The first one grew out of my love for the fictional character Sherlock Holmes. The second stage evolved when putting together Star Wars Wookie and the Big Foot legend of the northwest, because the two look quite similar. After combining the two, I wanted to put them in a modern-day setting. Of course, I had to give my main character a fault uniquely his own:

Sherlock Miller named after a Famous Fictional Character – Training by hairy aliens Struggles with his abilities in the 21st century.

The story you see below is the first one I wrote. It came shortly after a visit to Portland Oregon. Most of the locations described in the story were inspired by actual locations and people I talked to while on that visit.

A Hand Deserves A Body

From his hotel window, Sherlock Miller looked out over to the park across the street. Reminisce of the morning rain reflected off the sidewalk. Sherlock pondered what he felt as a curse. He thought, “Parents should take into careful consideration what they name their children. It could doom them.”

He turned around and looked at his room. “Oh well, another day, another mystery to be solved, but first a walk and breakfast.”

Sherlock walked out of his room and down the hall to the elevator. He emerged from the elevator and passed the hotel desk clerk. “Good morning, Mister Miller. Will you be staying with us another day?”

Sherlock raised his index finger in passing. “One more day Ray.”

The lingering chill of the morning caused Sherlock pulled his coat tight. As he passed several tents and makeshift shelters for the homeless population. Almost all the businesses on that street were boarded up. Two blocks later, Sherlock stopped in front of one such tent. He tapped it with his foot. “Hey, Carlos, are you in there?”

The entrance flap unzipped. A man’s face appeared behind the mosquito webbing. “Good morning, Senor M. Are you out for a morning walk?”

“I am interested if you have heard of something to stimulate my interest.”

“Sie. Detective Rice came by earlier. She said to let you know she would be waiting for us at Rita’s. The way she acted made me think she may be looking for more than help on a case.”

“Then we shall meet up with Detective Rice. I want you to pay close attention to everything she says, just in case I miss anything.”

Carlos climbed out of his shelter, revealing his weathered face, neatly combed hair, and trimmed beard. Carlos, a muscular Latin American male dressed in an obvious collection of handouts from the local rescue mission. He looked up to Sherlock’s towering figure. Sherlock did not return eye contact. Instead, he looked over Carlos’ head.

Sherlock used his head to point in the direction of Rita’s diner.

Minutes later, Carlos and Sherlock walked through the door of the diner. A silver-haired Rita promptly met them. “Good morning, Mister Miller. You have someone waiting for you.” She used the coffeepot in her hand to point to the rear of the dining area.

Sherlock eyes landed on Detective Margaret Rice. She has become more than just his point of contact with the Portland Police Department. This morning, she had on a black leather jacket and slacks. Her gold shield detective shield hung over her white blouse.

Paying no attention to Rita, Sherlock Miller headed straight to where Detective Rice sat. Before following Sherlock, Carlos said to Rita, “He’ll have your pancake sandwich. I’ll have Huevos Rancheros.”

“Good morning, again Carlos,” Rice said, paying no attention to Sherlock. “Have you said anything to Sherlock?”

“No ma’am. I am sure he has already suspected what you want to talk to him about.”

Feeling left out, Sherlock asked, “Detective Rice, what is the mystery you have for me to solve?”

“I just wanted to have breakfast with you before you left our fair city.”

Sherlock sat purposefully to where he could see the front door and the other patrons. Carlos sat putting Sherlock between him and Detective Rice.

Detective Rice took a sip of her chi tea.

Awkward silence hovered over the table as Sherlock paid attention to the man in a business suit who just walked into the diner.

Detective Rice broke the silence. “I know how much you like mysteries and puzzles. Since you might leave today, I wanted to give you one quick brain teaser.”

“Continue,” Sherlock keeping his attention on the gentleman sitting at the counter.

Rita sat cups in front of Sherlock and Carlos, then filled them. Sherlock’s attention didn’t change.

“Sherlock, are you listening to me?” Detective Rice pokes Sherlock’s arm.

“Continue, I am listening.”

“About six blocks from here, sewage came oozing out of a manhole.”

“I am not a sewer worker. Why should that concern me? You should talk to the folks over at the sewage disposal department.”

“I think you would be interested in the fact when they opened the manhole a hand floated up and down the street.”

“Carlos, go over there and ask the gentleman in the business suit to join us.”

“Sherlock, you are not listening to me.”

“I am listening to you. Did you fingerprint the hand and ID its owner?”

“Yes, we did. It belongs to a Roger McIntosh part owner of K and M Chemical.”

Carlos returned with the man in the business suit.

Sherlock stretched out his hand toward the stranger while looking at Detective Rice. “You should of have said something about Edward Klein from K and M Chemical joining us.”

“How did you know?” Detective Rice asked. “I haven’t met with him yet.”

“Before entering the diner, I noticed this gentleman sitting in a blue Prius, only a half a block away, looking in our direction. You don’t see too many men in business suits in this neighborhood. A Prius parked between a service and delivery vehicles stands out. I had to conclude that he must be here because of you.

“Detective Rice, since you said the hand came from one of the owners at K and M Chemical, I can understand his partner would want us to find out what happened as quickly as possible. From my research on the internet, K, and M Chemical over the past few years has been struggling with profits. Thus, the owners would be forced to downsize from a luxury vehicle to a Prius.”

“How did you know to research K and M Chemical?”

“I read the responding officer’s report from last night.”

“How did you read that report? Those reports are only on internal servers. Nothing has been released to the press.”

“Detective Rice, you should have a password other than your favorite candy bar.”

She blushed, then slowly opened her mouth. Ignoring Rice, Sherlock turned to Mister Klein, “Excuse my moment of indulgence. Have a seat. I have a few questions for you. They will help us find your partner.”

“I’m here to talk with Detective Rice. When I found out they had found my partner’s hand, I called the station to find out who would be handling the investigation. They told me she would most likely be here.”

“Please, have a seat.” Detective Rice said. “Considering how unusual it is to find a hand floating out from a sewer line. I wanted to get some perspective from Mister Miller before he leaves our city.”

Mister Klein sat at the table across from Sherlock. Rita approached. He waved her off.

Sherlock asked, “Do you have any idea what happened to your partner?”

“That is why I am here. I want to know why a police detective is casually having breakfast with a homeless person and some strange, tall man.”

Confidently, Detective Rice stated, “Because Mister Miller has consulted, along with solving several troublesome cases, I wanted to know his opinion on what might have happened to your partner.”

Sherlock asks. “For me to help Detective Rice, I need you to answer a few questions, truthfully. To start, tell me about you and Mister McIntosh?”

“Roger and I met in our senior year of college. Neither one of us wanted to go to work for a large corporation. Roger had a talent for creating chemical combinations to clean any material. It felt natural for me to sell his creations, a perfect partnership. We started K and M Chemical almost twenty years ago.”

“When was the last time you saw Mister McIntosh?”

“The last time I saw Roger was yesterday, right before I left the lab. He wanted to finish preparing for tests today on an Organic Dissolver. Roger had developed a way to dissolve most any organic material into a liquid fertilizer with a high ammonia content.”

“Did he finish?”

“I don’t know. I was at home eating breakfast when I got word. They found Roger’s hand. We planned on Roger doing some last tests today.”

“Did Mister McIntosh have a family in the area?”

“Roger never married. He always said K and M Chemical was his family. From time to time, he would mention he had family somewhere in Ireland. That’s all I know about him.”

“What about you, Mister Klein? I take it you have family locally?”

“I have a wife and two lovely children. Why do you ask?”

“Did you ever have Mister McIntosh over for dinner or a gathering with you family?”

“Why are you asking me all these questions? Shouldn’t you be out looking to see if you find my business partner?”

“I want to have a full mental picture of all the possibilities so I can eliminate any possibility that does not apply. Thus, wasting our time and leading in the wrong direction. I don’t enjoy wasting time. In cases like this, time is important.”

“Well, then, what else do you want to know from me?”

“Did he have any vices?”

“I don’t think so. He is a very serious man who rarely joked.”

Rita walked up with a tray holding Sherlocks’ and Carlos’ breakfast. She placed them on the table.

“Thank you, Mister Klein. Detective Rice will be in touch with you when she finds Mister McIntosh.” Sherlock said.

Mister Klein handed Detective Rice his business card. “You can reach me at K and M until two o’clock. If I’m not there, you can reach me at the number on the back of my card.”

After breakfast, the three took a walk for blocks. The smell of sewage increased until they came upon a blocked street. Patrol cars diverted traffic at both ends of the block. In that block, mom-and-pop businesses and apartments lined both sides. Yellow crime scene tape alerted to an open manhole.

Detective Rice lifted the yellow and black tape for Sherlock and Carlos.

“Carlos and I can see what we need too from here.” Sherlock said.

“Come on, Sherlock, surely the smell is not that offensive.”

“We’re good.” Added Carlos.

Margret Rice lowered the tape. A smile emerged from a disappointing look as she walked towards the officer guarding the open manhole.

“Carlos, where is K and M Chemical from here?”

Carlos pointed beyond Rice and to distant buildings. “Three blocks in that direction, where the street ends.”

“What businesses share that cul-de-sac with them?”

“A meat packing business that recently went out of business and a couple of warehouses. K and M leases part of one of those warehouses.”

“I wonder.” Sherlock said, thinking out loud, “I wonder what kind of junk K and M flushes down its drains.”

“Any homeless camps around them?”

“Sie. Several ex-military types, who have trouble adjusting, live in one of the warehouses.”

“Can you give them a heads up? We may have some work for them.”

“Sie senor. I will be right back.”

Detective Rice asked the older patrolman standing next to the open manhole. “Has the forensic finished?”

“Yes, ma’am They left an hour ago.” He pointed to the sidewalk where two city workers stood. “They are waiting for your okay to close the manhole and hose down the street.”

“Did they find out what caused the blockage to make this sewer line to overflow?”

“That’s another mystery. They said they were getting ready to run a big plumber’s snake to clear it when it started going down. This section of sewer line flows now.”

“Do we have someone checking at the sewer plant to see if any unusual material shows up there?”

“There is no reason. The sewer line flows good now.”

“Officer, we have a hand. We need to find the rest of the body.”

“The captain said, this is your case. You have Sherlock Miller and his homeless friends. You don’t need any more help. The captain thinks you can handle this shitty job.” The officer’s eyes brighten as he fights back a grin.

“I still need your help. I need you to go to the sewer plant and see if they have caught any unusual large objects in the last twenty-four hours.”

The officer’s grin fades. “If they do, what am I to do with those objects?”

“Take it to the crime lab for examination.”

“What about here?”

“I’ll finish up here?” Rice waved at the two workers. They replaced the manhole cover and hosed the street down with disinfectant. Rice returned to Sherlock as Carlos returned from an errand.

Detective Rice complimented the city workers on removing all the signs of sewage. She walked back to where she left Sherlock and Carlos.

As she approached, Sherlock said, “I see you have done an excellent job supervising those city workers. We have something that needs to be checked out.” Sherlock motions to Carlos to follow him in the direction of K and M Chemical.

“Wait a minute! Where do you think you are going?” Rice demanded. She found herself having to increase her stride to catch up to Sherlock. “Where do you think you are going?”

“I want to see where Roger McIntosh works. It should give us some vital clues as to where he is at.”

“Wait for me. I am the lead detective here. You have no authority in this city. I should lead the way. Sherlock! Sherlock! Wait up!”


You can read the rest of the story and other adventures of Sherlock Miller by visiting Amazon’s Kindle Vella. or click on the QR Code below. The first ten are free for your enjoyment.