StoryADay May: Holly Takes the Case Part 2

This post is part of StoryADay May ( #StoryADay #StoryADayMay @storyadaymay #freeshortstory

Below, please find HOLLY TAKES THE CASE, Part 2

For those who don’t know, years and years ago, I wrote a novel (currently out of print) set on Llannonn, a planet where courtesy is literally the law. When I went on a blog book tour for the novel, I ran a contest for naming a character in a short story set in the same world. Fellow writer Holly Jahangiri (the real one) was such a determined contestant, I named a character after her, too. That character commandeered the story, and I’ve been writing about her ever since.

I write a Holly story on the Sundays of Story A Day May.

Holly Jahangiri (the fictional one) becomes, is, and retires as a Librarian at a library for living books. It seems that somebody on Llannonn read Fahrenheit 451 and decided a library of people who recite books they’ve memorized was a great idea. Typically for Llannonn, they officialized it. Becoming a living book is now a respectable career, provided you can get a gig in a library.

I told the amazing Sara Marian (my #4 Daughter) that I was giving her (Sara) co-writer credit on this story because she kept coming up with plot points and funny bits.

Holly Takes the Case, Part 2

“As it happens,” District Criminal Investigator Pel Darzin said, hands behind his back, “there’s a case ongoing that, frankly, has the police baffled.”

All the Holmses gave sardonic huffs, which Parlourmaid Tambar Miznalia countered with her best contemptuous sniff, putting the huffs firmly in their place.

“So I propose,” Darzin continued, “the first Holmes and Watson to solve the case gets to be the secondary volume, with the first being, naturally, the first that was cataloged by this establishment.”

“Capital idea, Lestrade – er, I mean DCI Pel Darzin,” said the first Watson.

“I agree,” said Holly. The Holmeses muttered and grumbled, so she repeated, in her Librarianest voice, “I agree,” and that settled the matter.

Darzin gave them the facts of the case: A florist, Gamberdella Agnot, had purchased the shop on F_ Avenue ten years ago, along with a standing order to supply a bouquet of a dozen pink aggra flowers once a year on Who’s Your Mother day. They were to be sent to an apartment building on B_ Street, no apartment indicated, no name, no card. Then, this year, she had received a notification canceling the order. The previous shop owner passed away two years ago, so Florist Gamberdella Agnot couldn’t ask him if he could enlighten her on any points or confirm or not confirm that the letter actually came from the person who had authorized the standing order.

“Who paid for the yearly bouquet?” the first Holmes asked.

“It was paid for by credit transfer through a third party that guarantees anonymity.”

“Is it paid for before or after delivery?” asked the Hound Holmes.


“Was it paid for this year?” asked some random Holmes in the back of the crowd.

“No. This year, the ‘payment’ was one token credit with the cancellation in the ‘notes to seller’.”

As no one else asked a question, Darzin said, “So, Holmes, will you take the case?”

A variety of insults and acceptance rose in a low rumble, and the riot police withdrew, leaving Darzin and Holly to both see and observe the Holmeses methods.

First Holmes put on his prattystalker hat and said, “Coming, Watson? Bring your paint gun!”

When they had gone, Hound Holmes sent Watson out alone, then donned a false mustache and followed him.

The other Holmeses and Watsons left, one pair returning almost immediately, trailed by a a ragtag dozen street urchins.

“Here, now,” Darzin exclaimed. “Those are my secret army of informants!”

One urchin – Assistant Librarian and former street urchin Genesis Selinsky’s youngest brother, Deuteronomy – gave Holly a wink and Darzin a nod.

Darzin said, ostensibly to Holly, “I’ll set up a command post in your office, if I may.”

“Absolutely,” Holly said.

Parlourmaid Tambar Miznalia said, “I suppose you’ll both be wanting tea and scones or something.”

“If it isn’t too much trouble,” said Darzin, with the courtesy that was a hallmark of the force.

Holly raised an eyebrow at the Parlourmaid, who correctly interpreted it to mean, Whether it’s too much trouble or not. Performance reviews are coming up.

Parlourmaid Tambar Miznalia gave a perfunctory sniff and flounced out.


Holly and Darzin sat in silence while they waited for and then consumed their refreshments. Darzin had brought his portable office and caught up on what, for some obscure reason, was called “paperwork”, although no paper had been involved for decades.

Holly busied herself with scanning and cross-referencing library records.

“Aha!” she exclaimed.

At the same moment, a complicated knock at her office door drew Darzin’s attention.

“It’s an urchin,” he said. “May I open your office door and let them in?”

“As you wish,” said Holly.

The urchin wasn’t young Deuteronomy, but he was just as grubby and his cheeky expression was nearly as well done.

“We ain’t told our Holmes yet,” he said. “Wanted to give you first go.”

The Holmes didn’t pay, and the Holmes couldn’t arrest for vagrancy. The urchins were grubby, not stupid.

“Report, please,” said Darzin, in as close to an order as good manners would allow.

“That apartment building is more of a boarding house for women,” the urchin said. “Just bedrooms, and they all come down to the parlor for company and to a big dining room for meals.”

Holly nodded. “I’ve been looking through the library records,” she said. “The address checks out one book at a time, and only women’s fiction, read by women. Their past books’ notes say they were asked to read themselves to a room full of women.”

Darzin checked the census records. “Yes,” he said, “we had already found that the residents of the address were all women, but now I see they shared an occupation.”

“Seamstresses?” Holly guessed.

“For a given value of ‘seamstress’,” Darzin agreed.

The urchin snickered unbecomingly, and apologized.

“Look at them records,” the urchin said. “Does it tell you that the last ‘seamstress’ is about to move out? Been fewer and fewer residents every year. Now the last one is getting her own place.”

“Everybody wants to be an entrepreneur these days,” Holly stated. She meant it to be a complaint, but that would be rude, so she kept it to a statement of fact.

“I think I should interview that last seamstress,” said Darzin. To the urchin, he said, “You may report to your Holmes now, and thank you for reporting to me first.”

“You’re welcome,” said the urchin, and sauntered cheekily down the stairs and into the Holmes wing.

Holly stood and wrapped her trademark purple feather boa around her neck. “Come, Darzin,” she said. “The game’s afoot. Whatever that means.”


MY PROMPT FOR TODAY: Sherlock Holmes and Holly Jahangiri



I was born in Louisville, Kentucky, but now live in the woods in southern Indiana. Though I only write fiction, I love to read non-fiction. The more I learn about this world, the more fantastic I see it is.

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One thought on “StoryADay May: Holly Takes the Case Part 2

  1. Holly Jahangiri

    May 12, 2024 at 1:08pm

    I’d say the game’s two feet in, now! I’m very intrigued! Well done, you two! I’m glad that this Mother’s Day chapter is a collaboration! I hope you’re having a terrific Mother’s Day.

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
    • Author
      • Dan Antion

        May 13, 2024 at 9:51am

        Stories like these can go on forever as far as I’m concerned. I love the characters, the interaction, the setting (well, you get the point).

        Permalink  ⋅ Reply

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