StoryADay May: Holly Takes the Case, Part 3, Conclusion

This post is part of StoryADay May (https://storyaday.org/) #StoryADay #StoryADayMay @storyadaymay #freeshortstory @hjahangiri.author

Below, please find HOLLY TAKES THE CASE, Part 3

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 3, Conclusion

As Darzin climbed into Holly’s little white pedicar and buckled his seat belt, she turned to him and said, “Where should we go first? The boarding house or the florist’s shop?”

“The boarding house. The remaining seamstress may know who was sending the flowers, and may even know his or her address.”

“But wouldn’t the interviewing officer have asked that question?”

“The interviewing officer wouldn’t have interviewed the seamstress. After all, the problem is with who sent the flowers, not who received them. We don’t even know yet if a crime has been committed; we’re just resolving a question. A crime might have been committed against the one who had been sending the flowers. Why stop? Was it a genuine stoppage, or foul play?”

“If it were genuine,” Holly said, “the client owed the florist an apology for ending what had been a regular, albeit relatively small, source of income.”

Darzin, impressed, as he so often was, at the High Head Librarian’s grasp of the subtleties of forensic etiquette, said, “Holly, I never get your measure.”

The both blushed and continued the ride in silence, both being in excellent shape and not puffing even a little bit as they pedaled the car through Council City’s traffic.

#

The apartment building had seen better days, but the stoop was meticulously clean. All but one set of windows were devoid of curtains, yet a NO VACANCIES, PLEASE ACCEPT THE MANAGEMENT’S SINCERE APOLOGIES sign hung on the door.

The door opened, and three Homeses and their Watsons fought for precedence in exiting, all of them becoming stuck in an impossible tangle of legs, elbows, prattystalker hats, walking canes, paint guns, and bubble pipes. With Holly and Darzin assisting from the front and an unseen person assisting from the rear, the tangle was unpicked and the Holmeses and Watsons left, arguing until they were out of earshot.

When the clamor had died away, Holly and Darzin were left facing a lady of a certain age, dressed respectably but wearing a bright red wig of curls piled high on her head.

“I’m so sorry, but we’re closed,” she said. “I can offer you a half-off coupon at Mimsy’s House of Questionable Fashion, if you’d like one.”

Darzin and Holly politely declined the offer and introduced themselves.

“Oh,” said the woman, “do come into the parlor and have some tea. I made some for the Holmeses and Watsons, but they began quarreling and I was forced to ask them to leave. My name is Shamar, by the way.”

“Last name?” Darzin had his electronic notebook at the ready.

“I prefer not to use my last name,” said the lady, with a coy look. “I’m just Shamar.”

“Well, Shamar,” said Darzin, as Holly roamed around the parlor, looking at pictures and drinking her tea in an efficient yet ladylike manner, “we’re given to understand a yearly bouquet of flowers have been delivered here to no particular person every year on Who’s Your Mother Day. Is that correct?”

“Why, yes! What does that have to do with the police?”

“And one was not delivered this year?”

“It wasn’t. The florist did send us a lovely note saying they were sorry, though.”

“But nothing from the person who had been sending the flowers?”

“No.”

“Did you expect to hear from this person when the flowers were stopped?”

Questionable Seamstress Shamar looked away. “No.”

“Do you know who this person was?”

The questionable seamstress looked at her hands, which fidgeted in her lap.

“Yes,” she whispered.

“Please tell me who it was, so we can check to see if he or she is all right.” When she said nothing, he upped his game. “Pretty please?”

Shamar burst into tears.

Darzin reached into the utility pocket of his tunic and brought out a regulation handkerchief, interviewee, for the tears of. It was a ladies’ version, so the words THERE, THERE were embroidered in script rather than print.

Shamar dried her tears and gave a hearty sniff.

“When I was young,” she said, “I met a man.”

She raised a hand to Holly, who was, at the moment, standing near a small music synthesizer, and said, “Would you press that yellow button, dear?”

“Of course,” said Holly, doing so.

The sound of a tinny piano playing a sad song filled the room.

“When I was young,” Shamar repeated, “I met a man. We thought we were in love, and that we were married in our hearts, but our parents disagreed and separated us. I turned out to be expecting, and my parents shipped me off to have the baby, then gave it up for adoption. Well, what could I offer her? And he never knew. I left home after that, but he was a dutiful son and went into the family business.”

“He became a florist,” said Holly.

“Yes.”

Darzin put down his notebook. This was in better hands than his, now.

“But he suspected,” said Holly. “After you returned to Council City but left home, he suspected. So he sent you an annual bouquet of your favorite flowers, not naming you out of courtesy, wanting you to know that he had never forgotten you and that he honored you.”

“It’s as if you know him!” Shamar gasped.

Darzin said, “No one knows the depth and breadth of the human heart like someone who lives with books.”

“And then he retired,” Holly said, “and left orders for the deliveries to continue, but …”

“He died two years ago,” Shamar said. “It’s taken until now for his will to probate, and his legitimate heirs didn’t know the story. They closed the account the deliveries drew on, and that stopped the deliveries.” She sniffed again.

“I’d like you to come back to the library with me,” Holly said.

“But I don’t know any books! I…I suppose I could learn one, if I took enough time.”

“Not necessary,” said Holly. “Just come to visit and see what happens. If it’s all right with the District Criminal Investigator, of course.”

“Oh, of course,” said Darzin, who wouldn’t dream of standing between a High Head Librarian and her intentions.

#

Back in Holly’s office, Holly rang the service bell. After she had rung it several times over the course of half an hour, a scratch at the paneling and a condescending sniff announced the final arrival of Parlourmaid Tambar Miznalia.

“Come in,” said Holly. The door opened. “Come in and meet your long-lost mother.”

Shamar rose and stood toe-to-toe with the parlourmaid. They sniffed in unison, flung their arms around each other, and wept copiously. Darzin depleted his supply of service handkerchiefs and Holly hid her purple feather boa to prevent its being drafted into service.

“How did you know?” Darzin asked.

“I looked at the photographs. The ones of Shamar in her youth might have been of Tambar Miznalia now.”

“Amazing,” said Darzin.

“Elementary,” said Holly.


MY PROMPT FOR TODAY: Sherlock Holmes and Holly Jahangiri

MA

About

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.

You may also like...

One thought on “StoryADay May: Holly Takes the Case, Part 3, Conclusion

  1. Anonymous

    May 20, 2024 at 6:35pm

    What a great conclusion! Manna to all Holmes fans everywhere. 🙂

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
  2. Holly Jahangiri

    May 26, 2024 at 11:15am

    Wonderful! I do so love it when you let me tie up loose ends, heal hearts, and perhaps… 😉

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply

Leave a Reply, If You Ple-az

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.