The Mystery of the Bright Bolivian Dancers

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This article has been submitted by Isha Das  for the CLATGyan Blog Post Writing Competition. If you think this article is a good read, ‘Like’ this article on Facebook (the button is at the bottom of this piece) or post a comment using the ‘comments’ section below.

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Once Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson were deep in conversation. Sherlock, as usual, was talking to Watson in condescension, scoffing at him for his lack of observation skills. For some time Watson listened to Sherlock’s reprimands patiently. But gradually he started getting really tired of Sherlock’s irksome complaints. So he thought he would engage him in a puzzling case he had heard about.

“Well Holmes, I always meant to talk to you about a case I had come across” Watson said. This attracted Sherlock’s attention. Watson continued “The facts of the case are intriguing because they seem very scattered. They do not seem to form any kind of recognisable pattern at all! According to the newspaper report the victims were bright people, are believed to have been inhabitants of Bolivia (their features indicate that), have hands like that of a cat! I think the report also mentioned about some of them being athletes, they also have a knee that one would characterise to be that of a housemaid. Apparently the knees look withered with laborious work. A few of the victims are believed to have toes that indicate that they were dancers. I read something about them being enrolled in St. Vitus’ dance Studio. Just imagine! All of them enrolled in the same dance studio and all of them dead! I think someone from a rival studio murdered them. Maybe this Studio is very renowned. Although I don’t seem to remember hearing about it ever. Also, another common link seems to be of them belonging to Bolivia. I think they had some enemy there. Maybe they were engaged in some kind of gang war against a dangerous gang” Watson pondered deeply.

Holmes had been listening to Watson’s descriptions looking amused. But his usual manner of jumping to conclusions annoyed Holmes. He looked at Watson angrily. “I can see that you haven’t paid any heed to whatever I have told you over all these years. One does not jump to conclusions without understanding all the facts of the case. It is the biggest handicap while solving a case because it tends to cloud one’s judgement. But to my chagrin you find this advice completely irrelevant.”

Watson felt guilty for forgetting this simple advice that Holmes had always emphasised upon so frequently. Holmes continued “Well Watson, don’t look so crestfallen. Incidentally, I too have read about this case. And I must say that I am surprised at your lack of grasp of the facts about the case”.

Watson got offended at this. “I refuse to agree with you there. I scrutinised the news report because the facts were very intriguing”.

“But you most certainly have, my dear Watson” retorted Holmes. He rushed inside his musty apartment, which to Watson’s agony, was in a perpetual state of mess. He still failed to understand how Holmes found order in a colossal chaos.  Holmes came back into the room with a newspaper in his hand.

“According to the report, there was only one victim, and not victims. You should understand that if the word “victim” becomes plural, it would turn the case topsy turvy. One would have to focus on many individuals and their lives and how they were entwined together, as you were trying to do moments ago. You see, finding a common link is a very hard task.”

Watson tried to protest but these were brushed aside by Holmes. Holmes continued “Also, without actually knowing the individual, it is impossible to know whether they had a bright brain or not. What the report actually states is that the victim had Bright’s disease. Surely you know what that is? You have a medical degree to your credit.” Watson stared at him in silence. His shame knew no bounds now. How could he have not paid attention to this?

“The victim seems to have Bulimia, and not belong to Bolivia. They have a pale skin and looked famished. The victim suffered from a bacterial disease called Athlete’s Foot. This in no way indicates that the victim was an athlete. The report said that the victim had the Housemaid’s Knee which is  a disease characterised by swelling at the front of the knee. The swelling appears like a squashed orange. The swelling is filled with fluid. It is an infection.” “I can only credit you with your description of the victim’s hands. The report says that they resemble cat ’s paws. This would indicate that the victim had long nails” concluded Holmes triumphantly. Watson basked under this praise, since there had always been a paucity of praises from Holmes, while reprimands had come in abundance. “However, you were wrong in saying that the victim was a dancer. We don’t know that yet. That, I reckon you concluded because you read the phrase ‘St. Vitus’s Dance’.” Watson protested “Now that can’t be a disease!” he exclaimed.

“But it most certainly is my dear Watson. I have been trying to use my knowledge of chemistry to find a cure for it.” Holmes patted Watson’s back. “Its fine old boy, I believe we shall have very close encounters with the case soon. If I am not wrong, a fine gentleman is coming upstairs right now to consult us.”  Watson enquired as to how Holmes knew that. “ Elementary my dear Watson! I saw him entering the apartment. Also, his footsteps seem urgent. If you pay attention, you will realise that the intensity of the creaks made by him on the old wooden staircase indicate the type of shoes he is wearing. They seem to be that of a policeman’s. Lastly, a certain Mr. Brown from the police department had requested my audience at this hour. They heard a knock on the door as Holmes said this.

 “I reckon we have a case to solve, Watson.” Watson smiled at him “I reckon we do.”

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