|This page is a transcript for the Season Four episode The Games Underfoot.|
Joan Watson: Alfredo! It's so great to see you. Please, come in.
Alfredo Llamosa: Well, if I'd have known hugs were on the table, I'd have left Chicago a lot sooner.
Watson: Please, sit down. So, you were gone so long, I thought maybe you were moving. Sherlock said you got back last week?
Alfredo: I can only take my sister's cooking for so long. Well, I, I just got through with a meeting. I thought I'd stop by, say hi to Sherlock.
Watson: Actually, Sherlock went to a meeting. I thought you two might be together.
Alfredo: Well, you're right that we usually meet up at 11:00, but today he was a no-show.
Watson: Oh. Well, something must have come up.
Alfredo: Well, the thing is, he hasn't been to St. Luke's all week. I thought after his relapse, he would be doubling down.
Watson: Oh, he has been. Or at least he said he was. I mean, it's hard to imagine he might be avoiding meetings.
Alfredo: Maybe it's not the meetings he's avoiding. All the stuff that's happened, Oscar Rankin, me getting tied to a chair, I only told Sherlock a million times I don't blame him.
Watson: No, he gets it. He understands.
Alfredo: And yet, I haven't seen him since I got back. Well, whatever's going on, it's cool. I just want to know he's okay.
Eddie Ross (voicemail): This is Eddie. I'm either not here or screening my calls. Leave a message.
Sharon (phone): Hey, Eddie, it's Sharon next door. I think I smell gas coming from your place. I'm worried you have a leak. I'll try your cell phone, too, and if I can't get you, I'll call the gas company just to make sure everything's okay. Thanks.
Detective Bell: Victim's name was Eddie Ross. We had to I.D. him with dental records.
Sherlock Holmes: Stabbed in the chest and incinerated. Did the killer also throw him off a roof?
Dr. Eugene Hawes: He was dead before the fire started.
Bell: Figure there was a struggle, the perp torched the place to cover up any evidence he left behind.
Holmes: The neighbor, you said, you interviewed her yourself.
Holmes: And she smelled a gas leak, as in natural gas?
Bell: Well, her unit and Ross's both have gas stoves. She thought maybe the pilot went out, only it didn't. We checked. So she must have smelled the gasoline, got mixed up.
Holmes: But they don't smell the same.
Bell: No, but not everyone has your nose. The fire destroyed any prints on the murder weapon, but you can still see the brand etched on the blade. It's an archaeologist's trowel. Don't know yet whether it belonged to the victim or the killer, but we're canvassing suppliers, trying to identify the person who bought it.
Watson: Pretty sure it wasn't the victim's. Most of the wear is on the right edge of the blade, which means it was used by a left-handed person. But the musculature of the victim's right arm is more developed than his left.
Hawes: Which means he was probably a righty.
Bell: So the owner of the murder weapon is a left-handed archaeologist. How many of those can there be in New York City?
Mila Benson: I'm sorry, I just I can't believe Eddie's dead.
Bell: According to his Facebook page you two were a couple, right up until last summer?
Benson: You don't think that I...
Bell: Honestly, it's too soon for us to think anything. We're just getting the lay of the land.
Benson: We were together almost two years.
Watson: How did you meet?
Benson: Grad school. Um, we both studied archaeology. I was lucky, I, I got a great job. But Eddie, he was he was still struggling. And it just came between us. We stayed friends. I still cared about him.
Bell: So can you account for your whereabouts last night?
Benson: Uh, I was giving a seminar on Iranian antiquities down at Penn. I had breakfast with Dr. Charvat, the department head, before I came home this morning.
Bell: All right, we'll need his number before we go.
Holmes: Ms. Burstyn, archaeologists are very protective of their tools, so can you tell us how yours came to be in your ex's possession?
Benson: Uh about a week and a half ago, Eddie came to me and asked to borrow some of our equipment. I, I gave him whatever he wanted.
Watson: Did he say what he was using it for?
Benson: A dig. He wouldn't tell me what he was trying to excavate, but he was excited. He said he was onto something big.
Holmes: Big as in of great historical import or worth a lot of money I'm, I'm asking because, in either case, he may have had some competition.
Benson: Um, I'm, I'm sorry, he he didn't say.
Bell: What kind of equipment did you loan him?
Benson: Um, stakes and buckets, a, a pickaxe, a shovel, my truck.
Watson: Your truck?
Benson: He didn't have a car. He needed something to carry all the gear, plus whatever whatever it was he was digging for.
Bell: Any idea where the truck is now?
Benson: I think he just parked it on the street near his place.
Watson: So Eddie Ross's background check was a bust. No criminal record, no enemies, as far as his friends knew, and no unusual debts. And his ex-girlfriend's alibi checked out. She was in Philadelphia all last night.
Holmes: Well, I hope she's not in a hurry to reclaim her truck. It's gonna need a little while to air out.
Watson: This was what was in her truck?
Holmes: First two buckets of 12. The rest are in the evidence room.
Watson: Well, I don't get it. Eddie's big find was garbage?
Holmes: You're familiar with garbology? It's the study of rubbish. Archaeologists employ it to learn more about different cultures. The idea being that we are what we throw away, as were the ancient Romans or the first American settlers.
Watson: So Eddie's dig site was at a dump.
Holmes: More likely a landfill. Most of the stuff here is from the late '70s, early '80s. From our conversation with his ex, I doubt he was studying culture. More likely looking for something. He was probably studying this refuse in order to zero in on his prize.
Watson: Well, if it was a prize, why would someone throw it away?
Holmes: One man's trash is another man's treasure. Put the word "vintage" in front of glass bottles, cameras, trading cards, you can turn a tidy profit.
Watson: Vintage rainbow suspenders. If there's money in stuff like this, I need to get to my parents' basement fast.
Holmes: Hopefully, the other buckets will yield more insight.
Watson: Oh, hey, Alfredo came by The Brownstone yesterday.
Watson: Yeah. He said you hadn't been to St. Luke's all week.
Holmes: Uh, he's correct, I have not.
Watson: Just wanted to make sure you were doing okay.
Holmes: What, you're worried I haven't been to any meetings? Well, you can both rest easy. I've just been going to different ones. Some in Flatbush, some in the uh, Kingston Avenue Jewish Center.
Watson: Okay. Even though St. Luke's is right up the street?
Holmes: Since my relapse, I've had to start my program anew. My days sober count has reverted to one, so I thought I would have a correspondingly fresh approach in regards to my meetings all right? You know how conducive I find a change of setting to my work as a detective. I thought the same might apply to my work as an addict.
Watson: Okay, well, Alfredo just thought that you might be avoiding him because you feel guilty about everything that went down with Oscar.
Holmes: What happened on that day is no reason to avoid my friend.
Watson: Okay, well, then you should check in with him, let him know you're doing okay.
Watson: "Reagan for President." If you're thinking about sending money, let me save you the trouble.
Holmes: What interests me are not the contents of this mail but the fact that it is mail. This arrived at this address postmarked October 7, 1980. It was then discarded and then picked up again and transported to a landfill.
Watson: The same landfill that Eddie was digging in. We can call the Department of Sanitation, find out where the garbage from this address was taken to in 1980.
Holmes: Find out where Mr. Ross was digging, we might find out what he was digging for.
Bell: Okay, so this neighborhood is sitting on top of an old landfill. It was shut down in 1982 and repurposed for new construction. Now, we know that the garbage our vic dug up came from somewhere right around this block. What we're looking for is the exact spot he was working, along with any witnesses who might have seen him. I miss anything?
Holmes: Uh, I would add that, given the equipment Mr. Ross borrowed, he was not digging through asphalt or concrete, so that could further narrow our search to areas of accessible soil.
Bell: All right, that's it. Fan out. Holler if you find anything.
Building Super: Yeah, sure. Guy works for the city, right?
Watson: Is that what he told you?
Building Super: Told me? Guy had I.D. The glowy vest. He's been digging up the backyard for a week. Said something about the power lines, and it's a mess back there. I been wanting to ask him how much longer he's gonna be, but I haven't seen the guy for a few days.
Watson: Would you mind showing me the spot?
Bell: What are you doing?
Holmes: These were chained to a lamppost down the street.
Bell: And you figured you'd steal them?
Holmes: I'm re-stealing them. I peruse the crime blotter when I'm bored, and these were stolen in Chelsea last month.
Bell: And you're just gonna walk around with 'em for the rest of the day?
Holmes: Oh, don't be ridiculous. This one's for you.
Holmes (phone): Watson?
Watson (phone): I'm behind the townhouses down the block. You guys should get over here.
Holmes (phone): You found the dig site?
Watson (phone): Not just that. There's someone digging in it right now.
Tyler Eggert: Look, for the last time, I, I didn't do anything wrong.
Captain Gregson: You were digging a hole on someone else's property. So there's that.
Eggert: I didn't know Eddie didn't have permission. And I didn't know he was dead until they told me. I never even met the guy. I mean, not exactly.
Bell: Not exactly?
Eggert: We posted on the same online discussion board, that's it.
Gregson: Can you tell us where you were between the hours of 12:00 midnight and 2:00 a.m.?
Eggert: Is that when he? I, I was at a video game tournament, at an arcade, out in Bayville. I was there all night, I didn't leave until around 6:00. I was there with friends. I can give you their names. One of them even tweeted some pictures.
Bell: We'll look into that. In the meantime, maybe you could tell us what you were doing in that hole.
Eggert: I wanted to see if Eddie found the games.
Holmes: What games?
Eggert: The games. I thought you guys already knew. I mean, you found the hole, too.
Watson: We don't know what Eddie was looking for, so tell us.
Eggert: Nottingham Knights. He was looking for Nottingham Knights.
Watson: I remember this. It was made by a company called EmeryVision. My brother and I had one of their consoles when we were kids.
Eggert: Everyone did. Without EmeryVision, you wouldn't have PlayStation or an Xbox or a Wii.
Holmes: Then how would humanity idle away its time, solving world hunger, curing cancer...
Bell: "Nottingham Knights. The worst game ever."
Gregson: What do mean, allegedly?
Eggert: Nottingham Knights was supposed to be EmeryVision's big Christmas release in 1980. There was a huge ad push. But the reviews on advance copies were so bad, stores started canceling their orders.
Bell: Yeah, says here EmeryVision was worried it would take down the whole company, so they cut their losses, dropped the release and hauled every last copy to a landfill.
Gregson: So this is what Eddie Ross was digging for? Bunch of video games that were so bad they were buried? Why?
Holmes: A company opts not to release a bad product, that's one thing. They decide this product is so colossally bad it has to bury the whole inventory, that's the stuff of legend.
Eggert: Yeah, yeah, it became this thing the gamers talked about for decades. It was like the Holy Grail.
Holmes: If the Holy Grail were a plodding, pixelated failure banished to a dump.
Eggert: Every few years, somebody would try to find the games. They'd get their hands on company records or uh, track down the sites where EmeryVision dumped their garbage. This year, it was Eddie. He was posting updates on the board. A few days ago, he said he was close, and then radio silence. I went over there today, because I had to see if he'd actually done it.
Bell: And? Look, you're the only one here who's been in the hole. Had he found the games?
Eggert: I couldn't tell. There was some stuff from EmeryVision in there, from the right years, a piece of an old console, a few recalled joysticks, but I didn't see any sign of any of the cartridges.
Bell: So maybe the killer took the games. He was an obsessed gamer, just like you.
Eggert: Yeah. Or he was just in it for the money.
Gregson: Money? What money?
Eggert: For the games. Those advance copies, the ones in the original packaging, go for ten grand apiece. If the legend is true, there would've been thousands in that landfill. Altogether, you're talking about a few million bucks. Did I not mention that?
Alfredo: '69 'Cuda. Owner wants 40 grand for it, if you're interested.
Holmes: Would seem my week has a theme of middle-aged men clinging to pubescent glory via collectibles. Nice to see you, Alfredo.
Alfredo: Likewise. I take it Joan told you I stopped by.
Holmes: I've been difficult to reach lately. Thought I'd explain.
Alfredo: Just about to get some breakfast. Want to join?
Holmes: That's not breakfast.
Alfredo: Maybe not where you're from. Try one.
Holmes: I did. Two years, three months, 27 days ago, when you first brought a box to a meeting. You do realize pink coconuts do not occur in nature.
Alfredo: Everyone else loves these donuts.
Holmes: Addicts and alcoholics often crave sugar. You put frosted rocks in a gingham box, they'd eat those, too.
Alfredo: That's why you switched meetings? Get better snacks?
Holmes: As you know, I've found the program immensely helpful over the last few years, and my appreciation for that support's never wavered. But, since my relapse, I find the routine which used to bring me comfort, the familiar faces, rooms, just reminds me of my failure.
Alfredo: And I'm one of those familiar faces.
Holmes: In context, yeah.
Alfredo: Well, it's like I always told you, you gotta be selfish, do what's right for you. Whatever it takes to stay sober. Just...it's the only thing that matters.
Holmes: Obviously, my new regimen should not affect our friendship outside of the meetings.
Alfredo: Of course. So, you find a new sponsor yet?
Holmes: His predecessor has proven difficult to replace.
Alfredo: Hmm. Well, don't take too long. Fresh faces are good, but you don't want to try to go it alone. That's the one way the program doesn't work.
Watson: Marcus and I just met with the owner of the building where Eddie was digging. He had no idea Eddie was back there until the super told him about it this morning. All he wanted to know was who was gonna pay to fix his yard up.
Holmes: I've been perusing the message boards that Eddie, Tyler, and their ilk used to share their appreciation of Nottingham Knights.
Watson: You find anything?
Holmes: Eddie interacted a number of times with a user named IntegerOverflow. It appears Mr. Overflow searched for the games himself in 2009, but failed to find them.
Watson: "IntegerOverflow: Beachwood only had trash up to '79. ArtifactEddie: What about Flushing Avenue? IntegerOverflow: The map I have is spotty, but you can have it." Okay. So they were sharing information.
Holmes: More specifically, IntegerOverflow was sharing the benefits of his past efforts. What's notably absent from these posts is any mention of how the maps and other materials passed hands.
Watson: So you think they met in person?
Holmes: That is a distinct possibility. If Eddie found the games with so much help from Overflow, perhaps Overflow felt entitled to the spoils.
Watson: Is there any way to get Overflow's real name?
Holmes: I have put that very question to our friends at Everyone. I should be hearing back shortly. Though I'm loathe to imagine what fresh tortures they will conjure up as payment.
Watson: Oh. How'd it go with Alfredo?
Holmes: We are both aware of the unintended yet unavoidable consequences to my changes in routine. When we made the transition from sponsorship to friendship, we made the occasional effort to socialize. But it became apparent that our shared experience in recovery was our friendship.
Watson: So I guess you two don't have much else in common.
Holmes: In the same way that many drug users only relate to one another because they use drugs, the thing that Alfredo and I did together was not use them, so...it is a conundrum, to be sure.
Watson: It's from Everyone.
Holmes: "Finish me."
Watson: Look out!
Holmes: I'm looking out.
Watson: You have to go left. Left!
Holmes: Do you mind?
Watson: Trying to help.
Holmes: Your help has just resulted in that man's murder. Again.
Watson: Okay, first of all, he wasn't murdered, he was zapped into another dimension. And second of all, he still has two lives left.
Holmes: Yes, yes, of course, that's what happens in real life. If you die, you get two more chances. Somewhere, two more Eddie Rosses have just resumed digging their hole.
Watson: Okay, don't get grumpy with me just because Everyone is making you finish this old video game. What are you even supposed to do once you're finished? It's not like they left us instructions.
Holmes: Well, obviously they want proof that I finished the game. So I'm sure a photograph of the final screen will suffice. And then Everyone will provide us with IntegerOverflow's real name.
Watson: May I?
Holmes: According to my research, Swords of Saturn was one of the best games of the era. If Nottingham Knights was one of the worst, then consignment to a landfill was too kind a fate. Well, it appears you have some aptitude for avoiding digital blobs.
Watson: I told you. I had one of these consoles growing up. I've played this game before.
Holmes: A fact you could've shared several hours ago.
Watson: Yes! Yes.
Holmes: My hero.
Watson: Okay, so where do you want this sent?
Holmes: Well, it appears we don't have to send it anywhere.
Watson: Oh. "Sound by Integer Overflow." So making us play the game wasn't the price of the answer, it was the answer.
Holmes: This is elegant, even by Everyone's standards.
Watson: All right. So now all we have to do is find out who designed the sound for this game. There's got to be a record somewhere.
Holmes: Check the Internet. I'm going to go ice my thumb.
Ostrin (Integer Overflow): You think I killed Eddie Ross over the Nottingham Knights games.
Holmes: You do go by the online handle IntegerOverflow, do you not?
Ostrin: I do.
Bell: And can you tell us where you were two nights ago, around 2:00 a.m.?
Ostrin: Here. Alone.
Watson: You and Eddie were in communication on and off the discussion board. We think he may have found a stash of video games worth millions of dollars thanks to your help.
Holmes: We suspect that your career as a composer of ear-splitting digital music peaked in the early '80s. So perhaps when Eddie found those games, you felt your ship had finally come in.
Bell: I'm sorry. Is there something funny about all this?
Ostrin: Little bit.
Bell: You want to let us in on the joke?
Ostrin: You're way off. I didn't kill Eddie, and I didn't take any Nottingham Knights games. No one could've taken them.
Holmes: And why's that?
Ostrin: Come on. I'll show you.
Holmes: I understand you're new at this, Mr. Ostrin, but revealing you're in possession of the very items we believe a man was killed over is not a great way of clearing yourself.
Ostrin: These are the games that EmeryVision dumped in a landfill in 1980. Only no one killed Eddie over them. Because Eddie didn't find them. I did. Six years ago. In a totally different landfill.
Bell: And you can prove that?
Ostrin: Only with about 100 hours of video. I recorded every step. Thought it would make for a good documentary one day.
Watson: You were helping him on the discussion board.
Ostrin: I was leading him on a wild-goose chase. Looks like you've been on one, too. Sorry, but whatever Eddie found in that hole, wasn't these games.
Bell: Dwight Ostrin's story checks out. And he's had the Nottingham Knights games for six years. He held onto his digging permits, video footage, even nondisclosure agreements from the crew that helped him.
Gregson: Pretty thorough for a guy who was hiding the fact that he found 'em.
Watson: He knew he might need to authenticate the discovery someday.
Bell: In the meantime, he's been selling one online, every few months, and claiming it was one of the advance copies Tyler Eggert told us about, the ones that went out to reviewers in 1980. Got almost ten grand apiece for them.
Gregson: If they're so valuable, why sit on them? Why keep them a secret?
Watson: Supply and demand. They're only valuable because they're so rare. And there's only a small number of people who'd spend money on them. Flood the market with 1,000 copies, and the price would plummet.
Bell: Best thing he could do was act like he never found them, keep feeding the hype around the legend. That's why he was pretending to help Eddie.
Gregson: So where's this leave us?
Bell: Not quite square one, but close. We haven't been able to find anyone who had a problem with Eddie. It's possible he walked in on a burglar, but as far as his family can tell, nothing of value is missing from his apartment.
Watson: Nothing they knew about, at least.
Gregson: What do you mean?
Watson: Eddie was out of work and single. He had nothing else going on in his life aside from the dig. It still feels like it's the best lead we have.
Gregson: So you think he went looking for the games and he found something else?
Watson: Well, maybe there was some other kind of hidden treasure, one that somebody else wanted.
Gregson: Send CSU back to the hole he dug. See if anything new comes up.
Bell: I will, but the building owner won't be too happy about it. He wants the hole filled. He gave us an earful when we went to see him yesterday.
Gregson: Well, tell him I got his earful right here. Feel free to give him my number.
Holmes: Yes, I remember.
Martin: Ah. Got your 30-day chip last week, right?
Holmes: I did.
Martin: Feels good, right? You should be proud.
Holmes: Yes, well, actually, it's my second time. I, um...prior to last month, I had three years.
Martin: Mmm. Did better than me. Four relapses in my first three years. Didn't think I was gonna make it. But look at me now. There's more, you know.
Martin: Donuts. Over there. You okay?
Holmes: Was there another meeting here earlier?
Martin: Yeah, there was one at 8:00. Why?
Watson: Yeah. Back here.
Bell: Is this everything the Department of Sanitation sent over?
Watson: Yes, records for all the other companies that dumped their garbage in the same landfill where Eddie was digging.
Bell: Hmm. Did any of them throw anything away that sounds like treasure?
Watson: No. Actually, just the opposite. But the name Corrigan Chemical came up a few times. I recognized the name, so I did a search. It turns out that Corrigan was caught illegally dumping toxic chemicals in two other landfills in 1985.
Bell: You're thinking maybe they did the same thing here?
Watson: Say they did, and Eddie found proof, and then threatened to go public. Someone at that company might have killed him to keep him quiet.
Amy Kim: Detective Bell? Amy Kim. I heard you have questions about Corrigan.
Bell: Yeah. This is my colleague, Ms. Watson. Actually, we're a little confused. We thought this was Corrigan.
Kim: Brower acquired Corrigan in 1998. We keep this as the address of record, so any inquiries come here. Handling those inquiries is part of my job. So, how can I help?
Bell: Actually, it's probably best if we discuss it in private.
Kim: This is the first I'm hearing of any of this. Your victim, Mr. Ross? I can assure you he never approached us.
Bell: Couple of hours ago, the EPA ran some tests on the soil Mr. Ross took from the landfill. The results showed high levels of dioxin. That's the chemical your company was charged with dumping illegally at two other sites.
Kim: Not our company. Corrigan. We acquired them after these incidents took place. Whatever they did before isn't our responsibility.
Bell: I could see how that would be Brower's position, but...
Kim: It's a fact, and to be honest, I don't think Corrigan would be held liable, either.
Watson: What do you mean?
Kim: They hired an independent contractor to dispose of their hazardous waste. They paid the full rates for a proper disposal. The contractor, apparently, cut corners and disposed of the waste illegally by reporting it as inert materials. None of that has anything to do with Brower.
Bell: A court might feel differently.
Kim: Maybe, but so far, the courts have ruled in our favor. Three similar cases have come up since I started here, and Brower was cleared of liability in all three. I can show you the cases. In one of them, the state paid for the whole cleanup. In another, the current property owner was on the hook.
Watson: Are you talking about the person who bought the property after the landfill was sealed?
Kim: Yeah, doesn't seem fair, does it? But that's how the Superfund law works. It's like buying a used car. You need to check under the hood, because once you pay for it, it's yours, warts and all.
Bell: The building owner.
Watson: The one who was in a hurry to fill in the hole that Eddie Ross dug.
Bell: Maybe that's not just because it's an eyesore.
Bell: Mr. Brice, when Ms. Watson and I visited you in your office yesterday, we asked you if you'd ever heard of Eddie Ross. You told us you hadn't. Thing is, we went back and had a longer conversation with your secretary Elaine. You should know, she's very loyal to you. She started out insisting she didn't remember anything.
Gregson: Once we pointed out to her that she could go to prison for hindering prosecution, her memory cleared up.
Watson: She said that Eddie came to your office twice. The first time was about two weeks ago. According to Elaine, he asked your permission to dig behind your building. Your super said he claimed to work for the city, so we're guessing you said no.
Duncan Brice: Elaine is a sweet woman, but she's obviously mistaken. I don't recall any of this.
Brice's Lawyer: Which makes all of it he-said, she-said at best. Sounds to me like you coerced a statement. We'll see if a judge agrees.
Holmes: Well, it's understandable you don't remember. You're a busy man. And Eddie Ross's hunt for discarded video games probably ranks quite low on your list of priorities. But we imagine his second visit left a more lasting impression. The only thing that your secretary could tell us about it was that you quickly pulled Eddie behind closed doors.
Bell: See, we think he'd approached you with evidence of what he'd found. Chemical drums that contained toxic waste.
Holmes: He had the expertise to identify the drums. He had the equipment to test the soil. He almost certainly understood what he had found and its ramifications to you. Now, perhaps he came to you in good faith, to give you a chance to remedy the situation, or perhaps he offered to forget what he had seen in exchange for a tidy sum. Either way, you settled on a third option.
Watson: I did some research. It turns out your building is in escrow, along with a row of adjacent properties. You're about 15 days away from closing on a ten-million-dollar sale. Toxic waste would have been a deal killer. You'd be out all that money, not to mention facing lawsuits from all of your tenants.
Bell: Much easier to just get rid of Eddie Ross. Right?
Gregson: Brower Chemical, the company that bought the company that did the dumping, has been cooperating fully. Using their records, we've been able to figure out exactly how many drums of waste were buried at that landfill. We executed a search warrant on your property this afternoon, using ground-penetrating radar. And guess what? You're two drums short.
Watson: Obviously, they're the two drums that Eddie uncovered when he was digging. So, who aside from you, would have had reason to move them?
Brice: I'd like a moment alone with my attorney.
Watson: You're not even gonna try to read lips.
Holmes: Their backs are to us.
Watson: Well, it's never stopped you before. Oh, how was the meeting?
Holmes: When Alfredo came to the Brownstone the other day, you're certain that he said I hadn't been to any of the meetings at St. Luke's last week?
Holmes: And those were his exact words?
Watson: Yes. Why?
Lawyer: My client's statement. He admits to having removed the drums. He was just getting around to letting the buyer know about them. The sale will probably fall through, and you're right, he'll probably face some civil complaints, but what he won't be facing is a murder charge.
Bell: How do you figure that? Your client still hasn't accounted for his whereabouts three nights ago.
Lawyer: There's the name and address of a garage out in Hoboken. My client's company keeps a truck there. I'm sure they have security cameras. I'd recommend you review the footage around 1:00 a.m. that night. Should answer all your questions.
Watson: Just like he wrote in his statement. He hired those workers to move the drums, and he let them use his company's truck to do it.
Bell: And he did it at the same time the fire broke out at Eddie Ross's place.
Holmes: A despicable alibi, but an alibi nonetheless.
Gregson: Duncan Brice is not our killer.
Watson: What are you doing?
Holmes: I'm punishing my brain.
Watson: And what did your brain do to deserve punishment?
Holmes: It's what it didn't do. We know that Duncan Brice is an abhorrent human being who'd rather hide evidence of toxic waste than protect his tenants. And he's almost certainly behind the death of Eddie Ross.
Watson: Right. He had an accomplice, someone who went to kill Eddie while Duncan dealt with the drums. That's why we went to separate quarters, to try and figure out who it was, right?
Holmes: I've been pouring through the man's life for hours now, trying to find someone he would plausibly approach for such a task, and I have nothing to show for it. How fares your brain?
Watson: Actually, it thinks it found something. Four years ago, there was a fire that gutted a building owned by Duncan Brice. It was ruled accidental, but the building was well-insured. They payout was in the millions.
Holmes: You're suggesting this fire was set deliberately?
Watson: It wouldn't be the first time someone like Brice used insurance to finance a rebuild. Let's say I'm right. Four years ago, he hires an arsonist. Then, three nights ago, he realized he needed Eddie Ross dead. Now, Brice isn't a Mob boss. He doesn't know dozens of criminals for hire. He only knows one, so he calls him.
Holmes: If this was arson, and that's a considerable if, it was carried out so meticulously that it was never detected. Eddie Ross's murder was a mess. The weapon used was one of opportunity, a trowel left lying around. Now, no one goes to commit a murder hoping there's going to be a weapon handy, least of all a professional.
Watson: I thought about that, and then I remembered something you said in the morgue the other day. Eddie's neighbor told police she smelled gas, not gasoline. Marcus thought she got confused, but what if she didn't?
Holmes: Go on.
Watson: What if the killer was planning to set a fire that was supposed to look like a gas leak, but then Eddie woke up and walked in on him? Once things got messy, there'd be no point in staging a fire that looked accidental.
Holmes: So he replaced the gas with petrol. Needed to be sure he left no trace of himself on the body. Figure out who committed this arson then maybe we'll figure out who committed this one.
Brice: Anything you have to say, call my lawyer. I'm not talking to you without him.
Watson: Actually, you're not going to have to do any talking at all.
Holmes: Nice building. Can see why you'd want to have offices in it. The building that used to occupy this space was a dump, so, it's a small wonder you had it burned down so your insurance company would pay for an upgrade.
Brice: Is the NYPD looking for a slander suit?
Bell: You hired a professional torch named Vladimir Orlov to set a fire in this building four years ago, and to kill Eddie Ross four nights ago.
Brice: No. I've never seen that man before.
Watson: When this building burned down in 2011, the smoke detector in the unit where the fire started never went off. The batteries were dead, even though the building manager swore he had just replaced them a week before.
Gregson: There was no other sign of foul play, so no one thought much of it. But after everything that's happened the last few days, it jumped out at us.
Holmes: We wonder, did your arsonist replace the fresh batteries with dead ones to delay the arrival of the fire department? And if he did so in 2011, did he also do so in 2015?
Watson: Turns out he had. But when things went sideways, and he had to undo the fire he was planning to set, he put the good batteries back into Eddie's smoke detector.
Bell: Unfortunately for him, well, and for you, the new fire was concentrated around Eddie's body. Didn't do any damage to the smoke detector, or to the prints Vladimir Orlov left on the batteries.
Gregson: We've had him in custody the last few hours. He named you as the guy who hired him to kill Eddie Ross.
Bell: Duncan Brice, you're under arrest. You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can be used against you in court.
Alfredo: You know what doesn't scare me at all? Coming back to my garage and finding some strange white guy let himself in. Not like that's ever gone badly for me.
Holmes: Sorry. I was waiting outside, and I got bored, so I came inside. And then I got bored again.
Alfredo: You tell me you came up with a solution for that wiring problem, all is forgiven. So what's up? You doing okay?
Holmes: Uh, actually, I was, I was wondering if uh, you were okay. Um, the other day, you told Watson that I had not been to any of the meetings at St. Luke's that whole past week.
Alfredo: That's right.
Holmes: Right. St. Luke's holds five meetings a week. You typically attend two of them. It occurred to me you wouldn't know I hadn't been to any unless you had been to all of them. And then, yesterday, at an entirely different meeting, I noticed this box of donuts from the shop up the street, that you like. So you'd been to that meeting just before, had you not?
Alfredo: What if I had?
Holmes: Yeah. Well, obviously, it means you're attending more meetings than you usually do. And that would suggest that you're struggling with something.
Alfredo: I just didn't want to put this on you.
Holmes: Put what on me?
Alfredo: I don't know. I'm down. And before you even think it, it has nothing to do with Oscar Rankin.
Holmes: What does it have to do with?
Alfredo: If I knew that, I wouldn't have gone to eight meetings this week.
Holmes: Well, you know, I am your friend, so you could have told me.
Alfredo: You just got your 30-day chip.
Holmes: And helping you would be good for me. Right? You've always suggested that I should sometimes be selfish with regards to my sobriety, and yet, here you are with yours at stake, and you choose to be selfless. Shame on you.
Alfredo: You got plans tonight?
Holmes: I do not.
Alfredo: Well, close this door, I'll cook us some dinner. I'll even use food that occurs in nature.
Holmes: And that would be helpful to you?
Alfredo: Ah, I don't know. I guess we'll find out.