Fever Dream Chapter 10
It took Mycroft Holmes several moments of smoothing, tucking and straightening before he felt proper enough as he walked from the helicopter. His brother’s smirking didn’t help. He held the manila envelope out. “Detective Inspector Lestrade thought you should see these.”
“Delivery boy? New entry on your CV?” Sherlock ripped an end open, pulling out the police photos of David Campbell’s death scene. A short review and he handed them off to Ian. “If you wore that bowler I got for you for Christmas, you wouldn’t have to worry about your hair.”
“That was four Christmases ago, Sherlock, and Anthea failed to appreciate the humor of it.” Wordlessly, he looked over Max and Ian. “Interesting company you’ve gone to keeping, but I think I prefer Dr. Watson. Can I assume he’s guarding Dr. Hooper?”
Ian handed the photos back to Sherlock. “That was no suicide.”
“Murder, then?” He was looking for confirmation.
“Awfully sloppy one. I’d say accidental death, but the victim did not pull the trigger.”
Sherlock nodded. “The local constabulary flubs it again. What did he buy, Mycroft? A gold watch? Fine cigars? What was the going price on a dead son and murderous wife at that point in time?”
Mycroft brushed away a bit of non existent lint. “I believe a large donation was made to the widows and orphans fund.”
“Poetic. Are you joining us or did you just want a ride at taxpayer’s expense?” He could see John’s shadow in the window of the top floor room and assumed all was quiet within.
“I have some…unfinished business with Mr. Campbell. He is planning to retire soon and plans need to be reviewed.” Mycroft gestured toward the gate. “Gentlemen, shall we?”
FD FD FD
A pounding on the door. “John?” Sherlock shouted from the other side. “There’s a padlock out here. Are you away from the door?”
Good thing there hadn’t been an emergency. He looked around; made sure he and Molly were both clear. “Ready when you are.”
It was an old door, taking three blows, but most of the splinters stayed hanging by layers of paint while the rest of it gave way. Sherlock came through the gap first, but Max ran straight to Molly.
He wrapped the small figure in his arms. “Damn it, woman, you’ve got to stop scaring the hell out of me! Ian will think I’m messing around!” Max kissed her damp forehead.
“No more scares, promise.” Molly giggled. “We’ve got to stop meeting like this, my friend. Didn’t I tell you that you that I shouldn’t cross the Channel? Going to listen next time?”
“Yes, Max. You and Ian come to London next time. I’ll even cover the hotel costs. It will be easier all around than this mess has been.” As Sherlock checked her pulse and her temperature, he couldn’t miss the flash of pain in her eyes. A brief glance at John confirmed; not good. He was profoundly out of his depth in this scenario. “Of course, I haven’t been bored and we’ve inconvenienced my brother, so everything has its benefits.”
“He really is a git.” Max laughed. “You did warn me about that!”
“Play nice!” Molly pouted. “You aren’t exactly a prize yourself!”
As the banter continued, John pulled Sherlock aside. “Her fever has been climbing for hours now. How soon can we get her back into the hospital?”
“As soon as we’re through downstairs.” Sherlock checked his mobile. Arrangements were being made for Lawrence Major’s arrest the moment his feet touched British soil.
John was obviously not pleased. “Sherlock, you wanted me to be her physician, and as her physician, I’m telling you putting her through this right now isn’t the best thing for her health. She needs time to heal and adding more shocks to the stresses she’s already managing won’t do her any favors.”
“John,” he was getting annoyed. “Molly was sold an illusion. An illusion she’s wasted years of her life being afraid of. There have been at least three deaths, perhaps more. You said yourself she’s been traumatized by it all. I’m about to shatter that illusion. Don’t you think it would be better for her to see it break, see what really happened to them all?”
“You figured it out?” her voice sounded very small. “You know what happened?”
“You were only a bystander.” Sherlock walked to the bedside. “I can prove it, Molly. Do you want to see?” He offered his hand.
She seemed to study his eyes for a moment. “Okay, but I can get downstairs by myself. I…”
“Hate being carried. Duly noted.”
FD FD FD
“Ah, Dr. Hooper, Lawrence and I were just discussing your unfortunate illness.” Mycroft had stood as the group entered the lounge. He shot a stern look at the other man until he stood as well. “I do hope the fever has been easing and you’ll soon be on the mend.”
“Molly will be just fine.” Lawrence skirted the coffee table, reaching for her hand. “In fact…”
Sherlock stepped between the man and his target. “Don’t.” He smirked. “Just don’t. Not now. Not ever.” He practically purred.
His face was reddening. “Just exactly where the hell do you get off…”
“Where’s your wife, Mr. Campbell?” Sherlock’s voice sharpened. “How you must have hated her in the end. Her illness cost you everything, didn’t it? Everything twice.”
The older man was practically apoplectic. “I don’t have to stand here and listen to this slander!”
“Actually, Lawrence, I’m afraid you do.” Mycroft smiled in steel, resuming his seat in the Queen Anne chair. “You can answer my brother’s questions or you can answer to Scotland Yard. I’m afraid your government has revoked your immunity.” He sipped his brandy as he handed over the completed set of papers. “I would recommend you answer to Sherlock right now. It wouldn’t be admissible in a court of law and the witnesses would be considered hearsay.”
Reviewing the papers took a few minutes, allowing John and Max to get Molly settled in an overstuffed chair of her own. Ian brought her a glass of water.
Eventually the papers were cast aside. Mr. Lawrence Campbell sat quietly awaiting what questions would come.
Sherlock paced the room. “Did Andrea Campbell have a history of mental illness before her son was born?”
“Of course not!” Lawrence scoffed. “If she had, I never would have married her. Our marriage had been for the diplomatic service. At some point all diplomats are expected to have a spouse. It isn’t in the rule book, but it is assumed if promotion is desired. Andrea and I had gotten along well. We both wanted the same things, including children. Marrying her was the best decision.”
“So it’s safe to assume the affairs started immediately?” Sherlock smirked.
“That was also expected.” Lawrence nodded. “Andrea became pregnant within the first year of our marriage. We had been posted in Honduras at the time, so I sent her back to the states for the duration of her pregnancy. I came home for the birth itself, but then had to leave again. My understanding later was that Andrea suffered quite badly from post partum depression. It seemed to start a vicious cycle in her. The depressions seemed to swirl longer and darker.” He rose, pouring himself another brandy.
“When was her first suicide attempt?” Sherlock knew it would have been buried in her medical records, distorted to hide the ugly truth from any prying eyes.
Lawrence took several deep swallows. “Her doctors believe she tried before I left Honduras permanently. She had driven off a causeway with David strapped in the car behind her. It was a miracle anyone saw her car leave the road. I came home soon after.”
“You didn’t try to get her any help?” John was astounded. “Not even after she tried to kill your child?”
“Dr. Watson, even now mental illness is seen as a weakness.” Lawrence swirled the dregs in the snifter. “Her weakness could have cost me my career! The doctors were willing to see her actions in a more favorable light and I made sure she and David followed me to every posting after that.”
“While you waited in America for your next posting, that was when you started your second family, correct?” Sherlock was mapping out the time lines.
Lawrence spared Molly a sideways glance. “Yes. Pamela and I met when she was working as a nanny for a family friend.”
“And did she deliberately name your illegitimate son after your legitimate one?”
“My god.” Max gasped. “There really were two Davids! One father but two different mothers!”
“I think she wanted to punish me.” Lawrence began to pace. “She disappeared with our child not long after birth. It was almost a decade before I saw our son again. The resemblance to his older brother was astounding.”
“So what happened in Kent?” Sherlock asked. “How did the first David end up dead?”
Lawrence took up a spot near the fireplace. “We had been posted to England for a year as part of preparations for here. David was doing very well in school. Had even begun preparing for higher education that would have taken him back to America without his mother. He was hoping for Harvard, one of the Ivy League colleges. Andrea pulled farther and farther away. She felt like he was leaving her behind.”
“How did she get the firearm?” Mycroft asked quietly.
“I never knew.” Lawrence poured three more brandies, taking one, passing one to Mycroft and setting one in front of Molly who ignored it completely. “Only the two of them were home that day. She called me when it was over and our son was bleeding out in our bedroom. She claimed that she was trying to shoot herself when David came in and tried to stop her. They struggled and the gun went off, killing him.”
Sherlock moved the snifter as if it were poisoned. “You lied to the police?”
“Hiding weakness was second nature by then.” Lawrence was obviously not proud of it. “Turning her over to them was not an option, especially over a stupid accident. David couldn’t be shamed; he was already dead. The blame couldn’t possibly hurt him then.”
“Besides, you had a replacement on stand-by.” Molly seemed to be getting paler by the moment. “The David I knew was the younger one?”
“Molly, you have to understand, he was like a gift from god to me!” Lawrence tried to take her hands in his but she cringed away. “I had failed so badly, but I had a second chance to get it right! Pamela had been in touch on and off over the years, usually when she needed money. Her son could never have afforded a college education. Everything fate had denied him, I could suddenly give!”
“What about your wife? I can’t imagine Andrea agreed to this.” John was ice cold.
“I didn’t need her permission.” Lawrence was colder. “I set her up here. The servants made sure she stayed in the house. I couldn’t stand the sight of her any more. She was no longer my problem.”
“You assumed she’d finish the job. Kill herself so your hands would stay clean.” Ian had moved behind Molly.
“It was what she wanted, wasn’t it?” he hissed. “I just got rid of the bystanders who might get hurt in the process.”
“You brought him to London, set him up in his own flat, gave him an expense account, anything he may have desired.” Sherlock was watching her closely. She was beginning to understand. “But then your second chance got ill.”
“Molly tried to tell me how bad off he was, but I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t think fate could be that cruel.” Lawrence seemed to be staring at a point beyond the horizon. “I told David I had to come here for a few days but that I’d come to him in London afterwards. See what medical arrangements could be made for him.”
“He knew he didn’t have time. David wanted to meet you here instead.” Molly sounded so tired. “You never told Andrea about him. She must have thought he was an impostor. You let him walk through that door and right into her.”
“Jean, one of the servants found you, but he thought both you and David were dead. He knew I would want all evidence disposed of, so he did his best, trying to hide you entirely or at least make it look like a murder-suicide.”
“By tying me to a dead man and dropping me in a lake.” Molly’s eyes were frighteningly dry.
“Molly, I told you before, I am so sorry for that! I would have stopped him, but he was already rowing back in when I arrived! I thought you were already dead!” Lawrence tried to move closer but Max interfered this time.
“And Andrea? Where was she?” Mycroft asked.
Lawrence had to try speaking several times before he found his voice. “Jean found her hanging by the chandelier. He wasn’t sure what I wanted done with her body.”
Molly stood on uncertain legs. “You had him drop her in the lake as well. That’s why that ogre found me at the dock. He was getting ready to get rid of her, too.” She slowly walked to the glass doors that overlooked the water.
“But why did you keep Molly here for a month? She said you kept her locked in that room upstairs.” John knew the answer as soon as he’d asked the question. “You…you were making sure David hadn’t gotten her pregnant. A third chance.”
Lawrence bolted, faster than any of them had expected he could move. He had Molly’s arm, turning her to him. Sherlock had a split second to see the fear register in her eyes; Lawrence had a weapon at waist height. A gun was a safe assumption.
They were all moving, but he’d already gotten to her. Her eyes were rolling back, her chin falling forward as her knees began to give way. Lawrence tried to hold on as she sagged, but her weight pulled him forward slightly. Molly suddenly straightened, her knees locking as the crown of her lowered head hit Lawrence with a sickening crack. He folded, nearly pulling her over with him.
She had started to slide down the glass doors when Sherlock caught her. “Did I break his nose?” She was shaking hard enough to alarm him.
Max checked the unconscious Lawrence, rolling him on his side so the blood wouldn’t drown him. “Oh, yeah, maybe his jaw as well.” He snorted. “You still got it, girl!”
Why was the room spinning to the left? She smiled crookedly at blue green eyes. “Can you carry me just this once, please?”