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Fear in the French Quarter involves a jaunt by Sherlock Holmes and his wife, the world-class hyperspatial physicist Dr. Skye Chadwick- Holmes, to New Orleans. There, they investigate ghostly apparitions, strange disappearances, and challenge threats to the very universe they call home.

 

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Fear in the French Quarter

SF mystery

Stephanie Osborn

 

 

Prologue ― Haints[1]

 

Maj. Dr. John H. Watson, M.D., Ret. RAMC, had come for an extended visit to see Mr. Sherlock Holmes and his wife, the renowned hyperdimensional physicist who had brought Holmes to this reality, Dr. Skye Chadwick-Holmes, on their ranch in the Front Range of Colorado. It was by way of being a reconciliation between him and the Holmes couple, after the engineered debacle that had separated Sherlock and Skye earlier in the summer, and which Watson had initially assumed was Skye’s doing; in reality, it had proven to be a carefully orchestrated plan by a woman in Her Majesty’s Secret Service, thinking she could thereby get Holmes for herself. So, though he had already done so by telephone, Watson was here to apologise in person, and Skye and Sherlock offered him all due hospitality and more, in order to ensure he knew he was forgiven. So upon finding the elderly doctor harboured a secret dream, Skye promptly arranged for its fulfilment in reality.

No, no,” she said with a smile, as the local riding stable’s dually truck pulled up with a horse trailer attached. “It’s no trouble, Watson. I’ve done this before for other friends who came to visit. If we’d known you wanted to ‘play cowboy with us,’ as you put it, I’d have arranged to lease the horse in advance and had it here before you arrived. We’ve only got the two horses suitable for riding, and they’re both a little more high-spirited than you should probably ride, quite yet.”

Well, if one is going to a ranch in Colorado, after all…” Watson huffed out, and his white moustache stood in distinct contrast to the flush that ruddied his face. Holmes hid a grin as Skye went to meet the riding instructors and see about settling the new horse, a buckskin quarter horse gelding named Loafer—named as much, the riding stable had assured Skye, for his demeanor as his coloration.

There is no problem with the matter, Watson,” Holmes murmured. “We simply had not thought of it. I believe you will find, when you return to your room, that Skye has left a riding helmet and a felt Stetson for you on the bed. She can help you adjust the helmet later.”

Holmes watched in tolerant affection as Watson’s white moustache quivered, his eyes sparkled, and the hoary, venerable head fairly bobbed in excitement.

* * *

Loafer lived up to his name; he was a quiet, gentle horse, not overly disposed to excitability. So Skye ably demonstrated her equestrian skills by teaching Watson, who had only been on a horse a few times in his life, to ride with reasonable skill and a sound seat, in just over a fortnight, with lessons every day, sometimes more often, if Watson ― and his old joints ― were willing. After that, the trio began going on daily trail rides around the area, with Skye and Sherlock both careful to pick routes suitable to the novice rider accompanying them. The weather was crisp; it was late in August, autumn lurked just around the corner, and Watson delighted in the vistas.

Oh my! Holmes, just look at that mountain yonder! It looks positively gilded, especially against that lovely blue sky!”

Indeed.” Holmes nodded. “That cold snap the other night has started the aspens turning.”

Yeah, in about another week, that whole slope will be a bright yellow,” Skye agreed, “especially if this kind of weather continues. It’s a little early for such a cold snap, and that bodes ill for winter weather; we need to make sure we get you out of here before the snow flies, or you might not get to go home until Spring.”

Rubbish and malarkey!” Watson exclaimed with a sheepish grin. “You two just don’t want me wearing out my welcome.”

Nonsense, Watson,” Holmes remarked, his tone as gentle and quiet as the physician’s mount. “You are welcome to stay as long as you wish. You know that.”

Heck, if you wanted to move over here, I know Sherlock would be delighted, and so would I,” Skye added. “I pulled out the house plans the other night and was thinking about how to add on another wing to the cabin, in case you wanted to, say, split your time between England and America.”

Watson brought his horse to a sudden halt; the others followed suit.

Something wrong, old chap?” Holmes wondered, concerned.

No,” Watson breathed. “No, nothing’s wrong at all. I only just...I just realised, you MEANT that, Skye.”

Of course she did,” Holmes said before Skye could answer. “Skye would never issue such an invitation, should she not mean it. And she discussed it with me after retiring for the night, as well, then showed me her sketches the next morning; they were excellent, and we are in full agreement on the matter.” He gazed at the old physician with a calm expression in which there was the hint of a smile. “If you would like to do it, all you need do is say so, my dear Watson. It is an easy matter to knock out the north wall and add several more rooms and a corridor extension.”

For that matter,” Skye added, “we could probably make it an entire, self-contained apartment for you—with a kitchen, bath and separate entrance, and a ‘back door’ opening onto the north hallway. Or build you a small cabin in a corner of the property, though that would take a bit more doing, ‘cause we’d have to drill a well and put in septic…”

But...but...you don’t HAVE that extra wing on the house yet,” Watson stammered, stunned. “It...you’ll have no spare room if I…”

Skye shrugged.

Not a big deal,” she pointed out. “Sherlock had the guest bedroom for months before, uhm, before he and I became a couple, and it was never a problem. We never got underfoot with each other. I mean, it’s not the manor house at Hollibrae, but the ranch house is pretty roomy, just the same.”

Truthfully, we have already discussed the matter of acquiring Loafer, there, with the riding stable,” Holmes continued. “That way, you would have a suitable mount whenever you like.”

But I can pay for him!” Watson exclaimed. Sherlock and Skye both nodded.

Without doubt, you could,” a sanguine Holmes responded. “But there is no need. You are retired, living on your pensions and anything you have saved over the years. We, on the other hand, are actively investigating, and with two such detectives as ourselves on a given case, we command a prime fee. This, quite in addition to the stipend from the baronetcy, which is more than sufficient both to maintain Hollibrae AND keep us in comfortable means...”

Yeah, it’s a plum sitch, all right. I think the Queen was doing two things with that stipend,” Skye interjected. “I expect she was trying to make up for not being able to knight me, and I also suspect maybe she wanted to help cover all of the travel expenses, back and forth from the US to the UK. I mean, if they summon us, they usually provide the means of travel, but otherwise, it’s mostly out of pocket.”

Indeed,” Holmes averred. “I agree. As well as possibly encouraging us to settle permanently in the UK, though speaking for myself, I am quite happy with the dual-nation arrangement we have currently.”

Me too,” Skye agreed, seeming content. “Anyway, not only can we handle all the logistics, if you choose to live with us, it doesn’t leave you permanently stuck in the States—we can take you back and forth with us, without much trouble, whenever you want to come along.”

True,” Holmes confirmed.

Watson swallowed hard and opened his mouth to speak, but nothing came out. Holmes, seeing his emotion and realising the older man was deeply touched and concerned, rescued him from having to say anything.

...So it is not a question of finances, Watson,” he softened his voice. “Not ours, at least. We―no, Sherlock, call a spade a spade, though I know Skye is in agreement,” he broke off, interrupting himself, then continued, “―I want to see as much of you as possible, while we can. You are no longer a young man, and ours is a dangerous profession, after all. And if you should live here, even if only part-time, we must do all we can to ensure you are happy here.”

I...I...” Watson faltered, his brown eyes moist. “I don’t know what to say.”

Then don’t say anything, dear fellow,” Holmes said kindly. “I can see you are taken aback and haven’t a clue what your answer should be, so take your time―”

Take as long as you want,” Skye interjected.

“―And consider the matter at length. Should you decide it is not what you wish, that you wish only to visit from time to time, we will not be offended.”

But Sherlock’s liable to press you to visit several times a year, if you don’t,” Skye said, her grin approaching a smirk.

This, despite the fact that Skye has given me reason to be jealous,” Holmes teased.

What?!” both Watson and Skye exclaimed.

Oh, come now, Skye! It was only last evening you remarked to me how dashing Watson looks in his white Stetson! And this, while we prepared to retire for the night!”

Skye coloured. Watson, however, turned beet red and sputtered.

Wha...what...er…”

It, um, looks good with your white hair,” Skye explained, managing to get her wits about her, as a mischievous Holmes grinned from ear to ear at the verbal bombshell he’d tossed in their midst. “Just like Sherlock’s BLACK Stetson looks good on his BLACK hair. Very...distinguished. Both of you.”

Watson gulped, then nodded, his deep flush beginning to fade a bit.

And his swagger. Don’t forget his swagger,” Holmes reminded her. Both his companions’ colouring heightened impressively all over again, and he sat back in the saddle, immensely pleased with himself. Watson finally found his voice.

You’d swagger too, young man, if you had two bad knees and limped on both!” he retorted, pert. “And if ‘your’ Watson had served TWO tours in Afghanistan the way I did, he might have done the same!”

Ah, so THAT is the cause,” Holmes said, stifling a chuckle, but not the smile that came with it; he decided to relent, however, and allow his companions to regain some semblance of composure. “Well then, let us be on, else it shall be dark before we return to the house. While the entire trail is quite safe, there is a steeper part just ahead, strewn with bowlders, which would be better traversed in daylight. And I believe Agent Smith is expected for dinner tonight, as well.”

Yeah, he is,” Skye verified. “I’m trying to make sure our ‘American family’ gets to meet an important member of our ‘British family,’ I guess.”

Indeed. And it would not do for him to arrive while we are still on the trail; it would be most inhospitable. I am certain you will like him, Watson; he is an excellent detective in his own right, and a reserved, but friendly sort. Get on, Blaze.”

The trio resumed their forward progress. But Watson, slightly in the rear, was overheard to mutter, “Swagger, indeed. My great-aunt Fanny!”

* * *

About a week or so later, Skye opened the mail to discover a missive from the U.S. government, instructing the detective couple to travel to New Orleans, Louisiana the following week, for a mandatory special course in military base security, intended for military police investigators only, but whose requirement thereof was waived especially for them, in light of their standing contract with the government. An irritated Skye stood with the papers in hand, staring at Sherlock.

Well, that’s lousy timing,” she muttered, annoyed, as Holmes took the paperwork from her to look it over. “It isn’t even an interesting session, just a required one. I’m so sorry, Watson. This throws a monkey wrench, erm, a spanner, in everything.”

Not a problem, my dear,” Watson soothed. “I have been here nigh unto a month already. I can certainly cut my visit short and return to England, while you do your training.”

Or,” Holmes suggested, still studying the paperwork, “he could stay in a hotel until our return. I would recommend he simply stay here; but at a hotel, he would have a maid and room service. And restaurant access, so he would not have to cook.”

And not be so isolated, if something were to happen,” Skye agreed, deep in thought. “But...hm. Honey, let me see that again. And...hey, have either of you ever been to New Orleans?”

Watson shook his head, and Holmes replied, “I presume you mean in my original continuum, as you yourself know I have not had occasion to go in this one, as yet.”

Yeah, that’s what I meant.”

Then no, I have not.”

Holmes handed the papers back to her, and Skye studied them in detail, then stared into space for a moment, eyes unfocused, deep in thought. The two men remained silent, watching. Finally she came back to the present, and grinned.

You know what? I got a better idea than any of that,” she declared. “Let’s take Watson to New Orleans WITH us. And then we can all explore the city!”

Oh capital notion, my dear Skye!” Holmes exclaimed.

* * *

Hey, Louie,” the busboy said, coming into the kitchen and addressing the sous chef, one Louis Rousseau, who was putting the finishing touches on the late-night closing of the Court of Two Sisters restaurant in New Orleans’ French Quarter. Louie looked up at the interruption, his handsome milk chocolate face weary; but Boudreau was new to the job, a bright young man still learning his way, and the sous chef was the last of the regular staff in the restaurant. In addition, he was a friend of Boudreau’s family, had gotten the lad the job, and viewed him as a kind of protégé. So he wiped the weariness from his expression and offered a slight, wry smile instead.

How’s it comin’, Boudreau? You gots dem tables cleaned yet, mon ami?”[2] The sous chef was grateful to be able to revert to his natural dialect, now the customers were gone; whenever a guest requested to speak with a chef, it was usually he who answered, since the head chef’s accent was nigh-impenetrable to a non-Cajun. But Louie had learned over the years how to moderate his, so the tourists understood him. Yet they still delighted in the ― to them ― exotic flavor of his intonations; as a redbone ― mixed Cajun and black Creole with, so his aunt declared, Choctaw thrown into the blend ― he was considered more exotic than most. And his peculiarly vivid green eyes only enhanced that reputation.

Mais, I gots de mal pris, Louie…”[3] Boudreau replied, the barest hint of a stammer in his wobbly voice. The lad was pure Cajun and both looked and sounded it, but Louie noted he seemed much paler than usual, and wondered if the boy were ill.

Dat won’t do, Louie thought, concerned. Dat won’t do a-tall. Don’t do to have a sick busboy. Dat’s de’pouille.[4] An’ us short-handed as is. Lemme see what I kin find out, lessen I haveta send ‘im home. He addressed the boy in a teasing fashion, hoping to find out what ailed him.

Co faire? You gots de lazies? Dat ain’t no mal pris, mon ami! You jus’ a bon rien!”[5]  Louie grinned at the younger man, to take the sting away from the good-natured jibe.

No, mon! Don’ be makin’ de misere! Dem haints be at it agin! I got de failblesse, I swears!”[6]

Aw, ‘Reau! Dit mon la vérité!”[7]

Non! Non! C’est la vérité!”[8]

My eye!”[9] Louie said, rolling his own eyes. “Look here, Boudreau. You bin here mos’ a whole year now, podna. You ain’t no petit boug.[10] Dere ain’t no such t’ing as de haints, no mattah what we be tellin’ o’ de tourists. Don’ be no coward, an’ go finish de dinin’ room. We ain’t gots time for dis. We gots a big party inna mornin’ for de jazz brunch, an’ I gots still de work to do.”

No, Louie! Tonight, it be worse’n takin’ da shortcut to Houma[11] out dere! It be de fault o’ dat new part-owner we gots, dat Auguste Savoy! Dat whole fambly be possedé by Le Grande Zombi ever sence him great-great-great-grand-père done pissed dat Miz Marie an’ Doctor Jean Bayou!”[12]

Shut yo mouf, Reau-reau. I figgered you for mo’ plus habile dan dis. [13] Dat ol’ fam’ly curse on de Savoys? Tain’t nuffin but ol’ wives tales, Boudreau!”

No, ‘tain’t! Come see! Come see, Louie!” Boudreau pleaded. Louie drew a deep breath, then let it out in a long sigh, turned, and threw his dish cloth at the counter with some vehemence. Then he gave Boudreau a careful once-over, noting the young man’s pallor had increased, slight trembling adding to the effect, and gave in, realizing something had seriously frightened the sixteen-year-old.

I don’ gots time fer dis, Reau,” he sighed again. “Okay, don’ you go makin’ no bahbin. Awright. Let’s go see what done give you de freesons.”[14]

* * *

In the door to the half-lit courtyard dining room, they stopped dead. A lovely, cool, sheltered bower in the daytime, the old courtyard with its uneven cobblestones and vine-draped trees could seem somber and murky in low light, even a little spooky, especially when entered from the old carriage entrance with its dank, cold stones and dark, almost cave-like ambiance, and the sous chef had fully expected that atmosphere to be what had unnerved the boy. But that wasn’t the problem at all.

Instantly Louie realized Boudreau had been telling the truth, and had due cause to be frightened: discorporate candle flames in all colors flickered and bobbed about the darkened, gloomy space like a rainbow of fireflies; colored draperies flickered into existence and vanished; phantasmic, translucent figures floated and walked; and a murmur akin to a full dining room filled the air, in spite of the fact that the two men were the sole...living...occupants visible. Despite himself, Louie felt his skin crawl. It did him no good when he remembered a similar event in his own youth at the restaurant, an event long since ― and very deliberately ― forgotten.

Qu’est-çe que?”[15] he whispered, taken aback.

It’s de haints, Louie!” Boudreau hissed. “I tol’ you!”

Shush yo mouf,”[16] Louie commanded in an undertone. He stepped forward. “Stay here, Reau. Be not a foot movin’ lessen I gib de word.”[17]

What it be?”

Dunno.”

Merde! What you do?”[18]

Dis either de cunja, ya know, like what you said, an’ we gonna need a gree-gree; or it be a joke, mon ami. I gonna find out what in de hell it be.”[19]

Louie! Be keerful!”

Shush!” Louie paused to look back at the terrified busboy. “Don’t you go gettin’ yo’ drawers in a knot bag dere, boy, don’t I pass a slap atchoo. Jus’ do what I tolls you an’ we be sittin’ purty.”[20]

Louie crept forward, moving toward what seemed to him to be the center of the phenomenon, just under a large tree near the fountain. A little flame suddenly appeared on his right, danced across the air in front of him, and vanished again. Moments later it returned; hard alongside came a lacy swatch of...something. But it looked tangible, and Louie suddenly suspected he and Boudreau were the victims of an especially well-played practical joke.

C’mon out, ya peeshwanks! Where y’all be?!”[21] And he snatched at the lace.

* * *

Boudreau watched, trembling, from the doorway as Louie slunk across the courtyard, making straight for the densest part of the anomaly. By the time Louie had reached the fountain, faerie flames fairly danced all around him.

Suddenly Louie cried out, startling poor Boudreau so badly, the teenager’s knees tried to buckle.

C’mon out, ya peeshwanks! Where y’all be?!” the sous chef shouted, and grabbed at something Boudreau couldn’t see.

Then the young man clapped his hands to his ears, closed his eyes, and cowered down in the doorframe as a hideous shriek rent the air.

When he opened them, Louie was gone.

* * *

Ah quit!” Boudreau declared to the manager at the front door of the restaurant the next morning. “Ah ain’t be settin’ foot een dere fo’ naught!”

Huh?” the manager replied, puzzled. “What? Whyfor you quittin’, Boudreau?”

Dis place be possedé, mon ami!” Boudreau exclaimed, paling. “Is mal prise, it are! It dem Savoys what cause! Dey gots de gree-gree on dat whole fam dambly an’ now dis whole damn PLACE gots de cunja!”[22]

Don’t be coo-yon, boy,”[23] the chef said from somewhere in the bowels of the dim restaurant; Boudreau glanced around anxiously, as if expecting the flickering lights to emerge in broad daylight. “We de’pouille wifout no Louie. Jeanne, pass dat petit boug a sussette, den pass ‘im de mop. Nous avons pas le temps pour ça, pas du travail à faire!”[24]

Nuh-uh!” Boudreau asserted, and turned to go. He tossed over his shoulder, “You don’ b’lieve me, ask Louie!”

Where IS Louie?” Jeanne wondered. “Thierry, you know where dat Louie got?”

Alors pas,”[25] the chef replied. “Dat bon rien nevah kem dis matins, non!”[26]

 “Non,” Boudreau called back, practically running down the street, “an’ he nevah do no mo’!”[27]

What?” Jeanne called after him. “Why he nevah come back, Boudreau?”

DA HAINTS GOT ‘IM!” Boudreau screamed, and vanished around the corner.

 

 

Chapter 1 ―An Ahnvee for Le Vieux Carré[28]

 

Skye made reservations at the Roosevelt New Orleans hotel. It was a posh lodging, being a Waldorf-Astoria, but parts of it had also been built in Holmes’ original day, and she had a strong suspicion he would enjoy it. Consequently, she also splurged and reserved a Luxury Suite and connecting Queen room; this gave the trio the equivalent of a two-bedroom, two-bath flat, laid out more or less like a traditional New Orleans dwelling, while still not carrying the expense of the top of the line suites.

Because if we’re going to do this, we damn well ought to do it right,” she told Holmes and Watson with a grin. “See, it was built in 1893 as the Hotel Grunewald. It was supposed to be part of the Grunewald Music Hall and Opera House, sort of like our modern convention center hotels, but the music hall burned just before they started on the hotel.”

Historic America! This should be interesting, then,” Watson decided.

Is it close to the convention centre?” Holmes wondered. “That is where the training is occurring, is it not?”

Yeah, that’s where the class is,” Skye agreed, “but the hotel is about a mile and a half away. We COULD walk it, but I’d rather not get to the training sessions all hot and sweaty. And New Orleans will definitely be hot and humid this time of year. While it’s already turning chilly here in Colorado in early September, it’s still summer in Louisiana. And we’re going to be just about on the Mississippi River anyway. You could about chunk a rock down Canal Street and hit the levee, from the roof of the hotel, probably.”

Ah, that’s right, New Orleans is in the delta of that great river, isn’t it?” an eager Watson enthused.

Exactly,” Skye confirmed. “Though the delta proper is considered a little further out now; it grows, you know, as sediments from upstream get deposited over time. But anyway, there’s plenty of water to raise the humidity. I suppose we could stay at the downtown Marriott; it’s practically across the street from the Morial. But...”

But it wouldn’t have the ambiance,” Watson finished for her.

No, it wouldn’t, and it wouldn’t be right on the edge of the French Quarter, either.”

Then your selection was fine, Skye,” Holmes observed. “We shall have a rental car. Watson would likely be on foot in this so-called ‘French Quarter’ at any rate, and thus it is indeed better to be closer to the Quarter than to the convention centre.”

Agreed,” Watson affirmed, staunch. “I’m quite capable of walking the distance—I’ve kept myself in shape, and the karate sparring your young Ryker set up for me helps, Holmes—but convenience and whatnot, you know. This way, I shall be able to immerse myself in the old district, from morning ‘til night!”

If I did not know he was such a cosmopolitan man of the world, Skye, I might almost think Watson was excited,” Holmes remarked, the corners of his lips quirking in amusement.

Don’t give me that,” Skye retorted to her husband with mock-sternness. “I saw your eyes sparkle when I mentioned that the hotel is on the edge of the French Quarter.”

MY eyes?” Holmes pretended innocence. “My dear Skye, surely you are in jest.”

Not hardly!” She poked him in the chest with her index finger. “Now go hop online and get the plane tickets. And while you’re at it, get us a rental car reserved, too.”

I do believe, Watson, I have received my marching orders,” Holmes chuckled.

Sure sounded like it to me, mate,” Watson grinned.

Skye sobered instantly, feeling horrified.

NO! I wasn’t trying to be bossy,” she exclaimed, embarrassed. “I guess it DID come out that way, but I didn’t mean it like that! You’ve gotten so good on the computer, you’re better than I am at getting the good rates. I only arranged the hotel because I knew about it and thought you’d like it.”

Hush, hush, my dear girl,” Holmes soothed, laying a gentle hand on her shoulder and rubbing briefly before giving it a light squeeze. “I know that. I am the least likely man I know to ever become a henpecked husband, because I simply would not stand for it! Nor, for that matter, would you ever attempt to badger me so, and well do I know the fact. No, I was merely ‘giving you grief,’ as you like to put it—quid pro quo, if you will. Batting it back at you. Don’t fret yourself over it, Skye; all is well, I give you my word. Now let me go see about the matter of airfare. As we are required to attend and shall have to fill out and submit a blasted travel report, it is likely to be reimbursed later, anyway.”

True,” Skye agreed, settling once she realized she was being teased. “I expect our hotel will go more than a little bit over the government per diem, though, so that’ll come out of our pockets. But it’ll SO be worth it! And if you BOTH don’t enjoy it—it’s a gorgeous old hotel—I’ll eat my cowboy hat!”

Then, by all means, Holmes, we had best enjoy it,” Watson remarked in whimsy. “As the attending physician, I don’t want to have to be the one explaining to the emergency room attendants why we’re pumping masticated felt from her stomach!”

Indeed!” Holmes agreed with a grin, turning toward the study.

* * *

Only a few days later, all three were comfortably ensconced in their lovely flat in the Roosevelt.

Feel free to stay up and watch the television, Watson,” Holmes offered, glancing at the clock.

Are you two retiring, then?” the physician wondered, surprised. “It’s barely eight in the evening.”

Yeah, I hate it, but we really need to,” Skye declared with a regretful sigh. “We’re one time zone earlier than we’re used to, so the alarm is gonna come early in the morning anyhow, and the training assumes its students, or the majority of ‘em, anyway, are all military.”

So it will commence,” Holmes continued from his wife’s statement, “at ‘oh-dark-thirty,’ as Skye likes to say.”

Are you actually sleepy?”

No, not particularly,” Skye admitted. “We haven’t done much but sit in the plane, sit at the gates, and sit in the rental car, so there hasn’t been much to make us tired. But I’m thinking we should raid the liquor cabinet and that might help. At least we’ll be relaxed.”

Capital notion, my dear,” Holmes agreed, moving to the wet bar and opening the small refrigerator, crouching down and surveying its contents with a discriminating eye. “Oh, excellent. They have quite a nice selection of single malts, whiskeys, and brandies, all in the tiny single-serving bottles. Which would you care for? They have other things too, such as rum and gin, which Watson might prefer...several varieties of beer and ale, domestic and imported...”

Oh! What single malts do they have? That sounds good tonight…”

Ah! They have your favourite, Skye!”

Laphroaig?! They have some?? That’s it! Neat, please. It’s already chilled. Watson, you’re just planning on exploring the French Quarter on foot tomorrow?” Skye asked as her husband poured the contents of the small bottle into an old-fashioned glass and handed it to her. She sipped, smiled, and moved to the sofa, as Holmes dove back into the tiny refrigerator, emerging with a wee bottle of 1840 cognac for himself.

That’s right,” Watson affirmed, as Holmes poured his cognac into a glass, swirling it. “Holmes, old boy, do they have any Kraken black rum in there, by any chance?”

Mmm…” Holmes leaned over and dug around in the refrigerator. “No, but there is a single Barbancourt Reserve.”

That’ll do. Hand me one of those cans of Coke from the door, while you’re about it.”

You’re gonna MIX the Barbancourt?!” Skye wondered, shocked.

No,” Watson grinned, sheepish. “I know better than to mix a world-class rum with anything. There’s a refrigerator in my room, too, but it doesn’t have anything in it. I wanted this for in the morning, in lieu of taking time to brew coffee.”

Oh! Okay. I was thinking we needed to sit on you and educate you,” Skye said, cheeks dimpling as she sipped her Scotch. Watson laughed, and Holmes chuckled.

Would you like for me to make dinner reservations for all of us, for tomorrow evening?” the retired physician offered. “I’ll be out and about anyway, so it should be no trouble.”

That’d be great,” Skye agreed as she slouched on the couch with her drink. “What did you have in mind?”

I’ve heard so much of Brennan’s, I should like to try it.” Watson grinned. “What do you think, Skye? You’re familiar with New Orleans. Is it worth it?”

I think,” Skye said, grinning back, “it’s an excellent time to introduce you and Sherlock to fine Creole food. And that sounds like a really good start.”

* * *

The next morning the Holmes couple was indeed up very early, leaving Watson to sleep in and wander the Quarter later. They showered, dressed, and slipped downstairs to the Fountain Lounge to grab a quick and hearty breakfast. There Holmes was introduced to the Southern tradition of hominy grits, when he opted to try the shrimp & grits breakfast. He found, somewhat to both their surprise, he liked the cooked cereal a great deal.

It is not at all unlike a maize polenta,” he observed to Skye. “And for good reason, I suppose, as they share a parent grain. Warm, filling, with a delicate flavour I find similar to popped corn—especially with the addition of butter and salt—and taking on the tastes of whatever it is paired with.”

Well, you have a point,” Skye noted. “Though I’d say it probably developed independently from polenta, in parallel. Because the Europeans were eating cooked grain mushes and the like for centuries, probably since Roman times, if not before. And the Native Americans developed grits from maize over here, all on their own. I’m not sure this,” she dabbed her spoon in the dish of corn porridge sitting next to her blue crab Benedict, into both of which she had made great inroads, “is really even made all that differently from the way they did it pre-Europeans, except for the automation, I guess.”

It makes sense,” Holmes decided. “A well-conceived train of logic.”

Shall I add it to the repertoire at home?” Skye wondered. “The grits, I mean.”

Do you know how to prepare it?”

I do. I grew up on it. I like it, but a lot of people don’t, unless you WERE raised on it. So I didn’t think to try fixing it for you. I’ve mostly concentrated either on standard breakfast foods, or more British stuff. Frankly, I’ve enjoyed learning the British stuff.”

Excellent, then, and you have done a delectable job replicating the ‘British stuff.’ But I think we shall pick up a package of these ‘grits’ at the grocers, the next time we shop.”

Okay,” Skye said, with a dimpling grin. “Assuming we can find any in Colorado, we’ll get some. If not, it’s probably available online.”

The couple finished quickly and charged the meal to their room before having a valet fetch the rental car, and they were off to their training.

Roughly some two hours after the couple’s departure from the hotel, Watson rose, drank his soda, and prepared for the day. Eschewing the hotel restaurants, he set off across Canal Street and plunged into the French Quarter, in search of breakfast.

* * *

That evening, Skye and Sherlock dropped the car off with the valet, scurried upstairs to freshen up, and headed straight down Canal Street for Royal Street and Brennan’s; per the text message Holmes had gotten from Watson that afternoon, they were cutting it fine for the reservation time.

Skye,” Holmes wondered as they strolled along at some speed, The sign I saw right outside the hotel’s front door as we left said that it was a No Smoking area, yet there was a woman obviously smoking a cigarette, over on the far side, behind the valet station. What is more, no one was berating her for smoking in public. I fear I am missing some bit of data. Is this another ‘tween universes’ sort of discontinuity?”

Oh, I saw it, yeah,” Skye noted. “No, there’s a kinda new thing out...last year? Year before? I dunno. But did you notice how it was longer than a standard cigarette, and maybe a little thicker?”

Yes, I did. But I thought it was possibly an exotic import or the like.”

No, I don’t think it was. The ‘flame’—you probably couldn’t see it from where you were standing, but it was red, not orange like a proper ember. There’s this new thing, like I said. Electronic cigarettes and pipes; they use something called ‘vaping liquid’ instead of tobacco. It doesn’t burn the liquid so much as it simply vaporizes it with a heater element inside the thing. There’s a liquid reservoir connected to a battery-powered heater, and that all shunts through to the mouthpiece. Inhale, and it draws some of the liquid into the heater, which vaporizes it, then you inhale it. No smoke at all, and no combustion byproducts, either. You can regulate the amount of nicotine you use, and you can even get flavored liquid without nicotine at all—anything from spice to bubble gum and more, I’ve heard. A lot of smokers are using ‘em to wean themselves off tobacco by gradually dropping the nicotine content of the vaping fluid, and even those who aren’t interested in quitting can smoke ‘em without the people nearby having to breathe second-hand smoke.”

Pipe, eh? Interesting. So...this is a more acceptable way to...‘smoke’...than traditional smoking?”

It seems so, yeah,” she agreed. “There’s some concern about the byproducts of the vapors being harmful, so some places even refuse those, but I’ve looked at the chemistry, and it looks just like water vapor and some flavored glycerin, to me. Personally I don’t think it’s any worse than the smoke from scented candles, or those fragrance tarts our neighbor to the west, Mrs. Tuttle, puts in her little burners all the time.”

Hm...” Holmes hummed to himself, thinking. Skye studied him for a moment.

You thinking about getting one, maybe?”

Possibly. It might serve the purpose, when I am otherwise in a no-smoking area—such as our hotel room, for instance. After all, my pipes do aid my thoughts, from time to time.”

Good point. I think I saw a vaping shop in a corner of our hotel’s lobby, actually. Probably pretty new. Maybe we can pop by there tomorrow and have a look. And I know there’s a bunch back home in the Springs, so you can get supplies and accessories easily enough. Think there’s even one or two up in Woodland Park; I remember seeing signs, someplace...”

Very well; I believe I should like the chance to investigate the matter further.” He paused, then scrunched his face. “I have serious doubts that I should like my pipes to taste of bubble gum, but if they have a basic tobacco flavour, and surely they do, that would be sufficient. I suppose, barring that, a spice such as cinnamon, cloves, or the like would suit.”

I’m sure they have some plain ol’ tobacco-flavored vaping fluid,” Skye said with a grin. “We might have to play around to see about the percentage of nicotine. I know you like a pretty strong smoke.”

Holmes waved a dismissive hand.

Standardised percentages can be readily blended to suit,” he pointed out. “And, based on the information Dr. Wellingford provided last year, it may be as well if I have a lower quantity substitute available to me, now and again.”

True. Though the organic heirloom stuff seems to be doing pretty well by you, judging by your last physical.” She nudged him with an affectionate elbow. “Admit it. You’re curious.”

Well, I am.”

We’ll go look tomorrow before class, then, provided Watson lets us go back to the hotel at anything like a reasonable hour tonight. And depending on when the shop opens up.”

Excellent. That may take a bit of doing, however,” Holmes decided. “I expect tonight is apt to run more than a trifle late. And, knowing him, and from what you have told me of the French Quarter, as soon as we are freed from this class, I shall be surprised if we are not expected the following morning for breakfast, or perhaps he will let us get away with brunch.”

No doubt,” Skye laughed.

* * *

The old doctor was fairly beaming when they met up with him at Brennan’s.

Enjoyed your day?” Skye asked with a smile.

Immensely!” was Watson’s enthused answer as they entered the famous restaurant. “Want to hear where I’ve been so far…?”

* * *

Wow. You’re kidding,” Skye said, over her delectable blue crab remoulade. “The ghosts are out walking?”

That’s how some of the locals put it,” Watson averred around devouring his grouper amandine. “Seems the New Orleans ghosts have been acting up more than usual lately.”

Well, New Orleans has the reputation of being the most haunted city in the States,” Skye noted, grinning.

Still and all, I doubt it is anything truly out of the ordinary,” Holmes demurred. “As many cases of purported spiritualistic events as I have investigated in my life, I have yet to encounter one that was truly supernatural in nature. Admittedly, there was often a past background event that wanted explaining, true. But invariably in the current event, there was a very human agency behind it all.” He polished off the last bite of his lamb Mirabeau.

I don’t doubt it.” Skye’s grin grew wider. “Some over-active imaginations, a touch of skilled marketing, coupled with priming the tourists to see what they want to see, and voila! Ghosts on every corner.”

Damn it all!” Watson exclaimed, pulling the dessert menu over. “Quit spoiling the ambiance, and ruining my impressions of paranormal New Orleans! Crêpes Fitzgerald, crème brûlée, or bananas Foster for dessert?”

Oh! After all that food, I think I want something light! Crêpes for me!” Skye laughed, patting her belly. “Sherlock?”

Perchance would you care to share those crêpes, my dear Skye?” Holmes wondered. “Like you, I am quite ‘stuffed,’ I think you would say...”

* * *

The next morning, the couple rose a little earlier than originally planned, having ordered a room service breakfast the night before by placing a marked hang card on the outside knob of their room’s door. They were dressed and ready when it arrived, and thus had a quick—quiet—continental breakfast with coffee and juice, then slipped downstairs to find the vaping shop already open for the morning commuter traffic. They entered and began to browse.

In short order, Holmes had found an electronic pipe to his taste, short-stemmed to accommodate easy travel, and explained his preference in pipe tobaccos to the clerk. The courteous clerk gave Holmes a disposable silicone vaping mouthpiece, then brought him the shop’s selection of tobacco-flavoured testers, showing him how to use the e-cigarettes to try the different solutions.

Soon enough, Holmes had settled on a couple of different flavours, the “Mild & Black” and the “Natural Red,” deciding some combination of the two would approximate his preferred smoke, and the clerk scurried off to get the little bottles from inventory.

Hey, it doesn’t come in a seven percent solution of nicotine!” Skye noted, teasing.

All the more reason why I shall mix my own,” Holmes retorted, eyes twinkling cheerfully. “A bit of the six percent, with a bare smidgen of the twelve percent, will do nicely in that regard!” They laughed.

Then Holmes watched closely as the clerk showed him how to fill the pipe’s reservoir, and together they mixed a blend of the two flavours in the reservoir, until when Holmes puffed on the e-pipe, the taste suited him quite nicely. A pocket-sized carry case went into the purchase, ensuring the pipe would not be damaged and any potential spillage would be contained, then they moved to the cash register.

You like this whole idea, don’t you?” Skye murmured, as he offered the clerk a credit card in payment, and moments later they left the shop with their purchase. Holmes promptly removed the encased pipe from the paper bag and slipped it into his jacket pocket, retaining the receipt but discarding the bag in the nearest waste bin, before answering.

Indeed. I shall, no doubt, always prefer the real thing. However, when we are out and about, this will be available to me, and my regular pipes will not. Yes, I am pleased. Now,” he extracted his pocket watch and checked the time, “we should hurry, or we shall be late to class. And that will not do.”

Let’s go find a valet, then, to fetch the car,” Skye suggested.

Capital notion...my dear Skye.”

Skye stumbled a bit as her knees grew briefly weak. Holmes offered her his arm, a mischievous twinkle in the grey eyes, and they headed for the valet counter near the mammoth lobby’s front entrance.

* * *

Holmes spent their morning break sitting next to the coffeepot in the break room, practicing with his new electronic pipe, and quickly had the hang of it. Skye sat nearby, sipping her coffee, which was liberally laden with cream as she preferred, and simply watched in pleased contentment. The other members of the class, as well as the instructor, stopped by from time to time to ask questions about the device, which the couple tried to answer as best they were able. Occasionally, a technical question about the inner workings of the device stumped them, as neither had thought to ask at the shop. The gist of it, however, was of the nature of, “Do you like it? Is it as good as your ordinary pipe?”

To which Holmes responded, “Indeed, it is most satisfying. I think it is not QUITE as good, but it is more than acceptable, especially for such public consumption as this. I find it enjoyable and it does not cause offence, and that is, in the end, all that really matters.”

Skye took another sip of her coffee, hiding her smile in the disposable cup.

* * *

The next two days went much the same. Sherlock and Skye spent their days at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, alongside the levee holding back the great Mississippi River, and Watson explored Le Vieux Carré[29], the locals’ general reference for the French Quarter. Holmes “smoked” his new e-pipe during classroom breaks and in the evenings in their hotel suite.

* * *

Over flambéed cups of café brûlot diabolique at Antoine’s the subsequent evening, by this point having eschewed a heavier dessert in preference of splurging on appetizers and entrées, the trio chatted of matters consequential and not, mostly not.

Holmes sat up straight, however, when Watson noted, “Seems like the ghosts are getting lonely. I did hear today in my rambles that somebody—I think it was a chef at a local restaurant—went missing during a serious flare-up of supposed paranormal activity in his restaurant.”

Indeed?” Holmes wondered. “Someone has actually disappeared?”

That’s what the waiter at the place I went for lunch said,” the old physician declared. “But it didn’t happen in the restaurant I went to. Seems there’s quite a little grapevine among restaurateurs in the area.”

Do you suppose he just skipped out, or was it something more sinister?” Skye wondered. Watson shrugged, and they looked at Holmes.

I have insufficient data to draw a conclusion,” Holmes determined. “In all likelihood, he will turn up in a few days, one way or the other. However, if he has not surfaced by the time we have completed our coursework, it may perhaps be beneficial to offer our services to the local gendarmerie.”

We can do that,” Skye agreed.

* * *

The next night at Chartres House, they ordered huge portions of oysters, crawfish and shrimp to share amongst themselves, and settled in with local brews.

This is quite a nice little restaurant,” Holmes decreed, looking about. “It rather puts me in mind of a public house I used sometime to frequent around the corner from Baker Street...”

Not the one downstairs next door?” Skye asked.

No, the one of which I speak does not exist...here. At least, not now. This one is very like it, I think. Only with a bit more, ah, Latin flavour.”

Everything here has ‘a bit more Latin flavour,’” Watson noted with a smile. “And I love it.”

So you’re still enjoying exploring New Orleans?” Skye wondered.

Oh yes! Today with the help of the trolleys I ventured a bit farther afield, into the Garden District,” Watson admitted, “and I think tomorrow I will see about finding a way over into the Ninth Ward. I...think it is only right to view some of the damage from Katrina and...” He broke off and shrugged, somewhat embarrassed; his face flushed a bit. “I suppose I wish to do them honour. It seems to me it is not right to come here and revel in the history, the delightful food and drink, and completely ignore a painful and tragic part of the city’s more recent past.”

Been there, done that,” Skye said softly, understanding. “They’re doing a really good job of repairing all the damage...though in my opinion, some of the new architecture sorta doesn’t ‘fit’ the city’s image. Still and all, I tend to agree with you. Make sure, when you go, to take your imagination with you. I found, the first time I went after the hurricane—which was actually some few years later—it was pretty easy to look at what I was seeing, and imagine what it was like during. And that,” she added, very sober, “is...well, if a body doesn’t come back wondering about what’s really important in life, there’s something wrong with ‘em, I think...”

Indeed.” Watson nodded. “As young Holmes over there would say, ‘I shall take your most excellent advice.’ And...I may need a bit of cheering up when I’m done.”

* * *

The pair paused in their enthusiastic consumption, to stare into the distance with sombre gaze. Holmes, having encountered the references to the powerful hurricane that devastated vast portions of the city in his studies prior to coming, gave them a respectful moment to introspect before he decided it was time to change the subject to something more upbeat, lest the evening’s mood be permanently spoiled. However, of all the tourists in the Quarter, only the trio gathered at the table would have been likely to consider his choice of subject ‘upbeat.’

So, Watson, what news on the ghosts of New Orleans? Surely there was additional word today?”

Well, it did get, uh, weirder,” Watson admitted. “According to the grapevine.”

Oh? How so?”

All right, so you know ghosts are supposed to be spirits from the past, still here in the present, around the places they frequented, or were killed, or whatnot?”

Quite so.”

Yes. So...the latest development seems to be modern people ‘haunting’ the past.”

Whaaat?!” Skye said, sitting up straight and putting down her pint. “Run that by me again.”

 “As nearly as I understood, there have been at least a couple of instances where people would be walking along when...when ‘things’...would start to manifest,” Watson tried to explain. “And then suddenly, for a few moments, they wouldn’t be ‘now’—they’d be ‘then,’ if you understand me.”

Like they’d stepped back into the past?” a curious Skye pressed.

Yes, as best I could tell from what I was told,” Watson affirmed. “I didn’t actually talk to anyone it happened to, mind. I just heard what is in the rumour mill.”

Cool,” Skye decreed, and Holmes chuckled.

Yes indeed, quite fascinating. I think,” the sleuth decided, “That we really must seriously consider looking into this once the class is finished. At least, around ‘playing tourist,’ as Skye likes to put it.”

And tomorrow’s the last day of class. Finally! Then we’ll be able to join you in exploring, Watson!” Skye exclaimed. “I’ve been so looking forward to showing Sherlock around the heart of New Orleans, taking our time, instead of scurrying from the hotel to the restaurant and back.”

Should I have scheduled our dinners later in the evening?” Watson worried. “I did the best I could to balance openings in the reservation lists with your class times, and trying to see you were both back at the hotel in time to sleep and get up early the next day...”

No, no, you did fine, Watson,” Skye replied with a gentle smile. “I wasn’t criticizing. It’s just that we HAVE had to cut our evenings short, because of the damn class! And there’s so much to see, and to show you both...it’s just been frustrating. It’s a beautiful city, especially the old, historic districts. You’ve gotten to see some of it, but Sherlock hasn’t gotten to see hardly any yet. And I want him to see all of it!”

How is it you know the city so well, Skye?” Sherlock wondered. “Based on your earlier reference to coming here after the hurricane, may I deduce you have been to several training sessions here?”

You may,” Skye grinned. “But I’m from Houston originally—well, I was born in Georgia, near Atlanta, but we moved to Houston when I was only about nine months old or so, so I consider myself a Houstonian—and it’s not a long drive. A little under six hours, if memory serves; we vacationed here a couple times when I was in high school. I remember the city from way before Katrina.”

Aha ― I see now. You had told me of your childhood in Houston, of course, but I had no idea it was so close to New Orleans, relatively speaking. I fear I am still working on developing a functional notion of distances in America, at least in the western regions; they are much greater than distances in Great Britain, and I do not yet have my mind set for it, even for as long as I have been here now. It may be worth our scheduling a few ‘road trips,’ I think you term them, so I may get a better feel for what is about me—something aside from our aeroplane ventures, more, mm, tangible is perhaps a good word. And we should, I think, visit Houston one day soon, so you may show me your old childhood haunts, my dear. I had occasion to do just that earlier in the summer for you; now you must indulge me.”

Sure, Sherlock, we can do that sometime, Hon. Actually I think I’d like that a lot. It doesn’t belong to me anymore, but the people who bought my parents’ ranch property from me are friendly sorts, and I think they’d be cool with a visit to the place, so I could show my new husband where I grew up.”

Very good, then. We shall work out details once we are home from this trip. So what is the plan for dinner upon the morrow, Watson?”

Haven’t decided yet, Holmes,” Watson admitted. “I’ve got a goodly handful of options I’m interested in, with the top three about even in my mind. I’ll text you again tomorrow and let you know, if that’s all right. It might end up being which one has an opening on the reservation list—or at least, one at a reasonable hour.”

We’ll wait to hear from you,” Skye promised.

* * *

The next afternoon, Sherlock’s text alert went off during the coffee break. He pulled the special smart phone—it had been provided by Her Majesty’s Secret Service, with all the classified bells and whistles such origin implied—from his pocket, then showed it to Skye, who grinned.

Arnaud’s it is, then,” she said. “With enough time to explore a bit beforehand.”

Holmes raised an inquisitive eyebrow.

We’ll take the scenic route,” she told him. “This will be a fun evening, especially as we don’t have to get up early tomorrow.”

* * *

When the training was finally over and both detectives received their certificates for the course, citing them as duly authorized to perform military base security at any reserve within the bounds of the U.S. and its territories, they hurried back to their hotel room. Skye changed from her comfortable chinos and polo shirt into a cocktail dress and low heels, both in a vivid royal blue that set off her eyes quite well, making them shine like sapphires, much to Holmes’ gratification. Sherlock added a tweed jacket to his loafers, trousers, short-sleeved dress shirt, and tie; Arnaud’s had a dress code, but the day had been hot, and he had eschewed a jacket that morning. Then they headed for the ground floor.

I’m going to take you on the grand tour tonight, unless you’re too tired,” Skye told her husband, who nodded agreement to the plan. “I mean, we’re only about a block north of Bourbon Street, and Arnaud’s is only a couple blocks in from there, but I’d rather we went down to Decatur Street and came up by the cathedral. It’s definitely the long way around, but it’s pretty, and it’s SO New Orleans...”

Lead on, Skye,” Holmes declared with some considerable enthusiasm. “I have been itching to explore this historical district properly, and I could do with stretching my legs after four days sitting in a blasted classroom, no matter how much it was required. Tonight, and in the days to come, we shall explore to our hearts’ content.”

So they headed all the way down Canal to Decatur Street; Skye intended to show him the square and cathedral, and tell him a bit about the city’s history as they walked.

* * *

They rounded the corner at Saint Peter Street, facing Jackson Square, and Holmes immediately checked his stride, almost coming to a complete halt at the sight of the prodigious row of buskers of all sorts ― musicians, fortune tellers, artists, tarot card readers, jugglers, and more; he had not seen such since transitioning to this continuum. Skye took his arm, sending him the coded message to ignore the hucksters unless he wanted to be waylaid by them. He knew she was correct, and immediately re-engaged his long legs; they headed up the narrow street toward the classic lines and spires of the beautiful Basilica of Saint Louis.

Fascinating,” he murmured to her, observing closely without appearing to do so. “I have not seen the like of this since I left ‘my’ London. And certainly never so...concentrated.”

Yeah, I bet. This is a popular spot for it. So you probably already know not to make eye contact or pause, or they’ll glom onto you.”

Yes, I ― ‘glom’?” Despite himself, Holmes stopped cold and stared at his wife in perplexity at the unfamiliar term. Unfortunately, it provided precisely the opportunity that the couple didn’t want to give.

Tell your future, sir?” One of the fortune tellers addressed Holmes as he and Skye paused over Holmes’ vernacular conundrum. The woman whose fortune the man had just told handed him a bill, and he stuffed it into a trousers pocket as she left. He waved to the detective, indicating he should come over. “You’ll swear the information comes straight from the Almighty when Ah’m done. An’ Ah’m not sure but what it don’t.”

Hardly,” Holmes replied, brusque, casting a swift, practised eye over the man.

The dark-haired man with the swarthy complexion sat on a small folding stool, a tiny folding patio table in front of him; the placard in front of it read, Help A Wounded Warrior. He was dressed in chinos and a plain white long-sleeved dress shirt with tie; the left shoulder of the shirt was adorned with several military ribbons and a medal or two above the breast pocket. Some four or five people, a woman and several men, were standing around watching, but not quite yet willing to commit to any particular fortune teller. It seemed, according to Holmes’ judgment, the man wanted to rope in a “client” in order to get the others gravitating toward him.

You,” Holmes continued, the entire sequence of observation and deduction having taken less than a second, “could hardly predict your way out of a broom cupboard.”

The man scowled.

Oh, ‘zat so, eh? Ah’d like to see you do a better, then!”

It was the opening for which Holmes had been waiting. He stepped closer; Skye remained where they’d stopped, and he was aware with the back of his mind that his wife was watching the whole thing with some amusement. Well then, I shall give her a show, he thought, hiding a smile of his own. He addressed the fortune teller, raising a dark eyebrow.

Do better? Surely you jest,” Holmes remarked, schooling his voice into a bland tone. “It hardly takes a fortune teller to do better than you just did.”

By this time a small cluster of people were gathering. Several of the other fortune tellers nearby glanced over at the sound of the raised voices; most shook their heads and returned to their activities. One or two, not so busy as the others, watched with enthusiasm, eager for the diversion.

Prove it, Mistah Big Shot,” the insolent fortune teller shot back. “If you know so much about it, tell me all about me.”

Very well, if you insist. You are left-handed; you prefer cartridge fountain pens. You are an accountant by day, though not a particularly scrupulous one; married, with a mistress on the side who lives here in the French Quarter. Your employer would do well to audit your books, and does not yet have a fully networked computer system in his office. Contrary to your advertisement placard there, you have never been in the military. While you utilise these tarot cards to your purpose, you have no idea what they actually mean, or how to properly use them. No, what you are really doing is a very bad job of what is termed ‘cold reading’ by professional illusionists and magicians ― throwing out general observations, poorly-supported in your case, I might add, then waiting for your client to take the bait. Then you elaborate upon your story by watching for an enthusiastic or shocked response to one of your statements.”

As Holmes went on, the fortune teller grew increasingly pale. The group of would-be clients focused their collective attention upon the confrontational detective, listening intently, scarcely making a sound. When he finished, their attentions returned to the fortune teller. A loud snort of mirth came from somewhere down the line of card readers and fortune tellers, but was ignored in the main by the group.

Is that true?” one would-be customer demanded of the “fortune teller.”

Yeah, are you a fake?” another remarked with scorn.

Can you not see the rather copious red smudge upon the outer edge of his left hand, which he has not thought to clean away?” Holmes pointed out. “Who but an accountant would use such a quantity of red ink? The residue of a blue ink stain at the base of his shirt pocket, next his reading glasses, denotes the preference for the fountain pen, notorious for leaking with changes in pressure; given the size of the stain, one may also infer he left it there while travelling in an aeroplane. The reduced cabin pressure is notorious for causing such effects. Note his shirt cuffs, as well: each has two parallel wear marks, running across the inside of the wrists, the signs of the edge of a computer keyboard and computer table or desk. These wear marks also have slight red smudges. He has transferred his red ink ledger entries into a computer, yet that computer is not networked throughout the office, or he would have entered his data directly, with no need for a ledger.

He has never been in the military. Those medals and ribbons he wears? Appropriated; this is, I might add, a federal offence according to the Stolen Valor Act. A true military man knows not to wear those particular ribbons on any but a dress uniform jacket, let alone a standard business shirt. Under certain circumstances, the retired veteran IS allowed to wear them on civilian clothing, true, but this is most emphatically not one of those circumstances. Moreover, the item on which regulations dictate it should be placed is a jacket, either dress suit or tuxedo, never a shirt, in accordance with standard uniform regulations. Nor has he placed them properly, nor in the correct order. Compounding his error in an egregious fashion, he has mixed ribbons and medals from more than one branch of service. No, he is no retired veteran; he merely plays upon the sympathies of his potential customers, and breaks the law in so doing.

He wears a wedding ring normally,” Holmes continued, “for there is the imprint upon his left ring finger, along with the shadow etched in his suntan. Yet said shadow is indeed white; therefore he still wears it regularly, but he is not currently wearing it. He is therefore married, but has reason to keep it from being obvious: ergo he has a mistress, who by intention does not realise he is married. He has either recently come from visiting her, or he intends visiting her shortly. This in turn means she lives nearby, likely within the Quarter.”

The fortune teller flinched noticeably.

As for his skills as a fortune teller: Look at how he has laid out the cards,” Holmes continued, sweeping a hand through the air over the tiny table and the tarot cards still lying there from the previous customer. “Now look over there,” he pointed down the street, “and observe how those readers place their cards. His are the only ones at variance. They are the merest prop.”

But cheating in his job?” a woman asked, half-disbelieving.

If a man will cheat his wife, cheat you ‘clients;’ if he will deceive a single woman into believing him single; if he will pretend skills he does not possess; if he will commit a felony impersonation of a veteran military man merely in order to gain your favour and your hard-won wages, how great a stretch is it to deduce he is unscrupulous at book-keeping?” Holmes wondered.

* * *

A convulsive movement from the would-be fakir drew Skye’s attention, as well as the eyes of the small group clustered ‘round.

Well, Ah never!” he exclaimed in a tone just slightly too strident, snatching up his cards and shoving them heedlessly into an ornate, embroidered-velvet bag. The tarot bag went quickly into a plain, dilapidated messenger bag, which he slung across his body. “This son of a bitch makes up some bullshit story ‘bout me, and y’all damn idiots believe him?!”

Is that not what YOU do?” Holmes parried. His voice had remained in a flat, neutral tone throughout, save for the slight, accusatory emphasis of this last statement. The man stood abruptly, almost lunging upward, snapping the tiny folding table closed in the same move.

The lot o’ y’all can go straight to hell!” He snatched up his stool and it collapsed into its folded state, whereupon he spun upon his heel and stalked off, trying for a haughty, offended mien. Skye, however, thought it looked more like he’d been caught with his hand in the till and was trying to bluff his way through. And, she noted, he had left the incriminating “veteran” placard behind, abandoned, lying on the pavement.

* * *

You showed HIM!” the first man remarked, grinning.

Yeah! Got that right! Amen, brotha!” came a chorus of responses.

You obviously know what ye’re talkin’ ‘bout, suh,” the woman told Holmes. “Wouldja mind doin’ mah readin’?”

I...beg your pardon?” Holmes said in some surprise.

Yeah, take his place!” the first man enthused. “You’re way the hell better anyway. You OBVIOUSLY know how to do it!”

You wish…” Holmes tried not to stare, and hoped his jaw had not gone slack, “you wish ME to tell your...fortunes?”

Sure!”

Hell yeah!”

Of course!”

That was great! Do it!”

The detective suddenly found himself surrounded by eager, enthusiastic “customers,” all wanting him to foretell their futures. Damnation, he thought in consternation. Do they not realise I just disproved the whole assortment? Or do they simply not care? This...will not do! But what...? How can I...? Skye!

* * *

Holmes threw a glance at Skye, and she read something of uncharacteristic desperation in her husband’s gaze: He did not know how to extricate himself from this wholly unexpected circumstance without more trouble, and needed an opening.

He’s an excellent student of people, she thought, but even he gets surprised once in a while. He fully expected the onlookers to see and understand what he was doing, but since what he was doing was essentially the same as what the fake guy was doing, only way better, they didn’t see a difference—or maybe they just didn’t want to. When people want to believe THIS badly, it’s easy to understand how charlatans—like the one he just ran off—can take advantage. She stepped forward and slipped her arm into his.

C’mon, Honey,” she said in a soft but clearly audible tone, allowing her rich, thick Southern accent to come to the fore; it was like the sweetest molasses, and Skye could tell by the look in his eyes that it was music to Holmes’ ears in more ways than one. “Ah know what you wanna do, Sweetheart, but if we dawdle much longer, we’re gonna be late for our dinner reservation. An’ we still got several blocks to go.”

Holmes made a show of checking his “antique” pocket watch.

Oh indeed Skye, you are quite correct, my dear,” he agreed. “I am sorry, good people, but I cannot oblige. Should I disappoint my wife on our,” only Skye heard the slight hesitation, the merest fraction of a second that denoted manufacturing the lie, “wedding anniversary, it would bode ill!” He chuckled. “I am certain you will understand.”

A general chorus of groans of agreement met the statement, along with several good-natured grins.

Git along with ya, then, an’ please that purty wife o’ your’n,” the woman said with a smile, “an’ thank ya for savin’ our money.”

A gratified Holmes led Skye away from the cries of thanks and congratulations.

* * *

Well,” a subdued Holmes decided some minutes later, as they walked northwest on the much more tranquil Le Rue de Saint Pierre past the Saint Louis Cathedral, deeper into Le Vieux Carré, “at least we truly do have dinner reservations.”

We do.” Skye threw him an adorable grin. Then she added in a soft tone, “But would you mind telling me why acting your way out of that little scene seems to have bothered you?”

Holmes sighed and shook his head. Skye’s hand was still in the crook of his elbow, and now he covered it with his other hand, squeezing lightly.

It struck me that they had been lied to quite enough already,” he explained in a quiet voice. “I...regretted having to add to the tally.”

They were determined to believe,” Skye pointed out gently. “They were just looking for WHO to believe. That’s what they came here FOR. And you nailed what, to them, looked like an actual reading. Never mind it was all observation and deduction, and you pointed that out to them as you went along—they wanted it to be a psychic reading, so that’s what they saw. Nothing you could have done at that point would have convinced them otherwise.”

I know, but...” Holmes broke off, chewing his lower lip in thought. He shook his head and sighed again.

You could have just told ‘em we were going to meet Watson for dinner,” she opined.

True.” He nodded. “But you and I both know it would not have had nearly the same import in their minds as an anniversary, with my wife standing there waiting.”

Yeah, you got a point there.”

* * *

Two blocks down, they turned left onto the famed Bourbon Street, and Holmes was shocked at the abrupt change: Not only was the street a noisy, neon-laden pedestrian thoroughfare, it plied almost every vice known to man, right out in the open. Some parts of the sidewalk smelled of vomit and stale beer; others, of urine. Once a street hawker nearly swept both Sherlock and Skye right into a strip club; only deft footwork on the part of the two sleuths avoided their being entrained into the club’s entrance. As it was, Skye had to remove her hand from Sherlock’s arm as they threaded their way through the crowds, sometimes abreast, sometimes with one or the other in the lead.

Buskers, talented and not, performed on nearly every corner, and many spots in between, since vehicular traffic was not allowed on that road at that hour. Garishly-lighted shops offered everything from voodoo candles and mass-produced “voodoo dolls” to thin t-shirts proclaiming, “I Went To Bourbon Street,” to beverage mugs shaped like the appropriate parts of the female anatomy. Bars opened directly onto the street: since it was legal to carry alcoholic beverages around the French Quarter, the bars simply sold straight to the pedestrians.

Good heavens, Skye,” Holmes murmured into her ear so she could hear him above the din. “I never thought—it puts me in mind of Haymarket, after the theatres had closed for the evening.”

Skye threw him a wry excuse for a grin.

I’m not familiar with that area, in that time, Sherlock,” she told him, “but...I can imagine.”

Indeed.”

Just then, a woman in a very short, very tight, very red Lycra dress—cut down to here, and slit up to there; it left little to the imagination—caressed the lapel of Holmes’ tweed jacket and tried to slip her arm into his, her meaning plain. He pulled away from her just as a drunken twenty-something attempted to solicit Skye. She shrank away from the man, pressing against her husband, who put an open, possessive arm around her and proceeded to stare the man down.

Eh, don’ get yer shortshh inna wad, dude,” the drunk man slurred, fumbling for his wallet. “Maybe she’ll do ussh both. An’ ‘en we’ll have ‘eh purtiest walker onna shtreet.”

My WIFE,” Holmes declared through gritted teeth, “will not be having anything to do with you, base wretch! Take yourself off before I see you off ― with force!”

The drunk’s eyes widened as he realized the true relationship between the couple. He muttered something that sounded vaguely like an apology, though the words were unintelligible, and stumbled away as fast as he dared over the uneven old cobblestones. Holmes watched him go for only a moment.

Come, Skye, let us make haste to the restaurant. It is not much farther, I hope?”

No, Sherlock, we’re almost there. See the sign at the end of the block?” She pointed.

Ah, indeed. Excellent. Hurry, my dear.”

Doin’ the best I can in my heels, Hon. Wish I’d worn flats now. Damn. I didn’t remember it being...quite like this.”

Perhaps it wasn’t, so much, when you were in your youth.”

Maybe. Or maybe Mom and Dad didn’t bring me here, at least not this late in the evening—the sun went down a little while ago.”

Possibly. They strike me as having been excellent parents, so...”

Yeah. One way or the other. But not like this.”

Keeping his arm around Skye in a protective posture, which not coincidentally had the effect of telegraphing their married status to the nearby denizens, Holmes swiftly escorted his mate down the street toward their destination, perfectly willing to elbow his way through the crush of people at this point.

Arnaud’s was one of the more famous restaurants of the French Quarter, and it was one of the last of a large handful of specific places where Watson had wanted to dine, the others having mostly been covered in the previous few evenings. As they drew near the restaurant at the intersection of Bourbon and Le Rue Bienville, they spied that worthy already standing near the door. He spotted them at the same time, grinned, and waved. Crossing the street, they greeted the old physician, he and Holmes exchanging firm hand grasps and affable claps on the shoulder, and Skye giving him a warm hug.

C’mon in,” Watson said, beaming. “I already checked in with the maître d’, so they know we’re here. They were getting our table ready in the main dining room a couple of minutes ago. I thought Holmes would like that, as it’s only a few years later than...well.” He broke off before he said too much in earshot of the throng in the street, then glanced somewhat pointedly at Sherlock’s arm about Skye’s shoulders. “Hm. What’s with that, young Holmes? A blatant display of affection? It seems rather out of character for you.”

Erhm, what?” Holmes wondered absently as he carefully guided Skye through the door into the restaurant foyer. The volume of noise promptly decreased by several orders of magnitude as the door closed behind them. “Oh, you mean my arm around Skye?”

Exactly. And in public, too.”

Weee…” Skye began, drawing out the word as she sought the right way to explain. “We, uh, we had a little…” She broke off, tried again. “Somebody thought I was, er, for hire.”

At the same time someone else tried to convince me TO hire,” Holmes added, cocking an eyebrow. “I felt it was appropriate, in the environment, to more obviously denote, ah, allegiances.”

Oh dear,” Watson murmured, a hint of ruefulness in his tone, as the host showed them to their table in the back corner. “Yes, the French Quarter is quite...interesting. I’m not quite sure I like it in toto, for all I’ve been all over it the past few days.”

It was fine until we turned onto this Bourbon Street,” Holmes grumbled. “In fact, as I was telling Skye a bit ago and some half a dozen blocks back, it puts me in mind of certain of the older parts of London, though with a bit more, mm...Latin flair, as I think I expressed it the other day. But this street…” He shook his head. “While it, too, reminds me of parts of ‘my’ London, I find I could do without it.”

I warned you,” Skye reminded him.

You did,” he admitted. “Even as we walked down Decatur Street. But truthfully, I thought you exaggerated, my dear.”

Nope.”

I see that.”

And it even caught me off guard, and I’ve been here before,” she pointed out.

True.”

Well, we’re here, at any rate,” Watson said cheerily. “Have a look at the menu. I asked for the a la carte one; I thought that would be more flexible. I can’t wait! I only hope my stomach is big enough for all I want to try!”

And don’t forget beignets and café au lait for a second dessert!” Skye laughed. “Café du Monde from here! I’m not letting either of you miss out on that, on your first ever visit to New Orleans!”

I’d have gone sooner, young lady, and several times over, if we hadn’t had to get the two of you back and into bed in time for those damned early training sessions!” Watson expostulated. “I probably should have popped by for tea or the like, but I always seemed to find myself elbow-deep in some delightfully obscure little shop or museum or such, usually on the opposite side of the Quarter, when the time came.”

No doubt,” Skye grinned at the physician. “Now, do we want to order a bunch of stuff, and just share everything, or get individual dishes for everybody…?”

* * *

Almost two and a half hours later, their bellies were quite full of the most delectable gumbo, crawfish, alligator, frog legs, and more. Dessert had been a delicious sharing of an impeccable crème brûlée and bananas Foster, flambéed at the table. Afterward, the trio practically waddled out of the restaurant.

Don’t worry. By the time we get across the Quarter to Café du Monde, we’ll have room,” Skye informed her companions cheerfully, taking each by an elbow and linking arms companionably.

That is back down Decatur Street from the car park, correct?” Holmes wondered.

Right,” Skye gave him a huge smile. “On the far side of the Square. Um, roughly southeast corner. Or maybe that’s south. Diagonal from where we are, anyway.”

Then let us make straight down Bienville,” Holmes suggested. “It may be considerably longer than angling for the hypotenuse, but I cannot wait to get away from Bourbon Street.”

It is...kinda noisy, isn’t it?” Skye agreed as they all crossed that avenue and sauntered down Rue Bienville.

To say the least,” Watson asserted with a chuckle.

* * *

As the trio wandered, cheerful and content, down Bienville, the very fortune teller Holmes had confronted only hours earlier stopped his car at the red light on a cross street. The man blinked in astonishment as he watched his accuser, accompanied by a lovely blonde woman in blue and a white-haired, elderly gentleman, take the pedestrian crosswalk just across the intersection. Just then, Holmes said something to his female companion, then looked up and cast his gaze about the area as if looking for something.

The fraudulent fortune teller instinctively tucked his head, hiding his face from direct view, until Holmes returned his attention to his companions. By this time, they were on the far sidewalk; the light turned green, and the man accelerated slowly through the intersection, pondering the matter.

Suddenly a thought seemed to occur to him, and his eyebrows drew together in a frown.

He continued down Royal Street, heading toward Canal Street, thence to I-10 and the suburbs that lay beyond, exceeding thoughtful.

* * *

After polishing off creamy cafés au lait and multiple orders of freshly fried beignets liberally coated in nearly an inch of powdered sugar, licking their fingers, then dusting the excess sugar off their clothing, the trio left the famous café and meandered back to their hotel in a contented, carbohydrate-induced cloud, sauntering leisurely so as to walk off the pastries just consumed.

I have a notion for us to visit a little place for brunch tomorrow,” Watson commented while they rode the elevator up to their double suite.

Oh?” Holmes wondered, casting a surreptitious, twinkling glance at Skye, as their joint prediction from several days earlier came true. “I had thought to sleep in, after all of this dratted training.”

I’d bet that’s not all you thought to do,” a sly Watson remarked, and both Sherlock and Skye flushed as they grasped the insinuation. He grinned; then, when Skye flushed deeper, sobered. “No, no, I’m sorry; I shouldn’t have said that. You’re still newlyweds, the two of you, not even formally married a year yet, and I laid that one right out there for you. Not much to be done but get embarrassed. Please pardon an old man’s too-coarse expression of affection, and try to see it for what it is.”

That’s...it’s okay, Watson,” Skye murmured then. “We’re...too sensitive to it.”

Indeed. Let it go,” Holmes added, quiet.

Well, I know better, especially with you two. I know you’re mad about each other, yet I know you’re both quite reserved. So I shouldn’t have done. But I...I hope you won’t take offense to this, but...but I find I tend to think of you both as...as family...” Watson broke off, his own face reddening as he averted his gaze at the intimate confession.

Which is exactly what we wanted,” Skye interjected, laying a light hand on Watson’s arm. Holmes confirmed his wife’s statement with a nod; his tight jaw evinced an inability to voice the sentiment. The elder man smiled at Holmes’ response, correctly interpreting it, and glanced into Skye’s face.

Good, then. To tell the truth, it’s mostly a good thing all around, but...well, it makes it all too blasted easy to want to tease you both, I’m afraid. It’s a Watson family trait, the ribbing. I don’t know if ‘your’ Watson did it or not, young Holmes, but it was rife in my family. I grew up with it, I’m used to it, and whenever I’m together with what few close remnants of my genetic family are yet alive, we STILL do—not that there’s more than three or four cousins left. What I’m trying to say is, I’m sorry. I’ll make a real effort to curb the tendency, at least when I’m around the two of you. Anyway, you’ve worked hard these last few days, the both of you, and you’ve earned a sleep in, regardless of what else does—or doesn’t—come with it. I won’t knock you up in the morning, because I’m quite certain I’ll be out and about before either of you is ready to wake up, let alone leave the flat. I’ll just slip out by the door to my room, rather than come through the suite. Now, I’ll probably be there myself around 9:30 or 10:00, just to enjoy the ambiance, but if you’d like to join me later for brunch, say around eleven or eleven-thirty, come to the Court of Two Sisters, on Le Rue Royale. Far enough off Bourbon Street to be nice and quiet—”

Especially at that time of the morning,” Skye interjected.

Exactly. Though it does open onto Bourbon Street at the far end—so it’s well within the French Quarter, and with all of young Holmes’ ‘Latin flair.’ Even Bourbon Street should be a lot quieter at that time of day. And I already made the reservations this afternoon. It’s supposed to be quite lovely, housed in the central courtyard of an eighteenth-century house. And it has one of the first jazz brunches, maybe THE first jazz brunch, ever started in New Orleans!”

You do love your history, don’t you, Watson?” Skye offered in affection, and Holmes smiled.

In a city like this? You’re damned right, young lady!” Watson exclaimed. “Especially with your husband around; he can—and will, sometimes—elaborate on so much of it, and the whole thing fascinates me. So...eleven-ish in the morning, then? Or is that too early?”

A tolerant Holmes nodded.

We shall be there,” he agreed.

* * *

But they didn’t, as it turned out. Later that evening, as they were preparing for bed, their smartphones bleated with the “incoming text” alert, and they both slapped at their jeans pockets. Holmes came up with his first.

Hm. Message from Agent Smith...”

Yeah,” Skye agreed, looking at her readout. “We need to contact...”

Agent Lije Plamondon,” they said together.

Of the local FBI office,” Holmes added.



[1]Haunts,” Cajun.

[2]My friend,French.

[3]Well, I got a bad situation, Louie…”

[4] A mess; a bad situation.

[5]Why? You got the lazies? That’s no bad situation, my friend! You’re just good for nothing!”

[6]No, man! Don’t make the misery [for me]! Those ghosts [haunts] are at it again! I feel weak, I swear!”

[7]Tell me the truth!” said with reference to a tall tale

[8]No! No! It’s the truth!”

[9]Good grief!”

[10]Little boy,” Cajun derived from French.

[11] The “shortcut to Houma” is a very lonely, spooky stretch of road, prone to fatal car crashes, and rumored to have been the scene of at least one hanging, back in the day. It is widely believed to be a haunted area.

[12]It’s the fault of the new owner we have, Auguste Savoy. That whole family has been possessed by the snake god [Voodoo deity] ever since his great- great- great- grandfather pissed off Miss Marie and Doctor John Bayou!” [Marie Laveau, a famous New Orleans voodoo queen of the 1830s; Jean Montaigne, chief witch doctor/practitioner of voodoo in New Orleans and sometime mentor to Laveau — and her daughter, also named Marie Laveau. The two women are often confused, their legends merged.]

[13]Shut your mouth, Boudreau. I figured you for smarter than this.

[14]Okay, don’t pout. All right. Let’s go see what’s given you goosebumps.

[15] What is this?

[16]Hush your mouth.

[17]Don’t move a foot unless I give the word.

[18]Shit! What are you gonna do?”

[19]This is either a spell [conjure], you know, like you said, and we’ll need a gris-gris [Voudon aka voodoo spell or talisman]; or it’s a practical joke, my friend. I’m going to find out what the hell it is.”

[20]Hush! Don’t get your underwear in a knot back there, boy, or I’ll slap you. Just do what I told you and we’ll be fine.”

[21]Come on out, you runts! Where are you?!”

[22]This place is possessed, my friend! It’s a bad situation! It’s those Savoys that caused it! They have voodoo on that whole damn family and now the whole damned PLACE has a curse!”

[23]Don’t be an idiot, boy.”

[24]We’re in a mess without Louie. Jeanne, give the baby boy a pacifier, and put him to work. We don’t have time for this, we have work to do!”

[25]Of course not.”

[26]That lazy good for nothing never arrived this morning, no!”

[27]No, and he never will again!”

[28]A Hankering for the Old Square”

[29]The Old Square;” the French Quarter is the oldest part of New Orleans, more or less built around Jackson Square and the Saint Louis Cathedral, just off the levee.

 

 

Fear in the French Quarter Copyright © 2016. Stephanie Osborn. All rights reserved by the author. Please do not copy without permission.

 

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Author Bio

Few can claim the varied background of Stephanie Osborn, the Interstellar Woman of Mystery. Veteran of more than 20 years in the civilian space program, as well as various military space defense programs, she worked on numerous space shuttle flights and the International Space Station, and counts the training of astronauts on her resumé. Her space experience also includes Spacelab and ISS operations, variable star astrophysics, Martian aeolian geophysics, radiation physics, and nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons effects.

Stephanie holds graduate and undergraduate degrees in four sciences: astronomy, physics, chemistry and mathematics, and she is “fluent” in several more, including geology and anatomy. In addition she possesses a license of ministry, has been a duly sworn, certified police officer, and is a National Weather Service certified storm spotter.

Her travels have taken her to the top of Pikes Peak, across the world’s highest suspension bridge, down gold mines, in the footsteps of dinosaurs, through groves of giant Sequoias, and even to the volcanoes of the Cascade Range in the Pacific Northwest, where she was present for several phreatic eruptions of Mount St. Helens.

Now retired from space work, Stephanie has trained her sights on writing. She has authored, co-authored, or contributed to more than 20 books, including the celebrated science-fiction mystery, Burnout: The mystery of Space Shuttle STS-281. She is the co-author of the Cresperian Saga book series, and currently writes the critically acclaimed Displaced Detective series, described as “Sherlock Holmes meets The X-Files.”

In addition to her writing work, the Interstellar Woman of Mystery now happily “pays it forward,” teaching math and science through numerous media including radio, podcasting and public speaking, as well as working with SIGMA, the science-fiction think tank. The Mystery continues.

TTB title: Burnout: the mystery of Space Shuttle STS-281
Extraction Point! with Travis 'Doc' Taylor

Cresperian series
The Y Factor with Darrell Bain. Book 2 Cresperian series
The Cresperian Alliance with Darrell Bain. Book 3 Cresperian series.

Displaced Detective series
The Case of the Displaced Detective Omnibus
The Case of the Displaced Detective: The Arrival
The Case of the Displaced Detective: At Speed
The Case of the Cosmological Killer: The Rendlesham Incident
The Case of the Cosmological Killer: Endings and Beginnings
A Case of Spontaneous Combustion
Fear in the French Quarter

Author web site.

 

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List Price: $19.95 USD

 

  Author News

Check out Stephanie's interview in Futures Mystery Anthology Magazine:
http://www.fmam.biz/showcase/showcase_author_oct16.html

Another interview in The Big Thrill
http://www.thebigthrill.org/2016/09/fear-in-the-french-quarter-by-stephanie-osborne/

Upcoming Appearances

Keep up with Stephanie on Sector Five Radio, where she is the Science and Technology Consultant "Extraordinaire"! Saturday nights at 7PM CST on KTKK 630AM in Salt Lake City!

 

Science Fiction Conventions

Upcoming Appearances

 

  Reviews
 



 

 

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