Sanguine Town: Westby Ravensdale - The Lady in Grey

Westby Ravensdale is an eccentric private investigator in Sanguine Town with an ability that sets him apart from all others. He is capable of analysing a situation and coming up with an answer in seconds, making the secret weapon of both the Police and the Hunters...no matter how much he may frustrate them. With his helpful companion, George Malcolm, Westby faces up to any and all fascinating cases, bringing his unique methods to play. --- "The Lady in Grey" is the first in a series of Westby Ravensdale stories. George Malcolm is introduced to the detective, and is thrown head first into a case involving a mysterious spectral lady. --- Confession: Inspired by Sherlock Holmes. Largely a placement of Sherlock into a Supernatural setting. --- Thanks to Christie_xx for the cover drawing.

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3. Parkside

Samuel and I headed back out to the taxi and got in. As it was not yet afternoon, we decided each of us would head to our respective homes, and I would contact Samuel after a decision had been made. He agreed, and gave me his phone number.

We drove largely in silence, having exhausted our topics of conversation, and finally arrived at our destination – we had decided to head back where we had caught the cab, and part ways from there.

And that is what we did. I headed back to the hotel, planning on having a quick lunch before finding my way to 52b Parkside. It would, fortunately, be a short walk to get there, as I knew 52b was one of the houses near the Pleasure District. I chose not to go to my room whatsoever, and instead went straight to the hotel restaurant. Despite my limited funds, I could still afford a light meal, and therefore I settled for a cress and cheese sandwich and a small whiskey, which I consumed heartily.

Following my small meal, I chose to grab something to eat on the way – a sandwich is not, to my eyes, a full meal – and settled for a slice of Victoria sponge. After completing my purchase, I went to look at my watch, but remembered I still had not replaced it, and was forced to ask the cashier.

“The time? Why, it’s just gone noon,” he told me.

I thanked him with a tip and limped out of the restaurant – although Mr. Ravensdale had said it was only psychosomatic, I still felt it – and made my way along the road and towards the Parkside houses.

It was a rather short walk, but nonetheless I was tired upon my arrival at number 52b. It was a rather unassuming house, semi-detached, with number 52a to its left. The walls were constructed with dark grey bricks, and the dull red door stood out from them quite clearly, though without causing affront to the eyes. Its front faced towards the park, although the view was obstructed by another house. A small set of steps led to the front door, and to the side there was a small garden – one that would prove a nightmare to tend.

I headed up the steps, and as I was about to knock on the door, it opened and the familiar face of Westby Ravensdale presented itself. He looked at his watch, and half-smiled-half-frowned at me.
“It’s about one o’clock, dear fellow…” He paused. “Ah. It seems that you know my name, yet I do not know yours.” He laughed. “Come in, come in. The landlord is waiting upstairs.”

I stepped into the house as Westby moved aside, and said, “The name’s George Malcolm.”

“Ah, wonderful. Now, let us go up. I hate to keep people waiting.” He took to the stairs and climbed them, two steps at a time, and disappeared.

I, unsure whether his line “I hate to keep people waiting” was directed at me for my tardiness, followed him up, a sound of thud tap sounding as I made my way up – the sound of my walking stick proved louder than my footfalls.

Once I reached the top of the stairs, I realised that this was where the living room was situated, and I saw the kitchen just through a doorway. Looking back, I saw a second set of stairs leading to another floor, although considering I had seen no other floor from outside, I guessed it must have been an attic room.

“Do take a seat, George,” Westby said, pointing to a chair.

“It comes furnished does it?” I asked, looking towards the landlord who stood, leaning against a mantelpiece.

The landlord – a short, skinny gentleman with neat hair and a clean-shaven face smiled. “No, no. Your friend here has already moved in.”

I was taken aback, and looked at Westby. “Already moved in?” He nodded, and smiled. “How could you have been sure I would agree?”

Westby laughed. “George, my fine fellow. I understand that you need a place other than a hotel room, and as this is the first choice – maybe your only choice – you would move in regardless.” He winked and turned his attention to the landlord. “Mr. Hambleton, George Malcolm will be joining me in this property. Therefore, we shall be sharing the rent.” He smiled. “Do not worry about our disagreement. All shall be sorted.”

Mr. Hambleton smiled. “I see. A little domestic, already? I say. Couples nowadays…”

“No, no. You misunderstand,” Westby and I interjected. We exchanged a glance, and found ourselves laughing.

“If you insist,” said Mr. Hambleton, waving his hand slightly. “I live next door, Mr. Malcolm, just so you know. Any problems just come and tell me.” He smiled and headed for the stairs. I called after him.

“It’s Dr. Malcolm, by the way.” I smiled at him, and he smiled back. He gave a quick nod, and then disappeared.

“I thought you would have guessed I’d moved in when you saw the bookcases,” Westby laughed. “Shelves filled. Curtains up. Furniture out. I would have worked it out instantly.”

“I am not you,” I retorted.

“Oh, I can see that. The world only has one of me, and it doesn’t need another.” He laughed, and sat in the seat I had been offered. “I take it you’re not going to sit. Very well. Now, allow me to fill you in on the house rules. Smoking is allowed, and we can redecorate. Any damage we cause will be added to the rent. Pets are subject to negotiation, and we are advised to be quiet after nine in the evening.” Westby leaned forwards. “Do you have an issue with the rules Mr. Hambleton has set out?”

“Not at all,” I replied. “However, there is the issue of whether we will get along.”

Westby regarded me with apparent amusement. “What has our dear friend Samuel told you, hm? Has he told you that I’m a nuisance, perhaps? Eccentric?”

“He hasn’t told me anything, and that is why I wish to know what frustrates you, so that I may tell you what it is that frustrates me,” I replied. I leaned on my walking stick, awaiting a response from my new housemate. He looked back with a blank face. Finally, he spoke.

“So, you wish for us to know each other? Very well. I shall go first, and then you.” He smiled, and waited.

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