THE CASE OF RICOLETTI OF THE CLUB FOOT
AND HIS ABOMINABLE WIFE

                                                                                           

                                                                     by Richard Nathan

 

 

Lights come up on SHERLOCK HOLMES and DR. WATSON in their parlor located at 221-B Baker Street.  Watson looks at a space on the “fourth wall” (i.e., out toward the audience), then looks at Holmes, then looks at the space on the wall, shaking his head sadly.

                                                             HOLMES
                                    I may not think as highly of the unfairer
                                    sex as you do, Watson, but I always thought 
                                    your late wife was a fine human being.

                                                             WATSON
                                    How did you….

                                                             HOLMES
                                    It wasn’t hard to tell what you were
                                    thinking when you looked at that
                                    photo of your late wife, then frowned
                                    at me with that disapproving air,
                                    and then gazed at the photo again.  I
                                    do sympathize with your loss, Watson. 
                                    I honestly do.
                                   

                                                            WATSON
                                    But you admit you don’t think highly
                                    of women, as a rule.

                                                             HOLMES
                                    True, but your wife was an exception to
                                    that rule.

                                                             WATSON
                                    Why are you such a misogynist, Holmes?

                                                             HOLMES
                                    Experience, Watson.  Experiences such
                                    as the case of Ricoletti of the club foot
                                    and his abominable wife.

                                                             WATSON
                                    I seem to recall you mentioned that case
                                    once before.  It was one of your earliest, 
                                    wasn’t it?

                                                             HOLMES
                                    Indeed it was.  I had just begun my
                                    practice as a consulting detective, when 
                                    Ricoletti came to my door.

 Watson exits.  We are back in the past. There is a knock at the door.

                                                             HOLMES
                                    Come in.

 The door opens and RICOLETTI enters.  He walks with the aid of a cane, as a result of his  severe club foot (meaning his foot is turned out and we walks on the inside of his foot).  Someone would have to be blind not to notice his condition.

                                                             RICOLETTI
                                    Mr. Sherlock Holmes?  I have a heard you
                                    have remarkable powers of observation and
                                    deduction.  What can you deduce about me?

                                                            HOLMES
                                    You own a printing press.  You run a 
                                    successful business, but you are unsatisfied 
                                    with your workers.

 

                                                            RICOLETTI  

                                    How did you know that?

 

                                                            HOLMES
                                    You have small amounts of ink on the tips of
                                    each of your ten fingers.  Most men with
                                    ink on their hands would only have it on one 
                                    or two fingers, from writing with a pen, but a 
                                    man with ink on all ten fingers must work with a
                                    with a printing press, probably as a typesetter. 
                                    You dress too well to be a mere typesetter, so
                                    I deduce that you own the press - but you have
                                    been taking over the work that should be done by
|                                   your employees - hence the dissatisfaction.

 

                                                            RICOLETTI
                                    Very good, Mr. Holmes, but there are two
                                    things about me that you did not observe!

 

                                                            HOLMES
                                    And what would those be?

 

                                                             RICOLETTI
                                    First, I have a club foot!

 

                                                            HOLMES
                                    Yes, you do.

 

                                                            RICOLETTI
                                    Ha!  It is easy to see after I point it out
                                    to you!  And second, I have an abominable
                                    wife!

 

                                                            HOLMES
                                    How unfortunate for you.

 

                                                            RICOLETTI
                                    This is why I came to see you.  I have
                                    heard you help out unfortunate people. 
                                    I am the most unfortunate man in all of
                                    London.

 

                                                            HOLMES
                                    How so?

 

                                                            RICOLETTI
                                    I just told you!  I have a club foot and an
                                    abominable wife!  Weren’t you listening to
                                    me?

 

                                                            HOLMES
                                    I fail to see what I can do about either
                                    situation.

 

                                                            RICOLETTI
                                    You could kill her.  I would pay you a
                                    great deal of money.

 

                                                            HOLMES
                                    My dear Mr. ….

 

                                                            RICOLETTI
                                    Ricoletti.

 

                                                            HOLMES
                                    My dear Mr. Ricoletti.  I am a detective.  I
                                    solve crimes.  I don’t commit them.

 

                                                            RICOLETTI
                                    If you knew my wife, you would make an
                                    exception.

 

                                                            HOLMES
                                    That seems highly improbable.

 

                                                            RICOLETTI
                                    She is waiting outside in the hallway. Let
                                    me bring her in!

 

                                                            HOLMES
                                    Mr. Ricoletti!

 

Ricoletti rushes out to the hallway as quickly as his club foot and his cane will allow, and a moment later he rushes back in with his beautiful young wife ROSE.

 

                                                            ROSE

                                    Mr. Holmes, how do you do?  I have
                                    never had the pleasure of meeting a
                                    detective before.

 

                                                            HOLMES
                                    Oh.  You’ve heard of my practice?

 

                                                            ROSE
                                    No, not a word.  But I could not help
                                    noticing the many newspaper clippings
                                    concerning criminal activities in London
                                    that you have collected.  You obviously
                                    work out of your home, so you cannot be
                                    a policeman.  Therefore, you must be a
                                    private detective.

 

                                                            HOLMES
                                    Anything else?

 

                                                            ROSE
                                    Yes, I also could not help but notice
                                    the tobacco you smoke.  I can tell by
                                    the odor in the room that it is one of
                                    the less expensive brands.  I believe
                                    that must mean your practice is not
                                    doing well at the moment, though I
                                    am certain it will improve in time.
                                   

                                                             HOLMES
                                    How much would you be willing to pay
                                    me for that job, Mr. Ricoletti?

 

                                                            RICOLETTI
                                    A hundred pounds.

 

                                                            ROSE
                                    Antonio!  What can you want Mr. Holmes
                                    to do for you that I cannot do myself? 
                                    You know I would do anything for you!

 

                                                            HOLMES
                                    Perhaps not anything.

 

                                                            ROSE
                                    Anything that does not involve travel. 
                                    Antonio knows I hate to travel.  But
                                    short of that, I would do anything for
                                    him.  I devote my life to him.

 

                                                            RICOLETTI
                                    It is true.  She will not leave me alone! 
                                    She follows me everywhere.

 

                                                            ROSE
                                    Everywhere in London.  As long as
                                    he stays in London, he will find me
                                    by his side, sharing every moment of
                                    his life with him.

 

                                                            HOLMES
                                    Is that how you plan to drive him away? 
                                   

                                                            ROSE
                                    I wouldn’t dream of driving him away.

 

                                                            HOLMES
                                    Then why keep reminding him that
                                    you will not follow him out of London?   
                                    Furthermore, a woman as skilled as you
                                    are at the art of observation must be aware
                                    of the effect your presence is having on him.
 

                                    The question is - why are you so intent on
                                    driving him away?  I can only assume you want
                                    him to leave so that you may have access to his
                                    printing press - most probably for a counterfeiting
                                    scheme.

 

                                                            ROSE
                                    Counterfeiting!

 

                                                            HOLMES
                                    Indeed.  Perhaps you noticed that one of my
                                    clippings has to do with the counterfeit pounds that
                                    have been turning up in London lately.  No
                                    doubt printed by your collaborators whenever
                                    you manage to drive Mr. Ricoletti away from
                                    his press!

 

                                                            ROSE
                                    You have no proof of this absurd accusation.

 

                                                            HOLMES
                                    Not now, but I am certain that if I were to
                                    search your residence, I would find the plates
                                    you use to commit your crimes. 

 

Rose draws a gun from her purse.

 

                                                            ROSE
                                    You know too much to live, Mr. Holmes.

 

Ricoletti uses his cane to knock the gun from her hand.  She drops the gun and Holmes retrieves it.

 

                                                            HOLMES
                                    Thank you, Ricoletti.  Scotland Yard
                                    will be happy to take your abominable wife
                                    off your hands.

 

                                                            RICOLETTI
                                    How can I ever repay you, Mr. Holmes?

 

                                                            HOLMES
                                    Money would do nicely.  Apparently, I need to
                                    start using a finer grade of tobacco.

 

 

Blackout.

 

THE END

 

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© 2008 by Richard Nathan.  All rights reserved

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