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#25: A Mess of Credentials

Vincent Wexley was in danger of wearing a track in his carpet. He'd been pacing incessantly since returning home from the Yard days before, the huff he'd left in refusing to let go its victim.

Without pausing in the ever strenuous circles in which Mr. Wexley toured his study, the man put two fingers to his jugular. Yes, his pulse was elevated—no surprise given his unending, nervous activity.

But Vincent refused to see it that way. “Blood pressure likely elevated. Mood incensed. No good, Wexley. No good. Fat load of good you'll do when-”

He paused at the window. The blank face of the thick London fog stared back at him through the glass.

“But I can't. I can't go out there.” This last sentence prompted a bout of hand wringing. “I can't go. Not into this fog. Not even if they're all in danger.”

Meanwhile . . .

“Well did you ask her about mollycoddle then?” Superintendent Blushton's tone belied the apparent fright he'd just been given by Giles Newberry's story—the story that ended with him doing exactly as Mr. John Smyth had asked.

The small metal object—Mr. Smyth's credentials—lay untouched in the center of the Super's desk.

“Mr. Smyth-?” Giles ignored the question posed, instead pressing with one of his own. He was frankly quite curious about Blushton's reaction. The man had gone white, then a mottled purple-y red, quickly depositing Mr. Smyth's mechanical medallion on the center of his desk—sanitarily far from all paperwork and personal knickknacks.

“He's clean.” The answer was croaked and came with no rejoinder about the still-unanswered question about 'mollycoddle.'

Giles nodded, reflecting a moment. Much as he and Blushton did not get along, he felt a twinge of guilt for having frightened the man so. Who was this Mr. Smyth and what in the world would he be like to work with? As to questioning Ms. Temble . . .

“No. We hadn't asked her yet,” Giles indulged, though it was really none of Superintendent Blushton's business how he ran his department. Swallowing his pride he offered, “I did not want to run with Mr. Smyth's suggestion until I'd cleared the man with you. After all the odd happenings of late . . .”

“Teapots.” Blushton spat the word and raised an eyebrow.

“Just so, sir.” Giles nodded, “But as you know, we put a lid on that one quickly through the aid of-”

“Of that that low life madman Wexley. If I see him around here, Inspector. . .”

The threat ended with a knock on the door.

“Who is it?” Gruffly returning to his old self, Blushton skated over formalities as he challenged the comer on the other side of the door.

“Mr. John Smyth, if you please.” The words were given simultaneously with the opening of the door. “I'm here for Inspector Newberry. There's something To Do afoot.” Giving a nod to Giles, the man swept forward into the office, pocketing his credentials in one swift movement. He didn't even bother taking leave of the Super as he gestured to the door, “Shall we?”

* * *

Damn. Damn. DAMN!

Vincent Wexley stood uneasily upon his narrow porch, just barely out of reach of the swirling tendrils of fog that beckoned evilly.

You must, Vince. You must go . . . you're the only one with the right knowledge, the credentials, to get the job done right.

Fortified, hands patting bulging pockets and checking that he had all the tools he needed, Vincent Wexley left the safety of his flat for the second time in a week.

It was the work of a mere moment for the fog to swallow him whole.