At the top of the stairs, inside a nondescript home in a public housing project, a rowhouse if you will, wrapped in a blanket, on top of a mattress, much like a mummy, or moth, was a man. His mates stood around the bed, looking at the lifeless form, asking questions.
"Shouldn't he have sobered by now?"
"Is that snoring? And is that normal?"
"Why cannot we awaken him?"
"Mr Holmes!" I shouted. My companion appeared to be sleeping on his feet. No wonder, it had been a particularly laborious twenty-four hour period in the bowery district. The Inspector's eyes instantly popped open, and the familiar intense gaze fell upon the victim.
"When was he last seen in his normal state?" he asked the assembled crew.
"Normal? Why, that would be 1994, sir, when he was but a lad."
"I see," said the inspector as he filled his pipe with pungent tobacco. He struck a match, and the glow illuminated his tired features as he stoked the pipe. "Does he suffer from a sleep disorder, or is he prone to long bouts of unconsciousness?"
"No, he was at a celebration last evening, and may have spent too much time at the fountain, sir," said one of the young men at the bedside. "We brought him here, for he had no place else to go. He has not moved since sunrise.."
I knelt gingerly on the bedding, leaned toward the body and shook it. There was no response but for the deep, coarse snores emanating from inside the cocoon.
"Has he any chronic diseases, Leprosy, Beri-Beri, Polio or Typhoid?" asked the inspector.
"His kidneys function poorly. They take him to a laboratory three times a week and fill him with some vile fluid."
"Aha! Dr. Watson!" said Mr. Holmes as he joined me on the pallet. "We must inspect this man for a fistula!"
We stripped the unconscious man of his bedclothes. The stale air was replaced by a new, fetid aroma, resembling ammonia. He was a waif of a thing, still dressed in his party clothes. Apparently, the party in his pants went on unabated.
"Dr. Holmes, surely, kidney disease alone would not put a man in such a state. We must be missing something! We need more clues! A full set of vital signs is in order!"
I prepared the equipment, the heart monitor with ability to automatically obtain a person's blood pressure while monitoring his heart rhythm, a device known as a pulsoxemeter, which finds oxygen saturation in the capillaries behind the nail bed and gives an accurate reading of a persons oxygen saturation, and a brilliant device known as a glucometer, which from a drop of blood obtained from a lancet no bigger than the head of a pin is able to tell the amount of sugar in a person's bloodstream. To think, a decade ago we would have been accused of witchcraft for using such devilish gadgetry!
Inspector Holmes interrogated the suspects as I worked.
"Is your 'friend' somehow an enemy of yours, and who is that screaming in the lower level?"
"That is my mother," said one of the suspects. "She's angry that we hid "Jocko" here. He's the black sheep of the family and he's not supposed to be here."
"Does he have proclivity toward mind altering substances?"
"What do you mean?" responded one of the youths who stood nearby.
"Come on man! Snap out of it, does he drink! Does he ingest narcotics! Is he a crackhead!"
"All of the above."
"Mr Holmes! Look here! His blood glucose is an astonishing 18!"
"Great Scott! Prepare the elixir!"
A man from the local fire brigade who had arrived on scene during the interrogation prepared an intravenous as I opened my medication kit and found the proper vials. We injected medication called Dextrose directly into the unconscious man's veins, while doing so we put him into a chair and carried him past the screaming mother and into the night. As the medication worked its magic and the snoring man regained consciousness, the rest of his crew boarded our vehicle.
"Where am I?" asked the previously snoring man.
"You are in the back of a rescue wagon sir. Do you have diabetes?" asked Inspector Holmes.
"Apparently not. This is a mystery best solved with all of the resources of The Yard. Dr. Watson! Transport us without delay to the ER! More testing is in order, without which we will never solve this mystery!"
With the three friends in tow, Inspector Holmes rode in the back of the wagon as I drove to the The Yard. The patient lost no time in proving that he is an imbecile.
"He may be an imbecile, Dr. Watson," said Mr. Holmes amicably as we departed. "But he is our imbecile, one poor soul in a city full of them."
"Elementary, Mr. Holmes."
We placed ourselves back into the service of the citizens of Providence, and waited.