The Peculiar Adventures of Oscar Heath
Author: Kirol

Chapter 1
Chapter 1

In this life, albeit fleeting and oft overlooked by those with power, one is forced into years of servitude most simply to survive. But why, I ask? Why do we survive just to continue serving, be it to almighty God or simply to the landlord? Surely, must it not be a simpler and happier trail to lose oneself unto the arms of God, forsaking any time you have here under the hazy, taxing obligatory veils of the streets of London, thus not allowing your body to be ravaged by the dense and close miasmatic air, or disillusioned by the bitter water?

No, I say, such displeasantries are reserved for the squalor of the lower classes, and the gloomy despair their circumstance grants them. Not that I wish to suggest I am grand enough to be mistaken for one of the pompous few who concider themselves the conceited, claustrophobic, rather calamitous ‘holier than thou’ upper class. It is not that I detest the fact that it is they who have money, they who have power, but more that it is they who fail to use it for a better means and cause. It pities me to think of those less fortunate than I, yet whenever I should be able to spare a penny, I shall. After all, I am a fair man. My own trapping, my own servitude, is to those less fortunate than me. They request my aid and for as small a fee as I am able to tax myself with, I assist.

In the early years, I lead a humble life in small quarters above my own agency at number three Hays Mews. I would frequently work alongside the police as well as the public to solve crimes, retrieving lost objects, or if I had any time to give to it, inventing. I have given my life to learning the ins and outs of various mechanical methods, and so I also used to operate as a repair shop when so requested. I was delighted with the way things were on the most part, although I wished I could make a change for the poor sods in the slums. Thanks in part to my ignorance, things would soon change, however, with the inclusion of a certain man into my life.

Looking back on that day, things hadn’t quite started right to begin with. It was December the 4th and I had been making preparations for quite some time for the day that was to come; I had marked it down in my notebook and diary, yet somehow managed to remain locked within a deep slumber past my standard waking hours. Ordinarily, I would start off the day with a shave and a large cup of tea. My own blend, of course. That day, it would seem, was destined perhaps by the hand of God to be not in the least auspicious nor favourable. I was ordered to the recently extended Aldgate station by a letter some months prior, to meet with some man named Andrew Kendall regarding my work. The circumstances surrounding it all were suspicious to say the least, as the letter was written by some higher-up from the Pinkerton agency, now ascending to quick success so many miles away from home. Back at that time, I had a hunch as to what he may want thanks to prior correspondence, but nothing had been outlined, at least not to my knowledge.

So, hurriedly and much against my will I was forced to leave the sanctuary of my abode and offices to hail a horse-drawn cab to ferry me through the ethereal smog of a bitter British winter morning. I recall that the cabby, no more a commoner than the rest of them, was dressed for rain. He had an umbrella and had risen the canopy of his cab, as well as covered himself from head to toe in foul-smelling rags. I never could tolerate public transport.

‘Aldgate Station, and make haste.’ I ordered. With naught but a nod and a whip of the reigns, I was on my way. For around nine of the morning, the streets were oddly vacant. Here and there were wives and children shopping with what money they could spare, while their husbands conducted their way to their vocation to win their salary. I couldn’t help but stare at them with contempt as none of them were making so much as an iota of difference to the country nor the way it was run. I suppose now that they were so caught up in their own lives and problems, it would be too foresighted for them to even consider helping others let aside having any sort of purpose upon this earth.

We passed through Green Park and over the grand Westminster bridge, at which point I took the opportunity to check my gold-plated pocket watch for accuracy. It read precisely eight fourty, while the monolithic and aptly named Big Ben was two minutes ahead. Adjusting for this discrepancy, I returned my watch to its usual situation inside my left pocket within my waistcoat. The man’s train was due to arrive around nine thirty, I recalled the letter stating. He was owing to make his way to my house and office, but I would much prefer to meet him at the station. Can’t make myself look bad, after all.

The cabbie continued through waterloo and took me across London bridge. Not the fastest route, but I assume I must have the look of a foreign man seeking amusement from such glorious shrines to the empire. I hadn’t the audacity to disagree with the man, and I the pace we were advancing at was plentiful to get there just on time.

Eventually, and not a moment too soon, I found myself outside the rather small stand that was Aldgate station. Once again, I checked my watch before paying the cabbie his way. Luckily, I was a few minutes early.

A man was peddling newspapers nearby, so I took the opportunity to refresh myself on current affairs throughout the world.

“Deputy holds off 80 cowboys.” the title read. Skimming through the article, it was apparently news from America. Elfego Baca, his name. It wasn’t one I was to remember, but he seemed like a real hero. One man against eighty; the odds are astronomically bad. I, however, have no time for such heroics.

For ten minutes I skimmed through the paper, every so often checking groups of passengers for a face strewn with worry similar to that on the photo which I had received with the letter. No doubt he would have luggage, too, and the brutish carved face of an American thug. I had not dealt with the Pinkertons before so I was unsure of their moral standing, but I believe in not judging upon first meeting, no, I require a little conversation at the very least. Like a fine brew, the delicate intricacies of flavour require a little more time to fully blossom and comprehend.

It was not until nearly fifteen minutes later that the man finally showed.

He cautiously emerged from the entrance to the building and dropped his two cumbersome leather-bound cases, squinting into the diminishing fog. Dressed in a dark brown pair of cotton slacks and a grubby white shirt, he pulled a scrap of parchment from a pocket. I remained with my eyes fixed on the man from the other side of the street, my vision interrupted momentarily by cabs and pedestrians.

Suddenly, there was a tug on the cane I held around my wrist. To my left, a street beggar held out their sullied hands, unshaven and unclean with sores around their eyes and nose. It was a sorry sight, one to which I nearly lost my mark. Attempting to keep my eyes on the chap across the street, I quickly took out a few coins and put them into the beggar’s hands. If there were any a worse time for it, I should like to know.

As I bid the beggar farewell, the man suddenly made a move towards Trinity square. Naturally, I allowed him passage into the fog but trained my eyes on the hazy shadow of the man’s outline. To him, I was invisible. Just another bystander. Only the most astute and argute man would notice immediately a pursuer, and so I felt safe within the confines of the fog.

I folded the newspaper and tucked it beneath my arm before matching the man’s brisk canter through the dead streets of London.

 

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