Monday, November 7, 2016

Sir Arthur Conor Doyle’s “The Black and Red Band”: Tale No. 1

By David Rusk
First Published by B&R United, November 7, 2016
Republished and Slightly revised, November 20, 2019

Preface: This is the first in a series of Tales from Buzzard Point that explores the rich traditions and myths surrounding the legendary DC United soccer team and its fabled history at Buzzard Point. The Tales from Buzzard Point are historical fiction and parody. 

Note to Reader: 

The following manuscript was discovered hidden in the false bottom of an old trunk by a great-great grandson of Sir Arthur Conor Doyle. All true Baker Street Irregulars know that Conor Doyle was simply the literary agent for Dr. John H. Watson, the companion and chronicler of Sherlock Holmes’ many adventures in crime detection. From the customs labels attached, the trunk had accompanied Holmes and Watson on their only voyage to America, as the hidden manuscript relates. 

The Black and Red Band

Of all the problems which have been submitted to my friend Mr. Sherlock Holmes for solution during the years of our association, there were only three which I was the means of introducing to his notice, that of Mr. Hatherley’s thumb, that of Colonel Warburton’s madness, and that of Sheik Abdullah’s latest investment. Of that last adventure the menace to Mankind proved to be so great that I have hesitated to commit it to pen and paper lest widespread panic should ensue and popular governments should undertake very imprudent measures endangering world peace.

I was seated by the side of the fire in the lodgings we shared at the time on Baker-street (this was in 1888 before my blessed marriage to Miss Mary Morstan), reading through The Morning Chronicle, while my dear friend was deep in his reveries, playing a violin adaptation of one of Mendelssohn’s Songs without Words on his Stradivarius. The music was so lovely and my friend’s talents so great that I hesitated to interrupt the mood but finally one news article caused me to speak out.

Sherlock Playing Violin
(Image: Wikipedia Commons)

“I say, Holmes, here’s an article about Sheik Abdullah, the owner of that association football club in Manchester.” (The music continued.)

The Morning Chronicle reports that Sheik Abdullah is investing in a new association football club in – of all places – New York City.” (Holmes launched into the “Camberwell Green.”)

“The Sheik plans to contest for something called the Atlantic Cup with two other association football clubs called New York Red Bull and D.C. United.”

Holmes abruptly stopped in mid-bow stroke and, practically leaping across the intervening distance, seized the newspaper from my hand.

“New York Red Bull!” He began rifling through his extensive index on a side-table. For many years he had adopted a system of docketing all paragraphs concerning men and things, so that it was difficult to name a subject or a person on which he could not at once furnish information. “Red Bull Leipzig … FC Red Bull Salzburg … all owned by Red Bull GmbH in Fuschi am See, Salzburg. Don’t you see, Watson?”

“No, I don’t, Holmes.”

“He has created a politically impregnable redoubt among the Germans. I did not discern the pattern before because the cards were filed by city or country and not under ‘Red Bull.’” Holmes thumbed through other sections of the index. “Now he is expanding his empire…. Red Bull Brazil … FC Red Bull Gold Coast … and now America. Quick, Watson, we must go to America. We must stop him!”

“Who, Holmes? The Sheik?”

“No, Watson. Moriarty.”

I was shocked. “But, Holmes,” I protested, “didn’t Professor Moriarty, that master criminal, die in your struggle at the Reichenbach Falls?”

Holmes Fight With Moriarity at Reichenbach Falls
(Image: Wikipedia Commons)

“No more than I, Watson. It served us both to disappear from the public eye for a time. But now he has been smoked out, doubtless unwittingly, by the Sheik. We must off to America before it is too late.”

Discovery of Red Bull while Traveling to America

Five days later found us aboard the RMS Etruria, the Cunard Steamship Company’s newest and the reigning Blue Riband winner, midway between Liverpool and New York City. Holmes had shown a keen interest in the identities of all the First Class male passengers and suggested we enter the Smoke Room for gentlemen to further our reconnaissance. With its intricately carved mahogany walls and furnishings and heavy velvet draperies, the Smoke Room mirrored the Savile Club or White’s in London. Among the many men drinking at the bar or playing cards at tables, with an almost imperceptible nod, Holmes directed my attention to two men, both darkened by sun, late thirties, looking quite fit, sitting by themselves, shuffling and cutting cards in desultory fashion. One (with glass of red wine in hand) had a distinctly alien look – dark, spikey, shoulder-length hair and a pointed beard looking as though he had just stepped out of an El Greco portrait.

“There are the Sheik’s two latest henchmen, known as the Chelsea Ruffian and the Milan Metronome.”

“Metronome, Holmes?”

“Yes, because he dispatches the opposition with such ruthless regularity. Come, Watson. Let us test their mettle.”

After introducing ourselves, Holmes asked “Are you gentlemen interested in a rubber of whist?” The Metronome motioned us to take our seats at the table.

“Bid whist?” asked Holmes. “We are, after all, headed for America.”

“Aye, mate,” responded the Chelsea Ruffian. “An’ a side wager of 100 quid.”

“Perfectly satisfactory,” Holmes responded as I assented somewhat uncomfortably.

Over the next hour, knowing little English, the Milan Metronome spoke only to indicate his bid while the Chelsea Ruffian expanded considerably my exposure to the gutter slang of Southwest London. They both played an aggressive hand, but were constantly bested by my astute companion, whose card-counting powers at whist are unsurpassed. As the American Edgar Allen Poe wrote in The Murders in the Rue Morgue, “Whist has long been noted for its influence on what is termed the calculating power; and men of the highest order of intellect have been known to take an apparently unaccountable delight in it.”

So it was with Holmes, and I am no mean player either. We won the first series of hands 5-2 and, as is customary, I placed a yellow card in front of the losing partnership.

The second series was more vigorously contested and was drawn 4-4 going into the final hand. The Metronome led a low club, Holmes covered and the Ruffian won the trick with the king. He led back a low club, I covered and, with a triumphant flourish and the Metronome played the ace of clubs. “Not through the Iron Duke,” announced Holmes as he played out a winning low trump.

The Metronome leaped to his feet, almost upsetting the whole card table, and, gesticulating wildly and swearing volubly in Italian, stalked off. I threw down the second yellow before the Ruffian and substituted quickly the red one. With a final example of Hammersmith wisdom, the Chelsea Ruffian followed his teammate out of the Smoke Room.

“Extraordinary!” I exclaimed.

“Menacing in attack, but communicate badly under pressure. No defense,” summed up Holmes. “But the truly dangerous recruit to the Sheik’s cause is that Spanish fellow standing at the bar whom we passed on entering.”

I looked at the slim man, early thirties, also looking quite fit, still standing at the bar. “How do you know that he is one of the Sheik’s men?

“Elementary, my dear Watson. The Sheik’s ego demands that he must boast of his new eminence so he requires all his men to wear his colors – sky blue and white. Each wears a tell-tale lapel pin.”

“And Spaniard?”

“Watson, you see but you do not observe. The man at the bar is drinking sangria.”

“But come, Watson. I suspect that the true threat is not to be found in the Smoke Room but elsewhere on the ship. Doctor, I shall want your cooperation.”

“I shall be delighted.”

“You don’t mind breaking the law?”

“Not in the least.”

“Nor running the chance of arrest?”

“Not in a good cause.”

“Oh, the cause is the best.”

“Then I am your man.”

“I was sure that I might rely on you.”

We descended through the Etruria’s various First and Second Class passenger decks until we reached the cargo hold. There we were confronted by a steel door with a heavy lock and sign “Authorized Crew Only. No Trespassing Under Penalty of Law.” Holmes extracted a straight nail that he always carries in his cap, deftly picked the lock, and we swung the heavy steel door open.

“Won’t we need a lantern, Holmes?”

“No, Watson. The Etruria and sister ship Umbria are the first to be equipped with electricity. And refrigeration. It may be chilly, though, for I suspect that what I am looking for is kept under mild refrigeration.”

Under the dim light of naked electric bulbs overhead, we walked along the corridors of the cargo hold stacked high with crates. We saw a separate section (rather, a large, sealed room) marked “cooler.” Entering (again thanks to Holmes’ magic nail), we found it filled to the ceiling with boxes marked “From: Red Bull Gmbh, Fuschi am See, Salzburg, Osterreich” and “To: Red Bull Arena, Harrison, New Jersey.”

“Just like Moriarty,” said Holmes, grinning. “So unlike the Sheik. Seeks no notoriety at all. Hides away his most nefarious schemes in obscure locations like an industrial slum amid the marshes of New Jersey.”

We opened one of the boxes to find that it contained a dozen bottles marked “trinkenenergie rotstier” with two raging red bulls on the label. “We must take the risk of taking one bottle for analysis. If it is discovered missing among the thousands in just this shipment, we must hope that they think that one of the seamen or stevedores took it.”

Holmes Investigates Chemical Composition
(Image: Wikipedia Commons)

Back, safely undetected, in our First Class stateroom, Holmes unpacked all the accouterments for extensive chemical analyses that he had brought from Baker-street. He opened the bottle of trinkenenergie rotstier, sniffed it carefully, took one drop cautiously on his tongue, and began a long series of chemical tests. After several hours, he leaned back from his test tubes, flasks, and flame.

“It is as I thought. Trinkenenergie rotstier is composed primarily of harmless ingredients: caffeine, taurine (hence, the Red Bull name), sucrose and glucose, B-group vitamins and spring water (probably Alpine in origin for this Austrian-based shipment). It contains, however, an almost imperceptible amount of the juice derived from the berries of the ziziphus lotus, a powerful, addictive narcotic that induces a type of peaceful apathy. The amount is so minute that no regular laboratory – especially a government laboratory – would detect it. The lotus juice was the great threat to the completion of his homeward voyage that Odysseus and his crew encountered in the Land of the Lotophaguses.”

“The Land of the Lotus-Eaters … Odysseus! Isn’t that all just myth?”

“What is myth to non-believers is fundamental truth to believers, Watson. But I must be prompt over this matter.”

“What are you going to do? I asked.

To smoke,” he answered. “It is quite a three-pipe problem, and I beg that you won’t speak to me for fifty minutes.” He curled himself up in his chair, with his thin knees drawn up to his hawk-like nose, and there he sat with his eyes closed and his black clay pipe thrusting out like the bill of some strange bird. I had come to the conclusion that he had dropped asleep, and indeed was nodding myself, when he suddenly sprang out of his chair with the gesture of a man who has made up his mind, and put his pipe down.

“The solution to this threat will not be found in New York City. As a challenger to New Jersey Red Bull (for, in truth, that’s who they are), the Sheik’s attention span is too short-lived. The true rival of New Jersey Red Bull is D.C. United, the association football club in the Nation’s Capital. It is they that can assure that New Jersey Red Bull can never assert permanent possession of the Atlantic Cup.”

“But what is the importance of a silly piece of a not-even-real-silver trophy?”

“It is what the Atlantic Cup represents, Watson … Supremacy. Supremacy over the entire Atlantic world.”

“But England will always be supreme in the Atlantic world, Holmes.”

“Ah, Watson, you have forgotten The Prophecies of Nostradamus. He predicted that “Just 26 years after winning the Duel of Eagles, their finest hour, Albion will last reign supreme.”

“If Red Bull asserts its dominance, then all the gullible people on both sides of the Atlantic will be convinced that trinkenenergie rotstier is a magic elixir for all their problems. Sales will soar to unimaginable levels. The English-speaking peoples – indeed, all Europeans – will sink into a haze of lassitude and apathy that will render them incapable of resisting any of Moriarty’s schemes, even seizing totalitarian control of the Western world.”

“We must go to the City of Washington to warn D.C. United ownership of the threat.”

“No, Watson. Ownership is inconstant. We must seek out the true fans – the secret society of the Black and Red Band. Only they can make a sacred pledge to never flag in their undying opposition to Moriarty’s thrust for all-power.”

Arrival in America: Discovery of Black and Red

Docking three days later, we immediately boarded the overnight Congressional Limited Express between New York’s Pennsylvania Station and its Washington terminus on the National Mall. Holmes asked the Pullman porter (for like London cabmen, Pullman porters know everything and everyone) how we might contact the Black and Red Band. He replied that he would put us in contact with his cousin, the stationmaster, who was himself a member of the Black and Red Band.

True to his cousin’s promise, the stationmaster met us as we disembarked the Express that morning. We had only to disclose that our mission involved frustrating the designs of the hated rival before the stationmaster pledged to have leaders of the Black and Red Band meet us at 1 pm. He directed us to The Queen Vic at 12th and H Street NE – about one mile from the imposing U.S. Capitol.

As foreshadowed by its irreverent name, The Queen Vic presented the appearance of a working man’s English pub (or so I believe since Holmes and I rarely frequent such places). Promptly at 1 pm, a group of four entered; they were all professional men by dress and appearance, or, I should say, three gentlemen and a lady – but otherwise presented an extraordinary array: a somewhat burly man of African origin, a Latin of Andean extraction, a white man with prematurely white hair, and, of course, the very petite and attractive woman. As they introduced themselves, I sought to observe them closely as I was confident that Holmes would be. Donald Wine … Marco Tahuichi … James (“Call me ‘Jimi’”) Butler … and Miss Melanie Casner (who, rather than extending her hand in the ladies’ fashion of the time, gave us each a firm, business-like handshake.)

“Before we discuss your business, if it please you gentlemen, we should order our meals as I must return to headquarters by 1500 hours,” said Miss Casner.

“Perfectly satisfactory,” Holmes said, ordering steak and beer while I asked for shepherd’s pie. “And may I congratulate you, Miss Casner, on your remarkable achievement as both a woman and at such a young age in becoming chief barrister for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.”

The Americans, who had not been exposed to Holmes’ formidable powers of deduction through my accounts of our adventures in The Strand magazine, were astonished. “How could you know that?” Miss Casner asked. “You didn’t even know with whom you would be meeting until we just walked in.”

“It’s quite simple,” Holmes replied, “from what you yourself have said. “If it please the court…” is the common form of address to the honourable judges in judicial proceedings in this country so I deduced that you must be a barrister rather than a solicitor, though I understand that the two roles are often combined in America. You expressed the need to return to your office by 1500 hours which is the military way of expressing time. You spoke of “headquarters” so you must have an important post, in particular since you conduct yourself as an equal among men. And among military establishments probably the one with the greatest need to deal with civilians in times of peace would be the army engineers who undertake many dam, river, and canal projects in this country. Hence, the Corps of Engineers.”

In quick strokes as our dinner arrived, Holmes outlined what we had learned about the plot to erode America’s moral fiber and national resolve through addiction to Moriarty’s infernal drink.

“Yes, we suspected something was amiss with that rotgut,” said Mr. Wine. “As an attorney, I examined the report of our Food and Drug Administration on it with the utmost care. One ingredient – taurine – I dare say, is based on bull semen, but the FDA raised no objection. In any event, because of the very provenance of trinkenenergie rotstier, our members have sworn not to drink it. I am confident that they honor that pledge.”

“At Black and Red Band functions, perhaps,” interjected Mr. Tahuichi, “but you have little idea of the strength of an addiction that can begin among the young. I have seen the ravages of coca-leaf addiction in my own homeland. We need to find a permanent barrier to any addiction.”

“Then we should consult with Dr. Eskandarian,” suggested Miss Casner. “He has demonstrated expertise in rejecting addictive substances.”

“We should invite Dr. Eskandarian to our ceremonial service tonight at Buzzard Point,” Mr. Butler proposed.

“Yes,” offered Holmes. “In light of the urgency of the threat, it would be well to initiate preventive action even before the journey of Black and Red Band members that you are leading to Philadelphia tomorrow.”

“How could you know that?” Mr. Butler exclaimed.

“Throughout the meal the waiter has brought you a constant stream of telephonic messages so you have needed urgently to be in instant communication with many people,” responded Holmes. “You have noted the name from each message in the notebook that you have brought to the table. Sometimes you have filled in “plus one” or “plus two” on the lines underneath each name so you are obviously compiling a limited attendance list. But for what? The Black and Red Band are having a major rally tonight so there must be a match tomorrow. The venue cannot be local for your current grounds have substantial unused capacity. Therefore, the match must be “on the road,” as you Americans say.

“Your notebook (a very standard type) contains 25 lines per page. You have numbered the pages in the upper right-hand corner and I observe that you have reached the fifteenth page across which you have underlined the tenth line in red. Thus, I calculate that your list cannot exceed 360 persons. That is the exact seating capacity of five 72-seat day coaches that you have doubtless chartered from the Pennsylvania Railroad. Yet since you have chartered day coaches rather than Pullman cars with overnight sleeping accommodations, your group cannot be traveling as far as New York for a night-time match. Therefore, the only alternative opponent is your lesser rival, the Philadelphia Union, for which match tomorrow you are acting as the Black and Red Band’s trip chief.”

“Your powers of deduction are truly remarkable,” said Mr. Butler, “but not infallible. The grounds of the Philadelphia Union are located in Chester, Pennsylvania.”

“Ah, I quite overlooked the geographical idiosyncrasies of Americans,” Holmes acknowledged, “as less than half your football grounds are located in the cities they represent.”

“Can you and Dr. Watson join us tonight for our ceremonial service at 2100 hours,” Mr. Wine said. “We meet at our sacred site at First and S Streets, Southwest.

“We shall be honoured to join you,” I responded quickly before Holmes could frustrate my curiosity by possibly rejecting his gracious invitation.

“Remarkable group,” I observed admiringly to Holmes, as we left The Queen Vic.

“We have been vouchsafed a glimpse of the future, Watson.”

That evening we engaged a cab outside the Willard Hotel. “Take us to First and S Streets, Southwest,” I said.

“I’ll nae do that,” the cab man replied. “That’s Buzzard Point. T’is haunted, cursed ground. Ever since thuh war. Take yuh to thuh ol’ Washington Arsenal gate … Third an’ P. That’s nearest thuh bound’ry of Buzzard Point.”

As we exited the cab at the military reservation gate, we could hear muffled drumming and chanting in the distance. We turned the corner of the fort’s high brick wall at Second and P Streets and the sound grew in intensity.

“Boom, boom … DC! Boom, boom … DC!”

Approaching closer, we heard “clap...clap…clap clap clap …D.C. UNITED!” repeated over and over again until the chanting was deafening. We were pressed into a huge crowd of hundreds… nay, thousands … of wild savages all garbed in black, some with white or red stripes, many with numerals and names of cult heroes in white against the blackness of their cult garb. And the faces! Painted in black, red, and white greasepaint. With every shout of “D.C. UNITED” the multitude thrust both arms in the air in V formation. A true Dionysian frenzy.

A large priest-type figure was presiding from a raised platform over the throng.

“Holmes, isn’t that Donald Wine?”

“Yes, he is the head capo. Do you notice, Watson, what they are doing in the front row?

I looked carefully and saw that a group of assistant capos was pouring a liquid from bottles into red cups presented by a seemingly unending line of communicants. All the while the chanting continued. When the last communicants had received their portions, the head capo motioned for the chant to end. A new figure emerged on the capo stand, dressed in his full kit, number 11 on his back. The crowd cheered deliriously and began a new chant “Esky … Esky … Esky … ESKY!”

Dr. Eskandarian motioned for silence … then raised on high a bottle all could clearly see was trinkenenergie rotstier . He lowered the cursed bottle to his lips and took a little swig, seeming to swish it around in his mouth. Then, with a grimace of disgust, he spat it out and poured the entire contents of the bottle on the ground.

As one man-and-woman the Black and Red Band took a swig from their red cups, spat it out and poured their cups’ entire contents of trinkenenergie rotstier onto the sacred soil of Buzzard Point.

Then they broke into a militant anthem. It was in some language that I could not understand but the rhythm was intoxicating. I copied down the words in my phonetic shorthand as best I could.

“Come, Watson,” Holmes said, tugging at my sleeve. “Our mission is finished. The Eskandarian Ritual will immunize the Black and Red Band and their descendants forever against Professor Moriarty’s infernal brew. His minions will never attain Atlantic supremacy.”

“A pity, though.” Holmes continued. “Pouring out all that trinkenenergie rotstier has contaminated the soil of Buzzard Point. When their future house of worship is built there, the soil must be de-contaminated extensively.”

An Encounter upon Returning to Baker Street

Back again at our lodgings at 221B Baker-street a week later, I confessed to Holmes that I could not stop thinking of that rhythmic, intoxicating anthem. “I must learn what the words mean, Holmes.”

“Then, Watson, we must see Professor Henry Higgins, the renowned linguist. You have your phonetic copy?”

Having sent a note around, we were invited to meet Professor Higgins at his home on Wimpole-street in Marylebone the next day at 1 pm. His housekeeper directed us to the study where we could hear a woman’s voice say “Thuh ryne in spyne styes mynly in thuh plyne.”

[Male voice] “No, no. The rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain.”

We walked in. A dapper, middle aged man looked up. “Ah, Mr. Holmes and Dr. Watson. We’ve been expecting you. May I introduce my friend and colleague Colonel Pickering and our protégée, Miss Eliza Doolittle.”

She was stunning. Tall, slender, violet eyes, dark chestnut hair – truly, the most beautiful woman I have ever seen … until she opened her mouth to speak as she extended her right hand first to me, then to Holmes.

“Aaoooww, saaoow nyce tuh meet yuh.”

After I had kissed the back of her hand lightly, I observed my friend. He had turned deathly pale and I saw a slight twitching in his cheek and tremor in his right hand as he, in turn, bent to kiss her hand. None but I who know him so well would have noticed how disconcerted he was in that moment.

“Pickering,” Professor Higgins instructed, “there’s not a moment to rest. Why don’t you and Eliza continue her lessons in the adjacent room while I meet with our visitors?” (“Gaaarn,” Miss Doolittle exclaimed in disappointment.)

When they had left, Higgins turned to us in explanation. “It’s ‘aaoooww’ and ‘gaaarn’ that kept her in her place – not her wretched clothes and dirty face.”

“Well, she has cleaned up most beautifully,” I offered.

“An Englishman’s way of speaking absolutely classifies him. The moment he talks, some other Englishman despises him. It is so with Eliza, who was a common Cockney flower seller at Covent Garden. Pickering and I are committed to turning her into a proper lady who can be presented to high society at the Embassy Ball two months hence.” [From the next room: “Thuh ryne in Spyne styes mynely in thuh plyne.” “Again.”]

“You are known as England’s greatest expert on the English tongue,” I observed.

“And many other languages, too,” Higgins assured us. “But speaking perfect English is the highest level of human evolution. [From the next room: “Thuh ryne in Spyne stays mynely in thuh plyne.” “Again.”] Oh, why can’t the English learn to set a good example to people whose English is painful to your ears? The Scotch and the Irish leave you close to tears. There even are places where English completely disappears. In America, they haven’t used it for years.”

“That touches upon our business for we have just returned from America,” I explained. [From the next room: “The ryne in Spyne stays mynely in the plyne.” “Better. Again.”] “There we encountered a haunting cult refrain in no language related to the mother tongue that the Americans have abandoned. I have noted it down phonetically.” [From the next room: “The ryne in Spyne stays mainly in the plyne.” “Better yet. Again.”]

I handed Higgins my note. Higgins pondered it just briefly, mouthing the sounds silently. “Aha! Ah, yes. There is, of course, one English interpolation: the word “United” which, you will note, is capitalized so it is a proper noun.” [From the next room: “The ryne in Spyne stays mainly in the plain.” “Yes, yes. Again.”] But the rest is in Rioplatense, a most unique regional variation of Spanish, as follows: Esta noche tenemos que ganar. Vamos, vamos, United, que tenemos que ganar.” [From the next room: “The ryne in Spain stays mainly in the plain.” “Yes, yes. Again.”] It is sung by members of the cult that worships San Nicolas de Almagro in the Boedo barrio of Buenos Aires.”

“Oh, thank you, Professor …” Higgins cut me short with a motion of his hand. [From the next room: “The rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain.”] “I think she’s got it. I think she’s got it,” he exclaimed.

[From the next room: “The rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain.”] “By George, she’s got it. By George, she’s got it. You’ll excuse me, gentlemen. Mrs. Pearce will show you out.” And he rushed unceremoniously into the next room.

“Holmes,” I said as we left, “I’ve never seen you so pensive and subdued in public.”

“No matter, my dear friend. We’ll just see how this wicket plays out.”

The Embassy Ball Discovery

Two months later we had both received invitations to the Embassy Ball, but Holmes would have to go alone as that evening coincided with the annual reunion of veterans of the Second Anglo-Afghan War from my old unit, the 66th Regiment of Foot. I had returned already to our lodgings on Baker-street when Holmes walked in from his evening at the Ball.

“How was it, Holmes?”

“A triumph, Watson. Miss Doolittle entered on Professor Higgins’ arm, dressed in a stunning Cecil Beaton gown. Shortly after they came in, I saw at once she’d easily win and after that it could have been deadly dull. You should have heard the ooh’s and ah’s; everyone wondering who she was. (You’d think they’d never seen a lady before.) And when the Prince of Transylvania asked to meet her and gave his arm to lead her to the floor, I said to myself ‘She did it! She did it! She did it!’ They thought she was ecstatic and so damned aristocratic and they never knew that she did it.

“But there’s more, Watson. Thank Heavens for Zlatan Panenka. If it weren’t for him, I would have truly have died of boredom thereafter.”

“Panenka? That dreadful Hungarian? Was he there, Holmes?”

“Yes, he was there all right. And up to his old tricks. That blackguard who uses the science of speech more to blackmail and swindle than teach; he made it the devilish business of his to find out who this Miss Doolittle is.

“Every time they looked around, there he was, that hairy hound from Budapest. Never leaving them alone. (Never have I ever known a ruder pest.) Higgins finally decided it was foolish not to let him have his chance with her; so he stepped aside and let Panenka dance with her.

“Oozing charm from every pore, he oiled his way around the floor. Every trick that he could play he used to strip her mask away. And when at last the dance was done, he glowed as if he knew he’d won! And with a voice too eager and a smile too broad, Zlatan announced to the hostess that she was … a fraud!”

“No, Holmes!”

“Ja wohl, Watson. ‘Her English is too good,’ he said, ‘which clearly indicates that she is foreign.

Whereas others are instructed in their native language, English people aren’t. And although she may have studied with an expert dialectician and grammarian, I can tell that she was born ... Hungarian! Not only Hungarian but of royal blood. She is … a princess!’”

“Oh, Holmes. What a crowning achievement for Professor Higgins!”

“Not of Higgins, Watson. He has been merely a pawn in the hands of a master … better said … a mistress of disguise and deception. Higgins never even began to see through Eliza Doolittle’s little masquerade.”

“Eliza Doolittle is not a Cockney flower girl from Covent Garden? Who is she then, Holmes?”

“From Covent Garden, yes. Cockney flower girl, no. ‘Eliza Doolittle’ is the woman, Watson.”

“Irene Adler??!” I gasped.

Annex: Glossary of Terms

This glossary of terms contains the meaning of soccer terms and an explanation of some references that may not be understood by many readers. Some of the content in this article are direct quotes from the Sherlock Holmes books by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. 

Buzzard Point in Washington DC is the site for DC United’s new, $300 million+ soccer-specific stadium that opened in mid-2018.   Though located barely one mile due south from the US Capitol, Buzzard Point had been a spectacularly neglected part of the District, the site of gravel and sand depots, junkyards, and very marginal manufacturing plants plus a now-abandoned headquarters building for the US Coast Guard.   It has a long history, though, the name “Turkey Buzzard Point” first having appeared on local maps in 1673.

I and many other DC United fans feel strongly that “Buzzard Point” should be the venue name (or part of the name) of the new stadium.   DC United management/ ownership resisted, preferring to sell naming rights to Audi.  Tales from Buzzard Point is a salvo of a grassroots campaign to build support for “Buzzard Point.”

Black and Red – DC United’s colors (often combined with white stripes)

Conor Doyle – a young striker and winger who played for DC United from 2013-15 – not much of a scorer but an honest player who developed a cult following

Sheik Abdullah – Sheik Kaldoon Al Mubarak leads the Abu Dhabi United Group that purchased Manchester City FC in 2008 in the English Premier League (EPL) and created New York City FC in Major League Soccer three years ago

New York Red Bulls is DC United’s fiercest rival (all others pale by comparison) and the Atlantic Cup is the trophy awarded for the winner of the annual two- or three-game series.

Chelsea Ruffian – midfielder Frank Lampard (long career at Chelsea in EPL)

Milan Metronome – midfielder Andrea Pirlo (long career with AC Milan and later with Juventus in Serie A)

“I placed a yellow card ... I threw down the second yellow before the Ruffian and substituted quickly the red one.”   A referee will show a yellow card to a player for a particularly violent play or egregious rule violation; a second yellow card automatically converts into a red card and immediate expulsion from the game

Spanish fellow at the bar – striker David Villa (long career in La Liga; all-time leading scorer for Spanish national team)

Obscure locations like an industrial slum amid the marshes of New Jersey.  Red Bull Arena is located in Harrison, New Jersey just north of Newark – a most unprepossessing site

trinkenenergie rotstier – my best effort at translating “Red Bull Energy Drink,” the Austria-based owners of the New York Red Bulls.

The Prophecies of Nostradamus.  Michel de Notredame (usually latinized as Nostradamus), a 16th century seer, predicted that “Just 26 years after winning the Duel of Eagles, their finest hour, Albion will last reign supreme.” 1966 was the year of England’s first (and probably last) winning of the World Cup, 26 years after winning the Battle of Britain.

The Queen Vic – a regular DC United supporters pub  

Donald Wine – (used with permission) his real name and profession; president of local American Outlaws chapter and oft-times capo of Screaming Eagles

James (“Jimi”) Butler – (used with permission) his real name; trip director for the Screaming Eagles, a major DC United supporters group, and now president.

Melanie Casner – (used with permission) her real name and profession

Marco Tahuichi – a name that honors the Latinamerican roots of the Barra Brava, another major DC United supporters group.    “Marco” honors Marco Etcheverry, a world-class Bolivian attacking midfielder who led DC United to three MLS championships in the league’s first four years.   Tahuichi is the name of the famed youth soccer academy in Bolivia.   Nicknamed “El Diablo” (the Devil), Marco will be a central figure in the forthcoming Tales of Buzzard Point III: “The Magic Triangle.”

Dr. Eskandarian – DC United striker Aleko Eskandarian is revered for the greatest post-goal celebration of all time.   He scored against New York Red Bulls at Robert F Kennedy Stadium, DC United’s home, had a can of Red Bull Energy Drink tossed to him from sideline, ostentatiously took a swig, and then spat it out with great disgust.

“Buzzard Point.   T’is haunted, cursed ground.” – is the subject of Tales from Buzzard Point III: “The Magic Triangle.”

“Esta noche tenemos que ganar.   Vamos, vamos, United, que tenemos que ganar.”favorite song of Barra Brava, Screaming Eagles and other supporters groups of DC United; typically sung a half dozen times per game.

San Lorenzo de Almagro – one of “big five” soccer clubs in Argentina; Pope Francis I is life-long fan and card-carrying club member.

“Boedo barrio of Buenos Aires” – the neighborhood which is the once-and-future site of El Gasómetro (“the Gas Works”), San Lorenzo’s stadium

Stunning Cecil Beaton gown – Julie Andrews was absolutely breath-taking in a floor-length white sheath gown in “My Fair Lady,” which I saw in 1956 on Broadway with all the original cast, including Rex Harrison as Professor Henry Higgins.

Zlatan Panenka – rather than “Zoltan Kaparthy” in the original “My Fair Lady;” “Zlatan,” of course, for Zlatan Ibrahimovich, a contemporary European star, and “Panenka” for East European soccer star Antonin Panenka during the 1970s and 1980s.   (Panenka was actually Czech rather than Hungarian but who will know?)

Irene Adler – if you’re not up on your Holmesiana, Irene Adler (in “A Scandal in Bohemia”) was the only woman who ever bested Sherlock Holmes; he was forever after much taken with her memory.

Everything else in the adventure has been thoroughly researched from either the Sherlock Holmes canon or late 19th-century reality.



No comments:

Post a Comment