Frigyes Karinthy: Conan Doyle : The Sawn-Off Lung-cones. From the Memoirs of Detective Sheerluck Nipp-Nock (A lefűrészelt tüdőcsúcsok)

Frigyes Karinthy : From the Memoirs of Detective Sheerluck Nipp-Nock
(From: You Write Like This)

Chapter One
Murder! Murder!

I was organizing my papers back in my room when all of a sudden the door opened. As I turned around I saw my friend, Sheerluck Nipp-Nock, the private detective enter.
He quietly looked at the folding-screen behind me while his staring eyes lingered on me, then burst into laughter through his molar.
“Well! And again, well!” he said sitting down.
Cold sweat ran along my spine but I controlled myself and addressed him with an old sort of kind of friendliness.
“Where were you?” I asked him, but knew immediately that I was not truthful. Sheerluck suddenly looked at me sideways then in a seemingly indifferent tone took a newspaper out of his pocket. I listened. This extraordinary person attached a tiny rubber-ball to his teeth and licked the margins of the paper.
“No results,” he grumbled. “No results.”
He sniffed at the letters and gave me a sad smile. I was becoming curious.
“What is it?” I asked. He looked at me silently giving no answer then started to speak in a monotonous cold tone.
“Your right shoe-sole is as black as your little finger on your left hand. You were at 79 Steam-engine Street today, weren't you, with a civil servant from the railway?”
I almost fainted from surprise.
“No, I wasn't there” I responded astonished, “how do you know that I wasn't there?”
He tossed my reply aside with a tired smile.
“Oh, please, it is quite simple. It's nothing, just a little observation, nothing extraordinary.”
All the same . . . it is unbelievable!” I cried out. “How did you know that I was not in that very building of 79?”
“You yourself will be surprised to learn how simple it was. When I arrived, you see, I met an old woman on the stairs surrounded by her pupils. Her husband works in a gas factory and the street is paved with stones. Yesterday was Thursday, the seventeenth, and the horse-races are usually on Thursdays . . . The connection, I think, is clear now . . .”
“No,” I murmured timidly.
“Then I won't even continue.”
And he looked at the ceiling fingers drumming, legs crossed. You had to admire him.
“And what's in the paper?” I restarted the conversation.
“Here, read it,” and he tossed it to me.
“Well, interesting case, well.”
The following item on page five under the column “Miscellaneous” caught my attention:

Unusual murder on Rombach Street. The police are investigating an unusual murder in utmost secrecy. Two and a half corpses were found in the basement of 90 Rombach Street. One of them was still alive. The missing half of the other corpse that was baked and put in a box lined with mayonnaise was mailed by unknown criminals to the address of L.L. Leopold Goldberger via Pomaz Express. The corpse was found in the basement, it had no trace of violence: no wounds or strangulation marks, it was of an average built person with perfect lungs, normal pulse, good eyes, tauglich ohne Gebrech. The corpse suggests a forty or forty-five-years old person who used to speak both English and German. An empty glass and a floating cork with two pins lying across it were found near the head on the floor. Before committing the murder, the criminals shaved the soles of the victim and painted two question marks on them with watercolour. There were also three nails on the basement wall; a silk cord was wrapped around one of them, the end of the cord was glued with wax to one of the nostrils. The janitor says that he had not heard anything, but it seemed to him as if someone played Chopin's Nocturne: the Träumerische Stunden on the violin in the basement at one o'clock in the morning, about the same time the murder was believed to have taken place. Besides, someone blew his nose twice on the third floor at three o'clock in the afternoon but the police didn't believe that it was related to the murder in any way. The police are working on this mysterious case in full force. No further details are released at this time.

“Well?” I asked my friend, Sheerluck, excitedly.
“Well,” he said while putting his hand quietly into my pockets. “Well, the police blundered. I find only one notable fact.”
“And that is?”
“And that is”, said Sheerluck as he turned to my ears, “that is, that the Träumerische Stunden wasn't composed by Chopin at all.”
He suddenly got up and took a hundred meters long rope, an entire disguise of a tenor singer, two toothpicks, four or five Browning rifles, a repeating fox terrier, a repeating lantern and a repeating elementary school student out of his pocket, looked at them thoughtfully and put them away.
“Well, and now, let's visit the basement.”
We walked along a narrow corridor that has nothing to do with this part of our story at all. Moisture was dripping from the walls through ghostly green light, like cold, damp candle-wax.
My friend, Sheerluck Noch Nicht was walking stiffly with me, whistling indifferently, fingering the ceiling with one hand and touching the floor with the other as we passed along. He suddenly stopped and pulling me back imitated with striking resemblance the peculiar twittering of a Nilotic crocodile while repeating the word ‘well’ three times.
“It is Bleyweiss, the Napoleon of crimes,” he whispered, and the next moment a pair of powerful binoculars protruded from the hollow of his eyes fixed at a specific target.
“This was Bleyweiss I just mislead successfully. He almost recognized me, but fortunately, I remembered this trick and outwitted the shrewd fellow. I was able to make him believe that I was only a crocodile.”
I looked at this extraordinary man with admiration and amazement.
“Look!” he said, I will push a button and soon we are going to be outside on the street.”
I waited with bated breath. Sheerluck Noch Nicht quietly pushed a button on his trousers, the trousers he always fastened to his waistcoat out of an eccentric habit, three times. He firmly grabbed my arm and up we ran the 15 flights of stairs. One more narrow corridor, then we ascended one more flight of stairs, reached the grate of the cellar, hammered for the janitor to open the door and then, lo and behold, in two minutes we got outside to Radish Square, where the house gate opened to.
Sheerluck quietly buttoned up his trousers and coldly turned to me as if nothing had happened.
“We are out of danger at the moment,” he said. “If we are going to smell cheese at the next corner, I will be at ease: we got even, this time, with Bleyweiss, that scoundrel. And now, we are going to the police in the matter of the murder on Tobacco Street.”

Chapter Two

In the vestibule of the police station excited running around blocked even the tiniest corner. Sheerluck and I entered through the trapdoor and immediately stepped into the chief inspector's office.
We can't disclose any information,” the chief inspector frostily said.
Sheerluck furtively glanced at me. His look told me that the chief inspector had been an old enemy of his since 1903. During an investigation in which the chief inspector played a large but an unsuccessful role, Sheerluck himself found within minutes such a solution that the murderer confessed, in addition to the crime in question, to two and a half incests, several occasions of strangulation and a breach of promise.
All the same,” Sheerluck pressed the chief inspector further, “how did you start the investigation?”
Well,” came the answer from the angry chief inspector, there is no need to be sarcastic because this time our investigation is going to succeed. First of all, we expect the killer to return where he left the corpses just out of curiosity. We sent two detectives to the crime scene in order to arrest him immediately. We also inserted an advertisement in the newspaper for the killer to appear on Elisabeth square at six o'clock wearing a red carnation and, as a trick, we added that a millionaire brunette lady who loves him is going to wait for him there. Then we asked the military recruiting team on the phone to check closely the arriving new recruits. We are certain that the killer’s remorse has deeply picked his conscience the last two days and the military doctor would immediately recognize him from the deep mark this left on him. So, if the killer is among the recruits we can immediately arrest him. And finally it appears in all the papers that I MYSELF am leading the investigation. This will make the killer so conceited that while happily singing the folk song “Whoopee, Whoopee, Free Is the Birdie” and dancing on one leg through Andrássy Road he will give himself away. We think that this is sufficient for the time being. If the killer is not going to give himself up after all these, it will just prove that we are dealing with such an evil person whom the dear God will punish and that, as far as we are concerned, will close the case.
The chief inspector then kissed his own hand, his eyes moist with tears and after having caressed lovingly his well-developed tumor, pushed it back into his spine.
Excellent,” said Sheerluck, after the chief inspector was rolled away in his wheelchair, “send a cavalry unit to the house on Rombach Street at four o'clock this afternoon.”

Chapter Three

After all these, Sheerluck Nack Neck, this amazing detective, repeated the pretty word ‘well’ twice which means in Hungarian: ‘each notebook costs thirty pence, please ask for a sample.’
And now the game's afoot,” he said with arms crossed, and continued to whistle nonchalantly ‘Yankee Doodle’ the popular march.
My kidneys became petrified in my bones.
Just go to that house,” he told me, “and wait for me, I am going to change my appearance a little bit. At the entrance, you are going to see stairs going up: put alternately forward your right foot, then the left with no fear. If two schoolboys, joined at their back, are absent on the left corner, well, well, then go into the vestibule and if the rogue resists, shoot him; tell him that I told you to do so. Then crawl unnoticed under the wardrobe, straighten up and think of the water-priest until I arrive.”
Sheerluck then suddenly pushed a button and disappeared out of my sight through a first-class leather trap. I started to go to the house with mixed feelings when all of a sudden caught sight of a baby past the corner as he tried to sneak through the fence.
I turned around and saw Sheerluck's old mother, supposedly dead for twenty years, approaching in haste from the other side. We started to speak about old times when all of a sudden I noticed the infant walking with heavy steps up and down across from us blinking incessantly in our direction. By the way, his behaviour was suspicious because he came closer and closer, and, I also found it striking that he had two revolvers in each hand and was shooting at us. After the fifteenth bullet landing in my stomach, I warned the old lady.
Just stay,” whispered Sheerluck (because, you see, he turned out to be the old lady, as I later found out). “This is Bleyweiss, that old fox! But, well, he can't mislead me with his tricky disguise. Wait here for a minute, watch that man but at the same time do as if you walked away. I will return and, at last, the rascal will get into my clutches!”
The great detective then disappeared through the canal with the heavy steps of an old woman selling kohlrabi to passers-by along his way.
Sheerluck was barely gone when a bull with quiet and cunning steps was coming on the street. I recognized him immediately: it was Sheerluck. I cried out!
Bleyweiss turned immediately towards him and shouted from afar:
Sheerluck, you old swindler, do you think that you can deceive me with these tricks? What about my bill?”
I watched with excitement as my friend threw himself at the cunning criminal who finally got into his clutches. However, to my greatest surprise, Sheerluck suddenly turned around and taking his legs with a hasty movement between his two necks, started to run with cold tranquility in the opposite direction. His perfect imitation reflected a scared person crazily running away from his tailor.
I understood 
immediately his intentions. Knowing that Bleyweiss, the cunning vocabulary of the city park's prairies may attempt to run away, Sheerluck didn't immediately dashed after him. First he walked around the city, then, when Bleyweiss didn't expect it, attacked him from behind. My kidneys and my brain froze.
What happened next, I learned later from Sheerluck.
He ran for about half an hour when he deliberately stumbled over an apple core that was earlier placed there. However, a trap underneath opened a moment later and he fell into it. The situation was immediately  clear. He was trapped by Bleyweiss' accomplices. 
Two of them grabbed him by his arms, twisted them several times around his neck; his arms were fastened in several knots behind his back. His ears were sewn together over his head, and his heels wired, and, two pillows, a quilt, a sheet, a striped shirt and two nightgowns with buttons on them were stuffed into his mouth. His head was then plunged into a washbasin full of water, symbolic poems soaking on the bottom.
Just try to outwit us like this again,” grumbled a sarcastically sneering voice. “At last, we are finished with you and with your damned antics. We are leaving now but the boiling water here that is fueled by spirits from beneath is operated by clockwork and in twenty and a half minutes two twelve horsepower engines will pump modern poems into your stomach. Moreover, another machine will squirt lime into your blood-vessels that will cause blood-sclerosis that, as you know, kills slowly but surely.”
The accomplices then roaring violently with laughter departed. Sheerluck was left alone and now, we can assure our readers that there wasn't any chance for escape, so help us God. Sheerluck indifferently put his hands in his pocket and found to his satisfaction his composure still there, hidden in a leather briefcase. He waited for death with cold apathy, hoping to learn more new details. This is the end. So, one minute passed, two minutes, five and a half minutes, seven and three-quarters of minutes, eight ... minutes, ni . . . nine minutes . . . eleven and a half . . . mi . . . mi . . . mm . . . ele . . . ele . . . ve . . . (Now! Aufpassen my respected readers!) . . . Fifteen minutes!!! . . . -?-?-- (Please, count calmly to twenty then faint quietly from excitement because this is the end of the chapter.)

Chapter Four
Bloody Skeleton in the Gas-Pipe

In the middle of all these events we arrived at the house on Rombach Street with Bleyweiss where a large crowd was waiting for news from the second floor.
We walked up to apartment 12 and using my famous friend Sheerluck's method, I sniffed the door and checked over the maid who was standing by the door a lead pipe in her hand, then sniffed her as well. I didn't find anything suspicious. We rang the bell. A tall, slightly pale fellow opened the door.
Is this apartment 12?” I asked.
We are from the police on behalf of Sheerluck, in the matter of the murder case on Rombach Street.”
What can I do for you?”
We would like to see the corpse.”
My pleasure,” the young fellow responded with a polite bow, “you are looking at it.”
I looked at him with a slightly stupid expression, then looked at Bleyweiss. I was racking my brain how Sheerluck would act in a similar situation but nothing came to mind, so I followed the young corpse who politely let me ahead of him and showed me in.
The murder happened two days ago,” he explained kindly. “My autopsy was yesterday but nothing was found. So I couldn't help it but pack up and start to decompose.”
And rolling up his sleeve, he pointed at the flesh on his elbow that started to turn green.
My lungs are still keeping up, ha-ha,” he laughed merrily and after tearing one of his thumbs off, that already started to shrivel, he threw it in the garbage. “My lungs are still keeping up but my joints are full of water and the microbes are starting to tickle my larynx,” he said scratching himself with a nice smile on his face.
I felt that something was wrong but wasn't able to recall what Sheerluck would do in a similar situation. Bleyweiss watched the scene eagerly then kindly said:
Perhaps you could go outside.”
Of course, quite right, at least I will get some fresh air,” the young corpse said jumping up.
A lonely gas-lamp was flickering at the corner of the narrow and dark street.
Bleyweiss suddenly pulled me aside and whispered with excitement:
This whole thing is very suspicious to me. This gentleman cannot be the corpse.”
I looked at him but didn't know what he meant.
Well, he continued with ardent vigor, “I made a very interesting observation. This man walks and talks. Now, listen please to the logic of my brain that arrives at the following conclusion: a corpse cannot walk and talk!”
Of cooourse!” I shouted hitting my head as everything cleared up at once. I thought so right away!”
I headed toward the fake corpse that was standing under the nearby gas-lamp counting some money. I darted at him but he wanted to run away. Then, a quite interesting thing happened. The gas-lamp quivered, bent down and grabbed the neck of the impostor.
Sheerluck was the gas-lamp...
After that, a long argument started between Sheerluck and the young fake corpse and only the piercing exclamations of “well” could clearly be heard from the famous detective. The young corpse shrugged angrily, his shoulders squeezed by Sheerluck's massive hands. A police officer appeared at last and Sheerluck handed the young corpse over to him.
Take this man to the laboratory,” said the incredible detective, “and tell the men there to put him into nitric manganese. Examine the developing moisture with litmus paper. If the paper turns blue, this man is a dangerous criminal who has already been sentenced for burglary and conjugal fraud several times.”
The officer took the shouting and kicking young fellow by his neck while this protested for being mistaken for someone else since he was already dead. He also screamed that at least they shouldn't tickle him because it makes him laugh. Sheerluck came calmly over and the three of us shook hands.
“Well,” I asked him excitedly, “how did you escape from mortal danger, your life hanging by a single crossing hair?”
What mortal danger?” he asked astonished.
Well, the one from the previous chapter . . . Oh, I see,” I added reproachfully, “again, you didn't buy the last issue... the publisher is going to be angry again...“
Loud and disturbing shouts reached us from behind. The former police officer was still standing at the corner and was looking terrified at the gesticulating man in his hand, who suddenly started to pulverize, then fell to pieces. His flesh rolled off like brown sand specks and stayed that way: a skeleton. He angrily waved his skeletal arms in the air before they also shrank, then disappeared and only the old waistcoat was left behind in the officer's hand. He threw this furiously to the ground and attacked Sheerluck.
The gentleman should make a fool of his dear old daddy!” he shouted. “This man was quite honestly dead. What did you want from him?”
People started to circle around us 
curiously waiting  for new developments. Many of them began to laugh.
Hooray, Sheerluck!” came an unexpected sound from above. We looked up and saw a
 slender monoplane. It hovered grinning above us and then madly darted away.
Follow it!” Sheerluck roared with a cool smile. “Follow it! This is Bleyweiss, the villainous accomplice.”
Sheerluck ran to a monoplane station beyond the corner. One of the monoplanes was empty: the chauffeur peacefully slept on the coach-box. Sheerluck shook him and we promised him double pay if he caught up with Bleyweiss. The monoplane took off with a jolt. It took at least ten more minutes to reach Egypt. At last, we recognized Bleyweiss' machine over the pyramid of Cheops.
Turn right, to Sahara!” screamed Sheerluck to the chauffeur.
Five minutes later Bleyweiss' machine stumbled over the top of Cachinchinga and was only able to limp further on. The distance became shorter and shorter; Bleyweiss was hardly a hundred meters ahead above the Pacific Ocean. We galloped through China and then lucky chance made the detective's job easier. Bleyweiss' plane bogged down and neighing and snorting it stopped in the Baltic Strait. Bleyweiss only had enough time to jump into the Black Sea. Sheerluck quickly paid the chauffeur and jumped after the fleeing accomplice. They were sinking fast. Bleyweiss then suddenly turned around at a coral island and fell on the great detective.
Well,” he said, “now we can have a chat. What about my bill?”
Look, Mr. Bleyweiss,” explained the great detective, “we won't argue here, will we. Come on, let's have a coffee somewhere.”
They already reached the bottom, went into a lit up café of shells and at two cups of black sea water settled this wretched story.
Look, Mr. Bleyweiss,” said Sheerluck, “try to understand my position. My reputation is at stake. I don't have that money. I have ten crowns. I give you six and pay for your coffee if you let me catch you.”
Bleyweiss took a notebook out of his pocket and after some lengthy calculations looked with a long face at the prominent detective.
Well, what shall I do? This business though is not finished. You have to get the killer on Rombach Street.”
Let Kozarek get him. You or I will be the killer of Rombach Street. I am going to prove that no murder took place. Anyway, I made up the whole story.”
They were at the point of leaving arm in arm when all Bleyweiss stopped suddenly and struck his own head.
Oops! What about the lung-cones then?”
What lung-cones?”
Have you forgotten the title of you own story?”
What title?”
 “'The Sawn-off Lung-cones!'”
'The Sawn-off Lung-cones?!' What an idea!” exclaimed Sheerluck and shook his head in dismay. “How can you saw someone's lung-cones off? This can only be the idea of crazy  authors of rubbish who write these nasty detective stories.”

Translation of: A lefűrészelt tüdőcsúcsok. Sörluk Nipp Nock detektív emlékirataiból. Így írtok ti. Budapest, 191by: Maria Bencsath