Return to my Fiction pages
Go to my home page
Fiction. © Copyright 2000, Jim Loy
"You claim to be Napoleon?"
There was a brief explosion of laughter, "No, I am the Napoleon of Crime; it is my job, as it were. I am a kind of master criminal, a mastermind. My name is Professor James Moriarty."
"I do not keep up with the newspapers. I am sure that you are very well-known to the public."
"On the contrary, neither the newspapers nor the police know of me, at all. They would interfere with my work, if they knew about me."
"But that must be very frustrating for you, to not have the fame and notoriety that is due to you as, um let's see... the Napoleon of crime, after all?"
"Maybe you do have a valid point there, Doctor. Maybe I do crave recognition, the lime light, as it were. I assure you that I can deal with the lack of fame, emotionally. After all, I am very well known to the criminals of London (and the rest of Europe), and to one confounded busybody, Holmes, Sherlock Holmes, damn him."
"I have heard of Sherlock Holmes. I'm sure you have met your match there."
"Oh I have, have I? Perhaps you should stick to your own areas of expertise, like treating imbeciles and lunatics."
"And which are you?"
"Touche. I apologize, Doctor. I did not mean to lash out at you like that. I am neither an imbecile nor a lunatic, in my opinion. I am just passing through your pleasant asylum. I shall be leaving as soon as Holmes has lost the scent."
"So, you are sane, and a criminal. I should refuse you asylum and turn you over to the police or to Sherlock Holmes, should I not?"
"Then you will lose the opportunity to study a master criminal. I am sure you do not get that chance every day."
"Yes, that is tempting. You would cooperate fully?"
"Certainly, I am a man of science myself. I will cooperate to the best of my abilities."
Of course I was the class genius, at least in mathematics and the sciences. My fellow students sought my help in their studies, and they also were cruel as only children can be. I exhibited no criminal tendencies. In fact, I foolishly looked to the school authorities for justice whenever some minor crime was committed against me. Eventually, I learned not to complain.
Then one day, I learned that my father and younger brother were dead, and that my mother was accused of murdering them. I did not know how to react. I am sure that everyone expected me to take time off from school. But where was I to go? My only living relative was in jail; she was eventually hanged.
I threw myself into my studies. Calling me a genius became an understatement. At the age of 16, I was elected to the Royal Society.
Also at the age of 16, I committed my first crime. Some friends of mine and I, at Cambridge, were sitting around, idly talking about the fictitious perfect crime. I said that whatever crime they came up with, I thought I could plan it so that we would never get caught. It was a fiasco. Four men, I was not among them, entered the Bank of England, intent upon stealing a few million pounds at gun point. After it was over two men lay dead, one of my friends and a bank guard, who decided to shoot it out like Americans. The other three men fled on foot. One of my friends threatened to turn himself in to the police. One of the other two men shot and killed him. I would have killed him myself, had I been there. We three who remained were never captured and tried for murder. We certainly were not guilty of theft. And I learned that I must train my underlings, and maintain discipline, if I wanted to succeed as a criminal.
And succeed I did. I made the planning of theft and murder a business. The business grew exponentially. The average London criminal learned that there were many benefits to working for a secret mastermind. They now had much better chances of success. When they failed (some of them are nearly imbeciles, after all), they were less likely to come to trial, as I could afford to pay off policemen. If they came to trial, they were less likely to be convicted, as I paid a somewhat higher salary to judges. If they were convicted, they routinely received shorter sentences, I supported their families, and I had employment waiting for them when they got out. They only had to pay a small percentage, to receive all of these benefits.
Perhaps I should give you an example of one type of crime at which I excel. One of my underlings was on trial for murder. I decided that the key witness should be assassinated. I found that this witness was very regular in his habits. Every morning at almost the same time, one of his coworkers drove up in a carriage, and picked him up at his front door. There was a period of about ten seconds when a sniper could easily shoot him. I hired three expert marksmen who took up positions in buildings within view to his house. When our intended victim exited from his front door, he was unexpectedly accompanied by his young daughter. All three snipers failed to shoot, for fear of striking the child. Of course, I have since punished the three snipers severely, for failing to follow my orders. Luckily there was still time to execute an alternative plan, which was successful. Before you interrupt, let me reassure you that the child was completely unharmed, except for a few red stains on her clothing.
The success of my business depended to a large extent upon the ignorance of the police. In my arrogance, I made mistakes. Different criminals committed identical crimes. It became too obvious that some judges and police officials were corrupt. But, had not Sherlock Holmes stumbled upon these key clues, I believe that the police would never know about me.
Sherlock Holmes is a very impractical man. He refuses to take bribes or hints. I do not think that he is innately honest. I think that he is innately inquisitive. He goes after the solution to the puzzle without regard for the possible dire consequences. He risks death, of himself and his friends and any number of innocent bystanders.
I knew him when he was a young man, by the way. I was his tutor for a short period of time, at Oxford. If only I had known what I know now. I could have snuffed out his life so easily.
"No one by the name of James Moriarty has every been elected to the Royal Society."
"So you checked, did you? Moriarty is not my real name."
"No one was ever killed while robbing the Bank of England."
"Really? I don't think you can prove that. There has been some kind of cover-up."
"Everything you told me was a lie."
"What is your real name?"
"Can we verify that?"
"I very much doubt it."
"Did your mother murder your father and brother?"
"No. Would you like to hear of the real tragedy of my family?"
"Spare me. A Mr. Sherlock Holmes has come here asking about a Professor Moriarty. He asked me to give him this letter."
Reichenbach Falls, your choice of weapons.
Return to my Fiction pages
Go to my home page