It had been four months since that last talk we had – that one minute, when Sherlock told me that he created the character of Moriarty. The night before that was the last night that I could sleep. The days before I was acquainted with Sherlock – all those days are back – the same old insomnia, the same old torture of lying on the bed trying to sleep, only to find the sun rising on the other side.
As a retired soldier, I came to London and consulted a psychiatrist about the same disorder that I was facing. She told me that the guns and the shooting had a bad effect. She told me it certainly was hard to adjust to civilian life. And then I met Sherlock Holmes – the man who made me realise that I missed the good old days as a soldier. True in every word, since then I never missed those days, as I had a wonderful taste of it, living with Holmes, being his assistant, taking his notes in awe, solving those crimes that gave him more pleasure than having food. Now, there is utter chaos, in my life and in the streets of London.
I couldn’t live in 221B, Baker Street anymore, nor could Mrs.Hudson. She too was so used to his presence there, until one day she came to meet me at my new address – 435C, WestMinister Street and told me that her current tenant was none other than Molly – Sherlock’s lab assistant. It wasn’t easy on her, she told. She wanted to forget him, but the more she tried to do so, the harder it became. She initially was reluctant to give the place to Molly, but finally accepted. Molly lives alone above.
I woke up at ten today. I must have slept sometime between five and six in the morning, for I remember glancing at the digital clock in my smartphone. There was a big parcel outside the door, along with the newspaper and the milk. I looked at the newspaper and a flood of memories came pouring in. I hadn’t been able to sleep the previous night, because the interview kept popping up in the mind. I kept wishing it would go away, but that sly old bitch who was a part of the game that ended with Sherlock’s death- her face, her dirty smile came up repeatedly. The happenings at the interview, the questions she asked, everything kept coming back as if the video-tape had been winded back repeatedly.
Sherlock death gave a chance for the newspapers to bask in glory. They weren’t going to miss it, now that his suicide had created such a terror in the hearts of the people. More than his death, they kept glorifying the truth that is so hard to believe – Sherlock created Moriarty. “Suicide of a Fake Genius” – They called it. They interviewed many; they wrote about why the world doesn’t need Sherlock. Strangely, the angle kept changing more than ever. Initially they were anti-Sherlock, and when the rate of crimes that were unsolved went to a decade high in three months after his death, they started questioning the very story they had published long back. They questioned Mrs.Hudson and Molly. They couldn’t find me for some time, as I had shifted quietly. I didn’t want the media following my life – if that existed anymore. But that crafty journalist Rita Ploy who wrote “The Truth about Sherlock Holmes”, who got played by Moriarty under the name Richard Brook, finally found me. Initially I was reluctant to even look at her face, and then all the stories they have been publishing came flooding in. I wanted to finally tell it to the world. I couldn’t keep it with me anymore. I wanted to tell the world, my story.
If Sherlock would have been here, he would have vehemently opposed it. He detested seeing himself on the front page of the newspaper. The blog was a success, but he did initially oppose it. I stopped updating the blog soon after Sherlock’s death. It was unbearable to look at the range of anti-Sherlock comments that were posted on it. I tried deleting them, but there was too much to handle.
“Sherlock – a genius or a fraud? an exclusive interview with John Watson and Inspector Lestrade breaks his silence (finally) ”. The front page was covered completely with this title in white font over a red background, and a photo of me, which they clearly had dug out from the press photos that I and Sherlock were made to pose for, back in those days. I wasn’t surprised that Rita had also met Lestrade. The last that I know of him was that he was suspended for giving away information to Sherlock. It seemed that the investigators had turned a blind eye to the fact that a majority of the cases were solved with Sherlock’s assistance. But they decided to give him his old post back. The newspapers lambasted the jury. It seemed the jury gave the decision on lighter terms considering that it wasn’t only Lestrade who had benefited from Sherlock, but almost every Inspector of London.
I turned the page to see a whole page of my interview and the next page given to Lestrade’s.
“SHERLOCK ‘s PAL SPEAKS OUT“ – by Rita Ploy
I sit on the pale green sofa of his new house, while he sits on the old teakwood chair by the window, eyes peering at me. John Watson – a former army doctor and soldier, and the man who was seen frequently in company of Sherlock Holmes, doesn’t speak much. By the looks of it, he clearly misses the presence of Holmes. There was a prolonged silence until I finished the great tea he offered. I finally spoke-
‘I didn’t think we are on first name basis now. When did that happen? Let me think it over?’ John mocks at me.
‘I am sorry, Mr.Watson. But you can’t deny that we are not strangers anymore. There’s more to this than you can think of.’ I reply, my voice echoing in the silence of the house.
‘So will you do it then? For Sherlock’s sake? The people deserve to know the truth, you know’
‘What I know is Sherlock wouldn’t have cared about what others think about him and I don’t think I do. But…’ He seemed to have stopped.
‘Yes,..go on. ‘ I prodded along.
‘There’s only so much you can keep hiding in the mind. But that’s not the reason I am telling you anything. Rather look down at the stories that you have published, and anyone can recognise the gaping holes in your ever changing stories. Yes, (sounding angry) I shall tell you what I think of Sherlock Holmes. Criminal Mastermind?–No! Consulting detective? –Yes! Half of London owes it to him for solving their problems. Where the inspectors have failed, there always was Sherlock. Had it not been for the blog, he wouldn’t even have come out in the open. It was a secret, he told. He loved solving crimes, for all we know. But he never took credit for all the amazing work he had done, not until we decided to make a hero out of him. ‘
He stopped, wondering if I would ask any question. But I felt the silence would work better. I just kept my notes going on.
‘Sherlock wasn’t the one who would speak his mind. He would always be there, sitting on the couch, basking in silence – would never know when I would have left the house for a walk. He would be there, analysing minute details of the case. There was nothing that would be missed by Sherlock.’
He seemed to take a moment.
‘So what is your opinion about the story of Jim Moriarty? Do you think Sherlock… ‘
‘I don’t believe a word of it. Jim Moriarty was a criminal mastermind – the only one in whom Sherlock Holmes found a match to self. But Sherlock did not create the character. He was a real person, and I believe it and so do many.’
‘It certainly is a fall of a hero, then?’
‘Term it whatever you like. End of story – I don’t give a damn. Nor would any of the people who knew Sherlock would care about it.’
That was the end of our conversation. It has been difficult to get to know about the real Sherlock Holmes. Very few people seemed to be close to him and really know him as opposed to those who were stupefied by his outrageous theories. At times like this, when the crime rate is at a steadfast rise, do we need Sherlock? The police have been stumped with the rise in the number of unsolved crimes in the streets of London. The people now doubt the story that once was etched on the minds of every commoner.
So we decided to question the police about the same. Who else would suit other than Inspector Lestrade – the man whose name is muddled in the Sherlock-Moriarty controversy? We were informed by the office of Lestrade that he would not be entertaining any questions about Sherlock Holmes, but would be glad to give a statement to the press about their current stand in fighting crime. A select few media-persons, along with us, of course were called for the press statement.
“We are currently doing everything to stop the crimes. The amount of police force that has been assigned to this task of safeguarding our lives has never been so high. That provided, it clearly makes anyone unsettled looking at the number of unsolved crimes. Yes, it is rising, but the progress that we have achieved is good and healthy. I can give you the good news that you can expect the cases to be closed and finally solved in the coming weeks. We have an excellent team and everything requires patience. The Frieghtlark’s Missing Diamond Case has been solved. It was the daughter who had stolen the diamond and the police are taking her in custody, as we speak. So that is the news and good day to you all.”
‘Inspector, what’s your say of the currently brewing story of Sherlock being innocent.’ I asked.
‘I am not going to talk of Sherlock Holmes – that was what we told before we agreed to give this statement.’
‘Inspector Lestrade will not entertain any questions about Holmes. Now, if there’s nothing else, that is the end of this then.’ A young assistant by the name of Ms.Donnavan announced.
‘I think I agree with Ms Ploy here. We never got to know your side of the Inspector!’ A young reporter from ‘The Daily’ speaks up. ‘Don’t you have anything to say about the Sherlock Holmes case? We all now know that he solved many crimes for you, and mostly for you, to be precise. So you knew him better than any of us. Perhaps you could shed some light here….’
‘I made myself very clear when I told I won’t talk about this.’
‘Inspector..’ Now what we had started seemed to spread across the room as a fire in a haystack. Everyone were trying to get a bit of this new unprecedented angle. Icing on the cake!
‘It is true that without Sherlock’s great insight we couldn’t have solved some of the crimes. I cannot really comment about whether he played a game with us by committing those crimes and then solving it for us. It is easy for us to say anything, but the truth, no one really knows. Was Jim Moriarty the real mastermind against these crimes or was he a part of the story that Holmes weaved us into? I don’t know! Was he my friend – Yes! Though I wouldn’t say the same if I were him. He never considered himself to have friends. He preferred to work alone. That’s all I know. Thank You…’
The inspector didn’t shed much light into developing story of Sherlock Holmes. But is Sherlock Holmes innocent? Was his death really a suicide? The fan clan of Sherlock seems to be growing now more than ever. So what secrets have been kept away from us, the public? Time will surely tell.
On an ending note, Ms Ploy puts up a glowing question- Is Sherlock Holmes dead, for all we know?
Shocking and outrageous it may seem, she reminds us that his funeral was a closed casket ceremony. She leaves us this tiny bit of confusion as she ends her weekly.”
I couldn’t resist a laugh after reading this article. It was such a waste of space. Rita had gone lengths to make it a three page affair, filling it with all the eye catching titles and those photos of mine, Holmes and Lestrade. On a personal take, it was a waste of time. There was nothing knew apart from Lestrade announcing the solving of Frieghtlark’s Missing Diamond Case. Daughter,huh! Sherlock would have guessed it in one glance of her. “Sherlock’s Pal Speaks out” “Inspector Lestrade- What Holmes meant to us!” Clearly, Rita had added all the catchy lines. I don’t remember of telling anything about hiding something in the mind. Had she gone any further, I would have sued her. For once, she had nothing but bread crumbs to go with. And the last thing indeed was as if she had read my mind. Since his death, the only miracle that I hoped for was Sherlock to be alive. Rita was playing with our minds now.
* * *
Excerpts from Part 2
I threw the newspaper back to the old table. Why Sherlock! Why did you have to jump down the ruddy old building? Why.why? I had almost forgotten the big velvet green parcel that was now sitting pretty on the table. I picked it up, and turned it upside down, to see a white note stuck between the golden thread circling the parcel. It was addressed to me.
“John – I am SHERLOCKED”