Chapter 3 The Third Day
The sound of a motor humming awoke Sarah just before dawn. She didn’t move for a moment. The man was warm against her back and his hand rested on her shoulder. “Cowboy,” she whispered, “are you awake?”
“I thought you named me David,” he said in that wonderful, accented voice. It did not sound as he had just woken from a deep slumber.
“I just made that up,” she said smiling, but still not moving. “Do you know what that sound is?”
“I have been listening to it for a few minutes. I believe it’s your refrigerator.”
There was a mechanical clang in a nearby room and a whoosh as air escaped from heating vents. “And that’s the furnace coming on!” Sarah whooped. “We have power, Houston!” She extricated herself from his arm and sat up, throwing off the covers. “The kitchen lights are on! Civilization has returned to the little house on the cliff.” Sarah crawled out of the tent and stood up in her living room. “Oh, strange man, do you what this means? Assuming the pipes aren’t frozen, I can take a shower and wash my hair. I can use the microwave. I can even brew you a proper cup of coffee. How about that?”
Sherlock and Scout emerged from the tent also. “I must admit I share your enthusiasm.”
Sarah reached into her jeans pocket and brought out her phone and turned it on. “And,” she continued, “if the DSL is up I can use my computer which means I can try and discover your identity. But…lest we get too carried away, I remember what happened the last ice storm. The electricity came on for two days and then it went off for two more days.” Sarah raised her arms. “Oh, do you feel that? Warmth returns to this house.” She glanced down at her phone. “Oh, look at those glorious bars. The elves were certainly busy overnight working on those cell towers. I hope they got the land lines working, too. Listen, while we wait for the hot water tank to do its job—I know you’re a guest and I should let you shower first, but I’m not going to—I’ll fix us some breakfast and we can eat at the table and not squatting on the floor in front of the fire.”
Two hours later, breakfast was over and the dishes washed, both had taken showers and had on clean clothes (she had found Sherlock additional sweatpants and a sweatshirt so she could wash the ones he had been wearing), and she had taken down the blankets that had formed the tent in front of the fireplace and folded the quilts that had formed the pallet. “Because if everything stays on, we can sleep in real beds tonight,” she said, “with real mattresses. But just in case, I’m going to refill all of these pots and the bathtub with water.”
When she was finished, she sat up her laptop on the dining room table, prayed silently for a connection and let out a small cry of joy when her homepage opened. “Now, I’m going to put in everything I know about you and see what comes up.” She looked at the notes that she had kept since he arrived. “Let’s see. There’s John…oh my gosh!”
Sherlock was standing next to her chair. “What is it?”
“I just remembered. Last night you were having a dream, well, it was more like a nightmare. You kept yelling John’s name and ‘fire’ and ‘he’s in the fire.’ But by the time I got awake enough, you had quieted down again. Do you think John might have died in a fire?”
“No idea. I don’t remember the dream. Baker.”
“Put down Baker, too.”
“You think that’s a name or occupation?”
“I don’t know. It just popped into my head.”
“Ok,” said Sarah. “John, Baker, fire, British, missing, dark hair, curls…”
“What was that last?”
“I have to describe you. I don’t even know how old you are. Thirtyish...thirty-five. I’m not very good at guessing ages. I need to see how tall you are. Come over here and stand against the door.” She led him by his sleeve and put his back against the door frame and got a measuring tape from a kitchen drawer. “Six one. I thought you were taller. Probably because you’re so thin.”
“How tall are you?” asked Sherlock, and then answered the question himself. “Five eight.”
“How could you know that?” Sarah did not wait for an answer. “Ok. Come back over to the table.”
She typed more words into the search engine and pressed enter. The results were instantaneous. “Oh, my gosh! You’re Dr. Who!”
“Dr. Who. You know—Time Lord?” Sarah glanced up from the search results to see the look of confusion on Sherlock’s face and laughed. “Take my word for it, you’re not Dr. Who. Well, you could be, I guess. Hmmm. I could be your next companion. Just kidding. You’re not Dr. Who.”
“How do you know?”
“Well, for one thing, he’s not real. It’s a British television show that started back in the early 60’s. It’s been running for years. It’s still on, in fact. I think it’s funny that it came up first in the search. But I don’t know about you. You don’t know Dr. Who or Star Trek, but you know how to tell if someone’s been suffocated and you know how to play the violin—beautifully. And I’ll never forget that you can tell a new toothbrush by its smell. I’m anxious to see what you’re really like when you get your memory back. Hey, how about those flashes of light you were seeing yesterday?”
“They’ve changed a little in intensity, but they are still just flashes.”
“Continuing on our quest…” Sarah turned back to the laptop and read down the list of search results. “Dr. Who, Dr. Who, Dr. Who, Dr. Who, some movie review from 2011, oh, here’s a different one. The Log of Dr. John H. Watson. Ring a bell?”
“Not at all.”
“Johnwatsonblog.co.uk. At least it’s in the right country. Let’s see what he has to say.” Sarah opened the web page. “Oh, my gosh…”
“I wish you wouldn’t keep saying that.”
“Oh, my gosh,” Sarah repeated. “It’s you!”
“I’m Dr. John Watson?”
“No,” said Sarah, drawing out the word. “No, no, no. You’re…” She enlarged one of the pictures on the page. “You’re Sherlock Holmes.”
“How can you tell?”
“Because I’m looking at a picture…of you. You look just like him.”
“Lots of people resemble other people.”
“Let me find some more pictures.” Sarah was quiet while she searched the site. “He doesn’t seem to have a lot of photos of you on here. But I’ve heard that name before. Something in the news a few years ago. You were dead for a couple of years and then reappeared—something about terrorists maybe. I don’t really know. This is America. Our media doesn’t even report important things going on in this country—they certainly don’t spend a lot of time on foreign news. Give me a few moments. Let me read a little of what he says.”
Sherlock gripped the back of her chair. “This is just so frustrating not being able to see.”
“I know,” Sarah said, distractedly. “Oh my gosh…”
“I asked you to stop saying that.”
“Sorry, it just comes out. This is from his blog from today.” Sarah read excerpts as she scanned the lines. “You’ve been missing for six days. You disappeared on Friday. He says that’s not unusual, but he’s ‘concerned’.”
“How could I have been dead for a couple of years and then come back to life?”
Sarah continued to scan portions of various blog entries as she talked. “I don’t remember the details. I just remember the name. I guess you faked your death. Hey, wait a minute!” She looked up at him. “Are you faking now?” She waved a hand in front of his face. “Can you really see? I’ll bet there’s nothing wrong with your memory either.”
Sherlock did not respond.
Sarah turned her attention back to the blog, but said, “I didn’t hear an answer.”
“Uh, sorry, no. No, I’m not faking. I was just thinking. Two years is a long time. What did that do to my friends, my family, thinking I was dead all that time and then suddenly reappearing?”
“They were probably a little ticked off at the deception, but glad to have you back, no doubt. What kind of a name is Sherlock, anyway?” asked Sarah. “Do you think your friends really call you that?”
Sherlock did not answer and Sarah looked up at him. He was staring blindly straight ahead and the muscles in his lower jaw were spasming. “Sherlock?” She said the name quietly.
“I don’t know!” he shouted and slammed a fist into his open palm. “I don’t know and I can’t remember!”
“You’ve called me ‘John’ twice in the past three days and you shouted that name in your sleep last night. From what I’ve read on here so far, I think this Dr. Watson might be your John. He seems to alternate between idolizing you and wanting to wring your neck but he calls you brilliant more than once and it sounds as if he’s really in awe of your powers of deduction. His number is here on the website. I think we should call him.”
“No. It could be a trick, a trap. After all, I was left here under very suspicious circumstances.”
“If it’s a trap, it’s a very good one. This blog of his dates back...oh, gosh, six years. It’s mostly cases that the two of you have worked on. He says you’re a ‘consulting detective,’ whatever that is. I think we should call him. Besides, why would someone drop you off here and then try to get you back? Let’s call him. Except I’ve never actually made an overseas call. Give me a minute to look up how to do it. I think you have to punch in some codes.”
I was at my house when I answered the phone. The first words I heard were, “This is Sarah Dunkirk, calling from Missouri in the US. You don’t know me, but I think I might have your Sherlock Holmes.” I had already received a few calls after I posted on my blog that Sherlock was missing. A couple were legitimate inquiries for more information, two wanted money for his return. I knew those were fake. Anyone who really was holding my friend for ransom, after six days would have been offering me money to take him off their hands. This was the first call I’d had from the states.
“What do you mean that you think you might have him?” I asked cautiously.
“Let me put you on speaker, so he can hear,” the woman’s voice on the other end said. “Because we’re not sure who he is. He looks like the guy on your blog pages and a few things match, but we’re not a hundred percent sure.”
My curiosity was aroused. “I don’t understand. How can you not know whether or not he’s Sherlock?”
“Because he can’t remember who he is and…and he’s blind. But he’s all right.”
“My God, how can you say he’s all right if he doesn’t know who he is and he’s blind?”
“I mean, physically he’s not injured or anything,” Sarah said. “He’s standing right here next to me.”
“We can video chat so I can see him.”
“Oh, I’m not really set up for that. This is an older laptop. I’d probably have to download something. And I don’t have a data plan on my phone, either. I know, technologically, I’m kind of in the dark ages, but I’ve never needed it before.”
“Let me hear him talk. Sherlock, can you hear me?”
“I can hear you perfectly, Dr. Watson. Do I sound like the man you know?”
“You sound exactly like him.” I tried to go down a mental list of any identifying features that might confirm his identity. “Ms. Dunkirk—Sarah—look at his lower lip. There should be a small scar. On which side is it?”
Sarah stood halfway up off the chair and peered at Sherlock’s lip. “Yes, there is. On the right.”
“That's where I punched him.” I would have felt better if I had been able to see it to know for sure I wasn’t being duped. I quickly thought of another scar, but wanted to test her. “On his abdomen, there should be about a ten centimeter scar. On which side is it?”
I heard her say, “Cowboy, raise your shirt so I can see. I don’t remember seeing anything like that.” And then she replied to me, “I don’t see any scar like that. There’s just a small round one, about the size of a shirt button, a few inches above his navel and slightly off center. Looks almost like a smallpox vaccination, but in the wrong place, of course.”
“Are you sure?” I asked. It was almost too good to believe.
“Does that mean it’s not him?”
“No, it means it is. It absolutely is. That’s where my wife shot him.”
There was a pause on the other end of the line. “Wait a minute. You punched him in the face and your wife put a bullet in him? And you say on your blog that he’s your best friend? I think I’ve change my mind. I don’t think I want to send him back to you.”
“No, wait.” I was afraid she was going to end the call. “It’s complicated. I mean, they were all part of a case, well, different cases, we were working on. Sherlock, are you still there?”
“Yes, Dr. Watson.”
“You don’t remember me at all?”
“No, but the evidence would seem to indicate that I am indeed your Sherlock Holmes.”
“How did you end up in Missouri?”
Sarah briefly explained how she had discovered him two days earlier.
“OK.” My mind was racing with what I needed to do. “Listen, I’ve got to make some arrangements. Tell me exactly where you are and I can be there in what…however many hours it takes to fly there.”
My mind was already racing to how I might get help from Mycroft, Sherlock’s brother. Surely he would be able to procure a private jet. Sarah gave me her exact location so I could pass that on to Mycroft.
“And wait…before you hang up,” said Sarah. “You need to bring him some clothes…you know pants, shirt, a coat, and shoes—don’t forget shoes.”
“We’re not going on holiday. I’m just bringing him directly back to London.”
“Yeah, but he arrived au naturel, if you know what I mean.
“I…I’m not sure what you mean,” I stammered.
“He wasn’t wearing anything when I found him. I got him some of my clothes, but I think he would much prefer his own.”
“Right then.” This whole scenario seemed surreal. As a friend, I just wanted to be there and bring him home safely. As a doctor, I wanted to examine him and find what was causing his amnesia and blindness. Sherlock Holmes blind. I couldn’t even imagine that. Visual cues played such a huge role in his brilliant powers of deduction. And not knowing who he was, were those powers of his even still there?
Mycroft was wonderful when I told him the news. His position in the British government was such that even before I could get over to Baker Street and pack a bag for Sherlock, his brother already had a plane waiting for me at Heathrow. I rang Sarah back and told her it would probably be ten hours or more before I would get there. We would only need to refuel once and then the closest the jet could get me was the small airport at Bolivar, Missouri. There was going to be a helicopter and pilot waiting for me there to take me to her house. She informed me that they were expecting a little snow late that night. It was already almost five o’clock in the evening London time, although eleven in the morning where Sherlock was. It would be a long night.
Back in Missouri, Sarah still sat at the computer reading more of my blog. “He seems genuinely concerned about you. Didn’t it sound that way to you?”
“I don’t know,” Sherlock said sullenly, still standing beside her. “I don’t like the bit about his wife shooting me and him punching me in the face.” He reached up to feel the small scar on his lip.
“Yeah, he didn’t even sound very apologetic about that. But, on the other hand, he didn’t have to tell us that either.” Sarah looked up from the laptop as Sherlock turned his back to her and took a few halting steps toward the living room and stopped in the middle of it. “Sherlock. Wonder why your parents named you that? Am I supposed to call you that now?” He didn’t answer. “You know, we might be related. My great great grandmother was a Holmes. But I think that branch came to America in the early 1700’s so any relationship would probably be pretty far back—8th or 9th cousins maybe. Still, it’s interesting to think about…that you just happened to wind up in the backyard of a distant relative.” He still made no response.
Sarah worked a while longer on the computer. When she finally looked up, Sherlock was still standing stiffly in the middle of the living room. “Hey, Sherlock, what say we try to get the car out and go to town? I’m getting a little low on some basic stuff like milk and bread, eggs. And batteries. I should have had more batteries on hand so I wouldn’t have had to worry about playing the radio for any length of time.” Still no response. “Sherlock?”
“Perhaps I should stay here. I don’t imagine I am dressed appropriately”
Sarah chuckled. “Are you kidding? Those sweatpants and shirt are OK. And with Mr. Gordon’s duster and my red cowboy boots, you’ll blend in with the natives just fine.” She closed her laptop and walked over to him and touched his shoulder. He flinched and stepped away. “Careful,” she cautioned. “You’ll run into the coffee table. Come on. We need to get out of the house for a while and we have lots of time before your Dr. Watson gets here.”
“All right. But I drive.” He turned toward her and flashed the widest smile she had seen since he arrived.
“I don’t think so, Cowboy.”
The trip to Bolivar and back was without incident. The roads were not in the best shape, but Sarah was careful. The grocery store and big box store were packed. The rest of the county evidently had been suffering from cabin fever, also. By the time the two of them returned to Sarah’s house and she had put away the groceries and other supplies, it was almost dark and had begun to spit snow.
“The weatherman said we were to only get one to three inches. That won’t be too bad, although, sometimes when we aren’t expecting much is when we get a lot. I hope it doesn’t interfere with the flight into Bolivar or the helicopter to here. I think I’ll bring in some wood and make a fire before supper. Does spaghetti sound OK?” Sarah often felt like she was talking to herself. Sherlock had the habit of not responding to much of what she said. Just now he was slumped in her recliner. She went ahead with her chores and then fixed dinner. He did come to the table to eat but said very little. She realized after only a few minutes that spaghetti was probably not a good choice for a man who had recently lost his sight.
After supper, Sherlock returned to the recliner and took off the cowboy boots that Sarah had loaned him. She had bought him a pair of men’s white athletic socks that he now wore. After opening a favorite website that played 60’s music, she lay back on the couch listening to a series of tunes from the Beatles and the Mamas and Papas and the Stones and others. When Don’t Worry, Baby by the Beach Boys started, Sherlock suddenly came to life. “Do you dance?” he asked.
“I used to. Haven’t had anyone to dance with for a long time.”
“Would you dance with me?’
“Sure.” Sherlock stood and held out his left hand. Sarah shrugged her shoulders then stood up and took his hand in her own.
“Here,” she said, “Let’s move over here. There’s plenty of space between the coffee table and the hearth. It’ll be hard enough to keep from tripping over my own feet—don’t want to trip over the furniture, too. Oh, let me take off my boots first. I’ll probably be stepping on your toes quite a bit.”
Sarah placed her left hand on his shoulder and he rested his right hand lightly on her waist, just above her left hip and they danced to the rest of Don’t Worry, Baby. Sarah mouthed the words to the song as they danced and she noticed that Sherlock did the same. They followed that dance with the Hollies’ The Air that I Breathe, My Girl by the Mamas and the Papas, She’s a Rainbow by the Rolling Stones, and finished with Somebody to Love by Jefferson Airplane.
“Got to stop,” said Sarah, catching her breath. “I haven’t done this in a long time.”
Do You Believe in Magic by the Lovin’ Spoonful was starting. “But this is a good one,” said Sherlock.
“It’s the ‘60’s. They’re all good,” said Sarah, taking his hand again and dancing. “A dancing detective who also plays a mean violin. I ought to write a children’s book about you.”
“You have not written anything since I’ve been here.”
“I did the first day while you were sleeping. I forget sometimes how much I rely on the Internet for research. So, I’ve just put things on hold for a couple of days. I’ll get back to it when you’ve gone.”
Cecilia by Simon & Garfunkel started and Sherlock and Sarah continued dancing. “Molly,” Sherlock said softly.
“I thought I was John,” said Sarah. “Now, who’s Molly?”
Sherlock shook his head.
“‘Making love in the afternoon… up in my bedroom’,” said Sarah, quoting a line from Cecilia.* “Must have a triggered a memory.”
Sherlock shrugged and smiled. “Don’t know.”
“OK,” said Sarah when the song ended, “I need to sit down for a few minutes.” The songs continued coming from the laptop. She laid her head against the back of the couch. After a few minutes she said, “Oh, now I remember Molly from John Watson’s blog this morning. She works in a morgue. Gives you access to the lab there. But John says that you are married to your work and have no time for love. So… so much for Molly.”
“Married to my work? That seems rather sad.”
“You don’t have to be. All work, I mean. ‘Cause one day you’ll regret it.”
Just then A Summer Song by Chad and Jeremy came on. “One last dance,” said Sherlock, standing and holding out his hand.
“Oh, yeah, ‘trees swaying in the summer breeze’ while the snow is falling outside.” Sarah obliged but Turn! Turn! Turn! by the Byrds immediately followed A Summer Song and they continued dancing. When it was over, Sarah announced that she was turning off the music. “You’re going to wear me out. I won’t even be able to stay awake until John Watson comes.”
Sarah poked the fire and added more wood. “It’s so nice to be warm again and not worry about the fire going out.” She went into the kitchen and fixed them both a cup of tea. Then they sat on the couch together, with Scout between them, and waited for the arrival of Dr. John Watson.
It was ten minutes till eleven local time that I called Sarah to tell her we had just left the Bolivar airport and were heading her way by helicopter. It was almost five in the morning by my time, and although I had tried to sleep on the long flight, it was not a restful sleep. The ‘copter pilot had studied the satellite maps and ascertained that there would be ample room to set down in the front yard of Sarah’s house. In almost no time we arrived at our destination. Light snow was falling and it swirled around us as the helicopter sat down. I climbed out and headed toward the house with not a little trepidation. I really did not know what to expect. Just as I reached the porch, my phone buzzed. There was a cryptic text from Mycroft (I don’t know why neither of the Holmes brothers can ever say anything outright). The message said, “Careful of Sarah. She might be dangerous. MH.” I shoved the phone back in my coat pocket and marched towards the door.
Sarah stood at the bay window in her living room and watched the lights of the helicopter descend. “They’re here,” she announced to Sherlock who was still on the couch.
“I hear it,” he said. He leaned over by the recliner where he had been sitting earlier and retrieved the cowboy boots and pulled them on.
Scout perked up her ears at the noise of the helicopter, jumped off the couch and quickly exited the room, heading toward her safe spot under the bed in the guest room. “Some watch dog,” admitted Sarah. She opened the front door. Sherlock stood but stayed by the couch.
I extended my hand to the woman in the doorway and, clearing my throat, introduced myself. “I’m John Watson.”
“I’m Sarah Dunkirk, Dr. Watson. Come in out of the cold. Doesn’t your pilot want to come in?”
“Please call me John. And, uh, no, he’s actually not even shutting down. I just want to…uh…get Sherlock and go home.” Despite Mycroft’s warning, the woman before me did not look dangerous at all. She looked to be in her late 50’s, maybe early 60’s, with short, light brown hair. Tall and slender, she was wearing jeans and a gray turtleneck with an open chambray shirt over it. No shoes. Just socks. I looked over at Sherlock who was standing there, rigid. He had on black sweatpants and a gray sweatshirt. And red cowboy boots. I crossed over to him. “Sherlock. It’s me. John.”
He did not answer, but stared straight ahead. “Sherlock? Can you hear me?”
“Of course, I can hear you. I believe that Sarah informed you that I was blind, not deaf.” That tone of voice was the Sherlock I knew. But did he know me? “Sherlock, I’ve come to take you back to London. We need to leave. The pilot just got an updated weather report a few minutes ago. The snow’s getting worse. Sherlock?”
He just stood there.
“No,” he said.
“What do you mean ‘no’?” Patience has never been one of my virtues and I had just come off an eleven-hour flight to the middle of nowhere.
“I have no intention of going with you.”
I looked at Sarah who still stood by the door. She shrugged her shoulders. “Sherlock,” I said, “we worked this all out this afternoon—maybe it was morning here. Remember? I was on the phone with you and…and…and this woman.”
“This woman’s name is Sarah. And she and you made the arrangements. I never agreed to them.”
“Sherlock!” I growled, frustrated.
“I don’t know you,” said Sherlock. “I don’t know if you are who you say you are. I don’t know that I won’t get in that helicopter with you and be dropped off someplace worse than this. Although, quite frankly, I can’t imagine a place much worse than this. Maybe it’s a game you’re playing with my life."
I stood there a moment and fumed, but Sarah stepped forward and said, “Hey, Cowboy, I saved your life. I think there are a lot of places worse than this, thank you.”
“Sherlock,” I said, trying to hold my temper, “we have to leave now. I’ve got a bag with a change of clothes and your coat in the helicopter, unless you want to go with what you’re wearing. But we have to go—now.”
“No. And from the physical description of you that Sarah gave me off your blog, I don’t think you can make me. Even blind, I think you would come out the loser if you even so much as lay a hand on me.”
“Oh, I think I can take you. Right here. Right now. We are getting on that helicopter.”
Fortunately, Sarah stepped between us before it came to a physical altercation. “Boys. Calm down. John, I’m sorry. I didn’t know he wasn’t planning on leaving with you. But I think you should go for tonight. Take your helicopter back to Bolivar. Get a motel…"
“Oh, I’m not leaving him here.”
“OK, then you and the pilot can spend the night here. We’re all tired. Maybe tomorrow you both can sit down and talk through this like rational human beings.”
“Sherlock,” I pleaded one more time, “you’ve got people back home who are worried about you. Mary and Mrs. Hudson and…and your brother…and Molly and Detective Inspector Lestrade. You might not remember me or them, but we just want you back safe…and whole.”
“Not tonight,” he said adamantly. “Go tell your helicopter friend that plans have changed.”
I honestly did not know what to do at that point, short of hog-tying him and dragging him to the helicopter. I fumed for a few moments and then stormed outside.
Sarah warily laid a hand on Sherlock’s arm. “Are you all right?”
“No…I’m not, Molly…I mean, Sarah. I don’t know. I just need to lie down.”
“Come on, then. I’m putting you in the guest room tonight. It’s right off the living room here and opens onto the downstairs bathroom that you’ve been using. You’ve just been getting to it through the kitchen door. Scout’s in the bedroom. She’ll probably sleep with you tonight.”
The beating of the helicopter rotor blades brought them both to attention. “It’s taking off,” said Sarah, watching through the window as the helicopter lifted off the front lawn.
“With John Watson?”
“Apparently not,” Sarah said, as the front door opened and I came in and dropped the bag I was carrying.
“Here are your clothes, Sherlock. Meanwhile my change of clothes and my razor and my toothbrush are back in the bloody jet at the bloody airport.”
“Hey,” said Sarah. “Calm down. I have an extra toothbrush.”
“He’s not using mine,” said Sherlock.
Sarah threw her hands in the air. “I have extras! I buy multi-packs. They’re cheaper that way. And I just never know when company’s going to drop in…and I mean drop in. Now, John, I’m going to get Sherlock settled in the bedroom and then I’m coming back in here. I’ll make you a cup of tea if you want and I’ll fix you some covers on the couch here…”
“I want to examine him first,” I said.
“Why?” asked Sherlock.
“Because I’m a doctor!” I shouted.
“John, John,” said Sarah. “On your blog, you call him your best friend. Do you ever talk to each other without yelling?”
I took a couple of breaths. “Sometimes.”
“Then let’s try to keep our conversation civil. Sherlock, maybe I missed something when I felt your head for bumps. And, John, there was a little red dot on his neck—pretty noticeable when I first found him. It’s almost gone now but I saw it earlier this evening when we were dancing.”
I didn’t even hear what she said after that. I was too focused on the word “dancing.” Sherlock, dancing? Of course, I knew he could dance. He tutored me for my wedding reception. But I had never actually seen him dance…with a woman.
“…and there’s a lamp with a daylight bulb next to the chair in here, if you need more light.” Sarah was leading Sherlock into the bedroom. I followed and she seated him in a stuffed chair next to a table in front of the large bedroom window. “I’ll be in the kitchen,” she said softly to him.
“I think you should stay,” said Sherlock.
“No, I don’t think so. Listen, Cowboy.” She knelt down beside the chair and lowered her voice, but I could still hear. “He’s the real deal. I’m absolutely sure of it. Nobody but your best friend is going to yell at you like that. Let him examine you and maybe he can find out what happened to you. Here he is.” To me, she said, “He’s been seeing flashes of light since yesterday. And sometimes, he says people’s names or other things.”
Sarah stepped back out of the way and closed the bedroom door as she left. Unfortunately, she was right about there being no obvious physical injury to him. I examined the small puncture wound on his neck and found another at his temple that had been concealed by his hair. There was no doubt he had been injected with something, more than one thing probably. But whether his condition was permanent or not, I just could not say. I mentally ran through a list of drugs that might have caused his blindness and/or his amnesia, but without a blood test, I could not determine which, if any, of them was in his system. Actually Sherlock was the chemist and his knowledge of nefarious use of drugs far surpassed mine. But he stubbornly refused to elaborate further than a grunt on any of his answers to my questions.”
I finished my cursory examination, no closer to discovering what had happened to him than when I walked into the room. “I’m sorry, Sherlock. I don’t know what to do for you. We’ll have to wait and get to hospital when we get back to London. Here’s your bag by the chair here with a change of clothes for tomorrow. I’ll just hang up your coat.” I unzipped the bag and drew out one of the long coats he preferred and hung it over a coat that was hanging on a hook on the outside of the closet door. I was used to his extended periods of silence in the apartment back on Baker Street, but that was usually when he was thinking through some problem. He did not appear to be thinking about anything now. He was just slumped in the chair, staring blindly straight ahead, his long fingers wrapped around the arms of the chair. “Do you want me to help you get ready for bed?”
“Sarah’s bringing tea,” he replied tersely.
“Sherlock, I’m your friend. Whether or not you can remember me, you have to believe me. I am your friend. I would never do anything to hurt you.”
“Good night, John Watson. Please close the door as you leave.”
I could only sigh in frustration as I left him sitting there and went back into the living room. I just stood there in front of the fireplace.
Sarah came from the kitchen with two cups in her hand. “I don’t know if you have jet lag, but your internal clock is most certainly off. Here.” She handed me one of the cups. “Sleep might elude you, but there’s no caffeine in it if you want to try. I fixed you some covers on the couch. Hope you don’t mind sleeping there tonight.
She knocked softly on Sherlock’s door then pushed it open and closed it behind her. I could still hear their voices plainly through the closed door. “Hey, Cowboy, here’s some chamomile tea with honey. It’s what Peter Rabbit's mother gave him.” She set it on the table beside him.
“Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cotton-tail had bread and milk and blackberries.”
“Well, we’re fresh out of blackberries,” said Sarah, laughing. “And Peter Rabbit was not feeling well. And you’re not well. I still don’t understand how you can recall things like Peter Rabbit and not remember your best friend. Oh, here.” She took his right hand and placed a small, polished stone about the size of a quarter in his palm. “It’s a worry stone. You’re…a little agitated tonight. Maybe rubbing it will help you calm down.”
Sherlock rubbed the stone between his thumb and fingers. “What color is it?”
“Mostly brown with a few black streaks.”
“Not green with flecks of gold that sparkle in the firelight?”
“I don’t know. It just seems familiar. Where are you sleeping tonight, Sarah?”
When I heard Sherlock ask that, I stepped closer to the door.
“Upstairs in my own bed…for the first time in almost a week.”
“I will miss your company.”
“Scout’s under the bed. I’m sure she’ll snuggle up with you tonight. Do you need anything? The bathroom door’s just opposite of where you’re sitting now. But you’ll have to veer around the end of the bed first.”
That was the first I’d heard of Scout. I had been in that room with Sherlock for twenty minutes and was aware of nothing under the bed.
“I’ll be fine,” Sherlock said. “Goodnight, Sarah.”
I quickly withdrew from the door and sat down next to the pillow that she had put for me at one end of the couch. I could not quite wrap my head around the interaction that I had observed between Sherlock and this woman in the time since I had arrived. Sherlock’s lack of social skills was legendary with literally everyone with whom he had ever come in contact. He was incapable of carrying on a normal conversation with anyone. The only time I had ever witnessed it was when he was romancing Janine only as a ruse to break into Magnusen’s office. Maybe the emotional barrier that was so much a part of who he was had been breached by whatever had stolen his memories. Maybe it was an artificial construct of his own design and this different Sherlock was the real deal.
Sarah stirred the fire and added some logs. “Maybe watching the flames will put you to sleep,” she said. “I hope the tea was all right. I read on your blog that you don’t like sugar in your tea or coffee. And I know it’s not made the way you drink it in England—I’ve already heard that from Sherlock.” She stood by the fireplace, holding the poker.
Mycroft’s warning that she might be dangerous buzzed around inside by jet-fogged brain ever since I read it. “How did you find my blog?”
“I just searched. Put in everything I had learned about him in the last two days, which wasn’t much, but I picked the right things. Actually, Dr. Who came up first in the results, but I figured that wasn’t him."
“He could be.”
“Yeah,” she said, smiling. “That’s what I said. How about you? How’d you arrange all this so quickly…a private jet, a helicopter waiting for you at a little place like Bolivar?’
“Sherlock’s brother, Mycroft, is…uh…well-placed in the British government. Just one phone call to him and it was done.”
“Wow, Sherlock’s pretty important, then?”
“To some people. To his brother. To me. But where do you fit into all this?”
“Me?” Sarah stood the poker in its holder on the hearth and walked to the bar that separated the kitchen from the small dining area. She picked up a cup of tea and crossed the room to the recliner and sat down. “I’m just an innocent bystander.”
“But why you?” I probed. “Why would someone drop Sherlock Holmes into your back yard?”
“Don’t you think I’ve asked that question more than a few times over the past three days? Even before I knew who he was. I mean the number one question was who would do that? And, then, why me? Was this place just a random choice? Or was I being targeted?”
“And what were your answers to those questions?” I leaned toward her. “Do you have a past, Sarah Dunkirk?”
She leaned toward me and looked me square in the eye. “None that I am aware of.” Sitting back in the recliner, she added, “I taught high school history for 30 years, John. I’ve been retired for 11 years. Now, admittedly, I probably pissed off more than a few students, but to my knowledge, none of them grew up to become international terrorists. Some did get pretty deep into drugs, some have gone to prison for violent crimes. But I can’t think of any of them who would drop a naked man onto their old teacher’s house because she flunked them in World History decades ago. And now, I’m going to bed, Dr. Watson. I know it’s morning where you come from, but here it’s past my bedtime. Goodnight.”
“Who’s Scout?” I asked as she headed toward the kitchen.
“My dog. You don’t have to worry about her. She’s scared of people, particularly men, although for some strange reason, she really likes your Sherlock. She’ll probably get all depressed when he leaves.” Sarah set her cup in the kitchen sink then crossed back through the living room, turning off lights as she went, and then disappeared up the stairs.
Despite Mycroft’s warning, I liked her. She seemed strong and independent and she had saved Sherlock’s life. And she seemed genuinely concerned about him. I wondered what had aroused Mycroft’s suspicion of her.
I looked around the living room in the dim light from the fireplace and the one lamp that she had left on by the couch. I had not even noticed the lamp before but now I saw that it had been fashioned from a violin. You could learn a great deal about a person just by observing the things they valued, the possessions they kept close at hand. Sherlock had taught me that. Sarah’s living room looked like a cluttered museum. There was an old school desk and old textbooks, a coal scuttle, several large crocks, a tall wooden butter churn, a large copper kettle, and numerous smaller antiques on the shelves and fireplace mantel. Old hand tools hung on the wall beneath the stairs, and arrowheads in frames marched up the wall of the open staircase. The fireplace hearth was covered with different kinds of large rocks. There were rocks on the coffee table, too. And everywhere there were dragon statues and even a small dragon table. There were lots of candles, too. Most of them were burned down, presumably in the past few days with no electricity. A quilt covered the wall behind me where I sat on the couch and a couple of watercolor paintings hung on the other walls. Nothing in this eclectic collection screamed “Danger.”
But she was right about the flames. The events of the day had worn me out. The next thing I knew the kitchen light was on and Sarah was fixing breakfast.