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"I completed it!"

Tuesday 3/24/20

The "it" being this 5000 word essay on Sherlock Holmes and breakfast, which will be adjusted for inclusion in the memoir, Saving Angles: Finding Meaning and Direction in Life's Unlikely Corners. The last little excerpt I will put up on here:


Holmes is looking at the kid like he feels bad for him, but also thinks he’s sort of an idiot—for now. Hatherley had taken his train, was picked up by Stark and they drive wordlessly in a coach—it’s beyond awkward—to the house. There’s a business partner with a double-chin, and this fetching young woman who flits up to Hatherley repeatedly, begging him to leave before it it too late.

He’s bumptious, though, unfazed, curiosity piqued. He goes into a small room, where there is a plate the size of the ceiling that presses against the floor. In other words, the room is also tantamount to a bug-squisher of humans. While standing in the center of it, as Stark works the settings in a control room up above, Hatherley says, in effect, “come on now, this isn’t about fuller’s-earth, I’m a good egg, you can tell me what I’m doing,” upon which Stark has had enough of this guy, and turns on the flattening device, having already locked in Hatherley (who had first been so good as to fix the contraption).

The woman who is part of this scheme—they’re counterfeiters, as Holmes immediately deduces—pops in at some secret door, pulls Hatherley away. A chase follows, with Stark in pursuit clutching a clever, and as Hatherley hangs from a window, about to make his drop to the ground below and leg it, the Colonel lunges and swings, and off pops the engineer’s thumb. Hatherley wanders for a bit, blood spurting, then passes out in a bush, and is somehow magically transported, while unconscious, to a different bush near the train station. We know what happened from there. Just as Holmes knows that the villains have likely already absconded, given that Hatherley has been chopped, as it were, and returned to non-criminal society with his tale of woe.

But I love this about Holmes—he suggests trying to figure out what happened anyway. Hatherley wants to be done, we have the impression. No más, sleuthing bro, he might as well remark, like the Millennial kind of dude he is. Not so fast, young man—there is value in closure in this world, even when the outcome remains the same, as you well know if you’ve had a parent die or gone through a divorce. It sounds slight in comparison, but I think of cats and dogs and when it comes time to say goodbye. That last morning before the ride to the vet means a lot to the relationship. Maybe even more than the times of joy, though some things in life are not meant to be ranked. Holmes knows this on the human front, in the daily grind of being human, where answers can be harder to come by than rain droplets under desert sands. Hatherley does not know this yet. Holmes is going to help him, and he’s going to help us, the readers, by reminding us.

Homes, because he is Holmes, just happens to be aware of another engineer, aged twenty-six, who mysteriously disappeared a while back, which has the effect of making Hatherley feel both grateful and determined to isolate the cause of this singular effect—well, a plurality of singularity, we might say. Knocking off engineers is certainly a unique trend. With Inspector Bradstreet of Scotland Yard in tow, plus a plain clothes man, our party boards a train. Holmes always barely makes it on to trains in time. They are pulling away as he hops aboard. Watson doesn’t understand how his buddy times it to the last second, but the coolness of arrival and alighting seems to steady Hatherley. Tiny gestures of support and consideration—that’s what this story is about. There’s no glory to revel in, as in other adventures, when Holmes will turn to Watson and say of a case, “I solved it!”


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