20 September 2011
11:56PM; London, England
We fled from Bush Hall to the Underground, dresses billowing like parasails with London winds (reminding me very much of Chicago winds back home) driving us forward. It was nearing midnight, the last train for the evening, and our Cinderella magic was quickly wearing off from the Fionn Regan concert.
I silently congratulated both Annie and my strange decision to wear canvas shoes instead of heels, despite the ensemble clash, because we zipped by with Oyster Cards brandished onto the train just under the wire.
The ride was quiet, lyrics still lingering like a hum on our lips, different songs meshing together.
Those weasels in the weeds await to jump us…
If you ever, if you ever
One had a screwdriver and one had a cutlass
Come back this way
We counted the beats between thunder and lightning
Don’t be clever, dull your senses
One-thousand and two, one-thousand and three
Your senses and stay
It’s coming in from the Sea—
About halfway to King’s Cross our train stopped, not abruptly, but a slow application of brakes.
“Attention passengers,” an intercom kicked on, the voice calm if not a bit perplexed, “there seems to be a an obstruction ahead that will delay us for an indeterminable amount of time. Please remain seated and we will update you soon. We apologize for the inconvenience.”
Buzzing instantaneously broke out among everyone, rising swiftly to a cicada murmur. Ann put down her iPhone, brows knit and we exchanged equal looks of suspicion.
Five minutes passed; our “update” came, a short and flippant acknowledgement that there actually was no update at all, and we were stuck.
The last train of the night - stuck.
Passengers shuffled uncomfortably, unsure whether to stick out the wait. Annie beckoned me over and we exited the train accompanied by two other people. The four of us startled as a man was sat on a landing of the stairs, holding what looked like a balled up shirt to his profusely bleeding skull, a pool of red on cracked tiles, someone talking to him, keeping his focus.
Annie knew my affliction with seeing blood, ushering me around them and up an alternative set of stairs, across to the other side of the tracks where a tube map was on display.
I rubbed my arms to calm the irked, shivering part of my heart at the sight of the blood we passed by, everyone else most likely assuming he was stone-cold drunk out of his mind and got tripped up going down the steps.
But the inexplicably halted train, plus him set me on edge. When I glanced at Annie I knew she was wary as well, checking the digital clock on the wall, then peering at the our transportation.
“I’d feel like a dick if I had to call my uncle this late to pick us up…” she said.
“Perhaps we can get a taxi…?” I suggested, but remembered we had only brought enough money for a tube ride, not a damn taxi.
A flicker of motion caught my peripheral. I turned, seeing a tall man across the tracks motioning us to come back toward the other side. My mouth opened slightly, my hand rose of its own accord to confirm. “Annie, I think we should go back over.”
She pulled away from the map as I had already started up, followed me as I shuffled right up to the stranger. I stared long and hard for some reason.
He observed the train, the injured gentlemen still sat waiting for an ambulance as well as me, all ginger hair, cat-like eyes and mouth of stern marble peering down, texting rapidly in a way that made my vision spin.
Annie brushed up next to me, voicing my own unasked question, “Were they able to figure out or fix whatever was stopping us from moving?”
The stranger, who had to maybe be in his thirties, stopped his thumbs-on-fire texting to blink at the both of us as if just now realizing we were there, but he had known we had been standing next to him for some time.
“It’s been fixed. I suggest, ladies, that you get back on.” Short, off-hand, uninterested. A bit posh-sounding for someone in a beat-up university pullover.
“But what about you?” I blurted out, startling myself a bit, blaming the shrillness of my own voice being on edge from the bleeding guy behind me.
He smiled. Softened, saddened. Smirked. Whatever that instance had been he was now amused, pocketing his phone to extend more pleasantly, “Irrelevant.”
Annie leaned into me still, looking him up and down, the intercom going off inside the train simultaneously, “Ladies and gentlemen, we have finally been cleared to continue - we appreciate for your patience.”
How had he known ahead of time -
“Enjoy the rest of your night. And your stay,” I heard in the distance. The stranger was walking away, a small dufflebag under one arm.
I wanted to say “thank you” in all of my confused, muddled list of things to shout to this guy but the train doors were closing, Annie was shouting.
A woman came down the steps, flailing at his retreating figure when I made it behind the doors, trying to thank him for calling 999.
22 September 2011
Even back up north for the remainder of my stay I couldn’t rattle the strange series of events that happened in London. A service complication, not even 15 minutes in total. Everything that had transpired didn’t add up.
Annie and I didn’t speak of it much, though, but I ran the last thing she mentioned under her breath on the way to Finsbury Park and what he spoke to me through my head like a tape.
“His hands were black…”
His hands HAD been black; a ruddy dark-red actually, as if he’d just gotten done staining a cabinet or something.
“Enjoy the rest of your night. And your stay…”
Tourist. I was a tourist, I was from America, sure. Guess it was pretty obvious…mentioning it had just seemed so weird. HE was weird.
Why did I let it bother me so much?
My fingers played impatient staccato on the dining room table as Annie’s tiny laptop loaded. She asked if I wanted some tea from the kitchen - I requested coffee sweetly - which earned a laugh.
Should I bother her about it? Did she want to ask ME what I thought, dodging the subject assuming I wouldn’t care?
I moved the bitty mouse attached to the laptop lazily, MSN loading, the Today MSN news popping up—
Halted London train barely evades disaster.
-last train for the Hammersmith & City line stopped at Baker Street-
-further investigation revealed possible terrorist intentions averted-
-three men in custody-
-an injured witness came forward immediately after hospitilzation and claims to testify-
-bizarre connection to the thought-to-be closed case of recently deceased Sherlock Holmes and his fabricated adventures-
-questions now arise over the correlation between pseudonym James Moriarty and Richard Brook, the supposed actor Sherlock Holmes hired to fill the role of his archenemy-
I kept scrolling, reading, swallowing a dry tongue.
“Ash…the man’s blog, Sherlock’s partner. John..John Watson, look at his blog.”
It took me several blinks to make out what Annie had said, that she had been reading over my shoulder, before I opened another tab and searched for a blog I had not frequented in months. A lot of my friends back home and in England had started reading The personal blog of Dr. John H. Watson - after the first “case” he and a quite…eccentric ‘Consulting Detective’ by the name of Sherlock Holmes had become a viral sensation when it was published online.
No one could confirm nor discredit its validity as the events mentioned WERE real, but no one personally knew Dr. Watson and Sherlock Holmes, so they became…
Characters in a modern mystery novel…you could place yourself in their shoes. Seeing if you were three steps ahead like Sherlock, or the steadfast courageous John.
Finding a humor and deep affection for their strange companionship, a dynamic that seemed to be an integral fuel of each story John wrote, even if he didn’t quite understand this himself.
I’d never given it much more though other than admiration. A special niche in my heart, cheering for two men I couldn’t be certain existed.
Until I had heard Sherlock Holmes was real, but had been accused of being a fraud. Making himself to be so keen out of vanity. Some speculated in Dr. John H. Watson was a doting friend the very lonely Holmes conjured up.
Sherlock Holmes had died. Dr. Watson had mourned. I recalled feeling empty the world would be so cruel to say anything like that, as John had blogged just after Sherlock-
Last entry was 16th June.
He was my best friend and I’ll always believe in him.
The BBC News video Annie had streamed for me through Skype because it was region restricted. My finger hovered over play, collective breathes hitched.
I clicked. 28 seconds in we both grabbed for each other.
A picture of Sherlock Holmes. My skin prickled.
Dark hair, black peacoat, out-of-place deerstalker hat be damned.
That was the ginger man on the tube platform. That had been Sherlock Holmes.
He was meant to be dead.
He was meant to be wrong.
A deceased liar had inadvertently saved out lives.
not dead - not a liar - hiding - protecting? - Moriarty - the train
Annie turned to me, trying to decipher the emotions waging war on my face, and I mirrored the action.
I believe The Blog of Dr. John H. Watson.
I believe Dr. Watson.
I believe in Sherlock Holmes.
3 Sebastian Moran associates pacified and traincar explosive disarmed. More information to follow. - SH
The authorities will be there soon. Go straight to Heathrow. - MH
Check to may sure John was not targeted; they were setting up directly beneath Baker St. - SH
Do not make me regret helping you and hurting him. - MH
“But what about you?”
Wait for my next text. - SH
There’s a rumour goin’ around that you’ve been
Talking to the house detective
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