As pragmatist and a man of science I’m not often given to fits of nostalgia which is to say I understand the flow of time and my place in it and my inability to reverse or change it. To dwell on such things is a waste of energy to say nothing of its futility. Nevertheless on this particular occasion, July 30th 1890, I found myself caught up in my own reminiscing. Holmes found me, and I could tell by his demeanor they he had either just come from an opium den or was feeling mischievous or both, on the midway of an abandoned amusement park I had off visited as a child. Though I could have just as easily met him on the crime scene a few meters away on the banks of the Thames, I recognized this deteriorating stretch of land and hoped it might, in some way, strengthen my friendship with Holmes if I shared this bit of my history with him. Something you should realize about Sherlock Holmes is that, far from being devoid of emotion, he is emotionally detached. Emotions are to him what ants are to an entomologist – they are an intellectual curiosity and as such he has never truly had to deal with them. Though I can imagine this is liberating for Holmes himself it can grow tiresome to those close to him. We were about to embark on a journey, Holmes and I, one that was, ostensibly, to solve a fairly simple mystery but one that turned out to be fraught with emotions that neither of us had known existed. I am here getting ahead of myself however and we must now return to the desolate and decrepit midway where I met Holmes.
As he is want to do, Holmes questioned my choice of meeting place. I tried to explain the meaning this place had for me but he simply wasn’t interested. This stung me more than it should have. It shouldn’t have felt any different to me than the countless times I had attempted to amuse Sherlock with an interesting or amusing anecdote only to find he wasn’t amused or hadn’t been listening. As it was, this amusement park was anything but for Holmes. (The same was true for the hundreds who had died upon The Rotating Horror, an aptly named ride.) For some reason though this caused an emotional reaction in my gut. I was wounded as if his rejection of my childhood memory amounted to a rejection of me. We soldiered on but there was a part of our friendship that had now somehow been tarnished. I don’t know if I was aware of this as we walked to the crime scene along the river but before our case was through I would be heavily aware.
The crime scene was obvious. The entry arch for the world fair which had been hosted in Paris the previous year stood on the shore. Having been to the exposition I recognized it immediately as the Eiffel Tower both lauded and maligned. One of the peculiar things, other than being on the bank of the Thames instead of in Paris, was it’s condition. Had it been transported on barge, as it would have had to have been to cross the channel, it should have been in pieces. If, through some catastrophic cataclysm be it natural or manmade the thing had been hurled there it would have been a heap of twisted metal. Instead the thing stood, as awkward as ever, perfectly erect on the shore of the river as if it had been built there. It had been transported, though no means I have ever encountered, foundation and all to England. It was as if someone had waved their hand or a wand and made it so. Furthermore this wasn’t the crime. Removing a thing that is scheduled to be dismantled rarely is. Instead it appeared that someone had been trespassing on the tower itself. There was evidence that someone had climbed it it but no evidence of any accouterment that would have been necessary to achieve such a feat. Indeed it appeared, by the muddy footprints, that they merely walked up the tower as if it was a staircase or hill. In addition to that, the ground around the base of the tower was covered in very fresh baguettes which Sherlock, either because he had been on a binge and hadn’t eaten or because he was legitimately hungry, couldn’t keep himself from. As we studied the scene of the crime he actually picked one up and began to eat it. Even knowing, as I do, that Sherlocks power of deduction would have warned him of anything within or without that would have tainted the bread I couldn’t bring myself to eat one as well. There was something at the top of the tower as well, though it was hard to make out at first. It was a large sign that said “NE PAS” which is “DO NOT” in French. At first I thought there would be more, that the sign was only half finished, and wanted to know what it was that I wasn’t supposed to do, but alas there was no more to the sign and it seemed the author had never intended there to be more.
As he was eating Sherlock insisted on verbalizing his dislike for the metal marvel whereas my appreciation for it was growing. It was cold but beautiful. Its beams and girders were exposed for the world to see as if it wanted to be judged on its merit alone and not on the facade it could bear. I started to feel a kinship with the tower and when Holmes kicked it to demonstrate it’s lack of structural integrity it was as if he had kicked me. He went on to discuss the merits of Big Ben which I took to be a loose analogy for himself – useful, austere, revered, and the useless of the tower, which I took to be me – stationary, unmoving, useless and purposeless. He compared it to something he had seen in America called an Erector Set. (I felt this was a quip at my erectile dysfunction which I had confessed to him in confidence some time ago and had been cured by my trip to the Worlds Fair the year before and a Dutch woman named Claudette. Ah, Claudette…so sweet, so innocent, so willing to put anything in her mouth. But I digress.) Sherlock then discussed the merits of some Dutch toys that were being sold and how they were even played with by adults and that he was an adult. This all but confirmed my suspicion that the reason I never saw Claudette after the night I met her was that Holmes had taken her as his own. I hoped this was the reason and not that he had exercised his adroit ability to disguise himself for that weekend. I could feel my affliction returning at the thought of this.
It was then that something most odd happened the reasons for which I believe I have successfully deduced in retrospect but I shall explain that to you later. All the while Holmes and I had been speaking he had been chewing his baguette with his mouth agape. I questioned the etiquette of this and he told me not to tell him what he could not do as he was the doctor, not I. I attempted to correct him, reminding him that I gone to medical school and was, indeed, a medical doctor but Holmes wouldn’t hear it. Before we had time to sort it all out a boy appeared and began to tell us of a terrible accident his parents had been killed in. Holmes offered him some bread to comfort him but it seems the boy was looking for a letter he was supposed to have received and when he didn’t see it he left. I called after him for more information and he simply called back to me, “I’m gone.” Why he would have shouted that instead of answer my simple question I will never know. Sherlock knew what to do though and we headed to the postmaster general’s house.
At that time the postmaster general was Henry Cecil Raikes. For some reason Holmes insisted on standing outside the house momentarily as we eavesdropped on the conversation within. It seems the marital bed had grown cold and I recognized the distant look and posture of Henry as I had suffered a similar affliction. To make matters worse Holmes insisted on emasculating this poor man further and asked his wife, whose name was Deena I believe, Deena Claudette Raikes, if she were the Postmaster General and for the sake of Henry I played along. I’ve been told that role play can help in these situations and perhaps if he was subservient to this remarkably familiar woman, he would regard his faculties. His barbs toward me didn’t end as well as Sherlock declared himself to be a doctor of no less than three disciplines as we introduced ourselves all but ignoring my well earned doctorship. Deena then declared herself a doctor of the mail and showed off degrees that were obvious forgeries and it seemed that Henry and I were the only ones not laughing despite the fact that I was the only real doctor in the room!
Holmes almost immediately found an envelope addressed to “Orphan Boy” and asked why it hadn’t been delivered. Henry explained that it had shot down the chimney one evening and they had tried to locate the orphan boy but they had no address. Inside there was a feather that appeared to be from an owl. Sherlock could tell the owl came from a New Zealand. Upon my request we sought out someone who would know something about the feather and found a Kiwi who could tell us about the feather. We were told it was carrier Owl who may also have been a pet, chosen because the other pets wouldn’t do. The owl master ruminated that an owl was probably a poor choice as it would inevitably die and everyone would cry when the owl dies. Holmes was adamant that he wouldn’t and reiterated that he wasn’t a man of emotion.
At this point I took Holmes aside and we discussed what was wrong with him. Though he maintained that it was fine for him to not show emotion it was hurting me. I suggested he see a friend of mine, another legit doctor but in the new field of psychology, so that he might feel again and therefor be able to admit his kinship for me. After getting Sherlock to sit the therapist asked him what the problem was. I answered this and told him that Holmes was having trouble expressing his emotions, which he thought were magic, to which Sherlock told me not to touch him. This was enough for the therapist to plumb the depths of Holmes emotional psyche and with one question – “Can no one touch you?” He then suggested that Holmes was a human being to which Holmes suddenly opened up an explained that he wasn’t nurtured much as a child and his father had left for American and his mother went through as series of men and he was never hugged. Though this was an emotional breakthrough for Holmes I know that almost every word of it was also a lie. At the time though I would have sworn it was the truth, as would have Holmes himself. The doctor then went on and on about how good of a therapist he was and asked that I refer my friends. Sensing that his job was done he left. Though I never learned his name he did have a lupin in his lapel the entire time and when I remember him for some reason I want to call him that, Dr. Lupin, or Professor Lupin for some reason.
I must admit to you that my memory of all of this is hazy, not because I don’t remember it, but rather because whist on the case Holmes and I existed in a haze. It was as if we had been cursed somehow. This is the thing that I alluded to earlier. Holmes had never before claimed to be a doctor. Though he has been dismissive in the past I have always known, deep down, that we were in fact friends. We were out of sorts from the beginning and as it turns out this was due to outside influences we could not control. Our minds had been muddled in order to obfuscate what was going on. The remarkable thing is that we were able to operate at all under these conditions, but we did. I believe this “haze” is also why Holmes insisted on going to an opium den next.
I distracted him for a while as we discussed the case. I couldn’t get passed the idea that someone had climbed the tower without any apparatus for climbing. Holmes suggested some kind of webbing but I don’t know how that would help. We followed the sound of a poorly played accordion to the home of Gustav Eiffel who shared the habit of singing what he was doing. Eiffel suggested no one could scale the tower without being scene unless they had some kind of invisibility cloak. One of the effects of the therapist was that Holmes was now afflicted with a mild depression and everything reminded him of the neglect he faced with his mother. We left Gustav’s, but not before a long embrace between Gustav and Holmes.
Thinking it would cheer him up we stopped by an opium den to pick some up for Holmes. For some reason the orphan boy was there as well but he ran before we could question him. Districted by others in the opium den who insisted on blowing in each others faces while dancing like chickens, we went back to the scene of the crime.
Holmes summoned all those we had spoken with and wove us a tale of sad boy who was desperate for power but whose name couldn’t be mentioned. Midway through this I noticed, and brought to Holmes attention, a tuft of black hair on that had been lodged between two girders. Lupin snatched the hair from us and reveled in the hairiness of it. (Making me wonder about his credentials as well) Holmes took a moment, to think of his mother no doubt, and then told us the culprit had been none other than Hairy Potter. The latter then revealed himself, along with Ron and Hermione and the other one and they flew away on broomsticks. Without thinking Holmes and I pursued on broomsticks that were nearby but alas to no avail. As we hovered there on our brooms the haze began to lift as did Holmes spirits and he giggled. He explained to me that he felt something he hadn’t felt in a long time and as he smelled his opium he told me what it was. Joy.
The Hairy Girder was performed and consequently written by – Will Meinen – Watson, Matt Fox – Sherlock Holmes, Kayla Tyson, Matthew Tucker and Alex Wiseman – The Baker Street Irregulars