Posts tagged two sherlocks at baker street
Posts tagged two sherlocks at baker street
And the last chapter…
A week went by during which Sherlock returned slowly to his usual self. Several small cases turned up, which he solved with ease as usual. The parrot wasn’t mentioned again; in fact, John avoided mentioning any birds to stay on the safe side, but Sherlock didn’t show any sign of being in a bad mood.
It was a lazy Saturday morning, the type that Sherlock hated most, when John found Sherlock downstairs, awake earlier than usual.
‘Morning. New case?’ John asked.
‘Couldn’t sleep,’ Sherlock answered.
‘Happens to all of us. Coffee?’
‘Just tea, thank you.’
John filled the kettle up with water. There was a plate of strange objects on the table. ‘Are these… dried ears?’
‘Experiment, John. Testing which of them dries fastest.’
‘They came from people who lived in different climates.’
‘I see,’ John said, though he didn’t see at all.
‘I hate Saturdays,’ Sherlock muttered. ‘Slow mornings when clients rarely come and there’s nothing to do… my brain just rusts…’
‘Anything on the website?’
‘Nothing at all.’
The doorbell rang and they exchanged glances. ‘Client.’
‘Mrs. Hudson is probably still asleep,’ John said and went downstairs to let the visitor in himself.
Their visitor brought a big crate into the room and set it down. He let out a sigh and wiped the sweat off his brow. ‘I’ll need your signature,’ he said, handing John a slip of paper.
John signed and the man left.
‘Who is it from?’
‘I think I know,’ Sherlock said and opened the crate.
A parrot flew out and landed on Sherlock’s shoulder.
‘Is that…?’ John began.
‘There’s a letter here.’ Sherlock pulled out an envelope and opened it.
He was an intelligent bird, they read, specially trained by a group of experts just for you. I don’t know what you did to him, but we couldn’t get him to say a single word all week. You can do whatever you like with him now.
John raised his head and saw a smile on Sherlock’s lips.
‘It would appear that we have a new flatmate, John. What do you say to that, Sherlock?’
‘I’m glad you like me, Sherlock.’
(I realized I never posted the last two chapters… oops)
Sherlock rolled into a fetal position on the couch and said nothing for the rest of the evening and the day that followed. John tried to talk to him, tried to make him eat but nothing helped. When he offered to play Cluedo Sherlock put his hands over his ears.
He was sulking. That parrot had meant something to him. Sherlock Holmes had found someone after all, even if it was just a silly parrot.
‘You know,’ John began, ‘I can buy you a parrot, if you like…’
Sherlock turned over and shot him an angry look. ‘Why would you do that?’
‘Because you… it was nice having a parrot around.’
Sherlock sat up. ‘Is that… sentiment?’
‘Yes. Is it wrong?’
‘Of course it is! Are you getting sentimental over a parrot?’ He jumped up. ‘A parrot that Mycroft sent to spy on us?’
‘Yes. He was quite intelligent. The parrot was, I mean.’
‘I have enough intelligence to fill the heads of a thousand parrots!’ He jumped to the window. ‘Take that soldier. Where do you suppose he’s going?’
John joined him at the window and stared at the soldier that hurried down Baker Street. ‘A friend’s house?’
‘You’re wrong. He’s going to a funeral.’
‘He’s carrying a gift in his pocket, is it for his wife, his children or his girlfriend? Girlfriend, obviously, he’s not married. You can tell that from the fact that there is no ring on his finger and the size of the gift suggests that he’s carrying one in his pocket, but he’s not going to propose. How do I know that? Simple: he’s obviously in a hurry, that’s obvious from his clothes: he’s in his uniform and it’s dirty. Why didn’t he change out of his uniform or stop at his house to wash himself if he’s about to propose? Maybe he’s afraid she forgot him, maybe he can’t wait to see her? Wrong. Look at his face: he’s depressed. He got the news. She died, probably several days ago. She died and he’s running to see her with a ring in his pocket. Can only be possible if he’s hurrying to her funeral.’
For a few moments neither of them said anything. Sherlock turned away from the window while John stared at the soldier, trying to register everything that Sherlock said.
‘He reminded me of you sometimes,’ John said, ‘the parrot, I mean. Do you suppose we’ll see him again?’
Sherlock picked up his violin and played.
‘You brought him everywhere with you and now you won’t even talk about him. Why?’
Sherlock stopped playing and turned around abruptly. ‘Why? Will it help? Do you want me to give some sort of funeral speech? Should I make a grave for him and dress in black?’
‘It doesn’t matter! I don’t care! Caring gets in the way of the Work! And when I die I don’t expect a grand funeral and long speeches. No one will care and that’s the way it should be!’ He turned away and lifted the violin to his chin. But he didn’t play; he flung the violin onto his chair instead.
‘You’re wrong. People will care,’ John said, still looking out the window. ‘Mrs. Hudson will care, and so will Lestrade… I will care. Your brother might… deep down.’
Sherlock stormed downstairs to his room and locked himself in.
But you do care in the way that a child cares for his favourite toy after it has been taken away from him, John thought.
What could he do about Sherlock?
‘Good evening,’ Mycroft began.
John jumped up and punched Mycroft in the face.
‘John!’ Mycroft exclaimed.
‘Don’t act surprised! You know what this is for.’ He turned away, picked up the plates from the table and carried them into the kitchen.
‘When you became my brother’s flatmate, I had hoped that you would have a good influence on my brother,’ Mycroft rubbed his jaw as he spoke and made frequent pauses. John didn’t hit him hard enough to break it, but Mycroft was still in a lot of pain, ‘now I see that, on the contrary, he’s the one who has had an influence on you.’
Sherlock smirked. ‘Why did you come here, Mycroft?’
‘Word has reached my ears that my present has become an inconvenience for you. It appears that you’re taking the parrot with you to your cases. Clearly not a wise decision.’ He smiled sourly and John wondered if he should have hit him harder.
‘The parrot doesn’t really get in the way,’ John said.
The parrot stood on the table and watched Mycroft.
Sherlock remained silent, but John could tell by the expression on his face that Sherlock had figured something out. He even shot John a look that probably meant something, but, whatever it was, John didn’t understand it.
‘I am quite certain that taking care of a parrot is too much for you. I made a mistake giving you one as a gift,’ Mycroft said. ‘I’m certain John’s present was better than mine.’ He glanced at John.
John bit his lip angrily. Mycroft knew that John didn’t give Sherlock any gift: it was his way of getting revenge.
Sherlock folded his hands and said nothing.
John walked up to Mycroft.
‘Not going to hit me again, I hope,’ Mycroft said with a sour smile.
‘Why would you give your brother something and then take it away?’
‘Because he needed more ways to spy on me than just one,’ Sherlock explained. ‘I suppose you thought it was very clever to use a parrot as a recording device. Better than trusting one of John’s girlfriends to remember everything she said about me.’
‘I had rather hoped she’d entertain you for a while…’
‘The parrot was more entertaining,’ Sherlock said.
The parrot flew up and landed on Sherlock’s shoulder.
‘Looks like this is goodbye, Sherlock.’
‘You can’t just… Are you really going to…’ John turned away angrily. Who gave Mycroft the right to just barge in and turn everything upside down? For the second time, too…
Mycroft wrapped the parrot up in a piece of cloth he had brought in his pocket and carried him out.
The parrot remained on John’s shoulder while he and Sherlock dined and only flew down once to accept food out of John’s hand. There was an annoyed look on Sherlock’s face that made John smile.
‘He seems to like me now.’
‘Your parrot, I mean. He likes me now. Must’ve learnt the hard way that affection is wasted on you.’
‘Is that supposed to bother me?’
‘It most certainly looks like it does.’
Sherlock didn’t answer.
‘I hope he won’t be repeating everything I say, though.’ John waited for Sherlock to say something, anything, but gave up after several minutes when it became clear that Sherlock was set on remaining quiet. ‘Will you tell me, then?’
‘Tell you what?’
‘How you found that girl’s murderer… murderers? What did you do in Paris? I’m curious.’
‘You have the article before you. Read that. The journalists seem to have all of the facts.’ Sherlock finished eating and reclined in his seat like someone who was bored out of their mind.
‘You and I both know that newspapers lie and exaggerate whenever they can. I don’t think I can believe anything they say.’
‘Then ask Sherlock. He seems to enjoy repeating my words…’ Sherlock closed his eyes.
John looked at the parrot with a smile on his face. He was in a good mood and wasn’t going to get mad at Sherlock Holmes no matter what he said. ‘So this is your cue, Sherlock. Want to tell me how your owner found the murderer?’
‘Ask Sherlock,’ the parrot suggested. Then it flew down and landed on the table.
John laughed. ‘He’s just like you.’
‘No, he is not. He’s a parrot.’
‘True, but he’s as stubborn as you are.’
Sherlock muttered something indiscernible under his breath.
‘Behave yourself, Sherlock,’ the parrot said, making John laugh once more.
The doorbell rang as Sherlock opened his mouth to answer the parrot. The door opened before Mrs. Hudson had time to answer it.
‘That’s not a client,’ John said. ‘It sounds like…’
They heard someone walk up the stairs and then Mycroft came into the room.
‘You’d make a good housewife,’ Sherlock said.
John spun around and stared at him in surprise. ‘Awake already?’
‘And I suppose you’re making me more things to eat.’
‘Dinner, yes,’ John returned to his cooking by the stove, deciding to disregard Sherlock’s previous comment. ‘Your bird is already awake.’
John looked over his shoulder and saw the parrot stare at Sherlock, then fly up and land on his – that is, John’s – shoulder.
‘What brings you here?’ John asked.
‘I miss John,’ the parrot said.
‘Is it… Hold on… I don’t think I’ve ever heard you say that.’
‘I didn’t,’ Sherlock said.
‘But how did it…?’
‘Maybe he’s making up his own sentences now.’
‘Parrots don’t do that. In case you haven’t noticed, they only repeat phrases they heard before.’ He paused for a moment and added, ‘like a recording device.’
Sherlock picked up his violin and played it.
The parrot couldn’t make up sentences on its own, John was certain. That meant only one thing: that at some point Sherlock must have said it. But Sherlock wouldn’t say something like that. Did the parrot pick it up from someone else, then?
The parrot watched John cook in silence for some time, following every movement John made. John kept throwing anxious glances at him, waiting to hear the parrot say something strange or to fly down and grab food out of his hand.
‘Why didn’t I take John with me?’ the parrot asked once John finished loading the plates with food.
John looked up at Sherlock who continued playing his violin, as if he hadn’t heard anything. Was it his imagination or did Sherlock’s ears turn red?
He gave the parrot a berry to eat and smiled. ‘Apology accepted.’
‘What?’ Sherlock asked.
‘Dinner is ready.’
Sherlock left soon after posing his question. He didn’t say anything else, neither about the parrot, nor about the case. He did take the parrot with him, however.
John spent the remainder of the day wondering what it all meant. Why did Sherlock attach so much importance to the words ‘recording device’? Why didn’t he tell him more about the case he was working on? Why didn’t he take John along with him?
Sherlock didn’t eat. He ran off before John could make sure that he ate something! John got up and paced the room angrily.
But his anger was nothing compared to what he felt two days later when he read the morning’s papers.
‘NET DETECTIVE DISCOVERS AN UNDERGROUND CRIMINAL ORGANIZATION Sherlock Holmes finds a criminal organization disguised as a religious group’. The article was full of details that John heard for the first time. These included the fact that the organization had connections in several cities and killed many victims. He didn’t know if the article was exaggerating or telling the truth. For the first time in his life he felt what it was like seeing Sherlock’s cases from the outside.
When he heard the door open and Sherlock’s steps on the stairs, he was preparing the longest insult he possibly could. He had just finished breakfast and he felt strong enough to do his anger justice.
Sherlock stepped into the room just as John drew in his breath. ‘You are the most impossible, selfish, insane…’ the words froze on John’s lips.
Sherlock walked in slowly and collapsed into his seat. He looked exhausted. The parrot was asleep in his hands and he lay him down gently on the table in front of him.
‘You haven’t stopped for rest or food in the last forty-eight hours, have you?’
Sherlock reclined in his seat and stared up at the ceiling. ‘I needed to catch them.’
‘Yes. I read about your grand success,’ John pointed at the newspaper on the table. ‘And I feel like a total idiot, being left behind. The whole world knows what you’ve been up to and I don’t. I thought as your flatmate I was entitled to knowing something.’
Sherlock closed his eyes.
‘Why is it that you could take your bloody pet and leave me behind like some sort of unnecessary garbage?’
‘He helped me find clues.’
‘Oh, a parrot that repeats your sentences at random is more useful than a friend who’d make sure that you didn’t forget to eat and stopped for breath once in a while? I see it now.’
Sherlock didn’t answer.
Looking at him, it occurred to John just how tired Sherlock was and he bit his tongue. Telling Sherlock off when he was in such a state was heartless, didn’t he know that?
Sherlock’s selfishness was rubbing off onto him, great.
John went to the kitchen. In the two days he had had the flat all to himself, he had found time to refill their fridge with food and do some cleaning (namely, get rid of things that didn’t belong in the fridge). It felt good to have only food in the fridge for a change and lots of it.
John made an omelette and brought it back on a plate for Sherlock.
‘Come on, eat, Sherlock.’
Sherlock groaned. ‘I’m too tired to eat.’
‘Then I have no choice, but to feed you.’
Sherlock sat up suddenly. ‘Don’t be ridiculous!’
‘Here. And the kettle’s just boiled, so I’ll pour you some tea.’
Sherlock gobbled up the omelette hungrily and John ended up making more.
‘Maybe you’d like some soup?’ John offered.
‘Do we have any?’
‘I can make some.’
The parrot continued to sleep on the table as Sherlock ate the soup that John made for him.
It wasn’t long after that that John was bringing Sherlock a pillow and blankets and making him comfortable on the couch.
It was like taking care of an moody twelve-year-old. Sherlock was too weak to go to his room, but the couch was too hard for him to sleep on. He complained about the noise that John made walking around the room and then told him to make sure that the parrot was comfortable. He dozed off mid-sentence, making John smile and shake his head.
You big kid! You still need parents to look after you and tuck you in at bedtime!
Then he remembered that this was Sherlock Holmes he was thinking about. The same Sherlock Holmes that had caught so many criminals, insulted every policeman he met, put his life in danger a countless number of times and who could tell everything about anyone with just one look.
The same Sherlock Holmes that had made his life so exciting and such hell at the same time…
Downstairs Mrs. Hudson was humming a happy tune.
A few more chapters left…
Sherlock stood in the doorway. He was still wearing his coat and the parrot was sitting on his shoulder as usual.
‘How long have you been standing there?’ John asked.
‘Several minutes. Mrs. Hudson got a big parcel by post this morning.’
‘What is that supposed to mean?’
‘Tomorrow she will look for an excuse to wear the clothes that she ordered.’
‘That’s not what I meant. How is… Why are you telling me this?’
‘Mrs. Hudson will likely also use it as an excuse to leave the house and see some of her friends.’
‘I’m still not seeing any sort of connection to me.’
‘It will be empty.’
‘You will have some private time to do whatever you please.’
‘And where will you be?’
‘I need to leave for today’s case.’
‘The three men are going to be in Paris tomorrow morning.’
‘And you will follow them?’
‘What about me?’
‘My cases wear you out. Surely you can find a way to entertain yourself while I am gone. Find yourself a new girlfriend, something like that.’ Sherlock turned away, as if he had nothing more to say.
‘Listen, about what I said…’
‘I’m not going to take any of it back. I meant every word.’
‘And I really hate you sometimes.’
‘You’re not the only one.’
‘The least you could do is apologize!’
‘Apologize for what?’
‘For… Oh, never mind.’ John crossed the room and opened the fridge. ‘We don’t have any food, as usual. Should we order something?’
‘I’m not hungry.’
‘You have to eat sometime.’
‘I don’t want to.’
‘You are the most stubborn, childish, annoying person I have ever met!’ John stormed across the room back to Sherlock. ‘You are going to eat if I have to force feed you!’ He glared up at Sherlock. It might have been intimidating, if Sherlock hadn’t been so much taller than him.
‘You’re so sweet,’ the parrot said.
John turned away. Don’t look at me! Don’t look at me! Look somewhere else! Don’t say anything! Say something pointless!
‘What have you been teaching Sherlock?’
‘It was Molly!’
‘Of course. You would never say something like that.’
‘And neither would you and, yet, it says it in your voice!’ John spun around and faced Sherlock once more.
‘What other nonsense did you teach him?’
‘I didn’t teach him anything! In case you haven’t noticed, he doesn’t repeat my words. They must be too boring for him!’
‘Yes, he does.’
‘Not all of them!’
‘And is that a bad thing?’
‘It isn’t! It’s good! It’s fantastic! I don’t want to hear my own words repeated back at me as if someone planted some sort of recording device on me!’
Sherlock narrowed his eyes. ‘Why would you say that?’
‘Because no one wants to have a recording device around! It will drive anyone insane!’
‘No… not that. Why did you call him a recording device?’
‘What else do you want me to call him?’
‘Why a recording device?’
Sherlock didn’t bother to return to the laboratory and John ended up taking the parrot home. This was no easy task: the parrot kept flying away from him to hide behind Molly. John chased after him until he was out of breath. In the end, it was Molly who caught the bird and handed him to John.
‘Behave yourself, Sherlock.’ She laughed. ‘It sounds so silly, doesn’t it?’
‘You’re telling me.’
He held the parrot in his hands, afraid that it will fly away if he let it go, the whole drive in the cab to Baker Street. The cabman told him a never-ending story about his daughter’s birds, but John didn’t listen.
221b was empty when he arrived. He set the parrot free and Sherlock flew away from him to sit in his owner’s spot.
‘You are as annoying as your owner, you know that?’
The parrot said nothing.
Great, now he was talking to a bird! He turned away. ‘I swear, the next time I see Sherlock, so help me, I am going to … I don’t know what I’ll do to him for this. Making me take care of his bloody bird as if I’m some sort of …’ He ran out of words and dropped down into his chair, fuming.
‘I’m glad you like me,’ the parrot said.
‘I’m sorry… what?’
The bird didn’t reply.
Load of rubbish. That’s what this all was: a load of rubbish.
‘Bored,’ the parrot said in a voice so similar to Sherlock’s that John looked around the room, expecting to see him there. ‘Bored.’
‘Oh, shut up! I’m not going to entertain you.’
‘Sherlock wants a murder.’
‘Well, you’re not getting one!’
‘You’re so sweet,’ the parrot said this in a voice also very much like Sherlock’s.
‘Will you just shut up? I’m tired. In case you haven’t noticed, I spent the whole day dealing with that wonderful owner of yours. He will get here eventually and entertain you. That is, if he cares about you at all, which he probably doesn’t since he doesn’t care about anyone but himself and that damned oversized ego of his.’
‘Shut up! Surely you can survive for one hour without your precious owner! He takes off and abandons everyone. You should learn that, if you want to stay here.’
‘And you should also learn that you will never be shown any gratitude. He will take it as natural that you do things for him, but he will never thank you.’
‘Stop repeating everything I say in that goddamned voice of his or there will be a murder, so help me! You get all kinds of entertainment and all I get is the knowledge that my girlfriends work for his brother to spy on him. Sherlock and that damned brother of his! You’d think the world was revolving around them! What about us, ordinary people, trying to live ordinary lives?’
‘You told me the world revolves around the sun.’
‘Sherlock wants a murder!’ the parrot said.
‘How about a cracker instead?’ Molly asked and pulled a cracker out of her pocket.
The parrot took the cracker and ate it. Then it flew up and landed on her shoulder. Molly shuddered in fear and almost shook it off.
‘Don’t be afraid,’ John said. ‘He sits on Sherlock’s shoulder all of the time.’ He laughed. ‘Maybe he likes you.’
Molly tried to smile at the parrot. ‘I’m… glad you like me… Sherlock.’
That phrase sounded awkward and they avoided each other’s eyes.
John waited for the parrot to say something that would break the silence, but the parrot just stared at him.
There was something about that stare that made John think that the bird was looking down on him. That was silly. How could birds do that? But it was Sherlock’s bird, so anything was possible.
The parrot even lifted its wings as if it was sulking like Sherlock often did.
No, it was just his imagination. It had to be.
‘Where is Sherlock?’ John asked just to have something to say. ‘He really is taking his time…’
‘I’m glad you like me,’ the parrot suddenly said, tilting its head towards Molly.
Oh great, now the parrot was ignoring John too.
Molly smiled at the parrot. ‘You’re so sweet.’
‘You’re so sweet,’ the parrot repeated.
‘You’re so sweet,’ the parrot repeated like a broken record.
‘This is ridiculous,’ John said. Why was the parrot getting so attached to Molly? And he repeated her phrases too. He barely ever repeated John’s phrases.
‘Do you want another cracker?’ Molly asked.
‘Cluedo,’ the parrot said.
‘Sherlock plays Cluedo with him,’ John put in, just to participate in their conversation.
Molly held out another cracker and the parrot flew down to eat it out of her hand.
‘You’re so sweet,’ the parrot said once more.
Sherlock didn’t say a single word on their way to the Hospital (and neither did the parrot who returned to hiding under Sherlock’s coat). He climbed the steps to the laboratories, followed closely by John. Lestrade remained outside, hoping that once Sherlock found something he would let him know.
About ten minutes after they arrived at the lab, Molly came in with a stack of books in her hands.
She pretended to be surprised to see them, but barely got past her first sentence when she noticed. ‘Is that…?’
‘Yes, Sherlock has a parrot now,’ John said. ‘Don’t ask why.’
Sherlock continued to study the sample through the microscope, as if he was alone in the room. The parrot walked back and forth on the table.
‘It’s … It’s a pretty parrot. What’s his name?’
‘Sherlock,’ John answered. ‘He named the parrot after himself.’
‘Oh…’ Molly fidgeted nervously and then walked up to the parrot. ‘Does… Sherlock want a cracker?’
‘Sherlock wants a murder!’ the parrot exclaimed.
Molly stared at it in shock.
‘Like I said: don’t ask.’
There was a long awkward silence. John wondered if he should try to explain what happened to Molly.
Sherlock looked up. ‘What do you think of all of this, Sherlock?’
The parrot walked up to him. ‘Drowning?’
‘Yes, I know that.’
The parrot thought for a while (parrots can’t think, can they? John wondered) and said, ‘Where is that bloody thing?’
‘Blood…’ Sherlock thought for a moment. ‘Not human.’
‘Are they… talking to each other?’ Molly asked John in a whisper.
‘I don’t know… The parrot just repeats random bits of conversation. Sherlock thinks they’re relevant.’
‘Of course!’ Sherlock leapt to his feet. ‘Look after Sherlock!’ he ordered and dashed out of the room.
Molly and John exchanged glances.