There’s No Place Like Holmes

I’ve always loved Sherlock Holmes; his mannerisms and eccentricities, his brilliant mind, his remarkable home. This piece was birthed as an exercise in description for an English Writing class in college. We were allowed to choose the place — real or fictional — and asked to describe it with sensory detail. I revised it not long after and gave it a hint of a narrative. It’s still a favorite of mine, despite the cheesy title.

My fingers brushed against the familiar creases. The leather binder was old and worn, much like its owner, but was still able to bring a flock of goosebumps to my wrinkled hand. I turned it over and for the hundredth time, read the gold-embossed title: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. My prized possession.

I didn’t need to open the book, for I had read all the Holmes stories dozens of times. Instead, I closed my eyes while clutching the treasured book, and once again travelled there, to 221B Baker Street, to my safe haven. I had been there many times before, so nothing really took me by surprise. Nevertheless, I allowed myself to re-experience all of the sensations of this apartment all over again. They were too much a part of the event to simply ignore.

I gave myself completely to my imagination, and allowed Doyle to dominate. I assumed my usual role as Watson, and took everything in. The apartment was small, but not tiny, with plenty of room for the simple pleasures of Mr. Sherlock Holmes. Right off, the scent of a freshly-lit pipe charged up my nostrils, and clouded the room in a throught-provoking wisp of smoke. I inhaled deeply, embracing the scent. I could have easily traded that haze for oxygen itself.

It wasn’t especially cold in the room, but it wasn’t noticably warm, either. The room had a shadowy, brownish quality upon it that I had grown to love. This was my retreat, my hideaway from the cares of the world. Instead of listening to a heart monitor, which fractionally decreased in cadence daily, I would always return here, and watch Holmes perpetually astound me, the police, and anyone else who happened by him.

The rug I stood on, which covered much of the ancient floor, had once been a soft cushion for tired feet. But hours of Holmes’ incessant pacing, while working out the specifics of a case, had changed that. This distasteful carpet was as flat and stiff as the hardwood floor itself, as if Holmes had drained all of his inspiration and deduction from that rug and left it to wither away. This was my secret theory, but Holmes would have been insulted had I asked him about it.

There was a grandfather clock somewhere in the room; however, it was not heard until I consciously listened to it. Often, while Holmes needed silence for concentration, I would stand and watch Baker Street from the upstairs window. There I could both hear and see the rythmic clicking of horse-drawn carriages riding by, their clomping hooves out of sync with the old grandfather clock.

There was a certain “look don’t touch” feel to the room, as if everything in the room had been placed in a certain location by Holmes, and was therefore concrete, sacred, and immovable, except by Holmes himself. There was also an air of knowledge and wisdom throughout the room, as books were lined neatly on shelves stretching in all four directions. Charts, diagrams, maps, and newspaper snippets were laid out in every available space, each one representing either a vital part of a current case, or some unique triviality which had, for one reason or another, caught the eye of the master sleuth.

Holmes collected many trinkets and items of specific interest to him, and him alone. Many of them had been received as gifts from special clients or wealthy dignitaries. Each had an interesting story behind it, but he would rarely tell me of them. Of course, my favorite item in the room was the famous Holmes violin. If I was lucky, I occasionally caught a taste of Holmes’ mastery of the instrument, perchance he was in the mood to play.

The images and sensations began to slow. My imagination grew weary, as did all of my body’s functions. Unwilling to let go of the fantasy, I carefully bridged the gap between real world and my imaginary one, existing simultaneously in both. My eyes remained closed as I allowd Holmes’ sweet, stringed musical stylings to play my lullaby into oblivion.

Copyright 1994 ©Robin Parrish. All rights reserved.

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1929

Written for a high school English class assignment in the 10th Grade, I believe. Very obviously inspired by Frank Peretti’s This Present Darkness, which a friend had given me for Christmas.

Dusk painted the city a deep hue of gold. The Depression contrasted against it with a blackness that swallowed the streets.

A lone figure moved quickly down a deserted sidewalk, his silhouetted form barely noticeable among the monochrome walls of the town. His head moved from side to side, quickly, as if looking for someone. But he wasn’t. In his hand was a small, black book, and he gripped it fervently, reflexively.

Coming upon a dark alley, he turned down into it. He passed a small boy picking through a trash can for a scrap to eat. The haggardly child didn’t seem to notice him, and he didn’t notice the boy.

Moving farther down the alley, he came upon one lone individual. An old beggar that was no more than a skeleton, and smelled like even less. The beggar was sitting on the ground, and the stranger knelt next to him. The beggar asked for something with a deep longing in his eyes that betrayed his true desire. The stranger finally released his strong grip on the black book and opened it, reading to the man.

In another realm of existence, only a few feet away, one of the many shadows came to life. It reached down into the old beggar’s body and touched something much deeper than his flesh.

The old man began to resist the stranger, pushing him away with as many tired excuses as he could think of.

A magnificent creature of light descended upon the alley and began to grapple with the shadow. The two beings fought a ferocious battle, all the while touching the old beggar’s soul.

The stranger renewed his conversation with the old man, seeing easily through his excuses to his heart. The beggar became unsure.

The being of light took a resounding blow and fell to the ground. The shadow stood mightily over him, ready to complete his victory.

The beggar fell into despair, feelign that he was unworthy of the stranger’s efforts. The stranger pointed out that his own efforts were unimportant. The beggar looked hopeful.

A powerful strike reverberated throughout the alley as one of the beings was hit by a new player, a third being entering the spiritual realm. But it was not the being of light, it was the shadow that fell. His attacker reached down to help the being of light to stand up again. The shadow, still dazed, recognized this new foe as the young boy that had been sifting through trash just moments before.

The beggar made his decision.

Outnumbered, the shadow had no choice but to retreat.

And as the two humans in that alley lifted their hearts to Heaven, they were joined by two beings of light that now stood constant vigil over them.

Copyright 1991 ©Robin Parrish. All rights reserved.

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