POLONAISE IN B FLAT MINOR
The brandy is warm, but the hearthfire is warmer. I remove my
collar and recline within the welcoming generosity of our settee.
Holmes, however, has not disrobed. Tonight's Mendelssohn
was exquisite and has kindled that certain humour within him wherein
the empyreal chords of his violin touch him more viscerally than any
worldly matter might.
Any worldly matter that he will allow himself, that is.
From their outset of some modern Sibelius, the chords transmute;
gradually they begin to soften and sway. They moan low and
sonorous with a vibrato that cuts acutely through to my depths.
My body is lulled, save for one sole sentry that volunteers to keep
watch erect and alert. The rest of me is drawn along with the
enchanting air to the land of Holmes and his pied pipe.
He picks up the tempo now, raising it in heat and meter with my mood.
My pulse pounds uncomfortably in my chest and I cannot fathom how music
with no words can speak so clearly of so much. My eyes fly open
and I observe him observing me, his eyes in tune with my body, playing
me as easily as a marionette.
I apply his methods. It is not at all difficult to do. As
sure as there is tea in China, Sherlock Holmes is seducing me.
He must see the shock register in my eyes, for he improvises a finale
and stows the violin. He stops at the coal scuttle on the way to
his chair. "Cigar, Watson? No, well, you will forgive me if
I indulge alone." He lights a thick, aromatic one, and
watches me from his chair.
I would be a poor physician indeed if I were to fail to observe that I
was not the only one so affected. I would be a poor student
of Sherlock Holmes were I to wait with bated breath for something
more. He wants me, but he does not will me, and therein lies the
rub. For his will is made of iron, but his heart is
composed wholly of softer stuff, therefore the latter must inexorably
fall victim to the former.
"I think I shall go to bed," say I. This time there are no polite
"good-nights". I will gladly have him use me, but to toy
with me for that purpose is quite another thing. He
will not end this sad pretence, I know. He thrives upon what is
denied as I do upon what we share.
As with sleep and food, deprivation of all things of the body gives him
a perverse pleasure as well. "It is the razor edge upon which the
senses are sharpened; the keener the need, the keen the result will
be," said he. As with sleep and food I am become not tool, nor
desire, but a necessity of life. I take some cold comfort in that.
I retire to my bed and do that which lonely men have done back so far
as to before God created Eve. Perhaps he takes me for granted I
think as the rush of empty satisfaction cools and gels over my own hand.
There is a rustle at the door and Holmes is by my side, his eyes
aflame, his ears and nose pricked to the scent of our game.
"Come, Watson, the hare is on the run."
"You go. I'm tired." I pull the coverlet to beyond my chin.
"I need you." Bony fingers wrap my wrist and slide down to clutch
my hand, heedless of the sticky film he must surely feel. "I need
you," he repeats. "Come."
With a whirl of his coattails he is gone. I rise and throw on my
clothes. I have many failings but feeble-mindedness is not
amongst them. I therefore will not waste time deluding myself
that there was ever a moment of choice.