~~His funeral is well attended. This does not surprise me. Many people admired Sherlock. Many more couldn’t stand him. But nobody who ever came in contact with him ever forgot it, and it seems as if all of them are compelled to be here.
I am being treated as the grieving widower. Mourner in Chief. It really ought to be his mother, but everyone seems to think this arrangement entirely appropriate, including the woman herself.
Despite my fears, she doesn’t blame me. Mycroft says that she hates goodbyes and wouldn’t have known how to handle Sherlock’s, so it’s just as well. She seems to understand this. She hugs me and tells me she’s so glad that he had me with him in his final hours.
I stand up to give his eulogy. I only do it because I can’t imagine anyone else doing it. I talk about his brilliance, his dedication to his work. I talk about the people he helped and the criminals he brought to justice. I don’t talk about how he made me feel alive, or the way his eyes glowed when the sunlight slid behind them from the side.
I tell the mourners that he was my friend, and I am honored to have known and worked with him. I don’t tell them that I loved him, and that I love him still, and that if I had one wish in the world it would be that I could make it stop.
Sherlock’s left me everything. He had more money than I suspected. He certainly had never needed a flatmate. But I’d known for some time that my presence served many purposes, the very smallest of which was financial. I find myself well off for the time being. I take some time off from the surgery. I spend it reorganizing the flat.
One night I open up one of his scrapbooks. Collections of crimes, deductions, examples. His notes scrawled everywhere in his spidery handwriting. I sit with it and I hear him taking me through it. I read the whole thing. Then I read the next, and the next.
Within a month I have read everything of his in the flat. I’ve brought in filing cabinets to organize his messy clippings. I can put my hand to any piece of reference I need within seconds. I don’t know why I feel I must have that ability, but I have it, nonetheless.
Lestrade calls me about six weeks after the funeral. “Strange case,” he says. “Man found dead, not a mark on him. Locked room, no windows.”
“And?” I say, puzzled.
“Will you come?”
He sighs. “You’re the next best thing, John.”
So I go. Everyone stares. I must look terribly out of place without a tall, black-clad figure by my side. I shut my eyes before I enter the room, and when I open them again, he is there with me.
I look, and I see things I would not have seen before. I don’t fool myself that I see all that he would have seen. But I see a great deal. It turns out that I see enough.
I turn to Lestrade as I leave. “I’m not like him, Greg. I’m glad to help if I can. But I’ll be charging for it.”
He grins. “As you like, Doctor Watson.”
The next time, I am faster. The time after that, I am more thorough.
I sit at home with casefiles, and we talk it out. “What do you make of the wallet?” he asks me.
“He was at the gym the night before.”
“How can you tell?” He’s dubious. Sherlock never set much store by traditional routes of inquiry. Wallets, diaries, phone calls. Too obvious.
“He’s got a thick stack of cards in here. Credit cards, membership cards, bank cards. His cheque card is second from the back. That’s the card most people use the most frequently, so he must have been in the habit of using his cards and then sliding them to the back of the stack. The gym card is at the very back, so he must have used it after he used his cheque card the last time. Most people don’t go very long without using their cheque card, so he probably was at the gym the night before he died.”
“Hmm. I’m impressed.”
I smile. “You’d never say that if you were really here.”
“I am wounded by that accusation, John.”
Sometimes I can almost see him. I shut my eyes and picture him. “I love you.”
He doesn’t answer. He never does when I say that.
Six months out, I resign from the surgery. I have new business cards. John Watson, M.D. Consulting detective.
Still the only one in the world.