4. Not to be Trifled With

“I suppose I’ll have to.” Ever the unflappable pessimist, Sherlock stood erect giving his filthy fingernails a once over nonchalantly. I winced gingerly as my hair was pulled tighter.

The villain fished for a weapon and pressed the cold, open-ended shaft of a revolver against my temple. “Right. You know the drill. I’ve got one live round, so do your little thingy – Guess my name.”

My eyes grew wide, Sherlock only rolled his. “Rumpelstiltskin.”

Click.

“You think you’re right clever, don’t you?” Evidently the gunman wasn’t bluffing. He was about as thrilled with Sherlock’s antics as I was.

“Yes, quite.” Sherlock smirked and held one hand in the other behind his back. He pivoted on his heels and ambled toward us in a roundabout fashion.

“Stop right there! Come no further!” After a beat, the crazed man added, “I wonder if this here miss would agree?”

“What, with my cleverness?” The master sleuth was biding his time. “I wouldn’t profess to knowing what goes on in the mind of a, hmm…thirty-something-year-old woman whom I’ve never met before.” He raised his eyebrows and smirked again. I wasn’t sure if he was aiming his evil smile at me or the man restraining me. But the combination of that look, and his ambiguous, yet annoyingly correct assumption of my age, set me off.

“Wouldn’t you?!”

Sherlock’s eyes slid slyly back and forth between the two of us. “Pardon?”

“You do it all the time, don’t you? Profess to know a great deal about a great many things, actually, without any prior knowledge or experience. Quite a lot, really.” My reaction managed to evoke only a blank stare and a blink or two.

The man behind me was squirming from a severe lack of patience (and sanity, if you ask me). “Alright, that’s enough out of you.” He shook me firmly and turned to Sherlock. “She’s right, you know. You do it all the time.” He addressed Sherlock in a flirty fashion, and his motive flashed brilliantly beneath my skull. The miscreant continued, “So go on, profess away.”

“I know your end game.” Sherlock was one to cut you to the quick. His minimal tolerance of charades, save his own, left  many a criminal mastermind feeling abandoned in their imaginary chess battlefield. The hostility this produced in his opponents was almost always immediate.

Right on cue, the scoundrel’s  ego had reached a breaking point. He wasn’t going to be manipulated. I imagined him thinking, “Treat me like a child, I think not!” He realized his jollies weren’t going to be gotten tonight, unless he upped the ante. I felt a sharp kick to my shin as he simultaneously shoved my torso to the ground. He stepped on my back to keep me down.

Click.

“You’re bloody mad!” I screamed at Sherlock, though I knew he couldn’t be chastised into resolving the situation swiftly. He’d take all damn day if he could. I’d have to take matters into my own hands if I wanted to get out of there alive.

 

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3. A Grave Site Indeed

I go to the moor to meditate. The invention of the modern church seems ironic (sacrilege, if you will). I can understand needing to express your gratitude to a higher power in the form of a mighty structure. Awe-inspiring cathedrals, with massive stone walls hiding secrets and relics from ancient societies, possibly key players from the good book, may prove to the world how dedicated one is. But it is in nature where I feel truly at peace. Where I know I’m a stitch, and there’s a seam holding us all together.

Invariably, I end up at the cemetery. It’s where we all end up, eventually. Reading the names, touching the cold, dead dirt; finding the oldest date calms me. The reticent audience beckons. Each passed individual calls, “Here I am, come see.” In their final resting place, they’re letting me know I got something right. Consoling me, as I once did them, though they were already gone. Everyone needs a little validation to remember their fortitude. To persevere.

One evening, in dire need of fresh air, I headed straight for the graveyard, not having time for both scenic ventures. Dry leaves on the ground rustled slowly; vibrant anomalies. Minuscule critters, imperceptible to the average onlooker, vacillated between scurrying and burrowing.

This is where I found him, haphazardly hopping over headstones with less than graceful determination. I thought it was a game at first; until I recognized him…Sherlock. By the time I realized what was happening, it was too late.

“STOP!” Hot, acidic breath shattered my eardrum. My head snapped back, held in place by a grimy fist. The command jolted me, but was directed at him. A cursory glance through my lashes showed the sleuth landing on the near side of a marker and halting.

Black, twisted locks oozed between my captor’s fingers, roots of hair taut from his desperate grasp. “Ah, the great Sherlock Holmes.” The man behind me practically purred with anticipation. “Let’s play a game, shall we?”

2. At Arm’s Length

When someone dedicates their life to alienating themselves, it’s difficult to get close to them. Not just emotionally, but physically. So much of his time has been spent solely in the corners of his own mind. Thinking, researching, calculating, digesting. Data in, data out; at the speed of light. Much faster than the speed of sound, which is proven every time his theories go over the heads of the populace. They’re like a madman’s rants. Yet they’re not hypotheses…They. Are. Brilliance.

“Elementary,” he says, when you’ve spent your entire day trying to collect a coherent thought and produce results. You recognized a pattern of shapes and colors. He trumps it with a sequence of numbers and riddles. “I’ll see your theory and raise you proof.” Always a step ahead, pointedly one-upping you and leaving you shaking in your boots. Like a war tactic or chess maneuver, he enjoys beguiling his opponent. At the same time, he craves the opportunity to be outwitted and challenged. Yet he’s never met his match, which leaves him feeling empty and isolated; behaviorally inclined toward an egotistical disposition.

One sees the wheels in motion when he’s immersed in a crowd. He’s bound to say, “Life is unfulfilling when you’re surrounded by people, or sheep, rather, who have been conditioned to be superficial. Politeness is political and trivial. Society’s undoing.” He openly endeavors to provoke an unfavorable reaction, in an attempt to arouse a meaningful conversation, which almost never happens because most are too intimidated by him to get upset.

The point? He never really connects. Touching is forbidden. Emotions: nonexistent. Even eye contact leaves something to be desired. He gives direct orders, and you obey because you don’t want the awkward silence that comes when he’s trying to understand why you didn’t jump into action immediately at his last request. And then it becomes even more uncomfortable when he intuitively discovers a legitimate reason as to why you can’t follow the simplest of instructions: Because you have trouble with authority, or bad hearing, or your cat’s pregnant, or you don’t want ketchup on your potatoes, just your meat, thank you very much!

So you’re better off appeasing his initial whim, lest you want a heart-to-heart with the pseudo-psychoanalyst who can’t seem to diagnose, let alone identify, his own issues. His solitude amplifies his resolve to withhold affection. His lack of experience and want of scholarly stimulus and validation drive his psyche. His attitude being of the general nature that common human needs and desires are anything but human. They are, in fact, animalistic and weak. A moment of gratification is impulsive; indulgent. It leads to selfishness and greed. And though he may be seemingly self-serving in his actions, and come across to most as attention seeking, his foremost motivation has always been for the assurance of the greater good.

This is why I cannot deny I am in love with Sherlock Holmes.

1. Delving Deeper

We ran through the thicket as dusk came down upon us. I knew him before I met him.  His story. His reputation. His intellectual prowess no one could contend with. The arrogant flip of his collar before he sized you up. Before he spewed the verbal equivalent of your entire being.

He’d flare his nostrils slightly. Just so, and stare. Not at you, into you. Down your spine as the edge of his lip twitched purposefully with undisguised disdain.

Athletics were not his forte, though his lean frame managed the terrain effortlessly.  Physical obstacles dare not stop him – they were just another equation he could see written on his frontal lobe. His eyes absorbed the fog and pierced the subdued forest.

Suddenly, he dropped below the ground line. Not a moment later, a wool clad arm shot up and pulled me down to matching depth. His eyes dilated, his breaths shallow.

His high cheekbones glistened subtly as he brought a solitary finger to his lips, bidding silence. He needn’t have bade. Terror gripped my soul. I reserve the word “sociopath” for truly f*cked up candidates. A sociopath was hunting us.

My tall companion slid down a narrow gully, dragging me with him.  Half frozen water splashed quietly, causing me to check my peripherals for signs of being found.  I saw no one, and continued to follow willingly for want of safe haven. We found a slight bend in the crevice that bowed at one end, with a willowy pad above and a dry spot below.

We clawed through the muck and, again, with only the simple point of a finger, he directed me into the hole first.  I studied his features as he followed me into our new shelter.  His intense gaze. Bright gray-green eyes with a hint of blue. Lips pursed while deep in thought. It occured to me he’s not used to running away from a problem. He’s a confrontation whore.  It should be his middle name.

There’s barely enough room for the both of us to hide. I meld into the dirt wall and watch him crouch down and clasp his hands.  He bites the tips of his thumbs and rocks back and forth slightly, planning our next move.  I imagine this is how he surveys crime scenes.  Mentally scanning the data, filtering the information, collecting the evidence.

I jump unexpectedly when we hear a howling.  His split second reaction is to grab my shoulders at arm’s length and steady me.  He dipped his chin slightly and raised an eyebrow askance.  I nod quickly, I’m fine.  When we hear it again, he squints and looks up at the sky.  It’s almost pitch black and the moon is beginning to show, though it’s difficult to see through the fog that’s starting to accumulate.

The second howl morphed into a shriek, and slowly revealed itself to be a laugh emanating from a certain pursuing maniac.  This finally prompted a break in our silence.  He looked back down at me and said, “We’ll wait for John to trace us in the morning.” I was hoping for something more…intelligent.  Especially from him. There was a minute desperate quiver in his usual monotone. But I knew better. Emotions are his last resort to eliciting the intended response he’d expected to receive.