New York, 1977
Following the events which I have chronicled in ‘The Adventure of the Speckled Bandana,’ Holmes seemed to descend into depression, as he often did after a case which tested the glittering heights of his deductive prowess.
One evening when I called on him in Bleecker Street, I found him slumped in his armchair with the telltale glassy-eyed expression which I had seen before. His violin hung listlessly from one hand, and beside his chair was a plastic Baggie half-filled with white powder.
‘Enough,’ I said. ‘I will not allow you to wallow in his apartment, taking drugs. You are coming out with me right now.’
‘What’s the point? Everything is so dull.’
‘It’s New York, man. The world is at our fingertips. A concert, a movie. Actually, yes—a movie would be perfect. You need a more wholesome escape from your own mind.’
He fluttered an indifferent hand. ‘Movies are for the simple-minded. I need a case, Watson. And perhaps some more—’
I snatched the bag of coke and flushed it down the toilet.
Half an hour and some harsh words later, we were sitting in the third row of The Strand theatre, watching the opening credits scroll across the screen. Holmes looked supremely bored, but I was quite excited. I’d seen Star Wars before and I was delighted to be seeing it again.
Most of my attention was taken up by the thrilling events on the screen (and the smart-mouthed charms of Carrie Fisher), but I did notice that Holmes was gradually sitting upright, his keen eyes focused on the film. By the final scene, he was positively on the edge of his seat, his hands clasped, his mouth quirked into half a smile.
‘So you enjoyed it,’ I said to him as we left the theatre into the neon Manhattan night.
‘Even though movies are for the simple-minded, and science fiction is utterly implausible?’ I couldn’t resist repeating his own words to him. ‘What did you like the best? The space battles, the light sabres, the Death Star?’
‘It gave ample scope for observation and deduction. Of course it was obvious that C3PO was suffering from backache, but less so that Grand Moff Tarkin was wearing too-tight shoes. Or that two thirds of the cantina band had recently given up smoking.’
‘Holmes, I rather think you have missed the point.’
‘I miss nothing. Surely even you must have noticed that the Imperial Stormtroopers were nearly all left-handed, due, no doubt, to the magazine on the modified Sterling L2A3 submachine guns they used.’
I threw up my hands. ‘But what of the story?’
‘Stories are for children, Watson. All the same, I thought the twist was moderately cleverly done.’
‘What twist? When Han Solo returns, you mean?’
‘I mean the fact that Darth Vader is both Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia’s father.’
I stopped on the sidewalk, flabbergasted. ‘Holmes…that’s not in the film.’
‘I think you will find that it is.’
He lit a cigarette and drew the smoke deep into his lungs, like a man who has found a new zest for life.
‘Overall, this has been a most invigorating evening. I think we should watch another film. What say you to Smokey and the Bandit?’
J. E. Cohen’s (julie-cohen.com) life changed at age eleven, when she bought The Complete Sherlock Holmes because it was the biggest book in the shop. She joined the Baker Street Irregulars at sixteen, and at age twenty-two moved to England to study Arthur Conan Doyle’s involvement in the Cottingley fairy photographs. Despite not being able to draw, she is an official cartoonist for The Sherlock Holmes Journal, with her feature “Overrun By Oysters.” Under the name Julie Cohen she writes novels which have sold nearly a million copies worldwide. Tweet her @julie_cohen.
She is the author of The Adventures of the Speckled Bandana in the new Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets anthology, out now!
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