Sherlock Holmes and the Remaining Improbable
by Susanne M. Dutton
The game is not afoot. The Better-Every-Day world of 1895 is gone, even hard to recall as WWI ends. From his rural cottage, Holmes no longer provokes Scotland Yard’s envy or his landlady’s impatience, but neither is he content with the study of bees. August 1920 finds him filling out entry papers at a nearly defunct psychiatric clinic on the Normandy coast. England’s new Dangerous Drugs Act declares his cocaine use illegal and he aims to quit entirely. Confronted by a question as to his “treatment goal,” Holmes hesitates, aware that his real goal far exceeds the capacity of any clinic. His scribbled response, “no more solutions, but one true resolution,” seems more a vow than a goal to his psychiatrist, Pierre Joubert. The doctor is right. Like a tiny explosion unaccountably shifting a far-reaching landscape, the simple words churn desperate action and interlocking mystery into the lives of Holmes’ friends and enemies both.
Not for the first time, I felt a surge of gratitude for Holmes’ unspoken understanding that his digs at Bolt Cottage couldn’t suit me. No doubt his cottage fit his needs precisely, but it was no place for a visitor, perhaps purposely so. Some might say it was no place for any inhabitant at all, full as it was with apparatus meant for Holmes’ scientific inquiries, not to mention the maps and almanacs, the world’s newspapers, and of course, his library. Books lined shelves and the stairway to the sleeping loft. Books invaded the corner of the ground floor room usually devoted to meal preparation, too. They filled the unused icebox, the pots that never knew soup, and lined most of the cupboards. Books climbed the walls, stacked and somehow tracked in their positions with ribbons that hung from the center pages in a festive display—red, black, gold, green, purple, blue, white. Holmes claimed his color-coded system was modern and flawless. I never grasped it.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Susanne Dutton is the one who hid during high school gym, produced an alternative newspaper and exchanged notes in Tolkien’s Elfish language with her few friends. While earning her B.A. in English, she drove a shabby Ford Falcon with a changing array of homemade bumper strips: Art for Art’s Sake, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, Free Bosie from the Scorn of History. Later, her interests in myth and depth psychology led to graduate and postgraduate degrees in counseling.
Nowadays, having outlived her mortgage and her professional counseling life, she aims herself at her desk most days; where she tangles with whatever story she can’t get out of her head. Those stories tend to seat readers within pinching distance of her characters, who, like most of us, slide at times from real life to fantasy and back. A man with Alzheimer’s sets out alone for his childhood home. A girl realizes she’s happier throwing away her meals than eating them. A woman burgles her neighbors in order to stay in the neighborhood.
Born in Des Moines, Iowa, Susanne grew up in the SF Bay Area, has two grown children, and lives with her husband in an old Philadelphia house, built of the stones dug from the ground where it sits.
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