Friday, August 1, 2014

The terrace.

Since I seem to have an extra day to spend with "His Last Bow," I think it will be worth spending on the terrace.

You know, the terrace?


"Stand with me here upon the terrace, for it may be the last quiet talk that we shall ever have," Sherlock Holmes says to Dr. Watson in the final paragraphs of their final case together. Sherlockians have traditionally used the phrase "standing on the terrace" to pay tribute to the memory of departed friends, so much so that to many long-time Sherlockians, Holmes's line immediately makes one think of those gone away. But Watson hasn't gone away yet when Holmes originally says the words.

True, both men are about to head off for their individual duties in the greatest war Britain has ever faced. One, or both, may not make it through with their lives, and wind up being part of the sacrifices that England must endure to survive as a country.

But here, on this terrace, in this moment, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson are alive, and together.

And you know that while they "chatted in intimate converse for a few minutes," it probably wasn't the dialogue that many a fanfic writer would choose. It also probably wasn't the perfect expression of decades of love and friendship, summed up in a perfect moment. We learn it was "recalling once again the days of the past," and that was about it. Which means it was more like an awkward, sort of . . . .

"Remember that time, when Lestrade fell in that hole, just as the blind clergyman was . . ."

"Ah, yes. We laughed all the way back to Yorkshire."

"Or that time . . . did you really get Irene Adler to . . . ?"

"There's a photo, back in my garrett at the cottage."

And eventually, the squirming German in the back seat of the Ford would require some attention and the two men would just kind of go, "Good times, eh?" and head for the car. Sherlock Holmes gets all dire and "East wind coming," but Watson? He just enjoying being with Holmes as always, like it will never end. I think he even cheers Holmes up a bit, just by being John H. Watson.

"Standing on the terrace," as traditionalized in Sherlockiana is a good tradition, a nice way of honoring those who have gone before us, but we also remember that unlike that tradition, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson weren't standing alone on the terrace, one or the other mourning the loss of his counterpart. They were there together. And Sherlock Holmes was taking a moment to fully appreciate the man who stood beside him.

Today I've had good reason to think of a friend who left us too soon last year, but as I stood on the terrace, so to speak, I wasn't standing alone. And like Sherlock Holmes, I took those moments to greatly appreciate those who stood with me . . . those, who in a way, were gifts to me from that absent friend. Because we don't have to save terrace moments for our last bows.

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