Last week was the last mention of Sherlock Holmes in the title. The beloved detective will be spoken of fondly, but as one distantly removed. Otis and Evan are on their own.
One change I will be incorporating in the new series, is to name the chapters. Let's see how that works out.
One change that will not take place is the name of the orange antimacassar.
I appreciate the sentiment behind getting a heads-up from my friends about me being framed for murder back on (or eventually to be framed on) the space vessel where I was born quite some time in the future. As for appreciating the actual visit. Not so much. Being accused along with my partner-in-crime, Otis Ferg, the only way we can get back is to leave Control and Jerome behind. We could have dealt with the clowns on the Scientific Integrity Team on our own. But now?
"That would look odd," said Otis, "Sherlock Holmes would have said as much."
"But in fewer words, Otis, I'm sure."
"Perhaps, Evan," Otis said as he and I talked alone.
"Jerome said he would stay if one of us agreed to go back to the vessel in black-face."
"And I would, too," came a voice from the other room.
"Not a chance, bro. Not after singing "We Shall Overcome" at Wilberforce's tomb..."
"Went over well did it not?"
"Not the point Jerome. Actually that is the point. Maybe you create an atmosphere of racial harmony. And the African colonies don't break away from Great Britain for several hundred years more."
"Besides, Jerome, you get to run the playlist in the Smiley Grill."
"Hey you guys can leave me your playlists if you'd like."
"Why don't you recruit that docent Doxy to help you," I said.
"Good call," said the woman walking into the room. She looked refreshed. "I have been talking with Dr Watson, and based on Dr Watson's experiencing the cheese-curd-cubed effect I feel that the pair of them should not be near another time travel experience at present. I sent them to the north of Scotland. That should be far enough."
Jerome said, "That reminds me, Mr Holmes asked me to calculate the amount of transmit mat that Control and I will need to get back to our time and to give you the rest. Here it is." He handed us each a few trimmings.
"So that's what Mr Holmes meant."
"Meant by what Evan?"
"Over and up. Over to the U.S.A. and up the calendar as far as the scraps will take us. The further into the future we can go, the fewer the chances to muck up the timeline."
"So after Jerome and I leave, do the two of you have to hop a junk freighter to America?"
"Hardly, Control. At worst Evan and I each possess an electronic almanac that contains almost every market closing stock price and final sporting event score since the dawn of numbers. Sherlock Holmes has given me the names of five bookmakers and ten brokers that he assures me have behaved as scoundrels."
"And at best?"
"These!" I said and pulled several pairs of sparkling blood-red stones from my pocket.
"Aren't those the Rubinellas they have on the 4 AM infomercial?"
"The same, Jerome. The infomercial that said a jeweler couldn't tell it wasn't real until they saw a Rubinella being made. I got these and a bunch of Emerellas for a launch commemoration day parade crew. They went with green."
"And I suppose Mr Holmes has the name of a rascal jeweler too," said Control.
"Several," said Otis. "How about Heffnoy and Hartoof? Or Grumpledys?"
"Dr Watson was kind enough to offer to lend me his scales," (Grumpledys has been said to shave the edges of gold coins passing through its counting rooms) "But that won't be necesarry. Using only one pair of Rubinellas, Mr Holmes has secured ample letters of credit for me and for Otis."
"And quite a letter of introduction from that inspector."
"And he never met either one of us. But Sherlock Holmes says we're OK so ..."
"So," Otis continued for me, "This inspector only knows one person in the U.S.A. to whom to write. The former police chief of New York City."
"A former police chief of a major city sounds like a good contact - for a white man."
"I'm not so sure, this fomer police chief is Theodore Roosevelt and he's now the President of the United States, So we have to buy new clothes and travel first class from London to New York."
"I'm surprised Sherlock Holmes allowed that," said Control.
"He didn't. This was at the inspector's initiative and the letter had already begun its way through diplomatic channels by the time Mr Holmes found out. What was it Dr Watson said as they boarded the train to the moors? Oh yes I remember. "He'll take out his anger on the grouse. Ought to good for a few meals this time.""
Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson were not there when Jerome and Control returned to the future. Otis and I had been told we were welcome to stay a while, but I can sense the look that goes to the trifold and the questions that don't quite form on the lips. We need to go. Before we go, though, we had to find a safe place to hide the first copy of the trifold's contents. Otis nested the back-up chip in a piece of antistatic foam and then glued a piece of velvet atop the chip. "Martyr's bone fragment or piece of the true cross?" said Otis.
"Stain it so it could be either," I said. "Here, let me write the note." I scrambled around for something crude to write with, finally settling on a charred stick. I wrote, "Forgive me saint..." "Otis, what's popular letter to start a saint's name with?"
"Just one letter?"
"Not even a whole letter. A fragment of a letter will do. One tantalizing fragment."
"A vertical stroke, that fits a lot of letters."
"And therefore it fits a lot of saints. Each of whom could be be represented by that piece of bone. And each of whom has devotees eager to build a reliquary worthy of protecting and preserving a mysterious treasure from another time. Think of it Otis, a relic is born.