Katayoon and I spent the night together at her house the night before her business trip with Paul. Tradition be damned, I didn’t want to waste the last few hours of our romance yelling futile accusations and hearing pointless denials. But I felt justified in being irked at her for what she had pulled on me in front of Paul. That morning while he and I were huddled over a project, she came from behind and hugged me around the neck. She had thrown down the gauntlet, and there was nothing I could do but let my feelings do the reacting. My breath went deep and my eyes closed as if to shut out every sensation in my body except the warmth of her embrace and the fragrance of her closeness. If I had held back to keep Paul from seeing what she meant to me, I would have lost the last chance she had given me to claim her. It was a phony chance, I knew, with even lower odds than the state lottery. But she knew I could not refuse it. A lottery ticket is a one in a million chance, but without it there would be no chance at all. Less than 24 hours before she and my covetous rival would be alone in a hotel with a view of the Seine, he knew another man’s heart burned for Katie. Brilliant timing on her part.
Katie’s suitcase lay open on her bed with piles of clothing cluttered around it. Pondering now and then, she put one back on its hanger and hung it in the closet. How she could speak without talking. It seemed she wanted me to know she was leaving behind her most seductive dresses. Her kisses were full of a melancholy that said I will miss you and can’t wait to come back to your arms. My heart believed her, but my mind knew better
“Is there anything you want from Paris?” she asked.
“I want Paris to be less romantic while you’re there.” I replied.
Her eyes went soft as she put her hands earnestly on my face, “Why do you keep worrying about Paul so much? I’ve told you once before.” She meant that first night in front of her fireplace when she had said she didn’t love Paul.
“Then why?” I asked.
“Then why what?” she asked innocently.
“What does Irene Adler want with Sponge Bob Square Pants?”
She laughed. “Yea, I got your message. You’re so mean to poor, innocent Paul. There’s nothing to worry about, though. Irene Adler only wants Sherlock Holmes, but the idiot Holmes doesn’t even know just how much she wishes she could be with him forever.”
“Then why Sponge Bob Paul?”
“He has this thing for blondes,” she dismissed the question, seemingly with a joke.
“And that’s enough for you?"
“I’m not even a real blonde,” she said waving her bottle of hair color at me before tossing it into her suitcase. Then she had second thoughts and took it out. “Would you like me in my natural color?”
“I’ve wondered how you would look as a Persian woman.”
“Come on, yes or no?”
“Yes,” I said.
“Yes as in “please, please” or yes as in ‘why not’?”
I ran a finger across her lips, “Yes as in please, please promise this won’t be our last night together.”
She couldn’t of course, and throughout the wonderful months of intimacy with my magnificent Irene Adler, I had discovered why. Her subconscious would be damned if after all the years of hard work to build a stone wall around the painful truth it would let anyone like Sherlock Holmes near it. Any man less dense than Paul, any man less oblivious to the depth and detail of his partner would be a threat, much less a Sherlock Holmes. The only man Katie would ever feel comfortable sharing a life with would be Sponge Bob Square Pants. Only the comically adolescent Sponge Bob would be sure to keep her pain contained inside that fortress of denial. That night I made love to Katie in sorrow. Sorrow for her tragedy, and sorry for ours.
I dropped off Katie at the airport in her car. To reassure me of our bond, she had given me her keys. It was a strongly symbolic act. She was saying I have free access to everything she has, everything she is. On a more calculating level, I knew this was something she would do. Someone had to feed Tank while she was gone. This fact was essential in my plan to ransom Christie’s life from Mr. Gorgani’s deadly threat.
As soon as I got back from the airport, I contacted the tabloid journalist who had taken the picture of Gorgani with his face burned. The picture had, of course, been photoshopped to look hideous and tabloid readers suspend disbelief for the sake of entertainment. No one actually believed it was a real picture of Gorgani, but I knew it was. As soon as I saw the picture I knew the journalist had found out which institution Gorgani was being kept at. I made a deal with him that in exchange for his information I was in a position to give him the real story of what had happened to Gorgani. Next on the to-do list was to convince the institution to let me visit Gorgani.
The manager at the institution told me on the phone that unless I was family, she couldn’t confirm whether or not a certain patient was in their care. I told her that I wasn’t family, but that I was going to bring a visitor that was perhaps closer than family. The manager was a dog lover and she quickly thought of a way to let the visit happen. Katie’s mom may have sneaked into the house without her husband or her daughter knowing, but not without the dog knowing. Tank knew who else was in the house when the wires went live on his master. Obviously it was someone the dog knew because Katie had said she didn’t hear Tank bark until after her father’s fall.
“Bring her to me,” Gorgani had demanded in my dreams. Sorry Mr. Gorgani, your daughter is the wrong person to question about the attempt on your life. Who you really want to see is Tank. I’m bringing you the hound who knows the identity of the murderer.
The institution manager said that the patients are brought out in the sun every day for an hour, and if Tank and I happened to be on the lawn at that time, no policies would have been violated.
The home was a few hours drive north into California’s redwood territory, and I thought Tank would be more comfortable if I kidnapped him in Katie’s convertible. Also Tank had hinted that driving up in Katie’s car would make me smell more like her and that could only help my credentials with her father. Dogs know a lot about noses, so I followed his advice.
We waited until the nurses wheeled the patients out into the sun. Tank chose the one who had been placed in the semi-shade of a silk tree. His head, partly burned, was white and slumped into his bony chest. His body was so like a crumpled leaf that I thought the breeze could set it tumbling down the pathway. He looked nothing like his Sherlock Holmes photo, but as I stared, at first he began to look like Katie, then his familiar features slowly took form. I had expected his eyes to be shut. But they were wide open and as empty as the daylight sky. An emptiness that hides half the stars and galaxies of the Universe in plain sight. Tank began sniffing at the blanket covering the patient. If he recognized the scent of his old master, the only show he made of it was by lying down next to the wheelchair.
I didn’t expect Gorgani to hear or understand. That part of him was dead. But there was a way pain could exist in him, and there was a way joy could exist in him. And wherever there are pools of joy and pain, the creatures that inhabit our unconscious come to drink. The one who no longer comes, the one who died, could speak and hear and understand. The others who still gather, I wasn’t sure how they used the brain’s resources of memory, sensation, reasoning, and goal planning. How did they make their voices ride on dreams the way mine rode on waves of sound? Whatever these creatures were, they were still of this world. The physical world mattered; otherwise they wouldn’t be asking me to bring Katie to them. Otherwise they couldn’t have held Christie’s life hostage. I hadn’t delivered Katie as they had asked, but I so hoped that Tank would do the job.
We stayed until the patients’ hour in the sun was up, then Tank and I watched until the lawn was emptied of wheelchairs. As Gorgani was wheeled inside, I remembered how I had arrived here because once my prayer in grief had been refused, demanding something more. Now I hoped this prayer in kindness would satisfy my quest. What a horrible way to part with consciousness, I thought. I could never leave this world thinking my daughter hated me enough to murder me. I would promise my soul to the Devil to hold back Death until I made peace with her, just as Gorgani had done.
That night Sherlock Holmes came to my dreams for the last time. He was naked, laughing, and busily painting himself in joyful Hafez verses.
رسید مژده که ایام غم نخواهد ماند
چنان نماند چنین نیز هم نخواهد ماند
من ار چه در نظر یار خاکسار شد
مرقیب نیز چنین محترم نخواهد ماند
چو پرده دار به شمشیر میزند همه را
کسی مقیم حریم حرم نخواهد ماند
چه جای شکر و شکایت ز نقش نیک و بد است
چو بر صحیفه هستی رقم نخواهد ماند
سرود مجلس جمشید گفتهاند این بود
که جام باده بیاور که جم نخواهد ماند
غنیمتی شمر ای شمع وصل پروانه
که این معامله تا صبحدم نخواهد ماند
توانگرا دل درویش خود به دست آور
که مخزن زر و گنج درم نخواهد ماند
بدین رواق زبرجد نوشتهاند به زر
که جز نکویی اهل کرم نخواهد ماند
ز مهربانی جانان طمع مبر حافظ
که نقش جور و نشان ستم نخواهد ماند
“This is a very good mojdeh Watson,” he said. Watson woke up knowing everything will be all right for Christie. But his heart still ached for Sherlock Holmes’ daughter.
At the end of that week Paul returned triumphant, though Katie was more apologetic. She stopped by my house to collect her keys and to tell me that she and Paul had decided on a slow schedule to get married. Months later, when it came time for Paul to break the news to Christie, she was as heartbroken as any wife who has lost her husband to a fairer woman. But her emotions stood by her, protecting her, as they should. Her compulsion to commit suicide had cleared up like a common cold. Nowadays she keeps breaking up with men she always calls ‘baby.’ Once I told her frankly that I wished she would find someone she could call ‘a man.’ She laughed and said I could always turn a phrase.
Paul and Katie married in Paris, and she never returned to work after her maternity leave.
Paul continues to use my office as his confession booth. He gave me the sad news that Tank passed away. He too was very fond of Tank. Two other bits of bad news came on the heels of Tank’s passing. I checked the local paper on the Internet to find out what happened. It was undetermined as to why Katie’s mom had driven across the freeway median into the path of an oncoming truck. Oddly she had ripped her clothes off just before the crash. Gorgani expired the same day and the papers made much of the coincidence but with only hints of the story I had given the tabloid journalist. No one believes the tabloids.
Paul and Katie have two children now. I visit the family occasionally. They are a happy couple except for a few insignificant tiffs. What bothers Paul the most is that he would like Katie to go back to dying her hair blonde or at least a lighter color. For reasons he can’t fathom--and I won’t tell him--she says “You’ll just have to wait until they turn white.”
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