Season of Reason

Season of Reason

By Shai Porter

I had called upon my friend, Sherlock Holmes, to wish him the compliments of the season. Per my wife’s request, I was bearing both her famous eggnog and a large slice of fruitcake which had been gifted to us—no doubt in an effort to rid ourselves of it.

“Ah, Watson!” he cried happily from the other side of the doorway, having anticipated my arrival through his powers, which had shown no sign of fading though I fear we were both past our prime. “I’m afraid the date of greatest religious significance for me has already passed. It was in mid-September. However, I have no compunction against wishing you a most joyous Christmas and joining in celebration!”

I was somewhat taken aback. In all our years together at 221B, I had not seen him partake in any holiday celebration in September. Perhaps it was some new faith he had acquired whilst travelling in the Near East during his...time away. I know he had visited some of great religious capitials of the world.

“Is this a new observance, Holmes?” I asked. I struggled to think of any time my friend had any shown interest in religious observances, but had come up empty. I knew of some religious occasion in September for those of the Jewish faith, centered around the new year or somesuch event. Perhaps during his last meeting with Chief Rabbi of the British Empire Hermann Adler, the man had won him over?

“Surely you recall?” he said. “Every 19th of September, I make my way down to the docks.”

“I do recall your doing so this past September, yes. For a case. Disguised as Captain Basil. I do not recall your having done so the previous year, though admittedly, I may have been otherwise occupied, with the influenza outbreak which began once the weather had turned unexpectedly cold. The year before that, I cannot say I recall the entire month of September. Nothing had struck me as particularly memorable.”

My dear fellow, I assure you I also went to the docks. I go to the docks on that date every year. I suppose I shouldn't have expected it from you, but I have been doing so long enough for an observant man to have noticed.”

I bristled at the accusation, and perhaps it fuelled my retort. “You mean to tell me you attended religious services dressed as a sea captain, muttering curses to the high heavens, in a place which couldn't be farther removed from the sanctity of church even if one had made specific effort?”

“No, no that was the thing! To be by the docks, feel the chilled and salty air—what little of it wasn’t choked by the more unpleasant odours, of course. To be, for one glorious moment in time, a pirate!”

“A pirate?”

“You have a negative view. Misinformation spread by Christian theologians in the Middle Ages. Pirates are peace-loving explorers and spreaders of good will who give candy to small children and are vital to the climate of our planet, mark my words, Watson!”

I made a not-too-subtle sweep of the room to see if Holmes had discarded his cocaine only to take up with yet another enemy of sense.

Holmes laughed. “I assure you, Watson, I am as much in my right mind as ever. That it is strange to you is understandable. Only a handful have been touched by His Noodly Appendages, but there is much time before the arrival of the Anti-Pasta. But that is neither here nor there. If you are still interested in sitting with an old friend who is, I assure you, only mad north-north-west, I would love to celebrate the season with you. Each in their own fashion. You may celebrate Christmas whilst I celebrate Holiday. Hallo, what is it you have brought?”

I shoved the fruitcake deeper within my coat pocket and took a seat in my old armchair. “A festive nog. I thought perhaps indulging in front of the fire would be appropriate.”

He smiled. “Yes! Just a moment!” He headed off toward the small kitchen and I could just barely hear him saying something about finding an appropriately-themed food item. Then something about the baby Jesus. Knowing he seldom had much food onhand, as it was his habit to eat only after cases, and even then relying solely upon Mrs Hudson’s fine preparations, I half expected him to serve me up a plate of tobacco mixed with myrrh. Instead, he returned with a small charcuterie, consisting of pheasant and an assortment of small cheeses shaped into tiny wheels. There were also two cups suitable for eggnog.

“These are delicious, Holmes! But I fail to see the religious significance.”

“Edam, cheddar and Swiss, Watson. The baby cheeses! My celebration earlier in the week bore no leftovers or I would have been able to offer up potato pennecakes as well.” He eyed his violin which lay upon the settee. “Care for some carols? ‘Angelhair We’ve Ate On Rye’, perhaps?”

“You cannot be serious.”

“I’m not. I’m absolutely silly. That is rather the point of it. But still, it is quite far from a simple joke. It's a joke where to understand the punchline you must be conscious of underlying truth. But that’s not to say it’s True, only that it has Value.” He sat down in the chair opposite mine and gestured toward me, cheese in hand. “Lord Robert Henderson is our leader. A prophet, if you will. This theology is his own. Even he believes the world is not yet ready, though he continues to tell the story of the Flying Spaghetti Monster to his grandchildren in hopes that it may one day have greater appeal.”

I poured some nog into my cup and chugged it down. “Go on, then. Tell me of your theology.”

He did. He spoke of founding pirates and a heaven consisting of beer volcanoes, dancehall girls, dancehall boys, free access to concertos, trees on which sweet kittens grow and rivers made of hot chocolate.

“And Hell?” I asked, with some hesitation.

“The beer is stale and it’s probably white chocolate or something. And there is also a dubious piece of fruitcake which has been sitting in a friend's coat pocket for an inordinate amount of time.” I flushed in embarrassment, but he continued on. “Hell is temporary and is not a very significant factor for the vast majority of people. The dogma is unclear, in any case.”

“I see. It’s a bit of a joke.”

“Oh no, my good man. If it is a joke, it is a joke where to understand the punchline one must be conscious of the underlying truth. In advocating what seems like utter nonsense, I free every religion from the burden of proof. Which can only be a good thing, you see. No more prosthelytising that they have found the one true...anything. It is my way of putting all religions upon equal footing. I have countered many a man who wished to force his views upon another by merely espousing my ideology and daring him to disprove it.”

“Which, I assume, he cannot.”

“No moreso than if I claimed a teapot orbited the sun roughly between the Earth and Mars but was too small to see even with the greatest of telescopes.”

Chuckling that he should have chosen such an analogy, I said nothing. I drank some more holiday spirits. “But you believe this nonsense,” I finally stated.

“As surely as I believe the Earth revolves around the sun. Oh, and I had forgotten to thank you for bringing that up again in that dog story, lest the reading public forget.” He grinned and toasted that reading public with his nog.

“It made you endearing,” I hastened to argue.

“Be that as it were...may I return to my theological point?”

I smiled. “By which you mean, it doesn’t matter?”

“R’amen, Watson. It absolutely does not matter. And the fact that it doesn’t matter matters a great deal to me.”

[Please note that Pastafarianism as traceable back to the Victorian Era, where Lord Robert Henderson had a vision and told his grandchildren of it in hopes it would catch on some hundred years later, is not exactly canon. More like...midravioli.]