The Adventure of the Weary Author
The Adventure of the Weary Author
by Mazarin Coney
(who owes much to the theories of Santa’s friend, Julie McKuras)
It was late in the evening on December 24th, and Dr. Watson leaned over his writing desk, barely keeping his head up. How had he managed to ignore his deadlines so long that he was brought to this point, he wondered with what cells in his brain were still conscious. Then those same cells went back to hating Alexander Holder.
Why was the man such an idiot?
Keeping Crown jewels in his bedroom dresser — who does that?
Holder ruined his relationships with his whole family. He left his niece in the hands of a scoundrel. And worst of all, Alexander Holder came to Sherlock Holmes and made him investigate his stupid, stupid case, which meant John H. Watson had notes that had to be written up for that stupid magazine his agent had contracted him to write for.
But with Holmes gone over those falls, Watson’s medical practice not in the best place, and his wife’s condition, the money the tales brought in was very necessary.
Mrs. Watson had been slowly failing since February of 1890, when a bout of common influenza caught her just after she had read Watson’s novel The Sign of the Four. In order to make the novel more popular with feminine readers, Watson had played up his attraction to the governess Mary Morstan and a joke he had made about getting engaged to her. His wife had been aware of what he was doing as he wrote it, and seemed to agree, but when the final result was in print, it seemed much worse to her than she had realized, and a dark depression set in.
Watson’s writings, including that one, had become more popular with the series of shorter cases in The Strand Magazine, and as her friends read of her husband’s seeming infidelity, their quiet disdain seemed to drain just that much more life out her. And it got worse with ever story he published.
He dragged his pen across the page, putting one word down, then another . . .
“. . . while . . . Wooden . . . leg . . . had . . . waited,” the paper read.
Watson shook his head. He had just called a man “Wooden-leg.” He was too tired to be doing this any further. But he . . . had . . . to . . . keep . . . writing.
With that, Watson’s head slowly fell on to the manuscript, and his pen dropped out of his hand.
“What’s this?” a voice said softly from the general area of the fireplace. “Another sleepy lad who just had to stay up to get a glimpse of his favorite celebrity?”
Santa sprinkled some more of his magic dust over the doctor to make sure he had sweet dreams. He placed some gifts under the little tree the Watsons had managed, and then stood over Watson’s writing desk once again.
“Wooden-leg? That’s seems a poor choice of words. Francis Prosper is such a good boy, too.”
Santa pulled the papers and the pen out from under the doctor, and set about finishing the story, based on Watson’s ample notes. When he had finished, he put the manuscript back under the sleeping doctor.
“Merry Christmas, old man,” he said softly. “Too bad I couldn’t have come along in time for that damned ‘Sign of Four’ fiasco. One should not insert romance into detective tales.”
With that, the elvish ghost writer flew up the chimney and off to his next stop, and “The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet” made it to the offices of The Strand Magazine, where the three Christmas ghosts had yet to get to George Newnes and convince him to give his employees the holiday off for several more years.