“Why are you surprised, Watson?” Sherlock Holmes asked; his sallow, dour face even sadder looking than usual. “It would never be enough. Secrets never stay buried for long.”
Watson, her almond eyes narrowed suspiciously, turned on him. “Are you sure, Sherlock? I mean, you suffered mild amnesia from that blow on the head.”
Holmes looked down into the open grave. At the bottom, an NYPD detective stood next to one of the Lourdes Cemetery laborers who was prying open the dirt-encrusted lid of the coffin.
“Of course, I’m sure,” Holmes said. “I am now fully recovered, and I remember everything.”
“But,” Watson said with an insistent tone. “Brigitte Jones was burned to death when Melchior Moriarty set fire to her apartment. You were struck by a falling beam as you tried to save her, and were unable to remember anything for the past six weeks.”
Holmes turned and gave his associate one of his looks. She was accustomed to this. The man could be absolutely infuriating and insufferable at times with his air of self-assurance and condescension. It didn’t help that he was always right.
“It was a closed coffin funeral,” he said. “You didn’t actually see the body.
“That’s true,” she said. “But, I thought that was because of the condition of the body.”
Holmes laughed ruefully. “So everyone was to believe, and apparently it worked.”
“But, why, Holmes? Why stage such an elaborate charade?”
“Elementary, my dear Watson,” he said. “Brigitte was being stalked by Moriarty. He set that fire in order to kill her. The objective was to make him think he’d succeeded. Now, that we’ve obtained a confession from him after he was caught stalking another woman, she can come out of hiding.”
Now, it was Watson’s turn to laugh. Hers, though, was musical. “Sherlock, you are absolutely amazing. I know this had to be all your doing, but you were injured and unable to remember anything. How did you pull it off?”
“My inability to remember did not mean I’d lost the ability to reason, Watson. I knew that Brigitte needed protection from her stalker, and that seemed the logical thing to do, ergo, I did it.”
“You must really think a lot of her,” Watson said. “That your mind would be able to function so well even under such circumstances There’s only one explanation.”
His head tilted back, and he looked at her through the narrow slits of his lids. “Whatever do you mean, Watson?”
“Why, it’s elementary, my dear Holmes,” she said triumphantly. “You’re in love with Brigitte Jones. Why else would you go to such lengths to protect her, even when you were not fully capable of protecting yourself.”
He looked away from her piercing gaze, and down into the gaping maw of the grave, into the now open and empty coffin, his mind on the little house upstate near Connecticut where Brigitte awaited him.