Title: The Greatest Pastiche
rating: pg-13 for drug use
word count: 1,134
summary: Basil Hallward is told by Dorian Gray that his painting has been lost and, in this story, he decides to take the case to Sherlock Holmes, who, along the way, befriends Henry Wotton and does plenty of cocaine and morphine.
My great aunt Betsy used to have a saying, "There’s nothing interesting to be found in an old attic." However, last year something happened that made me think Old Betsy’s saying should be something more like, "It’s possible to find something interesting in an old attic once in a while." I know you’re probably thinking, at this point, that a person shouldn’t just change the valuable sayings of old people on a whim and of course you’re right. You’re also in luck because this isn’t just a whim; I have a reason. That’s right—I found something interesting in an attic. It all happened one sunny afternoon when I was poking around in my grandfather’s box. The sheer volume of ticket stubs from ancient baseball games was about to drive me insane with boredom when all of a sudden I unearthed something remarkable. Actually, you can probably guess what it was, having read the title of this book, but I’ll tell you anyway. It was an unpublished Sherlock Holmes manuscript, but it wasn’t written by Dr. Watson, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, or the prolific author of many a Holmesian pastiche, August Wilson. It was written by Buddy Glass. I thought he had died before Conan Doyle was born, but that’s what it said at the top of the first page, plain as day. Apparently he was also a huge Oscar Wilde aficionado, which will make sense to you shortly.
"Watson," said the great detective, "you must tell me what was so fascinating at the club today that you came home a full hour later than you expected."
"How did you know I was at the club?" asked the doctor, "And how did you know when I expected to return?"
"I don’t suppose you’d be satisfied if I just told you that I deduced it?" Holmes noted the expression of dismay on Watson’s mustachioed face. "Hmm. I didn’t think so. Well, just to warn you, this is hardly even something one could call a deduction. I simply noted that you told Mrs. Hudson you were going to your club and wanted dinner at six o’clock. Since you generally enjoy about thirty minutes of glancing through your casebook before you dine and it is now half past four, I can surmise that you came home early."
"Astonishing!" gasped Watson. "Absolutely top-drawer!" The doctor ignored Holmes’ incredulous look and continued, "I think that was your best deduction yet, old boy!"
"If you’re finished, Watson, I’m going to see who’s at the door."
"But can’t Mrs. Hudson--?" however Holmes had already left the room. A few moments later—moments characterized for Watson by excruciating anticipation—the dark-haired, ascetic looking man returned with a dark-haired, aesthetic looking man.
"Watson," said Sherlock Holmes, "I’d like to introduce you to Basil Hallward, an artist." The newly acquainted men nodded at each other in greeting. "Mr. Hallward has a case for us."
"Yes," the artist agreed. "I say, how did you know I was an artist?"
"You have paint on your hand, the characteristic calluses of a man who holds a paintbrush, a lily in your lapel, a lazy look of observation in your eyes, and I can tell that you’re trying like mad to figure out why I have a picture of Reichenbach Falls above my fireplace (he ignored Watson’s protests of, ‘our fireplace’). Need I go on?"
"No. I can see that I didn’t make it difficult for you."
"I daresay you might have been able to piece it together on your own," Holmes said with some asperity. "Now, will you tell us about your case or should I deduce that as well?"
Basil Hallward glared slightly and said, "What I have come to discuss is the most horrendous kidnapping."
"Kidnapping!" Watson sputtered.
"Quiet, Watson," Holmes remonstrated, collapsing upon the nearby divan and gathering his tatty dressing gown around himself.
"As I was saying," Hallward continued, "what has been kidnapped is of the utmost importance. I poured my life and soul into it and now it has gone missing!"
"What are you talking about?" the detective interrupted.
"A painting. A portrait of a very good friend of mine, the most beautiful youth you’ll ever meet. I painted it a few years ago, gave it to the friend and within months he had decided that I was never to see it again. He would give me no reason, though I pleaded with him pitifully. I was consoled by the fact that my painting at least survived and could give joy to someone as beautiful as Dorian Gray, even if I couldn’t see it, but now something horrible has happened!"
"It was kidnapped?" Holmes raised an acerbic eyebrow.
"Yes!" Hallward soldiered on. "Dor—Mr. Gray was having it transported somewhere and it was misplaced. Or at least that’s what he claims. I’ve heard a great deal of rumors about him lately that lead me to believe that he may not always speak with the purest truth." His narrative completed, the impeccably dressed man sat back with a sigh and looked at Sherlock Holmes with an imploring look in his eyes.
"You do realize," began the recipient of the pathetic gaze, "that I am not in the habit of collecting lost luggage for people?"
"Luggage!" Hallward fumed. "My art is not—"
"Mr. Hallward," Holmes interjected. "If you would be so kind as to let me continue? Good. I will solve your case for one reason. I have heard of your Mr. Gray…"
"He’s not mine," murmured the sensitive artist.
"…and if he is involved in this business, then it cannot be a simple matter of lost luggage."
"Oh thank you Mr. Holmes! You have no idea how much this means to me, how many hours I toiled over the masterpiece."
"I must speak with Lord Henry Wotton. He is well acquainted with Mr. Gray, is he not?" Holmes was pacing now.
"Yes, but you won’t get anything out of him but carefully crafted insubstantial epigrams." Basil had a bitter glint in his eye.
"I think I can muddle on even if he isn’t so plainspoken as you are, Mr. Hallward. Now you must leave. Watson and I have things to attend to before we can get started, but rest assured, we’ll get to the heart of this matter in no time. See him out Watson." Holmes waved his bony hand dismissively and made his way through stacks of newspapers to the Persian slipper. Soon the room was filled with the billowing stench of shag tobacco and Holmes had on a look of deep concentration. "You know, Watson," he said when their guest had left, "this case has a few points of real interest." With that, he took his morocco case and went into his bedroom.