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 What's In A Name

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Hunkeydorey

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Join date : 2013-08-24
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PostSubject: What's In A Name   Sun Feb 16, 2014 12:05 pm

“Dr. Watson?”  The nursing assistant smiled at the old man, rousing him gently from his slumbers.  “Your nephew is here to see you.” 

“Nephew?”

“Yes, dear.  Mr. and Mrs. Holmes are here.”

The young, blonde giggled into her sleeve.  “Mr. Holmes and Dr. Watson?  Seriously?”

“Yes,” the old man cleared his rheumy throat.  “But I was born in the eighteen fifties, so I had the name ‘Watson’ before it was used in the stories.  He had a remarkable mind, Conan Doyle.”

“I love those stories; especially the one with the giant dog.”  The blonde’s eyes widened.  “You met him?” 

“Sure did.  I met him when he visited the eastern U.S. in 1894 and again in 1923 when he came to Winnipeg.  He got quite a kick out of me being called Watson and having relatives called Holmes.  We talked about that.”   

The young nurse looked at the old man with renewed respect.  “I’d love to hear about that.  I’ve never met anyone famous.”  Her pretty face slid into a smile.  “Except for Dr. Watson.  Did he base that character on you?  You were a specialist in solving crimes after all.”   

“The books were written before I met him,” The patient’s face pitted with deep dimples, “but I must admit to using that story as line to impress more than one pretty girl.”  He shrugged a bony shoulder.  “That’s when they were still interested.  I’m all gristle and phlegm now.”      

“You’re a charmer, Dr. Watson.  You’re a breath of fresh air to us nurses.”  The dark-haired nurse lifted a dirty cup from the bedside cabinet and placed it on the tray on the sideboard.  “Our, Dr. Watson here, wasn’t a doctor of medicine either, were you, Doctor?” 

Dr. Watson coughed; a heart-stopping, gut-wrenching bark which rattled the aged, fragile ribs.  He seized the nearby oxygen mask and sucked in a breath of reviving gas.  “I worked in security all my life.  I studied all kinds of sciences which would help me perfect my methodology.”  The dark eyes grew distant.  “It was an honorary title.  I never used it.”

“But the police and the courts did.”  The nurse pulled at his pillows and punched them into a better support for the grey head.  “That’s why you are in the Winnipeg Police Rest Home, Dr. Watson.  The Chief Constable insisted that you be cared for here after your surgery and the Mayor agreed to pick up the bill.  You have been a great asset to the province.  Now, sit up nicely and let me brush your hair.  I want you to look good for your visitors.” 

“They’ve seen me look worse,” the doctor muttered under his breath.

“Not when I’m on duty, they haven’t,” the dark-haired nurse put the comb back on the locker and stepped back to appraise her work.  She gave a firm nod of approval.  “Yes, you’ll do.  Now let’s get that dressing gown on you.  You look so smart in that paisley pattern one.”

“The one young Jed got me for Christmas?”

“You’re so thin, we must fatten you up.”  She tied off the robe and pursed her lips.  “He’s coming with his wife to show you their new baby son.  Isn’t that exciting?”   

“The baby?  I guess.”

The older nurse put her hands on her hips.  “Why the sad puppy-dog eyes?” 

The grey head dropped.  “His grandfather would have loved to have seen him.”

The nurses exchanged a concerned glance.  “Your old friend?  Yes, it is sad he isn’t here to see his grandchild but you gave his boy a wonderful start in life and a loving home after he died.”

“No mother, though.   I guess we got caught up in work and starting a family came last,” the smile fell from his face, “too late for me.  ”   

“You brought up a fine young man and he’s here to see you,” the no-nonsense, professional tone rang with the certainty that the nurse would brook no opposition, “so let’s get you into that wheelchair and out to the porch, shall we?  They’re waiting for you out there and you could do with a breath of fresh air.”  She patted his shoulder.  “I don’t know what’s gotten into you today.  You’re feeling so sorry for yourself.  It’s not like you.”

“It’s seeing old friends, Nurse.”  The dark eyes became wistful.  “It brings everything back.”    

**********

“Uncle Joshua?”  The young man ushered forward the beautiful redhead who proudly clutched the precious bundle in her arms.  “This is our son; we’ve called him Jedidiah Curry Holmes.”

The nurse applied the brakes firmly to the wheelchair and walked away, leaving the little group in private. 

The dark eyes darted to the swaddled baby and shared an unspoken conversation with the couple.  “Oh,” was all the old man could say through a mist of emotion.  

“It’s time,” the young man smiled.  “We are proud of my father.  He died upholding the law but my son will carry the name and continue his legacy.  It’s been a long time in coming, but Jed Curry will live a decent, honest life under his own name in a way his grandfather never could.”

The dark eyes glistened with tears.  “I never meant for you to feel ashamed of your real name.  I guess it was safer for me for you be called Holmes.”

“I’ve never been ashamed of anything, Uncle Joshua; not my given name or my real one.  They’re all part of my father’s life,” young Jed shrugged, “so they’re part of me now too.”

“We chose the names because Smith and Jones were thrust on us and they were ridiculous; just too suspicious.”  Heyes’ chuckle quickly developed into a phlegm-clearing cough.  “When we picked names from a story who knew that those serials in a magazine would become so popular huh?  We thought the names Watson and Holmes were ordinary enough to go unnoticed.  In a way, though, they became great cover because people would never suspect you’d choose a famous name.”

“Serials?  I thought they were books?” Margaret took the seat her husband placed beside the wheelchair. 

“They started as serials in Lippincott’s magazine in London in 1887.  We were in Canada by then and some made their way there.  I loved them.  They ended up as books.”

“I get the feeling your exploits will too,” Jed dragged over his own chair over.  “It’s an amazing story.”

“No,” Heyes muttered.  “Not while I’ve got a breath in my body.  There’s no statute of limitations in Wyoming and I’m still wanted.  I won’t spend my last days in a prison infirmary.  I didn’t fight all my life for that.”       

The young man reached out a hand to touch the skeletal knee.  “I know why you did what you did, Uncle Joshua, and I think you were right.  You did everything you could to get amnesty and when the Governor strung you along you for too long you had to eventually give up and build a future.  You gave me a good life here in Canada, an education, respectability and a heritage to be proud of; but times have changed and people don’t condemn the likes of young Jed because his grandfather used to be an outlaw.  He redeemed himself and it’ll be good for folks to know that he turned over a new leaf and died protecting innocent people from bank robbers.  Your story is inspirational, you know; you made good.”

“Did I?  I think he gave up when your mother died,” the old man sniffed, but it was unclear if the source was infection or sentiment.  “I should never have let him go back to work.”
 
“Don’t beat yourself up, Uncle Joshua.  This is a happy occasion.  Here,” Jed ushered his wife forward.  “Margaret, introduce young Jed to his Grandpa.”

“Grandpa?”

“The nearest thing he’ll ever have.  You are a blood relative after all,” Jed unpacked the box brownie from the leather carrier.  “Here, Margaret.  Will you take a picture of three generations of the family together?”

“Of course,” she beamed.  “We must get this one in a frame.  This will be a very special photograph.”   
         
The new mother laid her baby in the old man’s arms, pausing to adjust his upper arm to support the infant’s head.  He gazed down at the little pink form staring up at him with earnest eyes.  “He’s got blue eyes,” he murmured, “dark-blue eyes.”

“All babies have blue eyes to start with,” Margaret cooed.  “They have a greyish tinge now, but that will go.  The colour will come in soon, but I expect he’ll have bright-blue eyes like his father.”

A wrinkled finger reached out to stroke the plump face. “And his grandfather.  The brightest eyes I ever did see.”

“What do you think of him?” Margaret asked, staring down at her offspring.

“He’s pink,” the old man wrinkled his nose.  “Do you know he looks like he’s been pushed up against a pane of glass?”

The outraged mother’s eyes widened.  “He’s beautiful!”

“Yeah,” the old man nodded.  “He is; squashed but beautiful.  Let’s get that photograph taken.  Us men folk aren’t used to babies, is all.”  The shawl fell away from the babe’s head.  “Oh, curls.  He’s got curls.”  Hannibal Heyes stared deeply into the baby’s scrutinizing eyes.  “Yes, I see the Kid in him.  I got that long, hard look too many times.  It’s like he’s telling me to stop yackin’ and get the picture taken.”

“’The Kid?’”  Jed Holmes grinned widely.  “I like that.  That’s what I’m going to call him.  That’s way better than junior.”

“It makes him sound like a goat,” the young mother protested.

“It makes him sound like his grandpa,” Heyes murmured.  “Yeah, the Kid.  That’s good.”

“It doesn’t sound like you have any say in the matter, Margaret,” Jed laughed.  “He’s ‘the Kid’ to me and his grandpa Heyes.”  He dropped his voice and glanced with a well-programmed response.  “Sorry...”

“No harm done,” the old man chuckled, “nobody heard.”

The men pulled close, propping the baby up to face the unblinking eye of the camera until their images were indelibly imprinted on the newly invented cellulose.

 “That’s going to be a keeper.”  The young man stood, observing his relative closely.  “You never liked getting your picture taken did you, Uncle Joshua?” 

“It kept me alive,” the tired head dropped.  “Did I ever tell you about the one photopraph we were stupid enough pose for?”

“Yes, Uncle Joshua.  You did.  I always wanted a copy of that; you and my father in the prime of life.”

“We destroyed every copy we could find.  I wonder if Clem’s folks still have one.  If they do, I wonder if anyone knows what it is?”  The thin shoulder shrugged through the paisley-patterned dressing gown.  “I’m old, it’s forgotten.  It’s done business.  Once we’re all buried nobody will ever think of us again.”

Jed’s brow furrowed in concern.  “You’ll be home soon.”

“I have cancer.  The end is coming.  I know it.”

“You can’t know that.”

The grey head nodded.  “Yes, I can.  I saw him today.”

“Who?”

“Your Pa.”  Heyes relaxed back against the raffia of the wheelchair.  “I’ve seen him for a few days now.  I’ve also seen my folks.  I’ve heard that happens at the end.”          

The young man and woman exchanged a glance.  “Nonsense.  You’ll be home again before you know it.”

The grey head shook in resignation.  “I never believed in such things, but there they are; smiling right at me.”

Both young people followed the staring, dark eyes over to the porch steps, but they were empty.  “They’re dreams, that’s all.  Vivid dreams.  Morphine causes that.”

“That’s what the nurse said.”

Margaret scooped up her baby again.  “See?  I told you.  It’s nothing to worry about.  It’s just a side-effect of the drugs.”

“I’ve been on morphine for a long time.  How come I’m only seeing my folks now?”

“It’s built up in your system,” Margaret hugged her baby to her breast.  “You’ll be fine once we get you home.  They said you’re doing well after the surgery and you can come home next week.”             

“Yeah,” Heyes blinked heavy eyes at his visitors, “I won’t be here this time next week.”

“Yes, you’ll be home.”   Jed frowned.  “We’ve tired you out.  We should go.”   

“Jed.  I love you.  I need you to know that.”

The young man paused.  Uncle Joshua could be playful; he could deliver long, meaningful looks and drape a friendly arm over a man’s shoulder but he rarely vocalised his feelings.  He was a man of his time, albeit a remarkable one.  “I’ve always known it.  Enough of this now, you need to rest to get you fit enough to come home.”

“Goodbye, Jed,” he nodded at the woman.  “Look after them all, Margaret.  I’m glad he found you.”

“We’ll see you again tomorrow, Uncle Joshua.”

The gaunt face dimpled into a joyless smile before the vacant eyes stared back at the steps again.  Margaret sighed and dropped a kiss on his cheek.  “You take care now.  ‘Bye.”

The old man gazed at the steps, staring into space before his lids grew heavy and flickered closed.  The spring sun felt good on his skin and the creeping warmth invigorated and vitalised a body wracked with pain and fatigue.  His rise and fall of his chest showed the drop in consciousness; slowing down with the spaces between each breath increasing as he relaxed into a hypnotic world of phantasms and memories.

He was young again in that place; strong, vital and commanding.  The lips twitched into a smile but the cheeks were no longer gaunt and wrinkled, the skin was firm and healthy and revealed white, even teeth.

“Heyes!”  The Kid gestured with his head.  “I’ve been waitin’ ages.  Are you comin’ or what?”

Hannibal Heyes grinned widely.  “Yeah, I’m coming.”  He paused to glance behind him at the other patients sitting on the porch, the nurses arriving with the tea trolley and wrinkled, old form in the paisley patterned dressing gown.  A weight had dropped from him and he was suddenly able to walk again.  He turned back to his cousin.  “Is this another dream?”

Kid Curry shrugged, his eyes dancing with mischief.  “Does it matter?  Ain’t you interested in findin’ out for yourself?  Think of it as another adventure.”

“An adventure?”  Heyes flicked up an eyebrow.  “We haven’t had one of those in years.”

“This is the biggest one yet.”  The Kid paused to throw an arm around the shoulder of his old friend and cousin.  “I’ve missed ya, Heyes.  It ain’t been the same without you.”

“Right back at ya, Kid.”

The wheels of the tea trolley squeaked their way over to the sleeping patient.  The nurse reached out and touched the slumbering patient.  Her gentle push became more insistent, rumpling the paisley patterned dressing gown in her efforts to rouse the insensible man.  Her worried eyes darted towards her colleague.  “Sister!  Come quick.  It’s Dr. Watson.” 

The more senior nurse busted over, her well-practised hand dropping to the man’s wrist to test for a pulse.  “Nurse, go and fetch the doctor.”  She watched the woman striding towards the door before she had an after-thought.  “I think his nephew’s just left; send and orderly to see if they can catch him.  I think the family need to come back.”


Last edited by Hunkeydorey on Mon Feb 17, 2014 3:23 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Keays

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PostSubject: Re: What's In A Name   Sun Feb 16, 2014 12:50 pm

Sweet story.  Loved that they took on the famous names, not realizing of course that they would become famous.  Holmes and Watson do seem innocent enough on their own merit until Conan Doyle made them into hero's!

I always thought that the boys heading to Canada was their best option; they already knew the language and would fit right in.  Nice to see that they made a life for themselves and that Jed at least found love and had a family.  Of course they were all one big family after all, weren't they.
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