Story Notes: This idea came from the plot bunny how would the end of the Victorian Era affect an old warhorse like Watson?
This is a series of three journal entries of how he came into conflict and finally tamed that newfangled horseless carriage contraption.
The Taste of Dust
I tasted dust today.
Even as I write this, I must admit there is a fine tremor in my hand. I would like to claim palsy, but, alas, being learned medically does not allow me to misdiagnose as an act of denial for my actual condition.
I was frightened, completely thrown off my level by an infernal rolling contraption they call the automobile.
More and more of the hellish machines are rolling the streets, and the damnable noise and exhaust makes me long for the flatulence and stink of a live animal.
I am no stranger or grouser about progress; I manage to purchase any new contraption that comes with a practical application, but the noise has nearly driven me to total distraction.
I am not a young man; the days of exuberance, long past, but today I felt as foolish as an awkward teenager who has tripped on his own shoelaces in front of the pretty girl he longs to court.
I was crossing Hampton to visit the Widow Greevy, who has been rather poor as of late, when one of those diabolical whizbangs backfired, it sounded like an enemy rifle shot, and I dived for the ground right in the gully that ran the length of the avenue.
The multiples of citizens that stopped to help the "old fellow" to his feet only served to embarrass me further.
I reread the latest missive from my friend in the country; he talks of starlit nights and long walks in the crocus scented silence, serenaded by katydid songs. I know he is calculating that these informative epistles are pushing me further into a desire for that solitude, and I resist such blatant manipulation, but it becomes increasingly harder to ignore the siren call.
Especially after today, my wool trousers have a permanent scuff to match the one on my cane, and pride. I feel old...foolish, and alone.
What's an old soldier to do in a never ending carnival of technological advancement seemingly designed to fray his nerves, in a city that shrinks and closes in every passing month, under a sky which no longer shows heavenly bodies above through the smog?
The battle I have been fighting, my one last conflict to resolve, is a losing proposition, I long to sell everything and surrender.
How can I quiet my ghosts when they call to me from the tailpipe of every horseless carriage that passes by?
I tasted dust today. How long until I taste crow?
John H. Watson M.D.
As I sit here in my drawing room, I can see it out at the curb.
Yes, I John H. Watson, M.D. has joined the modern age.
I can recall in my mind's eye, when I was just a young lad; an old field hand pushed me aboard a decrepit plough horse out in the North field. I remember that first feeling of freedom, even though the old girl could barely canter.
I got that feeling again today past my fifth decade.
I lamented in an earlier journal entry about the sorry state of my nerves, and how I long for the quiet of the country hills of my youth, that was my lament, but the tune now changed significantly.
I was walking by the new storefront just off the Strand when I saw her.
The sign said she was a Mercedes Simplex, I'm really not sure, it was all I could do to not press my nose against the glass, like an errant school boy at the candy shop.
From the black grill to the white curved fenders, obviously influenced by the female form, she was every bit the lady. To say I was smitten at first glance would be fair.
The clerk saw me, and judged my clothing and profession with an eye that would have intrigued Holmes; he invited me inside to view her up close, to touch the black leather and to run a hand over her throttle. He knew just what to say.
I have been careful with my financials and live comfortably within my means, so the price when quoted only caused a small wince.
He assigned a gentleman more my age to show me how to pilot my new conveyance, after a tutorial on the basics, I was given my turn.
How can I describe the giddy feeling, after a few mishaps, I got the girl up to speed, still far less than my co-pilot but he was impressed with my progress and believed I would be expert in a few short weeks.
I have free maintenance through the dealership for the first few years, and petrol is not much more than a cab taken every day, overall we have begun a successful partnership my girl and I.
I find the occasional backfire does not disturb me as much as those on the streets I pass; I make sure to tip my hat in apology, not knowing the exact etiquette.
I wear a scarf and a driving hat instead of my old bowler these days, and I get to my appointments in a fraction of the time.
One day soon, I shall find out how the roads fair down toward Sussex, see if I can drown out the katydids. I have informed Holmes of an impending visit, but not of my transportation. I hope I don't disturb the bees overmuch.
Therefore, I am concluding this entry, and going out to practice a bit. I think my competence is growing but I have to be careful a 35-horse engine is no toy!
I find the wind in what is left of my hair exhilarates me, and I am even learning to enjoy the taste of dust.
Doctor John Watson M.D.
I arrived back at my homeport late last night, I write this missive by the early dawn.
I made sure I had no appointments for today, I was sure I would need a respite to recover from my holiday.
Holmes was as rambling and active as always, he came out from his home still in beekeeper attire furious as to who was causing the ruckus.
He did not recognize me at first in the unfamiliar hat and goggles, I had my back turned rummaging in the storage for my valise during the majority of his diatribe against that ghastly technology and all of it's evils both present and future.
"Holmes, do be quiet, as soon as I am rested, I shall take you for a ride," I informed as I turned sans goggles.
The look on the man's face was indescribably priceless; I chuckled as I walked past to his door.
Rare has been the occasion when I have ever seen him so discomfited to that degree, rarer still by my instigation.
We did take that ride later on in the weekend, he complained of the taste of dust and ringing in his ears.
I insinuated that it served him right for all those fired guns in the middle of the night and violin atrocities to give Debussy nightmares!
We managed to have an enjoyable time. He ceased his continuous entreaties to pull me away from the Metropolis, at his heart, he was happy for my assimilation into the new age, but his melancholy was a palpable thing in my last glance back.
I find it extraordinary that he who always embraced the newest methods would feel left behind by the world while I have found a way to embrace it.
I am comforted that he no longer seeks solace in that seven-percent solution of venom, but his wistfulness has disturbed me.
I have few enough things to keep me in London, and the roads in Sussex have proven to be excellent, he may have company sooner than later.
With my girl as transportation, Sussex is not as far as it used to be.
Doctor John H. Watson, M.D.