Every since I saw the 2009 Holmes movie I have enjoyed the acting and sheer presence of William Houston's Constable Clark. He reminds me of Watson in a way, and since he seemed to be a very competent and stalwart Yarder the thought occurred as old as he was why wasn't he an Inspector yet? He certainly held his own with Holmes/Watson, anyone who could do that should be considered. Then I noticed he had a bit of red in his hair and I remembered my English history concerning those of Irish decent. P-L-O-T-B-U-N-N-Y! So for those who liked the movie here you go!
Our Good Man Clark
The tall man stood in front of his small bathroom mirror in his uniform pants and undershirt, trimming his facial hair with a pair of scissors. He sighed at the red in his moustache, mixed well with the brown on his head. It was so ridiculous really, you would think that the Irish in his blood would be outweighed by the excellence of his record but here he was again hoping that this review would be the one time that actual aptitude won out.
"William, dear," he heard his wife call from the next room.
"In here, mum," he answered as he made sure the corner of the moustache was immaculate.
Molly stuck her head through the door. "You still fussin? Yer gonna be late."
She walked up behind him as he contemplated his work and slipped her arms around his waist. "You look fine." She kissed the nap of his neck and let him feel her comfort through his undershirt. "Everything has to be perfect for me to have a ghost of a chance, Moll, you know this," He informed her with a weary sigh.
"You came out tops in the exam, yer interview went well, you're well thought of by your superiors, Lestrade couldna find his boots without ya," she reminded him.
He turned into her embrace; she rested her chin on his chest. "Such a big fella," she said with a smile. He reached down and patted her round tummy and the baby within. "If I make inspector, we can afford a good school, maybe move over to the West End..."
"We'll be foin, stop being a ninny," She said resting a hand against his cheek.
He kissed her hand. "I know that, but I just want things to be easier for you."
"Just bring yer lousy carcass home every night, and I'll be waiting," she commanded in a teasing tone.
"Constable Clark!" Lestrade bellowed from his office. Clark flinched at the tone. Lestrade was the only superior of the Yard to call him Clarky so to be addressed by his title was not a good omen.
He made his way over to the door and stuck his head in. "Yes sir?"
Lestrade was still rubbing the morning sleep out of his eyes. "Come in, sit down."
Clark came in and sat as he was bidden. "Sir?"
Lestrade sighed he had a sheet of paper in front of him. "I have here a memo from the Superintendant, the findings of the board."
His weary eyes found his most reliable and consistent underling, and the only man who Holmes had never managed to tie into knots. "They chose Constable Dillingham of the Yorkshire beat.
Anger rose within Clark's chest, but he choked it back with all the discipline which he showed in all matters. "Sir," he murmured as he rose to leave.
"Clarky," Lestrade began, but Clark stopped him with an uncharacteristically pointed glare. "Sir, I think it's best if this topic was not discussed, please, is there anything else you require of me?"
"Take this case file to Holmes, we have a murder that came in a short while ago, possible suicide but it's the daughter of the Brandywines, so if we can pursue any other line of investigation to save them scandal we must attempt to do so."
Yes, we must avoid any scandal for our betters, Clark thought to himself.
To Lestrade he just nodded and took the file.
"Clarky," Lestrade called in a softer tone, stopping the constable at the door. "I am really sorry you got passed, I praised you to anyone who would listen."
Clark turned away so his superior would not see his face as he replied, "I know, sir, and I thank you."
He made his way through the suddenly quiet main room; he grabbed his helmet as he passed his desk. He could see the looks he was receiving, meaning that the Yard grapevine was already buzzing with the news. It would be far too undignified to say anything so he strode out as if nothing was amiss.
He took a Yard hansom to Baker Street and readied himself for the encounter to come.
Holmes was not a man to be trifled with, you did not come at him heavy handed or he would chew you up and spit you out as easily as a lion does an antelope, you also came at him demure at your peril, he was likely to run roughshod over you entirely, without Watson there it had become increasingly prickly to deal with the detective. Clark had become the sole liaison to Holmes as he would not tolerate anyone else.
He removed his helmet, upon ringing the bell, he was admitted by a glowering Mrs. Hudson. "Hello there Constable, would you do me the service of killing that man upstairs? We can call it self-defence; I'll never say a word."
In spite of his morning Clark had to smile. "I am sorry, Mum, but that would be considered pre-meditated murder."
"Then don't meditate," she replied rolling her eyes as she waved him on up.
Clark made his way up the stairs, passed the forlorn empty rooms that Watson formerly occupied.
He reached the top, smelling something noxious wafting out from under the door, he steeled himself against the encounter, gathering what wits he had left after this morning and entered the darkened abode.
The curtains were drawn and Clark had to look around to find the occupant in the rubble.
As a bad portent, Gladstone was peering balefully out from under the duvet. Clark bent down to give the old boy an ear scratch.
"Clarky? What are you doing here? This is not about the Brandywine middle girl's suicide is it?"
Clark peered through the gloom and finally distinguished the shaggy head of Sherlock Holmes buried behind his chemistry set, he had on a leather apron and gloves and a pair of thick goggles.
"The same," Clark called.
Holmes twisted a knob then watched for the effect. "Uh oh. Clark, go on to the sitting room, we'll talk there. You might want to hurry about it."
Clark did as he was bidden, as soon as he got the door shut there was a WHUMP noise and a cloud wafted out. Mrs Hudson came up the stairs part way. "Has the fool done for himself this time?"
Clark listened and heard some telltale coughing. He gave the hopeful lady a disappointing shake of his head. "I would be so lucky," she grumbled as she descended.
Clark walked into the sitting room and awaited the lone occupant to make his way in. He did not wait long as soot blackened, singed Holmes bustled in discarding apron and gloves and goggles haphazardly. "Clarky, good to see you old man, have a seat won't you?"
Clark blinked at the invitation. "Sir?"
Holmes chose a pipe from the rack and began stuffing it with shag from the slipper. "Sit, you Constables do know the procedure?"
Clark obliged him. "I really must be getting back as soon as you give me your assessment," he informed Holmes as the man began to foul the air with his pipe in much the way he was with his clothing.
Holmes looked a bit ridiculous with his dark face and white around the eyes were the goggles covered. "Nonsense, you can stay a few minutes, there's no need to rush off," he replied holding his hand out for the file.
Clark tried to sit at ease, but he was so used to his visits here being business that it was hard to conceive the casualness of this encounter.
"So how are you, Clarky, are the baby and mother well?" Holmes inquired kicking his feet up on the ottoman, slapping the file shut on his lap.
"I was not aware that you knew of my wife's pregnancy, sir," Clark said after a moment of surprise.
Holmes shrugged. "You are the only constable I can stand, your well being is a concern, if something should happen to you they might send Riley in your stead, I find him most...unacceptable."
Clark tried not to show his recent disappointment as he responded, "The wife is doing fine, the baby is coming along nicely, and you have no worries that I will be replaced anytime soon."
Holmes gave Clark that piercing stare as if he was reading volumes into those few words. "They passed you over for inspector again? What was the reasoning this time?"
The desire to speak ill of his superiors rose within Clark but he stifled the urge. "I suppose they found Dillingham a better candidate, sir, it is not my place to question why."
Holmes scoffed, "Dillingham, that Yorkshire bumbler? He lost a valuable clue during the Merry Widow Strangler investigation because he aired out the room before I got there; he's one of the most incompetent professionals I have ever laid eyes on."
Clark stopped himself from nodding in agreement, but only just. "The case at hand, sir? I believe that should be our priority."
Holmes shrugged. "I already know who did it and have a good guess as to why, so let me set my own priorities, let's discuss this promotion, shall we?"
"But sir," Clark protested.
Holmes's mind was set and no one could dissuade him outside of Doctor Watson, so Clark settled in for the conversation.
"Work for me," Holmes said suddenly.
Clark startled. "Sir?"
Holmes eyes were intense. "I just lost a partner to death...er...marriage, I need someone on whom I can rely, you are bright, detail oriented and a credit to the Yard, and dreadfully underutilized, so we can solve each other's difficulties, I can pay handsomely, more than you are making as a constable, and you'll never have to deal with those idiots who can't see past a bit of ginger."
Clark stared at the man enough to ascertain that he was looking at one of Holmes's rare moments of candidness.
Clark had envied Holmes and Watson their lack of restraints, he had wondered what it was like to go on an adventure outside of London, the thought was indeed thrilling, and he was tempted to give up his chosen career then and there.
However, his answer was quick in coming. "I'm afraid, sir, I have a job, though your offer was deeply flattering."
Holmes smiled; he had a flash of disappointment cross his features. He wrote something hurriedly in the file, then handed it back with an offered hand.
"Thank you for your honesty, Clarky, I have to say it will take me some time to get over the disappointment."
Clark shook the offered hand. "Doctor Watson is not as lost to you as you suppose, sir, you two will be partners until you die, then I have a hunch you will solve cases in the afterlife as well."
Holmes laughed at that, clapping the constable on the shoulder, as Clark stood to go he had one last question.
"Did my offer tempt you at all, Clarky? Just call it my curiosity."
Clark was quick to assure him. "Oh yes, Mister Holmes, I was very tempted."
"For how long?" Holmes inquired with a sly grin.
Clark acted as if he was calculating the seconds before he answered, "Nearly twelve seconds sir, which for me is wavering indeed."
Holmes laughed, "Tell Lestrade I said he's a lucky man, see you next errand Clarky, have a nice day."
Clarky gave Holmes a small salute. "And you, sir."
Clark replaced his helmet as he boarded the waiting Yard cab; he felt strange, like some weight had been taken off his shoulders, something had been established in his heart. He wondered if that was Holmes's purpose all along, to let Clark see that he was a Yarder to the core.
He looked down at the file, his suspicions aroused. Holmes had taken a suspiciously short amount of time to review the file. He knew that it was bordering on insubordination to look at the contents without permission, but he had to be sure his hunch was correct so he opened it.
There was a paragraph from Lestrade in the top corner of an empty page, one that had no bearing on the rest of the documents.
I know you have already given me your conclusions, but this concerns another matter which requires more discretion than you normally show. The fools turned Clarky down for promotion again today. I nearly quit myself in protest, that Superintendant Garrison is the biggest duffer I have ever laid eyes on. Clarky is the best man I have and part of me wants him to stay where he is, but he might never get to the status he deserves. I would rather see him find fulfilment as a partner to you, than to labour day after day in this humble position when he is gifted for so much more. I guess you could say I would give my right arm, since Clarky is my right arm. I cannot fight those in power above me, but I can try to do right by him, so I ask you, Holmes, to think about taking him on as a partner in Watson's absence. I know he would be an asset to you, as he has always been invaluable to me.
Chief Inspector, Giles Lestrade
P.S. Somebody needs to be your handler, my God, man, have you let yourself go!
Then Holmes wrote his response:
Letting myself go? That means that if I deteriorate at the current rate I should be at your level in twenty years or so. Clark turned me down for some odd reason; I think he actually enjoys the incompetence.
Clark leaned back in the seat. He reread that letter several times. He let the words wash over him. He no longer wondered if he was held in esteem, he no longer doubted that he was a Yarder through and through, a lesson more valuable than any promotion could have offered.
He was going to work hard, not for the superiors above, but because this was who he was. If he had to raise his children on a humble constable's salary, so be it. At least his offspring would know who their father was, and that he was willing to stand for something and be something for the right reasons. That concept would carry them further than any extra pay in his check.
They arrived and came to a stop, and Constable Clark strode into the familiar gates with his shoulders square and stride purposeful. He had work to do.