An ever pressing thought, dwelling within the overall imaginative part of his brain, the cerebellum, had been plaguing him for quite some time now, and Sherlock was ready to self-perform a lobotomy.
Under any other circumstance he welcomed the action of flexing neurons in the pursuit of solving puzzles, deducing facts, and distracting himself; the disappointments of his member card to the human race weighing heavily.
But, this was different in the utmost respect.
"Hello everyone, welcome, my name is Bob…"
The sanctity of his musings had been tainted by the interruption, and Sherlock could barely restrain an eye roll as all the sheep, precisely on cue, droned their monotone Pavlov response to the proverbial bell, "Hello Bob".
The small basement room of the church holding today's meeting, resonated buzzing bees in his ears at the sound, and his leg had started to bounce in anxiousness; counting each toe tap: one, one, two, two, three, three. "Yes, yes," he barked out annoyed, when all eyes were upon him for his turn of introduction, "Sherlock here- I'm a bloody addict, ta da," he tapped the person sitting next to him on the arm, "Tag mate, you're it."
The older gentleman, who was wearing dirt ridden, grease stained articles of consignment clothing, with exactly three missing teeth, and a severe pungent odor; Sherlock discovered in increasing boredom, bore the name of George.
He sported chewed fingernails and faded tattoos (of one anchor and one bulldog), which only adorned his left forearm, suggesting a service in the military at some point.
The significance of the left side of the body was symbolic of a marriage or deep commitment; George here had been diligent.
His shoes were also dead giveaways. They were too pricey and well shined in contrast, proposing no matter what ill hand of fate he had been dealt; an ingrained conditioning of shoes make the man remained.
If Sherlock were to make a wager, he most certainly would put the bulk of his assets onto the homeless horse not indeed suffering from a narcotics addiction; merely being present for the benefit of his stomach. As coffee and donuts were almost always a guaranteed ritual at the conclusion of such gatherings.
He nodded in agreement with his inner voice, filing the information away, while settling back into the flimsy metal fold out chair, so as to resume his previous contemplations.
And in order to accomplish that goal, he would have to resort to a very specific method of meditation, effectively drowning out the wasted whining of the afflicted, while establishing a quietness of the mind, usually attained by switching off his consciousness.
This process never took too long, especially like now, being in such a place, which never failed to lack the ample stimulation required to keep him occupied.
Sherlock slowed his breathing, measuring each inhalation and short exhale in metered increments of practiced restraint; allowing his intense blue eyes to shut, while willing his heart to relax its rhythm.
Ah, there it was.
The tunnel of effervescent light that started his journey, lazily swirling, piercing the blackness of his mind, as images floated, fuzzy at first and then more clear.
Flashing now a strobe, he analyzed the first identifiable objects presented to him.
A gentle curve, like the slight one found descending from a cinched waistline towards the flare of the iliac crest. Definitely a woman's hip. Quite lovely in fact.
A sway, or waterfall, of thick shiny ebony tresses, like a curtain protecting, barely touching. Again, a woman's backside.
The citrine pallor of skin tone, being an exotic birthright, and rightly so. Seemed just within reach and palpable; soft and warm, a blessed sanctuary, of this he had no doubt.
Included in his mind's collage, were now two almond shaped gentle brown eyes, a row of well calcified and enameled teeth, and the insufferable tempest of a mouth slightly parted in mid sigh; lips moist and swollen from ravishment.
"Damn it," Sherlock burst out, standing up out of his chair in aggression, effectively ceasing the current speaker.
He raked a hand through his dark unkempt locks, wanting to rip out the roots.
"She is late," he ranted, leaving his row in the back to pace more freely, "she is never late."
The attention of the room was now fully upon him, not that he cared mind you, but those present were excited and thankful to a degree, him not being the only member uninterested and forced to attend.
"How could this be you might wonder, well, I shall enlighten you, hmm."
Sherlock prepared, making his hands a steeple in front of him as he explained his logic with frightening precision, still pacing, his countenance menacing.
"This woman I speak of keeps a tight schedule, always checking her planner, prudent in the importance of obligations, yet this morning she was absent from our home, leaving said device on the kitchen counter, next to the coffee maker, with a half filled mug left carelessly in the sink; lipstick staining the rim."
He abruptly stopped and pointed towards a younger girl, wearing a pink wig and a white tank top that had a black peace symbol. "Why do you suppose that is?"
The reformed heroin junkie slash lead singer of a punk band shrugged. "Something came up, something your chick wasn't expecting, and it was important."
"Yes," he excitedly confirmed, making the girl startle in her seat, "that was precisely my train of thought, yet I do not believe it is that simple. You see, this woman almost never wears lip rouge. So, the unexpected event, as we've established, must undoubtedly involve…"
"She's cheating on ya dude." An Italian looking, tanned, gym rat stereotype, wearing a white Adidas tracksuit chimed in to Sherlock's right. "Sorry to break it down like that, but it's kinda obvious."
"That would be, as you so eloquently pointed out, kind of obvious, but one would need to be involved in a romantic relationship first, and myself and this woman are most certainly at this time not."
"Oh, oh, oh," a middle aged house wife had shot her hand up in the air, "I think I know."
"To the lady with the French manicure." He pointed.
She preened and sucked her teeth before smiling, primping her blonde mass of curls, loving the spotlight of the group being on something other than her penchant for oxycodone abuse. "Well, a woman only pays special attention to her appearance if she's one: worried about impressing someone she's meeting for the first time, or two: wants to impress someone she already knows."
"Brilliant," Sherlock exclaimed, adding as an afterthought, "yet to whom would this honor bestow?"
He resumed his pacing, biting at his thumbnail, as the cogs of his brain turned round and round, dissecting the anomaly of this most unusual behavior.
His former seat companion George piped up. "You know I always think best after I eat something."
"Ah yes, old chap, forgive me. You have been waiting haven't you?"
Sherlock went over to the brown foldable table in the corner, put two donuts on a napkin, and poured a moderate amount of hot black coffee from an old metal percolator into a Styrofoam cup. "Cream, sugar, or substitute?"
George licked at his dry cracked lips, shaking his head, "Black is fine."
"Very well then," he took three steps, deposited the food and drink into the man's outstretched and eager hands, including a "thank you for your service", much to George's surprise. "Now, where were we?" Sherlock began again.
Bob, still up at the podium, who somewhat resembled that Newhart fellow with the same first name, had become increasingly fascinated, stuttering out. "Y-y-you were s-s-saying that s-s-she got gussied up to meet someone."
"Quite right…so, if the ever punctual Ms. Watson, who never fails to attend even the most mundane of life's appointments, such as routine dental cleanings or jury duty, were to suddenly shrug off her compensated employment responsibilities, as outlined in her contract, of accompanying me to any and all activities relating to my, my," Sherlock coughed, "recovery," he wished to laugh, but suppressed the urge, "then, we can only ascertain whomever had requested her audience, was more important to her. Trumping that of her job, her very livelihood, and most of all, her bloody manners."
He stopped himself there, having taken to the task of rubbing his temples, as a rage of mass proportion slapped away at his ego. There had been no note, no text, no verbal taking the day off, nothing, and Sherlock was insane with the not knowing.
The hard wired clock hanging just above Bob's head, on the lime green cement block wall behind him, ticked off the seconds in mocking; fifteen minutes now.
Joan was fifteen minutes late for a thirty minute narcotics anonymous meeting.
"Wow, I take it back," the gym rat chuckled, "she did cheat on you, the only thing is, she don't know it yet. You got it bad man…how long you been obsessing over her?"
"Pardon me," Sherlock scoffed, "but I hardly think that is an accurate assessment of the situation. I am not obsessed, of this I can assure you."
Punk rock girl, with the kohl lined eyes of a panda, argued. "Then why do you even care where she is? You could skip out early, leave, and not even have to be here right now. But you're not. Why?"
It was the trophy housewife's turn. "Because he's waiting for her, hoping he's wrong, and that she didn't intentionally blow him off for someone else. Someone he thinks, most definitely, is a guy."
George took the last sip of his coffee with an ahhh, "Seems legit to me."
"What is this, a goddamn mutiny?" Sherlock blustered in exasperation, about to blow his top.
"N-n-now, calm yourself young man," Bob interjected, gripping at the pulpit nervously, looking ready to bolt, "w-w-we all sometimes g-g-get jealous, it's perfectly natural."
"Yeah, just don't go doing nothing stupid like slapping her around," Jersey Shore advised, "you'll never get a second chance then, and then there's all the restraining orders, court restitution, probation…"
"Thank you Mr. Roid Rage," Sherlock effectively interrupted between clenched teeth, "but I do not foresee such an event ever taking place in any future where I reside."
"You should tell her," the housewife sighed, "declare how you feel over some candle light spread on the beach or something. I mean, how else do you expect her to know? You spend all this time together, right? She works for you, from what you said, and apparently doesn't have much of a life. How can you just expect her to wait around, letting her ovaries shrivel up, with all her dreams on pause, only paying attention to you? That's selfish."
"She has dreams…?" Sherlock said breathlessly, having been taken off guard, in which both women nodded.
The infantile quality he heard in his own voice, and how vulnerable it made him sound, had him violently stomping a foot in denial. "No, no, no; this is preposterous!"
Just then the door swung open, revealing a very flushed, much exerted Watson. "Oh my god, Sherlock, I'm so sorry," she breathed out, hyperventilating as she tried to stabilize herself, having just ran, "the trains were held up by a suicide jumper, so I had to take the bus instead…" Joan waved to all the people gawking at her with knowing grins, "my phone was dropped in a puddle, and I, hey, what's going on here? Why is everyone looking at me like that? Wait," she motioned at him being in the back of the room standing up, instead of at the front, which was customary, "are you, are you, speaking at a meeting?"
The old saying of a room being so quiet, a pin drop could be heard, was created for instances such as these.
Nobody answered her.
Sherlock eyed her curiously, perhaps from a new perspective.
What he saw: Joan's hair was wet and plastered to her head, suggesting she hadn't read the weather report forecasting a sixty percent chance of precipitation by mid- afternoon. The outfit she had chosen was less formal than he had imagined; simple peach frock, black leggings, brown ankle boots, leather jacket. Her purse was slung across her chest. Her face was pure and clean, save for a slightest hint of color still adorning her mouth. With bangle bracelets, dragonfly earrings, and a chain with the Ohm symbol around her neck, completing the ensemble.
Nothing too out of the ordinary.
Watson shuffled uncomfortably from one foot to the other. "Um, hello, earth to Holmes…"
What she saw: Sherlock was in a defensive stance, dark wash jeans, black sweater, colorful neck scarf, black shoes, messy hair, chin scruff. The whole of the room was facing in his direction, turned around in their seats, with even the guy at the dais looking focused on him. The people were a small group, consisting of two women; one young, one older, and three men; a street bum, a Guido juice head, and a stuffy school teacher type. Her semi boss made four, and something in the manner of his eyes being bugged out slightly, told her he was upset about something.
"Somebody better start talking here." She demanded with a nervous laugh, feeling like a circus oddity.
"Oh honey, where to start…" The older woman, who definitely had received Botox injections recently, said airily; causing her frozen charge to become animated again.
"Not necessary, thank you," he rushed over to Joan and grabbed her elbow, "yes Watson, I shared today, you were late, sorry, no repeats." Sherlock said while trying to usher her back out the door.
"Hold on, the meeting is still going," she argued, attempting to dislodge her arm from his grasp, "you weren't finished, I can tell."
"Well, I most certainly am now, and we are leaving, this very minute, no contrary remarks, I insist."
"Good luck dude." The one with the gigantic arms called out, as the younger girl, looking attacked by a deranged make-up artist, threw them both a thumbs up.
Joan couldn't have been more confused, but decided to go along with Sherlock's manic need to remove her from the room. There would be no living with him otherwise.
When he got into these tizzy fits, it was best to ride it out; giving him free reign to sort out his disposition, in his own manner of dealing with it. And obviously that required flight right now.
"Shoot, I'm sorry I missed it," she told him as they climbed the stairs, "I'm just glad you finally opened up and used the meetings for what they're for."
He was on a mission of finding fresh air and barely spared her a glance. "And what exactly might that be Watson?"
"Support of course." Joan smiled with a head shake, as if such a thing should be obvious to the genius.
They reached the church exit.
He kicked at the metal bar, shoving it open; the outside like a freedom he could never describe. Sherlock closed his eyes and inhaled one of his favorite scents, wet grass.
Collecting his fractured emotions and still ever curious, Sherlock stopped her as they set foot on the sidewalk. "Where were you this morning?"
He took note of her wrinkled brow at the question. "You left your daily planner, failed to write a note, you already explained your lack of technological communication, as you said, your phone is fried; but why the lipstick?"
She subconsciously placed a finger to her lips and shrugged. "I went to see my brother, who texted me last minute that he'd just flown in from Beijing."
Joan visibly saw him relax a bit, and became curious herself. "Is that what's gotten you all frazzled?" She followed when he'd started a brisk walk, apparently satisfied, "I put make-up on…"
"Because you haven't seen him in a while and wanted to look nice."
"Well, yeah, every girl wants to feel pretty sometimes." She said, shoving her hands into her jacket pockets as they walked, being thankful the rain had let up.
Sherlock stopped abruptly again and faced her beside him. "But Watson, that's inconceivable."
She'd lost all pleasant airs about her, thinking quite possibly he had just insulted her.
Joan realized, all too soon, how mistaken she really was.
Sherlock gazed at her, his usual scowl softening; timidly reaching over to touch her face, deciding instead to only tuck away a stray wisp of her hair behind an ear.
"Silly girl," he murmured tenderly, leaning in closer, his breath tickling across her skin, making her swallow a lump she didn't know she had in her throat, "To me… you are the embodiment of perfection all the time."
"I must be dreaming." She whispered, thinking the world was on some verge of apocalypse.
He laughed, and with that the spell was broken.
Sherlock straightened back up and went to the curb, waving an arm to hail a cab. "Ah yes, you have dreams. I wish to hear about them."
She was glued to the concrete when the yellow taxi stopped; him having opened up the back door, waiting expectantly for her to get in. "Watson?"
Joan realized she had to make a choice.
Looking at him in a new light, while saying a silent prayer that her decision was the right one, she grinned. "Coming…"