Midnight Pub

The Case of Mistaken Identity Part 6


“I see,” said Ms. Stoliz. “It appears you have your priorities in order, Mr. Holmes. However, the problem that I am to set before you does indeed involve the church, and may or may not involve your belief in God.” Here Ms. Stoliz’s tone had become sharper as if she had, by pointing out that this case rested upon, in part, the grounds of the church, that Holmes may or may not undergo crucifixion and a subsequent banishment to hell depending upon his predispositions. “Nonetheless, it is certainly God’s prerogative to use His mortal instruments in whatever form His will has assumed.”

What happened next, in proximity to the timing of the statement, made Holmes and Ms. Stoliz jerk in their seats as they both fixated their senses on the doorway as though suddenly Elijah had returned during the Third Cup of Passover wine. As the door handle turned in a painfully lethargic way, neither party to the parlor conversation was sure whether Judgment Day had indeed intruded upon an otherwise polite exchange. It became evident, however, while staying thus fixated on the doorway that a sleeve had emerged through the entrance which belonged to a jacket which Holmes recognized as belonging to Dr. Watson.

“Cheerio again!” Watson chirped as he entered the door fully. “What’s this, I did not know you had any guests today! Normally, as the unofficial go-between, I am the the interface by which people must enter the parlor!”

“Really, Watson,” boomed Holmes. “At the very least you could announce yourself before entering a room like some Dickinsonian apparition! I do hope you are the ghost of tobacco for my pipe and not some run-of-the-mill haunt that rattles chains and causes commotion by his moanings and groanings in late hours of the night.”

“Indeed, my trips were fruitful in that I was able to procure the Peterson’s you had requested. Baker Street never ceases to amaze me, though, with the number of carriages that lumber and clatter up these streets. I simply cannot fathom where all those people are coming and going to and from. What’s worse is that the ones who are not in the carriages are, without fail, on the sidewalk, and when they stop to chat form not easily passed barriers for those of us who have a destination and time in mind. I say, however, who is your lovely guest?”

Here Dr. Watson put on the manners of an attending physician which, it turned out, even military doctors must acquire some modicum thereof. Indeed, if one happened to have the luck to attend a superior officer, the superior officer might remember one’s bedside manner to the exclusion of his still being alive after being shot in the right lung. Dr. Watson had had this experience once.

The commanding officer had presented with just the very wound in the middle of the Anglo-Afghan War. His name was Captain Chesterson which was ironic since a chest wound is what he had. Such ironies were better off not recalled, however, when one had a patient that required attention.

Standard practice was to stop the immediate bleeding and then open another incision between the ribs elsewhere to drain any fluid out of the area that accumulated as the patient rested and waited for recovery from the injury. A few physicians had begun to experiment with tube catheters in jars of antiseptics, but in a military hospital these supplies were often in short supply and so one had to make do with what one hand. As the recovery for these injuries could be lengthy, Dr. Watson had more than two weeks in this instance with his commanding officer. His main job, after the initial treatment, was to make sure the lung did not collapse and to siphon off any fluid that might be building up in the chest cavity. This involved the direct use of needle suction which was unpleasant.

Not remembering that his patient was his commanding officer one day, Dr. Watson complained to an assistant about the lack of medical supplies he required for doing his job. Unfortunately, Captain Chesterson was lucid enough that he heard Dr. Watson. Though he eventually recovered from the wound, Chesterson had mentally mapped Dr. Watson to being a malcontent with the chain of command. He did not, however, remember that Dr. Watson had been the one to treat and ultimately assist in the healing of his wound.

Eventually, Watson noticed this new behavior from Captain Chesterson and dimly remembered that his complaining might have been a cause. The importance of the bedside manner had then been forever enshrined in his mind.