I am not the right man for this.
I am acutely aware of that.
While, unlike my brother, I have some grasp of what are considered ‘common human decencies,’ I’ve been left in no doubt that I am terrible at them. I am for formalities: I can tell a prime minister that his government will fall in less than three months but more than one, and he should be preparing for it. I can tell generals that they are relieved of command. I’ve told a mother-in-law that her son’s wife has been in a fatal car accident, with someone to whom she was not married. For all of these, I was the perfect messenger: a tone of perfect calm and reason in a really good suit, a message in an almost transparent medium. None of them would expect (or welcome) my attempt at comfort.
I am not prepared to tell Martha Hudson that Sherlock is dead.
I might possibly be someone who could tell her John Watson was in hospital; his condition, though worse than anyone intended, is not serious. Not his physical condition, at least. Watson would have been a better messenger than I. He lives on the edge of his skin, emotions and concerns passing over him and informing him in a way I cannot understand my brother’s tolerating. He might know what to say. He might actually know how she feels.
I don't need to know in so much detail.
Anthea has informed me that Mrs. Hudson’s neighbour, her closest friend, is in Bournemouth. “I think Mrs. Turner will have to cut her holiday short,” I suggest to one of the people in the room immediately adjoining my office. “She’s 81; please exercise as much care as you can summon in extracting her.”
I’m sending Lancelyn-Greene; at least Mrs. Turner will have something attractive to look at on her way home. It’s still early; my brother’s fall was only six hours ago, and though she may wonder, in a regular, fussy sort of way, where her tenants are, she won’t become severely worried until after tea.
Until it hits the television, and the newspapers, as it will. I can slow the news media to a crawl for long enough for Roger to reach Bournemouth, but not much longer. I can’t keep the reporters from her door for much more time than that, either. And Sherlock’s death is not the only matter in my hands by any means (Pakistan, as usual; Spain…), but it seems it will use most of my time today.
I thank God our mother did not live to deal with this; no, to be honest: that she did not live long enough for me to have to deal with her about this. I’ll have to call the cousins, I suppose, including the Essex ones next in line for the house. Sherlock detested them, it’s one thing we agreed upon. Not too late to have a child, is it? I wonder if I can adopt someone secretly.
Being the last of one’s family focusses one’s mind very strangely.
My solicitor will expect me to change my will, but there are already clauses for my brother’s predeceasing me. It will do well enough. I wonder when Sherlock last had one drawn up.
Funeral. Solicitor. Caterer. How does anyone with actual working hours deal with a death? Relatives, I suppose, and friends. I speak briefly to Anthea; Sherlock’s will appears in my in-box almost at once. And his bank statement. Waiting for probate is for other people. The tax situation is going to be a Gordian knot; we’ll have to see how long we can stall having to undertake it.
He’s done a reasonable job of things there. More sentimental than I would have expected, and more recent: three weeks ago. The family money comes back to me, of course, with a private note to make sure as little ends up with the Essex relatives as is consonant with maintaining the house. Some charitable bequests. Dr. Watson is not going to need to practice medicine any longer. I’m sure he’ll take that well. And Martha Hudson; he must have cared for her more even than I thought.
This is going to be dreadful.