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Testimony of the Heart

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INT. THE OLD BAILEY. AFTERNOON.

MARY is lurking in the shadows at the end of the corridor. SHERLOCK walks straight past her, oblivious. MARY smiles, watching him go. Then, JOHN is seen walking down the corridor. MARYsteps out of the shadows, her iconic blue and red dress on show.

JOHN:

(eyebrows raised)

Mary! I… I thought you weren’t-

MARY:

You honestly didn’t think I would miss this, my love? (links arms with JOHN) After all, you said so yourself, he needs people around.

JOHN:

(a beat)

Yes.

CUT TO:

INT. THE OLD BAILEY COURTROOM.

SHERLOCK stands in the witness box. JOHN and MARY sit side-by-side in the public gallery, looking on. The gallery is packed with people.

SHERLOCK:

(fed up that he has to go through with this charade)

In 1881 I met Dr John Watson. We lived together at 221B Baker Street up until six months ago, when he married Mrs Mary Watson née Morstan. 

PROSECUTING BARRISTER:

And you are and have been a bachelor for the entirety of your life?

SHERLOCK:

Yes.

PROSECUTING BARRISTER:

Is there any truth in any of the allegations made against you in the evidence in this case?

SHERLOCK:

There is–

A visible intake of breath from the PUBLIC. CLOSE ON JOHN, his fists clenched.

SHERLOCK:

(continued)

–no truth whatsoever.

SHERLOCK speaks again, but there is no sound. Instead, we hear the ominous tick-tock of a clock. The PROSECUTING BARRISTER speaks, then sits down as the DEFENDING BARRISTERstands, and speaks to SHERLOCK. SHERLOCK replies, looking much more like the relaxed and confident Consulting Detective we have seen so long ago. Shots of the PUBLIC reacting: laughter, applause, but all silent. The DEFENDING BARRISTER sits down, as the PROSECUTING BARRISTER rises yet again. CLOSE ON MARY and JOHN. JOHN intently looking at SHERLOCK.MARY leans back in her seat. Steals her gloved hand into JOHN’S. Squeezes. But JOHN doesn’t take his eyes off SHERLOCK.

Tick…tock…

BACK TO:

SHERLOCK still in the witness box.

PROSECUTING BARRISTER:

And would you describe your-

SHERLOCK:

Leading.

JUDGE:

(exasperated eye roll)

Mr Holmes.

SHERLOCK:

(ignoring the JUDGE)

You’re leading.

JUDGE:

Mr Holmes! That will do

PROSECUTING BARRISTER:

Very well. How would you describe your relationship with Dr Watson?

SHERLOCK:

A partnership of equals. Dr Watson is and was indispensable to my work. He would often remark on some trifle I had observed, and so help me discover the key piece of evidence that would solve many a troubling cause. (A pause, as SHERLOCK finally chances a glance up at JOHN, with a fond smile) A conductor of light, if you will.

Some hissing and jeering from the PUBLIC.    

PROSECUTING BARRISTER:

(mouth twisting slightly in distaste)

Indeed. (sharply) The prosecution calls Dr Watson to the stand.

Murmuring from the PUBLIC. JOHN straightens, and stands, beginning to make his way out of the public gallery. Before he leaves, MARY pulls him back to kiss him on the cheek.

CUT TO:

JOHN in the witness box.

PROSECUTING BARRISTER:

You have written several little stories for The Strand Magazine. 

JOHN:

Yes. Although I wouldn’t say they were little. 

Shot of SHERLOCK in the dock opposite JOHN. He can’t help but chuckle.

BACK TO:

PROSECUTING BARRISTER:

I wish to call your attention to the style of your writings.

JOHN:

I am never ashamed of the style of my writings.

PROSECUTING BARRISTER:

You are fortunate, or shall I say shameless?

Some laughter from the PUBLIC. But, this time, SHERLOCK does not even crack a smile, his expression stony faced.

PROSECUTING BARRISTER:

In one of your works, you describe Mr Sherlock Holmes in such a manner, and I quote: “So silent and furtive were his movements, like those of a trained bloodhound picking out a scent, that I could not but think what a terrible criminal he would have made had he turned his energy and sagacity against the law instead of exerting them in its defence.”

JOHN:

The Sign of Four. 

PROSECUTING BARRISTER:

A very curious description-

JOHN:

That was rather a long one.

PROSECUTING BARRISTER:

(bristling at having been interrupted)

You say that Mr Holmes could have made a “terrible criminal.” That is quite a statement. 

JOHN:

Oh, now you’re just being ridiculous.

PROSECUTING BARRISTER:

I beg your pardon?

SHERLOCK:

(a note of warning)

Wats-

JUDGE:

Quiet, Mr Holmes.

JOHN:

Mr Holmes is a great man. A good man. The b-

PROSECUTING BARRISTER:

And yet, you refer to him as-

JOHN:

I merely wish to let the people know of what must truly be one of the greatest minds of the 19th cent-

PROSECUTING BARRISTER:

I have heard all I need to hear, Doctor Watson.

JOHN:

(outraged)

But, you haven’t listened-

PROSECUTING BARRISTER:

I am finished with you, Doctor Watson.

JOHN leaves the witness box, fuming. He passes SHERLOCK in the dock on his way back to the public gallery.

SHERLOCK:

(under his breath, so only JOHN can hear)

It’s alright, Watson.

But this does not comfort JOHN.

CUT TO:

SHERLOCK back in the witness box. 

PROSECUTING BARRISTER:

And have you read Dr Watson’s stories?

SHERLOCK:

I cast my eye over them when I have the time.

PROSECUTING BARRISTER:

Your thoughts on them?

SHERLOCK:

Oh, mindless sensationalism for the public, naturally. I can hardly blame Doctor Watson, however. He is naturally a romantic.

PROSECUTING BARRISTER:

As are you.

SHERLOCK:

I’m… sorry?

The PROSECUTING BARRISTER smiles a nasty little smile. He reaches underneath his robes, and brings out a worn sheet of paper. A letter. SHERLOCK pales.

PROSECUTING BARRISTER:

(smug)

You are familiar with this, are you not?

SHERLOCK:

I…

The THUD-THUD noise of a HEARTBEAT. The PUBLIC whisper darkly amongst themselves.

SHERLOCK:

Wh-where…where did you get that?

Brief CUT TO MARY, bearing the slightest of smirks.

BACK TO:

PROSECUTING BARRISTER:

I wonder if you would be so kind as to read the last few sentences for us.

JOHN:

(quietly, to himself)

No, no, this is cruel. (He stands, speaking louder now) My Lord, this can hardly be f-

MARY:

(a marvellous scandalised whisper)

John!

JUDGE:

Order! Order!

JOHN:

But, my Lord-

JUDGE:

If I have any more interruptions from Doctor Watson, I will have him removed from the courtroom. 

SHERLOCK looks up, but does not meet JOHN’S gaze directly. He shakes his head, just once.JOHN understands, but that doesn’t mean he’s at all happy about it. JOHN sniffs, and nods, sitting back down without comment.

The PROSECUTING BARRISTER passes SHERLOCK the letter. SHERLOCK holds it oh so carefully, and clears his throat.

SHERLOCK:

(slowly)

The last… four sentences, I take it?

PROSECUTING BARRISTER:

If it’s not too much trouble.

SHERLOCK:

(a deep breath, then at a rattling pace) 

“I am pleased to think that I shall be able to free society from any further effects of his- (breaks off to explain to the PUBLIC)- that is, Professor Moriarty’s- presence though I fear that it is at a cost which will give pain to my friends, and especially…

An agonising pause. ON JOHN’S face: You don’t have to do this. Not for me.

SHERLOCK:

My dear John-

SHERLOCK finally looks directly at JOHN, his eyes bright and blazing with feeling.

SHERLOCK:

- to you.

Gasps from the gallery. The PUBLIC’S murmuring grows louder and louder. SHERLOCK continues to read the letter, but we can hardly hear him over the hubbub.

SHERLOCK:

(eventually raising his voice above the din)

– Pray give my greetings to Mrs. Watson, and believe me to be, my dear fellow… Very sincerely yours. Sherlock.

We see JOHN close his eyes as the PUBLIC’S taunting grows louder still.

JUDGE:

Order! Order, I say!

CLOSE ON SHERLOCK: overwhelmed at the noise. He closes his eyes-

CUT TO:

INT. SHERLOCK’S MIND PALACE.

The mind palace is shaped like THE OLD BAILEY COURTROOM. SHERLOCK is still standing in the witness box, but it is MYCROFT who is now the JUDGE, towering over him.

MYCROFT:

Oh, Sherlock. What have you done?

SHERLOCK:

(harshly)

I had no choice.

MYCROFT:

Clearly.

SHERLOCK:

There was nothing I could… (puts his head in his hands) Oh, Christ

MYCROFT:

Come now, no time for that.

SHERLOCK raises his head, his teeth bared.

SHERLOCK:

Well, what would you have me do?

MYCROFT:

Say nothing, of course.

SHERLOCK:

Doesn’t silence speak louder than words?

MYCROFT:

(a sad smile)

Brother mine, you have said far too much already.

BACK TO:

INT. THE OLD BAILEY COURTROOM.

The noise of the jeering PUBLIC continues, along with the JUDGE’S cry for order. SHERLOCK stares ahead, numb. JOHN is out of his seat again, but MARY is holding him back.

CLOSE ON SHERLOCK, his lips pressed into a thin line. For a horrible moment, it almost looks as if he may actually cry.

SHERLOCK:

(a VOICE-OVER, a whisper, his voice breaking)

I can’t… I can’t do it, John. I don’t know how.

END SCENE.