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Ear Worm (An Excerpt From the Private Papers of J.H. Watson)

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Have you ever had one of those days where it felt like you were being stalked by a song?  It happened to me a couple of days ago and it managed to spark something of a personal revelation. 

It started as these things usually do with my alarm clock going off in the morning.  The station was playing a late ’80s rock set and I was mostly awake when a rather distinctive guitar riff signaled the start of the next song.  It had been a little over a month after I’d moved back into Baker Street with Holmes after he was officially “alive” again.  In many ways things were as they always had been but in others we seemed to circle each other tentatively not quite sure how to deal with each other.  The year of what Sherlock had taken to calling the hiatus and I tended to think about as the fall had clearly taken its toll.

The first verse lyrics seemed to echo my thoughts.  The cases were where things seemed click as of old.  I asked questions and Sherlock deduced.  Sherlock took off and I followed.  It didn’t really matter where; up a mountain, through fields, crawling in the sewer or climbing buildings in London.  When push came to shove there was nowhere else I’d rather be.  Despite all that there was something missing.  The song was certainly right about that.  I got up at that point and wandered downstairs to start my day. 

The first half of my locum shift at the A&E was relatively uneventful, except I kept running into ex-lovers.  Sarah wasn’t all that surprising, she’d stopped to look in on a patient of hers and I encountered her on my way in to the hospital.  Rachael, whom Sherlock had christened the one with the nose, had come in with her mother suspecting a fractured foot.  Turned out the foot was indeed broken and I handed them off to the orthopedics specialist.  The one with the dog, Laura, was next.  She had a dog bite she’d received while attempting to rescue her Bshon from an encounter with a Standard Poodle.  That was followed by Ronald.  I’d last seen him in Afghanistan where he’d been a medic.  He’d gotten out and was now working for the London Ambulance Service.  I ended up stitching a rather nasty cut he’d sustained when the vehicle had to make sudden evasive maneuvers. 

I managed to get a break for lunch on time only to find the same song playing in the cafeteria.  The congruence of the morning’s encounters and the lyrics made me smile.  My brain helpfully supplied memories of kisses and caresses exchanged and mutual desires satisfied.  As I recalled each relationship it dawned on me that while each had plenty of fire and in most cases had been what was needed at that particular time in my life they each lacked something intangible.  I concluded that it was most likely the fact that during each of these liaisons I didn’t know what I really wanted long term.

The second half of my shift was a different matter altogether.  Talking down a hallucinating addict who seemed to be intent on suicide, homicide or both required all of my negotiating skills.  I then spent the rest of the shift alternatively holding his hand and saving his life until the last time he crashed and we couldn’t get him back.  I wasn’t quite sure how to react when I ran into Gregson just afterword and was informed that my patient had managed to kill his girlfriend, her father and injured three of the Met’s finest during his drug fueled rampage.  It was events like these I knew that made many in my profession question their dedication.  Was this really what anyone was expecting from the practice of medicine?  On the way out the door after clocking out I caught a snatch of the song coming from someone’s mobile.  The particular verse I heard seemed to be incredibly apropos.

I started heading for the tube but I realized that I didn’t really want to deal with the hustle and bustle of humanity that seemed to be the normal state of the underground.  On a whim I decided to walk back to Baker Street.  The song caught up with me again playing from a car parked in front of a church I was passing at the time.  The lyrics spoke of faith and sacrifice.  I’d seen too much, done too much to retain that type of belief.  I looked at the statue above the sanctuary door and wondered momentarily.  With the last refrain of the song echoing in my ears I knew this wasn’t what I was in search of either.  I continued on.

A few minutes later I rounded the corner onto Baker Street.  As I came up on Speedy’s I could hear the sound of Sherlock’s violin faintly over the noise of the street.  It didn’t sound like something he’d usually play.  It took a minute of careful listening but then I recognized the melody that had been seemingly following me all day.  I put my key in the lock and it suddenly all came together.  Oh yes, I now knew what I was looking for.