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In Absentia

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Marcus Bell sends Joan Watson off with a slightly tipsy hug and a stern order: “Text me as soon as you get back to that nutty housemate of yours so I know you made it home safely.”

She responds with a warm smile. “Absolutely. Thanks again for the drink.”

“Thanks for solving the case,” he volleys meaningfully. “Thank Holmes for me, too. This one was…”

He doesn’t bother to finish the sentence. “Difficult” would be a gross understatement, but anything more accurate would be inappropriate for a New York City pub. Cases where the victims are children always take a significant mental and emotional toll.

Joan’s voice is as soft as her hand on his shoulder. “I know.”

She disappears into the night, and he disappears into his third tumbler of bourbon. By the time he finally stumbles home around 2:00 AM, he is far too gone to remember to check for Joan’s text.