Saturday, April 30, 2016

Starting Sparks: The First Pawn

Today I've an entry for Starting Sparks. I know. It's the last day.


 The park was busy today. A couple joggers passed Jeff without a glance at him. A little dog ran about and stopped occasionally to give the rope toy in his mouth a fierce shake. A leash trailed behind the pup.

A couple on a bench sat very close but the man seemed a little distracted. Some kids played on the swings. They laughed and joked with each other except the fourth boy who was clearly a tagalong little brother.

A man in jeans and t-shirt paced in the grass while he spoke on the phone. Actually, he listened and appeared rather distraught.

"Excuse me, sir." Jeff approached him.

The man frowned at him. "What is it you want?"

"Your dog?"

"What about my dog? He's not bothering you."

Jeff held back a sigh. "He went that way."

The man looked confused for a moment, then finally realized the dog was not around anymore. He cursed under his breath and headed in the direction Jeff had pointed out.

Jeff continued to where the people thinned out and you could hear the birds sing. Robert already sat at the stone table with a chess board. The pieces were set up in crooked lines (Rob would never be mistaken as OCD). But a black pawn and a white pawn were missing. They were no doubt one in each of Rob's fists. There was nothing unusual about Robert today. His hair was a scrambled mess of salt and pepper. His friend smelled like peppermint, and cat fur clung to his pant legs.

"Your cat's name is Faramir, right?" Jeff was sure he'd finally figured it out.

Rob seemed surprised. "What's that to do with our game?"

"I know you named him after a Tolkien character. You're always likening our chess games to Lord of the Rings." Jeff sat down on the other stone pedestal at the table, opposite Rob. "Faramir is your favorite, isn't he?"

"How do you know I've a cat?"

Jeff just grinned.

The crisp sunshine glided off the chess board, almost missing it. The board was too faded to reflect any sort of light.

"You don't have to be smart today, do you?" Robert said.

"It's not something I turn on and off, you know."

Rob rolled his eyes with an exasperated sigh. Finally, he thrust one of his closed fist toward Jeff. "Which one?" He glanced over his shoulder, almost smoothly.

Jeff resisted the urge to smile. After their last game, he'd told Rob the secret to how he always guessed right. The color of the pawn. Rob always seemed to glance over his shoulder when he tried to push the black onto Jeff. So Jeff had let him in on it. Of course, now Rob expected that Jeff would expect Rob to act in the opposite manner after sharing the secret.

Jeff probably shouldn't have shared it in the first place, as Rob would now reassess his actions tomorrow. But what did that matter? How many more games would he have to play?

"Black," Jeff said.

"Now that's just wrong." Robert opened his palms and revealed the black pawn near Jeff and the white pawn clenched close to his chest. "I think you made that up. About me having a tell. There ain't no strategy to it. It's chance."

"Actually," Jeff placed pawns on the board, "it's chess."

They turned the board so that Jeff was White and Rob Black. There were many different ways of choosing who played White, the color that went first. Originally, they had chosen by hiding the pawns as Rob had just done. But the opposite player would choose one of the fists and whatever color pawn was in that fist was the color that the chooser played. But Jeff had found boring. So they'd changed it a smudge.

After the opening moves, Jeff was pretty sure that Rob was either trying to throw him off by winging every move, or Rob planned something much more complex than Jeff could yet detect.

"What did the doctor say yesterday?" Robert rubbed his chin as Jeff took his knight with a pawn.

"Didn't go to the doctor. I'm through with them."

"You know, they might could help. They got surgeries for those."

"I can't afford no surgery."

"But you can't jest sit back and take it."

"And why can't I?" What was Rob doing with his rook? "Look," Jeff said. "I'm tired."

"Well, that's cause you're sick--"

"No, it's cause I'm old. What's the point?"

Rob chewed his lower lip and stared at the board. "What about Jen and Allen?"

Perfect time to change the subject. "I've been thinking. I ain't got anything to leave them."

"Well, I don't think that matters. I mean it's nice and all but--"

"I don't ever get to see them. In fact, I'll never see them again. I want them to at least know I love them."

"Well, they know that." Rob moved a pawn to lure Jeff's queen out. Like that would happen.

"But do they?" Jeff sighed and moved his knight to lure Rob into his own trap. Do they really know? They were just kids after all. And kids know you love them when you spend time with them. You stop to treat them like human beings. And he knew what it was like to be ignored.

"No." Jeff shook his head. "I've got to do something for them."

"Well, what are you going to do?" Rob moved in with his rook.

"Anything! I don't care how or what."

Rob hesitated. "What do you mean you don't care?"

Jeff glanced around but there was nobody. Still he lowered his voice. "I'm not sure exactly. But there's people who's got money. I could. . ."

"Jeff, you don't mean steal!?" Rob hissed in a whisper.

Jeff took Rob's rook with a bishop.

"I do. Unless you got better ideas." Jeff's mind tumbled. "Cab driving don't make good money and I'm too old for anyone to hire me for something that pays more. I don't know a trade. And I don't have the time to learn one."

"Do you know how much trouble you could be in?"

"I could die any minute, Rob. If I get caught it wouldn't matter."

"But what would Jen and Allen think? Is that what you want to leave them with, huh?"

Rob took Jeff's bishop.

"No. Nobody'll catch me. I'm too smart."

"If you're so smart then why are you even considering--"

Jeff ignored him. "The thing is I don't have anything. I don't have a gun or the knowledge. If I at least had some connections who knew. . ."

"Most people would be grateful not to have those sorts of acquaintances."

Jeff spread his hands out. "I'm desperate, Rob."

Rob sighed. He glanced from side to side. He seemed to hunch a little lower. "Look," he said. "I know this guy. He helps people. . . fix their problems. Well, he doesn't really. He just knows someone else who does. I don't really know how it works. But I directed a few people to him and I know he's helped them out right proper."

"Do you think he can help me too?" Jeff took Rob's queen.

"This stuff is illegal, Jeff. You have to be sure." Rob shook his head. "I shouldn't have said--"

"Rob." Jeff wanted to scream. He wanted to cry actually, but he wasn't going to waste time on tears. "I could pop off right now. Right here in front of you."

Rob shook his head. "Don't say--" He made some evasive move with his knight.

"Or the next hour. I might not wake up tomorrow."

"I know it. Stop reminding me, alright?"

"I've nothing to lose. Just lead me to this guy you know."

"Well, it's not like that. I'll tell him, but they'll find you."


"Yeah, some organization."

"What's it called?"

"No, I've said too much."

"Don't clam up now."

"I mean, nobody ever says it. You don't use that name."

"Fine, Rob. Fine. But you'll tell him, right? Your friend with this connection?"

"Yeah." Rob rubbed his forehead like he did when he lost a game. "They'll find you."

Jeff nodded and slid his rook into place. "Checkmate."

"What?" Rob examined the board then rolled his eyes. "Here I'm worried about you and the law while you capture my king! Some friend you are, Jeff, some friend."

"I told you. I'm too smart to let them catch me."

"I hope you're right."


The man climbed into the backseat. He asked for Wormwood Street.

Another jilted lover. Jeff couldn't stand those. He glanced at photo of Jen and Allen on the dashboard.

But this man had more to live for than some lost love. He reeked of a cologne that Jeff had smelled on some banker before who clearly spared no expense for anything. Not to mention the guy's wrist watch. He was rich and yet had a live-with-mum air about him.

So at least the man wouldn't have asked for the bridge like that other. . . Jeff shivered involuntary. That had been a very bad night.

No. Don't think like that. He had to have the nerves of steel. He was practically about to commit suicide, right? That organization had yet to find him, but when they did he'd have to completely commit.

For Jen and Allen.

Well, if they found him. They hadn't yet. Maybe this organization wasn't as big a deal as Rob made them out to be.
"Wormwood Street, at your request, sir." Jeff stopped the car.

The man got out. Before Jeff could tell him his due, the man handed him the money and an envelope. A small smirk played on the man's lips. Everything about him changed, his behavior, his stance. He didn't seem much like a jilted lover anymore.

"Say hello to Robert for me." And the man left, just like that, into the fog of London.

"Oh?" Jeff turned the envelope over in his hands. Nothing was written on either side of it.

Once at home, Jeff with a cup of tea and stared at the letter. He took a breath. He was going to do this. He picked it up.

For Jen and Allen.

The author of the letter had been waiting a very long time for someone like Jeff. Someone to enact his opening move. Someone brilliant enough. Someone unnoticed enough. Someone desperate enough. And preferably someone with no history of crime. Jeff matched all criteria. Well, except for maybe that one time he set off firecrackers during a funeral. Age fourteen.

How did they know about that?

The author was most inspired by Rob and Jeff's little chess games in the park. While the author explained the plan, Jeff couldn't help smile. He nearly let his tea get cold. That'd be a shame.

But this? Brilliance! Jeff had never thought of killing before. It made him a bit squeamish to think about. Violence wasn't his thing. But it wasn't exactly killing, now was it? And there was no violence involved either. This was the biggest stroke of genius Jeff had seen in a long time. He had to be a part. All he needed was to keep his wits about him. Ha, he could do that!

Of all the things, the organization would pay him to kill. It'd go directly to an account set aside for his kids, because, yes, the author knew about Jen and Allen too.

He said they were doing well.

He said Jeff would receive what he needed very soon.

He said to burn this note after reading it. Jeff had expected no less.

He also said to sprinkle the ashes off the side of the bridge to show his acceptance of this game. They would notice.

Strange. Clearly, the author had a touch for the dramatic, but so be it. Brilliance and imagination had a way of going hand in hand. Or was that genius and madness? Whatever. Was there a difference?

The author mentioned that this game, Jeff's game, was intended to catch the eye of a one Sherlock Holmes. The author was a big fan. "Be wary of Sherlock. He'll notice you."

Lastly, he signed it.


 Jeff trudged up the apartment stairs. He dug in his pocket for his keys.

It had been a week since Jeff had sprinkled the ashes off the bridge. He had received many queer looks from people. Looks that had said, "See up there? What's that funny little man doing?" Jeff wasn't senile. He might have an aneurysm, but he wasn't crazy. Though, he was beginning to wonder if the letter was a huge hoax.

No, they knew about his children. This couldn't be a hoax, right? If it had been, then why?

Because someone was bored. Obviously.

Jeff sighed and opened his apartment door. The door hit something solid. He stepped inside and glanced around for intruders. The place looked most normal. Except, a package lay on the floor. Hm.

Inside the parcel was two bottles and a business card. Well, it looked like a business card. But there was no address nor phone number. Just that unmistakable name. 


"Who do we trust even though we don't know them? Who passes unnoticed wherever they go?" - SH

Disclaimer: It takes place in London, so I apologize if there are American terms in there. I tried to stay away from anything I thought would sound out of place, but as I've never been to the UK, it was hard to know.

I was really nervous about this because of the setting and, gosh, it's bad. Too much telling and it feels pointless.

Also, I have never written fanfiction. Although I've heard that's how some people first get interested in writing. But it seems like all of you like Sherlock the same as me. So I hope you enjoyed this!

Have you ever written fanfiction? What is your favorite BBC Sherlock episode? (Mine is the Hound of the Baskervilles.)


  1. Most enticing blogs I’ve ever read and this is what it should. Must be shared as well. I was really
    bored but your blog lightened up my day

  2. Sherlock Holmes is one of my favorite characters and I really like the new show, so it was a pleasure to read your story.

    Have you ever watched the series with Jeremy Brett? :)

    1. I agree! Sherlock Holmes is one of my favorites too!

      I have. He's really good!

  3. I really loved reading this! I've been in such a need for Sherlock these days. I love our little sociopath. I could feel the little nods towards the show and was about to comment on it until I read your disclaimer saying it was a fanfiction. XD

    And oh yes! I love to write fanfiction, although I have to say I'm quite embarrassed by the fact since every time I've told someone that I want to be a writer and that I also write fanfiction they don't take me the least bit seriously.

    Who could pick a favorite Sherlock episode?! Although I'd have to say I have a bit of fondness towards the first one, A Study in Pink.

    1. I'm glad you liked it! Yes, it was fanfiction. My first. :)

      That's pretty cool! I think it's a good exercise for writing. Writing is writing. The more you do it the better you get.

      A Study in Pink is really good!

  4. This was so much fun to read! I was reading through it, going wait, this seems familiar, is it? Could it be? It's Sherlock!!! I liked how we got the whole backstory of the cab driver. And the cat named Faramir? Dude, I need to get a cat and name it Faramir now. *runs off to get a cat*

    1. Haha! I'm so glad you liked it! And the cat was a last minute thing. I needed more details and was like, "Name the cat Faramir, it shall be great."

      Thank you!

  5. I tried to do fanfiction, but I really suck at that!
    This was so fun to read !! Keep writing more


    I knew this was inspired by the cabby but I only realised partway through that it was fic. I've never written fic myself (apart from a 12 y/o Harry Potter story but we don't need to talk about that) but this is a very interesting backstory. I really like how you've given the cabby his humanity, which he gets a bit in the episode, with the grandchildren, but not very much. I liked the ash and the dramatic/imaginative, brilliant/genius. And I also loved "Because someone was bored. Obviously." Someone was indeed! I watched The Great Game the other night. Oh, that pool scene!!!!!

    As for my fave episode, I really liked the most recent one, the Something Bride, I can't remember what it's called, but I love Hound of the Baskerville. I've seen A Study in Pink the most times but it is a great one, the mystery is so clever, I think, and I love the scene in the cafe and then their run and "welcome to London"! XD

    Love it! :)

    (I just finished my May one. It has a very sarcastic narrator. Yay!)


      I guess that part's hard to miss though. XD

      I'm really glad you liked it! I watched A Study in Pink like three times over to have a good grounding in Jeff. I originally wanted to insert his accent in the dialogue, but yeah, that wasn't going to happen. XD And I watched The Great Game to refresh my mind on Moriarty (okay, actually I just really wanted to rewatch it, because come on! THAT POOL SCENE!? And the Golem scenes. I remember first watching Sherlock and the season ended with that pool scene and we were all sitting in the living room realizing that was the season finale. We had to wait another year.)

      I'm glad you liked the dramatic/imaginative, brilliant/genius.

      Oh! I think them running around and Welcome to London is one of my favorite parts of Study in Pink. As well as the ending when Sherlock realizes John saved his life and their laughing about it at the crime scene. But yes, the Hound of the Baskerville is the bestest! I ought to rewatch it soon. It has just a touch of horror, enough to make it fun but not enough to keep you up at night.

      I do like sarcastic narrators! I'll have to dash over soon.

    2. I SO NOTICED IT! I have the same reference in TCATT, Freddie says of magic "you can't just turn it off like a tap", but I increasingly realise that his family don't have taps in their house bc they are Proper Rustic Types, and so it wouldn't at all be a natural metaphor for him, so tragically I think I need to cut it. UGH. I do really enjoy putting pop culture references in, though XD

      Ugh, don't talk to me about accents in dialogue!!! A (very little) bit of Glaswegian in A Room Alone is about all I can manage. Whenever they're talking to an old person / working class person in TCATT that person always talks like "aye, she were here last week, aye", which I am trying to edit out because it feels silly. Apparently I just automatically slip into pirate??

      The ending is SO GOOD. I'm in shock, I've got a blanket! I love that, when they've become friends oh my gosh :3 :3 :3 I need to rewatch series 2 now that I've finished rewatching series 1 (because I'm logical).

    3. I love referencing pop culture too! I always love when I'm reading a book and realize, "Oh, the author must be in such-and-such fandom!" It's sad that you have to cut it. Can you just take out the bit about the tap? Like, "you can't just turn it off!" But then, what would he ever have to "turn off"? Shush, Ashley, you're not helping. Okay, so not a good alternative.

      Accents are so HARD! Hey, but pirate it's too bad. If all the older people are pirates that is. . . If I try an accent, I kind of just make it up and let the reader hear what they hear since it's fantasy anyhow. But that doesn't mean it always works out. . .

      Yes, the shock blanket! :D


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