Mar. 11th, 2017

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Title: The Fool on the Other End
Author: gardnerhill
Form/Wordcount: 361
Characters/Pairings: Sherlock Holmes, John Watson, Inspector Lestrade
Rating: G

Warning: None
Summary: True friends make a time of temptation easier on a fellow.
Author's Notes: For the March 2017 Holmes Minor Monthly Prompt, “Temptations.” The title comes from a droll description of a cigarette from the 1800s: “A fire on one end and a fool on the other.”


Lent may be good for the soul but craving what you can’t have plays the devil with my body.

It’s the same every year: Shrove Tuesday is my last tobacco till Easter. Not a pipestem, cigar-end nor cigarette touches my lips during those weeks – and not a pinch of snuff goes near my nose either.

Helen says the not-smoking makes my kisses sweeter. She’s certainly happy to prove it during that time. But I hate to say that the craving overcomes even that nice little extra.

Makes it hard for me to look down on cokies and opium-smokers – not when I lie awake at night keeping myself from sneaking out of bed to light one up, not when my hands twitch around the pipes and cigarettes puffing all around me at the station and the streets.

To my own surprise, I’ve found that 221b Baker Street is my haven at such times, and I’ve learned to head there like a scalded cat at the first sign of a curious crime.

Oh, Mr. Holmes and Dr. Watson love their pipes and cigars as much as any red-blooded man in London does. But Mr. Holmes is that perceptive, you see. He knows me secret. I give him a call that I’m coming over in a half-hour with a juicy tidbit for him.  I don’t know how he does it – his chemistry set must factor in somehow – but when I arrive I can’t see nor smell a whiff of baccy anywhere. But there they both are, offering me one of the landlady’s scones and a cup of tea that washes out the taste of the Scotland Yard swill if it’s daytime, and some very good brandy if it’s a bit later in the day. And neither of ‘em touch a cigar nor pipe themselves while I’m there, which is something only a real friend does. Temptation removed makes it a sight easier.

And the first time I come ‘round their way after Easter, they don’t let me cross the threshold into the parlour before offering me one of their best cigars.

I’m still tempted every year this time. But it’s become a sight easier.


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