The Letter Opener Experiment

November 3, 2012
“Mr. Holmes,” It takes three tries for my gloved hands to rap hard enough upon the door of the famed Holmes’ abode for anyone to hear me. My fingers are trembling so badly, whether because I am terrified or anxious to meet him, I don’t know. Eventually, the man himself comes to the door. I clear my throat as daintily as I can manage, “You wanted to speak to me?”

A man in his thirties with a cascade of shining curls and a sign of stubble set stubbornly on his jaw, opened the door with so little flourish and fanfare that I’d assume he wanted nothing to do with a fellow human, let alone a woman.

He didn’t speak, nor did he make any move to break the discourteous silence. He only… watched me with eyes so dark I’d assume they’d belong to a member of the Fae. Instead, it was the woman, I, who needed to “man up” and utter the first word, “You requested my services recently, and—“

“Oh,” His facial expression lifted upwards into a semblance of delight, “Seeing, by the looks of you, I’d observe I’d first met you on the iced bridge over the river Thames?”


“My favorite club of a certain perverted notoriety, which I frequent often?”

“I’d never--!”

“Possibly my dear Watson’s bachelor party then?” He paused and clapped his hands together for effect, “As one of the cabaret, not a guest, obviously… You were an Italian, oho no, Spanish dancer! Ahem, you gave an immaculate performance by the way… in the bedroom.”

“Sir, I warn you that I will give you a total of three seconds to explain yourself before I take a dagger and slit your throat!” My fingers twitched, wanting to reach for the letter opener I’d tucked in my corset but then forcing myself to calm. Think of the children, starving on the streets, all of my siblings are under my care. They depend on me, and if that means dealing with this man…

“Ah, ah, and no. So I’d humble myself to wonder at if my powers of deduction have so deteriorated that I’d forgotten you were part of some macabre—!”

This is it, the blackout moment where my Spanish blood courses through my veins and I lose all control… Damn you Holmes.

I took the glove I held in my free hand and slapped it across his face. He didn’t even turn his cheek in shame. He only blinked, as if stunned I’d do such a thing as be offended at his atrocious lack of etiquette.

“That’s quite enough of your games, sir. I only came here asking for employment as your maid so I can avoid any such cabaret performances, Mr. Holmes. Mrs. Hudson, bless her soul, recommended you…of all people.”

He paused, looked quite serious, and cocked his head back and forth in thought. He then, with all theatricality lost from his voice, remarked, “Of course, miss, I’ll expect you tomorrow at approximately midnight, wearing the appropriate lacy garters and corset.”

His eyes flicked to my breasts, and I blushed for all the wrong reasons. I was wont to slap him again when he spoke, “You do realize that, as in most places, I’d consider a letter opener to be a very strange accessory for a woman’s, ahem…pride and joy.”

I gawked, wondering how on earth he knew I had a concealed letter opener, of all things.

He refused to let me have a single word more and remarked, quite seriously to my face, “You know, if you were to be a man at that very moment, I could have very well taken it as a threat and killed you. Even with you being a woman, I realize that your exact thoughts right now revolve around how the devil I’ve managed to read your mind.”

“Naturally.” I laughed to heal my wounded pride, “It wouldn’t take any intelligence to deduce that one. Just like it wouldn’t take any effort to say that I think that your thoughts right now revolve around becoming better acquainted with my letter opener. Now, sir, the job? Can I receive a direct answer or will I have to resort to asking if the good doctor behind your shoulder is in need of a maid?”

He paused, inhaled sharply, then turned to face away from me and speak to an unseen figure within the room, “Alright, Watson, I took the bet! I could hold a conversation with an unfascinating woman for a set amount of time without any ulterior motive, nor killing her as I constantly kill your dog, now may I carry out my newest experiment on you?”

The door is shut rudely on me, and I hear a heated conversation from behind the mahogany door. I shudder at the cold that quickly replaces the warmth of where Holmes once stood.

This time, it only takes me one try to knock on the door, and only half the time for it to swing open and reveal just the man I was looking for.

“Let’s start over. Mr. Holmes, you requested my services for an experiment of some sort? You know, the one you were about to perform on Watson and thus most likely kill him or his dog? Seeing as to the doctor’s completely dumbfounded reaction, I’m probably the first person to ever wish to volunteer. It means I’m probably mad or desperate, but we’ll deal with specifics later. The experiment, Mr. Holmes?”

A smile chock full of boyish enthusiasm and thing I could not place was instantly upon Mr. Holmes’ face. I had never felt so afraid as I did now.

“Watson, dear, you were wrong about this one. It seems my first impression was uncharacteristically flawed, she’s a woman actually worth my time! She’s a volunteer!”

I couldn’t resist a parting quip, “If I were a man, I would kill you for that insult.”

“Don’t overplay a hand, sweetheart, it just isn’t done in the circles of polite society. And yes, now I actually care about that sort of thing, simply for the sake of a true lady being in my male presence. By the way, you being hired at all was Watson’s idea, so if you have any problems, talk to him. I’ll pay you, you clean, this will be the basis of our relationship until the day every single one of your poverty-stricken siblings marries or gets a job.”

He leaned in close, and this time, I shivered for very different reasons when I felt his rough, unshaven skin against mine, “Just in case you cannot follow my brilliance, darling, I meant you as that aforementioned lady. You are a lady, right? Oh, but wait, I’m never wrong. Why? Deduce this, darling: I’m Sherlock Holmes.”

…hijo de puta…

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This article has 46 comments. Post your own now!

TheCapturedBat This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Aug. 25, 2013 at 9:47 pm
You've done an amazing job capturing the feel of the movie. The dialogue was quite clever. I get the picture that you are quite fond of Sherlock Holmes as he was portrayed by Robert Downey.
vegangirl0725 said...
Aug. 5, 2013 at 5:01 pm
I have never read any Sherlock homles book, I saw one of the movies. This story is great!!!
Claudia.VII replied...
Aug. 5, 2013 at 9:58 pm
Thank you! Your comment means a ton. :)
Carly_Elizabeth said...
Aug. 5, 2013 at 2:13 pm
Ok I have to ask. What does the last part mean? "Hijo de puta" Any who, I simply adored this haha. I love Sherlock Holmes (all versions of it, especially Benedict Cumberbatch) so this was amazing. The female character was perfectly portrayed, desperate, but still won't put up with Sherlock's crap haha. Just one thing, when Sherlock is talking to Watson try adding something like "indicated Mr. Holmes to someone in another room." or something haha. Nut I really liked th... (more »)
Claudia.VII said...
Aug. 5, 2013 at 11:31 am
By the by, I feel this comment might help any future commenters. This version of Sherlock Holmes was created on the movie version with Robert Downey (No, not Benedict Cumberbatch, sorry.) And not the book version written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I apologize for any confusion, but I think that might help with people critiquing the dialogue. Thank you again!
MeganF said...
Aug. 5, 2013 at 9:14 am
You create a fantastic blend of description and dialog, I really admire that! :)
Claudia.VII replied...
Aug. 5, 2013 at 11:27 am
Thank you! Your comment really helps keep me motivated. :)
None0 said...
Aug. 5, 2013 at 12:00 am
I'm going to try keeping this short, since it's late and I'm going to be busy tomorrow. The first few paragraphs, the description feels a little lacking. Maybe from the lack of showing language, or just awkward sentence structure/transitions.   The rest of the piece feels very, very centered on the dialogue. Everything else feels fine, and the additional sentences excluding dialogue are inserted very smoothly. The dialogue itself though, feels a little clunky and somewhat ch... (more »)
Claudia.VII replied...
Aug. 5, 2013 at 11:26 am
Alright, thank you very much for your honesty. I will have to work on all of this over time and your comment has helped me greatly. Thank you again, and have a great day.
WriteOrWrong said...
Aug. 4, 2013 at 11:49 pm
I was particularly intrigued by the description. I think the female character has a lot of potential. I think the story could me molded a bit to be more representative of the time period, the dialogue felt a bit misplaced (although certainly well-written.) it was very creative but a bit confusing. It may help to reread and try to think of what is really important for you to get across. I truly think this has a very fascinating premise though and I am interested in where it could go. Good job!
Kati312 said...
Aug. 1, 2013 at 9:36 am
This is really amazing, I hope to see lot's more of your work, it is really captivating, I couldn't stop reading !
Claudia.VII replied...
Aug. 4, 2013 at 8:58 pm
Thank you so much! It really means a lot to me. :)
IMSteel said...
Mar. 4, 2013 at 6:43 pm
Oh, I know this is probably a little much, but I have added a few more chapters to my story, The Voyages of the Waved Albatross, and I would be much abliged if you would look them over as you did the others.  They are still pending in moderation, so you may have to wait a while, but I really value your comments, you're one of the few that understand the way people think, but also love original, true writing.  I can't wait to see more of your writing posted on Teen ... (more »)
KateyKat said...
Jan. 14, 2013 at 6:06 pm
I love the puns and idea of Holmes and Watson being shaped in this way. You portrayed the famous pair very excellantly in my opinion. Keep up the good work and I hope to be reading more from you.
Claudia.VII replied...
Aug. 4, 2013 at 9:01 pm
Thank you! :)
Apollo77 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jan. 12, 2013 at 1:43 pm
Interesting. I've never read sherlock I can't tell you if you did well to the story, but it was entertaining. I did think the dialogue was a tad cheesy(but I usually think that victorian things are cheesy) some of the early allusions to the identity of the man and his friend don't fit just right and come across a little funny, but pretty good job
Claudia.VII replied...
Jan. 14, 2013 at 1:23 pm
Interesting. I'll keep your comment under consideration, but as for "cheesy", I'm not sure what I'll do with it. Make a pizza?      - I kid. (Most probably proving your point about ze dialogue.) -   But in all seriousness, thanks for commenting and all the constructive criticism. It means a lot to me. :)
IMSteel said...
Jan. 11, 2013 at 12:13 pm
Also, your writing captures a lot of what Doyl did in his books. 
In_Love_with_Writing said...
Jan. 6, 2013 at 9:27 pm
Nice job! I really mean it! Can you comment and rate some of my stories? thanks!
Claudia.VII replied...
Jan. 10, 2013 at 6:44 pm
Okay, I left a comment on your piece, "Marry me after my restraining order." Thanks for commenting and all!
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