The Game Is Afoot – Part Three

The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.  Verbal Kint,  The Usual Suspects

“He couldn’t walk out.  He had instructions.  He was waiting for something.”
“Waiting for what?”
“A bullet.”

Wilson leaned back in his chair and looked thoughtful.  “It did seem that he was prepared for it.  The way he held himself, stiff, tense.  The strange notebook with it’s own special pocket.”  He looked at Hobbs.  “What do you make of it?”

“Let’s take it a step at a time. ”  Hobbs held up one finger.  “The task group.”

“We’re pretty well connected.  I doubt that a group like that could exist without us having some inkling of it.  We could ask around I guess.  But really.  What’s the point of it?  There have been scandals before, distant relatives, some not so distant relatives.  The royal family has weathered scandals, bad publicity, gossip without suffering too badly.”

Hobbs raised another finger.  “We’ve talked about the visitor, his strange behavior.  No name, an air of mystery.  Now for the gunman.”

“The curiosity was not the gunman but the gun.  Even with the notebook the ball should have done some damage.”

“The gun was chosen, or designed, to make a lot of commotion without doing any harm.  Now for the escape.”  Hobbs had stopped counting.  He had pulled out his pipe and was fishing in his vest pocket  for his tobacco pouch.

“Does that bring us to the girl?  I want to talk about the girl.”

“Close.  The gunman’s escape path was carefully planned.  My neighbor’s door was unlocked.  That’s where the girl comes in.  Her primary goal was to see that the door was unlocked and the window open.  Her secondary goal was to distract.”

“Did she?”

“No, not me at least.  There’s a time and place for everything and that was not the time or the place.  The mere thought seems to have worked it’s magic on you though.”

“What can I say?  I’m human.”

“The last piece is the merry chase, the cat and mouse game.  And with that we come full circle.  Once again, conclusions.”

“I can tell you how it feels.  It’s as if we’ve stumbled into the middle of a play.  I just don’t know if it’s a farce, a mystery, or a political intrigue.”

“I think you are very close to the truth.”  Hobbs had found his tobacco.  His hands were occupied filling his pipe.  “Everything that has happened this morning has been carefully planned and elaborately staged.   The question is why.”

“And who.”

Hobbs held a lit match to the tobacco in his pipe, busily puffing to get it started.  The smoke coiled up, partly obscuring Hobbs’ face.  Wilson could see his eyes through the smoke, staring intently at him.

“No.  You’re not going to invoke the name of Moriarty.  You can’t do that.”

Hobbs absently shook the match out.  “Wilson, I suspect in the coming days you will gain a greater understanding of Moriarty.  When the curtain comes down on this performance you will no longer be able to pass Moriarty off as a figment of my imagination.”

“We’ll see.”

“Your problem is you don’t understand the nature of the game.  Yes Moriarty is behind this.  This has all been an elaborate setup, a tease to pique our interest, to hook us and reel us in.”

  “If so I am greatly disappointed.  The whole thing is so transparent.  He has to know we would see through it.”

“That’s what he wants.  He wants us to see his hand in this.  This entire concoction of his is an invitation.  He wants us to come out and play.”

“To come out and play.”  Wilson sat up and leaned in close across the table.  “It’s becoming clear to me that I don’t understand the very concept of Moriarty.  What is he about?”

“I’ll try to explain.  Moriarty could kill me there’s no doubt.  But what would be the fun in that?  There are more satisfying, and productive, ways to destroy someone than to end his life.  Better to draw me into a trap, to let the trap fall in on me, to leave me to bear the burden of failure, a guilt ridden shell of a man.  And all those who look up to me have nothing left but feelings of hopelessness and defeat.”



“Where you said ‘me’, shouldn’t that be ‘us’?”

Hobbs looked at Wilson, unblinking, for one, two, three beats.  “Alright.  Us. But you understand what I’m saying.”

“Yes.  He could draw us in then leave us holding the bag when disaster strikes.”

“Or he could go the other way.  He could pull us into some nothing and expose us, the great Sir Reginald Hobbs scurrying…”

“And Dr. Wilson.”

“Excuse me.  And Dr. Wilson scurrying around like great detectives, mixed up in something silly and trivial.  We would be a laughingstock.   You see his master plan now don’t you?  He doesn’t want to kill us.  He wants to trivialize us, make our lives meaningless, of no value or importance.”

“Seems to me the answer to all that is simple.  We don’t take the bait.  We do nothing.”

“No that is his fondest wish, his most hoped for end game.  That we become fruitless and immobilized not at his hand but at our own.  No we can’t do that because at the root of that is fear.  And that above all else is what we cannot do.  We cannot fear Moriarty.”  A strange light had come into Hobbs’ eyes, a passion fired his voice.  It was clear that it was taking all the restraint he could muster to keep from pounding his fist on the table.

They sat there, both waiting for the storm to subside.  Finally Hobbs spoke, calmly this time.  “Besides we could find ourselves averting an international incident or even a war.  You never know.”

“So we go to Paris?”

“We go to Paris.”

“And that means…”
“Must I say it?”

“You must.”

“The game is afoot.”

“But the game is not scandal or international incident or war?”


“So the game is…”

“Is us, Dr. Wilson.  The game is us.”

Copyright © 2012 by Angus B. Lewis
All rights reserved


About Angus Lewis

My wife and I lived our whole lives in Arkansas until ten years ago. We moved to the Kansas City area in 2011 (a job change). That was the reason for the 'From a Far Country' title. Our children and grandchildren were in Arkansas. Six months ago we sold our house and bought one in Sherwood, Arkansas and my wife moved back down here. Two weeks ago I retired and moved back too. (I'm probably going to try to find something part time to keep me out of trouble.) So maybe the 'From a Far Country' title is not so much of a fit anymore. But I think I'll stick with it. I'm still not home. Not yet. The Bible says we are all strangers and pilgrims here. Our real home is with God and some day we'll be there. We'll be home.
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