Sirens and Shadows
She stood in the shadows of the warm summer night, listening to the music wafting out of the open window. Visible above her were the silhouettes of a tall man and a shorter one standing and talking.
She'd been coming to Baker Street for months. Ever since she'd first heard the strains of his violin, its siren song reminding her of what she'd had and what she'd sacrificed. It was weeks since she'd heard any music at all coming out of 221B and she'd almost given up.
She knew about the fall of course. She'd watched the coverage when she could manage it. Read headlines where they were stuffed into racks in front of the off license. Pulled the papers out of bins a day after the fact. Picked them up where they'd blown against an alley wall or a park bench.
She knew about Sherlock Holmes long before the world did. She knew about him before he moved in up there with the doctor with the blog. (She'd never read that, she'd only heard about it. She didn't have money to spend at internet cafés.) Frankie, who used to sleep rough too, had been part of his network. He'd introduced them once, and despite her fears she'd tried to look tough, tried to look reliable. She should've known even then that she couldn't fool Sherlock Holmes.
Frankie was gone for ages now. Knifed in a scuffle over something stupid. Cops didn't need a Consulting Detective to catch the murdering bastards, but Sherlock helped anyway. Frankie had been one of his.
She'd tried again, after that. Offered to fill Frankie's spot in the network. She was better than before, she'd insisted. He could count on her.
She'd been lying and he'd known it. But he wasn't the only one who could read people. She'd been long enough on the streets, survived this long on her own. When she knew anything at all, she knew when someone was dangerous and when someone was kind.
He hadn't use words to tell her what she had to do if she really wanted to be a part of his network of homeless people. His strange, pale eyes said it clearly enough. I understand you. Find help. Get clean. You do that, and maybe you have a chance with me.
She'd tried. Sometimes she'd succeeded, even if only for a little while.
The recorded music played on as the tall man left the flat. Soon, he emerged, dark-haired and slim in his bespoke suit. He got into the back of the shiny black car that waited on the street and was quickly whisked away.
She shivered despite the warm air but she didn't move from the shadows. When she heard that violin, she could manage. She could believe she was strong enough. Without it, she couldn't resist the other, darker siren's call.
The music stopped and the lights went out in 221B.
She turned and walked away.