My dear Mr. Holmes

Dec 1, 2005

NPR today reported on fans of Sherlock Holmes, and I must say, though I don’t belong to any Sherlockian societies, I’m one of them.

In December of 1990, I spent my semester break visiting my father on St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. Nearly everyday, this was my schedule: wake up about 6, drive into Charlotte Amalie with my dad, eat breakfast at one of his favorite spots, then walk the alleys and streets to visit my favorite spots that included a chocolate shop (natch), air-conditioned duty-free liquor stores (all those cool little bottles, and I was a teetotaler), the Zora sandal shop and a few choice T-shirt stalls.

Around 11 a.m., I’d take a communal taxi to the north side of the island and the most beautiful beach in the world, Magen’s Bay. For the next six hours, I’d swim, sleep, sip Cokes, watch for bikinis and pelicans, and read from the two-volume collected stories of Sherlock Holmes. I savored every story in those books.

One day, I slept in.

I set out walking along the winding roads (my dad lived on the north side of the island in an area called Frenchieville). A jeep pulled up and a man and woman asked if I wanted a ride (reverse hitchhiking was common then and when I lived on St. Croix). I got in and told them I was headed to Magen’s, but they soon convinced me to ride with them to another beach where the guy had some in on using a jetski.

Big mistake. I wasted a couple of hours with the jerk, watching him spin around in the water, never offering to let me go out. I finally wandered off, bought myself a johnnycake, watched the taxi drivers slapping down the dominoes, then joined a full van headed back into Charlotte Amalie, where I kept reading Sherlock Holmes until dad was ready to go home.

If only I’d been as observant as the great detective, I’d have had another lovely day at Magen’s.

Anton Zuiker

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