“The Doctor’s Case” — Stephen King

Stephen King’s most recent book is the short fiction collection, Just After Sunset, which came out last fall. Other new short stories include a collaboration with his son, Joe Hill, called “Throttle,” for the Richard Matheson tribute anthology He Is Legend, and “UR,” a novella written exclusively for the Amazon Kindle. King’s next novel, due in November, is Under the Dome, a thousand-plus-page epic he has been working on for more than twenty-five years. His other work includes dozens of classics, such as The Stand, The Dark Tower, The Shining, ’Salem’s Lot, and many others.

Elementary, my dear Watson—or should that be, my poor Watson? Poor Watson, ever drawing wrong inferences, ever uninformed about some vital trivia, ever in awe of Sherlock Holmes. No matter how many cases they work on together, no matter how many times Holmes explains his methods, Watson is perpetually dumbfounded. We’ve all probably been acquainted with someone who seemed to effortlessly achieve brilliance while we labored in that person’s shadow, putting forth every effort we could muster and achieving only mediocrity. In a very real sense Watson is us, the reader. He is both the narrator, our window into the world of Sherlock Holmes, and also the character who echoes our own unremarkable observations and ruminations. So in this story, when Watson actually beats Holmes to the punch, it’s not just a victory for Watson, but for all of us, the ordinary, who must muddle through with what we were given. It’s a necessary reminder that the race is not always to the swift, that even demigods may stumble, and that even the most humble among us can be struck by inspiration.