THE ADVENTURE OF THE REMARKABLE WORM

 

                                                                        by Richard Nathan

 

Lights come up on SHERLOCK HOLMES and DR. WATSON in their flat at 221-B Baker Street.  They are both reading newspapers.

 

                                                            WATSON
                                    My word!  Here’s a remarkable story
                                    Holmes.

                                                            HOLMES
                                    Don’t tell me, Watson, that Inspector
                                    Lestrade has managed to solve a case
                                    on his own.

                                                             WATSON
                                    Even more remarkable than that!  It
                                    says here that Isadora Persano, the
                                    well known journalist and duelist
                                    was found stark starring mad with
                                    a match box in front of him which
                                    contained  a remarkable worm, said
                                    to be unknown to science!

There is a knock at the door.

                                                            HOLMES
                                    Come in, Inspector Lestrade.

Enter INSPECTOR LESTRADE accompanied by ISADORA PERSANO and COLONEL SEBASTIAN MORAN. Persano is a middle-aged man who stark starring mad.  He carries a matchbox in which a remarkable green worm occasionally looks out.  (The worm may be a finger puppet operated by the actor playing Persano.)  Moran is an angry younger  man.

                                                            LESTRADE
                                    How did you…

                                                            HOLMES
                                    I recognized your knock.  I assume this
                                    gentleman is Isadora Persano.

                                                            PERSANO
                                    Nnong!

                                                            HOLMES
                                    And I believe you are Colonel Sebastian
                                    Moran.

                                                            MORAN
                                    We have never met.

                                                            HOLMES
                                    I did not say we had.  But I pride myself
                                    on my knowledge of men who are…
                                    shall we say “dangerous“? 

                                                            MORAN
                                    Be careful of what you say, or I may
                                    prove dangerous to you.

                                                            PERSANO
                                    Nnong!

                                                            HOLMES

                                    Do you deny that you are said to be
                                    one of the finest marksmen in England?

                                                            MORAN
                                    The finest!

                                                            PERSANO
                                    Nnong!

                                                            HOLMES
                                    Watson, why don’t you examine Mr.
                                    Persano?  Something appears to be
                                    troubling him.

Watson approaches Persano.

                                                            PERSANO
                                    Nnong!  Nnong!  Nnong!

Persano holds out his matchbox to Watson.  Watson retreats. 

                                                            LESTRADE
                                    I have already examined him, and it is my
                                    considered option that he is stark, staring
                                    mad.

                                                             PERSANO
                                    Nnong!

                                                             MORAN
                                    Nonsense!  He is faking because he is
                                    afraid to duel me.  He is a coward!

                                                             PERSANO
                                    Nnong!

                                                             LESTRADE
                                    Dueling is illegal in England.

                                                             MORAN
                                    Unfortunately, the same cannot be
                                    said of cowardice.

                                                             LESTRADE
                                    It is obvious that the worm in the matchbox
                                    has driven Mr. Persano insane.

                                                             HOLMES
                                    It is not beyond the realm of possibility. 
                                    There are species of toads in the United
                                    States and Australia that excrete powerful
                                    substances from their skins that, if ingested,
                                    cause sever hallucinations.  This worm
                                    may secrete such a substance that is capable
                                    of being absorbed through the skin.

 Watson approaches Persano again.  Persano holds out the matchbox and Watson retreats.

                                                             PERSANO
                                    Nnong!

                                                             HOLMES
                                    Why have you brought these men to
                                    Baker Street?

                                                             LESTRADE
                                    Colonel Moran was causing a ruckus. 
                                    He was demanding that Mr. Persano
                                    engage in a duel, which, as I have said, is
                                    illegal in England.
 

                                                             MORAN
                                    This Persano wrote a newspaper article
                                    accusing me of criminal activities!  Isn’t
                                    libel also a crime in England?

                                                             HOLMES
                                    So because he claimed you were a criminal,
                                    you have decided to prove him right by
                                    engaging in the criminal activity of dueling?

                                                             MORAN
                                    He won’t fight.  He is a coward.

                                                             HOLMES
                                    Or perhaps you are the coward.  Isadora
                                    Persano is a well-known duelist.  He has
                                    proven his courage many times over.  Perhaps
                                    you sent him this worm because you
                                    feared he might be the victor in your duel.

                                                             MORAN
                                    I have killed men for saying less.

                                                             HOLMES
                                    If you believe the worm to be a fake,
                                    perhaps you would be willing to touch it.

                                                             MORAN
                                    I would be happy to.

 Holmes approaches Persano to take the matchbox.

                                                             WATSON
                                    Holmes, are you certain this is wise?

                                                             HOLMES
                                    Don’t worry, Watson,  After all these
                                    years fighting the most dangerous
                                    criminals in England, do you think
                                    I would be brought low by a little
                                    green… Nnong!

 In taking the matchbox from Persano, Holmes touches the worm.

                                                             HOLMES
                                    Nnong!

                                                             PERSANO
                                    Nnong!

                                                             WATSON
                                    Holmes!

                                                             LESTRADE
                                    This is your doing, Moran!
 

 Holmes staggers with the worm toward Moran.

                                                             MORAN
                                    I didn’t!  It wasn’t me!  I never
                                    saw that worm before!    Get it away
                                    from me!!!

Holmes reverts to his normal self and steps back from Moran.

                                                            HOLMES
                                    Very well.  But I suggest you agree to
                                    leave Mr. Persano alone, or the story of
                                    how the great marksman Colonel Sebastian
                                    Moran was terrified by a little green worm
                                    will spread through the Anglo-Indian Club,
                                    the Tankerville Club, and the Bagatelle Card
                                    Club.

                                                            MORAN
                                    You dare…

                                                            HOLMES
                                    I dare.  But if you agree to leave Mr. Persano
                                    alone, I cam promise you that no one will
                                    hear of the story of this most remarkable worm.

                                                            MORAN
                                    All right.  You win this one, Holmes. 
                                    But some day, we will meet again!

                                                            HOLMES
                                    No doubt.

Moran exits.  Lestrade starts to follow Moran.

                                                             HOLMES
                                    Let him go, Lestrade.

Lestrade does not follow Moran.   Persano stops acting insane.

                                                            PERSANO
                                    Thank you, Mr. Holmes.  I don’t think I
                                    could have kept that act up much longer. 

                                                            LESTRADE
                                    An act!!!

                                                            HOLMES
                                    Obviously, Lestrade.  Colonel Moran
                                    really is known as the finest shot in
                                    England. A duel with him would have
                                    been suicide.

                                                            PERSANO
                                    The only way out was to pretend to be
                                    insane.

                                                            WATSON
                                    The pity is I won’t be able to record this
                                    case.

                                                            HOLMES
                                    I wouldn’t worry about that Watson. 
                                    Moran has said we will meet again. 
                                    I have no doubt that someday I will put
                                    him safely behind bars, if not in the
                                    gallows, and at that time you may
                                    write what you please. 

                                                            WATSON
                                    I hope so,  It really was a most
                                    extraordinary case, Holmes.

                                                            HOLMES
                                    Nnong, my dear Watson!

 

Blackout!

 

 

THE END

 

Click here to go to another sketch from the SKETCHBOOK OF SHERLOCK HOLMES

© 2008 by Richard Nathan.  All rights reserved

The author grants all internet users the right to print these scripts for their own, personal, non-commercial use.  No other use may be made without the author's permission.  Without limiting the foregoing, the plays may not be staged without the author's express  permission.

Send e-mail to the author at Richard-Nathan@att.net.