The Scriptor Subpono series is an ongoing collection written by Andrew Basford. Not only is Andrew a member of the Parallel Case of St. Louis, but also the Pilot Whale of the Harpooners of the Sea Unicorn in St. Charles, MO. He always brings a fun take to Sherlockiana, and since our last meeting was on The Solitary Cyclist, he graciously allowed us to share his take on it here on our blog:
Scriptor Subpono: The Ghost Writer Series
Vol. 9-- "The Adventure of the Solitary Cyclist"
As always with this Scriptor Subpono series of writings, I attempt to take another look at how the story we observe in any given month may have differently been handled had another author tried to create the story (this month, "The Adventure of the Solitary Cyclist") or some other means by which it might have been approached.
This month, come with me into the future: the year is 2025 and BBC is coming out with Season 5 of Sherlock. And the first story from the Canon that they tackle? “The Adventure of the Solitary Cyclist.”
The particulars on the plot:
Miss Violet Jones and her mother have come upon hard times of late with the recent passing of her father. Despite all the welfare and other programs throughout the British Empire to help families in such a situation, there doesn’t seem to be much help for them. But one day, she receives an email from Messrs Carruthers and Woodley, recently returned from Nigeria, wishing to speak to her about a “business proposal”. She laughs it off, only mildly surprised that they didn’t claim to be princes or barristers. However, she is surprised to see them waiting for her one day when she returns from job- and assistance-hunting. They and her mother have been discussing the business proposal and they bring her into the discussion.
It turns out that they were associated with her Uncle Ralph Jones who died almost penniless (something Violet and her mother knew nothing about as they never heard from him since he had left for Nigeria 25 years earlier!), but his last request on his deathbed was that the survivors of his late brother’s family should be taken care of somehow. So Mr. Carruthers makes a proposal to Miss Jones to teach music to his daughter for £100 per day on weekdays. Considering this is pretty much an hour per day, and the going rate from the UK Musicians’ Union is a THIRD of that, this is a golden opportunity. However, she is limited to her own transportation (a second hand DB50QT-11 Chinese scooter), which would require her to live on their premises. But, since it’s only weekdays, she could use it to drive to the train station to go home to her mother on the weekends. With that, she accepts the offer.
This arrangement seems to be working well for a while until one time when Mr Woodley comes to stay for a week. He’s rather creepy to begin with, but appears to be even worse during this time when he makes several awkward and despicable romantic advances toward her, promising that he could make her rich beyond her wildest dreams if she gives him her hand in marriage[!]. At one point, he grabs her, demanding a kiss, which brings Mr. Carruthers in to pull him off of her, almost decking him, and kicking him out of the house [thankfully, she has never seen him since].
But the strange recurring incident that transpires afterward (which bring her to seek the services of Sherlock) is that, during her weekend trips to and from the train station, she’s being followed from afar by somebody on a Suzuki GSX-R1000. He wears a helmet with heavily tinted glass disguising his face and making him pretty much unrecognizable (although he has enough beard hanging out from underneath).
As has been done previously to tweak ANY of these turn-of-the-20th-century tales to fit with more recent times, the title would have to be adjusted. This has mostly been done by modifying at least one of the words in the original title; some are quite blatant (“A Study in Pink”, “A Scandal in Belgravia”, “The Sign of Three”, and “The Six Thatchers”), others a little more subtle (“The Hounds of Baskerville” [switching plurals], “The Empty Hearse” [a somewhat close phonetic relationship with “The Empty House”], “His Last Vow” [ditto with “His Last Bow”], and “The Lying Detective” [rhymes with “The Dying Detective”]). So what could we make of this month’s story (and what details might change, even from what has been originally introduced here)?:
The Salutatory Cyclist - as the mystery man on the Suzuki follows Miss Jones, whenever she looks back to see what he’s doing, he lifts his hand up as if to simply say, “Hi!”
The Salutary Cyclist - “Salutary” is defined as being favorable to or promoting health. So the guy on the Suzuki who is trailing Miss Jones looks like a bearded version of Richard Simmons!
The Sanitary Cyclist - Miss Jones takes a rowboat from Mr Carruthers’ island home. Whenever she gets to the jetty leading to the pier where she disembarks to the train station, she is followed in a motor boat (or perhaps a Suzuki Jet Ski?) by somebody who looks like a bearded version of the Ty-D-Bol Man!
The Sanatory Cyclist - considering that “sanatory” is defined as “favorable for health; curative; healing”, how would YOU redefine this one…?
The Salivary Cyclist - although the helmet is concealing the face of the guy tailing her, she can see through his beard that he has a major drooling problem!
The Saltatory Cyclist - [saltatory: proceeding by abrupt movements; pertaining to or adapted for saltation; saltation: a dancing, hopping, or leaping movement; and abrupt movement or transition] the dude tailing Miss Jones is following her on a dirt bike and, although the road they are traversing is level and smooth, he looks to be flying from hill to hill in some less-than-level way(?).
The Salty Cyclist - Miss Jones’ mysterious benefactor cusses a lot to tell her to mind her own business and keep looking forward.
The Saltier Cyclist - said benefactor cusses like a sailor to tell her to mind her own business (could still be looking like the bearded Ty-D-Bol man).
The Salto Cyclist - the Suzuki being ridden by the mystery man is littered with emblems of the city of Salto, Uruguay; perhaps it’s even a constabulary vehicle.
The Saltirewise Cyclist - [“SAL - ter - wize”; rhymes with “gal”] the Suzuki is riddled with decorations related to the flag of Scotland (and perhaps the dude ON the bike is wearing a kilt [actually, that would NOT be a good idea as it would be very immodest; remember what they say: when a REAL MAN wears a kilt, the only thing between the kilt and the floor MIGHT be socks and shoes; if he wears underwear, he’s gone from wearing a kilt to donning a skirt]).
The Solitary Cyclone - the dude follows her on the open road in a fully restored 1968 Mercury Cyclone.
The Sultry Cyclist - when Sherlock and John confront the cyclist near the end of the story, they find out it was Mother Jones all along (...and she’s kind of a hotty in that motorcycle outfit[!]).
The Solitarily Cyclised (SIGH - klized) - “Cyclization” is defined as “the formation of a ring or rings”. This would describe the person on the Suzuki who has disguised himself as a bearded version of the Michelin Man!
The Solitary Cyclops - the guy’s helmet has NO glass whatsoever, just a very small camera on the front to show him where he’s going from the viewscreen inside (?)
The Solitary Recycler - in a particular section she drives by, there is always some bearded dude out on the side of the road picking up and bagging aluminum cans.
To be honest, Sherlock was a fun series from BBC (although granted, I am in the minority it seems as one who still liked it in seasons 3 and 4, though taken aback by their huge deviation from canon), but I TRULY HOPE that they DO NOT go here with “The Solitary Cyclist”.
----(Definitions gathered from dictionary.com)----