12 June 2005

Jack the Ripper

After the Slaughter of Mary Jane Kelly:

This is my guess at the events following a savage episode. I post it because I have always felt overwhelming sadness for Mary Jane. She drifted into the wrong place at the wrong time. I have not posted a picture today but if you would like to see photographs of the Kelly crime scene then visit this page of the Ripper
Casebook. Be warned, a couple of the photos are very grisly. The Casebook website holds all documented facts, reports, statements and photographs together with a wealth of other information on the Whitechapel Murders.

Whitechapel 9th November 1888
The empty, broken corpse of an Irish rose lies on grey sheets drenched in its own blood. The radiant beauty of youth hacked away, leaving in its place a carcase devoid of organs and a face stripped of identity. Exhausted and stripped to the waist, he stands tall and stares at the carnage in a detached way. The embers of her open fire still light up the horror but already his fury has waned. He picks his great coat from the floor then rolls his knife in a rag and stows it in the pocket.

As he crouches and stokes the embers he hears the creak of floorboards above. Sweat runs on his face but he pulls on the coat, covering his slick body. He thumbs the door latch off, clicks the door softly shut behind him and slips into the early morning dark.

He takes care, turning up his sticky collar. Even at this hour Londoners are about their business. Pools of dim gaslight illuminate street corners but the narrow lanes are black and safe. Head down, he passes a group of lurching revellers, hats askew and bumping walls in a passage. Moving south from Whitechapel Road he mixes with the first dockers but turns east at Wapping. He runs through dark alleys in shadow, fleeing the devastation his hands have wrought.

After a mile he slows his pace and stops to lean on a wall. Nausea overwhelms him as usual. Soon he will put great distance between himself and the Inspector’s inquiries but first he must sleep. In the corner of a dark yard he curls on the cobbles and shuts his eyes for an hour.


Morning reveals a cold grey mist settled over the hulking iron steamers in St Katherine’s Dock. Already, emigrant passengers are filing nervously over the gangway, shifting heavy cases from one hand to the other. Amid the clangs and shouts a tall man passes onto the upper deck, almost unremarkable save for the streak of blood behind his ear. He sits on deck and looks back at the City.

How easy to have tied a sack of rocks to his ankle and jumped from Westminster Bridge in the night, to have sunk into the icy brown Thames and ended this. But his wretched cowardice had spurned that solution long ago. Bile rises in his throat as he remembers her whimpering pleas for mercy.

A shudder in the ship’s timbers tells him the steamer is moving. As she turns in the basin her deep horn bellows over the East End. The echoes cannon off warehouses and ring across open water, yet even as they subside his keen senses catch the shrill persistence of a Metropolitan police whistle announcing a dread discovery. Too late. In two weeks he will be just one more unknown strolling through New York with a knife in his pocket. .

"A nuclear error but I have no fear
London is drowning and I live by the river."

The Clash - London Calling


finnegan said...

You paint with dark brilliance here---there's no leaving the page once it begins.

From the power of this post alone, you should seriously consider a dedicated page.

The potential for an ass-kicking site would seem great.

This is inspired writing Virgo. Bravo!

doughgirl said...

Unbelievable!!! I agree with Finnegan, a dedicated page would be great...

But only if you promise not to abandon us here from the thoughts that capture your mind daily !!!

Cocaine Jesus said...

try Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell's "From Hell". better than the cheap shot film of the same name.

excellent, excellent post.

Perfect Virgo said...

Finnegan - thanks I thought you might like it. What a thought, a dedicated page? I wonder if I could maintain it, I'll see. There is a grim shot of the corpse on the bed if you scroll down the link. Chilling.

Doughgirl - this was a bit of a departure for me, I'm pleased you stuck with it. I am fascinated by this particular series of killings but I am not sure I have the time to maintain a separate page. How about I insert a storyline based on the Ripper once a month? That way we enjoy the best of both worlds!

Cocaine Jesus - glad you liked it. Jack the Ripper has long been a pet subject of mine. I have 9 books which I pull down from my shelves to browse regularly. I never grow tired of pondering the mystery.

The graphic novel on which the film is based is indeed a good account, blending fact and fiction in a clever way. Although not generally a fan of the graphic novel style I had to have this one!

Dionysius said...

As always PV....inspired writing. Stay with it and the idea of a piece, once per month on this is superb. Like Doughgirl, I do not want you to abandon us by leaving your Buick site.
I grew up in Limerick in the fifies so I have always had a special interest in this case. There was an author back in late seventies, as I remember, who was quite convincing in some radio talk over here in US that the Ripper was of Royal family stock. Any development since on that item?
I even forget the linkages he was making which led to this idea.

Perfect Virgo said...

Dionysius - The Buick City Complex is staying. I have quite a few ideas on the Ripper case and will let them surface from time to time.

There has been speculation that one of the victims (all prostitutes) claimed to be pregnant by a liaison with Queen Victoria's grandson Prince Edward Victor (later Duke of Clarence.) A royal conspiracy to eliminate the prositiute ended with the murder of all those who knew the rumour. A bit far-fetched but quite entertaining!

Dionysius said...

What is the genesis of the name "Buick City Complex"? Anything to do with a GM product?

Perfect Virgo said...

Dionysius - Yes, and the phrase is perpetuated in a song title by the Old 97's (I'm a big fan of theirs.) The Flint, Michigan site was demolished in 1999 and inspired the song.

Chorus goes:
"They're tearing the Buick City Complex down,
I think we're the only people left in town.
Where you gonna move, where you gonna move?
Do you wanna mess around?"

RuKsaK said...

You amaze me with how you can so adeptly turn your writing to something external and do it so well. That was an equally menacing and beautiful piece.

Perfect Virgo said...

Ruk - thing is I actually prefer writing external fiction. I try to create a scene the way people really see it. I drawn on that to help me inject some realism into my more personal, sentimental stuff. Very nice of you to say such complimentary words, I'm humbled.

transience said...

no real words, just wow. i agree--this piece of your mind deserves a place of its own.

Perfect Virgo said...

Transience - what can I say? "Wow" is praise indeed, thank you. Time is the problem isn't it, I could develop a third site for this subject (God knows its a huge subject) but when would I write other material and take photos?! I'm not grown up enough to be allowed the Internet at work.

I think for now I will take one of these excursions every so often to spice things up. Let's see how it goes.

Wardo said...

I enjoyed this. I followed your link and read about the Ripper, because I didn't know anything about him other than the name. I ended up reading about ten of the listed articles. Fascinating stuff.

Your post-murder portrait of a 19th century killer is very believable and an entertaining read.


Perfect Virgo said...

Argus - glad to introduce you to London's most infamous and probably earliest documented serial killer. The story has mesmerised me since I was a youngster. Despite the passage of time a vast amount of material remains in the police and public archives. Virtually all of it is published on the Casebook site. Watch this space for more interpretations to come!

Wardo said...

The thing that alarmed me about the material was the fact that the woman's face was so horribly mutilated in the picture. I understand (sort of) the desire to murder a person, but why flay open a woman's face so grotesquely? That almost seems worse than the actual killing. A person who does that...well, maybe murder didn't really bother him at all.


Perfect Virgo said...

Argus - killing seemed to be just a means to an end with the Ripper. This poor girl's organs were removed, the whole abdomen was laid open, her legs and arms filleted and her face peeled. This seems to be about total control of a human being coupled with utter hatred of women.

The early victims had their throats slit then were disemboweled. Only victims 4 and 5 had the full rage turned on them. Particularly 5, Kelly.

The case has perpetuated over here primarily because the identity of the killer was never discovered. He remains 'Jack the Ripper.' People love a mystery, especially one with hundreds of clues, witnesses statements and police reports.

Surely there must be enough to find the answer? But no. There have been countless books declaring the author's pet solution but no proof positive. Yet my guess is someone knows, even today. Families have dark secrets, some have very dark secrets.

Dionysius said...

It appears to me that his carnage and mutilation escalated with each victim. My idea is that it is his own self hatred being rendered by proxy. He is feeling more and more disgusted with his own inability to control himself. This would lead me to speculate that he committed suicide after #5 and this is why detection was more difficult and of course why the murder stopped.

Perfect Virgo said...

Dionysius - yes suicide is a popular theory, as is committal to an asylum. In fact over the following few weeks several other murders occurred in the locality but none showed the severity visited upon Kelly. Can't have been the same man, his ferocity wouldn't have lessened.

The Flea said...

Great post Virgo. And even the string of comments that followed are fascinating.

Maybe because of the closer links between Australia and England, I know quite a bit more about the case over your US readers. Or it could even be the import of so many British TV dramas. Either way, Jack the Ripper will always be a great subject for discussion and artistic imaginings.

I too like the idea of a regular piece Virgo. I'm already imagining Jack let loose on New York, or even taking someone out on the sea voyage.

P.S. Do you have links to the letter he supposedly wrote to the British press at the time. I know I'd love to read it again.

Perfect Virgo said...

Flea - thank you for the kind comment. I love this subject but never thought to blog about it before. I think you can safely assume there is a rich seam here I plan to mine from time to time.

The story's detail has definitely stalled flying over the Atlantic but at least the name and reputation seems known. I felt you would have a good general knowledge of the events tough.

Yes the letter is published on this page of the best site, the Ripper Casebook. We're evn getting an interesting new round of documentaries on Satellite TV in the UK just now.