23 October 2005

Jack the Ripper - 3

He awoke to pale, mid-afternoon light filtering through a grimy window. Still clothed in a dirty coat and coarse trousers he sat up on the bare mattress. The rotten window frame was soft as cork and the glass rattled as he inched it open. A cold breeze pushed in and stirred the evil stench. Shouts and rumbling cartwheels rose from Dorset Street.

Standing, he stretched his stiff muscles then turned his bloodshot eyes to the table with its plate and the remnants of a stale loaf. Sitting on a hard chair he scraped it closer to the table. His unwashed hands tore off a wad of bread. As he chewed, his fingers trembled. From the street below came the strains of a sweet sung melody. Instinctively he smiled but the smile turned sour as he thought of his singing, whoring mother. Her brown teeth had showed when she sang. The siren voice trailed off having no doubt attracted its prey. He didn’t trouble to get up and look.

His bolthole was quiet. He lay on the musty bed and dozed again...

... it had grown dark. Somewhere distant a woman screamed and a dog began deep incessant barks. He drifted up through layers of sleep. From upstairs came a muffled cough and heavy boots on worn boards. Instinctively his hand dropped to the floor and he felt beneath the bed. He withdrew a long knife. Propping himself up on one elbow, he pulled a stub of candle and a match from his pocket. He positioned the knife deftly and trimmed the wick quickly and neatly. The match hissed and flared as he scraped it against the bedstead and lit the candle.

He snuffed the match with leather-hard fingers and began to whittle it. Drawing the blade away from him in slow, gentle strokes he watched the white strips as they curled and fell. Satisfied with his work he used the pick he had fashioned to remove bread from between his teeth. Then with the same implement he absently prised traces of brown from under his nails.

His ears pricked alert as the familiar Irish voice set up its syrupy sweet singing again. The soft tones lilted in the still air of late evening. Slowly he swung his legs off the bed and stood up, placed the toothpick on the empty plate and slipped the knife in his pocket...

15 comments:

RuKsaK Photos said...

Wonderful - that kind of writing gets right into my pores - nothing synthetic about - just purely visceral. LOved it and its brutality.

The Complimenting Commenter said...

That is an intelligent and moving piece of writing. Your imagery is quite good.

GPV said...

Cool, a short story blog, sometimes
we get together at indeterminacy's,
it's quite a challenge he proposes;

He takes a pic,post it and we're supposed to write a story in relation with that subject, fun.

finnegan said...

I've been wondering when our friendly Jack-in-the-box was returning for an encore.

This episode seems all the more terrifying for its subtlety and restraint. We all think we know what Jack has done based on police reports and a century of "accounts". There are clues (official), and then there are Clues (poetic).

This third panel of your baroque triptych captures him in a more vulnerably pathetic (and dare I say sympathetic?) light. The wretched hole he inhabits; the rot and stink of his existence catches us off guard and stirs up faint inklings of pity.

But the moment the woman screams and the hand of our vulnerable, sleepy-eyed "victim" feels the knife, we realise that this is not a man to pity; that this will not be just another night.

superflywebpimp said...

its been a while my friend, im still here. first time hearing of the editors, im going to check them out. the weather has turned cold here, my steed gathers dust which gives me much sadness. oh for one more summer day...

gulnaz said...

sending shivers down my spine!
awesome

Perfect Virgo said...

Ruk - I tried to catch this man between events and explore him a little.

Finn - you are right, there is a faint whiff of sympathy creeping in. Of course we know we shouldn't admire a murderer but the ability of this early serial killer to ellude capture raises him to immortal heights.

Superfly - I knew were still there my old friend. I visit from time to time and look forward to more epic paragraphs when the occasion allows. The weather had closed in here too, we have had incessant rain. I treasure a dry weekend and take the stallion for a gallop when permitted, but he doesn't like soft 'going.'

G = shiver and shake my dear. The Ripper is abroad!

transience said...

is it even right that i feel this stab of pity for him?

Perfect Virgo said...

Trans - flawed characters do tend to evoke pity. This one too despite his atrocities. I loved your use of the word 'stab.'

Trudging said...

Great post!

Perfect Virgo said...

Trudging - thanks as always for reading and commenting. It's nice to know there are people out there!

Patry Francis said...

More, please. This is so good, P.V., I'm waiting for the sequel. fpw

mussolini said...

this is superb :) it's so unpretentious. kind of like stories in ray bradbury theater.

sirreene said...

Unnerving.

Perfect Virgo said...

Patry - I'm giving life to some bare facts from 1888. The details are known but the personalities are unknown. I am trying to read between the lines.

Mussolini - thanks, you're very kind. Film and TV have dramatised this character and to an extent glamourised him. 'Warts and all' is better hopefully.

Sirreene - less is more, they say. It's what you don't see that scares you the most.