01 May 2010

after the slaughter of mary jane kelly

Whitechapel 9th November 1888
It is over.
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.


Morgan said...

i have been too long away.

is this an episode in an ongoing story? where is the beginning?

i'm hooked.

Perfect Virgo said...

It's the final one in a series of half a dozen. The others are in my archives from Feb 2010 to Apr 2010. Needless to say it's an exploration of the events surrounding Jack the Ripper and the infamous Whitechapel Murders.