Wednesday, 11 April 2012

You Don't Know Jack

Here's a story I wrote last year and sent off to a few competitions - a Whitechapel site, Calderdale Short Story Comp and something else - lol  - Never won bugger all with it!
But it my weird take on what could have happened to Jack the Ripper - one of the mysterys of life that intrigues me!
Thought I had already put out on my blog but haven't - well Enjoy!

The Cloak and Dagger Inn was a lively place at anytime of the day and night.  It was situated on a small corner by the Thames river surrounded by impossibly dim gas lights and heavy fog.  It was a wonder how people managed to find it at all.

One person who could find it every time was the resident drunk, the regular drinker in there nearly every hour of every day.  He went by the name of Albert – Albert Tibbs.  He was a lonely seedy old man living of an inheritance from a deceased wealthy Aunt, although to see him you wouldn’t think he would have any money at all.

On this particular night Albert was sat at his usual table near the centre of the Inn.  His wispy hair was blowing up from his balding head as the door opened and closed, the draft hitting him.  It was a cold damp November night and Albert drew his faded brown cloak over him to help him warm up, muttering swear words as he did so.  He coughed loudly and his chest tightened as he spat onto the Inn floor.
“ Walter, where’s that fire “ Albert shouted over to a plump bald man in a dirty overall which matched the rest of the Inn.
“On it’s way, just very busy,” replied the Inn keeper serving a young man.

Why do I stay in this horrible place thought Albert as he looked at the answer staring him in the face and took another swig from the bottle, his third already and it was only early.  He winced as the cold drink hurt his teeth,  they were in a bad shape, all falling out and black – so Albert took in even more drink and glanced around at the rest of the Inn.

I t was busy as Walter had said, with different sizes of groups at various areas of the Inn.  Quite a few of the local prostitutes were in plying for business, they were scared to be out on the streets with the recent grisly murders taking place.  It was the talk of the whole pub, the whole city in fact was asking questions about the murders.  Who’s carrying out such atrocious acts?   Why is he attacking prostitutes?

Albert had more pressing concerns on his mind and was sick of everyone going on about it.  Not only that he was worrying about his financial state as the sum of an inheritance he received from an old unseen Aunt he never even knew about was dwindling fast and she had only died six months ago.

Albert sighed and took another swig from his bottle.  He needed quite a few more of these tonight as going back to begging was a sobering thought.  A movement nearby caught his eye and he looked over to his left.  It was nothing more than a rat scurrying along in a darkly lit corner of the Inn, running over dirty and stained floors.
“Wish I could be a rat.  Would have no money woes then.” Mumbled Albert to himself.

After he had started his next bottle Albert could smell even more than usual the scent of tobacco, and whiskey and sweat.  Looking up he saw Annie, a stout woman in her mid forties.  She had an handsome face with chubby rosy red cheeks.  Albert smiled up at her.  She returned the favour showing her blackened teeth.
“You want some fun old Al?” she shouted in her usual cheery manner.
“Yes, I need cheering up” replied Albert in a matter of fact way, scratching his crotch which was still itchy from the last time he paid for her.  She led him up to her lodgings above the Inn.

After a few hours Albert had had enough.  It was probably his age as he couldn’t drink as much as he used to and the cold was also aching his bones and joints.  Even when he went to Annie’s room he just stripped off and fell asleep on the bed.  She had to have Walter come up and wake him up as she too had a business to run.  The water thrown on Albert brought him round temporarily but after two more bottles of his favourite ale he was staggering to the Cloak and Dagger Inn’s front door muttering obscenities to anyone he bumped into.

As he staggered through the crowd he was unaware of some people pointing at him and laughing as he had wet himself sometime earlier in the night.  Albert was too busy trying to get to his lodgings two streets away to notice as he felt he was heading for a deep sleep.  Although his lodgings were no cleaner than the Inn at least it was better than sleeping on the streets, which he had done almost all his adult life relying on the handouts of others and squandering what little he got on drink.

The cold chill of the early morning air shocked Albert’s senses into coming around and he felt more awake almost immediately.  He staggered a few paces up the cobbled road towards his lodgings.  He had no idea if it was night or day as the fog was so heavy you couldn’t see more than two paces ahead.  The gas lights on the road sides weren’t much use either.  Luckily for Albert he had some sort of bat radar meaning he could sense his way home no matter what.

After a few more paces a tall slim man came out of the fog from nowhere and dashed past Albert almost knocking him over.  Albert turned round and the man was darting off down the road.
“Excuse me.  I want an apology.” Slurred Albert after the man.
The man carried on walking ignoring him.  Whether it was the drink or not this made Albert even more angry than normal.  The man was so rude.

“Oi.” Called Albert “Come back and apologise.”
Albert trotted after the tall slim man and just managed to catch his arm.  The man swung around quickly and stared down at Albert.  He had piercing blue eyes with dark circles underneath and thin drawn in cheeks.   Albert noticed his clothes were of a very high standard especially the long coat he had on.
“I have pressing matters now unhand me you beggar or I shall have you arrested!” the man said in a posh voice and turned away.
This angered Albert even more and instantly he pushed the man hard.  The man tumbled forward slipping on the wet cobbles and fell head first into a lamppost.

The tall slim man laid sprawled out in front of Albert.  After a few minutes of Albert staring at him feeling proud of himself he realised he may have seriously hurt the man.
“You alright Mister?” called Albert after the man.
There was no answer, no movement.  A few times Albert called to the man and panic started to rise within him and sober him up.  He went over to the man.  He must have hit his head harder than I realised thought Albert and rolled the man over to have a better chance of reviving him.

What he saw shocked him, the tall slim man’s face was contorted in pain and shock, his eyes rolled back.  He can’t be dead thought Albert, it was only a bang to the head and there is hardly a scratch.  He then caught sight of an expensive, shiny looking watch hanging out of the man’s coat and like a magpie to silver he picked it up.
“Very nice.” Said Albert to himself but his hand was wet and sticky.
“What’s this?” he asked and looked closer.  Blood!

Puzzled he looked closer at the man and saw blood showing through the gaps in his coat.  He tentatively reached down, his hand shaking from the shock, plus the cold and of course the alcohol and opened the coat.

To Albert’s horror he saw the man had been stabbed with four small silver surgical knifes, directly in his chest.  He saw the inside of the man’s coat was lined with small pockets with all manner of surgical knifes and scissors.  Some already had dry blood on them.  This is weird thought Albert, he must be a surgeon.

“Sweet Jesus he’s fallen on his own knifes.” exclaimed Albert.  His next thought was one of survival and he realised he had better discard of the body because if there was any chance this has been seen he would be hung for murder.  He wiped the blood from the watch on the mans coat and pocketed it then looked around.  There was no one to be seen although it was getting lighter so he had to act fast.  Albert looked past the Inn to the edge of the river Thames and smiled.

Albert grabbed the lifeless body by the feet and dragged him down the cobbled road.  It was quite easy as the man was thin and light plus Albert had quite a bit of meat on him anyhow.  He couldn’t help but look around each time he heard the man’s head crack and thud on the cobbles, which made him shudder.

After over five minutes Albert had placed the body on the bank of the river.  He was panting hard as sweat dripped down his forehead and neck.  It was harder than he had thought but at least he hadn’t been seen which was lucky as the fog had started to dissipate through the morning light.  Albert looked down at the tall slim man.  Something didn’t add up about him.  For instance why was he in such a hurry plus he looked too upper class to be in this part of the city especially if he was a surgeon.  Albert was thinking quite clearly for once as the events of the past ten to fifteen minutes had sobered him up and his head started to pound as a hangover took over.
He sighed then put his foot on the body to push it into the river.

“Old Al…Old Al is that you?  Are you alright?” came the familiar voice of the good time girl Annie peering over to Albert from the doorway of the Inn.
Albert started to panic now wondering if she had seen anything.
“Er… Yes it’s me Annie just having a tinkle in the old river.”
After a couple of minutes cackling Annie replied “Well be careful not to fall in.  What’s that you got Al?”
“Oh nothing!” answered Albert looking down at the body of the tall slim man and pushed him to his watery grave.  He turned and started back up the hill to his lodgings.

As he reached his lodgings Albert suddenly heard the frantic whistling of the police coming from all around him.  He didn’t know whether to run and hide or stay motionless.  Had he been seen he wondered?  Had Annie noticed what he had done and alerted the police?  As all these thoughts ran through his head he caught sight of one of the coppers running towards him, whistle in mouth and all flustered and red.  He was overweight to be running at such a speed and trundled past Albert who let out a sigh of relief.  It wasn’t him the police were after.

“What’ going on?” enquired Albert.
The policeman stopped and took the whistle out and panted for a few seconds, his red cheeks glowing as he bent over, his hands on his knees.  After a couple of minutes doing this his breathing slowed to normal and he spoke.
“The Ripper has struck again!  Up in Miller’s Court..  You seen anyone suspicious Al?”
“No Sir.” Lied Albert to the policeman.  One he had not seen before yet knew him by name.  But this wasn’t really surprising as most people knew Albert in this district.
“I suggest you get in doors where it’s safe.” Offered the policeman and carried on up the hill but was walking slowly this time.
Albert opened a door five feet away, “Home.” He said and went in.  Within minutes he was in a deep sleep.

Later in the afternoon Albert awoke to the sound of a group of women chatting near his lodgings.  He looked out the window over to them.  He recognised a few of them as he had paid to be with them on numerous occasions.  He strained his ears to listen in to their conversation as he didn’t fancy venturing out just yet as what sun there was hurt his eyes.  He caught a few main words and phrases repeated over.
“Ripper’s struck again!” said one elderly woman.
“Her body was cut open and mutilated.” Squealed another chubbier woman.
“It was young Mary Jane Kelly!” Blurted out a thin middle aged woman, “She lived next to me.”
After listening to their chatter for a while Albert thought back to what had happened  in the early morning and the tall slim man.  Maybe he was the Ripper with all those surgical knifes and being in this district at such a time of morning shortly before a body was discovered.  The thought wasn’t in Albert’s mind long as he drifted off back to sleep and didn’t wake till early evening.  Just in time to go to the pub.

A year had passed since the incident with the tall posh man near the riverside and Albert was again penniless and homeless.  He had squandered the rest of his inheritance and the cold weather had got to his bones and chest bad this year.  He felt in very poor health and in the last few days had travelled out of the city and out to some farms in the country.
Since the night of the incident Jack the Ripper had not struck again.  Nobody really knew what had happened to the killer and there were many speculations since the last murder.  Some people thought he had just stopped killing or moved away or been killed himself.  Albert listened into the conversations in the pubs and laughed as people brought up their theories.  They all thought he was just drunk and mad but Albert knew different.

Albert eventually found a small warm looking barn full of hay and settled down to sleep.  He lay down and pulled a shiny gold watch from his trouser pocket.  It was the watch he had taken from the man the year before.  It was beautiful and the craftsmanship was the best he had ever seen.  It was a very expensive watch.  Albert had kept the watch even though he had ran out of money but to Albert it was priceless as he knew who the watch had belonged to.

He smiled at the watch and laid it next to him.  He closed his eyes and thought back on his life.  He had just wasted it completely on begging and drink,  but there was one event that brought him redemption – he had got rid of Jack the Ripper.  For this act alone he felt at peace and he never awoke.

1 comment:

  1. How fabulous if the Ripper had been 'hoist by his own petard' as it where, cool.