Saucy Jacky - The Whitechapel Murders As Told By Jack The Ripper
The first time I stabbed her, I think it surprised me as much as it surprised the whore.
Surprised, perhaps, isn't strong enough. I'll use startled instead. We were, both of us, startled when out of the blue I grabbed her throat from the front, with both hands, and pressed with my thumbs and squeezed with my fingers. The whore gasped. That was all she had time for. All she had air for.
I gasped too. The experience was as new for me as it was for her. Though, I admit, I was probably getting more pleasure from it than she. I'd halted the release of her stinking beery breath, at least, and that was certainly a plus.
Her eyes grew wide, I could see that even in the dark. I released her with my right hand. Oh, fear not, I still clutched her fat throat with my left. I…
Quite an amusing debate would arise in near future as to whether I was left or right-handed, or possibly ambidextrous. But, there I go, off on a tangent. It's a bad habit of mine. Allow me to end the argument before it begins. I'm right-handed… as I was about to demonstrate on the gasping whore.
I reached in and drew from my coat the long blade, the shiny surgical knife I'd, let's say borrowed, from hospital. I turned it in my hand as I lifted it above both our heads then, blade down, brought it down hard into her left breast.
She tried to scream.
But, of course, she couldn't. I still had her throat. But her wide open mouth, and her even wider open eyes, showed she wanted to scream. Mouth and eyes together gave me all the joy an audible scream might without the accompanying risks. As quickly as the entire affair had come upon me, as little thought as I'd put into the details of the deed, I did consider the noise. The small medical knowledge I'd picked up along my way told me the voice box was a wind instrument, like any other. Without the passage of air, there could be no music.
I say 'little thought'. Allow me to explain… if I can.
I'd conceived the notion of murder on a whim, a quick solution to a nagging problem. From then on, I didn't concern myself with the murder; I worried about the problem. I grew angry, then furious, at the problem. (At those at the heart of the problem.) I never plotted murder. On the contrary, for the longest time, I fought the urges to… Eventually the urges won.
But I hadn't organized any plan. I was nervous when I nicked the knife. I was hesitant but, at the same time, thrilled when the drunk whore presented me with the opportunity. I caught myself off guard when I grabbed her and began to throttle her. And I was startled when I stabbed her.
But, if I'd given little thought to murder, I'd given none at all to the moment when the whore would go unconscious. It took me by complete surprise when she suddenly became dead weight.
That first stab had done the trick. She might have been dead, I didn't know and didn't really care. But she was certainly unconscious and I had all of her weight, only by the throat, by one hand. That was no good. There was no way to work, not like that, and I had a job to do.
I had no choice but to let her fall to the stone landing. Then, as I was puffing hard from the labour, and from my own fear and, I confess, from a stirring of excitement as well, I paused to catch my breath. To look around and make sure the two of us remained alone.
I heard a dog barking distantly, and a horse-drawn cart a long way off, but we were alone.
I pushed the long blade back into my coat. Truth be told, I wasn't sure about the long one. Like I said, I'd only nicked it from hospital; had used it for the first time. I wasn't sure how I felt about it and didn't feel like going on with it. Instead I pulled the other blade, the penknife, I'd bought in a junk shop in the Whitechapel High and had had in my possession for a good while. It was shorter, with a sturdier blade; the tool I'd always imagined taking on the job, when the job was merely the spark of an idea. Now I was there, and about it, the shorter blade felt better in my hand, as if it belonged. More at home.
With a tight grip on the more comfortable tool, I kneeled beside the woman who, by her indecency, had chosen through her own free will to take up boozing and whoring and thereby forced me to stab her to death – and I got on with the job.
But I'm getting ahead of myself in the telling. I see that now. Another bad habit. I go off on tangents and I get ahead of myself. Let me back up a bit.
Allow me to introduce myself. I can't announce my true name, of course, that would give the game away before it's started. For the present, I'll refer to myself as Mr __.
ha ha. That's appropriate. In the beginning I really was nothing after all, a blank space, a place holder, until I found myself and my reason. Later, I became something indeed; something to be reckoned with. In the course of the telling of this tale, I'll let the cat out of the bag, I'll name myself. Because the world ought to meet its legends. But for now, I'm Mr __.
It may surprise that I'm not a feeble-minded cockney dropping the 'aitches from the 'eads, or the gee's from the bleedin' tails, o' my sentences like a costermonger losing apples into the gutter through a hole in the bottom of his barrow. Sorry to disappoint, but I'm an educated man. No, I have not been to university. I am not a gentleman. But I can read. I devour books and retain that which I've read. That's one of my secrets.
I can describe myself, and will, for all the good that might do. I'm in my thirties or thereabouts, five and a half feet tall give or take an inch or two. I've a fair complexion with darkish brown hair and a well-groomed brown moustache on a charming full face. I have extremely dark brown eyes, all but black. I have broad shoulders, strong hands and, when necessary, the ability to run like the wind. But, again, none of that matters.
As this tale unwinds, I will be described – by so-called witnesses – as short and tall, as old and young, as dark and as ginger, as thin and as stout. I will be clean shaven. Or have a reddish moustache. I will have a black moustache that curls at the ends. Or a full beard. I'll appear to be a labourer. I'll seem to be a clerk. I will pass as shabby genteel. I'll clearly show myself to be a slumming toff. I will wear an opera cloak (although I do not own one). I will tap the wet pavement with a walking stick (though I've never used one). And of course, (though I walk empty-handed) I will be seen to skulk the dark streets carrying an ominous black bag.
Allow me to offer this warning in advance of the eyewitness reports of my appearances: It'll all be a load of tosh. I can look like anyone I choose. That's another of my secrets.
Here's a third: When it suits me, I walk unseen. No, this isn't a bogey story. It won't be owing to a trick of the light. I walk the teeming, poorly lit streets of Queen Victoria's London like any other man. I am there to be seen, but nobody bothers. In the slums of the East End no one dares to ask who it is that stands beside them. Or looks to see who walks behind them.
I occupy space like any other man, but I am unseen. For I am not any other man. I am a societal necessity. I am a legend in the making.