The black carriage rolled slowly up the street. The black lacquer reflected the moonlight It stopped on Dorset street away from a large gathering of women. The carriage lacking any distinction drew little notice from the women. It sat for a long time, then pulled up to a woman standing away from the group at the entrance to a small alley.
She had long curly black hair and on top was a small hat slightly cocked. Her clothes had once been exquisite, but were now soiled and worn. Her right foot was bare and dirty. The carriage stopped and she glided out to it.
It’s door opened and a long arm waived for the girl to enter. She paused, then nodded, and climbed in the carriage. The carriage moved away slowly passing close to a pair of soiled doves chatting quietly. One could be heard saying ” Jacks out tonight I can feel it in my bones. ” The other only watched the carriage roll away into the night.
The carriage moved through empty streets towards the wharf. It stopped briefly in front of a warehouse. A door was slid open and the carriage moved inside. Jack got out of the carriage and shut the door closing help off forever.
Jack walked over to a long bench with a bull’s eye lantern dimly burning on it. He rolled the wick up in the lamp. The darkness receded leaving a neat bed, small dresser, and a stall at the far end of the building. The inside of the carriage was still dark, but a pair of large glassy eyes could be seen inspecting the room from within it.
Jack laid a large leather bundle on the bench. He methodically unrolled it with the care of a surgeon. It made a clinking sound as he unrolled it. It contained short wicked scalpels, long threatening saws, picks, and a knife that bent like a hook. Jack sat on a stool and laid a few choice instruments out on the bench. He appraised his preparations, nodded in satisfaction, and turned to face the carriage.
The eyes watched him cat-like from inside the carriage. They looked at the door, then back to Jack. Jack smiled and said ‘The door, sure the door, I locked it after we came in. I see you have some understanding of you situation. It’s fine, we are all fine. I was not always like this,you know, I was a doctor with a practice, a wife , and a son. I lost the wife shortly after the son was born. During the delivery, something went wrong and she never recovered. She saw our son though, sure, she hugged him so tight. She pulled me close to her and said ” Love him Jack, take care of him Jack” then she pushed him in my hands. She pushed him into my hands. ‘ Jack stood up at this and closed the lantern.
The warehouse went pitch black, but after a moment Jack eyes adjusted where he could make out dim outlines in the moonlight. He walked over to the carriage. The door still hung open. In a calming tone, Jack cooed ” It’s not you fault you’re what you are girl. Give me your hand, I will take care of you.” Jack waited for a moment, but nothing happened, He listened for the girls breathing. Everything was absolutely still, then a dirty pale hand reached out of the carriage and gripped his arm. Startled by the closeness of the girl, Jack jerked back. He apologized ” Sorry my dear, here take my hand again.” Her hand was icy cold but firm as she stepped out of the carriage.
She glided across the warehouse and sat down on the bed. Jack had stopped a few steps behind her. ” You remind me of her. The one who started all of this madness. She seduced my James. She gave him her sickness. She took him from me. Not all at once, No a little at a time she took him. At first , a few sores, but eventually the sickness spread to his mind. One morning, I found him dead at his writing desk. He had started a letter to her. Dear Eve, please forgive me it said. I found an empty vial on the desk. The poison must have moved fast. He was already cold and was starting to stiffen. I knew at that moment what I had to do. I would avenge my son. I would remove the sore on womankind. I would ” She stood up and moved close to him. He backed up then she moved forward again backing him across the room. His back hit the bench stopping him. ” I killed her you know and I am going to kill you too. I am going to kill all the whores! all of them!” Jack seethed venom. He grabbed at his tools and yelled as something sharp cut his hand. He grabbed again and his fingers closed around the knife with the hooked blade.
He slashed at her but she stood still. The knife cut her dress down the front and the dress fell like a white sheet to the floor. She smiled at him and said ” not quite there yet love. Would you help me with my corset?” He slapped her hard across the face growling ” Whore”. He sliced down her front splitting the corset in two and digging deep into her belly. The corset slid off her back as her guts spilled out. Jack’s gut clenched in and out, then up and down.The rotten smell of her guts pushed him back. Jack knew the smell of guts, blood and crap, but this was different. As the guts slithered out of her, they gushed river mud and the smell. The smell was in his mouth. Death had come and he could taste it. He slid down the bench away from her dropping the knife. He ran to the door and yanked it. The door slid then stopped as the chain held fast. Jack looked in desperation at the door then turned and looked at the work bench in despair. The key hung on its hook behind the girl.
She looked like a marble statue in sliver of moonlight. ” Thanks Jack much better, You know Jack little James hated you. He told me so every night. He used to sneak into my room. That’s right Jackie boy, did you know James had it first? I never knew, he never told me Jack, until I started getting sick, then forgive me baby. I love you baby. My parents found out about James. They threw me out Jackie! But James got us an apartment ,What a sweet day that was Jackie. Dorset street! How sweet Jackie! Swimming in the gutter, like the diseased rats we were, we were soooo happy, best we could do, but it was something. Then to top it Jackie, he died on me Jack. He died, but you were there for me weren’t you Jackie. You made me a bed. You made me a bed at the bottom of the river Jackie. How sweet.How sweet… I lay in my bed my river bed Jackie.” Jack was pacing back forth. He thought ” she’s dead I killed her, she’s dead I killed her” frantically his mind looked for avenues of escape and found none.
Jack turned and looked at Eve. He thought about what she had cost him and the old fury returned to him. A wicked fire flickered in his eyes. Jack stood up straight and rolled his shoulders forward. He started moving toward her, the work bench and his tools. As he walked, he started murmuring at first then screaming ” I’m going to kill all the whores, I’m going to kill all the whores, I’M GOING TO KILL ALL THE WHORES EVEN THE DEAD ONES”. He moved faster, running now, then kicked with a strong right foot. She flew back, slid, and bumped up against the bed. Jack hit the work bench as his momentum carried him forward. He his tools and lantern flew into the wall. The lantern smashed and the oil splattered and ran. The fire still burning on the wick moved out in the newly found oil. Jack watched the fire start and grow become a blaze.
The warehouse was lite with an orange glow and decorated with dancing shadows. Jack leaned over and picked up the hook shaped knife. The blade covered in oil burned as he turned to face the girl. She had pulled herself up into a sitting position and held her guts cradled in her arms. Jack closed on her intent on cutting her into tiny pieces. He loomed over her deciding on how to begin. He inspected her and noticed that she held not her guts, but a creature. It writhed in her arms and Jack wondered what kind of foul demon it was then it mewed and cried. Jack’s heart stopped. It was a baby with tiny fingers covered in black slime. Jack stood frozen watching Eve cradle the tiny infant.
As he watched, the fury went out of him and left a deep hollow ache. There was a clanking noise behind him and Jack turned. A man had taken the chain from the door and was sliding it open. Jack knew the figure. The man walked up and Jack smiled at him. ” My boy” he said and let the knife fall to the ground. James wearing fine grave-clothes was ready for church. He had a beauty that is only achievable in death. It is a beauty painted in pale colors and stark realities. James looked at Eve with love and sadness. He took in the tiny child she held. She smiled at him ” it’s a boy” she said. James gathered her and the baby up then turned to Jack ” It’s time for us to go dad”. Jack had a momentary fear of losing James again, then he understood.
In the morning, the sun shone brightly and an old woman careworn and stooped walked past the burnt out warehouse. She noted a burned carriage that must have been fine. She could still see a spot of shiny black lacquer. It looked like there had been a work bench on the wall, but it was hard to tell the fire had burnt that side of the warehouse worst of all. She stood there for a moment then continued down to the wharf. She walked out on the pier and down to the end. She saw a bundle at the very edge as she approached. The bundle was a coat neatly folded with a pair of shoes sitting on top of it. She picked up the coat and shoes and looked out the river. She imagined for a minute a man taking off the coat folding it then carefully removing his shoes and setting them on the coat. He set down on the end of the pier and slid under the water. She looked at the coat and shoes and smiled. These would pull a good price at the clothes shop.