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Steve Rylor

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Tabloid Purposes
by Nickolaus Pacione

Edited by Nickolaus A. Pacione. Featuring a strong cast of horror writers and writers of Science Fiction. Featuring writers who appeared on The House of Pain, past and p..  
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Johnny Come Lately
By Steve Rylor
Saturday, June 15, 2002

Rated "PG" by the Author.

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Time and space cannot contain Jack the Ripper's insatiable rage.

The woman immediately caught my gaze as she strode down the corridor toward my office on the third floor of Police Headquarters. Her determined yet demure gait suggested a sense of troubled urgency. I marveled at the woman’s attire; a garish, full length dark wool wrap that nearly concealed her wooden heel shoes that clacked noisily on the tile floor as she walked. A thick Victorian shawl clung about her neck and shoulders, further masking her thin frame. Pulled into a bun, her ample hair suggested mature, stately wisdom, though she appeared youthful. She paused at the open door of my office, obliging me to rise and beckon her inside. Her countenance and dress came straight out of a London scene now removed 150 years. I realized this was the mildly frantic, thick British accented woman who had called earlier in the day. "Miss Cameron, I presume?" "Oh yes, that is I, sir." "I'm Detective Slater, the one you spoke to on the phone earlier," I said, extending a supporting arm to sit the fretful woman in a chair opposite my desk. "Can I get you something, coffee, perhaps?" "No, quite so, thank you”, she replied, restraining welling tears with an oversized crimson red silk scarf. "Well, Miss Cameron, on the phone you sounded a bit incoherent. Perhaps you should start over." "You must think me a mad woman I dare say, barging in this way. I can't rightly say how I came to be here, but, it is a matter of utmost concern, for which I risk being a nuisance and should waste your time. I have to get the matter clear of me and be finally rid of it." "Miss Cameron, you're not a nuisance as it is my duty to assist you if I can. Now tell me, what is it you need to be rid of," I asked, intrigued with the developing story. "Well, the truth is sir, I know him! I know who he is, and he is here in your time!" "Who's that," I asked, trying to follow her lead. "Why, the Ripper, sir. That bloody butcher who preyed on my innocent companions trading favors in secret with lonely men, if you know my meaning. Quite the scoundrel, he is, sir." "Excuse me Miss Cameron, are you referring to Jack the Ripper, the homicidal maniac who terrorized London in the late 1800's?" "The very same; Squire John Singleton, Duke of Clearance, eldest grandson of Queen Victoria. Nobility guarantees no exemption for cruelty, sir. A sick one he is all right, seen it right away in his face, a sort of pain that stays fast until rage is spent." "I see." The woman obviously suffered delusions. Still, I chose to indulge her antics a few moments longer, intrigued with her convincing role as a displaced Londoner of 100 years ago. "Let me see if I've got this straight”, I said with growing amusement. "You're claiming that Jack the Ripper is here somewhere in the 1990's?" "For certain, as surely as I am here. That murderous devil never went away." I subdued my impulse to ask her if this was an elaborate gag instigated by my colleagues. Yet, something about her unassuming conviction told me this was no joke, at least in her mind. I continued to probe. "How can that be, Miss Cameron? Jack the Ripper would be an impossible 150 years old. You tell an interesting story but why have you really come here today?" "Do you doubt my story then Mr. Slater?" I paused, allowing the silence to answer. Her resulting indignant scowl spoke volumes of mutual understanding. "Miss Cameron, assuming the Ripper is here in the present, who could identify him?" She stood abruptly with startling quickness and leaned across my desk, her pale, scorn laden face just inches from mine. "I was one of his intended victims," she whispered. She inched closer, her voice softer still. "He stood right in my own outer parlor room, sir, August 16, 1888. Deathly hot that night, more than Londoners are used to. My blood ran cold as he stood there with a murderous gleam in eyes filled with hate. He glowered while whispering his intentions, knife blade flashing from the dim street lamplight outside." "Then how is it you're here at all Miss Cameron?" I asked, intrigued by the odd candor of her expressions. "Only quick wit, Mr. Slater. He started toward me, hefting that knife like he was fixing to carve a turkey for a South Hampton gentleman's club brunch, you know. I should have been screaming my bloody head off but was frozen stiff with fear. Besides, any cries for help would most certainly trigger his attack. In desperation I employed a favorite tactic often used with my gentlemen patrons." "What was that?" I interrupted, now engrossed. "I patronized him to a degree, careful not to overplay my hand. I told him he was too handsome to be scaring women into submission with a knife. He could have any woman he wanted just for the asking. To my relief and amazement, the brute stopped in his tracks to search my eyes, indecision clouding his face." "Can you describe him?" I asked with rapt attention, inching my chair around my desk toward her. "A pudgy sort, balding like yourself, short of stature, a common bloke, except for the eyes. They were.... black, Mr. Slater, blacker than anything I'd ever seen before, dark and disturbing, the color of ancient onyx stones that's never seen daylight. Except for those eyes, I'd never take a second look at him, nor would I think him a dangerous man." "Please continue, Miss Cameron", I said, still amused. "Well, directly his countenance changed to that of a little boy, as I tried to hide the fear rioting inside. Boldly I stepped toward him with arms beckoning. The knife dropped from his hand and clanked to the parlor floor and he came forward into my arms like a bashful, mischievous boy in need of consolation." "Go on," I blurted, now riveted to my chair. "Well, as you can imagine, I obliged his insatiable lust. Afterward, he spoke of terrible deeds in Essex and Yorkshire, the lust driven knifings of ladies known to me. I lay there attempting to conceal the fear and anger coursing through my veins. Shortly, his improbable ranting yielded to revived lust that saw the morning dawn, when finally, exhaustion and sleep overtook us. When I awoke at noon, he was gone. Later in the week, I learned of my best friend Esmeralda’s murder in her parlor room down in Spencer Square." "Did you go to the Police?" I asked. "No sir, not right away. My terror of the man and his untouchable nobility effectively stymied all notion of alerting authorities. Accusations from a doxy against nobility carried certain retribution I was not willing to chance. The killing ceased a short time later, so I rather forgot about it, you know. Some dogs are best left sleeping." I sat back in my chair, weary from the strange interchange. Her candor and forthrightness were thoroughly convincing, although certainly delusional, complete with costume and dialect. Yet, I wondered why she assumed the identity of a late 1800's London prostitute? What dark, fearful desire would cause her to perpetrate such a ruse? Still, I could not ignore the striking coincidences connected with her story. Although she could not know it, current unsolved murders in the Rutherford area shared remarkable similarities to Jack the Ripper, known only to myself as the lead detective. "Miss Cameron, your story is thoroughly ridiculous. No human can attain such great age, let alone perpetrate the crimes you mention. Still, I am curious about your theory that the Ripper has somehow traveled through time. Tell me about that." "Well sir, during his unprovoked ranting that night on my bed, he stated that his long dead mother sent him to 'cleanse society of female ingrates’. In return, he receives the unused years of his victims to add to his own life span. In that way he is able to continue his murderous adventures beyond the restraints of a mortal time as we know it." "But why would he come here to Rutherford, New York?" I asked, hoping she would offer no clue. "I cannot say, perhaps destiny has brought me here to you?" "How would you recognize him after all these years? Would he not alter his appearance to avoid suspicion?" I asked, feeling a little uncomfortable. "Why, the gentleman would be foolish not to attempt disguise. I do know he sports a nasty scar on his inner right thigh that he claimed to have acquired in his sailing days in Her Majesty's Service. I suspect that if the truth were known, one of his earlier victims put up a bigger fight than he anticipated and maybe stabbed him in a scuffle…who can know for sure. Curiously, he has a penchant for collecting one leg garter from each victim, he told me that much. Why he even took one of mine; a yellow silk one with a double stitched frill of pink lace. I made it myself." "So, what is it you think we should do, Miss Cameron? Search all of Rutherford for a man in possession of century old garters and a scar on his leg?" I asked sarcastically, mildly attempting to provoke her ire. It did. Rebuffed, she stood and said, "All that I've told you is true , my conscious now at rest. What you do with the information is your affair, sir. I'll be returning to my own time by tomorrow's light. Should your senses return, I'll be at this number," she said, scribbling a phone number on a piece of paper then dropping it on my desk. With that said she walked out and disappeared down the hallway. Dazed, I sat back in my chair. Had this surreal interview really occurred? The reality of it lay on my desk top in the form of a red scarf she forgot to take and the scribbled phone number she had left behind. *** Fluorescent digits glow 11:05 PM as I don loose fitting trousers, careful to avoid aggravating an old leg injury. Time does change appearances after all, I thought. Reaching into my pants pocket, I retrieve the phone number she carelessly left. I'll use the pay phone down the street, and then attend to unfinished business. Closing the bedroom door behind me, the string of garters pinned along the wall sway gently in the huff, especially the yellow one with pink lace.     

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Reviewed by Barbara 7/9/2002
Very creepy! This is not something you'll want to read if you are home alone.

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