Chapter 5: Inadequate Inspectors
A week had passed since that day that I lost my memory but things hadn’t changed in the slightest. And I still had no clue who was framing me.
“Henry Smith,” I began, “A Kentuckian, moved to London at the age of twelve. Left and then returned after ten years…”
“Why does this matter, John?” Jack was sitting in front of me at the morgue with his legs crossed while I stood before him with a chalkboard and some white chalk in hand.
“I figured you should get a feel of who Henry is.” I explained. “The power of deduction, my French friend.” We were narrowing down the possibilities of people who might be framing me.
So far…we had only spoke about Henry.
“John,” he sighed as he rubbed his forehead stressfully. “We’re getting nowhere with this.”
I inhaled. “I know," chunking the chalk into the wall.
“Let’s just say The Queen did it and call it a day, eh?”
“No,” I said. “We must figure out who is responsible for framing me. If we don’t, I’ll surely go mad.”
“You’ve already gone mad.”
I plopped down next to him with a whine. “I know. I’m not sure what to do, Jack.”
“I thought we were hunting down Jack the Ripper,” he said. “Not some American scoundrel.”
“Do you have any idea how impossible that is? Finding the Ripper is way out of our league.”
“Do you really believe that?” he asked. “We’re brilliant minded people, John, perceptive and very…very handsome.”
I rolled my eyes.
“We could find the Ripper, you and I, then prove to Scotland Yard and the rest of London that you’re not just some scummy pub worker.”
“You really believe we can do this?”
“Yes! Of course we can! We’re unstoppable, John!”
I have to say, I admired his confidence but I did not admire his irrational thoughts. If Abelian was incapable of finding the Ripper then we sure as hell won’t be able to locate him. The inspector has been working for the Yard for like a hundred years meaning he has tons of experience and knowledge and yet the Ripper still outfoxed him. How can we, mere commoners with barely five years of schooling between us, find a notorious super villain?
Jack is mad.
“You’re rather confident,” I said. “But you’re also crazy.”
“You have to be crazy to hunt down the crazy, John. The Ripper doesn’t stand a chance against us.”
I sighed. “Alright, but where do we start?”
“Witnesses,” he stated. “We need to question the witnesses from the Ripper case and I’m sure they’ll talk considering this new killer is ganking them left and right.”
Our first witness, Edmund Adair, was the carmen from the Annie Chapman case. He heard Annie talking to a gent before she was murdered.
He was the last to see her alive.
He’s an older gentleman who lives on the south side of London, swanky neighborhood with its cobblestone roads and little tea shops. Consider a man in his late fifties, tired from his job of carriage driving with age wrinkling his face; that is Edmund Adair.
We tapped on the door of his tall townhouse and, after a few long minutes, he emerged from behind the door.
“Hello good sir,” Jack said with his charming smile. “My name is Jack Bellerose and this is my partner John Wilkinson. We’re working with Scotland Yard, you see, on the latest case I’m sure you’ve read about in the paper.”
“That cannibal fellow?” Edmund’s voice was rough and very British.
“Correct, sir. We would like to question you on the events that occurred a year ago on the night of Annie Chapman’s murder.”
He stood there staring at us deliberating whether or not he should let us in but, luckily, after a moment of thought he allowed us into his home which was rather tight and piled up with books.
“Why would the police want to know about something that happened a year ago?” Edmund asked as he sat down in his wooden rocking chair.
Jack and I took a seat on the sofa before him. His house smelled of cigars and old paper.
“Scotland Yard believes these latest murders to be connected with the Ripper’s, for the Cannibal’s victims have all been witnesses to the crimes that the Ripper committed. We fear that you may be next, sir.”
He seemed shocked to hear such a thing and a twinge of fear collected in his eyes. “Do you think the Ripper is back?”
I shrugged. “We’re not sure, Mr. Adair, which is why we’re questioning the witnesses. Maybe whatever you saw that night could possibly help us or if you’ve seen some strange things recently.”
“Strange things?” he roughly chuckled, "Like what?"
“Anything out of the ordinary, anything at all like you noticed somebody following you or you’ve received any letters or notes.”
“Actually,” he began as he stood. “It’s funny you mention that as I received a letter not too long ago from an unknown address.” He walked over to his piled up desk and pulled out a yellowed envelope then handed it to me.
I examined it thoroughly with my eyes and fingers. The paper was rough and old. “Do you mind if I read it, sir?”
“No not at all.”
The moment I opened the letter my heart sank to my stomach as I recognized that distinctive calligraphy.
This penmanship belonged to Jack the Ripper.
The letter wasn’t very extensive as there were only four words written in red which were “the gates will fall”.
“The gates will fall,” I read aloud. “Does this mean anything to you, Mr. Adair?”
He shook his gray-haired head. “No, I don’t know of any gates.”
I stared down at those words as I felt everything collapse around me. Jack the Ripper was back for blood meaning that many more would die. But this time, he wasn’t escaping.
This time he would be mine.
“Do you mind if we take this letter with us, sir?” Jack asked as he stood up.
“Please, take it. I don’t want that damned thing ever again.”
“Thank you for your time, Mr. Adair.” Jack said as the two of us left the man’s townhouse.
As we strolled down the busy street I continued to stare down at the letter in awe. Those familiar letters brought back many memories from the Ripper case. I can see those same letters inside numerous envelopes we received from dear old Jack.
However, this time, he did not sign as “Yours truly, Jack the Ripper”, now it was “Ever, J.W.”
For some unknown reason, this was familiar to me.
The way he ended the letter made me feel as though I had seen something like this before but I was unsure where. I knew that this whole case possessed a rather familiar ambiance and now I know why.
“John, what are we gonna do?” I heard Jack ask from the side of me.
I looked at him. “What? About Jack the Ripper?”
I sighed as I shrugged. “Honestly, I don’t know. This handwriting is his and I know that for a fact. He’s out there somewhere…waiting for the right time to strike. But this won’t be easy, for he’s a cunning little bastard meaning that we must be put ourselves in his shoes. In this situation, we are not the predators hunting our prey, for we are the gazelles and he is the lion. We must outfox the fox, Jack. Are you prepared for the adventure of a lifetime?”
“Hell yes, I am.”
“Alright,” we shook hands. “Let’s go catch a killer.”
For the next few weeks, Jack and I would embark on the ultimate manhunt questioning everyone involved in the Ripper murders, revisiting the crime scenes, busting out old case files, we are very thorough.
But in the end, we would come up with nothing just more letters from more witnesses all with mysterious messages on them that made no sense.
All letters signed with the now familiar "Ever, J.W."
While we were searching for this man, he was nowhere to be seen in the papers. He hadn’t killed anyone since Lenora Holmes; ever since we started our manhunt which I found a bit odd.
A sadistic killer like him just can’t stop. He needs to feed the beast before it gets too hungry. Jack suspects that he knows that we’re looking for him so he’s decided to stay in hiding but a blood hungry killer can only hide for so long before he’s forced to come out and feed. But Jack and I would not be ready when he did, it would shock us both into disbelief.
“We’re never gonna catch this bloke,” I rubbed my tired eyes after a long day of searching. We were now sitting in a café on the south side of London as we had been there all day questioning people. It was nearly nighttime and we had found nothing.
“Maybe we should just give up,” I sighed. “We’re obviously not getting anywhere.”
“I can’t argue with you there. But we know who’s responsible for the killings. We need to get justice.”
“They found nothing at the crime scenes last year,” I said as I examined the case files from the Ripper case. “Nothing, Jack! They found nothing. He’s like a ghost.”
“How do we know he’s not?”
“Jack, I’m not discussing the possibility of ghost right now.”
He smiled. “I’m just trying to lighten the mood.”
I picked at my mushrooms with my fork as I thought intently about our dilemma. “I told you we weren’t going to be capable of bringing the man in.”
“You can’t just give up.”
“We’ve been at it for weeks!”
“You were the one who convinced me to embark on this journey with you and now you’re backing out? No. We are going to keep looking. There has to be something that he misplaced. The Ripper may be clever but he is still human.”
“How do we even know if he is human?”
“I thought you didn’t want to discuss the possibility of there being supernatural beings?”
“I don’t…but I’m beginning to believe that this Ripper isn’t human. What if he’s a vampire?”
Jack laughed. “John, you’ve been walking around too much today. I think this has all gone to your head.”
“Perhaps,” I ran my fingers through my hair.
“Would you like to come to my flat for a glass of wine?”
I smiled. “That sounds lovely.”
We began to leave the small café when a familiar face stopped me in my tracks. Standing there at the entrance, with an attractive lady on his arm, dressed in the finest beige attire was none other than Henry Smith himself. The second he saw me green eyes lit up in delight.
“John!” he greeted me with his thick Kentuckian accent. “How long’s it been, buddy?” he embraced me but I was so caught off guard that I just stood there like a statue; motionless.
“Henry,” I was finally able to say. “It’s such a pleasure to see you again. How are you? You look fantastic.”
“Why thank you,” he grinned. “I’m great! This lady here next to me is my fiancé Elizabeth B. Winters.”
She offered her hand and I took it then placed a gentle kiss upon the back. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Madame.”
She blushed and smiled at me. “And you as well Mr…?”
“Wilkinson, John Wilkinson.”
“John is my oldest friend in the world. We met way back in our early teenage years. Sadly, I was forced to go back to America with my parents when I turned eighteen and we haven’t seen each other since.”
“When did you arrive?”
“A few weeks ago, actually.”
“A few weeks ago?” I asked curiously as I glanced at Jack.
“I was busy settling in or I would’ve come and found you. What are you doing on this lovely evening?”
“We were having dinner as we’ve been on the streets all day."
“This man next to me,” I gestured to Jack who flashed a charming smile. He stepped forward offering his open hand which Henry took.
“My name is Jack Bellerose, it’s a pleasure to meet a friend of John Wilkinson.” He smiled and bowed a little in the direction of Elizabeth who returned the grin.
“You’re French, eh?” Henry asked.
Jack smiled. “Yes, very…you’re American, eh?”
“I am indeed, though I have resided in London most of my life. How long have you known John?”
“Nearly a month now I think,” he said as he looked at me in question.
I nodded. “Yes, we met on August thirty-first and it’s nearing the end of September.”
“Well, if I didn’t know any better then I’d say you two have known one another for a long time. You seem as though you’ve been friends for years.”
“We get along alright. So when are the two of you getting married?”
“Soon,” Henry said. “Within the next week, I believe. I would like for you to be there, John. You are my best man after all.”
“Really?” I asked.
He nodded. “Of course! I don’t have any friends like you. I want you to be there. Please?”
“Of course, I’m coming Henry.” I was still unsure about the whole situation. Should I really go to Henry’s wedding? I mean, Jack and I are thinking that he’s the one who’s framing me. But I wouldn’t want to look suspicious so going to his wedding is the only option.
“And your friend can come as well.” Henry suggested as he looked at Jack.
“That’s very nice of you, but I might not be able to attend as my job requires much of me.”
“Well, I certainly hope you can make it. I must be off now. We’ve a lot of planning ahead of us.” Then, with a chipper grin, he left the café with his fiancé on his arm.
I looked down at Jack. “Your job requires much of you, eh? You’re an undertaker, I’m sure your ‘customers’ can handle your absence.”
“To be honest, I really don’t want to go.”
“Do you think I want to go?” I asked him. “Please join me. I’ll need your moral support. None of Henry’s family really likes me.”
“And Henry is your framer…”
“Do we know that for sure?”
He observed me as he pondered what to say next. “We just spent an entire day searching for evidence to nail him and now you’re saying you don’t believe he’s guilty.”
“We can’t just automatically assume that it’s him.”
“Well we can’t single anyone out at the moment. Everybody is guilty.”
“What about Ed?” I asked.
“What about him?”
“Think about it,” I began, “He’s been here ever since the beginning of all this. He was here during the Ripper case and he’s here now. He’s never left London. I’ve noticed that every time the Ripper case is brought up he just brushes it off like he doesn’t wish to speak about it. And the way he practically accused me of being the Ripper…”
What if it was true? What if Ed was the Ripper?
This thought had never crossed my mind because I would never suspect such a thing. But could it be true? He would be the one person that I would not suspect but really? Ed, a killer? I laugh at the thought of that. He may be a lady killer but he’s certainly no sadistic genius.
I will say though, the fact that he throws everything back onto me would be smart. His accusations aren’t very loud but that could be the genius in them. He’s getting me to convince myself that I am guilty.
Or is he? Am I just being paranoid?
I buried my face in my hands in frustration. “Jack, I can’t do this anymore. I don’t know what to think. Why does it matter if somebody is framing me?”
“Because that man could be Jack the Ripper.”
“How do we know that for sure?”
“Who else would be after you?” he asked. “You said so yourself, there’s nobody else that would want to mess with you.”
I looked at him. “How do I know that you’re not the one who’s framing me? You told me not to trust anyone.”
He just stared at me. “Well, you can figure out that puzzle on your own. I guess you really don’t know if I’m the man who’s responsible.” He started to walk out the door but turned to say one last thing, “If I was the man who was framing you then I would make damn sure that my plan was full proof. If I was the man that was framing you then we wouldn’t even be having this conversation.” Then I watched as he disappeared into the dense fog of dawn.
I sat there for a long time staring at the entrance door as if Jack was going to return but he didn’t.
I considered what he said, “If I was the man that was framing you then we wouldn’t even be having this conversation.”
What does that even mean? Is he saying that if he were the culprit then I wouldn’t even suspect that somebody was framing me? Is he saying that he’s that slick?
To be honest, I’ll have to agree with him as he is rather devious. He truly is a puzzle that I can’t seem to decode which infuriates me. Normally I can read a person instantly but Jack is…different. He’s so complex with his peculiar mind and jumbled expressions. I never really know what he’s thinking.
He sort of scares me.
As I strolled home that night I wondered if I had hurt Jack’s feelings when I accused him of framing me. I can understand why it would hurt him as it was an outlandish and absurd indictment but I was irritated which causes me to say things I probably shouldn’t. I wasn’t sure if he felt bad, as I can’t read his mind, but I certainly did. I wanted to apologize to him so I decided to go to his flat.
For some reason I felt this odd feeling in the pit of my stomach that I couldn’t quite explain. I felt as though this was a bad idea that I should turn back and go home. Why? I decided to disregard my instincts and press on.
Approaching Jack’s building that strange feeling began to resurface and I paused at the bottom of the stairs looking up as if something was going to appear.
As I walked up to his flat the air seemed to have gotten heavier, it pressed down on me which caused me to stop and recollect every so often. Then I came to his red door with the golden numbers “226” at the top.
Staring at the door, some unknown force overwhelmed me with nausea. I grasped the doorknob gently and held it for an instant as I stood there in deep contemplation.
Why do I feel like this? It’s as if I’m terrified of entering his flat but why?
I slowly unclutched the knob then stepped back observing the door waiting for something alarming to happen but everything remained still.
I slowly backed away from his door the quickly ran down the stairs and out into the streets.
I high-tailed it home.