Chapter 7: The Perfect Mask
After retreating to my house, subsequent to leaving the morgue, I collapsed into bed with my French friend in my mind.
The suspicious behavior in which he displayed today made me very uncomfortable. I’m beginning to wonder if Jack has something to do with the recent murders. Could he be this cannibal killer which is why he knows for a fact that Jack the Ripper isn’t responsible?
What if he is Jack the Ripper?
I sat up in my bed in grim realization with my mouth hung open. Suddenly, everything that Jack has ever said to me came back into my mind…
I smiled. “Ok, you’re complex, I should say, but you’re hard to figure out. You’re like an impenetrable brick wall; a puzzle. But I will break down your walls, Jack."
His face darkened. “Maybe someday, I’ll tell you all my secrets…"
His secrets. What could be his dark secrets?
“There’s nothing wrong with being human.”
His eyes turned hard again and he said, “There’s plenty wrong with being human.”
Maybe his peculiarity means something. I remember how odd I thought him to be upon our first encounter.
“I guess we’re just odd ones against this world together.”
“I guess so,” he sat there for a moment in thought. “What about the Ripper?”
“What about him?” I asked confused.
“Do you think he’s odd like us?”
After a moment I slowly nodded. “I’m sure he is.”
I can’t get over that gut-wrenching feeling I experienced when I went to apologize to Jack after accusing him of murder. And that’s another thing, the way he reacted when I accused him. He didn’t seem too upset with me and his reasons for being angry were a bit weird. I’m unsure what to think of this man.
Who is he really?
He wears the perfect mask and he speaks of the Ripper without any indication of suspicion. He’s given me no reason to be suspicious, for he’s helped me with this investigation from the start. He’s been by my side throughout all of this, there’s no way he could’ve possibly committed these crimes.
Unless he has an accomplice.
Could he? No, that’s impossible. I would’ve certainly have met the man by now. But could Jack really be framing me? I find this hard to believe. He’s been so faithful to me in being my partner in hunting down this infamous killer.
Should I be jumping to conclusions right now? Am I just being paranoid? I think the only reason I’m questioning my paranoia is because I fear that he truly is the Ripper.
I’m in denial.
But I need to prove this. I can’t just start accusing him of murder without any proof. Where would I find proof? Maybe I could examine the Ripper case again but more thorough.
What proof could I possibly find that would link him in with the Ripper?
I won’t know unless I look.
“How do I look?” Henry asked for the hundredth time. He wore a nice white tailcoat with his pale yellow ascot and a fancy pair of boots. His brown hair was slicked back with a white top hat standing on his head. Tonight he would be married to Elizabeth.
“You look great, Henry,” I sighed. “How many times are you going to ask that question?”
“I’m just nervous, ok? This is a big day for me, man. Where’s Jack? I did invite him, you know?”
My heart sank at the sound of his name. I had decided that I was going to keep my realization about Jack to myself.
I figured that discussing the possibility of Jack being a murderer wouldn’t be good dinner conversation.
“He had important matters to attend to,” I lied.
“Such a shame,” he said as he examined himself in the mirror. “I thought he was a fine chap. You two seem to get along quite nicely.”
“Yeah,” I smiled. “He’s a fine gentleman.”
“I’m glad you’re happy,” he turned to me. “I’ve been worried about you whilst I’ve been away from London. You’re my best friend, John, and that will never change.”
I can’t believe I ever considered Henry a killer. He’s the most gentle and kind person I know. He wouldn’t hurt a fly.
Hell, I’ve had to save his ass numerous times from bullies growing up.
I had decided to push Jack from my mind and actually attempt to enjoy the wedding. I can’t believe Henry is getting married and to such a lovely woman.
Hearing her accent, I can tell that she’s from the southern part of England. She probably grew up on a posh street with a café on the corner. This Elizabeth woman was quite beautiful with her long blonde hair and blue eyes. If my memory serves me correctly, the Henry I knew was a rough neck with a ruddy complexion and a chipped tooth. But here he stands before, a perfect pale complexion with a constant perplexed expression.
He’s changed quite a bit with his fancy attire and expensive taste but I am proud of him, nonetheless. I knew he would always go somewhere greater than the farm. He was always better than some farm boy.
But he will always have his sick sense of humor with a bit of grit and dirt in his attitude.
I’m glad to be called his best man.
The ceremony seemed to have flew by after they recited their vows and kissed and what not. Now the reception was rather long, as in all weddings.
Elizabeth was dressed in a lovely white frilly gown with matching roses decorating her blonde locks.
She approached me with a seamless smile sometime during the reception. “Hello, Mr. Wilkinson,” she said. “Having a grand time?”
“Oh, indeed, Miss…well, Madame Smith, I guess I should say now.”
The two of us chuckled in light amusement.
“Are you married?” she asked.
I shook my head. “No, I’ve never been married and, frankly, I don’t believe it will ever happen.”
“Well, that’s a rather depressing thing to say. You never know, you might find a lady someday.”
“Someday,” I smiled down at her in which she removed her eyes to gawk at her husband on the dance floor while he shared a hop with his mother. “You really do care for Henry, don’t you?” she asked, not removing her eyes from him.
“Yes, I truly do. He’ll always been a friend. Even after all these years of being away from each other, we were able to pick up where we left off. I find that extraordinary. I think it just proves our strong bond, to be honest.”
“What about that Jack fellow I met at the pub? Where is he at tonight?”
My heart stopped as she spoke his name and my paranoid arose again. Why does everyone keep bringing him up? At that time, I had completely forgotten about him and the horrid situation I had found myself in just nights before.
“He’s busy tonight,” I faked my infortune, “But he sends his regards.”
“Isn’t that him right over there?”
I looked at her and then, in the direction she was pointing, Jack stood there dressed in a black suit looking as dapper as ever.
I furrowed my brows. What was he doing here?
Elizabeth asked the same, “What’s Jack doing here? Didn’t you say he was busy?”
“Evidently, he decided to show up after all.”
“Isn’t that lovely?”
I was too dazed to continue with our relaxed discussion.
“Excuse me, Madame, I’m going to go speak with my peer.” Then I weaved my way through the crowd and over to the darkly dressed creature.
When he saw me, his eyes seemed to light up. “John!” he smiled. “I’m glad to see you here.”
“I’m a bit surprised to see you here.”
“Really? Henry did invite me. I couldn’t let him down.”
“Right,” I faked a smile. “May I talk to you outside in private?”
He gave me an odd look with his head tilted to the side. “And why would you want to do that? Is there something personal you would like to speak to me about because, if so, I’m sure it can wait until after the reception.”
“I’m afraid not, Jack,” my voice grew a little louder and he noticed because his eyebrows lifted a bit higher on his forehead.
“Well,” he smiled. “Then I shall follow you outside, then.”
The two of us exited the building and walked out into the dark streets where the moonlight reflected off the cobblestone roads. I could still here the buzz of the party from inside.
He turned to face me with his arms crossed. “What is this about, John? Is this about the other day? When we discussed the Ripper because, if you wish to speak of that then I will gladly-”
“Stop,” I held my hand up to silence him. “I don’t want to talk about that. I wanted to discuss something else.”
“Ok…” he stared at me as if he were trying to read a book. “What do you wish to discuss?”
“Do you remember the promise you made to me, Jack?” I asked. “Remember? When you promised me that you would never lie to me? I want you to consider that promise while I give you these set of questions. I want you to think about this and go back in time. Think back and tell me…have you broken that promise?”
We shared a long intense stare that just pierced my eyeballs but I didn’t turn away. I wanted the truth.
“Do you think that I have lied to you in the past?” he finally spoke. “If so, what about?”
“If what I am thinking is true then I believe you already know the answer to that question.”
He remained silent as he stared into my eyes, never blinking. It was frightening to look into those lifeless, ice irises with their hard lack of emotion and humanity. Then he did something that was forever burned into my memory. He created a picture in my mind that will endlessly haunt my nightmares, presenting me with the physical image of evil.
“Well…” he drug out the word’s annunciation. “Look at you, inspector… finally looking beyond all the smoke and mirrors.”
I took a step back by reflex when I heard that sentence spoken with such a tone, dripping with wickedness. “So, it’s true then?” I asked with wide eyes. “You’re him?”
“Him?” he smiled. “You should capitalize that word as it seems I have run your life like some kind of god for the past year.”
“Oh my God…” I was freaking out inside. My head was spinning and my heart was thundering against my chest as the anxiety bubbled up in my stomach. “You…you’re…” I couldn’t even speak, I was in such shock. I was hyperventilating, on the edge of a panic attack.
“To be honest, I’m surprised you didn’t figure this out sooner. I gave you so many hints and, if your reputation serves you correctly, then you would’ve certainly pieced this puzzle together in the beginning. Evidently, I was wrong. I guess you allowed your humanity to get in the way and blind you from the truth.”
“Why?” I was finally able to speak. “Why did you commit all those crimes? Why do you torture me?”
“According to you, I’m a psychopathic, murderous, blood-thirsted, caped crook, who lives to spill the blood of the ‘innocent’…why wouldn’t I torture you?”
He began walking towards me which rendered me unable to walk, thus I collapsed to my knees, gazing up at him in horror.
He leaned down, looking into my eyes before putting on his top hat. “Now, I suggest you run along home. I wouldn’t want you to cause any more trouble than you've already attributed." Then he walked away from me.
And that’s the last thing I remember.