November 9, 1888

For Marian’s prompt over at Toads: word for the day: Gormless. Meaning stupid, unintelligent. Synonyms: thick headed. dull, stupid, bone headed, witless.  WARNING:  I don’t believe in warnings. Life doesn’t give you warnings but in this case, I am making an exception.

November 9, 1888
“From hell. Mr. Lusk, Sor… Excerpt from letter from Jack the Ripper, October 15, 1888”

He had been looking after Mr. Dorian for several years now,
and it amazed him how pure and young his face still was.
Lately he had watched Mr. Dorian going out at night.
Returning late and in a most disturbed state of mind.
As a butler it was not his job to criticize his employer
but lately, Mr. Dorian had given him goose flesh.
He could be gormless about about Mr. Dorian
but something was amiss.
And those murders in Whitechapel had happened
the same nights Mr. Dorian went out.
Went out and returned late,
straight to his bath and destroying his clothes.
He had found the clothes in the dust bin, bloodied.
A cold dry night with a crescent moon
Mr. Dorian went out again.
This time, he followed him.
Straight to Whitechapel, wandering around behind him.
Searching? For what?
He saw Mr. Dorian with a prostitute,
Blonde and a beauty for this area.
He followed behind them to her room in Miller’s Court.
He stood outside and to be honest,
the hair on his neck rose.
Shadows played on the curtain but the shadows kept moving.
Then there was stillness.
And more stillness.
He decided to open the door.
He opened the door and almost fainted.
Mr. Dorian had posed the brick pincher
in a provocative pose but…
She had been flayed.
Never had he seen a more piteous and inhumane thing in his life.
Blood was spattered everywhere
dripping from the walls,
flung with glee from a knife that went up and down in a frenzy.
Mr. Dorian stood there in a stupor.
My God, Mr. Dorian what have you done?
Mr. Dorian just stood there, the knife in his hands covered in blood.
The room reeked with the metallic tang of it.
I have to get you home now Mr. Dorian.
Please, let’s go now.
He dragged him from the room and dragged him through Whitechapel
until he got to the main road and hailed a cab.
People assumed in the darkness he was helping a drunken friend home.
He spirited Mr. Dorian into the house.
Stripped him and bathed him several times.
Gutless, gormless, cowardly.
Yes he was all of these but…
The next day Mr. Dorian was back to normal as if nothing had happened.
the butler went about his duties as if nothing had happened.
But no more Whitechapel murders occurred.

photographic image of last letter from Jack the Ripper

What if?

A poem in my Dorian Gray series.  I had pondered this part of the mythology while working on my MFA but this prompt brought it to the front of my mind.  Merrill is posting today on dVerse Poets Pub. She asks us to ponder time and what if? For once in this series, Dorian shows some mercy.

What if?
Whitechapel.
The killer had already murdered four women.
A prostitute reached out her scabrous hand to me
and I thought of pushing it away
until I looked in her face.
She was in her 40’s and long past the age of attraction.
Her teeth were black or missing
and she bared her limp breasts for me to see.
What if I pitied her?
What if I just gave her a few shillings?
She would spend it on gin ‘ot instead of
buying a bed for the night.
She would sleep on the street –
A bundle of dirty rags.
What if I just gave her money?
Would it take some of the ugly from my portrait?
Would it roll back to when the portrait was
my current face – young and beautiful?
I pulled out a pound note and put it in her hands.
I told her to go in peace.
She stumbled to the tavern on the corner.
What if she passed out there?
Would she be robbed?
Would the bartender throw her out?
Doesn’t matter.
For once I did something good.
Would it show in my portrait?
I read the next day in the papers
Mary Kelly had been brutally murdered –
Eviscerated, flayed.
I looked at my portrait.
The what if didn’t work.
My portrait was still as old and ugly
as the prostie I gave money to.
What if?
What if?

Whitechapel – 1890

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