Jack: They called it murder but I called it art.
I lurked in the shadows, waiting for the perfect moment to pounce. The bevy of beautiful women I selected as specimens were perhaps unsuspecting of my talents. The good people of London were unsuspecting as well. Yet as that month of September, 1888 passed, after I had skillfully managed to dissect and disembowel four women, leaving their remains to decorate Whitechapel like human canvasses, it occurred to me; the locals now had great expectations of my work. I had become a skilled artist in the medium of human flesh.
Why did I do it? Ah, I am quite sure the gentleman at Scotland Yard would love to know the answer to that. Why indeed? I did it with purpose! It was sublime and beautiful, this sight of torn flesh. The rushing scarlet that trickled from their necks as I first pricked my knife. The red river that flowed across their clavicles. Once the blood began to pour I was insatiable in my creation. Like a painter’s brush I wielded my dagger, deeper and deeper until I hit solid bone. I could not stop till I’d sliced their torsos clean open.
None can say I was not appreciated! The women appreciated me. If you doubt my words merely consider their case: They were tramps and trollops, living in the squalor of the east end, perpetually drunk on tuppence gin, ever fading into the obscurity of their tragic and unimportant lives. Never before had they received so much attention as they did after I made human sculptures of them! Were it not for me, I daresay the five of them — Mary Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes and Mary Kelly — would have vanished into obscurity. The life of a penniless prostitute is seldom noticed.
But I, in my sacrifice, had elevated them to stardom! I had edified and glorified them. You doubt me? Allow me to offer proof: The newspaper staff came immediately to take photographs of the remains, did they not? My art was therefore preserved for all of posterity. Once the flesh has wasted away what is left? The image, of course! Forever kept within the confines of halide and silver, undisputed evidence of my talents, for none could wield a blade as well as I.
If you need further convincing, I beg you imagine: The lovely Annie Chapman. Oh, she was a vision as she lay there in the alley. It was I who took the trouble to skillfully place Annie’s intestines around her shoulders. She was naked, of course. Instead of the fine garments which she could never afford, our dear Annie departed from this earth with the natural adornments of her own bowels. It was quite breathtaking. A sight which precious few are ever privileged to see.
Imagine another. Catherine Eddows. A woman so lovely that I saw fit to remove her uterus. What say you? I am sick and deranged? Oh no dear reader, not I. The uterus, you see, is the very source of life itself. None can argue that. There walks not a woman on the face of this planet who would not want her uterus displayed for all to admire! I know this is so, for I, unlike most men, am sensitive to the needs of the gentle sex.
To make things doubly interesting, the womb of Catherine Eddows was with child. A garden of fertility she was, the seed of fetus growing inside her. Therefore when I removed Catherine’s uterus, it was symbolic of life, although she herself had ceased to breathe. I had elevated her femininity to the highest pinnacle.
The fetus? Yes, yes, the fetus died. Of course the fetus died! What else suppose you? It was a mere casualty of my artwork.
Now consider my last model. What’s that you say? My last victim? You may call her a ‘victim’ if you like, but I shall call her a model.
Mary Kelly knew exactly what she was doing. Of course she did. The woman drew deliberate attention to herself by singing out her bedroom window. She was the nightingale of Whitechapel. She may as well have cried out, “Notice me! Take heed of me, you inane and senseless world! For I am Mary Kelly, a force to be reckoned with!”
And so. It was when I saw lovely Mary approaching down the alleyway I stopped her. She inquired if I was in need of company for the evening. A woman such as Mary, who made her living by the animal desire of men, knew full well that each of us was in need of ‘company’. This was the coy, infuriating act they all played!
Mary told me her price was sixpence. That sixpence, I would of course never pay. Yet I would reward her famously.
She brought me to her room in Miller’s Court. It took little time, for once I had envisioned my masterpiece, I began quickly. Mary removed her skirt and bodice. Both were lice infested. It was a liberation for her to be free of them. It was my intention that every woman leave this earth as she came into it; birth naked.
Mary gave me a glance, displayed her privates as she no doubt expected me to partake of her favors. I told her I had no such interest. With that I removed my dagger from its scabbard.
The look on her face was one of pure beauty, a mixture of astonishment and fear. I pulled her close and felt her heart race. “Mary Kelly,” I said. “Your singing will get you nowhere and neither will your peddling of flesh. But I! I will now preserve you for posterity and all shall know the name of Mary Kelly forever more!”
She let out a scream, a stifled cry of ‘murder’, as women are wont to do. In the squalor of Whitechapel few take notice, for murder is a common occurrence. This was to my advantage.
I pushed her to the table and pressed my knife to her throat. I thrust it through her neck, down her spine. Mary was like a fine capon being carved up for Christmas dinner. The blood poured like a crimson ocean. Finally her heart stopped. This was always my cue to leave.
I cleaned my dagger on her lice infested skirt and returned it to my pocket. I grabbed my cape, placed my top hat upon my head and exited the hovel.
Mary Kelly: The Ripper? Oh yes, old Jack. Sit yourself down and have a cup of steaming tea, for I’ve much to share about my dealings with Jack.
He thought himself quite smart. No one’s fool. Consider the ridiculous letters he wrote to Scotland Yard. Little did he know. I was savvy to his foul acts, what he had done to my friend Annie and the rest. The man was dreadful, worse than a penny dreadful. I swore revenge before I even met him.
As for me, suffice it to say I needed sixpence for my rent. I bid you judge me not. Some lived nine to a room, slop pails in the street, ragged children eating eels wrapped in newspaper. Were conditions not of filth and poverty I’d never have engaged that rutting sod. Besides, I was no lamb in the woods. I knew exactly what I’d gotten myself into. Each time was a risk but what else, besides thieving, would put coin in my coffer and bread on my table?
And so I took Jack to my hovel at Miller’s Court. Though I’d undone my tatter of a skirt and displayed my bare cunny straight at him, he said he’d have none. Oh, I knew it then. He was no normal sort of man. Yet I’d had his type before, they that requested only conversation. Harmless, the vast majority. But not this one. Not old Jack. It was in his eyes. Something diabolical, something sinister. In that minute I told myself “Take hold of yourself, Mary Kelly lest you be done for.”
I tried to fight him off but he pulled his dagger, gouging me in the throat. A wound such as this is not so painful as one may imagine. Fear ate away at my wounds and soon my skin, and all inside me went numb. Then all I knew was the weak beating of my heart, fading, fading till I thought there’d be nothing left.
But not so! I am a fighter.
A ghost, sooner or later is destined to leave its flesh body. I’d not given this any thought up till that moment. I’d been too busy trying to forge a decent living for myself, although my living was never decent. However, in that moment, when breath left my body, I took on the being of something else entirely. Something powerful and strong.
I thought of Mister Scrooge’s ghosts. If I’d had my choice I’d be Christmas future, he that stood like a tall black specter, bony hand pointing fingers to a grave. I’d scare the daylights out of Jack, had he any daylight to him. As it happened I nearly got my wish.
Somehow, removed from my flesh body I rose. Old Jack had donned his top hat by then and escaped out to the street. I slithered after him, my vapor passing through walls.
I was angry, carrying the wrath of the four others who had died before me. My unbridled temper would see justice! “You Ripper,” I shouted. “You’ll pay for all this slicing and dicing and mutilating of our wares! You are no man! You are no artist either. You are but a cruel miscreant and I shall have my revenge upon you!”
Though I knew not how my spirit looked, I must have been terribly frightening, for even the great Ripper cowered at my words.
I chased him. My arms were long shadows that brought gusts of wind, my voice a huge echo that rung inside his ears. I’d have driven him to madness had he not already been so.
I followed him through the blackened streets, his feet clopping like horse hooves on the cobblestone. I pursued him all the way to the river.
There he stood on the bridge, teetering back as my ghostly presence pressed against him. He pulled his knife and attacked me but it was akin to slicing air. He bellowed a scream but none heard, or if they did they were wise enough to ignore it. I laughed a diabolical laugh as he trembled in terror beneath me. “Not so clever now are you, Ripping Jack?” I hissed
With the force of a hurricane my ghostly arms pushed. He tumbled off the bridge to the icy water below. I watched as his legs flailed, his top hat floating down the Thames. I then flew, hovering above him as his body, still breathing, drifted to an estuary . The tide then carried him off to sea.
There he bobbed like a cork in the waves till a swarm of blood thirsty sharks swam in, fins racing. The big fishes closed in and with blade like teeth ripped Jack the Ripper to pieces. Yet he remained conscious and alive through it all, just as Annie was conscious when he disemboweled her. Just as Catherine was conscious when he cut out her uterus.
Some of his bits were swallowed like Jonah in the whale’s belly. Some scattered and ran like water colors, bleeding through the ocean.
The sharks, I am told, fancy themselves to be great artists.