The following are serial extracts from the soon-to-be-published memoirs of Donald Hicks a young detective with the Metropolitan police’s H Division who worked alongside others to investigate the Whitechapel murders of 1888; those carried out, it was believed, by the infamous Jack the Ripper.
30th November 1888. The Astoria, Whitechapel.
We visited the Astoria eight times these last two weeks and although Mr. Cream was prone to severe bouts of melancholy following his wife’s eloping with the dwarf, we did enjoy each other’s company whenever his face cracked a smile. On rare occasions he felt well enough to show me his half-respectable trick of taking two kidneys from the kitchen, skewering each with surgical knives he had about his person and pretending they was dancing legs. A sight to behold! It became most entertaining to others at the club and Mr. Cream would often oblige his admirers at much detriment to our own “together” time until they had had enough and he crumpled into his seat beside me without so much as a word.
When nothing else could be thought of to say or do we occupied ourselves with talk about the mysterious Ripper. One such discussion surrounded the true identity of the item which accompanied a recent letter supposedly written by the man himself. The letter signed “From Surbiton” was received by accident at the address of the detestable perma-fried junkie Sherlock Holmes. It came with a small box in which was discovered the crook of an arm preserved in spirits of wine. Whilst Mr. Cream was of the popular view that the gruesome find belonged to the unfortunate fourth victim Miss Eddowes I knew this to be nonsense since the crooks of her arms were the only parts of the poor woman not used to redecorate Mitre Square and were now kept safe under lock and key.
While conversations with Mr. Cream became increasingly laboured, I would notice from the corner of my eye the oddly intriguing Mr. Isaacs who fixed me in his regard for sometimes hours at a time with a faint smile turning up the corners of his mouth. I soon considered him as much a mystery as the East End murderer. Despite the avid interest which I still believe came from his familiarity of me, I felt no longer threatened but a degree of pity for this man who while obviously wealthy beyond my wildest dreams had evidently very few friends and might even have been considered a loner. Thankfully, my concern for the man went unnoticed by Mr. Cream, whose mood this evening reached a new low and whose physical condition had undergone change enough that he was now communicating with me only by a series of blinks.
TO BE CONTINUED...