Hole in the Head (Part Eight)

The Story So Far:

Inspector Prescott of Queenborough Yard has been investigating a series of grisly murders where young women have been found with a hole drilled through their head. Little seems to connect the victims:

Molly Cobble was a flirtatious woman of ill-repute, while Lydia Barnes simply played such a woman on the stage. Prescott has followed several leads, and the one name that keeps coming up is Tommy Harper. Unable to find Harper throughout the day, the Inspector decides to spend an evening away from the case with Constance Powers, who operates a small pie shop in town which Tommy is said to frequent on Tuesdays.

8

Monday Night

When the great fire burned down half the city nearly a century ago, no one expected that the buildings would grow back with such vigor. Cecil Square was hit particularly hard; it was where the ragmen congregated and it was the epicenter of the deadly inferno. Wilhelm Upton bought the land with glorious plans, and twenty five years later, Cecil Square was transformed into an imposing theatre and museum that covered four city blocks. The complex of buildings was imposing; constructed of elaborately carved stone, the complex had the appearance of a grotesque fortress.

Constance Powers waited outside the Upton Theatre, trying not to dwell on the oppressive architecture. She wore her best dress, which needed darning, and a pair of boots with slightly uneven heels. The other women in the crowd were wearing high-fashion garments made with brocades and silks; beautiful dresses Constance had seen in magazine illustrations but never in person. She wrapped hers lace shawl around herself, thinking it would keep some eyes off of her. She felt far out of her depth and regretted being so forward with Inspector Prescott, but her fortune-teller advised her to be more aggressive in matters of the heart, and Madame Alexandria had never led Constance astray before.

The crowd began to shuffle into the theatre and Constance still did not see Prescott. They had arranged to meet at the lamppost in front of the theatre, but there was no sign of the man.

“Excuse me, Miss. Powers? Is that you?” asked a young fellow with delicate features that were marred only by a scar across his forehead.

“Yes?” responded Constance, hesitantly. She turned to see Tommy Harper, dressed for a night on the town with tightly-fitted trousers and a long velvet frock coat with silver buttons that gleamed in the lamplight. She smiled at him pleasantly, but then remembered that Inspector Prescott had been looking for Tommy.

“You seem a bit lost. Are you waiting for someone?” Tommy was soft-spoken and difficult to hear in the murmur of the crowd.

“I was to have a date with someone, but I am afraid he is late.”

“A louse, surely,” said the young man, “no one should leave a woman waiting, especially at night.”

Just then, Constance caught sight of Prescott. He was fussing with his cravat while he walked and seemed annoyed.

“He is right here!” said Constance to the young man as she waved at Prescott. “Inspector!” she called excitedly.

“You will see that-” said Constance to the air; the young man had withdrawn silently, leaving Constance puzzled.

“Sorry I am late,” said Prescott, “I think that I have made progress today.”

“It’s okay,” replied Constance, wrapping her arm around Prescott’s.

She didn’t tell him about Tommy; it strangely occurred to her that she didn’t want to further disturb Prescott’s humors. She was certain that a night of comedy would soothe his spirit. She could tell him about Tommy later, if at all.

***

Tommy Harper watched Constance from a distance and listened to her thoughts while he tried to plant some of his own. His lips curled into a snarl as he listened to the filth that rattled through the back of her skull. She was obsessed with the sex act, just like the others.

“She’s not all that bad,” he said to himself. “She wants children; she’s not brazen like Lydia Barnes. She’s not a whore like Molly Cobble was. Not a slut like…”

“But where do you draw the line?” he argued with himself. “You need to do why is right. McKay gave you this gift for a reason. Use it. You don‘t want to go back to being Phillip Henson, do you?”

9

16 Years Prior

St. Lawrence’s Orphanage was more of a slave market than an orphanage. The head of the facility was Jonas Locke, a slovenly man with eyes that were so close together that his nose seemed to be struggling to push them apart. Locke started the practice of placing young boys and girls into apprenticeships and collecting a fee for his services.

“A fiver, right in my hand, and he’s yours.” said Jonas Locke to Thaddeus McKay, an unlicensed physician with a penchant for experimentation. Locke’s hand, with its dirty nails, rested on little Phillip Henson’s shoulder. Locke had pulled Phillip away from his mother’s corpse when it turned up on a cold slab at the morgue; with no family to claim the boy, he was fair game for St. Lawrence’s.

“He looks meek, weak, and wary.” said McKay, grasping the boy by the chin and studying his eyes.

“The better to keep him in line. If you wanted to let him grow wild, that’s your business. A child should be cowed and silent. Besides, there may be others interested.” Little Phillip Henson was just another in a line of children Locke had sold to physicians wanting young, live subjects. Occasionally the sale would be to someone outside of the medical profession; in those cases he charged much more than a fiver, though those sales were getting sparse.

“He has and intellectual look about him,” said McKay, “which will suffice. He will make a fine control subject.” He tossled the child’s hair and smiled, showing a mouthful of gaps and rotting teeth.

“You want the boy or not? The Sister will be back soon enough, and she’ll be glad to see young Mr. Henderson appointed as a physician’s assistant.”

“Yes, give him to me,” said McKay, pressing a small gold and silver fiver into Locke’s hand.

McKay brought little Phillip to his small country cottage; hidden behind trees and protected by neighbors that kept to themselves, McKay was free to pursue his unsavory experiments. The cottage was well cared for; McKay had been trained as a carpenter, though his passion for working wood was nothing compared to his desire to reshape the human mind.

He had been privileged to hear some enlightened gentlemen talking in the pub about the human mind and experiments with lobotomy; McKay was transfixed and soon asked questions. His brief encounter with the gentlemen turned into an obsession, one that the gentlemen gladly fed. If they had known that the lowly country carpenter was building a trephine, they might not have continued encouraging him. They certainly wouldn’t have visited him and drank his tea…

“Sir,” said Phillip quietly, “what must I do?”

“You will sit in a chair.” said McKay.

“Sit in a chair, Sir? But why?”

“I want to make you better.”

“But Sir, I’m not ill.”

“I didn’t say I wanted to cure you. I want to make you better.”

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About harrylthompsonjr

I'm a writer, a photographer, and a lover of role playing games. I've moved my blog to wordpress in hopes of actually getting some feedback. We'll see :)
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