Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary; Book II of The Vampyre Tales
It is often said that history is our teacher and if we do not take heed of the lesson being taught, then history will repeat itself until we have learned that which is being relayed.
There are many examples of this throughout our recorded time here, and just as sure as tomorrow’s sunrise will appear in the eastern skies, there will be many more examples to follow.
Human beings, as a whole, have become complacent in their self-appointed position at the top of both the intellectual podium as well as the food chain, and yet, this appointment can be easily toppled by something as lowly and simple as a virus or bacterial infection.
Prehistoric creatures once roamed and ruled this planet on land, in its skies, as well as in the darkest depths of the oceans. Their reign was a lengthy one, longer in fact than we have even been in existence, but then, through one cataclysmic event, they were quickly pushed into extinction.
Life on this planet is a fragile existence at best and one, which as history is quick to point out, is not without end. But we as a species are a stubborn, arrogant lot, who take for granted all that we know, all that is around us, and in that knowledge so do feel secure. However, it is that very confidence, our unwillingness to see beyond that accepted knowledge and instead remain clinging blindly to that with which we feel most familiar, that will undoubtedly come to be our undoing.
My old dear friend, oh how I have missed our time together these last few months, but I fear I have grown too weary for visitors, and sadly, even for you. Please don’t be distressed by the news that this will, in all likeliness, be my final correspondence with you. I had Matthew bring me my writing box and, I must confess, help me find all that I needed to simply get started.
My father would often say in his latter years, “old age is not for the faint of heart”.
I remember fondly, his grumblings, but even though these fond memories bring a smile to my face, I know firsthand, never were truer words spoken.
I have grown weary, dear friend, and I know my time is now close at hand. I can barely make out that which I now scribe to you. I am not afraid of death; in fact, in some ways I welcome the rest. I have been alone many years now and I look forward to being rejoined with my husband. My children, Matthew and Eleanor have been wonderful, both in their childhood and now as remarkable adults, both with families of their own. Life is truly amazing.
My brother Aremis came to visit with me a few weeks ago still looking as young as he did that night I forced him from our home. In his short visit with me he shared his plan to join the army. This of course is most worrisome to me. The war in France has been going on now for several years with a horrible loss of life. That having been said, I know all too well he will do what he wishes no matter what I say in regards to it.
As you well know, I am not one who is fond of lying, but I must tell you, that where my brother is concerned, I have become quite well versed at the art of deception. Even now, during his last visit with me, Eleanor, who had not seen her uncle since she was but a child, looked on him with strange curiosity. She asked, as politely as possible, if he was her uncle, her mother’s brother from London. Before he could even answer, I had stepped in, informing my own daughter that the man here visiting was actually her cousin, the first born son of my brother.
I had often suspected my little girl of having the gift, the one I so had for the majority of my life, and the look upon her face told me that she knew, all too well, that I was not being forthright with her. That the man before her was not only not who her mother claimed him to be, but was far from anything he portrayed himself to be. Regardless of what her personal beliefs might have been, she chose to accept that which I was telling her and after a brief cordial visit she left us alone to our conversations.
It was good to see him, my brother. So many years separated by such a distance, a distance that was both required and, at least by me, desired.
I have no idea of the reason behind his young appearance or how he manages to survive day-to-day. He has refused to entertain conversation with me about anything regarding his way of life, and so I have long discontinued trying to discuss the subject with him.
I knew that day, not but a week having passed since he left my bedroom, that it would be the last time I would see him in this world and I wonder in all earnestness when his time comes to pass, if I will see him in heaven.
You have been a dear and trusted friend, my diary, but I must close now. I trust you will hold fast to all I have shared with you.
I profess to not knowing the time, nor the date for that matter, and I do not care to call after someone to tell me, so I will simply close off.
Your friend, Temperance.
Nathan Mallory was a typical young adult. To see him, one would not easily separate him from any other twenty-year-old male about town. Standing at about 6’1” tall, with a lanky build, topped off with naturally ginger hair, something he loathed and so kept a constant vigil to keep all visible hair to a minimum.
Over the last few years, Nathan would often refer to himself as being somewhat of a professional student. This would bring about smiles and laughter from those he raised a pint with and disdain from his father, a self-employed carpenter and builder.
Nathan’s mother had passed away when Nate was only eleven years old, leaving him and his father, Carl, to deal with the home and the challenging task of getting along with one another; neither of which seemed to be going all that smoothly, despite a decade having passed since her death. It would be inaccurate to say the two men were at each other’s throats on a daily basis, but it was more that their respected lifestyles clashed.
This came to a head one evening nearing the end of Nate’s second year of University. His father had asked him, quite in passing in fact, how his course selections were shaping up and what the following year was looking like. Nathan had replied, in an equally carefree manner, that he was no longer interested in finance and was switching courses starting fresh come September, but this time in journalism, his new found passion.
This news did not apparently sit well with his father, as he erupted at the dinner table, spouting off about his son being unable to stick to anything and treating his education, and the funding of that education, as though it were nothing more that a child’s passing hobby.
The one-way argument ended with it being decreed; that if Nathan was going to continue on come September, then he was going to have to work at his father’s construction company and earn the tuition over the course of the summer.
For Nathan, this was the lowest of blows. To be forced into working for his education was simply unthinkable and completely unfair. His father knew how much his only son despised working in general and hated construction more than anything else, especially where his dad would also be his boss.
Nathan had already made up his mind that this was bound to be the worst summer of his life, even if he had to make sure of it himself. True to his word as much as his belief, the long days of summer dragged by in slow progression, made all the worse by it being one of the wettest summers in years.
Not being overly skilled at any trade within the world of home renovation and building, Nathan was assigned clean-up duties. Regarding anything that needed to be carried out to the bins or cleaned off the floor, Nathan was in charge.
It was on one particular afternoon, not that much different than any other he had endured up until that point, when things took a small turn for the better. His dad had taken on a large renovation project involving an entire row-housing complex that pretty much took up the entire side of the street. It was going to take the rest of the summer, and quite possibly right into October before the whole job would be completed. His dad was thrilled, more jubilant that he had seen his father in years, so for that, Nathan hoped the good times would extend to him.
Unfortunately, good fortune was not to be his, for on the first day of work on the stretch of old stone row-homes, Carl all but ordered Nathan into the attics to begin clearing out old insulation and anything else that might be in the way of the electricians, who would be arriving in a few days to run in the new electric cables. Nathan had tried to convince himself that this task might not be so bad; in fact, it might even be an adventure of sorts. Being given permission to dig through peoples’ attics, there was bound to be a trinket or forgotten treasure that might well make this whole horrid summer, in some way, worthwhile. But, despite his best efforts at looking towards the positive, even if that optimism was only to further his own monetary gain, the chore appointed was nothing close to resembling anything in the way of an adventure.
The attics were old, musty and most of them had roofs, which had been leaking for years. Any insulation that was still there, was mouldy and well crushed between the roof joists, all pressed into place by years of boxes containing Christmas decorations and the like having been haphazardly dumped on top of it. It was a foul-smelling, claustrophobic environment, one that had him on bended knee balanced precariously on rough wooden beams, scooping out handfuls of ancient fibreglass mixed with shredded newsprint, and tossing it down the attic hatch onto the floor below. This, of course, then required him to take that pile he had created down two flights of stairs to where the huge rented rubbish bin was waiting. Once done, the whole procedure then had to be repeated, over and over, as he went from attic to attic. There were a few brief moments of excitement as he opened the next attic hatch and spied an old cardboard box or two, but as he pulled them down there was never anything of value. There was an old vacuum cleaner, an electric typewriter, which was a novelty for all of a minute or two, and a pile of clothing from what appeared to be the seventies. He had even found, what could only be described, as an early generation sex toy, one that had been stored away, many years previous, with the batteries still inside, the leaking acid from the decaying C-cells, all but destroying the inner workings of the phallic shaped device.
It was on his third day of attic hell, (as he'd been calling it), when he set up his step-ladder, opened the trapdoor in ceiling of house number four, pulled his trouble light up through the narrow opening and surveyed the area for anything interesting.
“Nothing!” he said in a frustrated voice.
Not that he was really expecting anything. He'd pretty much given up on the idea of anything good coming out of this job.
Pulling himself up through the ceiling, he set about the routine of pulling up and throwing out all that was around him. Despite his constant mumbling and complaining, he'd actually gotten pretty good at it. He would start by removing everything on one side of the tiny enclosure; take it out to the street, then repeat the process for the other side. In most cases he could clear out one entire attic space per eight-hour day.
It was just after lunch as he was just getting underway on the second half of the attic space, when he noticed something he had missed in his initial survey. Most of the things he had found up until that moment were all situated close to the hatch, for obvious accessibility reasons. This new item, however, was tucked up against the brick dividing-wall that separated one unit from the next, near to where the roof met with the exterior wall.
“Hello… What have we got here, then?” he said to himself with a sudden renewed interest.
Setting the trouble light on a makeshift nail hook that was in one of the rafters, Nathan, cautiously stepping from one joist to another, carefully making his way over to where the small box was sitting.
At first, he thought the box was just another typical cardboard storage box, but when he picked it up he quickly realized it was actually made of wood.
“Oh now, this is something special surely,” he commented, as he looked it over in the less than perfect lighting.
With his prize in hand he carefully, albeit quickly, made his way back to the hatch and, once there sat down on the edge, letting his legs dangle down through the opening.
The box was relatively small, only about 17 inches long, 10-12 inches wide and about 10 inches deep. There was a small clasp on one side, which held the lid down, and two, somewhat ornate, hinges on the opposite side.
“Oh dear God in heaven, if you do exist, please let this be jewels or gold or anything worth a boatload of dosh”
With that, he gently popped the clasp and opened the lid. Inside was sheet paper, quite a pile of it, but at first glance he knew it wasn't much of value.
“Bollocks!” he shouted as he slammed the lid back over.
He was about to simply drop the box along with its contents through the hole and let it bounce off the floorboards below but at the last minute he hesitated. For whatever the reason was, he decided that perhaps it deserved a better look, and with that, he made his way out of the attic and out to the tiny front entranceway.
The morning had been relatively clear of precipitation, even though the skies had been largely overcast, but now those threatening skies were making good on their intention, as rain again fell from on high. Any thoughts he had of simply sitting down on the steps of unit four were dashed by the steady rain. So with the box tucked under his arm, he jogged the short distance to his father’s van and quickly jumped inside, effectively shutting the rain out with the thump of the door.
He sat the box on the seat beside him and again opened the lid to reveal the contents, this time in a better light.
The first few pages quite literally fell to pieces as he picked them up. But as he made his way down through the pile they seemed to be in better condition. He was still pretty much convinced that he had nothing more interesting than someone’s scrapbook collection combined with perhaps forgotten love letters or the like, but that changed when he removed a few more folded pages and found himself looking at a newspaper.
“Whitechapel Fiend Strikes Again,” was the headline that ran across the top of the old paper, the ink, now faded to grey, the once white paper, now yellowed and aged, the date in the corner quietly stating; 30st of September, 1888.
Despite his own self-proclaimed desire to begin studying, in earnest, the field of journalism, what he was looking at really didn't sink in. Only when he had dug a little deeper did he suddenly realise what he had in his midst. There, laid out in near perfect symmetry within the box so that the other papers looked as though they formed a frame around it, was a single piece of note paper, the handwriting upon its surface penned in red ink, now also faded to a shade more akin to brown than that of anything resembling a shade of red, the signature at the bottom reading, Jack the Ripper.
“Oh fuck me, fuck me, are you fucking kidding me?” Nathan exclaimed to no one.
He looked about nervously to see if anyone had noticed him disappear into the van with his prize. When he was certain that he was indeed quite secure, he locked the door and without daring to pick it up, he read the letter.
I must apologise for the intrusion, luv, but I had a gift for you and I did not wish to leave it outside. You should see to it that your landlord makes repairs to your door, it would not keep out a stiff wind in the state it’s in.
It would seem that others are taking credit for what I am doing, little sods. The papers say that letters have been sent all telling of my doing. They are lies all, but soon they will have the real thing as I will post my own letter shortly.
I do so love games.
Them coppers all think themselves so smart and they know who I am, but they have no clue. They still think I am a man, ha ha.
I doubt that you have been with a woman in some time so I brought the cunny from the whore I ripped last night, no need to thank me.
You will know which letter is from me when you see it,
Jack the Ripper
Nathan read over several times aloud before he slumped back into the worn seat of his fathers van, “Fucking Hell”, he whispered under his breath.
His mind was racing. He knew that the odds of this being a genuine letter penned by the infamous killer, Jack the Ripper were not in his favour, but if it did so happen to be the real deal, then there was no telling how much something like this would fetch if it were sold or put up for auction. He had watched numerous specials on the telly regarding things such as this going for hundreds and sometimes thousands of pounds. The idea that he could sell off this one item and not only pay for his schooling but even have a tidy amount to pad his bank account was simply too good to imagine.
Not wanting to catch it from his dad for lifting something of potential value from the job site, nor wishing to have to share the booty of his find, he carefully packed it all away and with as much finesse as he could manage tucked it beneath the seat, securing it in place with the tire jack before exiting the van and returning to work.
That afternoon was probably the longest he could remember, as he spent the majority of the time watching the van to ensure no one was going to nick his prize.
When quitting time did at last arrive, Nathan all but bolted to the van and took up in the passenger seat, patiently waiting for his father to finish talking with a few of his men before he joined his son.
“So, how was your day?” Carl asked as he started the van.
“Horrid”, Nathan replied in the same manner as he always did.
Carl laughed as his son’s discontent and pulled the van out onto the narrow roadway.
“Dad?” Nathan began then stopped, perhaps rethinking his own plan.
His dad shot him a sideways glance but didn't respond.
“Um, do you think I could take tomorrow off? I have something I need to do, you know, for school”
“What is it?” his father asked flatly.
“Its course registration day, I really should get after that, I let it slip, and the last day to get it in is Thursday.”
There was a long pause, in which Nathan felt sure the air within the van would smother him as he waited for an answer. His father let out a long sigh that told Nathan it was going to be one of ‘those’ talks. He sat back and mentally braced himself for the disappointing tone what was surely to be forthcoming.
“Nathan, why? Why are you like this? Leaving everything to the last minute? How are you ever going to make something of yourself if you're always late, always forgetting important dates and things? I’m sure if it was pub night with your mates you’d remember that now, wouldn't you?”
There was no point in arguing with him, it was a no win situation and he knew it. His dad was hardworking and set in his ways, ways that Nathan felt certain had been a part of his father since his father was a lad. So rather than try to win at a battle of verbal sparring, he quietly took the pelting of words, many of which were both true and well deserved, all in the hopes that by the time the assault had ended he would be granted the time off.
It had been a longer than usual sermon that afternoon, and they were nearly home when his dad finally finished.
“What can I say, Nate? If you need to do this for school then you need to, though you try my soul at times, you do honestly.”
“Thanks Dad, seriously, I’ll make it up to you I promise.”
His dad waved him off as he pulled up outside their little home.
“You coming in?” Carl asked as he got out and noticed his son had not yet moved.
“Um, ya, in a minute, I was going to text Eric and see if I can catch a ride with him tomorrow. I'm pretty sure he’s going to register for some other stuff as well.”
Carl shook his head and closed the door.
Nathan took out his mobile and thumbed through the directory until his dad had disappeared from view, then popped it back into his shirt pocket. If he knew his father, he would likely drop his lunch pail on the counter, grab a beer from the fridge, make his way to the living room and put on the telly. He always watched the news, pretty much without fail, every night after work. Dinner would then consist of something of the frozen variety, but only after the news had ended.
This would provide him ample time to make his way, with his prize, into the house and up the stairs to his bedroom, all without being noticed and more importantly, questioned.
It was a plan that was well founded and executed. Carl was as his son had envisioned him. So with little effort Nathan made it to his room without so much as being noticed, much less confronted about what might be in the little wooden box.
Inside his room, Nathan quietly bolted the door and then set the box down on his desk.
Pacing about the tiny room, he tried to formulate his next move. He was going to need to get the stuff in the box authenticated, but by whom, was the question. He was all but certain that a writing analysis company, or person would not simply be located in Britain’s 192 telephone directory page, but he checked just the same, and just as he had figured, he found no such person or service.
He put that problem aside for the moment and grabbed a sheet of paper from his printer. With pen in hand he began making out a list of things he needed to do. It wasn't long before he had one side nearly filled with ink. He knew, as sure as he knew his own name, that he was only going to get one day to get this ball rolling, and he’d best make it count.
Unbolting the door he quietly crept downstairs and into the kitchen. There he grabbed some plastic press-and-seal bags from the drawer then called to his dad in the living room.
“Do you want me to put the oven on for you?” he asked in a raised voice as to be heard over the newscast.
“No, that’s fine, I think I may order something in tonight, thanks though.”
“That’s cool,” Nathan replied, as he dashed back up the stairs two at a time, baggies in hand.
Back in his room, the door once again firmly secured, he carefully opened the lid to the box and with even greater care gently removed each page, placing it into its own labelled bag.
It wasn't long before he had to make another run to the kitchen for more bags. It seemed there were more papers in the wooden box than what he had first thought.
When he had finished, he put together a list of all he had. In total there were 13 newspaper articles, all pertaining to the murders in Whitechapel. There were 22 more that spoke of missing persons. Other clipping were of places for rent. But by far the most interesting things were the handwritten notes all of which were penned in red ink. There were even the remnants of an envelope, the back of which seemed to have what appeared to be a red lipstick kiss. In addition to this there were also two full bags of paper that looked more like confetti than anything else.
Nathan guessed, and probably with some accuracy, that bugs, water, or simply time itself, had caused much of what had been in the box to deteriorate. Only the papers that had been placed in the middle of the pile seemed to have survived.
It was already 8:00 p.m. and Nathan sat on the edge of the bed looking at what he had assembled.
“This has got to be worth something, even as a forgery, someone went to one hell of a lot of trouble to create this shite then hide it away,” his words sounded almost self-convincing, as if to drive out any possibility that what he had discovered could, in any way, be worthless.
It was just then that his mobile began to vibrate within the confines of his work shirt. Plucking it from his pocket, he glanced at the screen before answering it.
“Eric! Mate, you will never guess what I have here!” Nathan’s jubilant voice, booming within the confines of his small room, had him immediately regretting the unconscious volume of his initial response to the call. “Shite,” he whispered urgently into the phone, “hold up a tic.”
He quickly ran to his door and opened it a crack to ensure his elevated tone did not arouse his father. When he was certain his dad was still preoccupied with the telly, watching a movie of some sort or another, he closed the door and went back to the bed.
“Ya, Eric, sorry mate, you will never believe what I have here.”
Eric Manning, Nathan’s best friend since preschool, was a level-headed kid even at a young age and was often the voice of reason behind many of Nathan’s so-called good ideas.
A little shorter than Nate, Eric had jet black hair with bright blue eyes in a face that looked good set atop a well defined physique, all of which lent itself to Eric having numerous girlfriends throughout any given school year.
“Yes, so you screamed in my ear not twenty seconds ago,” came the voice of his friend over the phone, “please, just let me switch over to the other ear, I still have hearing in that one.”
Nathan laughed, “Oh come off it, stop being such a twat. Seriously, I think I may have hit the mother-lode of finds this afternoon at the job site. Can you come over?”
There was a slight pause. “What? Now? Are you joking?”
“No mate, I’m not, look, come over, let me show you what I have here, I need to pick your brain a bit, then I'll buy you a pint, how’s that then?” Nathan’s voice was as pleading as it was excited.
There was another pause, this one longer than the first. “Fuck me, Nate, this better be good. I'll be there in twenty minutes and you'll take me to the Black Bull afterwards.”
With that, Eric ended the call, and thus, never heard Nate’s displeasure at his friend’s choice of drinking establishments.
It was quite a bit longer than twenty minutes and Nathan paced about his room peering out the window almost every time he passed it. But at last, he could see his friend making his way along the sidewalk and onto the path that led to the front door.
The doorbell chimed out its familiar, if not annoying little tone, and both Nate and his father made their way to the door, Carl getting there well before his son.
“Eric”, Carl announced with some surprise in his voice, “I thought you were the pizza lad.” Eric chuckled at the very idea of him being a pizza delivery guy.
“No, sorry Mr. Mallory, not me, but I think he'll be here shortly.” Eric pointed casually over his shoulder as he continued; “I saw a car from Angelo’s parking just down the street a bit. Parking around here’s a bit of a trick this time of night.”
Carl nodded and peered out the door before inviting the young man in. “Nathan tells me you're both heading into school tomorrow to register for some course or another.”
Eric looked perplexed by the statement but then caught sight of Nathan standing on the landing nodding his head up and down frantically.
“Um, ya, that’s right, we… he, has a course to sign on for and me, well I have to check on something else, so I thought we could do it together, you know, save some time and such.”
Carl gave the boy a sideways glance, as though he wasn't quite sure if what he was hearing was actually on the up and up. Nathan bit his lower lip certain the jig was up, but before his father could delve into the situation further, the pizza delivery fellow ran up the walkway in a huff.
Nathan let out a slow sigh of relief as his dad let Eric in and went about the business of squaring up money with the driver.
Nathan quietly, and with much conviction, motioned his friend to hurry up and follow him up the stairs before his dad was done at the door. The two scampered up the stairs, down the short hallway and into Nate’s room whereby he locked the door behind them.
“Good God, Nate, what’s with all this cloak and dagger stuff?” Eric asked, obviously showing his annoyance with his friend’s antics.
Nathan didn't pay his friend any mind, but stood by his desk, his hand in an outstretched manner of invitation. “Have a look at this,” he said in a triumphant, albeit, hushed voice.
Eric came over to where his friend stood and looked down on the various papers enclosed in plastic. “This is it?” Eric asked in an unimpressed voice. “ Where'd you get it? You know, if you've nicked it from the library you'll catch it. They take this sort of historic shit pretty seriously.”
Nathan glared at his friend, knowing that his accusing tone could be often be well founded, but not in this case. “I did not NICK it from the library, I found it in the rubbish I was clearing out at me dad’s job site.”
Eric nodded but was still unmoved by the find. “So you have someone’s collection of old newspapers, so what?”
Nathan smiled, raising an all-knowing finger skywards. “That’s what I thought as well, my friend, until I found this.” He carefully plucked the plastic-wrapped note from the desk and handed it to his friend. “Here, have a look at this.”
Eric took the note and gave it a fast once-over, not really paying it much mind. “So what? Notes and old papers, big deal, is this what you dragged me out here to look at?” he quipped. “I want two pints for this.”
Nathan laughed at his friend’s displeasure. “You don't get it, do you?” Nate asked bluntly.
“Nope, I guess I don’t,” Eric replied in an equally blunt tone, handing it back to Nate.
Taking the note from his friend Nathan explained, “What I have here, my thick-headed friend is a letter signed by Jack the Ripper. Now, I realize that on its own it’s really nothing at all. Could easily be a fake, but my finding it in with other notes, all appearing to have the same handwriting, all of which were in a box containing clippings and headlines about the murders, I’m thinking I may well have a collection of original letters from Jack himself.”
Eric raised an eyebrow at his friend’s explanation but then challenged his line of thinking. “Right, fine, let’s say for a moment you’re accurate in your thoughts, and I'm not saying you are. If these are original letters from Jack the Ripper, why would they be in a box in some job site? To the best of my knowledge, all of the so called Jack the Ripper letters were deemed to be fakes, sent to the police by news people and such, in order to get a little bit of the glory. Why would original letters, if such a thing even exists, not have been sent to police, why tuck it away in a box?”
Nathan pondered his friend’s accurate assessment of the situation trying to find a viable explanation for the find. “I dunno, what if the bloke that lived at that house, back in the day, was a newsman or a copper. Maybe he collected the letters and clippings then forgot about them or something.”
Eric shrugged off the weak explanation, “Could be I suppose, anything is possible.”
Happy for any encouragement, Nathan eagerly agreed with his friend, “Exactly, could be a hundred reasons why it was left there, but I'm betting this stash is the real deal. I’m telling you, Eric, I feel this is the find of a lifetime.”
Eric nodded reluctantly and stuffed his hands into his pockets. “So, what are you going to do with this stuff, donate it to the museum?”
Not quite catching his friend’s words Nate nodded at first silently agreeing with his friend, but then, as the words sunk in and took hold, the nod turned to a shake. “No, no, what the fuck? Donate it to a museum? Are you serious?” Nathan stood with his arms folded across his chest repeating himself, “Donate it to a museum? Fucking hell man.”
Nathan sat down on the edge of the bed, a look of disgust upon his face.
Eric, feeling a bit daft at that moment, but grounded in his belief that it was the right thing to do, took up a position in the desk chair. “So, what are you going to do with this stuff then?” he asked as he leaned back, rocking slightly in the chair.
“Well, my plan is to find a buyer who’s into this sort of thing and sell it off, but before that can happened I need to get it authenticated and I'm not quite sure how to go about getting that done. I mean the newspaper is a no brainer, the date’s right on the bloody thing. It’s these notes I feel are going to be the problem.”
Eric nodded in silent agreement then interjected, “I could take one of them into the lab at school and have Professor Daniels look at it.”
Nathan looked up from the note in his hand. “Who’s he?” he asked.
Eric smiled and choked back a giggle, “He’s one of my profs and among other things he was a bit of handwriting expert some years back.”
“Really?” Nathan all but shouted, jumping up from the bed.
“Yes, really, and he’s a pretty good guy from all I've seen of him. I'm sure he'd be able to get you on the right road with this, even if it is a fake.”
“Oh ya, that would be brilliant…” Nathan paused; suddenly catching his friends little poke, and retaliated sharply. “Shut up! It’s not a fake, you fucker!”
Eric burst out laughing but quickly quelled it. “Seriously though, Nate, I wouldn’t play games with something like this, especially if it turns out to be genuine. I mean get it looked at, sure, prove to yourself its real or its not, but if it is, then give it to the police or, as I said, a museum, they'd be glad to have it.”
Nathan shook his head slowly at his friend’s plea. “Eric, honestly, what are the police going to do with 100 year old letter from a killer? I'm sure whoever he was; he'd be dead by now. Besides that, if the museum wants it, then fine, they can buy it from me, I'd be glad to sell it.”
Eric obviously didn't share his friend’s point of view on the subject and his face told Nate that.
“Come on then, what’s the problem? I don't see what’s wrong with my wanting to cash in on something like this. Archaeologists have been selling their finds to museums for years and no one had their nose out of joint.”
Eric stood up and reached for the note Nate still had in his hand. Nate handed it over to him somewhat reluctantly,
“Be careful with it now.”
“Take a pill, mate,” Eric replied quietly then stared at the plastic enclosed note. “I dunno, man, I just get a bad feeling about this.”
Nathan stared blankly at his friend for a few moments then broke into laughter. “A bad feeling? You have got to be kidding me.” Nathan roared and fell back on the bed, his face red with merriment. “A bad feeling? Give up a chance at a barrow-load of dosh based on a bad feeling!”
“Get stuffed, ass!” Eric retorted, but it was no use, Nathan was completely out of control by this point.
“Oooooo, Jack the Ripper is going to rise up from the grave and seek out Nathan Mallory for selling off one of his precious notes!”
Eric was completely irritated by this point and without warning he unlocked the door, flung it open and made for the front door, Nathan in hot pursuit.
“Hold up, Eric, come-on, don't be like that, I’m sorry, really, hold up just a tic.”
Nathan’s pleas and apologies seemed to fall on deaf ears as Eric made the front door opened it, bid a quick good night to Mr. Mallory, and hopped down the front step with his friend trailing after him. Catching hold of his sleeve, Nathan pulled on it hard for his friend to hold up.
“Eric, please,” he said in earnest, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean nothing by it. You know how I am, mate, I'm just a fuckwit at times, don't be mad.”
Eric slowed his gait and finally stopped at the edge of the sidewalk.
“Thanks mate,” Nate said, the sound of relief in his voice, “I can't have you mad at me, you're my only friend.”
Eric smiled slightly, “That I would agree with,” he said smugly.
Nathan slapped his friend on the shoulder. “Let me get my shoes and we can go to that manky hole you like to frequent, how’s that, then?”
Eric nodded, “Sounds good, but hurry it up before I regain my senses and drive off without you!”
Nathan laughed as he ran back up the path in his socks and disappeared through the still open front door. He reappeared not a moment later calling back over his shoulder as he closed the door.
“Heading off to the pub with Eric, Da’, thanks for the day off tomorrow!” He didn't wait for a reply.
Rejoining Eric on the sidewalk, the two longtime friends make their way down the narrow roadway much as they had done as children, when the talk was of pirates, or spaceships, or anything else that would hold their interest on a weekend or mid-summer afternoon.
Buy Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary; Book II of the Vampyre Tales at any of these locations.
©Wayne Mallows - All Rights Reserved ~ Rel: 10|2|12