Chapter 4: Then

The next day it feels like he’s being particularly rough with her. This time her character is Jack’s forth victim, Catherine Eddowes. Jack was supposed to have removed her uterus in the original murder. In the re-enactment, Jack pulls out a pulpy mass – supposedly her uterus but in fact a rubber stage prop drenched in fake blood. It always makes the audience shriek and turn away, but then turn back in horror and fascination. Reality TV has made audiences demand a simulation of every bloody aspect of the crime. But this time Jack threw her to the ground, and instead of reaching for the fake piece, he was pawing at her abdomen. She had to practically put the fake piece in his hand and push him away from her. He looked dazed, then stood up, victoriously holding the fake uterus and then bowing to the audience, who applauded wildly.

The play continued as usual, with the cliffhanger at the end where Tim/Jack nearly gets caught by Chief Inspector Abberline, the character played by a sweet guy named Jake. Dressed in her Victorian corset, Jilly was taking off her makeup and combing her hair. She looked down at her abdomen, and was shocked to find deep scratches across it. Tim had actually broken the skin in two places, a fact that made Jilly very uncomfortable, Tim being so promiscuous, and still no cure for AIDS. Jilly pulled her wrap off the hook in the corner, and went looking for Tim. She found him in the narrow hallway, talking and laughing with Billy, the Stage Manager.

“Can I talk with you for a second?”

Billy looked knowingly at Tim, who smiled, and turned to face Jilly.

“Sure, doll – what can I do you for?”

“In my dressing room, if you please.”

Tim again gave Billy a knowing look and followed Jilly down the hall to the dressing room. Once inside, Jilly slammed the door and opened her wrapper wide enough for Tim to see the scratches.

“Look what you did to me today – you asshole!”

Tim feigned a dismayed expression.

“Oh, geez, Jilly – I am sooo sorry…I guess I got a little carried away, huh?”

Jilly shook her head, gritting her teeth.

“A little carried away isn’t the half of it. What did you think you were doing?”

“I just wanted to make it look real – you know, the big buildup before the uh thing gets held up to shock those dumb rubes from Iowa in the audience? I really am sorry – I’ll be sure to trim my nails tonight. Can you find it in your heart to forgive a poor slob?”

Tim gave her that look that usually made women laugh and immediately forgive him. But Jilly was beginning to think Tim had some real issues with aggression. She was determined to talk with Billy again, and warn him about this guy.

On a hunch – with no evidence to back it up – the girl consults the obituaries on-line for the Sentinel. Sure enough, two days’ before, Elizabeth Stride, age 89 of the not-too-pleasant section of Orlando was listed as a death. She googled the woman’s name, but there was no article about her. She found a telephone number for Elizabeth, and dialed it. A man answered the phone. She identified herself, saying she thought she might know something about how Elizabeth was murdered. The man was quiet on the other end. Murdered? Why do you think Mother Elizabeth was murdered? The girl asked, “How did she die?” The man replied, “Who are you again?” The girl said she must have made a mistake -sorry to trouble you. The man says, “Wait – Mother Elizabeth was so old, we assumed she fell and accidentally cut herself – do you think she was murdered?