She looked down as the blade penetrated her dress.
“Oh God, please, No!” she shrieked.
“There’s no two ways about it, Missy, this is how it’s got to be done. Now be a luv and do shut your painted mouth, whore, and let old Jack do his work.”
She giggled and spun around to look at all the other dresses in the tailor’s shop. She loved Jack’s dirty mouth, loved bantering with him in this slutty way. And he did good work. When a working girl had been prospering and gaining a little weight from all those meals paid for by all those slimy clients, Jack was the one to let her dresses out, make them suitable apparel again. And he worked so quickly. His hands moved like a dream as he cut and basted and sewed. He was so good he could do it without even looking down, could tailor while carrying on a conversation and meeting your gaze.
“I suppose we shouldn’t joke,” he said. “It’s truly a dire situation with this lunatic butcher on the loose. I do hope you’re being careful, Catherine.”
“Oh, I know who to approach, love, and who to flee like the plague. Trust me, I’m not letting some complete stranger corner me in a dark alley. Not this bird! I’d sooner eat pigeon pie with a leper’s spoon.”
They chatted a few more minutes, settled the bill (with the customary discount Jack gave to the ladies in that line of work) and then the shop door chimed and she was gone into the night.
Jack loved talking to the girls. They told him everything about their lives because they knew he was discreet and non-judgmental. He knew their schedules, knew where to find them and at what hours. He knew their “dead hours” when they would be alone and hungry for business. He even knew where they lived. And, most importantly, they knew him. So should they encounter him on a foggy street at 3 a.m., they were never alarmed. It was just the dressmaker, the confidant. And should he suddenly prove himself to be thoroughly human, in need of a little attention himself, well, what a surprise, but not really. Men are men, aren’t they? And here was a chance to reciprocate that discount he offered all of them on their tailoring. A true gentleman. One deserving of a little pleasure. And so they would turn into the dark alley with him, that place they would never go with any mere stranger.
Jack walked into the back of his shop and laid the bolt of fabric back on its shelf. He looked down at a small pottery jar. He smiled as he removed the lid. He dumped the contents of it into his palm. Some liquid spilled between his fingers, then percolated down between the wooden floor boards below. Not blood but a preservative.
It was so beautiful to him. He loved holding it. Who knew a kidney could be one of the most sensual parts of a woman, almost as pleasing to feel as a beautiful mouth whose lips formed a Cupid’s bow.
He returned the souvenir to its receptacle, replaced the lid, and turned down the gaslight before leaving the storeroom. He turned down the light in his work room that fronted that busy London street, stared from darkness into darkness for a few moments, then stepped outside, locked his shop door, and disappeared into the fog.
He felt more alive as he became less visible in the fog. He never felt so charged as he did when he felt invisible. The London night was moist. It was moist with pleasure and promise. Jack passed a public clock and smiled at its glowing face. It was a countdown to ecstasy tonight. He had his tools on him. Time for some drinking and fantasizing, to whet his appetite. He couldn’t wait to see her familiar face on some desolate street corner, couldn’t wait to hear her voice chime, “Fancy running into you here!” It was just like tailoring, this night work. It took patience and the human touch. You just had to understand how all the parts fit together. If you wanted the pleasure of ripping it all to pieces later.