"Oh stop 'avin me on! 'Avent we 'ad enough for one night!", Jimmy smiled at his fellow, waiting for him to smile and cheer 'only 'avin you on, mate', but he didn't, Tom just stood there, staring up at the chimney stack, perched on the roof of the last house of Millers Court,
"Jimmy?!!", the man was shaking! Trembling so hard Jimmy could almost feel it!,
"I'm 'ere, mate, whatcha see then?!", Jimmy asked in a calm gentle voice, even though the look of sheer terror on Tom's face was sending shivers up and down his spine,
"I was jus' Lookin', stare'in at nuffin, then......", he trailed off,
"Then??!!", pressed Jimmy, becoming more adgitated by the moment,
"I thought it was smoke, cummin out the chimney....then it moved?!",
"Smoke...does do that, mate!", Jimmy said softly, hoping to reassure Tom he had seen nothing,
"NO!", Tom yelled, desperate to make his point clear, still he stared up at the stack, "I mean to say, It stopped, Jimmy, I thought It was smoke, but it stopped rising, just stopped mid-air....", he turned to look Jimmy in the face. his eyes wide and face white, the very words spoken as if it actually caused him pain to say them, "it looked at me, Jimmy....it looked at me??!!!", his voice was near hysterical, Jimmy had to get him out of there, back to the station, get some whiskey in him and send him home. Nights could be tricky shifts, the lamp lights played tricks, the noises of rats and other night time creatures skuttling about, braver men than Tom had been spooked by these streets, but there were two things bothering Jimmy.
The first was, Tom had been a 'beat bobby' for twenty years, seen everything this city had to offer, murder, robberies, rioting and death, nothing had ever rattled the man, so why, seconds after enjoying a laugh with a mate, would Tom just suddenly lose his marbles? The second thing that bothered Jimmy at the moment, and bothered him more than he liked, was no matter what he thought he knew about London, no matter what he thought about life and it's mysteries, nothing could change the fact, that Jimmy had seen a dark, black, featureless figure against the back walls, of the path, in Millers Court!
Jimmy led Tom back to the station, avoiding the sargent as he toom Tom to the changing room, removed a bottle of cheap whiskey and two cups, from his locker, and poured them both a generous meassure,
" 'Ere you go, mate, get some of THAT in ya stomach, clear you right up!", Tom took the cup, but he was still in shock, staring blindly at the row of lockers behind Jimmy, middle distancing, lost in no thought at all, just the continuous image of that THING on the roof, looking at him!
Jimmy did his best to snap Tom out os his trance like state, but in the end was forced to report it to the duty sargent, who after several minutes of shouting,
"LOOK LIVELY OFFICER MORRIS!!", and a lot of shaking, that Jimmy wasn't convinced was helping, the sargent sent him home, which also proved pointless as Tom still refused to move, so, lifting him off his behind and tucking an arm behind his hefty weight, Jimmy prepared to carry his friend home,
"You'd 'ave thought!", he grumbled to Tom as they staggered out of the station, "they'd have let us 'ave a bloody coach!"
It seemed to take Jimmy forever to get Tom anywhere, every few steps, the stocky man's build overcame Jimmy and they had to stop again. The night was getting colder and Big Ben was striking midnight before Jimmy braced Tom between his front door and porch wall, and knocked for Mrs Morris, Tom's wife,
"WHAT THE 'ELL YOU DONE TO 'IM??!!", she shrieked, Jimmy tried to explain about what Tom said he saw, and everything else, subtly missing out the portion on Mary Kelly's house, but the distressed woman wasn't listening, to busy trying to drag her husband inside, and slamming the door on Jimmy's face.
Half an hour later, walking without purpose or destination, Jimmy found himself wandering through Dorsit street, he stopped walking, right at the entrance to Millers Court, cautiously, he peered down the path, it was empty,
"Don't think about it, just do it!", jimmy began walking down the path. He was still in his uniform, but had left his helmet and trunchen back at the station, and was really wishing he had both. He reached the corner that hours earlier, he was sure he had seen 'something' duck round, and stepped into the lamp light. On the corner he could see in both directions at once, Jimmy was being very hesitent about turning his back the path completely,
"Why are you doin this?!", he was asking himself, but the answer was easy, Tom was a good man and a fine officer, he say's he saw something, he saw something, and Jimmy was going to find out what!
Jimmy reached the back gate Tom had kicked off its hinges earlier, he stood at the foot of the path,leading to Mary's front door, he couldn't see her, but guessed she was still 'entertaining' from the shadows on the wall, someone was working vigorousy over the bed,
"Sweet dreams 'Ginger'!", he whispered, smiling, the smile faultering a moment later, when he realised he was only a few feet from the spot Tom had frozen on, where he claimed to have seen his ghost!
Jimmy stopped right where Tom had stopped, at first, his eyes refused to look up from the cobbled path, now questioning whether he want to know or not,
"Tom'll be OK! He'll get himself a nice desk job, filing papers, he'll be al'right!", the voice in his head doing its best to convince the rest of him that he should just turn around and go home,
"Your an Idiot!", he lifted his head, and turned his attention to the chimney stack.
The second, the very moment he fixed the stack, something rushed past the end of Millers Court, but it wasn't a ghost! He could hear heavy footsteps running down the cobbled road, then he realised, he was running too, he hadn't even meant to give chase, but something in his head was telling him, this was what he had to do! Jimmy pushed his legs as hard as he could, desperate to catch up with the figure. He reached a T at the end of Dorsit street, checking both directions, he spotted a figure running at full pelt down the left and took off after him again, the street ran straight for quite a way, giving Jimmy time to catch up enough to get a look at the fleeing man.
Jimmy could see him properlly now, a tall man, dressed in a long black over coat, what looked like black riding boots and black riding pants?! Perhaps someone had stolen his horse? Whoever the man was, Jimmy still knew he had to follow him! Then they both approached a side street that Jimmy knew well would lead to a dead end, just a small patch of grass and a bench facing the thames, blocked off by houses on either side, and nothing a head but deathly cold, dirty water, if he took that street, Jimmy would have him!
The figure stopped right by the entrance to the side street, Jimmy stopped too, unsure whether his heavy black boots had alerted the other to his presense, the figure tilted his head, but did not turn, Jimmy ducked down behind a parked coach, the figure seemed unsure of what to do, then slowly, walked down the side street, Jimmy lepped to his feet and ran as quickly and quietly as he could to street, stopping right on the corner and peaking round, the street was empty!
"Oh come off it!", Jimmy wheezed, trying to catch his breath
He walked across the grass, past the bench and to the railing to stop people falling into the river. Fishing bodies out of the thames happened far to often, the city was falling apart and the police couldn't maintain order, they were out manned and they knew it, even more so the Ripper killings started, ordinary, decent people were joining with groups of thugs to patrol the streets for the police, all hunting the same man.
Jimmy leaned against the rail, the metal cold against his bare hands, he looked over and up the river, London bridge was alive with lights of coaches crossing the river, he watched the world going by for a moment, starting to wish he had just gone home, but feeling less alone. That was when it dawned on him, we was feeling less alone..................was because he wasn't alone anymore.
Very, very slowly, Jimmy turned round, standing in front of him was the figure he'd been chasing, a good six inches taller than Jimmy, long, thin features, his hair was quite long and wet looking, half flopping over his face, but it was his eyes that transfixed Jimmy, they were not normal! The white of the eye was as you would expect, but the pupil seemed to have taken over the entire iris, a huge black, lifeless circle in the centre of each eye, they also seemed to be slightly to large to be normal too, to big for his face, like an owl or a fish, he took one long stride across the grass to Jimmy,