“This isn’t right.”
Constable Matthews muttered the words as he stood over the warehouse master’s lifeless corpse, following them with a violent curse.
He could understand waking to find a prostitute lying beneath a broken lamp, her throat cut by some dockside cur. He could understand the boy Jed, who so liked to stalk the ladies of the night, having his neck slit by a jealous lover.
But Master Jeply had been an honest, hard-working and god-fearing man. Far from indulging in pleasures of the flesh, he had treated the harbor women and tavern patrons like diseased mongrels, never letting even a breath of their wickedness touch his pure soul.
“Who, then? Who kills a whore, a peeping tom and a Christian?”
There was no answer readily apparent. Years of walking his beat by the docks had given Constable Matthews a wealth of experience, but it had also dragged him deeper into the routine until habit overcame intelligence.
As far as his mind was concerned, philanderers killed prostitutes, lovers murdered peeping toms and nobody had cause to harm a godly man. Watching from the shadows beside the warehouse, Jack’s sharp eyes caught every twitch of frustration on the constable’s furrowed brow.
Routine made for a fine constable, but a poor detective. And habit was the best friend of a dockside ripper. Jack stepped out of the shadows, fingering the razor blade in his pocket.
“Good morrow, Constable Matthews.” He called. “Bloody business that.”
The lawman’s hard gaze searched Jack’s face for a moment, no doubt drawing everything he knew about him from the dusty shelves of his mind. A good man, an honest man, perhaps even a godly man. No killer, good old Jack.
“Good morning to you. See anything strange the past few nights?”
“Not a peep, constable. You know I’m not one for going out after dark.”
You can find another crime short story here.
My historical novel can be found here.