TUMBLETY: The Deathbed

Meanwhile in…


Dismal Creek Swamp, Norfolk, Virginia


A PHYSICIAN walks down the hall and plaintively knocks on the door at the end.

A dry wheezy cough sounds from the bedroom as the door opens a crack.

The door opens for the Physician.

JAMES MAYBRICK a wealthy Cotton Merchant from LIVERPOOL taking advantage of the post war turmoil to get a “leg up” in the cutthroat trade, lays in bed, deathly ill, lost in a state in delirium, stricken with TYPHO-MALARIAL FEVER. His face is darkened and flushed, hot and harsh to the touch. As he struggles to breathe, his mouth is slightly parted revealing a tongue heavily coated and brown, deeply fissured and cracked. His teeth blacked with SORDES, encrustations of blood, build- up and bacteria as he suffers the symptoms of the debilitating fever.

Typho-Malarial Fever occurs in the the end stage of malaria. A most pernicious disease. It is unfortunate this stage can be easily avoided if the proper care and treatment were to be administered in the first place. The fever comes on swiftly, suddenly and often without warning. The first paroxysm is marked with a chill occurring earlier in the day, subsiding at night. Though the patient may feel a couple hours of repose during this remission, the fever never fully subsides. Then the second paroxysm strikes, carrying on with as much or more intensity than the first attack. Thus signaling a series of fits following a remission that decreases in duration until it ceases all together. The fever assumes a continuous form.

MICHAEL MAYBRICK steps into the hallway and closes the door behind him to speak in private about his brother’s rapidly deteriorating condition. His face is tired, drawn and care-worn. The prominent composer who goes by the name Stephen Adams has come to Norfolk, Virginia to collect his brother and bring him back to Liverpool, England dead or alive. It is beginning to look like the latter.

Michael Maybrick and the Physician speak in hushed voices, though it doesn’t make much of difference whether poor James Maybrick hears them or not.

MICHAEL MAYBRICK shakes his head.
The quinine has no effect. In fact he is getting much worse. I don’t know how long he can go on. Earlier, he could barely breathe, much less speak, but when he did he begged for death. Yet, with every jagged breath he cursed the fact he is condemned to die in Virginia

There are far worse things than dying in Virginia.

Please, we’re from Liverpool… And now, now, he just stares, lost to us in state of delirium and debility. And if this forsaken festering swamp takes his life-

We haven’t tried everything.


There is a hint of hope in Michael Maybrick’s voice, despite the fact that his brother is a bit of an asshole, he doesn’t want to see him die like a dog in Dismal Creek Swamp.


I could have had him up and eating, health fully restored before the first remission ever occurred. There would have been no need to resort to something so drastic as a mineral poison such as Fowler’s Solution.

It is a solution of potassium arsenate. A general tonic used to treat an array of afflictions such as ulcers, hypertension, and rheumatoid arthritis. And more severe conditions such as leukemia and syphilis. If you haven’t realized, your brother isn’t the only one suffering from malaria here in Dismal Creek Swamp. Would you like me to administer the drug Mr…?

Adams. It’s Adams. Yes please do.


Michael Maybrick pauses in the doorway of James Maybrick chambers. Expecting fully to see the all too familiar form of his dying brother.

The room is empty and so is the bed. The sheets are stripped and the mattress is bare.

Michael Maybrick looks puzzled. His brother is nowhere to be seen.

Wisps of smoke rise up past the window. Firelight flickers outside.

With trepidation Micheal Maybrick crosses the room to look out the window.

EXT. Outside the Manor- NIGHT

James Maybrick stands in front of a fire watching his bedding burn. He happens to look up catching a glimpse of his brother in his bedroom window. He’s no longer a sickly brownish hue, his skin is flushed from the heat of the fire and not the fever. He breathes in deeply and gratefully, stretching his legs, digging his heels deep into the ground, arches his back, and grins triumphantly and toothily up at his brother.


What was born from the ashes of the sheets of his deathbed was not dear Jim at all. He arose from his expiry as something entirely different. A creature-a creature of habit. Arsenic, I have seen it ruin many good men. Had I been there to intervene with my medical expertise instead of being so wrongfully detained, I could have stopped all this. We more than likely would have met later under less horrific circumstances.


TUMBLETY: The Homily



Francis Tumblety stands at the counter of the coroner‘s office dripping wet from a recent summer rainstorm and on his very last nerve.

The room is ill lit and quite cluttered with piles of paperwork and various organs preserved in jars.

THE CORONER sits at his desk. He is a deplorable looking man, dingy and greasy with questionable stains on his work clothes. He more than likely drinks formalin recreationally. Just the kind of man that Francis Tumblety is looking for. However, The Coroner ignores his only customer.

FRANCIS TUMBELTY clears his throat growing increasingly aggravated as time passes.
Excuse me, Sir. I am Doctor Tumblety and I request your services… Sir… Sir.

THE CORONER finally turns his head and faces his only customer.
(abruptly )

Francis Tumblety glares for a moment taken aback.

What- it’s one in the morning. Can’t you see I have work to do.
(impatiently motions to the paperwork piled on his desk.)
Out with it, I’m busy.

I’m inquiring about your matrices, I’ll pay you-

Mattresses? Look, you’ve come to the wrong place.

Matrices, and you are a man of medicine?

There’s a whorehouse down the street.

Francis Tumblety grimaces at the mention of the whorehouse. There is a short intake of breath then he blows up.

(gathers his composure and continues more candidly)
As I have said before I am willing to pay whatever price for any specimens you are-


Please sir, you are the only one who can help me, everyone turned me down even the Pathological Museum…

I can see why. You call yourself a doctor?

Yes, good sir, I am.

I bet you are, and I’m the fucking Queen of England. What did you say you needed these matrices for?

I’m having a dinner party.





Francis Tumblety’s quarters are well kept and well paid for. He is clearly a man of means and this party is held for Washington DC’s elite, politicians and military men. Noticeably missing from this particular party is women.

Seated at the card table across from Francis Tumblety is Colonel Dunham who looks around the room.

COLONEL DUNHAM catches his host’s attention.

Say Doctor, I happened to notice that aren’t any women in attendance. Why is that? My wife-

Francis Tumblety sets down the deck of cards that he was just about to deal. He looks at the Colonel, his eyes grow as dark as thunderclouds.

Women? No Colonel, I don’t know of any such cattle. And if I did, I would as your friend, give you a quick dose of poison than take you into such danger.

The room grows silent, his gentlemen friends look awkwardly amongst each other at the Good Doctor’s utterance.

Filthy vile creatures, Whorebeasts, Satan himself stemmed from a vagina. I have seen it. The mouth of hell itself.

Francis Tumblety abandons the game of cards and gets up from the table. He purposefully crosses the room to a pair of french doors that he slides wide open.

The parlor has been to converted into a study, or a pathological museum of his own. The room is furnished with cases, some round and square, comprised of glass and others made out of wood resembling wardrobes. Each shelf in each case is entirely occupied with jars of anatomical specimens. Some animal, but most of them are human.

At the Good Doctor’s behest the guests stand to join him in the doorway, puzzled at what Francis Tumblety is about to reveal.


Francis Tumblety approaches one of the wardrobes and swings the wooden doors wide open. As he does so he burst into a homily berating all of womankind with an emphasis on the “fallen ones.”



The sin and folly of dissipation
as self-indulgent as masturbation.
A licentiousness that plagues the nation,
evil is the seed of propagation.
And a whore is a scourge in reprobation
it’s divine right to end this abomination.

Francis Tumblety grabs a jar containing an organ that appears to be a uterus.

A PARTY GUEST leans into another.
Is that a womb?

FRANCIS TUMBLETY (cont singing)

Harlots and trollops,
Pinchpricks and dollymops and whores.
Harlots and trollops,
Pinchpricks and dollymops and whores.

As he sings he dramatically  presents the specimen to his party guests and places it neatly on a desk in front of them. When he is finished there are six of them in total.

COLONEL DUNHAM looks puzzled his eyebrows are knitted in a look of concern.

Well then… I’m sorry I asked.

The room is silent.