The Happy Valley: Spiritualism and Lies

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Evelyn Lavinia Bainbridge rolled her eyes far back into her head and tilted her chin upward, tuning into a different frequency. “You have,” she said her words drawn out and far away as she gripped the hotel bar table with splayed fingers. Then she dropped her head as well as the charade and looked Deeds dead in the eye, “something seriously wrong with you.”

“Don’t we all?” Deeds spit out at the medium looking dead serious.

Evelyn shook her head; she really didn’t have time for this. Lately, there had been a crazed fan in every town she’d been through. Why did she think Knowlton’s Corner would be any different? What kind of name is that? She wondered. She had a bad feeling about this place as soon as she crossed into the city limits.

“You feel it too, don’t you?” Deeds asked as if she picked up on her signal. “Everything looks smooth and slow on the surface, but down below a dangerous undertow rages. Right now it grips our ankles tight dragging us along on one hell of a bumpy ride.”

“That is not exactly how I’d put it,” Evelyn Lavinia Bainbridge paused and jutted out her bottom jaw, and shook her head. She really did not have the time for this and she said as much. “Look, it is getting late. I have to get going, and the sooner I get on the road and out of this town the better.” She stood up, leaving the rest of the glass of wine behind. She wasn’t that thirsty anyway.  “Excuse me, I have to go.”

Deeds looked up from her side of the table, but made no move to stop the spiritualist’s departure.  “How have you been sleeping Ms. Bainbridge?” She asked calmly to her back.

Evelyn swore as she realized she had only made it one step before she stopped in her tracks.

“How long has it been since you’ve had a solid night’s sleep?  Do the dreams terrorize you every night like they do me?”

Don’t turn around, don’t turn around, don’t turn around, Ms. Bainbridge repeated in her mind. “I’ve been sleeping quiet well, thank you,” she said civilly but her tone was nowhere near polite.  She forced herself to take another step. The rest will come easy, she thought, her eyes focused on the door.

“It’s been eight years for me, Evelyn.”

Don’t turn around. Do not engage. “It’s Ms. Bainbridge,” She said tersely.

“Running away isn’t going to help you, Ms. Bainbridge. Believe me, I’ve tried.”

The spiritualist swore under her breath as she couldn’t help but turn around and face Deeds as she still sat at the table. Octavia Anton Deeds looked like train wreck disguised as a human being. There was an underlying unquiet behind the eyes. Even though she had bathed and a put on clean clothes for a public appearance she still looked grey around the edges and green around the gills. Her wide mouth was drawn down in a frown as she chose her next words wisely. “They always find you.”

“Who?” she muttered flustered.

“The Time-”

“There you go with the Timeless Ones, again.” She interrupted. “And no I don’t need to see that damned relic,” she added upon seeing Deeds reach into that ratty bag of hers.  Creepy snake-lady, she said under her breath. That thing gave her the heebie-jeebies.

Deeds struggled for a second trying to find a new approach; she reached across the table for cocktail napkin and deftly pulled a pen out of her bag instead. “There is a house here in town,” She said scrawling down the address and sliding it across the table towards the direction of the psychic. “There is a hole in the world in the basement. It is growing every day and soon it will be big enough to let Them through. The Timeless Ones are here to finish what They have started. There are mushrooms growing in the cellar, they-“

“Well, that explains it,” Evelyn huffed.

“The owner of the house is desperately ill.”

“Then take him to the doctor.”

“There is a cat that is not a cat,” She blurted out knowing she was losing her. She should just stop talking, Deeds thought, and just walk away. “There is also a  ghost and he’s pissed off because he’s been through this once already!” She paused unsure if what she was going to say next was a wise choice or not, but she didn’t have time for thinking. Evelyn Lavinia Bainbridge was mentally out the door. She could see it in her eyes. “You’ve heard about what happened this morning, right? The carnage along the canal? That was me, I did that.”

The medium felt her mouth hang open and her blood pool at her feet. Every instinct told her run and leave Knowlton’s Corner and leave this lunatic Deeds behind for good. “Then you need to be locked up.”

“It gets worse as each night passes. I need your help, Evelyn, I can’t do it alone and I’m terrified of what comes next.”

“Good luck with that. I’m leaving. Why wait until tomorrow? The farther I am away from you the better.”

Deeds looked dejected, “why won’t you help me? It is your job isn’t it? ‘Evelyn Lavinia Bainbridge famed psychic medium, renowned spiritualist, piercer of the veil and seer into other worlds; recount past lives and speak with loved ones lost.’ How can you pass something like this up?”

She felt her skin flush and the tips of her ears grow red with anger before she knew it Ms. Bainbridge bore down on Deeds as she slapped her hands on the table in front of her and brought her head down and her eyes perfectly level with Deed’s unsettling gaze. Her  voice dropped dangerously low, “because I do theater!” For one horrible second she silently prayed that she didn’t say that too loud for if word got out that it was all a ruse. Part of her was relieved that it was out in the open. It had been a secret she kept locked away and never once uttered aloud, not even to her own self. “I’m telling you, it’s all an act,” she brought her head in even closer trying to avoid Deed’s wide set and weary watery gray eyes. “I can’t see spirits,” she whispered. “I can’t really speak to your love ones lost, recount past lives or pierce the veil and gaze into other worlds. Every single person that comes to one of my show is just so desperate to believe in something. I give them what they need, closure.”

“What about you, don’t you believe in something?” Octavia Deeds asked as if unfazed by her big revelation.  “Do you want to find closure?”

“No,” she said resolutely and brought herself back up to her full height. “I don’t.” She turned around without another word.

Deeds sighed in resignation for she knew she lost her. She was going to have to finish this alone. Despite the fact the Spiritualist had admitted that it was all an act, that didn’t matter; she still knew she needed her. “You’re not going to help me aren’t you?”

“No, I’m not,” she said shortly and made her way to the door.

Deeds sank into the back of the chair becoming boneless as she watched her leave. “What is the point?” she muttered aloud. She was beginning to wonder if maybe she was turning into one of the religious zealots she was hearing so much about lately; seeming so desperately normal and willfully ignorant but obscenely repressed with a growing and hardening pit of depravity until one day a poisoned fruit springs forth. If only she could be so lucky she thought and her eyes wandered to the forgotten glass of wine at the table. It has been so long since she had known the truth. Evelyn Lavinia Bainbridge was probably long gone by now. She didn’t blame her at all. Deed’s remembered being that naïve once, actually thinking she could get away. She held up the glass in a silent toast, wishing her the best of luck as she finished the wine for her. She replayed the words they exchanged in her mind. What she had thought was persuasion just sounded crazy. Maybe she should be locked up, she thought and gulped and cringed. She had no head for wine.

 

Evelyn Lavinia Bainbridge stared at her hotel bed. Freshly made, it looked inviting enough. Graced with clean and pressed linens without a crease upon them and topped with a downy duvet and fluffed pillows. She ran her fingers along the along the soft supple surface but she could not bring herself to climb inside and find the comforting embrace of sleep.

“How have you been sleeping Ms. Bainbridge?” The grim words of Octavia Deeds echoed in her head. “How long has it been since you’ve had a solid night’s sleep? Don’t the dreams terrorize you every night like they do me?” Her voice sounded so calm yet cut right through her. She couldn’t help but turn around, how had she known?

She had told Deeds that she had been sleeping just fine and she hoped that she saved enough face for that had been an outright lie. It had only been three days since the night terrors began but it still gripped her subconscious in a tight unyielding embrace. She remembered waking up choking and clawing at her own throat as she forced the air that wouldn’t come into her lungs. Around her the shadows grew solid, there were so many of them, she was surrounded and they clouded her vision. Every dark spot was a soul and she was drowning in a sea of them. They came from all walks of life, spanning every generation through time, and they all wanted something from her. Their demands turned into a dull roar. She could not make an each individual voice out but they all carried a lilting urgency. She couldn’t move, she couldn’t speak back  because they had taken her breath away.

The renowned spiritualist tore her gaze away from the bed and looked down at her body; she imagined the red welts beneath her clothes burning cold. Marks from where the souls had touched her. It had felt that real. She had started off in theater, everything since its inception had been an act. She couldn’t really speak to spirits, but it was as if the dam had burst and they rushed at her. The next night had been more of the same and so had the night after that.

“It’s been eight years for me, Evelyn.” The words of Octavia Anton Deeds echoed through her head again.

“Eight years,” Evelyn Lavinia Bainbridge muttered aloud and repeated, “eight years.” Absently, she stared off and unwittingly sat down upon the bed. The dark now frightened her, and every speck of shadow was an unfulfilled soul. She refused to sleep with the lights off, “this isn’t going away, is it?” She muttered drawing the grim conclusion as she felt her head sink down into the plush pillows.

The Happy Valley: Not a Cat

20813823_10211778341267441_520477543_nI’m about ten chapters into this incarnation of the same story that I’ve been trying to write for years now. Naturally, I’m looking to get rid of half of the chapters, but I’ll worry about that later. The working title is The Happy Valley and this bit is from chapter 9 or so and it pretty much sums up where this story is heading.

 

Max Grander jolted awake as soon as he hit the floor. He may not have been all together there to begin with but he had more of his faculties about him than he had earlier. He took a moment to shake the remaining clouds from his mind. He looked down at his ratty dingy bathrobe and his filthy sticky flesh and grew increasingly appalled at his surroundings. He appeared to be alone in abominable basement. The latest intruder into his house, Deeds, was sucked into the storm drain. For he all knew, his ghost friend had only been a construct born out of his own maddened mind-

“She’s gone,” he heard the solemn voice beside him and his periphery grew black. Grander jumped, it was one more scare to add to the evening- or whatever time it happened to be. He didn’t know how much more his heart could take. It was as if his fevered imagination had come into fruition. He turned to face his shadowed friend. “Can you-” he stammered in awe and asked in earnest, “read my thoughts?”

“Oh-” Bracken paused and Grander swore he saw him visibly shudder at the thought. “Dear Gods no-nonono… no…” He trailed off as he watched Grander’s face grow etched in worry. Gingerly, he pulled himself to his wobbly bare feet and tugged his robe closer. The fusty fabric offered little comfort. “The mushrooms-‘ he muttered searching his surroundings for the fearsome fungus. “Where are the mushrooms?” The last time Grander saw them they were of infinite size and they were spreading. He ascended into the heavens with them and from there he watched the world burn. From just the thought of it happening he felt his knees give out. For a horrible second he thought he’d never stop falling, but he regained his footing.

“They are still in the coal chamber,” Bracken pointed to in the cramped room that no light dared to touch. “Albeit a bit squished, her fall kicked up quite a cloud, you received a heavy dose.” He said drolly.

“You’re not affected by the spores?” Grader asked and realized it was a stupid question the moment it came out of his mouth.

“Nope,” Bracken said, his tone was dour but there was a hint of relief in his voice, and he held out a hand. “There is nothing to cling to. They just pass through. You and her-” he motioned to the hole in the floor as if the beast that was once Deeds would explode back out of it.

“I don’t like this!” Max Grander shouted after a few seconds of silence. It was clear something was bubbling up inside him ready to blow, suddenly enraged, he screamed at the shadowed form before him, “any of it! The spores, the fever, I keep getting knocked out every night and waking up on the damned floor. There are intruders, and mushrooms, and monsters. I’m shouting at a ghost! I’m- I’m just sick of it!” He whined and opined his laundry list of complaints that had accumulated over the past few days. His spittle sprayed through Bracken, “everything!” He even saw the world end, but he dared not say that part aloud. But deep down there was a part of him that secretly wished it would. “I just want this insanity to end,” he sobbed for a second and managed to gain his composure. Max Grander huffed and fussed with front of his robe.  With new resolve he made his way to the rickety cellar steps that led to the world upstairs. “I’m going to get this off of me,” he motioned to his bare skin. “I’m going to have a long hot soak in the tub, and then I’m going to pet my cat until I fall asleep!”

On a mission, Grander disappeared through the blasted basement doorway. Behind him it appeared as if Bracken had grown ashen.

Tumblety’s Spiel

While I am still working on the character bios and chapter outlines of my current story: Cocksmythe and Deeds I have decided to revisit this. And yes, three years later it is STILL a work in progress.

TerminalJournalism

A scene from an ongoing project of mine. A script about the infamous and illustrious career of Herbal Medicine Doctor and AmericanJack the Ripper suspect: Francis Tumblety.  So far, it is over a year in the making and I am pleased to say I have penned the first song. Yeah, it’s a musical.

 

EXT. STREET CORNER-AFTERNOON

FRANCIS TUMBLETY works the crowd as an Herbal Doctor, peddling his medicine. He strikes an imposing figure. Standing slightly over 6 feet, he is a head above the rest of the crowd, as they wave money and fight for his attention. Dressed in the most up to date fashion, he is clearly a man of means. Behind him is his equally amazing white stallion. What is most impressive about the well-spoken and charismatic gentleman is his mustache, dyed black to match his hair, it sweeps grandiosely off his upper lip. In fact…

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DARK DAYS ON THE DIXIE HIGHWAY: DIARY OF A THIRD SHIFT ZOMBIE

It has been while since I posted anything here. The Boilertown book may be on the back burner (much like my musical comedy about Jack the Ripper suspects) but fear not for I have another project underway. And by underway I mean I have compiled, formatted, edited, and embellished 104 pages so far of my newest manuscript. It is a darker, harsher, and even more harrowing tale of my two year reign as a third shift gas station customer service representative. It is called DARK DAYS ON THE DIXIE HIGHWAY: DIARY OF A THIRD SHIFT ZOMBIE. Below is an excerpt of the introduction which has a heavy dose of foreshadowing.

How to be Subhuman

He squatted outside the convenience store with his back pressed up against the bricks hugging his knees as he stared off into the night. His eyes were wide and his skin was pale as if it had been a while since the unfortunate looking third shift cashier had seen the sun. Something was off about the guy like he was subhuman almost anthropomorphic. Whatever he was he wasn’t quite right. “My,” I drunkenly remarked aloud as I passed weaving my way inside. “He looks positively… Simian.” It wasn’t the exact word I was looking for and something told me that the statement should have stayed inside my head. “I hope I don’t turn out like that.” Perhaps I said this a little too loudly. For an instant our eyes met. He shrugged and took a drag of his cigarette before clipping it. Will that be my fate? I wondered. My mind raced as he cashed out my purchases. His detached gaze was disconcerting. It was as if he did not look directly at his customer but stared deep into the blank spaces of reality behind me. Am I going to turn into some kind of half deranged half brain -dead manimal like him? A saucer-eyed subterranean dweller like something out of an HG Wells novel. A Morlock or even one of those mad man-beasts from the Island of Doctor Moreau. What depraved and sleep deprived depths would I reach and how far am I willing to go? It wasn’t a question of if it would happen but when. When will I undergo my own transmutation? Soon I was to join their ranks.

Escape from Boilertown: THE BOOK

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(Photo by Larry Combs)

I have undergone the painstaking process of converting the script of the Boilertown saga into a book format. Three weeks later I’m past the hundred page point and I’m having a great time finding clever new ways of filling the pages. Granted, this particular portion of the story is pretty much pulled out of Super Mario Bros.

Deep down underground in the pipes of Boilertown, barely visible in the darkness, shades of rust and algae were dimly lit by the phosphorescent glow of various plant and animal life. Fenmore LeMerde and Ms Marlybone trekked farther out of Boilertown, the place that held them captive for so long. No one one could say they would miss it much.

They were in a smallish tunnel compared to the ones that he was in previously. This one was only thirty feet high. Fenmore LeMerde looked toward the ceiling and watched a shadow bulge and loom overhead as a creature lumbered toward them from the opposite direction. It had a sharp beak-like snout, a wide brow, and a heavily horned head. The eyes were tiny, beady, and black. “What is that thing?” he asked tilting his head sideways and squinted his eyes for a better view. What they witnessed wholly defied logic. Even for Boilertown.

“And why is it on the ceiling?” Ms Marlybone instinctively pulled out her ray run. Fenmore LeMerde followed in suit. The bulky body of the beast came into view, sturdily reinforced with oval shaped armored plates, ribbed and ridged with rows of horns along the sides of the large outer shell. The clubbed and barbed tail whipped at them and smashed into the ceiling. Pieces of pipe plummeted. “Ahh!” Fenmore LeMerde started and shot up at the small-brained brute. The laser blast ricocheted off the armored body only angering it. Looking down at the offender it blinked it’s beady black eyes. Then the head and all four short stumpy legs withdrew into the shell. Just like that it dropped. Ms Marlybone shot him a look wordlessly calling him an idiot as the shell alone reaching at least fifteen feet in diameter came crashing to the sewer floor. Fenmore LeMerde held down his top hat and put away his pistol. “Duck!” he hollered and they split off, diving into the edges of the tunnel, laid down, and shrank in as far as they could. They sucked in their chests and stomachs and dared not breathe as the shell spun and hurtled toward them, bouncing off the sewer walls. The spikes sent sparks sailing with every impact. It missed the two of them by mere millimeters. Once the shell roared past, gaining momentum with the downward slope, Fenmore LeMerde stood up and dusted himself off. He offered a hand to Ms Marlybone and helped her up as well. All the while she gave him that look. “What,” Fenmore LeMerde said.

“Really?” The shell crashed and boomed as it bounced and slid careening around the corner and out of view. Something snarled as it hurtled toward another obstacle as it continued on its perilous trajectory.

“How was I supposed to know that was going to happen?” 

BOILERTOWN: Dinosaurs in the Sewers

This is the prologue to the epic Steampunk backstory of my housemates and I. Larry Sparrow as “Fenmore LeMerde,” MaryAnne TheContrarian McClusky as “Ms. Marlybone” and I “Greta Scot.” The more we discussed it, our story grew crazier and crazier. It’s set in the future at the very end of the world. There’s violence, science, time travel, and potty humor. The project has been going on for about five years now. I’ve always thought it would make a great cartoon or comic book.

 

THE BOILERTOWN SAGA: Dinosaurs in the Sewers.
By Jessica Hopsicker 12/18/2013

FENMORE LeMERDE stands in the sewer pipe alone packing a pair of pistols. Directly behind him is a narrow metal spiral staircase, it raises up and up and disappears entirely in the darkness. Nor can he see anything before or behind him.

FENMORE LeMERDE
Well…

He says to himself for there is no one else around.

FENMORE LeMERDE
Right

He reassures himself and straightens up his jacket, being the well dressed man that he is, even if he is in the vast underground sewer system of Boilertown.

Fenmore LeMerde raises his pistols and takes his very first step into the great unknown.

Cakes of rusty brown vibrate on the sewer floor beneath his feet. He stops and looks at his shoes.

The ground beneath him jolts and shakes suddenly.

There’s a loud crash. It sounds like thunder. Followed by a great wailing.

Fenmore LeMerde maintains his footing as he’s jostled about. His pistols ready to fire.

The wail becomes a growl and then a furious howl.

Far ahead he catches a strange light glinting off of something white: Teeth.

There is a loud thwack as powerful jaws snap shut.

Not one but two colossal creatures round the corner and rear into view. They’re reptilian out of something he’s only seen in his story books.

They fight to their death right before his very eyes.

The one with the long neck, whipping tale and equally impressive jaw opens up and rears back ready to strike. It’s opponent though far less graceful looking makes up for it with sheer girth and bulkiness, lunges forward and barrels into the body of his assailant, ramming the monster into the sewer pipe wall.

Chunks of brown rain down of Fenmore LeMerde’s head.

The beasts battle, tearing at each other with teeth and talons. All the while they continue barreling down the sewer pipe.

Severely out gunned at a time like this Fenmore LeMerde drops his pistols without a second thought makes a beeline for the spiral staircase.

Up and up he twirls to the surface, gripping the pole tightly with both hands for there are no rails to hold on to. Within reach of neither the surface nor the sewer floor Fenmore LeMerde finds himself in the midst of the the deadly duel.

The staircase just below him snaps like a dry twig as the stocky one rears up on it’s hind legs and lounges for its more slender enemy on the other side.

Fenmore LeMerde hugs the staircase as hard as he can for he finds his boots are touching nothing at all. He lifts his legs at a 90 degree angle as the two behemoths battle directly below his bottom. He hollers until he’s hoarse but his sounds are swallowed immediately by the roaring dinosaurs.

Fenmore LeMerde hoists himself up to the remaining staircase, as a swift flick of the graceful one’s tail knocks the top hat clear off his head.

His hat drops into the billowing dust clouds below.

The creatures disappear around the corner continuing to snap at each others’ throats.

Fenmore LeMerde launches himself up the last steps to the door that leads to his surface salvation.

At the top he looks down one last time into the murky darkness. His belongings have utterly vanished. The top hat he will miss terribly but he could care less about the pistols at this point.

Standing on a balcony with a thin spiral stair that drops off to nowhere Fenmore LeMerde sighs heavily. Exhausted and in a state of shock, he throws open the metal door and falls inside.

The only thing that sticks out of the door is his dirty brown boots.

Fenmore LeMerde
I’m going to need a bigger gun.

He army crawls through the doorway and kicks it shut behind him.

TUMBLETY: Dear Florie

EXT. Ship Deck-Day

FLORENCE CHANDLER stands on the deck, her hands grip the rail as she  squints against the sun as it glints against the abundant waves. The ship pitches and heaves and her stomach does the same. She is green and seasick yet still a vision to behold for the cunning and trolling eyes of James Maybrick. She is a young debutante and the picture of wealth and southern beauty.

James Maybrick slides up beside her unnoticed.

FLORIE CHANDLER
(whimpers and swallows hard)
Please no. Don’t.

JAMES MAYBRICK raises his hands and politely attempts to back away.
I’m terribly sorry Miss, I’ll be out of your way-

FLORIE CHANDLER starts and smiles bashfully and places a hand on her chest as she finally notices him.
(flustered)
Oh! You startled me…I wasn’t talking to you.

JAMES MAYBRICK
And who my dear were you talking to?

FLORIE CHANDLER blushes a touch of color against her pallor.
(breathlessly)
The waves the ocean…

JAMES MAYBRICK
Are you seasick?

FLORIE CHANDLER
Yes, and I can’t help but keep thinking that land is just beyond the horizon.

JAMES MAYBRICK chuckles in spite of himself.
I am genuinely sorry to hear that, Miss. We have only departed this morning.

FLORIE CHANDLER
I know that. It’s just- and you Sir, if you don’t me asking, where are you from?

JAMES MAYBRICK
Liverpool, England. I know for a fact this voyage lasts six days.

FLORIE CHANDLER
Dear me- Liverpool, what is that like?

JAMES MAYBRICK
My favorite time of the year is June when everything is in full bloom.

FLORIE CHANDLER
That sounds lovely, I would very much like to see it someday.

JAMES MAYBRICK
I am sure you will.

The ship pitches. Young Florie who is too busy staring at James, she looses her footing and falls into his arms.

FLORIE CHANDLER pulls away after a prolonged moment.
I am so sorry Mister-?

JAMES MAYBRICK gives her a proper introduction.
James Maybrick.

FLORIE CHANDLER reciprocates the greeting.
Florence Chandler. I prefer Florie.

JAMES MAYBRICK
Well Florie, it is a pleasure to make your acquaintance. I am sorry we couldn’t have met under more pleasant circumstances. I would very much like to see you again, and it is my selfish hope that time will go by as slow as you think it does now.

FLORIE CHANDLER blushes and blurts out
Will you please have dinner with us?

INT. GALLEY- Nightfall

James Maybrick joins Florie, her mother the Baroness Caroline Chandler Du Barry von Roques, her older brother Holbrook and the Ship’s Captain for dinner.

JAMES MAYBRICK is as guile as ever as he’s introduced to Florie’s Mother.
My Madam, that is a lot of surnames. I am so pleased to meet you.

The Baroness Caroline Chandler Du Barry von Roques blushes just like her daughter.

Florie’s older brother HOLBROOK is uptight and having none of it.
(snidely)
Mr. Maybrick, from what I hear of the cotton trade, if it is going so well for you, whatever would possess you to want to leave the country?

FLORIE CHANDLER chides her older brother.
Holbrook.

JAMES MAYBRICK
Death. You see not too long ago, I was mere inches from dying. Stricken with severe case of malaria my own mortality was almost squashed by a singular mosquito.

James Maybrick swats the table for effect.

Both Florie and her mother jump.

JAMES MAYBRICK mainly addresses Florie at this point with the utmost sincerity.
I will never forget gasping for air, each new breath drawn was a battle. I couldn’t breathe, but I could think. Oh God, I could think. It all became frighteningly clear that this was the end and everything that I worked for was for nothing. I thought about my legacy for there was none. Unwed, no children to speak of and no one to carry out my name. It occurred to me that material wealth is not everything. There was family. But by then I thought it was too late for me. With luck, I have recovered and have been redeemed.

Florie Chandler practically swoons.

The Baroness Caroline Chandler Du Barry von Roques has her eyes on the Ship’s Captain.

Holbrook sneers.

INT. FLORIE’S ROOM- NIGHT

Young Florie is in her bedroom, getting ready for the evening. There is lightness about her- a radiance. She picks up her sleeping gown and dances with it daydreaming about a bright and brilliant future.

FLORIE CHANDLER

I’ll be the bell of the ball,
and make every social call.
I’ll have my fortune and my fame,
and cotillions in my name.
I’ll put on airs in all affairs.
Oh, how happy I will be in high society.
A stranger to strife never work in my life
if I could be your wife. Oh James.

EXT. SHIP DECK – night

JAMES MAYBRICK roams the deck alone at night unwilling to retire just yet.

Your beauty cannot compare
to such fruit that life can bear.
With your flowing golden hair
and your lovely dead-eyed stare
like you are neither here or there
With a figure so widely storied
you will be my crowning glory
and I’ll lithely slip inside Dear Florie.

James Maybrick doses.

EXT. DOCK- Day

The SS Baltic reaches land six days later. Two of the five Maybrick brothers show up the dock up to greet James, Michael and the younger brother Edwin.

James Maybrick grins like a cat that ate a canary.

Florie Chandler is linked at his elbow completely over the moon.

Behind them is Holbrook and the Baroness.

Holbrook sneers in their direction.

Michael Maybrick’s face changes in a look of growing concern as the happy couple approaches.

Edwin Maybrick leers at Florie.

MICHAEL MAYBRICK
Who is this?

EDWIN MAYBRICK
Good question.

JAMES MAYBRICK greets his siblings exuberantly.
My brothers, how good it is to see you again! I would like you to meet my fiancée Florence Chandler.

MICHAEL MAYBRICK
You’re engaged to be married?

FLORIE CHANDLER greets each of the Maybrick Brothers with a big squishy hug. She can no longer contain her excitement.
Isn’t it grand?

MICHAEL MAYBRICK is less than thrilled.
You met in Norfolk I take it.

JAMES MAYBRICK
Oh, no. We met on the ship.

MICHAEL MAYBRICK
(in shock and disbelief)
On the ship? It’s a six day voyage!

FLORIE CHANDLER
(enthusiastically)
I know!

MICHAEL MAYBRICK leans in closer to James just to make sure he’s hearing him right.
How old is she?

JAMES MAYBRICK
Nineteen.

Michael Maybrick clamps his mouth tightly shut unable to respond.

EDWIN MAYBRICK gives James a good nudge with his elbow.
Good job.

Edwin then turns his attention to Holbrook who is still glowering even with all the excitement.

EDWIN MAYBRICK (cont)
What is going on with him?

James Maybrick shrugs.

MICHAEL MAYBRICK still glowers at his brother.
(under his breath)
My brother is an idiot.