Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper by Robert Bloch (1943)
Tuesday’s Tale of Terror March 12, 2013
I’m not a butcher, I’m not a Yid, Nor yet a foreign skipper,
But I’m your own light-hearted friend
Yours truly, Jack the Ripper
This little poem is attributed to Jack the Ripper, reportedly written in 1888. We all know Jack as the elusive madman who butchered five prostitutes in the Whitechapel section of London. Jack’s narcissistic blood lust will forever haunt us. The Ripper disappeared quite suddenly in 1888, leaving the London police completely baffled—and history to guess about his identity and destiny. Scotland Yard presumed Jack died suddenly since the brutal murders did stop … or did they?
Robert Bloch, author of the novel Psycho, 1959 (Hitchcock made it into the famous film) can further chill our dark curiosities with his short story, Yours truly, Jack the Ripper. Here is the premise of Bloch’s story. What if … Jack is still alive today?
What if … by some magical black art, the Ripper offered his victims as blood sacrifices to the eternal dark gods and—incorporating lunar rhythms of power—Jack was granted eternal youth?
Ahaa, you say? The killer immortal? Let’s reach out and suspend disbelief.
Meet American psychiatrist John Carmody, living in Chicago. He encounters Sir Guy Hollis of the British Embassy, an esteemed and distinguished stranger in town.
What, were not in the drabs of London in the 19th century? We are not. We are in the Windy City, 1943.
Sir Guy tells Carmody, “I’m on the trail of Jack the Ripper … I think he’s here.”
On Jack the Ripper’s trail, over fifty years later? In Chicago, no less. Sir Guy is absolutely certain of Jack’s location. He even predicts the Ripper will strike again in this very city. He insists, “John Carmody, you and I are going to capture Jack the Ripper.”
Block writes a highly readable narrative with lively dialogue and a fast plot. The Chicago streets shiver with fog, lurking shrouds, and shadowy alleys. Dreaded fears mount at the corner of Twenty-ninth and South Halsted.
And here’s a bonus, Boris Karloff’s Thriller Theatre presented a film of Bloch’s short story. Watch it here (about 50 minutes), done in black and white and deliciously vintage.
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