Savage - Richard Laymon

PROLOGUE

Wherein I aim to whet Your Appetite for the Tale of my Adventures

London’s East End was rather a dicey place, but that’s where I found myself, a fifteen-year-old youngster with more sand than sense, on the night of 8 November 1888.

That was some twenty years back, so it’s high time I put pen to my story before I commence to forget the particulars, or get snakebit.

It all started because I went off to find my Uncle William and fetch him back so he could deal with Barnes. Uncle was a police constable, you see. He was a mighty tough hombre, to boot. A few words—or licks—from him, and that rascal Barnes wasn’t ever likely to lay another belt on Mother.

So I set out, round about nine, reckoning I’d be back with Uncle in less than an hour.

But it wasn’t in the cards for me to find him.

The way it all played out, I never saw Uncle William again at all, and I wasn’t to set eyes again on my dear Mother for many a year.

Sometimes, you wish you could start from scratch and get a chance to do things differently.

Can’t be done, however.

And maybe that’s for the best.

Why, I used to pine for Mother and miss my chums and wonder considerable about the life I might’ve known if only I hadn’t gone off to Whitechapel that night. I still have my regrets along those lines, but they don’t amount to much any more.

You see, it’s like this.

I ended up in some terrible scrapes, and got my face rubbed in more than a few ungodly horrors, but there were fine times aplenty through it all. I found wonderful adventures and true friends. I found love. And up to now, I haven’t gotten myself killed.

Had some narrow calls.

Run-ins with all manner of ruffians, with mobs and posses after my hide, with Jack the Ripper himself.

But I’m still here to tell the tale.

Which is what I aim to do right now.

With kindest regards from the Author

Trevor Wellington Bentley

Tucson, Arizona 1908

PART ONE

Off to Whitechapel and on to America

CHAPTER ONE

The Gentleman, Barnes

It was a lovely night to be indoors, where I sat all warm and lazy by the fire in our lodgings on Marylebone High Street. I had survived the awful tedium of studying my school lessons (needn’t have bothered with those, really), the servant had gone off to see her sweetheart, and I was perking up considerable with the help of Tom and Huck, who were hatching wild schemes to help Jim escape from Uncle Silas and Aunt Sally. Tom was an exasperating fellow. He never did anything the easy way.

Keen as I was on Mr. Twain’s book, however, I kept an ear open for the sound of footfalls on the stairs. And I kept not hearing any. There was just the sound of rain rapping on the window panes.

Mother should’ve been back some time ago. She’d left directly after supper to give her Thursday night violin lesson to Liz McNaughton, who had but one leg due to a carriage mishap on Lombard Street.

Though it was mean-spirited of me, I found myself wishing Liz had kept her leg and lost an arm. Would’ve put a damper on her violining. That way, Mother would’ve been spared the chore of paying her a visit on such a rough night, and I would’ve been spared my worries.

But worry I did.

I could never rest easy when Mother was away at night. I had no father, nor any but the foggiest memory of him, as he’d been a soldier attached to the Berkshires, and was fetched up dead by a