You Don't Know Jack by Baik_710 November 08, 2020

Chapter 4

Bleary-eyed, I finished the page on the human digestive system. I hadn't slept all that much that night as I had been riddled with nightmares filled with visages of my father and blood. To me, staying up to read about the extensive size of the intestines and how they are connected to the throat and mouth were far more pleasurable.

 

I shook off my fatigue as best I could and went about my morning, eating a rather meager breakfast and taking my daily dose of coco leaf. I was starting to run low, I realized, so I made a note to myself to speak with a physician who could provide me with more that day. I was still shaking off sleep when I ran into that grungy fellow who had sold me a paper a while ago. He had again managed to procure the day's paper. I didn't question it of course. If he had gotten a job as a paperboy or had stolen them it was the police's business, not mine. He blocked my path, forcing me to make a purchase. I gave him my money and put the paper under my arm, not giving it a second thought.

 

When I arrived at the firm, I saw Frederick pacing back and forth on the front steps. I walked up to him and placed my hand on his shoulder, startling him.

"Frederick? What is the matter man? Why are you in such an agitated state?" I asked, "You look like you've seen a ghost!"

"Ephraim! You gave quite the start just then! But wait, you haven't read the news?" Frederick replied, a tremble in his voice.

"News? Not yet. I have it here" I said pulling out from under my arm. When I saw the headline I was speechless. There, in large black print, read "Ripper Strikes Again!" Now it was Frederick's turn to be concerned.

"Are you quite alright, Ephraim?" Frederick asked.

"'Am I alright' you ask?!" I roared, making Frederick wince. "No I am not alright! This is simply dreadful! How is this considered news?!"

"Is there something I am missing in this situation?" Frederick asked, visibly confused.

"What do you mean?"

"Well, what difference does it make? News is news. It doesn't effect us at all."

I was at a loss for words. My mind became fogged with a strange anger. Frederick took a few steps back his hands in front of him, as if warding off a rabid animal. This made me take a few breaths and try to calm down a little. I took a step towards him, words of assurance on my lips, but stopped when I saw him take another step back, hands still raised.

.   .   .

Hours went by as we worked. Hours spent in complete silence with Frederick furtively glancing at me from time to time. Whenever we caught each other's glance, Frederick would immediately avert his eyes. This gave me time to consider where my unrelenting anger had come from. The same feeling as last time. I couldn't fathom just how or why I had been so angry. It was like I was a different person. My thoughts were so focused on my unsightly outburst that I hadn't done any of my work since I sat down. Hurriedly, I pushed these thoughts away and opened up the case file. After another hour or so I had made no progress on the case, my mind still racing with questions. At this point Big Ben rang rang one, and I knew that if I didn't deal with the small schism that my outburst had caused the cracks between us would only grow wider. I stood up and walked over to his desk, where Frederick abruptly stood up. He seemed to tense up as I approached him, as if he expected me to lash out at him with the same fury as before.

"Frederick, I would just like to apologize to you about my abhorrent outburst earlier." I said, noticing that while the tenseness had left his shoulders he eyed me carefully.

"I cannot for the life of me understand where my anger had stemmed from." I continued with complete sincerity, "I would like to offer you the option of joining me for a lunch of your choosing. I will pay for  it, naturally."

At the mention of lunch, my rotund partner perked up. I could tell that his mood had lightened  and that his thoughts were now focused on what to eat, Finally, he spoke.

"All is forgiven, Ephraim. Although I must say that you gave me quite the scare. I was not aware that you had such rage in you. You always were more of a gentle soul." he said, some of his mirth returning. He held out a hand, asking for a firm handshake. I obliged, noticing that his hand still trembled ever so slightly. It was obvious that I had frightened him more than he let on. My concern must have been visible as he rushed to explain himself.

"W-well you see, my friend, you visibly changed." Frederick stammered and, on seeing my now-confused expression, continued, "I'm afraid that is the best way that I can put it. Your face contorted into a mask of inescapable anger, like a lion tired of being poked. And your eyes!"

"Yes? What about them?" I asked, confused more by the last addition.

Frederick avoided eye contact again, muttering something under his breath. I strained to hear what he was saying and asked him to repeat several times. Finally I could take it no longer.

"Spit it out man!" I cried out, my frustration audible in my tone.

"They were filled with such a calculated fury like I have never seen! When you looked at me, my blood ran cold. Those were not the eyes of a man. Nay they were the eyes of a demon."