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The Last Confession of Daphne Babineaux

Short story By: Shamar Harriott

A woman on her deathbed makes a shocking confession...

Submitted:Apr 21, 2014    Reads: 111    Comments: 2    Likes: 2   

Found among the papers of the late Mrs. Daphne Dubois-Babineaux:

1414 Orchid River Drive,

Scottsdale, Arizona

April 14th, 1971

To Whom It May Concern:

At the dawn of my seventy-sixth year, I find myself falling victim to the ills of old age. In these, the last of my days, I've begun to reflect upon my life and I have realized the many secrets I have acquired over the years- from broken jewels hidden in rosebushes to stolen kisses in the heat of midsummer. But one secret eclipses all else. I cannot take this secret to my grave, yet, I cannot bring myself to speak it to another human being. So, I write this, as a confession:

I killed him. I could not let him live to kill another day. They speak of him in history classes and they write of him in books, they fear him London, his lingers in their shadows, but, of his existence in America there is no record. But, he was here. To tell this story to someone now they would place the blame on senility and imagination, but, this, I tell you, is the truth. They dubbed him The Ripper; he called himself a spirit, a demon, the right hand of Death itself, a brutal murderer that ripped the life out of young women. But, we knew his name. He was John Wilson, and of us all, Esther, my younger sister, knew him best of all. He had spent many a lazy Sunday afternoon lounging in the lawn chairs that sat beneath the sweeping elms and dogwoods in the backyard, a glass of Mother's lemonade cold in his hand.

Oh, God! It haunts my sight! I can still see him, slithering through the garden, his axe tight in his left hand, glinting like a malicious smile in the moonlight. Up and down the streets, phonographs were tipped to full, music rattling out of houses, shadows dancing like tremors behind dark window panes. Our house sat, large and silent, lifeless in the center of it. He came just as his letter said he would. We watched him come up from the street, Esther cowering, her fingers sucking like leeches to the piano. He went round the house, rapping at the windows and clawing at the doors in his bestial way. Lorraine clung close to my leg, whimpering and trembling. She was four then and, praise be to Christ, has lost the memory to time. I reached out, dragging the curtains closed.

We stood in the darkness, cold with terror. His shadow fell upon the white drapes and Esther uttered a high sound and drew further away from the window, still holding to the piano as if it were some sort of stronghold. He moved across the porch, his shoes screeching against the floorboards, the tune of death's music. I pushed Lorraine softly away from me and swept into the kitchen, tumbling over my skirt. I found father's revolver where it hung in its holster above the icebox. I took it. There were three bullets.

He prowled around the backyard and came past the kitchen door. I saw his face then through the window above the sink, dark and unprepossessing, the face of evil. He paused in the light, his skin thin and milky, and our eyes made four. He tipped his hat and smiled, then vanished. I listened to him walking up the yard, his hand stroking the siding of the house.

My blood seemed to coagulate. Lorraine cried out then and the sound of shattering glass reached my ears. I turned and ran to the sitting room. Upon my entrance, I saw the source of the sound: a hand had come through the window, strong and venous. It grasped at the air. Esther lay across the Persian rug, her breast shining vermillion in the light. I slipped the revolver from my pocket and took aim. I commanded Lorraine away from the window and fired. The hand recoiled through the hole and his voice hissed over a curse. Esther did not move and I knew she was not among us. Lorraine was on my leg again, sobbing into my skirt. I dropped the revolver back into my pocket and took her into my arms.

Quickly, we gained the second floor. We went to the end of the hall and into Esther's bathroom. I locked the door behind us and tried to hush Lorraine. She sat cowering on the bidet. The muzzle of the revolver burned my thigh. Again came the wail of shattering glass. And in the empty darkness of the house the heavy footfalls…

Lorraine lay in my arms, limp, sleeping. She had sobbed herself into exhaustion. I rose, belabored by the extra weight. I held her up against my breast and pulled open the cabinet. I pulled towels and bedclothes from the shelf and spread them in the bathtub. I set her down, covered her and pulled the curtain to conceal her. I found the revolver and left the sanctuary of the room. The hallway seemed longer, all the doors hanging open, their mouths full of leeringly uncertain darkness.

I moved down the hall. My heart and footsteps fell into a maddening rhythm. I was at the top of the stairs when the music began. The bars of "Für Elise" rang in the silence. I cocked the revolver and held it tightly, ready to aim. I moved down the stairs, holding to the banister with my left hand.

"Für Elise" turned to "Clair de Lune" and still I went, terror rising hard and metallic in my mouth. At the foot of the stairs now, the house was still once more. He pulled himself from the shadows of the sitting room and lumbered toward me. A scream escaped me. He smiled now, waving his axe with its glistening, hungry mouth. The outline of Esther behind him framed the scene as if it had leapt into life from the pages of some dark, gothic novel.

"Music would've been thy life! Music would have kept thee alight!" he said, his voice like a schoolboy's giggle. I began to back away now, fear seizing me in a death grip.

"Get out of my house!" I cried in a tight voice.

"Oh." and he clicked tongue then said, "Is that anyway to speak to a gentleman, young lady?"

"You are no gentleman, you are a monster!" I cried. He grinned, sticking his tongue out at me. He was coming closer, his axe hovering above his head, impatient to strike. The revolver tumbled from my hand, hit the floor and went off. He stopped for a moment, and then he was upon me. He seized my shoulders and threw me onto the stairs. The axe came down hard against my leg, splitting my flesh. Blood spewed and I cried out, pulling myself away from him as he raised the axe again.

I fumbled against the floor for the revolver. My fingers touched it and I grabbed it. I aimed and pulled the trigger. The bullet struck his shoulder. I took aimed again. The last bullet struck him in the neck and the blood ran dark against his black coat. The axe hit the floor and his hands went to his throat. He gurgled and lunged toward me. I straightened up and leaned away. He fell against my legs and I screamed at the jolt of pain that pulsed from my wound. I pushed him off of me and pulled myself up against the banister.

I went into the kitchen, praying the noise had not woken Lorraine. I went to the laundry room and found a tangle of dirty sheets. I pulled my skirt up and surveyed the wound. It was not as bad as I'd thought, I told myself looking down at the jagged, puckering red line. I wrapped a section of the sheet tightly around it to stop the bleeding and tore the rest off. I hobbled up the stairs and down the hall. Lorraine was still asleep, and that worried me. Maybe she's dead; I brushed the thought from my mind.

I closed the door softly and went back downstairs. He was bleeding out against the hardwood. I wrapped him in the Oriental entrance mat and rolled him out to the back garden. I spent the night digging his grave-it was more of a hole, deeper than it was wide-between Mother's yellow roses and Esther's chrysanthemums. As the night wore on, the music died and people, nervous and bejeweled broke from their danse macabre and spilled out into the streets. I watched them run home, unaware the terror had ended. The demon murderer that had come in the night and settled over our peaceful little town like a plague was dead.

I buried him at dawn.



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