This, as with the last couple of blog post’s, is a first draft. Therefore poorly written, a plot with more holes in it than a damaged flyscreen door, lashings of grammatical error’s, and the equivalent of a three month old salmon’s spelling ability.
The tale below is yet another piece in the riddle “Agnes Ross”.
If you can’t be bothered reading it, click the picture; Sarah Blascoe does Flame Tree’s.
Agnes Ross – B – The Isaac’s – 25MAY2014
“Mum, I saw the lady again.” said Oliver, four years young, and a boy’s boy.
“Of course you did dear. Where did you see her this time?” Said ‘Mum’, known to others of a more adult persuasion as “Mel”, as she pulled clothes out of the washing machine, wondering why there always seemed to be so much bloody washing, not matter how often she did it.
“She was in the bathroom when I was brushing my teeth Mum.”
“Is that right Oliver? Did she say anything this time dear?”
“No, she just stood there in her dress with the dirty front Mum.”
‘The Lady’, whilst only seen by Oliver, got a mention on a daily basis. On many an occasion Mel had wished that he had normal imaginary friends. A lady who sounded funny, wearing a grubby white grubby top, who flies whenever it takes her fancy?
Oliver had seen her all over the house, but never outside or anywhere else. He had told her that ‘Spud’ the cat didn’t like her and would hiss and run away whenever he saw her. He had also told her that the lady was crying sometimes, and other times “She looks bored Mum.”
At daycare, Oliver had drawn numerous pictures of The Lady. When the staff there had questioned him about it he had told them that “She’s my friend and she visits our house all the time. She also talks funny, but I still know what she says.” Staff, wary now of pursuing the conversation further; yet like a car accident in progress, wanting not to see, yet unable to divert their gaze no matter how hard they tried. “She tells me about a vote, and she says she lives under a wall, and that Mrs. Fox is a bad lady.”
The day care staff had taken this up with Mel, who in turn told them that ‘The Lady’ was nothing more than an imaginary friend. Satisfied, the staff left Oliver to his stories and drawings, firm in the belief that a fertile imagination is healthy and to be encouraged.
Three weeks and a plethora of washing later, Mel’s husband ‘Phil’ set fire to the kitchen.
Phil had lit gas ring on the stovetop as he was getting ready to cook the kid’s ‘fishfingers’ for tea, when the phone had rung. Throwing the tea towel he was holding on to the bench beside stove, he wandered into the passage and answered the phone. Although the conversation with his much detested Mother-In-Law was short and sharp, telling her “I’ll get Mel to give you a ring when she gets in. Gotta go, I’ve got the kids tea on. Bye.” and hung up on her without waiting for her to sign off. In that space of time, the tea towel had caught alight; in turn setting fire to a nearby roll of paper towel, which lead to the paint igniting. The flames spread quickly up the wall, into the ‘never before cleaned’ range hood, hitting the ceiling and spreading with immense speed. After Phil’s brief, yet vicious unsuccessful attack on the fire; Phil turned, fled the kitchen, getting the kids and Spud the cat out of the house as fast as humanly possible.
After calling 000 on his mobile from his Solomon St. front lawn in Fremantle, and getting the kids to let the neighbours know about the fire; Phil decided that his Mother-In-Law was a dyed in the wool, genuine, dinky di witch. He also felt that she was the definite cause of the fire. Bitch.
Much to Phil’s utter disgust, he, Mel, and the kids moved into Mel’s parent’s house, while the process of damage assessment was conducted by their insurance company. This was followed by the inevitable repairs. One kitchen wall having to be demolished in the process, plus the obligatory smoke and water damage to everything.
From his mother in laws front veranda, Phil wondered if there was any justice in the world; concluding that if life was to remain as it currently was, there definitely was not.
“Hello. This is Melissa Isaacs’s speaking.” said Mel.
“Ah, g’day Mrs. Isaacs. This is Trev Smith, and I’m doin’ your insurance job on the house. Could you and your husband come down to the house sooner than later please? Me apprentice found a couple of things you might be interested in. Anyway, there you go.”
“Ok Trev. Phil should be back in half an hour, we will try to get down after that.”
Trev the builder, plus his apprentice, had discovered a fair sized space in the walls between the kitchen and Mel’s laundry. Structurally, the wall had been soundly built; the pantry that had been built on to the kitchen side of it had been an incredible work of art. Those two things had led to the assumption of all concerned that the wall was inexplicably a deliberate feature of the house. The brickwork and craftsmanship, combined with the approximate age of the house being built, plus the false wall, added to this further. It was only the now burnt ceiling that had given anything away, as it didn’t end at the top of the wall; rather, continuing beyond it. Whereas the laundry ceiling abutted the opposite side of the wall, presumed to be the back of the kitchen wall, stopped with the wall itself.
After a lot of head scratching, a number of rather pointed questions, at least four cigarettes on the part of Trev, and some measurements taken and then taken again; it was confirmed that there was indeed a substantial space between the laundry and kitchen walls.
A 10 inch long, three quarter inch masonry drill bit was located, and a series of holes drilled; confirming not only that there was an empty space between the walls, but the thickness of the bricks as well. Insurers were duly called, and further assessments were made. The outcome being that the wall would need to come down to correctly assess the structural integrity of the house.
A Thursday night at the Club, and a Friday morning medium grade hangover later, saw Trev’s apprentice with a half weight sledge hammer removing bricks from the top of the kitchen side of the false wall. A quarter of an hour later had the apprentice yelling, “Trev! You better come and see this!” Which he did. He then halted all further work on the wall and house; he and the apprentice walking out of the house, leaving every tool exactly as they were dropped.
The Police came, looked, took some photo’s, made phone calls and taped off the house; two young Constables were left to act as deterrents to anyone wishing to enter for a bit of a sticky beak.
Three hours on, two plain clothed investigators arrived in an unmarked Ford sedan. Flashing badges at the young coppers, they ducked beneath the police tape, and wandered into the house. They too climbed the ladder Trev’s apprentice had used earlier, and gazed into the void.
More phone calls were made, and a variety of Police from a multitude of different departments came and went. Looking into the void behind the wall. Often they would make phone calls from the top of the ladder. More photos were taken, only to be forwarded on immediately.
Ten days after the Trev’s apprentice had made the discovery, another four false walls had been found randomly placed throughout the house. Each false wall with a cupboard, or a wardrobe built onto it. Later Mel and Phil were told that the cupboards/wardrobes/pantry all had hidden locks in the rear of them; once these had been found, it became evident that these seemingly mundane household fittings were actually doors accessing the empty spaces between the walls. Creations of long lost craftsmanship, with all being set on rollers and triple hinged. When they were swung out, they were all totally silent in their movement, even after disuse for what must have been at the least a century.
Mel and Phil put the house on the market pending repair, regardless if they lost money on the sale or not.
The vacant space beside the kitchen when finally opened contained a series of the most macabre and grotesque oddities unearthed in Fremantle’s checkered history. Thick dust coated piles of tanned and meticulously folded human skins. These had been tidily stacked one upon another atop a Persian rug lining the floor. The skins were black, white, Asian, and what may have been Mediterranean in origin; men and women alike. Five piles of ten had been neatly arranged around the space.
The skins themselves had been meticulously removed from the occupant. Faces, hair, and genitalia intact. Although now dried to a board like state, they had been exceptionally well preserved through the use of chemical, and tanned to perfection.
Large jars sat beside each individual stack of skins. The jars contained a light amber fluid, filling each vessel to the lid. Lids which had been wired on, ensuring a seal preventing any air entry or fluid loss. Within the fluid numerous amounts of eyes sat, grotesquely submerged within the liquid of horrors; heaped upon one another, filling the jars to the brim; giving the appearance of a jar of macabre pickled onions.
The next two hidden rooms were a mirror of the first; pickled eyes, and stacks of human skins; each appearing to have been meticulously taken from the bodies of men and women alike. Neither age, gender, nor racial prejudice proved evident in the gruesome findings.
The final room of horrors was located between Mel and Phil’s master bedroom, and that of Oliver’s.
The findings within the space, starkly contrasting with the three prior. This vacant space held horrors of the most hellish nature. Answers not in any way, shape, or form directly relating to the revulsions found anywhere else in the house, yet possibly the most revolting room ever found in the history of Australia in the last 150 years.
The final unexplored void when opened, went beyond the grotesque. In conjunction, there were highly significant historic item’s located on further examination. Geography and history had finally broken their shackles.
That Scotland Yard Forensic Dept. was contacted regarding profoundly historic crimes among the Colonials was considered more than an oddity. To increase the sense of the unusual, the files requested, whilst of immense public interest of the time, were not only drawn from Scotland Yard’s archives. Details from The Police Museum (London), the London Museum, scholars, coroner’s reports, and archivists were consulted; some commissioned, reflecting the importance of the matter.
The void; the false walled room; the space through the secret door, opened to a room of utter splendour, bordering the ostentatious; opulent beyond words. A Persian rug, whilst beneath a heavy layer of dust, had even the ignorant in awe of its beauty. Gilded skirting boards and cornices; a moulded ceiling, sapphire in colour, sporting painted golden angels and blood red demons alike in its corners. A pre-Victorian chair and table took up one side of the narrow room; a raised, wall length, carved and polished wooden glass doored case adorned the other. Lastly, most importantly, were the jars set against the farthest narrow wall.
Arranged with shrine like importance, jars, each filled with the same vile amber liquid, as found within the other hidden rooms. Ragged torn and mutilated organs; some bearing the straight line of the knife, not eyes filling them as with the others, nor were the jars a match to those previously uncovered. Newspaper clippings had somehow been adhered to the jars. The clippings showing date and victim; and the body parts reportedly absent from the corpse as identified by a coroner. The same body parts swimming within the jar, matching the clipping.
The masterpiece of the room however, set in what appeared to be a place of utter reverence, was a hinged glass box. Rectangular in shape, and the approximate size of a standard Kleenex tissue box.
Through the dust, papers, yellowed with age, and neatly folded could be seen within the glass case.
More phone calls were made, and a Mrs. Eliza Wilkins of the Western Australian Museum arrived within an hour. At a glance she cleared the room; made two phone calls demanding a series of items from cotton gloves, ultraviolet lights, trays, and forceps; through to plastic sheeting and extraction fans and a variety of chemicals and solutions were called for.
After four hours, Eliza phone her husband in their Mount Pleasant home; explaining that she hoped to be home tomorrow morning at the earliest. Stating though that she expected to be working throughout the night upon the veritable grail she had beneath her fingers. His German accented response acknowledged all Eliza had said. He secretly delighted that he would be able to give his homebrew a nudge without chance of reprisal.
Chemical, patience, physical endurance, and entrenched academia had Eliza finally deciphering the contents of the papers at exactly 1.03pm the following day.
Mrs. Wilkins of the Museum of Western Australia found this, upon the aged pages laid before her.
Forward – Should the few privileged to have had need to endure the notations and daily scratching’s of my pen; it is with certainty that the transcript below may be somewhat easier to digest.
As my diaries only portray a somewhat clinical approach to my time at London Hospital, I feel there is more that requires regaling. This is in respect to those things, whilst important, I neglected to include in my previous diary related scratching. Hence, I will start at the start, but most certainly not at the beginning.
Due to the sensitivity of the time, and my involvement within the localities found within, I feel it prudent to change the names of certain, exceptionally well known and influential persons, with the notion of their immediate and longer range safety. Anonymity their shield.
Here on in I shall remain using my title of profession, and Christian name, as it is singular, and to not use it will detract from the importance from the perspective of narrative. However, my middle and surname require altering. Hence I have taken Whitelaw as my substitute surname.
Resultant, I will henceforth be known as Dr. Jean H. Whitelaw.
I will give the title to these accounts as –
A Study in time served in London Hospital; Whitechapel, and surrounding areas. 1888 – 1889;
Dr. Jean (Jack) H. Whitelaw, Surgeon-Major (retired).
So there you go. Another piece to the puzzle.