I’d never done a pastiche before. I’d read plenty of them, heard them discussed quite often, but it wasn’t something I had considered trying until David gave me the opportunity. I found it to be a more difficult type of writing than I had previously experienced. (Though everything has its own challenges)
I felt a real responsibility to do it correctly, to honor the original characters and stories in a way that felt authentic. In the end, this may have added more pressure than was required. I realized early on there was no way I was going to capture the voice of the British Victorian era, so it was better to make it a present day experience using a character that was distantly related.
I suppose the idea to make it a patchwork killer came from my recent interest in knitting. I was working on a square, a knitting thing, and thought how fascinating it would be if someone had human skin rather than yarn. I actually didn’t focus on the mystery so much as the attempt to show the bond between the characters. Some people like this approach, some don’t. I always found that personally I cared less about the puzzle at hand and more about how the characters interact. Now, after having lived with those guys a little while, it seems like it might be fun to try again with another mystery.
Miss Jenkins took a bow, lingered as her head tipped downwards and her breasts fought to stay tucked into her burgundy corset. She moved offstage, but for the life of me I couldn’t see that her feet had even made contact. She moved like a crowd of men followed behind her. Most times, they did.
As the whistles and claps faded into the black behind her, she found herself at the lighted mirror where she had prepared only hours ago. She released the black clip which held a feather band to her head and shook loose her fire-red locks. Stuck in the corner of the mirror was a small white envelope. She peeled it open and smiled.
It was him again.
This time, though, something was different. He seemed more urgent, desperate to see her. He was going to have to wait. Men don’t want a woman who comes running every time they are called. He had a wife for that. This, this was something else. It meant more to him than it did her, but she didn’t mind. He was sweet and reliable and she got free botox out of the deal so it seemed like a win win.
Now changed and fresh faced, she shoved her stilettos into the bag flung over her shoulder and exited out the rear door into the alleyway as the door slammed shut behind her.
Tonight the crowd that waited for her out back was smaller than usual. Actually, it had been like that the last few times, but she couldn’t let that get her down.
“I still got it,” she said to herself as a sudden thud caught her attention.
She could see the workers at the ice cream parlor down the way through the glass windows. Buzzing around, rushing to close up shop.
She signed a few autographs and posed for a few kissie-faced pictures as she walked to the parking lot that housed her new black Mustang convertible. She’d worked a long time to afford a car like that, and then just three weeks of being with him, she had it. All her own.
She stopped outside the vehicle under the street lamp which flickered above when she heard another loud noise. This time, she felt a sting in the back of her head.
She opened her eyes and the world spun. On the ground now, gravel embedded into the backs of her thighs she reached around to touch her head. It was wet, and the smell of dirty copper was strong. There was so much blood.
The spinning began to lessen and through the beams of light she could make out a figure standing over her.
“You’re gonna be famous forever,” said the voice.
Jenkins let out a whimper, and then the world went black.
First published at the tender age of 8, Kasey Lansdale is the author of numerous short stories as well as editor to several anthology collections. Her most recent project, Impossible Monsters, was released from Subterranean Press summer of 2013. A full time singer/songwriter, she has also just completed her first novel. She is the daughter of acclaimed author, Joe R. Lansdale.
She is the author of The Patchwork Killer in the new Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets anthology, out now from Abaddon Books!