by P. S. Gifford
|Saturday, August 12, 2006
Hubert Winthrop’s Morbid Curiosity
Hubert, at 57 years of age, hadn’t exactly had an exciting life. In fact, he would be the very first to admit, that his life had been incredibly dull. Nothing exciting or noteworthy ever happened to Hubert- Much to his continual regret.
To fill that void in his life, the one Hubert was so convinced was missing, he frequently indulged in his favorite pastime-reading horror stories. We are not talking classic literature here, we are talking about the goriest and most horrid tales ever conjured up by the perverse imaginations of horror writers.
Hubert was re-reading perhaps the goriest of these tales for the third time…A charming little story of decapitation, cannibalism, and general blood letting frenzy. It was based in a fictional town called Whitcomb, a town that the writer explained; using far too many flowery adjectives, and run-on sentences, for centuries had been a quiet and sedate sort of Yorkshire village…That was before the killings began. It was written by that particularly vulgar, and might I interject rather untalented; D.S. Griffin. A writer who happened by chance a decade or so earlier to come up with a half decent plot, which forever included his name mentioned along with the great horror stories. But never came up with a decent plotline ever again, and spurred on by severe alcoholism completely sold out, and continually got by on cashing in on his once, and former glory. In fact that earlier novel, the acclaimed and quite epic; The Cucumber Man, now had seven sequels, and one perfectly horrid sequel…The Cucumber Boy, a story penned-if Griffin’s biography can be believed- over three weeks and twelve bottles of absinthe. Good taste prevents me from divulging the plotline here...
But on one rather dull and overcast town, in the real town of Billingsgate Derbyshire, Hubert sat in the kitchen reading Griffin’s latest offering; The Cucumber Man Returns from the Grave…Again. He was just getting to his favorite paragraph, a paragraph describing in rather elaborate and gory detail; precisely how a man could be garroted by runner bean vines, when a peculiar notion sprung up in his brain.
‘What would be the strangest way to kill someone?’
Now, have you ever had one of those thoughts, that however much you try, whatever you strive to think about, or do, refuses to get out of your mind. A thought rather like those unsavory distant relatives who habitually overstay their welcome in your home on holiday gatherings…Or that silly song that you claim you hate, but you keep hearing over and over again inside your head, and occasionally catch yourself singing. Well that morbid thought was just like that…Only more so.
Finally after thirty-five minutes the thought still refuses to go away. In fact the thought was only intensifying…Getting bigger and bigger, until finally he could concentrate on nothing more than the overpowering and irresistible twisted notion.
He then scanned his kitchen, for utensils that might make for a bizarre murder weapon.
It was then he saw it! The perfect thing,
With a gleam in his eye, and a bounce in his step he picked the object up…Then slipping on his well worn green tweed jacket, Wellington boots and flat cap went out into the street.
He his hid weapon of choice under the jacket-now he had a second, and equally important problem-Whom should he kill?
The first person he encountered as he headed towards the high street was Mrs. Buttercup; who runs the sweet shop at the end of the road. She was particularly plump, and always had her head in curlers. In fact he had never seen her without the curlers…and quite suspected that they were a permanent fixture in her grey, blue rinsed, hair. He imagined using his weapon on her…But then thought long on hard on his favorite treat herbal mints. Her store was the last place that sold the old-fashioned kind, in the big jars, and measured them out into those lovely white bags. If he killed her, somebody else would run the shop…and they might get rid of his favorite sweeties…and that would never do. So instead of killing her, her politely smiled at her and continued on his way.
The next person he encountered was Gordon Oliver, the local famous chef…He was a pompous sort…fancied himself something terrible. If he killed him, a lot of people would be happy. He had quite made his mind up, as he began to approach him. Although as they got closer Hubert had realized he had forgot one crucial detail, Gordon was at least six foot six and built like a brick cellar, and Hubert was only five foot seven and built like a feather pillow. He would need to reconsider.
As they walked by each other, Hubert refused to even make eye contact, maintaining a look directly at the cracked paving stones.
It was then he saw him; Albert Weatherspoon. They had gone to school together all those years ago…It would be perfect. Bloody perfect. Albert used to continually bully Hubert. Even frequently dunking his head into, and then flushing the lavatory. He was the chap who debagged him on his first week, and shoved him into the girl’s changing rooms. He was the fellow who placed that scandalous naturist magazine in his school satchel, which his father discovered…And quickly confiscated. Yes..This was perfect.
Albert was surprised at first at Hubert’s by friendly banter, congenial pat on the back, and particularly by the offer of a drink, but as Albert was never a man to refuse a free drink, he quickly agreed to accompany him to the nearest public house; The Hangman’s arms. Rumor has it that the pub was haunted by not just one but twenty-three different ghosts…But that would be a different story now wouldn’t it?
Now the quickest way to the Hangman’s Arms, as chance would have it, is to take the path through the old church grounds…and graveyard. As Hubert laughed at the time that Albert once added a centipede to his marmite sandwich, and he only realized after taking an enormous bite…
It was when they were half way through the unkempt, overgrown graveyard that Hubert struck. In fact they were directly over Marjorie Petiforth’s grave, the infamous third victim of the killer known only as the glove…Who was strangled in 1842, which like the previously mentioned pub multitude of ghosts. At first Albert just laughed as he pulled the object out from the inside of his jacket…Then Cuthbert lunged.
It was three days later that the body was finally found…Or at least what was left of the body. According to the grapevine Albert was identified by his ex-wife by a faded tattoo of Marilyn Munroe on his bottom. Apparently as Albert had gained weight…so had the image of Marilyn…
Albert chuckled to himself as he unfolded his copy of the Yorkshire Telegraph, as he sucked on a mint herbal, and read the headline out loud.
“A body was discovered three o clock yesterday afternoon, by a man walking his French poodle. The victim appears to have been mutilated by a grapefruit spoon, which was left in a rather disgusting part of the deceased’s anatomy. Alas no fingerprints have been recovered. Inspector Heath, in charge of the case, was quoted as saying it was the strangest murder weapon he had ever seen during thirty-two years on the force.”