The Golden Heart of Regina

I have only read some Arthur Conan Doyle. Personally, I didn’t care too much for “A Study in Scarlet,” though is sits on my desk, lit by candle, and picked up only when I can’t seem to close my eyes at night. My wife tells me to put it down if I abhorred it so much. I couldn’t, however, and that is one of the reasons I didn’t care too much for it.

At a quarter to one, Friday afternoon, I received a letter from young Charlie Wales. He is our mailboy, short and stout with a lazy eye. He’s the son of Chief Constable Wales, brother of Admiral Wales, and is apparently fit to run mail in our little corner of the Yard.

The letter was simple, written by someone who has had a least some cursory education, and requested, rather urgently, that I should meet a Missus Regina Carver at St Paul’s cathedral on Paternoster, an area I’m well acquainted with. It is, after all, just a short jaunt to the north and east.
Why I felt compelled by this is no coincidence. Regina Carver was complicit in a series of thefts that have recently ravaged the Piccadilly. They were almost inconsequential, however, the amount of all the thefts nearly totaling a modest eight pounds and a handful of shillings. Trite, when the paperwork had to be turned in. Regardless, I felt she wouldn’t have contacted me if she hadn’t had more information to share. Perhaps we could finally nab these petty thieves, who I was convinced were no more than some bored children. Part of me, however, reluctantly accepted that this chance meeting may be related somehow to the Ripper, though that case has been closed, and the number of murders fitting his profile have dwindled to zero.

I packed up my belongings, put on my overcoat and hat, and began walking toward St Paul’s. It was a humid afternoon, having just rained that morning. The bakery on Trafalgar saturated the air with its salty sweet breads. The aroma sat heavily in my gut, having failed to eat breakfast that morning. Pushing the impulse to stop in and chat with Mr Norrell further into my soles, I strode by and onto busy Fleet Street.
When I arrived at St Paul’s, as described by the letter I had received, Missus Carver was nowhere to be found. Instead, I found a letter, left for me by Constable Billingsly. He said it was left to him by a small boy, perhaps no more than eight, with a lopsided smile and black hair, perhaps Polish. I thanked him for his time, for which he continued to speak to me, telling me of how strangely the boy behaved. He told me the child persisted in checking over his shoulders, as if “his mum were lurking around the corner with a wooden spoon, waiting to see if he recited the speech as she gave it to ‘im.”
We shook hands, and I sat on a nearby bench, whereby I unfolded the crudely assembled envelope.

“Dearest Inspector Drummand,
With all luck, you have received my letter. I have left it with my nephew to give to you upon arrival at St Paul’s. Inspector Drummand, I must needs speak with you in person. However, my very life is in danger, and I cannot be seen in public, regardless of how holy the place. Please come to Lant Street, the home of Dickens. There is an alleyway next to the house that is safe.

Signed carefully,
Ms. Regina Carver”

The sun was setting, and I knew I could have been elsewhere. But, it was always the thrill of the chase which kept the badge on my uniform. I stood and resolved to stop by the bakery on the way to Southwark before checking in with Ms Carver.

The stroll was lovely, the moon bringing with it a subtle fall breeze. And before I had time to finish my cruller, I was staring at Charles Dickens’s old house. He had passed away less than forty years ago, and already had he left his mark on the face of literary history. A bright man, in any regards. We had met once, and he greeted me with the warmth of an old friend. Nearby, there was a taxi stop. A carriage drove by, dropped a couple off, and continued on its way.

Around the time I was getting lost in my own respite, I noticed the boy who matched Constable Billingsly’s description: fair skinned, dark haired, with a limp. He checked both ways before entering the alleyway, just as Billingsly had noted. I thought first to shout halt, but thinking I would scare away Missus Carver, I instead waited for the child to disappear into the alley before moving.
I first found no child. He had apparently made for a quick escape. A child like that could squeeze into even the smallest crevices and be gone in a matter of seconds. What I found most notable, however, was that Missus Carver was not there either. Instead, I found another envelope. How tired I was getting of receiving mail!

I stooped to pick it up, assured that it was for me. My name was penned on the front. I opened it eagerly, my heart beginning to pick up pace. The letter began in similar fashion.

“Dearest Inspector Drummand.
If you may, please turn your eyes heavenward. Then, catch me if you can…”

When I looked up, Regina’s corpse was hanging from a wire, her belly carved empty so that I could peer strait up into her ribcage. The heart was coated in gold. Around her head was a halo of thorns. Her breasts removed from her chest.

I heard a laugh echoing from somewhere nearby. I was already playing along, and it was my move.

-JR Simmang


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