Lodger in the Ripper's Room

by John Paul Davies

“Come through,” the landlady said. “This will be your room.”

The lodger stood in the doorway, afraid that stepping forward might shatter the room’s illusion for good. For after months of relentless searching, he had finally found the inspiration behind Walter Sickert’s masterpiece, Jack The Ripper’s Bedroom.

Longer and narrower than the others he had been shown, its floor slanted uneasily. Falling through tall windows, the same anaemic light in which Sickert had bathed his room.

The landlady gestured for him to admire a further world beyond the glass: a lofted city within a city, consisting of streets of rooftops, of other windows. Weary fumes of smoke curled from chimneys like souls in ascension.

The serene blue of the river was captured between dormant warehouses, as twelve chimes sounded from an unseen chapel.

Drawing his attention away from the window, a macaw, or other exotic breed, was stirring within its dulled bronze cage. The raw spindles of its feet gripped the perch as it shifted awkwardly, keeping in its blue, green and yellow feathers. Eyes bruised as cobbles seemed to swell and throw back only a cold, blanked universe.

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