Over at BornStoryteller (my non-fiction blog) today, I am taking part in the Origins Blogfest. My tale of “when did your writing dream begin?” can be found if you click HERE: Origins of Creativity in Writing. There are close to 200 writers participating, so I hope you have a chance to check some of them out (click on the logo or link above to find the Linky List).
As to why I chose to join this Blogfest…(1) someone very special to me suggested it and (2) I do like Origin stories, real or fantasy. I’m going to take this a step further and play with some origin stories this week. Not sure how many I’ll generate, but…
The silver spoon that Richard P. Robinson was born with was entrenched deeply in his maw. The verdict, mostly paid for, was in his favor. Acquitted of any maleficence, he walked out of the courtroom, free of any consequence of the murder of the prostitute, Helen Jewett. A broad smile marked his 19 year old face as he sauntered out of the court house, his roommate, Tew, by his side.
Mrs. Rosina Townsend, the madam who found Helen’s smoldering body, room ablaze, roared out of the building behind Richard. He turned to face her, grin locked in place, as her heard her protestations of his guilt. Her slap in his face was empowered by her anger, sending Robinson reeling into Tew, causing both men to fall. Held back by others as they rushed out of the building, or up the court steps, her cursing could be heard along the concourse. Joined by the other prostitutes, whose testimonies were disregarded, Rosina Townsend was finally calmed down enough to be led back to her brothel.
No one helped Robinson to rise, although he noticed a few helped Tew. He brushed off dust from his suit, fixed his tie, and re-affixed the smile that had been slapped off. Without looking back, Richard walked down the steps. Tew followed, keeping a discreet spacing between them. Tew followed him into a pub, some fifteen long New York City blocks away.
Sitting in the rear of the bar, his back against the wall of the small, dark booth, Richard Robinson downed his beer and shot of whiskey. He was ordering his third round while Tew was still working on his first draft. The noxious smell of the place-of stale beer, cigarettes, cigars, vomit and piss-made Tew feel queasy at the best of times. Listening to Richard rave on, mixed in with the din of the other patrons, added to the nausea Tew was feeling.
The story swirled around the confines of the booth, looping around, coming to a halt, beginning anew, as Richard got drunker. The gist, as far as Tew could make out, for Robinson had never talked about his private life before this: Richard deserved better than what life had dealt him. His father, wealthy enough, had died early, leaving his widowed mother and him some money to live in style. It did not last. By the time Tew took up sharing a flat with him, Richard was alone, mother dead as well, and finding himself with a fund he could not touch until he turned 21.
Richard talked of the many nights he enjoyed at the brothel, spending the money he made at the hardware store he worked and the small stipend he got from his still wealthy relatives. He talked of bedding Helen Jewett often, and the others, and while such talk made Tew squeamish, he listened with attention. Richard harangued Tew, spewing out morally reprehensible acts he had committed too and with “those harlots!”
With another round in place of him, Richard went on. He was superior, he said, and to be made to live like this, when he should be with the elite, drove him mad. He talked about his lashing out at school mates, of beatings he gave of those who displeased him, of forcing himself on a family friend’s daughter (“she wanted it,” he said) and getting her with child. With his mother dead, and alone in the city, downcast, It was easy to release his passions on these dirt tramps in whatever manner he suited. Deviant acts of violence against “those women” were offered in such detail that Tew had to finally excuse himself. He went out back of the pub, retching to relieve some of the horrible discomfort he felt.
Returning to the table, Richard was gone, his mug of beer knocked over and running along the table and onto the greasy floor. Tew went out the front looking for him, but to no avail. Walking quickly, he made it back to where he lived. Tew packed his few belongings, which was easy as he was wearing his only suit, thought to leave a note, but decided against it.
He closed the door and left the run down apartment building. Kicking debris out of his way, Tew made off, hoping to leave the devilment of Richard P. Robinson far behind him.
The story above comes from a true murder in NYC in the latter part of the 1800’s. I found out about Helen Jewett through an article in Sunday’s Daily News: an interview with the great Martin Scorsese. When asked about movies he’d still like to make, this murder was mentioned as one of the “lurid tales” of old NY that intrigued him.
It swirled around my head all of Sunday, and through research (first dug up by my SOand then later myself) this story came about. Tew was Robinson’s roommate; no last name was given in the newspaper article I read. The story above, while based on real life, is totally fictional and is mine.
Thank you, Mr. Scorsese.