The bus-stop in Rothwell, outside Leeds, at seven-thirty on a gloomy December morning. Bus to work at a library supply firm. No-one around. Passing cars loom and lighten the interior, then pass into the greyness of the day. Drizzle. No-one around. The woman waits and watches for the bright interior of relief that the bus will bring: the friendly exchange with the driver and the lurch into the seat; familiar travelling faces and forms; the comfort of not being alone in the bus shelter on a lonely strip of dual carriageway… No bus. No-one around. The cars and the time pass by. She glances up and down the dark pavement; peers through the road grime of the window at the outline of the van in the lay-by: fifty yards of a woman’s fear are one step for the out-sized monster of imagination, heart beating, with hammer blows. Van door opens; burly shape steps down and to the rear doors. No-one else around. Her heart is banging in her; her grip on her bag-strap is knuckle pale in the gloom, but she has no eyes for that. A door slams; an engine churns into life and an ordinary van man’s day goes on. The bus stops; she gets on, with the over-the-shoulder dread of every woman in Yorkshire. It is 1979 and each murder takes its toll on the collective consciousness. I am that woman.
6 thoughts on “1979: Who will be next?”
We all, as writers, can imagine what might happen next but in that place at that time it must have been uppermost in everyone’s minds. A scary post.
I remember it as an occasional feeling of unease which grew into a permanent and vivid fear. Thanks, Rosalind, for popping in and for your RT.
I found this via Rosalind’s RT. It’s very unsettling. I was there too and remember the same feelings – you’ve expressed them exactly, and the feelings were entirely justified because you really didn’t know who was next. The Ripper went on so long that I think everyone must have been only one or two moves away. My sister was in the same class at Leeds Uni as the last victim. My husband, before I met him, was interviewed by police because he hired vans a lot (he drove the Sheffiled Uni caving society around) and I went to a class in the Teacher’s Centre at the end of the lane in which he was eventually arrested. I can trot out these statements because I still think about it – as obviously you do too. It’s a great piece, but I sort of wish I hadn’t read it – which must mean you’ve done your job well!
Anabel, thank you. We WordPress folk do find each other eventually! There was indeed a sense of proximity wherever you were in Yorkshire. The police were stopping cars in random checks and the fear was palpable. It lives in me still.
Briliantly written, Christina. A chilling account of what must have been frightening times,
Thanks, Fiona. The number of different locations made it a possibility anywhere; it seemed that no woman was safe and the fact that the investigation was not producing any results made the perpetrator all the more formidable in our minds. Frightening indeed.