October horror shorts: Pheep Pheep Pheep

I’m linking up with Denise at Girlie On The Edge Blog, where she hosts Six Sentence Stories, and everyone is invited to write a story, poem or article constructed of six sentences based on a cue word given.

This week’s cue word is Volume

 


WARNING: The following short contains strong horror.

Pheep Pheep Pheep

The police would come to discover her macabre hobby and gain a grim confession, and the press would label her The Small Heath Scalper, though her real name at trial would be Delores Ann Callaghan, 38, unmarried, no children, of Muntz Street, Birmingham.

A night owl she was in a decade about to roar around her, while she burned oil in her salon in her cellar, with a cast iron bath in which to discard all the heads; her day job – switchboard operator at the city hospital, with Mr Byrd and Mr Hardy being her favourite porters.

And by the small hours in her subterranean salon she would whistle while she worked – pheep pheep pheep to the clip clip clip and the snip snip snip of her scissors, and the heat of her Marcel wavers and curlers, the swish of her combs and Bobby pin snap, pheep pheep pheep, the hum of peroxide and pomade heavy to the walls of that windowless room.

Byrd and Hardy knew her favourites: the harlot-y dancers of the city bars and revues, the painted strumpets as her mother once was when she parted her legs to let a man in, who paid her with horse-won guineas after leaving her with child… she… she pheep pheep pheeps as she admires her newest coiffured creation: such beautiful waves and curls, such shine, such volume…

Her work done for the night, she places the mannequin head next to the others beside her mirrors, takes a step back, pheep pheep pheeps, and admires her collection of scalps; while upstairs comes a-crashing as the police break in, and they creep like a line of black cockroaches to the cellar door, and the horrors upon horrors waiting to greet them from below.


Muntz Street and Small Heath map 1904. Image: Wikipedia Commons


Editor’s note: Muntz Street is a real street in the ward of Small Heath, Birmingham, England. I worked in Small Heath and its neighbouring Bordesley Green during the late 1980s and early 90s, and bought my first drum kit there from a shop known as Green Lane Music Centre. The small hilltop site of Small Heath has been used as a settlement since Roman times, and was developed into housing for both wealthy industrialists and working class labourers in Victorian times. Small Heath is the original site of Birmingham City Football Club (now in Bordesley Green), as well as home to the once mighty Birmingham Small Arms factory which produced guns, motorcycles, bicycles, cars and taxi cabs – and which was heavily bombed in World War II. Small Heath was also home to the notorious Peaky Blinders gang; the gang and their Small Heath territory featuring in the ongoing BBC TV series Peaky Blinders since 2013.

The Malt Shovel. Muntz Street corner, Small Heath, Birmingham. Date and photo credit unknown.

In my story Pheep Pheep Pheep, the porter characters Byrd and Hardy are fictional, but loosely based on the real Burke and Hare murderers a hundred years earlier. The character Delores Ann Callaghan is also fictional, but loosely based on the fictional character Sweeney Todd – the Demon Barber of Fleet Street. The establishment in my story of Delores Ann’s location and the early twentieth century date stamp might easily put her at the same time and place as the Peaky Blinders gang, perhaps even making Delores a once quiet and unassuming neighbour of the gang, until the police discovered her grisly hobby. And after… was she hung? Was she sent to the asylum? Did she flee incarceration to escape into the night of another story and another time?