The morning train rolled slowly into the depot, eventually coming to a temporary stop. Cramped with travelers before its arrival, the crowd swelling to a greater size when the train’s passengers began departing, James Knight one of the nameless faces about to step down onto the platform. Allowing his hand to slide down the silver, metal rails of the stair, James stopped, the faces different, finding gladly, ladies still fashioned themselves in lacy, feminine bonnets and exuberant jeweled finery, shawls trimmed with satin fringe, the men he encountered wore brown derbies, strolling elegantly by with steel tipped walking canes, the handles carved from fine gold, silver and copper, some fashioned in the likeness of animals, symbols even fearsome, poisonous reptiles, held casually within their gloved palms.
The smells a reminder too, though inside the depot, the fragrance of fresh seawater wafted in and out of his consciousness, the docks nearby not far from the slums, but still a world full of delightful smells. The bakery, just beyond it, a hint of freshly made strawberry tea cakes and cinnamon and ginger sticks, always a pleasant strategy when masking the unbearable odors of dead fish carcasses and fishery rubbish. The shipyards close by, the familiar bellowing of the passengers’ boat’s whistle, heard throughout, concealing the train’s boarding call, the first ship, pulling into its slips on the docks through the foggy morn probably just as James stepped onto the platform. These sentiments wondered throughout his mind chatter, bringing back vivid recollections, some pleasant, others he might have done best to live without.
When finally stepping off the train, he caught first touch of the freezing chill on the breeze, London now seeming like a distant continent, Westerbury, changing not the slightest bit in almost four years.
James Knight’s first tromping of Westerbury soil, came when fetching a hansom cab, with it, traveled loneliness. There were no old friends there to welcome him home, his once lover, now married to another man, it was as if his return home was without acknowledgment. James not only a stranger to his old home, but now finding himself bombarded by the dreams he once conspired, turning his back on them the moment he abandoned life here, fighting failure face to face, his fallen ambitions doomed to become vicious nightmares when left behind.
His past left nothing to be regained, James left Westerbury penniless and without employment. Returning now as a newly promoted Detective Sergeant, James was determined to succeed.
The first step James encouraged himself to take was to reinvent himself. James left here in the rags of a farm hand, and not a pence to his name, working in such a cosmopolitan city such as London exposed him to different ways of life, and finances. A better class of working wages permitted James to explore better avenues of fashion, able to wear different trousers for each day of the week, basic black trousers his preference, worn with a white, linen shirt, simple, black tie, bringing the look of refinement together with a black cut away waistcoat. Relaxing back into the hansom’s burgundy, velvet seats, James moved quickly, forgetting a last minute accessory. Pulling out from inside his black, wool overcoat, James took a narrow, black jeweler’s box. Coming upon it mysteriously, the box he found sitting just outside of his flat in London, though a shabby one in the heart of White Chapel, the box remained untouched. Its contents, a gold pocket watch, wrapped around the box, a pair of leather gloves. The giver never to reveal themselves, the only trace they assumed to leave behind, a note, entailing a brief word of greeting. “God speed you in Westerbury, you are welcomed home.” James baffled by their identity, not many of those he encountered in London knew he was from Westerbury, but grateful James was, just the same. James fastened the watch to the watch guard hung from his waistcoat, resting it snugly in his trouser pocket.
The hansom came to a complete stop outside of James’ destination, Westerbury’s police headquarters. Not as intimidated by the building’s size as James was on his first day in London, and just as he did then, James stepped out of the hansom, slipped on his leather gloves, the best way to disguise his trembling hands, his anxiety worsening as he moved up the stone stairs, not knowing what fate had in store for him, his hands shook as he reached for the door’s handle, just beyond these reputable walls lied his future.