The Romantic Strangler

The Romantic Strangler

By: Darlene J. Yager
By: Darlene J. Yager

Night on the Town

The gleaming lamps cast a radiant glow on the handsome face reflected in the mirror. François rubbed the macassar oil between his palms, then applied it generously to his hair, combing it through with his fingers. There was no need to wax his mustache as he kept it well trimmed along with the side-whiskers and a light beard that framed his face. François sat back to admire himself. His eyes began to shine and he pulled back his shoulders with confidence. He was pleased that he had chosen walnut juice instead of rouge. It gave his cheeks just the right tone, accenting his chiseled features. He smiled knowing that all he needed now was to choose the proper attire for his night on the town.

What to Wear

Smoothly he stood and looked at the racks of clothing that filled his dressing room. There were knee breeches and jersey pantaloons that reached the ankle as well as Beau Brummel style trousers that strapped beneath the instep. He had cloaks with sleeves and cloaks without. There were rows of single-breasted and double-breasted waistcoats. Plenty should he choose to wear two waistcoats, one atop the other or maybe three layers of waistcoats, as so many other men had. After all it was fashionable and kept a body warm during the colder months. The floor was covered with footwear and the top two shelves were lined with hats and stiffened cravats. With so much excessive clothing it was often hard to decide what to wear. This evening he chose to wear long white trousers, a white frilled shirt, a white waistcoat with gold “fleur-de-lis” print, a “royal George stock” cravat, a pair of slipper shoes and a mauve tail-coat.

The Right Attire

“Andrew you make the finest clothes,” he said aloud as he turned toward the three-view, full-length mirror. He smiled while he admired his tall, sturdy build. He felt proud that he didn’t need to wear a corset to achieve the fuller chest and smaller waist that was the style. “Ah! My compliments, Mon Ami, you do know how to make me look good.” With that he pressed the first two fingers of his right hand to his lips then bringing his hand down and forward in a circular motion, he bowed slightly as if his reflection were a dance partner. As he viewed himself in the mirror he felt as though his whole being had been transformed. He felt stronger, more confident somehow, as if he had accomplished a great feat. His hopes were high for he was certain he would enjoy his night on the town. François donned a white top hat, a black evening cloak with gold tassels, grabbed his ivory and gold cane then slipped into the alley.

Stepping Out

Fog wafted through the air and in places it was so thick François could barely see more than an inch away. It hadn’t rained in a day or two but the dampness hung in the chill night air and several puddles lagged behind to remind everyone that this was only the beginning of autumn. He sidestepped, tiptoed, and occasionally leapt through the alley with great agility. Once François reached the sidewalk he straightened himself. Then he blended in with the crowd of many satisfied patrons as if he himself had just exited the theatre. He tipped his hat to gentlemen and ladies alike as he passed. Every now and then he flashed a sparkling smile along with a flirtatious wink causing the ladies to fan themselves as they attempted to hide their flushed cheeks.


François continued on his way, stopping only to touch a slim stick to the flame of a street lamp. Pausing a moment longer he held the twig above his pipe as he puffed the flame within the bowl, when he was satisfied with the amount of smoke he drew in he swaggered on. Reaching the crossroads François decided to take a different route this night. The old crowd had grown to be rather boring. Searching for new entertainment he turned past the bakery and headed east. It was quite still and quiet on this new path. He began to wonder if there would be any excitement tonight and thought maybe he should have traveled another route but he continued on. He wandered a couple of blocks more before coming to a rustic pub. He had never been in this establishment before; it was very possible there would be some fresh new faces with witty conversations to share.

The Tap Room

Entering the taproom François was struck in the face by a ghost of smoke making its escape. Flickering yellow circles formed on the walls behind the many lanterns scattered about the room and on the northern wall a throbbing yellowish-orange glow flushed the cobblestones of a large, beautiful mantle that reached from one corner to the next. The thick smoke and soot stained beams absorbed most of the light deepening the darkness of the room. François strolled in and easily found a small corner table. Once he settled himself at the table he began to examine his whereabouts. He noticed some regular townspeople sitting in another corner of the room, three men and one woman. By the looks of them, they all but lived for the whiskey they slugged down their throats. Another slightly larger group seemed to be passersby and stopped only for a short time while their horses rested. Their clothing was a bit more upper scale than the others in this dank smelly room. He scanned the room more thoroughly before his eyes came to rest on a red-haired woman. There were some gruff and scraggly men sitting around her at a table in the middle of the room. She also had one on either side of her at the bar where she posed for them, hoping to choose the man with the largest purse. These men appeared to have been out to sea for many months and were looking for some special attention for the evening, and they were willing to pay more than a days wages for her affections.

© copyright 2010

Comments 9 comments

ltfawkes profile image

ltfawkes 6 years ago from NE Ohio

Very nice. Well-written and researched. I look forward to reading more.

Could I offer one little suggestion? You might break up your long paragraphs into shorter ones. When people are reading on computer screens, short paragraphs work much better.


Dardia profile image

Dardia 6 years ago from Michigan Author

Yes, all suggestions are welcome! Thank you, L.T. I appreciate it.

kaltopsyd profile image

kaltopsyd 6 years ago from Trinidad originally, but now in the USA

I like it! Nicely written, Dardia! And interesting too! :)

Dardia profile image

Dardia 6 years ago from Michigan Author

Thank you, kaltopsyd! Did you read the rest of it?

kaltopsyd profile image

kaltopsyd 6 years ago from Trinidad originally, but now in the USA

No but I'll definitely come back to read the rest some time. Don't worry. :)

silverfoxygirl108 profile image

silverfoxygirl108 6 years ago

This hub is pretty good. :D I like the description of Francois admiring himself as he gets ready. Keep it up!

Dardia profile image

Dardia 6 years ago from Michigan Author

Thanks, silverfoxygirl108! I had a lot of fun with that scene.

M. T. Dremer profile image

M. T. Dremer 6 years ago from United States

This is some high quality stuff. You paint a clear picture of this man and how he runs his life. He's very meticulous and proper. I'm assuming he's going to go all serial killer or something (since the story is called the romantic 'strangler'. So in that regard he reminds me of Christian Bale's character from American Psycho. But anyway, I'd like to come back to this story when I get a chance. You're writing quality is on par with published works. Keep it up.

Dardia profile image

Dardia 6 years ago from Michigan Author

Thank you M. T. Dremer! This is the story I was stuck on. I have written a whole page of notes since reading your articles;

"A Guide to Crushing Writer's Block" and "A Guide to Creating Interesting Fictional Characters"

They were both very helpful, and your comment here is very encouraging. Thanks again.

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