Lady Arsenic

Born in 1865, it shouldn’t surprise you to know that our Lady Arsenic was borLady Arsenicn the same year Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” was published.  You may even say her love for tea started at birth from hearing Alice’s story over and over again as an infant.  This may explain her slightly “mad” disposition, but then again one can never know for sure when it comes to the nature of these things. She was born  blonde and bright eyed, and by the name of Haley to loving parents neither rich nor poor, and for the most part had a happy childhood, strange, but happy. She was never much interested in playing with the other children, and kept herself busy by playing games with imaginary creatures and friends.  This isn’t to say that she didn’t get along with other children, as her mother often encouraged she did, but to say that she preferred her imaginary world instead. Her father worked as a business man in the heart of London and her mother stayed home to tend to the children, as this was how things were done in those days.  Her mother was in love with the theater before she had met her husband and intended on pursuing a career in such but unfortunately was made to give it up upon her marrying.

Her love for the theater did not diminish, but adapted to the small venue of their tea parlor with her children as her adoring audience.  At the age of 7, Haley’s beautiful and eccentric mother vanished, and her father heartbroken vowed to never remarry. Her father often gone on business Haley and her three sisters were left in the care of their father’s cruel mistress. To escape her awful caretaker she’d venture into the streets of London, adventuring with her invisible friends, or battling imagined foes. One day after defeating the evil witch Jisel with her trusted friend Mr. Itchy, not paying attention to her surroundings as usual she tripped over what seemed to be a pile of black cloth.  Paying no mind to what she had tripped over she immediately began attending to her scraped knees. “Well that was rather horrible of you!” she scolded the clothing. “What made you go and do a nasty thing like that?” The pile of cloth began to move, slowly rising to a towering and statuesque mass with the face of a great bird.  “Well aren’t you a wondrous sight?!” she exclaimed with glee. “But that doesn’t mean you should go tripping people! I could’ve torn my dress.” The creature or man seemed to be taken back by the casual air of this child and his appearance. Slowly stepping backwards, and meaning to take his leave Haley grabbed onto the massive chain around his waist. “Where are you going? I wasn’t trying to make trouble!” she said desperately. “I was just merely pointing out your ill-mannered actions. That’s not how you say hello you know.” The creature/man stared at her with puzzlement. “Come along” she said. Without reason or thought of why the bird faced figure took the girls hand and off they went. For years the girl and what later she found to be a masked man accompanied one another, she nick-named him lovingly, Plague.

1879, at the age of 14 her father’s mistress decided it “best” for the family and the family’s wealth to betroth Haley to the much older and cruel Lord Turner. Sir Charles Turner was Major General Charles Turner in Her Majesties Armed Forces, he was known for his barbarity in battle and lack of tolerance for most of humanity. His sadistic and hardened demeanor went far beyond the battle field, but Haley had no choice but to endure his cruelty as long as she could bear. A girl of 14 years old on the streets of London did not live to see her next birthday on her own. The couple was married for two years, and within those two years Haley would want for nothing. Her husband was unkind at heart, but generous with his wealth. He showed her affection the only way he knew how by bestowing on her great gifts of dresses, pearls, tea sets, and anything else her heart could ache for, but it wasn’t enough. His gifts though beautiful and plenty could not match nor make up for his beastly and sadistic habits.  Lord Turner’s words dripped with threat and venom in every breath when speaking, but surprisingly never carried out the violent and degrading acts he spoke of.  In her heart she felt as though she should be grateful for not having to experience such atrocities, but found herself resenting him for holding his hand towards her. You see Lord Turner although a vicious and ghastly man was not unwise. Haley was his property, and he would not see his property damaged, it would lose its value.  Her husband’s needs did not go unmet as he would hire the unfortunates of the street to fill his bloodlust. After two years, two years of hearing the screaming in the middle of the night from her husband’s bedroom she decided his reign of perversity must come to an end.  In the Victorian Era only actresses and prostitutes wore make-up, but Haley was accustomed to wearing it. She recalled playing dress up with her Mother as a child, the two would sit in front of the vanity mirror painting each other’s faces while making up characters and talking about traveling to perform in far off places. When she was forced out of her Father’s home, as a keepsake and reminder of happier times she took her Mother’s make-up with her.  Recalling this event, she quickly formed a plan to rid the world of Lord Turner. The very next day Haley invited her husband to tea. She readied the table with her most lavish silver tea set, her best linens, and an assortment of biscuits, scones, and tea cookies.

 

As the hour for afternoon tea grew close, she quickly ran to her room to put on her best tea dress and make-up. Tick, Tock, Tick, Tock…. The clock struck four as Haley made her way back to the tea parlor. She never felt such a calm or surety as she walked gracefully down the mansion’s hallway. “Today I will breathe my last breath” she thought to herself as she felt her lungs fill, “and the air has never tasted sweeter.” Saying her good-byes to the world around her she began to hum as she entered the parlor. Her husband already seated and waiting impatiently as always, tapping his silver spoon on the rim of his teacup looked at her with disgust. “You’re in quite the queer mood girl, and what the devil did you do to your face? Are you trying to compete with the whore’s darling?” “Oh don’t be cruel my dear husband, I’m just having a bit of fun. I let you have your fun your way, so let me have mine” she said as she took the seat across from him. “Let me darling? Aren’t you bold today? It’s almost charming, but I suggest we stick to our usual conversation where you stay silent.” Lord Turner said this with the edge in his voice that Haley was familiar with. The edge that whispered not to taunt or tease because yesterday’s evening festivities did not go as planned, which usually meant his lady of choice did not live through all the tortures he had hoped. It was their screaming he fancied their cries of stop and help. Without their cries of devastation his pecker was as useless as a prepubescent wanker. The thought of this made her giggle, and before she realized she was giggling aloud her husband’s face was cleared of sarcasm to a solemn, cold, snarl. Choking her laughter she decided it best to honor her husband’s request for silence and poured him a cup of tea with extra milk, four cubes of sugar, and two lavender cookies on the side as this was his usual for afternoon tea. Pouring herself a cup of tea with only a squeeze of lemon, she noticed her husband starting to sweat. “Are you not feeling well my husband?” she asked with as much concern as she could muster. Lord Turner began gasping for air and trembling as he reached across the table for help, knocking over the tea kettle and milk saucer. “Now look at the mess you’ve made” she said with a smile. Finally collapsing to his knees and off the parlor chair, Haley ran to comfort him. Kneeling down while gently wrapping her arms around his waist she buried her head in his chest, listening contently to every fading breath, feeling the movement within his breast slow. His heart began to skip and before the beat ended she placed her hand lovingly on his face and gracefully kissed his lips. Breathing in his dying breath, she closed her eyes and savored this moment of freedom. The last kiss the two shared was on their wedding day, and for the first time in years she felt alive.

Laying Lord Turner’s body carefully down on the parlor floor she closed his eyes, and laid her head gently on his shoulder with her hand on his chest. “Why couldn’t it have been this way?” she thought to herself. Charles was not an unsightly gentleman, and had the attention of many ladies but his violent temperament was blinding to anything else he could’ve been or was. She laid with him sleeping into the evening until one of the servants entered the room screaming. Thinking they were both dead, the servant girl ran into town to fetch the bobbies. After the bobbies arrived and discovered Haley was still alive, they arrested her for the murder of Lord Sir Charles Turner, Major General of Her Majesties Armed Forces. The trial wasn’t long, and the conviction swift after an autopsy revealed the arsenic in Lord Turner’s stomach and on his outer lips. Arsenic being used for medicinal and cosmetic purposes alike was easy to come by in large quantities. Haley had mixed her Mother’s face powder in with the milk used for the tea and the cookies, as well as a small amount in her lipstick. In the Victorian Era woman would powder their face with talcum powder as well as a mixture of arsenic, chalk, and vinegar to keep their skin pale. This was enough to kill Lord Turner and then some, but with the arsenic on her lips and on his tongue how did Haley not succumb to its poison upon the now infamous “poisoned kiss”? This remained a mystery, but the newspapers made this unanswered question legendary. “Lady Arsenic” they called her, “A woman with a kiss to die for”. The verdict declared Lady Arsenic insane and would’ve locked her up in an asylum forever, but due to a “mad” epidemic the asylums were overrun with lunatics, being cast on the streets as her punishment.  She couldn’t have been happier as she was reunited with Plague, and they were once again left to wander the streets of London together.

 

The streets of London were full of soot from the chimney sweeps, mud from the carriages, and waste from all the unfortunates of Her Majesty. Being able to only afford food occasionally and room and board hardly, Plague and Lady Arsenic made their way to the White Chapel District as this was where those who suffered from all walks of life gathered. Lady Arsenic’s blonde hair was stained a murky black from being unable to bath unless it rained, but remained smelling of tea and flowers as if somehow the tea had stained her skin. Her blonde hair was the only part left of Haley, and as it faded so did the girl she was. She now introduced herself as Lady Arsenic, as she had grown accustomed to the name and its meaning, and eventually began dying her hair black with Imperial Hair Dye Co.’s No.1 Black. Being able to trade a song for a dye she managed to kill everything she was, and be as we know her today with the magic of a new title and glass bottle.

 

1882, Plague and Lady Arsenic had been living in the White Chapel District for three years now, making pennies entertaining the working class with song as they passed by. Most women in White Chapel worked in one of the many brothels or selling their flesh independently, and though she tried out of desperation, Lady Arsenic’s reputation and infamous “poisoned kiss” had preceded her.  She often sang in front of a quaint butcher shop, greeting the butcher as he went to and from his store. He often dropped a few shillings as he passed, but said nothing. One day the butcher, a rather robust and intimidating gentleman, approached the pair and asked if they’d be willing to work for him in his shop.  Lady Arsenic responded with glee as Plague said nothing. “Oh thank you sir, we’d be absolutely delighted. You don’t know what this means to us”, Plague shook his head in agreement.  “Who do I owe the pleasure to?” she said with a smile. The butcher extended his hand slowly, sleeves covered in blood spatter, and sternly replied “Andrew, but please just call me Butcher.” Grabbing his hand gently with both her hands she began to introduce herself but grew hesitant. “Lady…A.” she replied. “Lady Arsenic, I’m Lady Arsenic. I’ll understand if you change your mind, but do appreciate the…” “I know who you are.” Butcher said interrupting as he opened the door to his shop. Extending his hand once more, he gently led Lady Arsenic into his shop to show what her duties in the butcher shop would be. A year had past, and the three had become fast and close friends. Lady Arsenic took care of all the customers and paperwork so Butcher could be left to his craft, while Plague kept the shop clean. On a day much like any other, a strange and eccentric man came to the shop asking for what most people consider to be the garbage parts of a cow, the heart, one of its many stomachs, and the brain. Although this wasn’t a common request it was not unusual as most people used these parts for soups, gravies, etc.  The request wasn’t strange at all until this man started asking questions that Lady Arsenic had no idea how to answer.  “How fast does a cow heart beat?” “In your opinion is the cow stomach comparable to a human’s despite the fact that it has more than one?” “What percentage of the brain do you think a cow uses?” “I am uncertain of the answers to your questions sir, but perhaps I can fetch Butcher?” “Indeed girl, but hurry! Time shall not be wasted, although you can’t really waste time the fact being that time is the system of those sequential relations that any event has to any other, as past, present, or future; indefinite and continuous duration regarded as that in which events succeed one another, duration regarded as belonging to the present life as distinct from the life to come or from eternity; a system or method of measuring or reckoning the passage of time.” He said rambling off as Lady Arsenic excused herself to find Butcher. “There’s a peculiar gent in front asking a lot of questions regarding the animals, perhaps you would be of more help than I?”  She said gently placing her hand on Butcher’s shoulder as he continued to chop. Saying nothing Butcher gave his cleaver a hard swing, stabbing its tip into the wooden chopping block for keeping while he went to greet the gentlemen in front. Still covered in blood from the day’s carving he placed the best smile on his face he could manage and grunted “Can I help you?” “Yes, I was wondering if…” The strange man rattled off all the questions he had asked Lady A and then some.  Waiting patiently, Butcher waited for the man to come to the end of his ramblings before simply replying “I deal in death and blood, I can tell you how to dissect the heart without puncturing a vein or how to dry the stomach properly to make a canteen. I do not care how the animal lived other than what it was fed so I know the quality of the meat once it’s on my table. What is your business asking such questions sir? I suggest you ask a farmer, or go to a Library, but I am afraid I’m of no help unless you happen to know what cut you will be purchasing today.” “Science is my business good sir! I need these parts for research, for furthering the knowledge of mankind! The morgue is out of healthy subjects, I can’t experiment with disease infested parts! This is your trade man, I’d assume you’d at least have some knowledge of what you are and cleverly call “dissecting.”  Dear Girl!” The man cried turning his attention to Lady A. “I am Professor “D” Warren, I apologize for the delay in introducing myself, but is this what your only source of knowledge or education?” He said pointing his thumb at Butcher. “Surely, you crave knowledge beyond “Death and Blood”! Like what exactly is death, and when is a person or animal truly dead? What causes death? What is blood? What’s blood made out of? Is all blood the same? Questions and knowledge that are endless within words that sound so end all.” Lady Arsenic giggled a bit as she watched The Professor throw his hands about in the air making his exclamations. “I am quite happy where I am sir, but I never settle for less. There’s more here than meets the eye. Perhaps you should give me lessons on such knowledge Professor, and in trade I shall cook you dinner upon each lesson. I’ll use the meats from the shop here, providing Butcher agrees, and I’ll teach you a thing or two I know.” “Splendid dear, I am most interested in what you could teach me.” He said with delight.  Lady Arsenic attended lessons with The Professor every other day, he taught her theory, philosophy, and all sciences of interest and in return she cooked him various meals telling him stories of her childhood, fairytales, and the love for tea. The Professor having been isolated for some time before entering the butcher shop that day found he could learn more from interacting with the world through the simplest of tasks such as tea, a meal, or conversation. He could study and apply theory to human nature instead of just hypothesizing in his lab. Although the sentiment seems a bit cliché, a man who deals in theory alone does not truly find an answer to anything. 

 

1888, over the years Lady Arsenic had continued to work at the butcher shop with Butcher and Plague as well as continuing her studies with The Professor. For the first time since she was 7 years old, she felt like she belonged, had a family, and a life worth living. A realization just in the nick of time as well, for one very special day in 1888 she met a nefarious character who thought otherwise. *See Ripper Biography*  His name was Ripper, and after a close run in with the demented chap Lady A couldn’t seem to rid herself of him. Butcher grew a bad taste for Ripper early on as Ripper devoted his time to stalking the butcher shop, acting as though he was just waiting to escort Lady A home from work every evening. “Whitechapel is a dangerous part of town.” He’d say. “And I don’t see that bird creature for a man as a proper escort.” Regardless of Ripper’s protest Plague never left Lady A’s side as they’re first meeting with Ripper spelled out his intentions. Plague didn’t trust Ripper, and insisted Lady A not encourage his advances, but she took great amusement in taunting him.

 

1901, after countless failed attempts to get a moment alone with Lady Arsenic, Ripper’s obsession had grown into desperation. “I have just recently inherited quite the estate in the English countryside from an estranged … Uncle and thought it best for your wellbeing and a lady of your stature to relocate to a more suitable environment.  You can quit this inappropriate job for a woman, and leave that pigsty you call home for nothing but afternoon teas, gardening, and all the finest luxuries.”  Ripper said this as he entered the butcher shop, pushing Plague aside. The professor had stopped in to choose his next meal for his lesson with Lady Arsenic, and was speaking to Butcher about such before being interrupted by the shop door slamming open.  All four gentlemen stared at Lady Arsenic awaiting her response, and as always she confidently replied “Sounds delightful! How thoughtful of you Ripper to think of my well-being. I shall have to continue my lessons of course” she said nodding towards The Professor. “We’ll need some sort of income,” she said gesturing her hand towards Butcher. “And I could never leave Plague behind. Well gents, what do you say? How could we say no to such generosity?” “Well… I was only extending my offer to you my fair lady; forgive my rudeness gentlemen but you…” “Then I shall have to decline, but I appreciate your kindness.” Lady Arsenic interrupted. With a long sigh of frustration Ripper considered his options. He could continue his struggle in White Chapel, attempting to isolate Lady Arsenic from not only her male entourage, but the people of London as well or he could narrow down his numbers to just the five of them. Within the remote countryside in a huge manor with only five people to interrupt him, Ripper decided this to be his best and what seemed now his only option. “Splendid idea my lady, of course you must continue your lessons, and how silly of me to ever ask you to leave that bird you’re so fond of. Of course, I don’t know what “income” that eejit of Butcher could provide in the countryside but I suppose we could make use of him in the Kitchen. Every manor needs a servant does it not? Besides, we have no need for income dear, I will take care of … us.” “I do not require your “charity”, an Englishman will burn his bed to catch a flea” Butcher replied as he moved himself closer to Ripper. “I have plenty of my own money, should we choose to accept your dodgy offer.” Lady Arsenic stepped in-between the two as she saw Butcher growing short with Ripper.  Eventually the two agreed to play civil and the offer was decided. Closing shop, and abandoning their homes, the five moved into Ripper’s manor in the countryside. The manor had an ornate and baroque style about it while still having the feeling of an English cottage home.

 

It is here that our Lady Arsenic and gent’s history becomes a bit of a blur. After moving into the manor the five isolated themselves and never ventured far from its grounds. The are many rumors and stories regarding the manor and its inhabitants, some say The Professor discovered the fountain of youth, others say they lived out their days in the manor and haunt it’s halls, each rumor and story becoming more absurd and skewed  as time passed. As centuries came and went the manor, Lady Arsenic, Ripper, The Professor, Butcher, and Plague were forgotten.

 

What we do know is that eventually the five came out of the manor late 2000 to form the group and as we know them today by the name of Arsenic Addiction. Perhaps maybe now we’ll have the chance to ask them why they retreated to the manor,and why they chose the 21st Century to emerge.

 

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