Coming of Age Crime Drama

This story contains themes or mentions of physical violence, gore, or abuse.

Author’s note: all quotes are from Voltaire.


Lizzie’s blunt pencil scratched across the surface of the foolscap paper. She wrote slowly, carefully, pensively. The light was poor but she kept writing. It was important, this missive. At least to Lizzie. She had things to say.



                                                                             Man is free at the instant he wants to be.

I had wanted to do it for so long, but something stopped me. Looking back, I believe that my age had a lot to do with it. Killing someone when you’re twelve isn’t normal.

It was necessary, though, if I wanted to find a way out of this hellish place. If I wanted to save my younger sister and brother from more beatings, more nightmares, more hopelessness.

Once he was dead, I started to live.



Lizzie crept out of the house at three o’clock. Everyone was asleep, as evidenced by the wheezing sounds her mother made, and the mutterings and tremblings of her younger siblings.

It was bone-chilling cold, and Lizzie didn’t have a decent coat. She didn’t care; the hatred she had in her heart for her father insulated her. The gun she found under her parents’ mattress warmed her, comforted her, and made her feel powerful.

Her dad was staggering home along his usual way. Lizzie knew it well because she often found him at one point or another along this back-alley route, passed out and stinking of whiskey and shit.

“What the fu – “

Lizzie’s dad never got to finish the sentence. She pointed the gun at him and pulled the trigger. Her dad grabbed his belly, but the bloom of blood couldn’t be staunched.

“That was for me. This one’s for Sheila.”

Lizzie shot him in the chest. He staggered back and fell on the ground. A gurgled gasp came from his lips. The blood spurted from the wounds, the condensation looking like smoke dissipating into the cold air. A dog barked somewhere in the distance, the sharp sound softening with distance. Soon, the only sound to be heard was her father’s labored breathing.

“And this one’s for little Hugh.”

The next blast was to the head.

Lizzie looked at her father and threw up. The grisly sight and the flood of adrenaline soured her stomach and made her feel faint. She suddenly felt the cold biting into her skin, and she hurried back to her block of flats near the eastern edge of Spitalfields.

She hurried up the steps and banged on Sophie’s door. After more banging and a lot of cursing coming from inside, a woman appeared. Youngish. Pretty, even when sleepy and irritated.

Lizzie stepped in, stared at Sophie for a moment, and then rushed into her arms, sobbing quietly but sincerely.

“You ok, love?” Sophie sat Lizzie down, lit a cigarette, and sat beside her.

“I killed my dad,” Lizzie said between sobs and hiccups. She handed her dad’s gun to Sophie.

“Bugger me!” Sophie got up and got a glass of water for Lizzie. Sophie grabbed a half-empty wine bottle and drank from it, trying to clear her head of what she had just heard from the little girl who lived below her.

Sophie liked Lizzie. She loved her, as much as she loved anyone. Lizzie’s shit mother was no more than a drunken fat bitch now, and to have Lizzie around was like having a younger sister. Sophie never had sisters, so she spoiled Lizzie with hugs and cuddles.

Lizzie asked Sophie to hide the gun. She asked Sophie not to tell anyone. She asked Sophie if she were going to Hell.

“No, you go to Heaven, love. I’ll go to Hell. When I get there, I’ll blow your dad’s balls off for you.”

Lizzie looked at Sophie and smiled. She fell asleep in Sophie’s arms, at peace for the first time in her life.



                                                       We never live; we are always in the expectation of living.

When I was fourteen, I quit school. I never let Sheila and Hugh skip, though. They were to be better than me. I’d make sure of that. God knows mum wouldn’t do it.

I got a job in the sewing factory in the middle of Spitalfields. Ronnie, the man who hired me felt my breasts and told me I was just the type of girl he was looking for. When he grinned at me, I could see missing teeth, and the ones that weren’t missing were rotten.

We were told that 1938 would be a better year than 1937, but we had been told that 1937 would be better than 1936, so we all knew it would be the same. Ronnie would walk by us girls and feel our breasts or caress out asses. Some of the girls smiled at him but most of us ignored him. We didn’t say anything because we needed the work. Without it, many of us would starve.

Ronnie regularly raped the new girls. I wasn’t raped because of all the other new girls he hadn’t got to. I guess he forgot about me.

It nagged at me, these girls being sullied by Ronnie. One day, I made a pass at him and asked if he wanted to get a drink after work. His face lit up like someone had just plugged him into a light socket.

After work, I took him to a back alley and let him lift up my skirt. He started fumbling around and I stabbed him in the back with mum’s kitchen knife. That was the end of Ronnie the rapist.

I was ten pounds richer, thanks to the girls taking up a collection for my services. I probably would have done him anyway, but the money was handy. Sheila and Hugh needed me even more since mum died. I became their mother, like it or not.

Sophie listened to my tale, fascinated by what I told her. She said she wished she could do that to some of her clients.

I didn’t understand that at the time.

Everyone told me Sophie was “on the game,” but I didn’t know what that was. I reckoned that she played games with men and she often won. She always had nice clothes and ready cash. She’d give me a few quid when we didn’t have any food, so she must have been good at whatever game she played.

She slipped me ten quid and told me to treat myself and the kids. I looked at the money, more money than I had ever seen in my life.

I bought food for me and the kids, and a box of chocolates for Sophie. I saved the rest. I had never had money to put away.

Life can be good when you have a few quid.



It was Sophie’s idea, though she didn’t know it. It was just a simple remark, but it hit Lizzie like a mean drunk hitting his wife.

“I wish we could get rid of a few people around here. Life might be bearable.”

Sophie sat back and tried not to wince. She had been beaten by a customer, and her body felt like she had just been trampled by a horse. Everything hurt. She didn’t know if she could work that night, or anytime soon.

Lizzie made her undress so she could inspect her bruises. The news was bad. A broken rib accompanied the myriad bruises festooning her body. Sophie cried.

“Billy’ll kill me if I don’t work.”

Lizzie nodded, thinking furiously. The idea had started at the sewing factory, but it remained a vague and insubstantial plan. For Lizzie, it was a good way to get through the day, fantasizing about killing the men that tormented her and the other girls. Killing Ronnie was a good start, but it only offered moderate relief. The new man, Harlan, still felt the girls up, but he didn’t rape them.

“What if Billy suddenly died?”

Lizzy watched Sophie’s face as she contemplated this. A look of alarm came over her after a few seconds, and she stared at Lizzie.

“You can’t - that’s bollocks, girl! He’s big and mean. He’ll slit your throat just for fun.”

Lizzie nodded. Her rough hands traced the bruises on Sophie’s battered body.

“And this is what you get for your troubles, Sophie.”

Sophie put her clothes back on, sat down, and tried not to cry. She was getting older, and the toms with money liked their girls young and fresh. She was no longer young and fresh.

Lizzie left Sophie and went home to take care of her siblings. And to make a plan.



                                                              Every man is guilty of all the good he did not do.

I took care of Billy with an ice pick. I took it from Sophie.

She took up a collection from Billy’s girls to pay me for the deed. Almost twenty pounds. Damn, they really hated this man.

He looked pathetic and weak just lying there, dead. I went through his flat and found a couple hundred quid. I was suddenly rich, and Spitalfields had one less pimp to deal with.

Sophie was thankful, but more scared than anything else. She didn’t know what a new pimp would be like. I told I’d be her pimp.

I didn’t think she’d ever stop laughing.



The war was over, but 1942 wasn’t a good year for the poor people in Spitalfields. Slumlords raised rents in an effort to get the longtime residents out, for they could rent a flat to immigrants for twice the money. The new arrivals would squeeze ten people into a flat meant for four and be happy.

Lizzie now managed the girls at the sewing factory. She was bright and capable, and the girls worked diligently for her. Not getting violated or felt up by the boss had a tremendous effect on productivity. Lizzie’s salary tripled, and she received a Christmas bonus every year.

Lizzie was now eighteen, and in control of her own life. Even better, she could provide for her siblings. Hugh survived whooping cough because he was strong enough to do so. Many kids in Spitalfields weren’t so fortunate. Sheila was a bookworm, destined for university.

Sophie was still catering to the toms, but she had grown a little heavier, and she looked much older than she was. She became despondent. Her body was how she made her living, despite Lizzie giving her money when she was short.

She had a new pimp: Lyle. Another big man. He was built like a square building, and was just as hard. Lyle had Sophie working the docks, and then he’d drop in from time to time to sample her wares. He usually left her with a split lip and a belly full of disgust. The girls rustled up fifteen quid to pay Lizzie to do him.

Lizzie killed him two days later.



                                                                       History never repeats itself. Man always does.

I didn’t understand much about life when I killed my dad, but that all changed as I got older. I saw what men would do to each other for the sake of money and power. Sheila tells me that this sort of stuff has been going on since Kane killed Abel.

Cedrick Torrence, the owner of the sewing factory, was just like all those Roman emperors and British kings. He didn’t care how he got his money and power as long as he got it. He was also a slumlord and a club owner besides being the owner of the sewing factory.

He was always inviting me out for a drink at one of his clubs. They were loud, smoky places, full of brassers, punters, and criminals. That’s what Lizzie told me, anyway. She knew Cedrick from her earlier days. He liked having two women at a time, and they were expected to have sex with one another as part of the service they provided him. She said he often didn’t even touch the women, but would take care of himself as he watched the women service each other. Men are pigs.

In the end, I had to kill Cedrick. I was just short of my twenty-first birthday when I found Sophie in her flat, her throat slit. Some tom killed her, and I was determined to make him pay.

Some of the girls at the sewing factory had older sisters, and it was one of them that told me. Cedrick had been drunk and had followed Sophie and another woman back to Sophie’s place. Both women were brassers. Sophie and some young tart just in the game.

Things got out of hand. Sophie was killed. The other girl was found in the Thames the next morning. Everyone knew who did it. No one was willing to do anything about it. Two dead brassers didn’t rate, not even for the peelers.

Cedrick, though, was important. Killing him got me nicked. Two witnesses swore they saw me do Cedrick. They were lying but it didn’t matter. You kill a toff and you pay the price.

I’m a slag, but I did right by the world, and my family. Being a killer doesn’t always mean you’re a bad person. I helped some people and took care of my siblings. I wasn’t ever pure, or good, or wise. I did the best I knew how.

I have to stop writing now. They’re here to take me to the rope. Sheila, I love you and hope you can forgive me for what I did. Hugh, I love you and I want you to take care of your sister. I’ll be with Lizzie now. Don’t fret, and don’t cry for me. Bury me decent and bring me some flowers from time to time. I like daffodils.



The priest had a sour look on his face as he walked beside the warden and the matron on the way to the gallows. He didn’t like absolving murderers, but he did it out of a sense of duty and the two crowns he would get for the job.

“I don’t want your prayers, Father. I reckon God wants me in Heaven.”

The priest blinked and his eyes widened in surprise.

“I killed a few right bastards, just like He did,” Lizzie said, staring down the priest. He stepped back and folded his arms, happy to be out of it. Watching this acid-tongued woman die would almost be a pleasure.

Lizzie turned to the warden.

“Pull that lever, warden. I have things to do.”

The warden tried not to smile. He was moderately successful at it. The matron was stone faced, not caring one way or the other the views of a killer.

Lizzie closed her eyes and waited for the drop.

She thought of those days with Lizzie, laughing and enjoying life, if just for a few hours a month. She thought of Sheila, reading her books and chewing her lower lip. She thought of Hugh, playing in the streets with mates, worrying about nothing more than kicking a ball and running fast. She could almost feel the warmth of a summer day on her face, with birds singing and the wind whispering through the trees. A cup of tea rested on the table beside her and she bent to pick it up. She raised it to her lips, but it never got there.

Lizzie’s neck snapped, sounding like the crack of broken dreams.

November 28, 2023 13:58

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Marty B
22:45 Dec 03, 2023

I like your violent stories because you add so much humanity to the perpetrators, you give us the reason why, and show us how their crime is the only rational response to an insane and corrupt world. Thanks!


Delbert Griffith
23:59 Dec 03, 2023

Thanks so much for the compliment, Marty. You got exactly what I try to portray in my violent tales. Very sharp, my friend. Cheers!


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Michał Przywara
21:34 Dec 01, 2023

You know, Sophie dying was actually very sad. I didn't see it coming, and yet, I suppose it was inevitable. I think “Every man is guilty of all the good he did not do.” is driving the story. Lizzie is determined to be guilt free in this regard, while others float along, at best. Sophie does reach out too, though her good deeds are far less extreme than Lizzie’s. Of course, we could argue Lizzie would never had made it as far as she did, without that safe harbour. One thing that did catch my eye though is, “The war was over, but 1942 wasn...


Delbert Griffith
00:11 Dec 02, 2023

Oooh! Yeah, that was a major mistake. WWII ended in 1945. Shit! Thanks for the nice comments and the always-terrific insights, Michal. I appreciate what you wrote, and I will reflect on your comments. Good leads to good. Things can improve. It takes a terrific effort to make bad things better, though, and that's part of the tale. Lizzie was a force for good, and the ethical questions she raises are worth discussing. The nature of good, for example. Thanks again, my friend, for your splendid insights. I love reading and reflecting on them...


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Philip Ebuluofor
07:09 Dec 01, 2023

I don't know how to place this one. I think killing warrants reactions at times.


Delbert Griffith
10:02 Dec 01, 2023

It's very dark and grim, yes? This tale presents an ethical question, and you understood it quite well. Cheers!


Philip Ebuluofor
11:27 Dec 02, 2023



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Kailani B.
17:11 Nov 30, 2023

Very interesting. Sort of like Jack the Ripper in reverse. Good job!


Delbert Griffith
18:09 Nov 30, 2023

Thank you, Kailani. I appreciate you reading my tale. Cheers!


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Stevie Burges
08:10 Nov 30, 2023

Well, for a Texan writing about Spitalfields, it was impressive. As soon as I started reading it I knew you were writing about London - very impressive. Good story and good storytelling.


Delbert Griffith
09:55 Nov 30, 2023

Thank you very much, Stevie. I appreciate the kind words, and the validation. If you felt like my setting was realistic, then it was. Now I don't feel like a fraud! LOL Cheers!


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Mary Bendickson
20:40 Nov 29, 2023

Please check on names. Some were confusing. Otherwise profound.


Delbert Griffith
22:21 Nov 29, 2023

Thanks so much, Mary. I'll check. Cheers!


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