"Do you know, Rufus, even though you’re taking a small fortune off The Goss and you’re obviously a brutal murderer, I actually feel sorry for you! I don’t see any possible future; you're so young and should have a fruitful life ahead. You’re very bright, but even that will be pointless. I wish there was a positive, constructive outcome for you. What an utter waste!"
“Well, Amy, since you feel that way, I suppose a final shag is out of the question?"
"Haha! Crash to earth again. No way, Rufus, it’s Hand-cock’s Half Hour for you from now on!"
Business concluded, Amy sounded concerned.
"When this breaks, Rufus, the shit will hit the fan! Pictured on every newsstand, despite your proven ‘Mr Slippery’ ability, I doubt even the inept MI6 or police will let you slip through their fingers this time! What will you do?”
“MI6 would kill me. The police will jail me for life. I've decided living in jail wouldn't be so bad. I'm sure they’d let me do or teach electronics to other prisoners. I plan to hand myself in – not sure where though!
I'll let you know where and when on the day, OK?”
The Goss Editor, anxious about the £850,000 he’d agreed to pay Rufus, told Amy to sort out the details and report back asap.
Amy was unsure how to pay Rufus..
“I’m confused, Rufus, I don’t know how you get the money if you’re on the run!”
“It will happen through my solicitors, who’s bill you’re paying with the cash you’re about to give me.” said Rufus. “I lodge my full story with them and you deposit £850K with them as stakeholders. They verify I‘ve provided what I agreed and send it to you, simultaneously releasing the funds. All done electronically.
Amy FaceTimed the Editor of The Goss who was expecting her. She reeled off, with Rufus's help, the nature and extent of the story, without specific details. She turned the camera so he could see a close up of Rufus.
"He wants £1million."
"Then he can want!" spluttered the Editor.
Rufus heard. "Then he can call Adrian Tipton at NewsAM, who'll be ecstatic!"
"I can't possibly do a million quid", was the reaction when The Goss's arch rival was mentioned. "750K top whack!"
"750K?... no deal!.. 850K... deal!" parried Rufus.
"850K?.................. OK!.. better be good!"
"Better than better!" replied Rufus.
“What I want, Amy, is one million pounds.”
“No bloody way! You’re having a laugh, Rufus!”
“Hear me out, Amy. What you will get is the following....”
Rufus ran through what The Goss would get for its money.
“The full story. Murder, rape, mutilation, cannibalism, burglary, torture, patricide, gay sex, kidnapping, imprisonment, escape, police ineptitude, MI6 recruitment, MI6 spooks, giving the police and MI6 the runaround, amnesia, groundbreaking technology breakthrough, loyalty, generosity and reincarnation, twice!
And, importantly, the loss of the loves of my life, my son and his mum. How’s that for a million quidsworth?”
“I’ll call the boss!”
Rufus watched as Amy strode confidently towards where he was standing at 'The Beacon'. She was lovely, and dressed immaculately. She impressed him for her guts as well as her beauty. Under other circumstances, things might have been stirring down below, but this was business!
She offered her hand, which he shook, thinking to himself how bizarre that seemed. They would stand, Rufus with his back to the piece of art and with Amy in front of him, to minimise the area of body exposed for a sniper. Mac2 had provided that advice, although Rufus needed no persuading.
Showing extra caution, Rufus got there a day early to reconnoitre Campbell Park and observe if anyone suspicious, and potentially dangerous, was getting into place. He slept rough in the park, prepared for wet weather, but hoping for dry. He was lucky.
Although an increasingly distant memory, he was used to sleeping rough. He knew how to be as comfortable as possible.
Nothing untoward happened in the day before his planned meeting with Amy, nor in the morning. They would meet at midday.
Rufus was quite excited at the thought of seeing Amy again. Ditto for Amy, but in reverse!
“Don’t even think of bringing anyone with you, will you Amy?” There was a tiny touch of menace in his voice, but not enough to deter Amy from her goal. She was tough.
“If we’re talking fee, Rufus, then I will need to FaceTime the Editor when I’m there to get clearance. A thousand pounds should be do-able, but it better be worth it!” This time it was Amy’s turn to show a tinge of menace. The woman had balls.
Place fixed for two day’s time, Amy would drive, while Rufus spent his dwindling funds on bus and coach.
Rufus chose Campbell Park in Milton Keynes to meet Amy. This was a park easily accessible by road or rail and enjoyed great open spaces. Rufus was cautious, instinctively now that Mac2 had worked on him. He wanted the opportunity to see if Amy brought anyone with her - the police, maybe – if so, he needed to be able to escape. He seriously doubted she would, knowing that her interest was solely in getting that scoop.
“We’ll meet at the Light Pyramid. Just ask for The Beacon. Oh, and I’ll need a sub. Let’s say a grand in used notes”.
“Publish anything now, Amy, and I’ll tell you nothing. Wait until we’ve agreed my fee and you'll get so much stuff that your circulation will hit the roof for months. This will be like the MP’s expenses scandal but dirtier. My revelations will prompt spin-off after spin-off. You, Amy, will be made!”
“You’ll have to give me more than that, Rufus, if it really is you. First of all, I’ll need to see you to verify it is you, back from the dead, and not some crazy chancer!”
“OK, Amy, we’ll meet, but just you and me!”
“Hello Amy, this is Roughus!”
"I beg your pardon?"
"Roughus...you remember... a university room... I was upset.... you were nice to me... I was a bit rough with you..."
Amy gasped. "But you're dead!"
"Am I?" asked Rufus.
Amy knew nobody but Rufus could know what had gone on in his university room that time, because she hadn't revealed it to anyone, let alone the entire Goss readership!
"Well they cremated you."
"Did they?... That's what I need to talk to you about." Rufus continued, cryptically.
“Go on...” Amy was all ears. She sensed another amazing scoop.
“But it’ll cost!”
Walking away had been one of the toughest things in Rufus's eventful life.
However, while he was in Liverpoool he rationalised that to stay around Beth and baby would be madness. He would be found and killed. He couldn't get a job without an NI number and could no longer use Tony Antoniou’s identity as he would be tracked down for his murder, and anyway Tony's bank account would be closed.
To get yet another identity, one course of action would be to murder again, but he'd need to skip the UK. Living rough or thieving was no longer attractive!
As Rufus walked off, Beth made no attempt to stop him. The past few minutes had been rather surreal. The strange young guy, the gold ring and the memories rekindled. As she looked from the gold ring to her baby, she felt that the man had seemed rather familiar. But she didn't know why. He seemed very caring, and as for the gold ring...
The ring had belonged to Rufus's father. He had taken it after killing him.
After Rufus had gone, Beth examined the ring. 'From Daddy' was engraved inside. Surely not? Not possible! Her tears came rushing back.
Beth immediately burst into tears. Rufus would have loved to have hugged her, but it wasn't in the plan.
Instead, he said softly, "I think little Reuben needs a hug!"
Beth just nodded. So did she, but it wasn't to be.
Rufus then produced a man's gold ring and handed it to her.
"This won't make anything better I'm sure, but it's for little Reuben when he gets a bit older. I found it a few weeks ago and have no use for it. Here, take it."
Hesitantly, Beth took it.. With a final glance, Rufus rose and walked away.
“Hey, I recognise you. Aren’t you the lady from the papers? The one they gave a really rough ride?” Rufus asked.
Beth nodded sadly “I prefer to forget that, it’s in the past.”
“Well I’m so pleased it seems to have worked out OK, because I am telling you, he’s a lovely little fella and you’re a lucky mam too!” Rufus’s brogue was charming and for some reason Beth didn’t seem threatened. She wasn’t.
Rufus continued. “I’m sorry if you’re still hurting. I think you were badly treated and the lies said about your boyfriend was evil. They killed him!”
Rufus walked up to the park bench and before he sat down at the other end to Beth he asked.
"May I?" in a beautiful Irish lilt.
Beth barely looked up from her book but replied.
Rufus started reading a newspaper, that day's Goss. He looked across at the baby, and, continuing his Irish brogue, commented.
"That's a beautiful little baby, to be sure!" Inside, his heart was swelling with pride. "What's the name?" he continued.
Beth looked up and at him for the first time.
"Reuben", she said with equal pride.
"What a really lovely name!"
Rufus had managed to find out approximately where Beth lived with her parents. He didn't need to know her exact address. He found a park nearby and waited. Nothing. There were mothers pushing babies, but not Beth. Maybe tomorrow.
That evening he constructed his plans, with inspiration provided by Mac2.
The next day he was rewarded. Arriving around 10am he sat on a park bench. Mothers passed and after a while he saw what he thought was Beth, pushing a pram. He followed her discreetly until she sat on a bench to read her book. Baby was asleep.
Rufus's acting skills were about to come into their own again. He spent time researching online. He practised. And practised. And perfected as good an Irish accent as a London boy could muster. Enough to fool a Horninglower, he hoped.
Rufus took the National Express coach from Liverpool to Birmingham - inexpensive at only £4. He then took another bus to Burton upon Trent, which, at £7, cost more and took ages. He was being economical. The local bus to Horninglow completed his journey.
Given his subsequent plans, he used Tony's card one last time, booking an hotel for four nights.
Rufus decided the only way to approach Beth would be in person. That way he could judge through body language if she would turn him in to the police if she realised he was alive after all. It would certainly be a shock for her.
She had gone to his funeral, which he took as a sign that she'd still had feelings for him. After his sex attack, when she fell pregnant, Rufus had shown himself to be concerned and offered support. It was possible, therefore, that she might not turn him in, immediately.
Rufus needed to approach her incognito.
Rufus needed a plan. He heeded the caution instilled in him by Mac2. He required time to work out his strategy. However, time was limited as he would soon run out of cash. Whilst he could use Tony Antoniou's card to pay for accommodation online, that might be dangerous as the Cypriot police had probably discovered the body by now. Also, he didn't know Tony's PIN number to use offline.
Nonetheless, he needed to prepare himself for going to see Beth and the baby. Rufus was a driven man, but it was fraught with risk.
What would be Beth's reaction?