After Amy's rather bruising sexual interface with Rufus, she asked one question before she left.
"Where did all that anger come from, Rufus?"
Rufus wouldn't normally have given an answer, but in his post-coital state he was putty in Amy's expert hands. She was very good. Unfazed by her ordeal, she nuzzled close, while out of him spilled intimate details about his relationship with his parents, particularly his abusive father. Mac2 across the room couldn't stop his outpouring.
"I'm glad the bastard's dead. Should've done it sooner!" And then, "Whoever killed him that is."
Amy now had her story.
Amy knew the score. She'd done far worse things to get a good story and this story was flavour of the month with the Editor. Rufus was a fit, good-looking lad, so why not enjoy it?
Great in theory, but Rufus's pent up frustration was such that his erection was straining away at the leash. He pounced, despite his pact with Mac2 to be gentle. What did Mac2 know about sexual frustration?
That's not grief, she thought, there's more to Rufus than that; he's an animal.
"They should call you Roughus, young man!" Amy complained as he pulled out.
At this point in Rufus's story, he dropped his head as if overwhelmed with sadness. Amy was so affected that she moved off the chair and sat on the bed, taking his hand. In reality, Rufus was checking what was happening down below. It wasn't sadness he was feeling, but delight that the Viagra was working this time. Down below, the sap was definitely rising. He was upstanding, outstanding even!
Rufus moved Amy's hand to the cause of his excitement. This took Amy completely by surprise.
She'd got the story, but suspected there was more to come.
There was, Rufus!
If Rufus ever entertained thoughts of an acting career, his recent performances proved his suitability. With Amy recording every word, he talked about his lonely life as an only child in a family dominated by an abusive father and terrified mother, preoccupied with her own inadequacies rather than protecting him. He told of an environment of drink and drugs followed by beatings and near starvation. He said he never wanted to see his father again.
Amy was lapping it up. Wonderful material for a human interest story.
Rufus then described his escape to university, his work and his continuing loneliness.
Rufus's room was small, which suited him and meant Amy would be very close to him. Suggesting she sat on the single chair in the room, he made a point of deliberately angling it sideways away from where he would be sitting on the bed, so he wouldn't be able to look up her skirt.
"I hope that's OK for you? These rooms aren't exactly designed for ladies in short skirts. Mum brought me up to be a gentleman!" At that point he produced an involuntary sob.
Rufus had just succeeded in getting Amy's guard down.
Now for his story.
Planning his evening meeting with the reporter was essential. Whilst his instinct was to stay away from publicity for fear of discovery, a couple of hours communing with Mac2 persuaded Rufus otherwise. Getting coy or evasive, as would be instinctive, would raise suspicion, because journalists were mighty clever and intuitive. He planned to give her a plausible story. He also planned to evoke sufficient sympathy for him and his loss as might prompt a spontaneous shag.
I'm not comfortable talking here", he announced, "my room is more discreet,"
Rufus seemed harmless, so why not?
The Viagra was working at last!
She was good. The reporter, introducing herself as Amy Martin, was very good. She must have been used to crashing in on people grieving. She piled on the sympathy. Any normal young man who'd recently lost his mother might appreciate her caring tone and sympathetic arm touching. Rufus, however, thought he'd like to shag her if only he could get his pecker to stand to attention. Maybe with another shot of Viagra, this Amy could help his sexual recovery.
"I'm off to class now", he lied, "but maybe I can meet you later?"
Time to plan his response and seduction!
The reporter from The Goss caught up with Rufus as he was sitting on his own in the student union restaurant at lunchtime. It was 12.40, he'd just finished lunch. He wasn't usually accosted in the restaurant, except by coursemates, who tended to leave him to himself except when they were going out drinking. He was a bit too focused on his work during the day to make great conversation. In fact, he never made great conversation even when out drinking. He just got pissed!
The reporter was an extremely attractive, smartly dressed young woman. She immediately had his attention.
The story breaking in The Goss, linking Cat's tragic demise with Marcus's bizarre death, alerted the police. They hadn't been looking for a connection between this gruesome affair and Marcus's lurid passing. A Goss-reading Chief Superintendant (although he wouldn't admit to that) picked it up and ran with it. 'Misadventure' of a sexual nature was replaced by the spectre of a couple of possible murders. When he discovered the further link of erectile tissue (Cat's clitoris remained hugely engorged in death, a fact The Goss relished in reporting) he knew he was onto something.
It got under his skin.
The editor of The Goss couldn't believe his luck. The next story of the year had fallen into his lap. This could run for days, and depending upon what else emerged, maybe even weeks. He needed a scoop to take the paper back to the epic sales levels when the Marcus story was being spun.
The horror of Cat's demise, her back story including violent death of violent estranged husband (they'd done their homework), the young man in her bed, a feature on toyboys and 'cougars'....
But first they needed to interview her son at university....
What was his story?
The Goss picked up the story immediately. Scurrilous the newspaper might be, but it was a well-oiled information gathering and 'enriching' machine. With sources inside police stations, hospitals and other places of ongoing human drama, it was always very quick off the mark, a fundamental necessity in the tabloid business.
'STILL WATERS RUN SKIN DEEP' ran the front page headline, with a main picture showing Cat's bath with its scum of skin (how did they get that?) plus two inset pics - a recent photo of Cat and her house exterior.
'Lovers dead in horrific ritual skinning
Memories of Marcus'
Time to leave. Rufus thought he now had to return to the hospital to see his mother and demonstrate his devastation at her death. He couldn't do anything about finding Mac right now, but knew he'd programmed Mac2 with a feature to find the whereabouts of its clone.
Quickly changing his outer clothes to avoid recognition at the hospital, he told the PC at home he'd been sick over the others.
At the hospital he put on another tour de force as he wept for his dead mother. In reality, pragmatic Rufus had moved on. No point in looking back.
The woman PC left guarding Rufus's house took pity on him, breaking the news that his mum had been rushed off to hospital but that apparently she had died. The PC said she couldn't say any more, but offered to make him a cup of tea.
Rufus put on his second Oscar performance as he wept, coughed and rushed upstairs to the bathroom feigning a vomiting attack. The PC let him, giving him a chance to try and find Mac. He scoured the rooms. All he found was the discarded wrapping he'd used to mail it.
Mac had gone. Shit!
Rufus cried holding the old woman's hand. He didn't need to, but he'd got swept up in the role. He stuck around for half an hour, then got up, leant over and kissed the old woman's face while he gently removed her oxygen tubes. He felt it would be merciful. A young nurse was later disciplined for his mercy.
He walked slowly out of the hospital and jumped on a bus back home. He had to find Mac. He knew it was responsible and that it could lead to him.
"Where's my mum?" he asked the copper waiting at home.
Rufus trundled the cleaning trolley back to the ward he'd taken it from. He figured that would cause the least disruption or suspicion. When he got there nobody gave him a second glance so he went into the ward and sat by an old woman who was clearly seriously ill, with oxygen tubes, intravenous drugs trailing. He held her hand.
Rufus reckoned the man's death wouldn't be regarded as suspicious as he'd been comatose, but just in case, rather than leave the hospital quickly, he would stick around, lest he got caught leaving on cctv.
Hand-holding gave him cover.
It was remarkably easy for Rufus to enter the room where Phil was lying in a coma. He rolled his trolley past the PC into the room and started to mop the floor. The PC took no notice, neither did the nurse, who was checking the monitor. She popped out after a while and Rufus immediately took his chance, jamming the trolley hard against the door.
It took him little more than a minute to smother Phil with a pillow. No noise.
Rufus then took the trolley handle and, with his head down, pushed the door open and trundled off.
It was one thing for Rufus to bluff his way to get to the room where they were keeping Phil, but another to get through the police guard sitting outside and the nursing staff popping in and out. He walked straight past the PC confidently without getting on the policeman's radar.
He continued until he found a regular ward for old people with various stages of dementia. Making it up as he went along, he took any opportunity he could. He saw a trolley with a cleaning bucket and mop.
He purposefully took the handle.
He was on a roll!
Rufus also found out from the nurse on reception where his mum's bloke was being treated. He knew that to get to the man he had to exhibit extreme confidence. He walked straight through on the basis that if he was challenged, he could truthfully say he was trying to see his dead mother.
He was sad that his mother had died, but was pragmatic too. Whatever she'd done with that man, particularly if it had involved Mac, was her own fault. He couldn't bring her back, but he could help her bloke join her.
And keep himself beyond suspicion!
Rufus arrived at his mother's house some hours after she and Phil were rushed off to hospital. Neighbours were chattering outside about the ambulance and what had happened. They knew little except which hospital they'd gone to.
Rufus went to the A&E department where the ambulances arrived. He chatted up a nurse on reception and she let slip that a woman had died in atrocious circumstances and that a man, probably her partner, was in a coma. She also said no-one knew what had happened.
"No mention of Mac", thought Rufus, "good, but for safety, that man must die!"
Cat was pronounced dead at 02.05. Root cause unknown, except for a massive stroke, probably brought on by her self-inflicted skin war. Police couldn't establish why she'd clawed the skin off her body, because she wasn't coherent due to heavy sedation.
It was a mystery how and why it had happened.
Remarkably, Phil survived the ordeal. A feint pulse, but he was comatose. It would be a waiting game.
"Shagged the old girl to death I reckon", said the lightfingered PC, fingering Mac in his pocket.
Rufus gleaned the gossip later, incognito, at the hospital.
Phil must never wake!