He had been following Calista discreetly for a few weeks now. He had actually caught the same bus as her on her return journey and she had not even noticed. Stalking Bryan Krugar had not been a problem and stalking Callista was just as easy. Both had sensed his presence though neither had actually caught sight of him. In the same way neither Calista nor Bryan had been able to go to the police because they did not have a shred of evidence that they were being watched and the police needed evidence. A vague uneasiness was not enough, as he well knew. Like his role model, Bradley Headstone, he had chosen to stalk his victims by dark. Picking up Our Mutual Friend, he reread the chapter where Headstone stalked Eugene, savouring every line.
He was a man who was unable to respect anyone unless they had a personality trait or a phyisical characteristic that he liked or admired. He did not believe in caring for others unconditionally. He favoured those he respected and judged those he did not respect. On the other hand, however much scorn he heaped on those humans he had no respect for, he was unconditionally fond of animals, especially cats. All the cats in the area loved him. They would rub up against him and allow him to stroke them. He was sorry for Claudia as he had nothing against her but he regarded her devastation at the loss of her husband as merely an unfortunate side effect and collateral damage. He had despised Bryan Krugar with all the force of his soul.
Perhaps if Bryan had been a little less smart, not so brusque in manner, or if he had impressed him in some way, he might have actually let Bryan off the hook but Bryan had purposely and continually slighted him until he had finally snapped. He had followed Bryan as he left the job centre at the usual time, waited until his path took him near Hudson River and then beaten him to death with a stout birch sttick that he had prepared beforehand. The task had calmed him and eased the tension in his muscles. Dumping him in the river, he had glanced quickly round to make sure the place was deserted before changing his blood stained coat and sweater for alternate ones and throwing the discarded clothing in the water as well.
Although a part of him admired Callista's outward appearance, this did not in his eyes match her fiery personality. Remembering how she had in his university days been too strict a lecturer and criticised the way he had written and referenced his first essay three times despite his best efforts, he sizzled with rage. At least the head of the Albany English department had been more tactful in his criticism and he had finally agreed to do the essays the way he suggested instead but he had never ever forgiven Calista. He sat in his blue car in the road outside Calista's house and watched her let herself in. There was no sign of Armando and the lack of lights inside suggested that he had not yet returned. Perhaps he was working late or had a meeting.
He waited fifteen minutes and then opened the car door and stepped out. Closing and locking the car door, he pocketed the keys and walked confidently to Calista's door. Instead of knocking, he bent and picked the lock with a hairpin. He had purchased a packet of hairpins for this express purpose, pretending they were for a girlfriend. He opened Calista's door and walked in, softly closing the door behind him, bolting and chaining it from the inside.