Early 20s, wearing a black hooded jacket and black jeans.An all-points bulletin was issued by Detective Chief Inspector Julian Ross, 43, a terse, authoritative figure with an iron jaw and a manner to match.John yearns for strangers to recognize him for the celebrity he almost was. " But all he manages to attract is the curiosity of the local police. Four months after the stabbing, the charges were amended."That's the guy that got stabbed," one might say. Mark was still accused of attempted murder, to which he ultimately pleaded guilty.As for himself, John was a virtual Scheherazade, a gifted fabricator."Staggering," said the judge who would hear his case.It was from this injury that the teenager almost died on the operating table—twice, police tell me.
"I would say, of the two teenagers, John was the more wicked and more criminally culpable."For months John had corresponded in an Internet chat room with Mark, a bland-featured 16-year-old who possesses as his most striking traits a vast forehead, a tendency to open every sentence with "Ermmm," and, it would later be claimed, an almost infinite store of credulity.Sometimes, as night falls over Greater Manchester, the ingenious adolescent returns to the place where he was stabbed last year, when he was 14.The boy is tall for his age, but slight, with olive skin, a long crooked nose, and dark, intelligent eyes framed by thick black brows poised for flight. One in the chest—that was the light wound—and another in the abdomen, six inches deep, which pierced his kidney and liver and necessitated the removal of his gallbladder.Then Mark pulled out the knife and called an ambulance.Some madman had attacked his friend, the boy told the police.