Boz was quiet for a long time. Then he spoke.
“Alright Julie, I owe you, I know. Everything’s all over anyway. That night I had a job on like…oh you know what I mean Julie, You’ve always known what goes on here! So I took the boat out around midnight and was about to make contact when there was a horrible rustling sound from under the tarp I kept in the stern and Moira bloody well appeared from nowhere! She stood up and moved towards me, the other boat was coming alongside fast and I was so surprised at seeing her appear and trying to navigate a tricky maneuver that I rammed the other boat. They roared off in a tearing hurry and Moira went overboard. In the darkness and in the wash left by the other boat I couldn’t see her. I swear to God, Julie, I circled for hours in the dark calling and calling her name.”
His feeble torchlight shining on the immensity of the night and the ocean. He’d yelled and yelled, and the sea mocked him back. “Gone. My only one. My Moira.”
There was silence in the little hut, broken by the sounds of two people sobbing.
Dave was fucking freezing, he’d been faffing about packing up the staging and P.A. listening out for the sound of the motorboat as light drained from the sky and the crowds dispersed. No joy so far and it was pitch black now. He put down the speaker and sat down on it, considering taking a sniff of what he’s waiting to take delivery of much more of. But that may not be wise with all these people hovering about. Wish they’d go home for their beauty sleep. Dave heard the thrum of a boat in the harbour and pulled out his flashlight ready to give the signal when he felt a tap on the shoulder and spun round to find Sergeant Ferry beaming at him.
“Jeesus. It’s you Sergeant. Yes.”
“Apart from that prat on the trumpet. Congrats on the sound system.”
“Yeah thanks. Well – it’s getting late.”
“A well deserved pint I expect?”
“Yes – you?”
“Kind of keeping guard for a while. You know, any unusual goings on.”
It was too late to stop the boat. He could hear its hull scratching on the shingle now as it came ashore.
“Like my mate’s boat, eh? Friend of mine said he’d drop off some… stuff for me.”
“Fisherman, been out trawling. Got me… fresh fish for my tea. Will you excuse me please?”
Dave ran down to the water’s edge, flashlight waving, the crashing of the waves and thud of the ship’s motor, grating of the hull on the shingle. Surely the copper would rumble him.
And there was someone else on the beach caught in the light’s beam. Silhouette of a woman. Who? Thick jumper, tight jeans and wellies. That Swedish chick. And is that a gun in her hand? Behind them the policeman’s torchlight playing weakly on the water as the small motorboat lands and kills its motor and lights.
“What you doing here?” he asked the woman.
‘Checking that you are doing your job.”
“You’ve been sent…?”
“Your employer is multinational, like you say, fingers in many pies. In many forces too.”
“That plod’s up there wondering what the fuck we’re up to.”
“You take your delivery. Take what you can in one load and tell them to lose the rest. I’ll sort him out.”
Linnea pocketed the gun, walked up the beach towards PC Ferry, unbuttoned her coat, loosened her hair as Dave splashes into the waves to collect his delivery from the swaying boat.
Ferry was still trying to see what’s happening on that boat as Linnea ambles towards him out of the dark, smiling. Wow. Wish his superior officer looked like that.
“Evening, Constable. I was just talking to our friend down there. Thought he looked highly suspicious but he’s just arranged to pick up some fish from a friend.”
She puts her arm through his. “So if you’re off duty now, you are liking to take a drink with me maybe?”
Hometime. I’m like dead on my feet. Mum zonked out on her happy pills, looks half dead. Years back Dad would’ve carried me, lifted me up on his big shoulders. Remember him doing that over the years, nothing lovelier than being carried on high like that.
Boring shit evening of saddo jazz and blah blah speeches and all. That dog scrabbling about in the sand as me and mum turn to leave. Some murder mystery that turned out to be – everyone saying maybe it’s all just some stunt – medical student wankers planted it there. Trainee doctors are always doing sicko stuff like that.
Vera made the mermaid tho. Know that cos Abdab and me seen the old biddy down there before in the evenings building sandcastles, sand shapes, sandcastles. Poor lonely soul. And they’re lovely and all, decorated with seashells, by the seashore.
Turn back for one last look at the waves and there’s that black dog, still digging in the sand like frigging crazy.
“I miss Dad.” For a moment she looks angry, upset, but then she smiles.
“Hmm. Yeah, well.. Oh Ginnny. Come here.” She opens her arms and I run to her for a hug.
“Why did he have to run away from us like that?”
“He’ll be back, Ginny. But he loves you, honey.”
“He just had to run away from things for a bit. Work problems. His boss, some guy called Sid on his case. But he didn’t want to go.”
“No – he was well cut up about it.”
The trade in The Old Bell was roaring again that night, and Trevor was in his element, pouring drinks, taking money, bossing the bar staff around and swapping insults with the locals. It was nights like this that reminded him why he loved his job. He looked around, surveying his empire. That Swedish bird was all over the local copper, her hand on his knee, his eyes practically down her blouse, unable to believe his luck. The women from the local committee were gathered at a corner table, fussing over Julie Webb who was looking tearful and nursing a large whiskey. Her husband was nowhere to be seen, as usual. There was Robin, looking smug and lording it up by the dartboard, proud of the day’s achievement and still clutching his trumpet. Trevor pitied Robin’s wife, having to listen to him practice that thing. In fact, having to listen to Robin full stop, he couldn’t stand the old bastard himself, still best to stay on the right side of him, you never knew what pies he had his fingers in, that Robin. Fair do’s, though, the pompous git had pulled off that event. He must remember to get the number of that band, they were pretty good, might do for live music one night when it got a bit quieter. He caught Tracy’s eye and she winked at him, up to her eyes in beer glasses and thinking of the cash it represented. All those journalists and visitors and hangers on and loyal locals who did come back, especially now the food was better, spending money in their pub. Yep, this was a good weekend.