Detective David McAddam pressed his thumbs into the bridge of his nose and sighed. “Alright, let’s hear it again for clarity. What happened on that boat?”
Sandra Dennis swallowed the last of her cold coffee and sat back on the hard plastic chair. “How many times—?”
“As many as it takes,” the detective said.
Sandra rolled her eyes. “She went home.”
“Went home? What do you mean by ‘went home’?”
“Back to her people. What do you think I mean?”
McAddam’s head throbbed. It’d been a long shift, even before the call to the Tobermory Ferry Terminal, and there wasn’t yet an end in sight. He leaned forward and rested his arms on the small table that separated him from the slight woman.
“Just take me through what happened, please.”
“Fine. We’d always wanted to see the whales, the girls and me. Sure, we’ve seen them at Sea World but it’s not really the same thing, is it? Anyway, Molly, the red-head that’s dating Susie, heard that we could hire a boat here to take us out to see the minkes. So we hopped the ferry from Drimnin and found the captain.”
“How many of you were on the Mainlander?”
“Seven. The six of us and Captain James.”
“And what time did you leave port?”
“We were due to leave around nine-thirty, but there was a problem with the engine so we didn’t get underway until after ten.”
“Tell me what happened to Aoife Roane?”
Sandra looked down at the dregs in her cup. “Can I get more coffee?”
“Later. When we’re finished.”
“Fine,” she huffed. “Aoife’s always been a strange sort. She loves the sea and the sea creatures, but always got real sad when we’d visit the aquariums and parks. I don’t think she liked seeing them cooped up like that.”
“I heard there was an argument on deck between Aoife and…Janet.”
“You could call it that. They’d quarrelled a few times already. On the ferry coming over, Aoife called Janet cruel and begged to be let home. She seemed really keen to wear a tatty, faux seal-skin coat, but Janet refused. Horrible thing stank of fish.”
“And the argument on the Mainlander?”
“Yeah, pretty much the same. Molly didn’t see what the fuss was all about and told Janet just to give her the bloody coat. It got pretty heated and, in the end, Susie tore the thing from Janet’s grasp and draped it over Aoife’s shoulders.
“I’d never seen anyone so happy to wear a smelly rag before, but Aoife was practically beaming. She took a turn around the deck before leaning over the side. We tried to stop her but she was already slipping. The coat wrapped around her like a wet suit as she fell, enveloped her from head to toe until she looked just like a seal herself. She bobbed once upon the surface of the water, barked, and then vanished.
“I’ll not forget Janet’s wail: ‘Selkie.’”