There’s something I’ve got to ask.
Do you believe in anything?
God, the Devil, heaven, hell and all that shit, miracles and eternal life, saints and sinners, angels and demons?
I didn’t used to, not a word of it. Think about it for a moment. God created everything, right? So, God must be bigger than what he created, and that’s pretty fucking big. I mean, it stands to reason. And that makes God bigger than everything out there – planets, stars, galaxies, the universe – the whole thing. So, he (or maybe she), if he exists, is sitting out there, curled round the whole of creation, while he moves a bit here and a bit there, tinkers with it until he’s got it just so.
Now, you want me to believe that this God, who’s playing with his creation toy like one huge, fucking construction kit, can see me, down here on planet Earth? I don’t think so. No, I really don’t. It’s like me seeing inside an atom, inside a neutron, inside whatever the fuck there is inside a neutron which is a zillion times smaller.
No, if God’s out there, he surely don’t give a damn about me. Shit, even my neighbours don’t give a damn about me and they see me most days. Apart from my family and a couple of friends, I’m about as significant as that zillionth inside a neutron.
I’m just some malignancy deep inside a bacterium.
At least, that’s what I used to think.
There’s another question I’ve got to ask.
Do you believe in evil?
Good and bad used to be enough for me. They kind of made sense; good people can act bad and bad people can act good and most people drift between the two on a regular basis. That’s life, I guess. I’ve done some pretty bad things myself, even ended up doing time. I can understand all of that.
Evil’s different. You can’t switch from good to evil and back again; you can’t be a bit of both and change from moment to moment. If you’re evil, it goes through and through; there’s no gap where the light can get in. I figure that’s why I didn’t used to believe in evil. Even the worst people I knew – and I’ve met a few really bad ones – had a glimmer of light about them. Maybe they made me laugh, maybe they were good to their wives or kids, maybe they liked dogs or were loyal to their friends. Maybe they cried over sentimental songs.
But, if there’s no such thing as evil, how do you explain Murdo Carr? I mean, that guy never wavered towards the good, not once. Whatever he was, call it evil, call it bad through and through, call it what the hell you want, there was no crack in the fabric and no light of goodness. There was nothing but blood darkness.
Sometimes I get to wondering if he was always like that. I mean, he must have been a baby once and then a toddling infant, and then a child. Once upon a time, he must have been a cuddly, warm bundle of goodness. Did he grow evil slowly over a number of years or all at once in one cataclysmic moment, when goodness was eviscerated?
I’ve thought about that a lot.
The trouble is I don’t want to understand him or feel anything for him. As far as I’m concerned, he never was a baby, never an infant, never a child. He emerged into the world fully-fledged, and he was evil from the very first moment. He’s divorced from normal humanity, something different.
How else could I explain him? I mean, he just wasn’t like the rest of us.
There was some weird shit went on round Murdo. Maybe, as the months have passed, I’ve made more of it than I should, but it was pretty strange. I mean, how do you explain that he never once features on street cameras? On the harbour in our village, there’s a camera pointing right where he stood, but when you look at the recording he’s not there. Neither is his car or his driver.
But they were there; I saw them. We spoke.
All the camera shows, is me, looking like I’m about to wet myself. I’m standing there talking to nobody, and even in that light my face is pure white. Shit, I look scared. Then suddenly I’m running past the camera like there’s someone behind me with a flame thrower. I’m still running when the camera outside the chemist picks me up. But there’s no-one behind me; as far as the cameras are concerned, I’m running away from a great big, scary nothing.
There’s another thing.
It’s always dark round Murdo. There are blazing arc lights at the harbour end and lights on the warehouse wall, but when he comes back the next day, there’s just my mate Christie, standing there in the moonlight, like he’s in the spotlight on a stage. Shit, he looks like he should start dancing or something. He’s talking, gesturing, backing away. There’s no-one else there.
Darkness follows Murdo like it belongs to him.
Detective Inspector Jack Munro has an explanation. There was a power cut, he says. It affected the factory lights. He checked it out and there was definitely a power cut. As for what I saw, he reckons it was the result of too much drink or drugs or maybe both.
He’s got a point, I guess.
Anyway, it's time to start my story, so I’d better take a step back and start at the beginning.
But where is the beginning?
Maybe it's when the English guy arrives at the ruined croft behind Sandway Beach. He’s planning to renovate it, bring his family up here. That’s just what we need, more damned incomers. Yeah, I guess that’s the real beginning, Now, I’m no Anglophile, let me get that out in the open right now. When I see him in the pub and he opens his mouth, I know I detest him. All those oily vowels are like a red rag, you get me, and he’s leaning on the bar like he owns the place. And I’ve had a few drinks – more than a few – which don’t help. I’m an angry drunk where incomers are concerned.
Anyway, me and the English guy don’t hit it off and ten minutes later I’ve lost my temper, and fifteen minutes later I’m banned again and have to fork out for the damage – a chair, a table and a few beer glasses. Still, it was good of Benny not to call the police. It makes me feel sort of guilty though. Benny’s the landlord, and he’s a decent guy; I’ve known him forever. Benny and my dad go way back. Benny says I should cut down on the booze. He says it brings out the worst in me.
Maybe drink explains what happens on the boat.
But Denny hasn’t been drinking. Far as I know he hasn’t touched a drop.
It still happens.