When the Isle of Arran ferry sailed from Ardrossan harbour that fateful day I was still a married man. My wife — my beautiful, selfish, unfaithful wife — was on the upper deck beside me, her blonde hair streaming artfully in the salty breeze, as careless as her conscience.
Fay and I had what is euphemistically referred to as an open marriage. To say my wife was sexually adventurous would be to seriously understate the facts. Like the proverbial young lady from Spain, Fay liked a bit now and again. During the course of our marriage, she enjoyed — I feel I can use the word enjoy without fear of confradiction — an ever widening range of lovers.
Strange to say it didn't take me long to accept this situation, we lived in a splendid house Fay inherited from some affluent but deceased relative, we each had our own classy car and our combined income allowed a more than comfortable lifestyle. Why complain about a little indiscretion here and there? It was a civilised arrangement and in this goose and gander scenario, I was free to occasionally wander into some other lady's chamber.
We had no children, much as Fay indulged in procreative activities she was unable to conceive due to an unfortunate incident in her promiscuous youth. One shudders to think how many and how varied might her offspring have been otherwise. Verily God works in mysterious ways.
I'm glad now Fay enjoyed that crossing, the bracing wind brought colour to her cheeks, she was positively radiant, conscious as ever of her magnetic attraction. I'd like to think I'll enjoy my last day on earth as much as that.
For Katie Cameron too that same windswept crossing would be one of the last opportunities she would have to taste the salty air of freedom for a very long time.
Fay didn't know I knew about Katie Cameron, Fay didn't even know the woman, although she was intimately acquainted with Malcolm Cameron, Katie's husband. Unlike yours üuly, Mrs Cameron didn't take kindly to the idea of sharing her spouse.
If you're wondering how I know this, I have a confession to make, just by chance — believe me it was accidental — I discovered an alarming number of calls on Fay's mobile from the Camerons, both husband and wife. His were the usual besotted sexpot tattle, outlining his salacious intentions for their next meeting and seamy summaries of their previous üysts. Nothing surprising, been there done it. Hers however were positively and progessively manic. Starting with relatively mild 'hand's off' wamings and swiftly escalating to ever more dire implications, the most recent an unequivocal death threat.
I had seen Katie Cameron once before in the company of her husband, so I was surprised and perturbed when, as we returned to the car deck, I caught a glimpse of a woman bearing a close resemblance to her climbing into a red Nissan Juke, a few cars behind us. As I say it was only a glimpse, I might have been mistaken, but I don't think so.
When we drove away from the harbour at Brodick, I noticed the red car following as we turned left. No big deal, that way takes you to Lamlash and Whiting Bay, the two most popular holiday destinations. We were bound for Kildonan Bay at the southern tip of the island; the tourist handbook has the journey time as just less than an hour, which may well be the case if you're not held up in a line of cars behind a geriatric couple in a vintage Morris Minor. As it was, patience exhausted, we stopped at Whiting Bay for coffee and let Darby and Joan complete their leisurely joumey in their own good time.
From the coffee shop I saw the red Nissan park beside a bed and breakfast and the woman I took to be Katie Cameron, take her case from the boot. Silly me! What was so sinister about one following car in a convoy unong so many?
With a clear road we soon after an•ived at the Kildonan Hotel. Ideally situated on the shore, the hotel, as the brochures might say, is a solid traditional building with the recent extension of a bar and dining area, its panoramic windows framing a romantic view of the lighthouse on the tiny island of Pladda.
The hotel's most outstanding feature however, is the impressive ring of ten foot high standing stones, mystic runes in a variety of shapes, signifying who knows what? Battered by storms in winter and kissed by the summer sun, these majestic totems have stood in this same spot since at least the last decade of the twentieth century.
That aftemoon, unusually chummy, Fay and I strolled along the beach, past the popular camp site with its wondrous array of touring caravans and state-of-the-art tents, some as big as bungalows. Soon after we came across a steep pathway leading from the beach to a rough parking area. About halfway up, on a level patch, were a couple of play-park swings. With childish abandon we swung happily back and forti for a while. An innocent bystander might have mistaken us for a pair of swinging lovers.
It was there we met another couple from the hotel, Stig, a blonde Viking hunk and a Welsh girl called Rhona, a pretty young thing with an enchanting pouting smile. We talked for a while and eventually made our way back to the hotel in the company of Stig and the girl with the bee-stung lips.
We had assumed that Stig and Rhona were together, as it turned out Rhona was on holiday with her parents and since Stig's roommate had gone to Brodick for the day they had simply joined forces for the afternoon. Sad to say Rhona read more than that into their friendship.
All through the evening meal Rhona buzzed with anticipation, impatiently awaiting Stig's arrival. When he eventually came in with his üavelling companion, the poor girl was in for a rude awakening. Stig's roommate, dripping with bling, made a sensational entrance. With his dainty gait and too tight jeans, the caravan park wasn't the only camp sight in Kildonan Bay that night. Rhona was devastated; her expressive lips pursed a bitter moue of disappointment.
Soon after that I visited the toilet, when I came back there was no sign of Fay at our table. Rhona told me Fay had opened a text message and waiting not a minute, made a swift and furtive exit. I ran to the door and was just in time to see her disappearing figure, hurrying past the standing stones. It was the last time I saw I my wife alive.
I wasn't a witness to the events the following morning but cliché of clichés, a man out with his dog in the early morning found the body beside the play-park swings. The local bobby was called in but even through the tide was on the ebb, he soon found himself out of his depth. Fortunately help was close at hand, Mack McTaggart, a
maverick copper of the old school lived in one of the magnificent houses on the shore road. Because of his unorthodox& methods, McTaggart had been obliged to retire early from the force, however given his proximity and experience, the authorities were willing to make an exception and allowed him take over the case. It had all the frappings of a prime time Cop Show, and should have been done and dusted in time for the Ten O-Clock News. 'Sept it wasn't.
Give Mack McTaggart his due, it didn't take him long to discover I'd recently increased Fay's life insurance ten fold. There was of course, a perfectly re&able explanation. A short while back Fay had taken up skydiving with her latest paramour (no please don't applaud) it seemed like an obvious precaution. As it happened the affair didn't last long, I hope she let him down gently.
McTaggart was still suspicious until I proved I had a cast iron, copper-bottomed alibi, courtesy of Rhona from the Rhonda. I'm too much of a gentleman to give you a blow-by-blow account of our evening together, but this I will say; I thought I'd heard the Welsh were famous for their choral activities. Perhaps I should get my ears checked.
All in all I learned more from my interview with Mack McTaggart than he learned from me. Fay's head had been crushed from behind by a blow from a heavy stone. 'Ihere was no sigi of recent sexual activity (that would be a first) and the only thing missing was her mobile phone. That figured.
After that I did a bit of snooping on my own. Remembering I'd seen a red Juke in the car park by the swings the previous aftemoon, I drove to the B and B in Whiting Bay where the Nissan had stopped the day before. I wasn't surprised to discover that a woman called Katie Cameron had been a guest the previous night but she'd left on the first ferry that morning. Smart kid, why hang around?
The way I saw it, Katie Cameron had sussed out the lay of the land and she it was who texted Fay and enticed her to the swing park. If she had as much sense as I reckoned, Fay's mobile would be lying now full fathom five in the middle of the Clyde Estuary. That way, with no incriminating text messages she could only be implicated if Mack McTaggart found out about her husband's connection to Fay. There was only one person who could tip him the one eyed glance on that one and, as you will have already divined, I am the very soul of discretion. So let's hear it for Katie Cameron, the woman who'd committed the perfect murder.
How come then, you're asking, is she now behind bars? It was what Katie did next; the silly girl didn't know to quit when she was ahead. Later that year she and her husband were on holiday in Majorca when she found out her randy spouse was getting some extra cun•icular room service from one of the maids. Following her fried and tested modus operandi, Katie lured them to a quiet spot and cracked their skulls with a handy boulder. They were found next morning, stoned out of their minds.
I've a lot to thank Katie Cameron for; she rid me of a troublesome wife and I'm now the outright owner of our fine house and two cool cars. There were few tears shed for Fay, although the life insurance company came across with an eye-watering settlement, and just to put the fondant on the cookie, Mack McTaggart was so impressed by my written statement, he's paying me a tidy sum to ghost his memoirs.
Don't let anyone ever tell you crime doesn't pay.