Monday 16 April 2018
‘You can’t be serious, Claire.’ Steve prayed that she was simply venting her anger and frustration at living with Harry and his outbursts of anger.
‘Why not? I could get away with it. Out here I could, especially with the weather the way it is now. I could say he was swept overboard. You could back me up. No one would know any different.’ She sat down opposite him. If Harry walked in and saw her sitting next to Steve, she’d be in for another beating.
‘What makes you think I’d back you up?’
‘Because you’re just as complicit as Harry is in this abuse,’ she snapped.
‘You know about it, and yet you look the other way and let him get away with it.’
Benson sat silently and stared at Claire as she spoke.
‘You’ve known for years that he does this regularly, and what have you done to help me? Not a thing. You’ve stood back and let him continue beating the shit out of me.’
‘He’s my best mate, Claire. What do you expect me to do?’ Even he realised how pathetic his words sounded.
‘Did you treat Penny this way? When you were married?’ She was trying to push as many of Steven’s buttons as she could.
‘NO! I most certainly did not. How can you suggest such a thing?’
‘Because you let him do this to me. That’s how.’
She stopped speaking when she heard Harry’s footsteps on the stairs. It was only a matter of seconds before he’d appear in the galley with them.
‘Oi, oi. Stevie boy, have you finished puking yet?’ He didn’t wait for a response from Benson before ordering Claire to work. ‘And when you get off your fat arse, darling, I’d like my breakfast too. Seeing as though you look like you’re bending over backwards for Stevie.’
Claire quickly rose from the seat and began preparing Harry’s breakfast.
‘Mind you, Stevie,’ Harry continued without missing a beat, ‘she’d probably like it if you jumped her from behind.’
Benson was disgusted by Harry’s comment but knowing what Harry’d do to Claire later on, he didn’t want to push things just yet.
‘You know, Claire,’ Benson said calmly, ‘might not be such a bad idea of yours after all. You should consider it more closely.’
Harry was quick to pull Benson up. ‘And what idea would that be, Stevie boy?’
‘She, Claire, just suggested that when we arrive at port I should go see a doctor and get something for my seasickness. Can’t keep puking over the side, can I?’
‘Huh, she had a good idea then, Stevie. First time for everything I suppose.’ Harry turned his attention back to Claire. ‘Isn’t that right, Claire? First time for everything. And hurry up with my breakfast.’ He slapped Steve on the leg and gestured for him to go on deck. ‘Coming, Stevie?’
‘Uh, not at the moment, Harry. I can, um, feel some more coming up.’
‘Right. Call me when breakfast is ready, Claire.’
Benson watched Harry’s back as the skipper strode up the steps and out of the galley. He waited a few moments, listening for Harry to disappear to the bow before speaking, all the while keeping his eyes fixed on the galley entrance.
‘You got any sleeping pills?’
Claire continued on with making Harry’s food. ‘Yes . . . are you going to help me?’
‘Are you going to tell me where the pills are or do I have to guess?’
‘Bathroom cabinet. There’s a whole pack.’
‘Keep an eye and an ear out for Harry. Let me know if he’s coming.’
Benson headed out of the galley and towards the sleeping quarters. On unsteady legs, he made his way in and out of the bathroom in a few seconds, returning to the galley with Claire’s packet of sleeping pills.
‘I need something to crush them up in.’
Claire pointed to the cabinet above her head on the right. Benson opened the cabinet door and pulled out a mortar and pestle. Working quickly, Steve emptied the packet of pills into the mortar and using the pestle, crushed them with the expertise of a chef. When the mortar held nothing but a silky, white powder, he upended the vessel into the eggs that Claire was scrambling and watched as she stirred the eggs and powder together.
‘That should give us a head start.’
‘What should we do?’ Claire asked. She hadn’t ever thought she’d get this far through her fantasy of getting rid of Harry.
‘Feed him the eggs. He puts lots of Tabasco sauce on his eggs, so he shouldn’t taste the pills. There should be enough there to kill him outright, but in the event that he’s got the constitution of an elephant, once he’s out for the count, we’ll dump him overboard. He’ll drown with the ocean the way it is, and you’ll never have to deal with him again. After a while, we’ll contact the Coast Guard and report him missing. Hopefully, but the time they can get a search party together, he’ll have drowned and they won’t be able to find his body.’
She was beginning to worry now. ‘What if they do? Find him?’
‘We say he was depressed. He was giving up his job, the boat, everything. He was depressed. Convince them he must have taken an overdose of sleeping pills, and before he was totally unconscious, he jumped overboard.’
‘Yes,’ she replied slowly, ‘yes, that will work.’
‘I’ll call him back for breakfast then, shall I?’ Benson asked. Claire nodded. She pushed the eggs from the frying pan onto a plate and sat it down on the table.
‘About time too,’ Harry called as he re-entered the galley. Sitting in his usual place, he practically inhaled the scrambled eggs after covering them with Tabasco, just as Benson said he would. Now all Benson and Claire had to do was wait.
. . . To be continued . . .