The Cadillac Diaries: Episode 12

It was early morning when the alarm clock woke Ray out of a deep sleep. Although the previous day had been a successful one, Ray felt like something was off. When he had returned to the Bakers’ house, he had found it engulfed in flames. Before he could park the Cadillac, Pete had barked suddenly and run towards the back of the ambulance. With bandaged arms, Kelly Baker held an oxygen mask to her face and breathed deeply, trying to clear the smoke from her lungs.

“Mrs. Baker,” Ray called running up to her, “what happened?”

Mrs. Baker removed the mask and coughed.

“Honestly, it happened so quickly. I had just come home from shopping when two men kicked in my front door and came inside. I was so startled that I couldn’t manage to get out my stun gun. One of them grabbed me and threw me across the room. I remember falling over the couch and hitting my head on the floor. I must have passed out because when I came to, the firefighters were taking me outside,” Mrs. Baker explained.

Ray walked around the smoldering remains of the house, hoping to find an answer.

“Why would someone just kick down the door and then burn the place to the ground?” he asked himself.

Pete looked up at Ray and barked.

“No, buddy. It wasn’t a robbery. I think there was something else going on here. If they just wanted her out of the way, she’d be dead. But they left her on the floor instead.”

Ray quickly returned to Mrs. Baker.

“Can you describe the men? He asked.

“All I remember is that they both wore sunglasses and leather jackets,” she said.

“Sunglasses and leather, huh?” Ray repeated.

“Well you should be all right now. I don’t think they’re after you. Have you got anywhere to stay?” Ray asked concerned.

“My sister lives on the other side of town near the docks. I can stay with her for now.”

“That’s good. I’ll be back in touch. You call if you need anything,” Ray said tenderly, handing her his number.

“Thank you, Mr. Slats,” she said before lifting the mask to her face.
Ray patted her shoulder and headed back to the Cadillac with Pete trotting behind. Climbing inside, he started the engine and removed Tanner McDaniel’s folder from under the seat where he’d hidden it.

“We need to get this folder to Richard now,” he told Pete.

Ray pulled out of the neighborhood and headed for the police station and Richard.

* * *

Pulling up outside the station, Ray shut off the engine, grabbed the folder, and hopped out. As he hurried inside, he tucked the folder under his arm and headed straight for Richard’s desk. When he saw that Richard was not at his desk, he scanned the room trying to spot him. Suddenly Pete began barking and ran toward the lounge.

“Pete,” Ray called, “you have got to stop doing that.”

He hurried after Pete and found him in the lounge standing on a chair with Richard, a cup of coffee in hand, ordering him down.

“There you are,” Ray said to both Pete and Richard.

“Ray, is everything all right?” Richard asked.

“Yeah, but I’ve got this for you,” Ray said holding up the folder.

“What’s that?” Richard asked.

“Everything on Tanner McDaniel, owner of Body Shots, that detailing shop over on 5th. It’s nothing but a front for a chop shop, stealing cars and cutting them up for resale.”

“You sure about that?” Richard asked reaching for the folder.

“Positive,” Ray responded.

“Okay. I’ll look into it,” Richard assured him.

“Say, when are you coming to supper? Deborah makes a mean pot roast,” Richard bragged.

Ray, turning to leave, smiled and said, “Soon. Very soon.”

He whistled for Pete and left the station.

“That should be enough to get them on the right track to prove Brian Baker’s innocence,” Ray said proud of himself.

He returned home, and after a light supper settled back and fell asleep.

* * *

Suddenly the phone rang snapping Ray out of his flashback. Taking a moment to clear his head, he reached for the phone.

“Hello?” he answered.

“Ray, it’s Richard. Thanks for that folder. It’s just what I needed. Now I can finally close this case.”

“You got McDaniel to confess?” Ray asked surprised.

“Didn’t have to. He was murdered last night during a botched robbery.”

“Murdered? Oh. . .I see,” Ray replied.

Richard thanked him again and hung up, leaving Ray confused.

“That seems awfully convenient, doesn’t it?” Ray asked Pete who was too tired to lift his head.

* * *

Top Hat relaxed at his usual table and sipped his beer. One of his men approached him and waited, his head lowered.

“What?” Top Hat barked at the frightened young man.

“Tanner is dead and the police have the file,” the young man said.
Top Hat slowly took a bite of his egg roll then placed it back on his plate.

“Good,” he said with an air of indifference.
The young man waited.

Top Hat took another sip of beer, wiped his mouth then snapped in aggravation,

“What else!”

“Sorry, but I was wondering about the girl’s family. Rumor is they hired a detective,” the young man said.

“The mother is dead, and the father’s in jail. What’s the problem?” Top Hat scowled.

“Well, sir,” the young man gulped, “Mrs. Baker didn’t die in the fire. We trailed her to a new residence downtown. And we never found the photos. I figure that detective may have gotten to them first.”

“So find him and kill him,” Top Hat ordered.

“But we don’t know where he is, sir,” the young man explained.
Top Hat quietly laid his hand on the table then dug his fingers into the wood as he slowly looked up at the nervous young man.

“How do you get a starving man to chase you?” Top Hat asked.
With shoulders hunched, the young man swallowed hard and shook his head.

“You take his food,” Top Hat said. Looking back at his plate, Top Hat added, “Go after the parents. They’ll call the detective for help.”
Without daring to ask how, the young man hurried out of the restaurant.

* * *

Ray finished buttoning his shirt and was just reaching for his jacket when the phone rang. It had been almost two hours since Richard had called.

“Who could that be?” Ray asked aloud.
He left his jacket on the hanger and walked over to get the phone.

“Hello?” Ray said.

“Help!”

Ray recognized the panicked voice as Kelly Baker’s.

“Mrs. Baker, what’s wrong?” Ray asked.

“There are men outside. They’re trying to get in,” Mrs. Baker shouted.

“Where are you?” Ray asked.

Kelly Baker quickly gave Ray the address of her sister’s place and Ray ordered,

“Call the police now!”

Ray slammed down the phone and grabbed his jacket as he ran for the door. Exiting the hallway he yelled,

“Pete!”

Pete quickly hopped up from his bed and bolted after Ray.

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Published in: on January 7, 2011 at 4:04 pm  Leave a Comment  

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