The Cadillac Diaries: Episode 16

Raymond Slats had said to meet him at Downfield, a nearby sports bar. Flinging open the doors, Top Hat stepped inside the bar. He sized up the place. Not busy, just a few dedicated drinkers. No sign of the old man. Navigating the tables, Top Hat made his way to the bar and pulled up a stool.

“Beer,” he ordered.

The bartender, a shapely redhead, filled a frosted mug and slid it over to Top Hat.

“Anything else, sweetheart?” she asked.

“Nothing yet,” Top Hat smirked as his eyes slid up and down her body.

If this meeting turned out to be a waste of time, he would take on the redhead. She might kick a little, but she’d give in. They always did, one way or another.

Top Hat took a sip of his beer and squinted at its bitter taste. Behind the bar, a wall of televisions played different sports programs. When he heard the bar door open, Top Hat felt an irritating shiver run down his spine. Turning toward the sound, he saw Raymond Slats. For an old man, he looked pretty solid as he stood by the door, a fedora in his right hand. A Jack Russell terrier waited patiently at his side.

Top Hat ground his teeth when he saw the smug grin on the old man’s face. As Raymond Slats made his way over to the bar, the dog kept stride with him.

“Easy boy,” Ray said when the dog began to growl.

Taking a seat beside Top Hat, Ray turned to him. Top Hat lifted his beer for another sip and squinted again at its bitter taste.

“What do you want?” he asked Ray.

“I thought you might want to surrender,” Ray said.

“Are you insane?” Top Hat asked.

“My daughter would agree with you, but no not really,” Ray said.

As Top Hat considered his response, the dog hopped up onto a stool next to Ray just as the redhead held out a strip of beef jerky.

“Hey, Pete,” she said smiling.

The dog clamped his jaws around the treat and pulled at it as the bartender playfully refused to let go.

“Why exactly would I turn myself in?” Top Hat asked.

“Because despite what your goons may think, I am a reasonable man. I felt giving you the chance to do the noble thing was only right,” Ray explained.

Top Hat took a long drink from his beer as he tried to repress his rage. He found that he was getting used to its bitter taste, but his head had started to spin. “What about just killing the old man and everybody in the bar?”

“Let me explain one thing to you,” Top Hat said. “I would rather have my face removed than give myself up. Am I clear? I would rather have spiders dropped down my pants and someone kill them with a bat. Understand?”

Ray shook his head and slapped the table twice.

“I’m sorry to hear that, but I’m not real sure what that second one was. You sort of slurred your words. Probably the drug I slipped into your drink,” Ray said.

“What?” Top Hat said, glaring down at his almost finished beer.

Reaching into his coat, Top Hat fumbled for his gun only to feel the cold metal of a rifle pressed against his cheek. He turned his eyes to the redheaded bartender holding the rifle.

“That’s enough, sweetie,” she suggested.

“Thanks, Mavis,” Ray said. “Remote?”

Mavis removed her right hand from the rifle and pulled out a remote control from behind the bar. Sliding it across to Ray, she returned her hand to the rifle. Ray picked up the remote and pressed the play button.

The monitor directly in front of them switched from the soccer game to a video of an empty gas station. Standing in the parking lot was Tanner McDaniel. When he saw that the gas station was closed, he complained,

“Come on, man.”

The audio quality was pretty good even though there was some background noise. McDaniel spotted a pay phone and let his head loll. As Top Hat watched the video, he saw himself, dressed in coveralls and black leather jacket, step out from behind the gas station and say to McDaniel,

“It’s horrible, isn’t it?”

Top Hat scratched his scraggly salt and pepper beard as he approached.

“What is?” McDaniel asked nervously.

“The bad timing,” Top Hat said.

“Look I’m real sorry about the folder. I’ll get it back; I promise,” McDaniel swore.

“No you won’t,” Top Hat said.

“What about Cleaver?” McDaniel asked.

“He made a mistake, and he’ll pay for his crime,” Top Hat said.

“Where does that leave me?” McDaniel asked.

Top Hat pulled the trigger on the gun, the bullet punching through Tanner’s chest.

“You, unfortunately, will be murdered during an aborted mugging,” Top Hat said coldly as he slipped the weapon just inside the shaft of his boot.

McDaniel tried to speak but fell to the ground.

“Thank you for your service,” Top Hat sneered as he turned and walked away.

The video went to black and Ray turned the television back to the soccer game.

“You really need to be more careful where you hold your meetings,” Ray said.

Top Hat wanted to screech, but he could barely keep his head up.

“A copy of this video was sent to every television station, radio station, and Salvation Army Center in the area,” Ray said.

“That. . .will. . .not. . .stop. . .me,” Top Hat slurred, struggling to speak as his vision clouded.

“No, but she will,” Ray said nodding toward the bartender.

“And if by some chance she fails,” Ray said as he pointed to the bar door, “they can.”

Just then a police detective and four uniformed officers walked in the bar.

When Top Hat tried to run, his arms and legs collapsed and he fell to the floor.

“Richard Sherman, you are under arrest for murder, kidnapping, arson. . . .” the police detective began.

Top Hat passed out before he heard anything else.

“Richard,” Ray said.

“Ray,” Detective Richard Clay returned, as the officers slapped Top Hat in cuffs.

Turning to Mavis, Ray saw that she was feeding Pete another strip of beef jerky.

“Come on, Mavis. Those things give him some seriously nasty gas,” Ray complained.

Mavis smiled and looking at the other bartender said,

“Thanks, Jerry.”

“No problem,” Jerry said as he walked over and retrieved his rifle.

“So about Tommy?” Ray asked.

Mavis rolled her eyes and said, “Sure thing. No more watering his drinks. He did make all this possible after all.”

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Published in: on May 4, 2011 at 7:01 pm  Leave a Comment  

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