The Cadillac Diaries: Episode 17

It was a cold overcast day as Ray pulled the Cadillac up to the Eastwood Cemetery gates. The ground was cold and unforgiving. Ray shut off the engine and Pete hopped out. He trotted a few feet forward and stopped, looking back at Ray.

“Not yet, buddy,” Ray said.

Pete returned to Ray’s side and sat back on his haunches. Dressed in his finest gray suit and matching fedora, Ray checked his tie and shifted his weight as a blue pickup truck pulled up behind the Cadillac.

The passenger door opened and Deborah stepped out. She was beautiful in a black dress and matching fur coat. Pete barked and trotted over to her.

“Quiet,” Deborah said softly as she reached down and patted Pete’s head.

She walked around to the driver’s side of the truck and waited as Richard climbed out and took her hand.

Looking over at Ray, Deborah said, “Mom bought you that suit.”

Ray nodded and pointed toward Deborah,

“And that’s her fur coat.”

“It is?” Deborah asked surprised.

“Yep. I bought it for our tenth anniversary,” Ray answered.

Deborah’s smiled broadened as she lovingly ran her hands over the soft hairs.

“Thanks by the way,” Richard said extending a hand to Ray.

“What for?” Ray asked.

“For lending a hand. You helped put Top Hat behind bars for the next quarter of a century, and Duncan Pickett will be joining him once he resurfaces,” Richard answered.

“All in a day’s work,” Ray said with a smile.

“The mayor wants to give you a commendation. Big ceremony and all. Sure you aren’t interested?” Richard asked.

“Positive,” Ray said.

“Daddy’s never been one for the spotlight,” Deborah remarked.

“Nope. Just a loner in the shadows. That’s me,” Ray said with a smile.

When Pete suddenly barked, Ray looked down and saw the puppy’s eager face. Pete looked from Ray to the graveyard then back.

“You ready to go?” Ray asked.

Pete trotted away, leaving Ray behind. Ray looked at Deborah and Richard.

“Guess I should go,” he said and hurried after Pete.

As Deborah watched her father, she realized that Richard was watching her.

“What?” she asked.

“You are just amazing. Do you know that?” Richard asked.

“Yes,” Deborah answered smiling.

“And modest to boot,” Richard joked.

“You’re just like him,” Richard pointed out.

“Who?” Deborah asked.

“Santa Claus,” Richard answered sarcastically. “Your father, who else?”

“I know. That’s what mom used to tell me,” Deborah said as her eyes filled with tears. “She was the best thing that ever happened to me.”

Deborah looked at Richard. “Well one of the three best things ever to happen to me,” she added.

“Assuming I’m one, who’s the third?” Richard asked.

“Santa Claus,” Deborah smiled and said. “Daddy, who else?”

Richard shook his head. “Okay. You got me.”

“Come on,” Deborah said.

“Clay,” a young man’s voice called out.

Richard turned to see Detective David P. Crandall approaching.

“Crandall, what are you doing here?” Richard asked extending his hand.

“Sorry to interrupt,” Crandall apologized.

Turning to Deborah, Richard said, “Deborah, Detective David Crandall. He works in internal affairs at the police station. We used to be partners before he was promoted.”

“David, my wife Deborah.”

“Pleasure,” Deborah said shaking David’s offered hand.

“Same,” David said.

“Could we speak privately for a minute,” David asked Richard.

“It’s okay. I should check on Daddy anyway,” Deborah said.

After Deborah was well out of earshot, Richard turned to David.

“What’s wrong?”

“Well,” David paused. “After Raymond Slats was kidnapped, I started looking into his past to see if he had any enemies. I even called a friend of mine in the FBI. You won’t believe what I found.”

*          *          *

Deborah joined Ray as he stood at the gravesite talking to Brian and Kelly Baker.

The epitaph of Brooke Elizabeth Baker was hard for Deborah to read.

“So young,” she thought.

“Thank you for everything,” Brian Baker told Ray.

“I just wish I had been faster,” Ray said looking down at Brooke’s tombstone.

“She can at least rest peacefully now, thanks to you,” Kelly Baker said, a slight catch in her voice.

“I am so sorry,” Deborah said trying to offer comfort.

“If there’s ever anything I can do, please call me,” Ray said holding out his business card.

“We never discussed your fee,” Brian said.

“I didn’t do it for the money. I’m retired,” Ray explained.

“We must give you something; you went through so much,” Kelly offered.

Ray inhaled deeply as he looked at the grave for a long moment.

“It’s not necessary. You have more important things to focus on right now,” he said patting Kelly’s hand.

 

*          *          *

“Hold on,” Richard responded. “Run that past me again.”

“My friend at the FBI looked into the records of Slats and found that his marriage license is the oldest document there is. Everything else—his birth certificate, his social security number, everything—isn’t more than forty years old,” David repeated.

Richard turned his head in Ray’s direction.

“What exactly are you trying to say?” he asked.

“What I’m saying is that whoever your father-in-law really is, everything that is Raymond Slats didn’t exist before he was married forty years ago.”

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Published in: on June 3, 2011 at 7:37 pm  Leave a Comment  

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