The Cadillac Diaries: Episode 21

Dr. David Garland ran a sweaty palm over his forehead as he looked up from the bodies to Raymond Slats and Richard Clay. The police had removed six bodies from the Lake Marian van and turned them over to Dr. Garland for post-mortem.

“Why’d you put a rush on this?” Garland finally asked.

“Because this is a cold case that just exploded,” Richard explained.

Ray smiled and said, “You sounded like your dad just then.”

“That was his phrase,” Richard replied.

“Really?” Ray asked.

“Yea, he used to say that all the time,” Richard said.

“All right!” Garland snapped. “There is one thing I noticed that’s off from the other murders.”

“What’s that?” Ray asked.

“When Christopher Stuart murdered his wife, her lover, and the neighbors, he shot them first then dismembered them with an ax. Whoever killed these people used something different.”

“How so?” Richard asked.

“The axe Stuart used left a distinctive cutting pattern. Not so with these bodies. Their heads were removed with something else,” Garland said.

He crossed to the nearest body, pulling away the sheet to reveal a bloated corpse. With a gloved finger, Garland ran along the edge where the head had been severed. The skin had a serrated pattern to it, almost as if it had been ripped instead of cut through.

“See the way the skin looks torn?” Garland pointed out.

Richard nodded.

“This cut was done with something that slid along the skin tearing at it like a saw blade. An ax would just cut straight in and through. If I had to guess, I’d say a circular saw.”

“So either he changed his pattern—,” Ray began.

“These people were murdered by a different person,” Richard interrupted.

“Precisely,” Garland agreed.

“Stuart wouldn’t change his M.O.,” Richard insisted.

“No, he wouldn’t,” Tyler Clay said as he leaned up against the morgue door.

“Dad?” Richard asked. “What are you doing here?”

Tyler approached the table and said, “The ax man was my case, and I’m not going to let him get away again.”

“One second,” Ray said, checking the wall clock. “I need to borrow your phone, Garland.”

“Over there,” Garland motioned toward the back wall.

Ray walked over to Garland’s desk and picked up the phone.

Tyler turned back to Richard and said, “Stuart was a complete nut job. He was locked into some sick obsession that if he shot someone, he’d put them out of their misery. Removing their head helped free their trapped soul. He would never have used a circular saw. The ax was much swifter, cleaner.”

“Guys, we’ve got a problem,” Ray said, suddenly returning to the group. “That young couple who found the van in the lake have been murdered.”

“When?” Richard asked.

Before Ray could respond, Richard’s phone rang. He brought it out of his coat pocket and answered,

“Detective Richard Clay.”

As the person on the other end of the line spoke, Richard’s face went through a laundry list of expressions.

“All right. I’ll be right there,” he said and clicked the phone shut.

“That was Central. The two people who found the van are dead. Someone just called it in not five minutes ago. How did you know about this, Ray? Who did you call?”

“I called to check on Tommy and he told me,” Ray answered.

“That’s not possible,” Richard complained.

“Actually, given Tommy’s reputation, it is quite possible,” Tyler answered. “Back when I was a detective, Tommy was at the top of his game. He’s always been the best at finding out things.”

“Yea, but I just found out,” Richard emphasized.

“Yea, I know. Best not to try and figure it out. Like I said, Tommy’s real good at finding out things and even better at not telling anyone how he found out. I spent three years trying to determine how he did it, and I came up empty. One time I dropped in on him at his place, and I mean a last minute thing. Decided not to call on my way over. When I got there, he had tea and cookies ready,” Tyler explained.

Richard shook his head.

“I wouldn’t think too hard on it. Don’t want a mental breakdown,” Ray laughed. “We’d better get over there.”

*          *            *

Outside the murder scene, two cops stood guard by the caution tape with the coroner’s van parked out front.

“This is the place,” Tyler said as he and Ray pulled up in the Cadillac.

Richard got out of the police car and walked over just in time to hear Ray ask,

“You suppose we can go inside yet?”

“Let me check,” Tyler said.

Just as he reached for the door handle, Richard held up his hand and mouthed the word “Wait.”

Tyler nodded his understanding and brought his hand down.

“I don’t want to risk my boy’s job because I can’t hold my water,” Tyler told Ray.

A long black SUV pulled up outside the house and the side door opened up. Tyler glanced back and sighed,

“Great. This is the last thing we need right now.”

“Who is that?” Ray asked.

“Former Mayor Dylan Stevens. He was the warden at the prison where Stuart escaped. He also helped in the investigation. Used the publicity as a springboard into the mayor’s office,” Tyler explained.

A lanky bearded man, his graying brown hair clipped high and close, climbed out of the vehicle. His lean face had just enough wrinkles to look as if it were carved from stone. With piercing eyes that said I know what you’ve done, he stopped to talk to the officers then spotted Tyler and lifted his head in recognition.

“Former Detective Clay,” Stevens said confidently as he swaggered over to the Cadillac.

“Former Mayor Stevens,” Tyler returned.

“Looks like the ax man has returned,” Stevens said.

“Looks like it,” Tyler agreed.

Ray sat and watched the two exchange polite conversation then glanced back at Pete who was sitting quietly in the back seat, his eyes fixed on the mayor. When Stevens spied Pete, he said,

“Cute dog. Hey, pup.”

Pete growled when the mayor grew closer, and Stevens quickly withdrew his hand.

“Apparently he doesn’t like being referred to as cute,” Ray said, trying to make light of the situation.

“Quite all right,” Stevens assured Ray. “Some animals don’t seem to like me.”

Pete settled down but kept his eyes on Stevens.

Ray watched Pete for a moment then turned back to the house just as Richard came out the front door. He was pale with his hands tightly clasped together as he walked up to the Cadillac.

“You need to see this,” he said in a low voice, his brow furrowed.

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Published in: on October 8, 2011 at 4:03 pm  Leave a Comment  

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