The Cadillac Diaries: Episode 25

As Ray and Tyler Clay headed over to John Pierce’s place, the Cadillac rumbled through the streets like distant thunder. Pete had given up the front seat to Tyler and now sat patiently in the back seat with his eyes on Ray.

“What I don’t get,” Tyler said, “is where the prisoners got off to. I mean I remember that call, and by the time we got there, all the prisoners in general population were in their cells.”

“Stevens was probably just adding that detail for effect,” Ray suggested.

“Maybe, but we’re recounting the escape of a cold-blooded killer, not telling a story to a bunch of eight-year-olds round a campfire in the woods. Facts are important here,” Tyler complained.

“Yeah,” Ray mumbled, staring off into nowhere.

“What’s on your mind?” Tyler asked.

“What confuses me is why a cold-blooded killer would go after some informants. Even if Stewart had a good reason, it’s been thirty years. Why start taking out people who had nothing to do with the crime?” Ray asked.

“Maybe he wanted to make sure he wasn’t found so he started going after the city’s criminal information network. And maybe he killed those two back there because they found the van. You know like a way of saying how dare you,” Tyler suggested.

“Yeah maybe,” Ray said as they neared an intersection. When Ray hit the turn signal and made a right, Tyler asked,

“So what’s your take on it?”

“Seems to me there’s a lot of irregularities in Stevens’ story. I think he’s hiding something,” Ray said.

“It has been a while. Maybe he’s just remembering it wrong,” Tyler suggested.

“Maybe, but say Stewart was convinced that his work wasn’t finished. How come after he escapes, he kills some informants and then hides the bodies? Why change your MO when everybody knows it’s you? Why bother hiding your victims when you never did before?” Ray asked.

“Good point. I didn’t think much about it at the time, but yeah, he just sort of disappeared after his escape,” Tyler said. “We were so busy trying to find him that we didn’t notice that no new bodies had turned up. Conflicts with Stewart’s statement about not being finished with his work, don’t you think?”

At the traffic light, Ray slowed and stopped.

“I’m going to talk to Pierce and hear his side of the story. Something’s off; I can feel it. I just can’t quite figure out what it is,” Ray said.

 

*          *            *

The apartment complex where John Pierce lived wasn’t first-class, but it was what a retired prison captain could afford. Ray pulled into the parking lot and shut off the engine. As he looked over at the apartment complex, he slowly rubbed his chin. Pete stood up, wagged his tail, and waited.

“What’s the plan?” Tyler asked.

“I’m heading up there and asking Pierce what really happened during Stewart’s escape that night,” Ray said.

Opening the door, he climbed out and waited as Pete hopped down to the pavement.

“Which one is his?” Tyler asked, pointing to the apartments.

“Hold on,” Ray said and pulled out a cell phone.

He dialed the Downfield bar and waited,

“Hello,” a woman’s voice answered.

“Mavis, it’s Ray. Put Tommy on. Got a question for him,” Ray said.

“Sure thing,” she answered.

After a pause, she came back on the line.

“He’s not moving, Ray. What is it?”

“Tell him I need John Pierce’s apartment number,” Ray said.

“Hold on,” Mavis said and put down the phone.

A stretch of silence and Ray heard her pick up the phone.

“Apartment A6, but Tommy says that the six is loose and hangs like a nine. Pierce has already called the super about it.”

“Thanks, Mavis,” Ray said and hung up. When he shook his head, a small smile formed on his lips.

“What is it?” Tyler asked.

“One of these days, I’m going have to get Tommy to tell me how he does that,” Ray answered.

“Oh that,” Tyler said, understanding. “I tried and gave up years ago. I’m surprised he hasn’t already told us who’s behind all this.”

“Probably wants us to discover it for ourselves,” Ray said tucking his phone into his inside coat pocket.

Ray slowly searched the apartments until he found building A, apartment 6. He laughed at the upside down six and knocked on the door. Looking down at Pete, he commanded,

“Behave.”

Pete sat back on the concrete and waited, his tongue lolling out. When the door opened, Ray turned to face John Pierce. The retired prison guard held his hand to a pot belly that folded over his belt.

“Can I help you?” Pierce asked.

“Yes. Captain Pierce, I’m Raymond Slats and this is Tyler Clay. We’re working with the police on one of their cases and have some questions. I was hoping I could talk to you about what happened that night thirty years ago when Christopher Stewart escaped from prison,” Ray explained.

“Of course. Be glad to talk to you. By the way, I’m not a captain anymore,” Pierce said smiling. “Come on in.”

“Thanks,” Ray said as he and Tyler slipped inside the apartment.

“Have a seat,” Pierce offered.

“Appreciate it. I just have a few simple questions. What exactly happened that night? I know the death house was struck by lightning, but how did Stewart escape?” Ray asked as he and Tyler took a seat.

“To tell you the truth, I’m not sure. During another prisoner’s breakdown, he must have slipped past us,” Pierce said.

“And when you went into the main building, who was in there?” Ray asked.

“Warden Stevens was. In fact, I remember because he almost struck me across the jaw,” Pierce answered.

“Was there anyone else in there?” Ray asked.

“Other than Stewart, no,” Pierce answered.

“All right. That’s pretty much it. Thanks for your help,” Ray said, rising to leave.

“Any time,” Pierce said opening the door.

Outside the apartment, Tyler followed Ray back to the Cadillac with Pete trotting behind. When they reached the doors, Tyler asked,

“That’s all?”

“Yeah,” Ray answered and climbed inside.

“What now?” Tyler asked.

“We need to speak to a dead man,” Ray said and started the engine.

 

*          *            *

John Pierce removed a TV dinner from the microwave, peeled back the plastic, and took a deep satisfying whiff. He knew his doctor wouldn’t approve of chicken and mashed potatoes, but he didn’t much care. He was tired of diets and pills, and as he neared the age when both his father and brother had died, he decided he was going to spend his last days having fun instead of hiding away eating grass, hoping to stave off death one birthday at a time.

He walked the dinner over to a TV tray and carefully set it down between the silverware and napkin.

“No salt, now. It’s bad for your blood pressure,” Pierce said, mocking his doctor.

He sat down in the lounge chair and turned up the volume to the basketball game, already in progress.

“Go!” he shouted randomly to the television, focused more on the rumble in his stomach than the success of the home team.

Reaching for his fork, he realized he had forgotten his beer.

“Man! I can’t believe it. Forgot the most important part of the meal,” he said, pushing the tray back and standing up.

In the kitchen, Pierce opened the refrigerator and grabbed one of the cold beers. As he turned away, he stopped and looked back at the fridge longingly. Opening the door, he reached in and grabbed another beer.

With a wide smile, he said, “One more, just in case somebody comes over.”

On his way back to the living room, he heard a knock at the front door. Pierce glanced over at the window and saw it was dark out.

‘It’s been hours since Slats and Clay showed. Who could it be?”

Pierce quickly placed both beers on the tray and hurried over to the door when the knock came again.

“Coming,” he yelled.

When Pierce looked through the spy hole, he said,

“Oh it’s you.”

Turning the deadbolt lock, Pierce opened the door to his visitor.

“How come you’re visiting so late?” he asked.

His answer was a raised revolver and two shots in the chest. Pierce stumbled backwards and fell to the floor, blood pouring from the wounds. Scared and shocked, he grabbed his chest and looked up.

“Why? I said everything I was told to?”

The visitor raised the weapon again. This time Pierce could see down its barrel, but he never heard the shot.

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Published in: on February 7, 2012 at 3:23 pm  Leave a Comment  

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