The Cadillac Diaries: Episode 26

It was late afternoon when Ray pulled the Cadillac off Green Hill Road and swung onto an unmarked stretch of gravel that disappeared into a flourishing apple orchard.

Looking around, Tyler asked, “We making a fruit stop, Ray, or is your dead man buried in an orchard?”

Lost in thought, Ray gave no response.

Tyler called out, “Ray!”

When Ray looked over, Tyler asked, “Where we headed?
”Green Hill Mental Hospital,” Ray answered.

“Why a mental hospital?” Tyler asked.

Ray didn’t answer, just sped up as the road wound deeper into the orchard.

Tyler glanced at Pete, lying down in the back seat, his head rested on the leather upholstery.

“Pete must be tired,” Tyler said.

“Probably,” Ray mumbled.

Up ahead just beyond the apple orchard, Tyler spotted a tall white building.

“That the hospital?” he asked.

“Yeah, that’s it,” Ray answered.

“And your dead guy’s here?” Tyler asked.

“He’d better be. This is where I left him,” Ray said.

Tyler studied Ray for a moment before asking,

“Ray, what’s eating you? You’ve been quiet since we left Pierce’s place.”

Ray tightened his grip on the steering wheel and drove even faster.

“Ray?” Tyler asked nervously.

“I don’t like being lied to. So far, everybody I’ve questioned about this has lied to me; I can feel it,” Ray answered.

Around the next curve in the road, Green Hill Mental Hospital came into view as the Cadillac broke through the trees into a vast parking lot.

Although only two stories, the hospital stretched out a good ways in either direction with twenty barred windows along each wall. Its front door open, the building seemed to be yawning in the warmth of the afternoon.

“This place is a little creepy,” Tyler said as Ray pulled the Cadillac into a parking spot and shut off the engine.

“Old building. Built back during prohibition,” Ray answered.

“And we’re here to see some dead guy?” Tyler asked.

“Someone I promised I would never bother again,” Ray said.

He closed the driver’s door and headed for the hospital, leaving Pete in the back seat.

Tyler stayed behind with the car door open.

“What about Pete?” he asked.

“He’s not coming,” Ray said.

“Why not?” Tyler asked.

“Scared of the place. Never leaves the car,” Ray answered.

Pete turned his eyes up toward Tyler but didn’t move his head.

“Come on, boy,” Tyler coaxed. “It’s okay.”

When Pete refused to move, Tyler just shrugged his shoulders and said,

“Suit yourself.”

Through the front door, Tyler followed Ray down a long hallway that seemed to go on forever. At the end of the hall, Ray stopped at the desk while Tyler took a seat in one of the green vinyl chairs across the floor. Behind a glass partition sat a thin balding man at work on a computer. Ray lightly tapped the glass to get his attention.

“Yes?” the man asked, looking up.

“I need to speak with Nurse Hickman,” Ray said.

The young man picked up his phone and punched three numbers. After a moment, he said,

“Ms. Hickman, there’s someone here to see you.”

Ray watched as the man held the phone, carefully listening to the voice on the other end of the line. When he moved the receiver away from his mouth, he looked up at Ray and said,

“She’s busy at the moment. Could you come back later?”

“Tell her I’m here to see Paul Waters,” Ray answered.

The young man nodded and relayed the message.

“Yes, ma’am,” he said into the phone before resting it in its cradle.

Looking at Ray, he said, “She’ll be right here.”

He returned to his work as Ray stepped away from the glass and walked over to wait with Tyler.

“Who’s Paul Waters?” Tyler asked.

“A dead man,” Ray answered.

“Why so cryptic?” Tyler asked.

“At first it was because I didn’t know who might be listening. Now I’m just being difficult,” Ray smiled.

Before Tyler could respond, a middle-aged woman wearing a nurse’s uniform stepped out into the hallway. When she saw Ray, she smiled.

“Raymond Slats,” she said as she approached.

As they hugged each other, Ray patted her back and said,  “I’m sorry Diane.”

“Sorry for what?” she asked, pulling away.

“Sorry I haven’t visited. I promised him I wouldn’t,” Ray explained.

“It’s all right. I understand,” she answered.

“Tyler Clay, this is Diane Hickman,” Ray introduced.

“Ma’am,” Tyler said, extending his hand.

“Diane had just started nursing here when I brought Waters in,” Ray said.

“Who is this Waters, how do you know each other, and how come I never met you before?” Tyler asked all in one breath.

Diane looked from Tyler to Ray and with a wry smile said, “He’s still being cryptic I see.”

Turning to Tyler, she explained, “I trained under Margaret Slats. We used to work together at the hospital until I got a better job here.”

“I never mentioned her before because she’s been hiding someone for me,” Ray said.

“Who?” Tyler asked, slightly frustrated.

Diane smiled and said “Come on.”

She walked Ray and Tyler down a long hall deep into an isolated wing of the hospital. Each door had a small viewing window and was fitted with a thick bolt to keep it locked.

“We don’t house many violent offenders anymore, so this wing is mostly empty. We do still have a few people, though,” Diane said.

“Who are we here to see?” Tyler asked.

“He was registered under the name Paul Waters. I am the only person here who knows that’s not his real name,” Diane said in a low voice.

They stopped in front of a tall metal door with three locks and a large 5 at the top.

“He hasn’t said much since you left him here thirty years ago,” Diane pointed out.

“I didn’t think he would have,” Ray said.

As Diane began opening the locks, Tyler nervously asked,

“Shouldn’t we be ready in case he attacks or tries to escape?”

“Oh he’s not at all violent. We just put him here because he doesn’t like being around other people or going outside. And we needed to keep him safe,” Ray explained.

“So what’s his real name?” Tyler asked as Diane opened the door.

Inside the room in a tight little ball with his legs tucked up to his chest and his arms wrapped around them, sat a man rocking back and forth as he repeated the same rhythmic phrase.

“Diddle, diddle, dumpling, my son John, went to bed with his trousers on. One shoe off and one shoe on. Diddle, diddle, dumpling, my son John!”

Tyler watched as the young man swayed back and forth. He looked to be in his forties with a full beard and scraggly hair, badly in need of a trim. Tyler stared at him for a long moment then asked,

“Is this Paul Waters, or whoever he is?”

“No. This is Herbert Hayes,” Ray answered.

“Walter Hayes’ boy? I thought he died when the ax man blew up his house,” Tyler said.

“The explosion was an accident, and Herbert managed to escape. As far as anyone’s concerned, he’s dead.” Ray answered.

“Ray brought Herbert to us thirty years ago, after his father died. He asked me if I could watch after him,” Diane said. “I remember how terrified Herbert was. He was about thirteen at the time. He just clung to Ray, too scared to let go.”

“I promised I wouldn’t come back here in case I was being watched,” Ray said. “I couldn’t risk someone finding him.”

“And he’s been here the entire time?” Tyler asked.

“Hasn’t left this room in thirty years,” Diane said.

“He’s the only person alive who’s seen the axe man since his escape,” Ray said. “Tommy never got close enough. That’s why he’s been safe in town. But I was worried that the axe man might come for Herbert, so I left him here.”

Ray moved farther into the room and knelt down in front of Herbert.

“Herbie,” Ray said, “I need to talk about the axe man.”

Herbert stopped rocking, the nursery rhyme frozen on his lips, and raised his cold dark eyes.

Published in: on March 13, 2012 at 1:59 am  Leave a Comment  

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