The Cadillac Diaries: Episode 35

On the manicured grounds of Green Hill Mental Hospital, Diane Hickman smoothed the hem of her nurse’s uniform as she relaxed by the water garden, surrounded by camellia bushes and oak trees. While sunlight filtered through the leaves, Herbie Hayes sat in a chair opposite, fingering the velvet petals of a rose pink camellia. It was the first time he had been outside in months. Diane was reading from a book about flowers, but the book’s subject didn’t really matter to Herbie. He loved the steady hum of her voice as she slowly read the words. It soothed him and kept him calm.

Since Raymond Slats had come that night and chased away the axe man, security was tighter at the hospital, and Diane felt safer than she had in a long time. When she heard the clap of boots on the patio stones, she stopped reading and looked up to see Ray. He paused beside the arm of Herbie’s chair and watched as the boy gently stroked the soft petals of the flower.

“Well hi, Ray,” Diane said.

When Ray gave no response, she asked,

“Is everything okay?”

As he turned to face her, she saw the tears well up in his eyes.

“Yeah. Everything’s better than it’s been for a long time. I’m just sorry I let this happen to him.”

“He’s at rest now, Ray. And he’s getting better,” Diane said.

Ray moved around to the front of Herbie’s chair and knelt down to face him.

“Herbie?” Ray called out.

Herbie made no sound, just kept running his fingers across the flower.

“We got him, Herbie,” Ray said in a soft voice.

“He knows,” Diane said. “We heard about how he attacked you in your house.”

“Not him, Diane,” Ray said looking over his shoulder.

He turned back to Herbie.

“The man who killed your father, we got him,” Ray said.

Slowly, Herbie lifted his eyes.

“He’s dead,” Ray said. “He won’t be haunting you anymore. Your father can finally be at peace.”

With no flicker of response, Herbie stared at Ray, his eyes unblinking.

Ray finally stood up and said,

“I’m sorry I let him get away for so long.”

“It’s all right, Ray,” Diane said, sensing his guilt.

But Ray just walked away without a word.

 

 

*          *            *

When Deborah saw her father exiting the hospital, she closed her magazine and waited. “Feel better?” she asked as Ray neared the Cadillac.

“Kind of,” Ray said, climbing in behind the wheel.

“What else is there?” Deborah asked.

“I don’t know, just something.”

“Stevens told us he wasn’t going down for this right before he killed himself.”

“So he didn’t want to go to jail,” Deborah suggested.

“Deborah,” Ray said turning to face her, “what I had on him was circumstantial at best. He could have easily cleared his name. At the time, I thought I knew what he was talking about, but now I’m not so sure.”

“You think he was referring to something else?” Deborah asked.

Ray thought for a moment then turned the ignition key and backed out of the parking lot.

“Probably not. I’m just being paranoid.”

 

 

*          *            *

Detective David P. Crandall sat at his desk studying a file on Raymond Slats. Next to the folder was an early edition of the local newspaper with the heading FORMER MAYOR DYLAN STEVENS KILLED IN EXPLOSION.

Detective Crandall sat back and chewed mercilessly on his pen.

“What can I do? He’s going to be furious.”

Suddenly Crandall’s phone rang, jerking him out of his thoughts. He stared at the phone, hoping the caller would give up.

After the third ring, he grabbed the receiver and answered,

“Crandall.”

“Detective Crandall,” a voice said with cold fury.

“Yes sir?” Crandall replied.

“Why am I calling you?” the voice demanded.

Feeling the muscles tighten at the back of his neck, Crandall feebly responded,

“Because of what’s in the papers?”

When the caller was silent, Crandall began his defense.

“I know it’s becoming a problem and I said it wouldn’t be. But we haven’t really lost anything important.”

“We lost the mayor, our biggest supporter! While you and Chambers were on the force, things on your end were covered. Now that he’s in jail, the glory of your ineptitude is getting brighter,” the voice scolded.

“Yes sir. Since losing Top Hat, things have been tough. But I know I’m closing in on him. I promise.”

“What about Lord and Lady Macbeth?” the voice asked.

Crandall had to think for a moment. Active members were always given a code name in case calls were screened.

“They’re fine, sir. No worries.”

“I’m starting to worry anyway, Crandall. Just make sure they’re behaving or I will have my horseman pay them a visit. If they’re gone, you won’t be far behind.”

When the line went dead, Crandall returned the receiver to its cradle with shaking hands.

The power on the other end of that call had placed people throughout the city to support him financially, protect his interests, and clear away any suspicion. Three of those people had either been removed or arrested because of one man—Raymond Slats. Crandall knew that if any more of his people came to harm, the horseman, a contract killer, would come for him. With a sweaty palm, Crandall picked up the phone and dialed his friend at the FBI.

After a couple of rings, the phone picked up.

“Agent James Thomas.”

“Jim,” Crandall said nervously, “it’s David. Did you find out anything more on Raymond Slats?”

“David, good to hear from you.”

Thomas’ voice sounded strained.

“I’m afraid I won’t be able to help anymore with the Slats’ case.”

“What?” Crandall exclaimed, unwilling to accept the news. “Last week you couldn’t wait to find out more. What happened?”

“I’m sorry,” Thomas answered. “But you need to know that the file I presented to you earlier is false. Raymond Slats is a well respected member of his community.”

The line went dead, leaving Crandall staring at the phone. He looked down at a picture inside the open folder and shook his head.

“Raymond Slats, who are you?”

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Published in: on February 4, 2013 at 12:43 am  Leave a Comment  

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