The Cadillac Diaries Episode 37

As the sun began its slow ascent, Ray found himself still struggling to sleep. Suddenly, a loud clap of thunder made him jump.

“Storm rolling in,” he thought.

He reached down to massage the scar a few inches above his left knee. Always with rain came the ache in his leg. Another clap of thunder and Ray flipped over and punched the pillow.

Settled at the foot of the bed, Pete raised his head with every strike, whimpering uneasily.

Like a machine, Ray’s mind began to weigh and consider one thought after another, pushing away the last bit of sleep’s potion.

“The sun isn’t even up yet. Why must I be?” he grumbled.

When Ray finally gave up and tossed off the covers, Pete stood and waited.

While his eyes slowly adjusted to the light, he lay still and thought about the day. A typical cold spring morning. At the next strike of thunder, Ray swung a foot out and slid it into the waiting slipper. He slowly sat up, rubbed his eyes, and moaned,

“Coffee.”

It was in this room that Dylan Stevens shot his protégé ax man in the back. He had fallen  just feet from Ray’s bed. Two weeks later, and Ray still had trouble sleeping.

Pete jumped down from the end of the bed and followed Ray as he put on the other slipper and shuffled into the kitchen. Opening the pantry for the can of coffee, he reached down and patted Pete on the head.

“I’m okay, boy,” Ray said reassuringly, though he knew that wasn’t entirely true.

Six months ago, he had suffered a heart attack. As he had rested in the hospital bed, he had dreamed of an armed man and a date on a wall calendar. That date had come and gone. Was that a good sign? Was it just a dream or had he somehow changed the date, delayed it? He had told no one about his fears, about how he couldn’t turn them off, even when he was exhausted. Fear is a strong motivator. It pushes you, prods you to take one more step when all other emotions have subsided.
As he mechanically reached for a coffee cup, the glare of a car’s headlights in the driveway brought him back to the moment. Through the downpour and the bright light, he couldn’t make out the car or its driver.

“I’m not dressed for company,” he told himself. “Better slip on a robe.”

He shuffled back to the bedroom and reached into the closet, pulling out the black terry cloth robe Deborah had given him a few Christmases ago.

Staggering back down the hall toward the kitchen as he tied the robe’s sash, he reached the door just as a furious knock sounded. After switching on the lamp nearest the door, Ray unlocked the dead bolt and opened up.

“Ray!” Tommy exclaimed breathlessly. “I need your help!”

“Get in here, Tommy. You’re soaked. Let me get you a towel. You’re dripping on the. . .”

Before Ray could finish, Tommy pushed past him and hurried over to the cabinet where Ray kept his liquor. Pulling open the door, he began rifling through the contents.

“Sorry, Tommy. I’m all out,” Ray said.

“What?” Tommy asked. “You know I get the shakes if I’m sober too long.”

“Mavis told me you’ve been drinking heavier than usual. She’s worried about you,” Ray answered.

Tommy grunted his protest and closed the cabinet door.

Suddenly Ray felt something brush against his leg. At first he figured it was Pete, but when he noticed Pete lying on the couch, he looked down and saw a small girl standing beside him. Her clothes were soaked from the pouring rain, and as she held onto a fold of Ray’s robe, she softly wept. Ray looked up at Tommy and said,

“Tommy just because she followed you home doesn’t mean you can keep her.”

“I didn’t have any choice, Ray,” Tommy said.  “Her father had just been arrested for murder, and her mother went into labor.”

“Stepmother,” the child corrected.

“Sorry, dear. Stepmother,” Tommy amended.

Ray looked up at Tommy and said, “I’m still recovering from the last favor you asked of me.”

“I’m not asking,” Tommy said. “She is.”

Ray looked down at the little girl and asked,

“What’s your name, sweetheart?”

“Sabella,” she answered.

“Well that’s a beautiful name. My name is Ray. What say we get you some dry clothes so you won’t get a cold?”

When she nodded her head in consent, Ray slipped down the hall and returned with one of his t-shirts, an old cardigan sweater, and a towel.

“May I dry your hair, Sabella?”

“Yes, Mr. Ray,” she said.

While Ray worked the towel through her wet hair, he told her all about his daughter Deborah. Then when he had finished, he handed her the towel, t-shirt, and sweater and lead her to the bathroom.

“Sabella, why don’t you change into these dry clothes? I’ll be out here with Mr. Tommy. Okay?”

She smiled and closed the bathroom door.

When the child exited the bathroom, she walked over to the couch and sat down next to Pete. As she reached out and began petting him, he licked at  her face.

“His name is Pete,” Ray said after a minute. “Pete, sit.”

Pete settled down next to Sabella, resting his head on her leg.

“Why don’t you tell me what happened,” Ray said to Tommy in a low tone.

Ray listened while Tommy recounted the events leading up to the murder and the arrest of Sabella’s father.

By story’s end, Ray nodded his head and said,

“All right. Guess I should go get dressed.”

“Will you help my daddy?” Sabella suddenly asked.

“Of course he will, dear,” Tommy assured her.

Ray looked at Sabella’s deep brown eyes and smiled,

“How could I not?”

Sabella smiled with delight.

Ray whispered to Tommy,

“I’ll need your help.”

Then looking to Sabella, he said,

“I’ll be right back, Sabella. I’m going to get dressed so we can start.”

The child was completely engaged in petting Pete, so Tommy followed Ray into the back bedroom where Ray closed the door.

“Do I really have to help you get dressed?” Tommy asked.

“Funny man,” Ray grunted. “What if her father really is guilty?”

“What if he’s not?” Tommy asked.

“Stop. That’s not an argument,” Ray snapped.

Tommy opened his mouth but promptly shut it again.

“I’m going to look into this, but if her father turns out to be guilty, you get to tell her. I won’t be that guy,” Ray insisted.

“Agreed,” Tommy nodded.

“Now get back in there. I need to get cleaned up and dressed,” Ray said.

Tommy nodded and left the room.

 

 

*          *            *

As Tommy sat on the couch sipping a glass of water, Sabella played with Pete.

Suddenly a police car pulled up in the driveway, its lights flashing.

“Oh great,” Tommy thought.

“What is it?” Sabella asked.

“Nothing, dear,” Tommy said, thinking to himself,  “I just may be leaving in handcuffs, that’s all.”

When someone pounded on the door, Tommy stood to answer it.

But before he could reach it, the door flew open and Richard rushed in with Deborah on his heels.

“Where’s Ray?” Richard snapped.

“What?” Tommy asked, confused.

“Daddy!” Deborah called as she searched through the rooms.

The bedroom door opened and Ray stepped out in jeans and black boots. As he worked the last button of his black shirt through the button hole, he answered,

“What?”
Deborah rushed down the hall to hug Ray and asked,

“Why didn’t you answer your phone?”

Ray reached into his pants pocket and pulled out his cell phone.

He looked at it and said in aggravation,

“This thing is always dying!”

Sliding it back into his pocket, he asked, “Why? What’s wrong?”

“Darrin Chambers escaped,” Deborah said, a look of fear on her face.

Ray paused then with a furrow on his brow, asked, “Who?”

“Darrin Chambers. The police detective who murdered his partner and tried to kill you,” Richard reminded him.

“Oh right,” Ray said going back in the bedroom to the closet.

As he slipped on a trench coat, he asked, “How’s he doing?”

“He and his cellmate Porter Daniels escaped from their cell sometime last night,” Richard explained.

“Ah,” Ray said. “Well I guess he’s doing well then.”

“Daddy,” Deborah snapped. “Be serious. He may try to kill you!”

“I am being serious,” Ray said. “Chambers is as smart as a bag of hammers and as dangerous as a muddy kitten. I’ll be fine.”

“All the same, I’m going to put a police detail on you until he’s found,” Richard said.

“Sounds good. Tell them to keep up,” Ray suggested.

“Where are you going?” Deborah asked.

Ray removed a fedora from the closet’s top shelf and eased it onto his head.

Walking back toward the living room with Deborah and Richard close behind, he said,

“I’m going to see if I can help an innocent man.”

As he passed the living room, Ray motioned for Tommy to follow then stepped out through the open front door with Pete trotting along behind.

When Deborah saw Tommy and the child rising from the couch, she called out in confusion,

“Daddy?”

Tommy grabbed Sabella with one hand and her bag of wet clothes with the other.

“Tommy!” Deborah snapped.

“Terribly sorry, Deborah,” Tommy apologized, hurrying out the door.

 

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Published in: on April 15, 2013 at 11:19 pm  Leave a Comment  
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