The Cadillac Diaries: Episode 51

Storm clouds loomed overhead as Detective Richard Clay pulled into the parking lot of the Crescent Bay apartments. This peaceful, sunny side of town had just suffered a raw, gaping wound. Richard shut off his engine and sighed deeply as he pushed open the car door and stepped out onto the pavement. Spotting Detective David Crandall, he worked his way through the crowd of spectators, cops, and reporters. All faces were turned upward, fingers pointing toward the top of the building. Whispers and gasps escaped from those who weren’t too stunned to speak. As Richard drew closer to Crandall, he noticed blood slowly painting the building’s side as it flowed from a top floor balcony.

“Feels like one of those days, doesn’t it?” Crandall asked when Richard came alongside.

“Like Halloween,” Richard said. “A heaviness, an evil resting over everything.”

“I was going to say like one of those days when you wake up feeling bad and know it’s all downhill from there. But what you said, that fits better,” Crandall responded.

“Why is blood running down the side of the building?” Richard asked.

“All in good time,” Crandall said.

Crandall walked a few paces away then turned and said, “Come see. It doesn’t get any better inside.”

Richard closed his eyes for a moment, exhaled deeply as his shoulders slumped, then reluctantly followed Crandall to the crime scene.

“What’s wrong?” Crandall asked. “That axe killer had to be worse than this.”

“Ray’s still out. Least with the Ax man, I knew he was safe,” Richard said.

“Not to mention it didn’t hurt knowing Ray was helping,” Crandall added.

Richard laughed, “Yea. He’s good at that. Pete and him. Always getting in the middle of things.”

As they entered the building, Richard blocked reporters’ questions and wormed his way through the bodies.

“You ever get the feeling you’re working for the wrong side?” Richard asked, shaking his head.

“Like the bad guys?” Crandall asked.

“At first I knew I was doing good, but lately, I feel like someone’s blurred the line and I’m not real sure who the good guys are any more,” Richard answered.

When they reached the apartment elevators, Crandall punched the button for the penthouse and the two men waited in silence.

“Alright,” Richard finally said with a defeated sigh, “What have we got? Some crack dealer, a high society pimp dead with another selfie from the Clown Captain?”

“Captain Bonkers,” Crandall corrected. “And not exactly.”

“Who then?” Richard asked.

“Judge Conrad Matthews,” Crandall replied.

Richard almost choked.

“What?” he sputtered.

Crandall just nodded as the elevator door opened and they stepped inside.

“Judge Matthews isn’t some lowlife, Crandall. He’s a judge in the criminal court,” Richard said.

“You don’t need to tell me. But apparently, he was guilty in the Captain’s eyes,” Crandall replied.

“Are you certain he did this?” Richard asked.

“I wish I could say no, but with this one, you can’t draw any other conclusion,” Crandall assured him.

As the elevator doors opened to the penthouse floor, Richard felt his legs go weak. The penthouse suite was filled with balloons. Every stick of furniture, every painting, every ceramic had a balloon tied to it, each with a smiley face.

“This is just sick,” Richard said.

“Told you,” Crandall replied.

Richard wanted to sit down. He hadn’t even seen the body yet, and already he wanted to vomit. What was wrong with him? It wasn’t like him to get queasy at a murder scene.

“Who called it in?” Richard asked.

“A pedestrian passing by,” Crandall responded.

“What?” Richard asked confused.

“Come on,” Crandall replied, motioning with his head.

Richard followed him over to the balcony where Crime Scene was working on the body.

“The judge’s body was found hanging over the balcony by a rope tied to his feet. He’s been shot once through the throat,” Crandall explained.

“Is that it?” Richard asked.

“Nope. There’s more,” Crandall said. “A balloon was found tied to the railing with a chess piece inside, a pawn, and taped to the railing was a photograph of Captain Bonkers and the dead judge.”

“Anything else?” Richard asked.

“We got footage of the judge coming up in the elevator with a red headed girl, but no luck on her face. She avoids the camera, keeps turned away.”

“Great,” Richard said. “Two dead bodies and still nothing.”

As Crandall turned, he said, “Let me show you this.”

Richard followed Crandall into a bedroom, away from the others working the scene.

Confused, Richard asked, “Am I missing something?”

“There’s nothing in here. I just wanted to tell you something before it becomes public knowledge. This apartment belongs to the judge, but according to our investigation, he called his wife after leaving work claiming he would be working late at the office tonight,” Crandall explained.

“Yea?” Richard answered, missing the point.

“Manager says the judge was a regular. Usually had a girl over. He’d come up, and later a woman, not his wife, would be buzzed up,” Crandall explained. “You get what I’m saying, right?”

“So the judge was having an affair,” Richard said.

“Maybe more than one. According to the manager, this place was the judge’s love shack,” Crandall added, shaking his head from side to side.

Richard walked over to a chair and sat down, his head between his hands.

Crandall grabbed a nearby wastebasket and plopped it down in front of Richard.

“I’m not going to be sick, Crandall,” Richard said, “Least I don’t think so.”

“Why not? Any normal person would be,” Crandall pointed out.

“You’re not,” Richard replied.

Crandall shrugged, “My dad was a butcher. Growing up, you see things.”

Richard raised his head and said, “No he wasn’t.”

Crandall shrugged, “Okay. So he wasn’t. Maybe I’m just a sick and twisted person.”

“Look, Clay, you need to get a handle on this. Captain Bonkers isn’t going to wait for you to catch up. Ray’s still in a coma, and word around the station is that he was doing all the heavy lifting for you,” Crandall explained.

After Richard took a moment to consider his meaning, he rose from the chair and asked,

“All right. What do these two murders have in common?”

“Escapes me. One was a sociopath with a thing for rape and explosions, the other a judge who cheated on his wife. Corruption, maybe? But that would make the list of victims way too long. Porter wasn’t corrupted, evil yes, but not corrupted,” Crandall said.

“Okay,” Richard responded, thinking out their next move.

“Let’s dig deep into the judge’s past. There’s a connection there somewhere. And put out an APB on the red head. Give them everything we’ve got. If they think they’ve got something, have them contact us first. I don’t want units hauling in every red head out there,” Richard said.

“Course you don’t,” Crandall scoffed. “You’re married.”

“Stop fooling around, Crandall, ” Richard growled. “This clown has already gassed the station, remember? I’m not going to follow his breadcrumbs down a merry trail of blood and death. We’re going to stop him—”

Richard was cut off when his phone rang. Snapping it open, he gruffly answered,

“What?”

As he listened to the voice on the other end, his eyes grew wide.

“Are you serious?”

Without a word, Richard bolted for the elevator.

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