The Cadillac Diaries: Episode 53

As Tommy and Ray hurried out of the hospital, Ray asked,

“Where’s Pete?”

“Relax, mate. The old boy’s fine,” Tommy assured him. “He’s with Mavis.”

“Why are we running?” Ray yelled, trying to hold his hospital gown closed.

“Because people are dying and this city needs you,” Tommy barked.

“This city needs me?” Ray asked, cynicism in his voice. “Seriously?”

“All right, fine. There are people out there dying gruesomely, and I don’t want to make the list. Not to mention Deborah may have me flogged for breaking you out.”

“She wouldn’t do that,” Ray insisted.

But when Tommy looked at Ray completely deadpan, Ray admitted,

“Okay. Maybe she would.”

Just when Ray was about to ask where they were going, Tommy slowed and stopped beside an old yellow-checkered cab.

Something about the car looked familiar to Ray. As he stepped back and gave it a second glance, he gasped,

“Tommy! Is this my old cab?”

“Aye,” Tommy responded

“But I thought they retired it,” Ray pointed out.

“They did. Put out to pasture. But I bought it,” Tommy said.

“Why?” Ray asked.

“I met my wife in this cab,” Tommy defended.

Ray paused then with exasperation said, “You never married.”

Tommy opened the driver’s door and answered, “That’s the story I’m sticking to.”

As Ray reached for the passenger door handle, he saw a suitcase in the back seat. It looked as though it had been packed in a hurry with bits of clothing caught in the zipper. Hanging on a hook over the driver’s side rear window was a soft gray suit, newly pressed.

“You have a suit in here?” Ray asked.

“That’s your suit, ole boy,” Tommy replied. “Get dressed.”

“Where are we headed?” Ray asked as he crawled into the back.

Starting the engine, Tommy answered, “Murder scene.”



*          *          *



As Tommy flew through the streets, Ray bounced around in the back seat trying to get dressed.

“Slow down, Tommy. I’m not as young as I used to be,” Ray protested just as Tommy rounded a corner, pushing Ray up against the door.

“None of us are, mate. What’s your point?” Tommy asked.

“My point is I’m not limber enough to do this back here.”

With no response, Tommy kept moving, sliding the cab around corners and running red lights until he finally came to a stop in a small back alley.

Ray stumbled out of the back seat and straightened up to adjust his tie.

Tommy closed the driver’s door and looked over at Ray.

“So you picked the suit. Figured you would go for the jeans.”

“What jeans?” Ray said.

“In the suitcase,” Tommy answered.

As Ray sat down to slip on the shoes Tommy had brought, he said,  “There’s nothing in there but pajamas and underwear.”

Tommy shrugged and gave the suit and tie an approving look,

“Well it works. Here.”

He reached into the front seat and pulled out a fedora, tossing it to Ray. It was the same color as the suit.

Ray caught the hat and softly brushed his hand over the brim.

“Tommy, I haven’t worn a fedora since Margaret passed.”

He tossed the fedora back to Tommy then scanned the area. They were parked behind an old brick building that looked like its glory days were long past.  Rainwater gathered into shallow pools then like a crystal viper crept through broken bottles, cigarette butts, and fast food wrappers to at last empty into the metal grates in the asphalt.

“Where are we?” Ray asked.

“This is the place where the man who tried to kill you was murdered,” Tommy said.

“Porter Daniels is dead?” Ray said.

“Shot through the throat and left for dead in his apartment,” Tommy replied.

“Too bad. Looks like a nasty place to die,” Ray said. “Hope he didn’t suffer.”

Tommy looked perplexed.

“Ray, this guy tried to kill you,” he said.

Ray shrugged, “Yea. And don’t forget he destroyed the Cadillac. But that doesn’t mean he deserves to be tortured. I’m not the kind of guy who wishes that on anybody, even Daniels.”

Tommy shook his head then walked up to the nearest door.

“We don’t have much time before things get worse, mate.”

Ray followed Tommy through the back door and into the hallway.

“What’s going on?” Ray asked.

“Your friend Captain Bonkers is waging a one man war against some crime figure he calls the Chessboard King. Two people have been killed. The police chief was kidnapped, and St. Louis crime boss Russell Carpenter was beaten senseless with a brick and thrown off a building.”

Tommy paused and said, “Never mind that last one. Happened ten years ago.”

“The police chief was kidnapped?” Ray asked.

“Yea. Police don’t know it yet.”

They reached a small elevator, its peeling bright green paint exposing the metal underneath.

When Tommy pressed the call button, Ray protested.

“We need to find the police chief first.”

“I don’t know everything, Ray,” Tommy explained. “If you want to find the crazed clown with the death wish, we need to find his trail.”

“And that’s why we’re here. Got it,” Ray said. “He’s not my friend, by the way. He just said that I was more valuable to him free than locked up.”

When the elevator doors opened, Ray and Tommy stepped in. Tommy punched the button for the floor, and the doors closed. After a few moments of a shaky ride and depressing elevator music, the doors opened and Ray followed Tommy to an apartment marked off with crime scene tape.

Tommy tried the door, found it unlocked then opened it and stepped under the tape. Ray ducked and followed him in, closing the door behind him. The filthy apartment reeked of decay and mildew. No fit place to live. A sidewall window was open and rain poured in, soaking the carpet.

“This doesn’t look right,” Ray observed. “Why would anyone leave the window open to an open investigation?”

“Someone probably opened it to aerate this place out,” Tommy said.

Ray looked at Tommy skeptically for a moment.

“Been working those crossword puzzles again, I see,” he said.

“What?” Tommy said. “It worked. Aerate means to introduce air, and obviously someone needed to air this place out.”

Ray shook his head and said, “No cop worth his badge would do this. Who was the detective on the scene?”

Tommy paused looking away.

“Who, Tommy?” Ray insisted.

“Your son-in-law,” Tommy finally surrendered.

Ray rolled his eyes, “This is Richard’s case? Oh man. Not only is Deborah going to kill you, but she’s going to straight jacket me and lock me in a retirement home.”

“You think I don’t know that?” Tommy exclaimed. “She’ll have Richard arrest me for busting you out in the first place.”

“Nah. Richard won’t arrest you. That chance has long passed. Now she’ll just kill you and make it look like an accident,” Ray said.

“She wouldn’t?” Tommy said.

“Why do you think I got so good at investigation? Her mother was almost a super villain,” Ray said.

Before Tommy could respond, they heard a loud scratching. Tommy and Ray turned and stared at the door.

“We’re you expecting someone?” Ray asked.

“Not me,” Tommy answered nervously.

Published in: on September 19, 2014 at 2:33 pm  Leave a Comment  
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