The Cadillac Diaries: Episode 60

David Crandall and Ray pulled up outside Silver Springs Church. The sign outside announced that the first annual Silver Citizens Awards ceremony was taking place at that very moment.

“What are the Silver Citizens Awards?” Ray asked.

“People vote for whomever they think has stepped up the most to help out the neighborhood. It’s the city’s way of encouraging local residents to get involved,” Crandall explained.

“It’s being held at a church?” Ray asked.

“The biggest sponsor is Scott Baker. He’s in real estate, and his company donated the land this church was built on,” Crandall answered.

“So why are we here?” Ray asked.

“Baker has work affiliations with Bradford King, and I think he may have a good idea whom Captain Bonkers is after,” Crandall said.

“And Baker goes to this church?” Ray asked.

“No, but he’s hosting the function.”

Crandall turned to face Ray, “You’re awfully chatty today.”

Ray shrugged his shoulders and apologized.

With Crandall in the lead, they went inside the church fellowship hall and found a place to sit down front just as a man walked up to the small podium. Dressed in a crisp dark blue suit, he looked out over the audience then ran his fingers through tufts of his salt and pepper hair before bringing the microphone up to his lips.

“I’m Scott Baker, and it is so good to be here at this event. As you may know, the Silver Citizens Awards are very important to me. Before I started my business, my father owned a little butcher shop downtown. In his spare time, he helped out around the city cleaning up and donating cuts of meat to local shelters. He never asked for even a thank you. One night when he was leaving one of the shelters, he was mugged and stabbed three times. He died tragically without getting any credit for his selflessness. I don’t think he realized how many people he had helped.”

As Baker paused to compose himself, an older woman stepped up on the podium and stood just behind Baker.

When Baker lifted his head, he made eye contact with Crandall who nodded slightly.

“Let me turn this over to Ms. Nicole Castillo. After all, she’s really the one you came here to see,” Baker smiled.

As the audience responded in laughter, Baker handed Ms. Castillo the microphone.

He stepped down from the podium and hurried over to Crandall. Kneeling down in front of him, he whispered,

“What are you doing here?”

“Have you ever heard of the Captain Bonkers comic books,” Crandall began.

“Yea. My nephew used to read those,” Baker replied.

“Well it seems that some lunatic is dressing up like Captain Bonkers and killing people,” Crandall said.

“Not to sound callous, but why should I be concerned?” Baker asked.

“Seems that everyone he’s targeting worked for or with Bradford King at one time or another. King hired me and Raymond Slats here to find out why.”

Baker’s face went pale. “King hired you?”

Crandall nodded.

Turning his head, Baker looked up at Ms. Castillo then back to Crandall.

“Sounds like she’s finishing up. Stay here. When this is over we’ll go somewhere safe and talk.”

Baker stood and stepped back up onto the podium. Taking the microphone from Ms. Castillo, he waited until she was seated in a chair behind him.

“Thank you, Nicole. Well let’s get started.”

Reaching into his inside left jacket pocket, his hand came out empty. When he tried his right pocket, a look of relief spread across his face as he removed a set of cards.

“Thought I had lost them,” he joked, holding up his note cards. “Wrong pocket.”

“Okay,” he said, looking down at the top card.

“Our first nominee is someone who murdered his father and used the insurance money to start up his own business. Once he was as powerful as he could possibly be, he sold his soul to the Chessboard King. I would like to present the king’s knight Scott Baker.”

When he finished reading, Baker stopped, staring blankly at the card, stunned by what he had just read.

“What is this? These aren’t my cards,” he said.

As soon as Baker had read the words Chessboard King, Crandall and Ray went on alert.

“See anything?” Crandall asked.

Just then Ray spotted a red dot on Baker’s chest.

“Yes!” Ray said, leaping from his seat.

Quickly tackling Baker, Ray knocked him to the floor just as a rifle fired. The bullet meant for Baker grazed past him, striking Ms. Castillo in her shoulder.

In the panic, people screamed, ran for cover and ducked under chairs. Ray looked up toward the balcony and saw a man wearing a clown mask and top hat holding a rifle.

“Captain Bonkers!” he thought.

“He’s there!” Ray shouted, pointing to the balcony. Crandall leapt up and fought through the crowd trying to reach the gunman.

“Stay down!” Ray ordered Baker.

“Just get me outside. I have a limo waiting. You and Crandall meet me back at my office,” Baker instructed.

Staying low, Ray and Baker hurried toward the nearest exit and out the back. As they ran for the limo, Ray heard approaching sirens. After Baker opened the door and jumped inside the limo, Ray asked,

“Are you sure you’ll be okay?”

“This is my limo. Don’t worry about me. Just check on Ms. Castillo.”

Ray watched as the limo sped off then he hurried back inside the church.

After a few minutes of applying direct pressure to Ms. Castillo’s wound, Ray finally stopped the bleeding then stepped back when the EMTs arrived.

As the ambulance pulled away from the church, Crandall walked up to Ray.

“You catch him?” Ray asked.

“That was probably the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen,” Crandall snapped.

“What?” Ray asked.

“I understand that Baker is important, but you’re working discreetly with a police officer on a case I’m not even assigned to. When you played John Wayne and tackled Baker, a civilian was shot. Thankfully she’ll live. But what if she had died? What if she sues the department?” Crandall ranted.

“Sorry. I—” Ray began before Crandall cut him off.

“And no. I didn’t catch him. By the time I got up to the balcony, he was gone. He left behind this white knight from a chessboard,” Crandall said, holding up the game piece. “Where’s Baker?”

“I got him into his limo, and he said to meet him later at his office.”

“Well at least he’s safe!” Crandall barked.



*          *          *



Baker leaned his head back against the plush leather seat and closed his eyes for just a moment. He could feel the thumping of his racing heart and smell the sweet perfume of his assistant in the seat next to him.

“Vonda, cancel my appointments and have the driver take me back to the office.”

“Yes, sir,” a woman’s voice answered.

Baker lifted his head up and glanced over at the person beside him. A young red-haired woman smiled at him. He noticed that her eyes were two different colors.

“You’re not Vonda. Where’s Vonda?” he asked.

The woman kept her gaze on him as her smile widened.

“The same place as your driver,” she said.

Baker watched as the glass partition slowly lowered. Seated in the driver’s place was a man wearing a top hat and a clown mask.


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