The Cadillac Diaries: Episode 66

The rumble of the distant thunder told Ray the storm was moving on, having spent its fury, leaving behind a chill in the air. As the last of the rain ran down the window panes of The Golden Calf, Ray felt Pete press against him. Since that lightning strike a couple of yards behind him years ago, the pup always got nervous when it rained. Detective David Crandall looked over the dead body of casino owner Douglas Burroughs. Ray had spent his share of time dealing with killers and sadists, but something about this murder felt cold and twisted. Like an old rotting theater, the sense of mirth in the place would be ruined by the violence of one man taking another man’s life.

“This is getting out of hand,” Ray said.

“Well, Slats, if you’d help like you’re supposed to, maybe we’d get ahead of this mad clown,” Crandall replied.

“I can’t help if you insist on keeping me in the dark. I know you know more than you’re saying. Something about this man scares you,” Ray replied.

In the darkness, calliope music continued to play over the intercom.

“Can’t we shut off that racket?” Crandall barked in frustration.

“Look, Crandall,” Ray said, ignoring the question, “I can get this guy but you have to help me. Stop hiding things from me to protect yourself and help me stop this guy before someone else dies. This time maybe someone you love.”

Crandall snapped his head up. He had a look of fear and anger in his eyes.

“I know about her,” Ray said. “I know who she started working for when your child died.”

“Shut up!” Crandall growled.

“I know she regrets it,” Ray continued. “But I also know that her mistake has made her a target.”

“I said shut up!” Crandall repeated.

“You know as well as I do that if we don’t get ahead of Bonkers, sooner or later he’ll end up at her doorstep. You have to choose who to protect. What’s it going to be, Crandall? You or her?” Ray asked.

Crandall stood still, his jaw muscles working as he ground his teeth.

“I want to help her, but I don’t want to compromise my life. I can handle this. I just need to move faster,” Crandall said.

“You can,” Ray said. “Just give me the list.”

“What list?” Crandall asked.

“The list of his lieutenants,” Ray said. “King’s men.”

“I can’t,” Crandall said. “If I do, it’s the end of me.”

“If you don’t, her life may be. . .”

Ray trailed off when he spotted someone in the offices upstairs. A female Ray thought, judging by her shape, but the poor lighting made it impossible to clearly see her face.

“Who is that?” Ray asked, moving away from Crandall toward the stairs going up to the office.

By the time Ray reached the office, it was empty. Only a few clown dolls scattered across the room.

He turned toward Crandall with a warning.

“We’re running out of time. If you want to save her, you’d better decide if you’re willing to sacrifice yourself.”

Just then Crandall’s phone rang. He reached into his pocket and answered the call.

Ray couldn’t make much sense out of Crandall’s side of the conversation.

When he finally hung up, Crandall said,

“We have to go now! We may be able to rescue one before it’s too late.”

As they hurried out of the casino, Ray knew Crandall would never sacrifice himself for his wife, as least not until it was too late.

* * *

A thirty-minute drive through the wet streets put Ray and Crandall in the parking lot of Taylor Shipping. The yard was empty and quiet except for the last bits of rain dripping from the flickering lights. The gate to the shipping yard hung open, and the only movement was a paper cup being blown across the parking lot.

“Who are we here to save?” Ray asked.

“He said that Suzanne Taylor may be next and we have to get to her,” Crandall said.

Ray let that sit for a moment as they drove through the yard.

“We are supposed to save her. Right?” Ray asked.

“Usually he tells me to try and save them. This time he didn’t seem as concerned,” Crandall said.

“You willingly work for this guy?” Ray asked.

“No. Not willingly. But if I do anything he doesn’t approve of, he could kill my wife and me. You haven’t heard the story of what happened to one guy who tried to get out,” Crandall said.

“Her office is just up here on the left,” he pointed out.

“You don’t know the stories of what they did to that man and his family, so don’t preach to me about what’s best.”

Ray kept quiet, hoping Crandall would say more.

But when Crandall turned left toward the office, they spotted Captain Bonkers, standing in the distance.

He wore a top hat and clown mask and was dressed all in black and white. As soon as they saw him, Captain Bonkers slowly turned and walked out of sight.

“That’s him!” Crandall said, stomping down on the accelerator.

* * *

Ray and Crandall had just left The Golden Calf when the door leading to maintenance slowly opened. After a pause, Tommy poked his head out and looked around.

He took several careful steps onto the casino floor but stopped when he spotted the body.

“Here it is,” Tommy said, crossing the floor.

“Wait!” Tyler Clay barked, coming up behind Tommy.

He pulled out two pair of latex gloves and handed one to Tommy.

“Why these?” Tommy asked. “I didn’t kill him.”

“Can’t disturb the crime scene. We don’t want to make things tougher on Richard,” Clay explained.

Tyler Clay was a retired detective and Richard’s father.

Tommy took the gloves and pulled them on.

“Why are we here again?” Clay asked.

“Ray’s got his hands tied trying to get information out of Crandall, so he asked me to drop by each scene behind him and find out what I can before the police show up,” Tommy said.

“Why is that?” Clay asked.

“Because King’s been seeing that evidence and witnesses go missing. I need to find out everything I can before anything disappears,” Tommy explained.

“Now take a look at the body while I find out what I can from the computers.”

Clay examined the body of Douglas Burroughs, being careful not to touch anything.

He spotted a revolver and a six-sided die along with some unused bullets on the floor near Burroughs’ body.

“Tommy,” Clay called out, “this Bonkers guy is not just a vigilante. He’s playing with these people, tormenting them before he kills them.”

Busy upstairs at Burroughs’ computer, Tommy didn’t hear.

As Clay looked over the scene, it all started to fall into place.

“Russian Roulette. Hmm. Only instead of loading just one bullet, looks like this guy tossed the die then loaded the number on the roll,” Clay explained.

Tommy came down the stairs, hurrying over to Clay.

“You find anything?” Tommy asked.

“This clown isn’t just some vigilante hell bent on stopping a crime lord. This is personal. He made Burroughs sit here wondering when he was going to die. Bonkers wants these people to suffer. If he was just into racking up bodies, he would have killed everybody in the casino. But he went after Burroughs. He used a die and made the guy play Russian Roulette. Look at all these bullets by the body,” Clay said.

Tommy waited before asking, “And?”

Clay looked up and said, “And Ray may be in way over his head. There’s a lot more going on than just a string of murders. It looks like two forces are about to clash.”

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