The Cadillac Diaries: Episode 72

On the drive over to Orchid Meadow shelter, Ray made a quick call to Tommy.

When he pulled up into the yard, he saw Tyler talking to one of the firemen as Tommy stood nearby watching the rising flames and the firefighters struggling to control the blaze that filled the night sky.

After telling Pete and Roddy to stay in the Cadillac, Ray and Rory got out of the car and walked over.

“I can’t remember the last time I had a full night’s rest,” Tyler said rubbing his weary eyes.

“I have to admit things have been pretty hectic lately,” Ray replied.

“I got to tell you, Ray, I think my sleepless nights started about the same time you decided to come out of retirement,” Tyler said.

“It’s been tough for all of us,” Rory agreed. “Even Tommy hasn’t been able to drink himself to sleep like he used to.”

“Tosser!” Tommy growled.

“Fellas, please,” Ray protested. “You know I love watching you two argue like old women over the last bowl of jello, but this is serious.”

Ray watched as the paramedics worked to free Oscar Blake’s dead body from impalement on the rebar cross.

“You’re right,” Rory said.

“Sorry,” Tommy added.

“So let’s move forward. My original plan of playing an idiot to gain Crandall’s trust was a bust. Please tell me you two have found some solid evidence against King.”

“Turns out most of his people didn’t trust him. We have enough evidence to bring him in, that much I promise. But with a good attorney, at best he’ll get a slap on the wrist. I’ve dealt with lowlifes like this before. We’ll need a big sword to slay this dragon,” Tyler pointed out.

“Well thankfully, we have a list of his other lieutenants,” Ray said. “Maybe one of them will be willing to roll over on King in exchange for police protection. This evidence you have, where is it?”

“It’s in safekeeping with Richard. He knows everybody on the force can’t be trusted. My boy’s a smart one,” Tyler smiled.

“Takes after his mother,” Rory teased.

“You know it, brother,”Tyler laughed.

Just past the rebar cross, Ray spotted Crandall in the crowd.

“There’s Crandall. Let me see if he’s willing to open up now. One of the targets on the list is his exwife.”

“Rebecca Conrad. Yea,” Tyler said. “Richard already talked to her. She has no interest in police protection, but she gave Richard full access to King’s books. Anything that will help to bring him down, she said.”

“That coupled with Crandall’s testimony would really help drive this case home. Be right back. I’m going over to talk to him,” Ray said stepping away.

“Hold on. You’ve spent enough time on him. Let me try. One old warhorse to another,” Tyler suggested.

As Tyler walked away, Tommy looked at Ray and Rory.

“So how did you two get a full list of the King’s men?”

“You don’t know?” Ray asked.

With a wide grin, Tommy said, “Oh I know. I just want to hear Rory say it.”

“You know who,” Rory growled.

“Nope,” Tommy said, his eyes twinkling with mischief. “Tell me.”

“That daft scatty that Mavis insists isn’t sizing her up for a skin tuxedo,” Rory grumbled.

“A what?” Tommy asked playfully.

“A suit made from her skin, you twit,” Rory barked.

Ignoring the two, Ray said, “The next name on the list is Ruben Ross. Tommy, what can you tell me about him?”

“Ruben Ross is a local celebrity. He’s an agent for several up and coming big stars. On the Hollywood circuit, he’s a nobody, but locally he’s a hero. He’s also got a fierce case of paranoia. Tonight we can find him at the theater. There’s a play, and he’ll be there,” Tommy said.

“A play tonight? It’ll be dawn soon,” Rory said confused.

“The director is one of these artistic types. He wants the performance literally in the early morning hours because that’s when the author set the play,” Tommy said.

Suddenly Ray remembered something.

“First, there was the church and then your actions in the play.”

“Come on! We need to get to that play!” Ray said.

Without another word, Ray whirled around and ran for the Cadillac. Surprised by his abrupt behavior, Rory hesitated for a moment then yelled,

“Wait up!”

* * *

All dressed up in his favorite suit, Ruben Ross straightened his tie and stared at the mirror, admiring his reflection. Just as he reached for a lint brush, his phone rang and he tapped the earpiece to answer.

“Ruben Ross. How can I make you a star?”

“Mr. Ross, it’s Felicia. I’ve finalized the arrangements for tonight,” said Ross’ personal assistant.

“My limo will be waiting at the back door when the play is over?”

“Yes, sir,” Felicia assured him.

“I’m taking my client and the entire cast to a party afterwards, and I don’t want any screwups. No successful performance is ever remembered by those who go home and rest.”

“Yes sir,” Felicia said.

“And I want the reviews in my hand the moment they’re released. Anybody complaining about the hour will be fired. They can sleep when I sleep.”

“Yes sir,” Felicia responded

Without another word, Ross ended the call then checked himself once more in the mirror. With a smile he said,

“Nice.”

When his phone rang again, Ross tapped the earpiece.

“Ruben Ross. How can I make you a star?”

“You can start by not being an idiot!” Bradford King growled on the other end of the line.

“I’m not an idiot. That’s why I’m always prepared,” Ross said.

“You’re going to a play and then some bash as though no one were trying to kill you,” King barked.

“No one is trying to kill me,” Ross said.

“What do you mean?” King asked.

“Like I say, I’m not an idiot. For years the cops have been sniffing around your closet for skeletons. Now that they’re getting too close, turning up the heat, you want to cut and run. I know this whole killer clown thing is just a story, a cover up for you wiping out your people. Well that’s not going to happen to me. I’ve made a little insurance policy. Your clown tries anything, and the press gets the whole story on the actresses I send you for your “do porn until you pay your debts” scam. That plus the load of information I’ve got on you will go straight to the cops, the straight cops, not those puppets you pay.”

“You idiot! What have you done? When I—,” King began, but was cut off when Ross broke the connection.

Ross grabbed a brush, took a swipe at his shoes then slipped his phone into his pocket and left the room. Downstairs he made his way to the waiting limo and climbed inside.

As the driver pulled away, Ross glanced up at his bedroom window and saw a clown standing there. Before the sight registered, he turned away. Quickly looking back, he saw that no one was there. Amused at his ridiculous imagination, Ross chuckled then laid his head back against the seat and rested his eyes.

As the limo took a sharp turn, something tumbled across the rear dash then hit Ross in the head. Slowly opening his eyes, he glanced to his left and saw what seemed to be a small toy. When he reached for it, bringing it closer to get a better look, he saw that it was a chess piece, the white rook.

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