The Cadillac Diaries: Episode 78

Ray walked slowly through the midway of Sandpark Carnival searching for the Shadow Serpent as Pete trotted beside him keeping his nose to the ground. Now and then the pup would stop, lift his head, and smell the air.

“Look, buddy,” Ray advised Pete. “If you insist on being here, you have to keep quiet. No barking! Anything louder than a growl will give away our position, and right now, you’re the only one I know doesn’t want to kill me.”

Pete snorted and again sniffed the air. A few yards up, Ray spotted a directory. Hurrying over to it, he quickly scanned the map.

“Okay. We’re here,” he thought, tapping the glass enclosure, “and the Shadow Serpent is on the opposite side. Makes sense.”

Pete looked up at Ray and hitched his head to one side.

“See it works like this. They put the most popular rides on the other side of the park forcing folks to walk past all the other stuff to get there. That increases the odds of somebody’s child begging for something along the way,” Ray explained.

The explanation seemed to satisfy Pete and he dropped his head back to the ground. Suddenly, he stopped and let out a low growl.

“This is a waste of time,” a voice said.

“Least we’re getting paid,” someone answered.

The voices grew louder as two men turned the corner and headed toward Ray. When Ray spotted them, he quickly ducked behind the directory case with Pete at his heels.

Just as the two men passed the directory, the park lights kicked on and the rides came to life as calliope music floated through the air.

Feeling a chill run down his spine, Ray looked around and whispered to Pete,

“The clown is here.”

* * *

Newton and Price stopped, raised their weapons and moving in a circle, nervously scanned the area.

“It’s going to be tough to hide with these lights on,” Newton pointed out.

“Nah,” Price said. “This is psychological. The bright lights, the loud music, the quick movement of the rides. It’s all meant to put us off our game. Keep us off guard.”

“Won’t it make the clown easier to spot?” Newton responded.

“You’d think so, but look around you. Clown posters, banners, paintings. Somebody dressed in a clown suit could easily blend in,” Price said.

“Hold up. I gotta’ tie my shoe,” Newton said dropping to one knee.

Wrapped up in what he was saying, Price kept walking.

“I started watching this show the other day about these feds that chase serial killers like the clown. They mention a point where the perp, they use a different name. . .”

Price trailed off for a moment as he searched his memory then shook his head and continued.

“Anyway, they talk about this point where the killer starts to spiral, you know devolve as he loses more and more of his humanity. That’s why I think this clown is getting worse and killing faster.”

Price stopped talking when he realized Newton wasn’t with him.

“Newton?” he called out.

He looked around him but saw no sign of his partner.

Suddenly a sound behind one of the rides caught his attention. Price raised his rifle and slowly moved towards the sound.

“Newton?” he called out again.

He followed the sound until he came to one of the carnival games the High Strike. There he saw Newton strung up with an electrical cable.

The cable was wrapped around his throat, and as he dangled, he kicked his feet trying to free himself.

Price ran up and put down his rifle then reached into his pocket for a knife.

When he freed the blade and looked up, he saw Newton frantically pointing to his right. Price whirled in time to see Captain Bonkers step forward, holding the High Strike mallet over his head. Before Price could react, he was struck across the jaw and knocked to the ground.

His jaw fractured, Price spit out a few teeth as he rolled over fighting nausea. When he looked up, Bonkers came down with the mallet, breaking Price’s left kneecap. As Price screamed out in pain, Bonkers raised the mallet again and crushed Price’s right kneecap.

Shrieking in agony, Price grabbed at his knees.

“Please,” he begged, raising his hands in defense.

Bonkers lifted the mallet one more time. The last thing Price saw was the mallet coming down on his head.

Newton clawed at the cable as he struggled to breathe. He felt himself losing consciousness.

Bonkers tossed the mallet aside then walked over to Newton and stared at him as he breathed his last.

* * *

David Crandall heard a man’s screams cut through the whistles of the calliope. He knew the playful music and bright lights were designed to divert his attention, confuse him. It wasn’t working. Slowly he raised his pistol and swept the area.

“That’s right, Captain Bonkers,” Crandall said. “Focus on them.”

He wasn’t concerned about Raymond Slats. The biggest threat there was that dog. He had to admit, though, that he was worried about the clown. He had known from the start that the only way to get the time he needed to find Rebecca was to bring along distractions.

The wind started to pick up and Crandall closed his eyes, reaching back to a sweet yet painful memory.

“Come on daddy,” she squealed.

“What now?” he asked, laughing at her excitement.

“I want a corndog,” she yelled back.

“You’ve already had two,” he said, hurrying to catch up to her.

“Please?” she pleaded.

“Where do you put all of them?” he asked, reaching for his wallet.

Crandall cleared his throat and swiped at a tear. Even though the man who killed his daughter had been dealt with, the pain was still fresh. Crandall shook his head clear and focused on finding his wife.

“I’m coming, baby. Please don’t give up.”

* * *

Ray jumped when he heard the nearby screams cut through the air. Before he could decide what to do, Pete began barking and bolted towards the sound.

“Pete!” Ray snapped, but the pup kept going.

Ray chased after Pete and finally found him standing by two dead bodies. One man had been hung with an electrical cable. The other had his skull crushed. A bloodied mallet from one of the carnival games was lying nearby.

He knew both men were dead, but against his better judgment, he reached down and picked up one of the discarded rifles.

“I’m not a huge fan of guns,” Ray told Pete, “but I may need this.”

When he took a second look at the blood pooling on the ground, he said,

“Stick close, boy.”

Ray checked the rifle then looked once again at the two dead men. There was nothing he could do now.

“We need to get to the Shadow Serpent before Bonkers loses it completely and turns on us.”

Pete growled and barked.

“Fine. You talk to him then,” Ray said. “Me, I’m staying clear.”

As Ray and Pete turned and walked away, a pair of hollow dead eyes watched from the shadows.

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