The Cadillac Diaries: Episode 81

When Ray came to, he was lying on a stretcher with an EMT standing over him.

“Just lie still,” the young woman advised. “You’ve suffered a minor concussion and some bruising. Can you tell me your name?”

“Raymond Slats,” Ray answered, closing his eyes against the pain in his head.

After a few moments, Ray heard Richard’s voice and opened his eyes to see him standing by the EMT.

“He’ll be fine. Mr. Slats is far too stubborn to die.”

“I know that sounds cool on television, but in real life, he’s lucky to be alive,” the EMT pointed out as she stepped up into the ambulance’s rear entrance.

Ray tried to sit up, but his throbbing head cut short that idea and he lay back on the stretcher.

“I remember the roller coaster and Rebecca Conrad, but then something hit me, and everything went black,” he said.

“You don’t remember who struck you?” Richard asked.

“Uh. . .No I can’t. . .,” Ray trailed off. “Wait a minute. . .It was Bonkers. I remember now. I turned around and came face to face with him. He looked at me for just a second then struck me over the head.”

When he tried a second time to sit up, Ray’s head began to spin and he fell back against the stretcher.

“Ohhh,” he groaned as he touched the wound.

“What about Rebecca Conrad?” Ray asked.

“We found her beneath the roller coaster,” Richard said remorsefully. “Dead before she hit the ground. Shot once through the back of the head.”

“Detective,” an officer called out as he approached. “We found another body.”

With a heavy sigh, Richard answered,

“Be right there.”

Richard looked around for the nearest uniformed officer.

“Get over here,” he ordered.

When the officer walked over, Richard said,

“Stay with him. Watch him, and do not let him leave.”

When Richard was out of sight, Ray tried once again to sit up. This time, with the officer’s help, he was successful.

“Thank you. . .,” Ray paused to look at the officer’s badge. “Officer Finn.”

“You’re welcome, sir,” Finn responded.

“What’s your first name, son?” Ray asked.

“Edgar,” Finn replied.

“Edgar Finn?” Ray asked.

“Yes sir. My mom was an avid Edgar Allan Poe fan. I got teased a bit at school, though,” Finn smiled.

“Actually, I was going to say with a name like Edgar Finn, you should be walking the streets fighting crime on your own terms. You know. A gumshoe with a drinking problem. Some woman loves you, but you keep her at a distance because she’s too good for the likes of you,” Ray joked.

For a moment, Finn looked confused. Then slowly he understood what Ray was getting at.

“Oh wait. You’re talking about those old detective stories. Right?”

Ray slowly nodded.

“Yea,” Finn smiled. “My dad used to read those. I’m more of a fantasy guy, though. Knights fighting dragons, rescuing the princess. Or maybe a group of outsiders venturing through a rough and dangerous wilderness to stop some terrible evil that’s rising to take over the kingdom and enslave humanity.”

“I see,” Ray smiled.

“I’ve actually got this one fantasy quadrilogy Dragon Fire written by Robert Burns. It’s about this prince who’s kidnapped the day his father dies. But while they’re trying to kidnap him, he breaks away, escapes over this waterfall and loses his memory,” Finn explained enthusiastically. “Then these two guys come along in a cart—”

“Wait,” Ray interrupted. “Robert Burns. I know that name.”

“Yea. He wrote the Starfall Trilogy which was this three-part graphic novel about the rise and fall of a hero named Jericho,” Finn explained. “He also wrote a bunch of episodes of the television series Stackhouse where—”

“No, that’s not what I’m thinking of,” Ray interrupted.

“Well, let me see,” Finn said. “Oh yea. He also kind of co-wrote the comic series Captain Bonkers.”

“That’s the one,” Ray said.

“After that boy was murdered, Burns just disappeared. No one’s seen or heard from him since,” Finn said.

“Well, my point was that you have the name of a detective,” Ray replied.

“You think so?” Finn asked excitedly. “I have been thinking about putting in for a transfer to Coldwater. I know there’s less crime there, but I have a friend on the police force who says if I pass my detective exam, I’m a shoo-in.”

“Well good luck to you, son, but be careful. My father used to say the more expensive the door, the darker the secrets behind it,” Ray advised.

With a look of confusion, Finn asked,

“What—”

“Officer Finn,” Richard called as he approached. “Go help over there.”

As Finn walked away, Richard turned to Ray.

“Okay. Here’s what we’ve got. Officers impaled, hung, and torn limb from limb. One looks like his head’s been ripped off. Another’s head is crushed. The mayor’s steamed. He’s called for a strike force to bring in Captain Bonkers,” Richard said.

“And you’re off the case?” Ray asked.

“Nope,” Richard corrected. “I’m out of the hunt for Captain Bonkers, but he still wants me to investigate King’s connection to all this.”

“Well. . .,” Ray said trailing off.

“What do you know?” Richard said.

“Who Bonkers is probably going after next,” Ray replied.

Richard raised his eyebrows waiting for an answer. Then he said,

“Tell you what. Just tell me on the way there.”

“Let me grab something first,” Ray said, standing up from the stretcher.

 

*          *          *

 

While Richard drove, Ray filled him in.

“Shouldn’t you tell the strike force leader about this?” Ray asked.

“I did. He told me to get back to him if it became a credible threat and not just a theory,” Richard explained.

“Okay,” Ray said. “Evelyn Caine is the real name of the woman people have started calling the Black Queen. Rumor has it, she’s the one responsible for the death of the boy and his mother.”

“Wait a minute. You mean the one Bonkers is avenging?” Richard asked.

“That’s the rumor,” Ray replied. “She runs a high-priced gentlemen’s club called Apollo Fire. Usually a gentlemen’s club is a ruse, a front for something else, but in this case, it’s less so. This place not only has dancers and rooms for private dancing, but it also has an area for fine dining, gambling and even a VIP suite with a private waitress. Ninety per cent of what goes on there is illegal, but no one has been able to touch the place. Anybody who tries winds up burned to a crisp in a ditch somewhere or just disappears,” Ray explained.

“Why am I just now hearing about this place?” Richard asked.

“Because up until now, anyone with any power kept it quiet. King’s been laundering money through it or buying the people who could shut it down,” Ray explained.

“But now those people are dead because of Bonkers,” Richard said.

“Correct,” Ray replied.

“Where did you hear all this?” Richard asked.

“From Tommy. . .mostly,” Ray mumbled.

“Mostly?” Richard pressed. “Who else?”

“A friend of a friend who lives in Coldwater. He’s not important, but I know Mavis trusts him,” Ray explained.

 

*          *          *

 

Evelyn Caine took a seat near the club’s entrance. Her informant had told her that the cops were on their way, so she waited patiently for the inevitable knock.

A few seconds later, it came.

“Ahh. There it is. The knock,” she said.

Removing her personal key, she unlocked the door and opened it. Two men stood outside.

“Now you’re a police officer,” she said, pointing a long red fingernail at the youngest man. “And may I say, delightful.”

Looking at the older man who stood back a bit, she purred, “You, I don’t recognize, but I bet you’re experienced.”

“Evelyn Caine? I’m Detective Richard Clay of the Whitelake Police Department. Mind if we come in and ask you a few questions? The police department is concerned for your safety, given the wave of murders.”

“I appreciate your concern, Detective, but I’m not afraid for my safety. We’re entertaining guests this evening, so I can’t let you in without a warrant. . .” she paused, giving Richard the once over. “That is unless you want to come up to my private office and protect me body and soul.”

When Richard didn’t flinch, she shrugged and said,

“Your loss.”

Closing and locking the door, she turned back to the club.

As she headed down the hall toward the office, unbeknownst to her, someone slowly walked up to the club’s entrance and installed a small metal plate over the front doors, locking them together, then poured Superglue into the lock.

The figure then turned and vanished, leaving the club’s doors permanently sealed shut.

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