The Cadillac Diaries: Episode 86

It was dark by the time they reached the Woodland Hotel where David Crandall waited.

“This isn’t a good idea, Ray,” Richard warned.

“I know,” Ray said, “but I have to try.”

Richard signaled one of the officers to bring a bulletproof vest for Ray.

“Thanks, but I can’t breathe in those things. Besides, I’m trained to work without one,” Ray said as he headed for the hotel’s front entrance.

“Wait. What?” Richard asked, but Ray was already inside.

He kept close behind the police officers, following them up to the fourth floor. At the end of the hall, the lead officer cautioned,

“We’ve been ordered to stand down and let you try an approach alone. Remember that Crandall is armed and he’s already fired at officers. There’s no safe way to do this.”

Ray nodded his understanding then walked down the hall toward Crandall’s room. The last five years were weighing on him, and he was worn out.

When he reached Crandall’s door, he knocked twice and called out,

“David, it’s Raymond Slats.”

When no answer came, Ray knocked again.

“David?”

Finally, he announced, “I’m coming in.”

He turned the knob slowly and pushed the door open, pausing for a few moments. Then he walked in and closed the door behind him.

Crandall stood at the window, looking out. Ray saw that he gripped a pistol in his hand. When he looked around the room, Ray spotted a 2008 calendar on the wall.

“That was the last thing my daughter gave me. She circled my birthday with a heart,” David said, slowly turning to face Ray.

Downstairs in the parking lot, police officers were still arriving. The red and blue lights danced across the walls in time to the sirens as Ray moved slowly into the room.

“Isn’t this what you wanted, Detective? You wanted me. Well here I am.”
Shadowed from the police lights outside, Crandall stepped away from the window. All Ray could make out was the pistol and part of Crandall’s shirt.

“Why me?” Ray asked.

“Don’t play games. You know exactly why. First, there was the church and then your actions in the play,” Crandall said.

Ray moved closer, trying to close the distance between them.

“By that time, you were just an annoyance that should have been paid off, even though you thought you were too good for that. But what you did at the carnival, I’ll never forgive. She was mine. How could you have done such a thing?”

“I didn’t mean to,” Ray pleaded. “I tried to—”

“I don’t care! It’s too late now!” Crandall yelled.

“But—” Ray began.

“No more excuses!” Crandall said. “That heart attack should have killed you. You’ve escaped death too many times. But no more.”

Crandall raised his pistol and fired.

The bullet sliced through the air and slammed into Ray’s chest, throwing him backwards.

* * *

As Ray went down, Crandall felt a pang of relief. He knew the cops would be breaking down the door any moment, but he didn’t care. When movement from the bathroom caught his eye, he whirled around to see Captain Bonkers step out.

“You!” Crandall snapped.

But before he could fire, Bonkers raised his pistol and shot Crandall squarely in the heart. He was dead before he hit the floor.

* * *

When Ray came to, he was in a hospital bed, an IV in his arm and bandages covering his chest. Asleep in a chair near him was Deborah.

Ray loudly coughed then moaned at the pain, snapping Deborah awake. Joy filled her tired eyes as she looked at him.

“Daddy!” she cried, moving to his bedside.

Ray weakly smiled, “Hey, pumpkin.”

Deborah leaned over and gently hugged him.

“What’d I miss?” Ray asked.

“You’ve been out for a couple of days. The doctor said the bullet didn’t hit any vital organs. He said you’re lucky to be alive, especially given your advanced age,” Deborah replied.

“That’s a nice way of saying I’m old,” Ray joked.

“Daddy, he’s right. You shouldn’t have gone in there, let alone without protection,” Deborah scolded.

“I know, I know,” Ray confessed, patting her hand. “It’s just that—”

“I know you were bored, Daddy,” Deborah interrupted, “but you can’t keep risking your life like this. I’m all worn out from worrying.”

Before Ray could respond, the door opened and in walked Richard and Tommy.

“Great! I wake up after being shot, and the first thing I have to look at is you!” Ray teased.

“I’d say that gunshot improved your looks, old woman,” Tommy returned.

Ray laughed, wincing at the pain.

“What about King?”

“He’s going to be tried on so many counts, I’d need a note pad to remember them all,” Richard smiled.

“How’s my boy Pete?” Ray asked.

“Going nuts!” Deborah replied. “A friend of mine who’s watching him while I’m at work says he keeps trying to escape.”

Richard laughed and added, “He’s gotten pretty good at it too.”

Just then the door opened and Mavis stepped into the room. Her auburn hair fell forward, covering her red eyes and splotched face. When she looked at Ray, fresh tears washed down her cheeks.

“Don’t worry, sweetie,” Ray comforted. “I’m okay.”

Mavis weakly laughed then said, “I’m glad. I was worried about you. . .a lot. But there’s something else.”

“What’s wrong?” Ray asked.

Mavis worked to stop crying and get control of herself. Finally, she said,

“I’m leaving.”

“What?” Ray asked.

“Why?” Tommy asked.

Struggling to appear lighthearted, Mavis smiled and explained.

“I got a call from my father in Coldwater. He wants to retire, and he’s asked me to move home so he can teach me the business.”

“Business?” Deborah asked confused.

“The bar is his, of course, but he also has three other bars as well as two nightclubs and a restaurant. His plan is for me to manage all of them so he can retire in the next year or two,” Mavis answered.

“I’m sorry. Doesn’t seem like you’re too happy about that,” Ray pointed out.

Mavis started crying again and said,

“He’s my daddy, and he’s getting old. It’s just that I’m really going to miss you guys.”

Mavis moved in closer and bent over to hug Ray, crying into his gown.

* * *

3 Months Later

Bradford King sat in the dingy cell scowling at his reflection in the polished metal mirror.

“Considering my net worth, these buffoons should have at least given me suitable clothes.”

Frank Granger, one of the guards, walked up to the cell and banged on the door.

“King, you have a visitor,” he announced.

“My attorney?” King asked.

“I’m not your secretary,” Granger complained.

Then as the cell door opened, he added,

“Your daughter. Let’s go.”

Magdalene was King’s only daughter. Shortly after his wife died in a plane crash, he had enrolled Magdalene in a private school in Switzerland. With King’s promise of a sizeable donation to the school, the headmaster had promised to keep a close eye on her. King made a note to punish the man for not telling him she had left. He followed Granger to a private visitor’s cell. When Granger opened the door, King saw that another guard had been posted inside the waiting room. The black stubble on his face made him look dark and angry. As though frozen in place, his arms were crossed as his cold black eyes stared straight ahead. Although he stood at an angle behind one of the chairs, King could see part of his name tag. His first name looked like it was Joseph.

“That’s not my daughter,” King said sarcastically.

“Sit down! He’ll be watching you while you visit,” Granger explained.

As he took a seat behind the new guard, King protested,

“I don’t even get a private visit with my daughter?”

“You’re lucky you’re getting this much,” Granger retorted.

When Granger turned and left the room, Magdalene walked in, closing the door behind her.

“Maggie,” King greeted, pleased to see his daughter.

“Hello, Father,” Magdalene said, sitting down across from him.

Magdalene brushed her red hair out of her face and removed her sunglasses, revealing her different colored eyes, one blue and one green just like her mother.

King smiled and asked,

“Sweetheart, what are you doing out of school?”

“I heard you were in trouble,” she answered.

“It’s nothing my lawyers can’t handle. Just trumped up charges to get me out of the way so they can stop some deranged clown-faced killer,” King explained.

Magdalene smiled.

“Oh good. I was worried, afraid I was going to lose you like I lost mom.”

“That was a tragic accident that killed your mother. But don’t worry, Maggie. I’m not going anywhere,” King assured her.

Magdalene gazed into her father’s eyes then corrected,

“Murdered.”

“What?” King asked.

“Mom was murdered,” Magdalene said.

“Why would you think something like that?” King asked.

“Because she called me before she got on that plane,” Magdalene said, keeping her eyes fixed on King.

“She told me what she found out about you. About your business. Then the next thing you know, the plane she’s on goes down suddenly. Engine trouble they said.”

With a look of astonishment, King said, “You can’t think I did that!”

“You started this, Father,” Magdalene said, “and now we’re going to finish it.”

“We?” King asked nervously.

Magdalene’s eyes shifted from her father’s face to past him. King hesitantly turned around and saw that the guard who had been standing behind him was now Captain Bonkers.

Suddenly everything fell into place as he nervously swiped at his sweat-beaded forehead.

“You didn’t think we’d let you escape, did you?” Magdalene asked.

“Huh?” King responded, his thoughts muddled.

He watched as Magdalene slowly stood and walked over to the door. When she tapped on the glass, Granger opened the door and stepped forward.

“In a few moments, my father is going to kill himself. Please wait until I’ve left the property to call it in,” she instructed.

“Yes ma’am,” Granger answered.

As though in a daze, King stared speechlessly at his daughter while she walked back to him and kissed his forehead, placing a chess piece, the king, in front of him.

“Goodbye, Father,” she said without looking back.

When the door closed behind her, Magdalene walked away in peace, her eyes straight ahead. This was finally over. The guards nodded as she passed by moving down the hallway toward the exit. Suddenly from the room where she had left her father, she heard him yell,

“NO!”

When a gunshot rang out, the guards didn’t flinch and Magdalene kept on walking, a smile slowly spreading across her face.

* * *

Late in the middle of the night in a condemned, burned out house, the front door slowly opened. Roaches scurried across the floor, disappearing under the baseboard. The floor creaked beneath his feet as Captain Bonkers stepped into the room. He walked through the house and out to the back porch where he started up a small generator. Reaching down to grab the attached extension cord, he pulled it inside the house and lay it on the floor next to an old chair, its stuffing spilling out through the scorched fabric. Years earlier, the house had caught fire and suffered extensive damage before firefighters arrived on the scene.

Bonkers headed toward a nearby closet then pulled an old TV VCR off the top shelf. Centering it on a stool next to the chair, he plugged it in and sat down.

As he watched the screen, the white light danced across his cold dead eyes beneath the clown mask. He pressed the play button and a video started, a video of his boy surrounded by friends celebrating his birthday at a pool party. The boy looked up at the camera with a big smile and said,

“Watch this, Daddy!”

The boy turned away and ran towards the pool leaping off the side and splashing into the water. Just as the child’s head bobbed to the surface and he began swimming toward the pool’s edge, a young woman came on camera and said,

“Joseph, will you put that camera away for once? You’re missing your son’s birthday party.”

Bonkers watched without movement, without expression, as the tape played on.

* * *

It had the makings of a perfect day as Ray eased back onto the cushioned rocking chair. Across the room, Deborah rested on the couch, a pillow at the small of her back, with Pete her protector curled up beside her. Tommy whistled in the kitchen as he made tea and sandwiches for everyone. Just then the key turned in the lock and Richard walked in.

“Hey, sweetheart,” he greeted, bending over to kiss Deborah.

“Hey, babe,” she returned.

When Deborah started to get up, Richard stopped her with,

“You shouldn’t walk in your condition.”

“What condition?” Ray asked,

With a look of surprise, Richard asked,

“You didn’t tell him, hon?”

“I was waiting for you to get home,” Deborah responded.

“What condition?” Ray repeated. “What’s going on?”

“Deborah’s pregnant,” Tommy said matter-of-factly as he brought in the tea and sandwiches.

“Tommy!” Deborah said. “How did you know?”

“What? I thought everyone knew?” Tommy answered.

“You’re pregnant?” Ray asked, obviously elated.

“Almost a month now,” Tommy said.

“Tommy!” Deborah scolded, leaning over to pop Tommy.

“What?” Tommy asked confused.

“How did you know?” Richard asked.

“It’s what I do,” Tommy replied.

“That explains why Pete has been keeping so close to you lately. I thought he had abandoned me,” Ray laughed.

“Well, congratulations you two. I am de—”

Just then a frantic knock sounded at the door.

Richard quickly got up and answered it. Leaning against the doorpost, trying to catch her breath, was Mavis. She was disheveled, as though she had dressed in a great hurry and neglected to brush her hair.

“Mavis? What’s wrong?” Richard inquired.

“I need to talk to Ray,” she said, a frantic look on her face.

“Sure. Come on in.”

Mavis hurried into the room and crossed to Ray.

“Ray! I need your help!”

THE END?

To be continued in Unsettled

The Cadillac Diaries: Episode 85

Captain Bonkers strode past Ray, taking out one guard after another before they could react, while Ray along with Tyler, Tommy, and Rory kept out of sight. Ray knew they would be safe as long as they stayed out of the way. After a few minutes, the gunfire stopped and a sickening hush fell over the hallway. Gathering courage, Ray and Rory risked a peek from behind the boxes.

Surrounded by King’s dead men, Bonkers brought down his weapons as his chest heaved.

Blood splattered across his mask, he turned to Ray and pointed to a nearby stairwell. Then he dropped his guns, grabbed two pistols and a couple of clips off the floor, and left through the door opposite the stairwell.

“He’s telling us to leave,” Rory said.

“Splendid idea,” Tommy replied.

“What should we do, Ray?” Tyler asked.

Ray thought for a moment then said,

“Tyler, you and Tommy head back outside and keep me informed as to where the cops are. Rory and I are going after King,” Ray said.

“You sure about that, Ray?” Tyler asked.

“Yes. Go,” Ray answered.

After Tyler hesitated a moment, he said,

“Okay, Ray. Whatever you say. Just keep your phone on.”

Tommy was the first out the door with Tyler close behind. Ray took a deep breath and stared intently at Rory.

“Rory, I need your help with this. I think Bonkers was letting us in on his plan. He’s going to distract the guards while you and I go after King.”

“Why would he send us after King?” Rory asked.

“I’m not exactly sure, but once I figure it out, I’ll let you know,” Ray assured him.

Just then Ray’s phone went off.

“Yeah,” he answered. “Got it.”

“Come on. Tyler told me where King’s office is,” Ray said.

The two men hurried to the stairwell then safely navigated the building until they reached the floor of King’s office.

“So now what?” Rory asked.

“You keep an eye out for security, okay? Warn me if they show and don’t get shot,” Ray instructed.

“I’ll be careful, but if they start something. . .” Rory joked, raising his fists.

“I know. I know,” Ray replied. “Come on, buddy.”

Pete’s ears shot forward and his body stiffened as he ran alongside Ray.

 

*          *          *

 

Up in his office, Bradford King grabbed a couple of bags and started filling them with cash. The cops were crawling all over the place, and Bonkers was probably in the building. Everything was falling apart and he had only a few minutes to get out before he was dragged under.

With ninety per cent of his funds deposited in offshore accounts, he had packed enough cash for two weeks. Hurrying over to his laptop, he inserted the flash drive that would wipe it clean, leaving the computer worthless against him.

He finished up, cut off the lights, and shut the door behind him. As he turned the key in the lock, he stopped when he felt someone nearby.

Slowly reaching for his concealed pistol, King heard,

“Bradford King, my name is Raymond Slats, and I’m here to help you.”

King left the pistol in its holster then pulled his hand back and slipped the key from the lock. He knew the name Raymond Slats. Slats was a retiree whose personal hobby was pestering King’s associates.

“Mr. Slats, this is not a good time. I’m on my way out,” King said, shifting his weight. “I’d ask how you got up here, but at this point, it doesn’t matter.”

“Mr. King, I’m here to save your life,” Ray said.

“I don’t need saving, old man,” King growled, picking up his bags.

“Yes. You do,” Ray pressed.  “I believe if you tell your men to stand down and you walk out with me to the police. . .”

By this time, King was close enough to Ray to see past him. A few feet back, weapons drawn, stood Captain Bonkers. Next to him lay an unconscious man, one of King’s bodyguards.

“. . .he might let you live,” Ray continued.

King held Bonker’s stare for a moment then said,

“You have more tricks up your sleeve than I have given you credit for. And to think this was all your doing. I didn’t know you were involved in mass murder.”

King paused for a moment staring at Ray in amazement.

“I knew someone was guiding him,” he said, nodding toward Bonkers, “but I never suspected it was you.”

Ignoring King’s accusations, Ray turned to face Captain Bonkers.

“If King agrees to be arrested and stand trial, will you spare him?” Ray asked.

Bonkers held his position for a long moment then slowly lowered one of his weapons to indicate his agreement to the terms.

“It’s up to you now, King,” Ray pointed out. “If you refuse, I don’t think I’ll be able to stop him.”

Bradford King stood very still as he considered his options then slowly put down his bags.

“I’m just getting my cell phone,” he explained before he slipped his hand into his pocket.

Dialing the number, he waited for an answer. When it came, King said,

“Tell everyone to stand down. Let the police through.”

He ended the call and announced that he was returning the phone to his pocket.

After what seemed like the longest wait of Ray’s life, the elevator doors opened and Bonkers fled just as the cops poured in.

Before the police reached him, King sneered,

“Any charges leveled against me won’t keep. You know that. I’ll have to make some hefty donations, but they’ll send me to some comfy resort with bars while I think about the error of my ways.”

As the police arrested King and his men, Ray and Rory had to explain what they were doing in the building. Rory pretended that the bump on his head where Bonkers struck him was causing a great deal of pain and anguish, so the EMTs escorted him out to one of the ambulances.

With an exasperated look on his face, Richard walked up to Ray and said,

“I should have you arrested, you know. What if you had been shot?”

“Sorry, son. I had to risk it,” Ray said.

“What about Deborah!” Richard barked. “You know how she worries about you!”

Suddenly one of the police officers shouted,

“Detective, they have Bonkers cornered on the roof! He’s on the ledge!”

“Stay here, Ray!” Richard ordered then ran toward the stairs.

As soon as Richard was out of sight, Ray followed him.

Up on the roof, Bonkers balanced himself on the ledge as officers tried to talk him down. Ray noticed that Bonkers seemed a little woozy. Suddenly, Bonkers raised his pistol.

“Wait!” Ray yelled.

But he was too late. Police officers opened fire and Captain Bonkers took twenty rounds to the chest before falling backwards, tumbling end over end sixteen floors to the pavement.

 

*          *          *

 

On the street below, police officers put Bradford King and his security staff in patrol cars and drove away while EMT’s and fire fighters counted the victims. Richard and Ray stood over the dead body of Captain Bonkers as Rory, Tyler, and Tommy walked over.

After slipping his hands in latex gloves, Richard reached down and pulled off Bonkers’ clown mask. Although he didn’t recognize the face, Tommy quickly solved the mystery.

“That’s Alexander Kinsky. He was King’s right hand man and personal guard.”

“I guess that explains a lot,” Rory replied.

“He’s been missing for quite a while,” Tyler pointed out. “Now we know why.”

Ray wasn’t convinced but decided to keep quiet for now.

Placing a hand on Ray’s shoulder, Richard said,

“Come on, Ray. Let’s go home.”

Staring down into the face of Kinsky, Ray stood for a moment then said,

“I really didn’t want things to end this way.”

“I know. But they rarely end the way you want them to,” Richard comforted.

“Sir,” an officer called out as he approached. “We found David Crandall. He’s hold up in a motel room. Swears he’ll shoot anybody who tries to enter except. . .”

The officer trailed off.

“Who?” Richard asked.

The officer looked at Ray then back and said,

“He’ll only speak to Mr. Slats.”

“Let’s go,” Ray responded.

“No!” Richard protested.

“There’s no other way, Richard. I’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time,” Ray sighed. “It’s time to end it.”

The Cadillac Diaries: Episode 84

It was early morning as Ray drove the Cadillac down a twisting gravel road. Rory had made himself comfortable in the passenger seat, and Pete was settled down beside Ray. In the back, Roddy pressed his nose against the glass of the lowered window, enjoying the wind on his face.

“What brings us all the way out here?” Rory asked.

“I don’t know yet,” Ray replied. “I got a call from Richard this morning telling me to drive out here as soon as possible.”

“Think it’s the clown?” Rory asked.

“Probably,” Ray answered.

After rounding a few more curves, throwing up dust and gravel, Ray spotted several police cars, a crime scene van, and the city coroner up ahead.

“I hope Calvin Nash is here. I have a few choice questions for him,” Ray said.

“The coroner? I thought you knew, Ray,” Rory said.

“Knew what?” Ray asked.

“Nash is dead. Found in one of the body drawers in the morgue with two bullets in him and a black pawn clasped in his hands,” Rory explained.

Ray sighed deeply. Nash had been up to his eyeballs in the cover-up of Bonkers’ murdered family. When Ray found out about it a few months ago, he figured Bonkers might come after Nash. He should have done something, said something. But at the time, he had been focused on other things. How many more people would die because of Captain Bonkers?

“This is getting out of hand!” Ray snapped.

“Getting?” Rory disagreed. “This was out of hand the moment Bonkers hung a body out a window.”

Pulling alongside Richard’s car, Ray shut off the engine and climbed out.

Richard spotted them and headed their way just as Pete hopped out of the car and sniffed the air. Suddenly he barked twice and started running.

“Pete, no!” Richard yelled, running after him.

When he got close enough, Richard scooped him up and carried him back to Ray.

“Hold him, Ray,” Richard said, handing over Pete. “Normally, his antics are amusing, but I know what he’s after and I can’t let him loose. This is a crime scene.”

“What’s going on?” Rory asked.

“Evelyn Caine is dead. Her remains were found this morning by a farmer who owns this property. He was out checking the fence when he found her.”

“How bad is it?” Ray asked.

“The coroner’s not finished yet but looks like she was shot twice, once with an arrow, then torn apart by dogs. Animal control’s still searching the property. So far, they’ve rounded up six of them.”

“Man!” Rory responded. “That is a deep level of hatred.”

“Looks like someone, I’d guess Bonkers, backed up a moving van, got Caine out, then make her record something before she died.”

“May I hear it?” Ray asked.

Richard pulled out the recorder, pressed the play button through the plastic evidence bag, and the three listened closely to Evelyn Caine’s words.

When the recording stopped, Ray asserted,

“He’s headed for King. There’s no one else left.”

“Are you certain about that?” Clive Morgan asked as he walked over.

“Positive,” Ray answered.

“Then let’s move!” directed Morgan.

 

*          *          *

 

Forty-five minutes later, they waited outside Bradford King’s office building. Police officers filled the parking lot as the SWAT moved forward, waiting for Clive Morgan’s orders. His brow furrowed, Ray looked at Richard and asked,

“Will King even let you in? He probably has his guards on high alert.”

“No doubt this place is like a fortress. Rumor has it his guards have orders to shoot anyone who doesn’t work here,” Rory added.

“That’s why I stopped and got a warrant on the way over,” Richard explained. “If King is guilty of everything he’s accused of, the last thing I want is for him to get off on a technicality.”

“Got it,” Ray said, slowly standing up.

“Not happening, Ray. You’re staying right here,” Richard ordered.

“What?” Ray objected.

“Sorry. I’m not just keeping a promise to Deborah. I can’t guarantee your safety inside. Stay here or I’ll have to arrest you,” Richard warned.

When Ray started to protest, Rory clapped a hand on his shoulder and said,

“We’ll stay here.”

Looking from one man to the other for confirmation, Richard finally said,

“Thank you.”

As Richard headed over to Morgan, Ray complained,

“I can’t believe you volunteered us to sit it out.”

“I didn’t. Come on. Let’s get inside,” Rory said.

“How do you propose to do that? Richard was our only way in,” Ray asked.

“I have a man inside,” Rory smiled. “Follow me.”

Rory lead Ray around to the side of the building then knocked on the first door.

“Who do you have on the inside?” Ray asked.

Just then the door opened and Tommy poked his head out.

“I really don’t think this is a good idea, mate,” he asserted.

“Well you picked out that shirt, so clearly you have a poor sense of judgment,” Rory said, pulling the door open.

“Sod!” Tommy spat as Rory slipped past him.

A few feet into the room, Ray saw a long hallway filled with boxes and double doors at each end. He stopped when he spotted Tyler Clay.

“Hello, Ray,” Tyler said.

“You shouldn’t be here,” Ray teased.

“Yea, my boy takes the law quite seriously, doesn’t he?” Tyler smiled.

“Morgan actually told Richard he wasn’t as good a cop as you,” Ray said.

“Forget Morgan. He always was a tosser,” Tyler laughed.

Then looking at Tommy, he asked,

“I get it right that time?”

Tommy gave him a thumbs up as he closed the door and locked it.

“All right now. What’s next?” Tyler asked Rory.

“I don’t know. My plan stopped at the door,” Rory said.

“You git. Only you would walk us into the lion’s den with no exit plan,” Tommy scolded.

“Guys, focus. We need to get to King before Bonkers does,” Ray pointed out, slipping through the double doors and entering the hallway.

As the men followed Ray, Tyler added,

“And we need to move before we’re arrested for interfering!”

“Or before King’s guards shoot us,” Tommy said.

“Okay. Okay. So maybe this wasn’t the best plan,” Rory admitted.

“Now you say that?” Tommy asked.

“Hey! I did my part,” Rory said. “I got us in.”

“That was my job, mate,” Tommy insisted.

“But it was my plan,” Rory defended.

“Fellows, please,” Ray said, trying to calm them down.

Suddenly the doors at the end of the hall opened and King’s security poured in.

“Take cover!” Tyler yelled.

Just as they all dove behind the boxes, the guards opened fire.

“I hope you survive this so if I die, I can haunt you!” Tommy yelled out.

Ignoring the remark, Rory asked, “What now? We’re pinned down.”

“Give me a second to think,” Ray demanded.

Pressed between the wall and a stack of boxes, Ray heard the double doors at the other end of the hall open. When he peeked around the containers, his heart jumped and his chest tightened as through the doors stepped Captain Bonkers, pistols raised.

The Cadillac Diaries: Episode 83

Clive Morgan, head of the mayor’s task force, stood in the charred remains of the gentlemen’s club Apollo Fire pushing aside bits of debris with the toe of his shoe. Fire Rescue, still searching through the ruins, had already uncovered thirty bodies.

Morgan heard a car pull into the parking lot and turned to see Detective Richard Clay and Raymond Slats.

As they approached, Morgan greeted,

“Boys.”

“How many victims so far?” Richard asked.

“I stopped counting at thirty,” Morgan said with disgust. “Never seen anything like this.”

“He’s getting more violent, more aggressive,” Richard observed.

“Any idea what he’s after?” Morgan asked.

“Not really. I—,” Richard began.

“Bradford King,” Ray broke in.

“Bradford King,” Richard repeated.

Morgan studied the faces of both men for a moment then said,

“Richard, you’re a good cop. And a great detective. Course you’re not as good as your daddy, but you’re getting there. Everybody on the force respects you. That being said, some of us suspect that your recent success comes from this mysterious father-in-law of yours whose life apparently began when he started driving a cab for the city of Whitelake.”

Morgan looked straight at Ray and asked,

“So what were you doing before your cabbie days, Mr. Slats?”

“Dog groomer,” Ray replied.

“What’d I tell you?” Morgan said holding out a hand, “Mysterious.”

“No disrespect intended, but let’s just cut the charades. Instead of talking to the puppet, let’s hear what Geppetto has to say,” Morgan requested as he looked at Ray. “Spill it, old timer. What makes you think this clown is headed for King?”

“For the same reason you won’t find the body of Evelyn Caine. Captain Bonkers is acting out a plot of revenge to destroy the people who ruined him. Every person he’s killed has either worked directly for King or been associated with him in some way. Not only did Bonkers kill whoever answered to King but also he left behind a marker with each victim. A game piece from a chessboard. In his twisted mind, each of these people represents a piece of a figurative chessboard that protects King in some way. Bonkers has been slowly working his way up the line until he reaches the final piece on the board, the king.”

For a moment, Morgan considered what Ray had said then asked,

“If that’s true, then why isn’t Evelyn Caine’s body here? On display like all the other victims.”

“I think Caine ordered the hit on Bonkers’ family and King approved it. If my theory is correct and Bonkers is acting out his revenge, Evelyn Caine’s his next victim. She may still be alive but not for long,” Ray explained.

 

*          *          *

 

When Evelyn Caine regained consciousness, she was lying on a cold wooden floor. Her head throbbed, and as she reached up to touch the spot, she discovered that her hands were bound. A thick musty smell filled her nostrils, and she gagged at the stench. Except for a few pinpricks of light, the room was dark.

Struggling to her feet, she felt nauseous and her head began to spin. She reached out with her foot and hit what seemed to be a wall. Bracing herself against it, she let her eyes adjust to the dark while she waited for the nausea and dizziness to pass. When she strained against the dark to see where she was, she saw that she was in the back of a large truck.

Suddenly she heard the cab door slam shut and the handles of the rear cargo doors click as someone opened them.

There he stood, barely visible in the low light.

“I don’t know how you did it, but you will regret getting her involved,” Caine said angrily. “She will betray you the moment she no longer needs you.”

When Captain Bonkers pulled out his pistol and quickly fired a shot into the air, Caine jumped. Her ears still ringing, she looked up to see that Bonkers was motioning for her to come closer.

At first she hesitated, but then she realized that if she got closer, she might have a chance to get the gun away from him. Walking to the edge of the truck, she looked out. They were in the country in the middle of a field with no houses nearby.

Bonkers lowered the ramp and motioned for her to walk down onto the grass. She decided she would collapse, falling into him and grabbing the gun. But the second she came close, he backhanded her and pushed her down the ramp.

As she struggled to recover her balance, she saw that just behind Bonkers was a large box covered with a tarp.

Looking from the box into Bonkers’ cold eyes, she saw that he was holding up a tape recorder and a piece of paper. When she read what was on the paper, she protested,

“I’m not reading that!”

In response, Bonkers shot her in the foot.

Crying out in pain, Caine fell to the ground and Bonkers squatted down next to her, again holding out the piece of paper.

Reluctantly, she took the paper and began to read as Bonkers held the recorder to her mouth.

“My name is Evelyn Caine. Working with Bradford King, I have cost the lives of hundreds. Most of them I had killed because they were a threat to me. Others because they insulted me. I deserve no more than the same mercy I offered to others. Don’t bother burying me for like Jezebel, only the dogs will remember me.”

Bonkers turned off the recorder, tucking it into his pocket, and retrieved the paper.

As she slowly stood, Caine winced at the pain in her wounded foot.

“What now?” she asked. “Don’t you want revenge, you weak simpleton?”

Bonkers motioned with the gun toward the open field.

“I’m not going to run away so you can just shoot me in the back. If you want to kill me, you’ll have to shoot me in the face,” Caine yelled.

Bonkers turned to the box and removed the tarp. Caine saw that it was a large metal crate with holes along the top. When Bonkers pounded the crate three times, from inside came the sound of barking dogs.

Caine felt her chest tighten.

“What did you mean by only the dogs will remember me?” she asked in alarm.

Bonkers climbed up to the top of the crate and waited.

Now filled with terror, Caine began running as fast as she could with a wounded foot. As she hobbled away, she risked a glance backwards.

She saw Bonkers reach down and raise a bow and arrow. Placing the nock of the arrow into the bowstring, he pulled back, aiming at the fleeing Caine, and released. Looking ahead, she fought against the pain, trying to run faster.

Suddenly she heard the pop of the bow and felt a shooting pain in her side as the arrow pierced her right lung. Struggling to breath, she fell to the ground then watched in horror as Bonkers bent over and opened the crate.

Eight wild dogs tore from the open cage and headed straight for Caine. Too weak to rise, she covered her eyes as the dogs leapt on her.

Bonkers watched, his head tilted slightly to the side, and listened to Caine scream as the dogs tore at her. When her cries finally died down, Bonkers climbed down from the crate, removed the recorder from his pocket, and placed it on top the crate. Then from his other pocket, he pulled out a chess piece, the black queen, and centered it on top the recorder. Turning back to the truck, he slid the ramp back in place, climbed in the cab and drove away.

The Cadillac Diaries: Episode 82

Evelyn Caine watched as the last dancer left the stage to a shower of wolf whistles and lewd comments. Relaxed in her private booth, she turned her attention to the waitresses as they moved among the tables taking drink orders, private dance requests and calls for anything else the girls were supposed to peddle.

“Sheep, every one of them,” Caine sneered.

“Rich and generous sheep,” Ashton added as he approached. Ashton was Caine’s second-in-command, her head of security.

She had promoted him to the position after he effectively handled an internal affairs problem for her. One of her girls had decided to quit and settle down with Caine’s head of security at the time. Said they wanted to start a family.

“How boring,” Caine had thought.

When King called for an example to be made of them, Caine had sent Ashton to deal with it. His response was a private execution, murdering the family and setting their bodies on fire. King handled the cleanup, and loyalty went through the roof. Nobody crossed King after that. If you were in, you were in for life.

“That’s why we keep our sheep happy,” Caine said.

Evelyn Caine took a moment and admired Ashton’s tan, toned body. With her eyes, she traced the lines of his body until her eyes met his.

“We’ve know each other long enough, Ashton. When are you going to tell me your last name?” Caine asked.

“King’s the one who hired me. That’s up to him. I kind of like having just the one name. A bit mysterious,” he smiled.

“But I’m your boss,” Caine said coquettishly.

“If you want my last name, you’re going to have to force it out of me,” Ashton said playfully.

Caine cooed just as the lights went down and the crowd began to applaud.

“You think it’s true?” Caine asked.

“What’s that?” Ashton replied.

“The police were just here. They wanted to protect me from that clown that’s been on a killing spree,” Caine explained. “Rumor has it, he’s avenging the family I had you take care of.”

“Which family?” Ashton asked coolly.

“You know. That girl who used to dance here. I don’t remember her name, but her stage name was Amber,” Caine said.

“Oh her,” Ashton said.  “Honestly, who can say. I’ll tell you one thing, though. That clown’s not connected to the family. They’re gone. I saw to it myself.”

“So we’re safe?” Caine asked.

“Nothing to worry about. This place is locked up tight. Nobody’s getting in here tonight. Not even that killer clown,” Ashton smirked.

Caine snickered as music began to fill the club.

“Who’s up now?” Caine asked.

“Cinnamon,” Ashton replied.

“Cinnamon? No. The lighting’s not right,” Caine said.

“What are you talking about? The lights always go down,” Ashton argued.

“Not with Cinnamon,” Caine insisted. “She has poor night vision. The stage lights should be brighter, at least enough for her to see.”

Caine squinted, straining to see the dark stage. Just then a tall girl dressed in a skimpy sailor suit came rushing up to Caine’s booth. She was out of breath and angry.

“Cinnamon?” Caine exclaimed. “What are you doing up here? You’re supposed to be on stage.”

“That’s what I came to tell you,” Cinnamon said in between gasps. “I don’t know what’s going on. Somebody locked me in the dressing room and took my place on stage.”

Cinnamon turned and looked down at the stage.

“I don’t know who that is, but they’re going to pay,” she growled.

Caine felt her muscles tense as the music grew louder.

In sync with the music, the stage lights came on. Caine froze when she saw Captain Bonkers on stage holding an AK-47. Without a word, he sprayed the crowd with rounds, killing everyone near the stage before ejecting the clip after 10 seconds and loading a new one.

“We need to get you out of here now!” Ashton snapped, grabbing Caine’s arm.

“Get the girls out of here!” Ashton yelled to Cinnamon.

As Ashton grabbed Caine and headed for the back door of the club, he saw Bonkers empty a second clip then throw down the AK-47. Pulling out two pistols, Bonkers stepped down from the stage.

“Don’t worry! I always have a car waiting,” Ashton reassured Caine. “We’ll get you out before he can find you.”

When they reached the back door and found it locked, Ashton quickly tried his key but the lock wouldn’t budge.

He started pounding on the door and yelling.

“Drake! Drake! Open the door!”

No one responded so Ashton turned to Caine and ordered,

“Get to your office and lock the door!”

Ashton turned and headed back toward the stage.

Before Caine reached her office, she heard someone behind her say,

“You need to get out of here! It’s not safe!”

Turning toward the voice, she saw a girl with long red hair and eyes of two different colors.

“You!” Caine said just before the girl knocked her out.

 

*          *          *

 

His pistol leveled, Ashton crept back to the main room in search of Bonkers.

“I’m not afraid of you,” he announced, moving towards the front.

Just as he breached the front doorway, he stopped when he saw the carnage. Dead bodies were scattered all across the floor.  As his eyes darted back and forth, searching for Bonkers, he noticed the smell of gasoline.

“He killed everyone here?” Ashton asked in surprise.

Suddenly a gunshot rang out and pain tore up Ashton’s leg as he fell to the floor. When he touched the wound at the back of his knee, blood covered his hand.

Hearing someone approach, he turned to see Captain Bonkers standing over him. Before he could get off a shot, Bonkers had twisted the gun from his hand and struck him across the head.  In a daze, Ashton felt himself being dragged across the floor and up onto the stage. The smell of gasoline grew stronger.

When his head cleared, he saw that he was tied to a chair with Bonkers standing over him, staring at him with empty eyes.

“It’s you, isn’t it?” Ashton asked

Bonkers gave no answer.

“You know, your wife wasn’t much of a talker either. She used to just lie there,” Ashton cackled, trying to stir up Bonkers and make him lose control, weaken him.

Bonkers was unresponsive.

Trying again, Ashton laughed.

“I knew I should’ve stayed that night, but I had a date. She wasn’t even worth it, said she wanted to wait till she was married.”

Bonkers pulled out a pistol and held it steady on Ashton.

“So this is it, huh,” Ashton asked. “An eye for an eye? I shot and burned your family, so you’re going to do the same?”

Ashton laughed, “I guess that’s fair.”

Bonkers put the gun in his pocket and moved a few steps away. Twisting his head to watch, Ashton saw him pouring out gasoline in a line leading right up to the chair he was tied to.

Then Bonkers stood in front of Ashton holding the gas can.

“That’s cold,” Ashton said.  “Not even going to shoot me first? Just douse me and let me burn?”

Bonkers turned the gas can over and emptied it in front of Ashton, taking care not to splash any on his victim.

Then tossing the can to the side, Bonkers walked away leaving Ashton encircled by gasoline.

He stopped at the stage door, picked up a Molotov cocktail then lit the rag and threw it out into the seats.

As the fire quickly spread, Ashton yelled after him,

“I’ll tell your wife and kid you said hello.”

Suddenly Ashton’s laughter turned to screams as Bonkers kept walking.

Passing the dressing room, Bonkers stopped for a moment and looked at the padlocked door. He could hear the girls on the other side pounding and screaming to be let out while fire consumed the building.

As he exited the building through the back door which now stood open, he headed to a car parked just outside. Its driver lay dead on the pavement, and tied up in the back seat slumbered an unconscious Evelyn Caine unaware of the nightmare that awaited her.

Published in: on February 16, 2017 at 6:05 pm  Leave a Comment  
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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.

The Cadillac Diaries: Episode 80

At the east end of Sandpark Carnival, Higgins and Ford slowly made their way through the concession stands toward the center of the park.

“You know what this reminds me of?” Ford asked.

Before Higgins could respond, Ford answered his own question.

“This late movie I saw last week,” he shuddered.

“If you start jabbering about horror movies, I swear I will shoot you in the face,” Higgins growled.

“Sorry,” Ford replied, shrugging his shoulders.

“Everybody else got teamed with a professional. What did I get? A nut job who loves horror movies,” Higgins complained.

“Hey, wait a minute!” Ford returned.

“I’ll have you know I have survived lots of psychos and killers just by following what I learned from horror flicks,” Ford defended as his eyes traveled over the park.

When there was no answer, Ford glanced over at Higgins and saw that he was standing frozen to the spot, his rifle raised.

“What’s wrong?” Ford asked nervously.

“Shh!” Higgins whispered.

Nodding toward the House of Mirrors, he aimed the barrel of his rifle at the dimly lit entrance. Just inside the doorway stood Captain Bonkers, his soulless eyes watching the two men.

After a moment, he turned and disappeared inside.

“Come on!” Higgins said.

All at once, they heard a loud metallic sound like two metal lids repeatedly clapped together. Then suddenly it stopped.

“Wait!” Ford warned as Higgins cautiously moved towards the House of Mirrors. “It’s a trap! He wants us to follow him.”

“Stay here if you’re scared,” taunted Higgins.

Ford wanted to stick with his partner, but he knew Bonkers was baiting them.

“Higgins, he’s trying to draw you in! Don’t go in there, man!” Ford warned.

Convinced he could handle anything, Higgins kept coming after Bonkers until he passed the ticket booth and disappeared into the canvas tent.

“Forget it! I’m out of here!” Ford said, heading in the direction of the park entrance.

After only a few steps, the repetitive metallic sound started again. His gut told him to keep going, but something about the sound drew him in. He had to know what it was.

Weaving his way through the empty concession stands, Ford moved toward the sound. Up ahead he saw that the noise was coming from a small food trailer. The faded red paint said that french fries, funnel cakes, and sausage dogs had been on the menu. The door stood open, and after he looked around, he stepped inside. Two nickel-plated fryer baskets were stacked on the counter beside a couple of deep fryers and rusted salt and pepper shakers resting on their sides. Just behind the fryers, Ford saw a cymbal-banging monkey toy bobbing its head and chattering as it clapped its cymbals together.

“Why are you still running?” he asked.

When he reached over the fryers for the toy, he stopped mid-air. Both fryers were full of boiling oil. Someone had turned them on.

Suddenly overpowered with fright, Ford fought to think rationally. In the small trailer, he could not raise his rifle in time, so he pulled out his pistol with his left hand and spun around, extending his arm in the process.
Standing behind him was Captain Bonkers. Stunned, Ford watched as Bonkers caught his left arm then seized the back of his head. For a moment, the world seemed to move in slow motion. A second later, he felt his face being driven into the boiling oil.

Ford dropped his pistol, desperately clawing at the hands that held him down. When Bonkers finally released him, Ford brought his hands up to his disfigured face and tried to scream.

Bonkers watched for a moment as his victim agonized then he pulled out a pistol and shot Ford once in the head, turning to leave as the body hit the floor.

* * *

When Higgins came to, the back of his head was throbbing. He remembered entering the House of Mirrors. Someone had struck him from behind then tased him as he was going down.

After his blurred vision cleared, he saw that he was sitting on one of the merry-go-round horses.

His head, feet and waist were bound, each to a different rope, and his hands were cuffed to the horse’s neck. While he struggled to get free, he discovered the ropes had been wound around different horses then brought back to the center of the merry-go-round.

All of a sudden, a bell sounded and the ride began slowly to turn as the loud shrill of calliope music played and the lights flashed. Higgins panicked when he realized that with each revolution, the ropes grew tighter. Fighting to free himself, he knew that in a matter of moments, he would be torn apart.

Just as the ride began to increase speed, the power went out slowing the merry-go-round to a stop. Breathing a sigh of relief, Higgins rested his head on the horse’s neck.

“Must have blown a fuse,” he thought.

But when he lifted his head, the music started again and the lights came back on as the ride turned.

Standing in front of the horse that held Higgins was Captain Bonkers.

When he looked into Bonkers’ eyes, he saw they were two different colors. Funny what you notice when you’re about to die.

“Let me go, you freak! I am a police officer! You can’t keep me tied up!” Higgins yelled.

Bonkers turned, stepped down to the ground and slowly walked away, leaving Higgins to his fate.

* * *

When Ray finally reached the Shadow Serpent roller coaster, he let his eyes wander up to the top of the massive beast. At the top of the first hill, he spotted Rebecca Conrad. She looked so small and frail. Ray found a maintenance ladder and began climbing up to her, leaving behind an anxious Pete whimpering and pawing at the rungs.

After an exhausting climb, Ray reached the top. The wind pushed him to the side as it swept across the metal rails. Holding tightly to the ladder, he waited until it passed then stepped off and walked over to Rebecca.

“Well, I’m here,” he said.

“This was the one ride that scared my daughter,” Rebecca said, a sorrowful faraway look in her eyes. “Before she died, the only thing I was afraid of was heights.”

“Don’t do this,” Ray pleaded. “I know you miss your child, but without your testimony, any case against King will fall apart. Everything we have is circumstantial, and your suicide won’t help.”

“Have you ever lost anyone?” Rebecca asked as though she had not heard him.

Ray hesitated then said, “My wife.”

“That’s not the same though,” Rebecca said. “Losing a child is like losing a part of yourself. It’s as though someone reached inside you and ripped out your soul. There’s no life left in me. All I want is to be with her. “

Just then he heard the wind coming toward them again. He tightened his grip on the maintenance platform and lowered his head against the force.

“David doesn’t understand,” Rebecca continued. “He’s become consumed by his need for vengeance. He’s got a hole in his heart like I do, but he thinks he can fill his by getting revenge.”

When she slowly turned her face toward Ray, he saw that her eyes were swollen and streaked with makeup as tears ran down her cheeks.

“I promised myself I wouldn’t cry. I wanted to look my best for my baby, but I couldn’t even do that right,” she laughed bitterly.

She turned away from Ray and again looked off in the distance.

“There’s a trash can near the ladder you used to get up here. Inside it you’ll find a satchel containing everything I have on Bradford King.”

“I’m not leaving you,” Ray insisted.

“It’s time for you to go,” she said. “He’s here.”

At first, Ray didn’t see anyone, but when he turned, there was Captain Bonkers, his pistol raised as he silently waited.

Before Ray could respond, Captain Bonkers struck him with the pistol sending Ray unconscious to the track.

Turning her back to Bonkers, Rebecca said,

“Before you do this, I have one request. David doesn’t understand. He won’t let go. You must free him or he’ll become more and more consumed by his anger.”

Rebecca looked down at the ground and saw David staring up at her in horror. He was yelling her name over and over.

She smiled and whispered,

“I love you, David.”

“NO!” David yelled.

It was the last sound she heard.

The Cadillac Diaries: Episode 79

David Crandall hurried from one of his daughter’s favorite rides to another as he searched for Rebecca. So far, he had checked two but seen no sign of her. In the distance, he saw the Shadow Serpent looming over the carnival grounds. The large ride was the one attraction his daughter would not go near. It frightened her so much that when they drove past the park at night, she would close her eyes and say,

“Tell me when it’s gone, Daddy.”

Crandall had to admit the mammoth roller coaster did look terrifying. As the neon lights flashed and glowed, the soft moonlight cast a deep shadow, bathing the serpent’s head in darkness. After a moment of gazing up at the steel monster, he shook his head clear, telling himself it was the threat of Bonkers that made the place seem nightmarish. Little to do with the rides or the memory. But as the whistles of the calliope music seemed to fade away and the air grow silent and heavy, he felt himself becoming uneasy, unsure of himself.

“Am I being watched? Has Bonkers killed everyone and it’s down to me?” he thought.

Suddenly a cat bolted from a nearby trashcan, knocking it over as it bounded across the ground and disappeared behind a ticket booth.

Crandall jumped, clutching his chest.

“Stinking cat!” he cursed.

Just then his phone rang.

Reaching into his jacket pocket, he pulled out his cell and saw that it was Rebecca calling.

“Sweetheart, where are you?” he asked. “Captain Bonkers is here in the park. I can get you out safely but only if you tell me where you’re hiding.”

There was a long pause on the other end. Crandall could hear Rebecca breathing.

“I’m tired, David,” she finally said. “So tired.”

“Then let me get you out of here to some place safe so you can rest,” Crandall pleaded.

“I’m tired of going through the motions,” she wept. “I’m tired of missing my little girl. Tired of living without her.”

Crandall held his breath, frightened of what Rebecca might say next.

“Are you tired of me?” he finally asked.

“I never stopped loving you, David,” she said, “but I lost you. I lost you to King.”

“I never left, honey,” Crandall replied.

“Physically maybe. All I wanted to do was sit and miss my little girl. But all you wanted to do was save the world,” Rebecca said.

“What’s wrong with wanting to save the world?” Crandall asked.

“There’s nothing left for me in the world,” Rebecca replied.

“I couldn’t just sit back and give up. I miss her as much as you do, but I decided to live, make the world a better place. That’s what she would have wanted,” Crandall reasoned.

Crandall waited silently for Rebecca to respond. He knew she needed time.

“It’s that fighting spirit of yours I fell in love with. Funny,” she sighed. “In the end, it was the very thing that drove us apart.”

After a pause, she pleaded, “Please, my love, stop fighting. The harder you fight, the deeper the world sinks its claws into you. Don’t become a monster trying to stop one.”

“I won’t give up on you!” Crandall insisted.

“I love you too,” Rebecca said.

Before he could respond, the line went dead.

Overcome with frustration, Crandall pulled back his arm to throw the phone but stopped, deciding to shove it into his pocket instead.

“I’m not going to give up,” he protested.

His resolve renewed, Crandall started towards the kid rides and petting zoos.

“She always loved the baby goats,” he said, smiling at the sweet memory.

* * *

Ray had almost reached the Shadow Serpent when his phone rang. Before it rang a second time, he quickly pulled it out of his pocket and answered it.

“Yes?” Ray greeted the caller, keeping his voice low.

“Ray, I’m at the entrance of Sandpark Carnival and guess what I don’t see?” Richard Clay asked.

“That’s not how the game works. I’m supposed to guess what you do see. Now call me back and let’s try again,” Ray teased.

“Raymond!” Richard barked. “Why aren’t you here at the front gate waiting for me as I ordered?”

Ray paused then said,

“Well I was going to wait, just like you said, but Pete refused so I had to follow him.”

“Funny. I’m coming in to get you. And by the way, I called Deborah so have fun with that! Where are you anyway?” Richard asked.

Raymond looked up at the top of the Shadow Serpent. It was about a block away.

“I’m at the big rollercoaster, the Shadow Serpent.”

“Okay. Stay there. I’m coming to get you. I don’t want anything happening to you. I have my orders. I am to deliver you safely to Deborah so she can kill you herself,” Richard said.

“Understood,” Ray replied.

“I’m serious, Ray!” Richard complained.

“Just be careful,” Ray warned before ending the call.

Ray put the phone away and looked at Pete.

“Lead on. We need to move!”

Pete snorted then started in a trot towards the Shadow Serpent.

“Hold up,” Ray said, hurrying after him.

* * *

Moore and Seal leaned against the railing of one of the smaller roller coasters and waited.

“I’m not running through this park like some idiot in a horror movie,” Moore grumbled.

“Yeah,” Seal laughed. “Those horror movies only work because the people are stupid.”

“What kind of moron hears a creepy noise in the basement of an abandoned cabin and goes to look?” Moore asked, shaking his head.

“Right,” Seal agreed. “And if some shutdown mental institution is haunted, try using your brain and stay away. Common sense.”

Suddenly Seal saw movement out of the corner of his eye.

“What was that?” he asked, turning his head.

“I don’t know. Why don’t you go look while I get naked and take a shower?” Moore laughed, mocking a horror movie cliché.

Seal shrugged it off and settled back against the railing. A moment later, he saw movement again and jerked around in time to see a small white ball roll slowly to a stop a few feet away.

“What is that?” Seal asked.

“Go look,” Moore suggested, motioning toward the ball.

“You look,” Seal replied.

“Scared?” Moore teased, closing his tired eyes.

“You’re scared,” Seal threw back as he slowly approached the ball.

Stretching out his foot, he pushed the ball then turned it over. On the underside were written the words Ball Bounce.

“It’s nothing. Just a ball from one of those ball tossing games,” he said, bending over to pick up the ball.

When he turned around, he saw Moore leaning against the railing with his rifle on the ground. Both of his arms hung limply by his side.

“Moore?” Seal called out as he quickly dropped the ball and raised his rifle.

Moving closer, he saw blood pooling under Moore’s feet. A jagged piece of metal had been driven through his stomach, impaling him to the metal railing of the roller coaster.

Feeling the hair stand up on the back of his neck, Seal became aware of movement behind him. Before he could muster the courage to turn around, he was struck across the back of the head and slipped into blackness.

* * *

When Seal awoke, he squinted his eyes against the bright carnival lights. His head ached from the blow and his neck felt cold.

Straining to touch the wound on the back of his head, he saw that his hands had been bound. As he turned over, he was horrified to discover that the cold he felt around his neck was a thin wire fashioned like a noose. The other end of the wire was tied to one of the seats on a ride called the Falcon. The Falcon had a drop tower that flew up at almost 60 mph until it reached a height of 100 feet. Then it sat motionless for a few moments before free falling at the same speed it rose.

Seal’s heart raced, fear pumping adrenaline through his body, as he saw that standing by the lever of the Falcon was Captain Bonkers. Once Bonkers pulled that lever, the Falcon would begin to ascend, dragging Seal along with it.

“Please! Wait!” Seal pleaded.

Captain Bonkers cocked his head and stared at him through dead eyes. For a moment, Seal thought he might have a chance.

Then Captain Bonkers pulled the lever.

The last thing Seal heard was the hiss of compressed air just before the Falcon shot up.

Published in: on November 19, 2016 at 9:12 pm  Leave a Comment  
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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.

The Cadillac Diaries: Episode 77

Sandpark Carnival stood shadowy and still. Two years ago, the smooth cry of its persuasive barkers and the screams of its electrified patrons had been silenced. The ancient death-defying rides with their squeak and pop had slowed and ground to a halt. Now they rested in the scattered moonlight like giants, frozen in battle.

When Raymond Slats reached the front entrance gates, he saw that the locks were broken, rusted long ago.

As he stood at the gates trying to spot the roller coaster track, he remembered Rebecca Conrad’s chilling words.

“I know Bonkers is coming for me next. I know there’s no stopping him.”

Pity stirred in his heart at the tremor in her voice.

Suddenly his phone rang. When Ray slipped it out of his pocket, he noticed that the caller ID read “Unknown.” He decided to answer it anyway.

“Hello?”

“Slats, David Crandall. Look. All bets are off. I’m not going to bother hiding anymore. Yea, I work for King. So what. And yea he’s not a nice guy, but I don’t much care anymore. I’m only interested in my wife. I lost my daughter, and I’m not losing my wife too. I know Rebecca’s at Sandpark Carnival. It’s where we used to take our daughter on her birthday. I’m heading that way now and bringing every cop willing to work if the money’s right. At this point, it doesn’t matter to me if they’re on King’s payroll. They don’t know you, and I don’t care. This is a courtesy call, Slats. You stay out of this! I won’t warn you again.”

Before Ray could respond, Crandall ended the call. He pocketed his phone and looked down at Pete.

The eager pup was intently watching Ray, waiting for a command.

“What do you think, boy?” Ray asked.

Pete looked toward the gates then gave a low-pitched growl and a couple of slow barks.

“You sure?” Ray asked.

Pete kept his eyes on the gates as his ears moved forward to catch a sound.

Just then Ray’s phone rang again. He saw that it was Richard.

“Hey, Richard,” he answered. “How are you?”

“Tired, Ray. I feel like I’m chasing my tail,” Richard sighed.

“Kane?” Ray asked.

“Something doesn’t make sense, Ray. Kane was locked inside a panic room with the door sealed shut. We just now managed to get the door open, and. . . ,” Richard paused, “. . .he’s dead, Ray. Explain that to me. How can someone all alone locked behind a six-inch steel door and bullet-resistant glass be murdered?”

“Bonkers must have been waiting inside the room,” Ray suggested.

“What are we dealing with here, Ray?” Richard asked.

Ray thought for a moment then said, “Someone who’s had a long time to plan his revenge.”

Richard let out a long, loud breath.

“Well at least you’re safe. That’s one less thing Deborah can hound me about.”

“Well. . . ,” Ray trailed off.

“What?” Richard groaned.

Pete looked up at Ray and barked,

“Harr-ruff!”

“Pete says hi,” Ray laughed.

“Ray, where are you?”

“I don’t want to say. You’ll just yell at me,” Ray teased.

“Ray, either tell me or I’ll let you explain yourself to Deborah,” Richard threatened.

“I’m at Sandpark Carnival,” Ray confessed.

“Ray, you know that place is a haven for drug addicts and homeless psychos,” Richard scolded.

“Right now it’s where I’m supposed to meet Rebecca Conrad,” Ray said.

“Crandall’s ex-wife?” Richard asked. “Why is she there?”

“She’s next on Bonkers’ list and she knows it. Before Bonkers kills her, she wants to hand over everything she has on King. She was his bookkeeper,” Ray explained.

“Ray, get out of there!” Richard demanded. “I don’t want you involved in this anymore.”

“I don’t have a choice, Richard. David Crandall already called me. Said he’s headed this way with an army. He’s going to shoot anyone who isn’t his wife,” Ray said.

“Everything is spinning out of control,” Richard growled.

“Why do people always say that just before the end?” Ray wondered aloud.

“Ray, this is an order! Stay out of there! I’m on my way!”

Suddenly the line went dead.

Ray knew he should listen, but Richard was over in Coldwater, a good thirty-minute drive to Whitelake. Even if he floored it, he’d never make it in time. Ray knew what he had to do. He bent down to Pete and scratched him behind the ears.

“Buddy, promise me if things go south, you’ll run for help.”

Pete sat still with no response.

“Please?” Ray asked. “I need to know you’ll be okay.”

When Ray stood up, Pete snorted then ran through the open gate into Sandpark Carnival.

“Okay then,” Ray said opening the gate and following him in.

* * *

David Crandall pulled to a stop just outside the gate to Sandpark Carnival. When he climbed out of his car, he spotted Slats’ black Cadillac.

“I’m getting sick of that car and the old man!” he told himself.

He stood in the pale mix of moonlight and dull street lamps as he looked out over the park. For a moment, he could hear the rush and clack of the roller coaster.

“Daddy, Daddy! I want to ride!” his daughter squealed.

Suddenly the night’s breeze blew through his hair, taking with it the sweet memory.

Now the park looked like a nightmare’s paradise, but he knew all about nightmares and monsters and demons. Not even they would stop him from saving Rebecca.

Just then three cars pulled up at the gate and a handful of men got out. Crandall knew some from the police force. Others were ex-military. Each man wore a bulletproof vest and carried an automatic rifle.

“Okay. You know the rules. There’s a woman somewhere in there,” Crandall said, pointing toward the grounds. “I don’t care what you do to anyone else, but she is not to be harmed. Is that clear?”

Some of the men shook their heads while others gave no response.

“Burn the place down if it suits you. We’re not cops tonight. We’re hunters,” he said.

One of the men raised his hand and asked,

“What about the clown?”

“Shoot on sight. Don’t let the clown mask fool you. This guy’s dangerous. Another thing. There’s an old man, a P.I., in there. Name’s Raymond Slats. You find him, let me know. I want to shoot him myself,” Crandall said.

As he looked over the men, Crandall decided that letting them go solo was a bad idea.

“Higgins, you and Ford start at the east end of the park at the concessions and move in towards the center. More, you and Seal start on the west side with the offices and move inward. Newton, you and Price start on the north side that’s directly opposite the gate, and I’ll start here. Check everything. Oh and forget what I said earlier about Slats. Shoot anything that isn’t my wife,” Crandall instructed.

“Go!” he ordered.

After the men moved out into the park, Crandall checked his pistol and shotgun then slipped inside the gate. He would fight the devil himself if it meant saving his wife.

* * *

Standing on a maintenenance platform atop the highest part of the Shadow Serpent, Rebecca Conrad waited. Ever since the death of her daughter, she had felt dead inside. That day, all the color and music went out of the world. Only one thing kept her from killing herself. She wanted to be certain Bradford King paid for his crimes, paid for the families he had destroyed. She knew everything, every dirty secret. After her daughter died, she had divorced David and gone to work for King, a man far worse than the monster who had murdered her daughter. King took advantage of her grief and used it to entrap her so deeply in his business that every day she felt like she was drowning. When word of a Captain Bonkers spread through the city, she had felt relief. Here was a comic book clown, making his way through King’s army, killing anyone connected to King by even the frailest of threads.

Finally her pain would end and she would be with her daughter. Once she was sure Bonkers was successful, she had contacted Raymond Slats. She knew he could be trusted.

Now as she waited for her meeting with him, she looked out over the park from its highest point and saw David and his men spread out like a small army, moving through the park searching for her. He had come to save her even though he knew she didn’t want to be saved.

“He was never good at listening,” she laughed under her breath.

Somewhere out there in the dark was Raymond Slats. She had seen him pull up to the gates in his black car shortly before David arrived. She would give the evidence to Slats then wait almost eagerly for the clown.

Captain Bonkers wasn’t a murderer. He was her angel of mercy, come to send her home to her baby girl. She smiled as a light breeze blew through her hair. She was tired but in just a little while, she could rest.