“Ray Delaney & the Filial Blade” bursts onto the scene, with Delaney forming an unlikely alliance in pursuit of femme fatale and vicious murderess Candy Sussman. So vote on the outcome of Chapter VI to determine how the final four chapters play out! And remember to tune in next Wednesday for more!
Chapter VI: Three’s A Crowd
Delaney was tired of voicemails. He breathed into his cellphone: “Conrad Sussman’s dead. Knife wound to the chest, prints say we have a patricide on our hands. Call me back after you’ve figured out what that means.” Click.
LaSalle called him back. Beneath a street vendor’s awning at Park Street, he listened to LaSalle spill a night’s worth of incarcerated anxieties into his ear, and the detective was a little closer to the truth.
He and Candy had been engaged, Ms. Sussman due to inherit her father’s estate just outside of Raleigh. She had fled their engagement (or perhaps, Delaney thought, her father), hiring Ms. Sharp as protection. From whom, Delaney was still uncertain. LaSalle did not seem to pose a great threat, nor had Conrad Sussman. But Sharp had subsequently approached LaSalle with a deal: she would play both sides of the fence, would help reunite the pair, and in return LaSalle would remunerate her well when he and Candy inherited Sussman’s fortune.
“And the blade – it was always Candy’s?”
LaSalle paused. “That’s right… Candy had Ms. Sharp claim that I’d planted it in her room, that I was threatening her.”
“But that was before you and Sharp were sharing a sleeping bag, before your deal?”
“Uh-huh.” He sounded tired. “To get me off their back…”
The cogs in Delaney’s head were working overtime. “Listen, LaSalle: don’t tell Sharp you’re speaking with me. Come to my office in an hour. We need to find Candy before she blows town with Conrad’s millions.”
* * *
With the tick-tack of patent leather shoes, Charles LaSalle stepped into Delaney’s office. Two steps behind was Ms. Sharp.
“Hate to tell you, Charlie, but I think you were tailed,” Delaney snarled at LaSalle. His eyes were fixed on Catherine Sharp.
“I’m sorry, I…”
“My client,” Sharp interrupted, “turned out to be a murderess. When the cops come calling, I want to be on the right side of this little…” She twirled a finger, encompassed Delaney’s office with the gesture. “Fracas.”
LaSalle looked confused. Kid could really use a dictionary, thought Delaney.
Sharp’s sources at Boston PD had confirmed Delaney’s reports: the fingerprints on the switchblade, bloody scarlet swirls, were Candice Sussman’s. Both he and Sharp had already contacted the Hotel Marlowe and been informed that the Sussman party had checked out that morning.
“The murder was no accident, no act of passion,” Sharp moved gracefully across the room and sat on Delaney’s desk. “Candy planted the body in your Buick, slashed your tires to keep you from driving off with daddy in the trunk. Calculated.”
Delaney wondered how she knew so much about the scene of the crime. The sheepish look on LaSalle’s face was all the answer he needed. He circled the desk and opened a drawer, tossed three crisp one hundreds to his client, and said: “I don’t need your money any more. I need your help.”
“I need a drink,” LaSalle muttered.
“And,” finished Delaney, turning to Sharp. “I need your car.”
* * *
The Chevrolet gleamed silver in the sunlight over the Charles River. Sharp was driving, LaSalle in back. Delaney was far too comfortable in the passenger seat. The Marlowe was their last point of contact, was where the trail had disappeared beneath bodies and blades. Delaney smiled into the rear view mirror as they entered Cambridge. “Charlie, you’re about to earn your keep.”
LaSalle hopped tentatively out when they reached the hotel, walked towards the doors as though stepping over broken glass. Five minutes later he returned, drops of sweat beading his forehead. “The concierge was on duty this morning. Remembers Candy asking directions to South Station.”
“Did you tell them you were Candy’s fiance?” Sharp asked. He shook his head.
Delaney said: “Any indication of what time her train might have been?” Another shake.
Ten minutes later they were parked in a lot behind the station. They couldn’t know when Candy’s train might be leaving, or where it might be going, but their last chance was to sweep the place, to hope that they could find a trace of her presence. Sharp would approach vendors and personnel, LaSalle kept watch at the entrance and scanned the faces coming in and out, and Delaney headed to the platforms to examine the crowds bustling around the trains.
Steam rose and twisted into nothingness around the carriages on platforms three and four. New York and Washington, DC blinked on the monitors above Delaney’s head. He gamboled alongside the New York train, skipping around suitcases trailing obliviously behind businessmen and women, until he reached the end of the platform. It tapered slowly into the tracks. Nothing.
He glimpsed Sharp around the end of the DC train and she shook her head. Convening back inside the station, she asked: “Could she be on one of the trains alread…?”
Delaney wasn’t listening, said: “Where’s Charlie-boy?”
They squeezed between a rush of bodies that had just exited the subway. Standing in the entrance to South Station Delaney saw, for the first time, that he had seriously underestimated their North Carolinian friend.