Full of thrills and spills, the next chapter of “Ray Delaney & the Filial Blade” brings our eponymous hero face to face with femme fatale Candy Sussman in a chase across Boston and Cambridge. Remember to vote at the end of the chapter to decide Delaney’s fate, and tune in next Wednesday for more!
Chapter VII: See How They Run
Everything distilled in an instant. Her lips curved in a gentle arc, eyes fixed upon his. In the crook of Candy’s arm lay LaSalle’s hand.
Then she looked away and the cloud around Delaney’s head dispelled.
Candy was climbing into a sleek German car in front of South Station. LaSalle hopped around the hood toward the driver’s side. For a moment Delaney did not move. Candy’s gaze remained burned on the inside of his eyelids, LaSalle’s sudden betrayal felt like the last drink of the night. The one that scorched your insides when it should have quelled the fire in your belly.
“Shit!” Sharp tugged on Delaney’s suit jacket. His crumpled linen sleeve went with her, followed shortly by the rest of him. Sharp was wrestling with something in her pocket, tugging on it as she ran out of the station and down the sidewalk. A gun.
“Charles,” she yelled. Passersby turned, gazed. A woman screamed. A man burdened with plastic shopping bags dropped his groceries to run across the street, and a dozen eggs cracked and rolled into the gutter.
The narrow barrel of a Luger aimed at his chest, LaSalle’s face fell. Even with a valid license, Delaney knew that Ms. Sharp wouldn’t fire. Take one pot-shot as a P.I. and you were in the D.A.’s office the next day, out of a job the day after that. But LaSalle didn’t know this. Swiveling, he bolted around the car, head ducked, and ran until an alleyway swallowed him.
As Sharp began to pursue LaSalle, Delaney saw the floral print of Candy’s dress spring from the passenger seat and float into the entrance to South Station. She was heading for the escalator to the subway, back toward Cambridge. Delaney tumbled down the escalator after her, knowing that she would be trapped, underground and alone.
* * *
The Red Line train had rolled to a halt, speckled with dust from its last venture above ground. Dorchester dust, Delaney thought. He stepped in, scanning the length of the platform to his right at the same time. Nothing. He walked the length of the car, looked as inconspicuous as a tarantula on a slice of angel food. Still nothing.
At the next stop he got out and made his way to the next carriage. Shoppers and tourists, nasty overhead halogens and Delaney’s foggy vision made it difficult to see anything in the bustle of people on the platform.
He climbed into the next car. Looked to the left. To the right… There she was. At the end of the train car, Candy was hopping out as the subway doors kissed shut. Just feet away and he had missed her. He would have to grab her at the next station.
Downtown Crossing faded into the blackness of the subway tunnel. After a minute, Park Street’s platform appeared, seemed to go on forever before the train slowed to a stop. Delaney exited at the head of the carriage and jogged up the platform. He saw her above the fray – slide-rule straight hair and a red and yellow print dress – stepping out and running towards the front of the train.
As the doors were closing, he slid and squeezed himself between the last set of doors on the first carriage. At the other end of the wide but sparsely populated train, was Candy Sussman. He had her, captive, contained. She ventured a smile and stepped towards Delaney.
“Ray,” she said. Her voice smoky like a speakeasy.
Delaney was breathing heavily. “You’re trapped, Candy. Can’t go anywhere from here.”
Softly: “Neither can you, Ray.”
Delaney exhaled. “Why a body in my trunk?”
“We’ve all got baggage.” She swayed with the movement of the subway, then said: “So you’re going to arrest me, is that it, Ray?”
“I can’t arrest you, Ms. Sussman. I’m a meager P.I. But I can dial 911 with the best of them.”
Her smile slipped and, beneath the make-up and the sallow skin Delaney could see the cold calculation it must have taken to plant a knife in her father’s chest, to bundle his body into the trunk of a Buick like so much dead wood. He was sure that she was smarter than him. And, worse, she was right. If he tried to detain her, she would cry wolf. And were their fellow passengers more likely to believe the beautiful young woman, or the unkempt, crumpled, middle-aged detective as they tumbled out at the next station?
The next station. That was it. In a flare of sunlight, the Boston skyline appeared to their left, glinting like a savior in concrete and steel. They were above ground, the train slowing until the blurred colors on the platform formed red and white letters reading Charles/MGH.
Delaney pulled out his cellphone and dialed. Candy skipped to the other end of the train car with a crooked frown across her face, and pressed a hand against the doors. As the subway stopped, they shunted open.
Giving chase as she ran to the steps leading to street level, an emergency services operator spoke calmly into his ear. “Police,” he panted. “Charles/MGH station, right away.” She was taking the steps two-by-two, as though afraid they would concertina into themselves beneath her.
But as Delaney flipped his phone shut, his creased leather loafer slipped from beneath his right foot, and he floated for an instant – the crystal vision of Candy fleeing the station below him – before the hard surface of his pelvic bone hit the harder surface of the steps with a bone-crashing thud.
As he pulled himself up, she was exiting the station. Delaney knew what he needed to do.