After a tie in last week‘s vote, Ray Delaney begins to unearth clues and signs in the death of his nephew, Eddie, on a Cape Cod highway. At the end of the chapter, place your vote to determine what happens in the following week’s installment of “Ray Delaney & the Cape Cod [noun]“!
ddie’s bedroom was directly above the Elderthorns’ kitchen. Windows facing south and east looked out onto white crests breaking against the evening shore, while inside, lost in a tiny bubble of his own, Delaney trod the creaking floorboards of his nephew’s room. Janet’s voice perforated the dropped ceiling tiles one floor below and hummed around him.
Five years his senior, Janet had married Bob Elderthorn, a real estate broker with a grey mustache that looked like a well-worn shoe shine brush, almost twenty years ago. Bob and Delaney had never liked one another. On this point, at least, they agreed.
That afternoon, his tone unchanged even in tragedy, Bob had greeted Delaney with a terse: “Raymond.”
“Robert,” Delaney had replied. He had then hugged Janet and divested himself of his overcoat.
His nephew’s room was, on police orders, strictly out of bounds. Delaney had headed straight upstairs. A handkerchief now hugged his palm as he extracted from beneath a pile of school books a thin plastic CD case. The disc inside was unremarkable but for the word COPY scrawled on it in Sharpie. Lain so conspicuously hidden underneath in a desk drawer, and under several school books, Delaney was certain that it was important.
Later, downstairs, dinner was blanketed in silence, and the strange darkness set in around the Elderthorns’ house.
* * *
he Cape air was thick with intrigue and doubt. Detective Silas Hadley watched as the woman with the vulpine features and the dress that hugged to her hourglass hips strode into his police station. Two officers flanked her. After flashing a badge he didn’t have time to read, she said:
“S’right,” he replied.
“I need your station.”
“For the foreseeable future.” She looked around. In her right hand was a small plastic box, buttons across its top, a transparent window on the front. A dictaphone.
Behind his desk, Silas mustered something approaching indignation. “This may only be Malmouth, Massachusetts,” he said. “But this is still my station. Who are you? Who do you work for? The staties?”
The woman smiled, and her teeth shone under the halogen lights. “I’m with the FBI. Special Agent Link.” She placed the dictaphone on the table top. “Get this transcribed for me, would you, Sergeant?”
* * *
howl of air whipped the hood as Delaney’s Buick rattled along the street. He slid the disc into the CD slot and pressed PLAY. The low hum of the engine and the whistle of Atlantic were suddenly accompanied by a voice. Eddie’s voice, set to the familiar soundtrack of the ocean waves. Delaney grimaced in the rear view mirror as his nephew spoke.
I’m [crunching of stones]… I’m at Devil’s Point. It’s still in the cave. I thought the sea might have washed it out, but it’s, like, stuck on the rocks or something. [Pause]. I think it’s – well, he’s dead. He looks young. [A sniff, then static].
The same Cape air, brisk and almost salty to the touch, surrounded Malmouth Police Station as Delaney was making his way to his hotel. Silas had left a message with an acquaintance at the FBI office in Boston – he wanted to check on Agent Link’s pedigree – and then sat down to transcribe the tape. At intervals, he glanced across at Link, who had settled into a desk chair in the corner and was speaking into a cellphone.
When he idled toward the woman with the transcript in hand and said, “this is evidence in an ongoing inquiry,” she drew the phone away from her ear saying, “I’ll call you back.”
“A boy was found dead at Devil’s Point beach about a month ago,” Silas explained. “It’s a mile and half from here, looked like he drowned.”
Agent Link snatched the paper from Silas’ hands, and read:
… I think it’s – well, he’s dead. He looks young. Shit… I need to get to Boston, to uncle Ray. [Wind grows louder]. What the… [Footsteps on stones, voice gasps for air, a sound like chattering teeth]. No, I… It’s… [The click of a dictaphone button]. Okay, I think it’s gone. Looked like a cloud, or a storm. It seemed to be following me. It must have been drawn to the… to the body. [Static.]
“Doesn’t sound so much like an accident anymore, does it?” Agent Link raised an eyebrow.
The wind outside Delaney’s car seemed meagre by comparison to the hiss of dead air, the crunches and desperate breaths on the disc. Eddie Elderthorn had died trying to bring this recording to him; he had to find out what had happened at Devil’s Point, and more importantly, what had happened to Eddie. This had been no traffic accident.