[untitled]‘s new Choose Your Own Adventure continues! In “Ray Delaney & the Cape Cod [noun]”, our PI protagonist is investigating the death of his nephew Eddie, and has stumbled across a spate of mysterious murders happening on the Cape. With no suspects and no motive, how will Ray crack this one? And will he beat Agent Link to the punch? Check back each Wednesday for a new chapter! And if you haven’t already, take a look at [untitled]’s sister site, PULPable, with a new post on Choose Your Own Adventures!
he Elderthorns deserved it – ask Detective Hadley. Drop the case. Or Private Eye becomes Private Die!
There was no signature. Just letters, cut haphazardly from newspaper headlines, rearranged into words, and pasted to an ordinary sheet of paper. The large, ornate letter T that began the note – T for Threat, thought Delaney – was frayed at the edges. So were Delaney’s nerves.
He folded the note and stuffed it into his pocket. Standing at the hot drinks station just beyond the reception desk, he sipped hotel lobby coffee that tasted like the underside of a bus. His eyes flitted between the different figures idling near the revolving doors. Outside, slants of rain popped against the glass.
Delaney reversed out of the parking lot minutes later, glancing in the rear view mirror. A curtain of rain turned the outline of the hotel into a barcode, and then into white static. The Elderthorns deserved it – ask Detective Hadley. As much as his gut lurched every time he spoke to his brother-in-law, even Bob Elderthorn didn’t deserve to outlive his own son.
His foot hit the accelerator, and tires spat water onto the sidewalks. Malmouth police station was just a five minute drive away. It was time to meet Detective Hadley.
* * *
ou’re Sergeant Silas Hadley?”
“I’m Ray Delaney, Eddie Elderthorn’s uncle.” They shook hands.
“Oh, I’m… I’m very sorry for what happened. The investigation is still ongoing – we’ll let you know once we have some more information.” He made to turn away.
Silas raised an eyebrow, asked: “What would you be doing out there, Mr. Delaney?”
They took seats around Silas’ desk, Delaney feeling as though he were on the wrong side of the table. Pulling out his PI license, he explained why he was on the Cape, how he had found the CD recording in Eddie’s desk, and how a mysterious figure had tucked a note with Hadley’s name on it under the windshield wiper of his car.
Clearly, Silas said, someone was out to implicate him. “I hardly knew your nephew. Or their parents.”
Delaney looked at Hadley. With his thin frame and crooked nose, he was an unlikely detective. Silas had maybe a few years on him, his cheekbone bristles peppered with a little more grey than Delaney’s own five o’clock shadow. The note, he figured, was pure obfuscation. Incriminate both the investigator and the victim’s family.
“Whoever’s trying to get me off their back,” Delaney said, “has something to hide. Any idea who might have wasted their evening cutting up a Boston Globe?”
The station doors swung open and a gust of wind puffed into the room. Agent Link strode through right after it.
“I think I may have an inkling, Mr. Delaney.”
* * *
ruised puffball clouds were obscuring the morning sunlight. Silas had told Delaney about Agent Link and his mysterious informant as he walked Delaney to his car. They agreed to meet later at the hotel, Silas ensuring Delaney that he would somehow make a copy of Link’s ID badge. Delaney didn’t know what to do, so told Silas he’d make some calls. A line he often used with clients.
After a lunch with the Elderthorns that consisted mainly of laconic conversation over cups of coffee, Delaney decided to head back to the hotel and wait for Silas. As the Buick pulled out of their driveway, the speckles of rain had started again, and he felt uneasy beneath the grey sky.
Several seconds of pressing the accelerator into the footwell, and the storm began to worsen. The pop-plip of water on the car’s roof soon turned into a steady stream, and the windshield wipers could hardly keep the rain away from the glass. The odometer, he realised, was still hovering between 35 and 40, despite how far his foot was buried into the carpet beneath the pedals; the breeze outside had turned into a gushing wind that was pushing against the nose of the car.
His knuckles whitened slowly against the steering wheel, as though he were turning into a ghost. His stomach churned. The harder he pressed against the wheel, the more the rain obscured his view, and the stronger the wind pushed against the Buick’s hood. About to lift his foot from the pedal, the car spun amid a waterfall of squeals and crunches, and, for a brief moment, Delaney thought that he too was about to be flipped upside down, crushed between cold steel and the wet vinyl roof.
He pushed the driver’s door open and clambered inelegantly out. Rain sloshed over his feet. Delaney circled the car, scanning the street for some sign, some clue as to why the car had skidded. Then he looked up, and saw an outline of a man, the same outline that he had seen last night at Devil’s Point, several hundred feet behind him. He was starting to wonder if this silhouette might be behind the Cape Cod [noun].