“Ray Delaney & the Cape Cod Curse” hits full stride this week, as Delaney begins to track down the mysterious figure who has been hounding him out of Malmouth, Massachusetts. Are they responsible for Eddie Elderthorn’s death? Who is Agent Link? And can Delaney trust Detective Hadley? Read the latest installment and decide for yourself! Remember to vote, and to return each Wednesday for a new chapter.
“Call me Silas.”
“Ray, you look a little worse for wear. If you don’t mind my saying so.”
Delaney nodded, and as Silas took a seat he flagged down a waiter to order cheap bourbon. The hotel bar was like the embers of a fine cigar, its grandeur burned up into dust.
“You know why whiskey’s always been a detective’s drink?” he said. Silas shook his head. “The glass is always half-empty.”
Delaney told Silas about the incident on the drive back from the Elderthorns, how he had seen the same silhouetted outline on the road behind him, standing idle in the rain, the same outline from Devil’s Point. Silas nodded sagely and asked the returning waiter for a glass of iced tea. “Apart from the anonymous note, there’s no evidence, nothing we can use to trace this guy, to find out who he is.”
“Definitely a man?”
“So at least we can be sure it’s not Miss Anna Carmilla.” Silas sighed, and pulled from his pocket a crumpled photocopy that he lay on the table. “Agent Link’s badge. As promised.”
Delaney picked up the xeroxed image. A black and white version of the woman he had seen at the police station stared up at him, with the name Carmilla, Anna K. printed beside it. The title Special Agent preceded her date of birth and sex in a narrow column to the left; on the right hand side a crest featuring a black eagle read United States Secret Service, Division 21.
“Secret Service?” said Delaney. “You could be in jail right now, Silas.”
“She went out for a smoke.” The policeman smiled and his face contorted. “When one door closes, another opens.”
Neither Delaney nor Silas knew what Division 21 might be. But at least, Delaney thought, they had a name. Special Agent Anna Carmilla.
* * *
dging toward unconsciousness later that night, Delaney had visions of a black nothingness in the shape of a man, a man who was climbing in through his hotel window and chloroforming him out of existence. But before sleep took hold, he was woken by a polite rapping at the door. He climbed out of bed, and thought of his gun. His gun, which lay in a filing cabinet in back in Boston.
“Yes?” he called out.
“Ray? It’s me, it’s Janet.”
He exhaled and pulled the door open. His sister, a false dolphin smile pasted to the bottom of her face, stepped into the room. “You need a shave,” she said.
“I’m untidy, unwashed, unshaved and unsober. And I don’t care who knows it.” Delaney grinned and Janet’s smile grew teeth.
They sat at the table in the corner of his room, Janet drawing a finger loosely across its fake wooden top. “So?” Delaney said, pouring a half glass of wine out of a miniature mini-bar wine bottle.
“There’s something I haven’t told you… about Eddie. It might be important, but, you know, Bob wants to keep this in the family.”
Delaney raised an eyebrow.
“I know, I know. Well, about six months ago, I got home from work, and Bob was there. He’d taken a day off. And he told me that he’d found something in Eddie’s room, hidden under some clothes in his closet. He’d found… drugs.” She whispered the last word.
“Well, the stuff that you would need to make drugs. Methamphetamine, Bob said.”
Delaney exhaled. “And you haven’t told the police about this?”
“Well, I guess you inherited some Private Investigator genes, too,” Delaney said. “So you think that Eddie was running away from something, something to do with these drugs?”
The visions were returning. His Buick, spinning in the rain; the mysterious figure following him. Was it the killer, following him, trying to do to Delaney the very thing that he had done to Eddie.
“Well.” He paused and Janet finished her wine. “Whatever happened, Eddie was trying to figure it out. He was coming to see me, Jan, coming up to Boston.”
“You don’t know that, Ray.”
Delaney rose and went to his suitcase. From the outside pocket he retrieved the CD that he had found in Eddie’s desk, and handed it to Janet. He explained that it was apparently just a copy, but that it sounded as though Eddie had been on his way to see his uncle Ray. “Listen to this when you have a chance. And let’s keep this in the family,” he added with a smile.
Janet returned to her wan dolphin expression. “Don’t be an asshole, kid.”
* * *
ello?” Delaney’s tongue was stuck to the roof of his mouth. The clock read 7.42 a.m. The voice was familiar, rough at the edges. Even in half-sleep he could infer anxiety on the other end of the phone.
“Silas?” he said. “What’s wrong?”
The policeman’s voice bristled, and said: