driving-big-sur-coastlineAugust 29, 1958

I forgot that cops tend not to get hotel rooms. Brewster and Sharpwood were perfectly fine dozing in their Ford, halfway down the Big Sur coastline in the muddy parking lot of Hank’s Fine Eats—and Sharpwood stinking up the car with his Tareyton filters.

“I’d rather fight than switch, mac. You don’t like it, find yourself a room.”
“Best idea I’ve heard all night.”
“Yeah. Come to think of it, maybe your murdering boyfriend will come knocking on your door.”

The trek down to ragged Point had gotten us nowhere. Not much there except a mailbox, hamburger stand, and dumpy motel. Brewster questioned every living person he saw, and there weren’t many. He was mad at me, mad at the Peanut Killer, mad at the wasted work he’d been doing the last three months.

“If you ask me,” I said, “We missed something back there.”
“Nobody’s asking you, ” said the ever-charming Sharpwood.
“I’m serious. He wouldn’t have left that note about Ragged Point unless there was something for us to find.”
“Maybe it wasn’t a place. Maybe Ragged Point is the shape of something. Like your head.”

I glared at him. “Ever wonder what it’s like to swallow an entire lit cigarette?”
“Oh, I’m all impressed now. Being told what to do by a menial ballpark employee—”

I tried to vault over the back seat at him, but Brewster caught me in mid-lunge.

“Watch yourself, Drake. You’re one guilt by association away from getting a pair of cold metal bracelets.”
“Reallly, Griffin? I didn’t think you cared.”

He scowled, and I backed off with a new thought.

“How about this? Drive back to Ragged Point and let me snoop around for fifteen minutes. If I don’t find anything we ditch the idea and head back to the city.”
“You’re a real card, aren’t you?”
“Yep. And you gotta play me if you want that royal flush.”

* * *

It was nearly morning by the time we got back to Ragged Point. They parked in the nearly empty motel lot, watched me while I circled my way around the building. The place sat atop a cliff over the ocean, but as dawn light painted the air, the fog that was everywhere hours ago had begun to lift, and I could make out the rocky beach below.

And a weird, pink-colored shape.

I found a path that zig-zagged down the cliff. Kept my eye on the shape at every turn. It was starting to look fleshy.

Scampered back up and whistled at Brewster and Sharpwood. They got out, followed me down the path to the beach.

The man’s legs sticking out of the sand were, cold, bloated. His black trouser pants bunched down over his fat knees. Brewster and Sharpwood eyeballed each other, put on plastic gloves and hauled the rest of the body out of the sand.

It was the limo driver the killer secretly hired to pick me up at the mental hospital. Another empty Salty Dog Nuts bag was stuffed in his mouth. Brewster carefully plucked it out and we looked at the brand new note inside:

You came in high
So your name is a lie
And for that you will die

I felt dizzy. Something new and clear was taking shape in my brain.

“I think this is it…” I uttered.
“It?” asked Brewster, “It what??”
I stared at them. Smiled for the first time in a week. “The clue I’ve been needing to solve this.”

THE SKINNYS

L.A. 120 001 010 – 5 8 1
S.F. 033 000 00x – 6 8 0
W-Antonelli L-Drysdale SV-Giel HRS: Pignatano, Gray GWRBI-Cepeda
Eight straight games against our southern neighbors kicks off well for the Dodgers, as they nab an early 3-0 lead, but it takes no time at all for Drysdale to dump everything on the curb. They fight back gamely, nearly tie it in the 8th, before Giel comes on to get Fairly with two aboard and blank them in the 9th. Drysdale has been the poster man for L.A.’s 13-37 second half disaster. His last eleven starts have resulted in ten losses and a no-decision, giving up 90 hits in 72 innings and compiling a 6.44 ERA. Yikes. If they had another option and he wasn’t a better hitter than half the people in his lineup he’d probably be out of the rotation.

CHI 021 100 000 – 4 11 0
STL 401 001 00x – 6 10 1
W-Jackson L-Phillips SV-Stobbs HR: Boyer GWRBI-Freese
Huge win for the Cards, as they slip above .500 and beat the first place, arch enemy Cubbies in the process. Four runs in the 1st off Taylor Phillips puts them ahead to stay, but the key is yanking combustible closer Phil Paine with two in the 9th to have lefty Chuck Stobbs retire pinch-hitter Cal Neeman with the tying run on first.

PIT 000 300 100 – 4 9 2
MIL 000 100 010 – 2 4 1
W-Kline L-Burdette SV-Face HR: Mathews GWRBI-Thomas
So maybe smashing the Giants to end their road trip and coming home for a series with the lowly Bucs will get the Braves rolling. Er, nope. Bye bye goes their offense again, and Lew Burdette loses the seventh of his last eight starts after going 9-0. Believe it or not, he’s been as bad as Drysdale lately.

PHI 200 010 001 – 4 13 0
CIN 002 000 30x – 5 7 1
W-Schmidt L-Cardwell SV-Acker HRS: Anderson, Pinson, Dropo GWRBI-Dropo
The amazingly streaky Reds stay on their winning jag and get back to .500, ambushing Cardwell with a pinch-hit, three-run boom by Walt Dropo in the last of the 7th.

NYY 000 003 100 – 4 11 0
WAS 000 100 000 – 1 7 1
W-Turley L-Clevenger HR: Lemon GWRBI-Skowron
The Nats were 1-15 vs. the Yanks going into the series, so I didn’t have high hopes for this one. At least they had a 1-0 lead after five innings. Win number 80 for the New Yawkers.

DET 010 000 000 0 – 1 8 0
CHX 010 000 000 1 – 2 7 2
W-Moore L-Bunning HRS: Harris, Battey GWRBI-Callison
Quietly, assuredly, the White Sox have gone 18-6 in August and now have a better record than anyone in the National League. This one is a doozy, a fabulous pitching duel between Bunning and Wynn for nine-plus innings, won in the last of the 10th on a Johnny Callison single.

BAL 020 110 010 – 5 14 1
BOS 060 300 13x – 13 15 2
W-Monboquette L-Brown HRS: Woodling, Williams-2, Malzone, Buddin GWRBI-Williams
Your basic Teddy Ballgame ballgame: seven RBIs on two homers, the first a game-deciding grand slam, and a double, before getting hit by a pitch and knocked out for three games.

CLE 003 100 200 – 6 9 0
K.C. 202 000 000 – 4 12 0
W-Woodeshick L-Urban HRS: Colavito, Doby GWRBI-Doby
Not quite sure how the Tribe got to be seven games over .500, but I think we can live with it. A 7th inning blast by Doby breaks the 4-4 tie here and Ferrarese bails out the ever-wobbly Woodeshick for the save.

National League through Friday, August 29

Chicago 73 57 .562
San Francisco 71 58 .550 1.5
Milwaukee 69 59 .539 3
St. Louis 64 63 .504 7.5
Cincinnati 65 65 .500 8
Philadelphia 60 65 .480 10.5
Pittsburgh 56 73 .434 16.5
Los Angeles 55 73 .430 17

American League through Friday, August 29

New York 80 48 .625
Chicago 74 54 .578 6
Baltimore 68 58 .540 11
Boston 68 59 .535 11.5
Cleveland 68 62 .523 13
Detroit 62 64 .492 17
Kansas City 50 77 .394 29.5
Washington 40 88 .313 40
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