Hey, Abe. Finally got around to this one, and found it to be a very solid entry that I wished I had found sooner. Eh. Sometimes the anonymity is good -- sometimes not so good.
Anyways, had I perused this one by chance at the time, I would have spotted you in the crisp descriptive work. You build the relationship between Ray and Willoughby very well. Slow and tentative, as it should be. Ray's V.O. conversations with Justine are appropriately poignant as well.
Excellent storyline, ripe with possibilities. I was sure Willoughby WAS Steincooler. How else could such a story turn out? And Ray's diagnosis would obviously turn out to be an error, right? So many twists were possible that your rather straightforward conclusion actually comes as a genuine surprise. Odd how that works, but it does.
For a few nits, Willoughby tells us that Steincooler was frail and sickly, on the verge of death. I think I would lose that detail, given what comes later. Have a better reason for his disappearance, I think. And I would give the detectives some photos of the mutilated Willoughby to show Ray. And as another small point, would they let prisoners have thumbtacks or pins? I don't know, but I would bet not. Tape, maybe.
Your conclusion caps this one off perfectly. Maybe carry it one step further, with screams over the phone and then screams from Ray? Just a thought, and it works fine without it, really.
One of the better ones from this go-round for sure, Abe. A top fiver for me, even if it is a little after the fact.