Jay Mundaign’s disclosure of the pistol and its possession by a shady sheriff’s deputy punched through Blow’s composure with the fierce surprise of a switchblade in a Michelin whitewall. The information tore apart his legal landscape, throwing into question defense strategies he’d been contriving for Chip Morowitz, and forcing him to confront further complications. His most pressing concern was the woman seated next to him on the bed.
Moriarty’s wink took some edge off the shock of Mundaign’s revelation, while simultaneously raising more questions. He stared at her, grasping for comprehension. The face under its tumbleweed curls had an elusive, inscrutable look. He felt his own face go cold. She shrugged with her eyes. He chose to ignore the insolence, assuming she would speak. She didn’t.
“Did you know about Teach?” He kept his voice neutral.
“I know he’s a jerk. I know he did something to lose his stripes and it wasn’t in the paper so it’s obvious he has something on Oglethorpe or he’d have lost his badge and maybe gone to jail. But I didn’t know Jay was interviewing him and I didn’t know Jay told him about the gun before Friday night. That’s all I can tell you.” She was glaring at Mundaign.
Blow, too, turned his attention to Mundaign, but the “fuck-you-face” told him nothing useful. He turned back to Moriarty. “You told me flat out this other gun fired the bullets that killed those kids. You said the ballistics wouldn’t match my client’s gun. What the hell am I supposed to do now?”
“No need to raise your voice, Blow.”
“Sorry. I’m just a little upset here.”
“Well so am I. All I can say is what I told you yesterday was a pretty safe bet, so far as I knew. I didn’t know about Teach then.”
“Pretty safe bet? I wish you’d have qualified it that way yesterday.”
“I don’t remember how I put it then, but I wasn’t trying to mislead you. It’s still the most plausible explanation for planting the gun in Jay’s house. Someone could have taken it out earlier in the day or week, shot the kids with it, and put it back during the ruckus Friday night.”
“It is plausible, but I have two questions. One, what would be the point of trying to frame this man for murder? They’ve already tortured him and used drugs on him and now you say they’re trying to protect him—safest person in Leicester, you said—how do they gain anything by framing him for murder?”
“I don’t know, Blow. Maybe they’re just trying to shame him publicly, turn the community against him. Figure that will make him talk. Who can say what these crazy bastards are thinking?”
“Or one crazy bastard. Any idea who this Darryl is?
“Haven’t had any luck with that. Maybe Gladstone is Darryl. You know how proud he is of that big undercover gig, his Senator for the FBI thing. His book and the movie made millions. If it’s him I wouldn’t be surprised he’s just having some sadistic fun keeping after Jay.”
“He hates me. I know that for sure. Hates me personally.” Mundaign held up a spiral notebook. “We damned near got into a fistfight over this before I even knew what he wanted to see me about. I had it in my briefcase. He demanded to see everything I had in there.” Mundaign waited a beat for his guests to express interest in the notebook, and when they didn’t he slapped it back onto the desk. “It’s a collection of poems. Gary Hardaway. He really lays it on the line. Gladstone called him a ‘goddam nihilist’--his words. I begged to differ. Told him Hardaway’s poems speak no ideology. They’re strictly realistic. Strictly. Most of his stuff is dark as the void we’re all facing whether we admit it or not, but he sprinkles in just enough humor to keep you from curling up on the floor sucking your thumb. I told Gladstone the poems expressed the outlook of an unequivocal entropist. I knew he didn’t know what I meant, which is probly another reason he hates me. Called me a self-righteous piss ant. Said Hardaway was one, too, and that he probly smirks just like me. He picked the book up, sneering at it. Called it trash, and said its presence in his office ‘sullied the room’--his words again. I took hold of it and jerked it away—I think the plastic binding scratched his hand--and started to put it back in my briefcase. He got up, this gorilla, and started coming around the desk, stomping his feet. Shook the floor like an elephant. His face got dark red, nearly purple. I was afraid he might have a stroke. No, cancel that. I wasn’t afraid. I didn’t care what happened to him, and I’m not usually like that. I was ready to punch the fat bastard in his fat face. His balloon nose, actually.
“One of his assistants came out of nowhere and took my arm and led me to another room to wait while ‘the Senator takes care something that just came up,’ but I knew it was so they could calm him down. I felt like laughing in his face. When I went back in after fifteen or twenty minutes he was completely different, like he wanted to be my buddy. Gave me a glass of whiskey and a Cuban cigar. ‘Call me Bart,’ he kept saying. Barking, is how it sounded. Spooky.”
Blow nodded, feigning more interest than he felt. His concern for the Morowitz boy kept intruding on his concentration. He worried that the gun Teach took from Mundaign’s house would disappear, leaving his client’s gun as the only logical murder weapon. An apparent ballistic mismatch could be inconclusive--recovered projectiles deformed on impact or passing through a suppressor. He needed the other gun, but he had to be careful. If Teach had gotten rid of it Blow would be stuck. There were potential conflicts of interest in either instance: if the other gun turned up it could clear Morowitz but would implicate Mundaign. Blow knew he was in effect already acting as Mundaign’s legal counsel without the formality. He wanted that technicality on the table before the interview was over.
Representing two clients with different interests in the same murder case could cost him his license, provided it didn’t first drive him into what his father liked to euphemize as a “rest home”.