Friday, June 20, 2014

First Shot (5)


Lt. Carl Callahan hijacked Blow's breakfast routine with the text message Blow found on his cellphone after his morning shower. The message instructed him to call Callahan ASAP. Blow did.
C'mon down. Got something for you.”
I haven't had breakfast yet. How about you meet me at Marie's?”
Not private enough. All those booths do is create the illusion of privacy. C'mon. We can eat jail food. Comes from the hospital kitchen. Pretty good, actually.”
And it was. Scrambled eggs, bacon, grits and buttered toast. Callahan cleared a place for Blow's styrofoam box on the desk, next to Fu Manchu, his cowardly Siamese fighting fish.
Ogie's secretary made the coffee. Almost as good as Marie's.” Blow took a sip, nodded his head. “Not bad.”
You're probly wondering why I called this meeting,” said the cop as he reached for a piece of bacon. He bit off a piece and chewed, his ice-gray eyes fixed steadily on Blow, the hawk-nosed narrow face and shaved pate contributing to a predatory air Blow knew would be unsettling across a steel table in an interrogation room.
Blow nodded. “It crossed my mind. Then I realized you, too, have heard I'm representing Andrew Salzwedel, who thinks he's the number one suspect in your investigation.”
That's partially true.”

He's a suspect?”
Of course. He fired a musket at the poor bastard on the horse, and everybody knows they hated each other.”
That was quick.”
Ya gotta love a small town, Blow. Sure makes our job easier.”
Yours, maybe. A little trickier for us lawyers, though, at least for our clients to get a fair trial.”
Callahan nodded, unsmiling. Took a bite of toast, chewed, sipped some coffee, swallowed. “When were you going to ask me what part you got wrong?”
Beg pardon?”
You said Salzwedel thinks he's the number one suspect in your investigation, emphasis--mine--on the your.”
I'm not that quick in the morning, Carl. What the hell are you talking about?”
We're not conducting any investigation.”
Blow, holding a forkful of scrambled eggs in front of his mouth, stared inquiringly at the cop.
Callahan cracked a small grin. It seemed to take some effort. Blow suspected it was his first in a while. Blow shoveled the eggs into his mouth and chewed, keeping his eyes on their target.
We're assisting in an investigation,” Callahan said.
Blow slowly nodded. Sipped more coffee. Stared. Finally said, “State?”
Callahan shook his head. His grin stretched a tad further on one side. “Colonial Liability. They want to prove it wasn't an accident, which is all the policy covers.”
Isn't that a little dicey? You guys working with an insurance adjuster?”
Not really. We have to be careful how any evidence is handled, chain of custody, that sort of thing. We'll have a deputy present for all interviews. Main thing is the technical support. We have a lot of video. They've got a state-of-the-art lab. Better than the FBI's. Himmler says they can slow the action down and blow it up to where you can see the bullet coming out of a modern rifle. That could make all the difference here.”
Himmler?”
Humor sparkled in Callahan's eyes. He shook his head. “'Fraid so. Frederick Himmler. Said he's a grandson. Not sure I know what the old man looked like, but this guy sure is a piece of work.”
How so? Achtung, click the heels and all that?”
Just the opposite. Smooth, charming I guess the ladies would say. Soft spoken. But there's something about him. Something dangerous. You get the feeling he's poised and could strike without warning, like a snake.”
Did that happen? I mean while you were talking to him?”
No. Not at all. He was extremely polite, which is something that always puts me on guard anyway, but...he fussed over Fu, said how beautiful and gentle he seemed but that he could turn vicious in an instant. It seemed an odd thing to say, at least the way he said it, because that's the way I was thinking about him.”
Strange.”
Yeah. He gave me a chill. He'd make one helluva good interrogator. In fact, he told me that's what he did for the Army, before he retired and went to work for Colonial. You know who he reminded me of? It didn't come to me until just now. Remember that movie? Glorious Bastards or something? The Nazi? The guy who rode up in the motorcycle sidecar and questioned that French guy and his daughter, with the Jews hiding under the floor? Remember how charming he seemed? Drinking the milk, and all the while the French guy, and us, the audience, knew what was really going on, what a snake this Nazi really was and what was going to happen?”
Blow nodded. “Yes, I do. One of the scariest scenes I've ever seen in a movie. I think the actor won an Oscar. So this Himmler is like that?”
That's exactly what he is. I tell you, Blow, if I was the one who murdered Newt Gunther—if in fact anybody did, and I'm not saying that's what happened, but if it did--I would dearly hate to have this guy Himmler after me.
I would rather have Javert, the cop in Les Miserables, on my case than this Himmler guy. I kid you not.”

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