Tuesday, June 24, 2014

First Shot (9)

Were Blow inclined to blame someone or something other than himself for his trouble getting to sleep that night he might easily have laid it on the fabled “power of the press”. As it was, he went no further than to recognize Mary Lloyd's update Monday afternoon in the Leicester Messenger's online edition as the spur that kicked into higher gear his involvement as an attorney in the reenactment shooting consequences.
He was glad to see in a quick scan of Mary's story that neither his nor his client's name appeared. But with Himmler as the focus, with his injection of the murder idea into consideration, Blow knew it would take the Daily Herald's Mel Watterman no more than a day to get a list of the reenactors. And once Watterman's story hit the wires the media frenzy would begin. He immediately called Salzwedel.
“Any other reporters contact you, Andy?”

“Only Miss Lloyd. You think there'll be others?”
“Definitely, with Himmler raising the question of murder. Reporters will be coming out of the woodwork. They'll be trying to talk with everybody, especially you reenactors. If that happens, just tell them you've been advised by your attorney not to comment.”
“Should I give them your name?”
“No need to. They'll find out soon enough. Good reporters are sneaky. They'll try anything to get you to talk. Ask you how the family's doing, things like that. Get you to drop your guard. The less you say the better.”
“What do you think of this Himmler?”
“He's just doing his job, but my advice is the same as with the reporters, except don't talk to him unless I'm present. He's agreed to interview people only in the presence of a deputy, but I suspect he'll conveniently forget about that. You know, run into you by accident—uh huh—or your wife or even your kids, and try to start a friendly conversation. He'll be ten times sneakier than any reporter. Let me know the minute he makes any kind of contact with you or your family. He's a pro, and he can be dangerous.”
“Does he really believe it was murder?”
“I don't know if he believes it or not, Andy, but his objective is to prove it was. I know he says publicly he wants only to make sure it was accidental. That's just semantics. He's focusing on finding whatever might point to murder. I have a question for you now: Do you have any thoughts as to what whoever broke into the school yesterday might have been looking for?”
“I don't, Mr. Stone. I've been wracking my brain. And what really bothers me is that whoever did it had a key to the building. Otherwise it would look like vandalism. Kids, probly. But this was an adult. I'm afraid to try to guess who it might be.”
“That bothers me, too. You'd think if they were after something particular they'd have wanted it to look like vandalism, and would have forced their way into the building even if they had a key.”
“Unless they were afraid of making too much noise, or being seen by someone driving by.”
“Good point. OK. Keep your head up, and remember to call me if anything comes up. And don't worry about when. Any time, day or night. OK?”
After disconnecting the call Blow saw he'd gotten a text message. It was from Nancy Gunther. Call ASAP, it said. He punched the reply button and then send. She answered immediately.
The principal's widow spoke calmly but her voice sounded distant, as if she were in shock. She wanted him to come to the house next morning, if possible. She was worried about what Mary's story had said, that Himmler's company wouldn't pay her family unless her husband's death was clearly an accident.
“I've got two teenagers to raise and I don't have a job and Newt didn't have any life insurance. Didn't believe in it, he said. We've got some savings, but I'm not employed. I just...I don't know what to do, Mr. Stone.”
She said a friend had recommended she call him. Blow told her he was representing one of the reenactors, someone whose musket might have fired the shot that killed her husband, whether by accident or not. “It might be a conflict of interest for me to represent you both,” he said.
This gave her pause. Finally she said, “But can I just talk with you? If I need to hire another attorney, that's OK, but can we just talk first? I know I'll need someone to handle my husband's affairs, his estate and whatever. You could do that, couldn't you?”
Blow agreed to meet her in the morning. She offered to have breakfast ready for him, but he said it would have to be later. They agreed on ten. He wanted to think and do some research before meeting her. He wished his father was home to talk with about the potential conflict issue. Lila had a week of vacation, and she and the Judge were on the road touring Civil War battlefields. He'd become fascinated by that conflict, which he refused to call the War for Southern Independence, as it was known locally, and by the American War for Independence, which he preferred over the more popular American Revolution.
Alone in the house, and weary, Blow heated a bowl of Progresso Heart Healthy minestrone soup, fixed a plate of crackers and cheddar cheese, twisted off the cap of an Icehouse beer and settled in the TV room. Instead of watching television, though, he tuned in a blues program on NPR and tried to put the day's events behind him. He was still trying unsuccessfully to do this some three hours later after going to bed.

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