Deputy Tisdale's long body lay on its side on the floor just inside and to the left of the front door. His hands were cuffed in front, and one of his knees kept pumping toward them, the rubber-soled black shoe on the other leg acting as a fulcrum, squiching against the hardwood floor with each thrust. His brown straw campaign hat, adorned with gold-colored braid, lay upside down near the buzz cut atop his head. Responding to Blow's entrance, the head rotated enough to fix him with widened eyes as a series of grunts, tenor with urgency and blocked by a strip of duct tape over the mouth, escaped through wildly flared nostrils. First to greet Blow, however, before his eyes adjusted to the room's near darkness, was the embarrassing odor of fresh feces.
Connie had sent Blow in first. She hoped the presence of “one of the good guys” would calm Tisdale enough to understand that she was, too, and not the lookalike criminal who attacked him. Yet, when he saw Connie enter behind Blow he flinched mightily and cocked his free leg as if to launch a kick were she to come within range. His grunts reached even further up the scale, approaching soprano.
Blow knelt. He gripped an end of the tape and pulled it off, grateful Tisdale was clean-shaven. Tisdale immediately screamed, “She's behind you!”
“I know. It's Connie. The other one is gone.”
“No!” He gasped repeatedly as if starved for air. His eyes, locked on Blow's, were disbelieving. He struggled, leg and cuffed hands pumping.
“Yes, Arlan. They look alike, but this is Connie with me. You're safe now. This is Connie. OK?”
“She tased me, man!” He strained to see behind Blow where Connie stood.
“That wasn't me, Arlan.” She moved closer to him. “It was the woman who calls herself Moriarty. I've never seen her but I'm told we could be twins. I'll uncuff you now. I'm sorry for what happened. I thought you were going to shoot me.”
Tisdale nodded as if he understood, although his eyes, now locked on Connie's, were not wholly sold. Connie waited a moment longer until Tisdale stopped struggling, then she knelt and unlocked his cuffs. Hands free, he massaged his wrists and started to sit up. He lay back on his side, moaning.
“Oh, man, I shit my pants.” He looked up at Blow, then closed his eyes.
“It's alright, bubba. Same thing happened to me.”
“It did? When she tased you? Oh, maaan. I'm so embarrassed. Connie, I'm...I honestly thought you were her come back to finish me off. I'm so sorry.”
Connie, still kneeling, offered reassuring words. She patted him on the cheek. “How long ago do you think it happened?”
“Not long after you guys left. I thought you had come back for something when I saw her—she was wearing the uniform—when I saw her at the front door. She went in, so it was either unlocked or she had a key. I looked around, and when I didn't see her unit I started up to the house to see what was up.“
“She was inside already?”
“Yeah. I called your name, a couple times. Nothing. So I go all the way up. Soon as I get inside the door I see her at the back of the room, looking at me. Looks just like you. I call your name again. She smiles and then I see her pointing some kind of long-barreled gun at me. I see a red flash. Next thing I know I'm on the floor. Can't move, can't talk, peed and pooped my pants. I thought I was dying. She comes up to me, slowly, pointing that damn thing at me, then she kneels down and sprays something in my face.
“Next thing I know you, Connie, are in the room looking down at me, hand on your piece. I think, oh shit, she's back to finish me off. I reach for my piece. I'm surprised I still have it. It's still in the holster. But you're on me like a cat on a dopy mouse. And...well, you know the rest.”
“Well,” Blow said. “All's well that end's well. I guess we better get an ambulance here. Have Arlan checked out.”
“Oh, no, man. I'm OK, really. Just my pants. Oh, man. This is so embarrassing--”
A voice from outside interrupted his protests. “Yo, in the house! Anybody in there?”
“It's Homer Price,” Blow said. “I called him before I left the Salzwedels' house. Figured you might need backup.”
“Oh, man, no. Please! Homer will tell everyone in town!”
Connie spoke: “No he won't, Arlan. He's an auxiliary deputy. He takes it seriously. He's a good deputy. But I understand. I'll keep him outside. Have him call dispatch for the ambulance.”
“I don't need an ambulance.”
“Yes you do, for two reasons. One, you need to be checked by a physician, if only because we don't know what she sprayed you with, and that electric shock is much more powerful than the ones from our tasers.”
“What's the other reason, Connie?”
“I'm not having you smear poop all over my unit, and I'm sure Joe doesn't want you messing up his truck. OK?”
Blow went to the door and walked Homer back to the Price Hardware van, which Homer had rigged up with a police radio.