Blow continued staring out the window for a minute or two after the lime green car was gone. He stared dumbly at the intersection where he'd last seen the car before it turned and drove out of sight. His rescue from the stupor provoked by Jamie Moriarty's visit came in the form of an especially unpleasant notion, chastising himself for not noting the car's tag number.
He employed his lawyerly acumen with rationalizing to restore a sense of equilibrium. There had been no reason to focus on the tag when he arrived home and concluded the car was his sister's. And just now, as it backed out of the driveway, some part of him must have assumed the car and/or its plates were stolen. Surely this was the case. Satisfied he'd let himself off the hook at least on this point, yet still vaguely dazed, his mind in disarray, he padded to the couch facing the windows and collapsed in its cushions.
His intention when he came home just now was to heat some soup or make a sandwich. But his appetite had deserted him. His emotions were in a flux, and he sat awhile and allowed busy thought tendrils to wriggle up from the muddle and form strands of common interest.
His first impulse was to call his sister, so she could pass along to her FBI boyfriend what he had learned from Jamie Moriarty. He vetoed that idea almost as soon as it arose. He wasn't sure why, perhaps partly because Joan had not responded to his text message calling for help at the Salzwedels, after the attack on the Mrs. Gunther. The message might have been intercepted.
Eventually he remembered the coffee Jamie Moriarty had made. He shuffled into the kitchen and filled one of the mugs on the counter, suddenly recognizing her scent: a suggestion of soap plying with another, something almost feral that pricked the veneer of propriety to which he deferred not only as an attorney but as a man who accepted the boundaries of civilized behavior.
Carrying the mug, he left the kitchen and turned left down a hallway toward the rear of the house. Seeing the door to his office ajar, he stepped inside. He sniffed the air, detecting a faint remnant of his part-time secretary's familiar perfume under a more pervasive redolence, one he suspected either had followed him into the room or was awaiting his arrival. He set the coffee mug on his desk, walked around behind it and settled into the high-backed, leather-padded chair his father had bequeathed to him. Its friendly squeaks greeted him as he rocked back and looked up at the smoke detector centered on the ceiling.
“Alright, here's the deal, Jamie.” He felt a tad foolish addressing the cream-colored, soup-bowl-shaped plastic device overhead, and hoped Barbara Bassett wouldn't pop in suddenly having forgotten something on her desk, next to Blow's, when she'd left presumably for the day, and probably within minutes of Moriarty's uninvited arrival. Blow, reaching back to his prior stage career, pretended he was rehearsing lines for a play.
“I'm going to assume you were serious when you spoke of wanting me to be your lawyer. I've decided to accept you as a client--despite, I must add, some serious misgivings.
“One of the problems I have is the bug I am speaking to you through right now. There has to be a certain level of trust between lawyer and client, and planting a bug in the lawyer's office falls short of that measure. I understand we had not yet reached agreement on an arrangement, so I'm willing to overlook it for now, especially considering it's our only means of communication at present.
“I am quite aware your mention of an interest in seeking counsel might have been a ruse to disarm me. Now that you've apprised me of the circumstances surrounding the death of Mr. Gunther and your interest in finding a certain historic musket it is apparent you might simply be expecting me to lead you to its owner. If so, I would not be surprised to find also a tracking device attached to my truck. I intend to determine if such items have in fact been planted, and if so to have them removed.
“Nonetheless I am still willing to represent you as your attorney of record. With your concurrence I will determine if any warrants are outstanding for your arrest. It is my understanding your birth name is unknown to the authorities, so such documents likely would be designated 'Jane Doe' warrants.
“I had told you I would need to know your real name in order to represent you. I was in error. It would make my job easier to know your real name, but I can represent you effectively as a 'Jane Doe' if this is your wish.”
Blow hefted the coffee mug, sipped, found it cool enough and then drank half its contents. He set it down in front of him and returned his gaze to the smoke detector.
“As your attorney, assuming this is our arrangement, it is my duty to advise you that if indeed warrants for your arrest do exist, that you surrender to the authorities. It is entirely up to you whether to heed this advice. In the event you choose to remain a fugitive I further advise you that if proof of your whereabouts become known to me I am legally bound not to withhold this information from the authorities.
“Otherwise any and all communications with me, as your attorney, are privileged, which means the courts cannot require me to breach the guarantee of confidentiality between us.
“That's about all for now. We can negotiate any fee at a later time. As to future communications, obviously you know how to reach me. It would be helpful were I able to reach you once I have removed this bug. I might still have the phone number you gave me when you were with Todd Paget. I doubt it's still a good number, but I shall look for it. Otherwise please consider providing some secure means for me to reach you if necessary.
”If you do not contact me within two days to confirm an arrangement to represent you, I will assume you have no such intention.”
He left his office and returned with a three-step folding ladder. The ladder enabled him to reach the smoke detector, the cover of which he removed and examined, quickly noticing a thin plastic rectangle taped along the edge. A fine copper wire protruded from each end. He pulled it loose, kissed it and said, “Later, Jamie,” and tossed it onto his desk. There he dropped it into the half-filled coffee mug. The rectangle floated on the coffee until he pushed it under with a finger and watched a trickle of tiny bubbles appear on the surface.