Buyer's remorse. The words' irony taunted Blow as he struggled to accept the new reality he'd chosen. The gate he'd stepped through when he agreed to represent Jamie Moriarty as her attorney no longer existed. His decision had instantly reduced to a sentimental dream any notion of retreat to a simpler time. He faced an alien future, bereft of the most familiar assurances from which he'd taken nourishment and strength. He felt desolate.
His plan after Moriarty's visit had been to talk with another client, the first to seek his counsel in the aftermath of Newt Gunther's horrifying death. Andrew Salzwedel. Blow believed he now understood the source of an animosity between the two men that Salzwedel worried could be interpreted as a motive for murder. If Blow's suspicion was correct, Salzwedel had been protecting one of his students from the principal. Gunther's lust for the historically significant antique threatened the privacy and, worse, the safety of the student, whose identity was no secret to Salzwedel. If so, the popular history teacher was all that stood between the student and only God knew how many lethal predators, one of whom was also Blow's client.
Blow saw no conflict in his representing both clients despite the mutual adversity of their aims. His advocacy for Salzwedel had become virtually moot, as it now seemed remote he would or could be charged in Gunther's death. His responsibility to Moriarty was similar. He would defend her against prosecution on as yet unspecified charges. But because hers and Salzwedel's interests regarding the student were at odds Blow knew his decisions moving forward must be as carefully considered as those of a heart surgeon peering into an open chest cavity under operating theater floodlights.
The one-two combination punch that floors many a distracted boxer visited Blow psychologically with the second phone call. His turmoil from the conversation with Joan settled enough for him to act, he'd poised his finger to speed-dial Salzwedel's number when the phone vibrated in his hand. He tapped a key opening the call before Beat Me, Daddy kicked in to remind him of his overdue promise to find a less frivolous ringtone. It was Mary Lloyd. She'd just gotten back from Yorktown.
“It's crazy, Blow. Homeland Security agents and news vans from all over. If they had enough crime-scene tape I swear they'd string it around the whole town. And nobody's talking.”
“Nobody? Is Caldwell there?”
“He's out of the loop, and nobody seems to be in charge yet. Carl says there's a battle royale going on between the feds and the county, and even the state police are in it. The feds will win, of course. Agents are coming our of the woodwork. They're even flying in by helicopter.”
“Just over Himmler? It doesn't make sense, Mary.”
“That's what Carl says, unless...” Blow heard a sneeze, a nose blowing, another sneeze, and after a long pause, with the only sounds a couple of honks from a car horn muted from the street by the newspaper office's walls, and some distant voices, she was back. “Sorry, Blow. I'm coming down with something, I guess. Anyway, Carl says the only thing that makes sense to him is that Himmler was some kind of undercover agent, like maybe CIA.”
The jolt from recognizing her words' implications sent Blow into a fugue state before she'd finished speaking. He was able only to mumble something he hoped made sense before disconnecting. He realized suddenly he was sweating. Gasping for oxygen. Unable to release his grip on the phone, he squeaked back again in the chair and stared at the ceiling.