Monday, July 28, 2014

First Shot (29)

The calming that eased Blow's mind with Rose extended through the lunch they enjoyed at her kitchen table before she sent him back to what they'd jokingly referred to as his war zone. This settled clarity held together until his truck was about a block from her house, when he noticed the lime-green car in his rearview mirror.
He'd forgotten to look under his truck to see if he could find a tracking device. Not that he had any experience to know what to look for. From his imagination and vague movie memories he assumed it would be about the size of a deck of playing cards and attached by means of a powerful magnet to something metal.
Imagination. Oh yeah. Now he could feel the damned thing somewhere under him, blinking or beeping or whatever the hell they did, telling Moriarty precisely where he was. She wouldn't even have to follow him, like the car behind him was. She could be sitting in her motel room or wherever she was holed up, watching a little red dot proceed along a map on a digital monitor. When it stopped she could take her time checking out where it was he'd been.

So if that was her back there what was she up to? If she was sincere about wanting his professional representation, and had heard his monologue to the smoke detector, she would know she was breaking the terms of their implied contract and thus the guarantee of confidentiality. Did she give a damn about those legalities? Was she merely using him to get closer to her target? This was always a possibility, he knew. He understood the potential when he accepted her as a client and he suspected it would remain viable no matter what circumstances lay ahead.
Thus the sudden realization he'd dropped his guard by driving to Rose's without first checking under the truck struck him with the psychic force of a face slap. He'd put her in peril. Even if Moriarty had no other expectation Rose could help her in any way, she could use Rose as leverage. Same as gangsters or secret police used the threat of harming love ones to get what they wanted from someone.
He let up on the accelerator and looked for a place to pull off the roadway so he could use his cell phone. As the truck slowed, the lime-green car drew nearer. With no other traffic on the two-lane street at the moment, the car swung into the oncoming lane and drew abreast of Blow's truck. A quick glance to the left revealed the driver was alone, a young woman. She was blonde, which could be a wig, he knew, but the profile was wrong. The nose was too long. She turned her head and looked at him, and he saw that her eyes were too small and too close together. He smiled at her. She turned away and continued past the truck. Aware then he'd been holding his breath, he released it in a cheek-puffing sigh.
Relieved but shaken, he parked at the curb and called Homer Price, getting his voice mail.
“Homer, it's Blow. I need your expertise. I think some sneaky Pete might have put a tracking device under my truck. You have a cousin, don't you, worked for a security company in Newport News? I don't know what I'm looking for. Maybe you could hook us up? I'm on the road. Gimme a call if you get a chance, or stop by the house if you're in the neighborhood. I should be home in about fifteen minutes. Thanks, bubba.”
Soon as he disconnected, Blow felt a little silly, wondering how to explain himself to Homer's cousin, especially if there was no tracking device under his truck. He wasn't about to tell anyone else about Moriarty breaking into the house, or even that he was her attorney. If circumstances required that disclosure he would deal with it then. He was still uncertain what he would do regarding that relationship in the event a tracking device were found. He'd given her two days to respond, and felt obligated to honor that deadline. He decided to demand an explanation if he found a tracking device. His commitment to represent her would depend on her response. He was still gnawing on the situation when he turned the corner to his street and saw Homer's van parked in front of the house. Blow parked in the driveway.
“Yo, Blow. What's up, Counselor?” Homer was wearing his auxiliary deputy's uniform. He was sitting on the front steps.
“Hi, Homer. Arlan Tisdale OK?”
“Far as I know. He was madder'n hell when the ambulance got there. He kept staring at Connie Rodriguez—and not the same way you and I would be staring at her if you know what I mean.”
“I do indeed. Arlan said Connie looks enough like this Jamie Moriarty character to be her twin. Guess it shook him up pretty bad.”
“Well, he got zapped like you and I did, but at a much closer range. Musta hurt like hell.”
“I don't doubt that. I wouldn't want to go through it again, even at the distance we were at.”
“Me, neither. So what's the deal with your truck? Somebody messing with you?”
“Just a precaution. Couple clients in this thing. I wouldn't want to inadvertently lead someone like, say, this Moriarty to a client who might be temporarily relocated, you know, until this blows over?”
“You think it's that serious, huh?”
“Well, one guy's lost his head, and now there a dead spook over in Yorktown.”
“Yeah, I've been monitoring the radio traffic. Place is swarming with feds. You think it's related?”
“Be a helluva coincidence if it wasn't.”
Homer went to his van, slid the side panel open and leaned in. When he straightened up he was holding a mirror with long handle.
“I didn't bring my frequency scanner but this will show me if anything's under there.”
“You know what to look for?”
“Sure thing. I'm a hardware guy, Blow. I sold Craig his equipment. Don't keep it in stock, but I can special order anything. Craig started his own security business. He wants me to open a branch here in Leicester. I'd have to go to school, but, hey, there's a market. I could work out of the store.”
As he talked, Homer worked his way around the truck with the mirror. At one point he dropped to ground and rolled onto his back. He thrust his head under the truck, reached back to his belt and took a small flashlight from a holster there.
“Nah. You're clean, Blow. Nuttin here.” His voice sounded hollow under the pickup. He rolled back out, stood and brushed himself off. Blow helped, brushing dust off the back of the uniform shirt.
“I really appreciate this, Homer. Come on in, I'll heat some coffee.”
Homer was returning the mirror to its place in the van. “Thanks,” he said, “but I've gotta get back to the store. Elmer's called me twice now. He's been listening to the dispatch traffic. Gets worried easy. How about a rain check?”
“Anytime, my friend.”
Blow stood in front of the steps until the van was out of sight. As he started to open the storm door something rustled and dropped between the doors. A small paper bag. He hesitated a couple of heartbeats before picking it up. What point would anyone have in leaving a bomb for him, he decided. Inside the bag was a black plastic box about the size and shape of a cigarette pack. A slightly smaller black square that looked to be a magnet was glued to one of the two largest surfaces. A rubber band held a sheet of notepaper to the box. He tugged it out and opened it.
Thank you, Mr. Stone, for trusting me. I apologize for any inconvenience I have caused. I hope I never need your professional services, but in case I do, a very smart lady named Gloria will contact you. A deposit of $10,000 has been made to your business account from a bank in the Caymans. I hope this is an adequate retainer. It was a pleasure meeting you, Blow. Good luck.
At the bottom was a phone number.

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