Thursday, July 17, 2014

First Shot (24)

The lime green compact kicked up a quick dance number in Blow's head parked as it was on the pad beside the front of his house. That it was on that side of the house, to the right of the attached garage, narrowed down the list of possible visitors. Not being on the other side, on the pad in front of the entrance to his office, ruled out clients or prospective clients, of which none as he recalled were scheduled.
His father and Lila weren't due back until the weekend. Lila's dark blue Toyota would be in one of the two garage stalls, and if his father had wrecked the Buick on their trip and was driving a rental he or Lila would have contacted Blow by now. Were it one of the undercover FBI agents Joan's boyfriend, Richard, had dispatched responding to Blow's text message, the car would be parked somewhere else, down the street or even in a neighbor's driveway. Besides, didn't undercover cops always use vans, pretending to be commercial or utility workers? And the car was empty. Where else would the stakeout agent or agents be? They would have no key to the house, and the shrubbery was not thick enough to hide in.
That left only one possibility. His sister, despite the unlikelihood of her driving a compact or, for that matter, anything lime green. But it had to be her. A surprise visit. His heart was glad.

“Joanie!” Blurted her name to end the uncertainty. He left his truck in front of the garage, jogged around to the porch and bounded up the steps to the door. Surprised to find it locked. Oh, well. Joan was being cautious. Smart girl. Fumbled with keys. Ah. Finally. In. Smell of fresh coffee.
“Hi, Honey, I'm home!”
From the kitchen, “Hi, Honey, in here!”
Huh? Wrong voice. Strange voice. Oops, what the fuck. Blow's stomach dropped like a broken elevator to the basement. The same hairs that had pricked his neck earlier at the Salzwedel house were doing their number once again. Something was very wrong. He felt an urge to head back out the door, shut it behind him, run to his truck and call for help. At the same time curiosity nudged him toward the kitchen. He'd always been a sucker for a good mystery.
“You.” He said it quietly, after standing in the doorway a heartbeat or two longer than surprise would indicate. The word started as a sigh and finished with a broken grunt. Their eyes had locked together with a psychic click, and remained so as Blow, to keep the floor from swaying, rested a shoulder against the doorjamb and filled his lungs with air.
“Sit down, Blow.”
He exhaled. The air pushed out through closed lips, rattling them at the end like a horse snicker. He made no move from the doorway.
“What's the matter, Blow? Not happy to see me?” Her face remained impassive. It might have seemed cold were it not for something in the poise of the muscles around the mouth and eyes, as if restraining a strong urge to smirk. The face was subtly pretty with no outstanding features, except for the eyes. Wide set and large. They had a coloring that seemed to fluctuate between emerald and a fluorescent hazel. Blow guessed these switches of hue were triggered by lighting and angle, and possibly mood. He found the phenomenon so engaging it intruded on his efforts to think through the implications of his current predicament. An added distraction was the uniform, a perfect match to those worn by Leicester County's deputies and which completed this woman's uncanny resemblance to Deputy Connie Rodriguez. Even the hair, dyed brown and tied in a bun just above the base of her neck. Except for the eyes they could be twins.
She was perched on a stool, elbows resting on the black marble slab atop the island. Both hands encircled the steaming mug as if for the warmth. Her trooper's hat lay beside it.
“Coffee,” she invited, tilting her head toward the electric Silex brewer on the counter next to the stove. The glass globe was half full.
“How long have you been here?” Blow's voice had felt stuck in his throat. Dislodged now, it sounded like a young bullfrog rehearsing its mating call.
“About half an hour.” She tossed her head, not her gaze. “Nice place.” Calm, confident.
“Look.” He shifted against the doorjamb, folded his arms across his chest. “Whatever gun you're looking for isn't here, OK? Will you believe me? It's not here.”
“I didn't expect it would be.” Her voice carried amusement, an appreciation of irony.
“So? Why am I here?”
Blow nodded.
“So maybe I need a lawyer.” Finally, a touch of smirk. Blow's eyebrows twitched. He pushed off the jamb and walked thoughtfully into the kitchen to the Silex pot. He tugged the overhead cupboard open, withdrew a mug and filled it with steaming brew, then he turned and leaned his back against the counter. He sipped, blew across the top scattering the steam, and set the cup beside him on the counter top. His eyes never left hers, nor hers his.
“Really? You going to turn yourself in?”
The smirk widened, disappeared. “No. But you never know. Would you represent me?”
Blow's turn to grin. “You never know.”
They stared at each other awhile longer, not speaking, sipping and peering over the mugs.
Blow tried again. “So why are you here?”
“For the hell of it. I like risks.”
“I'm a risk?”
“Sure. You might have disappointed me.”
This gave him pause. “I haven't?”
“Not yet, but you have an advantage.” She winked. “I like redheads.”
Blow laughed. “Well then that might complicate things.”
She arched an eyebrow.
“It's a rule I have to never get personally involved with clients.”
She shook her head, yawned. “Rules are made to be broken, Blow. Look, maybe later. I have to run. I just wanted you to know what's going on here, so you don't get in over your head. I do like you, although I really don't know why. The stakes are high in this. Higher than money, if you can believe that.”
“Must be. You've already killed two people.”
“Only one. Himmler—his real name was Werner Horschlagen—he worked for me at one time. Betrayed my trust. I can't prove it, but I think he killed Newt Gunther, another asshole who needed killing but not by me. I don't kill for money.
“Anyway, somebody, we think a student in your high school, was blogging about an old musket his grandpa has. The blogger uses the name Fish. That's all. We traced it to a Ronnie King, who doesn't exist, so we think it's a fake name. Himmler thought Gunther somehow found out who Ronnie King really is. He offered to buy it from Gunther but Gunther got greedy.”
“Cynthia...Jamie...what should I call you? If I represent you, you know, I'll have to know your real name--”
She snapped, “We'll cross that bridge if we have to.” Her voice softened. “For now, Jamie will do. I kinda like it. I suppose you want to know what's so special about the musket--”
“You're a mind reader, too.”
“I'm full of tricks. So anyway, this Fish or Ronnie King or whatever says his grandpa's musket fired the first shot that started what's commonly known as the American Revolution, which is a joke, because all it did was transfer power from the King's bankers to the Colonies' bankers. All right? You with me? Anyway, the official version, based on depositions taken from participants and bystanders at the Lexington shootout, has it that one or another British officer fired the first shot, the one we're taught was Heard 'Round the World. But the records show that any depositions suggesting otherwise were either excluded from the final report or they were re-done to reflect what the colonial authorities wanted. They wanted to show that the Brits started the shooting. Purely a propaganda move.”
Blow's brow furrowed. “Fascinating story, but how can anyone prove what this blogger is claiming?”
“His description of the musket, with identifying engravings, matches one owned by a man who was standing in front of Buckman Tavern near the green and who claimed to have accidentally fired the first shot. Fish claims his grandpa has letters written by his great-great grandfather describing the shootout.
“I was hired by a descendant of Maj. Pitcairn, the scapegoat who commanded the British troops at Lexington, to make sure the musket and documents are recovered so the true story will be known. Himmler? That asshole was supposed to destroy the gun and the documents to keep the lie alive. He was working for a group of fanatics called Sons of Lexington.
“There you have it, Boo Boo. Now I've got to get out of here, pleasant though it's been.” She raised the coffee mug to her lips and drank its contents. She slid off the stool and carried the mug to the counter, setting it down gently next to Blow's. She patted him on the cheek, hesitated, then leaned forward and kissed him quickly on the lips.
Her frisky aromas lingered after her, pinning a stunned Blow in place until he heard a car door slam. He made it to the front windows in time to see the lime green compact back into the street and zip away.

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