Sunday, September 28, 2014


Little ditty 'bout five males, one a cat:

Dinky washes car in parking lot.
Seized with sudden fury, shouts to White Guy and anyone else within range, rhetorically,
What's that snitch doin' here?

White Guy sees shiny black Mercedes parked across street by laundromat. Snitch, long in leg and torso, eases out, stretches, shakes loose with jive moves.

Snitch carefully groomed in sloppy street blinged finery, cap bill pointed correct way of day. Girl exits Mercedes, prances into laundromat.

Mr. Hill murmurs to leashed Precious in grass beside laundromat.
Therapy cat, same as his brother, father and grandfather, Mr. Hill tells White Guy.
Mr. Hill speaks softly, articulates with casual care.

Snitch yodels at Dinky:
Dink you bring dat rag here so's I can give her a wipe yo!

Dinky (no inverse name) responds with gusto:
You want this rag you come here and get it!

Snitch boogies up and down, saunters over, supercool, displays verbose command of au courant black screen argot.

Dinky turns his back, buffs customer's car.

Snitch jabbers, boogies up and down.

Girl prances out to Mercedes, hops in.

Snitch lopes back, joins girl.

Mr. Hill lifts Precious to his shoulder.

Dinky buffs customer's car.

Mercedes cruises off.

White Guy wonders at the spelling: duh or doh?

Saturday, September 27, 2014

First Shot (57)

The sun was low in the sky when they found the old faded blue Chevy pickup. Frank Rust was first to see the orange flash bouncing back from behind a derelict shanty near the pier. Rust had parked his pickup at the edge of the gravel apron between the pier and the road end, and Blow pulled in behind him. By the time he and Salzwedel had gotten out of Homer's car Rust was already scoping the vicinity.
They heard his gnarled voice coming from behind the lean-to, a neglected arrangement of weather-tortured blackened planks drooping to oblivion in a maw of climbing weeds. “She's here, boys. This here's Cy's truck.”
The truck was hidden in more weeds under the limbs of a nearby live oak. Rust stood back, between the tree and the shed, implying by his caution he was afraid of what might be inside the truck. “She's a good girl.” His voice was low and solemn. “But there's times...she...just goes off and does things.”

Monday, September 22, 2014

First Shot (56)

She was waiting by the door. Her face, distorted in worry and refracted light, peered intently at them through the glass. The eyes darted quickly from Salzwedel to Blow, then softened as her features melted into a welcoming smile. She released the latch and nudged the door open. The inviting aroma of food cooking reached them an instant before Helen Kellam spoke.
“Come in.” Her voice sounded friendly, almost timid. She was dressed in faded jeans and a plaid flannel shirt with the sleeves rolled halfway up her forearms. Her smile brightened when Salzwedel introduced Blow, and he saw that she was beautiful. The smile seemed natural, giving her face an innocence that was enhanced by light-brown hair she wore in a casually tended pageboy. Only the wearied caution in her chocolate eyes betrayed this illusion.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

First Shot (55)

Blow was feeling foolish and vulnerable when he arrived at the Kellams. He'd begun having second thoughts about the wisdom of bringing Homer into his drama when it quickly became apparent nobody was following anyone—neither Blow in Homer's car nor Homer in the hardware store's van. He tried to console himself with the argument that caution was always advisable when even a fragment of doubt existed that an action might endanger someone. But while the argument was valid it wasn't enough to dispel his sense of having overreacted, that he was wasting his friend's time imitating a clichĂ© movie scene.
It also occurred to him it was entirely possible Sarah Kellam was not innocent, that maybe she did kill Gunther. Technically not her lawyer although he had offered his services to her mother, he had to be careful he was not instrumental in helping destroy potential evidence.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

First Shot (54)

Within ten minutes of Blow's arrival at Price Hardware he was heading south in Homer Price's maroon Dodge Charger while Elmer, Homer's employee, was in the store's van driving north. Homer, driving Elmer's black Chevy pickup, was following Blow at a discreet distance to watch for any tails Blow might pick up.
“In case they saw through your 'Homeboy' code, clever though it was. You don't know who might be listening, do you?” Homer's impromptu plan was to lead anyone astray who might be expecting Blow to take the van.
“I don't, Homer. That's a good idea.”
“You're not even sure anybody is, right? Listening to you?”
“I realize I sound paranoid, but this is getting pretty hairy. I'm responsible to my clients. Can't afford to take any chances.”
Homer put a hand on Blow's forearm. “Hey, buddy, I'm not questioning your judgment. I know this is big. I just want to get the setup straight in my head. I'm on your side, Counselor.”

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

First Shot (53)

The call came while Blow was walking. He had dropped Mary off at the house, where she had parked her car. After he watched her car disappear down the street, he started toward his office door. As he trod up the walk from the parking pad he became aware of a weakness in his knees. It worsened as he mounted the steps, and he grabbed the wrought-iron railing to steady himself. Fumbling with his key ring at the lock he was alarmed to see how badly his hand trembled, so badly it extended past his wrist up the forearm.
He breathed deeply and let the air gush out of his lungs. He did this several times until he felt a dizziness and realized he was in danger of hyperventilating. With a panicking rush that came as a blackness surrounding him and that reduced his muscles to palsied rubber and bathed his upper body in sweat, he leaned heavily against the door and then, feeling collapse was imminent, managed to lower himself to a sprawling position on the top step. There he found comfort leaning against the vertical rail struts, both as something benignly solid and, oddly, despite the breezy afternoon chill, from the metal's bracing cool.

Monday, September 15, 2014

First Shot (52)

They drove aimlessly for nearly an hour. To a disinterested observer their conversation, as well, might have sounded unfocused. Thinking aloud, Blow bounced developing thoughts off Mary, his only noticeable reticence being that guided by obligations of confidentiality. Mary displayed her curiosities with a faint undertone of cunning. She responded without palpable guile to Blow's remarks, yet she pushed ever so gently to learn more than he seemed willing to give. Her persistence yielded one nugget of new information.
“OK, Mary, I'll save you a little time. Now that we're out of my problematically compromised house, I'll dispense with the barbecue smokescreen—not that you won't find it useful if in fact you like Dad's recipe.”

Saturday, September 13, 2014

First Shot (51)

Blow waited until he heard the car door slam before he walked to the window. The slam had come only seconds after Gladstone departed the office, or Blow would have strolled into the front room where he could view his Ranger pickup to see if the big man was so brash as to stick a tracking device under the truck. As it was, he watched the shiny sedan roll off his parking pad and ease on down the street in a direction that would take it to the highway. Mary's voice behind him pulled his mind back into the room.
What an act. Did you hear him say harumph? I've never heard anybody say that before.”
Blow turned and saw that she was still sniffing the cigar Gladstone had given her. “You gonna smoke that thing?”
Oh, heavens no. I'll probly just keep it as a souvenir. What a buffoon, huh?”
A dangerous one. He's quite an actor.”

Thursday, September 11, 2014

First Shot (50)

Ex-Sen. Bartholomew Gladstone, aka Bart Bullshit, preferred to stand and pace as he expounded on the “matter of vital national importance”. After squeezing out of confinement with a scrape of expensive fabrics against the arms of the solid-wood chair that held him, he stood for a moment, hirsute hand on chin as if pondering critical implications, and rotated his cannonball head to assure himself of rapt attention first from his host, across from him, and then from Mary Lloyd at the adjacent desk where she sat still holding and occasionally sniffing the Cuban cigar he'd given her during the ceremony of introductions.
When he started speaking, Gladstone's voice was lower and slier than the barking bonhomie he'd affected earlier. And with the speaking came the stalking, the deliberate plodding back and forth across the small office. A caged, feral beast.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

First Shot (49)

They heard a car door slam as Mary, wearing her red and blue quilted coat, approached Blow's office door to leave. She saw him first. She was reaching for the brass door handle when she froze, then pivoted.
Oh my god, Blow, it's Bart Bullshit!” She stepped back to let Blow look out its mullioned window pane. A bulky, broad-shouldered man in a dark overcoat stood beside the shiny sedan parked next to Mary's light brown Saturn. He was looking up at the office door. His unnaturally ruddy, full-moon face contrasted with the bush of silver hair that covered the top of his head. Occasional bursts of icy breeze ruffled the hair, whisked away the puffs of steam from his breath and flapped the tails of a white silk muffler draped around the back of his neck.
Big galoot, isn't he,” Blow muttered, turning to Mary, who was easing toward the door leading to the hallway outside the office.
Hey, stay here, Mary. You'll get your scoop, and I may need a witness.” She smiled.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

First Shot (48)

This is good barbecue, Blow. You should open a restaurant.” Mary Lloyd's words came out muffled through her chewing, the gusto of which alone obviated a need for comment. But Blow smiled in appreciation.
I'll tell Dad. It's his recipe.”
Secret? One of those you'd-hafta-kill-me-if-ya-told-me kind?”
I don't think so. He told me, and he knows I can't keep a secret.”
You did alright with Callahan.” She waited a beat. “And me.”
Those aren't secrets, Mary, they're mandates. Professional life-and-death, if you will.”
She picked some coleslaw from her teeth. “Not even a hint?”

Monday, September 8, 2014

First Shot (47)

Sons of Lexington? Blow was replying to Lt. Callahan's text message nearly two hours after its time stamp. He had no idea where Callahan might be, but knew that if he was still in his office, texting would be the safest way to communicate. Blow had decided to volunteer more information to the cop than professional prudence might indicate. He justified this in his mind to temporarily distract Callahan from suspecting the musket as a modern murder weapon.
Blow was having enough trouble fending off intimations of the plausible irony that a distraught teen might have employed a weapon used by her ancestor in a passionate murder more than three centuries earlier to commit another. Gladstone had suggested as much, pointing out the efficacy of the rifled barrel to extend a musket's range and accuracy. Such a weapon could easily prove lethal up to four hundred meters, he said, a hundred meters beyond Callahan's estimate of the distance from the park sniper's nest to the spot where Gunther lost his head.
That wasn't in the story. Callahan's return text told Blow the game was afoot. He handed his phone to Mary.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

First Shot (46)

Damn you, Blow!”
Mary Lloyd's angry voice seemed to shake the storm door's glass while her breath clouded its surface, obscuring for an instant the fury blazing in her eyes.
The unexpected assault caused Blow to flinch before he released the lock and pushed the heavy door ajar.
What's the matter, Mary?”
Let me in, dammit, it's cold out here.”
He felt her eyes scorching his back as he led her to the kitchen. He thanked himself for having started a new pot of coffee brewing minutes before he heard her at the door. He hoped the aroma would have the same mollifying effect with her as it always did with him. In fact Blow detected an easing of her tone if not the words when she next spoke.
I never would have expected you to ignore my calls. I thought we were friends.”

Monday, September 1, 2014

First Shot (45)

A nimbus seemed to emanate from the letter's last page as it lay on the table before Blow. He knew the glow around this centuries-old linen document was a product of his imagination feeding on a mingling of appreciations: for its vital importance at the time it was written, for its significance now to historians and to investigators seeking to unravel the mysteries of two murders, and for the heartbreak and aching guilt of a teenage girl.
After musing over it for a while, he carefully lifted the sheet and placed it with the others. He intended to make photocopies of Willie Hosner's letter and return the original to the box, and later consult someone experienced in document preservation in order to keep it as safe as possible until a permanent disposition was determined. He turned his attention to the book.