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.”
Blow sighed, sat on the loading dock and started massaging his forehead with his fingertips. “I am getting a little jumpy, Homer. You see the Daily Herald website article this morning?”
“Oh yeah. That Gladstone thing? Ex-senator? That the guy President Rose called 'Bart Bullshit'?”
“Sure is. And he's still full of crap. But he's dangerous, and the fact he's in Leicester isn't good. He stopped by my office a little while ago.”
“Mary Lloyd was there. She'll probly have something on the Messenger's website any minute now.”
“This thing's heating up, huh?”
“Don't be surprised to find an armada of media heading this way from Yorktown as we speak. Gunther's funeral Saturday will be a madhouse.”
“Shit, Blow. That woman still around, too, you think? One with the ray gun?”
“Wouldn't doubt it. They're all looking for the same thing.”
“Yup, and Gladstone told me just now he not only thinks it's the gun that killed Gunther, but the same gun that fired the first shot of the Revolutionary War, at the Battle of Lexington.”
“Nope. This whole damned thing started over a blog. And now one side wants to use the musket to show our forefathers lied about who fired the first shot, and the other side wants to make sure it never sees the light of day.”
“It's here in Leicester?”
“That's what they say.”
“Any idea where it might be?”
“A client of mine might know. That's where I'm headed now. For all I know Gladstone's lurking like a spider waiting to see where I go. Or maybe the woman.”
“The one with the ray gun.”
“That's the one.”
“Shit, man. OK, when I get back I'll check your truck again for a tracker. If I find one I think we should get it to the FBI.”
“Huh? Them, too?”
Blow nodded. “Hard to tell anymore who we can trust, Homer.”
“OK, man, let's saddle up. Now look, all three of our vehicles have CB radios. They're all tuned to a commercial frequency hardly anybody uses. You'll see it under my dashboard. Just pick up the mic and press the button to talk. Let up on the button to listen. I'll turn the thing on before we head out. Now Elmer's going to be a ways behind you to see if anybody picks up your tail. He'll be close enough to keep you in sight but not so close the tail will make him. If Elmer thinks you're being followed he will say, 'Marie's in twenty for coffee'. Remember that: 'Marie's in twenty for coffee'. If you hear that, turn around without looking suspicious and double back. Elmer will take over then. He will follow the tail, try to keep him from getting back on yours. Elmer used to race stock cars. He'll give them a run for their money. Once he thinks you're clear, he'll tell you he just got a call, rain check on Marie's. Got that?”
“I think so. You sound like you've done this before, Homer.”
“I help out Craig, my cousin, now and then. He was with Commonwealth Security before he opened his own agency.”
By the time Homer had finished briefing Blow, Elmer had locked up the store and was on the loading dock with them. Tall and lanky, with an easy smile and manner, Elmer was about ten years older than his employer. He'd been hired as a teen by Homer's father, and worked at the store ever since.
The three men climbed into their vehicles and tested the radios with a simple, 'Let's get to work' from Homer, a 'Roger that' from Elmer, and then Blow's 'OK'.
Homer left first with the van.