Blow waited until he heard the Bacon brothers' footsteps on the walkway before he went to the door. He watched through the glass panes as they entered the black SUV, slammed the doors and backed the bulky vehicle off the asphalt parking pad unto the side street. He watched them head up to the main street, cross it and drive out of sight beyond the next block.
He locked the door, closed the blinds and texted ready to Rose. He left the office through the back door to the hallway and went down past the library to his bedroom. He changed into his Tim Bascom disguise and lay back on the bed to wait for Rose.
His head roiled with conflicting emotions. For the first time since he'd taken the case he sensed a faint pulsing of optimism his client might in fact be innocent of murder. The evidence that Elvin Bacon had been set up was only hearsay, but it seemed plausible. Blow understood part of his positive turn of mind might be to brother Leonard's credit as the personality yin to Elvin's yang. Leonard's testimony should have the same effect on a jury. Gobble would want Lucas King on the stand for the sleaze factor. MacKenzie, of course, would deny everything. It was imperative to have his Dear Rat letter in order to give Lucas's story substance. Without it their seed of doubt had little chance to sprout.
And who the hell is Crawdad? And if they could identify him and find him why would he testify? Could Gobble or a judge offer him some sort of deal? Would they? If Crawdad could provide some substantive evidence of a conspiracy to defame Jacobs & Bacon? Wouldn't they be obligated?
Staring at the ceiling paint swirls as if therein lay signs to guide his thoughts, Blow arched his back and stretched his legs over the edge of the bed. What a tasty irony it would be to have Gobble responsible for establishing the defendant's innocence. And he wouldn't shirk, Blow felt certain. The prosecutor was an odd bird, not a likable man, but at least he had a reputation for honesty. And in his position that made him honorable. But the irony would nonetheless be sweet.
He was feeling giddy. This euphoria contained its own cautionary brake, the understanding it was premature and that its realization depended on a chain of fortunate events and that some of the links in the chain were less than dependable. Lucas King was surely unreliable, either for veracity or as a witness even if he was telling the truth. And Crawdad. Shit, maybe there was no Crawdad, and if he existed there was no guarantee he would corroborate what King says he overheard. In fact there was little chance of it. Little to none.
So why, Blow wondered, was he feeling positive? Energized? Was it naivete? He didn't think so. Was it relief of stress? Could such a little glimpse of a possible successful outcome have such effect? This was more likely. The stress had been accumulating, gradually, like pieces in a picture puzzle. Each new piece brought more of the picture into view, and way the picture was developing did not promise happiness, for Elvin Bacon or, as his proxy, Blow. This morning's little respite offered the possibility of a different outcome. A picture that had begun to suggest a big pile of manure could instead turn into a giant chocolate ice cream cone.
He bounced his calves against the edge of the mattress a couple of times, then swung them onto the bed and pivoted so he was lying lengthwise, still on his back. His spiritual lift beyond the immediate relief from stress, he knew, was a dangerous indulgence, one whose price if the chain broke would bring him the psychological equivalent of an ice cream headache. The mere recognition of this likelihood started souring his mood. He regained his balance with the insight that his truer desire was less selfish. What he really hoped for was that the mystery woman, no matter how she came to be on the boat with Bacon, had survived, had swum to safety and would turn up alive, whether in custody as a defendant on fraud charges or just from dumb luck.
Following this ripple of optimism came another of doubt. If what the Bacon brothers told him was true, if a disgruntled former client had arranged from prison to have the woman pretend to fall off Bacon's boat and presumably drown, what was with the fingerprint wiping? Why was it so important to hide the woman's identity and how could someone have gotten onto the boat while it was in Coast Guard custody and scrub away every last vestige of every fingerprint that was there? The risk was enormous, both in gaining access to the boat and in its later discovery. The missing fingerprints, if nothing else, corroborate the claim Lucas King made in his affidavit.
Was discrediting Jacobs & Bacon so important?
Blow heard the car approach and park on the pad outside his office entrance. He knew Rose would wait for him there as they were in a hurry to get to Richmond for the book signing. He rolled off the bed, put on his overcoat, grabbed his hat and briefcase and headed for the door.
[ch 1: http://tinyurl.com/of4gfq5]