Monday, October 10, 2016

Death's Honesty (13)

Callahan was standing alone at the defense table studying a sheet of paper in his hand when Blow emerged from the judge’s chambers. Gobble, who had left the hearing room shaking his head and making a demonstration of checking his watch as if in a hurry, was nowhere in sight. Blow stood for a moment, eyes on Callahan, still trying to fathom whether his imagination was playing tricks or if he was seeing an aspect of the cop he’d not noticed before. Callahan raised his eyes from the paper, and Blow knew his second notion was the more likely. It was something in the way he held his head. The chin a little higher than usual affecting the planes of his face to give the cheekbones more prominence and foreshorten the aggressive nose. It was a pugnacious sort of tilt, yet it held a subtle mitigation. The tension ordinarily associated with this posture seemed missing. There was an absence of challenge. And the eyes corroborated this sense. They were fixed on Blow but the skin between them had creased, suggesting an incongruous uncertainty. Blow offered a single nod as if acknowledging a stranger.
Anyone still in there?” Callahan tilted his head toward bench, behind which the door to the judge’s chambers was closed. The tension missing in his visage was in his voice.
I’m the last one. Judge went out the back way.” Blow saw the effect his own stiffness had on the other—head position returned to normal after a quick swivel to either side surveying the empty courtroom. The creases were gone.
Let’s go to my office.”
I’m exhausted, Carl. Been a long day.”
Tell me about it. Witness room okay?” Blow nodded. Callahan folded the paper he’d been studying, and put it inside his jacket. He led them to the room on the west side of the building and opened the blinds enough to let in the late afternoon sunlight giving the room a coppery cast. He sat at the long table with his back to the window and Blow took the chair directly across, near enough that now even half-silhouetted by the back lighting he could see in Callahan’s face the same weariness he was feeling. The cop passed a palm over his shaved head and leaned forward with both forearms in front of him on the wooden table top. After a few halfhearted starts at small talk sputtered like the flooded engine of a lawnmower, he blew air through his lips, shaking his head a couple of times as if bewildered and fixed his eyes on Blow’s.
I think the bitch is back.”
Blow felt he knew exactly what Callahan had just said and what it meant but, unsure just how to respond, how much to give away if he was right and more importantly how much Callahan knew and suspected Blow of knowing or suspecting, he merely furrowed his brow and nodded, thinking to convey he had heard the words and was processing the various implications. But he quickly saw this wasn’t enough. Callahan was staring at him as if he’d lobbed a ball over the net and was waiting for the return. Blow had to say something.
You mean,” he started, staring back with matching intensity. He’d stopped nodding, let his words hang. Callahan’s turn.
You know who I mean, Joe. The Connie Rodriguez lookalike who always seems to show up in Leicester whenever we get a big-ass murder, who’s had federal warrants on her head for three years now in the theft of classified military property not to mention the murder of an FBI agent. That one. Last we heard she was calling herself, umm--”
Moriarty.” He hesitated a beat and added, “What do you mean she’s back?
I said think. I think she’s back. Teach said he saw somebody looked like her last night. At the scene.”
Blow’s eyebrows shot up of their own volition. He eased back in his chair. “Did he talk to her?”
He did not. Says he was checking on the vics and looked up and there she was standing by the pier, looking straight at him. Homer was putting your future client in Teach’s unit—by the way, I advised him not to resign. Ogie’s in North Carolina trying to catch a marlin or some damned big-ass fish, so I told Homer to take a leave, that I’d write it up for him. He’s too good a man to cut loose like that. I trust him not to cross his wires working for you on this. I reminded him that just in case something like that were to happen, even inadvertently, Ogie’d fire his ass and get his P.I. license yanked. I probly didn’t need to tell him that but Homer didn’t seem to take offense, anyway--”
So what about Moriarty? Teach saw her, that’s all?”
Pretty much. Teach says he thought it was Rodriguez responding, although she was off duty and out of uniform. When he finished checking the vics she was gone. He called out. Nothing. There you have it. I checked with Connie this morning. Says she was home all night. I believe her.”
Well shit.” Blow knew he sounded natural despite his other concerns about Moriarty and the ever present possibility Callahan was trying to put something over on him. His voiced chagrin had more to do with the added complication to his agenda than with what Callahan undoubtedly expected of him. Good enough, although his scrutiny of the cop seated across from him had grown keener.
Yup. My reaction precisely,” Callahan said, and Blow caught no irony in voice or face.

Blow was in his truck when it occurred to him he hadn’t turned his cellphone on after leaving the hearing. He did so now and found he had one unplayed message. It was from the secretary at Patmos Evangelical, sent within the past hour. She was hysterical, her voice shrill, words coming between gasps.
Mr. Stone? Something’s happened to Rev. Curtis. That car came back. One of them. One of the ones that took that woman. They sat out there and honked the horn and Chris went out to see what they wanted and a man got out and it looked like they were arguing waving their arms and shouting and I got up to go out to see what was wrong but when I got out the door they were gone and I think they took Chris with them oh please--” The message broke off.
Blow pushed the button to reply. Got the answering machine.


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