The shank of white hair spoke to Blow as intimately as a whisper. It reached his gaze as he neared the end of his walk from where he’d parked his truck behind an unmarked police car. He was approaching the yellow crime-scene tape guarding the small pier. His eye caught the glimpse of familiar hair, strands fluttering intermittently in the evening breeze from under the mound of pale blue tarp on the weedy bank opposite the pier across the narrow creek. Strobing blue and red emergency lights flickered off the tarp’s surfaces. He saw bare feet poking out from under the covering as well, but without the familiar sandals they failed to affect him with the same sorrow of personal recognition.
“We really need to stop meeting like this.” The voice was aimed his way. Callahan’s. It sounded weary. Blow looked back toward where the vehicles were parked and saw the cop approaching, only a few steps away.
“At least not the same day,” Blow said, wondering instantly if he should have said “on the same day” and then realizing it didn’t matter and wondering why he’d thought it might and understanding at that precise moment the day’s stress was on the verge of undoing him. Callahan stopped next to Blow at the tape and stared across the creek at the blue mound winking in the emergency lights. “At least your boy didn’t do this one, or did she change her mind on the bail?”
“Far as I know he’s still in your jail, unless he escaped.”
They stood in silence. The cop spoke first. “Know who it is?”
Blow didn’t like the question. He knew Callahan probably hadn’t been involved in Curtis’s abduction but maybe he had with Moriarty’s. Chaotic notions struggled in his mind. At the forefront were the implications of the two abductions and his own reaction to Curtis’s murder. It bothered him to feel relieved the corpse under the tarp wasn’t Moriarty’s. It bothered him that Moriarty had gotten so much under his skin that a large measure of his sorrow recognizing the pastor’s hair just now was guilt for feeling relieved it was Curtis’s and not Moriarty’s.
“I just got here, Carl, but I think it’s Reverend Curtis from the Patmos church over on Arrowhead Lane. His secretary said she thinks he ran into some foul play. I talked with him this afternoon. Tyrone Genét was a member there.”
“The black guy?”
“Plot thickens, like they say in the novels. So what the hell’s going on here, Joe?”
“I should be asking you that question.”
“Who’s the secretary?”
“She’s a client.”
“You didn’t answer my question.”
“How about I ask you one: Is Teach on duty?”
“Teach? What’s that got to do with anything?” Callahan peered intently at Blow but kept his voice level.
Blow upped the volume of his a notch. “Is he?”
“Hey, easy, Counselor, easy. Who stuck a hair up your ass? Don’t answer that. Teach has been off all day. Comes back Monday. Now will you answer my question? Both of them?”
“My client said she saw Curtis get into a car a couple hours ago with a man who looked like Teach. She said it looked like the man forced Curtis into the car against his will.” Blow watched the cop’s face carefully. Callahan never blinked, keeping his eyes riveted on Blow’s. The furrowing of his brow seemed a natural response to the information he’d just received, as if genuinely surprised and concerned. Blow decided against mentioning the earlier incident when one of the two men who forced Moriarty into a car resembled Teach, and the other Callahan. The possibility Joan Bismark might be in danger now came to him with the impact of a face slap. It was reasonable to assume she also knew whatever Curtis knew that got him killed. It occurred to Blow the secretary might not even know what it was that could make her a target. If as Homer had implied Curtis was tortured he might have given his captors enough information to put Joan at risk. He had to get back to the church. He hoped he had time to stop by the house to get the pistol his sister kept in her nightstand.
“Fuck,” Callahan muttered. He lifted the crime tape and stepped onto the pier, waving an arm to get the attention of one of the deputies--two uniformed and one plainclothes--Blow saw on the island. He recognized Doc Botticelli, acting medical examiner, standing next to the blue mound. Botticelli leaned over and lifted a corner of the tarp and stared at what was under it. One of the uniformed deputies waved back at Callahan and untied the rowboat secured to a stump at the island edge. The deputy climbed in, lifted the oars and began the creaking and splashing motions of rowing across the creek. As the boat neared the pier, Callahan turned back to Blow, his voice sounding even wearier than before: “I need to talk to your client, the secretary. I’ll get up with you tomorrow.” Blow nodded.
Blow started back to his truck. He was surprised to see few people on the mainland side of the creek. He saw three houses among the trees lining both sides of the narrow asphalt lane leading from the main road. A man, woman and school-age child stood together on the lighted porch of one house. Another was dark. The third house, nearest the pier, he guessed was the one Homer had said looked like a cabin. It was plain and only one story. Blow saw yellow light through one of the windows. Then he saw someone standing in the dark near the front door. As he drew closer he saw it was a man and the man was looking at him.
“Hello,” Blow said. The man said nothing, but turned and unhurriedly went into the house. Blow wanted to follow him, introduce himself and leave a card. No time even for that tonight, though, he decided. He had to get back to the church as soon as possible. He got into his truck and turned around at an unkempt grassy circle in front of the house. As he did this he saw the man standing, silhouetted, at the lighted window, looking out. Blow waved a hand and drove back to the main road.
[links to all prior chapters can be found on the right margin.]