“If that was pink you'd look even more like a dick.”
“Thanks, Major. I'd flash you a moon but they told me I can't move until they have the results.”
Callahan nodded. He'd rolled a stool over to the examination table where Blow was resting his head on a pillow at the elevated end. “So what the hell happened? And don't tell me you slipped and fell, or I'll tell them to give you a pink thing for your neck.”
“It's called a cervical collar, and I doubt they come in pink.”
“You didn't answer my question.”
“I don't know, Carl. I remember standing on the porch talking to Teach. Next thing I know I'm on my ass and my head feels like it's exploding.”
“Okay, and where was Teach then?
“Curled up on his side on the porch, groaning like a dying pig. No offense.”
“None taken. “What were you and Teach talking about when this happened?”
“I don't remember. Probably something regarding Jasper Mundaign. I was surprised to see Teach there.”
Callahan leaned closer to Blow, resting his hands on the edge of the cushioned table. He lowered his voice from conversational to a more intimate tone, close to a whisper. “You and Teach hate each other, don't you?”
A sudden clarity alerted Blow to a different possible agenda for the interview, one framed by circumstances beyond those on Mundaign's porch. He wished his digital recorder were concealed nearby silently preserving everything being said.
“Hate's a pretty strong word, although I imagine he hates me. As for him, I don't trust him, but I don't know him well enough to hate.”
Callahan was watching Blow's face closely. “He could lose that leg, you know--”
“What?” Blow's head jerked slightly, then he grimaced and lay back against the pillow. Eyes closed, he struggled with the pain and the new information. He'd been allowing sporadic embryonic thoughts of the possibility his neck was seriously injured, although he refused to entertain the word vertebra. Now, the notion of Teach losing a leg because of what happened crashed into his thoughts in a wave of dissonance so fierce he felt it from his armpits to his hands. He feared he'd begin trembling, and hoped evidence of his own injury would screen the reaction from Callahan. He wanted to shout The fucker tried to kill me! but instead squawked, “Lose his leg?”
“It's messed up pretty good. They're taking him to MCV. Want some specialists to look at it. The sheriff canceled his fishing trip when he heard.”
Blow mustered enough wit to grunt “Uh oh.” The corners of Callahan's thin mouth twitched.
Sensing the interrogation was about wound down, Blow felt the room become self-consciously silent, as if awaiting an invisible shoe to drop. Most immediate for him was the X-ray results. What was taking so long? Was it like a jury, the longer it took the better the chance of an acquittal? He inhaled deeply, released the air in a heavy sigh. Probably just the opposite. The technician would be getting the physician, or maybe a couple of them. He'd be admitted. He restrained his imagination. Backed away, in fact. Focused on Callahan. “I guess that whack on my head has screwed up my memory, Carl. I'm having trouble understanding why Teach answered the door. Did something happen to Mundaign? I don't think Teach was in uniform. I don't recall him saying anything about Mundaign. I don't recall anything we said, just that he was standing there when the door opened.”
The mouth twitched again, this time stretching enough for Blow to discern the beginning of an actual smile. Or more likely an ironic grin. “First question first. Mundaign made the 911 call on you two. So far as I know, he's just fine. As to Teach being in the house, well, he shouldn't have been, at least not without the tenant's permission—and we're looking into that—but he does own the property. Teach does. He lives nearby, walked over there. I'm going to talk with him about that.” Callahan pushed the stool back and stood. Hitched up his pants.
“You know, you're not alone not trusting the prick,” he said. “If it wasn't for Ogie, Teach would've been out on his ass long ago. And don't ask me what it is with him and the sheriff. I've heard the same gossip you have, but Ogie won't talk about it. Just gives me some shit like 'He's a good man. Just a little rough around the edges.' Yeah, right. Rough around the edges of moral turpitude.
“But you didn't hear that, Joe, dammit.”
“So what did Teach say happened? At Mundaign's I mean?
Callahan laughed. “Said he must've slipped on the wet porch. Didn't remember anything else.”
A woman in blue-green scrubs stepped into the room. Callahan excused himself and left. Blow saw her peripherally, and tried to turn to see if anyone had entered with her, but the pain in his neck wouldn't let him.
“Mr. Stone,” she said, “We have your results.”