Blow's consciousness emerged in accelerating increments from the latent panic of being somewhere on his back in excruciating pain, unable to move or speak. A sense of something darkly malevolent looming above him riveted his attention around the barrel of what appeared to be a pistol inches from his face. Distantly, a non-specific voice intruded, complicating the sickening intimacy of his predicament enough to let in a familiar scent, and then the touch of thighs embracing his torso.
“No, ma'am. Mr. Stone can't take the call. He's sound asleep. Yes. Under a doctor's care, as I said. He can't meet you at the jail tonight but he'll be available to meet with you tomorrow. Yes. Yes. I understand. I know you want your son home as soon as possible. Yes. I will call the jail right now and tell them you and your husband are coming. I'm sorry? Oh, I'm Joan, Mr. Stone's sister. Joan Stone. That is correct. Tomorrow morning...or, yes of course, later this morning. Mr. Stone will be in his office at nine. That's right. Yes, ma'am. Good bye.”
The pok of a cellphone snapping shut opened Blow's eyes. He managed to focus on the moonlit features of Rose McGillicutty's saucy Irish face just in time to discern who he was looking at before she rocked sideways and reached for the chair next to his side of the bed, then rocked back upright atop him.
“Shit,” she said, rocking the other way, snatching her smart phone from the bedside table and rocking back upright. “I gotta call the damned jail. What's your client's name again? Morowitz, right?”
“Allen Bradley III.” Blow's voice came out half-strangled.
“Allen Bradley Morowitz, right? Sorry to wake you, Darlin'. I gotta make this damned call.”
“Yup, that's it. What's up?”
She explained that his client's parents had just gotten in and wanted to bail their son out as soon as they could get to the jail. It was a little after three. They guessed it would take them less than an hour to get from the airport to Leicester. They wanted Blow to meet them at the jail. He started to nod that he understood, but pain shot through his neck. He squeezed his eyes shut.
“Sounded like you handled it brilliantly, Rosie. Did I hear you tell them you were Joan?”
Rose grinned. “I started to say I was your wife, then I almost gave them my name. I don't think too clearly coming out of a sound sleep. But then I had a flash of inspiration. Close call, wasn't it.”
“Ha ha. So what're you gonna tell the deputy?”
“Oops. Shit. Caller ID. You up to making the call, Darlin'?” Blow almost nodded again. “Sure,” he said instead. Rose rocked back to the chair and retrieved the flip-up phone. He fumbled with it in the curtain-dimmed moonlight through the bedroom window, punched up a number, spoke with someone, his voice sounding oddly formal, and flipped the phone shut. Rose rocked back to the bedside table where she deposited both phones.
“Shoulda put yours there to begin with,” she said, rocking back upright.
“You could have, but then I wouldn't be having the pleasure of all this rocking back and forth upon me.”
“You enjoying this?”
“Haven't you figured that out yet?”
“Oh. Yeah. So you are. Actually, um, I'm kinda enjoying it myself.”
“Oh. Yeah. So you are.”
Blow had forgotten how petite Julie Morowitz was. Looking at her now as she entered his office with her husband, her diminutive size and an air of girlish diffidence erased the impression she'd made from Judge Lambert's laptop screen during her son's bond hearing. Now, the composed face, its smooth, snowy complexion adorned with the cascading auburn spirals that had struck Blow as Medusa-like in the Skype close-up, seemed fragile.
He knew how perception can mislead, and how part of the illusion he was experiencing had to do with the husband's disproportionate size—well over six feet tall, broad-shouldered, sturdy, confident body language—which at a distance oddly emboldened the effect of his freckled face and short, sandy hair. It was a face that had looked weak in the Skype conference.
As he welcomed them, motioned them to the chairs facing his desk, made light of his neck brace and offered cordial largely generic remarks, another, older sense of the couple wedged itself between the contrasting versions. The Morowitzes were younger then but seemed in his memory much younger than the intervening years would imply. They'd been almost giddy with the enthusiasm of buying a new house. Blow handled their end of the transaction. He remembered the matter with a good feeling, some of which their presence brought with them despite the grim circumstances.
“Mrs. Bassett's not here today?” Julie Morowitz's relaxed contralto also belied its effect in the bond hearing—gone was the nasal suggestion of anxiety, which Blow guessed could have been a distortion in the Skype transmission. He stifled a gasp at her mentioning the name of his part-time secretary. She couldn't have met Barbara Bassett more than at most twice during the earlier matter, and then only peripherally. And if Mrs. Morowitz knew Barbara in some other context she would have used her first name. With a memory that powerful she could make a politician go dumb. Any notion as to who might be in charge here, no matter how soft the touch, suddenly went moot. Allen Bradley Morowitz II, his bulk threatening to overwhelm the hardwood courtroom chair, merely gazed wondrously at his poised, able spouse.
“Barbara's taking a long weekend, Mrs. Morowitz. She's semi-retired, works only part-time anyway now. She'll be pleased to know you remembered her.”
It was when the interview moved on to substance, leaning toward Blow to discuss the dire prospects facing their son, Chip, that Julie and Al--as they'd introduced themselves—revealed a subtler indication of the difference in their personalities: Blow found it in their eyes and their mouths. Julie's brown irises sparkled with spirit, Al's were such a pale blue they had a spectral aura. At a distance his strong jaw and sharp cheekbones mitigated this effect, but up close, intuitively, they betrayed an inner weakness. His thin lips seemed to corroborate this, as well. Even slack they had a pinched, prissy look. His wife's lower lip protruded slightly, robust and challenging, allowing a glimpse of teeth. Her face, peering at him through the auburn spirals, hinted slyly she could enjoy a little sexual mischief.
Despite this difference in demeanors, or perhaps because of it, Blow addressed his first question to Al Morowitz.
“I'm sort of surprised you didn't bring Chip along.” He tried to sound casual, but Al flinched at its import. He stared briefly at Blow, then said, “He was so tired. We decided to let him sleep.”
“I guess there's no one with him then?”
Morowitz stared a moment more, then turned his head and passed the baton to his wife.
“No, Mr. Stone. We trust our son. He didn't kill anyone, and he's going to cooperate fully with you and obey the terms of his bond. We trust you, too. We're counting on you to clear our boy's good name.”
“Well, thank you, Mrs. Morowitz. I certainly hope you're right.” He wondered silently if Judge Lambert would agree that the terms she'd set for bond were being met.
He decided she might were Julie Morowitz to make the argument they were.