Sunday, July 6, 2014

First Shot (19)

The pace of whatever it was involving Blow's prospective clients and their nemeses was accelerating beyond his comfort level of reflection versus action. This kicked his thought processing into a higher gear, bringing, he knew, the danger of a disastrous misstep.
Thus, after unsuccessfully questioning Nancy Gunther's other son, who had prudently dashed out the back door and called 911 when he realized the “radon inspector” was in fact a home raider, and who now, if ever, was unwilling to trust any unfamiliar adult, including Blow, but who promised to “hang loose” at a neighbor's residence until his mother returned from the hospital, instead of heading to the hospital to further interview Nancy, Blow persuaded Deputy Rodriguez to allow him to ride with her to the home of Andrew Salzwedel in the hope they would reach it before Cynthia/Jamie Snow/Moriarty showed up to do her number on his family. At least he assumed that was her next step.
Rodriguez argued briefly with Sgt. Teach, left him standing, glaring on the lawn and slid behind the wheel of her cruiser. Blow had already strapped himself in on the passenger side. Rodriguez started the engine, radioed her dispatcher, flipped on the pursuit lights and siren and floored the accelerator, squeeching tires as she launched the cruiser on its way.

Focused on driving, she remained silent until they were out of the neighborhood and onto the highway headed north toward the Bacon's End subdivision. Blow had alerted Salzwedel with a text message. Classes at the high school had resumed on Tuesday, and he was back teaching history.
The deputy finally spoke despite keeping her attention riveted to the road in thickening midday traffic. Her voice was taut: “So what do you think she's after?”
“Nancy Gunther said Moriarty—I'm using her current alias--wanted to know where they kept the guns.”
“Why would she need guns, with that monster taser she has?”
“Good question. I was hoping I might learn more from Nancy, but right now I think it's the Salzwedels she wants. If whatever she's looking for is in the Gunthers' house she can't go back now.
“You don't think she found it?”
“I'm guessing she didn't have enough time. She surely didn't count on anyone calling 911.”
“Yeah. Whatever it is, it wouldn't have been easy to find. Teach said he didn't see much of anything disturbed there. Couple closets. That's all.”
Blow stretched and rotated his head, getting a couple of clicks from his neck. “You figure her for that Himmler character?”
“Too coincidental if not, huh? I don't know any more than what Shirley put out on the radio on our way to the Gunthers. Strangled in his room? Could've been a hooker.”
“Never heard of that happening around here, Connie. We know now he wasn't with Colonial. Don't know who he was really, or what he was really here for. FBI, maybe. Joan says they've had undercovers for the past week or two here looking for Moriarty.”
“Wow. If she killed another one...”
“I doubt she's that stupid. I'm betting Himmler—for lack of a better name—was here for the same reason she is.”
“Maybe Salzwedel knows, huh?” She turned off Route 14 onto a winding, woodsy road that eventually connected with Bacon's End, named after a 17th century rebel whose remains were said to be contained in a lead coffin sunk in silt at the bottom a nearby Chesapeake Bay tributary.
Rodriguez cut the lights and siren when she entered the Salzwedels' street. She slowed and eased the cruiser to a stop along the curb a couple of houses away.
“I wish I knew what this bitch is driving,” she said. “Teach said Mrs. Gunther had no idea. Just saw her at the door.”
“Probly stolen, whatever it is. Stolen tags, too. Probly switched 'em after leaving the Gunthers in case anyone got the numbers, like the other son.”
The neighborhood was modest but nicely kept. No more than ten years old. Starter homes for young families. The Salzwedels' was a silver-gray split-level, which looked to Blow similar in design to the Gunthers' but smaller and on a smaller lot. Rodriguez reported her location to the dispatcher and asked for a backup unit.
“I think we should wait until we get some help, Joe. In case she's already inside.”
“I can go up there,” Blow said. “I'm Andy's lawyer. If Moriarty's in there about the only risk I face is getting zapped again. It's not fun, but I survived. I'll let you know if the coast is clear.”
“I'd rather you didn't.”
“Well, we can assume his kids aren't in there. Three, I believe, and they should be in school now.”
“Joe, listen. I can't let you go in there. I hate to be pissy about it, but since you're riding with me your safety is my responsibility. If you had come here in your truck it would be diff--”
Rodriguez saw it first, the figure running down the sidewalk toward them. She shoved her door open and had gotten out of the unit just as Blow saw the runner, a woman. A dark-skinned woman in a housecoat, tails flapping as she dashed full out, arms and knees pumping. She slowed and stopped when she saw the unit, put her hands up to her head. Shouted something.
The deputy had reached her by the time Blow was out of the cruiser.

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