Cheryl Salzwedel squirmed in the front seat of the cruiser gasping for breath, her frightened face looking in turns at Deputy Rodriguez next to her, and Blow in the backseat. She tried in fits to speak, but sounded choked. Blow saw Rodriguez gently pat the woman's wrist as they waited for her breathing to steady. Her first words were an apology.
“I'm sorry. I guess I panicked. So glad to see your car.”
“Is she in there? In your house?” Rodriguez, couldn't hide the alarm in her voice. Her left hand was on the door handle, door still ajar. Blow's was also cracked open. His eyes were fixed on the house, legs tensed and ready to spring.
“Oh, no! At least I don't think so, unless she snuck in and I didn't see her. Andy sent me a text message to get out of the house, that a dangerous woman would be trying to get in. He told me to go next door and that he was coming straight home. I was getting a roast ready for supper. I just dropped everything and ran out. I saw your car and...” She started quietly sobbing.
When the sobbing abated, with another embarrassed apology from Cheryl Salzwedel, Rodriguez asked, “Cheryl, do you keep any guns in the house?”
Cheryl shook her head, vigorously. “No! No guns. We've never owned any. I haven't and I don't think Andy has, either. And we would never allow one in our house.”
Rodriguez said, “We think this woman—who people say looks like me, by the way, for future reference—is looking for a gun. We don't know why. She doesn't need a gun for what she does. She has a very powerful taser weapon that was designed for the military--”
“The one a couple years ago? When they were trying to build the prison? Is this the same woman?”
“We think so,” Blow said. “If it is, you may recall she used this weapon on me. I'm still here, so it's not necessarily fatal, but it's still dangerous. She's already used it on Mrs. Gunther and one her sons. Just a little while ago.”
“Oh my God! Are they all right?”
“They seem to be. I spoke with Mrs. Gunther briefly before they went to the hospital. Just for observation. She and the boy seemed dazed, but otherwise there didn't seem to be any injuries.”
“What makes you think this woman is looking for a gun?”
“Nancy...Mrs. Gunther, said the woman asked her before she zapped her, where they kept the guns. Mrs. Gunther said they didn't keep guns in the house, either.”
“I know Nancy. She's alright. Not like her husband. I feel sorry for her and the boys.”
“They stayed home from school today. I don't know how they got along with their father, but it still must be a terrible thing for kids.”
“They're good boys. I never heard that Newt mistreated them, physically. He was just never there—for them or Nancy.”
The backup deputy arrived shortly before Andrew Salzwedel drove up. Cheryl jumped from the cruiser and ran to her husband. The deputy, a tall, lanky fellow with a hound dog face, loped over to Rodriguez's cruiser and leaned in the driver's side window. He nodded at Blow, then spoke softly to Connie. Blow had seen him several times before. Name was Arlan Tisdale. Seemed competent, always courteous.
After conferring briefly they agreed to suggest to the Salzwedels that they move the family to another location—stay with friends or rent a motel—for a day or two. They would ask Sheriff Oglethorpe to assigned the patrol units to keep an eye on the residence, along with the Gunthers', as a deterrent in case Moriarty was determined to find whatever she was after. The idea it was a gun made no sense to either of them.
Tisdale turned back to Blow. “What about you, Mr. Stone? Is there a chance she might think you have whatever it is? You know, maybe your client gave it to you for safekeeping?”
“That's a good question, Deputy. Nobody's given me anything, but I can see how she might come to that conclusion. We do have a slight history, you know?” Blow grinned, and Tisdale responded with one of his own.
“I do remember, Mr. Stone. I might have had a bit of history with the woman, too, if it had been my shift that night. Might have been me got zapped there at the field 'stead of Barney.”
“You were lucky, Arlan. It does tickle a tad.”
“So I hear.”
The deputies waited until the Salzwedels had packed. They'd made arrangements to stay with friends they knew from church. Andrew drove to their temporary lodging while Cheryl took her car to pick up the two children from school.
After they left, Rodriguez drove Blow back to the Gunthers' to pick up his truck. She returned then to the Salzwedels' where Tisdale was to remain on watch in case Moriarty showed up. When she got back, his cruiser was empty.