Tuesday, August 12, 2014

First Shot (36)

Blow considered skipping breakfast at Marie's this morning. He'd overslept an hour and was having trouble shaking off the vague confusion his myriad dreams had left just beneath the surface. Not narrative dreams by any stretch. Snippets of scenes, disjointed in continuity except for an underlying ambience.
There was a repetition of certain aspects. He was always approaching the apex of some success—finding the right person, the right thing to say, the right room, right building, street, book, tool, whatever it seemed to be that would cap a particular situation. Sometimes they would seem to segue into each other, back and forth despite there being no apparent connection. Yet always this sense of everything as part of something bigger, if not in common purpose then emotionally.
The incongruous jumble managed to cling by at least a tentacle through several awakenings, including once when he got up to pee. Now that he was up for the day, the notion to skip Marie's lasted about as long as one of his fractured dream segments. He wasn't hungry but he needed coffee and he wanted to see what the newspapers said about Himmler's murder.

Blow found his late arrival at Marie's went largely unnoticed. Most of the regular early bird crowd had eaten and left, and few of the later shift were familiar. It pleased him to find his usual booth empty, and he slid into it even though the dishes from it last occupants had not yet been removed. Instead of Angel, his regular waitress, another of the restaurant's mainstays, Roberta, appeared from the next room and began clearing them away. Blow asked if Angel was sick.
Well, she called in sick but when you didn't show up we all decided you two had finally run off together.”
Finally, huh? I didn't know she and Rodney were divorced.”
Oh, they aren't, Darlin, but you know she's had a terrible crush on you since I don't know when.”
Roberta! You wouldn't be trying to start something now, would you?”
The teasing continued as she finished piling the dirty dishes on a tray. Then she took his order and bustled off to the kitchen. By the time she'd returned with his coffee he had scanned the Richmond Times-Dispatch and Leicester Messenger stories on Himmler. Nothing new leaped out at him except for a line in the Richmond story quoting an unidentified “federal source” saying no one named Himmler had ever been employed by the government “in any capacity”. Uh huh. So why all the federal interest in his apparent murder, the reporter asked. Pure coincidence, said the source, adding, “it is no secret top government officials are scheduled to attend a special event at a nearby federal facility next weekend, and advance security measures are being taken.” Uh huh.
Evidently something was secret, at least locally. The reporter quoted York County's sheriff saying she knew of no special event that would involve the county. She also reaffirmed earlier statements to reporters that federal authorities had claimed jurisdiction in the murder investigation. The newspaper's headline for the story said simply, “Feds seize Yorktown; don't ask why.”
By the time Blow had finished his eggs, bacon and toast he was fully awake, more so than breakfast ordinarily did for him. More so even after reading the accounts of Himmler's demise. What brought him to a state of high alert was another news item, this one inside the weekly Messenger. It was a featured obituary for a Leicester resident named Cyrus Kellam, who had died the day before. But while the name was vaguely familiar—there were lots of Kellams in Leicester—it was the photo running with the story that drew his eye.
The photo was of Mr. Kellam standing in front of an old country story, Kellam's Market, that Blow recognized. His father had known Mr. Kellam and frequently had taken Blow and his sister to visit the store. The Judge loved Mr. Kellam's barbecue, for one thing, but he also enjoyed chatting with the old man. Blow remembered the place fondly, the smells the friendliness, the ice cream treats Mr. Kellam always gave him and Joan when they arrived.
Learning that the old man had died saddened Blow, and he carefully read the obit, refreshing his memory and tickling his curiosity at the information about Mr. Kellam's life. Among those preceding Mr. Kellam in death, it said, was his wife, Myrtle Hosner Kellam. Wait a minute, back up. Myrtle Hosner Kellam. Holy shit. Hosner. Willie Isaac Hosner. Adrenalin streaking up his arteries into his head, Blow skipped to the survivors, one of which was a granddaughter. Grandchildren were never named in obituaries. Holy shit.
He opened his cellphone, found Andrew Salzwedel in his contact list and tapped out the following text message: Call me ASAP! He pressed send and snapped the cover shut.

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