Saturday, September 20, 2014

First Shot (55)

Blow was feeling foolish and vulnerable when he arrived at the Kellams. He'd begun having second thoughts about the wisdom of bringing Homer into his drama when it quickly became apparent nobody was following anyone—neither Blow in Homer's car nor Homer in the hardware store's van. He tried to console himself with the argument that caution was always advisable when even a fragment of doubt existed that an action might endanger someone. But while the argument was valid it wasn't enough to dispel his sense of having overreacted, that he was wasting his friend's time imitating a clichĂ© movie scene.
It also occurred to him it was entirely possible Sarah Kellam was not innocent, that maybe she did kill Gunther. Technically not her lawyer although he had offered his services to her mother, he had to be careful he was not instrumental in helping destroy potential evidence.

The clock on Homer's dashboard told Blow he was arriving nearly forty-five minutes after he'd gotten the cryptic call from Cheryl Salzwedel. Two cars and a pickup truck were parked in the Kellams' gravel driveway, and two cars sat on the shoulder in front of the house. The blue Honda Salzwedel had driven that morning was not among them. The prospect that something happened to Salzwedel raised a note of new alarm with its accompanying adrenalin squirt to his solar plexus.
He parked on the shoulder and checked his cellphone. No missed calls or new text messages. He had started tapping a brief message to Salzwedel when a shadow blotted out the descending sun's fading light. Salzwedel was in the road at the driver's side window.
Blow rolled the window down. “I was about to send you a text,” he said. “I didn't see your brother-in-law's car.”
“He needed it, so I took Elaine's car. Cheryl's sister.”
“So what's the deal, Andy?”
“How about I join you in that car? Cold out here.”
“Hop in.” Blow leaned across the seat and unlatched the passenger door. Salzwedel was shivering, hugging himself, when he slid in. He pulled the door shut but brought so much of the chill in with him it seemed to Blow it hadn't shut properly.
“It's the wind. Really getting getting feisty. Especially out here so near the water.” The shivering gave his voice a comic vibrato.
“Another storm's on the way, looks like.”
“Just what we need. Bad weather for Gunther's funeral. Rather symbolic.” He offered a grim laugh.
“Helen says she thought Sarah was going back to the store--”
“Mrs. Kellam. Sorry. Anyway, she says not long after we brought Sarah home she announced that she'd forgotten something. She went out to her grandfather's truck, and that's the last anyone saw of her. Helen didn't remember hearing the truck drive off, but it's not at the house. Helen called her cellphone, but it was not in service.”
“And they're checked the store, I presume.”
“No sign of her.”
“Does Mrs. Kellam know I'm here?”
“She called me and expressly asked me to bring you. She's worried because Sarah's been despondent since her grandfather died. Blames herself, as she told us. And Helen's seen that story on the Herald's website. She's a smart woman, and although she hasn't said it directly I think she's wondering if Sarah might have shot Gunther or thinks her grandfather did.”
“Woooo. I've been trying not to think along those lines myself, but it sort of makes sense. Not the grandfather. I can't see him killing somebody over an antique musket, but I can see Sarah blaming him for putting pressure on family. That's assuming the possibility he somehow found out the Kellams had the musket.”
Salzwedel, massaging his chin, stared hard at Blow for a moment, then looked down and rocked his head back and forth. “No, uh uh. I don't think he knew. He was badgering me, and I suppose Sarah knew that. We had a couple of loud arguments in my room between classes, and I'm sure some of my students could hear what was said.
“Sarah might have figured it was only a matter of time before he found out. And her gramps, as she called him, was already in a funk over his store. The economy was crushing him. And, oh that's right, she'd told him how she'd blogged about the musket and that there was a lot of interest in it. And that really set him off. That's why she's blaming herself now. But the old man was still alive when Gunther got shot. She just might have thought she could stop the damage she'd already caused from getting any worse.”
“Yeah, that's a good point, Andy. Dammit. Let's get in there and talk to the mother.”

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