Monday, September 5, 2016

Death's Honesty (8)

As text messages went, Blow assumed the one he'd just tapped out most likely strayed so far from urban protocol whatever it said would provoke a derisive snort from someone who knew. Not that he knew or cared, or that the woman calling herself Jamie Moriarty would know or care so long as she understood the message.

He was back in his truck in front of Price Hardware with the engine running and a/c on full blast. He'd found some answers talking with Homer, but some new questions had come to mind. On balance his nerves were a tad more settled, a condition he credited in part to the pizza and to Homer's even-tempered, quietly reasoning friendliness. It had been an aspect of his personality for as long as Blow had known Homer, which went back to their childhood when Blow and his dad would visit the store. Homer usually was there, pretending he was helping his father, preferring being at the store than at home with his mother and sisters. As he grew older he actually did help out at the store, after school. This continued until high school and football, the practices lasting too late for Homer to get to the store before closing. His thoughtful amiability served him in football as well. A bonus with the bulk and athleticism. His varsity teammates, Blow among them, happily elected Homer co-captain all three years.
Blow questioned Homer closely about the status of the two victims when he'd arrived on the island. Callahan's claim the girl had spoken to a deputy before she died had sounded staged. A risk for the cop considering Blow was in the room and could question him about it on the stand. Blow knew such deceptions were standard procedure during interrogations, but bringing it up before a jury could weaken Callahan's credibility as a witness. But if the girl had in fact still been alive it would mean Teach was the one she spoke to. Easy to get sparks flying with Teach testifying, and that could drive a wedge down the middle of the Commonwealth's case, a la the O. J. Simpson trial's planted glove. Homer had heard nothing that would support Callahan's claim, however, lobbing the ball back to the captain in the event the case went forward. Blow still held out hope Jamie Moriarty was playing straight with him, but that string was stretched to breaking.
"What happ...un, Home...? Teach...?"
"Say again, Counselor? After you swallow?"
Blow grinned. Finished chewing pizza dough. Washed it down with a slug of Homer's not-too-awful coffee. "Sorry, Bubba. I was wondering if Teach took the gun."
Homer nodded. "Yup. I had to pry it from the kid's hand. He kept pulling the trigger until I got it away from him, and then his finger kept jerking. He was hysterical."
"You gave it to Teach?"
"I put it on the ground while I was securing the prisoner. I saw Teach with it after I put the boy in the unit. He already had it in an evidence bag. Gave me shit for not securing the damn thing too. I said how many arms you think I got, asshole. He called me a faggot. You know. Brother officers and all. Said I shoulda shot the little fucker. His words."
"You guys don't have bodycams yet?"
"Hell no. Not auxiliaries anyway. I don't think any of the regulars have 'em either. Ogie'd worry himself to death some of those guys had cameras. Teach, anyway, for sure. If the state ever requires 'em Ogie'll retire. That's a given."
"Why doesn't he just fire Teach?"
"Dunno, Blow. Some kinda family connection, I think. He owes somebody, or somebody has something on him. Hard to say with Ogie."
"Well, anyway, you didn't hear any shots out there, did you?"
Homer's brow crinkled. "No. Why? Someone say they heard shots?"
"Just wondering. Someone told me--was it Callahan? Musta been--anyway, whoever it was said my client fired a couple of shots at a tree. If so, I imagine the bullets could be compared, you know, with the others."
Homer thought a moment, then shook his head slowly. "No. Uh uh. That's a new one on me, my friend. Unless it happened before we got there--"
"Before you got there."
"Teach, too. He was only a couple farts ahead of me. No shots, Counselor. That I can say for sure."
"Anyone else there? I mean, like neighbors or, you know, someone maybe didn't belong there?"
"I didn't see anybody. 'Course rescue got there pretty quick. I was still putting the boy into Teach's unit when the first ambulance pulled up."
"How did you and Teach and everyone get out to the island? There a dock or something?"
"Little wooden pier. Aluminum skiff tied up there. You shoulda seen me and Teach rowing out there. The guy has no sense of humor, you know. None. Zip. I told him he looked dashing without those ugly yellow stripes on his sleeve. He stared at me like he wanted to shoot me. I just grinned. I think the sonofabitch would shoot me, too, if he thought he could get away with it."
Blow nodded, laughing. "Any idea whose boat?"
"Nah. There's a house near there. Sort of a cabin. I didn't see any lights on. Looks like maybe a weekend place for somebody. Being Friday night, though--well, maybe come in Saturday?"
"Homer, if you decide to do some digging for me--"
"No ifs, my friend. It's decided. And, yes, I'll head out there today and see if anyone's home."
"Thank you, Homer. You're a good friend."
"Twenty-three buttonhook on two. I'll turn in my resignation first."
"Ha! Donnie never called that play. Never. I don't think he even knew my number."
"Not true. Remember the Kecoughtan game? Senior year? You saved our ass with that catch. Don't diss yourself, bro."
"OK OK, but that was down and out. Yeah, OK, Homer. Thanks for the memory."
"You did it, my friend. We gonna call the parents now? I got Skype on this thing." he nodded at the laptop. They called, got through. Herbert and Julie Morowitz, unsurprisingly aghast, would catch the next flight out of Frankfurt.
"I'm surprised Callahan hadn't notified them," Homer said.
"Chip--that's my client--gave him the wrong number. Said he wanted me to break the news."
"Kid's no dummy."
"Well, we'll see."
Blow tapped the send key on his cellphone, launching the following message into the airwaves to the number Jamie Moriarty had given him a good while back, which he'd labeled on his contact list, as per her instructions, simply "Gloria": The church ASAP no call.
He put the truck in gear and joined the midday Main Street traffic. He turned off onto the road leading to the road that would take him to the Rev. Kirschbaum's Patmos Evangelical Church. This was where he figured, if Moriarty was still in town, she should arrive about the same time he did. If, that is, the phone number was still good and if, that is, she was still in the game.


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