Thursday, December 22, 2016

Death's Honesty (18)

They were nearly a block from the Stone home when Blow’s cellphone erupted.
Tannhäuser” The voice, small and constrained and barely reaching him from the back seat, pronounced it tonnhoyser with the German inflection. It was the first intelligible sound he’d heard from Loretta since she stumbled wailing to the kitchen in an agony of grief. She’d recognized that part of the opera’s overture that fills the air with waves of heroic violins cascading over the brassy, stolid horns. Blow occasionally second-guessed selecting this passage as his live-call ringtone because something about it, something in its pulsing dynamic of motion and tone and harmonics reached deep inside him invoking from dormancy some searing, unidentifiable sorrow and bringing it into the glow of such promise that often this rousing orchestration of Wagnerian sentiment uncapped an emotional well of startling, visceral intensity. Before deciding on the passage he had weighed the risk of a weepy unsettling of others with this reaction against his desire for a distinguishing contrast to the synthesizer cover of Beat Me, Daddy, Eight to the Bar he used for message alerts. He opted for the Tannhäuser riff with the understanding he kept his phone turned off or silenced in public most of the time. At this moment his attention was too involved with more pressing exposures to worry if anyone might see tears appear over a ringtone. He glanced at the screen for caller I.D. The digital letters leaped out at him: Callahan.
Blow spoke into the phone, “Hold on a second.” He pulled to the curb and put the gears in park. “We’re on our way back.”
Who you with?”
Couple of ladies from the church. Ms. Bismark says she’s ready to talk to you.”
Well I’ll be damned. Where are you now?”
Couple of blocks.”
Wait a minute. You said you were coming back?”
That’s right. The church secretary wants to talk to you.”
Yeah, you said that. But how did you know I was here?”
We drove by a few minutes ago. Saw your car.”
The cop’s breathing sounded strained. His voice, when he spoke next, had a cautionary edge: “Stone?”
I’m here.”
Where? Where are you right now?”
Couple of blocks. I told you. Why, something the matter?”
Couple of blocks from where?”
Home. Where did you think?”
Another pause. This time rustling of something, paper maybe, overrode any breathing sounds. “Think? I’m too tired to think. What makes you think I’m at your house?”
We drove by about ten minutes ago. You were parked out front.”
Stone, I haven’t been anywhere near your house. Are you saying somebody in a car like mine is parked there now?”
That’s affirmative, Carl. Charcoal Ford. I don’t remember the make, but it sure as hell looks like yours.”
Anybody in it?”
We didn’t stop. I glanced when we went by. Didn’t see anyone. So where are you now?”
Couple of blocks. I told you. Why, something the matter?”
Couple of blocks from where?”
Home. Where did you think?”
Another pause. This time rustling of something, paper maybe, overrode any breathing sounds. “Think? I’m too tired to think. What makes you think I’m at your house?”
We drove by about ten minutes ago. You were parked out front.”
Stone, I haven’t been anywhere near your house. Are you saying somebody in a car like mine is parked there now?”
That’s affirmative, Carl. Charcoal Ford. I don’t remember the make, but it sure as hell looks like yours.”
Anybody in it?”
We didn’t stop. I glanced when we went by. Didn’t see anyone. So where are you now?”
Here at the church. Just got here. Saw your truck. Figured you were inside, in the church, but nobody seems to be home.”
didn’t send anybody. I’ll check with Dispatch. Call you right back.”
Anything wrong?” Joan Bismark sounded composed.
Probly not, Joan. Probly another deputy. That was Maj. Callahan. He’s at the church.”
Again the ringtone. Again Callahan. “It’s not one of ours, Joe. Are you moving?”
Parked. In the street. I can’t drive and chew gum at the same time.”
Ha ha. Look stay where you are. I’m sending a couple units to your house. I’m heading down there myself. The Judge home?”
I don’t know. I didn’t see his car. I’ll call now.” Blow disconnected and called the house. Got the answering machine. Tried his father’s cell. Got the recorded message. Called Callahan back. Told him to hurry. Callahan promised to let him know when he arrived. Blow, assuming the cop might “forget”, continued home and parked by an intersection with a view of the house.
The same unmarked car was there. Two county units arrived within a couple of minutes of each other. One was marked, the other plain. Blow saw Sgt. Rodriguez exit the marked unit. She started toward the unknown car and stopped abruptly, looking back at the unmarked unit, and stood as if at parade rest. No one got out of the unmarked unit. Five minutes later Callahan pulled in behind the others and climbed out. The three deputies then approached the unknown car, walking cautiously. Sgt. Rodriguez kept her right hand near her holster. She was first to reach the car. She leaned over and peered through the driver’s side window. She abruptly straightened and turned back to the others. Shock and fright contorted her face.
Major!” she shouted, and whipped her head back to the unknown vehicle. “Major!” she shouted again, alarm in her voice. Callahan and the plainclothes deputy, whom Blow didn’t recognize, rushed past Rodriguez to the car. 






 

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