“Dad!” Blow blurted it to himself as he shoved the pickup door open. He whipped his head around and snapped, “Stay here!” looking at Joan Bismark and then aiming a quick glance at Loretta, who stared slack-jawed in his direction. He leaped out and ran to the intersection. His voice broke the first time he tried to shout, coming out “Da-aa” and skidding into a squeal at the end. It was enough to pivot the plainclothes deputy he didn’t recognize toward him, gun in hand.
“No! I live here! We...my dad--” Blow halted so abruptly it threatened his balance but he managed to stay upright, instinctively thrusting his arms above his head, fingers splayed. His focus locked on the gun--black short-barreled, probably the same make as the one Homer carried on duty, a Glock, he remembered. Such trivial thought fragments raced through his cerebrum in counterpoint to the more primal, survival dicta that froze his movements while scanning the nuanced language of the form behind the gun: weak hand joining grip, poised crouch, set jaw, and, most urgent, hard, black, deadly eyes.
Before Blow could verbalize another word he saw a flicker of motion near the deputy. The deputy turned his head. At about the same instant Blow thought he heard Callahan’s voice. A bark. The deputy lowered his pistol, shot a glance back at Blow, and returned his attention to the car. Callahan held up his hand to stop Blow’s advance across the intersection, and met him midway.
“They in the car? The ladies?”
Blow nodded. “My dad--” Callahan cut him off.
“Not him.” Blow stared, looking dumbfounded. Callahan tipped his head toward the car. “No idea, Joe. Rodriguez says he looks like me.” He tried to smile. “I might have to demote her for that.” Blow tried to smile. “Your dad home?” Blow shook his head.
“I don’t know. He didn’t answer his phone.”
“Want me to go in with you?”
“That’s okay, Carl. He’s probly not home. I think that’s Lila’s car on the pad. Got a new one. Looks like Dad’s.”
“Leave the door standing open. I’ll go over there.” He nodded toward Loretta’s car at the intersection. “Gimme the all clear and I’ll bring them in.”
Blow took some comfort finding the front door locked. Pushing it open enhanced his sense of ease with the aroma of something cooking, something with cheese and onions. Ahh, they’ve left his supper in the oven, or they’d just stepped out and would soon be back. Or Lila was in the kitchen while his dad was out picking something up they needed for the meal. “Hello!” No answer. “Lila?” Still nothing.
What he saw in the kitchen swept away the relief he was feeling and replaced it with a sense of deja vu so strong it would, were it possible, have curdled his blood. As it was, the sudden intake of breath carried enough saliva into his lungs to turn the gasp into a coughing attack. Three strides across the floor brought her to him. She smacked his back a couple of times with the flat of her hand—the one that wasn’t wearing Lila’s hot-pad mitten. “Jeezuz, Blow,” she murmured in her throaty low-range voice, “we gotta stop
meeting like this.”
He got the coughing under control with a glass of water she poured from the tap. He sat on the stool she pulled out from the island. She leaned over and stared into his eyes. Hers danced as usual like a wig-wagging railroad signal on acid: the green then the hazel, then the green...as if each saw it’s own version of Blow independent of the other. One or both had something going with that damned mouth of hers, a coordination of the corners in a swaggering mien that knew it could drive anyone mad and bring any man with a fit libido to his knees. Blow yawned.
“We really have to stop meeting like this, Mr. Stone. Something about the kitchen,
I’ll bet. I remind you of your mother? Oops, sorry, Blow. I didn’t mean that.” She backed off, hoisted her tight-jeans-clad bottom onto the marble island top. Blow just stared at her. “I’m really sorry. It slipped my mind. Hey--” she tossed her ponytailed head toward the street. “I didn’t kill him. We were here to kill you. I saved your life, Boo Boo.”
“He’s gone. We’re alone.”
“We need to talk.”
Blow looked up, met her eyes. “No time now. The two church ladies will be in here any minute. Callahan’s out there, wants to talk to them. They’ll be spending the night here. I take it Dad and Lila are out?”
She tilted her head toward the end of the counter. Blow saw the familiar yellow legal pad, where he and his dad left messages. “They’re at Chrysler Hall with the Gormans. Swan Lake. Might get home late, might stay down there. I like your dad.”
“You’ve never met him.”
“Oh, yeah? You got all my bugs our yet?” She grinned. “Just kidding. I’ve met him. I was with Todd then. Congressman Paget.” Blow nodded.
“Got to get you out of here, Jamie. We can talk later.”
“I don’t have a car.”
“I mean out of the kitchen. You know where my office is.” She smiled. “You can lock the hall door from the inside. Make sure the outer door’s locked, too. Better yet, two doors down from the office is the library. There’s a couch in there. I’ll be in soon as Callahan leaves and I’ve shown the ladies their rooms.”
“What’s between your office and the library.” The wigwag twinkle was back.
“You know damned well what’s there.”
“I’ll bet your bed’s more comfortable than that couch.”
“Not really. Just a matter of attitude. Yours. Still my lawyer?”
Blow nodded, deadpan.
“I’m going to let them in now. I’ll put them in the front room. Be gone when I get back.”
She slid off the island, gave him a quick peck on the lips, turned her back, and headed down the hall.