“There’s something of the cat in you that excites me.”
“Yes, a certain elusiveness or something. Slyness? Sly arrogance? Whatever it is I want more of it.”
“Uh huh. But wouldn’t that be counterproductive? Too predictable?”
“You mean if you gave it up too easily?”
“Yeah, if you started taking it for granted. Wouldn’t you find me more doglike then?”
“I suppose, but I couldn’t do without the dog, either. You know, the loyalty, not the clingy part. You aren’t disloyal or clingy, are you, Mr. Blow?”
“Wait a minute, who’s doing the clinging here?”
“Just an embrace. I thought maybe we could get another one in before—what time is it? Midnight yet?”
“And here I’ve been worrying about that icepick you undoubtedly stashed under the mattress.”
“Ha. So it’s the danger that turns you on, not my sultry contralto voice!”
“Turned on? What gives you get that idea? Oh. Yeah.”
“Got a mind of its own, huh? That’s very flattering, Blow.”
“Like I told you before, I have a rule not to get personally involved with clients.”
“I’d laugh if I thought you were serious.”
“Oh go ahead. I might even join you.”
The olfactory siren call of grilled bacon and brewing coffee was the morning’s first reality to reach into Blow’s sleep. He was alone in his bed. Holy shit responded from some covert command post just inside his skull, near enough the bony casing it seemed conducted in part by oscillating signals from somewhere without. The words, which pulsed on his consciousness, were not uncommon to him as an everyday response to the surprise of unexpected phenomena. Now they had greater force, bespeaking a primal sense of urgency the more disturbing for its incoherence.
He saw enough yellow in the sunlight projected on his bedroom wall through the window blinds that he knew he’d overslept. Finding the spare pillow next to his face, with its newly familiar smells, enabled him to recapture for a moment with not unpleasant clarity his intimate exertions with the woman calling herself Jamie Moriarty. The feeling of well being from the physical aspects of this prolonged coupling soon gave way to implications of the answers Blow had extracted from Moriarty before succumbing to her assertive charms and his own libidinous needs. He reached across where she had lain and found the plastic clam shell containing the Gingko biloba and pterostilbene capsules he took every morning to stimulate brain and metabolism. He swallowed the capsules and lay back, his head on Moriarty’s pillow, awaiting the energy kick the pterostilbene would give him in about half an hour.
She had come into his bedroom after the church ladies were in their rooms and the house was quiet. Not yet asleep, his muscles were still ticking down from their tensions of the day, mind darting through and around the questions and intertwined notions he’d known all along Moriarty held the key to resolving. He did not hear her enter the room, just felt and smelled her presence and turned his head and saw her standing near the bed, looking down at him. She’d removed whatever had held her dyed brown hair back, and it now draped over her shoulders giving her a maternal look that gently mocked the essence of danger always around her, in person or alone in name. She glowed now in the
moonlight seeping through the blinds and penetrating the nightgown she’d found in his sister’s bedroom while Callahan interviewed the church ladies downstairs. The shadow outline of her body brought him fully alert. He started to sit up, but Moriarty touched his shoulder and bent over and kissed him lightly on the lips—keeping the contact a little longer than the parting peck in the kitchen. She moved to the foot of the bed and sat, bringing a knee up in front of her and resting a hand on the blanket covering his feet.
“So.” He waited an instant for more before understanding she intended it as a conclusion. A chapter ending of sorts. Her face was blank but soft in the moonglow. He felt her fingers through the blanket on his foot, caressing idly.
“So who wants to kill me?” His voice sounded odd to him, saying those words.
“Not sure, Boo Boo, but Gladstone has something to do with it.”
“Gladstone! You mean Bart Bullshit? What the fuck?” Blow’s adrenal gland entered the discussion. He felt the pulse in his neck.
“One and the same. Still the same, but no more Senator, no more FBI, no more whatever bureaucracy. Strictly private now, although he contracts mostly with
government types. Same as us, except I like to think we’re more discriminating.”
“Jeezuz, Jamie! Do you know who he’s working for now?”
“That's still a mystery. We’re not sure even Gladstone knows. He just takes the money and barks.”
Ordinarily that line might have brought a chuckle or two from Blow. Bart! Call me Bart! was Gladstone’s notorious intro, delivered from his contra-basso larynx in staccato bursts that in fact brought to mind some kind of large canine or bull seal. Blow just stared at Moriarty. “Why?” He whispered.
“We can get to that later. The client I told you about? He can explain it better than I
can. And, by the way, that’s an admission I rarely make.” She smiled. “Right now my main concern is keeping you safe. We will be on you, as the cops like to say, day and night.”
“On me, huh?”
“Oh, my! Is this a little tent pole I see before me?” She reached a finger out and tapped the blanket. “So you were a Boy Scout! Ha! So that’s where you got the nickname!”
Adrenaline and other chemicals merged into a volcanic cocktail that overwhelmed Blow’s conservative judgment of a sudden. He raised up and grabbed the nightgown with both hands, hearing it rip, hearing her gasp, and smelling the heated smells the torn fabric released as he pulled her atop him.