by Mathew Paust
Blow Stone didn't like the sound of his voice when he blurted Oh shit, and he was glad no one was with him. It was the sound of contempt that bothered him. Not the kind of Oh-shit-I've-been-caught disgust directed at himself but more the How-dare-you! growl of an elitist being bothered by a lesser creature. The first wouldn't have been appropriate anyway, he realized with partial relief, because he wasn't speeding and was unaware of having done anything wrong. But there it was, the damned strobing red and blue lights and then a spotlight slapping him from his rear view mirror.
The sense of alarm was missing, too. That quick, sharp pang in the stomach he'd always felt the few times he'd been pulled over in days long past. His lead foot back then was to blame. He'd grown more careful, despite the prestige he was acquiring from his courtroom prowess and the deputies' familiarity with his old Ranger pickup. Only one deputy came to mind: Teach, whom Blow still thought of as Sgt. Teach although it was Blow who'd helped cost him his stripes. The dislike between them had been there from the time they first met soon after Blow returned to Leicester from law school and hung his shingle. A mutual chemical aversion. Two alley cats with DNA-driven turf concerns. As of yet their enmity restricted itself to official contact, in the courtroom or at a crime scene. Blow had assumed Teach was too smart to cross the line and risk his job in a public pissing contest. Reminding himself with an unpleasant start that assumptions were dangerous, he filled his lungs, held the air two or three seconds, and released it slowly in a controlled sigh through pursed lips.
Then again, it could be something technical, burned out taillight bulb, expired tags. Maybe he'd forgotten to renew them. Wouldn't be the first time for that. Or if the damned envelope with the stickers had arrived and he stuck it in the drawer he used for bills and such... This was possible, but he couldn't remember—renewing online or getting anything in the mail. Notice or stickers. Anyway it didn't seem the time of year.
While these questions played in his head another synaptic circuit worried the bone of whether his rising status in Leicester was bringing out an arrogance he didn't want. A subtler danger than assumptions. He'd seen others morph publicly into assholes seduced by a little success, and it always seemed their true colors were showing and he wanted like hell for those not to be his true colors as well. And here he was, apparently irritated by the presumption of some cop, probably a rookie just doing his job, daring to pull over big ass Blow Stone for some diddly shit infraction. This isn't Newport News or Richmond it's diddly shit Leicester...wait wait wait...here you go again. Being big ass Blow Stone. Only one big ass in the family Stone. The Judge. And The Judge is too cool to let petty shit like this get to him, even at home. Get a grip, pup. Get a fucking grip.
A new idea was born during these internal ministrations. A rational explanation for the pique the cop behind him had aroused. Blow was due at the jail in about ten minutes, and he was about five minutes away. Why not simply lead the cop to the jail? He had a quick moment to decide. A fair amount of traffic busied narrow-shouldered Mattaponi Road, and the likeliest place to pull off was at Patmos Evangelical just ahead. He flexed the toes on his right foot to press the accelerator just as the cop slapped him again, this time with companion bursts of siren and spotlight. “Shit,” he muttered, flipping the turn signal lever. He pulled into the church parking lot, his tires throwing up dust from the gravel as he braked the Ranger to a stop alongside the stark white clapboard structure with the marquee signboard's black letters beckoning him personally: Welcome, All Sinners. In the windshield mirror he saw the dust-dimmed strobing colors follow and stop at an angle several feet behind him. He shifted into park, flipped off the engine, placed his hands on the steering wheel and kept his eyes on the mirror.
It seemed to take forever, as usual, before the police car driver's door opened, releasing a brown uniformed leg with its black, thick-soled shoe, and then the other. Blow studied as much of the car as he could see in the mirror. It was pale blue, unmarked with any official insignia. He could not tell if its tag, obscured by the hovering dust, was government. He saw enough of the cop walking toward him to know it wasn't Teach, which dissipated his earlier concern. As the cop drew near and Blow made out the wide hips, his emotions segued from growing relief to amusement. He had his window down and was smiling by the time she appeared beside him. In the racing seconds before she bent to show her face he sensed something was wrong. There were no sergeant's stripes on the uniform shirt.
“Oh, shit,” he said, his voice low and resigned, the smile gone slack, when their eyes met.
All rights reserved.
I inadvertently deleted chapter 1, but it's on my blog: https://mdpaust.blogspot.com/2016/06/deaths-honesty-1.html