Blow Out
Page 23

 Catherine Coulter

  • Background:
  • Text Font:
  • Text Size:
  • Line Height:
  • Line Break Height:
  • Frame:
“All right, enough,” Savich said. He turned to Sherlock, who was eyeing Callie with amusement.
Callie, scenting victory, pushed hard. “Actually I have a black belt in karate. I can take care of myself. I could probably protect Detective Raven too, if it came down to it. The only one I’d be worried about in this group is Agent Sherlock.”
Savich laughed. “You’re probably right about that.” He heaved a sigh. “There are going to be lots and lots of interviews happening during the next three days. Probably a good fifty agents and local police working the case. What’s one reporter added to the mix? Ben, would you mind keeping Ms. Markham in tow?”
“Yes, I mind,” Ben Raven said. “I’m not going to be saddled with a reporter—a reporter—Savich. For God’s sake, not even your garden-variety sort of reporter, but an investigative reporter who thinks she’s smart and in reality doesn’t know squat.
“As for you, Ms. Markham, and your big mouth, if you could take me down, I’d hang it up, leave the force, go find me an isolated cabin in Montana. Savich, you’re worried about blackmail, you take her with you. No damned way is she getting within six feet of me and any suspect. It ain’t going to happen.”
CALLIEMARKHAM SAID to Detective Ben Raven as he drove to Justice Sumner Wallace’s house in Chevy Chase, “Okay, now I’m going to come through as promised. Here’s something I doubt you could have found out. My mother told you that Stewart’s best friend on the court was Justice Sumner Wallace. Maybe that was true at one time, but not recently. This may shock you, but Justice Wallace has a bit of a reputation with women. I think he was inappropriate with my mother and that Stewart was aware of it. He wasn’t happy with his old golf buddy.”
Ben was shocked and he tried not to show it, but Callie laughed. “I know, it just doesn’t fit the image. Now, I guess Mom didn’t realize my stepfather knew. She likes to keep the peace, so she wouldn’t have said anything, just ignored it, or handled it herself if it got bad.”
Ben was still trying to come to grips with something he never would have imagined. “So this Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, this guy who’s older than my dad, was putting the moves on your mother? Are you absolutely sure about this?”
“Yes. Listen up. Justice Wallace is about sixty-five, not yet ready for the grave, Detective Raven. My mom was talking on the phone about him once to one of her friends, Bitsy, I think it was. Mom only smiled, and said now wasn’t he a frisky one. I think she knew I was listening, and so she finished her call up fast.”
“You were eavesdropping?”
“Sure. It’s my stock in trade. She never said a thing to me, but she did acknowledge me after she hung up the phone, so I’m sure she knew I was there. Right about that time, Stewart stopped speaking with Justice Wallace.”
“So, not only is he old, he’s married, and he was lusting after your mother?”
“My mom is very pretty, Detective Raven. I’m not surprised that any man would be interested in her. I’m more shocked that he would actually act on it.”
“I didn’t mean to insult your mother, it was the incredulity speaking. When did this happen?” Before she could answer, Ben’s cell phone rang. He listened for some time, frowned, and punched off. “That was Savich. He spoke to the medical examiner, Dr. Conrad. He said TV vans are all around the morgue, but he’s trying to keep a lid on things. He’s threatened to lock any of the staff who dares whisper a word to anyone, including spouses, in the morgue freezer. Also, something unexpected. Dr. Conrad said Justice Califano had about six months to live. It appears he had pancreatic cancer. He doesn’t think Justice Califano knew it yet, since he’d probably not had any pain. Said he’d only lost about six months of life, and even with that, this cancer can be really bad once it gets rolling.”
“Oh no,” Callie said. “Oh no. Stewart was damned either way. I guess I’m glad he didn’t know. Can you imagine what it would be like to know you were dying of cancer, that you’d be gone in six months?”
“Agents will be speaking to his doctors, see if he did know, but kept it to himself.”
Callie leaned her head against the seat back. “Poor poor Stewart.” She started crying, silently, tears rolling down her face. The dreadful irony of it. It was like losing him all over again.
BENRAVEN LOOKED around at the TV vans in front of Justice Sumner Wallace’s 1960s single-level home, and the three cars parked at the curb. “I wonder where the federal marshals are. Would you look at all the media.” He pulled his white Ford Crown Victoria, sedate on the outside, lots of muscle under the hood, in front of the house. Reporters jumped out of the cars and ran toward them.