Chapter 22

1 HE CHAPEL WAS COLD AND DAMP. IT WAS A ROUND building stuck to the side of a mausoleum like a cancerous growth. It was raining outside, and two television crews from New Orleans huddled beside their vans and hid under umbrellas.

The crowd was respectable, especially for a man with no family. His remains were packaged tastefully in a porcelain urn sitting on a mahogany table. Hidden speakers from above brought forth one dreary dirge after another as the lawyers and judges and a few clients ventured in and sat near the rear. Barry the Blade strutted down the aisle with two thugs in tow. He was properly dressed in a black double-breasted suit with a black shirt and a black tie. Black lizard shoes. His ponytail was immaculate. He arrived late, and enjoyed the stares from the mourners. After all, he'd known Jerome Clifford for a long time.

Four rows back, the Right Reverend Roy Foltrigg sat with Wally Boxx and scowled at the ponytail. The lawyers and judges looked at Muldanno, then at Foltrigg, then back at Muldanno. Strange, seeing them in the same room.

The music stopped, and a minister of some generic faith appeared in the small pulpit behind the urn. He started with a lengthy obituary of Walter Jerome Clifford, and threw in everything but the names of his childhood pets. This was not unexpected because when the obituary was over there would be little to say.

It was a brief service, just as Romey had asked for in his note. The lawyers and judges glanced at their watches. Another mournful lamentation started from above, and the minister excused everyone.

Romey's last hurrah was over in fifteen minutes. There were no tears. Even his secretary kept her composure. His daughter was not present. Very sad. He lived forty-four years and no one cried at his funeral.

Foltrigg kept his seat and scowled at Muldanno as he strutted down the aisle and out the door. Foltrigg waited until the chapel was empty, then made an exit with Wally behind him. The cameras were there, and that's exactly what he wanted. Earlier, Wally had leaked a juicy tidbit about the great Roy Foltrigg attending the service, and also that there was a chance Barry the Blade Muldanno would be present. Neither Wally nor Roy had any idea whether Muldanno would attend, but it was only a leak so who cared if it was accurate. It was working.

A reporter asked for a couple of minutes, and Foltrigg did what he always did. He glanced at his watch, looked terribly frustrated by this intrusion, and sent Wally after the van. Then he said what he always said, "Okay, but make it quick. I'm due in court in fifteen minutes." He hadn't been to court in three weeks. He usually went about once a month, but to hear him talk he lived in courtrooms, battling the bad guys, protecting the interests of the American taxpayers. A hard-charging crimebuster.

He squeezed under an umbrella and looked at the mini-cam. The reporter waved a microphone in his face. "Jerome Clifford was a rival. Why did you attend his memorial service?" He was suddenly sad. "Jerome was a fine lawyer, and a friend of mine. We faced each other many times, but always respected each other." What a guy. Gracious even in death. He hated Jerome Clifford and Jerome Clifford hated him, but the camera saw only the heartbreak of a grieving pal.

"Mr. Muldanno has hired a new lawyer and filed a motion for a continuance. What is your response to this?" "As you know, Judge Lamond has scheduled a hearing on the continuance request for tomorrow morning at 10 A. M. The decision will be his. The United States will be ready for trial whenever he sets it." "Do you expect to find the body of Senator Boy-ette before trial?" "Yes. I think we're getting close." "Is it true you were in Memphis just hours after Mr. Clifford shot himself?" "Yes." He sort of shrugged as if it was no big deal.

"There are news reports in Memphis that the kid who was with Mr. Clifford when he shot himself may know something about the Boyette case. Any truth to this?" He smiled sheepishly, another trademark. When the answer was yes, but he couldn't say it, but he wanted to send the message anyway, he just grinned at the reporters and said, "I can't comment on that." "I can't comment on that," he said, glancing around as if time was up and his busy trial calendar was calling.

"Does the boy know where the body is?" "No comment," he said with irritation. The rain grew harder, and splashed on his socks and shoes. "I have to be going."

AFTER AN HOUR IN JAIL, MARK WAS READY TO ESCAPE. HE inspected both windows. The one above the lavatory had some wire in it, but that did not matter. What was troubling, though, was the fact that any object exiting through this window, including a boy, would fall directly down at least fifty feet, "and the fall would be stopped by a concrete sidewalk lined with chain-link fencing and barbed wire. Also, both windows were thick and too small for escape, he determined.

He would be forced to make his break when they transported him, maybe take a hostage or two. He'd seen some great movies about jailbreaks. His favorite was Escape from Alcatmz with Clint Eastwood. He'd figure it out.

Doreen knocked on the door, jangled her keys, and stepped inside. She held a directory and a black phone, which she plugged into the wall. "It's yours for ten minutes. No long distance." Then she was gone, the door clicking loudly behind her, the cheap perfume floating heavy in the air and burning his eyes.

He found the number for St. Peter's, asked for Room 943, and was informed that no calls were being put through to that room. Ricky's asleep, he thought.

Must be bad. He found Reggie's number, and listened to dint's voice on the recorder. He called Greenway's office, and was informed the doctor was at the hospital. Mark explained exactly who he was, and the secretary said she believed the doctor was seeing Ricky. He called Reggie again. Same recording. He left an urgent message-"Get me out of jail, Reggie!" He called her home number, and listened to another recording.

He stared at the phone. With about seven minutes left, he had to do something. He flipped through the directory, and found the listings for the Memphis Police Department. He picked the North Precinct and dialed the number.

"Detective Klickman," he said.

"Just a minute," said the voice on the other end. He held for a few seconds, then a voke said, "Who're you holding for?" He cleared his throat and tried to sound gruff. "Detective Klickman." "He's on duty." "When will he be in?" "Around lunch." "Thanks." Mark hung up quickly, and wondered if the lines were bugged. Probably not. After all, these phones were used by criminals and people like himself to call their lawyers and talk business. There had to be privacy.

He memorized the precinct phone number and address, then flipped to the Yellow Pages under Restaurants. He punched a number, and a friendly voice said, "Domino's Pizza. May I take your order." He cleared his throat and tried to sound hoarse. "Yes, I'd like to order four of your large supremes." "Is that all?" "Yes. Need them delivered at noon." "Your name?" "I'm ordering them for Detective Klickman, North Precinct." "Delivered where?" "North Precinct-3633 Alien Road. Just ask for Klickman." "We've been there before, believe me. Phone number?" "It's 555-8989." There was a short pause as the adding machine rang it up. "That'll be forty-eight dollars and ten cents." "Fine. Don't need it until noon." Mark hung up, his heart pounding. But he'd done it once, and he could do it again. He found the Pizza Hut numbers, there were seventeen in Memphis, and started placing orders. Three said they were too far away from downtown. He hung up on them. One young girl was suspicious, said he sounded too young, and he hung up on her too. But for the most part it was just routine business-call, place the order, give the address and phone number, and allow free enterprise to handle the rest.

When Doreen knocked on the door twenty minutes later, he was ordering Klickman some Chinese food from Wong Boys. He quickly hung up and walked to the bunks. She took great satisfaction in removing the phone, like taking toys away from bad little boys. But she was not quick enough. Detective Klickman had ordered about forty deep dish supreme deluxe large pizzas and a dozen Chinese lunches, all to be delivered around noon, at a cost of somewhere in the neighborhood of five hundred dollars.

FOR HIS HANGOVER, GRONKE SIPPED HIS FOURTH ORANGE juice of the morning and washed down another headache powder. He stood at the window of his hotel room, shoes off, belt unbuckled, shirt unbuttoned, and listened painfully as Jack Nance reported the disturbing news.

"Happened less than thirty minutes ago," Nance said, sitting on the dresser, staring at the wall, trying to ignore this goon standing at the window with his back to him.

"Why?" Gronke grunted.

"Has to be youth court. They took him straight to jail. I mean, hell, they can't just pick a kid, or anybody else for that matter, and take him straight to jail. They had to file something in youth court. Cal's there now, checking it out. Maybe we'll have it soon, I don't know. Youth court records are locked up, I think." " "Get the damned records, okay." Nance seethed but bit his tongue. He hated Gronke and his little band of cutthroats, and even though he needed the hundred bucks an hour he was tired of hanging around this dirty, smoky room like a flunky waiting to be barked at. He had other clients. Cal was a nervous wreck.

"We're trying," he said.

"Try harder," Gronke said to the window. "Now I gotta call Barry and tell him the kid's been taken away and there's no way to get to him. Got him locked up somewhere, probably with a cop sittin' outside his door." He finished the orange juice and tossed the can in the general direction of the wastebasket. It missed and rattled along the wall. He glared at Nance.

"Barry'11 wanna know if there's a way to get the kid. What would you suggest?" "I suggest you leave the kid alone. This is not New Orleans, and this is not just some little punk you can rub out and make everything wonderful. This kid's got baggage, lots of it. People are watching him. If you do something stupid, you'll have a hundred fibbies all over your ass. You won't be able to breathe, and you and Mr. Muldanno will rot in jail. Here, not New Orleans." "Yeah, yeah." Gronke waved both hands at him in disgust and walked back to the window. "I want you boys to keep watching him. If they move him anywhere, I wanna know it immediately. If they take him to court, I wanna know it. Figure it out, Nance. This is your city. You know the streets and alleys. At least you're supposed to. You're gettin' paid good money." "Yes sir," Nance said loudly, then left the room.