FOR TWO HOURS EVERY THURSDAY MORNING, REGGIE DISappeared into the office of Dr. Elliot Levin, her longtime psychiatrist. Levin had been holding her hand for ten years. He was the architect who'd figured out the pieces and helped her put the puzzle back together. Their sessions were never disturbed.
Glint paced nervously in Levin's reception area. Dianne had called twice already. She had read the summons and petition to him over the phone. He had called Judge Roosevelt, and the detention center, and Levin's office, and now he waited impatiently for eleven o'clock. The receptionist tried to ignore him.
REGGIE WAS SMILING WHEN DR. LEVIN FINISHED WITH HER.
She pecked him on the cheek, and they walked hand in hand into his plush reception area, where Glint was waiting. She stopped smiling. "What's the matter?" she asked, certain something terrible had happened.
"We need to go," Glint said, taking her arm and ushering her through the door. She nodded good-bye to Levin, who was watching with interest and concern.
They were on a sidewalk next to a small parking lot. "They've picked up Mark Sway. He's in custody." "What! Who!" "Cops. A petition was filed this morning alleging Mark to be a delinquent, and Roosevelt issued an order to take him into custody." Glint was pointing. "Let's take your car. I'll drive." "Who filed the petition?" "Foltrigg. Dianne called from the hospital, that's where they got him. She had a big fight with the cops, and scared Ricky again. I've talked to her and assured her you'll go get Mark." They opened and slammed doors to Reggie's car, and sped from the parking lot. "Roosevelt's scheduled a hearing for noon," Glint explained.
"Noon! You must be kidding. That's fifty-six minutes from now." "It's an expedited hearing. I talked to him about an hour ago, and he wouldn't comment on the petition. Had very little to say, really. Where are we going?" She thought about this for a second. "He's in the detention center, and I can't get him out. Let's go to Juvenile Court. I want to see the petition, and I want to see Harry Roosevelt. This is absurd, a hearing within hours of filing the petition. The law says between three and seven days, not three and seven hours." "But isn't there a provision for expedited hear-ings?" "Yeah, but only in extreme matters. They've fed Harry a bunch of crap. Delinquent! What's the kid done? This is crazy. They're trying to force him to talk, Glint, that's all." "So you didn't expect this?" "Of course not. Not here, not in Juvenile Court. I've thought about a grand jury summons for Mark from New Orleans, but not Juvenile Court. He's committed no delinquent act. He doesn't deserve to be taken in." "Well, they got him."
JASON MCTHUNE ZIPPED HIS PANTS, AND HIT THE LEVER three times before the antique urinal flushed. The bowl was stained with streaks of brown and the floor was wet, and he thanked God he worked in the Federal Building, where everything was polished and spiffy. He'd lay asphalt with a shovel before he'd work in Juvenile Court.
But he was here now, like it or not, wasting time on the Boyette case because K. O. Lewis wanted him here. And K. O. took orders' from Mr. F. Denton Voyles, director of the FBI for forty-two years now. And in his ^orty-two years, no member of Congress and certainly no U. S. senator had been murdered. And the fact that the late Boyd Boyette had been hidden so neatly was galling. Mr. Voyles was quite upset, not about the killing itself but about the FBI's inability to solve it completely.
McThune had a strong hunch Ms. Reggie Love would arrive shortly, since her client had been snatched away from right under her nose, and he figured she'd be fuming when he saw her. Maybe she'd understand that these legal strategies were being hatched in New Orleans, not Memphis, and certainly not in his office.
Surely she would understand that he, McThune, was just a humble FBI agent taking orders from above and doing what the lawyers told him. Perhaps he could dodge her until they were all in the courtroom.
Perhaps not. As McThune opened the rest room door and stepped into the hallway, he was suddenly face-to-face with Reggie Love. Glint was a step behind her. She saw him immediately, and within seconds he was backed against the wall and she was in his face. She was agitated.
"Morning, Ms. Love," he said, forcing a calm smile.
"It's Reggie, McThune." "Morning, Reggie." "Who's here with you?" she asked, glaring.
"Beg your pardon." "Your gang, your little band, your little group of government conspirators. Who's here?" This was not a secret. He could discuss this with her. "George Ord, Thomas Fink from New Orleans, K. O. Lewis." "Who's K. O. Lewis?" "Deputy director, FBI. From D. C." "What's he doing here?" Her questions were clipped and rapid, and aimed like arrows at McThune's eyes. He was pinned to the wall, afraid to move, but gallantly trying to appear nonchalant. If Fink or Ord or heaven forbid K. O. Lewis happened into the hallway and saw him huddled with her like this he'd never recover.
"Well, I, uh-" "Don't make me mention the tape, McThune," she said, mentioning the damned thing anyway. "Just tell me the truth." Glint was standing behind her, holding her briefcase and watching the traffic. He appeared a bit surprised by this confrontation and the speed with which it was occurring. McThune shrugged as if he'd forgotten about the tape, and now that she mentioned it, what the hell. "I think Foltrigg's office called Mr. Lewis and asked him to come down. That's all." "That's all? Did you guys have a little meeting with Judge Roosevelt this morning?" "Yes, we did." "Didn't bother to call me, did you?" "Uh, the judge said he'd call you." "I see. Are you planning to testify during this little hearing?" She took a step back when she asked this and McThune breathed easier.
"I'll testify if I'm called as a witness." She stuck a finger in his face. The nail on the end of it was long, curved, carefully manicured, and painted red, and McThune watched it fearfully. "You stick with the facts, okay. One lie, however small, or one bit of unsolicited self-serving crap to the judge, or one cheap-shot remark that hurts my client, and I'll slice your throat, McThune. You understand?" He kept smiling, glancing up and down the hall as if she were a pal and they were just having a tiny disagreement. "I understand," he said, grinning.
Reggie turned and walked away with Glint by her side. McThune turned and darted back into the rest room, though he knew she •wouldn't hesitate to follow him in if she wanted something.
"What was that all about?" Glint asked.
"Just keeping him honest." They wove through crowds of litigants-paternity defendants, delinquent fathers, kids in trouble-and their lawyers huddled in small packs along the hallway.
"What's the bit about the tape?" "I didn't tell you about it?" "No." "I'll play it for you later. It's hysterical." She opened the door with JUDGE HARRY M. ROOSEVELT painted on it, and they entered a small cramped room with four desks in the center and rows of file cabinets around the walls. Reggie went straight for the first desk on the left, where a pretty black girl was typing. The plate on her desk gave the name as Marcia Riggle. She stopped typing and smiled. "Hello, Reggie," she said.
"Hi, Marcia. Where's his honor?" I On her birthdays, Marcia received flowers from the law offices of Reggie Love, and chocolates at Christmas. She was the right arm of Harry Roosevelt, a man so overworked he had no time to remember such things as speaking commitments and appointments and anniversaries. But Marcia always remembered. Reggie had handled her divorce two years ago. Momma Love had cooked lasagna for her.
"He's on the bench. Should be off in a few minutes. You're on for noon, you know." "That's what I hear." "He's tried to call you all morning." "Well, he didn't find me. I'll wait in his office." "Sure. You want a sandwich? I'm ordering lunch for him now." "No, thanks." Reggie took her briefcase and asked Glint to wait in the hall and watch for Mark. It was twenty minutes before twelve, and he'd be arriving soon.
Marcia handed her a copy of the petition, and 316 JOHN UKianmvi Reggie entered the judge's office as if it were hers. She closed the door behind her.
HARRY AND IRENE ROOSEVELT HAD ALSO EATEN AT Momma Love's table. Few, if any, lawyers in Memphis spent as much time in Juvenile Court as Reggie Love, and over the past four years their lawyer-judge relationship had developed from one of mutual respect to one of friendship. About the only asset Reggie had been awarded in the divorce from Joe Cardoni was four season tickets for Memphis State basketball. The threesome-Harry, Irene, and Reggie-had watched many games at the Pyramid, sometimes joined by Elliot Levin, or another male friend of Reggie's. The basketball was usually followed by cheesecake at Cafe Ex-presso in The Peabody, or, depending on Harry's mood, maybe a "late dinner at Grisanti's in midtown. Harry was always hungry, always planning the next meal. Irene fussed at him about his weight, so he ate more. Reggie occasionally kidded him about it, and each time she mentioned pounds or calories, he immediately asked about Momma Love and her pastas and cheeses and cobblers.
Judges are human. They need friends. He could eat and socialize with Reggie Love or any other lawyer for that matter and maintain his unbiased judicial discretion.
She marveled at the organized debris of his office. The floor was an ancient pale carpet, most of it covered with neat stacks of briefs and other legal wisdoms all somehow cropped off at the height of twelve inches. Saggy bookshelves lined two walls, but the books could not be seen for the files and more stacks of briefs and memos tucked in front of books with inches hanging perilously in midair. Red and manila files were crammed everywhere. Three old wooden chairs sat pitifully before the desk. One had files on it. One had files under it. One was vacant for the moment, but would doubtless be used for some type of storage by the end of the day. She sat on this one and looked at the desk.
Though it was allegedly made of wood, none was visible except for the front and side panels. The top could be leather or chrome, no one would ever know. Harry himself could not remember what the top of his desk looked like. The upper level was another of Mar-cia's neat rows of legal papers, cropped at eight inches. Twelve inches for the floor, eight for the desk. Underneath and next in depth was a huge daily calendar for 1986, which Harry had once used to draw and doodle on while listening to lawyers bore him with their arguments. Under the calendar was no-man's-land. Even Marcia was afraid to go deeper.
She'd stuck a dozen notes on yellow Post-it pads to the back of his chair. Evidently, these were the most urgent of the morning's emergencies.
Despite the chaos of his office, Harry Roosevelt was the most organized judge Reggie had encountered in her four-year career. He was not forced to spend time studying the law because he'd written most of it. He was known for the economy of his words, so his orders and decrees tended to be lean by judicial standards. He didn't tolerate lengthy briefs written by lawyers, and he was abrupt with those who loved to hear themselves talk. He managed his time wisely, and Marcia took care of the rest. His desk and office were somewhat famous in Memphis legal circles, and Reggie suspected he enjoyed this. She admired him immensely, not just for his wisdom and integrity, but also for his dedication to this office. He could've moved up many years ago to a stuffier place on the bench with a fancy desk, and clerks and paralegals, and clean carpet, and dependable air-conditioning.
She flipped through the petition. Foltrigg and Fink were the petitioners, their signatures at the bottom. Nothing detailed, just broad, sweeping allegations about the juvenile, Mark Sway, obstructing a federal investigation by refusing to cooperate with the FBI and the U. S. attorney's office for the Southern District of Louisiana. She despised Foltrigg every time she saw his name.
But it could be worse. Foltrigg's name could be at the bottom of a grand jury subpoena demanding the appearance of Mark Sway in New Orleans. It would be perfectly legal and proper for Foltrigg to do this, and she was a bit surprised he had chosen Memphis as his forum. New Orleans would be next if this didn't •work.
The door opened, and a massive black robe lumbered in with Marcia in pursuit, holding a list and clicking off things that had to be done immediately. He listened without looking at her, unzipped the robe and threw it at a chair, the one with the files under it.
"Good morning, Reggie," he said with a smile. He patted her on the shoulder as he walked behind her. "That'll be all," he said calmly to Marcia, who closed the door and left. He picked the little yellow notes from his chair without reading them, then fell in it.
"How's Momma Love?" he asked.
"She's fine. And you?" "Marvelous. Not surprised to see you here." "You didn't have to sign a custody order. I would've brought him here, Harry, you Know uia... ^ fell asleep last night in the swing on Momma Love's porch. He's in good hands." Harry smiled and rubbed his eyes. Very few lawyers called him Harry in his office. But he rather enjoyed it when it came from her. "Reggie, Reggie. You never believe your clients should be taken into custody." "That's not true." "You think all's well if you can just take them home and feed them." "It helps." "Yes, it does. But according to Mr. Ord and the FBI, little Mark Sway could be in a world of danger." "What'd they tell you?" "It'll come out during the hearing." "They must've been pretty convincing, Harry. I get an hour's notice of the hearing. That has to be a record." "I thought you'd like that. We can do it tomorrow if you'd prefer. I don't mind making Mr. Ord wait." "Not with Mark in custody. Release him to my custody, and we'll do the hearing tomorrow. I need some time to think." "I'm afraid to release him until I hear proof." "Why?" "According to the FBI, there are some very dangerous people now in the city who may want to shut him up. Do you know a Mr. Gronke, and his pals Bono and Pirini? Ever hear of these guys?" "No." "Neither had I, until this morning. It seems that these gentlemen have arrived in our fair city from New Orleans, and that they're close associates of Mr. Barry Muldanno, or the Blade, as I believe he's known down there. Thank God organized crime never found Memphis. This scares me, Reggie, really scares me. These men do not play games." "Scares me too." "Has he been threatened?" "Yes. It happened yesterday at the hospital. He told me about it, and he's been with me ever since." "So now you're a bodyguard." "No, I'm not. But I don't think the code gives you the authority to order custody of children who may be in danger." "Reggie, dear, I wrote the code. I can issue a custody order for any child alleged to be delinquent." True, he wrote the law. And the appellate courts had long since ceased second-guessing Harry Roosevelt.
"And according to Foltrigg and Fink, what are Mark's sins?" Harry snatched two tissues from a drawer and blew his nose. He smiled at her again. "He can't keep quiet, Reggie. If he knows something, he must tell them. You know that.", "You're assuming he knows something." "I'm not assuming anything. The petition makes certain allegations, and these allegations are based partly on fact and partly on assumption. Same as all petitions, I guess. Wouldn't you say? We never know the truth until we have the hearing." "How much of Slick Moeller's crap do you believe?" "I believe nothing, Reggie, until it is told to me, under oath, in my courtroom, and then I believe about ten percent of it." There was a long pause as the judge debated whether to ask the question. "So, Reggie, what does the kid know?" "You know it's privileged, Harry." He smiled. -"So, he knows more than he should." "You could say that." "If it's crucial to the investigation, Reggie, then he must tell." "What if he refuses?" "I don't know. We'll deal with that when it happens. How smart is this kid?" "Very. Broken home, no father, working mother, grew up on the streets. The usual. I talked to his fifth-grade teacher yesterday, and he makes all A's except for math. He's very bright, besides being street smart." "No prior trouble." "None. He's a great kid, Harry. Remarkable, really." "Most of your clients are remarkable, Reggie." "This one is special. He's here through no fault of his own." "I hope he'll be fully advised by his lawyer. The hearing could get rough." "Most of my clients are fully advised." "They certainly are." There was a brief knock at the door and Marcia appeared. "Your client is here, Reggie. Witness Room C." "Thanks." She stood and walked to the door. "I'll see you in a few minutes, Harry." "Yes. Listen to me. I'm tough on kids who don't obey me." "I know."
HE SAT IN A CHAIR LEANING AGAINST THE WALL WITH HIS arms folded across his chest and a frustrated look on his face. He'd been treated like a convict for three hours now, and he was getting used to it. He felt safe. He hadn't been beaten by the cops or by his fellow inmates.
The room was tiny with no windows and bad lighting. Reggie entered and moved a folding chair near him. She'd been in this room under these circumstances many times. He smiled at her, obviously relieved.
"So how's jail?" she asked.
"They haven't fed me yet. Can we sue them?" "Maybe. How's Doreen, the lady with the keys?" "A real snot. How do you know her?" "I've been there many times, Mark. It's my job. Her husband is serving thirty years in prison for bank robbery." "Good. I'll ask her about him if I see her again. Am I going back there, Reggie? I'd like to know what's going on, you know." "Well, it's very simple. We'll have a hearing before Judge Harry Roosevelt in a few moments, in his courtroom, that may last a couple of hours. The U. S. attorney and the FBI are claiming you possess important information, and I think we can expect them to ask the judge to make you talk." "Can the judge make me talk?" Reggie was speaking very slowly and carefully. He was an eleven-year-old child, a smart one with plenty of street sense, but she'd seen many like him and knew that at this moment he was nothing but a scared little boy. He might hear her words, and he might not. Or, he might hear what he wanted to hear, so she had to be careful.
"No one can make you talk." "Good." "But the judge can put you back in the same little room if you don't talk." "Back in jail!" "That's right." "I don't understand. I haven't done a damned thing wrong, and I'm in jail. I just don't understand this." "It's very simple. If, and I emphasize the word if, Judge Roosevelt instructs you to answer certain questions, and if you refuse, then he can hold you in contempt of court for not answering, for disobeying him. Now, I've never known an eleven-year-old kid to be held in contempt, but if you were an adult and you refused to answer the judge's questions, then you'd go to jail for contempt." "But I'm a kid." "Yes, but I don't think he'll allow you to go free if you refuse to answer the questions. You see, Mark, the law is very clear in this area. A person who has knowledge of information crucial to a criminal investigation cannot withhold this information because he feels threatened. In other words, you can't keep quiet because you're afraid of what might happen to you or your family." "That's a stupid law." "I don't really agree with it either, but that's not important. It is the law, and there are no exceptions, not even for kids." "So I get thrown in jail for contempt?" "It's very possible." "Can we sue the judge, or do something else to get me out?" "No. You can't sue the judge. And Judge Roosevelt is a very good and fair man." "I can't wait to meet him." "It won't be long now." Mark thought about all this. His chair rocked methodically against the wall. "How long would I be in jail?" "Assuming, of course, you're sent there, probably until you decide to comply with the judge's orders. Until you talk." "Okay. What if I decide not to talk. How long will I stay in jail? A month? A year? Ten years?" "I can't answer that, Mark. No one knows." "The judge doesn't know?" "No. If he sends you to jail for contempt, I doubt if he has any idea how long he'll make you stay." Another long pause. He'd spent three hours in Doreen's little room, and it wasn't such a bad place. He'd seen movies about prison in which gangs fought and rampaged and homemade weapons were used to kill snitches. Guards tortured inmates. Inmates attacked each other. Hollywood at its finest. But this place wasn't so bad.
And look at the alternative. With no place to call home, the Sway family now lived in Room 943 of St. Peter's Charity Hospital. But the thought of Ricky and his mother all alone and struggling without him was unbearable. "Have you talked to my mother?" he asked.
"No, not yet. I will after the hearing." "I'm worried about Ricky." "Do you want your mother present in the courtroom when we have this hearing? She needs to be here." "No. She's got enough stuff on her mind. You and I can handle this mess." She touched his knee, and •wanted to cry. Someone knocked on the door, and she said loudly, "Just a minute." "The judge is ready," came the reply.
Mark breathed deeply and stared at her hand on his knee. "Can I just take the Fifth Amendment?" "No. It won't work, Mark. I've already thought about it. The questions will not be asked to incriminate you. They will be asked for the purpose of gathering information you may have." "I don't understand." "I don't blame you. Listen to me carefully, Mark. I'll try to explain it. They want to know what Jerome Clifford told you before he died. They will ask you some very specific questions about the events immediately before the suicide. They will ask you what, if anything, Clifford told you about Senator Boyette. Nothing you tell them with your answers will in any way incriminate you in the murder of Senator Boyette. Understand? You had nothing to do with it. And, you had nothing to do with the suicide of Jerome Clifford. You broke no laws, okay? You're not a suspect in any crime or wrongdoing. Your answers cannot incriminate you. So, you cannot hide under the protection of the Fifth Amendment." She paused and watched him closely. "Understand?" "No. If I didn't do anything wrong, why was I picked up by the cops and taken to jail? Why am I sitting here waiting for a hearing?" "You're here because they think you know something valuable, and because, as I stated, every person has a duty to assist law enforcement officials in the course of their investigation." "I still say it's a stupid law." "Maybe so. But we can't change it today." He rocked forward and set the chair on all fours. "I need to know something, Reggie. Why can't I just tell them I know nothing? Why can't I say that me and old Romey talked about suicide and going to heaven and hell, you know, stuff like that." "Tell lies?" "Yeah. It'll work, you know. Nobody knows the truth but Romey, me, and you. Right? And Romey, bless his heart, ain't talking." "You can't lie in court, Mark." She said this with all the sincerity she could muster. Hours of sleep had been lost trying to formulate the answer to this inevitable question. She wanted so badly to say "Yes! That's it! Lie, Mark, lie!" Her stomach ached and her hands almost shook, but she held firm. "I cannot allow you to lie to the court. You'll be under oath, so you must tell the truth." "Then it was a mistake to hire you, wasn't it?" "I don't think so." "Sure it was. You're making me tell the truth, and in this case the truth might get me killed. If you weren't around, I'd march in there and lie my little butt off and me and Mom and Ricky would all be safe." "You can fire me if you like. The court will appoint another lawyer." He stood and walked to the darkest corner of the room, and began crying. She watched his head sink and his shoulders sag. He covered his eyes with the back of his right hand, and sobbed loudly.
Though she'd seen it many times, the sight of a child scared and suffering was unbearable. She couldn't keep from crying too.