tVlDAY MORNING. REGGIE SIPPED STRONG, BLACK COFFEE in the darkness of predawn, and waited for another unpredictable day as counsel for Mark Sway. It was a cool, clear morning, the first of many in September, and the first hint that the hot, sticky days of the Memphis summer were coming to an end. She sat in a wicker rocker on the small balcony stuck to the rear of her apartment, and tried to unscramble the past five hours of her life.
The cops had called her at one-thirty, said there was an emergency at her office, and asked her to come down. She'd called Glint, and together they had gone to her office, where a half dozen cops were waiting. They had allowed Jack Nance to finish his dirty work and leave the building before they nailed him. They showed Reggie and Glint the three phones and the tiny transmitters glued into the receivers, and they said Nance did pretty good work.
As she watched, they carefully removed the transmitters and kept them for evidence. They explained how Nance entered, and more than once they commented on her lack of security. She said she "wasn't that concerned about security. There were no real assets in the office.
She'd checked her files, and everything appeared to be in order. The Mark Sway file was in her briefcase at home, and she kept it there when she slept. Glint examined his desk and said there was a chance Nance went through his files. But dint's desk was not well organized to begin with, so he couldn't be certain.
The police had known Nance was coming, they had explained, but they wouldn't say how they knew. He was allowed easy access into the building-unlocked doors, absent security guards, etc. -and they had a dozen men watching him. He was in custody now, and so far had said nothing. One cop had taken her aside, and in hushed confidence explained about Nance's connection to Gronke, and to Bono and Pirini. They had been unable to find the latter two; their hotel rooms had been abandoned. Gronke was in New Orleans, and they had him under surveillance.
Nance would serve a couple of years, maybe more. For an instant, she'd wanted the death penalty.
The cops had gradually left. Around three, she and Clint were left alone with the empty offices and the startling knowledge that a professional had entered and laid his traps. A man hired by killers had been there, gathering information so there could be more killings if necessary. The place made her nervous, and she and Clint had left shortly after the cops and found a coffee shop in midtown.
And so with three hours' sleep and a nerve-racking day about to begin, she sipped her coffee and watched the eastern sky turn orange. She thought about Mark, and how he'd arrived in her office on Wednesday, barely two days ago, wet from the rain and scared to death, and told her about being threatened by a man with a switchblade. This man was big and ugly, and waved the knife and produced a photo of the Sway family. She had listened with horror as this small, shivering child described the switchblade. It was a frightening event to hear about, but it had happened to someone else. She was not directly involved. The knife was not pointed at her.
But that was Wednesday, and this was Friday, and the same bunch of thugs had now violated her, and things were a helluva lot more dangerous. Her little client was safely tucked away in a nice jail with security guards at his beck and call, and here she was sitting alone in the darkness, thinking about Bono and Pirini and who knew who else might be out there.
Though it couldn't be seen from Momma Love's house, an unmarked car was parked in the street not far away. Two FBI agents were on guard, just in case. Reggie had agreed to this.
She pictured a hotel room, clouds of cigarette smoke hanging along the ceiling, empty beer bottles littering the floor, curtains drawn, and a small group of badly dressed hoodlums hovering over a small table listening to a tape recorder. She was on the tape recorder, talking to clients, to Dr. Levin, to Momma Love, just chatting away as if everything were private. The hoods were bored for the most part, but occasionally one would chuckle and grunt.
Mark didn't use her office phones, and the strategy of bugging them was ridiculous. These people obviously believed Mark knew about Boyette, and that he and his lawyer were stupid enough to discuss this knowledge over the phone.
The phone in the kitchen rang, and Reggie jumped. She checked her watch-six-twenty. It had to be more trouble, because no one called at this hour. She walked inside and ca-ught it after the fourth ring. "Hello." It was Harry Roosevelt. "Good morning, Reggie. Sorry to wake you." "I was awake." "Have you seen the paper?" She swallowed hard. "No. What is it?" "It's a front-page spread with two big pictures of Mark, one as he's leaving the hospital, under arrest as it says, and the other as he's leaving court yesterday, cops on both sides. Slick Moeller wrote it, and he knows all about the hearing. He's got his facts straight, for a change. He says Mark refused to answer my questions about his knowledge of Boyette and such, and that I found him in contempt and sent him to jail. Makes me sound like Hitler." "But how does he know this?" "Cites unnamed sources." She was counting the people in the courtroom during the hearing. "Was it Fink?" "I doubt it. Fink would have nothing to gain by leaking this, and the risks are too great. It has to be someone who's not too bright." "That's why I said Fink." "Good point, but I doubt it was a lawyer. I plan to issue a subpoena for Mr. Moeller to appear in my court at noon today. I'll demand he give me his source, or I'll throw him in jail for contempt." "Wonderful idea." "It shouldn't take long. We'll have Mark's little hearing afterward. Okay?" "Sure, Harry. Listen, there's something you should know. It's been a long night." "I'm listening," he said. Reggie gave him the quick version of the bugging of her office, with particular emphasis on Bono and Pirini and the fact they had not been found.
"Good Lord," he said. "These people are crazy." "And dangerous." "Are you scared?" "Of course I'm scared. I've been violated, Harry, and it's frightening to know they've been watching.".
There was a long pause on the other end. "Reggie, I'm not going to release Mark under any circumstances, not today anyway. Let's see what happens over the weekend. He's much safer where he is." "I agree." "Have you talked to his mother?" "Yesterday. She was lukewarm on the idea of witness protection. It might take some time. Poor thing is nothing but ragged nerves." "Work on her. Can she be present in court today? I'd like to see her." "I'll try." "See you at noon." She poured another cup of coffee and returned to the balcony. Axle slept under the rocker. The first light of dawn crept through the trees. She held the warm mug with both hands and tucked her bare feet under the heavy bathrobe. She sniffed the aroma and thought about how much she despised the press. So now the world \vould know about the hearing. So much for confidentiality. Her little client was suddenly more vulnerable. It was obvious now, the fact that he knew something he shouldn't know. If not, why wouldn't he simply have talked when the judge instructed him to?
This game was growing more dangerous by the hour. And she, Reggie Love, Attorney and Counselor-at-Law, was supposed to have all the answers and dispense perfect advice. Mark would look at her with those scared blue eyes, and ask what to do next. How the hell was she supposed to know?
They were after her too.
DOREEN WOKE MARK EARLY. SHE'D FIXED BLUEBERRY MUFfins for him, and she nibbled on one and watched him with great concern. Mark sat in a chair, holding a muffin but not eating it, just staring blankly at the floor. He slowly raised the muffin to his mouth, took a tiny bite, then lowered it to his lap. Doreen watched every move.
"Are you okay, sweetheart?" she asked him.
Mark nodded slowly. "Oh, I'm fine," he said in a hollow, hoarse voice.
Doreen patted his knee, then his shoulder. Her eyes were narrow and she was very troubled. "Well, I'll be around all day," she said as she stood and walked to the door. "And I'll be checking on you." Mark ignored her, and took another small bite of his muffin. The door slammed and clicked, and suddenly he crammed the rest of it in his mouth and reached for another.
He turned on the television, but with no cable he was forced to watch Bryant Gumbel. No cartoons. No old movies. Just Willard in a hat eating corn on the cob and sweet potato sticks.
Doreen returned twenty minutes later. The keys jangled outside, the lock popped, and the door opened. "Mark, come with me," she said. "You have a visitor." He was suddenly still again, detached, lost in another world. He moved slowly. "Who?" he said in that voice.
"Your lawyer." He" stood and followed her into the hallway. "Are you sure you're okay?" she asked, squatting in front of him. He nodded slowly, and they walked to the stairs.
Reggie was waiting in a small conference room one floor below. She and Doreen exchanged pleasantries, old acquaintances, and the door was locked. They sat on opposite sides of a small round table.
"Are we buddies?" she asked with a smile.
"Yeah. I'm sorry about yesterday." "You don't need to apologize, Mark. Believe me, I understand. Did you sleep well?" "Yeah. Much better than at the hospital." "Doreen says she's worried about you." "I'm fine. I'm much better off than Doreen." "Good." Reggie pulled a newspaper from her briefcase and placed the front page on the table. He read it very slowly.
"You've made the front page three days in a row," she said, trying to coax a smile.
"It's getting old. I thought the hearing was private." "Supposed to be. Judge Roosevelt called me early this morning. He's very upset about the story. He plans to bring in the reporter and grill him about it." "It's too late for that, Reggie. The story is right here in print. Everybody sees it. It's pretty obvious I'm the kid who knows too much." "Right." She waited as he read it again and studied the pictures of himself.
"Have you talked to your mother?" she asked.
"Yes ma'am. Yesterday afternoon around five. She sounded tired." "She is. I saw her before you called, and she's hanging in there. Ricky had a bad day.", "Yeah. Thanks to those stupid cops. Let's sue them." "Maybe later. We need to talk about something. After you left the courtroom yesterday, Judge Roosevelt talked to the lawyers and the FBI. He wants you, your mother, and Ricky placed in the Federal Witness Protection Program. He thinks it's the best way to protect you, and I tend to agree." "What is it?" "The FBI moves you to a new location, a very secret one, far away from here, and you have new names, new schools, new everything. Your mother has a new job, one that pays a lot more than six dollars an hour. After a few years there, they might move you again, just to be safe. They'll place Ricky in a much better hospital until he's better. Government pays for everything, of course." "Do I get a new bike?" "Sure." "Just kidding. I saw this once in a movie. A Mafia movie. This informant ratted on the Mafia, and the FBI helped him vanish. He had plastic surgery. They found him a new wife, you know, the works. Sent him off to Brazil or someplace." "What happened?" "It took them about a year to find him. They killed his wife too." choice. It's the safest thing to do." "Of course, I have to tell them everything before they do all these wonderful things for us." "That's part of the deal." "The Mafia never forgets, Reggie." "You've watched too many movies, Mark." "Maybe so. But has the FBI ever lost a witness in this program?" The answer was yes, but she couldn't cite a specific example. "I don't know, but we'll meet with them and you can ask all the questions you want." "What if I don't want to meet with them? What if I want to stay in my little cell here until I'm twenty years old and Judge Roosevelt finally dies? Then can I get out?" "Fine. What about your mother and Ricky? What happens to them when he's released from the hospital and they have no place to go?" "They can move in with me. Doreen'll take care of us." Damn, he was quick for an eleven-year-old. She paused for a moment and smiled at him. He glared at her.
"Listen, Mark, do you trust me?" "Yes, Reggie. I do trust you. You're the only person in the world I trust right now. So please help me." "There's no easy way out, okay." "I know that." "Your safety is my only concern. The safety of you and your family. Judge Roosevelt feels the same way. Now, it'll take a few days to work out the details of the witness program. The judge instructed the FBI yesteraay to start woiKuig on u. iiiiu". iudu,i. y, [um " think it's the best thing to do." "Did you discuss it with my mother?" "Yes. She wants to talk about it some more. I think she liked the idea." "But how do you know it'll work, Reggie? Is it totally safe?" "Nothing is totally safe, Mark. There are no guarantees." "Wonderful. Maybe they'll find us, maybe they won't. That'll make life exciting, won't it." "Do you have a better idea?" "Sure. It's very simple. We collect the insurance money from the trailer. We find another one, and we move into it. I keep my mouth shut and we live happily ever after. I don't really care if they ever find this body, Reggie. I just don't care." "I'm sorry, Mark, but that can't happen." "Why not?" "Because you happen to be very unlucky. You have some important information, and you'll be in trouble until you give it up." "And then I could be dead." "I don't think so, Mark." He crossed his arms over his chest and closed his eyes. There was a slight bruise high on his left cheek, and it was turning brown. This was Friday. He'd been slapped by Clifford on Monday, and though it seemed like weeks ago the bruise reminded her that things were happening much too fast. The poor kid still bore the wounds of the attack.
"Where would we go?" he asked softly, his eyes still closed.
"Far away. Mr. Lewis with the FBI mentioned a cnuaren s psycmauii, uuspn-cu m. i. v/i. ucu"^+^~ ^"r posed to be one of the best. They'll place Ricky in it with the best of everything." "Can't they follow us?" "The FBI can handle it." He stared at her. "Why do you suddenly trust the FBI?" "Because there's no one else to trust." "How long will all this take?" "There are two problems. The first is the paperwork and details. Mr. Lewis said it could be done within a week. The second is Ricky. It might be a few days before Dr. Greenway will allow him to be moved." "So I'm in jail for another week?" "Looks like it. I'm sorry." "Don't be sorry, Reggie. I can handle this place. In fact, I could stay here for a long time if they'd leave me alone." "They're not going to leave you alone." "I need to talk to my mother." "She might be at the hearing today. Judge Roosevelt wants her there. I suspect he'll have a meeting, off the record, with the FBI people and discuss the witness protection program." "If I'm gonna stay in jail, why have the hearing?" "In contempt matters, the judge is required to bring you back into court periodically to allow you to purge yourself of contempt, in other words, to do what he wants you to do." "The law stinks, Reggie. It's silly, isn't it?" "Oftentimes, yes." "I had a wild thought last night as I was trying to go to sleep. I thought-what if the body is not where Clifford said it is. What it Uliltora was just crazy ana talking out of his head? Have you thought about that, Reggie?" "Yes. Many times." "What if all this is a big joke?" "We can't take that chance, Mark." He rubbed his eyes and slid his chair back. He began walking around the small room, suddenly very nervous. "So we just pack up and leave our lives behind, right? That's easy for you to say, Reggie. You're not the one who'll have the nightmares. You'll go on like nothing ever happened. You and Glint. Momma Love. Nice little law office. Lots of clients. But not us. We'll live in fear for the rest of our lives." "I don't think so." "But you don't know, Reggie. It's easy to sit here and say everything'!! be fine. Your neck's not on the line." "You have no choice, Mark." "Yes I do. I could lie."
IT WAS JUST A MOTION FOR A CONTINUANCE, NORMALLY A rather boring and routine legal skirmish, but nothing was boring when Barry the Blade Muldanno was the defendant and Willis Upchurch was the mouthpiece. Throw in the enormous ego of the Reverend Roy Fol-trigg and the press manipulation skills of Wally Boxx, and this innocuous little hearing for a continuance took on the air of an execution. The courtroom of the Honorable James Lamond was crowded with the curious, the press, and a small army of jealous lawyers who had more important things to do but just happened to be in the neighborhood. They milled about and spoke in grave tones while keeping anxious eyes on tne Cameras and reporters attract lawyers like blood attracts sharks.
Beyond the railing that separated the players from the spectators, Foltrigg stood in the center of a tight circle of his assistants and whispered, frowning as if they were planning an invasion. He was decked out in his Sunday best-dark three-piece suit, white shirt, red-and-blue silk tie, hair perfect, shoes shined to a glow. He faced the audience, but of course was much too preoccupied to notice anyone. Across the way, Mul-danno sat with his back to the gaggle of onlookers and pretended to ignore everyone. He was dressed in black. The ponytail was perfect and arched down to the bottom of his collar. Willis Upchurch sat on the edge of the defense table, also facing the press while engaging himself in a highly animated conversation with a paralegal. If it was humanly possible, Upchurch loved the attention more than Foltrigg.
Muldanno did not yet know of the arrest of Jack Nance eight hours earlier in Memphis. He did not know Cal Sisson had spilled his guts. He had not heard from either Bono or Pirini, and he had sent Gronke back to Memphis that morning in complete ignorance of the night's events.
Foltrigg, on the other hand, was feeling quite smug. Based on the taped conversation gathered from the salt shaker, he would obtain on Monday indictments against Muldanno and Gronke for obstruction of justice. Convictions would be easy. He had them in the bag. He had Muldanno facing five years.
But Roy didn't have the body. And trying Barry the Blade on obstruction charges would not generate anywhere near the publicity of a nasty murder trial complete with color glossies of the decomposed corpse and pathologists' reports about bullet entries and trajectories and exits. Such a trial would last for weeks, and Roy would shine on the evening news every night. He could just see it.
He'd sent Fink back to Memphis early that morning with the grand jury subpoenas for the kid and his lawyer. That should liven things up a bit. He should have the kid talking by Monday afternoon, and maybe, with just a little luck, he'd have the remains of Boyette by Monday night. This thought had kept him at the office until three in the morning. He strutted to the clerk's desk for nothing in particular, then strutted back, glaring at Muldanno, who ignored him.
The courtroom deputy stopped in front of the bench and yelled instructions for all to sit. Court was now in session, the Honorable James Lamond presiding. Lamond appeared from a side door, and was escorted to the bench by an assistant carrying a stack of heavy files. In his early fifties, Lamond was a baby among federal judges. One of countless Reagan appointees, he was typical-all business, no smiles, cut the crap and let's get on with it. He had been the U. S. attorney for the Southern District of Louisiana immediately prior to Roy Foltrigg, and he hated his successor as much as anyone. Six months after taking the job, • Foltrigg had embarked upon a speaking tour of the district in which he presented charts and graphs to Rotarians and Civitans and declared with statistical evidence that his office was now much more efficient than it had been in prior years. Indictments were up. Dope dealers were behind bars. Public officials were running scared. Crime was in trouble, and the public's interest was now being fiercely protected because he, Roy Foltrigg, was now the chief federal prosecutor in the district.
It was a stupid thing to do because it insulted Latnond and angered the other judges. They had little use for the reverend.
Lamond gazed at the crowded courtroom. Everyone was seated. "My goodness," he started. "I'm delighted at the interest shown here today, but honestly, it's just a hearing on a simple motion." He glared at Foltrigg, who sat in the middle of six assistants. Upchurch had a local lawyer on each side, and two paralegals sitting behind him.
"The court is ready to proceed upon the motion of the defendant, Barry Muldanno, for a continuance. The court notes that this matter is set for trial three weeks from next Monday. Mr. Upchurch, you filed the motion, so you may proceed. Please be brief." To the surprise of everyone, Upchurch was indeed brief. He simply stated what -was common knowledge about the late Jerome Clifford, and explained to the court that he had a trial in federal court in St. Louis beginning three weeks from Monday. He was glib, relaxed, and completely at home in this strange courtroom. A continuance was necessary, he explained, with remarkable efficiency, because he needed time to prepare a defense for what would undoubtedly be a long trial. He finished in ten minutes.
"How much time do you need?" Lamond asked.
"Your Honor, I have a busy trial calendar, and I'll be happy to show it to you. In all fairness, six months would be a reasonable delay." "Thank you. Anything else?" "No sir. Thank you, Your Honor." Upchurch took his seat as Foltrigg was leaving his and heading for the podium directly in front of the bench. He glanced at his notes and was about to speak, when Lamond beat him to it.
"Mr. Foltrigg, surely you don't deny that the defense is entitled to more time, in light of the circumstances?" "No, Your Honor, I don't deny this. But I think six months is entirely too much time." "So how much would you suggest?" "A month or two. You see, Your Honor, I-" "I'm not going to sit up here and listen to a haggle over two months or six or three or four, Mr. Foltrigg. If you concede the defendant is entitled to a delay, then I'll take this matter under advisement and set this case for trial whenever my calendar will allow." Lamond knew Foltrigg needed a delay worse than Muldanno. He just couldn't ask for it. Justice must always be on the attack. Prosecutors are incapable of asking for more time.
"Well, yes, Your Honor," Foltrigg said loudly. "But it's our position that needless delays should be avoided. This matter has dragged on long enough." "Are you suggesting this court is dragging its feet, Mr. Foltrigg?" "No, Your Honor, but the defendant is. He's filed every frivolous motion known to American jurisprudence to stall this prosecution. He's tried every tactic, every-" "Mr. Foltrigg. Mr. Clifford is dead. He can't file any more motions. And now the defendant has a new lawyer, who, as I see it, has filed only one motion." Foltrigg looked at his notes and started a slow burn. He had not expected to prevail in this little matter, but he certainly hadn't expected to get kicked in the teeth.
"Do you have anything relevant to say?" his honor asked as if Foltrigg had yet to say anything of substance.
He grabbed his legal pad and stormed back to his seat. A rather pitiful performance. He should've sent an underling.
"Anything else, Mr. Upchurch?" Larnond asked.
"No sir." "Very well. Thanks to all of you for your interest in this matter. Sorry it has been so brief. Maybe we'll do more next time. An order for a new trial setting will be forthcoming." Lamond stood just minutes after he'd sat, and was gone. The reporters filed out, and of course were followed by Foltrigg and Upchurch, who walked to opposite ends of the hallway and held impromptu press conferences.