- The Client
V^LINT HADN'T SMOKED A CIGARETTE IN FOUR YEARS, BUT he found himself puffing nervously on a Virginia Slim. Dianne had one too, and they stood at the end of the hall and watched as the day broke over downtown Memphis. Greenway was in the room with Ricky. Next door, Jason McThune, the hospital administrator, and a small collection of FBI agents waited. Both Glint and Dianne had talked to Reggie in the past thirty minutes.
"The director has given his word," Glint said, sucking hard on the narrow cigarette, trying to extract a little smoke. "There's no other choice, Dianne." She stared through the window with one arm across her chest and the other hand holding the cigarette near her mouth. "We just leave, right? We just get on the plane and fly off into the sunset, and everybody lives happily ever after?" "Something like that." "What if I don't want to, Glint?" "You can't say no." "Why not?" "It's very simple. Your son has made the decision to talk. He's also made the decision to enter the witness protection program, so like it or not, you have to go too. You and Ricky." "I'd like to talk to my son." "You can talk to him in New Orleans. If you can change his mind, then the deal's off. Reggie's not dropping the big news until you guys are on the plane and in the air." Glint was trying to be firm, yet compassionate. She was scared, weak, and vulnerable. Her hands trembled as she placed the filter between her lips.
"Ms. Sway," a heavy voice said from behind. They turned to find the Honorable Harry M. Roosevelt standing behind them in a massive, bright blue jogging suit with Memphis State Tigers emblazoned across the front. It had to be a triple extra-large, and it stopped six inches above his ankles. A pair of ancient but seldom used running shoes covered his long feet. He was holding the two-page agreement Glint had typed.
She acknowledged his presence but said nothing.
"Hello, Your Honor," Glint said quietly.
"I just talked to Reggie," he said to Dianne. "I'd say they've had a rather eventful trip." He stepped between them and ignored Glint. "I've read this agreement, and I'm inclined to sign it. I think it's in the best interests of Mark for you to do the same." "Is that an order?" she asked.
"No. I do not have the power to bind you to this agreement," he said, then flashed a huge, warm smile. "But I would if I could." She placed the cigarette in an ashtray on the windowsill, and stuck both hands deep into the pockets of her jeans. "And if I don't?" "Then Mark will be returned here, placed back in detention, and beyond that, who knows. He will eventually be forced to talk. The situation is much more urgent now." "Why?" "Because we now know for a fact that Mark knows where the body is. So does Reggie. They could be in great danger. You're at the point, Ms. Sway, where you have to trust people." "That's easy for you to say." "Indeed it is. But if I were you, I'd sign this and get on the plane." Dianne slowly took the agreement from his honor. "Let's go talk to Dr. Greenway." They followed her down the hall to the room next to Ricky's.
TWENTY MINUTES LATER, THE NINTH FLOOR OF ST. PETER'S was sealed off by a dozen FBI agents. The waiting room was evacuated. The nurses were told to remain at their station. Three of the elevators were stopped on the ground floor. The other was held in place on the ninth by an agent.
The door to Room 943 opened, and little Ricky Sway, drugged and sound asleep, was wheeled into the hallway on a stretcher pushed by Jason McThune and Glint Van Hooser. On this, his sixth day of confinement, he was no better than when he first arrived. Greenway walked along one side, Dianne the other. Harry followed along for a few steps, then stopped.
The stretcher was pushed into the waiting elevator, which descended to the fourth floor, also secured by FBI agents. It was rushed a short distance to a service elevator, where Agent Durston held the door, then taken to the second floor, also secured. Ricky never moved. Dianne held his arm and jogged beside the stretcher.
They maneuvered through a series of short corridors and metal doors, and were suddenly on a flat roof. A helicopter was waiting. Ricky was loaded quickly, and Dianne, Glint, and McThune climbed aboard.
Minutes later, the helicopter landed near a hangar at Memphis International Airport. A half dozen FBI agents guarded the pad as Ricky was rolled to a nearby jet.
AT TEN MINUTES BEFORE SEVEN, A CELLULAR PHONE RANG at the corner table of the Raintree Grill, and Trumann grabbed it. He listened and checked his watch. "They're in the air," he announced, and set the phone down. Lewis was talking to Washington again.
Reggie breathed deeply and smiled at Trumann. "The body's in concrete. You'll need a few hammers and chisels." Trumann choked on his orange juice. "Okay. Anything else?" "Yeah. Place a couple of your boys near the intersection of St. Joseph and Carondelet." "Close by?" "Just do it, okay." "Done. Anything else?" "I'll be back in a minute." Reggie walked to the registration desk, and asked the clerk to check the fax machine. The clerk returned with a copy of the twopage agreement, which Reggie read closely. The typing was horrible, but the words were perfect. She returned to the table. "Let's get Mark," she said.
MARK FINISHED BRUSHING HIS TEETH FOR THE THIRD TIME, and sat on the edge of the bed. His black-and-gold Saints canvas bag was packed with dirty clothes and new underwear. Cartoons were on, but he was not interested.
He heard a car door, then footsteps, then a knock. "Mark, it's me," Reggie said.
He opened the door, but she did not step inside. "Are you ready to go?" "I guess." The sun was up and the parking lot was visible. A familiar face was behind her. It was one of the FBI agents from the first meeting at the hospital. Mark grabbed his bag, and stepped out into the parking lot. Three cars were waiting. A man opened the rear door of the middle car, and Mark and his attorney got in.
The little motorcade sped away.
"Everything's fine," Reggie said, taking his hand. The two men in the front seat stared straight ahead. "Ricky and your mother are on the plane. They'll be here in about an hour. Are you okay?" "I guess. Have you told them?" he whispered.
"Not yet," she answered. "Not until you're on the plane and in the air." "Are all these guys FBI agents?" She nodded and patted his hand. He suddenly felt important, sitting in the rear of his own black car, being rushed to the airport to board a private jet, cops all around just to protect him. He crossed his legs and sat a bit straighter.
He'd never flown before.