BARRY PACED NERVOUSLY BEFORE THE TINTED WINDOWS in Johnny's office, and watched the tugs and barges on the river. His nasty eyes were red, but not from booze or partying. He hadn't slept. He'd waited at the warehouse for the body to be delivered to him, and when Leo and company arrived around one without it, he had called his uncle.
Johnny, on this fine Sunday morning, was wearing neither tie nor suspenders. He paced slowly behind his desk, puffing blue smoke from his third cigar of the day. A thick cloud hung not far above his head.
The screaming and ass chewing had ended hours before. Barry had cursed Leo and lonucci and the Bull, and Leo had cursed back. But with time, the panic subsided. Throughout the night, Leo had periodically driven by Clifford's house, always in a different vehicle, and seeing nothing unusual. The body was still there.
Johnny decided to wait twenty-four hours and try again. They would watch the place during the day, and attack with full force after dark. The Bull assured him he could have the body out of the concrete in ten minutes.
Just be cool, Johnny had told everyone. Just be cool.
ROY FOLTRIGG FINISHED THE SUNDAY PAPER ON THE PATIO of his suburban split-level, and walked barefooted across the wet grass with a cup of cold coffee. He had slept little. He had waited in the darkness on his front porch for the paper to arrive, then ran to fetch it in his pajamas and bathrobe. He had called Trumann, but, strangely, Mrs. Trumann wasn't sure where her husband had gone.
He inspected his wife's rosebushes along the back fence, and asked himself for the hundredth time where Mark Sway would run to. There was no doubt, at least in his mind, that Reggie had helped him escape. She'd obviously gone crazy again, and run off with the kid. He smiled to himself. He'd have the pleasure of busting her ass.
THE HANGAR WAS A QUARTER OF A MILE FROM THE MAIN terminal, in a row of identical buildings all drab gray and sitting quietly together. The words Gulf Air were painted in orange letters above the tall double doors, which were opening as the three cars stopped in front of the hangar. The floor was sparkling concrete, painted green without a speck of dirt and covered with nothing but two private jets side by side in a far corner. A few lights were on, and their reflections glowed on the green floor. The building was big enough for a stock car race, Mark thought as he stretched his neck for a glimpse of the two jets.
With the doors out of the way, the entire front of the hangar was now open. Three men walked hurriedly along the back wall as if searching for something. Two more stood by one door. Outside, another half dozen moved slowly about, keeping their distance from the cars that had just parked.
"Who are these people?" Mark asked in the general direction of the front seat.
"They're with us," Trumann said.
"They're FBI agents," Reggie clarified.
"Why so many?" "They're just being careful," she said. "How much longer, do you think?" she asked Trumann.
He glanced at his watch. "Probably thirty minutes." "Let's walk around," she said, opening her door. As if on cue, the other eleven doors in the little parade opened and the cars emptied. Mark looked around at the other hangars, and the terminal, and a plane landing on the runway in front of them. This had become terribly exciting. Not three weeks earlier, he'd beaten the crap out of a subdivision kid at school after the kid taunted him because he'd never flown. If they could only see him now. Rushed to the airport by private car, waiting for his private jet to take him anywhere he wanted to go. No more trailers. No more fights with subdivision kids. No more notes to Mom, because now she would be at home. He'd decided, sitting alone in the motel room, that this was a wonderful idea. He'd come to New Orleans and outsmarted the Mafia in its own backyard, and he could do it again.
He caught a few stares from the agents by the door. They cut their eyes quickly at him, then looked away. Just checking him out. Maybe he'd sign some autographs later.
He followed Reggie into the vast hangar, and the two private jets caught his attention. They were like small, shiny toys sitting under the Christmas tree waiting to be played with. One was black, the other silver, and Mark stared at them.
A man in an orange shirt with Gulf Air on a patch above the pocket closed the door to a small office inside the hangar and walked in their direction. K. O. Lewis met him, and they talked quietly. The man waved at the office, and said something about coffee.
Larry Trumann knelt beside Mark, still staring at the jets. "Mark, do you remember me?" he asked with a smile.
"Yes sir. I met you at the hospital." "That's right. My name's Larry Trumann." He offered his hand, and Mark shook it slowly. Children are not supposed to shake hands with adults. "I'm an FBI agent here in New Orleans." Mark nodded and kept staring at the jets.
"Would you like to look at them?" Trumann asked.
"Can I?" he asked, suddenly friendly to Trumann.
"Sure." Trumann stood and placed a hand on Mark's shoulder. They walked slowly across the gleaming concrete, the sounds of Trumann's steps echoing upward. They stopped in front of the black jet. "Now, this is a Learjet," Trumann began.
Reggie and K. O. Lewis left the small office with tall cups of steaming coffee. The agents who'd escorted them had slipped into the shadows of the hangar. They sipped what must've been their tenth cup of this long morning, and watched as Trumann and the kid inspected the jets.
"He's a brave kid," Lewis said.
"He's remarkable," Reggie said. "At times he thinks like a terrorist, then he cries like a little child." "He is a child." "I know. But don't tell him. It may upset him, and, hell, who knows what he might do." She took a long sip. "Truly remarkable." K. O. blew into his cup, then took a tiny sip. "We've pulled some strings. There's a room waiting for Ricky at-Grant's Clinic in Phoenix. We need to know if that's the destination. The pilot called five minutes ago. He has to get clearance, file a flight plan, you know." "Phoenix it is. Complete confidentiality, okay? Register the kid under another name. Same for the mother and Mark. Keep some of your boys nearby. I want you to pay for his doctor's trip out there and for a few days of work." "No problem. The people in Phoenix have no idea what's coming. Have you guys talked about a permanent home?" "A little, not much. Mark says he wants to live in the mountains."-"Vancouver's nice. We vacationed there last summer. Absolutely gorgeous." "Out of the country?" "No problem. Director Voyles said they can go anywhere. We've placed a few witnesses outside the States, and I think the Sways are perfect candidates. These people will be taken care of, Reggie. You have my word." The man in the orange shirt joined Mark and Trumann, and was now in charge of the tour. He lowered the steps to the black Lear, and the three disappeared inside.
"I must confess," Lewis said after he swallowed another scalding dose of coffee, "I was never convinced the kid knew." "Clifford told him everything. He knew exactly where it was." "Did you?" "No. Not until yesterday. When he first came to my office, he told me that he knew, but he didn't tell me where it was. Thank God for that. He kept it to himself until we were near the body yesterday afternoon." "Why'd you come here? Seems awfully risky." Reggie nodded at the jets. "You'll have to ask him. He insisted we find the body. If Clifford lied to him, then he figured he was off the hook." "And so you just drove down here and looked for the body? Just like that?" "It was a bit more involved. It's a long story, K. O., and I'll give you all the details over a long dinner." "I can't wait." Mark's small head was now in the cockpit, and Reggie half expected the engines to start, the plane to taxi slowly from the hangar, out onto the runway, and Mark to dazzle them with a perfect takeoff. She knew he could do it.
"Are you concerned about your own safety?" Lewis asked.
"Not really. I'm just a humble lawyer. What would they gain by coming after me?"-"Retribution. You don't understand the way they think." "Indeed I don't." "Director Voyles would like us to stick close for a few months, at least until the trial is over." "I don't care what you do,, I just don't want to see anyone who's watching me, okay?" "Fine. We have ways." The tour moved to the second jet, a silver Citation, and for the moment Mark Sway had forgotten about dead bodies and bad guys lurking in shadows. The steps came down, and he climbed aboard with Trumann in tow.
An agent with a radio walked to Reggie and Lewis, and said, "They're on final approach." They followed him to the opening of the hangar near the cars. A minute later Mark and Trumann joined them, and as they watched the sky to the north a tiny plane appeared.
"That's them," Lewis said. Mark inched his way next to Reggie and took her hand. The plane grew larger as it approached the runway. It, too, was black, but much larger than the jets in the hangar. Agents, some in suits and some in jeans, began moving around as the plane taxied to them. It stopped a hundred feet away, and the engines died. A full minute passed before the door opened and the stairs hit the ground.
Jason McThune trotted down first, and when he stepped onto the tarmac a dozen FBI agents had the plane surrounded. Dianne and Glint were next. They joined McThune, and together the three walked briskly toward the hangar.
Mark released Reggie's hand and ran to meet his mother. Dianne grabbed and hugged him, and for an awkward second or two everyone else eitner or looked at the terminal in the distance.
They said nothing as they embraced. He squeezed her tightly around the neck, and finally said, through tears, "I'm sorry, Mom. I'm so sorry." She clutched his head and pressed it to her shoulder, and at the same time thought of strangling him and of never letting go.
REGGIE LED THEM INTO THE SMALL BUT CLEAN OFFICE, AND offered Dianne coffee. She declined. Trumann, Mc-Thune, Lewis, and the gang waited nervously outside the door. Trumann, especially, was anxious. What if they changed their minds? What if Muldanno got the body? What if? He paced and fidgeted, glanced at the locked door, asked Lewis a hundred questions. Lewis sipped coffee and tried to remain calm. It was now twenty minutes before eight. The sun was bright, the air humid.
Mark sat in his mother's lap, and Reggie, the lawyer, sat behind the desk. Glint stood by the door.
"I'm glad you came," Reggie said to Dianne.
"I didn't have much of a choice." "You do now. You can change your mind if you want. You can ask me anything." "Do you realize how fast all this is happening, Reggie? Six days ago, I came home and found Ricky curled in his bed sucking his thumb. Then Mark and the cop showed up. Now I'm being asked to become someone else and run away to another world. My God." "I understand," Reggie said. "But we can't stop things." "Are you mad at me, Mom?" he asked.
"Yeah. No cookies for a week." She stroked his hair. There was a long pause.
"How's Ricky?" Reggie asked.
"About the same. Dr. Greenway is trying to bring him around so he can enjoy the plane ride. But they had to drug him slightly when we left the hospital." "I'm not going back to Memphis, Mom," Mark said.
"The FBI has contacted a children's psychiatric hospital in Phoenix, and they're waiting for you now," Reggie explained., "It's a good one. Glint checked it out Friday. It's been highly recommended." "So we're going to live in Phoenix?" Dianne asked.
"Only until Ricky is released. Then you go wherever you want. Canada. Australia. New Zealand. It's up to you. Or you can stay in Phoenix." "Let's go to Australia, Mom. They still have real cowboys down there. Saw it in a movie once." "No more movies for you, Mark," Dianne said, still rubbing his head. "We wouldn't be here if you hadn't watched so many movies." "What about TV?" "No. From now on, you'll do nothing but read books." The office was silent for a long time. Reggie had nothing else to say. Glint was dead tired and,about to fall asleep on his feet. Dianne's mind was moving clearly now, for the first time in a week. Frightened as she was, she had escaped the dungeon at St. Peter's. She had seen sunlight and smelled real air. She was holding her lost son, and the other one would improve. All these people were trying to help. The lamp factory was history. Employment was now a thing of the past. No more cheap trailers. No more worries about past due child support and unpaid bills. She could watch the boys grow up. She could join the PTA. She could buy some clothes and do her nails. Good gosh, she was only thirty years old. With a little effort and a little money, she could be attractive again. There were men out there.
As dark and treacherous as the future seemed, it could not be as horrible as the past six days. Something had to give. She was due a break. Have a little faith, baby.
"I guess we'd better get to Phoenix," she said.
Reggie grinned with relief. She pulled the agreement from a briefcase Glint brought with him. It had been signed by Harry and McThune. Reggie added her signature, and handed the pen to Dianne. Mark, now bored with hugs and tears, walked to the wall and admired a series of framed color photos of jets. "On second thought, I might be a pilot," he said to Glint.
Reggie took the agreement. "I'll be back in a minute," she said, opening the door and closing it behind her.
Trumann jumped when it opened. Hot coffee splashed from his trembling cup and burned his right hand. He cursed, and slung at the floor, then wiped it on his pants.
"Relax, Larry," Reggie said. "Everything's fine. Sign here." She stuck the agreement in his face, and Trumann scrawled his name. K. O. did the same.
"Get the plane ready," Reggie said. "They're going to Phoenix." K. O. turned and flashed a hand signal at the agents by the hangar entry. McThune jogged toward them with more instructions. Reggie returned to the ottice and closed the door.
K. O. and Trumann shook hands and smiled goof-ily. They stared at the door to the office.
"What now?" Trumann mumbled.
"She's a lawyer," K. O. said. "Nothing's ever easy with lawyers." McThune walked to Trumann and handed him an envelope. "It's a subpoena for the Reverend Roy Fol-trigg," he said with a smile. "Judge Roosevelt issued it this morning." "On Sunday morning?" Trumann asked, taking the envelope.
"Yeah. He called his clerk, and they met at his office. He's very excited about seeing Foltrigg back in Memphis." The three chuckled at this. "It'll be served upon the reverend this morning," Trumann said.
After a minute, the door opened. Clint, Dianne, Mark, then Reggie filed out and headed for the tarmac. The engines were started. Agents scurried about. Trumann and Lewis escorted them to the hangar doors, and stopped.
K. O., ever the diplomat, offered his hand to Dianne, and said, "Good luck, Ms. Sway. Jason McThune will escort you to Phoenix, and handle things once you get there. You are completely safe. And if we can do anything to help, please let us know." Dianne gave a sweet smile and shook his hand. Mark offered his, and said, "Thanks, K. O. You've been a real pain in the ass." But he was smiling, and it struck everyone as being funny.
K. O. laughed. "Good luck to you, Mark, and I assure you, son, you've been a bigger pain.", "Yeah, I know. Sorry about all this." He shook hands with Trumann, and walked away with his mother and McThune. Reggie and Glint remained by the hangar door.
At some point, about halfway to the jet, Mark stopped. As if suddenly scared, he froze in place and watched as Dianne climbed the steps to the plane. At no time during the past twenty-four hours had it occurred to him that Reggie would be left behind. He had simply assumed, for whatever reason, that she would stay with them until this ordeal was over. She would fly off with them, and hang around the new hospital until they were safe. And as he stood there, a tiny figure on the vast tarmac, motionless and stunned, he realized she was not beside him. She was back there with Glint and the FBI.
He turned slowly, and stared at her in terror as this reality sunk in. He took two steps toward her, then stopped. Reggie left her small group and walked to him. She knelt on the tarmac, and looked into his panicked eyes.
He bit his lip. "You can't come with us, can you?" he asked slowly in a frightened voice. Though they had talked for hours, this subject was never touched.
She shook her head as her eyes watered.
He wiped his eyes with the back of his hand. The FBI agents were close by, but not watching. For once in his life, he was not ashamed to cry in public. "But I want you to go," he said.
"I can't, Mark." She leaned forward, took both of his shoulders, and hugged him gently. "I can't go." Tears flooded his cheeks. "I'm sorry about all this. You didn't deserve it." "But if it hadn't happened, Mark, I never would've met you." She kissed him on the cheek, and held his shoulders tight. "I love you, Mark. I'll miss you." "I'll never see you again, will I?" His lip quivered and tears dripped off his chin. His voice was frail.
She gritted her teeth and shook her head. "No, Mark." Reggie took a deep breath, and stood. She wanted to grab him, and take him home to Momma Love. He could have the bedroom upstairs, and all the spaghetti and ice cream he could eat.
Instead, she nodded at the plane where Dianne was standing in the door, waiting patiently. He wiped his cheeks again. "I'll never see you again," he said, almost to himself. He turned, and made a feeble attempt to straighten his shoulders, but he couldn't. He walked slowly to the steps, and glanced back for one last look.