Chapter 7

JTOLTRIGG LIKED TO BE ESCORTED. HE ESPECIALLY ENJOYED those priceless moments when the cameras were rolling and waiting for him, and at just the right moment he would stroll majestically through the hall or down the courthouse steps with Wally Boxx in front like a pit bull and Thomas Fink or another assistant by his side, brushing off idiotic questions. He spent many quiet moments watching videos of himself darting in and out of courthouses with a small entourage. His timing was usually perfect. He had the walk perfected. He held his hands up patiently as if he would love to answer questions but, being a man of great importance, he just didn't have the time. Soon thereafter, Wally would call the reporters in for an orchestrated press conference in which Roy himself would break from his brutal work schedule and spend a few moments in the lights. A small library in the U. S. Attorney's suite had been converted to a press room, complete with floodlights and a sound system. Roy kept makeup in a locked cabinet.

As he entered the Federal Building on Main Street in Memphis, a few minutes after midnight, he had an escort of sorts with Wally and Fink and agents Tru-mann and Scherff, but there were no anxious reporters. In fact, not a soul waited for him until he entered the offices of the FBI, where Jason McThune sipped stale coffee with two other weary agents. So much for grand entrances.

Introductions were handled quickly as they walked to McThune's cramped office. Foltrigg took the only available seat. McThune was a twenty-year man who'd been shipped to Memphis four years earlier against his wishes and was counting the months until he could leave for the Pacific Northwest. He was tired and irritated because it was late. He'd heard of Foltrigg, but never met him. The rumors described him as a pompous ass.

An agent who was unidentified and unintroduced closed the door, and McThune fell into his seat behind the desk. He covered the basics: the finding of the car, the contents of it, the gun, the wound, the time of death, and on and on. "Kid's name is Mark Sway. He told the Memphis PD he and his younger brother happened upon the body and ran to call the authorities. They live about a half a mile away in a trailer park. The younger kid is in the hospital now suffering from what appears to be traumatic shock. Mark Sway and his mother, Dianne, divorced, are also at the hospital. The father lives here in the city, and has a record of petty stuff. DUIs, fights, and the like. Sophisticated criminal. Low-class white people. Anyway, the kid's lying." "I couldn't read the note," Foltrigg interrupted, dying to say something. "The fax was bad." He said this as if McThune and the Memphis FBI were inept because he, Roy Foltrigg, had received a bad fax in his van.

McThune glanced at Larry Trumann and Skipper Scherff standing against the wall, and continued. "I'll get to that in a minute. We know the kid's lying because he says they arrived on the scene after Clifford shot himself. Looks doubtful. First, the kid's fingerprints are all over the car, inside and out. On the dash, on the door, on the whiskey bottle, on the gun, everywhere. We lifted a print from him about two hours ago, and we've had our people all over the car. They'll finish up tomorrow, but it's obvious the kid was inside. Doing what, well, we're not yet certain. We've also found prints all around the rear taillights just above the exhaust pipe. And there were also three fresh cigarette butts under a tree near the car. Virginia Slims, the same brand used by Dianne Sway. We figure the kids were being kids, took the cigarettes from their mother, and went for a smoke. They were minding their own business when Clifford appears from nowhere. They hide and watch him-it's a dense area and hiding is no problem. Maybe they sneak around and pull out the hose, •we're not sure and the kids aren't telling. The little boy can't talk right now, and Mark evidently is lying. Anyway, it's obvious the hose didn't work. We're trying to match prints on it, but it's tedious work. May be impossible. I'll have photos in the morning to show the location of the hose when the Memphis PD arrived." McThune lifted a yellow notepad from the wreckage on his desk. He spoke to it, not to Foltrigg. "Clifford fired at least one shot from inside the car. The bullet exited through the center, almost exactly, of the front passenger window, which cracked but did not shatter. No idea why he did this, and no idea when it was done. The autopsy was finished an hour ago, and Clifford was full of Dalmane, codeine, and Percodan.

Plus his blood alcohol content was point two-two, so he was drunk as a skunk, as these people say down here. My point being, not only was he off his rocker enough to kill himself, but he was also drunk and stoned, so there's no way to figure out a lot of this. We're not tracking a rational mind." "I understand that." Roy nodded impatiendy. Wally Boxx hovered behind him like a well-trained terrier.

McThune ignored him. "The gun's a cheap. 38 he purchased illegally at a pawnshop here in Memphis. We've questioned the owner, but he won't talk without his lawyer present, so we'll do that in'the morning, or this morning I should say. A Texaco receipt shows a purchase of gasoline in Vaiden, Mississippi, about an hour and a half from here. The clerk is a kid who says she thinks he stopped around i P. M. No other evidence of any stops. His secretary says he left the office around 9 A. M., said he had an errand to run and she didn't hear a word until we called. Frankly, she was not very upset at the news. It looks as though he left New Orleans shortly after nine, drove to Memphis in five or six hours, stopped once for gas^ stopped to buy the gun, and drove off and shot himself. Maybe he stopped for lunch, maybe to buy whiskey, maybe a lot of things. We're digging." "Why Memphis?" Wally Boxx asked. Foltrigg nodded, obviously approving the question.

"Because he was born here," McThune said solemnly while staring at Foltrigg, as if everyone prefers to die in the place of their birth. It was a humorous response delivered by a serious face, and Foltrigg missed it all. McThune had heard he was not too bright.

"Evidently, the family moved away when he was a child," he explained after a pause. "He went to college at Rice and law school at Tulane." "We were in law school together," Fink said proudly.

"That's great. The note was handwritten and dated today, or yesterday I should say. Handwritten with a black felt tip pen of some sort-the pen wasn't found on him or in the car." McThune picked up a sheet of paper and leaned across the desk. "Here. This is the original. Be careful with it." Wally Boxx leaped at it and handed it to Foltrigg, who studied it. McThune rubbed his eyes and continued. "Just funeral arrangements and directions to his secretary. Look at the bottom. It looks as though he tried to add something with a blue ballpoint pen, but the pen was out of ink." Foltrigg's nose got closer to the note. "It says 'Mark, Mark where are,' and I can't make out the rest of it." "Right. The handwriting is awful and the pen ran out of ink, but our expert says the same thing. 'Mark, Mark where are. ' He also thinks that Clifford was drunk or stoned or something when he tried to write this. We found the pen in the car. Cheap Bic. No doubt it's the pen. He has no children, nephews, brothers, uncles, or cousins by the name of Mark. We're checking his close friends-his secretary said he had none-but as of now we haven't found a Mark." "So what does it mean?" "There's one other thing. A few hours ago, Mark Sway rode to the hospital with a Memphis cop by the name of Hardy. Along the way, he let it slip that Ro-mey said or did something. Romey. Short for Jerome, according to Mr. Clifford's secretary. In fact, she said more people called him Romey than Jerome. How would the kid know the nickname unless Mr. Clifford himself told him?" Foltrigg listened with his mouth open. "What do you think?" he asked.

"Well, my theory is that the kid was in the,car before Clifford shot himself, and that he was there for some time because of all the prints, and that he and Clifford talked about something. Then, at some point, the kid leaves the car, Clifford tries to add something to his note, and shoots himselfTThe kid is scared. His little brother goes into shock, and here we are." "Why would the kid lie?" "One, he's scared. Two, he's a kid. Three, maybe Clifford told him something he doesn't need to know." McThune's delivery was perfect, and the dramatic punch line left a heavy silence in the room. Foltrigg was frozen. Boxx and Fink stared blankly at the desk with open mouths.

Because his boss was temporarily at a loss, Wally Boxx moved in defensively and asked a stupid question. "Why do you think this?" McThune's patience with U. S. attorneys and their little flunkies had been exhausted about twenty years earlier. He'd seen them come and go. He'd learned to play their games and manipulate their egos. He knew the best way to handle their banalities was simply to respond. "Because of the note, the prints, and the lies. The poor kid doesn't know what to do." Foltrigg placed the note on the desk, and cleared his throat. "Have you talked to the kid?" "No. I went to the hospital two hours ago, but did not see him. Sergeant Hardy of the Memphis PD talked to him." "Do you plan to?" "Yes, in a few hours. Trumann and I will go to the hospital around nine or so and talk to the kid and maybe his mother. I'd also like to talk to the little brother, but it'll depend on his doctor." "I'd like to be there," Foltrigg said. Everyone knew it was coming.

McThune shook his head. "Not a good idea. We'll handle it." He was abrupt and left no doubt that he was in charge. This was Memphis, not New Orleans.

"What about the kid's doctor? Have you talked to him?" "No, not yet. We'll try this morning. I doubt if he'll say much." "Do you think these kids would tell the doctor?" Fink asked innocently.

McThune rolled his eyes at Trumann as if to say "What kind of dumbasses have you brought me?" "I can't answer that, sir. I don't know what the kids know. I don't know the doctor's name. I don't know if he's talked to the kids. I don't know if the kids will tell him anything." Foltrigg frowned at Fink, who shrank with embarrassment. McThune glanced at his watch and stood. "Gendemen, it's late. Our people will finish with the car by noon, and I suggest we meet then." "We must know everything Mark Sway knows," Roy said without moving. "He was in that car, and Clifford talked to him." "I know that." "Yes, Mr. McThune, but there are some things you don't know. Clifford knew the location of the body, and he was talking about it." "There are a lot of things I don't know, Mr. Fol-trigg, because this is a New Orleans case, and I work Memphis, you understand. I don't want to know any more about poor Mr. Boyette and poor Mr. Clifford. I'm up to my ass in dead bodies here. It's almost i A. M., and I'm sitting here in my office working on a case that's not mine, talking to you fellas and answering your questions. And I'll work on the case until noon tomorrow, then my pal Larry Trumann here can have it. I'll be finished." "Unless, of course, you get a call from Washington." "Yes, unless, of course, I get a call from Washington, then I'll do whatever Mr. Voyles tells me." "I talk to Mr. Voyles every week." '' Congratulations. '' "The Boyette case is the FBI's top priority at this moment, according to him." "So I've heard." "And I'm sure Mr. Voyles will appreciate your efforts." "I doubt it." Roy stood slowly and stared at McThune. "It is imperative that we know everything Mark Sway knows. Do you understand?" McThune returned the stare and said nothing.