THE SECOND LAWYER HIRED BY BARRY THE BLADE MULdanno to defend him on these obnoxious murder charges was another angry hatchet man by the name of Willis Upchurch, a rising star among the gang of boisterous mouthpieces trotting across the country performing for crooks and cameras. Upchurch had offices in Chicago and Washington, and any other city where he could hook a famous case and rent space. As soon as he talked with Muldanno after breakfast, he was on a plane to New Orleans to, first, organize a press conference, and, second, meet with his famous new client and plot a noisy defense. He had become somewhat rich and noted in Chicago for his passionate defense of mob assassins and drug traffickers, and in the past decade or so had been called in by mob brass around the country for all sorts of representation. His record was average, but it was not his won/lost ratio that attracted clients. It was his angry face and bushy hair and thunderous voice. Upchurch was a lawyer who wanted to be seen and heard in magazine articles, news stories, advice columns, quickie books, and gossip shows. He had opinions. He was unafraid of predictions. He was radical and would say anything, and this made him a favorite of the loony daytime TV talk shows.
He took only sensational cases with lots of headlines and cameras. Nothing was too repulsive for him. He preferred rich clients who could pay, but if a serial killer needed help, Upchurch would be there with a contract giving himself exclusive book and movie rights.
Though he enjoyed his notoriety immensely, and received some praise from the far left for his vigorous defense of indigent murderers, Upchurch was little more than a Mafia lawyer. He was owned by the mob, yanked around by their strings, and paid whenever they decided. He was allowed to roam a bit and spout at the mouth, but if they called, he came running.
And when Johnny Sulari, Barry's uncle, called at four in the morning, Willis Upchurch came running. The uncle explained the scarce facts about the untimely death of Jerome Clifford. Upchurch drooled into the receiver as Sulari asked him to fly immediately to New Orleans. He skipped to the bathroom at the thought of defending Barry the Blade Muldanno in front of all those cameras. He whistled in the shower when he thought of all the ink the case had already generated, and how he would now be the star. He grinned at himself in the mirror as he tied his ninety-dollar tie and thought of spending the next six months in New Orleans with the press at his beck and call.
This was why he went to law school!
THE SCENE WAS FRIGHTENING AT FIRST. THE IV HAD BEEN removed because Dianne was in the bed clutching KacKy ana ruoomg nis neau. one and wrapped her legs around his. He was moaning and grunting, twisting and jerking. His eyes were open, then shut. Dianne pressed her head to his and spoke softly through her tears. "It's okay, baby. It's okay. Mommy's here. Mommy's here." Greenway stood close by, arms folded, rubbing his beard. He appeared puzzled, as if he hadn't seen this before. A nurse held the other side of the bed.
Mark entered the room slowly and no one noticed. Reggie had stopped at the nurses' station. It was almost noon, time for the FBI and all, but Mark knew immediately that no one in the room was remotely concerned with the cops and their questions.
"It's okay, baby. It's okay. Mommy's here." Mark inched to the foot of the bed for a closer look. Dianne managed a quick, uncomfortable smile, then closed her eyes and kept whispering to Ricky.
After a few minutes of this, Ricky opened his eyes, seemed to notice and recognize his mother, and grew still. She kissed him a dozen times on the forehead. The nurse smiled and patted his shoulder and cooed something at him.
Greenway looked at Mark and nodded at the door. Mark followed him outside, into the quiet hallway. They walked slowly toward the end of it, away from the nurses' station.
"He woke up about two hours ago," the doctor explained. "It looks like he's coming out of it slowly." "Has he said anything yet?" "Like what?" "Well, you know, like about what happened yesterday." "No... He's mumbled a lot, which is a good sign, but he hasn't made any words yet." This was comforting, in a sense. Mark would have to stick close to the room just in case. "So he's gonna be okay?" "I didn't say that." The lunch cart stopped in the middle of the hall and they walked around it. "I think he'll be okay, but it could take time." There was a long pause in which Mark worried if Greenway expected him to say something.
"How strong is your mother?" "Pretty strong, I guess. We've been through a lot." "Where's the family? She'll need plenty of help." "There's no family. She has a sister in Texas, but they don't get along. And her sister has problems too." "Your grandparents?" "No. My ex-father was an orphan. I figure his parents probably dumped him somewhere when they got to know him. My mother's father is dead, and her mother lives in Texas too. She's sick all the time." "I'm sorry." They stopped at the end of the hall and looked through a dirty window at downtown Memphis. The Sterick Building stood tall.
"The FBI is bugging me," Greenway said.
Join the club, Mark thought. "Where are they?" "Room 28 It's a small conference room on the second floor that's seldom used. They said they'd be expecting me, you, and your mother at exactly noon, and they sounded very serious." Greenway glanced at his watch and started to walk back to the room. "They are quite anxious." "I'm ready for them," Mark said in a weak effort at boldness.
Greenway frowned at him. "How's that?" "I've hired us a lawyer," he said proudly. "When?" "This morning. She's here now, down the hall." Greenway looked ahead but the nurses' station was around a bend in the corridor. "The lawyer's here?" he asked in disbelief. "Yep." "How'd you find a lawyer?" "It's a long story. But I paid her myself." Greenway pondered this as he shuffled along. "Well, your mother cannot leave Ricky right now, under any circumstances. And I certainly need to stay close." "No problem. Me and the lawyer will handle it." They stopped at Ricky's door, and Greenway hesitated before pushing it open. "I can put them off until tomorrow. In fact, I can order them out of the hospital." He was attempting to sound tough, but Mark knew better.
"No, thanks. They won't go away. You take care of Ricky and Mom, and me and the lawyer'll take care of the FBI."
REGGIE HAD FOUND AN EMPTY ROOM ON THE EIGHTH floor, and they hurried down the stairs to use it. They were ten minutes late. She closed the door quickly, and said, "Pull up your shirt." He froze, and stared at her.
"Pull up your shirt!" she insisted, and he began pulling at his bulky Memphis State Tigers sweatshirt. She opened her briefcase and removed a small black recorder and a strip of plastic and Velcro. She checked the micro-cassette tape, then punched the buttons. Mark watched every move. She'd. used this device many times before, he could tell. She pressed it to his stomach, and said, "Hold it right here." Then she threaded the plastic strap through a clip on the recorder, wrapped it around his midsection and back, and fastened it snugly with the Velcro ends. "Breathe deeply," she said, and he did.
He tucked the sweatshirt into his jeans. Reggie took a step back and stared at his stomach. "Perfect," she said.
"What if they frisk me?" "They won't. Let's go." She grabbed her briefcase, and they were out the door.
"How do you know they -won't frisk me?" he asked again, very anxious. He walked fast to keep up with her. A nurse looked at them suspiciously.
"Because they're here to talk, not to arrest. Just trust me." "I trust you, but I'm really scared." "You'll do fine, Mark. Just remember what I told you." "Are you sure they can't see this thing?" "I'm positive." She pushed hard through a door and they were back in the stairwell, descending quickly on green concrete steps. Mark was one step behind. "What if the beeper goes off or something and they freak out and pull guns? What then?" "No beeper." She took his hand, squeezed it hard, and zigzagged downward to the second floor. "And they don't shoot kids." "They did in a movie once."
THE SECOND FLOOR OF ST. PETER'S HAD BEEN BUILT MANY years before the ninth. It was gray and dirty, and the narrow corridors were swarming with the usual anxious traffic of nurses, doctors, technicians, and orderlies pushing stretchers, and patients rolling along in wheel-chairs, and dazed families walking to nowhere in particular and trying to stay awake. Corridors met from all directions in chaotic little junctions, then branched out again in a hopeless labyrinth. Reggie asked three nur'ses about the location of Room 28, and the third pointed and talked but never stopped walking. They found a neglected hallway with ancient carpet and bad lighting, and six doors down to the right was their room. The door was cheap wood with no window.
"I'm scared, Reggie," Mark said, staring at the door.
She held his hand firmly. If she was nervous, it was not apparent. Her face was calm. Her voice was warm and reassuring. "Just do as I told you, Mark. I know what I'm doing." They retreated a step or two, and Reggie opened an identical door to Room 24 It was an abandoned coffee room now used for haphazard storage. "I'll wait in here. Now, go knock on the door." "I'm scared, Reggie." She carefully felt the recorder, and worked her fingers around it until she pushed the button. "Now go," she instructed, and pointed down the hall.
Mark took a deep breath and knocked on the door. He could hear chairs move inside. "Come in," someone said, and the voice was not friendly. He opened the door slowly, stepped inside, and closed it behind him. The room was narrow and long, just like the table in the center of it. No windows. No smiles from the two men who stood on each side of the table near the end. They could pass for twins-white button-down shirts, red-and-blue ties, dark pants, short hair.
"You must be Mark," one said as the other stared at the door.
Mark nodded, but could not speak.
"Where's your mother?" "Uh, who are you?" Mark managed to get it out.
The one on the right said, "I'm Jason McThune, FBI, Memphis." He stuck out his hand and Mark shook it limply. "Nice to meet you, Mark." "Yeah, my pleasure." "And I'm Larry Trumann," said the other. "FBI, New Orleans." Mark allowed Trumann the same feeble handshake. The agents exchanged nervous looks, and for an awkward second neither knew what to say.
Trumann finally pointed to the chair at the end of the table. "Have a seat, Mark." McThune nodded his agreement and almost smiled. Mark carefully sat down, terrified the Velcro would break away and the damned thing would somehow fall off. They'd handcuff his little butt so fast and throw him in the car and he'd never see his mother again. What would Reggie do then? They moved toward him in their rolling chairs. They slid their notepads on the table to within inches of him.
They were breathing on him, and Mark figured it was part of the game. Then he almost smiled. If they wanted to sit this close, fine. But the black recorder would get it all. No fading voices.
"We, uh, we really expected your mother and Dr.
Greenway to be here," Trumann said, glancing at Mc-Thune.
"They're with my brother." "How is he?" McThune asked gravely.
"Not too good. Mom can't leave his room right now." "We thought she'd be here," Trumann said again, and looked at McThune as if uncertain how to proceed.
"Well, we' can wait a day or two until she's available," Mark offered.
"No, Mark, we really need to talk now." "Maybe I can go get her." Trumann took his pen from his shirt pocket and smiled at Mark. "No, let's talk a few minutes, Mark. Just the three of us. Are you nervous?" "A little. What do you want?" He was still stiff with fear but breathing better. The recorder hadn't beeped or shocked him.
"Well, we want to ask you some questions about yesterday." "Do I need a lawyer?" They looked at each other with perfectly symmetrical open mouths, and at least five seconds passed before McThune cocked his head at Mark and said, "Of course not." "Why not?" "Well, we just, you know, want to ask you a few questions. That's all. If you decide you want your mother, then we'll go get her. Or something. But you don't need a lawyer. Just a few questions, that's all." "I've already talked to the cops once. In fact, I talked to the cops for a long time last night." "We're not cops. We're FBI agents." "That's what scares me. I think maybe I need a lawyer to, you know, protect my rights and all." "You've been watching too much TV, kid." "The name's Mark, okay? Can you at least call me Mark?" "Sure. Sorry. But you don't need a lawyer." "Yeah," Trumann chimed in. "Lawyers just get in the way. You have to pay them money, and they object to everything." "Don't you think we should wait until my mother can be here?" They exchanged matching little smiles, and Mc-Thune said, "Not really, Mark. I mean, we can wait if you want to, but you're a smart kid and we're really in a hurry here, and we just have a few quick questions for you." "Okay. I guess. If I have to." Trumann looked at his notepad, and went first. "Good. You told the Memphis Police that Jerome Clifford was already dead when you and Ricky found the car yesterday. Now, Mark, is this really the truth?" He sort of sneered toward the end of the question as if he knew damned well it wasn't the truth.
Mark fidgeted and looked straight ahead. "Do I have to answer the question?" "Sure you do." "Why?" "Because we need to know the truth, Mark. We're the FBI, and we're investigating this thing, and we must know the truth." "What happens if I don't answer?" "Oh, lots of things. We might be forced to take you down to our office, in the backseat of the car of course, no handcuffs, and ask some really tough questions. May have to bring along your mother too." "What will happen to my mother? Can she get in trouble?" "Maybe." "What kind of trouble?" They paused for a second and exchanged nervous looks. They had started on shaky ground, and things were getting shakier by the minute. Children are not to be interviewed without first talking to the parents.
But what the hell. His mother didn't show. He had no father. He was a poor kid, and here he was all alone. It was perfect, really. They couldn't ask for a better situation. Just a couple of quick questions.
McThune cleared his throat and went into a deep frown. "Mark, have you ever heard of obstruction of justice?" "I don't think so." "Well, it's a crime, okay. A federal offense. A person who knows something about a crime, and withholds this information from the FBI or the police, might be found guilty of obstruction of justice." "What happens then?" "Well, if found guilty, such a person might be punished. You know, sent to jail or something like that." "So, if I don't answer your questions, me and Mom might go to jail?" McThune retreated a bit and looked at Trumann. The ice was getting thinner. "Why don't you want to answer the question, Mark?" Trumann asked. "Are you hiding something?" "I'm just scared. And it doesn't seem fair since I'm just eleven years old and you're the FBI, and my mom's not here. I don't know what to do, really." "Can't you just answer the questions, Mark, without your mother? You saw something yesterday, and your mother was not around. She can't help you answer the questions. We just want to know what you saw." "If you were in my place, would you want a lawyer?" "Hell no," McThune said. "I would never want a lawyer. Pardon my language, son, but they're just a pain in the ass. A real pain. If you have nothing to hide, you don't need a lawyer. Just answer our questions truthfully, and everything will be fine." He was becoming angry, and this did not surprise Mark. One of them had to be angry. It was the good guy-bad guy routine Mark had seen a thousand times on television. McThune would get ugly, and Trumann would smile a lot and sometimes even frown at his partner for Mark's benefit, and this would somehow endear Trumann to Mark. McThune would then get disgusted and leave the room, and Mark would then be expected to spill his guts all over the table.
Trumann leaned to him with a drippy smile. "Mark, was Jerome Clifford already dead when you and Ricky found him?" "I take the Fifth Amendment." The drippy smile vanished. McThune's face reddened, and he shook his head in absolute frustration. There was a long pause as the agents stared at each other. Mark watched an ant crawl across the table and disappear under a notepad.
Trumann, the good guy, finally spoke. "Mark, I'm afraid you've been watching too much television." "You mean I can't take the Fifth Amendment?" "Lemme guess," McThune snarled. "You watch 'L. A. Law,' right?" "Every week." "Figures. Are you gonna answer any questions, Mark? Because if you're not, then we have to do other things." "Like what?" "Go to court. Talk to the judge. Convince him to require you to talk to us. It's pretty nasty, really." "I need to go to the rest room," Mark said as he slid his chair away from the table and stood.
"Uh, sure, Mark," Trumann said, suddenly afraid they'd made him sick. "I think it's just down the hall." Mark was at the door.
"Take five minutes, Mark, we'll wait. No hurry." He left the room and closed the door behind him.
FOR SEVENTEEN MINUTES, THE AGENTS MADE SMALL TALK and played with their pens. They weren't worried. They were experienced agents with many tricks. They'd been here before. He would talk.
A knock, and McThune said, "Come in." The door opened, and an attractive lady of fifty or so walked in and closed the door as if this were her office. They scrambled to their feet just as she said, "Keep your seats." "We're in a meeting," Trumann said officially.
"You're in the wrong room," McThune said rudely.
She placed her briefcase on the table and handed each agent a white card. "I don't think so," she said. "My name is Reggie Love. I'm an attorney, and I represent Mark Sway." They took it well. McThune inspected the card while Trumann just stood there, arms dangling by his legs, trying to say something.
"When did he hire you?" McThune said, looking wildly at Trumann.
"That's really none of your business, is it now? I'm not hired. I'm retained. Sit down." She eased gracefully into her seat and rolled it to the table. They backed awkwardly into theirs, and kept their distance.
"Where's, uh, where's Mark?" Trumann asked.
"He's off somewhere taking the Fifth. Can I see your ID, please?" They instantly reached for their jackets, fished around desperately, and simultaneously produced their badges. She held both, studied them carefully, then wrote something on a legal pad.
When she finished, she slid them across the table and asked, "Did you in fact attempt to interrogate this child outside the presence of his mother?" "No," said Trumann.
"Of course not," said McThune, shocked at this suggestion.
"He tells me you did." "He's confused," said McThune. "We initially approached Dr. Greenway, and he agreed to this meeting, which was supposed to include Mark, Dianne Sway, and the doctor." "But the kid showed up alone," Trumann added quickly, very eager to explain things. "And we asked •where his mother was, and he said she couldn't make it right now, and we sort of thought she was on her way or something, so we were just chitchatting with the kid." "Yeah, while we waited for Ms. Sway and the doctor," McThune chimed in helpfully. "Where were you during this?" "Don't ask questions that are irrelevant. Did you advise Mark to talk to a lawyer?" The agents locked eyes and searched each other for help. "It wasn't mentioned," Trumann said, shrugging innocently.
It was easier to lie because the kid wasn't there. And he was just a scared little kid who'd gotten things confused, and they were, after all, FBI agents, so she'd eventually believe them.
McThune cleared his throat and said, "Uh, yeah, once, Larry, remember Mark said something, or maybe I said something about 'L. A. Law,' and then Mark said he might need a lawyer, but he was sort of kidding and we, or at least I, took it as a joke. Remember, Larry?" Larry now remembered. "Oh, sure, yeah, something about 'L. A. Law. ' Just a joke though." "Are you sure?" Reggie asked.
"Of course I'm sure," Trumann protested. McThune frowned and nodded along with his partner.
"He didn't ask you guys if he needed a lawyer?" They shook their heads and tried hopelessly to remember. "I don't remember it that way. He's just a kid, and very scared, and I think he's confused," McThune said.
"Did you advise him of his Miranda rights?" Trumann smiled at this and was suddenly more confident. "Of course not. He's not a suspect. He's just a kid. We need to ask him a few questions." "And you did not attempt to interrogate him without his mother's presence or consent?" "No." "Of course not." "And you did not tell him to avoid lawyers after he asked your advice?" "No ma'am," "No way. The kid's lying if he told you otherwise." Reggie slowly opened her briefcase and lifted out the black recorder and the micro-cassette tape. She sat them in front of her and placed the briefcase on the floor. Special Agents McThune and Trumann stared at the devices and seemed to shrink a bit in their seats.
Reggie rewarded each with a bitchy smile, and said, "I think we know who's lying." McThune slid two fingers down the bridge of his nose. Trumann rubbed his eyes. She let them suffer for a moment. The room was silent.
"It's all right here on tape, fellas. You boys attempted to interrogate a child outside the presence of his mother and without her consent. He specifically asked you if you shouldn't wait until she was available and you said no. You attempted to coerce the child with the threat of criminal prosecution not only for the child but also for his mother. He told you he was scared, and twice he specifically asked you if he needed a lawyer. You advised him not to get a lawyer, giving as one of your reasons the opinion that lawyers are a pain in the ass. Gentlemen, the pain is here." They sunk lower. McThune pressed four fingers against his forehead and gently rubbed. Trumann stared in disbelief at the tape, but was careful not to look at the woman. He thought of grabbing it, and ripping it to shreds, and stomping on it because it could be his career, but for some reason he believed with all his troubled heart that this woman had made a copy of it.
Getting slapped with a lie was bad enough, but their problems ran much deeper. There could be serious disciplinary proceedings. Reprimands. Transfers. Crap in the record. And at this moment, Trumann also believed that this woman knew all there was to know about the disciplining of wayward FBI agents.
"You wired the kid," Trumann said meekly to no one in particular.
"Why not? No crime. You're the FBI, remember. You boys run more wire than ATT." What a smartass! But then, she was a lawyer, wasn't she? McThune leaned forward, cracked his knuckles, and decided to offer some resistance. "Look, Ms. Love, we-" "It's Reggie." "Okay, okay. Reggie, uh, look, we're sorry. We, uh, got a little carried away, and, well, we apologize." "A little carried away? I could have your jobs for this." They were not about to argue with her. She was probably right, and even if there was room for debate, they simply -were not up to it.
"Are you taping this?" Trumann asked.
"No." "Okay, we were out of line. We're sorry." He could not look at her.
Reggie slowly placed the tape in her coat pocket. "Look at me, fellas." They slowly lifted their eyes to hers, but it was painful. "You've already proven to me that you'll lie, and that you'll lie quickly. Why should I trust you?" Trumann suddenly slapped the table, hissed, and made a noisy show of standing and pacing to the end of the table. He threw up his hands. "This is incredible.
We came here with just a few questions for the kid, just doing our jobs, and now we're fighting with you. The kid didn't tell us he had a lawyer. If he'd told us, then we would have backed off. Why'd you do this? Why'd you deliberately pick this fight? It's senseless." "What do you want from the kid?" "The truth. He's lying about what he saw yesterday. We know he's lying. We know he talked to Jerome Clifford before Clifford killed himself. We know the kid was in the car. Maybe I don't blame him for lying. He's just a kid. He's scared. But dammit, we need to know what he saw and heard." "What do you suspect he saw and heard?" The nightmare of explaining this to Foltrigg suddenly hit Trumann, and he leaned against the wall. This is exactly why he hated lawyers-Foltrigg, Reggie, the next one he met. They made life so complicated.
"Has he told you everything?" McThune asked.
"Our conversations are extremely private." "I know that. But do you realize who Clifford was, and Muldanno and Boyd Boyette? Do you know the story?" "I read the paper this morning. I've kept up with the case in New Orleans. You boys need the body, don't you?" "You could say that," Trumann said from the end of the table. "But at this moment we really need to talk to your client." "I'll think about it." "When might you reach a decision?" "I don't know. Are you boys busy this afternoon?" "Why?" "I need to talk to my client some more. Let's say we'll meet in my office at 3 P. M." She took her briefcase and placed the recorder in it. It was obvious this meeting was over. "I'll keep the tape to myself. It'll just be our little secret, okay?" McThune nodded his agreement, but knew there was more.
"If I need something from you boys, like the truth or a straight answer, I expect to get it. If I catch you lying again, I'll use the tape." "That's blackmail," said Trumann.
"That's exactly what it is. Indict me." She stood and grabbed the doorknob. "See you boys at three." McThune followed her. "Uh, listen, Reggie, there's this guy who'll probably want to be at the meeting. His name is Roy Foltrigg, and he's-" "Mr. Foltrigg is in town?" "Yes. He arrived last night, and he'll insist on attending this meeting at your office." "Well, well. I'm honored. Please invite him."