Chapter Thirty-Two

The second meeting in Marlee's office began an hour after the first one ended. Fitch arrived again on foot with a briefcase and a large cup of coffee. Marlee scanned the briefcase for hidden devices, much to his amusement.

When she finished, he closed his briefcase and sipped his coffee. "I have a question," he announced. "What?"

"Six months ago, neither you nor Easter lived in this county, probably not in this state. Did you move here to watch this trial?" He knew the answer, of course, but he wanted to see how much she would admit, now that they were business partners and supposedly working on the same side.

"You could say that," she said. Marlee and Nicholas were assuming that Fitch had now tracked them back to Lawrence, and this was not altogether bad. Fitch had to appreciate their ability to hatch such a plot, and their commitment to carry it out. It was Marlee's pre-Lawrence days that had them losing sleep.

"You're both using aliases, aren't you?" he asked.

"No. We're using our legal names. No more questions about us, Fitch. We're not important. Time is short, and we have work to do."

"Perhaps we should begin by your telling me how far you've gone with the other side. How much does Rohr know?"

"Rohr knows nothing. We danced and shadow-boxed, but never connected."

"Would you have cut a deal with him had I not been willing?"

"Yes. I'm in it for the money, Fitch. Nicholas is on that jury because we planned it that way. We have worked for this moment. It'll work because all the players are corrupt. You're corrupt. Your clients are corrupt. My partner and I are corrupt. Corrupt but smart. We pollute the system in such a way that we cannot be detected."

"What about Rohr? He'll be suspicious when he loses. In fact, he'll suspect you've cut a deal with the tobacco company."

"Rohr doesn't know me. We never met."

"Come on."

"I swear it, Fitch. I made you think I had met him, but it never happened. It would have, though, had you not been willing to negotiate."

"You knew I'd be willing."

"Of course. We knew you'd be more than anxious to purchase a verdict."

Oh, he had so many questions. How did they learn of his existence? How did they get his phone numbers? How did they make certain Nicholas would be summoned for jury duty? How did they get him on the jury? And how in hell did they learn about The Fund?

He would ask them one day when this was behind them and the pressure was off. He'd love to chat with Marlee and Nicholas over a long dinner and get all his questions answered. His admiration for them grew by the moment. "Promise me you won't bump Lonnie Shaver," he said.

"I'll make the promise, Fitch, if you'll tell why you're so fond of Lonnie."

"He's on our side."

"How do you know this?"

"We have ways."

"Look, Fitch, if we're both working for the same verdict, then why can't we be honest?"

"You know, you're right. Why'd you bump Herrera?"

"I told you. He's an ass. He didn't like Nicholas and Nicholas didn't like him. Plus, Henry Vu and Nicholas are buddies. So we didn't lose anything."

"Why'd you bump Stella Hulic?"

"Just to get her out of the jury room. She was horribly obnoxious. Everything about her was disruptive."

"Who's next?"

"I don't know. We have one left. Who should we get rid of?"

"Not Lonnie."

"Then tell me why."

"Let's just say Lonnie has been bought and paid for. His employer is someone who'll listen to us."

"Who else have you bought and paid for?"

"No one."

"Come on, Fitch. Do you want to win or not?"

"Of course I do."

"Then come clean. I'm your easiest way to a quick verdict."

"And most expensive."

"You didn't expect me to be cheap. What do you gain by withholding information from me?"

"What do I gain by giving it to you?"

"That should be obvious. You tell me. I tell Nicholas. He has a better handle on where the votes are. He knows where to spend his time. What about Gladys Card?"

"She's a follower. We have nothing on her. What does Nicholas think?"

"The same. What about Angel Weese?"

"She smokes and she's black. Flip a coin. Another follower. What does Nicholas think?"

"She'll follow Loreen Duke."

"And who will Loreen Duke follow?" ,


"How many followers does he have now? How many members are in his little cult?"

"Jerry for starters. Since Jerry is sleeping with Sylvia, then count her in. Add Loreen and you get Angel."

Fitch held his breath and counted rapidly. "That's five. Is that all?"

"And Henry Vu makes six. Six in the bank. You do the math, Fitch. Six and counting. What do you have on Savelle?"

Fitch actually glanced at some notes as if he wasn't sure. Everything brought to the meeting in his briefcase had been read a dozen times. "Nothing. He's too much of a weirdo," he said sadly, as if he'd been a miserable failure in his efforts to find some way to coerce Savelle.

"Any dirt on Herman?"

"No. What does Nicholas think?"

"Herman will be listened to, but not necessarily followed. He hasn't made a lot of friends, but then he's not disliked either. His vote will probably stand alone."

"Which way is he leaning?"

"He's the one juror who's hardest to read now because he is determined to follow the Judge's orders against discussing the case."

"Of all the nerve."

"Nicholas will have nine votes before the closing arguments, maybe more. He just needs a little leverage with some of his friends."

"Like who?"

"Rikki Coleman."

Fitch took a drink without looking at the cup. He set it down and pressed the whiskers around his mouth. She watched every move. "We, uh, may have something there."

"Why are you playing games, Fitch? Either you have something or you don't. Either you tell me so I can tell Nicholas so we can nail her vote, or you sit there hiding your memos and hoping she jumps on board."

"Let's just say it's a nasty personal secret she'd prefer to keep from her husband."

"Why keep the secret from me, Fitch?" Marlee said angrily. "Are we working together?"

"Yes, but I'm not sure I need to tell you at this point."

"Great, Fitch. Something in her past, right? An affair, an abortion, a DUI?"

"I'll think about it."

"You do that, Fitch. You keep playing games, I'll keep playing games. What about Millie?"

Fitch was reeling while appearing cool and calm. How much should he tell her? His instincts said to be cautious. They'd meet again tomorrow, and the next day, and if he chose to he could tell her about Rikki and Millie and maybe even Lonnie. Go slow, he told himself. "Nothing on Millie," he said, glancing at his watch and thinking that at that very moment poor Hoppy was locked inside a big black car with three FBI men and probably bawling by now.

"Are you sure, Fitch?"

Nicholas had met Hoppy in the hallway of the motel, just outside his room, a week ago as Hoppy was arriving with flowers and fudge for his wife. They had chatted for a moment. The next day Nicholas had noticed Hoppy sitting in the courtroom, a new face filled with wonder, a new face suddenly interested after almost three weeks of trial.

With Fitch in the game, Nicholas and Marlee were assuming that any juror was a potential target for outside influence. So Nicholas watched everyone. He sometimes loitered in the hallway as the guests were arriving for the personal visits, and he sometimes loitered there as they left. He eavesdropped on the gossip in the jury room. He listened to three conversations at once during the daily walks around town after lunch. He took notes on every person in the courtroom, even had nicknames and code names for them all.

It was only a hunch that Fitch was working on Millie through Hoppy. They seemed like such a nice, good-hearted pair; the type Fitch could easily snare in one of his insidious plots.

"Of course I'm sure. Nothing on Millie."

"She's been acting strange," Marlee said, lying.

Wonderful, thought Fitch. The Hoppy sting was working.

"What does Nicholas think about Royce, the last alternate?" he asked.

"White trash. Not bright at all. Easily manipulated. The type we could slip five grand to and we'd own him. That's another reason Nicholas wants to bump Savelle. We get Royce, and he'll be easy."

Her casualness about bribery warmed Fitch's heart. Many times, in other trials, he'd dreamed of finding angels like Marlee, little saviors with sticky hands who were anxious to fix his juries for him. This was almost unbelievable!

"Who else might take cash?" he asked eagerly.

"Jerry's broke, lots of gambling debts, plus a messy divorce around the corner. He'll need twenty thousand or so. Nicholas hasn't cut the deal with him yet, but it'll happen over the weekend."

"This could get expensive," Fitch said, trying to be serious.

Marlee laughed loudly, and continued to laugh until Fitch was forced to snicker at his own humor. He'd just promised her ten million, and he was in the process of spending another two million for the defense. His clients had a net worth of something close to eleven billion.

The moment passed, and they spent a while ignoring each other. Finally, Marlee looked at her watch, and said, "Write this down, Fitch. It's now three-thirty, Eastern Time. The money's not going to Singapore. I want the ten million wired to the Hanwa Bank in the Netherlands Antilles, and I want it done immediately."

"Hanwa Bank?"

"Yes. It's Korean. The money is not going to my account, but to yours."

"I don't have an account there."

"You'll open one with the wire." She pulled folded papers from her purse and slid them across the table. "Here are the forms and instructions."

"It's too late in the day to do this," he said," taking the papers. "And tomorrow is Saturday."

"Shut up, Fitch. Just read the instructions. Everything'll work fine if you simply do as you're told. Hanwa is always open for preferred customers. I want the money parked there, in your account, over the weekend."

"How will you know it's there?"

"You'll show me a confirmation of the wire. The money is diverted briefly until the jury retires, then it leaves Hanwa and goes to my account. This should happen Monday morning."

"What if the jury gets the case sooner?"

"Fitch, I assure you, there will be no verdict until the money is in my account. That's a promise. And if for some reason you try to screw us, then I can also promise you there'll be a nice verdict for the plaintiff. A huge verdict."

"Let's not talk about that."

"No, let's not. This has all been carefully planned, Fitch. Don't mess it up. Just do as you're told. Start the wire now."

WENDALL ROHR yelled at Dr. Gunther for an hour and a half, and when he finished there were no calm nerves anywhere in the courtroom. Rohr himself was probably the most relaxed person because his own badgering bothered him not in the least. Everybody else was sick of it. It was almost five, Friday, another week finished. Another weekend planned at the Siesta Inn.

Judge Harkin was worried about his jury. They were obviously bored and irritated, weary of sitting captive and listening to words they no longer cared about.

The lawyers were worried about them too. They weren't responding to testimony as expected. When they weren't fidgeting they were nodding off. When they weren't gazing about with blank looks they were pinching themselves to stay awake.

But Nicholas wasn't the least bit concerned about his colleagues. He wanted them fatigued and on the verge of revolt. A mob needs a leader.

During a late afternoon recess, he had prepared a letter to Judge Harkin in which he requested the trial be continued on Saturday. The issue had been debated during lunch, a debate which lasted only a few minutes because he had planned it and had all the answers. Why sit around the motel room when they could be sitting in the jury box trying to finish this marathon?

The other twelve readily added their signatures, under his, and Harkin had no choice. Saturday court was rare but not unheard of, especially in sequestration trials.

His Honor quizzed Cable as to what they might expect tomorrow, and Cable confidently predicted the defense would finish its case. Rohr said the plaintiff would have no rebuttal. Sunday court was out of the question.

"This trial should be over Monday afternoon," Harkin said to the jury. "The defense will finish tomorrow, then we'll have closing arguments Monday morning. I anticipate you'll receive the case before noon Monday. That's the best I can do, folks."

There were suddenly smiles throughout the jury box. With the end in sight, they could endure one last weekend together.

Dinner would be at a notorious rib place in Gulf-port, followed by four hours of personal visits both tonight, tomorrow night, and Sunday. He sent them away with apologies.

After the jury left, Judge Harkin reconvened the lawyers for two hours of arguments on a dozen motions.