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A Time to Kill (Jake Brigance 1) John Grisham 2022/8/8 14:24:21

"Yes. I know who you are. Seen you in the news. What brings you to Ford County?"

"Well, I gotta buddy in bad trouble. Carl Lee Hailey, and I'm here to help."

"Okay. Who's he?" Ozzie asked, looking up at the bodyguard. Ozzie was six feet four, and at least five inches shorter than the bodyguard. He weighed at least three hundred pounds, most of it in his arms.

"This here is Tiny Tom," Cat explained. "We just call him Tiny for short."

"He's sort of like a bodyguard."

"He's not carryin' a gun, is he?"

"Naw, Sheriff, he don't need a gun."

rair enougn. wny aon t you and liny step into my office?"

In the office, Tiny closed the door and stood by it while his boss took a seat across from the sheriff.

"He can sit if he wants to," Ozzie explained to Cat.

"Naw, Sheriff, he always stands by the door. That's the way he's been trained."

"Sorta like a police dog?"

"Fine. What'd you wanna talk about?"

Cat crossed his legs and laid a diamond-clustered hand on his knee. "Well, Sheriff, me and Carl Lee go way back. Fought together in 'Nam. We was pinned down near Da Nang, summer of '71. I got hit in the head, and, bam!, two seconds later he got hit in the leg. Our squad disappeared, and the gooks was usin' us for target practice. Carl Lee limped to where Fs layin', put me on his shoulders, and ran through the gunfire to a ditch next to a trail. I hung on his back while he crawled two miles. Saved my life. He got a medal for it. You know that?"

"It's true. We laid next to each other in a hospital in Saigon for two months, then got our black asses outta Vietnam. Don't plan to go back."

Ozzie was listening intently.

"And now that my man is in trouble, I'd like to help."

"Did he get the M-16 from you?"

Tiny grunted and Cat smiled. "Of course not."

"Would you like to see him?"

"Why sure. It's that easy?"

"Yep. If you can move Tiny away from that door, I'll get him."

Tiny stepped aside, and two minutes later Ozzie was back with the prisoner. Cat yelled at him, hugged him, and they patted each other like boxers. Carl Lee looked awkwardly at Ozzie, who took the hint and left. Tiny again closed the door and stood guard. Carl Lee moved two chairs together so they could face each other closely and talk.

Cat spoke first. "I'm proud of you, big man, for what you did. Real proud. Why didn't you tell me that's why you wanted the gun?"

"Just like 'Nam, except they couldn't shoot back."

"That's the best way."

"Yeah, I guess. I just wish none of this had to happen."

"You ain't sorry, are you?"

Carl Lee rocked in his chair and studied the ceiling. "I'd do it over, so I got no regrets about that. I just wish they hadn't messed with my little girl. I wish she was the same. I wish none of it ever happened."

"Right, right. It's gotta be tough on you here."

"I ain't worried 'bout me. I'm real concerned with my family."

"Right, right. How's the wife?"

"She's okay. She'll make it."

"I saw in the paper where the trial's in July. You been in the paper more than me here lately."

"Yeah, Cat. But you always get off. I ain't so sure 'bout me."

"You gotta good lawyer, don't you?"

Cat stood and walked around the office, admiring Oz-zie's trophies and certificates. "That's the main reason I came to see you, my man."

"What's that?" Carl Lee asked, unsure of what his friend had in mind, but certain his visit had a purpose.

"Carl Lee, you know how many times I been on trial?"

"Seems like all the time."

"Five! Five times they put me on trial. The federal boys. The state boys. The city boys. Dope, gamblin', bribery, guns, racketeerin', whores. You name it, and they've tried me for it. And you know somethin', Carl Lee, I've been guilty of it all. Evertime I've gone to trial, I've been guilty as hell. You know how many times I been convicted?"

"None! Not once have they got me. Five trials, five not guilties."

Carl Lee smiled with admiration.

"You know why they can't convict me?"

Carl Lee had an idea, but he shook his head anyway.

"Because, Carl Lee, I got the smartest, meanest,

illinium lawyer in inese pans, ne plays dirty, and the cops hate him. But I'm sittin' here instead of some prison. He'll do whatever it takes to win a case."

"Who is he?" Carl Lee asked eagerly.

"You've seen him on television walkin' in and outta court. He's in the papers all the time. Evertime some big-shot crook gets in trouble, he's there. He gets the drug dealers, the politicians, me, all the big-time thugs."

"He handles nothin' but criminal cases, mainly dope, bribery, extortion, stuff like that. But you know what his favorite is?"

"Murder. He loves murder cases. Ain't never lost one. Gets all the big ones in Memphis. Remember when they caught those two niggers throwin' a dude off the bridge into the Mississippi. Caught them redhanded. 'Bout five years ago?"

"Had a big trial for two weeks, and they got off. He was the man. Walked them outta there. Not guilty."

"I think I remember seein' him on TV."

"Sure you did. He's a bad dude, Carl Lee. I'm tellin' you the man never loses."

Cat landed in his chair and stared solemnly into Carl Lee's face. "Bo Marsharfsky," he said.

Carl Lee gazed upward as if he remembered the name. "So what?"

Cat laid five fingers with eight carats on Carl Lee's knee. "So he wants to help you, my man."

"I already got one lawyer I can't pay. How I'm gonna pay another?"

"You ain't gotta pay, Carl Lee. That's where I come in. He's on my retainer all the time. I own him. Paid the guy 'bout a hundred thousand last year just to keep me outta trouble. You don't pay."

Suddenly, Carl Lee had a keen interest in Bo Marsharfsky. "How does he know 'bout me?"

"Because he reads the paper and watches the tube. You

know how lawyers are. I was in his office yesterday and he was studyin' the paper with your picture on the front. I told him 'bout me and you. He went crazy. Said he had to have your case. I said I would help."

"And that's why you're here?"

"Right, right. He said he knew just the folks to get you off."

"Doctors, psychiatrists, folks like that. He knows them all."

"I'll pay for it, Carl Lee! Listen to me! I'll pay for it all. You'll have the best lawyer and doctors money can buy, and your old pal Cat will pay the tab. Don't worry 'bout money!"

"But I gotta good lawyer."

"I guess 'bout thirty."

Cat rolled his eyes in amazement. "He's a child, Carl Lee. He ain't been outta school long enough. Marsharfsky's fifty, and he's handled more murder cases than your boy'll ever see. This is your life, Carl Lee. Don't trust it to no rookie."

[email protected]@@@[email protected]@@@@=======

Suddenly, Jake was awful young. But then there was Lester's trial when Jake had been even younger.

"Look, Carl Lee, I been in many trials, and that crap is complicated and technical. One mistake and your ass is gone. If this kid misses one trick, it might be the difference between life and death. You can't afford to have no young kid in there hopin' he don't mess up. One mistake," Cat snapped his fingers for special effect, "and you're in the gas chamber. Marsharfsky don't make mistakes."

Carl Lee was on the ropes. "Would he work with my lawyer?" he asked, seeking compromise.

"No! No way. He don't work with nobody. He don't need no help. Your boy'd be in the way."

Carl Lee placed his elbows on his knees and stared at his feet. A thousand bucks for a doctor would be impossible. He did not understand the need for one since he had not felt insane at the time, but evidently one would be necessary. Everyone seemed to think so. A thousand bucks for a cheap doctor. Cat was offering the best money could buy.

i naic 10 uo mis 10 my lawyer, ne muttered quietly.

"Don't be stupid, man," Cat scolded. "You better be lookin' out for Carl Lee and to hell with this child. This ain't no time to worry 'bout hurtin' feelin's. He's a lawyer, forget him. He'll get over it."

"But I already paid him-"

"How much?" Cat demanded, snapping his fingers at Tiny.

"Nine hundred bucks."

Tiny produced a wad of cash, and Cat peeled off nine one-hundred-dollar bills and stuffed them in Carl Lee's shirt pocket. "Here's somethin' for the kids," he said as he unraveled a one-thousand-dollar bill and stuffed it with the rest.

Carl Lee's pulse jumped as he thought of the cash covering his heart. He felt it move in the pocket and press gently against his chest. He wanted to look at the big bill and hold it firmly in his hand. Food, he thought, food for his kids.

"We gotta deal?" Cat asked with a smile.

"You want me to fire my lawyer and hire yours?" he asked carefully.

"And you gonna pay for everthing?"

"What about this money?"

"It's yours. Lemme know if you need more."

"Mighty nice of you, Cat."

"I'm a very nice man. I'm helpin' two friends. One saved my life many years ago, and the other saves my ass ever two years."

"Why does he want my case so bad?"

"Publicity. You know how lawyers are. Look at how much press this kid's already made off you. It's a lawyer's dream. We gotta deal?"

Cat struck him on the shoulder with an affectionate blow, and walked to the phone on Ozzie's desk. He punched the numbers. "Collect to 901-566-9800. From Cat Bruster. Person to person to Bo Marsharfsky."

On the twentieth floor in a downtown office building, Bo Marsharfsky hung up the phone and asked his secretary if the press release was prepared. She handed it to him, and he read it carefully.

"This looks fine," he said. "Get it to both newspapers immediately. Tell them to use the file photograph, the new one. See Frank Fields at the Post. Tell him I want it on the front page in the morning. He owes me a favor."

"Yes, sir. What about the TV stations?" she asked.

"Deliver them a copy. I can't talk now, but I'll hold a news conference in Clanton next week."

Lucien called at six-thirty Saturday morning. Carla was buried deep under the blankets and did not respond to the phone. Jake rolled toward the wall and grappled with the lamp until he found the receiver. "Hello," he managed weakly.

"What're you doing?" Lucien asked.

"I was sleeping until the phone rang."

"You seen the paper?"

"Go get the paper and call me after you read it."

The phone was dead. Jake stared at the receiver, then placed it on the table. He sat on the edge of the bed, rubbed the fog from his eyes, and tried to remember the last time Lucien called his house. It must be important.

He made the coffee, turned out the dog, and walked quickly in his gym shorts and sweatshirt to the edge of the street where the three morning papers had fallen within ten inches of each other. He rolled the rubber bands off onto the kitchen table and spread the papers next to his coffee. Nothing in the Jackson paper. Nothing from Tupelo. The Memphis Post carried a headline of death in the Middle East, and, then, he saw it. On the bottom half of the front page he saw himself, and under his picture was the caption: "Jake Brigance-Out." Next was a picture of Carl Lee, and then a splendid picture of a face he had seen before. Under it, the words: "Bo Marsharfsky-In." The headline announced that the noted Memphis criminal attorney had been hired to represent the "vigilante killer."

aureiy n was a mistake. He had seen Carl Lee only yesterday. He read the story slowly. There were few details, just a history of Mar-sharfsky's greatest verdicts. He promised a news conference in Clanton. He said the case would present new challenges, etc. He had faith in the jurors of Ford County.