Page 24

A Time to Kill (Jake Brigance 1) John Grisham 2022/8/8 14:24:23

"Here at the office."

"Okay. I'll go to the jail, and if I need you I'll call the office."

"Sounds good. One other thing, Lester. Carl Lee told me not to call you. Don't mention it."

"What'll I tell him?"

"Tell him you called Iris, and she gave you the story."

"Come on, Lester. It's been common knowledge around here for years. Everybody knows it but her husband, and he'll find out."

"I hope not. We'll have us another murder. You'll have another client."

"Please. I can't keep the ones I've got. Call me Saturday."

He ate from the microwave at ten-thirty. Hanna was asleep. They talked about Leroy Glass and the white kid in the stolen pickup. About Carl Lee, but not about Lester. She felt better, safer now that Carl Lee Hailey was behind them. No more calls. No more burning crosses. No more stares at church. There would be other cases, she promised. He said little; just ate and smiled.

Just before the courthouse closed on Friday, Jake called the clerk to see if a trial was in progress. No, she said, Noose was gone. Buckley, Musgrove, everybody was gone. The courtroom was deserted. Secure with that knowledge, Jake eased across the street, through the rear door of the courthouse, and down the hall to the clerk's office. He flirted with the clerks and secretaries while he located Carl Lee's file. He held his breath as he flipped through the pages. Good! Just as he had hoped. Nothing had been added to the file all week, with the exception of his motion to withdraw as counsel. Marsharfsky and his local counsel had not touched the file. Nothing had been done. He flirted some more and eased back to his office.

Leroy Glass was still in jail. His bond was ten thousand dollars, and his family couldn't raise the thousand-dollar premium to pay a bondsman. So he continued to share the cell with Carl Lee. Jake had a friend who was a bondsman and who took care of Jake's clients. If a client needed out of jail, and there was little danger of him disappearing once he was sprung, the bond would be written. Terms were available for Jake's clients. Say, five percent down and so much a month. If Jake wanted Leroy Glass out of jail, the bond could be written anytime. But Jake needed him in jail.

"Look, Leroy, I'm sorry. I'm working with the bondsman," Jake explained to his client in the Intoxilyzer room.

"But you said I'd be out by now."

"Your folks don't have the money, Leroy. I can't pay it myself. We'll get you out, but it'll take a few days. I want you out so you can go to work, make some money and pay me."

Leroy seemed satisfied. "Okay, Mr. Jake, just do what you can."

"Food's pretty good here, isn't it?" Jake asked with a smile.

"It ain't bad. Better at home."

"We'll get you out," Jake promised.

"How's the nigger I stabbed?"

"Not sure. Ozzie said he's still in the hospital. Moss

Thrum says he's been released. Who knows. I don't think he's hurt too bad."

"Who was the woman?" Jake asked, unable to remember the details.

Jake thought for a second and tried to recall the indictment. "That's not the man you stabbed."

"Naw, he's Curtis Sprawling."

"You mean, y'all were fighting over another man's woman?"

"He was fightin' too."

"Who was he fighting?"

"You mean the four of you were fighting over Willie's woman?"

"What caused the fight?"

"Her husband was outta town."

"What's her husband's name?"

"Johnny Sands. When he's outta town, there's normally a fight."

'"Cause she ain't got no kids, can't have any, and she likes to have company. Know what I mean? When he leaves, everybody knows it. If she shows up at a tonk, look out for a fight."

What a trial, thought Jake. "But I thought you said she showed up with Willie Hoyt?"

"That's right. But that don't mean nothin' because everybody at the tonk starts easin' up on her, buyin' drinks, wantin' to dance. You can't help it."

"Oh, Mr. Jake, she looks so good. You oughtta see her."

"I will. On the witness stand."

Leroy gazed at the wall, smiling, dreaming, lusting after the wife of Johnny Sands. Never mind that he stabbed a man and could get twenty years. He had proven, in hand-to-hand combat, that he was worthy.

"Listen, Leroy, you haven't talked to Carl Lee, have you?"

"Sure. I'm still in his cell. We talk all the time. Ain't much else to do."

"You haven't told him what we discussed yesterday?"

"Oh no. I told you I wouldn't."

"But I'll tell you this, Mr. Jake, he's some kinda worried. He ain't heard from his new lawyer. He's bad upset. I had to bite my tongue to keep from tellin' him, but I didn't. I did tell him you were my lawyer."

"He said you was good 'bout comin' by the jail and talkin' 'bout the case and all. He said I hired a good lawyer."

"Not good enough for him, though."

"I think Carl Lee's confused. He ain't sure who to trust or anything. He's a good dude."

"Well, don't be telling him what we discussed, right? It's confidential."

"Right. But somebody needs to."

"He didn't consult with me or anyone else before he fired me and hired his new lawyer. He's a grown man. He made the decision. It's his baby." Jake paused and moved closer to Leroy. He lowered his voice. "And I'll tell you something else, but you can't tell it. I checked his court file thirty minutes ago. His new lawyer hasn't touched the case all week. Not one thing has been filed. Nothing."

Leroy frowned and shook his head. "Man oh man."

His lawyer continued. "These big shots operate like that. Talk a lot, blow a lot of smoke, fly by the seat of their pants. Take more cases than they can handle, and end up losing more than they win. I know them. I watch them all the time. Most are overrated."

"Is that why he ain't been to see Carl Lee?"

"Sure. He's too busy. Plus he's got plenty of other big cases. He don't care about Carl Lee."

"That's bad. Carl Lee deserves better."

"It was his choice. He'll have to live with it."

"You think he'll be convicted, Mr. Jake?"

"No doubt about it. He's looking at the gas chamber.

He's hired a bogus big-shot lawyer who doesn't have time to

work on his case, doesn't even have the time to talk to him

"Are you sayin' you could get him off?"

Jake relaxed and crossed his legs. "No, I never make

that promise, and I won't make it for your trial. A lawyer is

stupid if he promises an acquittal. Too many things can go

"Carl Lee said his lawyer promised a not guilty in the

"Where you been?" Carl Lee asked his cellmate as the jailer locked the door.

"Talkin' to my lawyer."

Leroy sat on his bunk directly across the cell from Carl Lee, who was rereading a newspaper. He folded the paper and laid it under his bunk.

"You look worried," Carl Lee said. "Bad news about your case?"

"Naw. Just can't make my bail. Jake says it'll be a few days."

"Jake talk about me?"

"Not much? What'd he say?"

"Just ask how you was."

"He's not mad at me?"

"Naw. He might be worried about you, but I don't think he's mad."

"Why's he worried about me?"

"I don't know," Leroy answered as he stretched out on his bunk, folding his hands behind his head.

"Come on, Leroy. You know somethin' you ain't tellin'. What'd Jake say about me?"

"Jake said I can't tell you what we talk about. He says it's confidential. You wouldn't want your lawyer repeatin' what y'all talk about, would you?"

"I ain't seen my lawyer."

"You had a good lawyer till you fired him."

"I gotta good one now."

- "How do you know? You ain't ever met him. He's too busy to come talk to you, and if he's that busy, he ain't got time to work on your case."

"How do you know about him?"

"Yeah. What'd he say?"

"I wanna know what he said," demanded Carl Lee as he sat on the edge of Leroy's bunk. He glared at his smaller, weaker cellmate. Leroy decided he was frightened and now had a good excuse to tell Carl Lee. Either talk or get slapped.

"He's a crook," Leroy said. "He's a big-shot crook who'll sell you out. He don't care about you or your case. He just wants the publicity. He hasn't touched your case all week. Jake knows, he checked in the courthouse this afternoon. Not a sign of Mr. Big Shot. He's too busy to leave Memphis and check on you. He's got too many other crooked clients in Memphis, includin' your friend Mr. Bruster."

"You're crazy, Leroy."

"Okay, I'm crazy. Wait and see who pleads insaneness. Wait and see how hard he works on your case."

"What makes you such an expert?"

"You asked me and I'm tellin' you."

Carl Lee walked to the door and grabbed the bars, gripping them tightly with his huge hands. The cell had shrunk in three weeks, and the smaller it became the harder it was for him to think, to reason, to plan, to react. He could not concentrate in jail. He knew only what was told to him and had no one to trust. Gwen was irrational. Ozzie was noncommittal. Lester was in Chicago. There was no other person he trusted except Jake, and for some reason he had found a

new lawyer. Money, that was the reason. Nineteen hundred dollars cash, paid by the biggest pimp and dope dealer in Memphis, whose lawyer specialized in defending pimps and dope dealers, and all kinds of cutthroats and hoodlums. Did Marsharfsky represent decent people? What would the jury think when they watched Carl Lee sit at the defense table next to Marsharfsky? He was guilty, of course. Why else would he hire a famous, big-city crook like Marsharfsky?

"You know what them rednecks on the jury'H say when they see Marsharfsky?" Leroy asked.

"They're gonna think this poor nigger is guilty, and he's sold his soul to hire the biggest crook in Memphis to tell us he ain't guilty."

Carl Lee mumbled something through the bars.

"They're gonna fry you, Carl Lee."

Moss Junior Tatum was on duty at six-thirty Saturday morning when the phone rang in Ozzie's office. It was the sheriff.

"What're you doing awake?" asked Moss.

"I'm not sure I'm awake," answered the sheriff. "Listen, Moss, do you remember an old black preacher named Street, Reverend Isaiah Street?"

"Yeah you do. He preached for fifty years at Springdale Church, north of town. First member of the NAACP in Ford County. He taught all the blacks around here how to march and boycott back in the sixties."

"Yeah, now I remember. Didn't the Klan catch him once?"

"Yeah, they beat him and burned his house, but nothin' serious. Summer of '65."

"I thought he died a few years back."

"Naw, he's been half dead for ten years, but he still moves a little. He called me at five-thirty and talked for an hour. Reminded me of all the political favors I owe him."

"He'll be there at seven to see Carl Lee. Why, I don't know. But treat him nice. Put them in my office and let them talk. I'll be in later." ouic, oneriii.