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A Time to Kill (Jake Brigance 1) John Grisham 2022/8/8 14:24:26

"His blood pressure keeps acting up. Especially after the phone calls. He's had three strokes in five years, and he's due for another one. He's scared; we're both scared."

"How many phone calls?"

"Several. They threaten to burn our house or blow it up. They always tell us they know where we live, and if Hailey is acquitted, then they'll burn it or stick dynamite under

it while we are asleep. A couple have threatened to kill us. It's just not worth it."

"Maybe you should quit."

"And starve? Bud hasn't worked in ten years, you know that. Where else would I work?"

"Look, Ethel, I've had threats too. I don't take them seriously. I promised Carla I'd give up the case before I endangered my family, and you should be comforted by that. You and Bud should relax. The threats are not serious. There are a lot of nuts out there."

"That's what worries me. People are crazy enough to do something."

"Naw, you worry too much. I'll tell Ozzie to watch your house a bit closer."

"Sure. They've been watching mine. Take my word, Ethel, there's nothing to worry about. Probably just some young punks."

She wiped her eyes. "I'm sorry for crying, and I'm sorry for being so irritable lately."

You've been irritable for forty years, Jake thought. "That's okay."

"What about these?" she asked, pointing to the invoices.

"I'll get the money. Don't worry about it."

Willie Hastings finished the second shift at 10:00 P.M. and punched the clock next to Ozzie's office. He drove straight to the Hailey house. It was his night to sleep on the couch. Someone slept on Owen's couch every night; a brother, a cousin, or a friend. Wednesday was his night.

It was impossible to sleep with the lights on. Tonya refused to go near the bed unless every light in the house was on. Those men could be in the dark, waiting for her. She had seen them many times crawling along the floor toward her bed, and lurking in the closets. She had heard their voices outside her window, and she had seen their bloodshot eyes peering in, watching her as she got ready for bed. She heard noises in the attic, like the footsteps of the bulky cowboy boots they had kicked her with. She knew they were up

there, waiting for everyone to go to sleep so they could come down and take her back to the woods. Once a week her mother and oldest brother climbed the folding stairs and inspected the attic with a flashlight and a pistol.

Not a single room in the house could be dark when she went to bed. One night, as she lay wide awake next to her mother, a light in the hall burned out. She screamed violently until Gwen's brother drove to Clanton to an all-night quick shop for more bulbs.

She slept with her mother, who held her firmly for hours until the demons faded into the night and she drifted away. At first, Gwen had trouble with the lights, but after five weeks she napped periodically through the night. The small body next to her wiggled and jerked even while it slept.

Willie said good night to the boys and kissed Tonya. He showed her his gun and promised to stay awake on the couch. He walked through the house and checked the closets. When Tonya was satisfied, she lay next to her mother and stared at the ceiling. She cried softly.

Around midnight, Willie took off his boots and relaxed on the couch. He removed his holster and placed the gun on the floor. He was almost asleep when he heard the scream. It was the horrible, high-pitched cry of a child being tortured. He grabbed his gun and ran to the bedroom. Tonya was sitting on the bed, facing the wall, screaming and shaking. She had seen them in the window, waiting for her. Gwen hugged her. The three boys ran to the foot of the bed and watched helplessly. Carl Lee, Jr., went to the window and saw nothing. They had been through it many times in five weeks, and knew there was little they could do.

Gwen soothed her and laid her head gently on the pillow. "It's okay, baby, Momma's here and Uncle Willie's here. Nobody's gonna get you. It's okay, baby."

She wanted Uncle Willie to sit under the window with his gun and the boys to sleep on the floor around the bed. They took their positions. She moaned pitifully for a few moments, then grew quiet and still.

Willie sat on the floor by the window until they were all asleep. He carried the boys one at a time to their beds and tucked them in. He sat under her window and waited for the morning sun.

Jake and Atcavage met for lunch at Claude's on Friday. They ordered ribs and slaw. The place was packed as usual, and for the first time in four weeks there were no strange faces. The regulars talked and gossiped like old times. Claude was in fine form-ranting and scolding and cursing his loyal customers. Claude was one of those rare people who could curse a man and make him enjoy it.

Atcavage had watched the venue hearing, and would have testified had he been needed. The bank had discouraged his testifying, and Jake did not want to cause trouble. Bankers have an innate fear of courtrooms, and Jake admired his friend for overcoming this paranoia and attending the hearing. In doing so, he became the first banker in the history of Ford County to voluntarily appear in a courtroom without a subpoena while court was in session. Jake was proud of him.

Claude raced by and told them they had ten minutes, so shut up and eat. Jake finished a rib and mopped his face. "Say, Stan, speaking of loans, I need to borrow five thousand for ninety days, unsecured."

"Who said anything about loans?"

"You said something about banks."

"I thought we were condemning Buckley. I was enjoying it."

"You shouldn't criticize, Stan. It's an easy habit to acquire and an impossible one to break. It robs your soul of . character."

"I'm terribly sorry. How can you ever forgive me?"

"Okay. Why do you need it?"

"Why is that relevant?"

"What do you mean, 'Why is that relevant?' "

"Look Stan, all you should worry about is whether or not I can repay the money in .ninety days."

"Okay. Can you repay the money in ninety days?"

"Good question. Of course I can."

The banker smiled. "Hailey's got you bogged down, huh?"

The lawyer smiled. "Yeah," he admitted. "It's hard to

concentrate on anything else. The trial is three weeks from Monday, and until then I won't concentrate on anything else."

"How much will you make off this case?"

"Nine hundred minus ten thousand."

"Nine hundred dollars!"

"Yeah, he couldn't borrow on his land, remember?"

"Of course, if you'd loan Carl Lee the money on his land, then I wouldn't have to borrow any."

"I prefer to loan it to you."

"Great. When can I get a check?"

"You sound desperate."

"I know how long you guys take, with your loan committees and auditors and vice-presidents here and vice-presidents there, and maybe a vice-president will finally approve my loan in a month or so, if the manual says he can and if the home office is in the right mood. I know how you operate."

Atcavage looked at his watch. "Three o'clock soon enough?"

Jake wiped his mouth and leaned across the table. He spoke quietly. "My house is a landmark with landmark mortgages, and you've got the lien on my car, remember? I'll give you the first mortgage on my daughter, but if you try to foreclose I'll kill you. Now what security do you have in mind?"

"When can I get the check?"

Claude appeared and refilled the tea glasses. "You got five minutes," he said loudly.

"Eight," replied Jake.

"Listen Mr. Big Shot," Claude said with a grin. "This ain't no courtroom, and your picture in the paper ain't worth two cents in here. I said five minutes."

"Just as well. My ribs were tough anyway."

"I notice you didn't leave any."

"Might as well eat them, as much as they cost."

"They cost more if you complain." "We're leaving," Atcavage said as he stood and threw a dollar on the table.

Sunday afternoon the Haileys picnicked under the tree away from the violence under the basketball goal. The first heat wave of the summer had settled in, and the heavy, sticky humidity hung close to the ground and penetrated the shade. Gwen swatted flies as the children and their daddy ate warm fried chicken and sweated. The children ate hurriedly and ran to a new swing Ozzie had installed for the children of his inmates.

"What'd they do at Whitfield?" Gwen asked.

"Nothin' really. Asked a bunch of questions, made me do some tests. Bunch of crap."

"How'd they treat you?"

"With handcuffs and padded walls."

"No kiddin'. They put you in a room with padded walls?" Gwen was amused and managed a rare giggle.

"Sure did. They watched me like I was some animal. Said I was famous. My guards told me they was proud of me -one was white and one was black. Said that I did the right thing and they hoped I got off. They was nice to me."

"What'd the doctors say?"

"They won't say nothin' till we get to trial, and then they'll say I'm fine."

"How do you know what they'll say?"

"Jake told me. He ain't been wrong yet."

"Has he found you a doctor?"

"Yeah, some crazy drunk he drug up somewhere. Says he's a psychiatrist. We've talked a couple of times in Ozzie's office."

"Not much. Jake said he'll say whatever we want him to say."

"Must be a real good doctor."

"He'd fit in good with those folks in Whitfield."

"Jackson, I think. He wasn't too sure of anything. He acted like I was gonna kill him too. I swear he was drunk

bolh times we talked. He asked some questions that neither one of us understood. Took some notes like a real big shot. Said he thought he could help me. I asked Jake about him. Jake said not to worry, that he would be sober at the trial. But I think Jake's worried too."

"Then why are we usin' him?"

" 'Cause he's free. Owes somebody some favors. A real shrink'd cost over a thousand dollars just to evaluate me, and then another thousand or so to come testify at trial. A cheap shrink. Needless to say, I can't pay it."

Gwen lost her smile and looked away. "We need some money around the house," she said without looking at him.

"Coupla hundred for groceries and bills."

"I'll see what I can do."

She looked at him. "What does that mean? What makes you think you can get money while you're in jail?"

Carl Lee raised his eyebrows and pointed at his wife. She was not to question him. He still wore the pants, even though he put them on in jail. He was the boss.

"I'm sorry," she whispered.

Reverend Agee peered through a crack in one of the huge stained glass windows of his church and watched with satisfaction as the clean Cadillacs and Lincolns arrived just before five Sunday afternoon. He had called a meeting of the council to assess the Hailey situation and plan strategy for the final three weeks before the trial, and to prepare for the arrival of the NAACP lawyers. The weekly collections had gone well-over seven thousand dollars had been gathered throughout the county and almost six thousand had been deposited by the reverend in a special account for the Carl Lee Hailey Legal Defense Fund. None had been given to the family. Agee was waiting for the NAACP to direct him in spending the money, most of which, 'he thought, should go to the defense fund. The sisters in the church could feed the family if they got hungry. The cash was needed elsewhere.

The council talked of ways to raise more money. It was not easy getting money from poor people, but the issue was hot and the time was right, and if they didn't raise it now it would not be raised. They agreed to meet the following day at the Springdale Church in Clanton. The NAACP people were expected in town by morning. No press; it was to be a work session.

Norman Reinfeld was a thirty-year-old genius in criminal law who held the record for finishing Harvard's law school at the age of twenty-one, and after graduation declined a most generous offer to join his father and grandfather's prestigious Wall Street law factory, opting instead to take a job with the NAACP and spend his time fighting furiously to keep Southern blacks off death row. He was very good at what he did although, through no fault of his own, he was not very successful at what he did. Most Southern blacks along with most Southern whites who faced the gas chamber deserved the gas chamber. But Reinfeld and his team of capital murder defense specialists won more than their

share, and even in the ones they lost they usually managed to keep the convicts alive through a myriad of exhausting delays and appeals. Four of his former clients had either been gassed, electrocuted, or lethally injected, and that was four too many for Reinfeld. He had watched them all die, and with each execution he renewed his vow to break any law, violate any ethic, contempt any court, disrespect any judge, ignore any mandate, or do whatever it took to prevent a human from legally killing another human. He didn't worry much about the illegal killings of humans, such as those killings so artfully and cruelly achieved by his clients. It wasn't his business to think about those killings, so he didn't. Instead he vented his righteous and sanctimonious anger and zeal at the legal killings.

He seldom slept more than three hours a night. Sleep was difficult with thirty-one clients on death row. Plus seventeen clients awaiting trial. Plus eight egotistical attorneys to supervise. He was thirty and looked forty-five. He was old, abrasive, and ill-tempered. In the normal course of his business, he would have been much too busy to attend a gathering of local black ministers in Clanton, Mississippi. But this was not the normal case. This was Hailey. The vigilante. The father driven to revenge. The most famous criminal case in the country at the moment. This was Mississippi, where for years whites shot blacks for any reason or no reason and no one cared; where whites raped blacks and it was considered sport; where blacks were hanged for fighting back. And now a black father had killed two white men who raped his daughter, and faced the gas chamber for something that thirty years earlier would have gone unnoticed had he been white. This was the case, his case, and he would handle it personally.