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A Time to Kill (Jake Brigance 1) John Grisham 2022/8/8 14:24:29

Tank flipped on a light switch by the front door. "Say, everbody, this here is Carl Lee Hailey's lawyer, Jake Bri-gance. A good friend of mine. Let's hear it for him."

The small room exploded in applause and bravos. Several of the boys at the bar grabbed Jake and shook his hand. Tank reached in a drawer under the bar and pulled out a handful of Jake's cards, which he passed out like candy. Jake was breathing again and the color returned to his face.

Outside, they leaned on the hood of Tank's yellow Cadillac. Lionel Richie echoed through the windows and the crowd returned to normal. Jake handed Tank a copy of the list.

"Look at each name. See how many of these folks you know. Ask around and find out what you can."

Tank held the list near his eyes. The light from the Michelob sign in the window glowed over his shoulder. "How many are black?"

"You tell me. That's one reason I want you to look at it. Circle the black ones. If you're not sure, find out. If you know any of the white folks, make a note."

"I'll be glad to, Jake. This ain't illegal, is it?"

"Naw, but don't tell anybody. I need it back by Wednesday morning."

_ - _- (tm)*, u..u JUK.C ncaciea tor the office. It was almost ten. Ethel had retyped the list from the initial one provided by Harry Rex, and a dozen copies had been hand-delivered to selected, trusted friends. Lucien, Stan At-cavage, Tank, Dell at the Coffee Shop, a lawyer in Karaway named Roland Isom, and a few others. Even Ozzie got a list.

Less than three miles from the tonk was a small, neat white-framed country house where Ethel and Bud Iwitty had lived for almost forty years. It was a pleasant house with pleasant memories of raising children who were now scattered up North. The retarded son, the one who greatly resembled Lucien, lived in Miami for some reason. The house was quieter now. Bud hadn't worked in years, not since his first stroke in '75. Then a heart attack, followed by two more major strokes and several small ones. His days were numbered, and he had long since accepted the fact that he would most likely catch the big one and die on his front porch shelling butterbeans. That's what he hoped for, anyway.

Monday night he sat on the porch shelling butterbeans and listening to the Cardinals on the radio. Ethel was working in the kitchen. In the bottom of the eighth with the Cards at bat and two on, he heard a noise from the side of the house. He turned the volume down. Probably just a dog. Then another noise. He stood and walked to the end of the porch. Suddenly, a huge figure dressed in solid black with red, white, and black war paint smeared wickedly across his face jumped from the bushes, grabbed Bud and yanked him off the porch. Bud's anguished cry was not heard in the kitchen. Another warrior joined in and they dragged the old man to the foot of the steps leading up to the front porch. One maneuvered him into a half-nelson while the other pounded his soft belly and bloodied his face. Within seconds, he was unconscious.

Ethel heard noises and scurried through the front door. She was grabbed by a third member of the gang, who twisted her arm tightly behind her and wrapped a huge arm around her throat. She couldn't scream or talk or move, and was held there on the porch, terrified, watching below as the two thugs took turns with her husband. On the front sidewalk ten

feet behind the violence stood three figures, each garbed in a full, flowing, white robe with red garnishment, each with a tall, white, pointed headdress from which fell a red and white mask that loosely covered each face. They emerged from the darkness and watched over the scene as though they were the three wise men attending the manger.

After a long, agonizing minute, the beating grew monotonous. "Enough," said the ruler in the middle. The three terrorists in black ran. Ethel rushed down the steps and slumped over her battered husband. The three in white disappeared.

Jake left the hospital after midnight with Bud still alive but everyone pessimistic. Along with the broken bones he had suffered another major heart attack. Ethel had made a scene and blamed it all on Jake.

"You said there was no danger!" she screamed. "Tell that to my husband! It's all your fault!"

He had listened to her rant and rave, and the embarrassment turned to anger. He glanced around the small waiting room at the friends and relatives. All eyes were on him. Yes, they seemed to say, it was all his fault.

Gwen called the office early Tuesday morning and the new secretary, Ellen Roark, answered the phone. She fumbled with the intercom until she broke it, then walked to the stairs and yelled: "Jake, it's Mr. Hailey's wife."

He slammed a book shut and angrily picked up the receiver. "Hello."

"Jake, are you busy?"

"Very. What's on your mind?"

She started crying. "Jake, we need money. We're broke, and the bills are past due. I haven't paid the house note in two months and the mortgage company is callin'. I don't know who else to turn to."

"What about your family?"

"They're poor folks, Jake, you know that. They'll feed us and do what they can, but they can't make our house notes and pay the utilities."

"Have you talked to Carl Lee?"

"Not about money. Not lately. There's not much he can do except worry, and Lord knows he's got enough to worry about."

"What about the churches?"

"How much do you need?"

"At least five hundred, just to catch up. I don't know 'bout next month. I'll guess I'll worry then."

Nine hundred minus five hundred left Jake with four hundred dollars for a capital murder defense. That had to be a record. Four hundred dollars! He had an idea.

"Can you be at my office at two this afternoon?"

"I'll have to bring the kids."

"That's okay. Just be here."

He hung up and quickly searched the phone book for Reverend Ollie Agee. He found him at the church. Jake fed him a line about meeting to discuss the Hailey trial and

covering Agee's testimony. Said the reverend would be an important witness. Agee said he would be there at two.

The Hailey clan arrived first, and Jake seated them around the conference table. The kids remembered the room from the press conference and were awed by the long table, thick swivel chairs, and impressive rows of books. When the reverend arrived he hugged Gwen and made a fuss over the kids, especially Tonya.

"I'll be very brief, Reverend," started Jake. "There are some things we need to discuss. For several weeks now, you and the other black ministers in this county have been raising money for the Haileys. And you've done a real good job. Over six thousand, I believe. I don't know where the money is, and it's none of my business. You offered the money to the NAACP lawyers to represent Carl Lee, but as you and I know, those lawyers won't be involved in this case. I'm the lawyer, the only lawyer, and so far none of the money has been offered to me. I don't expect any of it. Evidently you don't care about what kind of defense he gets if you can't pick his lawyer. That's fine. I can live with that. What really bothers me, Reverend, is the fact that none, and I repeat none, of the money has been given to the Haileys. Right, Gwen?"

The empty look on her face had turned to one of amazement, then disbelief, then anger as she glared at the reverend.

"Six thousand dollars," she repeated.

"Over six thousand, at last reported count," said Jake. "And the money is lying in some bank while Carl Lee sits in jail, Gwen's not working, the bills are past due, the only food comes from friends, and foreclosure is a few days away. Now, tell us, Reverend, what're your plans with the money?"

Agee smiled and said with an oily voice, "That's none of your business."

"But it's my business!" Gwen said loudly. "You used my name and my family's name when you raised that money, didn't you, Reverend. I heard it myself. Told all the church folk that the love offerin', as you called it, was for my family. I figured you had done spent the money on lawyers' fee or somethin' like that. And now, today, I find out you've got it stuck in the bank. I guess you plan to keep it."

Agee was unmoved. "Now wait a minute, Gwen. We thought the money could best be spent on Carl Lee. He declined the money when he refused to hire the NAACP lawyers. So I asked Mr. Reinfeld, the head lawyer, what to do with the money. He told me to save it because Carl Lee will need it for his appeal."

Jake cocked his head sideways and clenched his teeth. He started to rebuke this ignorant fool, but realized Agee did not understand what he was saying. Jake bit his lip.

"I don't understand," said Gwen.

"It's simple," said the reverend with an accommodating smile. "Mr. Reinfeld said that Carl Lee would be convicted because he didn't hire him. So then we've got to appeal, right? And after Jake here loses the trial, you and Carl Lee will of course be lookin' for another lawyer who can save his life. That's when we'll need Reinfeld and that's when we'll need the money. So you see, it's all for Carl Lee."

Jake shook his head and silently cursed. He cursed Reinfeld more than Agee.

Gwen's eyes flooded and she clenched her fists. "I don't understand all that, and I don't want to understand it. All I know is that I'm tired of beggin' for food, tired of dependin' on others, and tired of worryin' about losin' my house."

Agee looked at her sadly. "I understand, Gwen, but-"

"And if you got six thousand dollars of our money in the bank, you're wrong not to give it to us. We've got enough sense to spend it right."

Carl Lee, Jr., and Jarvis stood next to their mother and comforted her. They stared at Agee.

"But it's for Carl Lee," the reverend said.

"Good," Jake said. "Have you asked Carl Lee how he wants his money spent?"

The dirty little grin left Agee's face and he squirmed in his chair. "Carl Lee understands what we're doin'," he said without much conviction.

"Thank you. That's not what I asked. Listen to me carefully. Have you asked Carl Lee how he wants his money spent?"

"I think it's been discussed with him," Agee lied.

"Let's see," Jake said. He stood and walked to the door leading to the small office next to the conference room. The

reverend watched nervously, almost in panic. Jake opened the door and nodded to someone. Carl Lee and Ozzie casually walked in. The kids yelled and ran to their father. Agee looked devastated.

After a few awkward minutes of hugs and kisses, Jake moved in for the kill. "Now, Reverend, why don't you ask Carl Lee how he wants to spend his six thousand dollars."

"It ain't exactly his," said Agee.

"And it ain't exactly yours," shot Ozzie.

Carl Lee removed Tonya from his knee and walked to the chair where Agee was sitting. He sat on the edge of the table, above the reverend, poised and ready to strike if necessary. "Let me make it real simple, preacher, so you won't have trouble understandin' it. You raised that money in my name, for the benefit of my family. You took it from the black folk of this county, and you took it with the promise that it'd go to help me and my family. You lied. You raised it so you could impress the NAACP, not to help my family. You lied in church, you lied in the newspapers, you lied everwhere."

Agee looked around the room and noticed that everyone, including the kids, was staring at him and nodding slowly.

Carl Lee put his foot in Agee's chair and leaned closer. "If you don't give us that money, I'll tell ever nigger I know that you're a lyin' crook. I'll call ever member of your church, and I'm one too, remember, and tell them we ain't ? got a dime from you, and when I get through you won't be able to raise two dollars on Sunday mornin'. You'll lose your fancy Cadillacs and your fancy suits. You may even lose your church, 'cause I'll ask everbody to leave."

"You finished?" Agee asked. "If you are, I just wanna say that I'm hurt. Hurt real bad that you and Gwen feel this way."

"That's the way we feel, and I don't care how hurt you are."

Ozzie stepped forward. "I agree with them, Reverend Agee, you ain't done right, and you know it."

"That hurts, Ozzie, comin' from you. It really hurts."

"Lemme tell you what's gonna hurt a whole lot worse than that. Next Sunday me and Carl Lee will be in your

church. I'll sneak him outta the jail early Sunday and we'll take a little drive. Just about the time you get ready to preach, we'll walk in the front door, down the aisle and up to the pulpit. If you get in my way, I'll put handcuffs on you. Carl Lee will do the preachin'. He'll tell all your people that the money they've given so generously has so far not left your pocket, that Gwen and the kids are about to lose their house 'cause you're tryin' to big-shot with the NAACP. He'll tell them that you lied to them. He may preach for an hour or so. And when he gets through, I'll say a few words. I'll tell them what a lyin', sleazy nigger you are. I'll tell them about the time you bought that stolen Lincoln in Memphis for a hundred dollars and almost got indicted. I'll tell them about the kickbacks from the funeral home. I'll tell them about the DUI charge in Jackson I got dismissed for you two years ago. And, Reverend, I'll tell-"

"Don't say it, Ozzie," Agee begged.

"I'll tell them a dirty little secret that only you and me and a certain woman of ill repute know about."

"When do y'all want the money?"

"How soon can you get it?" Carl Lee demanded.

"Awfully damned quick."

Jake and Ozzie left the Haileys to themselves and went upstairs to the big office, where Ellen was buried in law books. Jake introduced Ozzie to his law clerk, and the three sat around the big desk.

"How are my buddies?" Jake asked.

"The dynamite boys? They're recuperatin' nicely. We'll keep them in the hospital until the trial's over. We fixed a lock on the door, and I keep a deputy in the hall. They ain't goin' anywhere."

"Who's the main man?"

"We still don't know. Fingerprint tests haven't come back yet. There may be no prints to match. He ain't talkin'."

"The other is a local boy, isn't he?" asked Ellen.

"Yeah. Terrell Grist. He wants to sue because he got hurt during the arrest. Can you imagine?"

"I can't believe it's been kept quiet so far," Jake said.

"Me neither. Of course, Grist and Mr. X ain't talkin'. My men are quiet. That leaves you and your clerk here."

"And Lucien, but I didn't tell him."

"When will you process them?"

"After the trial we'll move them to the jail and start the paperwork. It's up to us."

"How's Bud?" Jake asked.

"I stopped by this mornin' to check on the other two, and I went downstairs to see Ethel. He's still critical. No changes."

"Gotta be the Klan. With the white robes and all. It all adds up. First there was the burnin' cross in your yard, then the dynamite, and now Bud. Plus all the death threats. I figure it's them. And we got an informant."

"You heard me. Calls himself Mickey Mouse. He called me at home Sunday and told me that he saved your life. 'That nigger's lawyer' is what he called you. Said the Klan has officially arrived in Ford County. They've set up a klavern, whatever that is."

"He ain't much on details. He promised to call me only if someone is about to get hurt."

"How nice. Can you trust him?"

"He saved your life."

"Good point. Is he a member?"

"Didn't say. They've got a big march planned Thursday."

"Yep. NAACP has a rally tomorrow in front of the courthouse. Then they're gonna march for a while. The Klan's supposed to show up for a peaceful march on Thursday."

"The Mouse didn't say. Like I said, he ain't much on details."

"The Klan, marching in Clanton. I can't believe it."

"This is heavy stuff," Ellen said.

"It'll get heavier," Ozzie replied. "I've asked the gover-

nor to keep the highway patrol on standby. It could be a rough week."

"Can you believe Noose is willing to try this case in this town?" asked Jake.

"It's too big to move, Jake. It would draw marches, and protests, and Klansmen anywhere you tried it."

"Maybe you're right. How about your jury list?"

"I'll have it tomorrow."

After supper Tuesday Joe Frank Ferryman sat on his front porch with the evening paper and a fresh chew of Red Man, and spat carefully, neatly through a small hand-carved hole in the porch. This was the evening ritual. Lela would finish the dishes and fix them a tall glass of iced tea, and they would sit on the porch until dark and talk about the crops, the grandchildren, the humidity. They lived out from Karaway on eighty acres of neatly trimmed and cultivated farmland that Joe Frank's father had stolen during the Depression. They were quiet, hardworking Christian folks.