Home > The Client(7)

The Client(7)
Author: John Grisham

But Barry had it. The body of Boyd Boyette. He would like to move it, but he couldn't. The reverend and his host of angels were watching.

Clifford was an hour late now. Barry paid for two rounds of club soda, winked at the peroxides in their leather skirts, and left the place, cursing lawyers in general and his in particular.

He needed a new lawyer, one who would return his phone calls and meet him for drinks and find some jurors who could be bought. A real lawyer!

He needed a new lawyer, and he needed a continuance or a postponement or a delay, hell, anything to slow this thing down so he could think.

He lit a cigarette and walked casually along Magazine between Canal and Poydras. The air was thick. Clifford's office was four blocks away. His lawyer wanted a quick trial! What an idiot! No one wanted a quick trial in this system, but here was W. Jerome Clifford pushing for one. Clifford had explained not three weeks ago that they should push hard for a trial because there was no corpse, thus no case, et cetera, et cetera. And if they waited, the bodymight be found, and since Barry was such a lovely suspect and it was a sensational killing with a ton of pressure behind its prosecution, and since Barry had actually performed the killing, was in fact guilty as hell, then they should go to trial immediately. This had shocked Barry. They had argued viciously in Romey's office, and things had not been the same since.

At one point in the discussion, three weeks ago, things got quiet and Barry boasted to his lawyer that the body would never be found. He'd disposed of lots of them, and he knew how to hide them. Boyette had been hidden rather quickly, and though Barry wanted to move the little fella, he was nonetheless secure and resting peacefully, without the threat of disturbance from Roy and the fibbies.

Barry chuckled to himself as he strolled along Poydras.

"So where's the body?" Clifford had asked.

"You don't want to know," Barry had replied.

"Sure I want to know. The whole world wants to know. Come on, tell me if you've got the guts." "You don't want to know." "Come on. Tell me." "You're not gonna like it." "Tell me." Barry flicked his cigarette on the sidewalk, and almost laughed out loud. He shouldn't have told Jerome Clifford. It was a childish thing to do, but harmless. The man could be trusted with secrets, attorney-client privilege and all, and he had been wounded when Barry hadn't come clean initially with all the gory details. Jerome Clifford was as crooked and sleazy as his clients, and if they got blood on them he wanted to see it.

"You remember what day Boyette disappeared?" Barry had asked.

"Sure. January 16." "Remember where you were January 16?" At this point, Romey had walked to the wall behind his desk and studied his badly scrawled monthly planners. "Colorado, skiing." "And I borrowed your house?" "Yeah, you were meeting some doctor's wife." "That's right. Except she couldn't make it, so I took the senator to your house." Romey froze at this point, and glared at his client, mouth open, eyes lowered.

Barry had continued. "He arrived in the trunk, and I left him at your place." "Where?" Romey had asked in disbelief.

"In the garage." "You're lying." "Under the boat that hasn't been moved in ten years." "You're lying." The front door of Clifford's office was locked. Barry rattled it and cursed through the window. He lit another cigarette and searched the usual parking places for the black Lincoln. He'd find the fat bastard if it took all night.

Barry had a friend in Miami who was once indicted for an assortment of drug charges. His lawyer was quite good, and had managed to stall and delay for two and a half years until finally the judge lost patience and ordered a trial. The day before jury selection, his friend killed his very fine lawyer, and the judge was forced to grant another continuance. The trial never happened.

If Romey died suddenly, it would be months, maybe years, before the trial.

Chapter 3

RICKY BACKED AWAY FROM THE TREE UNTIL HE WAS IN the weeds, then found the narrow trail and started to run. "Ricky," Mark said. "Hey, Ricky, wait," but it didn't work. He stared once more at the man on the car with the gun still in his mouth. The eyes were half-open and the feet twitched at the heels.

Mark had seen enough. "Ricky," he called again as he jogged toward the trail. His brother was ahead, running slowly in an odd way with both arms stiff and straight down by his legs. He leaned forward at the waist. Weeds hit him lit the face. He tripped but didn't fall. Mark grabbed him by the shoulders and spun him around. "Ricky, listen! It's okay." Ricky was zombie-like, with pale skin and glazed eyes. He breathed hard and rapidly, and emitted a dull, aching moan. He couldn't talk. He jerked away and resumed his trot, still moaning as the weeds slapped him in the face. Mark followed close behind as they crossed a dry creek bed and headed for home.

The trees thinned just before the crumbling board fence that encircled most of the trailer park. Two small children were throwing rocks at a row of cans lined neatly along the hood of a wrecked car. Ricky ran faster and crawled through a broken section of the fence. He jumped a ditch, darted between two trailers, and ran into the street. Mark was two steps behind. The steady groan grew louder as Ricky breathed even harder.

The Sway mobile home was twelve feet wide and sixty feet long, and parked on a narrow strip on East Street with forty others. Tucker Wheel Estates also included North, South, and West streets, and all four curved and crossed each other several times from all directions. It was a decent trailer park with reasonably clean streets, a few trees, plenty of bicycles, and few abandoned cars. Speed bumps slowed traffic. Loud music or noise brought the police as soon as it was reported to Mr. Tucker. His family owned all the land and most of the trailers, including Number 17 on East Street, which Dianne Sway rented for two hundred and eighty dollars a month.

Ricky ran through the unlocked door and fell onto the couch in the den. He seemed to be crying, but there were no tears. He curled his knees to his stomach as if he were cold, then, very slowly, placed his right thumb in his mouth. Mark watched this intently. "Ricky, talk to me," he said, gently shaking his shoulder. "You gotta talk to me, man, okay, Ricky. It's okay." He sucked harder on the thumb. He closed his eyes and his body shook.

Mark looked around the den and kitchen, and realized things were exactly as they had left them an hour ago. An hour ago! It seemed like days. The sunlight was fading and the rooms were a bit darker. Their books and backpacks from school were piled, as always, on tne kitchen table. The daily note from Mom was on the counter next to the phone. He walked to the sink and ran water in a clean coffee cup. He had a terrible thirst. He sipped the cool water and stared through the window at the trailer next door. Then he heard smacking noises, and looked at his brother. The thumb. He'd seen a show on television where some kids in California sucked their thumbs after an earthquake. All kinds of doctors were involved. A year after it hit the poor kids were still sucking away.

The cup touched a tender spot on his lip, and he remembered the blood. He ran to the bathroom and studied his face in the mirror. Just below the hairline there was a small, barely noticeable knot. His left eye was puffy and looked awful. He ran water in the sink and washed a spot of blood from his lower lip. It was not swollen, but suddenly began throbbing. He'd looked worse after fights at school. He was tough.

He took an ice cube from the refrigerator and held it firmly under his eye. He walked to the sofa and studied his brother, paying particular attention to the thumb. Ricky was asleep. It was almost five-thirty, time for their mother to arrive home after nine long hours at the lamp factory. His ears still rang from the gunshots and the blows he took from his late friend Mr. Romey, but he was beginning to think. He sat next to Ricky's feet and slowly rubbed around his eye with the ice.

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