"Lemme check." Cat phoned someone and mumbled a few sentences into the receiver. The orders given, he hung up and explained it would take about an hour.
"We can wait," Carl Lee said.
Cat removed the patch from his left eye and wiped the empty socket with a handkerchief. "I gotta better idea." He snapped at the bodyguards. "Get my car. We'll drive over and pick it up."
They followed Cat through a secret door and down a hall. "I live here, you know." He pointed. "Through that door is my pad. Usually keep some naked women around."
"I'd like to see it," Lester volunteered.
"That's okay," said Carl Lee.
Farther down the hall Cat pointed to a thick, black, shiny iron door at the end of a short hallway. He stopped as if to admire it. "That's where I keep my cash. Post a guard in there around the clock."
"How much?" Lester asked with a sip of beer.
Cat glared at him and continued down the hall. Carl Lee frowned at his brother and shook his head. Where the hall ended they climbed a narrow stairway to the fourth floor. It was darker, and somewhere in the darkness Cat found a button on a wall. They waited silently for a few " u,.m me wait opened and revealed a bright elevator with red carpet and a NO SMOKING sign. Cat pushed another button.
"You gotta walk up to catch the elevator goin' down," he said with amusement. "Security reasons." They nodded approval and admiration.
It opened in the basement. One of the bodyguards waited by the open door of a clean white stretch limo, and Cat invited his guests in for a ride. They moved slowly past a row of Fleetwoods, several more limos, a Rolls, and an assortment of European luxury cars. "They're all mine," he said proudly.
The driver honked and a heavy door rolled up to reveal a one-way side street. "Drive slow," Cat yelled to the chauffeur and the bodyguard way up front. "I wanna show you fellas around some."
Carl Lee had received the tour a few years earlier during his last visit to Cat. There were rows of beaten and paintless shacks that the great man referred to as rental properties. There were ancient red-bricked warehouses with blackened or boarded windows and no clue as to what was stored inside. There was a church, a prosperous church, and a few blocks away, another one. He owned the preachers too, he said. There were dozens of corner taverns with open doors and groups of young blacks sitting on benches outside drinking quart bottles of Stag beer. He pointed proudly to a burned-out building near Beale and told with great zeal the story of a competitor who had attempted to gain a foothold in the topless business. He had no competitors, he said. And then there were the clubs, places with names like Angels and Cat's House and Black Paradise, places where a man could go for good drink, good food, good music, naked women, and possibly more, he said. The clubs had made him a very rich man. Eight of them in all.
They were shown all eight. Plus what seemed like most of the real estate in south Memphis. At the dead end of a nameless street near the river, the driver turned sharply between two of the red-bricked warehouses and drove through a narrow alley until a gate opened to the right. Past the gate a door opened next to a loading dock and the limo disappeared into the building. It stopped and the bodyguard got out.
"Keep your seats," Cat said.
The trunk opened, then shut. In less than a minute the limo was again cruising the streets of Memphis.
"How 'bout lunch?" Cat asked. Before they answered he yelled at the driver, "Black Paradise. Call and tell them I'm comin' for lunch.
"Got the best prime rib in Memphis, right here in one of my clubs. Course you won't read about it in the Sunday paper. I've been shunned by the critics. Can you imagine?"
"Sounds like discrimination," Lester said.
"Yeah, I'm sure it is. But I don't use that until I'm indicted."
"We ain't read about you lately, Cat," Carl Lee said.
"It's been three years since my last trial. Tax evasion. Feds spent three weeks puttin' on proof, and the jury stayed out twenty-seven minutes and returned with the two most precious words in the Afro-English language-'Not guilty.' "
"I've heard them myself," Lester said.
A doorman waited under the canopy at the club, and a set of matching bodyguards, different bodyguards, escorted the great one and his guests to a private booth away from the dance floor. Drinks and food were served by a squad of waiters. Lester switched to Scotch and was drunk when the prime rib arrived. Carl Lee drank iced tea and swapped war stories with Cat.
When the food was gone, a bodyguard approached and whispered to Cat. He grinned and looked at Carl Lee. "Y'all in the red Eldorado with Illinois plates?"
"Yeah. But we left it at the other place."
"It's parked outside ... in the trunk."
"What?" said Lester. "How-"
Cat roared and slapped him on the back. "Don't ask, my man, don't ask. It's all taken care of, my man. Cat can do anything."
As usual, Jake worked Saturday morning, after breakfast at the Coffee Shop. He enjoyed the tranquility of his office on Saturday-no phones, no Ethel. He locked the office, iguuicu me pnone, and avoided clients. He organized files, read recent decisions from the Supreme Court and planned strategy if a trial was approaching. His best thoughts and ideas came during quiet Saturday mornings.
At eleven he phoned the jail. "Sheriff in?" he asked the dispatcher.
"Lemme check," came the reply.
Moments passed before the sheriff answered. "Sheriff Walls," he announced.
"Ozzie, Jake Brigance. How are you?"
"Fine, Jake. You?"
"Fine. Will you be there for a while?"
"Coupla hours. What's up?"
"Not much. Just need to talk for a minute. I'll be there in thirty minutes."
"I'll be waitin'."
Jake and the sheriff had a mutual like and respect for each other. Jake had roughed him up a few times during cross-examinations, but Ozzie considered it business and nothing personal. Jake campaigned for Ozzie, and Lucien financed the campaigns, so Ozzie didn't mind a few sarcastic and pointed questions during trial. He liked to watch Jake at trial. And he liked to kid him about the game. In 1969, when Jake was a sophomore quarterback at Karaway, Ozzie was a senior all-conference, all-state tackle at Clanton. The two rivals, both undefeated, met in the final game at Clanton for the conference championship. For four long quarters Ozzie terrorized the Karaway offense, which was much smaller and led by a gutsy but battered sophomore quarterback. Late in the fourth quarter, leading 44-0, Ozzie broke Jake's leg on a blitz.
For years now he had threatened to break the other one. He always accused Jake of limping and asked about the leg.
"What's on your mind, buddy?" Ozzie asked as they sat in his small office.
"Carl Lee. I'm a little worried about him."
"Look, Ozzie, whatever we say here is said in confidence. I don't want anyone to know about this conversation."
"You sound serious, Jake."
"I am serious. I talked to Carl Lee Wednesday after the hearing. He's out of his mind, and I understand that. I would be too. He was talking about killing the boys, and he sounded serious. I just think you ought to know."
"They're safe, Jake. He couldn't get to them if he wanted to. We've had some phone calls, anonymous of course, with all kinds of threats. Black folks are bad upset. But the boys're safe. They're in a cell by themselves, and we're real careful."
"That's good. I haven't been hired by Carl Lee, but I've represented all the Haileys at one time or another and I'm sure he considers me to be his lawyer, for whatever reason. I feel a responsibility to let you know."
"I'm not worried, Jake."
"Good. Let me ask you something. I've got a daughter, and you've got a daughter, right?"
"Got two of them."
"What's Carl Lee thinking? I mean, as a black father?"
"Same thing you'd be thinkin'."
"And what's that?"
Ozzie reared back in his chair and crossed his arms. He thought for a moment. "He's wonderin' if she's okay, physically, I mean. Is she gonna live, and if she does, how bad is she hurt. Can she ever have kids? Then he's wonderin' if she's okay mentally and emotionally, and how will this affect her for the rest of her life. Thirdly, he wants to kill the bastards."
"It's easy to say I would, but a man don't know what he'd do. I think my kids need me at home a whole lot more than Parchman needs me. What would you be thinkin', Jake?"
"About the same, I guess. I don't know what I'd do. Probably go crazy." He paused and stared at the desk. "But I might seriously plan to kill whoever did it. It'd be mighty hard to lie down at night knowing he was still alive."
"What would a jury do?"
"Depends on who's on the jury. You pick the right jury and you walk. If the D.A. picks the right jury you get the gas. It depends strictly on the jury, and in this county you can. me ngrit lolks. People are tired of raping and robbing and killing. I know white folks are."
"My point is that there'd be a lot of sympathy for a father who took matters into his own hands. People don't trust our judicial system. I think I could at least hang a jury. Just convince one or two that the bastard needed to die."
"Like Monroe Bowie."
"Exactly. Just like Monroe Bowie. He was a sorry nigger who needed killing and Lester took a walk. By the way, Ozzie, why do you suppose Lester drove from Chicago?"
"He's pretty close to his brother. We're watchin' him too."
The conversation changed and Ozzie finally asked about the leg. They shook hands and Jake left. He drove straight home, where Carla was waiting with her list. She didn't mind the Saturdays at the office as long as he was home by noon and pretty much followed orders thereafter.
On Sunday afternoon a crowd gathered at the hospital and followed the little Hailey girl's wheelchair as it was pushed by her father down the hall, through the doors, and into the parking lot, where he gently raised her and sat her in the front seat. As she sat between her parents, with her three brothers in the back seat, he drove away, followed by a procession of friends and relatives and strangers. The caravan moved slowly, deliberately out of town and into the country.
She sat up in the front seat like a big girl. Her father was silent, her mother tearful, and her brothers mute and rigid.
Another throng waited at the house and rushed to the porch as the cars moved up the driveway and parked on the grass on the long front yard. The crowd hushed as he carried her up the steps, through the door, and laid her on the couch. She was glad to be home, but tired of the spectators. Her mother held her feet as cousins, uncles, aunts, neighbors, and everybody walked to her and touched her and smiled, some through tears, and said nothing. Her daddy went outside and talked to Uncle Lester and the men. Her brothers were in the kitchen with the crowd devouring the pile of food.
Rocky Childers had been the prosecutor for Ford County for more years than he cared to remember. The job paid fifteen thousand a year and required most of his time. It also destroyed any practice he hoped to build. At forty-two he was washed up as a lawyer, stuck in a dead-end part-time, full-time job, elected permanently every four years. Thankfully, he had a wife with a good job so they could drive new Buicks and afford the country club dues and in general put on the necessary airs of educated white people in Ford County. At a younger age he had political ambitions, but the voters dissuaded him, and he was malcontent to exhaust his career prosecuting drunks, shoplifters, and juvenile delinquents, and being abused by Judge Bullard, whom he despised. Excitement crept up occasionally when people like Cobb and Willard screwed up, and Rocky, by statutory authority, handled the preliminary and other hearings before the cases were sent to the grand jury and then to Circuit Court, and then to the real prosecutor, the big prosecutor, the district attorney, Mr. Rufus Buckley, from Polk County. It was Buckley who had disposed of Rocky's political career.
Normally, a bail hearing was no big affair for Childers, but this was a bit different. Since Wednesday he had received dozens of phone calls from blacks, all registered voters or claiming to be, who were very concerned about Cobb and Willard being released from jail. They wanted the boys locked up, just like the black ones who got in trouble and could not make bail before trial. Childers promised his best, but explained the bonds would be set by County Judge Percy Bullard, whose number was also in the phone book. On Ben-nington Street. They promised to be in court Monday to watch him and Bullard.
At twelve-thirty Monday, Childers was summoned to the judge's chambers, where the sheriff and Bullard were waiting. The judge was so nervous he could not sit.
"How much bond do you want?" he snapped at Childers.
"I dunno, Judge. I haven't thought much about it."
"Don't you think it's about time you thought about it?" He paced rapidly back and forth behind his desk, then to the window, then back to his desk. Ozzie was amused and silent.
"Not really," Childers answered softly. "It's your decision. You're the judge."
"Thanks! Thanks! Thanks! How much will you ask for?"
"I always ask for more than I expect," replied Childers coolly, thoroughly enjoying the judge's neurosis.
"How much is that?"
"I dunno. I hadn't thought much about it."
Dullard's neck turned dark red and he glared at Ozzie. "Whatta you think, Sheriff?"
"Well," Ozzie drawled, "I would suggest pretty stiff bonds. These boys need to be in jail for their own safety. Black folk are restless out there. They might get hurt if they bond out. Better go high."
"How much money they got?"
"Willard's broke. Can't tell about Cobb. Drug money's hard to trace. He might could find twenty, thirty thousand. I hear he's hired some big-shot Memphis lawyer. Supposed to be here today. He must have some money."
"Damn, why don't I know these things. Who'd he hire?"
"Bernard. Peter K. Bernard," answered Childers. "He called me this morning."
"Never heard of him," retorted Bullard with an air of superiority, as though he memorized some kind of judicial rap sheet on all lawyers.
Bullard studied the trees outside the window as the sheriff and prosecutor exchanged winks. The bonds would be exorbitant, as always. The bail bondsmen loved Bullard for his outrageous bonds. They watched with delight as desperate families scraped and mortgaged to collect the ten percent premiums they charged to write the bonds. Bullard would be high, and he didn't care. It was politically safe to set them high and keep the criminals in jail. The blacks would appreciate it and that was important even if the county was seventy-four percent white. He owed the blacks a few favors.
"Let's go a hundred thousand on Willard and two hundred on Cobb. That oughtta satisfy them."
"Satisfy who?" asked Ozzie.
"Er, uh, the people, the people out there. Sound okay to you?"
"Fine with me," said Childers. "But what about the hearing?" he asked with a grin.
"We'll give them a hearing, a fair hearing, then I'll set the bonds at a hundred and two hundred."
"And I suppose you want me to ask for three hundred apiece so you can look fair?" asked Childers.
"I don't care what you ask for!" yelled the judge.
"Sounds fair to me," said Ozzie as he headed for the door. "Will you call me to testify?" he asked Childers.
"Naw, we don't need you. I don't guess the State will call anybody since we're having such a fair hearing."
They left the chambers and Bullard stewed. He locked the door behind them and pulled a half pint of vodka from his briefcase, and gulped it furiously. Mr. Pate waited outside the door. Five minutes later Bullard barged into the packed courtroom.
"All rise for the court!" Mr. Pate shouted.
"Be seated!" screamed the judge before anyone could stand. "Where are the defendants? Where?"
Cobb and Willard were escorted from the holding room and seated at the defense table. Cobb's new lawyer smiled at his client as the handcuffs were removed. Willard's lawyer, Tyndale, the public defender, ignored him.
The same crowd of blacks had returned from last Wednesday, and had brought some friends. They closely followed the movements of the two white boys. Lester saw them for the first time. Carl Lee was not in the courtroom.
From the bench Bullard counted deputies-nine in all. That had to be a record. Then he counted blacks-hundreds of them all bunched together, all glaring at the two rapists, who sat at the same table between their lawyers. The vodka felt good. He took a sip of what appeared to be ice water from a Styrofoam cup and managed a slight grin. It burned slowly downward and his cheeks flushed. What he ought to do was order the deputies out of the courtroom and throw Cobb and Willard to the niggers. That would be fun to watch, and justice would be served. He could just see the fat nigger women stomping up and down while their men carved on the boys with switchblades and machetes. Then, when they were finished, they would collect themselves and all march quietly from the courtroom. He smiled to himself.
He motioned for Mr. Pate, who approached the bench. "I've got a half pint of ice water in my desk drawer," he whispered. "Pour me some in a Styrofoam cup."
Mr. Pate nodded and disappeared.
"This is a bail hearing," he declared loudly, "and I don't intend for it to last long. Are the defendants ready?"
"Yes, sir," said Tyndale.
"Yes, Your Honor," said Mr. Bernard.
"The State ready?"
"Yes, sir," answered Childers without standing.
"Good. Call your first witness."
Childers addressed the judge. "Your Honor, the State will call no witnesses. His Honor is well aware of the charges against these two defendants, since His Honor held the preliminary hearing last Wednesday. It is my understanding the victim is now home, so we do not anticipate further charges. The grand jury will be asked next Monday to indict the two defendants for rape, kidnapping, and aggravated assault. Because of the violent nature of these crimes, because of the age of the victim, and because Mr. Cobb is a convicted felon, the State would ask for the maximum bonds, and not a penny less."
Bullard almost choked on his ice water. What maximum? There's no such thing as a maximum bond.
"What do you suggest, Mr. Childers?"
"Half a million apiece!" Childers announced proudly and sat down.
Half a million! Out of the question, thought Bullard. He sipped furiously and glared at the prosecutor. Half a million! Double-crossed in open court. He sent Mr. Pate after more ice water.
"The defense may proceed."
Cobb's new lawyer stood purposefully. He cleared his throat and removed his horn-rimmed, academic, go-to-hell reading glasses. "May it please the court, Your Honor, my name is Peter K. Bernard. 1 am irom jviempms, aim i uavt been retained by Mr. Cobb to represent him-"
"Do you have a license to practice in Mississippi?" interrupted Bullard.
Bernard was caught off-guard. "Well, uh, not exactly, Your Honor."
"I see. When you say 'not exactly,' do you mean something other than no?"
Several lawyers in the jury box snickered. Bullard was famous for this. He hated Memphis lawyers, and required them to associate local counsel before appearing in his court. Years before when he was practicing, a Memphis judge had kicked him out of court because he was not licensed in Tennessee. He had enjoyed revenge since the day he was elected.
"Your Honor, I am not licensed in Mississippi, but I am licensed in Tennessee."
"I would hope so," came the retort from the bench. More suppressed laughter from the jury box. "Are you familiar with our local rules here in Ford County?" His Honor asked.
"Er, uh, yes, sir."
"Do you have a copy of these rules?"
"And you read them carefully before you ventured into my courtroom?"
"Uh, yes, sir, most of them."
"Did you understand Rule 14 when you read it?"
Cobb glanced up suspiciously at his new lawyer.
"Uh, I don't recall that one," Bernard admitted.
"I didn't think so. Rule 14 requires out-of-state unlicensed attorneys to associate local counsel when appearing in my courtroom."
From his looks and mannerisms, Bernard was a polished attorney, at least he was known as such in Memphis. He was, however, in the process of being totally degraded and humbled before a small-town, redneck judge with a quick tongue.
"Yes, sir, what?" snapped Bullard.
"Yes, sir, I think I've heard of that rule."
"There is none, but I planned-"
"Then you drove down here from Memphis, carefully read my rules, and deliberately ignored them. Right?"
Bernard lowered his head and stared at a blank yellow legal pad on the table.
Tyndale rose slowly. "Your Honor, for the record, I show myself as associated counsel for Mr. Bernard for purposes of this hearing and for no other purpose."
Bullard smiled. Slick move, Tyndale, slick move. The ice water warmed him and he relaxed. "Very well. Call your first witness."
Bernard stood straight again. He cocked his head. "Your Honor, on behalf of Mr. Cobb, I would like to call his brother, Mr. Fred Cobb, to the stand."
"Make it brief," Bullard mumbled.
CobB's brother was sworn and seated in the witness chair. Bernard assumed the podium and began a long, detailed direct examination. He was well prepared. He elicited proof that Billy Ray Cobb was gainfully employed, owned real estate in Ford County, grew up there, had most of his family there, and friends, and had no reason to leave. A solid citizen with deep roots with much to lose if he fled. A man who could be trusted to show up for court. A man worthy of a low bond.
Bullard sipped, tapped his pen, and searched the black faces in the audience.
Childers had no questions. Bernard called Cobb's mother, Cora, who repeated what her son Fred said about her son Billy Ray. She managed a couple of tears at an awkward moment, and Bullard shook his head.
Tyndale was next. He went through the same motions with Willard's family.
Half a million dollars bond! Anything less would be too little, and the blacks wouldn't like it. The judge had new reason to hate Childers. But he liked the blacks because they elected him last time. He received fifty-one percent of the vote countywide, but he got all the nigger vote.
"Anything else?" he asked when Tyndale finished.
The three lawyers looked blankly at each other, then at the judge. Bernard stood. "Your Honor, I would like to summarize my client's position in regard to a reasonable bond-"
"Forget it, pal. I've heard enough from you and your client. Sit down."
Bullard hesitated, then rapidly announced: "Bond is hereby set at one hundred thousand for Pete Willard, and two hundred thousand for Billy Ray Cobb. Defendants will remain in the custody of the sheriff until they are able to make bail. Court's adjourned." He rapped the gavel and disappeared into his chambers, where he finished the half pint and opened another one.
Lester was pleased with the bonds. His had been fifty thousand for the murder of Monroe Bowie. Of course, Bowie was black, and bonds were generally lower for those cases.
The crowd inched toward the rear door, but Lester did not move. He watched closely as the two white boys were handcuffed and taken through the door into the holding room. When they were out of sight, he placed his head in his hands and said a short prayer. Then he listened.
At least ten times a day Jake walked through the French doors and onto the balcony to inspect downtown Clanton. He sometimes puffed a cheap cigar and blew smoke over Washington Street. Even in the summer he left the windows open in the big office. The sounds of the busy small town made good company as he worked quietly. At times he was amazed at the volume of noise generated on the streets around the courthouse, and at other times he walked to the balcony to see why things were so quiet.
Just before 2:00 P.M., Monday, May 20, he walked to the balcony and lit a cigar. A heavy silence engulfed downtown Clanton, Mississippi.
Cobb went first down the stairs, cautiously, with his hands cuffed behind him, then Willard, then Deputy Looney. Ten steps down, then the landing, turn right, then ten steps to the first floor. Three other deputies waited outside by the patrol cars smoking cigarettes and watching reporters.
When Cobb reached the second step from the floor, and Willard was three steps behind, and Looney was one step off the landing, the small, dirty, neglected, unnoticed door to the janitor's closet burst open and Mr. Carl Lee Hailey sprung from the darkness with an M-16. At point-blank range he opened fire. The loud, rapid, clapping, popping gunfire shook the courthouse and exploded the silence. The rapists froze, then screamed as they were hit-Cobb first, in the stomach and chest, then Willard in the face, neck, and throat. They twisted vainly up the stairs, handcuffed and helpless, stumbling over each other as their skin and blood splashed together.
Looney was hit in the leg but managed to scramble up the stairs into the holding room, where he crouched and listened as Cobb and Willard screamed and moaned and the crazy nigger laughed. Bullets ricocheted between the walls of the narrow stairway, and Looney could see, looking down toward the landing, blood and flesh splashing on the walls and dripping down.
In short, sudden bursts of seven or eight rounds each, the enormous booming sound of the M-16 echoed through the courthouse for an eternity. Through the gunfire and the sounds of the bullets rattling around the walls of the stairway, the high-pitched, shrill, laughing voice of Carl Lee could be plainly heard.
When he stopped, he threw the rifle at the two corpses and ran. Into the restroom, he jammed the door with a chair, crawled out a window into the bushes, then onto the sidewalk. Nonchalantly, he walked to his pickup and drove home.
Lester froze when the shooting started. The gunfire was heard loudly in the courtroom. Willard's mother screamed and Cobb's mother screamed, and the deputies raced into the holding room, but did not venture down the stairs. Lester listened intently for the sounds of handguns, and hearing none, he left the courtroom.
With the first shot, Bullard grabbed the half pint and crawled under his desk while Mr. Pate locked the door.
Cobb, or what was left of him, came to rest on Willard. Their blood mixed and puddled on each step, then it overflowed and dripped to the next step, where it puddled before overflowing and dripping to the next. Soon the foot of the stairway was flooded with the mixture.
Jake sprinted across the street to the rear door of the courthouse. Deputy Prather crouched in front of the door, gun drawn, and cursed the reporters who pressed forward. The other deputies knelt fearfully on the doorsteps next to the patrol cars. Jake ran to the front of the courthouse, where more deputies were guarding the door and evacuating the county employees and courtroom spectators. A mass of bodies poured onto the front steps. Jake fought through the stampede and into the rotunda and found Ozzie directing people and yelling in all directions. He motioned for Jake, and they walked down the hall to the rear doors, where a half dozen deputies stood, guns in hand, gazing silently at the stairway. Jake felt nauseated. Willard had almost made it to the landing. The front of his head was missing, and his brains rolled out like jelly covering his face. Cobb had been able to twist over and absorb the bullets with his back. His face was buried in Willard's stomach, and his feet touched the fourth step from the floor. The blood continued from the lifeless bodies, and it covered completely the bottom six steps. The crimson pool on the floor inched quickly toward the deputies, who slowly backed away. The weapon was between Cobb's legs on the fifth step, and it too was covered with blood.
The group stood silently, mesmerized by the two bodies, which, though dead, continued to spew blood. The thick smell of gunfire hung over the stairway and drifted toward the hall into the rotunda, where the deputies continued to move people toward the front door.
"Jake, you'd better leave," Ozzie said without looking from the bodies.
" 'Cause we gotta take pictures and collect evidence and stuff, and you don't need to be here." cui you aon t interrogate him out ot my presence. Understand?" Ozzie nodded.
The photographs were taken, the mess cleaned, the evidence gathered, the bodies removed, and two hours later Ozzie left town followed by five patrol cars. Hastings drove and led the convoy into the country, toward the lake, past Bates Grocery, onto Craft Road. The Hailey driveway was empty except for Owen's car, Carl Lee's pickup, and the red Cadillac from Illinois.
Ozzie expected no trouble as the patrol cars parked in a row across the front yard, and the deputies crouched behind the open doors, watching as the sheriff walked alone to the house. He stopped. The front door opened slowly and the Hailey family emerged. Carl Lee walked to the edge of the porch with Tonya in his arms. He looked down at his friend the sheriff, and behind him at the row of cars and deputies. To his right was Gwen, and to his left were his three sons, the smallest one crying softly but the older ones brave and proud. Behind them stood Lester.
The two groups watched each other, each waiting for the other to say or do something, each wanting to avoid what was about to happen. The only sounds were the soft sniffles of the little girl, her mother, and the youngest boy.
The children had tried to understand. Their daddy had explained to them what he had just done, and why. They understood that, but they could not comprehend why he had to be arrested and taken to jail.
Ozzie kicked at a clod of dirt, occasionally glancing at the family, then at his men.
Finally, he said, "You better come with me."
Carl Lee nodded slightly, but did not move. Gwen and the boy cried louder as Lester took the girl from her daddy. Then Carl Lee knelt before the three boys and whispered to them again that he must leave but wouldn't be gone long. He hugged them, and they all cried and clutched him. He turned,
and kissed his wife, then walked down the steps to the sner-iff.
"You wanna handcuff me, Ozzie?"
"Naw, Carl Lee, just get in the car."
Moss Junior Tatum, the chief deputy, and Jake talked quietly in Ozzie's office while deputies, reserves, trusties, and other jailhouse regulars gathered in the large, cluttered workroom next to the office and waited anxiously for the arrival of the new prisoner. Two of the deputies peered through the blinds at the reporters and cameramen waiting in the parking lot between the jail and the highway. The television vans were from Memphis, Jackson, and Tupelo, and they were parked in various directions throughout the crowded lot. Moss did not like this, so he walked slowly down the sidewalk and ordered the press to regroup in a certain area, and to move the vans.
"Will you make a statement?" yelled a reporter.
"Yeah, move the vans."
"Can you say anything about the murders?"
"Yeah, two people got killed."
"How about the details?"
"Nope. I wasn't there."
"Do you have a suspect?"
"Who is it?"
"I'll tell you when the vans are moved."
The vans were immediately moved and the cameras and microphones were bunched together near the sidewalk. Moss pointed and directed until he was satisfied, then stepped to the crowd. He calmly chewed on a toothpick and stuck both thumbs in the front belt loops, just under the overlapping belly.
"Who did it?"
"Is he under arrest?"
"Was the girl's family involved?"
"Are both dead?"
Moss smiled and shook his head. "One at a time. Yes we have a suspect. He's under arrest and will be here in a minute. Keep the vans outta the way. That's all I have."
Moss walked back to the jail as they continued to can at mm. He ignored them and entered the crowded workroom.
"How's Looney?" he asked.
"Prather's with him at the hospital. He's fine-slight wound to the leg."
"Yeah, that and a slight heart attack," Moss said with a smile. The others laughed.
"Here they come!" a trusty shouted, and everyone inside moved to the windows as the line of blue lights rolled slowly into the parking lot. Ozzie drove the first car with Carl Lee seated, unhandcuffed, in the front. Hastings reclined in the back and waved at the cameras as the car passed them and continued through the crowd, past the vans and around to the rear of the jail, where Ozzie parked and the three walked casually inside. Carl Lee was given to the jailer, and Ozzie walked down the hall to his office where Jake was waiting.
"You can see him in a minute, Jake," he said.
"Thanks. You sure he did it?"
"Yeah, I'm sure."
"He didn't confess, did he?"
"No, he didn't say much of nothin'. I guess Lester coached him."
Moss walked in. "Ozzie, them reporters wanna talk to you. I said you'd be out in a minute."
"Thanks, Moss," Ozzie sighed.
"Anybody see it?" Jake asked.
Ozzie wiped his forehead with a red handkerchief. "Yeah, Looney can I.D. him. You know Murphy, the little crippled man who sweeps floors in the courthouse?"
"Sure. Stutters real bad."
"He saw the whole thing. He was sittin' on the east stairs, directly across from where it happened. Eatin' his lunch. Scared him so bad he couldn't talk for an hour." Ozzie paused and eyed Jake. "Why am I tellin' you all this?"
"What difference does it make? I'll find out sooner or later. Where's my man?"
"Down the hall in the jail. They gotta take his picture and all that. Be 'bout thirty minutes."
Ozzie left and Jake used his phone to call Carla and remind her to watch the news and record it. i answerin' no questions. We have a suspect in custody. Name of Carl Lee Hailey from Ford County. Arrested for two counts of murder."
"Is he the girl's father?"
"Yes, he is."
"How do you know he did it?"
"We're very smart."
"None that we know of."
"Has he confessed?"
"Where'd you find him?"
"At his house."
"Was a deputy shot?"
"How is he?"
"He's fine. He's in the hospital, but he's okay."
"What's his name?"
"Looney. DeWayne Looney."
"When's the preliminary hearing?"
"I'm not the judge."
"Maybe tomorrow, maybe Wednesday. No more questions, please. I have no further information to release at this time."
The jailer took Carl Lee's wallet, money, watch, keys, ring, and pocketknife and listed the items on an inventory form that Carl Lee signed and dated. In a small room next to the jailer's station, he was photographed and fingerprinted, just as Lester said. Ozzie waited outside the door and led him down the hall to a small room where the drunks were taken to blow into the Intoxilyzer. Jake sat at a small table next to the machine. Ozzie excused himself.
The lawyer and client sat across the table and analyzed each other carefully. They grinned admiringly but neither spoke. They had last talked five days before, on Wednesday after the preliminary hearing, the day after the rape.
Carl Lee was not as troubled now. His face was relaxed and his eyes were clear. Finally he said: "You didn't think I'd do it, Jake."
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