فصل 15

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فصل 15

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CHAPTER FIFTHEEN

Secret Talks

A week later Mitch was having lunch with the partners in their fifth- floor dining-room. Each year every associate member was invited twice. Throughout lunch Mitch knew that he was being watched very closely. They were looking for any signs that he was a less keen member of the firm than he used to be. So he forced himself to smile and to eat the food they offered him. It was impossible for him to forget the pictures of him and the girl in the sand. Had they all seen the pictures? Had they passed them around this table?

Oliver Lambert had never been so charming. He told stories about past members of the firm, congratulated Mitch on the hours he was working and the amount of money he was earning the firm, and said he deserved the holiday he was taking next week.

‘You and your wife are off to the Caymans, I hear,’ Royce McKnight said. ‘You’ll love it there.’

‘Do you dive?’ asked Lambert.

‘No, but we plan to do plenty of swimming,’ Mitch said.

‘If you want to learn to dive,’ Lambert went on, ‘there’s a man called Adrian Bench who has an excellent diving school on the north end of the island. It’s worth a visit.’

In other words, stay away from Abanks, Mitch thought. ‘Thanks. I’ll remember that,’ he said.

‘But be careful, Mitch,’ Lambert said. ‘It brings back memories of Marty and Joe.’

The partners looked down sadly at their plates. Mitch felt sick. They had killed Marty and Joe for doing exactly what he was doing. He wanted two million from the FBI. There were a couple of other things he wanted too.


At the same time that Mitch was having lunch with the partners, Tammy Greenwood Hemphill parked her dirty brown Volkswagen behind the shiny Peugeot in the school car park. She left the engine running. She got out of the car, pulled a key from her pocket, opened the back of the Peugeot and took the heavy black briefcase out. Then she drove away in her own car.

At a small window in the teachers’ lounge Abby drank coffee and stared through the trees into the car park. She smiled and checked her watch. Twelve-thirty, as planned.

Tammy drove back to her office. No one followed her; no one knew of her existence. There were nine files this time. He had said there would eventually be about forty. She copied them all. On the way back to the school she took all the copied files to the small storage room she had rented in her name.


At three o’clock in the morning Mitch got quietly out of bed and got dressed. Without a word he kissed Abby, who was awake, and left the house. He had a meeting at an all-night cafe twenty-five miles out of town. At this time of night no one would follow him.

Tarrance and he completed their negotiations. They agreed on two million dollars.

‘I want a million now and a million later,’ Mitch said. ‘I’m already copying all my files. No lawyer is allowed to do that: as soon as I give them to you, it’s the end of my career. So when I give them to you I want the first million. We’ll discuss the details later.’

‘How are you going to get the files to us?’ Tarrance asked. ‘You can’t just walk around with them.’

‘That’s right,’ Mitch said. ‘When I hear that the first million has gone where I want it to go, then I’ll give you the key to a storage room somewhere in the Memphis area.’

‘And the second million?’ Tarrance asked.

‘When you and I and Voyles decide that I’ve given you enough documents to make the arrests you want, then I get half. After I appear in court as a witness for the last time, I get the other half.’

‘Agreed,’ Tarrance said.

‘And there’s one other thing I want, Tarrance.’

‘Yeah?’

‘I want my brother Ray out of Brushy Mountain Prison.’

‘That’s ridiculous, Mitch. We can’t do that.’

‘You can find a way. If you can’t do it by bending the rules, then you can help him escape. But you can do it. The FBI can do anything, remember?’

‘I’ll see what I can do,’ Tarrance said helplessly. ‘But Voyles isn’t going to like it.’

‘Tell him that he doesn’t get to see anything - not a single file - unless he promises to get my brother out. Not even a file on one of my clean clients. I don’t know why you want those files anyway.’

‘Because when we’ve got them,’ Tarrance said, ‘we’ve got you. Actually, you’re probably already working with criminal clients without knowing it. It makes it easier for the firm to persuade you later to do whatever they say, because they’ll tell you that you’ve already done enough to go to prison.’

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