فصل 04

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فصل 04

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دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»

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Chapter four

More Telephone Calls

The defense’s questioning of Bronsky ended late Thursday afternoon, and Marlee struck on Friday morning. Konrad took the first call at 7:25.

“Good morning, Fitch,” she said sweetly, when she was put through.

“Good morning, Marlee,” Fitch answered with a happy voice, his best effort at pleasantness. “And how are you?”

“Fabulous. Juror number two, Easter, will wear a light blue shirt, faded jeans, and running shoes. And he’ll bring with him a copy of Rolling Stone, October issue. Got that?”

“Yes. When can we get together and talk?”

“When I’m ready.”

Pang, one of Fitch’s technicians, was sitting in a coffee shop near Easter’s apartment. On time, Easter left his apartment and started his walk to the courthouse. Of course, he was wearing exactly what she’d promised.

Marlee’s second call came from a different number. “Something new for you, Fitch. You’ll love it. Guess what the jurors are going to do today.”

“Tell me.”

“They’re going to do the Pledge of Allegiance.”

Marlee’s third call went to the offices of Wendall Rohr. She was going to send a fax which must be handed to Mr. Rohr before he left for court. The fax stated which clothes Nicholas Easter would wear that day, and hinted at the Pledge. Rohr called an emergency meeting.


Before the court started, Nicholas waited for a pause in the conversation. “Hey, Herman, I have an idea.”

By now, Herman knew the other eleven voices from memory. “Yes, Nicholas,” he said.

Nicholas raised his voice so everyone could hear him. “Well, when I was a kid, we started each day at school with the Pledge of Allegiance. Every time I see a flag early in the morning, I have this desire to give the Pledge. And in the courtroom, we have this beautiful flag behind the Judge.”

“You want to do the Pledge of Allegiance out there in open court?” asked Colonel Herrera.

“Can’t see anything wrong with that,” said Jerry Fernandez, who’d earlier agreed to support Nicholas.

“You’re not playing games, are you?” asked the Colonel.

Nicholas looked at him with aching eyes and said, “My father was killed in Vietnam. That flag means a lot to me.”

The plan was agreed. The jurors entered the courtroom. Just before Judge Harkin started his standard speech reminding them that they mustn’t have unauthorized contact with anyone, he realized that the jurors were still standing. With their hands on their hearts, and led by Nicholas, they said the Pledge of Allegiance.

Judge Harkins initial reaction was of disbelief. He glanced at Rohr and Cable, who were open mouthed. Then he stood. Halfway through the Pledge he joined in. Suddenly it seemed important that everyone joined in. The lawyers certainly couldn’t show any disloyalty.

From the back row, Fitch watched in amazement. A jury taking control of a courtroom! It was extraordinary that Marlee knew it was going to happen. It was exciting that she was playing games with him. But Fitch at least had some idea of what was happening. Wendall Rohr, on the other hand, felt completely defeated. He was shocked by the sight of Easter dressed exactly as the fax had said, and then starting the Pledge. He stared at the jury, especially Easter, and wondered what was going on.

The Pledge finished and the jurors sat down. Judge Harkin seemed determined to act as if this was normal behavior.

“I believe we’re ready for a new witness,” he said.

Rohr stood, still shocked, and said, “The plaintiff calls Dr. Hilo Kilvan,”

The next expert witness entered the courtroom.


Lonnie was collected early Saturday morning by a company jet, and was flown to Charlotte. Ken met him at the airport in a company van, and fifteen minutes later they arrived at the SuperHouse headquarters. Ken and Ben showed him around. They had coffee with George Teaker, the CEO, in his large office, and then Lonnie was shown a video about the company. According to the video, SuperHouse was going to grow by 15 percent a year for the next six years. Profits would be amazing.

When the video finished, a young man arrived with details about health care, share options, and vacations. After lunch in a smart restaurant, there were more meetings and another video. By now, Lonnie needed some fresh air, and Ken suggested that they could go and play golf. Lonnie had never played golf before, a fact that Ken knew, but he suggested that they go and get some sunshine anyway. They drove through neat farms and tree-lined roads until they reached the country club.

Lonnie was nervous about entering a smart country club and decided to leave if he saw no other black faces. But George Teaker was in the club lounge with two black gentlemen. They all greeted Lonnie warmly and he felt much better. They drank and talked and planned the future. Lonnie stayed the night in the country club, and woke the next morning with a slight headache.

That morning there were two brief meetings. The first was with George Teaker, who wanted Lonnie to run the Biloxi store for ninety days, under a new contract. If all went well, he’d be transferred to a larger store. They were then joined by a lawyer, Taunton, who handed Lonnie a proposed contract of employment.

“Look over it,” Taunton said, tapping his chin with a designer pen, “and we’ll talk next week.” He took out a notepad. “Just a few questions,” he said. The questions were routine. Then he asked, “Have you, in your capacity as store manager, been involved in litigation?”

“Yes, I have,” replied Lonnie. “About four years ago, an old man slipped and fell on a wet floor. He sued. “

“Did it go to trial?” asked Taunton. He knew every detail.

“No,” replied Lonnie. “The claim was settled out of court.”

Taunton glanced at Teaker and said, “This tobacco trial in Biloxi could be serious for companies like ours. If the plaintiff wins the case and there’s a big verdict, there will be a lot more tobacco litigation. The lawyers will go crazy. They’ll bankrupt the tobacco companies.”

“We make a lot of money from tobacco sales, Lonnie,” Teaker said, with perfect timing.

“There has to be an end to these trials. The tobacco industry has never lost one of them. I think their record is something like fifty-five wins.” He took a deep breath. “Sorry if I said too much. But this trial is so important.”

Lonnie thought about this. Taunton was a lawyer, so he wouldn’t talk about the trial in a way that wasn’t appropriate. “No problem,” he said.

Taunton was suddenly all smiles and promised to call Lonnie. The meeting was over.


On Monday morning, the jurors met over coffee, and talked about their weekends. Herman was late so he couldn’t stop them whispering about the trial.

“I think I was followed at the weekend,” said Nicholas.

“Why would they follow you?” someone asked.

“That’s what the tobacco companies do. They spend millions of dollars selecting us, and more watching us.”

“How do you know it’s the tobacco company?” asked Sylvia, lighting another cigarette.

“I don’t. But they have more money than the plaintiff. In fact they have unlimited funds to fight these cases.”


For Wendall Rohr and the plaintiff’s team, the weekend had brought no rest. They’d traced Marlee’s fax back to a truck stop near Hattiesburg, and obtained an unclear description of a young woman, late twenties, maybe early thirties, wearing a fishing cap, with a face half-hidden by dark glasses. It was the opinion of the eight principal plaintiff’s lawyers that this was something new. No one could recall a trial in which a person outside had contacted the lawyers with hints of what the jury might do. They all agreed that she’d be back and that she’d probably ask for money. A deal - money for a verdict.

They didn’t dare, however, to plan how they might deal with her. Maybe later, but not now.

Fitch, on the other hand, thought of little else. He’d spent the weekend watching jurors and meeting with lawyers. He’d been pleased with the Ken and Ben show in Charlotte, and had been assured by George Teaker that they could trust Lonnie Shaver. Fitch slept four hours Saturday and five Sunday. He dreamed of the girl Marlee, and what she might bring him. This could be his easiest verdict yet.


Fitch watched the courtroom on Monday from the viewing room in his office. He listened as Dr. Hilo Kilvan continued with his testimony. Fitch’s consultants were certain that the plaintiff’s witnesses hadn’t really made a strong impression on the jurors.

In court, Nicholas sent a note to the Judge saying that he needed to see him urgently. At lunchtime, he went to the Judge’s chambers.

“I need to be quick,” said Nicholas. “It’s Frank Herrera. We talked about him last time. Well, his mind is made up, and I’m afraid he’s trying to influence people.”

“Is he discussing the case?”

“Once, with me. Herman is very proud of being foreman of the jury, and he won’t allow talk about the trial. And another thing.” Nicholas opened his case and pulled out a videocassette. He looked at a videocassette recorder in the corner. “May I?”

The Judge nodded. On the video, they watched a man enter Nicholas’s apartment. They saw the man, Doyle, taking pictures of the apartment and then leaving. “I was robbed and beaten about five years ago and I almost died. I’m careful about security now,” said Nicholas.


Fitch’s sandwich was interrupted with the words he was waiting to hear: “The girl’s on the line.” He grabbed the phone.

“Fitch, baby. It’s me, Marlee. Don’t know the guy’s name, but he’s the goon you sent into Easter’s apartment on Thursday, just after I gave you the note. Anyway, later, you sent the same goon into the courtroom. That was stupid because Easter recognized him, and he sent a note to the Judge. Are you listening, Fitch?” Listening, but not breathing. “Yes.”

“Well, now the Judge knows that the guy broke into Easter’s apartment. So get him out of town, fast.”

Two hours later, Doyle was flying to Chicago.


At three-thirty, the jurors were sent back to their room, and Judge Harkin questioned the lawyers about the break-in at Nicholas’s apartment. Nicholas was called to the meeting, and the Judge questioned him about the man who’d been following him. Nicholas answered in perfect detail, giving dates and places and also describing the security measures in his apartment. He played the videocassette again. After he’d gone, Judge Harkin and the lawyers considered their options.

Back in court, Judge Harkin apologized for his decision. It was very rare to sequester a jury. But he had no choice in this case. The jurors should leave, go home, pack, and report to the court the next day, ready to spend the next two weeks sequestered.

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