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Home > The Brethren(10)

The Brethren(10)
Author: John Grisham

"Can you start filming ads day after tomorrow?"

"I can do anything;" Lake said, settling into the passenger's seat. It was becoming obvious who was driving the bus.

"With your approval, we'll hire an outside consulting group to front the ads and publicity. But we have better people here, and they won't cost you anything. Not that money will be a problem, you understand."

"I think a hundred million should cover things."

"It should. Anyway, we'll start working on the TV ads today. I think you'll like them. They're total gloom and doom-the miserable shape of our military, all sorts of threats from abroad. Armageddon, that sort of stuff. They'll scare the hell out of people. We'll plug in your name and face and a few brief words, and in notime you'll be the most famous politician in the country"

"Fame won't win the election."

"No, it won't. But money will. Money buys television and polls, and that's all it takes."

"I'd like to think the message is important."

"Oh, it is, Mr. Lake, and our message is far more important than tax cuts and affirmative action and abortion and trust and family values and all the other silliness we're hearing. Our message is life and death. Our message will change the world and protect our affluence. That's all we really care about."

Lake was nodding his agreement. Protect the economy, keep the peace, and American voters would elect anyone. "I have a good man to run the campaign," Lake said, anxious to offer something.

"Who?"

"Mike Schiara, my chief of staff. He's my closest adviser, a man I trust implicitly"

"Any experience on the national level?" Teddy asked, knowing full well there was none.

"No, but he's quite capable."

"That's fine. It's your campaign."

Lake smiled and nodded at the same time.That was good to hear. He was beginning to wonder.

"What about Vice President?"Teddy asked.

"I have a couple of names. Senator Nance of Michigan is an old friend. There's also Governor Guyce from Texas."

Teddy received the names with careful deliberation. Not bad selections, really, though Guyce would never work. He was a rich boy who'd skated through college and golfed through his thirties, then spent a fortune of his father's money to purchase the governor's mansion for four years. Besides, they wouldn't have to worry about Texas.

"I like Nance,"Teddy said.

Then Nance it would be, Lake almost said.

They talked about money for an hour, the first wave from the PAC's and how to accept instant millions without creating too much suspicion. Then the second wave from the defense contractors. Then the third wave of cash and other untraceables.

There'd be a fourth wave Lake would never know about. Depending on the polls,Teddy Maynard and his organization would be prepared to literally haul boxes filled with cash into union halls and black churches and white VFW's in places like Chicago and Detroit and Memphis and throughout the Deep South. Working with locals they were already identifying, they would be prepared to buy every vote they could find.

The more Teddy pondered his plan, the more convinced he became that the election would be won by Mr. Aaron Lake.

Trevor's little law office was in Neptune Beach, several blocks from Atlantic Beach, though no one could tell where one beach stopped and the other started. Jacksonville was several miles to the west and creeping toward the sea every minute. The office was a converted summer rental, and fiiom his sagging back porch Revor could see the beach and the ocean and hear the seagulls. Hard to believe he'd been renting the place for twelve years now. Early in the lease he'd enjoyed hiding on the porch, away from the phone and the clients, staring endlessly at the gentle waters of the Atlantic two blocks away.

He was from Scranton, and like all snowbirds, he'd finally grown weary of gazing at the sea, roaming the beaches barefoot, and throwing bread crumbs to the birds. Now he preferred to waste time locked in his office.

Trevor was terrified of courtrooms and judges. While this was unusual and even somewhat honorable, it made for a different style of lawyering. It relegated Trevor to paperwork-real estate closings, wills, leases, zoning-all the mundane, nondazzling, small-time areas of the profession no one told him about in law school. Occasionally he handled a drug case, never one involving a trial, and it was one of his unfortunate clients at Trumble who'd connected him with the Honorable Joe Roy Spicer. In short order he'd become the official attorney for all dime-Spicer, Beech, and Yarber. The Brethren, as even Trevor referred to them.

He was a courier, nothing more or less. He smuggled them letters disguised as official legal documents and thus protected by the lawyer-client privilege. And he sneaked their letters out. He gave them no advice, and they sought none. He ran their bank account offshore and handled phone calls from the families of their clients inside Trumble. He fronted their dirty little deals, and in doing so avoided courtrooms and judges and other lawyers, and this suited Trevor just fine.

He was also a member of their conspiracy, easily indictable should they ever be exposed, but he wasn't worried. The Angola scam was absolutely brilliant because its victims couldn't complain. For an easy fee with potential rewards, he'd gamble with the Brethren.

He eased from his office without seeing his secretary, then sneaked away in his restored 1970 V W Beetle, no air-conditioning. He drove down First Street toward Atlantic Boulevard, the ocean visible through homes and cottages and rentals. He wore old khakis, a white cotton shirt, a yellow bow tie, a blue seersucker jacket, all of it heavily wrinkled. He passed Pete's Bar and Grill, the oldest watering hole along the beaches and his personal favorite even though the college kids had discovered the place. He had an outstanding and very past-due bar tab there of $361, almost all for Coors longnecks and lemon daiquiris, and he really wanted to clear the debt.

He turned west on Atlantic Boulevard, and began fighting the traffic into Jacksonville. He cursed the sprawl and the congestion and the cars with Canadian plates. Then he was on the bypass, north past the airport and soon deep into the flat Florida countryside.

Fifty minutes later he parked at Trumble.You gotta love the federal system, he told himself again. Lots of parking dose to the fiont entrance, nicely landscaped grounds tended daily by the inmates, and modern, well-kept buildings.

He said, "Hello, Mackey," to the white guard at the door, and "Hello,Vince," to the black one. Rufus at the front desk X-rayed the briefcase while Nadine did the paperwork for his visit. "How're the bass?" he asked Rufus.

"Ain't biting," Rufus said.

No lawyer in the brief history of Trumble had visited as much as Trevor. They took his picture again, stamped the back of his hand with invisible ink, and led him through two doors and a short hallway. "Hello, Link," he said to the next guard.

"Mornin, Trevor;" Link said. Link ran the visitors' area, a large open space with lots of padded chairs and vending machines against one wall, a playground for youngsters, and a small outdoor patio where two people could sit at a picnic table and share a moment. It was cleaned and shined and completely empty. It was a weekday. Traffic picked up on Saturdays and Sundays, but for the rest of the time Link observed an empty area.

They went to the lawyers' room, one of several, private cubbyholes with doors that shut and windows through which Link could do his observing, if he were so inclined. Joe Roy Spicer was waiting and reading the daily sports section where he played the odds on college basketball. Trevor and Link stepped into the room together, and very quickly Trevor removed two twenty-dollar bills and handed them to Link. The closed-circuit cameras couldn't see them if they did this just inside the door. As part of the routine, Spicer pretended not to see the transaction.

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