Theodore boone kid lawye.., p.14
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       Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer, p.14

         Part #1 of Theodore Boone series by John Grisham
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  “Tomorrow, maybe. He usually comes to the shelter on Sunday and we walk to church.”

  “Is there any way I can talk to him tonight?”

  “I don’t know. I don’t know what he’s doing all the time.”

  “Julio, time is crucial here.”

  “What’s crucial?”

  “Very important. The trial will be over on Monday. It’s important for Bobby to come forward and tell what he saw.”

  “I don’t think so.”

  “Julio, both of my parents are lawyers. You know them. They can be trusted. What if they were able to find an apartment for you and your family, including Bobby, a nice place just for you guys, and, at the same time, my parents take steps to sponsor Bobby so he can become legal? Think about it. No more hiding from the police. No more worrying about raids from the immigration people. You guys can all live together and Bobby will have papers. Wouldn’t that be cool?”

  Julio was staring into space, soaking it in. “That’d be awesome, Theo.”

  “Then here’s what we do. First, you say it’s okay to involve my parents. They’ll be on your side. They’re lawyers.”

  “Okay.”

  “Great. Next, you gotta see Bobby and convince him that this is a good deal. Convince him we can be trusted. Can you do that?”

  “I don’t know.”

  “Has he told your mother about what he saw?”

  “Yes. She’s like a mother to Bobby.”

  “Good. Get your mother to talk to him, too. She can convince him.”

  “You promise he won’t go to jail?”

  “I promise.”

  “But he has to talk to the police?”

  “Maybe not the police, but he has to talk to someone involved with the trial. Maybe the judge. I don’t know. But it’s crucial for Bobby to come forward. He’s the most important witness in this murder trial.”

  Julio placed his head in both hands, elbows on knees. His shoulders slumped under the weight of Theo’s words and plans. For a long time nothing was said. Theo watched Hector and Rita in the distance, sitting with his mother and chatting away with their ice cream. Woods and Ike were deep in conversation, a rarity for them. The game dragged on.

  “What do I do now?” Julio asked.

  “Talk to your mother. Then both of you talk to Bobby. We should all get together.”

  “Okay.”

  Chapter 20

  Theo was in the den watching a movie on cable when his cell phone vibrated in his pocket. It was eight thirty-five, Saturday night, and the call was coming from the shelter. He flipped the phone open, said, “Hello.”

  Julio’s unmistakable voice said, “Theo?”

  “Yes, Julio, what’s up?” Theo muted the television. His father was in the study reading a novel and his mother was upstairs in bed, sipping green tea and reading through a pile of legal documents.

  “I’ve talked to Bobby,” Julio said, “and boy is he scared. The police were all over the Quarry today, checking papers, looking for trouble. They took in two boys from Guatemala, both illegal. Bobby thinks they’re after him.”

  Theo walked to the study as he spoke. “Listen, Julio, if the police are after Bobby it has nothing to do with the murder trial. I can promise you that.” Theo stood next to his father, who closed his book and listened closely.

  “They went to his house, but he was hiding down the street.”

  “Did you talk to him, Julio? Did you tell him what we discussed today at the game?”

  “Yes.”

  “And what did he say?”

  “He’s too scared right now, Theo. He doesn’t understand how things work here. When he sees a policeman, he thinks bad things. You know? He thinks about going to jail, losing his job, his money, getting sent back home.”

  “Julio, listen to me,” Theo said, frowning at his father. “He will not have to deal with the police. If he’ll just trust me and my parents, he’ll be safer. Did you explain this?”

  “Yes.”

  “Does he understand it?”

  “I don’t know, Theo. But he wants to talk to you.”

  “Great. I’ll talk to him.” Theo nodded at his father and his father nodded back. “When and where?”

  “Well, he’s moving around tonight, not staying at his place. He’s afraid the police might come back in the middle of the night and arrest them. But I can reach him.”

  Theo almost asked How? but let it go. “I think we should talk tonight,” Theo said. His father nodded again.

  “Okay. What do I tell him?”

  “Tell him to meet me somewhere.”

  “Where?”

  Theo couldn’t think of a place fast enough. His father was a step ahead. He whispered, “Truman Park, by the carousel.”

  Theo said, “How about Truman Park?”

  “Where’s that?”

  “It’s the big park at the end of Main Street where they have the water fountains and statues and stuff like that. Anybody can find Truman Park.”

  “Okay.”

  “Tell him to be there at nine thirty, in about an hour. Meet us by the carousel.”

  “What’s a carousel?”

  “It’s a fancy merry-go-round with little fake ponies and loud music. It’s for small kids and their mothers.”

  “I’ve seen it.”

  “Good. Nine thirty.”

  The carousel was still spinning slowly late on Saturday night. Its well-used speakers boomed out the notes of “It’s a Small World” as a few toddlers and their mothers clutched the poles that ran down the center of the red and yellow ponies. Nearby there was a booth selling cotton candy and lemonade. A gang of young teenagers loitered about, all smoking and trying to look tough.

  Woods Boone surveyed the area and felt it was safe. “I’ll be waiting over there,” he said, pointing to a tall bronze statue of a forgotten war hero. “You won’t see me.”

  “I’ll be fine,” Theo said. He wasn’t worried about safety. The park was well lit and well used.

  Ten minutes later, Julio and Bobby Escobar eased from the shadows and saw Theo before he saw them. Bobby was very nervous and did not want to risk being seen by a policeman, so they walked to the other side of the park and found a spot on the steps of a gazebo. Theo couldn’t see his father but he was sure he was watching.

  He asked Bobby if he had worked that day, then went on to say that he and his father had played the Creek Course. No, Bobby had not worked, but instead had spent the day dodging cops. This opened the door, and Theo went charging through. He explained, in English, that Bobby had the opportunity to make a big change. He could move beyond being an illegal alien to a sponsored immigrant going through the process of getting proper documentation.

  Julio rendered in Spanish. Theo understood little of it.

  He explained that his parents were offering the deal of a lifetime. A better place to live, with family, the chance of a better job, and the fast track to being a legal resident. No more hiding from the police. No more fears about getting shipped home.

  Julio rendered in Spanish. Bobby listened with a stone face, no expression at all.

  Getting nothing in return, Theo pressed on. It was important to keep talking. Bobby seemed to be on the verge of running away. “Explain to him that he is a very important witness in the murder trial,” Theo said to Julio. “And there is nothing wrong with going to court and telling everybody what he saw that day.”

  Julio rendered. Bobby nodded. He’d heard this before. He said something, which Julio translated as, “He doesn’t want to get involved. This trial is not his problem.”

  A police car stopped at the edge of the park, not close to the gazebo but certainly close enough to be seen. Bobby watched it fearfully, as if he’d finally been caught. He mumbled quickly to Julio, who shot something back.

  “The police are not after Bobby,” Theo said. “Tell him to relax.”

  Two policemen crawled out of the car and began walking toward the center of the park, to the car
ousel. “See,” Theo said. “The fat one is Ramsey Ross. All he does is write parking tickets. Don’t know the other one. They couldn’t care less about us.”

  Julio explained this in Spanish and Bobby began breathing again.

  “Where will he stay tonight?” Theo asked.

  “I don’t know. He asked if he could sleep at the shelter, but there’s no room.”

  “He can stay with us. We have an extra bedroom. You can come along, too. We’ll call it a slumber party. My dad will stop and get us a pizza. Let’s go.”

  At midnight, the three boys were sprawled around the den, yelling at the TV screen as they played a video game. Pillows and quilts were strewn about. Two large pizza boxes lay in ruins. Judge was munching on a crust.

  From time to time, Marcella and Woods Boone peeked in. They were amused to hear Theo plow ahead with his Spanish, always a beat or two behind Julio and Bobby, but determined to catch up.

  They had wanted more children, but nature didn’t cooperate. And, at times, they had to admit that Theo was more than enough.

  Chapter 21

  Judge Gantry waited until it was dark early Sunday evening to go for a long walk. He lived a few blocks from the courthouse, in an old house that had been handed down from his grandfather, himself a distinguished judge, and he often roamed the streets in the center of Strattenburg in the early mornings and in the late evenings. On this night, he needed fresh air, time to think. The Duffy trial had consumed his weekend. He had spent hours buried in the law books looking for an answer, one that still eluded him. A heated argument raged within. Why should he disrupt a properly tried case? Why should he declare a mistrial when nothing had gone wrong? No rules had been broken. No ethics violated. Nothing. In fact, with two fine lawyers doing battle the trial had sailed smoothly along.

  His research had revealed no similar case.

  The lights were on at Boone & Boone. At seven thirty, as promised, Judge Gantry stepped onto the small front porch and knocked on the door.

  It was opened by Marcella Boone, who said, “Well, good evening, Henry. Come in.”

  “Good evening, Marcella. I haven’t seen this office in at least twenty years.”

  “Then you should stop by more often.” She closed the door behind them.

  Judge Gantry wasn’t the only one having a brisk walk in the early evening. A man named Paco was out for a stroll, too. Paco wore a dark jogging suit, with running shoes, and he had a radio. He kept his distance and since the judge never thought about being followed, he was easy to trail. They roamed through central Strattenburg, one man deep in serious thought and oblivious to anyone around him, the other a block behind, carefully stalking as the shadows grew long and daylight disappeared. When Henry Gantry walked into Boone & Boone after dark, Paco jogged by the office, got the name and street number, and kept going until he turned the corner. Then he clicked a button on his two-way radio and said, “He’s inside, at the Boones.”

  “Okay. I’m close by.” The response came from Omar Cheepe.

  Moments later, Cheepe picked up Paco, and they turned onto Park Street. When the Boone & Boone building was visible, they quietly eased into a parking place far down the street. Cheepe turned off the lights and the engine and rolled down his window for a smoke. “Did you see him go in?” he asked.

  “No,” Paco said. “I saw him turn off the sidewalk and head for the front door. I know he’s in there. It’s the only place open along here.”

  “Very strange.”

  It was Sunday night, and the other office buildings were dark and deserted. Only the Boone firm showed signs of activity. All of its downstairs lights appeared to be on.

  “What do you think they’re doing?” Paco asked.

  “Not sure. The Boones were in Gantry’s office Friday, the whole family, which makes no sense because Gantry was very busy. They’re not criminal lawyers, you know. He drafts deeds and she handles divorces, so there’s no reason to barge into Gantry’s office in the middle of a murder trial. And the kid, I just don’t get it. Why would the parents take the kid out of school and in to see Gantry? The kid’s been hanging around all week, snooping around the trial.”

  “This is Theo?”

  “Yep. Kid thinks he’s a lawyer. Knows every cop, every judge, every court clerk. Hangs around courtrooms, probably knows more law than most lawyers. He and Gantry are big pals. He goes to see Gantry, with his parents, and, suddenly, Gantry decides not to hold court on Saturday, after promising all week. Something’s going on here, Paco. And it’s not in our favor.”

  “You talked to Nance or Mr. Duffy?”

  “No, not yet. Here’s what we do. I would almost send you up there to poke around the building, look inside, see who’s there, but it’s too risky. They see you, they get spooked, they stop whatever they’re doing, maybe they call the cops. It is Judge Gantry, you know. Things could get complicated. So here’s a better plan. I’ll call Gus and get the van. We can park it closer up the street, and when they come out we take pictures. I want to know who’s in there.”

  “Who do you think?”

  “Don’t know, Paco, but I’ll bet a hundred bucks the Boone family and Gantry are not in there playing gin rummy. Something’s going on here, and I don’t like it.”

  Judge Gantry walked to the library, where Mr. Boone, Ike, and Theo were waiting. The long table that dominated the room was covered with books, maps, notepads, and gave the impression that a lot of work was under way. Everyone shook hands, said their hellos. There was some small talk about the weather, but with important matters looming the chitchat didn’t last long.

  “Needless to say,” Judge Gantry said after they were all seated, “this little meeting is off the record. We’re doing nothing wrong, mind you, since you’re not involved in the case. But, I can hear a lot of questions being asked if word got out. Understood?”

  “Of course, Henry,” Mrs. Boone said.

  “No problem,” Ike said.

  “Not a word,” Mr. Boone said.

  “Yes, sir,” Theo said.

  “Good. Now, you said that you have something to show me.”

  The three adult Boones looked at Theo, who immediately jumped to his feet. His laptop was on the table in front of him. He touched a key, and a large photo appeared on the digital wide-screen whiteboard at the end of the room. Theo held a laser pointer and directed the red light at the photo. “This is an aerial photo of the sixth fairway at the Creek Course. Over here is the Duffy home. Over here, in the trees in the dogleg, is where the witness was sitting and having lunch.” He pressed another key, another photo appeared. “This is a photo we took yesterday morning at the golf course. The witness was sitting on this stack of treated timbers, next to the dry streambed, completely hidden from view. However”—another key, another photo—“as you can see, the witness had a perfect view of the homes on the other side of the fairway, about a hundred yards away.”

  “And you know for certain this is exactly where he was?”

  “Yes, sir.”

  “Can you reconstruct the time?”

  “Yes, Your Honor.”

  “We can drop the ‘Your Honor’ stuff, Theo, for the time being.”

  “Okay.” Another photo, an aerial. Theo beamed the laser light at a building. “This is the maintenance shed, not too far through the woods from the sixth fairway. The lunch break began at eleven thirty. Eleven thirty on the dot because the supervisor ran a tight ship and expected his workers to check in at eleven thirty, eat quickly, and be back on the job at noon. Our man liked to sneak away from the others, eat by himself, say his prayers, and look at a photo of his family back home. He’s very homesick. As you can see, it’s a short walk through the woods to his favorite lunch spot. He estimates that he was halfway through his lunch break when he saw the man enter the Duffy home.”

  “So around eleven forty-five?” Judge Gantry asked.

  “Yes, sir. And, as you know, the pathologist put the time of death at approximately eleven forty-
five.”

  “I know. And the man who entered the house then left it before your witness finished his lunch break?”

  “Yes, sir. The witness says that he usually heads back to the maintenance shed a few minutes before noon. On this day, he saw the man come out of the house before he finished the lunch break. He estimates the man was in the house less than ten minutes.”

  “I have one big question,” the judge said. “Did this witness see the man leave the house with a bag or sack or anything that might hold the stolen loot? The testimony is that several items were taken—two small handguns, some of her jewelry, and at least three of his expensive watches. Did the witness see this stuff hauled away?”

  “I don’t think so, Judge,” Theo said gravely. “And, I’ve thought about this for hours. My best guess is that he stuffed the guns under his belt, hid them with his sweater, and put everything else in his pockets.”

  “What kind of guns?” Mr. Boone asked.

  “A nine millimeter and a snub-nosed thirty-eight,” Judge Gantry said. “It would be easy to hide them under a sweater.”

  “And the watches and jewelry?”

  “Some rings and necklaces, three watches with leather bands. All could fit easily into the front pockets of a pair of slacks.”

  “And this stuff was never found?” Mrs. Boone asked.

  “No.”

  “They’re probably at the bottom of one of those lakes out there at the golf course,” Ike said with a nasty grin.

  “You’re probably right,” Judge Gantry said, to the amazement of everyone else. The stone-faced referee who never leaned to one side or the other had just tipped his hand. He thought Mr. Pete Duffy was guilty after all.

  “What about the gloves?” he asked.

  Theo picked up a small brown box, sat it on the table, and then pulled out the Ziploc plastic bag holding the two golf gloves. He placed it in front of Judge Gantry, and for a second or two everyone stared at the evidence as if it were a bloody butcher’s knife. Theo pressed a key, and another photo appeared on the screen. “This is the fourteenth tee box, South Nine. The witness was repairing a sprinkler head right about here, on a small hill overlooking the tee box, when he saw the man, the same man, remove these two gloves from his golf bag and throw them in the trash basket.”

  “A question,” Judge Gantry said. “At the moment he tossed away these gloves, was he wearing another set of gloves?” It was obvious to the Boones that the judge had dissected every detail of the story.

  “I’ve never asked him that question,” Theo said.

  “Probably so,” Woods said. “It’s not unusual for a golfer to keep extra gloves in his bag.”

  “Why would that matter?” Mrs. Boone asked.

  “Not sure that it would. I’m just very curious right now, Marcella.”

  There was a long pause, as if those present were thinking the same thing but no one wanted to mention it. Finally, Theo said, “Judge, you could always ask the witness.”

  “So he’s here?”

  “Yes, sir.”

 
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