A Time to Kill
"Yes. It's a simple deal, really, Ftich. You wire me a bunch of money, and I promise to deliver
you a verdict."
"I think we should wait until after the verdict."
"You know I'm not that stupid."
The folding table was three feet wide. Both were leaning on it, their faces not far apart.
Fitch often used his bulk and his nasty eyes and his sinister goatee to physically intimidate
those around him, especially the younger lawyers in the firms he hired. If Marlee was
intimidated, she certainly didn't show it. Fitch admired her poise. She stared straight into
his eyes, never blinking, a most difficult task.
"Then there are no guarantees," he said. "Juries are unpredictable. We could give you the
"Drop it, Fitch. You and I both know the money will be paid before the verdict."
"How much money?"
He managed a guttural discharge, as if choking on a golf ball, then he coughed loudly as his
elbows flew up and his eyes rolled and his fat jowls shook in utter, sheer disbelief. "You must
be kidding," he managed to say in a raspy voice, glancing around for a cup of water or a bottle of pills or anything to help him through this horrible shock.
She watched the show calmly, never blinking, never taking her eyes off him. "Ten million, Fitch.
It's a bargain. And it's nonnegotiable.
He coughed again, his face slightly redder. Then he gathered his composure and thought of a
response. He'd guessed in the millions, and he knew he'd sound foolish trying to negotiate down
as if his client couldn't afford it. She probably had the latest quarterly reports for each of
the Big Four.
"How much is in The Fund?" she asked, and Fitch's eyes instinctively narrowed. As far as he
could tell, she hadn't blinked yet.
"The what?" he asked. No one knew about The Fund!
"The Fund, Fitch. Don't play games with me. I know all about your little slush fund. I want
the ten million wired from The Fund account to a bank in Singapore."
"I don't think I can do that."
"You can do anything you want, Fitch. Stop playing games. Let's cut the deal now and get on with
"What if we wire five now and five after the verdict?"
"Forget it, Fitch. It's ten million now. I don't like the idea of tracking you down and trying
to collect the last installment after the trial. For some reason, I think I'd waste a lot of
"When do we wire it?"
"I don't care. Just make sure it's received before the jury gets the case. Otherwise the deal
"What happens when the deal is off?
"One of two things. Either Nicholas will hang the jury, or he'll send it nine to three for the
1996 John Grisham