A Time to Kill
(Hard Cover): 435
Stafford slides the will to me and hands me a pen. I say, "This is the last will and testament
of Troy L. Phelan, revoking all former wills and codicils." It's ninety pages long, prepared by
Stafford and someone in his firm. I understand the concept, but the actual print eludes me. I
haven't read it, nor shall I. I flip to the back, scrawl a name no one can read, then place my
hands on top of it for the time being.
It'll never be seen by the vultures.
"Meeting's adjourned," Stafford says, and everyone quickly packs. Per my instructions, the three
families are hurried from their respective rooms and asked to leave the building.
One camera remains focused on me, its images going nowhere but the archives. The lawyers and
psychiatrists leave in a rush. I tell Snead to take a seat at the table. Stafford and one of
his partners, Durban, remain in the room, also seated. When we are alone, I reach under the edge
of my robe and produce an envelope, which I open. I remove from it three pages of yellow legal
paper and place them before me on the table.
Only seconds away now, and a faint ripple of fear goes through me. This will take more strength
than I've mustered in weeks.
Stafford, Durban, and Snead stare at the sheets of yellow paper, thoroughly bewildered.
"This is my new testament," I announce, taking a pen. "A holographic will, every word written by
me, just a few hours ago. Dated today, and now signed today." I scrawl my name again. Stafford
is too stunned to react.
"It revokes all former wills, including the one I signed less than five minutes ago." I refold
the papers and place them in the envelope.
I grit my teeth and remind myself of how badly I want to die.
I slide the envelope across the table to Stafford, and at the same instant I rise from my
wheelchair. My legs are shaking. My heart is pounding. Just seconds now. Surely I'll be dead
before I land.
"Hey!" someone shouts, Snead I think. But I'm moving away from them.
The lame man walks, almost runs, past the row of leather chairs, past one of my portraits, a bad
one commissioned by a wife, past everything, to the sliding doors, which are unlocked. I know
because I rehearsed this just hours ago.
"Stop!" someone yells, and they're moving behind me. No one has seen me walk in a year. I grab
the handle and open the door. The air is bitterly cold. I step barefoot onto the narrow terrace
which borders my top floor. Without looking below, I lunge over the railing.
1999 John Grisham