Excerpt of Turning Angel by Greg Iles
(Page 8 of 9)
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The emotion in his eyes is palpable. "Of course."
"Let's get in one of the cars."
He presses a button on his key chain, and his Volvo's lights
blink. As if triggered by a silent starter pistol, we race
through the chilly rain and scramble onto the leather seats of
the S80. He slams his door and cranks the engine, then shakes
his head with a strange violence.
"I can't fucking believe it, Penn. It's literally beyond
belief. Did you know her? Did you know Kate at all?"
"We spoke a few times. She asked about my books. But we never
got beyond the surface. Mia talked about her a lot."
His eyes search out mine in the shadows. "You and I haven't
got beneath the surface much either these past five years. It's
more my fault than yours, I know. I keep a lot inside."
"We all do," I say awkwardly, wondering where this is going.
"Who really knows anybody, right? Twelve years of school
together, best friends when we were kids. You know a lot about
me, but on the other hand you know nothing. The front, like
"I hope I see past that, Drew."
"I don't mean to insult you. If anyone sees beneath the
surface, it's you. That's why I'm talking to you now."
"Well, I'm here. Let's talk."
He nods as if confirming a private judgment. "I want to hire
"As a lawyer."
This is the last thing I expected to hear. "You know I don't
"You took the Payton case, that old civil rights bombing."
"That was different. And that was five years ago."
Drew stares at me in the glow of the dashboard lights. "This
is different, too."
It always is to the client. "I'm sure it is. The thing is,
I'm not really a lawyer anymore. I'm a writer. If you need a
lawyer, I can recommend several good ones. Is it malpractice?"
Drew blinks in astonishment. "Malpractice? You think I'd
waste your time with bullshit like that?"
"Drew...I don't know what this is about. Why don't you tell
me what the problem is?"
"I want to, but -- Penn, what if you were sick? You had HIV,
say. And you came to me and said, 'Drew, please help me. As a
friend. I want you to treat me and not tell a soul.' And what if
I said, 'Penn, I'd like to, but that's not my specialty. You
need to go to a specialist.' "
"Drew, come on -- "
"Hear me out. If you said, 'Drew, as a friend, please do me
this favor. Please help me.' You know what? I wouldn't think
twice. I'd do whatever you wanted. Treat you without records,
He would. I can't deny it. But there's more than this beneath
his words. Drew has left much unsaid. The truth is that without
Drew Elliott, I wouldn't be alive today. When I was fourteen
years old, Drew and I hiked away from the Buffalo River in
Arkansas and got lost in the Ozark Mountains. Near dark, I fell
into a gorge and broke my femur. Drew was only eleven, but he
crawled down into that gorge, splinted my leg with a tree limb,
then built a makeshift litter and started dragging me through
the night. Before he was done, he dragged me four miles through
the mountains, breaking his wrist in the process and twice
almost breaking his neck. Just after dawn, he managed to get me
to a cluster of tents where someone had a CB radio. But has he
mentioned any of that? No. It's my job to remember.
Copyright © 2005 by Greg Iles.