And the good news? he asked on second effort.
They were getting to that, the agent said. The good news was that Robbie had an opportunity. Maybe there was something he could do for himself. Something that a person with his family situation ought to consider.
The agent then walked across the marble foyer and opened the front door. The United States Attorney, Stan Sennett, was standing on Robbie's doorstep. Feaver recognized him from TV, a short man, slender, kempt with a compulsive orderliness. A few gnats zagged madly under the light above the careful part in Sennett's head. He greeted Feaver with his in-court expression, humorless as a hatchet blade.
Robbie had never practiced a day of criminal law, but he knew what it meant that the United States Attorney was standing in person on his front stoop late at night. It meant the biggest gun was pointed straight at him. It meant they wanted to make him an example. It meant he'd never get away.
In his terror, Robbie Feaver found a single useful thought.
I want a lawyer, he said.
He was entitled, Sennett finally responded. But perhaps Robbie should listen to him first. As soon as Sennett set a polished brogan across the threshold, Robbie repeated himself
I can't promise the deal will be the same tomorrow, Sennett told him. Lawyer, Feaver said again.
The agents took over then, offering advice. If he was going to an attorney, find a good one, someone who'd been around. Talk to that lawyer--and no one else. Not Mom. Not the wife. And certainly not his law partner, Dinnerstein. The U.S. Attorney passed one agent his card, and the agent handed it to Feaver. Sennett would be waiting for Feaver's lawyer's call. About to step down into the darkness, the prosecutor asked over his shoulder whether Robbie had anyone in mind.
Interesting choice, Sennett told Feaver with a shallow smile when he heard my name.
"I'm not a rat," Robbie Feaver said now. "That's the play, right, George? They want me to dime somebody out."
I asked if he had any idea who.
"Well, it better not be Mort. My partner? Never. There's nothing to say about Mort."
Feaver and Dinnerstein were lifelong friends, he told me, next-door neighbors as boys growing up in the Jewish enclave of Warren Park, here in DuSable, roommates through college and law school. But their secret account was joint, both men had made deposits and written the checks to cash, and neither had reported the income. There was enough damaging paper that it seemed unlikely the IRS was going to need anyone's assistance to install either one of them in the trophy case.
I asked if there might be something else the government wanted Robbie to tell them about Mort, or any other person, but Feaver hitched a shoulder limply, looking lost.
I did not know Robbie Feaver well. When he'd called this morning, he'd reminded me that we'd met several times in the lobby of the LeSueur Building where we each had our law offices, and of the committee work he'd done for the Kindle County Bar Association a couple of years ago during my term as president. My memories of him were vague and not necessarily pleasaint. Measured according to the remaining reflexes of a proper Southern upbringing, he was the kind of fellow who'd be described simply as 'too much.' Too good-looking in the sense that he was too well aware of it. Too much stiff, dark hair that reflected too much fussing. He was tanned in every season and spent too much money on his clothes--high-styled Italian suits and snazzy foulards--accompanied by too much jewelry. He spoke too loudly, and too eagerly to strangers in the elevator. In fact, in any setting, he talked too much--one of those people who went one up on Descartes: I speak, therefore I am. But I now saw one apparent virtue: he could have told you all of that. Diminished by fear, he maintained an air of candor, at least about himself. As clients went, therefore, he seemed, on first impression, better than average.
From Personal Injuries. Copyright © 1999 Scott Turow. No part of this book can be reproduced without the permission of the publisher
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
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