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Authors: Andrew Neiderman

Tags: #Fiction, #General

The Devil's Advocate (33 page)

BOOK: The Devil's Advocate
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"Hi there," the one on his right said. His smile revealed a mouth filled with greenish-yellow teeth. His lips twisted away from them in a lustful smile.

"Bet you're lonely already," the man on his left said and placed his right hand on Kevin's left thigh.

He started to pull back, but the inmate standing directly behind him pressed his legs against his back. He was aware that this man had an erection poking him as well. His stomach churned with revulsion. The man on his left tightened his grip on Kevin's thigh. He wanted to scream, but the small crowd of inmates that had gathered behind him, on his sides, and directly in front of him blocked out any immediate rescue.

Then the half-dozen or so who were standing in front of him parted, and the inmate sitting directly across from him stood up quickly and backed away so that a tall, muscular black man could approach the table and sit there. His biceps bulged against his sleeves, and his neck muscles stretched emphatically against his smooth, thin skin. He looked invincible, hardened, a man sculptured by the system, toughened and trimmed. He had bright, black eyes with the whites around them as clear and as pure as fresh milk.

He smiled, and the men around him smiled, too. All eyes were on him. It was as if their energy, their very life force, came from him.

"Hello, Mr. Taylor," he said. Kevin nodded. "We've been waiting for you."

"Me?" His voice cracked. The smiles on the faces of the inmates around him widened.

"Or someone just like you."

"Oh," he said, looking from the man on his right to the one on his left. So he was to be passed around like some whore.

"Oh no, no, Mr. Taylor," the black man said. "You misunderstand. You're not here for that. They can get that any time from any one of the others," he added, and the man on his left took his hand off Kevin's thigh instantly. Both he and the man on the right shifted so their bodies were no longer pressed up against his, and the man behind him stepped back. He released a breath of relief. "No, you're more important than that, Mr. Taylor."

"I am?"

"Yes, sir. You see, Mr. Taylor, everyone here has been framed, just like you." The crowd around him laughed. They all smiled down at him. "Everyone here had lousy attorneys." Some nodded angrily. "Everyone needs to file for an appeal."

"What?"

"Yes, sir, you got it. Now, the irony is, we have one of the best law libraries going, but we don't have the skills, the knowledge you have.

"But..." He sat back and placed his big hands palms down on the table. "You've finally arrived and you'll help us ... help each and every one of us, and as long as you do, you'll always be known around here as Mr. Taylor and be treated with respect. Ain't that right, boys?"

Everyone in the group nodded.

"So. Right after you finish your lunch there, why don't you mosey on up to the law library and meet Scratch. He's the inmate who serves as head librarian, and he's waiting to be of assistance to you, Mr. Taylor. You and Scratch ... hell, you two are going to be like Siamese twins around here."

There was more laughter.

"You just go up there, and Scratch will tell you where to start, who to help first.

Understand, Mr. Taylor?"

They all leaned in, all eyes on him, everyone poised.

"Yes," he said. "I do. Finally."

"That's fine, Mr. Taylor. That's just fine." He stood up. "Say hello to Scratch for me."

He winked, and the crowd parted, some following him, others moving off to the right and left until Kevin was practically alone again.

This was meant to be Richard Jaffee's role, he thought. That's what Paul Scholefield meant when he first approached him and told him there was an opening at John Milton and Associates. Helen Scholefield had been right: Richard Jaffee had a conscience and chose death rather than this.

And Father Vincent wasn't lying to him, either. The devil is loyal
to
his followers and stands by them.

He stood up. It seemed to him that everyone in the huge cafeteria stopped eating to watch him walk out, even the guards. He walked on like a man heading for the guillotine. The speed with which that blade fell would depend entirely on his own courage and his own conscience. Right now, he didn't have the nerve to bring it down.

And that was the pity of it. He was like the mythical Sisyphus in Greek mythology, punished forever with the job of rolling a boulder up a pit only to have it roll back down each time. Yet he would go on and on, believing that any existence was better than none at all.

Was it?

He knew what awaited him as he moved down the corridor toward the library.

Perhaps he had always known. The evil that lurked in his heart had kept the knowledge cloaked, but it was always there.

Time to pull the cloak away and face the truth, he thought.

He turned into the doorway. The library was impressive for a prison library.

And it was as quiet as a library should be. A door opened across the well-lit room, and the keeper of the books came toward him, slowly.

Scratch.

He was smiling. He knew Kevin was coming. Of course, he knew.

As he drew closer and closer, his face became more and more familiar, until he was standing right before him.

And once again, Kevin looked into the charismatic, fatherly eyes of John Milton.

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BOOK: The Devil's Advocate
10.18Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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