In a weedy lot on the outskirts of Memphis, two boys watch a shiny Lincoln pull up to the curb... Eleven-year-old Mark Sway and his younger brother were sharing a forbidden cigarette when a chance encounter with a suicidal lawyer left Mark knowing a bloody and explosive secret: the whereabouts of the most sought-after dead body in America. Now Mark is caught between a legal system gone mad and a mob killer desperate to cover up his crime. And his only ally is a woman named Reggie Love, who has been a lawyer for all of four years. Prosecutors are willing to break all the rules to make Mark talk. The mob will stop at nothing to keep him quiet. And Reggie will do anything to protect her client — even take a last, desperate gamble that could win Mark his freedom... or cost them both their lives.
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For Ty and Shea
Mark was eleven and had been smoking off and on for two years, never trying to quit but being careful not to get hooked. He preferred Kools, his ex-father’s brand, but his mother smoked Virginia Slims at the rate of two packs a day, and he could in an average week pilfer ten or twelve from her. She was a busy woman with many problems, perhaps a little naive when it came to her boys, and she never dreamed her eldest would be smoking at the age of eleven.
Occasionally Kevin, the delinquent two streets over, would sell Mark a pack of stolen Marlboros for a dollar. But for the most part he had to rely on his mother’s skinny cigarettes.
He had four of them in his pocket that afternoon as he led his brother, Ricky, age eight, down the path into the woods behind their trailer park. Ricky was nervous about this, his first smoke. He had caught Mark hiding the cigarettes in a shoebox under his bed day before, and threatened to tell all if his big brother didn’t show him how to do it. They sneaked along the wooded trail, headed for one of Mark’s secret spots where he’d spent many solitary hours trying to inhale and blow smoke rings.
Most of the other kids in the neighborhood were into beer and pot, two vices Mark was determined to avoid. Their ex-father was an alcoholic who’d beaten both boys and their mother, and the beatings always followed his nasty bouts with beer. Mark had seen and felt the effects of alcohol. He was also afraid of drugs.