After I announced the up coming publication of Jake’s Revenge several of my readers suggested that I give a pre-view of the book and post the first chapter on my blog. So here it is. A signed copy of Jake’s Revenge can be ordered by sending a check for $27.00 to:
456 10th Street So.
Opelika, AL 36801
Be sure and include the mailing address that you want the book sent to. I expect the book to be mailed in July. Thanks for your support.
Jake Broussard leaned back in his desk chair and propped his feet in an open drawer. He removed his glasses, rubbed his aching eyes, and thought, “Hell, I’ve only had this job for four years, and I’m turning into an old man at 38.”
The thought had been triggered during his morning shave, when he noticed the gray creeping into his temples. Jake still had his boyish good looks; he worked out daily; and he was within five pounds of his playing weight as a cornerback for the Tulane football team. He was still in good physical shape, but he had to admit that he was mentally and emotionally drained.
Four years as United States Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama had taken its toll. Jake had left a prominent Mobile law firm to accept Robert Kennedy’s appointment to the job, following Jake’s success in leading the Kennedy campaign’s victory in Alabama. He and Bobby had been classmates and close friends during their years at the University of Virginia’s Law School.
Jake’s mind wandered from the past to the present, and specifically to a dilemma that posed both professional and personal angst. Kennedy—and then LBJ—had made civil rights a high priority, and South Alabama was a hotbed of resistance and resentment. The Klan leaders in Mississippi and Alabama preached racial hatred, and in many cases they were encouraged and abetted by white-supremacist politicians. Black churches were being burned, and civil-rights workers were being harassed, threatened, and, in several cases, murdered.
Jake’s office currently had over 350 individual complaints, with more coming in weekly. Working with an understaffed office of Federal Marshals to try to investigate these cases had resulted in a huge backlog. Every effort to enlist the aid of local or state law enforcement agencies had met with obstruction and hostility. Jake had filed a number of suits in federal court attempting to force various agencies to cooperate, but all were mired in an overloaded court docket.
Every week, Jake received hate mail and death threats accusing him of being “a nigger-loving, commie shitheel,” and those were among the kinder ones. When Jake had accepted Bobby’s offer to be U.S. Attorney, he understood that the Kennedy plan to actively seek social justice would be at best controversial, and might well meet with armed resistance. He took the job because he believed that the time had come to address the legal inequities in the whole country, but especially in the Deep South. Many viewed him as a traitor to his class and weren’t shy about telling him so.
The specter of racial violence was never far from his mind, but tonight it took a backseat to a more pressing problem. While the issue of civil rights caused most of the problems facing Jake’s office, Bobby Kennedy’s longstanding vendetta against organized crime ran a close second. Bobby stayed in the Mob’s grill 24/7, but one of the best organized and most efficient of the Mafia families ran things in the Deep South. The Carcello family was headed by Marcos Carcello, who ruled with an iron hand.
The Carcellos were based in New Orleans and had a major stake in operations as far away as Las Vegas and, prior to Castro’s revolution, Havana. While most of their activities fell to the U.S. Attorney for Southern Louisiana, their reach spilled over into Jake’s area. There seemed to be a connection between gunrunning and narcotics smuggling, and Jake had uncovered compelling evidence that these illegal activities might be centered in and around Mobile.
The cause of Jake’s current consternation stemmed from discovering multiple connections between all of this Mob and Klan activity and his mentor at his old law firm. Jack Litton had recruited him after Jake finished clerking for Justice Tom Clark. Litton competed against the New York and D.C. firms offering Jake jobs, and Jake had decided to accept Litton’s offer to join Bankhead, Morse and Crain in Mobile. Part of that decision hinged on his upcoming marriage to Maria Delacroix, the daughter of one of Mobile’s oldest and richest families.
Jack Litton had returned to Mobile after serving with distinction in World War II and Korea. Between the wars, he had graduated from Princeton’s Law School and was the firm’s partner in charge of Corporate Law when he brought Jake into the fold. He and Jake had worked closely together, and, by the time Jake had taken his leave of absence to accept RFK’s offer, Jack had been named a partner. Jack Litton had been Jake’s ideal as an attorney and a patriot, and they shared what was almost a father/son relationship.
Maria’s family plantation, Terrebonne, was held in trust for her until she reached age 40, and a local firm—as old and as prominent as Maria’s family—managed Terrebonne, assuring that it was highly profitable. Jake and Maria had no financial problems and lived nicely on his salary and her income.
They were members of Mobile’s cultural elite and were active in a variety of social and charitable activities, ranging from Mardi Gras to supporting the arts. Jack Litton and his wife, Karen, were part of the same circles, and the couples’ lives entwined professionally and socially. It was against this background that Jake had to consider if there was enough evidence to implicate Litton. Jake knew he had to make a decision soon, at least before the next grand jury convened.
Jake felt that if he presented the entire body of evidence, the grand jury would have to return indictments naming both Jack Litton and his cousin John Henry Litton as co-conspirators. The prospect of being responsible for his mentor’s indictment and possible conviction weighed heavily on Jake. He had been looking for a way to allow this cup to pass, but now he knew that he would have to do his sworn duty and present the evidence.
Jake sat up in his chair and opened the desk’s bottom drawer. He removed a plain, spiral-bound notebook and began writing. Every evening since starting law school, he had entered the day’s activities into such a book. When he filled one, he placed it in a box marked “journals” and began a new one. Tonight, he was starting number seven. He wrote a while and finally made the last entry, which read, “Go to grand jury next week.”
Once Jake had made the decision, a wave of relief and exhaustion swept over him. He put the journal back into the drawer and picked up the phone on his desk. He dialed home and waited. The phone was answered by Justin, their houseman. Jake said, “Good evening, Justin. May I speak with Maria?”
“Just a moment. She’s in the study.”
Maria came on the line and said, “Are you on your way home?”
“I’m just about to leave. What’s for dinner?”
“Cook has been slaving away on your favorite, pot roast and gravy.”
Jake looked at his watch and replied, “It’s just after seven so I should be home by a quarter to eight, and I’m starving.”
“It’ll be on the table when you get here. How did things go today?”
“Actually, not all that bad. I’ve decided how to handle a major decision, and it’s a load off of my mind.”
“Great, you can tell me all about it after dinner.”
“Yeah, and you’ll be interested, too. See you when I get there.”
“Jake, be careful and don’t drive like a madman.”
“I’ll take my time, don’t worry. Love you.”
“And I love you,” Maria replied and hung up.
Jake broke the connection with his finger and dialed the Marshals’ office. When the duty officer answered, Jake said, “Hi, Larry. I’m just leaving for home and checking out for the evening.”
“Okay, Jake. I’ve got you going home. Do you want a car to follow you?”
“No, it’s been quiet on the threat front this week, so I’ll go it alone.”
“Alright, but call in when you get home, okay?”
“Will do. Y’all have a nice evening.”
Jake went into the closet and pulled out his raincoat and his hat. It was mid October, and there was a touch of chill in the evenings. Mobile’s falls were temperate, but a coat still felt good. He picked up his briefcase, flipped the light switch to “off,” and locked his office door. He took the elevator to the ground floor, stopped by the guards’ desk, and said, “Good-night, Eddie. I’m heading home.”
“Yes, sir, Mr. Broussard. Have a good night,” he replied.
“You, too, Eddie,” Jake said as he pushed open the door to the parking lot.
Jake stepped into the chilly night air, realizing that it was fully dark and he could see stars twinkling overhead. He snugged the raincoat a little and walked toward his reserved parking place. After opening the trunk, he threw his briefcase in, stood by the driver’s door, and inserted his key. He sat down behind the wheel before he noticed the man with the gun sitting in the passenger seat.
Jake put his hands on the steering wheel and looked the man in the eye. He was wearing a wool overcoat and a black fedora pulled down to partially hide his face. He said nothing, but kept the gun pointed at Jake. Finally, Jake said, “What do you want me to do?”
The man looked up from under the hat, and John Henry Litton said, “Good evening, Jake. Drive out of the lot and take a right.”
Jake did as he was told and came to a stop before exiting the lot onto St. Joseph Street, in hopes that the building’s security cameras could catch their image. After turning onto St. Joseph, Jake turned to the man and asked, “Okay, what now?”
“Get on US 90 and head for Bayou La Batre.”
Jake did as he was told but opted to turn on Government Street and pass the entrance to the Bankhead Tunnel. He skirted the entrance, but purposely slowed as they went under the security cameras. Jake Broussard would never be seen again.
Categories: Flash Fiction