Many of his expatriate friends up there were vowing

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Unformatted text preview: f them. Along one wall another table held the Padgitt crowd—Danny, his father, his mother, an uncle, and Lucien Wilbanks. Opposite them, behind another table, were various clerks and functionaries of the Board and the prison. Everyone stared at me as I stormed in. My eyes locked onto Danny Padgitt's, and for a second both of us managed to convey the contempt we felt for the other. "Can I help you?" a large, badly dressed ole boy growled from the center of the Board. His name was Barrett Ray Jeter, the chairman. Like the other four, he'd been appointed by the Governor as a reward for vote-gathering. "I'm here for the Padgitt hearing," I said. "He's a reporter!" Lucien practically yelled as he was standing. For a second I thought I might get arrested on the spot and be carried deeper into the prison for a life sentence. "For who?" Jeter demanded. "The Ford County Times,"I said. "Your name?" Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter, "Willie Traynor." I was glaring at Lucien and he was scowling at me. "This is a closed hearing, Mr. Traynor," Jeter said. The statute wasn't clear as to whether it was open or closed, so it had traditionally been kept quiet. "Who has the right to attend?" I asked. "The Parole Board, the parolee, his family, his witnesses, his lawyer, and any witnesses for the other side." The "other side" meant the victim's family, which in this setting sounded like the bad guys. "What about the Sheriff from our county?" I asked. "He's invited too," Jeter said. "Our Sheriff wasn't notified. I talked to him three hours ago. In fact, nobody in Ford County knew of this hearing until after twelve last night." This caused considerable head-scratching up and down the Parole Board. The Padgitts huddled with Lucien. By process of elimination, I quickly deduced that I had to become a witness if I wanted to w...
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