EXCERPT: John Grisham's 'The Confession'

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"I'll tell you something, Pastor. They got the wrong guy. That kid had nothing to do with her murder."

"And how do you know this?"

"There's no evidence. Not one piece of evidence. The cops decided he did it, beat a confession out of him, and now they're going to kill him. It's wrong, Pastor. So wrong."

"How do you know so much?"

Boyette leaned in closer, as if he might whisper something he'd never uttered before. Keith's pulse was increasing by the second. No words came, though. Another long pause as the two men stared at each other.

"It says the body was never found," Keith said. Make him talk.

"Right. They concocted this wild tale about the boy grabbing the girl, raping her, choking her, and then throwing her body off a bridge into the Red River. Total fabrication."

"So you know where the body is?"

Boyette sat straight up and crossed his arms over his chest. He began to nod. The tic. Then another tic. They happened quicker when he was under pressure.

"Did you kill her, Travis?" Keith asked, stunned by his own question.

Not five minutes earlier, he was making a mental list of all the church members he needed to visit in the hospitals. He was thinking of ways to ease Travis out of the building. Now they were dancing around a murder and a hidden body.

"I don't know what to do," Boyette said as another wave of pain hit hard. He bent over as if to throw up and then began pressing both palms against his head. "I'm dying, okay? I'll be dead in a few months. Why should that kid have to die too? He didn't do anything." His eyes were wet, his face contorted.

Keith watched him as he trembled. He handed him a Kleenex and watched as Travis wiped his face. "The tumor is growing," he said. "Each day it puts more pressure on the skull."

"Do you have medications?"

"Some. They don't work. I need to go."

"I don't think we're finished."

"Yes we are."

"Where's the body, Travis?"

"You don't want to know."

"Yes I do. Maybe we can stop the execution." Boyette laughed. "Oh, really? Fat chance in Texas." He slowly stood and tapped his cane on the rug. "Thank you, Pastor." Keith did not stand. Instead, he watched Boyette shuffle quickly out of his office.

Dana was staring at the door, refusing a smile. She managed a weak "Good-bye" after he said "Thanks." Then he was gone, back on the street without a coat and gloves, and she really didn't care.

Her husband hadn't moved. He was still slouched in his chair, dazed, staring blankly at a wall and holding the copy of the newspaper article.

"You all right?" she asked. Keith handed her the article and she read it.

"I'm not connecting the dots here," she said when she finished.

"Travis Boyette knows where the body is buried. He knows because he killed her."

"Did he admit he killed her?"

"Almost. He says he has an inoperable brain tumor and will be dead in a few months. He says Donté Drumm had nothing to do with the murder. He strongly implied that he knows where the body is." Dana fell onto the sofa and sank amid the pillows and throws. "And you believe him?"

"He's a career criminal, Dana, a con man. He'd rather lie than tell the truth. You can't believe a word he says."

"Do you believe him?"

"I think so."

"How can you believe him? Why?"

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