In the last year, the governor had twice ignored as many pardons from his parole commission, giving the green light to the corresponding executions. He loved the death penalty, especially when he was hunting for votes. One of his campaigns had the slogan “Tough Texas Justice” and included a promise to “empty death row.” And he didn’t mean putting anyone on parole.
The drive from Slone to Polunsky Unit, near Livingston, Texas, was a tedious three hours on one-lane roads per direction. Robbie had done it a hundred times. A few years ago, when he had three clients pending execution – Donte, Lamar Billups and a certain Cole Taylor – he had grown tired of speeding tickets, rural drivers and narrowly avoided accidents when talking on the phone, So he had bought a truck, long, bulky, with plenty of space, and he had taken it to a high-end workshop in Fort Worth to have telephones, televisions and all the gadgets on the market installed, in addition to luxury upholstery, armchairs made of the best leather (both swivel and reclining), a sofa in the back (in case you had to take a nap) and a minibar (in case you got thirsty). He appointed Aaron Rey as his official driver. Bonnie, the other legal tech, used to be in the seat next to her, ready to jump at the slightest command from Mr. Flak. Since then, the trips were much more productive, since Robbie could make calls, work on the laptop or read reports to and from Polunsky, comfortably installed in his portable office.
His seat was right behind the driver’s seat. Next to him was Martha Handler, and in front, along with Aaron, Bonnie.
They left Slone at eight thirty in the morning, and shortly thereafter they were driving through the hills of East Texas.
The fifth member of the team was new: Dr. Kristina Hinze, or Kristi, as she was called at the Flak Law Firm, where there was no one with such pretensions as to bear a title, and where almost all first names were shortened. It was the latest in a series of experts Robbie had burned her money to save Donte. She was a clinical psychiatrist who had conducted studies on prisoners and prison conditions, and written a book whose thesis included that solitary cells were one of the worst forms of torture.