112. Justice

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Frank entered his father's office, his nerves starting to get the best of him.

It had never crossed his mind that he would be an informant for the police. But when Frank explained to Commissioner O'Reilly that Clayton Fisk was a Vigilante of the White, the barbaric clan that had beaten Henry mercilessly, O'Reilly said he needed some kind of proof to bring Clayton in. Or at the very least, he needed Clayton to admit that he was a member of the same secret society that had caused so much anarchy in Hester.

Frank supposed acting lessons would have helped him in this situation. But it was too late for that now. Everything was about to go down in just a few minutes.

"Okay," Frank said. "I asked one of the supervisors to send Clayton up here."

A rare smile appeared in Richard's expression. He leaned back in his wide leather chair and clasped his hands in front of his chest. "And what about our guests? Are they ready?"

"They're in the anteroom," Frank said, pointing his chin at the mahogany door beside the brick fireplace. "And they'll be listening to every word." He settled into the chair next to the desk, his gaze drifting to a photograph on the top of a manila folder.

It was a picture of the Pioneers team, including Henry and Big Willy.

Frank smiled. His father really had come a long way. He inhaled a calming breath and let it out slowly. "Remember how we rehearsed it. No surprises."

Muted footsteps approached the other side of the main door.

Frank felt his ears perk up. "That must be him."

"I hope this works," Richard said, his eyebrows arching with anticipation.

The footsteps stopped, and there were three quick knocks.

Clayton pushed the door open and stepped into the room, looking a little bewildered and perhaps feeling a little out of place in his soot-covered overalls, stained t-shirt, and a pair of scuffed work boots. "Hello, Mr. Bell," he said, nodding tentatively at Richard. Then he turned his attention to Frank and gave another slight nod. "And hello to you, Mr. Bell. I was told you wanted to see me, Sir?"

Frank Bell stood up, smoothing his palms down the sides of his navy suit jacket. "That's right," he said. "My father and I wanted to discuss a certain matter with you."

Richard leaned forward, fixing his gaze on Clayton. "It's a matter of utmost importance." He opened his desk drawer, withdrew a tan notebook, and handed it to Frank.

Frank held up the notebook. "Do you know what this is?"

Clayton turned his head slightly, his eyes narrowing. "I don't have the foggiest, Mr. Bell."

Frank said, "This notebook contains all of the complaints against you from the colored workers over the past year. What do you have to say for yourself?"

Clayton's face turn pale, and he looked back and forth between Frank and Richard. "Now, wait a minute! I know I can be a mean cuss, but that's to keep those Negroes in line."

Richard rose from his seat and shook his head. "That's the wrong answer, son."

Clayton raised his palms like an innocent man. "You've got to believe me. I'm just showing those blackies the ropes, that's all. If it wasn't for me, those monkeys would be causing all sorts of problems in the mill."

Frank said, "You don't understand." He glanced over to his father, the old man giving him a nod, and he returned his attention to Clayton. "You see, we approve of your treatment of the blacks."

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