A Jack Reacher NovellaeBook - 2013
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At nearly seventeen Reacher was like a brand-new machine, still gleaming and dewy with oil, flexible, supple, perfectly coordinated, like something developed by NASA and IBM on behalf of the Pentagon.
“I’m not getting involved,” Reacher said. “I’m just standing here in the street.” The man said, “Go stand in some other street.” Reacher turned back and looked at him and said, “Who died and made you mayor?”
On that night Reacher was three months and sixteen days shy of his seventeenth birthday, but physically he was pretty much all grown up. He was as tall as he was ever going to get, and no sane person would have called him skinny. He was six-five, two-twenty, all muscle.
“It’s a rough area.” “Compared to what? Iwo Jima?”
“Hold the line,” the voice said, which Reacher thought was appropriate. West Point was in the business of holding the line, against all kinds of things, including enemies foreign and domestic, and progress, sometimes.
He had figured he would swing through Washington Square and check out the girls from NYU’s summer school. One of them might be willing to go with him. Or not. It was worth the detour. He was an optimist, and his plans were flexible.
“Can you count to three and a half?” Reacher said, “I suppose.” “That’s how many hours you got to get out of town. After midnight you’re a dead man. And before that too, if I see you again.”
He had been in relatively few bars in his life, but enough to know they were superbly weapons-rich environments. Some had pool cues, all neatly lined up in racks, and some had martini glasses, all delicate and breakable, with stems like stilettos, and some had champagne bottles, as heavy as clubs.
Chrissie said, “You shouldn’t have gotten involved in the first place.” “Why not?” “At Sarah Lawrence we would say it was uncomfortably gender normative behavior. It was patriarchal. It spoke to the paternalistic shape of our society.”
Reacher said, “I was walking down the street and I saw a guy slap Agent Hemingway in the face.” “And?” “I hoped my presence would discourage him from doing it again. He took offense. Turns out he’s a mobster. Jill thinks they’re measuring me for concrete shoes.”
Which was pretty much a do-bears-sleep-in-the-woods type of a question, in Reacher’s opinion. Is the Pope a Catholic? He said, “Sure, count on it.”
Couples sitting in cars. But they weren’t. Not from an exterior perspective. Chrissie’s head was in his lap. Reacher was alone in the car. Just a driver, off the road in the emergency, waiting in the passenger seat, for the extra legroom.
New York City. A killing spree. The Son of Sam. Named from his crazy letters. But before the letters came he had been called something else. He had been called the .44 Caliber Killer. Because he used .44 caliber bullets. From a revolver.
The skyline sentinels forty blocks north and south weren’t there at all, except in a negative sense, because at the bottom of the sky there were dead fingers where inert buildings were blocking the glow of starlight behind thin cloud.
“Where’s the goon?” Reacher said, “He had an accident.”
Croselli said, “You’re going to die, kid.” “Obviously,” Reacher said. “No one lives forever.” “I mean tonight, kid.”
Reacher was wearing shoes he had bought in the London airport two deployments ago, stout British things with welts and toecaps as hard as steel. They had busted heads and kneecaps already that night. Plywood wasn’t going to be a major problem.
“Laws of physics. A random encounter doesn’t get more likely just because both parties are moving.”
The outage had been caused by a maintenance error. A lightning strike in Buchanan, New York— part of the long summer storm Reacher had seen in the distance— had tripped a circuit breaker, but a loose locking nut had prevented the breaker from closing again immediately, as it was designed to do. As a consequence, a cascade of trips and overloads had rolled south over the next hour, until the whole city was out.
Croselli said, “You wouldn’t hit a guy tied to a chair.” Reacher said, “Watch me,” and slapped the guy in the face, hard, a real crack, wet or not, and the chair went up on its side legs, and balanced, and balanced, and tottered, and then thumped down on its side, with its casters spinning and Croselli’s head bouncing around like a pinball.
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