Home > Persuader (Jack Reacher #7)(2)

Persuader (Jack Reacher #7)(2)
Author: Lee Child

It was a Toyota. I could see TOYOTA on the grille behind the bull bar. It rode high on its suspension and I could see a big black differential at the front. It was the size of a soccer ball. Four-wheel drive. Big fat tires. Dents and faded paint that hadn't been washed since it left the factory. It was coming straight at me.

I had less than a second to decide.

I flipped the tail of my coat and pulled out the Colt. Aimed very carefully and fired once at the Toyota 's grille. The big gun flashed and roared and kicked in my hand. The huge.44 slug shattered the radiator. I fired again at the left front tire. Blew it out in a spectacular explosion of black rubber debris. Yards of blown tread whipped through the air. The truck slewed and stopped with the driver's side facing me. Ten yards away. I ducked behind the back of my van and slammed the rear doors and came out on the sidewalk and fired again at the left rear tire. Same result. Rubber everywhere. The truck crashed down on its left-side rims at a steep angle. The driver opened his door and spilled out on the blacktop and scrambled up on one knee. He had his gun in the wrong hand. He juggled it across and I waited until I was fairly sure he was going to point it at me. Then I used my left hand to cradle my right forearm against the Colt's four-pound weight and aimed carefully at center mass like I had been taught a long time ago and pulled the trigger. The guy's chest seemed to explode in a huge cloud of blood. The skinny kid was rigid inside the cab. Just staring in shock and horror. But the second guy was out of the cab and scrambling around the front of the hood toward me. His gun was coming around at me. I swiveled left and paused a beat and cradled my forearm. Aimed at his chest. Fired. Same result. He went down on his back behind the fender in a cloud of red vapor.

Now the skinny kid was moving in the cab. I ran for him and pulled him out right over the first guy's body. Ran him back to my van. He was limp with shock and confusion. I shoved him into the passenger seat and slammed the door on him and spun around and headed for the driver's side. In the corner of my eye I saw a third guy coming right at me. Reaching into his jacket. Some tall heavy guy. Dark clothes. I braced my arm and fired and saw the big red explosion in his chest at exactly the same split second I realized it was the old cop from the Caprice and he had been reaching into his pocket for his badge. The badge was a gold shield in a worn leather holder and it flew up out of his hand and tumbled end over end and landed hard against the curb right in front of my van.

Time stood still.

I stared at the cop. He was on his back in the gutter. His whole chest was a mess of red. It was all over him. There was no welling or pumping. No sign of a heartbeat. There was a big ragged hole in his shirt. He was completely still. His head was turned and his cheek was hard against the blacktop. His arms were flung out and I could see pale veins in his hands. I was aware of the blackness of the road and the vivid green of the grass and the bright blue of the sky. I could hear the thrill of the breeze in the new leaves over the gunshots still roaring in my ears. I saw the skinny kid staring out through my van's windshield at the downed cop and then staring at me. I saw the college security cruiser coming left out of the gate. It was moving slower than it should have been. Dozens of shots had been fired. Maybe they were worried about where their jurisdiction began and where it ended. Maybe they were just scared. I saw their pale pink faces behind their windshield. They were turned in my direction. Their car was doing maybe fifteen miles an hour. It was crawling straight at me. I glanced at the gold shield in the gutter. The metal was worn smooth by a lifetime of use. I glanced at my van. Stood completely still. One thing I learned a long time ago is that it's easy enough to shoot a man. But there's absolutely no way to unshoot one.

I heard the college car rolling slowly toward me. Heard its tires crushing grit on the blacktop. Everything else was silence. Then time restarted and a voice in my head screamed go go go and I ran for it. I scrambled into the van and threw the gun down on the middle seat and fired up the engine and pulled a U-turn so hard we came up on two wheels. The skinny kid was thrown all over the place. I got the wheel straight and stamped on the gas and took off south. I had a limited view in the mirror but I saw the college cops light up their roof bar and come right after me. The kid next to me was totally silent. His mouth was hanging open. He was concentrating on staying in his seat. I was concentrating on accelerating as hard as I could. Traffic was mercifully light. It was a sleepy New England town, early in the morning. I got the van wound up to about seventy miles an hour and tightened my hands on the wheel until my knuckles showed white and just stared at the road ahead, like I didn't want to see what was behind me.

"How far back are they?" I asked the kid.

He didn't respond. He was slack with shock and crunched up in the corner of his seat, as far away from me as he could get. He was staring at the roof. He had his right hand braced against the door. Pale skin, long fingers.

"How far back?" I asked again. The engine was roaring loud.

"You killed a cop," he said. "That old guy was a cop, you know."

"I know."

"You shot him."

"Accident," I said. "How far back are the others?"

"He was showing you his badge."

"How far back are the others?"

He stirred himself and turned around and ducked his head so he could line up the view out of the small rear windows.

"Hundred feet," he said. He sounded vague and scared. "Real close. One of them is hanging out the window with a gun."

Right on cue I heard the distant pop of a handgun over the roar of the engine and the whine of the tires. I picked up the Colt from the seat beside me. Dropped it again. It was empty. I had fired six times already. A radiator, two tires, two guys. And one cop.

"Glove compartment," I said.

"You should stop," the kid said. "Explain to them. You were helping me. It was a mistake." He wasn't looking at me. He was staring out of the back windows.

"I shot a cop," I said. I kept my voice completely neutral. "That's all they know. That's all they want to know. They aren't going to care about how or why."

The kid said nothing.

"Glove compartment," I said again.

He turned again and fumbled the lid open. There was another Anaconda in there. Identical. Shiny stainless steel, fully loaded. I took it from the kid. Wound my window all the way down. Cold air rushed in like a gale. It carried the sound of a handgun firing right behind us, fast and steady.

"Shit," I said.

The kid said nothing. The shots kept coming, loud and dull and percussive. How were they missing?

"Get down on the floor," I said.

I slid sideways until my left shoulder was jammed hard against the door frame and craned my right arm all the way around until the new gun was out of the window and pointing backward. I fired once and the kid stared at me in horror and then slid forward and crouched down in the space between the front edge of his seat and the dash with his arms wrapped around his head. A second later the rear window ten feet behind where his head had been exploded.

"Shit," I said again. Steered for the side of the road to improve my angle. Fired behind us again.

"I need you to watch," I said. "Stay down as far as you can."

The kid didn't move.

"Get up," I said. "Now. I need you to watch."

He raised himself and twisted around until his head was just high enough to see out the back. I saw him register the shattered rear window. Saw him realize that his head had been right in line with it.

 

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