Home > High Heat (Jack Reacher #17.5)(11)

High Heat (Jack Reacher #17.5)(11)
Author: Lee Child

“You know how to go?”

“Up on Sixth and across on 4th. And then it’s right there.”

“Roger that.”

“Take care, OK?”

“I will,” Reacher said. “You too. I’ll never forget you.”

“You will.”

“Check back next year, see if I have.”

“OK. Let’s see who remembers. Same night, same place. Deal?”

“I’ll be there,” Reacher said.

She got into the car, and she eased away from the tangle of limbs behind her, and she made the left on Sixth, and she waved through her open window. And then she was gone.

* * *

Hemingway said, “I’m going to put it in the system. Your impression, I mean. That’s the smart play here. They’ll ignore it of course, but it will be in the record. I can say told you so, afterward. If you’re right. That’s always worth a point or two. Sometimes more. Being right afterward can be a wonderful thing.”

“It’s a filter,” Reacher said. “That’s all. It’s about efficiency.”

“But I still need Croselli.”

“The Son of Sam wouldn’t get you out of jail?”

“I need Croselli.”

“Why?”

“Because he burns me up.”

“You ever read a book called Moby-Dick?”

“OK, I get it. And I admit it. Croselli is my great white whale. I’m obsessed. But what can I do about it? What could anyone, with a whale pressing on her head?”

“Is that how you feel? Like you have a whale pressing on your head?”

“That’s exactly how I feel.”

“Then let’s trade,” Reacher said.

“What for what?”

“I need a ride out of town.”

“When?”

“As soon as possible. I’m sure my brother is worrying about me. Which I’m sure is hard on the old guy. I need to put him out of his misery.”

“I’m not a taxi dispatcher.”

“You have a car.”

“I’m not a chauffeur, either.”

“You could lend it to me.”

“How would I get it back?”

“I don’t know.”

“Do you even have a license?”

“Not exactly.”

“No deal,” she said.

“OK,” Reacher said.

“What were you going to do for me?”

“Suppose an unknown suspect broke into Croselli’s place, and you got a look inside. Then the unknown suspect fled, but you were too busy securing the scene to chase him.”

“I’ve been waiting two hours for that to happen. But it hasn’t.”

“I could do it.”

“You’re sixteen years old.”

“How is that relevant?”

“Entrapment is bad enough. Entrapment with minors is probably worse.”

“Who would ever know, apart from you and me?”

“I have no way of getting you a ride out of town.”

Reacher paused a beat, and said, “Maybe we should refine the plan.”

“What plan?” Hemingway said. “We don’t have a plan.”

“Probably better if it’s not you who makes the discovery. It could look like a personal vendetta. It could give Croselli’s lawyers something to work with. Probably better if it’s not even the FBI at all. Better if it’s the NYPD. Don’t you think? An independent agency, with no ax to grind. If they discover a dope dealer and his stash in their city, then it’s out there. It can’t be denied. It is what it is. Your people will have to hush up their deal, and they’ll have to admit you were right all along, and you can turn your review procedure into a medal ceremony.”

“The NYPD is busy tonight.”

“They have a narcotics division, surely. Make the call ahead of time. Get a sense of how long they’re going to be, and we’ll try to time it exactly right. I’ll bust in, you hang back and keep an eye on things for a minute until the cops show up, and then we’ll both slip away, and you can drive me north. Meanwhile the NYPD will be building your case for you, and by the time you’re back in town your bosses will be rolling out the red carpet.”

“How far north do you want to go?”

“West Point. It’s up the river a ways.”

“I know where it is.”

“So do we have a deal?”

Hemingway didn’t answer.

* * *

Hemingway finally agreed about thirty minutes later, close to one o’clock in the morning. But the plan went wrong immediately. First they couldn’t find a working phone. They searched up and down Carmine, and they tried the corner of Seventh Avenue, and the corner of Bleecker, and Sixth Avenue, and every pay phone they found was silent. They didn’t know if it was the result of the blackout, or just the general abject state of the city. Reacher figured the phone company had its own electricity, in its own wires, so he was all in favor of carrying on the search, but Hemingway was reluctant to foray further, in case she missed something over at Croselli’s place. So she walked back to the doorway on Carmine and Reacher went on alone, across Sixth, and on the corner between Minetta Street and Minetta Lane he found a phone with a dial tone.

It was too dark to see the numbers, so he dialed by feel, zero for the operator, and he waited a long time before she answered. He asked for the NYPD’s Sixth Precinct, and waited again, even longer, before the call was picked up and a voice barked, “Yes?”

Reacher said, “I want to report illegal narcotics in the West Village.”

The voice said, “What?”

“There’s a storeroom full of drugs on Carmine just been bust open.”

“Any dead bodies?”

“No.”

“Anyone currently in the act of getting killed?”

“No.”

“Fire?”

“No.”

The voice said, “Then stop wasting my time,” and the phone went dead. Reacher hung up and hustled back, sweating, ninety degrees at one in the morning, and he relayed the news to Hemingway, who nodded in the dark and said, “We should have seen that coming. I guess they’re all hands on deck right now.”

“We might have to use your own people.”

“Forget it. They wouldn’t take my call.”

Reacher said, “Still got your little sister’s cassette recorder?”

“It’s my cassette recorder.”

“Still got it?”

“Why?”

“Maybe I can get him to boast on the tape.”

“You?”

“Same principle. You can’t let this look like a vendetta.”

“I can’t let you. You and him, face to face? I have a conscience.”

“What’s he going to do to me?”

“Beat you to death.”

“He’s a made man,” Reacher said. “He has soldiers. Which means he tells other people to do the heavy lifting. Which means he’s out of practice. He’s all hat and no cattle. He’s got nothing. We already saw that on Waverly. Any twelve-year-old in the Philippines could eat his lunch.”

“Is this a Marine Corps thing?”

“I’m not a Marine.”

“How would you get in?”

“I assume the church behind him is locked.”

“Tonight for sure. If not every night.”

 

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