Home > High Heat (Jack Reacher #17.5)(8)

High Heat (Jack Reacher #17.5)(8)
Author: Lee Child

The guy moved in the dark. He rolled around a pillar, light on his feet, staying covered, checking the blind spot at ninety degrees, checking the other direction, and then moving forward, fast and straight to the next pillar.

Toward the Chevette.

The guy eased around the new pillar, just to check his new blind spot, and then he pulled back and merged with the concrete, barely visible again, all the time being very careful with the thing in his hand, as if it was valuable or especially fragile.

Chrissie was still busy. And she was doing a fine, fine job. Died and gone to heaven wasn’t even close. It was an underestimate of the most serious kind. Egregious, even. It was the kind of faint praise that could cause a diplomatic incident.

The guy moved again. He went through the same routine, reflexively, glance, glance, move, to the next pillar, closer still to the Chevette, and he blended in, bringing his right arm to rest last, solicitous of the thing he was holding, taking care not to bring it into contact with the concrete.

Thereby bringing it separately through the river’s glow, all by itself.

Reacher knew what it was.

It was an upside down revolver, swinging by the trigger guard on the guy’s right-hand index finger. A squat shape, thick in the upper body like the guy himself, rounded in the grips, a two-and-a-half-inch barrel, smooth, with few projections. Could have been a Charter Arms Bulldog, a five-shooter, sturdy, most often chambered for the .44 Special. Double action. Easy to service. Not a target shooter’s gun. But good close up.

Chrissie was still busy. The guy moved again. Closer still to the Chevette. He stared right at it. Before he had gotten on the bus in Pohang Reacher’s mother had made him read her newspapers. 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.

Specifically, the NYPD said, from a Charter Arms Bulldog.

Chrissie was still busy. And this was no kind of a time to stop. No kind of a time at all. In fact stopping was not a possibility. Physically, mentally, every other way. It was absolutely not on the agenda. It was in a whole different hemisphere than the agenda. Maybe a whole different universe. It was a biological fact. It was not going to happen. The guy stared. Reacher stared back. He’s killing people. Couples sitting in cars. Way to go, Reacher thought. Do it now. I’ll go out on a high note. The highest possible note in the whole history of high notes. Jack Reacher, RIP. He died young, but he had a smile on his face.

The guy made no move. He just stared.

Reacher stared back.

The guy made no move.

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. The guy stared. Reacher stared back. Chrissie was still busy. The guy moved on. To the next pillar, and the next, and then he was lost to sight.

And then Chrissie’s work was done.

* * *

Afterward they repaired the damage as well as they could, straightening and zipping and buttoning and combing. Chrissie said, “Better than Blondie?”

Reacher said, “How could I tell?”

“Better than Blondie live on stage at CBGB, I mean.”

“A lot better. No real comparison.”

“You like Blondie, right?”

“Best ever. Well, top five. Or ten.”

“Shut up.” She started the engine again and put the air on max. She slid down in her seat and lifted her shirt tails so the vents blew straight up against her skin.

Reacher said, “I saw someone.”

“When?”

“Just now.”

“Doing what?”

“Peering into this car.”

“Who?”

“Some guy.”

“For real? That’s kind of creepy.”

Reacher said, “I know. And I’m real sorry, but I have to go find Jill Hemingway. I should tell her first. She needs some favors.”

“Tell her what?”

“What I saw.”

“What did you see?”

“Something she should know about.”

“Was it one of Croselli’s guys?”

“No.”

“So how is it important?”

“She might be able to use it.”

“Where is she?”

“I have no idea. Let me out in Washington Square and I’ll walk. I bet she’s north of Houston.”

“You would be going right back in there, where we got chased out before.”

“Let’s call that phase our reconnaissance.”

“What would you do this time?”

“Fastest way to find Hemingway is to look for Croselli.”

“I’m not going to let you.”

“How could you stop me?”

“I would tell you not to. I’m your girlfriend. At least until midnight.”

“Is this what they teach you at Sarah Lawrence?”

“Pretty much.”

“Works for me,” Reacher said. “We’ll just hang out, see if she comes by.”

“Really?”

“I mean it.”

“Why?”

“Laws of physics. A random encounter doesn’t get more likely just because both parties are moving.”

“OK, where?”

“Let’s say the corner of Bleecker and Broadway. That might make the encounter less random.”

“That’s way down there.”

“It’s a block from Houston. We can break out south if we need to.”

“We?”

“Was it you who wanted me to stick close by?”

“This is a whole different type of crazy.”

Reacher nodded.

“I understand,” he said. “I really do. It’s your choice. You can let me out in Washington Square. That would be fine. Don’t think I’ll ever forget you.”

“Really?”

“If I’m done before midnight, I’ll come say goodbye.”

“I mean, really, you won’t forget me? That’s very sweet.”

“Also very true. As long as I live.”

Chrissie said, “Tell me more about the guy you saw.”

Reacher said, “I think it was the Son of Sam.”

“You are crazy.”

“I’m serious.”

“And you just sat there?”

“Seemed like the best thing to do.”

“How close did he get?”

“About twenty feet. He had a good look, and he walked away.”

“The Son of Sam was twenty feet from me?”

“He didn’t see you. I think that’s why he walked away.”

She glanced all around in the dark and put the car in gear. She said, “The Son of Sam is an NYPD case, not the FBI.”

Reacher said, “Whoever passes on a tip gets a brownie point. I imagine that’s how it works.”

“What’s the tip?”

“The way he moved.”

There were more sirens behind them. First Avenue, Second Avenue, uptown, downtown, crosstown, there were plenty of cops on the streets. The mood was changing. Reacher could taste it on the air.

“I’ll come with you,” Chrissie said. “For the experience. These are the big things we’ll always remember.”

* * *

They used 34th Street again, back toward the center of the island, back toward the heart of darkness. The city was still pitch black, still dead, like a giant creature fallen on its back. There were broken windows. There were people roaming in groups, carrying stuff. There were police cars and fire trucks speeding through the streets, all lit up and whooping and barking, but their lights didn’t make much impression on the blackness, and their sirens didn’t seem to worry the roaming people. They merely scuttled into doorways as the cars and trucks passed. The people reminded Reacher of tiny nighttime organisms working on a corpse, penetrating its skin, exploring it, disassembling it, feeding off it, recovering its nutrients, recycling its components, like a dead whale feeds a million sea creatures on the ocean bed.

 

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