Home > Make Me (Jack Reacher #20)(11)

Make Me (Jack Reacher #20)(11)
Author: Lee Child

No rear license plate, either.

Reacher went and took a shower.

Chang was already in the diner, at the corner two-top they had used before. She had her back to the wall. She had reserved the table next to her, by hanging her coat on the chair. Reacher passed it back to her and sat down, side by side, with his own back to the wall. Which was tactically sound, but a shame in every other way. Chang looked just fine in a T-shirt. Her hair was still damp, which made it look like ink. Her arms were long and faintly muscled, and her skin was smooth.

She said, “The guy in the suit left already. He took his bag, so he isn’t coming back. Lucky him.”

“I saw,” Reacher said. “From my room.”

“I was on my way back from the railroad. Keever wasn’t on the morning train.”

“I’m sorry to hear that.”

“So now’s the time. No more waiting for him. I have to start looking for him. His room is 215. I peeked through the window. There’s a big shirt hanging on a closet door. Room 213 is completely empty.”

“OK. We’ll get in somehow.”

“We?”

“Figure of speech,” Reacher said. “I have nothing else to do today.”

“Should we go do it now?”

“Let’s eat first. Eat when you can. That’s the golden rule.”

“Now could be a good time to do it.”

“Could be, but later will be better. When the maid has started work. She might open the door for us.”

The waitress came over, with coffee.

Chapter 11

After breakfast they found the motel maid had indeed started work, but she was nowhere near Keever’s room. She was fully occupied on the other side of the horseshoe, making 203 ready-to-rent again after the man in the suit’s departure. She had a big stacked cart on the walkway, and the room door was standing open. She was visible inside, stripping the bed.

She would have a pass key on her belt, or in her pocket, or chained to her cart handle.

Reacher said, “I guess I’ll walk over there and say hello.”

He turned left at 211, and left again at 206, and he stopped level with the cart and looked in 203’s door.

The maid was crying.

And working, both at the same time. She was a white woman, thin as a rail, no longer young, hauling a sack of towels from the bathroom. She was bawling and sniveling and tears were streaming down her face.

From outside the room Reacher said, “Ma’am, are you OK?”

The woman stopped, and let go of the sack, and straightened up. She huffed and puffed and took a breath and stared blankly at Reacher, and then she turned and stared blankly in the mirror, and then she turned back again without a reaction, as if her appearance was already too far gone to worry about.

She smiled.

She said, “I’m very happy.”

“OK.”

“No, really. I’m sorry. But the gentleman who just checked out left me a tip.”

“What, your first ever?”

She said, “My best ever.”

She had a smock with a wide catch-all pocket on the bottom hem. She used both hands carefully and came out with an envelope. Smaller than a regular letter. Like a reply to a fancy invitation. On it the words Thank You were handwritten with a fountain pen.

She flipped up the flap with her thumb, and took out a fifty-dollar bill. Ulysses S. Grant, right there on the front.

“Fifty bucks,” she said. “The most I ever got before was two dollars.”

“Outstanding,” Reacher said.

“This is going to make such a big difference to me. You can’t imagine.”

“I’m happy for you,” Reacher said.

“Thank you. I guess sometimes miracles happen.”

“Do you know why this town is called Mother’s Rest?”

The woman paused a beat.

She said, “Are you asking me or are you going to tell me?”

“I’m asking you.”

“I don’t know.”

“You never heard any stories?”

“About what?”

“About mothers,” Reacher said. “Resting, either literally or figuratively.”

“No,” she said. “I never heard anything about that.”

“Can you let me into 215?”

The woman paused a beat. She said, “Are you the gentleman from 113? And 106, the night before?”

“Yes.”

“I can’t open a room except for the registered occupant. I’m sorry.”

“It was a corporate booking. We all work together. We need to be in and out. It’s a teamwork thing.”

“I could go check with the manager.”

“Don’t worry about it,” Reacher said. “I’ll go check with him myself.”

But the one-eyed guy wasn’t in his office. An impromptu absence, clearly, because the desk looked like work had been interrupted recently and temporarily. Files and ledgers were open, and pens were dropped on notebooks, and there was a go-cup of coffee that looked pretty warm.

But the guy wasn’t there.

Behind the desk was a door in the wall. Private space, Reacher guessed. The sleeping couch for sure, and maybe a kitchenette, and certainly at least a half-size bathroom. Which was maybe where the guy was right then. Some things can’t wait.

Reacher listened hard, and heard nothing.

He stepped around the desk to the private side.

He glanced at the ledgers. And the files. And the notebooks. Routine motel stuff. Accounts, orders, to-do lists, percentages.

He listened again. Heard nothing.

He opened a drawer. Where the guy kept the room keys. He put 113 in, and took 215 out.

He closed the drawer.

He stepped back to the public side.

He breathed out.

The one-eyed guy didn’t come back. Maybe he had a digestive disorder. Reacher turned around, and strolled out of the office. He crossed the horseshoe and went up Chang’s stairs. He showed her the key, and she asked, “How long have we got it?”

He said, “As long as Keever paid for. All week, probably. I’m taking over his room. The motel guy can’t complain. He’s had his money. And Keever isn’t here to express an opinion.”

“Will that work?”

“It might. Unless they get up a posse.”

“In which case we call 911. Like Keever should have.”

“The guy in the suit left a fifty-dollar tip for the maid.”

“That’s a lot of money. You give that for a week on a cruise ship.”

“She was very happy.”

“She would be. It’s like a free week’s wages.”

“Makes me feel bad. I never leave more than five.”

“He was a rich man. You said so yourself.”

Reacher said nothing, and stepped up to Keever’s door. He put the key in the lock. He opened the door and stepped back and said, “After you.”

Chang went inside, and Reacher followed. Evidence of Keever was all over the room. The shirt on the door knob, a neat travel kit in the bathroom, a linen jacket in the closet, a battered valise open against a wall, full of clothes. Everything had been lined up with great precision by the maid. The room was clean and tidy.

No briefcase. No computer bag, no fat notebooks, no handwritten pages.

Not on open view, anyway.

Reacher turned back and closed the door. He had searched maybe a hundred motel rooms in his long and unglamorous career, and he was good at it. He had found all kinds of things in all kinds of places.

 

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