Home > Make Me (Jack Reacher #20)(9)

Make Me (Jack Reacher #20)(9)
Author: Lee Child

“So what do we do now?”

“Now we go back to the motel. I need a room for the night, apart from anything else.”

The one-eyed guy was on duty in the motel office. Chang picked up the key to 214, as before, and waited. Reacher went through the same grudging negotiation. Sixty bucks, forty, thirty, twenty-five, but not for 106. Reacher couldn’t let the guy win every round. He got 113 instead, middle of the opposite wing, ground floor, far from the metal stairs, and one away from directly under Chang’s room.

He asked, “Which room is Mr. Keever in?”

The clerk said, “Who?”

“Keever. The big guy from Oklahoma City. Checked in two or three days ago. Came by train. No car. Probably paid for a week upfront.”

“I’m not allowed to say. It’s a question of privacy. For our guests. I’m sure you understand. And I’m sure you would appreciate it, if the shoe was on the other foot.”

“Sure,” Reacher said. “That makes sense to me.”

He took his key and walked out with Chang. He said, “Don’t take this wrong, but I want to come up to your room.”

Chapter 9

They used the metal stairs on the right-hand tip of the horseshoe, and then Chang’s room was right there, 214, one door from the last room of the row, which was 215. Chang used her key and they stepped inside. The room was like every other room, but Reacher could tell a woman was using it. It was neat, and it was fragrant. There was a small rolling suitcase, with things folded tidily inside.

Reacher said, “What kind of notes would Keever carry?”

“Good question,” Chang said. “Normally we carry laptops and smartphones. So all our notes are entered by keyboard. Which can be laborious, but you have to do it anyway, because it all has to be in the record eventually. But the point of an under-the-radar case is to stay off the record, so why do all the typing? He’s probably got handwritten pages somewhere.”

“Where?”

“In his pocket, probably.”

“Or in his room. Depending on quantity. We should check.”

“We don’t know where his room is. And we don’t have a key. And we can’t get one, because apparently the Four Seasons here has a privacy policy.”

“I think it’s 212, 213, or 215.”

“Why?”

“I’m guessing Keever made your reservation, right? He probably stopped by the desk and told the clerk he had a colleague coming in. And this clerk seems to think if you have any kind of a vague connection, then you need rooms close together. You’re in 214 because Keever was already in 213 or 215 or maybe 212.”

“Why did you ask the guy, if you already knew?”

“He could have narrowed it down some. But mostly I felt like using Keever’s name in public. Simple as that. If people are watching, then maybe they’re listening too, in which case I want them to hear me say it.”

“Why?”

“To give them fair warning,” Reacher said.

Reacher and Chang walked two doors down, to 212. Which was easy to rule out. The drapes were closed, and the television was playing softly. Not Keever’s room. Both 213 and 215 were empty. Both had open drapes, but both were pitch dark inside. Serviced that morning, Reacher figured, and subsequently undisturbed. Law of averages said one was a vacancy, and one was Keever’s, paid for but not currently occupied, due to some kind of extraordinary circumstance. The vacancy would look completely bland, and Keever’s room would show some kind of sign, however small, like pajamas sticking out from under the pillow, or a book on the night stand, or the corner of a suitcase, placed out of sight behind a chair.

But it was too dark to see.

Reacher said, “Want to flip a coin or wait for morning?”

Chang said, “And do what? Kick the door down? We’re in full view of the office here.”

Reacher glanced down, and saw the one-eyed guy dragging a lawn chair across the blacktop. It was the chair Reacher had slept in, by the fence. The one-eyed guy lined it up on the sidewalk outside his office window, and he sat down, like an old-time sheriff on his boardwalk porch, just gazing. In this case not quite at room 214. Low, and a little right. Which meant not quite at 113, either.

Both rooms at once.

Interesting.

Then Reacher remembered the same chair, that morning, abandoned in the traffic lane, and he glanced across at 106, and he ran the angles.

Interesting.

He rested his elbows on the rail.

He said, “I guess whether we kick the door down depends on how urgent you feel this whole thing is.”

Alongside him Chang said, “No one gets those calls right. Not all the time.”

“But some of the time, right?”

“I guess.”

“So which kind of time is this?”

“What’s your opinion?”

“I’m not in your chain of command. My opinion should carry no weight.”

She said, “What is it anyway?”

“Every case is different.”

“Bullshit. Cases are the same all the time. You know that.”

“Cases like this are the same about half the time,” Reacher said. “They fall in two broad groups. Sometimes you get your guy back weeks later, no harm, no foul, and sometimes you’ve lost your guy before you even knew you had a problem. There isn’t much middle ground. The graph looks like a smiley face. Ironically.”

“Therefore the math says wait. Either we’re already beaten, or we have plenty of time.”

Reacher nodded. “That’s what the math says.”

“And operationally?”

“If we move now, we’re committing unconditionally into an unknown situation against forces we have no way of assessing. Could be five guys with convincing handshakes. Or five hundred, with automatic weapons and hollowpoint ammunition. In defense of something we never even heard of yet.”

“Which could be what, hypothetically?”

“Like I said, not fertilizer bombs in the warehouse. Something else, that started out weird and then suddenly wasn’t. Maybe they really are broadcasting to our root canals.”

Chang nodded down toward the one-eyed guy, far away in his white plastic chair. She said, “You picked the right channel to broadcast Keever’s name. This guy is in this thing hip deep.”

Reacher nodded. “Motel keepers are always useful, in any endeavor. But this guy is not high up in the organization. He’s squirming. He resents this. He thinks he’s better than all-night sentry duty. But apparently his bosses don’t.”

“And they’re the people we have to find,” Chang said.

“We?”

“Figure of speech. A leftover from the old days. It was all teamwork back then.”

Reacher said nothing.

Chang said, “You stayed here. I didn’t see a gun to your head.”

“My reasons for staying have nothing to do with how urgent you think this whole Keever thing is. That’s a separate matter, and it’s your call.”

“I’ll wait for morning.”

“You sure?”

“The math says so.”

“Will you sleep OK, with this guy watching?”

“What else can I do?”

“We could ask him to stop.”

“How different would that be than unconditionally committing?”

“That depends on his response.”

 

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