Jack Reacher's Story #1

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  1. Reacher

    Reacher Active Member

    Dec 10, 2021
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    Hello everyone and welcome to Jack Reacher's Stories #1!

    These are short stories from a book by Lee Child. The book is called "Jack Reacher." This short story is perfect for relaxing after a long day or for unloading and relaxing, so lean back, grab something to eat and drink and enjoy this wonderful story. I guarantee that the reading is worth it and the book is very interesting.
    If you like the stories and have a positive evaluation, I will post more.

    Note: If you know the story, please, don't post the final or spoiler something that's going to happen in the future. Let people enjoy the story. Also, if you are interested in reading it, do not watch the end, but instead start again and read to the end and everything. Thanks.

    So please, sit back, relax and we hope to enjoy the story!

    A place to kill
    author - Lee Child

    They make money. Big money… There are no better than them in the whole world. To keep their secret, they kill. The initiates. And the suspicious ones. But they have to wash their hands. And they make a mistake. They choose the wrong person.
    They choose Jack Reacher…

    They think he's a casual tourist. They don't know he's a former military policeman. Agent legend. They don't know Jack Reacher. Nor his girlfriend Roscoe… Reacher chases them to their secret warehouse. He doesn't know what's inside. But he knows his brother was killed. In an attempt to expose the falsification of the century. There are only a few days left. After Sunday, Reacher can't take revenge on them…

    I was arrested at Hainaut's diner. Exactly at noon. I had ordered eggs and coffee. I didn't have lunch, I just had breakfast late. I felt exhausted and soaked after the long walk in the pouring rain. All the way from the highway to the outskirts of the town. The diner was small but clean and bright. Brand new, built as a dining car. Narrow, with a long counter on one side and an outdoor kitchen. There were booths on the other side of the wall. The entrance was right in the middle. I was sitting by the window in one of the booths, reading in someone's forgotten newspaper what campaign the president had launched, whom I had not voted for last time and did not intend to do so now. It was no longer raining outside, but the glass was still strewn with shiny drops. I saw police cars crash into the parking lot. They drove fast, and when they stuck in place, gravel crackled beneath their tires.

    He was screaming with all his might. He was relieving himself of the tension and trying to scare me. All statutory provisions. Lots of noise and a lot of rage to startle the suspects. I raised my hands. The policeman with the revolver he walked towards us. The one with the rifle stepped forward. Their first mistake. If I had to, I could jump up and hit the barrel. There would probably be a shot to the ceiling, then an elbow in the policeman's face, and the rifle became mine. The other no longer had good visibility and would not take the risk of hitting his partner. Things could have ended very badly for them. But I just sat there with my hands up. The one with the rifle kept screaming and jumping. - On the floor! He roared.

    Slowly I got out of the booth and held out my wrists to the policeman with the revolver. I had no intention of lying on the floor. Not for these country boys, even if they brought their entire section with heavy artillery. The one with the revolver turned out to be a sergeant. He was very calm. As the rifle aimed at me, the sergeant tucked the revolver in his holster, unhooked the handcuffs from his belt, and snapped them at my wrists. The second couple came from the kitchen. They walked around the counter. They took up positions behind me. They touched me. Very carefully. I could tell from the sergeant's expression that they had nodded. I didn't have a weapon.

    Then they grabbed my elbows. The rifle kept aiming at me. The sergeant passed in front. He was white, tight and athletic. Weak, sunburned. At my age. His name, Baker, was written on the plastic plate above his shirt pocket. He looked at me from the bottom up. "You have been arrested on suspicion of murder," he said. "You have the right to remain silent." Anything you say can be used against you. You have the right to a lawyer. If it turns out that you do not have the funds for a lawyer, you will be appointed an official at the expense of the state of Georgia. Do you understand your rights? He was doing great. He spoke clearly without reading a card. It was as if he knew what all this meant and why it was so important. For me and for him. I did not answer. - Do you understand your rights? He repeated.

    I was silent again. Long experience had taught me that the best tactic was complete silence. If you say something, they may be wrong. To be wrong. To distort it. One word can put you in jail. Or in the grave. The silence confuses the policeman. He has to tell you that you have the right to remain silent, but he is terribly annoyed when you use it. I was arrested on suspicion of murder. I hadn't said anything, though. - Do you understand your rights? Baker asked again. - Do you speak English? He seemed calm. I was silent. He kept the presence of mind. He was calm as a man who knows that the terrible thing is over. Now he was going to take me to the station, and there someone else would be banging his head on me. He glanced at the other three. "Okay, write that he doesn't say anything," he growled. - Let's go.

    They led me to the door. On the threshold we lined up in a column. Baker first. Then the one with the rifle, backing away, still aiming at me with the huge black barrel. Stevenson wrote on his plate. He was also white, of medium height, and well built. His weapon looked likewater pipe. He was pointing straight at my stomach. The second couple was walking behind me. One of them rested his palm on my back and pushed me across the threshold.

    Outside, the heat was growing. It had probably rained all night and much of the morning. It was hot now, and steam was rising from the ground. Otherwise, the place must have been hot and dusty. Today he was surrounded by that wonderful, intoxicating scent of wet asphalt under the scorching midday sun. While the policemen lined up, I turned my face to the sun and took a deep breath. In a few steps next to the cars they surrounded me tightly on both sides. Stevenson continued to flaunt his rifle. In the first car, he stepped back as Baker opened the back door. They pushed my head down. Then a deft thigh thrust from the left pushed me inside. They worked well. In such a remote town, they hardly had any experience. So they had trained long and hard. I was left alone in the back seat. Thick glass separated me from the front. The front doors were still open. Baker and Stevenson got in the car. Baker drove. Stevenson turned to keep an eye on me. They didn't say a word. The other car followed us. The cars were new. They moved quietly and smoothly. It was cool and clean inside. There was nothing to suggest that ruined and desperate people were sitting in my place.

    I peeked out. Georgia. Fertile fields. Heavy and moist reddish soil. Infinitely long and straight rows of some low bushes in the fields. Maybe peanuts. Whimsical culture, however, brings good money to the manufacturer. Or the owner. Were the people here landowners? Or were they fighting for the big corporations? I had no idea. The city was not far. The car whistled on the wet, smooth asphalt. After less than a kilometer, I saw two neat new buildings, exquisitely located in the middle of the landscape. The police station and the fire department. They stood alone behind the vast lawn with a statue in the middle. We were on the northern outskirts of the city. Pleasant municipal architecture, supported by a generous budget. Flat asphalt streets, red paved sidewalks. Three hundred meters to the south, I saw a dazzling white church bell tower behind houses huddled close together. Freshly painted walls, sheds and green gardens with pylons for the national flag. Everything looked fresh after the torrential rain. Steam was rising from the heat, which seemed to accentuate the colors even more. Prosperous municipality. Probably built with the income from thriving farms and the high taxes of those locals who work in Atlanta. Stevenson was still staring at me as the car slowed and turned toward the station. The deviation described a wide semicircle. I read the sign on the low brick fence: Margrave Police Department. Did I have to worry? I was arrested. In a town where I set foot for the first time. Apparently for murder. But I knew two things. First, they couldn't prove something if it didn't happen. And second, I hadn't killed anyone. In any case, not in their city and not recently.

    Chapter 2:

    We stopped at the door of the long low building. Baker got out of the car and looked around. The boys in the second pair stood beside him. Stevenson walked around our car. He took a stand against Baker. Aim the rifle. They were a good team. Baker opened the back door. "All right, let's go, let's go," he said softly, almost in a whisper. He swayed from heel to toe and looked around. I turned slowly and crawled out of the car. He was terribly uncomfortable with the handcuffs. The heat was intensifying. The second couple stood behind me. In front was the entrance to the section. Above it was a long stone plaque with the same inscription: Margrave Police Department. Below - a double glass door. Baker pulled back one wing. The rubber seals hissed. The two from behind pushed me inside. The door hissed again and closed. It was cool inside. White walls and chromed metal. The lamps were fluorescent. It looked like a bank or an insurance company. There was even a carpet. The sergeant on duty stood behind a long barrier. In such a situation, he should have asked, "What will you love, sir?" But he was silent. He was just looking at me. There was still plenty of room behind him. A dark-haired woman in a uniform sat by a low, wide desk. He was entering data from some folders into the computer, but as soon as I entered, he stopped and looked at me. I was standing with one policeman on each side. Stevenson stepped back to the barrier. He was aiming at me again. The sergeant on duty and the uniformed woman stared at me as if they had never seen me. I replied the same.

    Then they took me to the left. In front of a door they ordered me to stop. Baker opened the door and pushed me into a cramped room. It was an interrogation room. No windows. White table and three chairs. Carpet. Up in the corner - a camera. The air conditioner was spewing icy air. And I was still wet from the rain. I waited patiently for Baker to rummage through my pockets one by one. My belongings were slowly piling up on the table. Bundle of banknotes. A few coins. Receipts, tickets, papers. Baker scanned the paper and put it back in my pocket. He glanced at his watch, but didn't take it off. He was not interested in these things. Everything else was poured into a large plastic bag with a zipper. An envelope for people carrying much more in their pockets than me. A white label was affixed to the nylon. Stevenson scribbled a number on it. Baker told me to sit down. Then they all left the room. Stevenson was carrying the envelope with my belongings. They went out, closed the door, and heard the lock click. Heavy sound of well-oiled machinery. Sound of accuracy. On a large steel latch. Judging by the sound, there was no way out. I guess they want to keep me locked up for a while. This is usually done.

    Loneliness makes you want to talk. It can turn into a desire to admit. Brutal arrest, followed by an hour in isolation - a pretty good strategy. But my assumptions turned out to be wrong. They had no intention of leaving me in isolation. Maybe they were making their second small tactical mistake here. Baker unlocked the door and entered. He was carrying coffee in a plastic cup. Then he nodded to the uniformed woman to follow. The same one I had seen behind the desk. She was carrying a metal briefcase, which she placed on the table. He opened it and pulled out a long black sign with white plastic numbers on it. He handed me the sign with that embarrassed, slightly rude sympathy that the nurses in the dentist's office show. I took her with my chained hands. I rolled my eyes down to see if it was the other way around, then lifted it under my chin. The woman pulled an ugly camera from her briefcase and sat across from her. For more stability, rest your elbows on the table. He bent down. Her chest rested on the edge. It looked good. Black hair, great eyes. The camera clicked and the flash blinded me. Before the woman asked me, I turned in profile. I lifted the sign over my shoulder and stared at the wall. The camera clicked again. I turned and handed her the sign. She took it in with an awkward smile, as if to say: I know, it's unpleasant, but there's no way. Just like in a dentist's office.

    Then he pulled out the fingerprint kit. New, already numbered card. As always, the squares were smaller than they should be. On the opposite side were two large squares for palm prints. Handcuffs made work more difficult. Baker did not offer to take them down. The woman smeared ink on my hands. Her fingers were smooth and cool. He was not wearing a ring. Then he handed me a tampon. The ink wiped off easily. I had never seen such a thing before. The woman pulled out the tape and placed it on the table next to my fingerprint card. Then he put the camera in his briefcase. Baker knocked on the door. The lock clicked again. The woman packed her bags. They did not exchange a word. She left, and Baker stayed with me. He closed the door and locked it - I already knew the click of a lubricated mechanism. Then he leaned back and looked at me. "The boss has arrived," he said. "I advise you to talk to him." A big mess has gotten mixed up. We need to make things clear. I didn't answer him. I had no intention of clarifying anything. But the man was cultured. With respect. So I decided to check it out. I held out my hands to him. Silent request to remove the handcuffs. He froze for a moment, then pulled out a key and unbuttoned it. Attach them to your belt. He looked at me. I looked at him too and let go of my hands. I did not sigh with relief. I didn't rub my abraded wrists. I didn't want to have any relationship with him. But I still spoke. "All right," I said. - Let's go to the authorities. I opened my mouth for the first time since I ordered breakfast.

    Baker was visibly encouraged. He knocked twice on the door and it was unlocked from the outside. He opened it and nodded for me to leave. Stevenson waited, his back to the open office. He no longer carried a rifle. The second team had also disappeared. The situation was normalizing. They stood on either side of me. Baker grabbed my elbow lightly. We walked around the open office and headed for the door at the bottom. Stevenson opened it and led me into a spacious office with rosewood paneling. Behind a large, expensive desk sat a fat man. Two large flags protruded from behind. To the left was the national flag, fringed in gold, and to the right was the state flag of Georgia. A wall clock hung between them. Huge rounded antique with mahogany frame. It seemed to be polished for decades. They had probably taken it from the old site before bulldozing the site for the new one. The architect must have decided to use it to give the new building a historic look. The arrows showed exactly twelve-thirty. As they pushed me forward, the fat man glanced at me. I saw him frown, as if trying to recognize me. Then he looked again, more carefully. He grimaced contemptuously and spoke with a low growl, which should have been a scream, but his lungs were clearly wrong. "Shut up and sit in that chair." This fat man surprised me. He looked like an ass and a half. It just didn't fit what he'd seen before. Baker and his team watched their work. Professionally and efficiently. The woman with the fingerprints behaved decently. But this fat police chief didn't fit the picture. He had dirty thinning hair. He was sweating despite the air conditioning. The skin on his face was all red and gray, as befits a slack, obese bastard. Blood pressure to the ceiling. Clogged arteries. At first glance, he seemed incompetent. "My name is Morrison," he growled, as if interested. "I'm the police chief here in Margrave." And you are a dirty alien and a murderer. You came to my city to do shit on Mr. Kleiner's private property. So now you're going to make a full confession to my senior detective. He paused and looked at me from head to toe. It was as if he was still wondering where he had seen me. Or maybe he was waiting for an answer. He didn't get it and pointed his thick index finger at me. "Then you go to jail." Then on the electric chair. And finally, I'll come and shout at your damn grave. He pulled his torso out of his chair and stared away. Then add: - I would personally take up this work. But I'm a busy person. He walked clumsily around the desk. I stood between him and the door. He stopped as he passed me. His shapeless nose was directly opposite the middle button of my coat. He kept looking at me, as if something puzzled him. "I've seen you before," he said. "Where?" He looked at Baker, then at Stevenson. It was as if he was waiting to remember what he was saying and why he was saying it. "I've seen him before," he repeated. The chief slammed the door and I waited with the two cops for the senior detective to arrive. Tall, black, relatively young, but already with graying thinning hair. Just enough to give it a sophisticated look. Energetic and confident. Dressed in an elegant old-fashioned tweed suit. Shoes - shiny to shine. He looked exactly as a senior detective should. He motioned for Baker and Stevenson to leave. Close the door behind them. He sat down behind his desk and nodded in the opposite chair. He opened the drawer, rummaged through it, and pulled out a tape recorder. He lifted it high to pull the twisted cables. Turn on the power and the microphone. Load a cartridge. He pressed the record button and tapped the microphone with his fingernail. Unplug and rewind the tape. He pressed the other button. He heard the banging.

    He nodded. He rewound and turned on the record. I sat and watched him. There was a moment of silence. There was only a slight hum, perhaps the air conditioner, the lamps, or the computer in the next room. Or it was from the tape recorder, which was slowly spinning the tape. I also heard the lazy rattling of the old clock. That sound was full of patience, as if he intended to go on indefinitely, whatever I did. Then the detective shrugged and stared at me. He gathered the tips of his fingers, as tall, elegant people know how to do. "And so," he said. "We have a few questions to clarify, don't we?" He had a thick voice. Like distant thunder. No trace of southern accent. He looked like a Boston banker in costume and manner of speaking, only he was black. "My name is Finley," he continued. "I have the rank of captain." I head the detective department of management. As far as I know, you were told at the time of your arrest what your rights were. But you have not confirmed that you understand them. Before we continue, we need to clarify this small detail. I gave up the comparison with a banker. He looked more like a Harvard graduate. "I understand my rights," I said. He nodded. - All right. I am glad. Where is your lawyer? "I don't need a lawyer," I said. "You are accused of murder." You need a lawyer. You know we can provide it for you. Free. Do you want us to find you a lawyer? "No, I don't need a lawyer," I repeated. Finley looked at me thoughtfully over his fingertips. "All right," he said. "But you will have to sign a declaration." You understand that we are you advised to get a lawyer and we promised to provide it for free, but you definitely you refuse.

    "All right," I nodded. He pulled a form from a drawer and looked at his watch to fill in the time and date. Then he pushed the sheet toward me. A large cross was printed at the place where I had to sign. Finley handed me a pen. I signed and returned the form. He looked at him. Then she put it in leather folder and said: - The signature is illegible. So let's start with the minutes with your name, address and date of birth. There was silence again. I looked at him. He seemed stubborn. He was about forty-five years old. If you're black and live in Georgia, you have to be very persistent to become a senior detective at that age. There was no point in unraveling it. I sighed and said: "My name is Jack Reacher." I don't have an address. He wrote down the answer. Not that there was much to write about. I also told him when I was born. All right, Mr. Reacher, Finley continued. - As I said, we have a lot of unresolved issues. I inspected your personal belongings. You do not carry any documents. No driver's license, no credit cards - nothing. You say you don't have an address. It is natural to ask myself: what kind of person are you? Apparently he wasn't waiting for an answer, because he fired immediately. "Who was the one with the shaved head?" I did not answer. I looked at the big clock and waited for the minute hand to move. "Tell me what happened," he insisted. I had no idea what had happened. Not the slightest idea. Something had happened to someone, but not to me. I continued to sit in silence. - What does pluribus mean? Finley asked. I looked at him, shrugged, and said, "Isn't it the motto of the United States?" "E Pluribus Unum". Approved by the Second Continental Congress in 1776, wasn't it? He groaned. I kept watching him. I decided that if I asked him a question, he might answer. - What happened so much? I asked. Silence again. This time he stared at me. I felt he was hesitant to answer and exactly how. - What happened? I repeated. He leaned back and gathered his fingers again. "You know what happened." Murder. With some very disturbing details. The victim was found at Kleiner's warehouse this morning. At the northern end of the district road, near the deviation from the highway. A witness saw a tall man walking away from the scene. Shortly after eight in the morning. Description: A very tall white man with a long black coat, light hair, no hat and no luggage. Silence. I am white. Very tall. With blonde hair. I was sitting in front of a detective wearing a long black coat. I had neither a hat nor luggage. I had been walking on the road for almost four hours this morning. From eight to twelve without a quarter. - How long is the district road? I asked. "From the highway to the city." Finley thought. "They must be about twenty kilometers away." "That's right," I said. "I walked all the way from the highway to the city." Probably a lot of people have seen me. That doesn't mean I did anything. He was silent. I found it interesting. - Is your area? I asked. "All the way to the highway?" "Yes, it's ours," he said. - There is no doubt in whose jurisdiction it is. So don't look for loopholes, Mr. Reacher. The urban area stretches for twenty kilometers, all the way to the highway. No doubt, I'm in charge of that warehouse. He waited. I nodded and he continued. "Kleiner built it five years ago." Have you heard of Kleiner? I shook my head. "How could I hear that?" This is my first time here. "He's a big stick in these places," Finley said. - He runs a solid business and pays a lot of taxes. The municipality earns a decent income from it, and no problems, because the warehouse is outside the city. That's why we try to protect him. But now a murder has taken place there and I am waiting for an explanation from you. The man was just doing his job, only wasting my time. "All right, Finley," I said. "I will make a statement and describe in great detail what I have done since I entered your damn city until I was abducted in the middle of breakfast." If you find something wrong, I'm ready to give you a medal. Because I didn't do anything but tamp in the torrential rain for almost four hours - all those nasty twenty kilometers. I hadn't spoken in so long in six months. Finley sat watching me. I could feel him struggling with every detective's main problem. His instinct was that I was not the one he was looking for. But I was sitting in front of him. What to do now? I let him think. I waited for the right moment to shake him a little more. I was going to say something in the sense that the real killer was still roaming free while he wasted his time with me. However, he attacked first. In the wrong direction. - No statements. I ask questions, you answer. So you're Jack Reacher, and that's it.

    No address. No documents. Aren't you a tramp? I sighed. Today was Friday. The big clock showed that the day was passing. This Finley was going to interrogate me to the smallest detail. I was going to spend the weekend in prison. They would probably let me go on Monday. "I'm not a tramp, Finley," I said. "I'm homeless." There is a big difference. He shook his head slowly. "I don't think he's cunning, Reacher." You messed up your health. Bad things happened in that place. The witness saw you walk away. You are an alien, without documents and without a reason to be here. So I don't think he's cunning. He kept doing his job, but he was wasting my time. "I haven't moved away from the crime scene," I said. "I was just on my way, damn it." There is a difference, isn't there? When leaving a crime scene, one runs away and hides, not walks carelessly. Is it a crime to go your own way? People do it every day, damn it, don't they? Finley leaned forward and shook his head. "No," he said. - Since the car existed, no one has walked this road. So why don't you have an address? Where are you from? Answer the questions so that we can finish. "All right, Finley, let's finish," I said. "I don't have an address because I don't live anywhere." One day he can settle somewhere. Then I'll have an address and send you a card to put in your damn address book when you're so excited. Finley stared at me and considered how to proceed. He chose the patient approach. Patient but persistent. To show that he is steadfast. - Where do you come from? He asked. "What's your last address?" "What exactly do you want to know when you ask where I'm from?" I replied. Finley bit his lip. I was starting to get on his nerves. But he remained calm. He added cool sarcasm to his patience. - All right. You don't understand the question, so let me try to clarify it. I want to know where you were born or where you lived during that predominant period of your life, which you instinctively consider to be the most important in social or cultural terms. I watched him without answering. "I'll give you an example," he said. "Personally, I was born in Boston, studied in Boston, and then worked in Boston for twenty years, so I'd say you'll probably agree that I'm from Boston." I was right. Harvard graduate. A Harvard graduate who loses patience. "All right," I said. "You asked the questions." I will answer. But first I want to tell you something. I'm not the one you're looking for. By Monday, you'll know I'm not. So do yourself a favor. Don't stop looking. Finley could barely contain his smile. He nodded slowly. "I appreciate your advice." And the deep concern for my career. "Please," I said. "Keep going." - All right. According to your wise definition, it turns out that I'm not from anywhere. I come from a vast city called the Military Base. I was born at a US military base in West Berlin. My father was a Marine and my mother was a Frenchwoman he met in the Netherlands. They got married in Korea. Finley nodded. He wrote something down. "I was a child soldier," I continued. "Make a list of U.S. military bases around the world, and you'll have my addresses." While graduating from high school, I studied in twenty different countries and then spent four years at West Point. "Keep going." - I stayed in the army. Military policeman. And I went around all those bases again. And then, Finley, after being an officer kid for thirty-six years and then an officer myself, it suddenly turned out that we no longer needed such a large army because the Russians had stretched their heels. Hooray, let's go to peacetime. Which, for you, means that your taxes will be spent on something else, but I'm made an unemployed military policeman at the age of thirty-six, forced to listen to a civilian nit accusing him of wandering where he wouldn't last five minutes. hell I went through. He thought about it. But he didn't look impressed. "Keep going." I shrugged. "Now I'm just driving it downstream." In time, I may or may not find a goal. I can settle somewhere or I will continue to wander. But at least for now I'm not looking for anything. He nodded. He scratched something else. - When did you leave the army? "Six months ago," I said. - In April. "Have you worked anywhere in those six months?" - Are you kidding? When was the last time you looked for a job? "In April," he said mockingly. "Six months ago." "Well, you're in luck, Finley." I couldn't think of anything else to say. Finley kept looking at me. - What do you make a living from? He asked. "What rank did he have?" - Major. Before they beat your jester, you get compensation. I haven't spent half yet. I'm trying to save, you know? This time we were silent longer. Finley tapped the back of his pen. "Let's talk about the last twenty-four hours," he said at last. I sighed. The most unpleasant thing was coming.

    "I arrived by bus at the Greyhound." I went down at the detour. At eight this morning. I was walking to town, arriving at the diner, ordering, and just starting to eat when your boys came in and grabbed me. "Do you have a job here?" He asked. I shook my head. - I am unemployed. I don't have a job anywhere. He wrote down the answer and continued: "Where did you get the bus?" "From Tampa." We left at exactly midnight. "Tampa in Florida?" I nodded. He pulled out the other drawer. Get a Greyhound schedule. He unfolded it and slid a long brown finger across the page. He was a very diligent detective. He looked at me and said: - This is an express bus. Straight to Atlanta. He arrives there at nine in the morning. It doesn't stop here. I nodded. "I asked the driver to stop." He said it was not allowed, but declined. He stopped and waited for me to come down. "Have you been here another time?" Finley asked. I shook my head. - Do you have relatives? - Not in these places. "Do you have any relatives anywhere?" "My brother is in Washington," I said. - Works in the Ministry of Finance. "Do you have any friends in Georgia?" - No. Finley recorded everything. Then there was a long silence. I was sure what the next question would be. - Then why? He asked. "Why did you get off the bus in the middle of the road and be twenty?" kilometers in the rain to a town where you have absolutely no work? That was the killer question. Finley sniffed him immediately. A prosecutor would not miss it either. And I had no decent answer. - What to say? It just occurred to me. I felt restless. I still have to be somewhere, right? "But why right here?" He insisted. "I don't know," I said. - The man next to me had a road map and I chose the town on it. I wanted to get away from the big roads. I was thinking of possibly going west to the Gulf of Mexico. - Did you choose the town? Finley repeated. "I'm not a fool." How can you choose it? It's just a name. Point on the map and nothing more. You must have had a reason. I nodded. "I was thinking of asking about Blake the Blind Man." "Who the hell is Blake the Blind?" Finley asked. I saw him quickly analyze possible options such as a chess computer. Dali Blake Is my blind friend, foe, accomplice, helper, instigator, creditor, debtor, or next victim? "Blake the Blind was a guitarist," I explained. "He died sixty years ago, he may have been killed." My brother bought a record of his performances, and the cover said it happened here in Margrave. He wrote to me about it. This spring he went here twice for some work. I decided to come and ask. Finley stared at me blankly. It must have sounded sucked out of his fingers. In any case, if I were him, that would sound to me. - So you came looking for a guitarist? Guitarist who died sixty years ago. Why? Do you play the guitar? "No," I said. - How did you get a letter from your brother? He asked. "You don't have an address, do you?" "He had written to the unit," I explained. "They're sending my mail to the bank where I deposited the compensation money." When I withdraw money by telegraph, I also receive letters. Finley shook his head. He recorded something. "So the Greyhound night bus from Tampa, right?" I nodded. - Do you keep your ticket? He asked. "It must be in the bag," I said. I remembered Baker putting all my things in the envelope, and Stevenson wrote it down. "Do you think the driver remembered you?" - Perhaps. Still, he stopped extraordinary. At my request.

    I felt like a bystander. The situation was becoming more and more abstract. My previous job was no different from Finley's. I had the strange feeling that he and I were discussing some side event. Like colleagues who unravel a complicated case. - Why are not you working? Finley asked. I shrugged. I tried to explain. - Because I don't want to work. I worked for thirteen years and look how far I've come. I think I tried to do what I was told, but it all went to hell. Now I will try as I know how. Finley sat watching me. - Did you have trouble in the army? He asked. "No more than you in Boston," I said. He blinked. - What do you mean? "You spent twenty years in Boston." Sam told me, Finley. Then what are you looking for in this remote town? You should already be retired and go fishing. Don't go to Cape Cod or wherever your soul wants. What happened? "It's my job, Mr. Reacher," he said. - Answer the questions. I shrugged. "Ask the army." "I'll ask her," he said. "Don't doubt it." Haven't they been disciplined? "If that were the case, would they give me compensation?" "As far as I know, they may not have given you the money." You live like the lowest wanderer. Were you fired disciplinary? Yes or no? "Of course not," I said. He recorded again. Think about it. - How did you feel when you were fired? I thought, too, and shrugged. "I didn't feel it at all." I was in the army, I'm not anymore. "Don't you feel bitter?" Finley asked. "Abandoned?" "No," I said. - Should? "Don't you have any problems at all?" He insisted, as if I had to have one. I wanted to give him some answer. But nothing came to mind. I have served in the army since my first day in this world. I was out now. And I felt great. I felt free. It's like I've had a mild headache my whole life. And I didn't notice it before it disappeared. My only problem was how to make a living. And this is a difficult task to support yourself without losing your freedom. I hadn't earned a dime in six months. That was my problem. But I had no intention of sharing it with Finley. He would consider this a motive. I would assume that I have decided to secure a free life by robbing various people. In the warehouses. And then kill them. "Well, the transition seems hard to overcome," I said. "Especially if you've lived like that since you were little." Finley nodded. Consider the answer. "Why did you get fired?" Did you ask for it yourself? "I don't volunteer for anything," I said. "Soldier's first rule." A new silence. - Was there any specialty? He asked. - In the army. "General service first," I said. "That's the system." Then I guarded the secret section for five years. And for the last six years I've been doing something else. I let him ask. - With what? He asked. "With a homicide investigation." Finley leaned back. He snorted. He gathered his fingers again. He looked at me and sighed. He bent down. He pointed at me. - Clear. I'll check on you. We took your fingerprints. They must have them in the army. We will receive your official file. The whole thing. In details. We will contact the bus company. We will check the ticket. We'll find the driver, the passengers. If you're telling the truth, we'll find out soon enough. Or you can get rid of it. Of course, this will be solved by some details about the exact time of each step. He paused and sighed again. He stared at me. "But I'm a cautious man." At first glance, you do not make a good impression. Wanderer. Homeless. No address, no reason to be here. Everything he tells me can be sewn with white threads. Just look, you turn out to be a fugitive. You may have shaken people left and right in a dozen states. I just do not know. You can't expect me to believe you. And what is there to believe at the moment? You stay warm until we clarify everything, do we understand each other? I expected it. That is exactly what I would say. I looked at him and shook my head. "So you're cautious, aren't you?" Good job! He did not lower his eyes. "If I'm wrong, I'll have lunch for you on Monday." At Hainaut, as compensation for today. I shook my head again and said: "I didn't come looking for friends." Finley shrugged. Turn off the tape deck. Rewind the tape. Take her out. He wrote something on it. He pressed the intercom button on the large rosewood desk and asked Baker to come. I I was waiting. I was still cold. But my clothes were already drying. The raindrops from Georgia's sky had soaked into them. They were now evaporating into the dry office air. The air conditioner sucked them in and sent them out. Baker knocked and entered. Finley ordered him to accompany me to the cell. Then he nodded at me. The gesture said: if you're not the one we're looking for, remember, I was just looking at my job. I nodded, too. I told him: while you're trying to cover your ass, there's a killer out there.
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