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.The vector bounced around between them and traced a heavy triangle in the air.Something stirred in the back of his mind.Something Dixon had said, hours ago, in the car leaving LAX.He closed his eyes, but he couldn’t get it.He spoke up and the triangle changed to a square, to include him.“We should ask Angela,” he said.“If he had some kind of a longstanding big-deal client, he might have mentioned him at home.”“I’d like to meet Charlie,” O’Donnell said.“We’ll go tomorrow,” Reacher said.“Unless the deputies come for me.In which case you can go on ahead without me.”“Look on the bright side,” Dixon said.“Maybe you gave the guy a concussion.Maybe he doesn’t remember who he is, let alone who you are.”They walked back to the hotel and split up in the lobby.No appetite for a nightcap.Just an unspoken agreement to get some sleep and start work again bright and early.Reacher and O’Donnell headed up together.Didn’t talk much.Reacher was asleep five seconds after his head hit the pillow.____________________He woke up again at seven o’clock in the morning.Early sun was coming in the window.David O’Donnell was coming in the door.In a hurry.Fully dressed, a newspaper under his arm, cardboard cups of coffee in both hands.“I went for a walk,” he said.“And?”“You’re in trouble,” he said.“I think.”“Who?”“That deputy.He’s parked a hundred yards from here.”“The same guy?”“The same guy and the same car.He’s got a metal splint on his face and a garbage bag taped across his window.”“Did he see you?”“No.”“What’s he doing?”“Just sitting there.Like he’s waiting.”29They ordered breakfast in Dixon’s room.First rule, learned a long time ago: Eat when you can, because you never know when the next chance will come.Especially when you’re about to disappear into the system.Reacher shoveled eggs and bacon and toast down his throat and followed it with plenty of coffee.He was calm, but frustrated.“I should have stayed in Portland,” he said.“I might as well have.”“How did they find us so fast?” Dixon asked.“Computers,” Neagley said.“Homeland Security and the Patriot Act.They can search hotel registers anytime they want now.This is a police state.”“We are the police,” O’Donnell said.“We used to be.”“I wish we still were.You’d hardly have to break a sweat anymore.”“You guys get going,” Reacher said.“I don’t want you to get snarled up in this.We can’t spare the time.So don’t let the deputy see you leave.Go visit with Angela Franz.Chase the client.I’ll get back to you when I can.”He drained the last of his coffee and headed back to his room.Put his folding toothbrush in his pocket and hid his passport and his ATM card and seven hundred of his remaining eight hundred dollars in O’Donnell’s suit carrier.Because certain things can go missing, after an arrest.Then he took the elevator down to the lobby.Just sat in an armchair and waited.No need to turn the whole thing into a big drama, running up and down hotel corridors.Because, second rule, learned from a lifetime of bad luck and trouble: Maintain a little dignity.He waited.Thirty minutes.Sixty.The lobby had three morning papers, and he read them all.Every word.Sports, features, editorials, national, international.And business.There was a story about Homeland Security’s financial impact on the private sector.It quoted the same seven-billion-dollar figure that Neagley had mentioned.A lot of money.Surpassed only, the article said, by the bonanza for the defense contractors.The Pentagon still had more cash than anyone else, and it was still spreading it around like crazy.Ninety minutes.Nothing happened.At the two-hour point Reacher got up and put the papers back on the rack.Stepped to the door and looked outside.Bright sun, blue sky, not much smog.A light wind tossing exotic trees.Waxed cars rolling past, slow and glittering.A fine day.The twenty-fourth day Calvin Franz hadn’t been around to see.Nearly four whole weeks.Same for Tony Swan and Jorge Sanchez and Manuel Orozco, presumably.There are dead men walking, as of right now.You don’t throw my friends out of helicopters and live to tell the tale.Reacher stepped outside.Stood for a second, exposed, like he was expecting sniper fire.Certainly there had been time to get whole SWAT teams into position.But the sidewalk was quiet.No parked vehicles.No innocuous florists’ trucks.No bogus telephone linemen.No surveillance.He turned left on Sunset.Left again on Laurel Canyon Boulevard.Walked slow and kept close to hedges and plantings.Turned left again on the winding canyon road that ran behind the hotel.The tan Crown Vic was dead ahead.It was parked at the far curb, alone, isolated, a hundred yards away.Still, inert, engine off.Like O’Donnell had said, its broken front passenger window was taped over with a black garbage bag, pulled taut.The driver was in the seat.Just sitting there.Not moving, except for regular turns of his head.Rearview mirror, straight ahead, door mirror.The guy had a real rhythm going.Hypnotic.Rearview mirror, straight ahead, door mirror.Reacher caught a flash of an aluminum splint fixed across his nose.The car looked low and cold, like it hadn’t been run for many hours.The guy was on his own, just watching and waiting.But for what?Reacher turned around and backtracked the way he had come.Made it back to the lobby and back to his chair.Sat down again, with the seed of a germ of a new theory in his mind.His wife called me, Neagley had said.What did she want you to do?Nothing, Neagley had said.She was just telling me.Just telling me.And then: Charlie swinging on the door handle.Reacher had asked: Is it OK to be opening the door all by yourself? And the little boy had said:Yes, it’s OK.And then: Charlie, you should go out and play.And then: I think there’s something you’re not telling us.The cost of doing business.Reacher sat in the Chateau Marmont’s velvet lobby armchair, thinking, waiting to be proved right or wrong by whoever came through the street door first, his old unit or a bunch of fired-up LA County deputies.30His old unit came through the door first.What was left of it, anyway.The remnant.O’Donnell and Neagley and Dixon, all of them fast and anxious [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]