Home > Personal (Jack Reacher #19)(7)

Personal (Jack Reacher #19)(7)
Author: Lee Child

She didn’t answer.

I said, ‘Or maybe you want Kott to come for me himself. He’s plenty mad at me, after all. I put him away for fifteen years. I’m sure that put a crimp in his lifetime plans. He’s probably nursing an appropriate degree of resentment. Maybe all that yoga was for me personally, not general career advancement.’

‘No one is thinking in terms of bait.’

‘Bullshit. Tom O’Day thinks of everything, and chooses the easiest and most effective.’

‘Are you scared?’

‘You know any infantrymen?’

‘This base has plenty.’

‘Talk to them. The infantry puts up with a world of shit. They live in holes in the ground, cold, wet, muddy, hungry, with incoming mortars and artillery and rockets, and bombs and gas, and air assault and missiles, and they have nothing ahead of them except barbed wire and machine-gun nests, but you know what they hate most of all?’

‘Snipers,’ she said.

‘Correct,’ I said. ‘Random death, out of nowhere, any time, any place, no notice, no warning. Every minute of every day. No relief. The stress becomes unbearable. It sends some of them mad, literally. And I can understand why. Right now I’m sitting in a little metal box and I’m already liking it more than I should.’

‘I met your brother once,’ Scarangello said.


She nodded. ‘Joe Reacher. I was a young case officer and he was with military intelligence. We worked together on a thing.’

‘And now you’re going to tell me he spoke well of me and said I was the baddest son of a bitch in the valley. You’re going to leverage a dead man.’

‘I’m sorry he died. But he did speak well of you.’

‘If Joe was here he’d tell me to run away from this thing as far and as fast as I can. There’s a clue in the title. Military, and intelligence. He knew Tom O’Day too.’

‘You don’t like O’Day, do you?’

‘I think someone should give him a medal and a bullet in the head and name a bridge after him.’

‘Maybe this wasn’t a good idea.’

‘I’m surprised he’s still in business.’

‘This kind of thing keeps him in business. Now more than ever. He’s front and centre.’

I said nothing.

Scarangello said, ‘We can’t make you stay.’

I shrugged.

‘I owe Rick Shoemaker a favour,’ I said. ‘I’ll stick around.’



SCARANGELLO LEFT AFTER that, leaving a faint perfumed scent in the air, and I took my shower and went to bed. O’Day liked to start every morning with a conference, and I planned to be there, right after breakfast. Which I couldn’t find. The dawn light showed we were stuck in a remote corner of Pope Field, which was vast. I figured I was a mile or more from the nearest mess hall. Maybe five miles. And my movements were restricted. Walking around Fort Bragg unauthorized wasn’t the smartest thing to do. Not under the current circumstances. Not under any circumstances, really.

So I headed back to the red door and found Casey Nice in a room with a table. The table was loaded with muffins and pastries on plates, and big catering boxes of coffee. Dunkin’ Donuts, not army issue. Private catering. Reforms. Anything to save a buck.

Casey Nice said, ‘Comfortable quarters?’

I said, ‘Better than sleeping in a hollow log.’

‘Is that what you normally do?’

‘Figure of speech,’ I said.

‘But you slept well?’


‘Did you meet anyone last night?’

‘I met a woman named Joan Scarangello.’


‘Who is she exactly?’

‘A deputy to the deputy director of operations.’

Which sounded junior, but wasn’t. In CIA-speak a D-DDO was part of a tiny circle at the very top. One of the three or four most plugged-in people on the planet. Her natural habitat would be a Langley office about eight times the size of my shipping container, probably with more phones on the desk than I had seen in my entire life. I said, ‘They’re really taking this seriously, aren’t they?’

‘They have to, don’t you think?’

I didn’t answer that, and then Scarangello herself came in. She nodded a greeting and took a muffin and a cup of coffee. Then she left again. I took two muffins and an empty cup and a whole box of coffee. I figured I could prop it on the edge of the conference table with the spigot facing towards me. Refills as and when required. Like an alcoholic behind a bar.

The morning conference was in a room next to O’Day’s upstairs office. Nothing fancy. Just four plain tables pushed together in a square, and eight chairs for the five of us. Shoemaker and O’Day and Scarangello were already in their places. Casey Nice sat down next to Scarangello and I chose a spot with an empty chair either side. I got the coffee set up and bit the head off a muffin.

Shoemaker went first. He was in fatigues again, with his star, which was not surprising, but his opening analysis was informed enough to suggest he might have been worth it, which was. He said, ‘The Polish government looks set to announce a snap election, and the Greeks too, probably. Which looks like democracy in action, but if you drill down into the European Union constitution you find a provision that allows heads-ofstate pow-wows to be postponed if two or more member states are at the polls. In other words, they’re running for the hills. The EU meeting ain’t going to happen. Which moves us on to the G8 in three weeks. Those plans are still intact. Which gives us both the time and the target.’

I took a breath to speak but O’Day shot out a lengthy arm, with his palm towards me, like he was telling a dog to stay, and he said, ‘You’re about to warn us we’re making a massive assumption here, and that the real target could be anything. Which is correct, but please understand we don’t care about any other target. If something else gets hit, we’ll be dancing jigs and reels. Until then, for operational purposes, we’re assuming an assassination attempt against a world leader is already a proven fact.’

I said, ‘I was going to ask who’s in the G8.’

Which must have been a dumb question, because they all started fidgeting and no one answered. Eventually Casey Nice said, ‘Ourselves and Canada, the UK and France, Germany and Italy, and Japan and Russia.’

I said, ‘Those aren’t the eight largest economies.’

‘They were once,’ Joan Scarangello said. ‘Some things get set in stone.’

‘So if this is personal or nationalist it could be any one of them. But if it’s some big terrorist statement, then with all due respect, it’s probably not Italy. I mean, who would notice? Those guys change every three weeks anyway. Or Canada. You wouldn’t recognize the guy if you saw him in the grocery store. Japan, the same. And France. The UK, too. Some posh boy goes face down, it’s not going to destabilize the world. Germany is possibly a slight problem.’

Scarangello nodded. ‘Europe’s largest economy, the region’s only fiscal grown-up, and a whole new psyche that absolutely depends on politicians not getting shot. Things could unravel. And rock bottom is a long way down in Germany.’

‘So it’s ourselves and Russia and Germany. Which is easy. Just keep those three guys under wraps. No fresh air for them. Let the other five walk about. Or send the vice presidents too, for the photo ops. Which could be spun. We’re so ballsy we’ll send both of them.’

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