Not a Drill: A Jack Reacher Short Story

Not a Drill: A Jack Reacher Short Story by Lee Child

Book: Not a Drill: A Jack Reacher Short Story by Lee Child Read Free Book Online
Authors: Lee Child
Tags: thriller, Mystery
    One thing leads to another, and in Jack Reacher’s case, one warm and aimless August day, a hitched ride in an empty lumber truck led to East Millinocket in Maine, which led in turn to a decent mid-morning meal in a roadside restaurant near the highway, which led to a halting two-wary-guys conversation with the man at the next table, which led to an offered ride further north, to a place called Island Falls. The unspoken but clearly implied cost of the ride was the price of the guy’s coffee and pie, but the establishment was cheap, and Reacher had money in his pocket, and as always he had no particular place to be, so he accepted.
    One thing leads to another.
    The guy’s car turned out to be a softly-sprung old Chevrolet, lacy with rust, and Island Falls turned out to be a pleasant little place on a lake, way in the north, where Maine sticks out like a thumb up Canada’s ass, with Quebec to the left and New Brunswick to the right. But most of all Island Falls was pretty close to the north end of I-95. Which was tempting. Reacher had a collector’s instinct when it came to places. He knew the south end of I-95 pretty well. More than nineteen hundred miles away, just past downtown Miami. He had been there many times. But he had never seen the north end.
    He had no particular place to be.
    One thing leads to another.
    Getting out of Island Falls was easy enough. He had a cup of coffee in a hut next to a kayak rental slip, and stood in the buggy warmth of the lake shore and took in the view, and then he turned his back on it all and walked out of town the same way the old Chevy had driven in, back to the highway cloverleaf. He set up on the on-ramp heading north, and waited. Not long, he figured. It was August, it was warm, it was vacation country. The mood was amiable. It was daylight. He was clean. His clothes were only two days old, and his shave was only three. Ideal conditions, overall.
    And sure enough, less than ten minutes later an old-model Jeep SUV with New Brunswick plates slowed and stopped. There was a woman at the wheel, and a man next to her, in the passenger seat. They looked to be somewhere in their mid-thirties, clearly outdoor types, ruffled by the wind and tanned by the sun. Heading home, no doubt, afteran active vacation. Maybe they had been kayaking. Or camping. Or both. The load space in the rear of the truck was piled up with stuff.
    The guy in the passenger seat let his window down, and the woman craned over for a look, too. The guy said, “We’re only going to Fredericton, which isn’t far, I’m afraid. Any good to you?”
    Reacher said, “Is that in Canada?”
    “Sure is.”
    Reacher said, “Then that’s perfect. All I want is to get to the border, and then back again.”
    “Got something against Canada?”
    “My passport expired.”
    The guy nodded. Gone were the days when a person could just stroll in and out of neighboring countries. Then the guy said, “But there’s nothing much to see between here and there. Nothing much to see through the fence, either. You’d be better off staying where you are, surely.”
    Reacher said, “I want to see the end of the road.”
    The guy said, “That sounds heavy.”
    The woman said, “We think of it as the beginning of the road.”
    “Good point,” Reacher said.
    The guy said, “Hop in the back.” He craned around in his seat and batted stray items aside. Reacher opened the door and slid in and used his hip to finish the job. He closed the door and the woman hit the gas and they took off, cruising easy through the last thirty-some miles of America.

    The last exit was for a town called Houlton. Or the first exit, Reacher supposed, from the Canadian point of view. Then came a mile or so of hinterland, and a little queuing traffic, and barriers and booths and official signs. Reacher stayed in the Jeep until the last car’s length, and then he said his thanks and his goodbyes and he slipped out, and he stepped ahead and put his foot on

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