Lee child – worth dying for (jack reacher, 15)

WORTH DYING FOR
A NOVEL
BY
LEE CHILD

ONE

ELDRIDGE TYLER WAS DRIVING A LONG STRAIGHT TWO-LANE ROAD in Nebraska when his cell phone rang. It was very late in the afternoon. He was taking his granddaughter home after buying her shoes. His truck was a crew-cab Silverado the colour of a day-old newspaper, and the kid was flat on her back on the small rear seat. She was not asleep. She was lying there wide awake with her legs held up. She was staring fascinated at the huge white sneakers wobbling around in the air two feet above her face. She was making strange sounds with her mouth. She was eight years old. Tyler figured she was a late developer.
Tyler’s phone was basic enough to be nothing fancy, but complex enough to have different ringtones against different numbers. Most played the manufacturer’s default tune, but four were set to sound a low urgent note halfway between a fire truck siren and a submarine’s dive klaxon. And that sound

was what Tyler heard, in the late afternoon, on the long straight two-lane road in Nebraska, ten miles south of the outlet store and twenty miles north of home. So he fumbled the phone up from the console and hit the button and raised it to his ear and said, ‘Yes?’
A voice said, ‘We might need you.’
Tyler said, ‘Me?’
‘Well, you and your rifle. Like before.’
Tyler said, ‘Might?’
‘At this stage it’s only a precaution.’
‘What’s going on?’
‘There’s a guy sniffing around.’
‘Close?’
‘Hard to say.’
‘How much does he know?’
‘Some of it. Not all of it yet.’
‘Who is he?’
‘Nobody. A stranger. Just a guy. But he got involved. We think he was in the service. We think he was a military cop. Maybe he didn’t lose the cop habit.’
‘How long ago was he in the service?’
‘Ancient history.’
‘Connections?’
‘None at all, that we can see. He won’t be missed. He’s a drifter. Like a hobo. He blew in like a tumbleweed. Now he needs to blow out again.’
‘Description?’
‘He’s a big guy,’ the voice said. ‘Six-five at least, probably two-fifty. Last seen wearing a big old brown parka and a wool cap. He moves funny, like he’s stiff. Like he’s hurting.’
‘OK,’ Tyler said. ‘So where and when?’
‘We want you to watch the barn,’ the voice said. ‘All day tomorrow. We can’t let him see the barn. Not now. If we don’t get him tonight, he’s going to figure it out eventually. He’s going to head over there and take a look.’
‘He’s going to walk right into it, just like that?’
‘He thinks there are four of us. He doesn’t know there are five.’
‘That’s good.’
‘Shoot him if you see him.’
‘I will.’
‘Don’t miss.’
‘Do I ever?’ Tyler said. He clicked off the call and dumped the phone back on the console and drove on, the little girl’s new shoes waving in his mirror, dead winter fields ahead, dead winter fields behind, darkness to his left, the setting sun to his right.

– –

The barn had been built long ago, when moderate size and wooden construction had been appropriate for Nebraska agriculture. Its function had since been supplanted by huge metal sheds built in distant locations chosen solely on the basis of logistical studies. But the old place had endured, warping slowly, rotting slowly, leaning and weathering. All around it was an apron of ancient blacktop that had been heaved by winter frosts and cracked by summer sun and laced with wiry weeds.



Lee child – worth dying for (jack reacher, 15)