A Wanted Man
A Jack Reacher NoveleBook - 2012
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Some old guy once said the meaning of life is that it ends. Which was inescapably true. No one lives forever. In his head Reacher had always known he would die. Every human does. But in his heart he had never really imagined it. Never imagined the time and the place and the details and the particulars.
“Imagine the uproar if the Federal government tried to make everyone wear a radio transmitter around their neck so we can keep track of their movements. But people happily carry their cell phones in their purses and pockets.”
They had eighty-eight rounds of ammunition. The last figures he had seen in the army showed that an average infantryman records one enemy fatality for every fifteen thousand combat rounds expended. In which case, for forty opponents, they would need six hundred thousand rounds. Not eighty-eight.
He sighted in on the guy in the west. Two hundred feet, maybe. An easy shot with any kind of a rifle. An easy shot with any kind of an H&K sub, which were generally as good as rifles, at short-to-medium distances. Unknown, with the Colt. But better than the Glock. A handgun at two hundred feet was the same thing as crossing your fingers and making a wish.
He had never worn eyeglasses. He could read in dim light. And in the black of night the human eye was supposed to be able to see a candle flame a mile away. Maybe more.
And the ground behind them opened like a folk tale and a giant nightmare figure rose up out of it, shedding dirt and slime like a waterfall, and it took one long step and smashed its right fist into the back of the left-hand guy’s neck, a huge, vicious, downward-clubbing blow, like the apparition was driving a railroad spike with its knuckles, and then after the impact there was a long, elegant follow-through, the huge fist sweeping way down past the knee, then immediately whipping back up, the same route, like a convulsion, the giant figure jerking at the waist, its elbow smashing the right-hand guy square in the throat.
“A red leg is an artilleryman. Because way back they had red stripes on their dress pants. And their branch color is still red. A dagby is a 13B MOS. Which is a cannon crewmember’s military occupational specialty. In other words, a dagby. A dumb-ass gun bunny. Mother Sill is Fort Sill, which is artillery HQ. Someone there will have a record. The Gulf the first time around was the thing with Saddam Hussein, back in 1991.”
“Unfortunately Frederick the Great once said that field artillery lends dignity to what would otherwise be a vulgar brawl. It went to their heads. They started calling themselves the kings of battle. They started to think they’re the most important part of the army. Which obviously isn’t true.”
Physically his body worked only two ways: either extremely slow or extremely fast. Most of the time he rumbled along with typical big-man languor, often appearing quiet and lazy, sometimes appearing positively comatose. Then if necessary he could explode into furious action, for as long as it took, a blur of hands and feet, and then he would lapse back into torpor. He had no middle setting, and a middle setting was what good driving needed.
Reacher had never been hypnotized, but in his opinion driving empty highways at night came close. Basal and cognitive demands were so low they could be met by the smallest sliver of the brain. The rest coasted. The front half had nothing to do, and the back half had nothing to fight. The very definition of relaxation.
facets. Perhaps he would glance down and see that he was doing 76 miles an hour, and he would see that 76 squared was 5,776, which ended in 76, where it started, which made 76 an automorphic number, one of only two below 100, the other being 25, whose square was 625, whose square was 390,625, which was interesting.
... and let his speed creep up to 81, and muse about how one divided by 81 expressed as a decimal came out as .0123456789, which then recurred literally forever, 0123456789 over and over and over again, until the end of time, longer even than it would take to catch up to the Dodge.
Lee Child threw in a some math trivia as reciprocal of 81 is 0.01234567890123456789 *** ;
"Tell me how you talk for a minute without using the letter A." ... "Easy. Just start counting one two three four ... "
."***Author might have intentionally erred for effect. Actual is 0.012345679012345679, (no 8 in the string) but interesting enough.
Reacher stopped again fifty feet out. There was no movement ahead. Nothing at all. He stood up and walked the rest of the way. And found the five humped shapes, more or less all in a line in the dark. Five men. Four dead. The sniper was still breathing. He must have been hit three or four times. Still alive. Lucky. But not very.
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