Killing Floor by Lee Child

Chapter Thirty-One

IT WAS DARK WHEN I HIT THE OUTLYING AUGUSTA SUBURBS. I pulled off the highway as soon as the taller buildings started to thicken up. Drove down the city streets and stopped at the first motel I saw. Locked the Bentley up and dodged into the office. Stepped over to the desk. The clerk looked up.

"Got a room?" I asked him.

"Thirty-six bucks," the guy said.

"Phone in the room?" I asked him.

"Sure," he said. "Air-conditioning and cable TV. "

"Yellow Pages in the room?" I asked him.

He nodded.

"Got a map of Augusta?" I said.

He jerked his thumb over to a rack next to a cigarette machine. It was stuffed with maps and brochures. I peeled off thirty-six bucks from the roll in my trouser pocket. Dropped the cash on the desk. Filled in the register. I put my name down as Roscoe Finlay.

"Room twelve," the guy said. Slid me the key.

I stopped to grab a map and hustled out. Ran down the row to room twelve. Let myself in and locked the door. I didn't look at the room. Just looked for the phone and the Yellow Pages. I lay on the bed and unfolded the map. Opened up the Yellow Pages to H for hotels.

There was a huge list. In Augusta, there were hundreds of places where you could pay for a bed for the night. Literally hundreds. Pages and pages of them. So I looked at the map. Concentrated on a wedge a half mile long and four blocks deep, either side of the main drag in from the west. That was my target area. I downgraded the places right on the main drag. I upgraded the places a block or two off. Prioritized the places between a quarter mile and a half mile out. I was looking at a rough square, a quarter mile long and a quarter mile deep. I put the map and the phone book side by side and made a hit list.

Eighteen hotels. One of them was the place I was lying there in. So I picked up the phone and dialed zero for the desk. The clerk answered.

"You got a guy called Paul Lennon registered?" I asked him.

There was a pause. He was checking the book.

"Lennon?" he said. "No, sir. "

"OK," I said. Put the phone down.

I took a deep breath and started at the top of my list. Dialed the first place.

"You got a guy called Paul Lennon registered?" I asked the guy who answered.

There was a pause.

"No, sir," the guy said.

I worked down the list. Dialed one place after another.

"You got a guy called Paul Lennon registered?" I asked each clerk.

There was always a pause while they checked their registers. Sometimes I could hear the pages turning. Some of them had computers. I could hear keyboards pattering.

"No, sir," they all said. One after the other.

I lay there on the bed with the phone balanced on my chest. I was down to number thirteen out of the eighteen on my list.

"You got a guy called Paul Lennon registered?" I asked.

There was a pause. I could hear pages turning.

"No, sir," the thirteenth clerk said.

"OK," I said. Put the phone down.

I picked it up again and stabbed out the fourteenth number. Got a busy signal. So I dabbed the cradle and stabbed out the fifteenth number.

"You got a guy called Paul Lennon registered?" I asked.

There was a pause.

"Room one twenty," the fifteenth clerk said.

"Thank you," I said. Put the phone down.

I lay there. Closed my eyes. Breathed out. I put the phone back on the nightstand thing and checked the map. The fifteenth hotel was three blocks away. North of the main drag. I left the room key on the bed and went back out to the car. The engine was still warm. I'd been in there about twenty-five minutes.

I had to drive three blocks east before I could make a left. Then three blocks north before I could make another. I went around a kind of jagged spiral. I found the fifteenth hotel and parked at the door. Went into the lobby. It was a dingy sort of a place. Not clean, not well lit. It looked like a cave.

"Can I help you?" the desk guy asked.

"No," I said.

I followed an arrow down a warren of corridors. Found room one twenty. Rapped on the door. I heard the rattle of the chain going on. I stood there. The door cracked open.

"Hello, Reacher," he said.

"Hello, Hubble," I said.

HE WAS SPILLING OVER WITH QUESTIONS FOR ME, BUT I JUST hustled him out to the car. We had four hours on the road for all that stuff. We had to get going. I was over two hours ahead of schedule. I wanted to keep it that way. I wanted to put those two hours in the bank. I figured I might need them later.

He looked OK. He wasn't a wreck. He'd been running for six days and it had done him good. It had burned off that complacent gloss he'd had. Left him looking a little more tight and rangy. A bit tougher. More like my type of a guy. He was dressed up in cheap chainstore clothes and he was wearing socks. He was using an old pair of spectacles made from stainless steel. A seven-dollar digital watch covered the band of pale skin where the Rolex had been. He looked like a plumber or the guy who runs your local muffler franchise.

He had no bags. He was traveling light. He just glanced around his room and walked out with me. Like he couldn't believe his life on the road was over. Like he might be going to miss it to a degree. We stepped through the dark lobby and out into the night. He stopped when he saw the car parked at the door.

"You came in Charlie's car?" he said.

"She was worried about you," I told him. "She asked me to find you. "

He nodded. Looked blank.

"What's with the tinted glass?" he said.

I grinned at him and shrugged.

"Don't ask," I said. "Long story. "

I started up and eased away from the hotel. He should have asked me right away how Charlie was, but something was bothering him. I had seen when he cracked the hotel room door that a tidal wave of relief had hit him. But he had a tiny reservation. It was a pride thing. He'd been running and hiding. He'd thought he'd been doing it well. But he hadn't been, because I had found him. He was thinking about that. He was relieved and disappointed all at the same time.

"How the hell did you find me?" he asked.

I shrugged at him again.

"Easy," I said. "I've had a lot of practice. I've found a lot of guys. Spent years picking up deserters for the army. "

I was threading through the grids, working my way back to the highway. I could see the line of lights streaming west, but the on-ramp was like the prize at the center of a maze. I was unwinding the same jagged spiral I'd been forced around on the way in.

"But how did you do it?" he said. "I could have been anywhere. "

"No, you couldn't," I said. "That was the exact point. That's what made it easy. You had no credit cards, no driver's license, no ID. All you had was cash. So you weren't using planes or rental cars. You were stuck with the bus. "

I found the on-ramp. Concentrated on the lane-change and nudged the wheel. Accelerated up the ramp and merged with the flow back toward Atlanta.

"That gave me a start," I said to him. "Then I put myself in your shoes, psychologically. You were terrified for your family. So I figured you'd circle around Margrave at a distance. You'd want to feel you were still connected, consciously or subconsciously. You took the taxi up to the Atlanta bus depot, right?"

"Right," he said. "First bus out of there was to Memphis, but I waited for the next one. Memphis was too far. I didn't want to go that far away. "

"That's what made it easy," I said. "You were circling Margrave. Not too close, not too far. And counterclockwise. Give people a free choice, they always go counterclockwise. It's a universal truth, Hubble. All I had to do was to count the days and study the map and predict the hop you'd take each time. I figure Monday you were in Birmingham, Alabama. Tuesday was Montgomery, Wednesday was Columbus. I had a problem with Thursday. I gambled on Macon, but I thought it was maybe too close to Margrave. "

He nodded.

"Thursday was a nightmare," he said. "I was in Macon, some terrible dive, didn't sleep a wink. "

"So Friday morning you came out here to Augusta," I said. "My other big gamble was you stayed here two nights. I figured you were shaken up after Macon, maybe running out of energy. I really wasn't sure. I nearly went up to Greenville tonight, up in South Carolina. But I guessed right. "

Hubble went quiet. He'd thought he'd been invisible, but he'd been circling Margrave like a beacon flashing away in the night sky.

"But I used a false name," he said. Defiantly.

"You used five false names," I said. "Five nights, five hotels, five names. The fifth name was the same as the first name, right?"

He was amazed. He thought back and nodded.

"How the hell did you know that?" he said again.

"I've hunted a lot of guys," I said. "And I knew a little about you. "

"Knew what?" he said.

"You're a Beatles guy," I said. "You told me about visiting the Dakota building and going to Liverpool in England. You've got just about every Beatles CD ever made in your den. So the first night, you were at some hotel desk and you signed Paul Lennon, right?"

"Right," he said.

"Not John Lennon," I said. "People usually stick with their own first name. I don't know why, but they usually do. So you were Paul Lennon. Tuesday, you were Paul Mc-Cartney. Wednesday, you were Paul Harrison. Thursday, you were Paul Starr. Friday in Augusta, you started over again with Paul Lennon, right?"

"Right," he said. "But there's a million hotels in Augusta. Conventions, golf. How the hell did you know where to look?"

"I thought about it," I said. "You got in Friday, late morning, coming in from the west. Guy like you walks back the way he's already seen. Feels safer that way. You'd been on the bus four hours, you were cramped up, you wanted the air, so you walked a spell, maybe a quarter mile. Then you got panicky and dived off the main drag a block or two. So I had a pretty small target area. Eighteen places. You were in number fifteen. "

He shook his head. Mixed feelings. We barreled on down the road in the dark. The big old Bentley loped along, a hair over the legal limit.

"How are things in Margrave now?" he asked me.

That was the big question. He asked it tentatively, like he was nervous about it. I was nervous about answering it. I backed off the gas a little and slowed down. Just in case he got so upset that he grabbed at me. I didn't want to wreck the car. Didn't have time for that.

"We're in deep shit," I told him. "We've got about seven hours to fix it. "

I saved the worst part for last. I told him Charlie and the kids had gone with an FBI agent back on Monday. Because of the danger. And then I told him the FBI agent had been Picard.

There was silence in the car. I drove on three, four miles in the silence. It was more than a silence. It was a crushing vacuum of stillness. Like all the atmosphere had been sucked off the planet. It was a silence that roared and buzzed in my ears.

He started clenching and unclenching his hands. Started rocking back and forth on the big leather chair beside me. But then he went quiet. His reaction never really got going. Never really took hold. His brain just shut down and refused to react anymore. Like a circuit breaker clicking open. It was too big and too awful to react to. He just looked at me.

"OK," he said. "Then you'll have to get them back, won't you?"

I sped up again. Charged on toward Atlanta.

"I'll get them back," I said. "But I'll need your help. That's why I picked you up first. "

He nodded again. He had crashed through the barrier. He had stopped worrying and started relaxing. He was up on that plateau where you just did whatever needed doing. I knew that place. I lived there.

TWENTY MILES OUT FROM AUGUSTA WE SAW FLASHING lights up ahead and guys waving danger flares. There was an accident on the other side of the divider. A truck had plowed into a parked sedan. A gaggle of other vehicles were slewed all over the place. There were drifts of what looked like litter lying around. A big crowd of people was milling about, collecting it up. We crawled past in a slow line of traffic. Hubble watched out the window.

"I'm very sorry about your brother," he said. "I had no idea. I guess I got him killed, didn't I?"

He slumped down in the seat. But I wanted to keep him talking. He had to stay on the ball. So I asked him the question I'd been waiting a week to ask.

"How the hell did you get into all this?" I said.

He shrugged. Blew a big sigh at the windshield. Like it was impossible to imagine any way of getting into it. Like it was impossible to imagine any way of staying out of it.

"I lost my job," he said. A simple statement. "I was devastated. I felt angry and upset. And scared, Reacher. We'd been living a dream, you know? A golden dream. It was a perfect, idyllic life. I was earning a fortune and I was spending a fortune. It was totally fabulous. But then I started hearing things. The retail operation was under threat. My department was under review. I suddenly realized I was just one paycheck away from disaster. Then the department got shut down. I got canned. And the paychecks stopped. "

"And?" I said.

"I was out of my head," he said. "I was so angry. I had worked my butt off for those bastards. I was good at my job. I had made them a fortune. And they just slung me out like suddenly I was shit on their shoe. And I was scared. I was going to lose it all, right? And I was tired. I couldn't start again at the bottom of something else. I was too old and I had no energy. I just didn't know what to do. "

"And then Kliner turned up?" I said.

He nodded. Looked pale.

"He had heard about it," he said. "I guess Teale told him. Teale knows everything about everybody. Kliner called me within a couple of days. I hadn't even told Charlie at that point. I couldn't face it. He called me and asked me to meet him up at the airport. He was in a private jet, on his way back from Venezuela. He flew me out to the Bahamas for lunch, and we talked. I was flattered, to be honest. "

"And?" I said.

"He gave me a lot of crap," Hubble said. "He was telling me to look at it as an opportunity to get out. He was saying I should dump the corporate thing, I should come and do a real job, make some real money, with him. I didn't know much about him. I knew about the family fortune and the Foundation, obviously, but I'd never met him face to face. But he was clearly a very rich and successful guy. And very, very smart. And there he was, sitting in a private jet, asking me to work with him. Not for him, with him. I was flattered and I was desperate and I was worried and I said yes. "

"And then?" I said.

"He called me again the next day," Hubble said. "He was sending the plane for me. I had to fly down to the Kliner plant in Venezuela to meet with him. So I did. I was only there one day. Didn't get to see anything. Then he flew me to Jacksonville. I was in the lawyer's office for a week. After that, it was too late. I couldn't get out. "

"Why not?" I asked him.

"It was a hell of a week," he said. "It sounds like a short time, right? Just a week. But he did a real job on me. First day, it was all flattery. All temptation. He signed me up to a huge salary, bonuses, whatever I wanted. We went to clubs and hotels and he was spending money like it was out of a faucet. Tuesday, I started work. The actual job was a challenge. It was very difficult after what I'd been doing at the bank. It was so specialized. He wanted cash, of course, but he wanted dollars only. Nothing but singles. I had no idea why. And he wanted records. Very tight books. But I could handle it. And he was a relaxed boss. No pressures, no problems. The problems started Wednesday. "

"How?" I said.

"Wednesday, I asked him what was going on," he said. "And he told me. He just told me exactly what he was doing. But he said now I was doing it too. I was involved. I had to stay quiet. Thursday, I was getting really unhappy. I couldn't believe it. I told him I wanted out. So he drove me down to some awful place. His son was there. He had two Hispanic guys there with him. There was this other guy chained up in a back room. Kliner said this was a guy who had stepped out of line. He told me to watch carefully. His son just kicked the guy to a pulp. All over the room, right in front of me. Then the Hispanic guys got their knives out and just hacked the poor guy apart. There was blood everywhere. It was horrible. I couldn't believe it. I threw up all over the place. "

"Go on," I said.

"It was a nightmare," Hubble said. "I couldn't sleep that night. I thought I'd never sleep again, any night. Friday morning, we flew home. We sat together on the little jet and he told me what would happen. He said it wouldn't be just me who got cut up. It would be Charlie too. He was discussing it with me. Which of her nipples would he slice off first? Left or right? Then after we were dead, which of the children would he start with? Lucy or Ben? It was a nightmare. He said they'd nail me to the wall. I was shitting myself. Then we landed and he called Charlie and insisted we go to dinner with him. He told her we were doing business together. Charlie was delighted because Kliner is such a big deal in the county. It was a total nightmare because I had to pretend there was nothing wrong. I hadn't even told Charlie I'd lost my job. I had to pretend I was still at the bank. And the whole evening that bastard was asking politely after Charlie and the children and smiling at me. "

We went quiet. I skirted around the southeast corner of Atlanta again, looking for the highway south. The big city glowed and glittered on the right. To the left was the dark empty mass of the rural southeast. I found the highway and accelerated south. Down toward one little dot in that dark empty mass.

"Then what?" I asked him.

"I started work at the warehouse," he said. "That's where he wanted me. "

"Doing what?" I said.

"Managing the supply," he said. "I had a little office in there, and I had to arrange to get the dollars, and then I'd supervise the loading and shipping. "

"Sherman Stoller was the driver?" I asked him.

"Right," he said. "He was trusted to do the Florida run. I'd send him out with a million dollar bills a week. Sometimes the gatemen did it if Sherman had a day off. But it was usually him. He helped me with the boxes and the loading. We had to work like crazy. A million dollars in singles is a hell of a sight. You've got no idea. It was like trying to empty a swimming pool with a shovel. "

"But Sherman was stealing, right?" I said.

He nodded. I saw the flash of his steel glasses in the glow from the dash.

"The money got counted properly in Venezuela," he said. "I used to get accurate totals back after about a month or so. I used them to cross-check my weighing formula. Many times, we were about a hundred grand down. No way had I made that kind of mistake. It was a trivial amount, because we were generating four billion in excellent fakes at the other end, so who cared? But it was about a boxful every time. That would be a large margin of error, so I figured Sherman was stealing the occasional box. "

"And?" I said.

"I warned him off," Hubble said. "I mean, I wasn't going to tell anybody about it. I just told him to take care, because Kliner would kill him if he found out. Might get me into trouble as well. I was already worried enough about what I was doing. The whole thing was insane. Kliner was importing a lot of the fakes. He couldn't resist it. I thought it made the whole thing way too visible. Teale was spending the fakes like confetti, prettying up the town. "

"And what about the last twelve months?" I asked him.

He shrugged and shook his head.

"We had to stop the shipping," he said. "The Coast Guard thing made it impossible. Kliner decided to stockpile instead. He figured the interdiction couldn't last. He knew the Coast Guard budget wouldn't stand it for long. But it just lasted and lasted. It was a hell of a year. The tension was awful. And now the Coast Guard's finally pulling back, it's caught us by surprise. Kliner figured it's lasted this long, it would last until after the election in November. We're not ready to ship. Not ready at all. It's all just piled up in there. It's not boxed yet. "

"When did you contact Joe?" I asked him.

"Joe?" he said. "Was that your brother's name? I knew him as Polo. "

I nodded.

"Palo," I said. "It's where he was born. It's a town on Leyte. Philippine Islands. The hospital was converted from an old cathedral. I had malaria shots there when I was seven. "

He went quiet for a mile, like he was paying his respects.

"I called Treasury a year ago," he said. "I didn't know who else to call. Couldn't call the police because of Morrison, couldn't call the FBI because of Picard. So I called Washington and tipped off this guy who called himself Polo. He was a smart guy. I thought he'd get away with it. I knew his best chance was to strike while they were stockpiling. While there was evidence in there. "

I saw a sign for gas and took a last-minute decision to pull off. Hubble filled the tank. I found a plastic bottle in a trash can and got him to fill that, too.

"What's that for?" he asked me.

I shrugged at him.

"Emergencies?" I said.

He didn't come back on that. We just paid at the window and pulled back onto the highway. Carried on driving south. We were a half hour from Margrave. It was approaching midnight.

"So what made you take off on Monday?" I asked him.

"Kliner called me," he said. "He told me to stay home. He said two guys would be coming by. I asked him why, and he said there was a problem at the Florida end and I had to go sort it out. "

"But?" I said.

"I didn't believe him," he said. "Soon as he mentioned two guys, it flashed into my mind what had happened down in Jacksonville that first week. I panicked. I called the taxi and ran. "

"You did good, Hubble," I said. "You saved your life. "

"You know what?" he said.

I glanced a question at him.

"If he'd said one guy, I wouldn't have noticed," he said. "You know, if he'd said stay home, a guy is coming by, I'd have fallen for it. But he said two guys. "

"He made a mistake," I said.

"I know," Hubble said. "I can't believe it. He never makes mistakes. "

I shook my head. Smiled in the dark.

"He made a mistake last Thursday. "

THE BIG CHROME CLOCK ON THE BENTLEY'S DASH SAID MIDNIGHT. I needed this whole deal over and done by five in the morning. So I had five hours. If all went well, that was way more than I needed. If I screwed up, it didn't matter if I had five hours or five days or five years. This was a once only thing. In and out. In the service we used to say: do it once and do it right. Tonight I was going to add: and do it quickly.

"Hubble?" I said. "I need your help. "

He roused himself and looked over at me.

"How?" he asked.

I spent the last ten minutes of the highway cruise going over it. Over and over it, until he was totally solid. I swung off the highway where it met the county road. Blasted past the warehouses and on down the fourteen miles to town. Slowed as I passed the station house. It was quiet, lights off. No cars in the lot. The firehouse next door looked OK. The town was silent and deserted. The only light showing in the whole place was in the barbershop.

I made the right onto Beckman and drove up the rise to Hubble's place. Turned in at the familiar white mailbox and spun the wheel through the curves up the driveway. Pulled up at the door.

"My car keys are in the house," Hubble said.

"It's open," I said.

He went to check it out. Pushed at the splintered door gingerly, with one finger, like it might be booby-trapped. I saw him go in. A minute later, he was back out. He had his keys, but he didn't walk round to the garage. He came back over to me and leaned into the car.

"It's a hell of a mess in there," he said. "What's been going on?"

"I used this place for an ambush," I said. "Four guys were tramping all over the place looking for me. It was raining at the time. "

He leaned down and looked in at me.

"Were they the ones?" he said. "You know, the ones Kliner would have sent if I'd talked?"

I nodded.

"They had all their gear with them," I said.

I could see his face in the dim glow from the old dials on the dash. His eyes were wide open, but he wasn't seeing me. He was seeing what he'd seen in his nightmares. He nodded slowly. Then he reached in and put his hand on my arm. Squeezed it. Didn't speak. Then he ducked back out and was gone. I was left sitting there, wondering how the hell I'd ever hated the guy a week ago.

I used the time to reload the Desert Eagle. I replaced the four shells I'd used out there on the highway near Augusta. Then I saw Hubble drive his old green Bentley around from the garage. The engine was cold and he was trailing a cloud of white vapor. He gave me a thumbs-up as he passed, and I followed the white cloud down the driveway and down Beckman. We passed by the church and turned left onto Main Street in stately procession. Two fine old cars, nose to tail through the sleeping town, ready to do battle.

Hubble pulled up forty yards shy of the station house. Pulled in to the curb just where I'd told him to. Killed his lights and waited, motor running. I wafted past him and nosed into the police department lot. Parked up in the end slot and got out. Left all four doors unlocked. Pulled the big automatic out of my pocket. The night air was cold and the silence was crushing. I could hear Hubble's motor idling from forty yards away. I unlatched the Desert Eagle's safety and the click sounded deafening in the stillness.

I ran to the station house wall and dropped to the ground. Slid forward until I could see in through the bottom of the heavy glass door. Watched and listened. Held my breath. I watched and listened long enough to be sure.

I stood up and clicked the safety back on. Put the gun back in my pocket. Stood there and made a calculation. The firehouse and the station house stood together three hundred yards from the north end of Main Street. Further on up the road, Eno's was eight hundred yards away. I figured the earliest anybody could get to us would be maybe three minutes. Two minutes to react, and a minute for a fast jog up from Main Street. So we had three minutes. Halve that for a margin of safety, call it ninety seconds, beginning to end.

I ran out to the middle of the county road and waved a signal to Hubble. I saw his car pull away from the curb and I ran over to the firehouse entrance. Stood to the side of the big red door and waited.

Hubble drove up and slewed his old Bentley in a tight turn across the road. Ended up at a right angle, just about lined up with the firehouse entrance, facing away from me. I saw the car lurch as he slammed the shift into reverse. Then he hit the gas and the big old sedan shot backward toward me.

It accelerated all the way and smashed backward into the firehouse door. That old Bentley must have weighed two tons and it tore the metal door right off its mountings with no trouble at all. There was a tremendous crashing and tearing of metal and I heard the rear lights smash and the clang of the fender as it fell off and bounced on the concrete. I was through the gap between the door and the frame before Hubble slammed into drive and dragged clear of the wreckage. It was dark in there, but I found what I was looking for. It was clipped to the side of the fire truck, horizontally, at head height. A bolt cutter, a huge thing, must have been four feet long. I wrenched it out of its mountings and ran for the door.

Soon as Hubble saw me come out, he pulled a wide circle across the road. The back end of his Bentley was wrecked. The trunk lid was flapping and the sheet metal was crunched and screeching. But he did his job. He made the wide turn and lined up with the station house entrance. Paused for a second and floored the gas. Accelerated straight toward the heavy glass doors. This time head on.

The old Bentley smashed through the doors in a shower of glass and demolished the reception desk. Plowed on into the squad room and stopped. I ran in right behind it. Finlay was standing in the middle cell. Frozen in shock. He was handcuffed by his left wrist to the bars separating him from the end cell. Well to the back. Couldn't have been better.

I tore and shoved at the wreckage of the reception counter and cleared a path behind Hubble. Waved him back. He spun the wheel and reversed into the space I'd cleared. I hauled and shoved the squad room desks out of the way to give him a clear run in front. Turned and gave him the signal.

The front end of his car was as bad as the back. The hood was buckled and the radiator was smashed. Green water was pouring out of the bottom and steam was hissing out of the top. The headlights were smashed and the fender was rubbing the tire. But Hubble was doing his job. He was holding the car on the brake and speeding the motor. Just like I'd told him to.

I could see the car shuddering against the brake. Then it shot forward and hurtled toward Finlay in the middle cell. Smashed into the titanium bars at an angle and ripped them open like a swung ax on a picket fence. The Bentley's hood flew up and the windshield exploded. Torn metal clanged and screeched. Hubble came to a stop a yard short of where Finlay was standing. The wrecked car settled in a loud hiss of steam. The air was thick with dust.

I dived through the gap into the cell and clamped the bolt cutter on the link fixing Finlay's wrist to the bars. Leaned on the four-foot levers until the handcuffs sheared through. I gave Finlay the bolt cutter and hauled him through the gap and out of the cell. Hubble was climbing out of the Bentley's window. The impact had distorted the door and it wouldn't open. I pulled him out and leaned in and yanked the keys. Then we all three ran through the shattered squad room and crunched over the shards of plate glass where the big doors had been. Ran over to the car and dove in. I started it up and howled backward out of the lot. Slammed into drive and took off down the road toward town.

Finlay was out. Ninety seconds, beginning to end.
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