Jack Reacher was a difficult man to describe. A drifter with a primal sense of justice? A modern knight-errant, not looking for trouble, but righting wrongs when they intruded in his existence? He’d been in Ithaca for two weeks, rather long for him but just long enough to learn where things were in the best grocery store in town. Earlier that day though, he was stunned to find that everything had been rearranged, apparently at random. It was a bewildering and disorienting turn of events, and it was small consolation that the resulting gridlock in the aisles meant that he was not alone in a now fruitless quest for basic staple grocery items. He was particularly haunted by the spectre of a distraught local newspaper columnist pushing an empty cart and clutching a crumpled list in his hand.
And so it was, that at 2:27 AM the very next morning Reacher found himself at the Wegmans compound at 1500 Brooks Avenue in Rochester. It had taken a full day of hitch-hiking to get there, but his outrage, if anything, had increased during the ride. Careful to avoid the 24/7 activity of the adjacent distribution center, he had maneuvered himself along the bushes lining the parking lot to the corporate headquarters side of the massive building.
Security at corporate HQ, though impressive even by modern standards, was mere child’s play to a man of Reacher’s skills. Fourteen years as an investigator in the U.S. Army’s military police corps had given him both knowledge and an analytical frame of mind. Security cameras mis-directed, locks picked and motion sensors nimbly avoided, it took him less than four minutes to get from the outside to slipping quietly and undetected into the inner office of the Big Cheese himself – Danny Wegman. Still, he knew that time was short. Someone would quickly figure out that something was amiss, and he’d have to act fast. By his own calculations he had at most two minutes to accomplish his goal. There was no time to waste.
He went immediately to the large desk in the center of the room, picked up a stapler and brought it to the window sill, secreting it behind a potted Madagascar dragon tree.
“Move the cereal aisle, will ya? Have fun stapling, Mr. Chairman,” he muttered.
A paper clip dispenser was next, relocated to the highest of four wall-mounted bookshelves.
“That’s for moving the paper products to where the beer used to be.”
The ensuing minute was a busy one, as scissors, a pad of post-it notes, a paper weight, a staple remover, a stress ball and a World’s Best Boss coffee mug were all tucked into new and random homes around the office. He was two numbers into re-programming the speed dial entries on the desk phone when he heard the creak of distant elevator doors opening.
With an agility astonishing in a man his size, he was out the door and invisible in the shadows of the corridor, just as the night security guard rounded the corner at the far end of the hall. He had done all he could.
Reacher was on his way out of the state on a Greyhound bus by daybreak, impelled by an impulse he himself would have been hard put to explain to his next destination, San Francisco, California - by sheer coincidence the corporate headquarters of Twitter, Inc...
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