Tripwire


Chapter 3

  THAT SAME SUN was on the back of Reacher's neck as he made his way into Manhattan in the rear seat of a gypsy cab. He preferred to use unlicensed operators, given the choice. It suited his habit. No reason at all why anyone should ever want to trace his movements by checking with cabdrivers, but a cabdriver who couldn't admit to being one was the safest kind there was. And it gave the opportunity for a little negotiation about the fare. Not much negotiating to be done with the meter in a yellow taxi.

  They came in over the Triborough Bridge and entered Manhattan on 125th Street. Drove west through traffic as far as Roosevelt Square. Reacher had the guy pull over there while he scanned around and thought for a moment. He was thinking about a cheap hotel, but he wanted one with working phones. And intact phone books. His judgment was he couldn't meet all three requirements in that neighborhood. But he got out anyway, and paid the guy off. Wherever he was going, he'd walk the last part. A cut-out period, on his own. It suited his habit.

  THE TWO YOUNG men in the crumpled thousand-dollar suits waited until Chester Stone was well clear. Then they went into the inner office and threaded by the furniture and stood quietly in front of the desk. Hobie looked up at them and rolled open a drawer. Put the signed agreements away with the photographs and took out a new pad of yellow paper. Then he laid his hook on the desktop and turned in his chair so the dim light from the window caught the good side of his face.

  "Well?"

  "We just got back," the first guy said.

  "You get the information I asked for?"

  The second guy nodded. Sat down on the sofa.

  "He was looking for a guy called Jack Reacher. "

  Hobie made a note of the name on the yellow pad. "Who's he?"

  There was a short silence.

  "We don't know," the first guy said.

  Hobie nodded, slowly. "Who was Costello's client?"

  Another short silence.

  "We don't know that either," the guy said.

  "Those are fairly basic questions," Hobie said.

  The guy just looked at him through the silence, uneasy.

  "You didn't think to ask those fairly basic questions?"

  The second guy nodded. "We asked them. We were asking them like crazy. "

  "But Costello wouldn't answer?"

  "He was going to," the first guy said.

  "But?"

  "He died on us," the second guy said. "He just upped and died. He was old, overweight. It was maybe a heart attack, I think. I'm very sorry, sir. We both are. "

  Hobie nodded again, slowly. "Exposure?"

  "Nil," the first guy said. "He's unidentifiable. "

  Hobie glanced down at the fingertips of his left hand. "Where's the knife?"

  "In the sea," the second guy said.

  Hobie moved his arm and tapped a little rhythm on the desktop with the point of his hook. Thought hard, and nodded again, decisively.

  "OK, not your fault, I guess. Weak heart, what can you do?"

  The first guy relaxed and joined his partner on the sofa. They were off the hook, and that had a special meaning in this office.

  "We need to find the client," Hobie said into the silence.

  The two guys nodded and waited.

  "Costello must have had a secretary, right?" Hobie said. "She'll know who the client was. Bring her to me. "

  The two guys stayed on the sofa.

  "What?"

  "This Jack Reacher," the first guy said. "Supposed to be a big guy, three months in the Keys. Costello told us people were talking about a big guy, been there three months, worked nights in a bar. We went to see him. Big tough guy, but he said he wasn't Jack Reacher. "

  "So?"

  " Miami airport," the second guy said. "We took United because it was direct. But there was an earlier flight just leaving, Delta to Atlanta and New York. "

  "And?"

  "The big guy from the bar? We saw him, heading down to the gate. "

  "You sure?"

  The first guy nodded. "Ninety-nine percent certain. He was a long way ahead, but he's a real big guy. Difficult to miss. "

  Hobie started tapping his hook on the desk again. Lost in thought.

  "OK, he's Reacher," he said. "Has to be, right? Costello asking around, then you guys asking on the same day, it spooks him and he runs. But where? Here?"

  The second guy nodded. "If he stayed on the plane in Atlanta, he's here. "

  "But why?" Hobie asked. "Who the hell is he?"

  He thought for a moment and answered his own question.

  "The secretary will tell me who the client is, right?"

  Then he smiled.

  "And the client will tell me who this Reacher guy is. "

  The two guys in the smart suits nodded quietly and stood up. Threaded their way around the furniture and walked out of the office.

  REACHER WAS WALKING south through Central Park. Trying to get a grip on the size of the task he had set himself. He was confident he was in the right city. The three accents had been definitive. But there was a huge population to wade through. Seven and a half million people spread out over the five boroughs, maybe altogether 18 million in the metropolitan area. Eighteen million people close enough to focus inward when they want a specialized urban service like a fast and efficient private detective. His gut assumption was Costello may have been located in Manhattan, but it was entirely possible that Mrs. Jacob was suburban. If you're a woman living somewhere in the suburbs and you want a private detective, where do you look for one? Not next to the supermarket or the video rental. Not in the mall next to the dress shops. You pick up the Yellow Pages for the nearest major city and you start calling. You have an initial conversation and maybe the guy drives out to you, or you get on the train and come in to him. From anywhere in a big dense area that stretches hundreds of square miles.

  He had given up on hotels. He didn't necessarily need to invest a lot of time. Could be he'd be in and out within an hour. And he could use more information than hotels had to offer. He needed phone books for all five boroughs and the suburbs. Hotels wouldn't have all of those. And he didn't need to pay the kind of rates hotels like to charge for phone calls. Digging swimming pools had not made him rich.

  So he was heading for the public library. Forty-second Street and Fifth. The biggest in the world? He couldn't remember. Maybe, maybe not. But certainly big enough to have all the phone books he needed, and big, wide tables and comfortable chairs. Four miles from Roosevelt Square, an hour's brisk walk, interrupted only by traffic on the cross streets and a quick diversion into an office-supply store to buy a notebook and a pencil.

  THE NEXT GUY into Hobie's inner office was the receptionist. He stepped inside and locked the door behind him. Walked over and sat down on the end of the sofa nearest the desk. Looked at Hobie, long and hard, and silently.

  "What?" Hobie asked him, although he knew what.

  "You should get out," the receptionist said. "It's risky now. "

  Hobie made no reply. Just held his hook in his left hand and traced its wicked metal curve with his remaining fingers.

  "You planned," the receptionist said. "You promised. No point planning and promising if you don't do what you're supposed to do. "

  Hobie shrugged. Said nothing.

  "We heard from Hawaii, right?" the receptionist said. "You planned to run as soon as we heard from Hawaii. "

  "Costello never went to Hawaii," Hobie said. "We checked. "

  "So that just makes it worse. Somebody else went to Hawaii. Somebody we don't know. "

  "Routine," Hobie said. "Had to be. Think about it. No reason for anybody to go to Hawaii until we've heard from the other end. It's a sequence, you know that. We hear from the other end, we hear from Hawaii, step one, step two, and then it's time to go. Not before. "

  "You promised," the guy said again.

  "Too early," Hobie said. "It's not logical. Think about
it. You see somebody buy a gun and a box of bullets, they point the gun at you, are you scared?"

  "Sure I am. "

  "I'm not," Hobie said. "Because they didn't load it. Step one is buy the gun and the bullets, step two is load it. Until we hear from the other end, Hawaii is an empty gun. "

  The receptionist laid his head back and stared up at the ceiling.

  "Why are you doing this?"

  Hobie rolled open his drawer and pulled out the Stone dossier. Took out the signed agreement. Tilted the paper until the dim light from the window caught the bright blue ink of his twin signatures.

  "Six weeks," he said. "Maybe less. That's all I need. "

  The receptionist craned his head up again and squinted over.

  "Need for what?"

  "The biggest score of my life," Hobie said.

  He squared the paper on the desk and trapped it under his hook.

  "Stone just handed me his whole company. Three generations of sweat and toil, and the stupid asshole just handed me the whole thing on a plate. "

  "No, he handed you shit on a plate. You're out one-point-one million dollars in exchange for some worthless paper. "

  Hobie smiled.

  "Relax, let me do the thinking, OK? I'm the one who's good at it, right?"

  "OK, so how?" the guy asked.

  "You know what he owns? Big factory out on Long Island and a big mansion up in Pound Ridge. Five hundred houses all clustered around the factory. Must be three thousand acres all told, prime Long Island real estate, near the shore, crying out for development. "

  "The houses aren't his," the guy objected.

  Hobie nodded. "No, they're mostly mortgaged to some little bank in Brooklyn. "

  "OK, so how?" the guy asked again.

  "Just think about it," Hobie said. "Suppose I put this stock in the market?"

  "You'll get shit for it," the guy said back. "It's totally worthless. "

  "Exactly, it's totally worthless. But his bankers don't really know that yet. He's lied to them. He's kept his problems away from them. Why else would he come to me? So his bankers will have it rammed under their noses exactly how worthless their security is. A valuation, straight from the Exchange. They'll be told: This stock is worth exactly less than shit. Then what?"

  "They panic," the guy said.

  "Correct," Hobie said. "They panic. They're exposed, with worthless security. They shit themselves until Hook Hobie comes along and offers them twenty cents on the dollar for Stone's debt. "

  "They'd take that? Twenty cents on the dollar?"

  Hobie smiled. His scar tissue wrinkled.

  "They'll take it," he said. "They'll bite my other hand off to get it. And they'll include all the stock they hold, part of the deal. "

  "OK, then what? What about the houses?"

  "Same thing," Hobie said. "I own the stock, I own the factory out there, I close it down. No jobs, five hundred defaulted mortgages. The Brooklyn bank will get real shaky over that. I'll buy those mortgages for ten cents on the dollar, foreclose everybody and sling them out. Hire a couple of bulldozers, and I've got three thousand acres of prime Long Island real estate, right near the shore. Plus a big mansion up in Pound Ridge. Total cost to me, somewhere around eight-point-one million dollars. The mansion alone is worth two. That leaves me down six-point-one for a package I can market for a hundred million, if I pitch it right. "

  The receptionist was staring at him.

  "That's why I need six weeks," Hobie said.

  Then the receptionist was shaking his head.

  "It won't work," he said. "It's an old family business. Stone still holds most of the stock himself. It's not all traded. His bank's only got some of it. You'd only be a minority partner. He wouldn't let you do all that stuff. "

  Hobie shook his head in turn.

  "He'll sell out to me. All of it. The whole nine yards. "

  "He won't. "

  "He will. "

  THERE WAS GOOD news and bad news at the public library. Plenty of people called Jacob listed in the phone books for Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, Long Island, Westchester, the Jersey shore, Connecticut. Reacher gave it an hour's radius from the city. People an hour away turn instinctively to the city when they need something. Farther out than that, maybe they don't. He made marks with his pencil in his notebook and counted 129 potential candidates for the anxious Mrs. Jacob.

  But the Yellow Pages showed no private investigators called Costello. Plenty of private Costellos in the white pages, but no professional listings under that name. Reacher sighed. He was disappointed, but not surprised. It would have been too good to be true to open up the book and see Costello Investigations-We Specialize in Finding Ex-MPs Down in the Keys.

  Plenty of the agencies had generic names, a lot of them competing for the head of the alphabetical listings with a capital A as their first letter. Ace, Acme, A-One, AA Investigators. Others had plain geographical connotations, like Manhattan or the Bronx. Some were heading upmarket by using the words Paralegal Services. One was claiming the heritage trade by calling itself Gumshoe. Two were staffed only by women, working only for women.

  He pulled the White Pages back and turned the page in his notebook and copied fifteen numbers for the NYPD. Sat for a while, weighing his options. Then he walked outside, past the giant crouching lions and over to a pay phone on the sidewalk. He propped his notebook on top of the phone with all the quarters he had in his pocket and started down his list of precinct houses. Each one, he asked for administration. He figured he would get some grizzled old desk sergeant who would know everything worth knowing.

  He got the hit on his fourth call. The first three precincts were unable to help, without sounding any too regretful about it. The fourth call started the same way, a ring tone, a quick transfer, a long pause, then a wheezing acknowledgment as the phone was answered deep in the bowels of some grimy file room.

  "I'm looking for a guy called Costello," he said. "Retired from the job and set up private, maybe on his own, maybe for somebody else. Probably about sixty. "

  "Yeah, who are you?" a voice replied. Identical accent. Could have been Costello himself on the line.

  "Name's Carter," Reacher said. "Like the president. "

  "So what you want with Costello, Mr. Carter?"

  "I got something for him, but I lost his card," Reacher said. "Can't find his number in the book. "

  "That's because Costello ain't in the book. He only works for lawyers. He don't work for the general public. "

  "So you know him?"

  "Know him? Of course I know him. He worked detective out of this building fifteen years. Not surprising I would know him. "

  "You know where his office is?"

  "Down in the Village someplace," the voice said, and stopped.

  Reacher sighed away from the phone. Like pulling teeth.

  "You know where in the Village?"

  " Greenwich Avenue, if I recall. "

  "You got a street number?"

  "No. "

  "Phone number?"

  "No. "

  "You know a woman called Jacob?"

  "No, should I?"

  "Just a long shot," Reacher said. "She was his client. "

  "Never heard of her. "

  "OK, thanks for your help," Reacher said.

  "Yeah," the voice said.

  Reacher hung up and walked back up the steps and inside. Checked the Manhattan white pages again for a Costello on Greenwich Avenue. No listing. He put the books back on the shelf and went back out into the sun and started walking.

  GREENWICH AVENUE WAS a long, straight street running diagonally southeast from Fourteenth Street and Eighth to Eighth Street and Sixth. It was lined on both sides with pleasant low-rise Village buildings, some of them with scooped-out semibasement floors in use as small stores and galleries. Reacher walked the northern side first, and found nothing. Dodge
d the traffic at the bottom and came back on the other side and found a small brass plaque exactly halfway up the street, fixed to the stone frame of a doorway. The plaque was a well-polished rectangle, one of a cluster, and it said Costello. The door was black, and it was open. Inside was a small lobby with a notice board, ridged felt press-in white plastic letters, indicating the building was subdivided into ten small office suites. Suite five was marked Costello. Beyond the lobby was a glass door, locked. Reacher pressed the buzzer for five. No reply. He used his knuckle and leaned on it, but it got him nowhere. So he pressed six. A voice came back, distorted.

  "Yes?"

  "UPS," he said, and the glass door buzzed and clicked open.

  It was a three-floor building, four if you counted the separate basement. Suites one, two and three were on the first floor. He went up the stairs and found suite four on his left, six on his right, and five right at the back of the building with its door tucked under the angle of the staircase as it wound up to the third story.

  The door was a polished mahogany affair, and it was standing open. Not wide open, but open enough to be obvious. Reacher pushed it with his toe, and it swung on its hinges to reveal a small quiet reception area the size of a motel room. It was decorated in a pastel color somewhere between light gray and light blue. Thick carpet on the floor. A secretary's desk in the shape of the letter L, with a complicated telephone and a sleek computer. A filing cabinet and a sofa. There was a window with pebbled glass and another door leading straight ahead to an inner office.

  The reception area was empty, and it was quiet. Reacher stepped inside and closed the door behind him with his heel. The lock was latched back, like the office had been opened up for business. He padded across the carpet to the inner door. Wrapped his hand in his shirttail and turned the knob. Stepped through into a second room of equal size. Costello's room. There were framed black-and-white photographs of younger versions of the man he had met in the Keys standing with police commissioners and captains and local politicians Reacher did not recognize. Costello had been a thin man, many years ago. The pictures showed him getting fatter as he got older, like a diet advertisement in reverse. The photographs were grouped on a wall to the right of a desk. The desk held a blotter and an old-fashioned inkwell and a telephone and behind it was a leather chair, crushed into the shape of a heavy man. The left-hand wall held a window with more obscure glass and a line of locked cabinets. In front of the desk was a pair of client chairs, neatly arranged at a comfortable and symmetrical angle.

  Reacher stepped back to the outer office. There was a smell of perfume in the air. He threaded around the secretary's desk and found a woman's bag, open, neatly stowed against the vanity panel to the left of the chair. The flap was folded back, revealing a soft leather wallet and a plastic pack of tissues. He took out his pencil and used the eraser end to poke the tissues aside. Underneath them was a clutter of cosmetics and a bunch of keys and the soft aroma of expensive cologne.

  The computer monitor was swirling with a watery screensaver. He used the pencil to nudge the mouse. The screen crackled and cleared and revealed a half-finished letter. The cursor was blinking patiently in the middle of an uncompleted word. That morning's date sat underneath a letterhead. Reacher thought about Costello's body, sprawled out on the sidewalk next to the Key West graveyard, and he glanced between the tidy placement of the absent woman's bag, the open door, the uncompleted word, and he shivered.

  Then he used the pencil to exit the word processor. A window opened and asked him if he wanted to save the changes to the letter. He paused and hit no. Opened the file manager screen and checked the directories. He was looking for an invoice. It was clear from looking around that Costello ran a neat operation. Neat enough to invoice for a retainer before he went looking for Jack Reacher. But when did that search start? It must have followed a clear sequence. Mrs. Jacob's instructions coming at the outset, nothing except a name, a vague description about his size, his Army service. Costello must then have called the military's central storage facility, a carefully guarded complex in St. Louis that holds every piece of paper relating to every man and woman who has ever served in uniform. Carefully guarded in two ways, physically with gates and wire, and bureaucratically with a thick layer of obstruction designed to discourage frivolous access. After patient inquiries he would have discovered the honorable discharge. Then a puzzled pause, staring at a dead end. Then the long shot with the bank account. A call to an old buddy, favors called in, strings pulled. Maybe a blurry faxed printout from Virginia, maybe a blow-by-blow narrative of credits and debits over the telephone. Then the hurried flight south, the questions up and down Duval, the two guys, the fists, the linoleum knife.

  A reasonably short sequence, but St. Louis and Virginia would have been major delays. Reacher's guess was getting good information out of the records office would take three days, maybe four, for a citizen like Costello. The Virginia bank might not have been any quicker. Favors aren't necessarily granted immediately. The timing has got to be right. Call it a total of seven days' bureaucratic fudge, separated by a day's thinking time, plus a day at the start and a day at the end. Maybe altogether ten days since Mrs. Jacob set the whole thing in motion.

  He clicked on a subdirectory labeled INVOICES. The right-hand side of the screen came up with a long field of file names, stacked alphabetically. He ran the cursor down the list and spooled them up from the bottom. No Jacob in the Js. Mostly they were just initials, long acronyms maybe standing for law firm names. He checked the dates. Nothing from exactly ten days ago. But there was one nine days old. Maybe Costello was faster than he thought, or maybe his secretary was slower. It was labeled SGR amp;T-09. He clicked on it and the hard drive chattered and the screen came up with a thousand-dollar retainer against a missing persons inquiry, billed to a Wall Street firm called Spencer Gutman Ricker and Talbot. There was a billing address, but no phone number.

  He quit file manager and entered the database. Searched for SGR amp;T again and came up with a page showing the same address, but this time with numbers for phone, fax, telex and E-mail. He leaned down and used his fingers and thumb to pull a couple of tissues from the secretary's pack. Wrapped one around the telephone receiver and opened the other flat and laid it across the keypad. Dialed the number by pressing through it. There was ring tone for a second, and then the connection was made.

  "Spencer Gutman," a bright voice said. "How may we help you?"

  "Mrs. Jacob, please," Reacher said, busily.

  "One moment," the voice said.

  There was tinny music and then a man's voice. He sounded quick, but deferential. Maybe an assistant.

  "Mrs. Jacob, please," Reacher said again.

  The guy sounded busy and harrassed. "She already left for Garrison, and I really don't know when she'll be in the office again, I'm afraid. "

  "Do you have her address in Garrison?"

  "Hers?" the guy said, surprised. "Or his?"

  Reacher paused and listened to the surprise and took a chance.

  "His, I mean. I seem to have lost it. "

  "Just as well you did," the voice said back. "It was misprinted, I'm afraid. I must have redirected at least fifty people this morning. "

  He recited an address, apparently from memory. Garrison, New York, a town about sixty miles up the Hudson River, more or less exactly opposite West Point, where Reacher had spent four long years.

  "I think you'll have to hurry," the guy said.

  "Yes, I will," Reacher said, and hung up, confused.

  He closed the database and left the screen blank. Took one more glance at the missing secretary's abandoned bag and caught one more breath of her perfume as he left the room.

  THE SECRETARY DIED five minutes after she gave up Mrs. Jacob's identity, which was about five minutes after Hobie started in on her with his hook. They were in the executive bathroom inside the office suite on the eighty-eighth floor. It was an ideal location. S
pacious, sixteen feet square, way too big for a bathroom. Some expensive decorator had put shiny gray granite tiling over all six surfaces, walls and floor and ceiling. There was a big shower stall, with a clear plastic curtain on a stainless steel rail. The rail was Italian, grossly overspecified for the task of holding up a clear plastic curtain. Hobie had discovered it could take the weight of an unconscious human, handcuffed to it by the wrists. Time to time, heavier people than the secretary had hung there, while he asked them urgent questions or persuaded them as to the wisdom of some particular course of action.

  The only problem was soundproofing. He was pretty sure it was OK. It was a solid building. Each of the Twin Towers weighs more than half a million tons. Plenty of steel and concrete, good thick walls. And he had no inquisitive neighbors. Most of the suites on eighty-eight were leased by trade missions from small obscure foreign nations, and their skeleton staffs spent most of their time up at the UN. Same situation on eighty-seven and eighty-nine. That was why he was where he was. But Hobie was a man who never took an extra risk if he could avoid it. Hence the duct tape. Before starting, he always lined up some six-inch strips, stuck temporarily to the tiling. One of them would go over the mouth. When whoever it was started nodding wildly, eyes bulging, he would tear off the strip and wait for the answer. Any screaming, he would slam the next strip on and go to work again. Normally he got the answer he wanted after the second strip came off.

  Then the tiled floor allowed a simple sluicing operation. Set the shower running hard, throw a few bucketfuls of water around, get busy with a mop, and the place was safe again as fast as water drains down eighty-eight floors and away into the sewers. Not that Hobie ever did the mopping himself. A mop needs two hands. The second young guy was doing the mopping, with his expensive pants rolled up and his socks and shoes off. Hobie was outside at his desk, talking to the first young guy.

  "I'll get Mrs. Jacob's address, you'll bring her to me, OK?"

  "Sure," the guy said. "What about this one?"

  He nodded toward the bathroom door. Hobie followed his glance.

  "Wait until tonight," he said. "Put some of her clothes back on, take her down to the boat. Dump her a couple of miles out in the bay. "

  "She's likely to wash back in," the guy said. "Couple of days. "

  Hobie shrugged.

  "I don't care," he said. "Couple of days, she'll be all bloated up. They'll figure she fell off a motorboat. Injuries like that, they'll put it down to propeller damage. "

  THE COVERT HABIT had advantages, but it also had problems. Best way to get up to Garrison in a hurry would be to grab a rental car and head straight out. But a guy who chooses not to use credit cards and won't carry a driver's license loses that option. So Reacher was back in a cab, heading for Grand Central. He was pretty sure the Hudson Line ran a train up there. He guessed commuters sometimes lived as far north as that. If not, the big Amtraks that ran up to Albany and Canada might stop there.

  He paid off the cab and pushed through the crowd to the doors. Down the long ramp and out into the giant concourse. He glanced around and craned his head to read the departures screen. Tried to recall the geography. Croton-Harmon trains were no good. They terminated way too far south. He needed Poughkeepsie at the minimum. He scanned down the list. Nothing doing. No trains out of there inside the next hour and a half that would get him to Garrison.

  THEY DID IT the usual way. One of them rode ninety floors down to the underground loading bay and found an empty carton in the trash pile. Refrigerator cartons were best, or soda machines, but once he'd done it with the box from a thirty-five-inch color television. This time, he found a filing cabinet carton. He used a janitor's trolley from the loading ramp and wheeled it into the freight elevator. Rode with it back up to the eighty-eighth floor.

  The other guy was zipping her into a body bag in the bathroom. They folded it into the carton and used the remaining duct tape to secure the carton shut. Then they hefted it back on the trolley and headed for the elevator once more. This time, they rode down to the parking garage. Wheeled the box over to the black Suburban. Counted to three and heaved it into the back. Slammed the tailgate shut and clicked the lock. Walked away and glanced back. Deep tints on the windows, dark garage, no problem.

  "You know what?" the first guy said. "We fold the seat down, we'll get Mrs. Jacob in there along with her. Do it all in one trip, tonight. I don't like going on that boat any more times than I have to. "

  "OK," the second guy said. "Were there more boxes?"

  "That was the best one. Depends if Mrs. Jacob is big or small, I guess. "

  "Depends if she's finished by tonight. "

  "You got any doubts on that score? The mood he's in today?"

  They strolled together to a different slot and unlocked a black Chevy Tahoe. Little brother to the Suburban, but still a giant vehicle.

  "So where is she?" the second guy asked.

  "A town called Garrison," the first guy said. "Straight up the Hudson, a ways past Sing Sing. An hour, hour and a half. "

  The Tahoe backed out of the slot and squealed its tires on its way around the garage. Bumped up the ramp into the sunshine and headed out to West Street, where it made a right and accelerated north.