Lee Child is a British author world famous for his crime thrillers. His 18 Jack Reacher novels have sold nearly 100 million copies and have been translated into 42 languages. Two of the Reacher series, One Shot and Never Go Back, were adapted into blockbuster films. Child makes cameo appearances in both movies. Prior to his writing career, Child was a director at Granada Television during British TV’s “golden age”. Fired in 1995 at the age of 40 as a result of corporate restructuring, Child saw an opportunity where others might have seen a crisis. Always a voracious reader, he bought six dollars' worth of paper and pencils and sat down to write a book. That book was Killing Floor-- the first in the Jack Reacher series.
As planned I visited three bars near Washington Square, and as expected I came away satisfied. After that I walked west into the quiet afternoon, and on the stroke of three o’clock I turned into Barrow Street, which was silent and deserted. No one was up yet. Too early. No doubt times have changed since then. Now I’m sure they buy apartments for a million dollars. Maybe two million dollars. Now I’m sure they work all day to pay the note. But way back long ago in the times I’m talking about the residents of Barrow Street didn’t do much of anything at all. Certainly never before eight or ten in the evening. Hence currently silent and deserted. Slumber was continuing. I was all alone. There was no sound. I could have been in Kansas. Until two guys walked in the other way. Lost, I assumed. No other reason for them to be there. Not in that historical era. They were dressed in pinstripe suits, dark blue, with snowy starched shirts and silk neckties cinched tight. One guy was maybe fifty, and the other was maybe thirty. Maybe a partner and an associate. Or a bank president and a favored VP. That kind of dynamic. The older guy had pale eyebrows and colorless blond hair going gray. Right there and then I bet on the weekends he wore pink pants and went to the Hamptons. That kind of guy. Probably had a sailboat. The thirty-year-old was shorter and squatter and had a head of oiled black hair. On a bathroom scale he would have outweighed his boss by twenty pounds or more, but the older guy was in charge. That was clear. He was a beaky, patrician kind of a character. Authority was coming off him in waves. I figured they had come north from Wall Street to get a private lunch away from prying eyes. Probably because they had important matters to discuss. I figured the older guy’s wife had picked out the restaurant. Word of mouth from a neighbor, or a mention in a hip magazine. Probably the two guys had been unimpressed. Now they had forgotten where their car was parked. Hence their random turn into silent and deserted Barrow Street. No other reason. Nothing for them there. Or for me, or for anyone. Or maybe there was. They were arguing. I saw it clearly when they got close. The older guy was moving as awkward as a stilt walker, and the younger guy was all seized up with frustration. He was stumping along, as rigid as a mannequin. I heard him hiss something about a grandfather, and I heard the older guy hiss something back, and for a second I wondered if they were related. Father and son, maybe, arguing over a legacy. But ultimately I thought not. They were too close in age, and too far apart in appearance. “Gentlemen,” I said. “May I help you with something?”