Killing floor, p.26
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       Killing Floor, p.26

         Part #1 of Jack Reacher series by Lee Child
Chapter Twenty-Seven

  FIRST THING I DID BACK AT THE HOUSE WAS ROOT AROUND in Charlie Hubble's expensive kitchen for coffee. Started the machine burbling away. Then I opened up the oven. Got all my things out. They had been warmed for the best part of an hour and they were bone dry. The leather on the sap and the key ring had stiffened up some. Other than that, no damage. I put the gun back together and loaded it. Left it on the kitchen table. Cocked and locked.

  Then I checked Joe's computer printout for the confirmation I thought was there. But there was a problem. A major problem. The paper was bone dry and crisp, but the writing had gone. The paper was completely blank. The swimming pool water had washed all the ink off. There were very faint blurred smudges, but I couldn't make out the words. I shrugged to myself. I'd read it through a hundred times. I'd rely on my memory of what it had said.

  Next stop was the basement. I fiddled around with the furnace until it kicked in. Then I stripped off and shoved all my clothes in Charlie's electric dryer. Set it on low for an hour. I had no idea what I was doing. In the army, some corporal had done my laundry. Took it away, brought it back clean and folded. Since then, I always bought cheap stuff and just junked it.

  I walked upstairs naked and went into Hubble's bathroom. Took a long hot shower and scrubbed the mascara off my face. Stood for a long time in the hot water. Wrapped myself up in a towel and went down for the coffee.

  I couldn't go up to Atlanta that night. I couldn't get there before maybe three thirty in the morning. That was the wrong time to be sure of talking my way inside. I had no ID to show and no proper status. A night visit could turn into a problem. I would have to leave it until tomorrow, first thing. No choice.

  So I thought about sleeping. I turned the kitchen radio off and wandered through to Hubble's den. Turned the television off. Looked around. It was a dark, snug room. Lots of wood paneling and big leather chairs. Next to the television was a stereo. Some kind of a Japanese thing. Rows of compact discs and cassette tapes. Big emphasis on the Beatles. Hubble had said he'd been interested in John Lennon. He'd been to the Dakota in New York City and to Liverpool in England. He had just about everything. All the albums, a few bootlegs, that singles collection on CD they sold in a wooden box.

  Over the desk was a bookshelf. Stacks of professional periodicals and a row of heavy books. Technical banking journals and reports. The professional periodicals took up a couple of feet of shelf space. They looked pretty deadly. Random copies of something calling itself the Banking Journal. A couple of issues of a solid magazine called Bank Management. One called Banker. Banker's Magazine, Banker's Monthly, Business Journal, Business Week, Cash Management Bulletin, The Economist, The Financial Post. All filed in line with the alphabet, all in neat date order. Just random copies, ranging back over the last few years. No complete sets. At the end of the row were some U. S. Treasury Department dispatches and a couple of issues of something calling itself World of Banking. A curious collection. Seemed very selective. Maybe they were especially heavy issues. Maybe Hubble had read them through when he couldn't sleep.

  I wasn't going to have any trouble sleeping. I was on my way out of the den, off to find a bed to borrow, when something occurred to me. I stepped back to the desk and peered at the bookshelf again. Ran my finger along the row of magazines and journals. Checked the dates printed on the spines, under the pompous titles. Some of them were recent issues. The random sequence continued right up to the latest issue of a couple of them. More than a dozen were from this year. Fully a third of them were published after Hubble had left his job at the bank. After he had been let go. They were published for bankers, but by then Hubble hadn't been a banker anymore. But he had still been ordering up these heavy professional journals. He had still been getting them. Still reading all this complicated stuff. Why?

  I pulled out a couple of the periodicals. Looked at the covers. They were thick, glossy magazines. I held them in my fingers at the top and bottom of the spines. They fell open at the pages Hubble had consulted. I looked at those pages. Pulled out some more issues. Let them fall open. I sat down in Hubble's leather chair. I sat there wrapped in his towel, reading. I read right through the shelf. From left to right, from beginning to end. All the periodicals. It took me an hour.

  Then I started in on the books. I ran my finger along the dusty row. Stopped with a little shock when I spotted a couple of names I knew. Kelstein and Bartholomew. A big old volume. Bound in red leather. Their Senate subcommittee report. I pulled it out and started flicking through. It was an amazing publication. Kelstein had modestly described it as the anticounterfeiter's bible. And it was. He'd been too modest. It was totally exhaustive. It was a painstaking history of every known forging technique. Copious examples and instances were taken from every racket ever discovered. I hefted the heavy volume onto my lap. Read for another solid hour.

  At first I concentrated on paper problems. Kelstein had said that paper was the key. He and Bartholomew had provided a long appendix about paper. It expanded on what he'd told me face to face. The cotton and linen fibers, the chemical colorant, the introduction of the red and blue polymer threads. The paper was produced in Dalton, Massachusetts, by an outfit called Crane and Company. I nodded to myself. I'd heard of them. Seemed to me I'd bought some Christmas cards made by them. I remembered the thick heavy card and the creamy rag envelopes. I'd liked them. The company had been making currency stock for the Treasury since 1879. For over a century, it had been trucked down to Washington under heavy guard in armored cars. None had ever been stolen. Not a single sheet.

  Then I flipped backward from the appendix and started looking at the main text. I piled Hubble's little library on his desk. Trawled through it all again. Some things I read twice, three times. I kept diving back into the untidy sprawl of dense articles and reports. Checking, cross-referencing, trying to understand the arcane language. I kept going back to the big red Senate report. There were three paragraphs I read over and over again. The first was about an old counterfeiting ring in Bogota, Colombia. The second was about a much earlier Lebanese operation. The Christian Phalangists had teamed up with some Armenian engravers during an old civil war. The third was some basic stuff about chemistry. Lots of complicated formulas, but there were a few words I recognized. I read the three paragraphs time and time again. I wandered through to the kitchen. Picked up Joe's blank list. Stared at it for a long time. Wandered back to the dark quiet den and sat in a pool of light and thought and read halfway through the night.

  IT DIDN'T PUT ME TO SLEEP. IT HAD EXACTLY THE OPPOSITE effect. It woke me up. It gave me a hell of a buzz. It left me shaking with shock and excitement. Because by the time I had finished, I knew exactly how they were getting their paper. I knew exactly where they were getting it from. I knew what had been in those air conditioner boxes last year. I didn't need to go up to Atlanta and look. I knew. I knew what Kliner was stockpiling at his warehouse. I knew what all those trucks were bringing in every day. I knew what Joe's heading had meant. E Unum Pluribus. I knew why he'd chosen that reversed motto. I knew everything, with twenty-four hours still to go. The whole thing, from beginning to end. From top to bottom. From the inside out. And it was one hell of a clever operation. Old Professor Kelstein had said the paper was unobtainable. But Kliner had proved him wrong. Kliner had found a way of obtaining it. A very simple way.

  I jumped up from the desk and ran down to the basement. Wrenched open the dryer door and pulled my clothes out. Dressed hopping from foot to foot on the concrete floor. Left the towel where it fell. Ran back up to the kitchen. Loaded up my jacket with the things I was going to need. Ran outside, leaving the splintered door swinging. Ran over the gravel to the Bentley. Started it up and threaded it backward down the drive. Roared off down Beckman and squealed a left onto Main Street. Gunned it through the silent town and out beyond the diner. Howled another left onto the Warburton road and pushed the stately old car along as fast as I dared.

  The Bentley's
headlights were dim. Twenty-year-old design. The night was patchy. Dawn was hours away and the last of the trailing storm clouds were scudding across the moon. The road was never quite straight. The camber was off and the surface was lumpy. And slick with storm water. The old car was sliding and wallowing. So I cut the speed back to a cruise. Figured it was smarter to take an extra ten minutes than to go plowing off into a field. I didn't want to join Joe. I didn't want to be another Reacher brother who knew, but who was dead.

  I passed the copse of trees. It was just a darker patch against the dark sky. Miles away, I could see the perimeter lights of the prison. They were blazing out over the night landscape. I cruised past. Then for miles I could see their glow in the mirror, behind me. Then I was over the bridge, through Franklin, out of Georgia, into Alabama. I rushed past the old roadhouse Roscoe and I had been in. The Pond. It was closed up and dark. Another mile, I was at the motel. I left the motor running and ducked into the office to rouse the night guy.

  "You got a guest called Finlay here?" I asked him.

  He rubbed his eyes and looked at the register.

  "Eleven," he said.

  The whole place had that night look on it. Slowed down and silent and asleep. I found Finlay's cabin. Number eleven. His police Chevy was parked up outside. I made a lot of noise banging on his door. Had to keep banging for a while. Then I heard an irritated groan. Couldn't make out any words. I banged some more.

  "Come on, Finlay," I called.

  "Who's there?" I heard him shout.

  "It's Reacher," I said. "Open the damn door. "

  There was a pause. Then the door opened. Finlay was standing there. I'd woken him up. He was wearing a gray sweatshirt and boxer shorts. I was amazed. I realized I had expected him to be sleeping in his tweed suit. With the mole-skin vest.

  "What the hell do you want?" he said.

  "Something to show you," I told him.

  He stood yawning and blinking.

  "What the hell time is it?" he said.

  "I don't know," I said. "Five o'clock, six, maybe. Get dressed. We're going somewhere. "

  "Going where?" he said.

  "Atlanta," I said. "Something to show you. "

  "What something?" he said. "Just tell me, can't you?"

  "Get dressed, Finlay," I said again. "Got to go. "

  He grunted, but he went to get dressed. Took him a while. Fifteen minutes, maybe. He disappeared into the bathroom. Went in there looking like a normal sort of a guy, just woken up. Came out looking like Finlay. Tweed suit and all.

  "OK," he said. "This better be damn good, Reacher. "

  We went out into the night. I walked over to the car while he locked his cabin door. Then he joined me.

  "You driving?" he said.

  "Why?" I said. "You got a problem with that?"

  He looked irritable as hell. Glared at the gleaming Bentley.

  "Don't like people driving me," he said. "You want to let me drive?"

  "I don't care who drives," I said. "Just get in the damn car, will you?"

  He got in the driver's side and I handed him the keys. I was happy enough to do that. I was very tired. He started the Bentley up and backed it out of the lot. Swung east. Settled in for the drive. He went fast. Faster than I had. He was a hell of a good driver.


  I looked across at him. I could see his eyes in the glow from the dash.

  "I figured it out," I said. "I know what it's all about. "

  He glanced back again.

  "So are you going to tell me?" he said.

  "Did you call Princeton?" I asked him.

  He grunted and slapped the Bentley's wheel in irritation.

  "I was on the phone for an hour," he said. "The guy knew a hell of a lot, but in the end he knew nothing at all. "

  "What did he tell you?" I asked him.

  "He gave me the whole thing," he said. "He was a smart guy. History postgrad, working for Bartholomew. Turns out Bartholomew and the other guy, Kelstein, were the big noises in counterfeiting research. Joe had been using them for background. "

  I nodded across at him.

  "I got all that from Kelstein," I said.

  He glanced over again. Still irritable.

  "So why are you asking me about it?" he said.

  "I want your conclusions," I told him. "I want to see where you got to. "

  "We didn't get to anywhere," he said. "They all talked for a year and decided there was no way Kliner could be getting so much good paper. "

  "That's exactly what Kelstein said," I told him. "But I figured it out. "

  He glanced over at me again. Surprise on his face. In the far distance I could see the glow of the prison lights at Warburton.

  "So tell me about it," he said.

  "Wake up and figure it out for yourself, Harvard guy," I said.

  He grunted again. Still irritable. We drove on. We hurtled into the pool of light spilling from the prison fence. Passed by the prison approach. Then the fierce yellow glare was behind us.

  "So start me off with a clue, will you?" he said.

  "I'll give you two clues," I said. "The heading Joe used on his list. E Unum Pluribus. And then think about what's unique about American currency. "

  He nodded. Thought about it. Drummed his long fingers on the wheel.

  "E Unum Pluribus," he said. "It's a reversal of the U. S. motto. So we can assume it means out of one comes many, right?"

  "Correct," I said. "And what's unique about American banknotes, compared to any other country in the world?"

  He thought about it. He was thinking about something so familiar he wasn't spotting it. We drove on. Shot past the stand of trees on the left. Up ahead, a faint glimmer of dawn in the east.

  "What?" he said.

  "I've lived all over the world," I said. "Six continents, if you count a brief spell in an air force weather hut in Antarctica. Dozens of countries. I've had lots of different sorts of paper money in my pocket. Yen, deutschmarks, pounds, lire, pesos, wons, francs, shekels, rupees. Now I've got dollars. What do I notice?"

  Finlay shrugged.

  "What?" he said.

  "Dollars are all the same size," I said. "Fifties, hundreds, tens, twenties, fives and ones. All the same size. No other country I've seen does that. Anywhere else, the high-value notes are bigger than the small-value notes. There's a progression, right? Anywhere else, the one is a small bill, the five is bigger, the ten is bigger and so on. The biggest value bills are usually great big sheets of paper. But American dollars are all the same size. The hundred-dollar bill is the same size as the one-dollar bill. "

  "So?" he asked.

  "So where are they getting their paper from?" I asked him.

  I waited. He glanced out of his window. Away from me. He wasn't getting it and that was irritating him.

  "They're buying it," I said. "They're buying the paper for a buck a sheet. "

  He sighed and gave me a look.

  "They're not buying it, for God's sake," he said. "Bartholomew's guy made that clear. It's manufactured up in Dalton and the whole operation is as tight as a fish's asshole. They haven't lost a single sheet in a hundred and twenty years. Nobody's selling it off on the side, Reacher. "

  "Wrong, Finlay," I said. "It's for sale on the open market. "

  He grunted again. We drove on. Came to the turn onto the county road. Finlay slowed and swung left. Headed north toward the highway. Now the glimmer of dawn was on our right. It was getting stronger.

  "They're scouring the country for one-dollar bills," I said. "That was the role Hubble took over a year and a half ago. That used to be his job at the bank, cash management. He knew how to get hold of cash. So he arranged to obtain one-dollar bills from banks, malls, retail chains, supermarkets, racetracks, casinos, anywhere he could. It was a big job. They needed a lot of them. They're using bank checks and wi
re transfers and bogus hundreds and they're buying in genuine one-dollar bills from all over the U. S. About a ton a week. "

  Finlay stared across at me. Nodded. He was beginning to understand.

  "A ton a week?" he said. "How many is that?"

  "A ton in singles is a million dollars," I said. "They need forty tons a year. Forty million dollars in singles. "

  "Go on," he said.

  "The trucks bring them down to Margrave," I said. "From wherever Hubble sourced them. They come in to the warehouse. "

  Finlay nodded. He was catching on. He could see it.

  "Then they got shipped out again in the air conditioner cartons," he said.

  "Correct," I said. "Until a year ago. Until the Coast Guard stopped them. Nice new fresh boxes, probably ordered from some cardboard box factory two thousand miles away. They packed them up, sealed them with tape, shipped them out. But they used to count them first, before shipping them. "

  He nodded again.

  "To keep the books straight," he said. "But how the hell do you count a ton of dollar bills a week?"

  "They weighed them," I said. "Every time they filled a box, they stuck it on a scale and weighed it. With singles, an ounce is worth thirty bucks. A pound is worth four hundred and eighty. I read about all that last night. They weighed it, they calculated the value, then they wrote the amount on the side of the box. "

  "How do you know?" he said.

  "The serial numbers," I said. "Showed how much money was in the box. "

  Finlay smiled a rueful smile.

  "OK," he said. "Then the boxes went to Jacksonville Beach, right?"

  I nodded.

  "Got put on a boat," I said. "Got taken down to Venezuela. "

  Then we fell silent. We were approaching the warehouse complex up at the top of the old county road. It loomed up on our left like the center of our universe. The metal siding reflected the pale dawn. Finlay slowed. We looked over at the place. Our heads swiveled around as we drove past. Then we swung up the ramp onto the highway. Headed north for Atlanta. Finlay mashed the pedal and the stately old car hummed along faster.

  "What's in Venezuela?" I asked him.

  He shrugged across at me.

  "Lots of things, right?" he said.

  "Kliner's chemical works," I said. "It relocated there after the EPA problem. "

  "So?" he said.

  "So what does it do?" I asked him. "What's that chemical plant for?"

  "Something to do with cotton," he said.

  "Right," I said. "Involving sodium hydroxide, sodium hypochlorite, chlorine and water. What do you get when you mix all those chemicals together?"

  He shrugged. The guy was a cop, not a chemist.

  "Bleach," I said. "Bleach, pretty strong, specially for cotton fiber. "

  "So?" he said again.

  "What did Bartholomew's guy tell you about currency paper?" I asked him.

  Finlay inhaled sharply. It was practically a gasp.

  "Christ," he said. "Currency paper is mostly cotton fiber. With a bit of linen. They're bleaching the dollar bills. My God, Reacher, they're bleaching the ink off. I don't believe it. They're bleaching the ink off the singles and giving themselves forty million sheets of genuine blank paper to play with. "

  I grinned at him and he held out his right hand. We smacked a high five and whooped at each other, alone in the speeding car.

  "You got it, Harvard guy," I said. "That's how they're doing it. No doubt about that. They've figured out the chemistry and they're reprinting the blank bills as hundreds. That's what Joe meant. E Unum Pluribus. Out of one comes many. Out of one dollar comes a hundred dollars. "

  "Christ," Finlay said again. "They're bleaching the ink off. This is something else, Reacher. And you know what this all means? Right now, that warehouse is stuffed full to the ceiling with forty tons of genuine dollar bills. There's forty million dollars in there. Forty tons, all piled up, waiting for the Coast Guard to pull back. We've caught them with their pants down, right?"

  I laughed, happily.

  "Right," I said. "Their pants are down around their ankles. Their asses are hanging out in the breeze. That's what they were so worried about. That's why they're panicking. "

  Finlay shook his head. Grinned at the windshield.

  "How the hell did you figure this out?" he asked.

  I didn't answer right away. We drove on. The highway was hoisting us through the gathering sprawl of Atlanta's southern edge. Blocks were filling up. Construction and commerce were busy confirming the Sunbelt's growing strength. Cranes stood ready to shore up the city's southern wall against the rural emptiness outside.

  "We're going to take this one step at a time," I said.

  "First of all, I'm going to prove it to you. I'm going to show you an air conditioner box stuffed with genuine one-dollar bills. "

  "You are?" he said. "Where?"

  I glanced across at him.

  "In the Stollers' garage," I said.

  "Christ's sake, Reacher," he said. "It got burned down. And there was nothing in it, right? Even if there was, now it's got the Atlanta PD and fire chiefs swarming all over it. "

  "I've got no information says it got burned down," I said.

  "What the hell are you talking about?" he said. "I told you, it was on the telex. "

  "Where did you go to school?" I asked him.

  "What's that got to do with anything?" he said.

  "Precision," I said. "It's a habit of mind. It can get reinforced by good schooling. You saw Joe's computer printout, right?"

  Finlay nodded.

  "You recall the second-to-last item?" I asked him.

  "Stollers' Garage," he said.

  "Right," I said. "But think about the punctuation. If the apostrophe was before the final letter, it would mean the garage belonging to one person called Stoller. The singular possessive, they call it in school, right?"

  "But?" he said.

  "It wasn't written like that," I said. "The apostrophe came after the final letter. It meant the garage belonging to the Stollers. The plural possessive. The garage belonging to two people called Stoller. And there weren't two people called Stoller living at the house out by the golf course. Judy and Sherman weren't married. The only place we're going to find two people called Stoller is the little old house where Sherman's parents live. And they've got a garage. "

  Finlay drove on in silence. Trawled back to his grade-school grammar.

  "You think he stashed a box with his folks?" he said.

  "It's logical," I said. "The boxes we saw in his own place were empty. But Sherman didn't know he was going to die last Thursday. So it's reasonable to assume he had more savings stashed away somewhere else. He thought he was going to live for years without working. "

  We were just about into Atlanta. The big interchange was coming up.

  "Loop around past the airport," I told him.

  We skirted the city on a raised ribbon of concrete. We passed near the airport. I found my way back to the poor part of town. It was nearly seven thirty in the morning. The place looked pretty good in the soft morning light. The low sun gave it a spurious glow. I found the right street, and the right house, crouching inoffensively behind its hurricane fencing.

  We got out of the car and I led Finlay through the gate in the wire fence. Along the straight path to the door. I nodded to him. He pulled his badge and pounded on the door. We heard the hallway floor creak. We heard bolts and chains snapping and clinking. Then the door opened. Sherman Stoller's mother stood there. She looked awake. Didn't look like we'd got her out of bed. She didn't speak. Just stared out at us.

  "Morning, Mrs. Stoller," I said. "Remember me?"

  "You're a police officer," she said.

  Finlay held his badge out toward her. She nodded.

  "Better come in," she said.

  We followed her down the hall into the cramped k

  "What can I do for you?" the old lady asked.

  "We'd like to see the inside of your garage, ma'am," Finlay said. "We have reason to believe your son may have placed some stolen property there. "

  The woman stood silently in her kitchen for a moment. Then she turned and took a key off a nail on the wall. Handed it to us without a word. Walked off down the narrow hallway and disappeared into another room. Finlay shrugged at me and we went back out the front door and walked around to the garage.

  It was a small tumbledown structure, barely big enough for a single car. Finlay used the key on the lock and swung the door open. The garage was empty except for two tall cartons. They were stacked side by side against the end wall. Identical to the empty boxes I'd seen at Sherman Stoller's new house. Island Air-conditioning, Inc. But these were still sealed with tape. They had long handwritten serial numbers. I took a good look at them. According to those numbers, there was a hundred thousand dollars in each box.

  Finlay and I stood there looking at the boxes. Just staring at them. Then I walked over and rocked one out from the wall. Took out Morrison's knife and popped the blade. Pushed the point under the sealing tape and slit the top open. Pulled up the flaps on the top and pushed the box over.

  It landed with a dusty thump on the concrete floor. An avalanche of paper money poured out. Cash fluttered over the floor. A mass of paper money. Thousands and thousands of dollar bills. A river of singles, some new, some crumpled, some in thick rolls, some in wide bricks, some loose and fluttering. The carton spilled its contents and the flood tide of cash reached Finlay's polished shoes. He crouched down and plunged his hands into the lake of money. He grabbed two random fistfuls of cash and held them up. The tiny garage was dim. Just a small dirty windowpane letting in the pale morning light. Finlay stayed down on the floor with his big hands full of dollar bills. We looked at the money and we looked at each other.

  "How much was in there?" Finlay asked.

  I kicked the box over to find the handwritten number. More cash spilled out and fluttered over the floor.

  "Nearly a hundred thousand," I told him.

  "What about the other one?" he said.

  I looked over at the other box. Read the long hand written number.

  "A hundred grand plus change," I said. "Must be packed tighter. "

  He shook his head. Dropped the dollar bills and started swishing his hands through the pile. Then he got up and started kicking it around. Like a kid does with fall leaves. I joined him. We were laughing and kicking great sprays of cash all over the place. The air was thick with it. We were whooping and slapping each other on the back. We were smacking high tens and dancing around in a hundred thousand dollars on a garage floor.

  FINLAY REVERSED THE BENTLEY UP TO THE GARAGE DOOR. I kicked the cash into piles and started stuffing it back into the air conditioner box. It wouldn't all go in. Problem was the tight rolls and bricks had sprung apart. It was just a mess of loose dollar bills. I stood the box upright and crushed the money down as far as I could, but it was hopeless. I must have left about thirty grand on the garage floor.

  "We'll take the sealed box," Finlay said. "Come back for the rest later. "

  "It's a drop in the bucket," I said. "We should leave it for the old folks. Like a pension fund. An inheritance from their boy. "

  He thought about it. Shrugged, like it didn't matter. The cash was just lying around like litter. There was so much of it, it didn't seem like anything at all.

  "OK," he said.

  We dragged the sealed box out into the morning light. Heaved it into the Bentley's trunk. It wasn't easy. The box was very heavy. A hundred thousand dollars weighs about two hundred pounds. We rested up for a moment, panting. Then we shut the garage door. Left the other hundred grand in there.

  "I'm going to call Picard," Finlay said.

  He went back into the old couple's house to borrow their phone. I leaned against the Bentley's warm hood and enjoyed the morning sun. Two minutes, he was back out again.

  "Got to go to his office," he said. "Strategy conference. "

  He drove. He threaded his way out of the untidy maze of little streets toward the center. Spun the big Bakelite wheel and headed for the towers.

  "OK," he said. "You proved it to me. Tell me how you figured it. "

  I squirmed around in the big leather seat to face him.

  "I wanted to check Joe's list," I said. "That punctuation thing with the Stollers' garage. But the list had gotten soaked in chlorinated water. All the writing had bleached off. "

  He glanced across.

  "You put it together from that?" he said.

  I shook my head.

  "I got it from the Senate report," I said. "There were a couple of little paragraphs. One was about an old scam in Bogota. There was another about an operation in Lebanon years ago. They were doing the same thing, bleaching real dollar bills so they could reprint the blank paper. "

  Finlay ran a red light. Glanced over at me.

  "So Kliner's idea isn't original?" he asked.

  "Not original at all," I said. "But those other guys were very small scale. Very low-level stuff. Kliner built it up to a huge scale. Sort of industrial. He's the Henry Ford of counterfeiting. Henry Ford didn't invent the automobile, right? But he invented mass production. "

  He stopped at the next red light. There was traffic on the cross street.

  "The bleaching thing was in the Senate report?" he said. "So how come Bartholomew or Kelstein didn't get it? They wrote the damn thing, right?"

  "I think Bartholomew did get it," I said. "I think that's what he finally figured out. That's what the e-mail was about. He'd just remembered it. It was a very long report. Thousands of pages, written a long time ago. The bleaching thing was just one tiny footnote in a mass of other stuff. And it referred to very small-scale operations. No comparison at all with the volume Kliner's into. Can't blame Bartholomew or Kelstein. They're old guys. No imagination. "

  Finlay shrugged. Parked up next to a hydrant in a tow zone.

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