from chapter one of
THRESHING FLOOR
A THRILLER PARODY
(INTRODUCING JAKE TREACHER)

“I’m looking for Jack Reacher?”

Treacher frowned at the white guy in the suit. The suit was standing outside his motel door on a second-story breezeway. White guy in it. No tie. A shoulder holster presumably under the jacket.

“Am I supposed to answer that for you?” Treacher asked.

“What?”

“Are you looking for Jack Reacher? I wouldn’t know.”

Now the white guy frowned. “No. I mean, yes. I am looking for Jack Reacher. You him?”

“I guess. Who wants to know?” Treacher glared at the white guy from under a bleeding eyebrow.

“You’re Jack Reacher?”

“I said I guess.”

The white guy narrowed his eyes and mouth, about to say something. But he stopped.

Treacher had him pegged for an FBI agent. He could tell by the shoes. And the hair. The latter was trimmed short and neat, with impressive sideburns. G-man style. But otherwise no facial hair. The shoes were Rockport oxfords—black. Normal civilians wore brown Rockport oxfords. Normal civilians with normal jobs and normal hair equaled brown Rockports. Rockports only came in brown when sold in public retail markets. Treacher knew black Rockports meant an agency. The guy didn’t wear a tie, so Treacher assumed he was some kind of maverick G-man.

“OK. I’m a bit surprised. First of all, I was told that Reacher doesn’t like to give his name out. He’s evasive. And he leaves no trail. Which is why he’s such a hard man to find. Second… Not sure how to put this without seeming rude… I didn’t expect you to be b—”

“Big?” Treacher interrupted. “I’m not big enough for you? Is that it?” The white guy was tall in his own right, maybe six feet three inches, but Treacher still looked down on him. His eye was puffy, making it hard to see, but he saw enough. He wanted to go back to bed. He had slept only thirty-two seconds in the last forty-eight hours. According to the clock in his head.

Dried blood tightened around his eyes, restricting facial movement. That didn’t matter because Treacher’s expression remained neutral. It was always neutral.

“You’re plenty big,” the G-man said. “I had the impression that you would be…well…more like me.”

Treacher said nothing. This guy was from one of the original thirteen states. Somewhere north. Rhode Island. Treacher would bet on it. Agent Rhode Island. Lots of white people up there in Rhode Island.

“What happened to your face?” the agent asked.

“What happened to yours?”

“Nothing.”

“You born that way? My condolences to your mother.” Treacher said this knowing he was looking at an attractive guy. Attractive for a white man. But he was not in the mood to be standing here answering questions.

“It looks like you got into a fight. That’s going to need stitches.”

“Well, this is a rough neighborhood.”

“Yeah.” The agent looked around the outdoor walkway. It was still dark but he knew the motel was surrounded by green farmland. “Amish Country can be brutal. I’ve heard that.”

Treacher said nothing.

“Maybe you are Jack Reacher. I’ve heard he can find trouble almost anywhere. I’m Agent Adam Morgan, ATF.”

Damn, Treacher forgot all about the ATF and their FBI-mocking footwear. So close.

“You from Rhode Island?”

“Delaware.” Close again.

“Where’s your letter jacket, agent?”

“I’m undercover at the moment.”

“How’d you find me?”

“I canvassed all the nondescript, skeevy motels in the area. Howard Johnsons, all of them. Found a reservation for Tom Cruise, and I thought, ‘No way, not the Tom Cruise. I gotta check this out!’ So I came to number 211 here, and when the American actor and Scientologist Tom Cruise didn’t open the door, I thought, ‘Maybe it’s really Reacher.’”

“I asked for a first-floor room, but I got this one. What brings you to my humble billet, Agent Morgan?”

“The ATF is looking for you.”

“In that case, I’m not Jack Reacher.”

“You’re Tom Cruise?”

“Yeah. You arresting me?”

“Why would you jump to that conclusion? You get arrested a lot?”

Treacher said nothing but looked at him as if to say, No shit, Sherlock. Black man with no family, no home, no name.

“What brings you to Lancaster County, Mr. Cruise?”

“You first.”

“If you insist. I’m here for the fantastic smorgasbords.”

“Is that so?”

“Absolutely. I mean the shoo-fly pie…amazing.”

Treacher did not share the smile.

“Listen, I need to see some form of ID. I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.”

“I don’t carry any.”

“You have no ID? No bank cards? Nothing?”

“Easier to be evasive that way.”

“I don’t see how it’s even possible to do anything without identification, but, if you say so. OK, Mr. Cruise. I guess you gotta come with me.”

“Why?”

“Because I think you might be Jack Reacher.”