Die trying, p.4
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       Die Trying, p.4

         Part #2 of Jack Reacher series by Lee Child
slower 1  faster
Chapter Four

  RIGHT INSIDE THE shell of the second-floor room, a second shell was taking shape. It was being built from brand-new softwood two-by-fours, nailed together in the conventional way, looking like a new room growing right there inside the old room. But the new room was going to be about a foot smaller in every dimension than the old room had been. A foot shorter in length, a foot narrower in width, and a foot shorter in height.

  The new floor joists were going to be raised a foot off the old joists with twelve-inch lengths of the new softwood. The new lengths looked like a forest of short stilts, ready to hold the new floor up. More short lengths were ready to hold the new framing a foot away from the old framing all the way around the sides and the ends. The new framing had the bright yellowness of new wood. It gleamed against the smoky honey color of the old framing. The old framing looked like an ancient skeleton which was suddenly growing a new skeleton inside itself.

  Three men were building the new shell. They were stepping from joist to joist with practiced skill. They looked like men who had built things before. And they were working fast. Their contract demanded they finish on time. The employer had been explicit about it. Some kind of a rush job. The three carpenters were not complaining about that. The employer had accepted their first bid. It had been an inflated bid, with a large horse-trading margin built in. But the guy had not eaten into that margin. He had not negotiated at all. He had just nodded and told them to start work as soon as the wrecking crew had finished. Work was hard to find, and employers who accepted your first price were even harder to find. So the three men were happy to work hard, and work fast, and work late. They were anxious to make a good first impression. Looking around, they could see the potential for plenty more employment.

  So they were giving it their best shot. They ran up and down the stairs with tools and fresh lumber. They worked by eye, marking cut-lines in the wood with their thumb-nails, using their nail guns and their saws until they ran hot. But they paused frequently to measure the gap between the old framing and the new. The employer had made it clear that dimension was critical. The old framing was six inches deep. The new framing was four. The gap was twelve inches.

  "Six and four and twelve," one guy said. "Twenty-two inches total. "

  "OK?" the second guy asked the crew chief.

  "Ideal," the crew chief said. "Exactly what he told us. "

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