Split Second Chapter 10 & 11

Chapter 10

The worst day of King’s life was that day from the prologue when Clyde went and got himself killed. He does say that this one is a close second, what with the dead body laying around the office. Now being as this is a murder, you wouldn’t expect federal agents to show up but they do. I will give Baldacci credit for explaining it in short order.

It turns out that the murder victim wasn’t Bruno. His name was Jennings and he was in the witness protection program. We get a little back story on him and he was once and accountant for a “criminal organization”. This nameless group were very unsavory and did all sorts of vaguely criminal things like arson, beatings and “homicide”. Is it just me or does homicide sound so much more clinical than murder? I find it kind of breaks the flow. Anywho, all that criminal activity brought public attention.

Jennings had quickly seen the light and helped send a slew of very dangerous folks to penitentiaries. Yet some of the most deadly had escaped the federal net; hence his enrollment in WITSEC.

Is that why he ended up in witness protection? Sure, these criminals could have been powerful enough to order a hit from behind bars or maybe he was in danger of being kidnapped by a rival gang. But this is all just filler that doesn’t really matter. Jennings’ death is just part of the larger plot but Baldacci just won’t let it go.

King is musing how he doesn’t actually know for certain that Jennings was in WITSEC. This comes right after us being told about how he worked for  a “criminal organization” but that King suspected much. Then he says he was told he wasn’t a suspect which means he’s at the top of the list. Well he did die in your office and he worked for you. They’re probably going to investigate you, just to make sure you didn’t take a payment from a suspicious guy who works in “sanitation”.

King says he spent the rest of the day calming down his partner, Baxter. That, though Baxter was a former NFL player this was something altogether different. Which is fine, Baldacci’s just saying that there’s a difference between dealing with the harsh reality of death and what we think of as a stereotypical tough guy, e.g. a football player. But then he mentions that King has killed men in the line of duty the same way you’d mention you’ve had a Caesar salad and refuses to elaborate. Maybe now would be a good time to tell us about the first time King had to shoot someone? Or maybe the first dead person he saw in the line of duty?

Baldacci would rather tell us about King’s assistant, Mona, who he sent home but she’s a gossip so it’s probably already all over town. Yeah, blame the gossip and not the news crews that King has already talked to. Their office is closed as part of a crime scene so King goes home and turns on the news. Naturally, they’re talking about his past, rather than the murder that just happened because King is the center of the universe. He only shares his spot with Michelle, making this a binary star universe which nothing outshines.

King has a bowl of soup then he goes out and gets in his jet boat. He also has a sailboat and a personal watercraft in his personal covered dock. He drives the boat around the lake until he finds a quiet cove to drink wine. Then he complains how he’ll be national attention once again when word gets out that a person in witness protection died in his office.

King then goes for a swim while remembering how he was treated last time he had national attention. There was video taken by a bystander and he looked like a moron. So we have a reason he might not want to be on the news again which is fair. Then some more info about his marriage and how it was failing before the assassination. He was always gone and she slept around until they finally divorced. But don’t worry folks, he wasn’t really sad about it. King then sees a light over by his house and goes to investigate, wondering it it’s the media or maybe Jenning’s killer is coming for their real target.

Chapter 11

In which King files for bankruptcy. Or he quietly wades to shore and hides in some bushes. Then it turns out to be his weekly Amazon delivery. After he assaults the UPS driver, they’re never coming back out to his house again. Good luck getting your super saver shipped nipple clamps from now on, King.

King sees an unfamiliar car parked outside, a blue BMW convertible, and decides someone must die. He slips into his house through the back, grabs his gun, and comes back out. There’s nothing safer than walk around the woods, pointing a gun and hoping to find someone to shoot. He hears a noise and rushes towards the person who stepped on a stick and tackles them.

Only it wasn’t a him. It was a her! And she had a pistol out too. It was pointed at him, the barrels of the two guns almost touching.

Is that supposed to be shocking? Why would he expect a guy? Do women have no reason to visit King? King gets off of her and we learn that her skirt got pushed up to nearly her crotch when King tackled her and so she tugs it back down. Not sure why we needed to know that, maybe Baldacci was hoping this would be adapted to a movie and that would be some titillation.

The woman King tackled is Joan and he hasn’t seen her in a while. She says she heard he was in trouble and came down to see him. But first she demands he make her dinner and he says she’s got some guts. She says he should know that by now and they go inside where King begins to prep the meal. Joan looks around and asks him how his finger is.

“It only hurts when I’m seriously ticked off. Sort of like a mood ring. And just so you know, it’s throbbing like hell right now.”

Joan ignores that part, as we all should. You know, Baldacci, you shouldn’t bother giving your character an impairment that doesn’t bother them. It’s like when other hacks give their characters purple eyes. Sure it sounds cool but it ultimately adds nothing to them. She comments on how impressive it is that he built the cabin on his own and he says he used carpentry to pay for his school. Then they eat after he fetches a bottle from his wine cellar and he asks why she’s really there.

Joan is apparently a member of the USSS and can go wherever she wants. She’s there unofficially and wants to know what King has to say about the murder. He says he was just some guy who worked for him and came in to find him dead. Then he says that later he found out he was in witness protection. He asks her again why she’s there and she says it’s not about the Service but about them.

King says there is no them and she says there was. They slept together and might have dated if things had been different. Alas, King could just not cope with wearing bondage suit and calling her mom. They banter and King whines again how she has her career. Joan says she’s sorry and he says he doesn’t hold a grudge. She isn’t happy with then and prepares to leave but he stops her because she’s had too much to drink to drive home. Joan grabs her overnight bag from the car and puts it in the guest room.

Joan asks if he won’t be stopping by the guest room before the morning and he walks off. She asks where he’s going and he says he has some work to do. I guess that she’s had too many drinks but he’s fine to drive drunk.

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