Split Second Chapters 54 & 55

Chapter 54

We’re still with Michelle and King, otherwise known as the brains behind an assassination and a kidnapping. They’re driving away from Jorst’s house and talking about what they just learned from him. Michelle says that he might have been telling the truth. Now there’s a possibility I didn’t consider. Of course he might not and this book could be a metaphor about how logicians ruin everything by asking kids about doors and liars.

Michelle says that it’s entirely possible that Jorst ran off wanting to comfort the suddenly widowed missus Ramsey  and that might make him a creep but not a killer. King says maybe but he doesn’t like Jorst hiding information like that from the police. Because there’s nothing besides sinister reasons he could have done that. Like maybe he knew authorities would grill him like a burger when they found out he was there with Ramsey. No amount of “I was concerned and Andrew didn’t know I was there” would get him out of trouble. Then Michelle has a brainstorm.

Michelle jumped as though she’d been stabbed. “Wait a minute. Sean, this may sound crazy, but hear me out.” He looked at her expectantly. “Jorst admits to being at the Fairmount. He’s in love with Regina Ramsey. What if he’s the one who talked Ramsey into killing Ritter? He clearly knew that Ramsey hated Ritter. He was his friend and colleague. Ramsey would listen to him.”

No, chicken feathers being taped to airplanes for fuel efficiency sounds crazy. Jorst being involved with the assassination sounds closer to reasonable than most anything Michelle has done in the entire book. King says that sounds silly because Kate heard the man talking to Ramsey and she knew it wasn’t Jorst. Michelle says that Jorst could have changed his voice since he knew Kate was in the house. Yes, and he probably walked backwards inside on the off chance a CIA agent was tracking his footprints. I suppose that Jorst could have been pulling a Bale and done his best Batman voice. Though I wonder how that conversation would have gone.

‘Hey Ramsey.’ ‘Hi Jorst. What’s wrong with your voice.’ ‘Nothing, now let’s talk about the assassination plot.’ ‘No really, did you gargle with cobra venom before coming over? Because I’m not sucking out the poison this time.’ ‘Look, I’m just trying out my badass voice, okay?’

So Jorst might have gone with Ramsey, not fired his gun and hid it in the closet. Then he came back and comforted Regina while counting down the days he could propose to her without looking weird. They wonder if maybe Regina was murder but by Kate. Why would Kate kill her mom? Because the spider that’s pull her strings wanted revenge for all their smushed comrades unceremoniously flushed down the toilet in tissue coffins.

They go over a timeline which Michelle put together. They figure Ramsey wasn’t arrested protesting the Vietnam war because he graduated in seventy four and if he hadn’t been that close they would have just let him go.  So maybe he was protesting Watergate, that’s clearly a big important deal. Michelle says that it might be hard to track down where he was back then. King says he knows but they’d better hurry because they’re running out of time.

Chapter 55

Just a hint for anyone who’s thinking about writing anything. We don’t need a character’s fucking itinerary! Have I said that before? Because I feel like I’ve yelled that once or twice while drinking. Baldacci must write these things bulleted out in Powerpoint presentations. That or he can’t keep track of his characters without dropping reminders for himself.

King and Michelle slept over at a motel near Atticus and arrived back at Wrightsburg the next morning. Parks was waiting at King’s house.

When we get to the end and learn who the real killer is, that line about the motel is going to pay off. All the skeptics will be forced to sit down and eat a big plate of crow and humble pie, washed down by the tears of doubt which are a thing I didn’t just make up. They talk to Parks and King asks if he’s heard from Joan.

Parks says he hasn’t and King says he hasn’t been able to reach her. He calls her cell and doesn’t get an answer so he calls her hotel. He reaches the front desk and whatever they say makes him pale. He slams down the phone and yells damn it while everyone asks what’s wrong. He says that Joan’s been kidnapped. Wait, how did the front desk know that? ‘Ma’am? Where are you talking that unconscious woman?’ ‘Just kidnapping her.’ ‘Okay, have a good day.’ ‘You too.’

Apparently the local staff found Joan’s room empty with her purse on the floor along with the tray. The guy who was bringing Joan her coffee was bribed into letting some lady do it when she claimed she was a sister who wanted to surprise her. That makes sense to me. I often have to bribe people with cash to do their job for them. I also learned to beg from homeless people after I got that brainectomy.

They start talking about what they know. Parks says he talked to Joan and it was probably shortly before Joan was taken. They had just come to the conclusion that, maybe, Scott had turned traitor. King starts getting distraught because he should have seen this coming. Michelle asks why and King says that, after Mildred and Loretta got killed, he should have suspected they might be in danger. You mean those two murders could have been interpreted as some sort of warning? Next you’ll tell me that these people can be motivated to kill again.

Michelle points out that Joan is a grown woman and a former agent not in need of a chaperone. She also says that it could have been any one of them so stop worrying about her fate. Parks says he may have gotten a lead on Scott if they want to come alone and they both do. I hope the next chapter opens with a perspective from Joan’s corpse as it’s found by a random jogger.

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