Split Second Chapters 58 & 59

Chapter 58

There are few things I appreciate about these books. First and foremost is that I learn a lot about how I write. I see patterns and bad habits that I do in the works of others and I, hopefully, improve. If nothing else, these sporkings have been an education. One of the secondary things I enjoy though is the unintentionally hilarious imagery I run into combing through these.

Donald Holmgren lived in a townhouse on the outskirts of Rockville, Maryland. His house was filled with books, magazines and cats. A widower now, he was about seventy and had a full head of gray hair and was dressed in a light sweater and slacks. He cleaned some cats and books off his living room sofa, and King and Michelle sat down.

The way that’s written makes me think the cats he’s cleaning off the couch aren’t living. Like King and Michelle are paying a visit to a cat collector who has mummified remains buried under stacks of aging TV guides. ‘Come on in and don’t step on the rats. They’re my friends.’

Holmgren is the guy who they were directed to by Michelle’s dad’s friend. They remind him why they’re there and Holmgren starts talking about the day it happened. He was arguing a case in court when the demonstration started. They stopped everything and watched it on TV and it was very scary.

Holmgren says that there was someone initially charged with a crime and he handled the case. There wasn’t much evidence against the accused and that it was mostly circumstantial. They arrested the first person who came out of an alley with a dead body. King asks if he remembers the name of the accused, he doesn’t until King says Arnold Ramsey.

Holmgren starts talking about how they just wanted convictions and blah blah blah government was mean back then. Which sounds a lot more like a baby boomer whining than an actual prosecutor reminiscing. He says he was trying to do the best he could when he was taken off the case after Ramsey got new counsel. King asks if Holmgren remembers the prosecutor. Holmgren says yes, it was the guy who got kidnapped, Bruno.

Chapter 59

We’re still with Michelle and King who are heading off to see Kate again. They call ahead and don’t reach her but they do manage to reach her roommate. They ask if they can meet with her, the roomie, who agrees.

Wait, what? Kate lives with a roommate? Here I thought she was an associate professor or something along those lines. I remember she had her own office in her college. Michelle hopes out loud that Kate can’t possibly know about Bruno’s connection to Ramsey. King says that he has a feeling that he’s wrong.

They get there and pester the roomie, Sharon, who cooperates a bit more after Michelle flashes her badge. They look around Kate’s room and it’s sparse but full of books. Nothing interesting until they find a box containing a gun cleaning kit and some bullets.

They ask Sharon if Kate carries a gun which she does. Sharon says that Kate was mugged a few months ago and got one after the fact and she doesn’t like it. Michelle asks if Kate took it out with her and Sharon doesn’t know. Then they ask Sharon if someone recently stopped by to see Kate.

Sharon says no, Kate doesn’t even date. Though there is some guy who meets her outside every so often. He comes up in a Mercedes, King surmises he’s “rich”, and Sharon never sees who it is. Kate also got incredibly defensive when Sharon mentioned it, like she was hiding something. Michelle then decides, for no apparent reason, to rattle the gun cleaning kit of Kates. She hears something inside and tears open the lining to find a key.

As they were talking, Michelle held the cleaning kit up to her ear and shook it. There was a small sound. She dug her fingers under the lining and pulled it out. Her fingers locked around a small key. She showed it to Sharon. “Any idea what this is to? Looks like maybe a storage locker.”

Ok, I can’t ignore how fortuitous that is, Baldacci. I own a couple of gun cleaning kits, for pistols and rifles respectively, and they have metal parts in their cases. Things that would rattle when jostled. So how did Michelle discern the rattle of a key as opposed to, say, a couple of cleaning rods bumping against each other? Why did she shake the kit anyway? The only explanation is that the author that be was whispering the plot into her ear.

They go down to the basement and find the storage locker that matches the key. Because there’s no way Kate would have kept a key like that on her person so no one could find it. They open the locker and find boxes with a couple of scrapbooks in it. One of them has bits about the assassination of Clyde which seems reasonable. The second though contains clippings of Bruno’s career.

“Oh, shit,” said King. “Our little political activist is involved in some serious stuff here. And regardless of whether Bruno deserved it or not, she’s tagged him as a crooked prosecutor who ruined her father’s life.”

“What I don’t get,” said Michelle, “is that these stories were printed before Kate was even born. Where did she get them?”

What? How is that the part you don’t get, Michelle? I don’t get a missing firearm could have implicated this second gunman. Meanwhile, out heroes are confused by articles that were released before Kate was born. If only there was some explanation for that like, I don’t know, an archive of some sort where things like newspapers were stored.

They start wondering loudly how this all ties into Loretta and Clyde’s death. Here’s a wacky idea, just off the top of my head, but maybe it doesn’t? But being as these characters are almost as genre savvy as us they know better. They wonder if maybe Kate mentioned Jorst as a way to tip them off. King suddenly has the need to talk to Parks because he wants to know if he’s found anything out about Scott.

Page break later and they’re looking over some maps. Parks found that Scott owned some property in Tennessee and there are some cold war bunkers on site. They surmise it must be the place that Bruno is being held. Then they sit around and speculate about motivations.

Reasons people could be doing things do not make interesting prose, Baldacci. The audience should be wondering and trying to put it together. Until you started shoving stupid theories at us, I was making up my own and almost getting invested in the story. Anywho, they’ve somehow got a warrant and they’re going in tomorrow, shortly after the next chapter dawns.

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