“‘The Geisha of Columbia?’” repeated Cemone. She’d expected more certainty from the Frenchman. All she got was a nickname her husband hated. “Why do they want to kill him?” she asked. Cemone immediately understood she had broken an unspoken rule: there were never any questions at the meetings, only answers, and so her words fell on deaf ears. She started shaking as her heart and head began debating. If he were in trouble, he would tell me…. she thought. Assassinations are meant to be a surprise, he would never know. What on Earth am I still doing here? Following the direction of her own interior monologue, Cemone started walking out of the mine—right past the Frenchman and his bottle of wine. Once she’d gone, she heard the Group’s collective disparagement echoing out of the mine.
Cemone ran to her car through newborn daylight and returned for New York. She passed all speed limits and ran all stop signs. Throughout her first hour of driving, she tried imagining why someone might want to kill Nolan. It must be based on his work, she thought. If it were anything else, his nickname would have been excluded—and that opened an entirely different fact to consider: his job. Her husband practiced across a variety of fields, none of which were chemistry-based. Nolan was an astronomer, and worked for schools, labs, and engineering companies: he wasn’t some senior pharmaceutical chemist for one of the major drug manufacturers, and anyone who cared for money would find his work arbitrary—although, Cemone would never tell him that. Who would want to kill him? Cemone thought. Why Nolan?
During her third round of barely-contained panic attacks, she remembered something useful: Nolan’s phone. Grabbing her cellphone, Cemone called Nolan, eager to warn and hear him. She heard ringing. Ringing. Ringing. No answer. Nolan would be asleep, she told herself. Don’t worry. He’s fine. Zooming down the road she checked her watch for comfort.
The little timepiece hardly consoled her. On the contrary: seeing the hour, she pressed even harder against the gas.