I'm sure the other people reading this are wondering why it took so long to get from Baltimore to Washington; after all, Jessica wasn't anxious to tarry last Tuesday. Well, suffice it to say, we did tarry for almost a week afterward. Our past holds a strange gravitational pull, I guess. I'll let Jessica decide how much she wants to share, if anything; even the parts I was privy to aren't quite my beans to spill.
The logical next stop was Washington. There was only one name on the page in Jessica's notebook for our nation's capital, but she'd left several pages for making notes. Aside from meeting the new Dex Langan, we intended to spend a fair amount of time in the Library of Congress and other academic sites to see what information we could dig up about the inn and the people it transformed.
But first, we met a friend of Jessica's. Roy was a year ahead of her, and I gather had dated one of her friends on the softball team. He seemed like a nice young boy, and handsome to boot. We had dinner the first night, and he helped us get access to the Georgetown University library.
It's interesting to watch the two of them together. My initial instinct is to say that Jessica acts differently around people who don't know her secret, but I don't really think she does; I think I just expect her to. She's still kind of sarcastic, whip-smart, wiser than her apparent years and more laid back than you'd expect knowing the truth. She and Roy trade comments about looking good without much in the way of sexual tension. I can't imagine how she manages it, but when I asked her about it in the hotel, she just shrugged and said it's been eight years and she grew up a second time; talk to Ashlyn if you want to hear about things being weird.
It took us a couple days to get hold of the new Dex; the FBI keeps him busy. That concerned Jessica, as you might imagine; as we waited for him at a café, it was pretty clear that his mind was on how the person who had become Conrad Mancini had not been up to the pressures and challenges of police work. She knew, from the general impressions Jake/Ashlyn and Arthur had related, that Dex was a fairly new agent, but still...
Ashlyn had described Dex as a joker, but that was the original Dex. The one we met wasn't like that. He had a twinkle in his eye, but he didn't really make jokes. It wasn't long before we realized what what was amusing him.
Before the inn did its magic, Dex had been Vera Lane. She had been a woman in her early forties, and he - if that's the proper pronoun - happily admitted to having been a con artist. "They've got me working on wire fraud right now. Can you believe it? I'm investigating identity theft!"
I guessed it was ironic. He at least seemed well-matched to his work. I had a hard time really warming to him - the idea that this crook was now part of a major law-enforcement agency seemed wrong. Was he able to just casually switch sides? It's odd... I believe in redemption, and the ability to become a better person. But it should be hard. Still, knowing someone in the FBI could be useful.
Or not. As soon as we left the café, Jessica was writing furiously in her notebook. I asked her what it was about, and she growled that Vera/Dex was dirty.
"What do you mean?"
"Look, I never worked in IA, but I was on the job for a while, and it hasn't been so long that I've forgotten everything. There's two kinds of dirty cops: The kind that skim for themselves, and the kind that are working for someone. Vera seems like the type to skim, but that's not the vibe I get."
"So, who do you think he's working for?"
"I don't know. But it's not like this sort of influence is unprecedented - I think someone in the INS was paid off to make Mark's and Vinessa's life difficult. Having someone in the FBI must be useful."
I'm not sure about that, but it's a scary thought.
Anyway, time to head to bed. Jessica's got the first shift driving tomorrow, as we head out to Nashville, where we're looking to contact Penelope Lincoln on Arthur's behalf.