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This line from Stephen King's 1408 reads like it is fraught with grammar issues and non-idiomatic usages.

While Mike was still in the hospital, a man named Olin—the manager of the goddamned hotel, if you please—came and asked Sam Farrell if he could listen to that tape. Farrell said no, he couldn’t; what Olin could do was take himself on out of the agent’s office at a rapid hike and thank God all the way back to the fleabag where he worked that Mike Enslin had decided not to sue either the hotel or Olin for negligence.

First off, "take himself on out of the office" sounds slightly stilted. I would've written "went on and take himself out of the agent's office". Is the use and placement of "on" idiomatic here?

Also "at a rapid hike" sounds very non-idiomatic. People go on a hike. I think it is intended to mean "at a rapid pace" here.

Finally, the entire line reads very garbled. My reading is

[what Olin could do was] [[take himself on out of the agent’s office at a rapid hike] and [thank God all the way back to the fleabag where he worked]] [that Mike Enslin had decided not to sue either the hotel or Olin for negligence].

It reads like a run-on, and I don't know what the part after "that" is doing in this sentence. Is "so" omitted before the "that"?

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Start with "take a hike", a peremptory command to leave:
Cambridge "take a hike"
"a rude way of telling someone to leave"

Then, the speaker is elaborating the command with "rapid":
"Get out of here fast!"

Here's a gloss of the sentence:

Farrell said no, he couldn’t; what Olin could do was take himself on out of the agent’s office at a rapid hike
...get out of here fast!
and thank God all the way back to the fleabag where he worked
...go back to your hotel, and be grateful
that Mike Enslin had decided not to sue either the hotel or Olin for negligence.
...that there would be no lawsuit.

The word "on" is idiomatic. One can say "Get on out of here!". The structure "suggested that he take himself" is correct grammatically.
The sentence is relating the speech of an angry man.

The word "that" is connected to "thank God": "thank God that Enslin had decided not to sue...".

The phrase "all the way back to the fleabag where he worked" is just an adverb phrase. Thank and keep thanking.

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  • +1 I think the that clause has been beautifully explained in your answer. I still feel iffy about “take himself on out of the agent’s office at a rapid hike” though. Very familiar with "take a hike" I don't see how the phrase in question is another form of the idiomatic phrase. It still sounds jarring. I am not sure what "at" is doing in there. Sounds nonidiomatic. – Eddie Kal Aug 14 '20 at 1:21
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    I think the speaker is using a non-idiomatic expression to underline his anger; sort of to sound more officious. The word "at" is the same use as in "at high speed". – Jack O'Flaherty Aug 14 '20 at 1:26
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    @EddieKal "at" is the normal preposition to use for speed: "at 40 km per hour", "at a snail's pace", etc. Regarding idiomatic phrases, it It is normal to elaborate on standard idioms. For example, you can say "get out of here" or you can say "get the hell out of here",,, or "get your sorry ass out of here"... this is done for humorous effect and/or for emphasis. – JavaLatte Aug 14 '20 at 1:28
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    Novels by and for native speakers do not have to be written like high-school essays. – Michael Harvey Aug 14 '20 at 6:52
  • The elaboration of "take a hike" reminded me of an elaboration of "shove it" in Heinlein's "Stranger in a Strange Land". It went "you can take your instructions, fold them until they are all corners, and shove them in your oubliette." – Jack O'Flaherty Aug 14 '20 at 14:57

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