ATTENTION READERS: If you're just beginning to read this story for the first time, please begin with BOOK I. If you don't, you'll miss much that is crucial to the whole story. Thank you.
"Decisions And Propositions"
GINGER SITS ON THE SOFA, watching as Frank paces back - and - forth in front of her. Frank is racking his brain, trying to think of a way to stave off the media frenzy that is almost certain to follow. Frank suddenly halts in his tracks as he is hit by a sudden brainwave. "Ginger--I've got it." "Please--tell me," replies Ginger. "Well," begins Frank in earnest, "here's how we play it: if any media show up and pressure us for an interview, we decline because--are you ready for this--because we promised an exclusive interview to--the Old River Run Courier." "What?," asks an incredulous Ginger. "Frank, are you out of you mind?? Why, the Old River Run Courier?" "Why not," answers Frank. "You know our secret will be out soon, anyway-right? Besides, haven't we been debating about whether or not, to follow Jim Havel's advice? So--why don't we contact our hungry Will Aikins at the Courier, and offer him exclusive rights to our story?"
After a moment of thought, Ginger gives her answer. "I guess, releasing our story to Will Aikins would be just as well." Ginger pauses and makes an unpleasant expression. "It's just that the man give me the creeps, the way he's so hungry to put us in his paper. But then, it'd keep the local media hounds off our backs, at least, for awhile." "Then, it's settled," replies a determined Frank. "You know, Ginger---I feel a strange sense of relief already about going public in Old River Run." "Oddly enough, so do I," replies Ginger. "No more worrying about someone discovering our secret, and then having it spun into something sordid." Still, Frank has some deep-seated reservations. "I still can't help wondering, though, how it'll affect our lives. How will it affect my career? Then there's all our friends and social activities."
"Yeah," says Ginger. "Once our story hits the wires, we could become pariahs overnight." "Oh, well," replies Frank with resignation, "I don't know that I care anymore. I know Hal and Barbara will stand by us, no matter what. Then there's the Havels. And I can always find another shooting range, if I have to. But the most important thing is that I have you, Ginger, and Ryan and Lisa." Frank wraps his arms around Ginger. She becomes thoughtful. "Like you said-at least, we have some friends that'll stand by us. And, of course, there's our family."
LATE that afternoon, a sudden loud knock at the front door echoes through the house. Frank answers. Upon opening the door, he is greeted by a police detective. "Hello-Mister Boelcke?" "You're speaking to him," answers Frank. "Hello, Mister Boelcke, I'm Lieutenant Lance Carmody, Devonshire Area LAPD. I just wanted to inform you, Mister Boelcke, that our CSI team is leaving, for the day. We'll return, tomorrow morning at around ten o'clock. In the meantime, please be sure that you and any guests stay clear of the cordoned-off crime scene areas." "Will do," says Frank. "Have a good evening."
Frank strolls into the kitchen, where Ginger is preparing his dinner. "Who was it, Honey?" "Just the police," answers Frank. "They're leaving, for the day; they'll be back tomorrow to pick up where they left off. By the way, Ginger-did you really throw that guy against the house?" Ginger answers in an incongruously casual fashion. "Well, Frank--not intentionally. He just happened to fly in that direction when I let go of him." Frank raises his eyebrows. "Hmm--I'd better have that wall checked for structural integrity. You know, you really racked that guy up--and his land car's alittle the worse for wear, too." "Well," continues Ginger, "he got what he deserved, as far as I'm concerned."
"By the way," asks Ginger, "did you hear about his injuries?" "Oh, yeah," answers Frank. "Detective Fenton filled me in; it wasn't much, though--just some cuts, lacerations, a few cracked and broken bones 'n' stuff-that's all." "Well," replies Ginger, "I didn't wanna rough him up too much. So I went easy on him." Frank glares at Ginger. "I'd sure hate to see what he'd look like, if you went hard on him!"
Shortly before dinner, Frank calls the Devonshire Division LAPD. He speaks to a Sgt. Edward Cervantes, who is in charge of the LAPD Off-Duty Officers Private Security Program. Frank arranges for two off-duty police officers to act as security personnel, in order to prevent any media trespass onto his property. After dinner, as Frank and Ginger lounge in front of the 3V, there is yet another knock at the front door. As Frank is not expecting anyone else, he opens the door only partially to see who it is. This time, he comes face-to-face with a 3V news crew. The camera man's lens is literally in Frank's face.
"Hello, Mister Boelcke," says the reporter. "I'm Kent Stark, from 3V Station KVLA Channel 7 Action News, and I'd like to ask you and your wife some questions about the assailant who assaulted your wife earlier today." Frank bristles with anger, but remains calm and delivers a firm answer. "I'm sorry, but we're not answering questions from anyone right now. This was a traumatic experience for us, and our family. We expect you, and all others, to respect our privacy. So, I'll thank you and your crew to please leave-now." However, the pushy reporter ignores Frank's strident request and begins asking questions as Frank closes and locks the door. "Please, Mister Boelcke! Our viewers want to know how. . ." The reporter and his crew begin to look around the porch and front yard area. They walk out toward the trees as the camera man pans around the yard and house. He then settles on the reporter, who speaks a few words as he does a live feed broadcast. After this, the reporter and his crew clamber into their van in Frank's driveway, and leave.
In the meantime, Ginger emerges from her hiding place in Frank's study and questions him earnestly. "What did they want, Frank?" "Well," answers Frank, "they wanted to interview us, but I told them we wanted our privacy, and that we're not granting interviews. Of course, I couldn't say we had an exclusive with the River Run Courier until we actually do." Ginger replies in earnest. "But, Frank, you know this was just Round One. It won't be long before the next news crew bangs at our door." Frank replies in equal earnest. "That's why we've gotta make our offer to the Courier, tomorrow morning." "But Frank, don't you have to go to work tomorrow?" "No," answers Frank. "Before I left the office, Bob gave me as much time off as I need. Anyhow, as you said, we can't hold off the media forever. If the Courier accepts our offer, we'll probably be flying to Riverton, Ohio, real soon." Ginger stresses over Frank's last sentence. "Frank--do we have to fly?"
NEXT morning after breakfast, Ginger steps out to the backyard. She stops at the cordoned-off crime scene area that extends from the south end of the garden, to the northwest side of the house, and around to the driveway. Frank, noticing Ginger out in the backyard, steps outside to see what she's up to. "So," asks Frank, "revisiting the scene of the crime, eh?" Ginger turns and looks at Frank with a sullen expression. "How am I gonna work on the garden now? It'll be full of weeds by the time that police crime scene tape finally comes down." "Oh, well," says Frank. "There's nothing we can do about it, for now. Besides, they'll be gone soon."
As Ginger stands there, bemoaning the suspension of her gardening activities, the LAPD crime scene investigators catch her attention. They are busy, taking images and samples of the large drops of blood on the ground, as well as the blood-smears on the side of the house. A circle of white chalk powder on the ground, along with a small red flag, marks the spot where Ginger's assailant had dropped his knife. Frank suddenly turns and strides back into the house. He locates the phone number for the offices of the River Run Courier.
"Hello-Can I speak to Mister Will Aikins, please?--Alright, I'll hold." When Frank is placed on hold, music is piped into the line; it's Jo Stafford's recording of Sunday Kind Of Love. "Yeah," says Frank to himself with a grin, "that's Old River Run, alright." The music suddenly stops. A man's anxious voice comes onto the line. "This is Will Aikins; who am I talking to?" "Hello--Mister Aikins. This is Frank Boelcke, calling from California." There is a brief silence on the other end. "You--you mean--you're that Frank Boelcke, who's married to Ginger Boelcke, who's the spittin' image of Ginger Metcalf?"
"Yeah," answers Frank with a chuckle, "that Frank Boelcke. Nothing gets past you, does it. Now listen, how'd you like an exclusive interview, and alittle something extra?" "W-well, sure!," answers Mr. Aikins. "I'd love to! But--what's the little something extra?," asks Aikins with some trepidation. "Well," answers Frank, "there's more to Ginger and me than meets the eye. And we'd like to sell our story to the Courier as an exclusive." Will Aikins is somewhat perplexed by Frank's proposal. "I'm just wondering--what suddenly changed your mind? I mean, when we last met, you threatened to deck me, then you slammed the door in my face and, a month ago, your wife slammed a phone down in my ear. So, what's changed?"
"The reason for our change of heart," answers Frank, "is that we have a special attachment to Old River Run, in more ways than than you know. Then--then there's the--incident--in our back yard, and a serial rapist. And we'll give you that scoop, too, that is---if the Courier will accept our offer." Will answers while trying to contain his excitement. "Well--I'll run it by my managing editor and see what he says. By the way--are you and the Missus planning on returning to Old River Run, any time soon?" "You bet," is Frank's firm answer. "But only if your boss accepts our offer. Otherwise, we'll talk to The Intelligencer." "Well," replies Mr. Aikins, "don't go to The Intelligencer just yet. Gimmee some time to talk to my boss. I'll call you with an answer, tomorrow afternoon."
When the call ends, Frank steps out to the back porch, and calls Ginger inside. "What is it, Frank?" Frank puts his hands on Ginger's arms. "I just got off the phone with Will Aikins. He's hot to get our exclusive." Ginger smirks. "That was an easy hurdle-not that I'm surprised." "Not so fast," replies Frank. "He still has to clear it with his boss. But my guess is he'll bite. After all, what self-respecting newspaper would pass up an exclusive? Besides, I told Aikins that, if the Courier turns us down, we'll go to The Intelligencer--that lit a fire under him."
"So," asks Ginger, "when'll we hear back from Aikins?" "No later than tomorrow afternoon," answers Frank. "But it also means we'll likely be flying to Riverton on Monday." Ginger is rendered speechless. For her, surprise is no longer sufficient, and she is forced to resort to astonishment. Finally, Ginger finds her voice. "That soon?!" "Well," answers Frank, "we'll have to, if we want to meet the Courier's deadline." Frank suddenly becomes preoccupied with another thought. "I just remembered--I'd better tell Ryan and Lisa what happened before they see it on the six o'clock news."
Ginger goes upstairs to recover from the news that she'll be flying to Riverton again. While she is thus occupied, Frank calls Ryan and Lisa. He recounts to them the incidents of the previous day. Lisa has not yet heard about Ginger's altercation with her would-be rapist. However, Ryan did. "So, Mom's okay, then?" "Yes, Son. She's just fine. Ginger roughed the guy up pretty badly, though." Ryan laughs. "Yeah, don't mess with Mom!" "And," continues Frank, "you oughtta see what she did to his land car. Incidentally, Son, it was his car we all saw in front of the house." "Well," replies Ryan, "that solves another mystery."
"Anyway, Son-Ginger and I are selling our story to the Old River Run Courier before the local media can grab hold of it. That means we'll be flying to Riverton, Ohio, possibly as soon as Monday Morning." "That soon?," exclaims Ryan. "Yeah," answers Frank. "That's when the Courier needs us to be there, if they choose to run our story." "I guess, that's the best way handle it," says Ryan. "You and Mom will have more control over your story, that way." "Hey, Ryan-I know this is really short notice. But, do you think you and Kaitlin could house-sit for us while we're gone?" "Well, I'll see if Kaitlin wouldn't mind." Frank is concerned about Ryan's answer. "Do you think there might be a problem?" "Nah," answers Ryan in a cavalier fashion. "I don't think so. But I'll talk to Kaitlin and get back to you, okay?" "Okay, Son. Call us as soon as you can."
Frank hangs up the phone and jogs upstairs to give Ginger the news. "Hey, Ginger! Good news!--I just got off the phone with Ryan. He says he and Kaitlin might be able to house-sit while we're gone!" "That's good, Honey," replies Ginger. "It'll give Kaitlin a little taste of what married life with Ryan will be like." "Hopefully, not a bad taste," replies Frank in jest. Ginger suddenly grows serious. "Honey--I don't wanna be a wet blanket here. But I don't think we can breathe easy, just yet. Going public in Old River Run might not make things any better for us. I mean, will people still warm up to us when they find out I'm a cyber-woman or, will they run us outta town on a rail? And, another thing, Frank; what'll happen when our story hits the wires out here. . .?
What, indeed? Find out in future installments.
To Be Continued. . . .