ATTENTION: If you're reading this story for the first time, please begin with BOOK I. If you don't, you'll miss much that is important to the whole story.
"Home On Silver Wings"
FRANK AND GINGER'S SHUTTLE arrives at Riverton International Airport at 7:15AM. Just as Frank is helping Ginger out of the shuttle, the roar of a sonic airliner suddenly fills their ears as it climes steeply into the sky. A startled Ginger looks skyward. "Frank, I wish we didn't have to fly." Frank sighs. "Sweetheart, look--we went over all this in the park, the other day. Like I said then: at least, you know what to expect now. Everything will be alright--you'll see." After checking their luggage, Frank and Ginger stroll to their departure gate. On the way, they pass many shops and restaurants that are just opening, for the day. "Frank, why did we get here so early?" "To check in with the airline before it gets crowded," answers Frank. "Well," says Ginger, "how 'bout a little snack or something while we wait?" Frank checks his watch. "Hmm--I guess we have time for coffee and doughnut, or something."
Frank and Ginger amble into a small restaurant, not far from their gate. After finding a booth, they order coffee and cobbler. When their orders arrive, Frank adds cream and sugar to his coffee in liberal amounts. Ginger watches with disapproval. "Hey, easy on the cream and sugar, Mister." Frank chuckles. "Alright-alright." He takes a sip of his coffee and grimaces. "This is horrible. Did this swill come from a coffee maker or a bilge pump?" In her turn, Ginger tastes her coffee and likewise, makes a sour face. "Ughhh-you're right, Dear; this is horrible." Frank is even less impressed with his cherry cobbler. "I think this cobbler was made according to the famous Lucretia Borgia recipe. Are you sure this is a morning snack, and not a suicide pact?" Ginger chuckles. "It's pretty bad, isn't it." "And, don't forget," adds Frank, "we're paying three times the price for the privilege of having it inflicted on us."
After a few minutes,
Ginger grows quiet. Her face takes on a look of concern. This does not escape Frank's
notice. "What's clicking through that hi-tech brain of yours, Ginger?" Ginger
cracks a quick grin at Frank's question. "Well--I'm just wondering if we've really seen the last of that snooping reporter from the Old River Run Currier." Frank brushes Ginger's concerns aside. "I wouldn't worry about him, Honey. Besides, I think I gave him the convincer that, if he gets in our faces again, he'll get more than a little shaking up. "That may be, Frank. But he seems pretty determined to get his story. I'm just afraid he might be determined enough to suddenly show up, one day at our doorstep."
One more time, Frank confidently brushes Ginger's concerns aside, then changes the subject. "I wonder what the last name of the family is who live in the old Metcalf House?" "Beckwith," is Ginger's casual answer as she forces herself to take another sip of her less-than-palatable coffee. Her unexpected response almost knocks Frank off his seat -- "Huh?" Ginger answers again, in a matter-of-fact tone: "Beckwith--Mister and Missus G. A. Beckwith; I saw it on the mailbox label." Frank glares incredulously at Ginger. "You mean to tell me you could actually read the label on the mailbox--from across the street??" Ginger gives another casual answer. "Sure; no trouble, at all."
"Wow," replies Frank, "You've got some eyesight! I oughtta take you out to the shooting range, when my antique gun club meets next weekend. With that vision of yours, you oughtta hit the bullseye with every shot!" Giner replies with a cheeky grin. "I guess, I never told you about my zoom-vision." Frank is utterly dumbfounded. "Altron never told me either. I wonder what else they didn't tell me about you." Frank suddenly shifts in his seat. "I just remembered--I oughtta call the kids and let 'em know we'll be taking off soon." With that, Frank fishes his phone out of his coat pocket and makes his call. However, Frank forgets that it's five o'clock in the morning in Southern California. The phone rings several times before someone finally picks up. A groggy voice on the other end, answers. It belongs to Ryan.
"Hello--Ryan?---Yeah, it's Dad. Sorry I chased you out of bed. I just want to tell you and Lisa we're at Riverton International Airport. Our flight leaves in around forty-five minutes.---Yeah. We'll call you again, after we land at LAX. Oh, by the way, did our express shipment arrive?--Great. And remember, no peeking until Ginger and I come home.---Alright, son. I'll let you get back to bed.---Yes.---Tell Lisa we said Hi."---We'll see you soon. Bye, Ryan."
Frank returns the phone to its haven in his coat pocket. "I guess, I chased Ryan outta bed. And, incidentally--the boxes arrived yesterday afternoon. But, far be it for me to say, 'I told you so.'" "Alright, Wisenheimer," replies Ginger with a chuckle. "You made your point." Frank glances again, at his watch. "We'd better get to our gate."
WHEN Frank and Ginger arrive at their departure gate, they see that pre-boarding has already begun. Frank and Ginger hastily fall into line. Soon they are entering the plane's passenger cabin. After sitting down in their assigned seats, Ginger begins to grip the arms of her seat. "Frank-I'm really not looking forward to this." "Relax, Sweetheart," replies Frank. "I don't think you'll have as rough a time of it, as before." "So, you keep saying," is Ginger's strident reply. As they converse, the captain's voice is suddenly heard over the cabin's P A system. He speaks in a calm, nonchalant drawl.
"Ahh--This is your captain speaking--ahh. We'll be taking off in--ahhh--twenty minutes. Currently, the weather in Los Angeles is--ahh--clear, with winds out of the northeast at twenty miles per hour, gusting to thirty-one miles per hour--ahh--The temperature is currently sixty-nine degrees. High temperatures will range from eighty-seven degrees in Los Angeles, to ninety-five degrees in the San Fernando Valley, if your travels are taking you there today--ahh--thank you very much." Frank looks to Ginger. "Sounds like it'll be hot and windy at home today. Sounds like we have the same captain as on our last flight, too." "Oh, well," sighs Ginger, "there's comfort in familiarity."
Frank and Ginger feel a sudden jerking motion as the tractor tows their plane into taxiing position. Not long afterward, the plane's engines begin to power up. Soon they are traveling down the runway as the sonic airliner accelerates to take-off speed. A look of fear crosses Ginger's face as she grits her teeth and presses her head into her shoulders. "Here we go again!"
To Be Continued. . . .
Watch for the next installment.