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Oct 11 06 12:18 PM
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"Where It All Began"FRANK AND GINGER MARVEL AS THEY DRIVE through old historic streets and picturesque scenery in quiet neighborhoods. Many streets are lined, even arched over in some places, by ancient elms and sycamores. Two neighborhood blocks feature Victorian homes and bungalows dating from the late 1800s. Here and there, an antique automobile, of one kind or another, sits dispassionately along the curb, ignoring Frank and Ginger as they drive by. Frank slows almost to a stop as they pass one stately Victorian two-story home. Parked in the driveway, is a very rare sight: a beautifully restored 1912 Simplex open touring car with white tires. The brightly polished brass of the lantern-style headlamps, radiator, and windshield frame, glint in the brilliant late-morning sun. It is the sort of antique automobile that the Mayor of Pasadena, California might ride in during the annual New Years Day Tournament of Roses Parade. The imperious Simplex open tourer seems to stare smugly at Frank and Ginger with a condescending arrogance.Ginger takes a last look at the noble antique automobile, then turns to Frank. "Don't tell me, Frank. Now you want a 1912 Simplex, right?" "I don't think so, Ginger. Besides, a 1912 Simplex is one of the rarest of antique cars, especially in that condition. The only other time I saw a Simplex, was when Susan and I took the kids to the Museum of Science and Industry at Exposition Park. That car's probably worth a million bucks--maybe more." Driving further along, Frank and Ginger approach another residential intersection. "Oh, yeah," says Frank, "we have to turn right at the next street." Frank and Ginger now find themselves on a peaceful, shady street in a neighborhood that could have been the setting for a Norman Rockwell painting. They drive for another two blocks. Frank begins to slow down as they approach the object of their search. He stares earnestly in their direction of travel. "It oughtta come up on the left anytime now." Ginger suddenly taps Frank's shoulder and points urgently to a house across the street. "Frank, that's it-that's the address-over there-slow down." Frank pulls to the curb and parks directly across from the ancestral home of the Metcalf Family. It is a white-painted, wood-frame, two-story dwelling with light blue trim. The curtains in all the windows are drawn. There are no vehicles parked in the driveway or, at the curb. By all appearances, no one is home. Frank gazes at the house as though he were a medieval pilgrim arriving at a sacred shrine after a long and arduous journey. "There, it is," intones Frank in a soft, contemplative voice. "That's the house. After two hundred years--it's still here. And it looks just the way it did two centuries ago. Thank God, the tornado in nineteen-forty-seven missed this neighborhood. Ginger nods in agreement.For several minutes, Frank and Ginger sit in meditative silence, staring at the venerable old Metcalf house. Frank is taken by the peaceful calm of the neighborhood. All is still, except for the warbling of a few songbirds that flit about in the thickly leafed trees along the street. This neighborhood, this old Metcalf House; this is the place that witnessed so much laughter, and so many burning tears in the Metcalf Family. Frank suddenly brakes the silence. "I can't believe we're actually here--in front of the very house of the very family that eventually produced Susan and--in a way, Ginger, you. This is where it all began."Ginger reaches over and begins to stroke the back of Frank's head. She speaks to him in quiet, thoughtful tones. "This is a really profound moment for you, isn't it, Sweetheart." "In a word, yes," answers Frank. He turns to face Ginger. "You know, we oughtta come back when the owners are home. Maybe, if we ask, they'll give us a tour of the old place." "Hmm--bad idea, Frank," says a doubtful Ginger. "Can you just imagine the lady-or man-of the house, opening their door to find us, two total strangers, standing there, asking for a tour of their house? They might take one look at me and faint dead away."Ginger suddenly notices the behavior of some of the residents on the block. "Frank, I think we'd better get going. People are starting to look at us like we're up to no good." Frank sighs. "Yeah, you're right," says Frank. "We'd better get rolling." Frank starts the old Ford, releases the brake, and off, they go. [The people who live in the old Metcalf neighborhood have always been nervous about strangers, parking or driving slowly down their street. This nervousness, on the part the neighborhood's residents, is due to the fact that unfamiliar cars often contain looky-loo tourists. In the Metcalf, and other historic residential districts of Old River Run, gawking and staring tourists are a seasonal annoyance.] AS Frank and Ginger drive through the old neighborhood, Frank asks Ginger to turn on the dashboard radio. She slowly turns the selector knob. However, only the crackling rasp and buzz of static emanates from the radio's tinny-sounding speaker. An exasperated Ginger switches the radio off. In a fit of pique, she snaps at the radio. "This piece of junk is hopeless. I can't even pick up WREQ. It's a pretty sorry excuse for a radio that can't get a station that's only a mile away!"After entering their hotel room, Frank and Ginger drop their coats and shopping bags on the bed. "Where do you wanna have lunch, Honey?," asks Ginger. "Oh--nowhere special," answers Frank in a disinterested fashion. "The hotel diner's good enough. By the way, I think I'd like to go to Brandstaetter's again, if you don't mind." "No, that's fine," is Ginger's casual reply. The phone suddenly rings. Frank answers it. "Hello. Oh, Hi, Brenda. How's Jim doing? --- Good. Oh, sure. She's right here." Ginger rises from the bed and takes the receiver from Frank's hand. "Hi, Brenda!----Everything's okay. ---- Yes, we were. -- Sure. ---- Sounds like fun. I'll ask Frank if it's okay." Ginger covers the receiver. "Frank-is it okay if Brenda and I go out, for the afternoon?""Yeah, I guess so," answers Frank. "When will you be back?" Ginger puts the receiver to her ear. "Brenda, when will we be back?" Ginger turns her head to Frank. "Five o'clock." Frank only nods his response. Ginger returns the receiver to her ear. "Okay, Brenda; everything's good. I'll see you then-Bye." "So I guess, I'll be alone, for awhile," sulks Frank. "Oh, c'mon, Frank. Don't be such a baby. Besides, Jim wants to meet up with you, for lunch." "Hmm," says Frank under his breath. "I wonder why?"AN hour later, there is a knock at the door. Ginger, who is doing some last-minute touch-ups, springs to her feet. "I'll get it; it's probably Brenda," says Ginger as she hastens to the door. Ginger opens the door to find Brenda, standing there. "Hi, Brenda. That's a nice dress you're wearing. The style and color look good on you. Did you find it at C&J's?" "Thanks, Ginger. Jim thinks so, too. Yes, this was one of the dresses I told you about. But I wish I could do my hair like yours." "Well," replies Ginger, "it's not as difficult as it looks. It just involves lottsa curlers, rollers, some clips and pins, some rats, and alittle patience." "Rats??," asks Brenda with a wide-eyed glare. Ginger giggles at Brenda's response. "Calm down, Brenda; not the four-legged kind. I'll explain over lunch."
As Ginger speaks, Frank steps up to the doorway. "Hi, Brenda." "Hello, Frank. Jim will be down in a few minutes." Brenda turns to Ginger. "Well, we'd better hustle, if we wanna beat the noon rush." "Well," says Frank, "have fun, you two." With that, Ginger and Brenda leave for their ladies afternoon out.To Be Continued. . . .Is Brenda's invitation to Ginger for an afternoon out as spontaneous as it appears? Find out in the next installment.
Oct 12 06 11:59 AM
Chapter 16"Pursued"AFTER ANOTHER FEW MINUTES, there is another knock at the door. This time, it's Jim Havel. "Hi, Frank." "Hi, Jim. Well, since the girls left us to ourselves again, what do you wanna do?" "Well, Frank--I've got a little confession to make. Actually, it was I who asked Brenda to invite Ginger out." A perplexed Frank glares at Jim. "Why would you do that, Jim?" Before answering, Jim glances furtively about. "I'll tell you later. First, let's have lunch at the Stream Liner." "Sure, I'm game!," is Frank's enthusiastic reply. "I love that place. They serve up one heck of a cheeseburger." "Well," answers Jim, "we'll have to take your Ford then; Brenda took the Chrysler. I warned her to be careful with the brakes; they take some gettin' used to." Frank smirks at Jim. "Tell me about it."
The popular Stream Liner Diner is packed with the usual noisy weekday lunch crowd. Frank spies two vacant stools at the counter. He and Jim move swiftly to claim them. "I'm really gettin' to like this place," says Jim. "We don't have anything like it in Salem, Oregon." "Trust me," replies Frank, "we don't have anything like it in the San Fernando Valley either. But before you leave Old River Run, you've gotta try the King Breakfast Platter here." As Frank and Jim enjoy their mid-day meals, Frank tries to prod Jim further about his reason for the private meeting. It's a lost cause, for Frank can barely make himself heard over the constant din of clinking utensils, glasses and dishes, not to mention the ceaseless drone of multiple conversations. After lunch, Frank and Jim drive back to the hotel to continue their discussion.As it is a post-lunch hour weekday, Frank and Jim find the hotel lounge nearly deserted. As a result, they have no trouble in finding a secluded booth. After the waiter takes Frank and Jim's drink orders and returns to the bar, Frank can contain himself no longer. "Alright, Jim-what's this all about? Why, the subterfuge? Jim looks at Frank in earnest and answers in a near-whisper. "Well--yesterday--while Brenda and I were at Brandstaetter's." "You were?," interjects Frank. "So were we." "Well-anyway," continues Jim, "while we were at the fountain, this guy comes up to us. I notice he has a press-card stuck in his hatband-you know-like newspaper reporters did in old movies."Anyhow," continues Jim, "he introduces himself as Will Jenkins or Atkins--I don't remember. He says he's a reporter with the Old River Run Courier. Then he starts pumping us for information about you and Ginger." Frank's reaction to Jim's revelation is one of surprise and apprehension. "Did he say why he was asking about us?" "No," answers Jim. "And Brenda and I didn't tell him a thing. Even so, he kept prodding us, so we dummied up." Frank leans toward Jim. "If this guy was so keen to talk to Ginger and I, why didn't approach us directly?""That's what we thought," answers Jim. "And that's what made us suspicious of his motives. Anyway, when he realized he couldn't get anything out of us, he excused himself and took off." Frank becomes fretful and shifts nervously in his seat. "You know, Jim--this is the last thing Ginger needs right now--to find out some snooping reporter is tailing us." "I agree," replies Jim. "That's why I wanted to warn you in private. From what you've been saying lately, she's getting upset over all the attention she's getting.""You can say that again," replies Frank. "It may very well be," continues Jim, "that this reporter's been going all over town, asking about you both. So watch your backs." Frank sighs and shakes his head. "This is all we need right now, Jim. I calmed Ginger down this morning. But, if this skulking reporter suddenly pops up in our faces and starts grilling her, I'm afraid of what she'll do.""That's also why I'm giving you the heads-up," says Jim. "I'm afraid that the longer you're here, the greater the chance you'll run into this guy." Frank groans wearily. "You know, Jim-before we left for this trip, Ginger and I couldn't wait to get here. Now, in light of everything that's happened-and now-with that reporter on our tail, I can't wait to get back home." Jim tries to offer Frank some encouragement. "Well, don't let it spoil the rest of your honeymoon, Frank. Just be alert when you're out and about, that's all."Frank clears his throat. "Listen, Jim--you worked for Altron Cybernetics. Is there-well-is there any chance Ginger could become physically violent, if she's pushed far enough?" "No," answers Jim, "there's no chance of that--unless she feels she and/or those close to her are being threatened with physical violence. And I wouldn't want to be in the shoes of the poor devil who does try to molest her or those she loves." "Say, Jim--just-just-how strong is Ginger?" "Well, Frank-ever heard the old expression about not trusting somebody farther than you could throw 'em? "Sure; who hasn't?" "Well," continues Jim, "Ginger could trust you pretty far--at a guess, I'd say, about forty or fifty feet." Upon hearing Jim's answer, Frank is gravely concerned. "You're kidding--right?" "I'm dead-serious, Frank; you have no idea of what Ginger can do." "But Jim--what do you think she might actually do, say, if that newspaper scribbler comes up to us and starts in on her?" "Well," answers Jim, "what she'll most likely do is to take evasive action." "What, exactly, does that include, Jim--picking the guy up, and throwing him?" Jim chuckles. "No, Frank; what it means is she'll run away, or something like that." "Well," says Frank, "At least, she won't turn him into steak tartar, or something. I guess, my only hope is that we'll be able to dodge this jerk for the next two days.""So," asks Jim, "what are your plans for tomorrow?" "Oh, we're planning to take the WREQ guided tour. Then, after lunch, we'll visit the River Run Time-Line Museum." "Oh, yeah," says Jim. "We took the WREQ tour. It's pretty interesting. You and Ginger oughtta like it. There's also a fascinating museum on the history of WREQ. We'll probably visit the Time-Line Museum tomorrow or Thursday.AS the afternoon wears on, Frank and Jim become immersed in conversation on a variety of subjects. Later in the afternoon, people begin to drift into the lounge in increasing numbers. Frank gives his watch a glance. He notes that it's just after 4:30PM. "Well, Jim; I guess, we'd better wrap it up." Jim stretches and yawns. "Yeah. Oh, by the way, you and Ginger are still on for dinner at the Purl Roadhouse tomorrow night, right?""Definitely, Jim. Besides, tomorrow's when we wrap up our tour of Old River Run. We'll be spending all day Thursday, packing all the souvenirs and extra clothing we bought." "Sounds like fun," is Jim's wry comment. "We'll be doing the same on Friday." With that, Frank and Jim pay their tabs and leave for their respective hotel rooms.To Be Continued. . . .What will take place in the next installment? Will Jim Havel have any more shocking revelations for Frank? Find out in the next chapter.
Oct 13 06 12:17 PM
Chapter 17"When You Are Gone"UPON ENTERING THE HOTEL room, Frank quickly sheds his coat and tie. After kicking off his shoes, Frank switches on the radio to relieve the stillness. Sprawling out on the bed, he begins to page through his newly purchased souvenir book on the history of Old River Run. At a few minutes after five o'clock, Frank suddenly hears a key being thrust into the deadbolt of the room's door. Startled by the sound, Frank jumps up from the bed. The door opens and in, steps Ginger. "Oh-good, Honey," says Ginger. "I'm glad you're back." "Well," replies Frank with a grin, "I knew better than to not be here when you come back. Did you and Brenda have a good time?" "We did," answers Ginger as she removes her hat and shoes. "By the way, Brenda told me she and Jim wanna invite us to spend a few days with 'em at their cabin up near Grants Pass, Oregon.""Of course," continues Ginger somewhat timorously, "I--thought we oughtta reciprocate--by inviting Jim and Brenda to stay with us sometime.---You don't mind, Honey--do you?" "Well-no-not really, I guess. I just want to take care of things before they visit." "Oh," adds Ginger, "another thing: tonight I'll be showing Brenda how I do my hair. I'll have to show her the process from scratch. So it'll probably take a couple of hours or so."Frank chuckles. "So, now you're a hair dresser, eh?" "Well," replies Ginger, "Brenda's been dying to know how I fix my hair. So I promised I'd show her. While we were out, we went into a beauty supply store on Chestnut Street. Since they're deep into recreating the past here, it was easy to find everything for retro hairstyles." Frank picks up one of the heavily laden shopping bags from the gift shop and places it on the bed. He sits down and picks out a box containing one of the LEMO Tomato Juice Girl dolls. Frank studies it with keen interest.
He turns to Ginger. "Hmm-this thing looks like a little you. It's hair is even styled just like yours." Ginger steps casually to where Frank is seated and takes the box from his hand. Like Frank, she studies the figure and its smiling face. She starts to giggle. "You're right, Honey. Not many people, cyber, or otherwise, can say they have collector dolls of themselves on sale in a souvenir shop." Ginger hands the box back to Frank. He picks up one of the Jeffrey Metcalf figures and holds it next to the Ginger Szabo doll and grins. "They do make a cute pair, don't they?"Suddenly, something strange comes over Ginger. Her face takes on a distant, unblinking gaze. "Yes--they do," replies Ginger in a soft voice. "And you'll take them--and put them in the parlor--where Jeff and Ginger will be together again--until the end of days." Frank is unnerved, not as much by the words Ginger just spoke, but more by her distant, wide-eyed stare. "Ginger--stop talking like that; you're giving me the creeps." Suddenly, Ginger snaps out of her trance-like state. "I'm sorry. I--I don't even know why I said that. Honestly, though--lately, I've been thinking a lot about my future. Frank--what'll happen to me--when you're gone?" "Honey," answers Frank, " please--don't talk like that; this is neither the time, nor the place. If you're that concerned, we can discuss it after we come home--I promise."
Ginger abruptly changes the subject, as though nothing had happened. "Where are we having dinner tonight?" A rattled Frank tries to collect his thoughts. "Oh--I dunno;--no place special, I guess. The-ah-the diner downstairs will be fine." Ginger gives a casual reply. "Whatever suits you is fine by me, Dear. But I do need to be back by eight o'clock to meet with Brenda, don't forget." "So," asks Frank, "what'll I do all by myself?" "Well" answers Ginger, "why don't you and Jim hang out for a couple of hours. Besides, we don't need you men hanging around. You'll only get in the way."AFTER returning from dinner, Ginger sets about preparing for her visit with Brenda Havel. She packs a few things into a carrying bag and checks her face in the mirror. In the meantime, Frank puts a call through to the Havels' room. "Hi, Jim. Yeah--looks like the girls are banishing us again.----Yeah-sure. Drinks in the lounge again, as usual. See ya in fifteen minutes; bye." Ginger picks up her handbag. "Okay, Honey, I'm off. I oughtta be back by ten thirty." "Alright, Sweety, "says Frank. "Have fun." Ginger grins at Frank, blows him a kiss, and walks out the door.Frank heads down to the hotel lobby and stands by the entrance to the lounge. Soon afterward, he notices Jim, striding toward him, his arms spread out in a broad gesture. "Well, Frank-here we are again!" "Oh, well," says Frank in a conciliatory tone, "it's for a good cause. Tomorrow morning, Brenda will look like a new woman." With that, Frank and Jim step into the lounge and easily find a vacant booth. Over drinks, they become immersed in conversation. Eventually their discussion veers toward the subject of Ginger. Jim senses uneasiness in Frank's demeanor. "So, Frank--what's on your mind? Are things alright between you and Ginger?"Frank takes a sip of his drink and sets it down. "It's not what you're thinking, Jim. But tell me--since you worked for Altron Cybernetics--maybe--maybe you can answer me some questions." Jim raises his eyebrows. "Well, I'll do my best; what do you wanna know?" Well, Jim--is it possible--for cyber-people to be--you know--philosophical, imaginative, meditative--or, say--spiritual or to--well--to have trance-like episodes?" Jim smirks and chuckles at Frank's question. "I don't know about trance-like episodes, Frank. But it is possible for the latest generation cyber-people, like your Ginger, for example--to be capable of dwelling on philosophical and spiritual matters. They can also have hopes--fears--aspirations--even dreams. That's what makes 'em so much like human beings. But, Frank--why do you ask?""Well--this is the craziest thing, Jim--Ginger said something earlier this evening that had my hair standing up." Jim Havel raises his eyebrows again. "What, on Earth, did she say?" Frank goes on to recount the unsettling words Ginger had spoken to him earlier, as well as her strange demeanor. "That is alittle spooky," says Jim. Frank continues his account of Ginger's bizarre demeanor. "It wasn't as much what she said, as the way she said it. You should've seen her, Jim. She had this vacant, far-away look in her eyes. It was as though something or, some one, had taken control of her and put her in some sort of trance. She even made reference to the end of days, of all things. And when I told her I was spooked by what she said, she answered that she was thinking about her own existence. Then she seemed to be worried about her future--after I'm gone. But the end of days reference--what did she mean by that?"Jim thinks, for a moment before responding. "Well--it just shows that Ginger's already thinking about her own personal security after you've passed on. As for the 'end of days' reference, it sounds like a Bible reference, you know, like in the Books of Daniel or Revelation. Or, Frank--it could mean--the end of your days." Frank shifts nervously in his seat. "Well, thanks, Jim, for making my evening." Jim chuckles. "Sorry, Frank." "But," continues Frank, "why is Ginger thinking about her future after I've snuffed it--now, of all times?"Jim shrugs. "Who knows? Maybe the sight of those dolls prompted her; it's anybody's guess." After a brief pause, Jim has a question for Frank. "By the way--have you provided for Ginger's well-being--I mean--have you revised your will to include Ginger, in the event something does happen to you prematurely?" "Well--no," answers Frank. Not yet. Ginger and I have only been together for a little while. And--honestly--it hadn't crossed my mind--until now, that is." To Be Continued. . . .Why did Jim ask Frank if Ginger is included in his will? Find out in the next revealing chapter.
Oct 16 06 12:19 PM
ATTENTION SENSITIVE READERS! This chapter is rated PG-13. Not that there is any suggestion of intimate contact. However, there is some serious discussion between Frank and Jim about Altron Cybernetics that sensitive readers may find disturbing. So--if you fall into the sensitive category, please move on to the next unrated chapter. Thank you.Chapter 18 "Dark Warnings & Strange Activity"JIM HAVEL'S FACIAL EXPRESSION suddenly takes on a dark foreboding that is, to Frank, unnerving. Jim leans toward Frank and speaks in a near whisper. "Let me tell you something," begins Jim, "you had better get Ginger in your will right away--and clearly provide for her before you leave this world." Frank becomes uneasy-even frightened by Jim's words. "Jim--you're talking like you're sure Ginger will out-live me. And why, the sudden urgency about my will, of all things?" "First of all," answers Jim, "Ginger will outlive you; that's a given. She'll remain active for, at least, a hundred and twenty-five years. And it's easily conceivable that she could live to a hundred and fifty. It'll take that long before Ginger's brain begins to wear down and shut down permanently. And, secondly--I'll tell you another good reason you need to provide for Ginger.""Listen, Jim-all this talk about my will, and my dying before Ginger isn't exactly making my evening here." "I'm sorry, Frank, but it has to be said, all the same. As your friend, Frank, I'm trying to warn you." "Warn me?," replies Frank in frightened bewilderment. "Warn me about what?" "Trust me, Frank, you'll want to clearly provide for Ginger--because you do not want Altron to get it's hands on her after you're gone."Frank listens to Jim's words in worried disbelief. "Jim--what you're saying about Altron is starting to sound sinister. It's hard to believe they're anything like what you're implying. I spoke, more than once, to John Mackensen and Mrs. McFarland, whom I've even met. They both seem like two very friendly, helpful, decent people." "Yeah," replies Jim, "that's what they want the public to believe. But Frank, you have absolutely no idea what goes on behind that benign, friendly, helpful facade. Altron is a ruthless entity. For instance--how do you think they acquire their human subjects, in order to study human brain functions and biological processes?" A fearful Frank gives a nervous shrug. "I don't know--paid volunteers, I guess?" "Well, sort of," answers Jim. "But these aren't starving students, looking for a few bucks to cover next year's tuition. Altron combs the skid rows, back alleys, overpasses and seedy parts of every major city in the country, looking for homeless transients, runaways, alcohol and drug addicts and--shall we say--'women of ill repute.' In other words, what society calls, throw-aways. They entice them with promises of money, food, and so on. Frank, they strip those poor wretches of what's left of their dignity, their humanity in ways one can't mention in polite society. In most cases, these people have no family; no one who cares whether they live or die. So--if anything happens to them in the process, who's gonna know--or care. In fact, I once overheard a senior research technician joke to somebody that they have a slogan: 'We burn our mistakes."Frank begins to grow pale at Jim's shocking revelations. "Jim--what you're saying is sending shivers up my spine. You make Altron sound like Burke and Hare. But you still haven't told me why I need to include Ginger in my will." Jim Havel continues in emphatic, whispering tones. "Listen to me, Frank--Ginger's a very special cyber-women; in all the years I've worked for Altron, I've never met a more human cyber-woman with so much human nuance and depth of expression. I know how much you love Ginger, Frank, and how much she loves you. Brenda and I see it in yours, and Ginger's eyes when you're together. And that's why I'm warning you, Frank. If you don't clearly provide for Ginger in your will, Altron will have the legal right, under California Law, to take possession of Ginger. And if you truly love her, you won't want that to happen, Frank."Frank literally feels the blood drain from his face. "What--on Earth, would they do to Ginger?" "Well, Frank-to say the very least, it wouldn't be pleasant. Altron will want to dissect her to get into her brain. As soon as she were to arrive at Altron, a technician would come up from behind and immobilize her with an electric shock to the base of her skull. She'd still be conscious, but unable to move. Then they'll take her into the dissection theater. And, mind you, this would all be done while Ginger is fully conscious. It's the only way they can retrieve certain types of data from her brain. And Frank--you know as well as I do, that Ginger can feel pain, as much as you and I. I once saw this procedure being done to a cyber-woman after her human mate had passed away. It was horrible. The screams--it was like witnessing a medieval execution. I had to leave; I couldn't stand it. It was one of the reasons I finally left Altron.After hearing Jim's horrifying revelations, Frank is so distraught that he is shaking. "My god--Jim-I can't let that happen to Ginger." Jim makes an effort to calm Frank's fears. "I didn't mean to upset you, Frank. I'm only trying to warn you while you still have time to legally protect Ginger. In your will, you should give her full power of attorney over your estate, investments, bank accounts, and all other assets, in the event of your demise. As I understand it, California Law gives new-generation cyber-people the right to hold power of attorney, and to inherit and own property. If Ginger is covered in a thoroughly detailed and properly executed will, Altron won't be able to lay a fingernail on her.""Well--I suppose I oughtta thank you for the warning, Jim. Though, I didn't need to hear the whole dissection thing. But Jim, Altron should be brought to book for what they're doing. For heaven's sake, Jim, you worked for Altron and you know what's going on behind locked doors. Don't you feel--any sort of moral responsibility to get that information out so Altron can be prosecuted?Jim shifts nervously and looks about in an agitated manner. "Don't you think I've thought about that, Frank? It haunts me day and night. But I have a family, Frank--just like you. You have no idea what Altron is like or how powerful they really are. They have highly placed people in all levels of government who have a stake in Altron's operations. Some of those politicians and power-brokers even have cyber-mates of their own. You'd be surprised if I told you who they are. And, Frank--they'll do whatever it takes to keep that secret from the public. If I tried to go to the press or the FBI with what I know--I, along with my wife and my family, would disappear without a trace. "I don't know, Jim. I'd be caught in a real moral dilemma, if I were you. But--thanks again, for the warning. We fly home on Friday. But, on Monday Morning I'll contact my attorneys right away and get everything taken care of." "It'll be the best thing you can ever do for Ginger, Frank. You'll be protecting her, and she'll love you for it. But Frank--promise me you won't breath a single word to anyone about what I just told you. Altron operates by its own set of rules and ethics. And I don't want them coming after me--or you.""I promise," says Frank. "You have my solemn word. You're a good friend, Jim, to warn me about all this. I had no idea Ginger's future well-being is in such jeopardy." "Sure, Frank. I'm just glad I could warn you before it's too late." With that, Frank and Jim sit, for a moment in tense silence, sipping at their drinks. Suddenly, Jim checks his watch. "Hmm--it's almost ten-thirty; Ginger oughtta be done with Brenda's hair.""Yeah," replies Frank in jest. "We'd better get going, if we know what's good for us." After the elevator doors close, Jim admonishes Frank, one more time. "Again, Frank, don't tell anyone what I told you tonight-not even members of your own family. They might let it slip out in casual conversation." "Don't worry, Jim. I won't tell anyone-not even Ginger." "Good man, Frank."WHEN Frank steps into the hotel room, Ginger is just removing her shoes. "Oh, there you are, Sweetheart," says Ginger in a cheerful tone. "I'm sorry I'm late, Honey," says an apologetic Frank. "Jim and I got caught up in conversation, and time just slipped by." Ginger waves Frank's timid apology aside. "Don't worry about it, Sweetheart. I just got in, myself. I think Jim will be very pleased with Brenda's hair, tomorrow morning."Ginger notices something odd about Frank as he prepares for bed. "Frank--is everything--alright?" "Everything's fine, Honey," answers Frank. "I'm just tired." Frank suddenly notices one of the Jeff Metcalf, and one of the Ginger Szabo figures, standing on the desk, facing each other. "Alright, Honey-very cute," says Frank with a smirk. Ginger, who is seated at the dressing table, turns to look at Frank. "What are you talking about, Dear?" Frank points to the desk. "I'm talkin' about the way you posed the Jeff and Ginger dolls." "Don't look at me," replies Ginger. "I didn't do it. I saw 'em like that when I came in; I thought you did it, just to be funny." "Well," replies Frank, "I know I didn't touch those dolls. Jim and I've been down in the lounge, for the last couple of hours. Besides, I distinctly remember putting those dolls back into the bag--before I left.""Well, Frank, all I know is that I didn't do it either." Ginger returns to her nighttime regimen. Frank continues to look suspiciously at the two boxes on the desk as he changes into his pajamas. "Ginger?" "Yes, Dear?" "Are you sure you didn't touch those dolls?" Ginger answers with a sigh. "Yes, Frank, I'm sure." Frank begins to feel a corkscrew sensation run down his spine. "Well--if you didn't put those dolls there and--I didn't--who did?To Be Continued. . . .Now that Jim has revealed to Frank the true nature of Altron Cybernetics, how will this affect Frank's relationship with Ginger? And, what about the mysterious placement of the Ginger Szabo and Jeff Metcalf dolls? Find out the answers to these tantalizing questions in future chapters.
Oct 17 06 12:40 PM
"Unexplained Presence?"WEDNESDAY MORNING COMES IN warm and humid. Frank stirs from his slumber. While he yawns and stretches, Ginger also begins to stir. "It's sure muggy, this morning," observes Frank. Ginger, likewise rubs her eyes and stretches. "Yeah, I noticed." "Well," replies Frank, "we'd better hustle. This is our last day for any sight-seeing." Ginger sits down at the dressing table to get ready for the day. "So, what's on our itinerary, for today?" "Well," answers Frank, "before lunch we'll take the WREQ Radio Station tour. Then, I'd like to pay a last visit to Brandstaetter's fountain to grab a sandwich and a drink for lunch. After a brief pause, Frank continues. "Oh--and I wanna visit the Time Line Museum. I've heard it has some fascinating exhibits. And don't forget-we're having one last dinner at the Purl Roadhouse with the Havels." "Sounds like a full day," says Ginger.FRANK parks the Model "A" in the lot behind the main building at Radio Station WREQ. The ancient television broadcasting tower stands nearby, it's enormous, dark skeletal structure rising 420 feet up into the hazy blue atmosphere. Upon entering the lobby, Frank and Ginger notice a group of individuals, gathering for the guided WREQ Studios tour. Frank and Ginger join the group and wait with them. While waiting, they gaze at the well-preserved early 1930s Art Deco interior. Soon, a smartly dressed young woman in 1940s period attire emerges from a side door. She steps briskly to where the tour group is anxiously waiting. Her name tag tells the world that she is Ruth Singleton - WREQ Public Relations. After calling for the group's attention, she introduces herself and announces that the tour will now begin.Mrs. Singleton leads the group down a hall to their first stop. After opening a set of paneled oak double-doors, she invites the group to step inside. Upon entering, Frank and Ginger, along with the rest of the tour group, find themselves standing in a very old, but well-preserved theater and sound stage. It is on this very stage that, from 1925 until 1962, all live WREQ radio broadcasts, including dramas, comedies, and live commercials, take place. Standing on the stage, are four antique floor microphones, a small bandstand, a very large antique studio phonograph, and a table, upon which lay an odd assortment of gadgets, once used by the Foley or sound effects engineer.It suddenly dawns on Frank and Ginger that they are standing in the very theater, where Ginger Szabo, herself had once performed those live LEMO Tomato Juice commercials. Frank and Ginger look at each other in awed silence then again, at the stage. For Frank, the experience is as surreal as it is moving. Goose-bumps begin to rise on his arms. A tingly sensation commences on the back of his neck. Afterward, the tour continues on to the original radio broadcast control room. As Ms. Singleton leads her tour group on to the next exhibit, she casts a wide-eyed backward glance at Ginger. Ms. Singleton then leads her group into the television studio, which was in use from 1946, to 2042, when WREQ ceased television broadcasting. This function was taken over by Television Station WRTN in present-day Riverton. Though WREQ has long ago ceased television programming, the old television broadcasting tower remains today as an historical landmark and occasionally, a lightning rod on steroids.After three more stops, the tour goes through the WREQ Broadcast Museum, where many artifacts from the early years of radio broadcasting are on exhibit. Also on display, are several old, wrinkled, and coffee-stained radio show scripts, dating from 1926, to 1962. Among them, is a script for the original 1940s LEMO Tomato Juice live commercials. Written in now-faded pencil in the margins, are notes in Ginger Szabo's 0wn hand. Frank stops and stares at this artifact in the same way a devout American patriot might reverently gaze upon the original Declaration Of Independence. Ginger also seems caught up in the moment. The spell is only broken when they realize that the tour group has moved on. As Frank and Ginger follow along, they also see an exhibit of ancient transcription discs and acetates.THE WREQ tour makes a profound impression on Ginger, as well as, on Frank. They both discuss their thoughts on the tour as they drive to Brandstaetter's Pharmacy. As Frank and Ginger enter the place, Frank takes a look around. "Well, take a good, long look, Ginger. This'll be our last visit in Brandstetter's for a long time to come." Frank and Ginger stroll up to the fountain counter and take their seats. Since no music is playing, Frank drops a coin into the jukebox and selects Glenn Miller's Blue Orchids. Frank and Ginger order sandwiches, along with favorite fountain drinks.As fate would have it, the Havels also happen into Brandstaeter's to satiate their sweet cravings. When Jim catches sight of the Boelckes at the fountain, he calls out to them. "Hey! Look who's here--again!" Frank and Ginger turn to find Jim and Brenda Havel approaching them with big smiles. "Hi, Jim!--Hi, Brenda!," says Frank. "It's amazing, the way we keep running into each other here." Ginger suddenly makes an observation. "Brenda, I see your hair came out really nice." "Yes, it did. Thank you ever so much for showing me how to do it, Ginger." "You're welcome, Brenda. It was no trouble, at all. I had fun doing it."With that, Jim sits down next to Frank, while Brenda takes her place next to Ginger. "I see you two decided to take lunch here," observes Jim. "Yeah," replies Frank. "We just felt like something quick. We got back from the WREQ tour alittle bit ago. After lunch, we'll head over to the Time Line Museum." "Brenda and I will visit there tomorrow," volunteers Jim. "Today we're taking the two o'clock River Run Bus Tour." "We took the bus tour yesterday," says Frank. "I think you and Brenda will really like it. It's a nice, relaxing ride."Jim leans over to Frank and speaks in a lowered voice. "Say, Frank, have you been able to avoid that reporter I warned you about?" "So far-so good," answers Frank in an equally low voice. "Today's our last day for any more sight-seeing. If we can get through today without running into that jerk, we'll be in the clear. Tomorrow we'll be in our room all day, packing." After taking another bite from his sandwich, Frank turns to see that Ginger is involved in conversation with Brenda. Turning back to Jim, he speaks in a hushed tones."Hey, Jim. Something really bizarre happened when I got back to our room last night." Jim smirks. "Let me guess; Ginger was dressed in leathers." Frank chortles. "No. Fortunately she's not into that." "So, then," asks Jim, "what happened?" "Well," begins Frank, "remember me telling you about the Ginger Szabo and Jeffrey Metcalf souvenir dolls?" "Yeah," replies Jim. "Did something happen to 'em?" Frank goes on to explain the strange incident in which the two figures were mysteriously positioned on the desk. Jim's eyes widen. "That's about as spooky as the other incident when Ginger fell into that trance you described." "Yeah," says Frank. "And when I kept questioning her about it, she got edgy and denied even touching the dolls." Jim pauses for a moment, as though trying to summon the courage to tell Frank what's on his mind. "Well, Frank--maybe she didn't."Frank looks at Jim with a quizzical expression. "What, exactly do you mean? What other explanation could there be?" "Now, Frank; I don't know how you're gonna take this. And-well-maybe you'll think I'm a piano that's short a few keys. But--there may be something else going on--something that none of us can understand--at least-not in this life." Frank gives Jim a glare of bewilderment. "Just what are you driving at, Jim?" "Well, Frank--it could--well, it could just be possible that someone--or some thing--under certain circumstances--might be taking over Ginger's electronic brain. "Ohhh, now, Jim, come on. I can't believe what I'm hearing! Jim, I know you like dry martinis. Did you have a few before you came in here?""Alright, Frank--I guess, I had that coming. And I can't blame you for being skeptical. But--do you have any sort of religious or spiritual beliefs?" "Sure," Frank volunteers emphatically. "I may not wear my religion on my sleeves, Jim, but I do believe there's a God, a Savior, a Heaven, and a Hell, and I believe the Bible is the inerrant Word of God. Those are my beliefs, in a nutshell. Now, as an added bonus, I'll tell you what I don't believe. I don't believe in hauntings or ghosts or things that go bump-in-the-night, that take over people's brains-cyber, or otherwise, or rearrange the pill bottles in their medicine cabinets when they're not looking."Jim raises his palms. "Okay--okay, Frank. That's fine-I understand-I get it. I'm only suggesting that there could be a whole unseen world that neither you nor I know anything about while we're alive. And--it could be what's driving those strange occurrences you and Ginger have been experiencing." "So, Jim, what you're really suggesting is--that the ghosts of Ginger Szabo and Jeffrey Metcalf are moving those dolls around and speaking through Ginger?? Oh, please, Jim-you can't be serious." "No, Frank; I didn't say that, at all. I'm only suggesting that you might keep an open mind." "You know, Jim, I have a lot of respect for you, and I think of you as a good friend. But if you're hinting that someone or, something, is hanging out in the local ether and controlling Ginger's brain, I'd have to say you're padded cell material." "Alright, Frank--you can accept or reject my suggestion. I only threw it out as a possible explanation."Suddenly, Brenda calls to her husband. "Jim, we'd better go. The tour bus leaves in half an hour." Frank checks his watch. "Ginger and I should get going, too." With that, Frank and Jim pay their tabs and go their separate ways. As Frank helps Ginger into the old Ford sedan, Jim waves and calls out to them. "See you at the Roadhouse tonight!" "You bet!," replies Frank.To Be Continued. . . .What if there are, indeed, other-worldly presences interacting with Frank and Ginger? And, if so, could these "presences" really be the spirits of Susan's long-dead ancestors? Or, is someone, perhaps a hotel staff member, surreptitiously gas-lighting Frank and Ginger? And what, if anything, lies in store for Frank and Ginger at the Time-Line Museum? Find out the answer to, at least one of these unsettling questions in the next chapter.
Oct 19 06 12:55 PM
"LEMO Tomato Juice is the Best!"
FRANK AND GINGER ARRIVE at the Time Line Museum to find the parking lot nearly empty. Frank takes another look around at the lot, then at the museum building. "The place looks almost deserted." "Good," says Ginger. "If we run into any surprises in there, I don't want an audience." Frank puts a reassuring hand on Ginger's shoulders. "Take it easy, Honey. I'm sure there's nothing in that museum that we haven't seen already." As Frank and Ginger stride across the parking lot, they are impressed by the architecture of the museum building. It is a glowing white Art Deco edifice that would not have looked out of place at the 1939 New York World's Fair.Frank and Ginger step up to the window to purchase two admission tickets. When the ticket clerk catches a glimpse of Ginger, his eyes literally shoot out on stalks. Ginger, noticing the clerk's gaze, is filled with a sense of foreboding. The Boelckes pass through the turnstile at the main entrance. The wide-eyed, slack-jawed ticket collector is rendered speechless at the sight of Ginger. A sign, with a large red arrow, indicates where visitors are to begin their self-guided tour.The first exhibit area to greet Frank and Ginger contains displays of the early beginnings of River Run in the late-1840s. Some of the exhibits feature life-like and life-sized wax mannequins of locally famous individuals of these early years. In the Civil War exhibit, a squad of soldiers of the 55th Ohio Infantry Regiment stand, eerily life-like in their uniforms and accoutrements, leveling their 1861 Springfield muskets at an unseen Confederate foe. The neighboring exhibit displays a battery of volunteer Ohio artillerymen preparing to fire a round of grape-shot from their 6-pounder brass smooth-bore cannon at an advancing company of Confederate infantrymen.The next group of exhibits covers the period between 1880 and 1900. Frank and Ginger eventually come to a display area featuring an almost larger-than-life wax representation of J.A. Brandstaetter. The figure glares back at the Boelckes with stern, authoritarian eyes. The face of the ersatz Brandstaetter sports the now familiar enormous handlebar mustache and bushy, just as enormous sideburns.Strolling through the corridor of the 1920s, they view an exhibit featuring the control room at Radio Station WREQ in 1924. One wax figure represents the announcer, speaking into a large, primitive microphone. Another figure depicts the broadcast technician, wearing headphones. He appears to be manipulating knobs and dials on a primitive transmitter that looks more like a Queen Anne high-boy dresser.After browsing through the corridor of the 1930s featuring scenes of River Run during the Depression, Frank and Ginger enter a section of the corridor of the 1940s. This section features children, collecting for a scrap metal drive during World War Two, as well as, two wax mannequins of women representing war workers at the Sloan Industries plant. Local celebrities of the sports world are also represented. Frank and Ginger are surprised to find an exhibit featuring an extraordinarily life-like figure of Jeffrey Metcalf in his Cleveland Indians baseball team uniform. They gaze in wide-eyed amazement at the figure."It's like--we're looking at Jeff Metcalf, live--in the flesh," says Frank in subdued astonishment. Frank and Ginger stand in front of this exhibit, contemplating the scene before them. Then it is Ginger's turn to break the silence. "He looks so real--like he could start moving and talking. It's kinda spooky." A fearful thought suddenly crosses Ginger's mind. "Frank--do you think that--" "No," interrupts Frank, "I don't think so."While Frank is engrossed in the 1940s baseball exhibits, Ginger grows impatient. She informs Frank that she is going on to the next aisle. Frank waves her on, with a promise to join her shortly. As Ginger rounds the corner to the next row of exhibits, she comes upon a display featuring the wax forms of Michael and Ruth Sloan, the original owners of Sloan Industries. In regal posture, they seem to smile down upon her with haughty arrogance. "Hmm," says Ginger to herself, "what a couple of stuffy snobs." After viewing more of the Sloan exhibit, Ginger strolls on to the WREQ exhibit area. Here she views a wax representation of the station manager, a smiling Mr. George Melon. The figure stands next to the large, ornate mahogany executive desk that once belonged to the real George Melon. This scene was created from an original WREQ publicity photo, taken in October of 1945. Ginger ambles casually on to the next exhibit. She turns her head to look at this next display. With a gasp, Ginger twitches in shock and puts her hand to her mouth. For, standing there in front of Ginger, is Ginger--Ginger Szabo, that is. And there, this Ginger stands, frighteningly and realistically executed in wax. What's more, she is dressed in the LEMO Tomato Juice Girl costume--an exact replica of the original, which is currently lying in state at home in Frank's closet. The wax-replicated Ginger appears to look down at the latter-day cyber-Ginger from her 4 ft. high dais with a welcoming smile; one hand rests on her hip, while the other is raised and pointing over her head.Finally, Ginger recovers enough to call out. "Frank!!--Get over here quick!! You've gotta see this!!!" A preoccupied Frank looks in the direction of Ginger's voice. He answers her, his voice muffled by the wall behind the other exhibit. "In a minute, Ginger!" A livid Ginger glares in the direction of Frank's voice, and hisses angrily through clenched teeth. "Frank, will you stop fooling around and get over here??" Frank sighs and shakes his head as he turns and strides into the aisle, where Ginger is waiting. "Alright-alright; I'm coming! What's all the fuss about? What are you---"Frank halts in mid-sentence. He can't believe the scene onto which he has just stumbled. For there, Ginger stands, glowering at him with mouth and eyes wide open, a trembling finger pointing to the wax-rendered Ginger Szabo on her stage-like dais. "Good lord," says Frank in a choked whisper. "I must be seeing double." The only difference between Frank's Ginger, and the wax Ginger, is that Ginger is about three inches taller, and her hair is just a shade darker. Frank's Ginger also looks a little more mature. Frank creeps slowly toward the dais. A lump forms in his throat as a tear makes its way down his cheek. It is as though he has fallen into a time-warp, and is standing in the presence of the living ancestor of his first wife, Susan. Frank is suddenly jarred from his thoughts as Ginger puts her hand on his shoulder. He wipes tears from his face and collects himself. "Now I know why people have been gawking and staring!," exclaims a frenetic Ginger. "Frank, I think we oughtta leave here now, before anyone sees me." Frank waves Ginger's concerns aside as he spots a small panel in front of the dais. The label under a red button reads: Press button to hear ORIGINAL LEMO Tomato Juice radio jingle, as broadcast on Radio Station WREQ in 1946. Ginger becomes edgy and fearful. "C'mon, Frank, let's get outta here!""Wait a minute, Ginger. Don't you see? For the first time, I have a chance to actually hear the LEMO Tomato Juice jingle, and the actual one that was originally broadcast!" Ginger is beside herself. "Frank, have you lost your marbles?? What if someone walks in on us? We've gotta get out before the afternoon crowd comes in!"Again, Frank waves aside Ginger's fearful concerns and presses the button. When the music begins to play, Frank stands motionless, listening in awe to the jingle. At first, Ginger nervously looks about to see if anyone is coming. Then she, too, is caught up in the jingle. By the time the music stops, Ginger completely forgets her fears. She takes Frank's hand and speaks softly to him."We could actually hear Ginger Szabo singing the jingle." The spell is suddenly broken by the sound of approaching footsteps. Ginger looks in the direction of the sound then, at Frank. "Frank, we can't let anyone see me!" Frank and Ginger creep around the corner, to a quiet, dimly lit, cordoned-off area of the museum that is undergoing renovation. They surreptitiously slip under the rope cordon and hide themselves from view. The area is deserted; tools and building supplies are scattered about the bare concrete floor. Ginger hurriedly opens her handbag and pulls out a red scarf, along with an elastic band. She feverishly pulls her hair into a ponytail and wraps the scarf around her head. Frank cautiously peeks around a corner, then focuses his attention on Ginger. "Ginger, what are you doing?" "Trying not to look conspicuous," Replies Ginger.She then yanks a tissue out of her handbag and wipes away her lipstick. "But," asks Frank, "why don't we just walk out of here, like normal people?" "Listen, Frank, my makeup and hairstyle exactly match what's on that mannequin. If I don't change my appearance, we could get mobbed." With that, Ginger pulls out a pair of sunglasses and puts them on. "Oh," says Frank with a tinge of sarcasm, "now you look really inconspicuous."Suddenly, the LEMO Tomato Juice jingle begins to play again, an indication that tourists are now viewing the Ginger Szabo exhibit. Frank and Ginger glance anxiously in the direction of the music. They quietly steal away through aisles and corridors, avoiding people as much as possible as they go. A few heads turn as the Boelckes rush by. By this time, the museum is beginning to buzz with tourists. Frank and Ginger run across the parking lot. It is more than half full of cars, both antique and modern. Frank and Ginger jump into their rented Model "A" sedan and slam the doors shut. "Safe!," exclaims Ginger with palpable relief as she leans heavily back against her seat. "Whew!," exclaims a panting Frank. "I feel like we just made a prison break!"ON their drive back to the hotel, Frank and Ginger reflect on their experience in the Time-Line Museum. Ginger affectionately places her hand on Frank's shoulder. "Frank, Honey--I know how you must've felt--to see that realistic wax figure of Ginger Szabo. I know you tried to hide it, but I could see it in your eyes." Frank sighs. "I just couldn't believe how real she looked. And--when I got to hear that LEMO Tomato Juice jingle-with Ginger Szabo actually singing the words-it kinda got to me." Ginger grins. "Catchy little tune, isn't it?" "Yeah," answers Frank, "it sure is."On the drive back to the hotel, Frank begins to whistle the jingle, tapping rhythmically on the steering wheel. Ginger joins in by singing the lyrics. Soon they are both trading lines back and forth. ".....LEMO....it's the M-O.......don't be a shmo............L-E-M-O........LEMMMOOOO." When they finish, they both laugh together at their own less-than-perfect performance. After ceasing his chortling, Frank looks to Ginger. "You know, Ginger, you held up better than I would've thought, after seeing that life-sized Ginger Szabo. I thought something like that would have fried one of your micro-processors or something.""Well," replies Ginger, "I have to admit--at first--almost did fry something. Then I picked my jaw off the floor, pulled myself together, and dealt with it--sort of. I guess, I'm learning to take all this Ginger Szabo look-alike business in stride." Frank starts to chuckle. "Yeah, you dealt with it, alright."To Be Continued. . . .Having come across a stunningly life-like figure of Ginger Szabo in the Old River Run Time Line Museum, what's next? Will Frank and Ginger manage to avoid the snooping reporter from the River Run Courier? Find out in the next few chapters!
Oct 20 06 2:40 PM
"A Farewell Evening"AFTER RETURNING TO THEIR HOTEL ROOM, Frank begins to contemplate the available space in his and Ginger's luggage. He and Ginger have made many purchases of clothing and souvenirs during their stay in Old River Run. And Frank now realizes that it won't all fit into their luggage. Ginger, in the meantime, is preoccupied at the dressing table, adjusting her hair and retouching her makeup. "Ginger--we have a problem." "Problem?," asks Ginger. Frank answers in a matter-of-fact tone. "There's no way this stuff will fit into our luggage." Ginger turns to look at Frank. "So, then--what do we do?""Well," answers Frank, "whatever doesn't fit into our luggage will have to be expressed ahead before we leave. Tomorrow morning, I'll call UAE and have them deliver some boxes and packing supplies. I'll drop the packages at UAE before I drop off the rental car. "Hmm," mutters Frank to himself, "now there's an experience I'm looking forward to." "As long as everything gets delivered alright," adds Ginger. "Don't worry, Ginger. That stuff will get home before we do. I'll call Ryan and let him know an express delivery is coming."Frank reaches over to the radio and switches it on. The four o'clock news break is in progress. A sudden ripple of thunder catches Frank and Ginger's attention. Ginger, by now sensitive to the sound of anything even remotely passing itself off as thunder, jumps in her chair. A gust of cool, damp-smelling air rushes in through the window, billowing the curtains into the room. The gush of air disturbs some tourism pamphlets on the desk. "Will we have another bad storm tonight?," queries Ginger. Frank gives a casual answer. "I don't think so."The WREQ weather forecast is being read by the announcer. "SHHHH," says an anxious Ginger. "And, now--the WREQ weather forecast, for the rest of the day calls for partly cloudy skies with a fifty percent chance of thunder showers. But not to worry, folks! NWS tells us that no severe weather is expected in our area. And I know we're all releaved to hear that, aren't we! Currently, the temperature stands at 85 degrees, with 81 percent humidity. Winds are coming out of the southwest at 12 miles per hour. This concludes the Four O'clock News break on Radio Station WREQ, the voice of Old River Run, where the past comes to life everyday. . ."Frank makes his own addition to the WREQ weather forecast. "Just sounds like normal weather for the Middle West in May, Honey-nothing to worry about." "Well," replies Ginger, "as long as we don't have another tornado scare. Every time I hear thunder, these days, I get jumpy." Suddenly, the phone rings. Frank picks up the receiver to hear Jim Havel on the other end. "Hi, Frank. Just wanted to warn you that we saw that snooping reporter in the lobby earlier today. ----- Yeah, I just wanted to give you the heads-up in case you and Ginger go anywhere before tonight. ----- He's wearing a blue suit and a blue tie with a sort of swirly red and yellow pattern. He's got a press card, stuck in his hatband, like always. ---- Sure, Frank. We'll meet at the roadhouse at seven. --- See you then-bye.""Who was that, Honey?," asks Ginger as she steps out of the bathroom. "It was only Jim. He called to remind us to meet 'em at the Purl Roadhouse at seven." "What else did he say?" "Oh--nothing important," answers Frank. "He said he and Brenda enjoyed the Old River Run bus tour, this afternoon. Ginger appears satisfied with Frank's answers. She returns to the dressing table to finish preparing for the evening.As Frank lay down on the bed, another louder roll of thunder breaks the rooms stillness. Large drops of rain begin to spatter against the window panes. Frank rises from the bed to have a look. Ginger steps to the window to join him. They both look up to see the base of a brooding, dark gray cumulonimbus cloud, looming overhead. Seconds later, rain pelts down in torrents as another louder crack of thunder is heard. In fifteen minutes, it's all over. As the sky begins to clear, wet sidewalks and streets below begin to glisten in brilliant afternoon sunshine. Frank reclines on the bed for a little rest while Ginger returns to her primping. As Frank lay on the bed, he thinks about the warning, just given him by Jim over the phone. . . THE next thing Frank knows, he is being shaken awake by Ginger. "Sweetheart--wake up," says Ginger as she pats his cheek. "It's five-thirty; you need to get ready." Frank stirs and yawns. "It's that time already?? I only just laid down! You know--when we get back home, I'll need a vacation from the vacation!"FRANK and Ginger arrive at the Purl Roadhouse at a few minutes after seven o'clock. The Havels Are already there, seated at a table by the front windows. Neither of them notice Frank and Ginger's arrival. A lively Harry James number is playing on the jukebox. "Hi, Jim-Hi, Brenda!," calls Frank as he and Ginger approach. Frank and Ginger take their seats at the table. "So," says Jim, "this is your last night out before you fly home." "Yep," answers Frank, "this is really it. Time sure flew." "Well," says Jim, "let's make the most of our last evening together."Ginger takes note of Brenda's hair. "Brenda, I see your hair's been coming out really nice. You've had no trouble following my instructions then?" "Not at all," answers Brenda. "I really wanna thank you for showing me how to style it this way." Jim suddenly pipes up. "Let me add to that, Ginger. I've never seen Brenda look prettier. We both thank you."To Be Continued. . . .Have things finally settled down for Frank and Ginger during their last hours in Old River Run? Have the unexplained occurrences abated? Find out in the next installment.
Oct 21 06 2:54 PM
There was indeed a tornado outbreak that took place on April 2nd, 1947. I forget just how many tornadoes were involved. But the outbreak stretched from
Oklahoma, to at least Indiana. I added it, as part of the story, even though there was nothing about it in the original Homefront series.
BTW, Ginger is not yet licensed to drive!
On the front door, the words "River Run Taxi Cab Co.," along with a five-digit phone number were painted.
"You're more statuesque, and your hair is a shade darker but, in every other respect, I'd say you and she could have been twin sisters -- if
this was 1947."
The WREQ late night dance music program was on the air.
"Well, --- I'm not really a peach fan. Do you serve cherry cobbler?," he hopefully asked."
Glenn Miller's "Moonlight Serenade," happened to be playing in the background as people browsed around, viewing exhibits of 19th, and early
20th century patent medicines and pharmaceutical items.
It was originally located on 3rd Street, but moved to its present location in 1917.
A strong cold front was approaching the area, that would bring moderate to heavy rain by 9PM. The front could become stationary, with the possibility of
severe thunderstorms as the cold air interacts with warm air moving up from the south.
"Frank, I don't think going out tonight was such a good idea," she said with grave concern in her voice. "The radio announcer mentioned
the possibility of severe weather. It may be pouring rain, hail, and who knows what else, when we want to leave later tonight."
Anyway, the odd thing about the 1947 tornado, was that it almost leveled Heritage Village. Fortunately, the tract was mostly unoccupied. So, no one was
"Don't go through these flooded streets too fast. If the generator gets wet, I have a feeling we'll all be spending a very uncomfortable night
in this car.," he warned.
Well, when Al parked his car and got out, Hank jumped out of the bushes, surprising him. Hank fired four shots; two shots went wild. One bullet grazed Al in
the head, and the fourth bullet winged him in the left arm.
By the way, I'm having your father take me to a vintage clothing store. If you give me your clothing sizes, I'll get something for you; how's
Once restored, the reborn River Run Municipal Airport would operate aerial tours and rides in the historic airplanes, as well as airshows on certain holiday
Once inside the Wagon Wheel, the waitress guided them to a vacant booth. The viands here, were based on western themes, as was the decor.
A man, seated at the opposite end of the counter, seemed to be watching them. He was dressed in a grey wool suit. When Frank and Ginger gathered up their
coats and left, the man quickly slapped down a few coins next to an empty coffee cup and briskly walked out, seemingly in pursuit.
After about an hour, Frank came looking for Ginger. Slung over his arm were, a dark brown chalk-striped double-breasted suit, four neckties, and a WW2 style
bomber jacket for Ryan. Under his other arm, was a box of dress shoes.
"Okay - okay, Jim --- I'm sorry. Now, --- here's where a third man enters the picture. The man Linda married, was Charles Haley."
It was not long before she was shocked to come to a shelf full of figures in the likeness of Ginger Szabo. The figures were wearing the LEMO Tomato Juice
Girl Costume and standing in front of an old fashioned radio floor microphone.
Frank gazed at the house as though he were a pilgrim viewing a sacred shrine.
"Can you just imagine the lady -- or man -- of the house opening the front door to find us -- two total strangers -- standing there and asking for a
tour of their house? They might take one look at me and have a massive coronary, or something."
"Well, Frank --- have you ever heard the old expression about not trusting somebody farther than you could throw them? Well, --- let me tell you that
Ginger could 'trust' you very far."
"Well," Frank replied with a smile, "I knew better than NOT to be here when you got back.
Jim Havel raised his eyebrows.
"What, on Earth, did she say, Old Man?," he asked.
"Let me tell you something, Mate," Jim began, "you had better get Ginger on your will AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.
As soon as she were to arrive at Altron, a techician will come up from behind and immobilize her by with an electric shock to the base of her skull. She will
still be conscious but, she won't be able to move. Then, they will take her into the dissection theater. This will all be done while she's fully
awake and conscious. It's the only way they can retrieve certain types of data.
Ginger hurriedly opened her handbag and pulled out a red scarf and an elastic band. She quickly pulled her hair into a ponytail and wrapped the scarf around
Oct 22 06 8:58 PM
Oct 23 06 12:01 PM
Chapter 22 "Unlawful Entry?"DURING THE COURSE OF THE EVENING, Frank and Ginger thoroughly enjoy their last evening out with the Havels. At some point during the evening, an impromptu jitterbug contest gets started between a few of the younger patrons. As usual, Frank and Jim become involved in conversation, apart from their wives. Jim leans toward Frank and speaks in low tones. "Was that reporter hanging around when you left?" "Thankfully, no," answers Frank. "Maybe he tired of waiting and took off.""How've things been with you and Ginger? Any more weird activity with those dolls?" "No," answers Frank, "nothing since last night." "Frank--I know there might be a perfectly rational explanation for what happened last night with those dolls. For example, one of you could've put 'em on the desk without thinking about it. But, Frank--if it happens again--you might, at least, keep an open mind about what could be going on." "Listen, Jim, if you're gonna start on me again with that ghosts and voices from the nether-world stuff, save your breath. I just don't believe in that nonsense." "Alright, Frank--I won't bring it up anymore.""By the way," asks Frank, "have you visited the Time Line Museum yet?" "No," answers Jim. "We're goin' there tomorrow." Frank takes a sip of his drink. "Well--when you do go, you'll be in for a real shock." Jim's eyes widen. "Oh? Tell me about it." "Well--First of all," replies Frank, "as you walk through the different timelines, you'll see life-sized wax figures of people important to the history of River Run. Anyhow, when you get to the decade of the 1940s, you and Brenda will see something that'll make your eyes pop out of their sockets: a life-sized wax version of Ginger Szabo.""Really?," asks an astonished Jim. "Yeah," answers Frank. "And, Jim--they reproduced her to the finest detail. It's downright spooky. And, to top it off, she's kitted out in that LEMO Tomato Juice costume." "Wow; How did Ginger react?," asks Jim. "Well," answers Frank, "at first, I thought she'd pop a sprocket or something. But she settled down after a little bit. The thing of it was, though, that she insisted on disguising herself before we left the museum. When she was done, though, she looked like Marilyn Monroe, traveling incognito." Frank chortles intermittently as he continues to recount his, and Ginger's escape from the museum. "Jim, you should've seen us, brushing past people, dodging here-and-there, trying to make break for it. It was like we were escaping from Colditz." Jim laughs. "Hah! I wish I could've seen that. What a sight the pair of you must've been!"AS the evening wears on, Frank and Ginger, as well as the Havels, enjoy their last opportunities to dance on the same floor upon which Jeff and Ginger Metcalf had danced, more than ten thousand midnights ago. It is after 1:30AM when Frank informs the Havels that he and Ginger are calling it a day. The Havels also decide to return to the hotel. As they all stroll together out into the parking lot, Jim announces that he and Brenda will stop by Frank and Ginger's room on the morrow to see them off.Just then, a distant flash of lightning cuts across the western horizon, followed by an equally distant rumble of thunder. Jim looks upward. "I think we'd better get goin' before we get wet." "Yeah," says Frank. "Hey, Jim; I've got a better idea: Why don't you and Brenda come by our room at six, tomorrow evening. We can still have one last dinner together, down in the diner; how 'bout it?" Jim and Brenda emphatically agree. "Sure, Frank; you can depend on it."WHEN Frank and Ginger unlock the door and step into their hotel room, they are both too tired, at first, to realize that something is amiss. Frank is first to notice. He has just removed his fedora and is about to fling it onto the desk when, suddenly, he freezes. "Ginger, LOOK!" Ginger has just taken her seat at the dressing table. Startled by Frank's exclamation, she jumps and tosses her shoe. "What, on Earth, is the matter with you, Frank?!" "Come over here and look!," answers a near-hysterical Frank. Not immediately noticing the reason for Frank's outburst, she stands up and steps over to him."Honey, you're as white as a sheet. What is it?" "Look!," exclaims Frank as he points to the desk. Ginger finally notices the reason for Frank's near-hysteria. She gasps and puts her hand to her mouth. For, there, standing on the desk, are the boxed Jeff Metcalf and Ginger Szabo dolls, facing each other, just as they were on the previous night. Frank is the first to find his voice. "I distinctly remember putting those dolls in the bag before we left." "I know," acknowledges Ginger. "I saw you do it.""Now," says Frank in a calmer tone, "let's think, for a minute here. We were gone all evening. And, there's no sign of a forced entry. So, somebody with a key must've come in here, took those dolls outta the bag, and put 'em on the desk. There's no other explanation for it." Ginger doesn't buy Frank's explanation. She rolls her eyes and shakes her head. Frank pauses to give his theory further thought. "Let's see," continues Frank. "The only people most likely to have a key to our room are whom? Hotel staff, right?" Ginger sighs and rolls her eyes. "Frank-c'mon. Listen to yourself. Do you know how ridiculous that is?? Why would any of the hotel staff come in here just to pull a silly prank like that--at the risk of getting caught? It doesn't make sense."Frank remains undeterred. "Ginger, I think we oughtta check our belongings to see if anything's missing." Once again, Ginger rolls her eyes at Frank. "Oh, alright, Frank--if it makes you happy." With that, Frank and Ginger go through all their luggage, etc. However, a thorough search reveals that nothing is missing, not even the expensive jewellery that Ginger had brought with her, for the trip. "Well," observes Frank, "everything seems to be here."Ginger grows pensive. She sinks slowly down on the bed. "Frank?" "Yeah?" "Well-well, do you think--well, I know it sounds far-fetched, but--do you think it's possible--that it might be possible that something else is going on here--something we can't control?" Frank turns and looks at Ginger as though she has an anchovy firmly planted in each ear. "What are you trying to say, Ginger?" "Well, Frank, do you--do you believe there's a spirit world?" Frank rolls his eyes. "Oh, no-not you, too. Are you in cahoots with Jim Havel?"An indignant Ginger balks at Frank's accusation. "What do you mean, am I in cahoots with Jim Havel? What are you talking about, Frank??" "Well," answers Frank, "Jim suggested the same thing." "Well," replies Ginger, "have you considered that he might be onto something?" Frank sighs, steps up to Ginger, and puts his hands on her arms. "Listen, Sweetheart, it's been a very--very long day for both of us. It's after two-thirty in the morning. I suggest we both get to bed and get some sleep. We have a full day ahead tomorrow. We can talk about all this ghost-business in the morning."To be continued. . . .Will anything more come of these seemingly paranormal occurrences? Will Frank have to deal, once again, with the same surly attendant at the River Run Car Rental Agency? And, what about Frank's own surly and condescending attitude toward Jim and Ginger concerning the "spirit world?" Find out in the next installment.
Oct 23 06 3:22 PM
Oct 24 06 11:52 AM
Chapter 23 "R - E - S - P - E - C - T"THURSDAY MORNING DAWNS clear and cool. The air is, once again crisply scented with damp spring foliage. Because they didn't retire until the wee hours of the morning, Frank and Ginger don't awaken until after 9:00AM. Frank struggles to chase the sleepy fog from his head. In the meantime, Ginger sits down at the dressing table to commence her morning routine. Frank checks his watch. "There's no time for breakfast. I've gotta call the UAE office now." "Oh, Frank, don't forget-you also have to drop off the rental car." "Hmmff; don't remind me," replies Frank. "I wonder if I'll have to deal with that same skeevy little jerk again. It's like having your gums scraped."FRANK puts through a call to the UAE Express office. Half an hour later, the UAE driver drops off the packing materials. At around noontime, Frank is feeling hungry. "Honey, I'm heading down to the diner for a sandwich--wanna come with?" "Sure, Dear," answers Ginger. "Just give me a minute." Ginger wraps another of the collector dolls and packs it inside the shipping carton.It's half past noon when Frank and Ginger step into the hotel diner. After ordering sandwiches and sodas, Frank's mind drifts to thoughts of his workplace. While dining on sandwiches, Ginger becomes thoughtful. "Frank--I'm still wondering about that weird thing with the dolls last night." "Yeah? What about it?," asks Frank as he takes another bite of his egg salad sandwich. "Well," continues Ginger, "I'm still wondering why you can't accept that--just maybe-some unseen spirit-or spirits-might be behind it?"Frank delivers a sharp answer to Ginger's query. "Because I don't believe in that stuff, Ginger. It's a lotta baloney, and a clever way for crackpot authors to turn a fast buck, selling books to gullible people. Though, I'd have to admit--I never would've thought an intelligent cyber-woman like you, Ginger, would fall for it. Listen, Ginger, I've been through this whole discussion with Jim Havel. I didn't think I'd have to have the same conversation with you, too. The only difference between you and Jim is that he went so far as to suggest that the ghosts of Jeff and Ginger Metcalf are responsible.""Well, Frank, at this stage-anything's possible, isn't it? Besides, we found out by going through all our things last night, that nobody was in our room, except us." "Oh, Ginger, stop it." Ginger becomes upset at Frank's heavy-handed dismissal of her opinions. However, despite Ginger's feelings, Frank barrels ahead, full steam. "Ginger, I won't entertain these silly fantasies of yours and Jim's any longer. Besides, we have to finish packing those boxes so I can get 'em shipped home.When Frank and Ginger return to their hotel room, they also return to the important task at hand. Through it all, however, Ginger remains silent. Her movements and demeanor are passive-aggressive. When all the boxes are finally packed and sealed, Frank calls the front desk for a porter to help him take them down to the car. Afterward, Frank announces to Ginger that he's leaving on his appointed errands. Ginger ignores Frank, and continues packing her suitcases. In frustration, Frank repeats his intentions. "Ginger, I said-I'm going to the express office, then I'll return the rental car." Ginger replies without looking at Frank. "I heard you the first time." Frank rolls his eyes in exasperation and strides out the door.AFTER dropping his boxes at UAE, Frank drives across town to the River Run Auto Rental Agency to drop off the Ford Model "A," for which he had developed an odd love affair. Frank steps into the rental office. To his profound disgust, the same shabby attendant as before. "Well," mutters Frank to himself and pulls up his trousers, "Buck up; here we go." Upon recognizing Frank, the attendant raises his eyebrows and shifts his cigar stub to the other corner of his mouth. Frank is almost certain that this is the self-same cigar stub, upon which the attendant was chomping last week. As before, the atmosphere in the office shack is pungent with the odor of stale cigar smoke."Well, well," says the attendant in a mocking tone, "look who came back to grace us with his presence." "I'm here to return the car," is Frank dry announcement. "So then," continues the surly attendant, "did you and the missus enjoy your little stay in our fair city?" Without looking at the attendant, Frank delivers a bald reply: "Yes." "Hmmff," replies the attendant. "You, sure as hell, don't sound like it, to me." Frank purses his lips. "It's you, I'm not enjoying," Frank thinks to himself.By now, Frank is becoming more than a little annoyed. "Listen, Mister-can we speed this up? I haven't got all day." The attendant raises his palms and answers with cool sarcasm. "Alright, alright. Hold your horses, there. Lets not work ourselves into a snit. Let's have a look at the car now, shall we?" The corpulent attendant snatches up a clipboard, along with a checklist. Frank follows the man out to the lot where Frank had parked the old Ford sedan. He and the attendant begin at the front of the old car. The attendant looks at Frank with a surly expression and shifts his cigar. He then looks at his clipboard.A scratch on top of the engine cowling catches the attendant's eye. "Hey, Slick-what's this?," he asks, pointing with his pen to the blemish. Frank decides to indulge in a little sarcasm of his own. "Well--let-me-see. Hmmm--a scratch?" "Well, derhay, funny man," answers the shabby attendant as he checks a box on his form. He gives Frank a condescending glance, then continues his inspection to the car's left side. Frank follows with his hands folded behind his back. The attendant suddenly bends down to view a quarter-sized dent near the edge of the rear door panel. He looks up at Frank with a grimace. Frank only raises his eyebrows and shrugs. The attendant checks yet another box on his inspection sheet. Like an SS Oberfuehrer, the attendant swaggers around to the rear of the car, gives Frank a critical glance, and checks another box.After finishing his inspection, the attendant gives Frank another one of his trade mark glances, turns and heads back to the office shack. Once inside, the attendant tosses his clipboard onto the front counter. He shifts his cigar and glares at Frank. "Three dents, and two scratches, Slick. What did you do with that car?" Frank answers in a smart-alecky tone. "Well, I drove it. And then, I parked it.""Very humoresque, Mister Wise-Guy," replies the attendant. "You got at least, twenty-seven hundred dollars worth o' damage here," adds the unpleasant attendant as he taps the clipboard with his pen. Frank leans over the counter and speaks stridently to this most unappealing man. "Well, just maybe those dents and scratches came from the debris flying through the air in that storm we had last weekend--you do remember that, don't you? The attendant waggles his head mockingly at Frank. "Well, woop-dee-doo."Frank is getting hotter under the collar by the minute at the attendant's insolent attitude. "Listen, this conversation is a waste of time! If you'll review my rental contract, you'll see that I bought the optional damage insurance." Frank taps his finger on the paper. "See-right there." The attendant's cocky demeanor suddenly evaporates into disappointment. After a brief pause, he shifts his cigar stub yet again. Rather ungraciously, he gives Frank a tight-lipped grin. "Oh--I see. Well--lucky you."The Attendant tears off the return copy of the contract and tosses it to Frank. "There-you're done," he curtly announces. "Oh, and-do come visit our fair city again; toodaloo." Frank snatches up his copy and strides out of the office, shaking his head. He steps out to the sidewalk and phones for a taxi. "Where did they dredge up this guy?," asks Frank to himself with a sigh.WHEN Frank returns to the hotel room, Ginger is still busy, packing and organizing. As Frank slides his coat off, he mutters about the car rental agency attendant. "I think that onerous little troll goes to bed every night and dreams up new ways to be obnoxious." Ginger ignores Frank and continues her activities as though he is not in the room. As she folds a pair of trousers, Frank puts his arm around her. Without looking at Frank, she gives a cold response. "I'm not in the mood." Frank replies with a sigh. "That's not what I want, Ginger." Listen--Honey--I wanna--I just wanna say--I apologize."Ignoring Frank, Ginger picks up another garment and starts to fold it. Frank takes it from her hands and sets it aside. "Ginger-could you please take a break and listen to me-please?" He pushes the suitcase back and sits down next to Ginger. "Honey-please--listen to me; I have something to say." "Alright, Frank-what is it?" Frank takes Ginger's hand and speaks softly."Ginger--Sweetheart--I'm--I'm very sorry if I was brusque and insensitive with you over breakfast. I'm also sorry I was dismissive of your opinions. It's-it's just that I have strong feelings about things like ghosts and hauntings, and so on. And I'm sorry if I expressed my thoughts alittle too harshly. I didn't mean to offend you or hurt you in any way. I guess, I was feeling like you and Jim were ganging up on me.""No one was ganging up on you, Frank. I had no idea about your talk with Jim until you mentioned it. I was only agreeing with his suggestion when you brought it up. And--regardless of how you feel about it, Frank--I still think Jim might be right." "Alright, Ginger--you have the right to believe that, if you want. But please accept it, if I believe there's a more logical, natural explanation for what happened with the dolls." Ginger answers in a matter-of-fact tone. "I'm only keeping an open mind on this, and all matters, as I have been created to do." "Fine," replies Frank. "I can live with that. So then--can we call a truce?" Ginger looks at Frank with an affectionate smile. "Okay, Sweetheart-truce. But remember, Dear--whether we agree on any issue or not, the one thing I ask of you, is respect--simple-respect."To Be Continued. . . .How will Frank and Ginger's last full day in Old River Run end for them? Will the day hold one more "Old River Run surprise?" Find out in the next chapter.
Oct 25 06 2:40 PM
Chapter 24 "Go From My Door"IT IS 4:30 IN THE afternoon. Frank and Ginger have finally finished packing for the trip home. The WREQ Old Time Radio Comedy Hour is broadcasting an episode of Our Miss Brooks. Frank takes his seat in the upholstered chair to read his newspaper. He is suddenly startled by a loud, heavy knock at the door. Ginger immediately drops what she's doing. "Were you expecting Jim?" "Not that I know of," answers Frank. "Besides, Jim doesn't knock like that. Were you expecting Brenda?" "No," answers Ginger. "And she doesn't knock like that."There is another heavy rap at the door. With a look of concern, Frank rises from his chair, lays his newspaper on the bed, and steps to the door. Ginger stands by the corner of the room by the doorway. Upon opening the door, Frank is greeted by a man in a grey double-breasted suit. "Yes, can I help you?" "Hello--Mister Boelcke, I presume? "Yes," answers Frank. "Who are you?" "Ah-hello, I'm Will Aikins, with the River Run Courier, and I'd like to ask you and your wife a few questions."It suddenly dawns upon Frank that this is the reporter, about whom Jim Havel had warned. Now, here, that reporter is, standing right in front of him--at the very door to their hotel room. "Why, on Earth, are you interested in us?," demands an angry Frank. "Well, Mister Boelcke," answers Will Aikins, "you must know by now, that your wife bears an almost identical resemblance to Ginger Szabo-Metcalf. You must've noticed it yourselves when you visited the Time-Line Museum, didn't you? The whole town's buzzing about your wife. So, I'd like to interview you and, especially, your wife.""Listen, Mr. Aikins, we're not in the business of granting interviews--to anyone. We just want to be left alone." As Frank speaks, Mr. Aikins spots Ginger, peeking around the corner of the entry way. He boldly cranes his neck over Frank's shoulder, and calls out to her. "Hello--excuse me, Ma'am! I'd like to ask you a few questions. Why do you look like Ginger Metcalf? Is she an ancestor?" Ginger's expression of concern turns into one of livid anger. "Go away; leave us alone!!," shouts Ginger. "Frank, get rid of him!!"Frank glares menacingly at Mr. Aikins. "Alright, listen, Mister; you've upset my wife. "But, Mister Boelcke," begs Mr. Aikins, "I just want to---" Frank doesn't let Mr. Aikins finish. "I'm gonna tell you one last time, Mister Aikins: leave NOW or, I swear, I'll deck you!! "Alright, alright," replies Aikins. "I know when I'm not welcome." With that, Aikins turns and beats a hasty retreat to the elevators. Ginger is furious. "The nerve of that man!" "What I'd like to know," says Frank, "is who gave him our room number.""Well," replies Ginger, "it's obvious he's been tailing us. How else did he know we were at the Time Line Museum?" "You're probably right," acknowledges Frank. "Anyway, I got rid of him; I don't think he'll bother us again. Besides, we have one last dinner date with the Havels tonight. So let's forget about that jerk." "Thanks, Frank, for getting rid of him. But you didn't have to threaten to deck him." "Yeah, I know," replies Frank. "I guess, I lost my head. It's just that he infuriated me with that attitude of his--trying to talk to you over my shoulder." "Oh, well," says Ginger, "at least, he's gone. I don't think we'll be seeing him again anytime soon." "Hmm," says Frank, "not if he has any sense of self-preservation." Frank returns to his easy chair and picks up where he left off in his newspaper. Ginger returns to her preparations for the evening.AT five minutes before six o'clock, Frank and Ginger go down to the hotel diner to meet the Havels. Since the Havels have not yet arrived, Frank and Ginger wait by the entrance. A few minutes later, Frank sees the Havels, just coming around the corner. After a warm exchange of greetings, Frank and Ginger and Havels stroll into the diner and find a table. A Duke Ellington number is playing on the jukebox. Later on, as they enjoy their final meals in Old River Run, Frank and Ginger reflect on their Old River Run experiences."It's so sad to see you both go," says Brenda. "Well," replies Ginger, "don't let it get you down, Brenda. You and Jim can come visit and spend a weekend with us this Summer. We'll stay in touch-don't worry. Anyhow, Frank and I've already discussed it. We have a big house that sits on a big piece of property, up in the hills. So we have lots of peaceful privacy, and lots of room for guests." "Well," says Jim with enthusiasm, "we'll take you up on the invitation!" A minute later, Ginger and Brenda excuse themselves to visit the Ladies Room.
When Frank is sure their wives are out of ear-shot, he has questions for Jim. "Say, Jim, when you advised me to include Ginger in my will, you said it would keep Altron from claiming her. But, if Altron is as influential and all-powerful as you say, how's a piece of paper gonna stop 'em? Wills are over-turned in Probate Court all the time." "Well," answers Jim, "despite the fact that they have a crack legal team, Altron is still a house of cards, and they know it." "But still," queries Frank, "how's my will gonna stop 'em?""Well, Frank, it's like this: Let's say the time comes, and you shuffle off this mortal coil. As soon as Altron gets word that you've passed on, their attorneys will research to see if you left a will that includes Ginger in it. Now-if you leave a carefully executed will, Altron won't try to contest it because of the negative publicity it could bring down on 'em. All it would take to bring Altron crashing to the ground is some snooping investigative reporter, digging through court, and other official records and picking up an electronic paper trail. And that's why Ginger will be safe. Altron would rather lose its grip on Ginger, than risk the whole institution going down in flames, like the victims of that World War One German fighter ace ancestor of yours-what was his name?--Oswald-something?" Frank interrupts. "Yeah, yeah. Well, what you just said about Altron and having an air-tight will, does give me some relief. You have no idea how much on edge I've been about this whole thing ever since you told me how Altron operates. When we get home tomorrow, I'll call my attorneys right away and set up an appointment.
In the meantime, Ginger and Brenda are in the Ladies Room, checking their faces in the mirror. Ginger notices that Brenda seems depressed. She puts her hands on Brenda's shoulders. "Is something the matter, Brenda?" Brenda suddenly bursts into tears. "Ginger--I'm gonna miss you so much. Jim and I've known you and Frank for only a week, but it feels like we've known you for years. Every time I see my hair in the mirror, Ginger, I'll think of you."Ginger hugs Brenda tightly and speaks comfortingly to her. "Don't be sad, Brenda. It's not like we'll never see each other again. We'll give you and Jim a call when you get home. I'll make sure Frank exchanges addresses 'n' everything with Jim tonight." Brenda sniffles and dries her eyes with a tissue from her purse. "Yes, that'd be nice." "Now," continues Ginger, "try not to cry anymore. After all, we mustn't show red eyes to our husbands."To Be Continued. . . .Watch for the next installment.
Oct 29 06 12:32 PM
Chapter 25 "Last Goodbyes"GINGER AND BRENDA return to their seats. Ginger speaks up in earnest. "By the way, did Frank tell you we got a surprise visit from a newspaper reporter? He said he was with the Old River Run Courier." A surprised Jim Havel stares at Frank. "No, Frank, you didn't. When did this happen?" "Well," begins Frank, "it was the guy you warned me about the other day, you know, the one you said was lurking in the lobby." "So, what happened?," asks Jim. Jim and Brenda sit, riveted as Frank recounts their experience with the pushy reporter.
Ginger, however, is inwardly surprised to learn that Frank had known, all along about the stalking reporter. She decides to hold her peace for a later time. "What a nerve that man had," says Brenda, "to bang on your door like that, then expect you to answer a lot of questions." "Well," replies Frank, "I got rid of him in a hurry. From the way he sounded, though, he must've been tailing us all over town before he showed up at our door." "Like I told you a couple of days ago," says Jim, "he approached us while we were at Brandstaetter's. But, as I told you then, we didn't tell him a thing. It's possible he's been getting that treatment all over town."Brenda speaks hesitantly to Ginger. "You know, Ginger--you--do bear an uncanny resemblance to that Ginger Szabo figure in the Time Line Museum. In fact, Jim and I've noticed it for some time now, but we didn't say anything; we figured you were getting enough of that." "Thanks," replies Ginger, "for being so considerate. But I'm over that now. Besides, after seeing that mannequin of me in the museum, I don't think anything can faze me now."AT eight o'clock, Frank and Ginger announce to Jim and Brenda that they are retiring for the night. "Oh?, so soon?," asks a disappointed Jim. "Well," answers Frank, "our airport shuttle comes for us at six in the morning. So, we've gotta hit the sack early." Jim suddenly has a thought. "Why don't we follow you and Ginger up. We'll say our final goodbyes there." "Sure, Jim," replies Frank. Ginger smiles warmly and nods in agreement.At the door to their room, Frank and Ginger exchange farewells and warm hugs. Frank and Brenda give each other a peck on the cheek. "Thanks, Brenda, for being so considerate of Ginger." "No trouble, at all," replies Brenda. "Ginger's a special girl, Frank. Take good care of her." When Brenda hugs Ginger, tears well up again in her eyes. "You've been a wonderful friend, Ginger. I'm really gonna miss you." "You've been a real friend to me, and I'll miss you, too," replies Ginger. "I had fun on our afternoon out, and all the other times we were together. I also had fun showing you how to style your hair; you look great, by the way." "Thanks, Ginger," replies Brenda as she wipes away some more tears.Frank and Jim give each other a manly hug and pat on the back. Though Jim isn't crying, his eyes look red. "We had a great time together," says Jim. "And I enjoyed our meetings in the lounge, courtesy of the wives." Frank chuckles. "Yeah; thanks to them, we got to know the place pretty well, didn't we." Suddenly, Frank remembers what Ginger had told him earlier. He fishes his wallet out of his coat pocket and takes out a couple of cards. "Oh, Jim-I almost forgot. Here's a couple of my calling-cards. You can reach me through any of those numbers or our e-mail address." "Thanks a lot, Frank," says Jim as he takes the cards from Frank's hand.Jim reciprocates by handing Frank some of his own cards. "By the way, Jim, I wanna thank you again, for all your help and advice regarding what we talked about." "Of course, Frank; anything for a good friend." After the Boelckes and Havels exchange final farewells, they part company, for the last time in Old River Run.UPON entering the room, Frank removes his hat and coat and prepares to change into his pajamas. Ginger sits down at the dressing table, removes her shoes and hat and begins to prepare for bed. Suddenly, she stops what she is doing and turns to Frank with an inquisitive expression. "Frank?" "Yes, Honey?" "Frank, if you knew about that reporter a couple of days ago, why didn't you tell me?" "Well, Ginger--I didn't say anything because you were stressed enough about your resemblance to Ginger Szabo. I was also gambling that we'd be on our plane back home before that jerk found out where we were staying. Bad gamble, I guess.""Well, Frank, I really wish you'd have told me, too; I would've been better prepared when he showed up at our door. As it is, I feel like everybody knew about that sniveling jerk, except me." "I'm really sorry, sweetheart-please forgive me." "Of course, Honey," says Ginger, "I forgive you. There's no point in blowing a gasket over it now. But-if you ever find out any information that directly concerns me, please tell me right away." Ginger returns to her preparations. Frank turns on the radio for a little music before going to bed. He sits down in the upholstered chair to read his newspaper while waiting for Ginger to finish. Suddenly, a small item on the second page in the local news section grabs Frank's attention. It makes mention of recent sightings of a woman bearing a startling resemblance to Ginger Szabo-Metcalf. Frank gives Ginger a surreptitious glance, quietly folds the paper, and crawls into bed. . .To Be Continued. . . .Watch for the final installment of BOOK II.
Oct 30 06 1:48 PM
Chapter 26 "Farewell, Old River Run"THE ALARM CLOCK JARS FRANK AWAKE. It is 4 o'clock AM. As Frank reaches out in the pitch darkness, he knocks the clock from the nightstand. When he turns on the lamp to find the still-ringing clock, this commotion causes Ginger to stir. She sits up and turns to look at Frank, just as he snatches the vibrating clock from the floor. "It's four o'clock already?" "Yeah," answers Frank. "And we'd better hustle." "Do you want breakfast?," asks Ginger. Frank yawns. "Only if there's enough time before our shuttle gets here."While Frank waits for Ginger to finish in the bathroom, he switches on the radio to break the early morning stillness. He looks out through the window and, down upon a street yet shrouded in predawn darkness. It's clear that most of Old River Run is still asleep. However, in three hours' time, the streets of Old River Run will be teeming with morning rush traffic. For most of the denizens of this locally venerated town, it will be just another run-of-the-mill Friday. . .Frank is still at the window, day-dreaming about what a typical morning in the 1940s might have been like for Jeffrey and Ginger Metcalf, when suddenly, Ginger taps his shoulder, startling him. "Honey, why are you listening to static?" "Oh-uh--I didn't realize," answers Frank. "I guess, my mind was wandering." Ginger chuckles. "Yeah, just like the radio station. Old age setting in already, Frank?" "Har-har-har," replies Frank. He steps to the desk and switches the radio off.IT is 5:15AM when Frank and Ginger are dressed, their last-minute packing done. "Is there time enough," asks Ginger, "to grab a quick breakfast?" Frank checks his watch. "Yeah, I think there's time-if we order something light." After a very light breakfast, Frank and Ginger are back in their hotel room, for the very last time. It's now ten minutes before six o'clock.At 6AM, Frank and Ginger-along with their luggage-are standing at the curb in the brisk morning air. Their shuttle apparently is running late. An anxious Frank repeatedly glances at his watch. Their shuttle finally pulls up to the curb, 10 minutes late. The modern shuttle looks starkly out of place amid the increasing traffic of ancient automobiles, and surrounding early to mid-twentieth century architecture.The shuttle-driver apologizes profusely for his tardiness, then loads Frank and Ginger's luggage into the back of the shuttle. The sun is just beginning to rise over the Ohio countryside, casting yellow/orange rays onto the upper floors and roofs of the buildings on Main Street. The gull-wing door of the shuttle silently raises itself.Frank and Ginger sit in silence as their shuttle slowly makes its way through increasingly congesting streets, passing landmarks they had come to know so well. A lump forms in Frank's throat as, by chance, the shuttle-driver has to stop for traffic in front of Brandstaetter's Pharmacy. Ginger notices Frank's gaze and realizes what he's looking at. Mr. Brandstaetter, himself, has just unlocked the front door to his establishment. He is turning the sign in the window around to read in cheerful red lettering, Yes,
We're Open!As the shuttle drives past Elmwood Park, a thin, transparent haze, about two feet thick, floats just above the dew-soaked grass. Frank gazes pensively out at Elmwood Park. "I just can't believe we're already leaving." "I know what you mean," replies Ginger. "I'll miss this place, too. It'll feel weird to be back in the twenty-second century again." Frank and Ginger continue to look through the shuttle windows as they pass more familiar Old River Run landmarks. While it's just the beginning of another working day for the people on the streets of Old River Run, it will be the beginning of yet another new chapter in the life of Frank and Ginger Boelcke.THE shuttle-driver takes a different route out of town, from that which he had taken into town when Frank and Ginger first arrived. The shuttle passes under a narrow arch over the road that reads, "You're Now Leaving Historic Old River Run--Please Come Back Soon!" The shuttle then turns onto another road and, before they knew it, Frank and Ginger are speeding along on a modern highway at 75MPH. For them, it seems surreal to be traveling at modern highway speeds after driving about for a week in a relatively pokey old 1931 Ford Model "A."Frank suddenly brakes the silence. "It's really odd to be traveling so fast after going thirty or forty miles an hour for a week in Old River Run." "Yeah--it is," says Ginger with a slight break in her voice. Frank scoots close to Ginger and looks at her. Tears are slowly rolling down her cheeks. Frank puts his arm around Ginger and speaks in affectionate tones. "Sweetheart--why, the tears?" "I guess, I'm already missing Old River Run--more than I want to admit," answers Ginger, "but I miss Brenda even more. After you, Frank--she's the first real human friend I have."Frank kisses Ginger's cheek. "Sweetheart, don't be sad. We'll visit Old River Run again on my vacation next year. And on Sunday, we'll call the Havels." Frank reaches over and takes Ginger into his arms. "It's ironic," says Ginger. "Yesterday, Brenda was crying on my shoulder about missing us. Now, I'm crying on your shoulder about missing them. I even told Brenda almost the same thing you just said to me." "Just try and cheer up, Honey," says Frank as he strokes Ginger's hair. Frank suddenly has an idea. "I'll tell you what, Ginger. When we talk to the Havels on Sunday, we'll invite 'em to stay with us over the Forth of July weekend--how 'bout that?" Ginger's face lights up. "Yes, I'd love that!"As their shuttle speeds along, Frank and Ginger watch the variegated patchwork of Ohio farmland pass swiftly past their windows. In a few more minutes, they will be passing through the ultra-modern downtown section of Riverton, on their way to Riverton International Airport.To Be Continued. . . .END of BOOK II
Nov 10 06 10:20 PM
Quote:Wouldn't it be great, if you could actually BUY 12" high collector figures of each of the Homefront cast?!! This is one aspect of my story that could easily become a reality!
Quote:As Frank gazes at the ancestral home of his late wife, Susan, I tried to convey the feelings I had when I visited the towns and cities in Germany and Austria, where my ancestors originated. I can't easily put into words the feelings I experienced as I walked down the same cobble-stoned streets my ancestors strode upon many centuries ago or, to wander throught he same mountainous Gothic cathedrals, in which they once worshipped.
Quote:One more thing: in case you may be wondering what a medieval execution is and how horrible it was, you can do a search on the Internet on King Edward II of England (1307 - 1327).
Quote:"Well, Frank," Ginger replied, at this stage -- anything's possible.""Oh, Ginger, stop it!," Frank angrily replied.Ginger became upset at Frank's unwillingness to even consider the possibility of paranormal or spiritual activity, in regard to the dolls."Ginger, I'm not going to indulge these fantasies of yours and Jim's any longer," Frank continued. "Besides, we have to finish packing those shipping cartons so I can get them over to the air express office.
Quote:"Listen," Frank pointedly replied, "This conversation is a needless waste of our time! If you'll review my rental contract, you'll see that I purchased the optional damage insurance."
Oct 10 07 12:31 AM
Shares a party line with Mother Davis
Oct 10 07 2:44 AM
This is like a long sought after
"To be continued" for all Homefront fans.
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