Okay, fellow babies, after having read the first two chapters of "Old Home Week," some of you are beginning to catch the little gimmick I'm working with here. The plotline itself is going to delve into what will become my most fantastic story yet on the Silver Fox blog... and by "fantastic," I mean "fantasy-oriented" rather than egotistically saying it's "wonderful" or "terrific," etc.
Having said that, I do hope y'all enjoy the ride.
As you encounter -- or... re-encounter? -- these characters, feel free to remark about their past & present selves.
* * * * *
As Karen Magarian climbed out of the van, Howard walked up to her to greet her. She hugged him tightly but briefly. "Sorry we're late, Howie! This old mechanical beast nearly died on us just a few miles from here. Frankie got it going again, thank God." She paused, as Howard shrugged. "Good to see you, Howie."
Then she was all business. As her camera and audio crew people emerged from the van as well, she wordlessly but frantically made a few gestures in the air, gestures that translated to "Let's move!"
Pat, Howard's cameraman and the sole person in Howard's "crew," had already set up enough lights to illuminate the little pumpkin patch and its surrounding area.
Mark Arthur -- clad in his superheroic "Golden Mask" garb -- stood next to his friend, Jack Mac, as Howard explained his complicated plan to Karen.
Both Howard and Karen would read their respective introductions separately, each filmed by their own cameramen. Then both Howard and Karen, each of them off-camera, would consecutively read the exact same questions for Golden Mask from both of their lists, deleting any questions that echoed one from the other as they went along. After that, each would tape their closing comments.
It would admittedly be a bit confusing, but in the end, when the individual tapes were edited, it would look like each reporter had gotten an exclusive interview!
The only real difference was that Howard's interview would be aired on his small station's six o'clock newscast, while Karen wouldn't be allowed to broadcast hers until her own Boston channel's eleven p.m. telecast.
That was their agreement, and Howard knew that Karen was as good as her word.
As everyone got into their respective places, Howard realized that this Golden Mask bozo had been right about Karen's vehicle having broken down... something he should have had no way of knowing.
* * * * *
A short while later, the white-haired, middle-aged man looked at his clock. It was almost six p.m.
"Shit!" he exclaimed. "Ohhh, shitshitshit!" He jumped up from the chair in front of his computer, and reached for his keys and wallet on the nearby bed. Where the hell did I put my shoes? And my belt? And my pants, for that matter?
Then, he stopped. There was no way he'd be able to get to anyone's television before Howard's broadcast aired. (He owned a set, of course, but it wasn't hooked up to a cable or a satellite feed. The bearded man only used it to watch DVDs or videotapes.)
He shook his head, temporarily disgusted with his own habit of playing on the computer endlessly and -- especially -- giving his blogs last-minute edits and tweaks, over and over. He walked slowly to the telephone, and dialed the private number of Howard's cell phone.
He got Howard's voice mail, of course.
"Howard? This is David. Umm... I got a little tied up with things, and I'm going to miss your Halloween feature tonight. I am so sorry! Is there any way I..." He paused, as he realized that Howard's spot -- that is, the entire half-hour news show on which Howard Enz's featurettes appeared almost nightly -- would be shown again at ten o'clock that evening. David deleted his message when prompted to do so by the voice mail. He hung up the phone, smiling.
Then he returned to the computer to email a friend in Worcester. He could be at her home -- and in front of her TV -- long before ten p.m. arrived.
* * * * *
Earlier that morning, somewhere on the west coast of California, a tall man in a cheap suit was trying not to raise his voice as he argued with a clerk at a bus terminal.
After showing the clerk a mug shot of a clean-shaven, round-faced, sixty-something white male with a thinning "duck's ass" hairstyle -- a style the man had worn since Elvis had hit the pop culture scene -- the man placed his badge on the counter meaningfully. And demanded information.
"I'm sorry, officer..."
"Whatever. I can't tell you where he was headed, or..." The clerk paused. "Actually, I can't even confirm that he was on any bus."
Detective Peter Streimekis tapped the badge where it lay. "And this means nothing."
"Not without a warrant, or whatever the hell you need for my boss to okay this."
The clerk looked down again. A fifty-dollar bill had miraculously appeared on the counter, next to the detective's badge. Just as miraculously, the bill seemed to disappear, and the clerk quickly rifled through some papers, and checked a small computer screen.
Looking up at the detective, the clerk gave the name of a Massachusetts town located somewhere between Boston and Worcester. "That's all I've got. Knock yourself out. I mean... Have a nice day."
The detective stood there, obviously waiting for something.
"You need anything else, buddy?" Maybe for another fifty, thought the clerk...
"Yes. A ticket. And... I'm not your buddy."
* * * * *
Don, a beefy man with a bushy brown mustache and thinning hair, got up from his seat at the bar and walked over to where the attractive blonde was arguing rather one-sidedly with her husband, who had been playing the bar's piano until her arrival.
"Hey, excuse me, lady, but would you mind keeping it down to a dull roar? I'm trying to hear the news."
The pretty, curly-haired woman glared at him. "Why do people go to noisy barrooms to watch television?" she asked him. "Isn't that sort of stupid?"
"Whoa! No need to get insulting, honey."
"Don't call me honey."
"Fine. Sorry. Then, don't call me stupid." She looked at him, coldly. "Anyway, this bar usually isn't noisy. At least until you showed up tonight and started yelling at this poor guy." He didn't mention that he'd also been annoyed by the man's piano-playing as well.
The woman stared him down. "If you don't mind, this is a family argument."
"Good. Then take it -- and Burt Bacharach here -- home."
She tilted her head, as if in acquiescence. "Let's go, Marty," she said to her husband.
"Angie..." her husband began, but then fell silent.
As the two exited the bar, Don returned to his seat. Sitting next to him was a man who looked like Woody Allen would, if Woody were to put on a bad black wig.
"I'll tell you something, Phil," said Don, "I feel sorry for that guy tonight, going home with her. What a bitch!"
* * * * *
Dr. Rachel Janson was the administrative head of a renowned psychiatric hospital. Aggravated by continually-rising cable TV rates, she had finally taken the plunge and signed a long-term contract with a satellite service to provide the institution's TV reception instead.
That was almost three weeks ago.
Tonight (Halloween), two of the interns in the hospital were in the community room. It was nearly 8:30 p.m. They were watching the final feature on an 11:00 news feed from a network affiliate based on the opposite coast, and having a moderately friendly disagreement about one of its commentators.
"I'm tellin' ya, it's her, Kevin!"
"No, it's not, Brian."
"Look," Kevin continued, firmly. "She hasn't acted in anything for years. So she's changed a little. She's older. And now it looks like she got herself a job with TV news. That's a natural enough move, don't ya think?"
"It isn't who you think it is," Kevin reiterated. "This woman is named Karen Magarian! Why on earth would she change her name from...?"
"Maybe this is her real name."
"Jeez! Enough! Now let me hear this."
As the two young orderlies fell silent, a middle-aged inmate wearing a bathrobe and pajamas entered the community room and approached the television.
He also, quite honestly, was approaching a date with destiny.
* * * * *
To Be Continued...
And next time, maybe we'll finally have that bloody interview! (UPDATE: Due to pressing "real world" concerns, culminating in the death of my mother, this storyline was interrupted and never completed. The rhythm was broken, you might say. Sorry to get you all the way to this point for nothing. Someday, I fully intend to finish this mess.)
(If you want more background on Jack Mac, Mark Arthur, and "Golden Mask," click here.
For more info on Detective Streimekis and the man he's chasing, click here!
Want to know who these Don and Phil characters are? click here!
And finally, as for "Angie" and her musical hubbie, click here!
And thanks for your time.