Once again, Ralph Penwarren has found a way to make Frank’s life a living hell. This time, he not only tried to break into his mother’s apartment, he tried to bribe employees to do it for him. When confronted by Kathy and Sue, he has to make a decision.
“Yeah, totally my fault on that one, Sue. I’m sorry. So, the problem is, Penwarren, what do I do with you? You’re a bully. You’re trying to bribe my people. You got caught breaking into your mother’s room. You came in here last night, not even been here twenty-four hours yet, and you’ve turned the entire facility on its ear. I’d be in my rights to have you arrested just on general principle.”
“My brother is the police chief,” Sue said. “And Kathy’s dad is a detective.”
Penwarren blanched. His double chin wobbled like turkey wattles. “I didn’t know.”
“It’s a small town, Ralph. Everyone knows everyone else. You upset one, you upset us all. I’ve been nice so far. For your mother’s sake, I’ve indulged you. I’m a fair man, but this is your final warning. It ends now. Whatever is in that room stays in that room. You aren’t getting your hands on it. I’m standing a guard and you won’t get in. If you try again, in any way, to get access to that room without Mabel’s permission, I’ll have you arrested for breaking and entering and trespassing. I’ll add attempted bribery and verbal assault to the list. I’m sure Kathy’s dad could come up with a lot of other charges just to make it damn near impossible for you to make bail. Do I make myself clear?”
“I can’t hear you nod, Ralph. The ladies can’t witness to a nod. You gonna behave?”
“And we’re clear on the consequences if you persist?”
“Good. Go to your room. Stay there. Don’t cause any trouble. I will personally delight in removing you from the campus if you step out before morning. I was Special Ops, Ralph. I know how to put the hurt on a man. Do you believe me?”
“Good. I’m glad we understand one another. Ladies, sorry for the snafu. Now I need to talk to Charlie.”
Frank picked up his desk phone and called the head of security. After explaining the situation, he was assured that there would be a guard on Mabel’s room. Charlie himself came to escort Ralph Penwarren to his room.
“We’ll check on you during the night,” Charlie told Ralph as they rode up in the elevator with Frank. “But not at regular intervals, randomly. If you aren’t where you’re supposed to be, there will be pain. Understood?”
“You gonna come in my room while I’m sleeping?”
“Don’t make that necessary,” Charlie said.
They walked Ralph to his room and stayed until he was inside.
“How can you check on him?” Frank asked quietly when they were well out of earshot. “You wouldn’t really go in?”
“No, but he doesn’t know that. He’s a pussy. He’ll stay put. But should he develop balls at some point, I’ll keep a guy in the hallway and have the others patrol outside.”
“I hope he realizes he’s four stories up.”
“You figure him for a crawl out the window kind of guy?” Charlie’s laugh was rude. “Yeah. He’s Super Fly!”
“I’ll be in Dr. Ventimiglia’s room for a couple hours.”
“Not all night?” Charlie raised an eyebrow.
“I just met the woman. Would you grow up?”
“She’s hot though, huh? I saw her picture on the bulletin board when I went to clock in.”
“So, a man can’t look? I’d have to be dead to not think that was a fine looking woman. All the more reason for you to hook up. Then I can live vicariously through you.”
“I didn’t think you even knew vicariously,” Frank said with a laugh.
“Just cause I’m a security guard don’t mean I don’t know things.” He winked, tapping his finger on the side of his nose. “I got an education, I just don’t apply myself. Comes from being a classic underachiever and a middle child.”
Frank made a rude gesture. Charlie returned it as the elevator doors closed.
Deciding that he didn’t want to be in his suit any longer, Frank went to his room to change. He gave Marka a call so she’d know why he was delayed.
“Just got it in the oven. Everything settled?”
“For now. I’ll be down in a few minutes. I gotta get outta this monkey suit.”
“But it’s such a fashionable one.”
“Maybe, but I’m a jeans and T-shirt kind of guy.”
“Not a problem. I’m in my comfy jammie pants and a sweatshirt, so not a problem. I’ve got the sparkling juice chilling.”
“I’d kill for a Scotch,” he muttered. “Okay. Changing now and I’ll be down in about ten.”
“See you then.”