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    Parker Owens
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 

Double Concerto - 30. Dissonance

A minor Heinrich Senior disturbance well to the south may combine with an approaching Rita front, developing into a possible storm. However, there is a chance it may pass.

Rick winced as he backed the company van into a slot in Jahnke’s lot. Without its muffler, the old beast had roared along the quiet morning streets of Eagle Lake. Every time he stepped on the gas, he’d cringed. It was a relief to shut the engine off.

Yet even with the racket and his mounting embarrassment, Rick wore a smile. He sat behind the wheel, letting his ears readjust. He’d paddled over to Cedarcrest the previous night. At the end of the dock, he and Gus watched the stars, kissed, and traded whispers until all the lights in the lodge had gone dark. Then they kissed some more.

Rick stifled a yawn and grinned to himself.

The vehicle door groaned as he climbed out; he slammed it shut with an authoritative thunk. Pulling open the glass door to the restaurant, Rick waved to Wanda Jahnke at the counter. He walked to the back, sitting down in an empty booth. Two places were already set with utensils and scallop-edged paper advertising placemats, touting the merits of a dozen local businesses.

He pulled a pen out of his pocket and drew in the margins while he waited. Waves and water, and a fanciful sailboat took shape. Rick wondered what it would be like to sail; he’d never tried. Would Gus enjoy it as much as canoeing?

“Morning Rico, you’re here early.” Jerry Guttmacher grinned as he slid into his red leatherette seat opposite Rick.

“For once, I got in first.” Rick raised his eyes from the doodle on his placemat to smile back. Thoughts about Gus made it come easily to his features.

“Can’t remember the last time that happened.”

“Just woke up with the birds and rolled out of bed.”

“And here I thought you decided to stay up round the clock after a late night of debauchery.”

Rick looked away. It might have been midnight when he paddled back across the lake. Maybe. But he’d awakened with a brightness of spirit that mirrored the morning sun.

“Anyway,” Jerry continued, “I guess breakfast is on me today.”

“Why is that?”

“Not every day we get to celebrate the end of an era.”

“Huh? End of what era?”

“Oh, I get it. Are we in mourning?”

“What the heck are you talking about?” Rick’s voice rose just above the hum of early morning conversation in the diner. A couple of heads turned.

They were interrupted by the arrival of Wanda Jahnke. "Morning Jerry, how are ya, Rick. What can I get you this morning?"

“The usual for me,” Jerry answered, “and the groom-to-be here will have bran flakes and applesauce.”

“Will you cut that out?!” Rick hissed fiercely. He turned to Wanda. “Just bring me eggs, toast and fruit, please?”

“You want the coffee, too?” She asked, as if Rick hadn’t ordered coffee for the past decade and a half.

“Yes, please.”

The woman pursed her lips and walked away with their orders.

“Hey, Rick, I’m sorry, okay?” Jerry did his best to sound contrite, though his face showed no apology. “Just thought it was a special occasion.”

“I’m sorry, but you’re being mysterious.”

“How is that?”

Rick frowned. “Jer, you’ve been talking in code since I got your message yesterday.”

“Yeah, and I’m surprised you didn’t call me back. You’ve been pretty ‘busy’ lately, Rico.” His friend made air quotes and maintained his grin.

“Hey, yesterday was one of those days that just wouldn’t quit. I got this bitch of a call in the morning, and then a bunch of stuff in the afternoon that lasted ‘til sundown. Oh, and the van dropped its muffler, all over the West Shore Road. The old clunker’s so loud, my ears are ringing. I’ll be bringing it around later on. You can squeeze it in, can’t you?”

“Sure thing, pal. But what I want to know is what or who kept you occupied after the sun went down?”

Rick hesitated. He didn’t think Jerry really needed to know what he had done with Gus while the stars shone down on them. They might have done more than kiss.

“I went out on the lake.” At least that was completely true.

“And how was the night fishing?” Jerry smirked.

“I wasn’t fishing. Just paddling.” Right around to Cedarcrest.

Jerry raised a skeptical eyebrow but said nothing.

“I didn’t get home till it was too late to call.”

His friend lowered his voice. “Since when did canoeing give you red marks under your collar?”

He flushed pink and adjusted the neck of is work shirt. “Don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Yeah, right.” Jerry leered. “Awwww, Rico, it’s okay, really. You don’t get engaged every weekend, and if you really love Rita, I can learn –”

“Wait, what did you say?” Rick interrupted.

“If you really love –”

“No, the first part.”

Jerry looked hurt. “Hey, I’m trying to be happy for you, okay? So you finally asked Rita to marry you, and I hope you’re –”

Stop right there!” Rick raised his voice, forgetting for a moment where he was. He strove to control his tone. “This has gone far enough.”

“You did ask Rita to marry you this weekend, right?” Jerry stammered, surprised at Rick’s vehemence. “That’s what I heard.”

“Who have you been talking to?”

His friend stared as his napkin. “Um, Cheryl. She found it yesterday …She called me from home; told me to look on Facebook. It’s all over Rita’s page.”

“What exactly did that page say?”

“You don’t know?”

Rick shook his head.

Jerry pulled out his phone and tapped the screen a few times. He handed it over. “Look for yourself.”

The small rectangle sitting on the table between them blazed color. A photo of a woman’s hand wearing a sparkling diamond ring with a modern setting dominated the screen. He thumbed down to find several different views.

The words “What a weekend! I got the ring! Of course I said ‘yes!’” captioned the images.

Comments and ‘likes’ followed, of which there seemed to be quite a few. Rick sampled them:

“Beautiful! Stunning!”

“So happy for you!”

“How romantic.”

“Finally! About time!”

He blinked and frowned, scrolling up, then back down. His stomach tensed. He needed a deep breath to calm down. With pursed lips and a shake of the head, Rick slid the phone back to Jerry. “I hate to disappoint you, but I didn’t give Rita that ring.”

“You didn’t? What’re you saying? That ring is fake?”

“No, I’m saying I didn’t ask her to marry me.”

“But … she said …” his friend groped for words. He picked up the phone and stared.

“Look at that post again. No place does it say ‘Rick Ernst asked me to marry him.’ I don’t see ‘Ricky popped the question, and I got this lovely ring!’”

Jerry peered at the screen. “You sure you didn’t propose?”

“Geez, you’d think I would know something like that!”

“How much beer is left in your fridge?”

“What is that supposed to mean?”

“I’m just saying, you could have gotten really drunk over the weekend, and you don’t remember …”

Rick’s dark stare silenced the man on the other side of the table, at least for a moment.

But Jerry had another question. “Okay, so suppose you didn’t ask her. Who did?”

“God only knows. Whoever it is, my heart goes out to him.”

“You’re assuming somebody actually asked for Rita’s hand in the first place.” His friend mused. “We don’t even know if that’s Rita in the picture at all.”

“I don’t really care.”

“That bitch. She’s been leading you on for months!” Jerry scowled. “I’d be pissed. In fact, I’m pissed on your behalf.”

Rick suppressed a smirk as his blood pressure came down to something approximating normal.

“Save it.” He shrugged. “That part doesn’t bother me much. I’ve been telling you and everybody else that I wasn’t interested. Over, and over and over, I’ve said it. What fries me is that everyone just assumed it was me she’d got engaged to.”

“Get real, Rico. It’s been the best gossip in town all year. Savvy realtor Rita pursues the very eligible Rick Ernst. You bet everyone’s gonna assume.”

“Well, I’m going to have to call Rita and ask her to clarify on her Facebook page. I don’t want to be dealing with stupid questions for the rest of the summer.”

“Guess you’d better set up your own page, like I’ve been telling you.” Jerry shook his head.

The arrival of plates laden with breakfast interrupted further conversation.

"Here ya go, boys. Anything else?" Wanda Jahnke delivered her usual line.

“No thanks,” Rick replied.

But instead of disappearing to wait on her other customers, she hesitated. “So, Rick. I hear you got some news.”

Rick and Jerry exchanged glances.

“What did you hear?” Rick asked.

“Gonna tie the knot with that McKee woman, that’s what they say.”

“Who’s ‘they,’ Wanda?”

“Heard it from Bert Albrecht, who got it from Shelley Metzger. Don’t know where she got it. Why? Was it supposed to be some kind of secret?”

Rick sighed and shook his head. All the bounce and energy he’d felt was dissipating like morning mist. “Just forget you ever heard it, okay Wanda?”

“Hard to forget something like that.”

“It’s just a stupid rumor.”

“I can quote you on that?”

“Absolutely.”

The woman raised an eyebrow. “Okay, Rick, whatever you say.” She walked away.

“Jeezus,” Rick said, picking up his fork, “I’m going to have to print a full-page denial in the paper.” He wondered if anyone in town would believe it if he did.

“Or write your obituary. Your dad’s gonna pitch a hissy fit when someone tells him it’s not you Rita’s marrying.”

“Don’t remind me. I’m already dreading the call I have to make tonight.” Rick winced.

Jerry attacked his eggs. “I hate to sound like your old man, Rico, but I still wonder why you never went after Rita. Seriously, I think you could have …”

“Don’t go there. Please. She’s just not my type.”

“Do you even have a type?”

Rick left the question hanging as he bit into his toast.

What if I told Jerry my type was male, musical, and mocha skinned? How long would he still be my best friend? Ten seconds?

The possible answers did nothing to comfort him or settle his breakfast. Yet, the prospect of continuing to hide an essential part of himself from his oldest friend held no joy in it either. It was one thing to live as a confirmed bachelor, quite another to talk openly about his own truth and the man who had so thoroughly captivated him.

Rick took a big forkful of eggs to keep from having to say anything. He wondered if it was possible to come out to Jerry. What words could he use?

“Well I gotta say, Rico, I’m unhappy.” Jerry’s words interrupted his thoughts.

“Hm?” He swallowed. “How come?”

“I was looking forward to being your best man. You know, forgetting the rings, embarrassing you at the toast: I was getting my big speech ready and everything.”

“Is that right?”

“And what really got me going was the idea that old Heinrich Senior might have had to lay out a pile of cash for the wedding.”

“Sorry to disappoint you. Besides, doesn’t the bride’s family pay for the wedding?”

“I bet he’d have paid good, hard, cash if it meant getting you married to Rita. Maybe even a couple of hundred bucks.”

Rick’s rejoinder was cut off as his phone vibrated in his pocket. He pulled it out to squint at the screen. Walter Heinemann. “I think I have to take this, Jer. You mind?”

His friend shook his head. “Go right ahead.” The lanky man began to mop up the eggs on his plate.

“’Morning, Walter. Sorry I missed your call yesterday. I tried calling back, but the line was busy. Everything all right?” Rick held the phone to his ear, trying to shut out the noise of the diner. With his other hand, he fumbled to extract his notepad.

“Can you stop by to see me some time this morning?” The older man asked without preamble, his voice tinged with concern.

“What’s the problem?” Rick asked, his pencil poised to write.

“I’d rather talk to you about it in person. The sooner the better, really.”

“That bad, huh?” He tried to take a light tone, but Heinemann was having none of it.

“It could be. When can you come?”

“I’m not sure. I have to take the company van in for service.”

“Is it critical?”

“Just a missing muffler.”

“If it’s all the same to you, I’d be grateful if you’d drive over and meet me at the school as soon as you can.”

Rick was taken aback by the urgency of the call. There was something strange in the older man’s tone, too. “Sure thing, Walter, if that’s what you need. I can be there in ten minutes.”

The call ended.

“Bad news?” Jerry inquired.

“Sounds like it.” Rick agreed. “Walter Heinemann needs me over at the school right away. I wonder what the problem is?” His mind raced through a catalog of possible catastrophes that might have occurred in the school complex.

“You’ll find out soon enough.”

Rick grabbed the last of his toast while he slid out and stood up. “Sorry to eat and run.” He gulped the last of his coffee.

“I get it. Duty calls.” Jerry pointed to the bowl of fruit by Rick’s spoon. “You gonna eat that?”

“Nope. Knock yourself out. You’re paying.”

“Hey! You still haven’t told me how you got that hickey on your neck.”

Rick ignored the comment. “I’ll bring the van in later. See you then.” Rick didn’t hear Jerry’s parting shot as he hustled out of Jankhe’s.

When he responded to an emergency summons like this one, Rick often went over possible scenarios and fixes as he drove. But between Walter’s ominous call and the unmuffled bellowing of his vehicle, he could barely think clearly enough to drive across town to the school.

At least the noise covered the whine of brakes and the creaking suspension as he pulled up to the portal marked Eagle Lake Public Schools Maintenance Entrance. Ears reeling, Rick walked around to the back. What tools would he need? He hauled out the heavy charcoal grey metal box with the implements of his trade that he most commonly used. He’d leave his yellow rubber boots in the van until he knew if they’d be necessary.

Pulling open the heavy, institutional, solid steel door, Rick entered the building. His steps echoed in the dimly lit corridor. He turned a corner, feeling the weight of the heavy toolbox. Light streamed from a doorway ahead on his left.

Walter Heinemann looked up from some papers on his desk as Rick crossed at the threshold. A pair of half-moon reading glasses adorned the man’s nose, but no smile appeared on his face.

“Morning, Walter. What’s the problem?” Rick inquired.

“Sit down, Rick.” The white-haired man gestured to a chair.

“Now you have me worried.” He tried a wan smile.

“Sit.” Heinemann repeated.

Rick set down the heavy metal toolbox and lowered himself onto the green faux leather of a chair which might have been new the year Green Bay won the first Super Bowl. Walter loved to rescue old things from the scrap heap.

“What’s going on?”

“That’s the question I had for you.”

Rick frowned. This was the second cryptic conversation of the day. “Look, can we get to the point? Is this about Rita McKee?” He tried to keep the irritation he felt out of his voice.

“It’s about her, and you. I’ve heard the rumors, and I’ve seen the stuff on the net. I couldn’t believe it, and I wanted to hear the truth.”

“Finally, someone who actually asks.” Rick muttered, not quite under his breath.

“Well?”

“Don’t believe the rumors. None of that stuff on Facebook has anything to do with me. And I sure as heck didn’t give Rita McKee a ring.”

“So she’s not your fiancée.”

“No. No way am I marrying Rita McKee.”

Walter sighed. “You’re sure?”

“Of course, I’m sure!”

The old teacher’s face relaxed a bit. “Well. I’m glad that’s cleared up. I have to admit, I was worried.”

“You mean you hauled me out of breakfast at Jahnke’s just to ask me about all that crap?”

“Yes, and no.” The man sighed. He turned to his desk and picked up a folder. “I got some information about that special School Board meeting coming up. I got wind of what your girl – our friend, Rita, is up to.”

Heinemann handed the folder to Rick.

Opening it, he found a sheaf of survey plat maps, showing various features like lot lines and rights of way. Rick turned one of these around to orient the document; he furrowed his brow as he studied it. He turned to the next one; the same parcel, but with different markings. The next was a xeroxed copy of an aerial view; heavy black lines and arrows outlined a large parcel of forested land.

Rick blinked. He recognized landmarks – Lower Lake, the old railroad marshaling yard, the school complex – and his brow furrowed. “These outlines: this is College Hill?”

“Yep.” Walter nodded.

“What’s this for?”

“There’s a proposal to sell off College Hill for development.”

“They can’t do that!” Rick exclaimed.

“Rita thinks they can.”

“What makes her think so?”

“She’s the developer.”

“Wait, wait, you mean …”

“Rita McKee has schmoozed half the School Board into selling College Hill to her, so she can develop it, parcel it, and build a bunch of million-dollar houses on it.” Walter’s voice dripped with scorn.

Rick stared at the photo. Afternoons and evenings spent wandering those woods and trails tumbled out of his childhood memory. His mother’s scattered ashes lay up there, at Prospect Rock. He’d always carry the memory of watching Gus listen to the birds on the trail, entranced. He’d never forget holding Gus close in the evening light as they descended, what, just a week or two ago? Rick could have kissed him then, if he’d had the nerve.

And now it was going to be turned into upscale faux mansions?

“What about the charter? Didn’t the state give the land to the School Board for the specific purpose of building a college on it?”

“That’s true. However, I did a little digging. In cases like this, an entity – the School Board in this case – would have to write an appeal to the Wisconsin State Legislature, asking it to pass a home rule bill, setting aside the original strictures stated in the town charter.”

Rick frowned. “You think that would pass?”

Heinemann sighed. “As long as the local legislative delegation supports the measure, these things get rubber-stamped. You know Gary Leiter. He might as well represent the Chamber of Commerce. Think he’s gonna oppose this?”

“What about the governor? He’s been pretty strong on the environment.”

“No hope there. Again, if the local guys ask for it, and it gets passed by the House and Senate, then it’s traditional for the governor to sign the bill.”

Rick stared at the map again. Arrows marked where roads would be carved into the park. Looking at another page, he saw Rita’s vision of the future, lot lines and all.

“So what’s to be done?”

“At the meeting, someone from Leiter’s office will be there observing. There has to be doubt thrown on the project. Make ‘em wonder if people really want this.”

“How do you plan on doing that?”

The older man grinned. “I’m making a few phone calls. Interested folks might have questions, right?”

Rick nodded. “They sure could.”

“And you wouldn’t mind sowing a little doubt, right?”

He grinned. “You mean with something like: ‘Where are high school kids supposed to go smoke?’”

“You’re not helping,” Heinemann said with a grimace.

“Sorry. I’ll try to think of something better by tomorrow.”

“Maybe I’m just an old man, past my sell-by date. But I think the Hill is important.” The veteran teacher looked a little misty-eyed. “So much of the state is flat. This is different, unique. We have a great big moraine left by the glaciers, right in town, looking out over where the waters drained through the rock and dug a channel.”

“And where immigrants dammed it up again to float logs to be sawn into timber to build Milwaukee and Chicago.” Rick recited from what he remembered of seventh grade local history.

“It’s not just a hunk of land.”

“Just how much is the school board being offered for College Hill?”

Walter scratched behind his ear. “I don’t know. The price wasn’t in the documents I found.”

“I wondered about that. How did you happen to get hold of these?” He handed the folder full of maps and plans back.

“There are ways to find this kind of thing out.”

“You didn’t do anything illegal, did you?” Rick asked, eyebrows raised.

“Technically, no. I mean, as building superintendent, I do have keys to everything.” The older man stroked his greying mustache and looked at the file cabinet. “And I might have had to inspect the heat detector in the district offices. And it’s possible a few papers were left lying around in the mailboxes.”

“You could work for the CIA.”

“Nope. I’m just well-informed, at least about this. But not about you, apparently.”

“Meaning what?”

“Well, about your non-engagement to Eagle Lake’s budding real estate queen.”

Rick rolled his eyes. “Oh, geez, not that again. If you’d been listening to me at all for the last five months, you’d never have believed it in the first place.”

“Guilty as charged. I’m sorry.” He tried to look contrite. “Anyway, I’m glad to hear you’re not marrying that woman. It would have been a disaster.”

In so many different ways. “Amen to that.”

“But when you do find that special person, promise me you’ll introduce us?”

Rick’s heart skipped a beat. For a split second, he imagined trying to introduce Gus to Walter as his …what? Boyfriend? Partner? Was it even possible? He blinked, and the vision vanished.

“Um, sure. When that happens.”

Yet, as he drove away from the school complex in a deafening roar, Rick’s mind returned to the idea. Maybe, just maybe, he could stop hiding and blending in the shadows. Maybe he could just be more himself.

He thought of the phone call he needed to make to Heinrich Senior and winced. Or maybe it’s best not to fight that battle today.


I must acknowledge my debt to @AC Benus and @Carlos Hazday for their help in making this story far better than it otherwise might have been. Should you have any thoughts or ruminations to offer to the conversation about Rick, or the doings in Eagle Lake, please do so. I enjoy anything you might have to say.
Copyright © 2020 Parker Owens; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
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32 minutes ago, pvtguy said:

The action cranks up now!  I am looking forward to Rick's testicles dropping and his confrontation with his father first, and then his standing up for himself and who he is to all without shame!  Great chapter.

Events are certainly moving more quickly, like a storm building up over the lake on a summer afternoon. Rick has to figure out how to respond, even while the everyday demands of his work continue. Really, he'd prefer to be in a canoe with Gus, rather than trying to counter Rita's plans or deal with Heinrich Senior. As his experience has shown, Rick rarely gets what he wants. Thanks very much for reading!

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17 minutes ago, Mawgrim said:

So Rita's plans are finally revealed. I wonder why she posted such a vague message on her Facebook page. Most people would want to name the person they'd just become engaged to. Could it be that she hoped that people would assume it was Rick (as they have)? With someone well known locally linked to her, she's probably hoping to get more support (or at least, less opposition) to the proposed development.

Still not sure why Irene is pissed off, although it could be that she's annoyed that she's found out about her boss's 'engagement' from Facebook rather than being told face to face. Or it might be something else. I have a bad feeling Heinrich senior may have invested rather heavily into Rita's project.

Rita has been quietly schmoozing the School Board for a while, it seems. Now we know the reason why. She and any investors in her plan stand to make quite a lot of money. And, of course, Eagle Lake will change quite a lot as a result. All Rita has to do is sell everyone on the project. Her very public pursuit of Rick must have been part of the plan, as you suggest. Everyone knows Rick, and respects his work. Irene is surely being cranky about something, though exactly what must remain unknown for now. For the moment, Rick needs to put other issues on the back burner to deal with responding to Walter's news. That is, if his work will let him do that. Many thanks for reading!

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59 minutes ago, Carlos Hazday said:

Rick's debacle confirms my decision to delete my Facebook profile a few years ago was correct. Why do people believe everything they see online? And how they extrapolate from cryptic posts is even worse. I suspect Senior having a heart attack when he finds out his son's not only not marrying Rita but boinking a Guatemalan man.

Rick never had a Facebook profile, but I'm sure he'd agree with your decision now. It's so easy to fall for the combination of words and images one flicks through in a fraction of a moment. Extrapolations and connections mean people jump to conclusions. The hope is that Heinrich Senior is even less web-savvy than his son. This means Rick will have to call his father first, before word filters back to Arizona. Knowing Rick, he'll put it off until he absolutely, positively has to. Thanks a million for your thoughts!

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2 hours ago, drsawzall said:

Dissonance, an aptly titled chapter as there certainly a major lack of harmony throughout. Wonder how long it will take for news of Rick's faux engagement to spread, the rumor and the truth battling it out. Not having read any of the comments, I will do after posting this, my guess is that is is Rick's teenage nemesis who sold Cedarcrest for 1.3 million, our douche Willy!  

The chapter warnings were spot on! Will there be dire forecasts pending in the future including; famine, pestilence, plagues of toads, and angry mobs looking for witches to burn....inquiring minds want to know... 

The rumor of Rick’s engagement is out and all over town. Probably it will overpower the truth for a long while. Not only has Rick’s concerto shifted to a minor key, but there are definitely some sour dissonant notes playing, even as Jerry remains a steadfast friend. Rick needs to plan a response to Walter’s news, but his work is unlikely to grant him any respite. Thanks for reading! 

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Ah, gossip in a small town is so...lovely. 🤦🏻‍♂️ Everyone often assumes and hears what they want to hear, except perhaps in Irene’s case as she definitely hates Rita Skeeter which may be why she’s upset as I doubt the news thrilled her. She also may have also heard about these plans for College Hill and could be upset at the idea of Rick being involved with such a plan. Ugh, daddy dearest is not going to be happy when he learns the truth about the engagement or lack thereof as I predict a long rant about how Rick lost his chance to be married to such a...woman not to mention in my experience people his age rarely like to be corrected about what social media tells and/or the incorrect assumptions they draw so I even predict he’ll consider Rick to be lying about not asking her to marry him perhaps claiming Rick is just trying to back out of it. 🙄 The theory Rita is getting hitched to Willy is a little wild...but honestly at this point the more outrageous the possibility the more likely it is to be true, though I wouldn’t put it past Rita to have just posted an outright lie hoping people would think it was Rick only to later come up with some lie about how the engagement to this mysterious person was called off.

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1 hour ago, Headstall said:

So, Rita's plans are revealed. I think she has a partner in crime, someone who will benefit greatly from this proposed development. I wonder... is Willy a part of this? Did he steer her towards this little gem of a town in the first place? And is the engagement(to whomever it may be) meant to strengthen her position in getting this plan approved? Lots of thoughts in my head at the moment, but I trust you to steer us through. I can already see it is becoming intolerable for Rick to hide Gus. As it should be...

Cheers! 

Rita's plans slipped out a little early. Walter was a good sleuth in this case. I wish I could answer your questions, but many of them will be resolved ... soon. You are very kind to be so trusting in my navigational abilities. Poor Rick is already unmoored, and you're quite right: he can't dodge Jerry forever; even he can see that he can't keep hiding. But can he emerge on his own terms? I'm very grateful for all your thoughts and questions. Now I will go into hiding myself for a week...

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1 hour ago, NimirRaj said:

Ah, gossip in a small town is so...lovely. 🤦🏻‍♂️ Everyone often assumes and hears what they want to hear, except perhaps in Irene’s case as she definitely hates Rita Skeeter which may be why she’s upset as I doubt the news thrilled her. She also may have also heard about these plans for College Hill and could be upset at the idea of Rick being involved with such a plan. Ugh, daddy dearest is not going to be happy when he learns the truth about the engagement or lack thereof as I predict a long rant about how Rick lost his chance to be married to such a...woman not to mention in my experience people his age rarely like to be corrected about what social media tells and/or the incorrect assumptions they draw so I even predict he’ll consider Rick to be lying about not asking her to marry him perhaps claiming Rick is just trying to back out of it. 🙄 The theory Rita is getting hitched to Willy is a little wild...but honestly at this point the more outrageous the possibility the more likely it is to be true, though I wouldn’t put it past Rita to have just posted an outright lie hoping people would think it was Rick only to later come up with some lie about how the engagement to this mysterious person was called off.

Rick is not appreciating the small town gossip on this day. Everyone has assumed there is a Rick-and-Rita, and now believe their assumptions are confirmed. Irene's nose is certainly out of joint, but she's not explaining why. Your guess isn't a bad one, though. Heinrich Senior will be distressed (to put it mildly), but he's not at all internet or social-media savvy. The old man is likely to burn up the phone lines or even get on a plane. God help Rick if his father actually has to spend money on this situation. You are wonderful to contribute speculations and possibilities here, but I fear I must leave you to wait until your questions can be resolved, alas. You are very kind to keep reading!

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That Rita is a never-ending fount of gossip and treachery. She had to know people would assume the ring came from Rick. What was she thinking?? 

I don’t know if Rita understands Rick’s history with College Hill, but I am still mad at her for going after it. It would be a special kind of awful feeling to have such a sacred place threatened. 

Can’t wait to see where this leads. If Rick chooses to fight for college hill it could easily sweep him up in an ugly world of politics. Unless you have a strong environmentalist presence putting pressure on the politicians, developers pretty much always win.  Everyone gets dollar signs in their eyes and can’t see around them. I’m crossing my fingers for him.

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9 hours ago, Carlos Hazday said:

Rick's debacle confirms my decision to delete my Facebook profile a few years ago was correct. Why do people believe everything they see online? And how they extrapolate from cryptic posts is even worse. I suspect Senior having a heart attack when he finds out his son's not only not marrying Rita but boinking a Guatemalan man.

I am another non-facebooker.  Part of it is that I don't genuinely like very many people (certain GA authors excepted), and even if I do like them, I don't care that their poodle just got groomed or that they just drank a non-fat soy caramel macchiato.  

Back to the story, I am going to "listen to the perfect" and be happy that Rick is off the hook. Rita reeled in another sucker.  If it turns out to be Willy, then I think the two are made for each other, both predators in their own ways.

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4 hours ago, headtransplant said:

That Rita is a never-ending fount of gossip and treachery. She had to know people would assume the ring came from Rick. What was she thinking?? 

I don’t know if Rita understands Rick’s history with College Hill, but I am still mad at her for going after it. It would be a special kind of awful feeling to have such a sacred place threatened. 

Can’t wait to see where this leads. If Rick chooses to fight for college hill it could easily sweep him up in an ugly world of politics. Unless you have a strong environmentalist presence putting pressure on the politicians, developers pretty much always win.  Everyone gets dollar signs in their eyes and can’t see around them. I’m crossing my fingers for him.

I will not peer into Rita’s mind just now. It’s not pretty. I doubt very much she has a clue about Rick’s history with College Hill, or anyone else’s,  for that matter. To her, College Hill is prime real estate waiting to be parceled, developed and sold. It’s a unique space, and the town evolved around it. Something powerful would be needed to sow doubts in the mind of Eagle Lake’s legislators in the state capital that this is a viable project with the clear backing of the local voters. Thanks for your comments and for reading!

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4 hours ago, CincyKris said:

I am another non-facebooker.  Part of it is that I don't genuinely like very many people (certain GA authors excepted), and even if I do like them, I don't care that their poodle just got groomed or that they just drank a non-fat soy caramel macchiato.  

Back to the story, I am going to "listen to the perfect" and be happy that Rick is off the hook. Rita reeled in another sucker.  If it turns out to be Willy, then I think the two are made for each other, both predators in their own ways.

Like Rick, you appear to have eschewed the lure of social media. Facebook can obliterate large portions of some people’s days, so I hear. I am delighted you are listening to Gus and concentrating on the perfect and not the flaws. Rick is definitely off the marriage hook, it seems. Thanks very much for reading, and for your comments. 

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Yes "Listen to the Perfect" is very appropriate here.  I also kind of hope Willy is the sucker Rita suckered!!  It would be poetic justice to see both fail miserably personally and financially.

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