A writing experiment
Who She Is:
Kapow!” Engaging the News! Host: Margaret Jenkin-Salvatore
Margaret Jenkins-Salvatore reflected on her career. Never a fan of the Plurptons, she had vowed to make a difference in some of her more grandiose childhood fantasies. She learned journalistic correspondence while serving in Iraq, frustrated with the slanted media reports. UCMJ prohibited disclosure of battlefront intelligence without approval of military press liaisons. So she observed intently, wrote incessantly, and shared selectively—with her favorite English professor at Columbia. Apolitical. Academic. He held her to high journalistic standards. Ten years ago. Now a successful Radio Personality, “Kapow!” Jenkins-Salvatore had been writing for an hour. The tablet, digital recorder, and smart phone were fried in the rain. She had stuffed them in her weathered leather satchel and resorted to old-school pencil on damp paper. She preferred to observe, get the drift of things, then “engage” the news. Time was approaching. Time to review her notes. Then history would be made.
“Cold November rain saturated the two-block-long train of overcoats. Anticipation, adrenaline and speculation overcame the wintry elements. This well-behaved but worried group hoped to enter the courthouse and view the spectacle.
“Reno City’s Art Deco Court House earned international praise in 1921. It commanded an entire block of real estate. To this day it stands as the city’s crowning landmark. Inspired by a flood of international students and history buffs, the local Board of Architectural Review saved the building from demolition in 1989, designating it for Historical Preservation. The town’s people were proud of their unique Court House. The willingly paid the restoration and maintenance costs without griping. Plus, the Reno City courthouse was a popular neutral venue for many front-page trials deemed too volatile to receive a fair trial in their local jurisdiction. Like the Plurpton hearing today. One for the ages. National press crews and curious tourists brought money to the City and then spread the word, making Reno City and its famous courthouse a destination.
“The crowd repeatedly ignored pleadings of the barely literate heavy-set guard, orange megaphone in hand. For the third time in the last hour, he stepped out from the shelter of the awning, into the rain to advise people to go on home. ‘There ain’t no room in here, so go on home, now, and be peaceable. Y’all wait for the news tonight. This ain’t no circus so there ain’t no ringside seats.’ he chuckled at his cleverness. ‘Now move along, you nice people,’ he added as an afterthought.”
Jenkins-Salvatore liked her story—so far. First set the table. Then the 7-course dinner! Don't give too much away. Margaret at her best. Study, observe, build up slowly. Keep her radio audience in suspense. Then “Kapow!” From journalist to juggernaut. The Court House was not the only local treasure! She was admired and hated for her unique news-maker style. That’s right, news maker. She had mastered what drug-inspired Hunter Thompson only dreamed of with his Gonzo Journalism.
After a day of peace, a citizen displayed frustration. MargaretJenkins-Salvatore. Kapow!
“Make no mistake, buster, I’m a VIP in Reno City. Get out of my way bully.” she said shoving him with her left arm, clenching her Press Umbrella and satchel with the other. “Let me pass! I’m supposed to be in there,” she shouted.
The big guard shouted back, megaphone in her face, “Move back, lady.”
A skinny security guard stepped between them. Skinny had watched the woman react to the big guard’s clumsy efforts to control her without succes.
“He’s right, Mrs., uh, Jenkins-Salvatore. Your name’s not on this list,” said skinny.
“Then why did they send me this invitation?” She handed him a folded, official-looking document.
“Hmm. I see what you mean. This ain’t no invitation. It’s a subpoena. O.K., Step over here and walk through security,” skinny guard said to the woman.
He turned to his larger associate, “Now Burf, you shouldn’ta jumped on her like you did. She’s all wired up. You and me’s supposed to defuse this kinda thing. You outghta know better’n that. You still on probation for jackin’ up that city feller, ‘n here you go agin.”
Burf’s red face amplified his words, “You’re always ready to jump on me, Lester. I ain’t no bully. I gotta keep people in line.”
Reluctantly, Lester assumed his role as boss. “Burf, you cause a ruckus every time somebody blinks. We suppose’ to keep th’ peace. You need to overlook little stuff. You ready to git it on. Radio lady wasn’t doin’ anything deserved you hollerin’ in her face with that damn' megaphone.”
Burf, never one for restraint, shot back, “She don’t know her place, Lester. Celebrity comin’ in here so important and demanding an’ all. She the bully, not me. Like she does on the radio you know, ‘Kapow.’”
“Enough, Burf. Do I have to write you up again? Do this agin' while you still on probation, you be gone.” Lester said, running out of patience. If not for being Mayor Guido Carillo's son-in-law, Burf would have been gone long ago.
Jenkins-Salvatore snorted at Burf, “I’m telling your father-in-law how you treated me! He wants to keep his ass in office more than he wants to protect your ass! Now, if you want to apologize and walk me to the courtroom, I might forget how rude you’ve been.” She actually did a little eye-flutter for Burf.
He said, “Well, okay then, but don’t bother the Mayor. Let’s see, where’s this here meetin'? It ain’t in the usual place for some reason. Oh, yeah, it’s in the high-security shelter, so no terrists could get to it. Yeah, that’s it. No media neither.”
Now fully in control, Jenkins-Salvatore said, “You are so-o helpful. Did I hear your name is Burf? Can I call you Burfie?”
Burf blushed an awe shucks grin, and said “Sure Mrs. Jenkins-Salvatore. Call me Burfie. Hey, Burfie Murphy! Why that rhymes! You sure are smart, aincha? I listen to you on the radio, “Kapow!”
“Well thank you Burfie Murpy,” she said, wrapping him around her little finger.
“While we talking, why you got two last names. It kinda mixes me up.” he said, chortling. He had became more comfortable with Jenkins-Salvatore, a tribute to her well-honed engagement skills.
“Burfie, call me Margaret,” she replied, ignoring his question.
“Well, Margaret,” Burfie announced, “Here we are. Now you just show them that there piece of paper and they’ll let you in.” He ambled off, pleased with himself.
She entered an elaborate security station. Four serious guards— riot gear, helmets, holstered Glocks, Armalite AR-10’s in hand. Very serious.
The ranking guard, a Major judging from his Gold Oak Leaf insignia, approached Jenkins-Salvatore, “Your military ID please.”
She respected the military. She was outranked—again. An army brat, her father retired a full Bird Colonel, Viet Nam era. Her first husband, a 1st Lt. to her 2nd. She had followed her Dad's leading, two Army tours in Iraq. No regrets. Learned a lot. Left for greener pastures. Left 1st Lt. Salvatore, too.
“Yes sir,” she said, back from memory lane. Holding eye contact with Major, she retrieved the ID from her bra, presented it to him. He smiled, returned the ID, watched with amusement as she replaced the ID.
Major waved her in, commenting, “You’re the key witness, but the last to arrive.”
She stepped fully into the courtroom.
“Will the witness please approach the bench?” requested the Sergeant-At-Arms.
“Yes,” she said enthusiastically. She had been waiting for this moment. Actually that's not quite right—she had been engineering this moment for years. Finally.
The Judge swore her in, instructed her to take the stand, motioned the prosecutor to begin the examination.
“According to depositions you met Vladimir Jerfssen Plurpton and his wife Hilarity Redrum Plurpton at a 'save the whale' fundraiser in Martha’s Vineyard, on April 15, 2015. Is that correct?”
According to depositions you began to have a relationship with Mr. Plurpton following that meeting in 2015. Is that correct?
“Please describe the relationship you had with Mr. Plurpton since 2015.”
“After Martha’s Vineyard we talked by phone about once a month. May 11, 2016 we met for coffee. We agreed to collaborate on future save-the-whale projects. May 27 Mr. Plurpton called me on my cell. He invited me to his NYC penthouse to brainstorm projects for 2017. His personal secretary would be there to record our discussion. Shall I continue?”
“Yes. I’ll tell you when to stop,” said the prosecutor.
“I arrived at the penthouse at 8:00 pm. Plurpton wore slippers, a burgundy smoking jacket over pajamas. Thanked me for coming, glass of Scotch in hand. He offered me a drink. I declined. He invited me to sit in a chair opposite him. He was polite. He complimented me on my volunteer work to save the whales. We talked about whales for a while. His secretary was not there. I asked him about that. He smiled, said she became ill earlier in the day. He hadn’t had time to find another for our meeting.
“Mr. Plurpton finished his drink, poured another, offered me one again. I declined again. He asked how my career was going. I said it was going. He asked if I wanted to jump-start my journalism career. I said, it depends on what’s entailed. He smiled. Said he could get me contacts to put me on the map. It wouldn’t cost me a dime. I asked him to go on. He said he enjoyed helping young women get ahead. I ignored the possible double entendre.”
“I object!” stated the defense. “This is a meandering fishing expedition. Incompetent, irrelevant, and immaterial!” (Obviously a fan of Perry Mason reruns!). “I don’t see the point.”
“Bear with me and you will,” said the prosecution.
“I will bear with you for a few more minutes,” said the judge. Now show me your reason for this line of questioning”
“Yes, your honor.”
“Mrs. Jenkins-Salvatore, please explain your motivation for meeting the Plurptons at Martha’s Vineyard and then meeting with Mr. Plurpton on the occasions you described.”
“Yes, I will explain. I could not believe a 50-year old executive got off with a slap on the wrist and a 22-year old girl got a scarlet letter for life. I wanted to see for myself whether the man had changed.”
“So in your own words, why did you meet with Mr. Plurpton?” the prosecution asked.
“To see if he had changed.”
“And what were your findings.”
“After several more meetings with Plurpton I concluded that he has not changed. He did not restrain himself. He attempted to initiate sex several times. I let it go only so far. He always started crying when I stopped him: “Why am I so bad? Why can’t I control my lust? I have sinned again! How many times can God forgive me? Can she forgive me again?”
“What did you say to Mr. Plurpton?”
“Several times I suggested that if he really wanted forgiveness from God, he should sincerely seek forgiveness from those he had harmed while giving in to his lust. Genita Flora, Paulina Jines, Munodo Wednesday, his wife and daughter, his friends, his country.”
“What did he say?”
He acted like it was funny. He said, “I’m not sure I want God’s forgiveness all that bad.”
“According to depositions Mrs. Plurpton discovered you and Mr. Plurpton in bed, naked. Is that correct, and if so, when did that occur?”
“Correct. 11:35 pm, November 11, 2016. The last time he and I were together.”
“What happened when Mrs. Plurpton entered the room and discovered the two of you in bed?”
“Mr. Plurpton ran into the bathroom. Mrs. Plurpton talked to me, “What did he do?” she asked me.
I said, “He didn’t control himself. I stopped it. Again. He hasn’t changed.”
Mrs. Plurpton said, “You were right. I’m really sorry to have asked you to go through this for me, Margaret. My, how I hoped he had changed after all these chances.”
“What happened then?”
“Mrs. Plurpton said, 'Of course you will never divulge this experience with anyone else, ever. My foundation will compensate you generously. $200,000.00 a year deposited in the off-shore bank of your choosing, in perpetuity. If that's enough. I brought an agreement for you to sign.'”
“I feel bad for you, Mrs. Plurpton. I can’t imagine how painful this has been. Did you have to keep other affairs from blowing up?”
“Oh my God! You have no idea. I cringe to think how much it’s cost to silence the others. We had to take more serious measures with one.”
“After what you’ve been through, I won't take advantage of your generous offer.”
“What did Mrs. Plurpton say?”
Mrs. Plurpton's demeanor changed. She directed me, “Accept my offer. I assure you, all other options will be less pleasant. Do you understand?”
What did you say to Mrs. Plurpton?”
“No, I won’t accept your offer, Mrs. Plurpton. The entire evening of activities has been recorded and transmitted, including your conversation with me. Cameras caught Mr. Plurpton and me naked in bed, and recorded you attempting to pay to keep me quiet.”
“What happened then?”
“Mr. Plurpton came out of the bathroom at that time, looking sheepish, wrapped in a towel. Mrs. took a gun from her purse, aimed carefully, and shot him. You know where. Blood everywhere. I called 911. Got dressed. Left. Mrs. Plurpton was by his side, trying to stop the bleeding. She was saying, “Vladdy, what’s wrong with me? Why all the other women?”
“I felt sorry for both of them. Rich and powerful, miserable and corrupt. All recorded.”
“Then what happened?”
“I don’t know. I left as soon as I got dressed. Heard sirens. EMT’s came in as I left at 11:52pm.”
“The EMT’s stated that Mr. Plurpton was already dead, that Mrs. Plurpton was near death when they entered the room. Are you sure both were alive when you left?
“Yes. It’s all recorded”
“We will need those recordings. Don't leave town. You’re dismissed until the trial.”
Jenkins-Salvatore turned the tv on just in time to hear the morning news’ grim announcement: “It appears Mr. Plurpton died of a gunshot wound before medics arrived. Mrs. Plurpton was resuscitated from a self-inflicted gunshot. She is recovering and will stand trial for the murder of her husband.”
Margaret Jenkins-Salvatore, host of a popular national daily radio show exulted, “What else can I say?
“What's next?” an adoring fan asked, as Jenkins-Salvatore exited her limo and started up the stairs to her studio. “We can't wait!!”
Smiling at her fan, she said, “Local scene. Much ado in Reno City.” she said, savoring her next Kapow!, Reno City's own not-so-honorable Mayor Guido Carillo and his band of merry men.