The Workout

Tuesdays always started earlier for Rachel than anyone else in her house. She would unfurl her lanky limbs one by one, then arch her back in a feline stretch and think about the route she would take on her morning run. Today would be no different. It just had to be the same as any other Tuesday, whatever that insufferable know-it-all, controlling, clueless, Frank Farmer thought or said!

For two weeks now, Frank had been busy re-arranging her household according to his standards of safety and security. Rachel did not exactly like the idea of a malevolent killer targeting her for murder, but she felt that Frank was at turns harsh, condescending and unreasonable with his demands and restrictions. She had neglected her Tuesday morning runs since she first gave Bill the green light to hire Frank. But now she was becoming tense and snappish, and even started to speak harder to Fletcher, lovely Fletcher who might reasonably be the best reason for her to safeguard her own life.

Rachel bounded out of bed, then scooted to her bathroom for a basic toilette before changing into her running suit. Rachel walked back into her bedroom, approached her dresser and rummaged through a top drawer. She pulled out a scrunchie, looped it around her wrist, and looking down, began to French twist the back of her hair to keep it out of her face during her run.

RM: He won't be able to keep up with me.

Rachel looked up at the mirror and almost stopped braiding. She was smiling, and it caught her off guard.

RM: What are you smiling about?

Rachel finished the braid and ran down stairs, heading through the butler's pantry, and the kitchen.

RM: Hyacinth!

Hyacinth: Yes, Miss Marron.

RM: I'm running today.

Hyacinth: Yes, Miss. I'll have something ready for you after you return—

Rachel didn't stay long enough to hear Hyacinth say, 'I'll have something prepared for you after you return from your exercise.' Hyacinth had worked for her for three years, was efficient, and anticipated her every need. If only she could program her to deal with Frank! She grabbed the knob on the back door, and pulled it open.

The California morning air was damp and clean from last night's rain. Everything from the garden and stone pavers, to the elaborate palm and imported cactus landscaping smelled freshly scrubbed and sparkling. Rachel began her stretches, and went through them for a few minutes until she saw something that killed her mood.

Frank was slamming the door to his car and began walking toward the back of the house. He looked around him, at the security cameras he had ordered to be installed and the shrubbery that he told the landscaper to cut back. He seemed very businesslike, if almost disinterested in the fact that he was working on a superstar's sprawling pastel estate.

RM: Impossible.

Rachel finished her stretch and prepared to take off, but Frank saw her.

FF: Good morning! (He waved at her and jogged over.) Where are you going?

RM: Running. I do this every Tuesday morning, or used to, until lately. I want to get back to it.

FF: On the grounds here?

RM: Not at all. I run through the neighborhood. (He had better not tell me to use the treadmill, Rachel thought, because that's not going to fly.)

FF: Rachel, you can't go out on your own like that.

RM: This is not a discussion, Frank. I'm doing my morning run as usual.

FF: Well, let me come with you.

RM: You can't keep up.

Frank almost rolls his eyes, then tells her to wait for a few minutes.

RM: Don't delay my warm up. I'm on a certain rhythm here.

So Frank changed his clothes, and jogs over to Rachel. He barely got to within two feet of her before she took off, jogging down the drive, ordering the guard to open the gate, and jogging through the opening.

FF: So how far do you go?

RM: It varies, depending on what I have time for and how I'm feeling.

FF: How long have you been running?

RM: For a few years now, on and off. (Looks at a digital watch, and pushes a few buttons.)

Frank looks bored, like he's trailing a pink track suit Barbie. But Rachel begins to pick up the pace, until she hits a faster stride, and her hips and legs loosening up. They run in silence.

FF: Don't you have a jogging partner at all?

RM: Can't be bothered.

Frank smirks. He wondered if Rachel had had a jogging partner before, but turned that person off with her dismissive, impatient, demanding ways.

RM: Warm up is over. I have to really work out now.

Rachel kicks it up another notch, her legs pumping faster and higher. Frank frowns a little, wondering how far and how long she can keep up that pace.

Back at the house, Nikki makes her way downstairs and greets Hyacinth in the kitchen. Bill walks in with a stack of newspapers and spreads them out on the counter.

Bill: Where is Rachel?

Hyacinth: Running, sir.

Bill and Nikki look at each other.

Nikki: Does he have any idea?

Bill: That Rachel was a varsity, All-American middle distance runner in college? That she dropped the idea of training as an elite runner after her demo landed her an agent? I forgot to mention all of that to Frank.

Nikki: Poor guy. I hope he can keep up.

Back outside, Rachel is outdistancing Frank, and deliberately. She races to a hilly area of her neighborhood, and begins tackling a series of small hills running up some and down others. She glances behind her a couple of times, chuckling to herself as he pants harder and harder. Still, he stays within yards of her.

Back at the house …

Nikki: (Unfolds the L.A. Times and sips a cup of coffee.) How long have they been out?

Hyacinth: 45 minutes. They will be heading back soon. Excuse me, Miss Nikki.

Hyacinth searches a drawer near where Nikki is sitting and pulls out pieces for a place setting. She bustles around the kitchen getting breakfast ready. Bill lends a hand and helps her with a tray of silverware.

Bill: I'll set the table, Hyacinth. I'll also put the papers out there for her.

Nikki: I'll get the fruit, wake Fletcher and pour the juice.

Back outside, Frank and Rachel are heading back. Rachel is sweaty, but mainly glowing, supple, loose and feeling happy. Frank looks like he was in a fight in a swimming pool. They run back to the part of the pool house where Nikki was working out earlier and showed Frank around. Rachel jogs in place, checks her watch and begins to cool down. Frank walks around in circles with his hands on his hip, then rubs his face.

Rachel goes through her cool down and her stretches. Then she takes a bottle of water out of a small refrigerator, takes a sip and leans against the dance rail.

FF: You never told me that you were a runner, that you are a runner. You move like a middle distance runner.

RM: All-American for two years in college. I can't tell you everything, Frank. Especially when you don't even take the time to listen. Sometimes, I have to show you what's going on. (Rachel takes another sip.) Do your stretches, or you'll cramp up. (She throws him a towel, and not very gently. Rachel gets to the door, then stops and looks back at Frank.)

RM: But Hyacinth has probably made a big, nourishing breakfast for all of us, especially me. Check with her when you come back into the house.

Frank nods and wipes his head with the towel.

Rachel walks back to the main house, through a side door. Bill greets her.

Bill: How was your workout, Rachel?

Rachel: Refreshing. I hate going too long without a good run. I'm going upstairs to clean up.

Bill: And how did Frank take it?

Rachel: (Laughs.) He can hang in there with me. Bill, I want you to tell Hyacinth to give Frank a good-sized plate. He's umm, not that big to begin with, and I think I might have burned off 5% of his body fat on the hills.

They both laugh, and Rachel runs up the stairs to her bedroom.