Thanks to all for the pointers, you have all been immensely helpful. Mr DamnDirtyApe, I read the Mr. Peabody article which helped make more clear the perdoc page I had been stumbling through, many thanks. And merlyn, thanks for your article, it seems to be a perfect starting point for doing what I am now planning - BTW it looks like some individuals are downmodding you, which is weird since your column did a pefect job of going over what I was really looking for.
in reply to spawning multiple child processes
BTW - I actually misdescribed why I had issues with fork(), since I realized that it spawned off a separate copy of the parent, I just thought at the time that that was not what I wanted, since I was thinking in terms of two separate scripts. So, what I had originally wanted to do (it's all so obvious now) is a fork() and then an exec() of the second script. Of course, I do not think that is necessary now that I see better how it works, since I had not really 'gotten' that data structures allocated by the parent are copied in the child, so there is no real need to exec() a separate script just so I could send it some args.