The Seventh Chapter




If you are dumb enough to believe this story is true, please stop, shut off your computer and then go to the nearest mirror to repeatedly slap yourself back into reality. You'll thank yourself afterward, I assure you.

IF you are below the age of 18, please don't read the stories on here. Your presence jeopardizes those of us who do so legally.

Personal Disclaimer:

Many of you wrote to tell me how much you enjoyed the stories beginning. I appreciate those emails.

In my reply, I told you I'd received word from an attorney forbidding my continuing with the story. I'm sorry, but after a nice enjoyable vacation, I've come to the conclusion legal censorship of what I “might” write really pisses me off. So, with that said, I'm writing what I please and if it's not to their liking...fukem.


Chapter Seven

I drove over to Brand's headquarters and instantly got appalled. Their headquarters was a warehouse.

I parked and went in and had to ask several times before I got to where I was shown the “President's office” was located. It was a group of file cabinets around a desk.

I went over and the guy stood up. “Dennis?”



Good, I had to ask several times before I got here.”

As you see, we're low overhead. We make money, but it's low overhead.”

I see.”

Let me tell you about us and do my sales pitch and then, I think your questions will be answered.”


Sit down for a moment.”

I sat down and he leaned across the desk.

Brand is our name. In our business life, we've been known by four different names. That tells you how many owners we've had. I bought Brand five years ago from my partner. He and I ran it under a different name for thirteen years prior to that. We've got eight hundred and ninety stores across the nation and we've got seventeen sub centers and six main distribution centers. We order from here, and we bill from here, but as you see, I'm doing it on my own.”

He stood and said, “IF you'll walk with me, I'll show you what we've got.”

I got up and followed. He pointed to a far corner and said, “Over there is our distribution manager. His name is Ted. He's my ex brother in law and he's the best thing I kept from my marriage. He works his tail off and he knows his job. He's kept us strong and he's got to be my best employee.

Over there, is Sally. She's my Management supervisor. She's been with this company for longer than me. Before she came here, she worked for Turtles, Girdles, and Yo-yo's, and another company before that. She can sweet talk a fella into spilling his guts, but she's also no nonsense when it comes to employees and their ways of trying to get out of work.

In that office behind the glass is our accountant. Her name is Mary and she doubles as my assistant. She answers phones and she's real good about getting all the numbers crunched and the beans counted.”

We went over to where a few picnic tables were in a corner with some refrigerators. “This is our employee dining and it's also the entertainment suite. In the fridge on the right is regular soda and on the left is diet. They're free so help yourself.”

I went to the diet side and got a Coke out. I screwed off the top and took a drink.

Do you have a map of where your stores are located?” I asked.

Yeah, it's over in the corner by Ted. He tells me we're everywhere you're not, so that doesn't tell me much except to say we're not direct competitors.”

Ok, you're in the lower 48?”

Yeah, with the exception of Maine for some reason.”

Ok, what about debt?”

We're sound financially, but not out of debt. We took loans when I took over and expanded to forty more stores. There's five years on the payback of those, but we're going to look good when those are paid.”

What about trucking?”

Ted knows those numbers. I know we have a fleet of them and they're all less than three years. We didn't go into debt with them, if that's what you're asking.”

No, I want to learn the infrastructure.”

The structure is good. We're like an old broad with good bones. We're built good, but we ain't pretty.”

Then why are you selling?”

Do you want the God's honest truth?”

It'd help. I'll see it on your accounting sheet if not.”

Yeah, you'll see it then.” he said looking down. He looked back up and said, “My issue is markets are down where I'm loaded to the gills. I've got stores in malls across America where we sell a good business, but in about three hundred of those Malls, I've had rent increases to the point I'm not just worried, I'm scared.

I'm seeing them break even at best and don't have the strength financially to go out and move them all. It'd take me a year to get them done and another year to get people to think about coming to shop with us again.”

Ok, that's honest, now, what's your bottom line and what's your import structure.”

Importing is done by supplier. I do the ordering and Ted does the distributing. They get things to him and I get him the things.”

Why are you selling then?”

I told myself I'd give it five years and I did. Things have been tough all the way and now, I'm just plain worn out. I'm tired, I'm burned out and I just don't really want to hassle with it anymore.”

Ok, can we go take a look at the books and I'll make a decision.”

Just like that?!”

Guy, I'm an importer/exporter. I made my money from that line of business. I can smell shit a mile away and you're smelling sweaty, but not like a men's room. There's a hint of mafia I smell, but I'll tell you now I'm not going to link up with them, so you count on that. I'm here to buy structure and I'm here to buy management.

Ours sucks and if I happen to get stores in the process, I'll be happy. You've told me I've got to shut three hundred stores, so I'm taking those off my numbers of what I'd offer. If the other numbers are good, then I'll buy, but it won't be at that billion four.”

Whew, you look like you're fine china, but I see you're really crystal and you're reflecting me perfectly.”

I've got your number, yeah. I'm not bugged by it to the point I want to walk, so don't worry.”

He smiled and said, “Make me an offer of over four hundred and it's yours. I got it for two hundred and that's doubling my money.”

Ok, let's look at the numbers and I'll see. How much debt?”

We've got thirty four left. I'll pay it on my way out the door.”

Your people will come over to us without problems?”

Ted will. I know you're getting him damned cheap and I know the others will probably.”

I need your management gal. It sounds like you've got what I need and I've got what you needed.”

We went into the accounting office and he took the ledgers from a desk where the woman wasn't sitting.

I took a look and saw the past month at a glance.

He pointed to another ledger and said, “This is our yearly.”

Ok, assets and liabilities?”

She can show you those. She's got them, I know.”

She got off the phone and smiled. “Let me help you. He pretends he knows what he's doing, but he doesn't.”

I took a look at the bottom line and saw the value was almost sixteen billion.

How did you come up with these numbers?”

We own our own stores with the exception of the ones in malls. The land is good in a lot of brilliant locations and we've got a lot of locations we've purchased which were intended to be for expansion, but we never got that far.”

He stood over at the door with his hand up on the frame across from him and I squatted to look her in the eye.

I asked her, “What one thing would you do different if you could make this company great?”

Leverage it and buy or build the problem locations into stores we own outright and then expand.”

Do you have any numbers of what that would be?”

No, we never got that far.”

Ok, will you have a problem coming to work for me over at our tower?”

No, it's no problem for me to drive over there, I've been by it a lot of times.”

Ok, that's good. You'll be assisting our accountant, but I'll think you'll find we're more advanced than here.”

She nodded and said, “All I need is the word and I'll be sure to be there. Do you dress formally, or is this fine.”

What you're wearing is fine. I'm not hung up on things being a fashion show.”

She smiled and nodded.

I went over to him and said, “Four fifty and you pay that debt. Keep me out of the mafia and I'll be signing a check here in about five minutes.”

You will!”

Yeah, I've got to make a phone call to my attorney, my partner, and my banker, but I've got the cash.”


Yeah, import/export has been good to me.”

I flipped out my cell and called Evan. “Yeah hon.”

I'm buying it for four fifty. They've got almost six hundred good stores and three hundred bad. Their infrastructure is a dream from what it sounds, but we might have to buy trucks. Is it good for you?”

If you think it's fine, I'm fine.”

Ok. Tell Marty to be on his way over here and I'll call our bank.”


I hung up and then hit one on speed dial. My banker answered and I gave him the code I needed to approve the transfer of funds. I told him I'd get him the account to transfer the funds to and he said he'd be waiting.

I hung up and said, “Guy, now, here's what I'm going to offer and you can either take it or leave it.”

Ok, you're not backing out on that offer, are you?”

Not on your life. If your accountant fucked me, then I'll sue your ass off and get it in the world court if needed.”

No, you can see our tax filings if you'd like.”

Any other hidden creditors or snakes in the grass?”

No. Nothing like that.”

What is it?”

You were right about the mafia. You won't have an issue. They'll get their loan paid and we'll be fine here.”

You hope. The look in your eye says to me either they're threatening your life, or you're not sure about getting them off my back. I'll tell you I'll scuttle this motherfucker and take what I need before I give them a dime.”

He smiled and said, “It's the loan. I went to them. They're pressing, but now I'm fine.”

Good, if you go to bed with an ugly woman, remember you wake up with ugly kids.” I said with a smirk.

He laughed and said, “What was your offer?”

Two million to stay on six months to show my people your ropes. At the end of the six months, you walk away clean and there aren't any other offers.”

I'd rather walk away now.”

Ok, just stay close to where I can find you if your accountant fucked me. If you think you have problems with me, realize I'll probably have you really worried” I made a hand gesture and said, “If you don't realize that, it's Tong.”

I knew the gesture, but I sure wasn't a member. I wanted this guy to think otherwise, but his fear would have him believe anything with me.”

He nodded and said, “It probably helps you with importing.”

It hasn't hurt me.” I said with a smile.

Your attorney coming?”

Yeah, now, let's go talk with Ted.”

We went over and I walked into the corner where the guy was standing and talking on the phone. A computer was burping out information and printing a statement of some sort. I saw the map on the wall with pins poked into it all over the place.

I went over and looked at it and was studying it intently. Jack came over and said, “You didn't ask to see a store or anything!”

Nope. The stores are stores. To me, they don't matter in this deal. As I said, the infrastructure is what I need. If I get stores of any count, it's icing on the cake.”

You did good in the deal. It's not like we're broke, I just want out.”

You'll miss it.”

I sincerely doubt it. I'm taking my cut and running for my place in Tahoe. It's been too long since I've been there and it'll be that long before I come back.”

He broke off his conversation and said, “Ted, this here is Dennis Johns. He's with Dollar America and just bought us. You'll be working for him.”

Ted came over and shook my hand. He gave Jack a look and then turned to look back at me. He smiled and I said, “Ted, you're the reason I bought this business. This infrastructure you have with the distribution centers is where it's at for me. I need ya.”

We're not as good as I'd like to be but I know how to run it.”

How big are the warehouses?”

Our mains are huge. The littlist one we have is seventeen acres under roof. The largest we just got is thirty nine acres under roof.”

Rail capable?”

Yeah, in and out. I know your locations and if needed, I can serve to be yours too.”

Good, because we need you.”

What do you have?”

As I said, we needed this. There's not a damned thing I'm bringing to the table.”

He whispered, “What?!”

You heard me, I found out they were supplier maintained and it scared the hell out of me, now you can see I'm buying and I needed this.”

You bought a gem. Yeah, we have problems with the mall stores, but with some help, we can keep those profitable.”

I'll work on it, but you're over it all now. If you need help, be asking for it because I need to get you to supplying our stores too.”

When's the link up?”

My attorney is on his way. We sign papers and I send money to his account and it's mine. You'll start working with us to get us all under the same banner and all of them combined switched over to what I want to sell.

Now, how many more trucks do you think we'll need to get us in the game?”

He thought for a moment and said, “I'm running our trucks light. They drive past yours in a lot of areas, so we could use those to drop. We will need to up our shipping to them, but get me a hundred and forty fifty three's (foot trailers) sixty sleeper units and I'll be good.”

Ok, I see you've got a good computer system, what do you do with your POS?”

Here's our system. It's Windows based, but I'm not going to brag on it. I can look in here and tell you everything we've sold today, this week, this month, and this year. I can also cross correlate to see what numbers are up and what numbers are down. I can also tell you what's not moving and what should be discounted.”

Good, now one question and then I'll tell you what I've got and what I need.”


How much you making a year?”

Two fifty, company car, benefits, boxes, and vacations from the company.”


He pointed to a pennant and said, “Anaheim dude!”

Ok, consider those the same, except we're doubling the salary. I'll throw in a house if you need one in Bel Aire or Beverly Hills and you've got your own office in the tower with all the help you need.”

Ok, that's good.”

I'll get you the trucks and trailers. I've got a Sun coming so your POS will link up with ours in the same banks and you'll have plenty of other features.”

Ok, now, can I ask for my own choice of monitors in my office? I've got a touch screen here, but I want them to be up on the wall and a lot larger. If I can get them in plasmas, I'll be happy.”

Get what you need, what's that thing you just did with the touch screen?”

I point and it pulls up the location. It can give me numbers of what the store's doing and I can see everything right from the links it gives me.”

Windows does this!”

Not on your life guy. This is something I've tinkered with.”

Ok, I'll tell you, I'm going to want that in my office as well as my partner's. That just blows me away

Now, how do you communicate with your stores?”

Over here is a satellite conferencing system. We have them by satellite because we go with cable internet instead of high speed phone. We get better results.”

Can you get ours on the conference system and over to cable?”

I can, but I'd like it if you have some computer guys working for you. If you don't, then I'd like to hire them because it's a real pain if I have to do it.”

Ok, hire them and get us up to your standards.”

You're serious!”

Damned serious. Now, between us, have you heard of any others which are for sale which can fit into the fold with what you've got?”

He smiled and said, “If you have the money, they're all for sale!

But, I'll tell you there's a little one with some great distribution centers which have mall sites and some real specialty stuff.

What I like about them is I went to school with their computer guy and know he's got their system up to working just like this. They're for sale and it's because they've had some owners who went big time on a website. They've made their fortune and forgot they own the stores.”

How much?”

A hundred and forty.”

Tell the guy to get me an appointment with their owners and to be prepared to be bought.”

He nodded and said, “Guy, do you want the plus side of their operation?”


That price is for the stores and their distribution system, but their office tower is up in Northridge and it's way too big for them. You could put you guys, us, and them all in there and have plenty of space.”

The tower come with the price?”

In my opinion, you're buying the tower and getting all the rest of it thrown in. That tower is worth twice what they're wanting for the whole shebang.”

Ok, get me the appointment and I'll get you the finder's fee for it.”

How much is that?”

Let's make it six percent of the purchase price.”

He smiled and said, “For that, I'll find you all kinds of the things.”

No, one more and that's it. What's the name of it and I'll tell my partner so he can tell me what he knows about them?”

You're going to laugh.”


Beach Town Holdings.”


Yeah, now do you know them?”

I sell to them! They're put together better than a brick shitter!”

Yeah, that's the place.”

Oh man, I never knew. That building is awesome.”

Ok, I'll call my buddy and get him to set up the appointment.”

They available now to show it?”

Let me call.”

I waited while he called. As soon as he began speaking and asked the question, he held up a thumb. I nodded and mouthed I was heading that direction.

Hold on a moment, here's his name.”


I went out and saw Marty standing there. I went over and he said, “You look happy you got it!”

Nah, I'm getting another one. I bought this, but that guy just got me our crown jewel.”

What's that?”

You heard of the T.L. Hobbs stores?”


They're for sale and in the deal is their building up in Northridge.”

I've never seen it.”

Oh man, as soon as we get the ink on these papers, ride up with me and we'll sling that deal.”

I've only got one set of papers.”

That's ok, all I want is the hand shake.”

We went over to Jack and I introduced them. “Jack, this is Marty my lawyer and Marty, this is Jack. He owns the place.”

Marty shook his hand and said, “Ok, here's the paperwork.”

He looked at me and said, “What's the selling price and are there any special conditions?”

The selling price is four hundred and fifty million. He and I have a verbal special condition he keeps the mafia out of the place, but there will be a written special condition he pays the debt of a loan of thirty four million. As a special rider, he'll assure us there are absolutely no hidden losses, liens, loans, and faulty accounting on his books. If we do find any, he's to be held completely liable and we get our money back.”

Marty looked at Jack and said, “Is this correct?”


Ok, I'm putting them on the paper. Once they're on here, there's no backing out of the agreement.”

That's fine, I've hidden nothing.”

Marty wrote on the special conditions and then had Jack initial them and myself also. Jack called his people over and they witnessed the signing of the contract.

After the contract was signed, I said, “I'll need your account where you want the money sent. I'll call my banker and he'll wire it directly over to that account. You should be able to contact your banker and see it's there. After midnight, it will be there and I can take possession of the business.”

Jack nodded and I called. He held out his check book and I told the banker the routing number. Once again, I gave my code word.

After the transaction, I told the banker, “There will most likely be another transaction later. Please stay there as I want to get this business handled.”

I'll be here” he assured me.

I hung up and then stood up. Jack shook my hand and said, “It looks like you bought yourself another business.” he said smiling.

I'm glad. You've got a perfect fit for us.”

He nodded and I said, “Come on Marty, we need to make time to get up to Northridge.”

Marty and I went out and hopped in the Rolls, I took the interstate up and fortunately, the thing wasn't a parking lot yet.

As I drove, I called Ev. “Hey babe.”

Did you get it bought?”

Yeah, but Marty and I are heading to Northridge now to see about buying another.”


Yeah, have you heard of Beach Town Holdings?”

T.L. Hobbs!”


Oh man! There's no debt with that place!”

No, I know they're perfect and get this. Their building comes with the deal as well as all their stores.”

Oh man, that's going to cost some money.”

Nah, they've got a price on it, the business, and everything else at a hundred and forty million.”


Yeah, that's why I'm shagging ass up there to get it.”

Oh man, you don't know what that does for us. I've seen that place inside and out and it's just awesome.”

I know, I sell them most of what they sell.”

You're shittin' me! I've bought my clothes there!”

Well, you know they have excellent stuff.”

Hon, where do they fit in with us?”

You know their lower line of clothing?”


I want to use that as a draw for the stores in the clothing section. I know the wholesale costs, but I think we can sell it for about five bucks an article and get it easily.”

Oh man, I can't believe this!”

Yeah, when I heard it was for sale, I snapped it. That's why I'm insisting we go now.”

He laughed and said, “I've got to tell Sam. She's going to die!”


She teased dad one day saying she wished he ran those stores.”

Well, tell her they'll be us now.”

I wish I were with you. You tell Eric Miles, Ev said hi.”

Eric Miles!”


He's their computer guy, right?”

Yeah, how'd you know?”

He's my contact who I'm going to be dealing with.”

You got to be kidding me! Who gave you his name?”

A guy named Ted down at Brand.”

Ted Daniels?”

I don't know his last name. All I know is the guy is brilliant with a distribution system and computers.”

That'd be Ted. I never knew where he went after school.”

Well, he'll be working with us. You ought to see what he's done with the computer system.”

What's that?”

It's touch sensitive and if you touch the screen over a store's location, it'll pull up that store's information and all the parts of the computer we need for it. It gives weekly, monthly, and annual sales as well as what the store did last year on everything.”

Oh man, you know that'll be amazing. Why are you going after Hobbs?”

Their building and their distribution system. Ted said they'd fit right into the system he has and it'd make it stronger.”

It sounds like we're going to be doing great.”

Yeah, now get this because I saw the books and numbers for myself at Brand.”

What's that?”

Brand is worth sixteen billion dollars.”


Yeah, they own their own stores and the ones they don't own aren't in bad shape except the malls they're in are upping the rents. IF we streamline them, the profits will be up and they'll still be good to run.”

It'll be neat. We'll have them in some malls and the Hobbs stores in a lot of malls.”

Cool, now here's the clincher for the Brand stores with me.”

What's that?”

They have land already bought for future expansion. We can build the stores on the land and have a lot more.”

Oh man, how many Hobbs stores are there?”

I couldn't tell you that at all. What I do know is what I told you. I'll find out.”

How many stores did we get with Brand?”

Eight hundred and ninety. Three hundred of them are in malls.”

Ok, so that puts us near four thousand stores.”

Yeah, so whatever we gain with the Hobbs will be way cool.”

So we're going to plan on moving up to Northridge?”

Yeah, I think we should. What do you think?”

I think it'll be wonderful. I love the fountains up there. They're awesome.”

Ev, what do you think we should do with the building we're in now?”

If we're not going to use it, I'd say sell it.”

Ok, but I want a good appraisal of it done.”

It just got done. Dad had it done in case he needed to borrow. Marty just told me.”

Ok, what's it worth?”

Marty says the appraisal expert said the other buildings in the area were all selling for ten million a floor. We've got thirteen, so, I'd say a hundred and thirty million.”

Ok, that's cool. It gives us a lot of extra clout on our balance sheet.”

He laughed and said, “YOU're telling me we're worth over twenty billion dollars and it's not affecting you any?”

Nah, I know I just bought Brand for four hundred and fifty, so that's what it's worth to me.”

He laughed and said, “Ok babe, I'll say that too.”

You can say what you want. I know what we got it for.”

I'll get off here. I love you?”

Did that funeral man come?”

No, but he called. He had a good reason for not showing, so I told him to come by later.”

What was his reason?”

Someone broke into his funeral home and held mom's body hostage. He was dealing with police and all that.”

Son of a bitch!”

Yeah, nothing was harmed, but whoever it was is a sick fuck.”

Ev, I'm sorry.”

No, it's that guy who we need to apologize to. He's been in business all these years and nothing like this has ever happened before.”

And probably won't happen again. I agree it's sick. I'll hang up as I'm to the off ramp.”

Ok,. I love you and drive safe.”

I will. I'll call you when I know more.”


I hung up and Marty said, “What was that?”

The funeral home was broken into and someone took D's body hostage. That's why the guy didn't show when he was supposed to.”

You've got to be kidding me!”

Nope. Isn't that disgusting!”

Yeah, it takes all kinds, doesn't it.”

Yeah, but they need to bury that asshole under the jail.”

We pulled up to the parking lot and I pulled in. Marty took one look at the building and said, “This is it?!”

Yeah, amazing isn't it.”

It's awesome, I love the building.”

It's like that all the way through. You'll step inside and you'll see an aviary and topiary garden. The roof is frosted glass to look like stained glass. The floors are Corian marble and everywhere you look, you'll see marble columns and gold leaf accents. The TL on the door is gold too.”

You really sell to them!”

Yeah, if you really want to know, their check is what bought my place over in the Phillipines.”

You never mentioned that one before.”

I've never stayed there before. It's a whole hilltop with an open house. There's around eight hundred acres and all I know is there are monkeys out the ass there.”


Yeah, the guy sold the place because monkeys kept coming into the house and messing with him while he slept.”

Oh man. What'd you get it for?”

A million four. But I have a Jeepney over there which is totally cool.”

You sound more excited about it than you do the house.”

I've driven the jeepney, but I've not stayed in the house. About the time I got through with the business transacted for the house, I was too drunk to get home, so I slept in the Jeepney.”

He laughed and said, “You know, no one else would tell a story like that about themselves, but you do it and I know it's true.”

I'm not proud of it. I never knew those drinks I was drinking were alcoholic. All I know was they tasted good and I kept drinking them.”

What were they?”

I don't know, they were in a pineapple bored out and had coconut in them. There was Mango and all sorts of stuff. I thought it was good because it was a drink made with some real exotic fruit cocktail, little did I know there was more cocktail to it than the fruit.”

He laughed and said, “I'd probably be plastered too. It sounds nice.”

I'm trying to think of the name of the thing. It was like Ming Ming or Ding Ding.. All I know was afterwards it stuck in my head that I got my bell rung.”

He laughed and again and shook his head. “Is it as beautiful over there as they say?”

It's nice, but all the Asian countries are nice if you ask me.”

Could I stay there some time?”

Sure, you can stay at any of them you want. Just let me know when you'll be going and I'll get the place opened up for you.”


We got out and went in. At the front entrance is a glass entryway like I was explaining to the security lady. I turned to Marty and said, “You see this entrance?”


When I was describing to that security lady what I wanted, this is what I had in mind. This glass here is bullet proof but you'd not be able to tell it if I didn't tell you.”

I wouldn't know it. It looks like we entered an antique shop from a long time ago.”

That's the way their stores look too.”

We asked for Eric and were led by a woman security person in and up to the office he was working. We went in and Eric was there to greet us.

Dennis Johns, I know that name.”

You should. I've sold everything this place sells to them...by the way, my partner Evan Gordon said to be sure to tell you he said hello.”

Eric smiled and said, “Evan Gordon! Man, there's a guy I can't help but like.”

I know, he's got my heart.”

He looked at me and said, “You're not kidding, right!”

I'm not kidding.”

Well, I'll be damned! Boy am I glad to hear that. It's about time.”

I feel fortunate.”

He smiled again and said, “Let's go up to the board room, The owners are waiting. As luck would happen, they were in this afternoon and as soon as I told them I had someone who was interested, they said they'd wait.”

They're going to be amazed when they see me, so be prepared.” I said to both he and Marty. Seeing Marty, I quickly said, “Eric, I'm sorry, I've been rude and not introduced Marty. Marty is our attorney.”

Oh, hi.” Eric said while trying to walk and shake Marty's hand.

We got to the board room and entered. As soon as they saw me, both of them were up rushing me to give me hugs.

Man! What the hell are you doing here!”

I'm here to look the place over and buy it. Now what are you idiots doing selling it?”

Terry the twin with the dimples said, “Man, we're too busy to run the place.”

If I'd known you were going to sell it, I'd just told you to hand it over the last time I was in here!”

He laughed and said, “For you, we'd have given it.”

I said, “Guys, this guy over here is my attorney, Marty.”

Marty shook everyone's hand and I said, “Guys, let's cut to the chase, you've sold it, but I want you to really give me the sales pitch you were going to use on me.”

Larry laughed and said, “Guy, you know the place as well as we do.”

I know.”

We went over and sat at the board table. Marty stood there, looking out the window, looking out into the aviary at the birds.

So, I hear you guys are too fucking rich to run the place, what's up with that!”

Terry laughed and said, “Guy, it's not that we're too rich, but we're gone too much. We can't seem to keep our asses off a beach someplace.”

I asked, “Do you have a sales contract for it?”

Dude, all we need is your word and we'll get our lawyers on it.”

Ok, but I have my banker waiting to wire the money. I'd like to get him home early. He's staying there so he can do it for me.”

Terry slung over his bank card and said, “Put it on there. You know you don't have to.”

Nah, I've got to make it legal.”

You could just trade us that place of yours over in Hong Kong, and we'd be happier.”

I paused and said, “Are you serious?”

He smiled and said, “Guy, you built this company, just as much as we did. You ran your ass all over the Orient buying the stuff and we sold it. Look where we are and we'll tell you, if it wasn't for you, we'd not be here.”

He smiled and Larry said, “Den, just give us the Hong Kong place and we'll call it even. We've got money. That's not what we're wanting. Us just knowing you're taking it is like us finally being able to give you something.”

I said, “Guys, if you're serious, it's yours.”

Larry laughed and said, “We're serious. Now, we've got a chick magnet over there and you've got this place.”

I've got to ask some questions, otherwise Ev will kill me.”

Ok, ask away!” he said, laying back in his chair with his hands clasped behind his head.

How many stores?”

Larry looked at Terry and asked, “Thirty two fifty nine?”

No dumb ass, fifty five!”

Terry smiled and looked at me and said, “Fifty five.”

I laughed and said, “I was told you had a helluva distribution set up.”

Yeah, we went to school with the guy who set up Wal-Mart. We called, he called, and we got a lot of stuff they use.”

I laughed and said, “You know I'm going to thank you guys every damned day I come out here and sit up there in that office.”

Terry laughed and said, “Guy, it's that office. It's always been that office with you.”

No, it's the whole place. You guys spent a fortune on the place and that's why I can't believe you're giving it away like this.”

Larry said, “Den, you put us on the map. Yeah, you SAY you took a fee, but shit, look at what you did. You took two boys from the beach and you made us billionaires.”

How's it feel?”

Terry looked at Larry and said, “No different. Yeah, people treat us different, but we can still manage to get kicked out of a place real easy.”

I laughed and I heard Marty chuckled.

I said, “I know what you mean. For me, what bugs me is when people think it's all about the money and they don't realize it doesn't make them feel any different either. Today, Ev just found out he's a billionaire and he's blown away because it doesn't make him feel any different.”

Larry laughed and said, “Ev shouldn't feel any different, he's always been a rich kid. How's his mom doing?”

My face fell and said, “Guys, you've not heard?”

Heard what?”

His parents were killed last night in a car wreck.”


Yeah, it's terrible.”

Oh man, is there anything we can do for him?”

Come to the visitation and wear suits. If he's sad, the sight of you two in suits is going to really make him laugh.”

They laughed and then Terry asked Larry. “Dude, do we even own suits?”

Yeah, remember when we tried impressing that one dude to get that loan and we wore suits? We still didn't get it.”

Terry said, “Den, we've got suits, but the dressiest shoe I think we own is a pair of black Converse.”

That's ok, it'd still make his day to see you.”

How are you two together in business?”

I smiled and said, “He's my lover.”

No shit!”

They high fived each other and then came around the table to hug me. “Man, you finally found someone who would take your sorry ass!”

I laughed and said, “You know, one day you're going to go someplace and meet a set of twins and they'll lay you guys out flat. That's when you'll put the rings on their fingers and it'll all be over.”

Terry smiled and said, “Nah, it'd never be twins. I could get laid any day, but getting shit for brains over there laid is a total different case. His ugly ass just can't say the right words.”

Marty chuckled again and I smirked. “If you haven't looked in a mirror lately, I think you're identical.”

Nah, his left nut hangs lower than the other. Mine have no droop to them at all.” Larry said.

Too much info dude!”

You know you want to check, so shut up!”

That line might work with the chicks, but for me, I could care less who's nut drags the floor and who's doesn't”

Oh man, I gotta get a tattoo of that on my thigh! I'll tattoo “the floor” right where my nut touches and tell chicks my nut drags the floor!”

I laughed and said, “Man, you're twisted.”

Yeah, but you know you love us.”

I do, now are you serious about the Hong Kong place, because if you are, I've got to get that deed from the safe deposit box out in Nebraska.”

Yeah, we're serious. You give us the key and we'll trust you to get it to us.”

Ok, but when am I going to get to take possession?”

Dude, go up and sit in the chair now! You know you wanna.”


Yeah, we know you're good, so take it now. We'll call the lawyers and tell them to get the papers done and we'll be fine with it.”

I said, “Guys, stand up. I gotta get a hug and then you're going to have to race me to that office.”

They laughed and stood up. I went over and hugged them, “You know, you guys are pretty muscular. You could've been your own models?”

One of the camera guys told us that once. We told him to put the pretty boys out there.”

You're not slouching in looks. Now that you're not owners, you want to model for the magazine?”

Terry looked at Larry and said, “Only if you're in the shoot.”

Ok, I'll do it, but I've got to get a tan first. If I don't, I know you two will make me really look like I never see the sun.”

Dude, there's a tanning booth up in the office! Use it!”

Marty turned around and looked at us. “You have a tanning booth in the office?”

I said, “Marty, come on, I'll show you the Presidential Suite where all the business really gets transacted.”

Larry laughed and said, “I don't know about that!”

I laughed and said, “You gotta trust me Marty, these guys joke a lot, but when they do business, they're serious”

Terry laughed and said, “Serious as golf ball sized hemorrhoids!”

I laughed and said, “Where's that come from?”

Oh man! We had this chick once who had 'em. You should've seen 'em, they were like out to there and totally radical. She snarfed on his log and I went down to chow and looked up and there they were....big enough to put an eye out.”

Marty sputtered and started laughing. I said, “Guys, Marty's cool. He has to wear that suit, but underneath, he's a great guy.”

We could tell. He laughed at all our good jokes.”

We went up in the elevator and I said, “Was this here the last time I was here?”

Nah dude, we had the one which looked like a bird cage. The problem was the birds would sit on the railing and there'd be shit all over the carpeting in it. Finally, one day, I decided we had to have something better because mom was about to pay a visit and you know how she gets.”

She still down on Seal Beach?”

She'll be down there until the day she dies. We tried to buy her a better box, but you know how bag ladies can be.”

Marty's eyes were watering and he looked at me. His face was red and he said, “They serious?”

Nah, let them tell you what she really does for a living and you'll die.”

Marty looked at them and they smiled. “You ever heard of Ethel's weiner?”

Marty said, “No, I don't think so.”

Oh, us neither.”

Marty looked at me and I said, “It's a joke. A lot of times, people will say they've heard of it and they'll tell him he's looking under the wrong skirt.”

Marty started chuckling and said, “Ok, I'm glad I didn't fall for it.”

Terry and Larry laughed and said, “Our mom sells towels and boogie boards down there. She's got a shop and that's all she sells.”

I asked, “No sunglasses anymore?”

Nah man, the fucking kids kept stealing them. She said she'd either have to put a chain on them, or stop selling them. They don't steal towels and boogie boards, so she still sells them.”

I said, “Marty, here's how we met. I went down to Seal Beach and saw these two out on a board together. They had this routine they did on a surf board which puts Cirque De Soliel under.

When they came in, they put on some real shitty clothes and I thought they'd be cool to model to another business who I was trying to sell things to. They put the clothes on and liked them. They decided right then to see if they could sell them to all the surfers, beach bums and bunnies, and tourists. I gave them a cargo full of the things and in less than a day, they were calling me telling me they had the things sold.

So, for giggles and grins, I got them another cargo and in less time than the last, they had it sold! So, what we did was they used their mom's shop as a base of operations and I made deliveries to them. They bought and I sold and low and behold, look where they are now?”

Terry laughed and said, “Marty, would it technically be theft if we knowingly didn't pay him for the first box and then built all our other sales upon that profit?”

Marty shrugged and said, “The statute of limitations would be over.”

Well, we know we stole the first box from him, so that's why we're giving him the company.”

I said, “Marty, I'll tell you later I intended them to keep the first box. That way they still feel guilty and will give me this place.”

Marty smiled and the elevator stopped. We stepped out and Marty said, “Am I seeing what I think I'm seeing?”

Yeah, you're seeing it and don't ask me how they got an engineer to come up with the weight of all this sand, but they did.”

To you the reader, I'll describe the Presidential office. Imagine a beach with a huge sand castle and all sorts of kids play toys for sand laying in the sand on the floor. Over to the edge is a tiki bar complete with stools and the whole complete hut. One side is the chair which looks like it's carved out of a sea maiden from the front of an old pirate ship. That's the Presidential seat of power for TL Hobbs. Anyone who does business with them has to sit on the bar stool and gets treated to lunch while they conduct business.

Lunch consists of either beer steamed hot dogs, tuna salad, or chicken salad with huge chunks of chicken and grapes on a hoagie roll which is big enough to fill you.

I went over and sat in the chair. “Man, all this time and I never got to sit here! Ev is going to love this!”

Terry said, “Den, do you want a clue as to how we've done business all this time?”


Here's the way it goes. If we like you, then I sit in the chair. If we don't like you, then he sits in the chair. By the time we get up here, we've both thought about it and if he says he wants to sit in the chair or I tell him to sit in the chair, then the other goes along with it and then rejects their offer.”

I never knew that. I'll have to do that with Ev. He can be the Yes man, and I'll be the No man.”

They laughed and said, “Do that and you'll never argue. We started that when we were little and it's always worked for us.”

Marty looked at them and said, “I'll have to try that with my wife?”

Larry said, “Dude! You're married?”

Yes, I've been married for over thirty years.”

What's it like? Do you wake up swearing you hate her some days?”

No, we get along great.”

The reason I'm asking is because he and I get along great, but there are some days I get up and I just swear I can't stand another day around him. Then he wakes up and fixes me breakfast and I decide I'll keep him around until lunch. By lunch, we're back to being buddies again.”

Marty chuckled and said, “You never fix breakfast?”

Terry said, “He'd kill us with the salt! He fixes things and may as well open the salt shaker and just pour the stuff on.”

Salt isn't bad on french fries idiot!” Larry said.

No, but when does anyone ever salt cheerios! Huh?”

Marty snorted and started laughing again.

I said, “Guys, you know I love being around you two.”

Well, we love being around you too. You make us be on our best behavior and what we do is when we see you, we know we're going to be good the rest of the day, so we go see mom. If we don't, then we're good for nothing.”

Marty looked at me and said, “They're a comedy team!”

I nodded and said, “Yeah, but watch this.”

They looked at me and I said, “You know, I've never slept in that place over there you sold me.”

The monkey shack!” Terry said.

Larry said, “Fuckin' place. I couldn't sleep there either. Whenever I do, I wake up to a damned monkey jacking off in my eye.”

Marty started laughing and said, “They're the ones who sold it to you!”

Yeah, and they're the ones who got me drunk as hell, too.”

Dude, you got yourself drunk. You know you're drunk when you're calling a drink “Ding Ding” like a bell.”

Marty was smiling and I said, “Yeah, but it wasn't cool waking up in the Jeepney sixty miles away from where the house is.”

We had to catch a plane!”

Yeah, but me getting back to a house where I don't know the address in a town which sounds like you sneazed is terrible.

Marty asked, “How'd you find it?”

The only thing I remembered was the name of the bar. I had this little friggin' umbrella with the name of it and that's all I could remember was the name. So, I kept driving and asking the name. Little did I know it was a transvestite bar and the whole way, I was advertising I wanted to go there.”

The guys and Marty laughed and I said, “That teaches me to get drunk.”

My cell phone rang and I answered it. “Did you get it?”

Oh hell, I'm sorry! Yeah, I got it and you won't believe for how much.”

How much?”

You know I was talking about getting rid of my place in Hong Kong?”


“Well, it's gone.”

How much did you sell it for?!”

I didn't. We traded. They got it and I got the business.”

You what!”

Yeah, now hold on a minute because Terry is holding out his hand. He wants to speak with you.”

I handed the phone to Terry and he spoke with Evan. I said, “Marty, come over here for a minute.”

We walked over and I said, “Take a look at this?”

What is it?”

Flip that thing over and watch.”

He flipped it and all the birds came flying up to feed.


Yeah, crazy huh.”

How can you tell them apart so easy?”

Pay attention to Terry's dimples in his cheeks. Larry doesn't have them.”


Yeah. I've looked at everything else and I mean EVERYTHING else them two have and that's the only thing different. They even have matching moles on the cheeks of their asses.”

You've seen them nude!”

Yeah, they're clothed because they're here. If you went to their house, you'd be told to get naked and either you would, or you'd be told to get out.”

Marty said, “They're neat.”

Yeah, and what I'll tell you is they're damned smart as a pair.”

I notice you say as a pair.”

They've been so close for so long if one isn't there, the other is like lost. He spends all his time looking for the other and it's distracting to the point you make sure they stay together.

What I'll tell you is them two together are formidable on computer programming. They'll do it and you'll wonder how in the hell they do it.”


Yeah, but as I said, one without the other is lost. They flunked their courses because they couldn't do it together. The only way they passed was the teacher knew he was working with their code and knew they could do it and passed them.”

Oh man.”

Yeah, so when they went to work on their website, they did it with that code and suddenly, they were getting everyone's attention. Now, you see them rich and you'd never think they were.”

No, but they don't act like it either.”

You're right. They're the same as they were the day I met them.”

So you really did that for them?”

Yeah, what they'll not tell you was they've done a lot for me too.”


Yeah, before I leave, I'll be willing to bet you they tell me someone who needs me to help get them something imported and I'll get it done. That little something will probably be at least a million dollar commission contract.”


Yeah, what you don't know is our friendship is such that they go out and are friends with so many people that when they hear someone needs something, they'll mention me. Or, they'll mention to me there's someone who needs my help.”

So you follow up and it's a good deal.”

The last time, they had someone wanting something from China. The person had gone to China and like fresh off the plane, the guy pissed off the owner of the factory. He never got a deal one and got on the plane without buying a thing because they refused to sell him anything. So, I went over and got the whole transaction made. That contract netted me almost four million.”

I bet you were happy!”

Yeah, but what you don't know is I put my reputation on the line to help the idiot. Fortunately, I'd done business with the company before, so the guy knew me. He knew I was buying from him for the guy and he let it go because I'd not insulted him.”

What'd he say?”

It's not what he said, but how he said it. What he ended up saying to the guy was something like “Your mom sucks bear's nuts.”

Oh man.”

Yeah, it pissed the guy off.”

Marty smiled and shook his head. “I never asked, but how do you do business over there?”

Ok, listen real fast because I'll tell you. When you go over, you land and you don't pay attention to what anyone tells you until the person who you're doing business with speaks. His tone and dialect will tell you where he's from. If you can pick up on it, then you can use that tone and dialect and you're home free.”

You speak Chinese?”

No, I speak Mandarin and a lot of the other dialects. I also speak Japanese, and I also speak Korean. If you can speak those, then you can speak most of what anyone else speaks. You listen closely and as soon as you hear the difference, you speak it.”

I'm confused. How did you learn all of those?”

It was easy. I got off the plane and I went down the street and listened. I watched what people pointed to and picked up words. I do that wherever I go. That's how I know how to speak French, Spanish, Portugese, and two of the Arabic languages.”

So you go over and you speak to them using their dialect and they're impressed?”

They immediately ask me who taught me. I tell them they did because I listened. They think I'm brilliant and I don't let them think different.”

But you have to be to hear it and learn it that fast!”

Nah, it's not hard. I could teach you that fast too. All I'd have to do is walk around and point at things and say the word in whatever language you wanted to learn.

What I will tell you is for me, German was the hardest I've ever learned.”


German's use their throats to emphasize a point.”

People say that about English.”

Well, it's true.”

We walked over to the sand castle and I picked up the flag from the corner. It lifted a lid which was for a canister of jelly beans.

I pointed and said, “Go ahead, they're Jelly Belly.”

You mean this isn't a real sand castle?”

It's sand, but it's got something like concrete or something mixed in it so it sticks together.”

Oh, so what all are all the compartments in it?”

Snacks. That door down there which looks like a window is jerky. Over on the other side, the same door is licorice.”


If you lift that flag over there like this one, you'll find Milk Duds. In those flags back there, you'll find Cherry sour balls and Chocolate Skittles.”

I wonder which one thought this up?”



Yeah, I took a look at all this sand up here and they had a volleyball court which wasn't safe at all. So, I told them it'd be more cool if they had a sand castle which was a snack center.”

How'd you come up with the idea?”

Ok, listen up because you're in for some top secret information.”


The boys will go over there and get totally stoned. They'll be blitzed and I knew it. SO, I thought of the snack center so they could handle their munchies.”

No Doritos?”

They keep the Doritos and Fritos and all the chips over there. It's like a buffet of chips.”

Marty went over and took a look. He lifted a lid and took a hand full of some sort of chips. He came back and said, “We need to get going.”

Yeah, but I want that paper. What you'll find is they'll tell you the lawyer is going to do it and you'll see the lawyer will show up with it before you leave.”


Yeah, I've never left without a contract before.”

Where's legal?”

Down in the tower somewhere.”

Why do they have this up here?”

Ok, let me explain. Down where we went to the board room is the offices. They meet everyone at the board room and business is conducted there. Then, without telling you yes, or no, they bring the person up here and give the answer.”


The board room is formal. This is informal. To them, business is business, but they wrap it all up informally.”

Ok, that's pretty smart.”

What I'll tell you is they have to be reincarnated from someone over in Asia. The Asians do the same thing. Look at eating lunch up here as their tea ceremony of sorts.”

How old are they?”

About Ev's age.”

And they built this company and that other company so fast?”

I smiled and said, “Marty, TL Hobbs is only three years old. They had it six months and then went to school from it to learn computers. In less than a year, they'd gotten what they wanted learned from it, so they did the website and now, they're loaded.”

So you set them up in business.”

Nah, I gave them a hand up and they ran with it. Now, do you want to know the real clincher?”


Them two will piss away more money in their lives than I could even spend. They're the ones who have made me the richest deals I've ever made.”


Yeah, they decided they wanted to learn golf. Why in the hell they wanted to learn it is beyond me, but they did. Then, they decided they weren't learning right, so they went out on the course with someone who played the high stakes poker golf. If you ask me, it was a dumb ass move, but who was I to argue? They called and I flew to Vegas. They wanted to play, so I went out on the course and drove the cart. They lost their collective ass and they needed money, so they turned around and offered me the deal for the insurance stock I now own.”

Marty looked at me and said, “You own insurance stock?”

You've not heard? I thought everyone made enough fun of me over that one they would have told everyone else.”

No, apparently it slipped by me.”

Well, I won't go into details, but the stock is for an insurance company. It's fifteen percent of the company and it's a famous lizard. You can call it whatever you want, but to me it's a lizard.”

Marty shook his head and said, “So you own fifteen percent of that company?”

Yeah. Since then, people tell me I'm rich. Whoopee!”

He laughed and said, “And then they made you this deal for trading an apartment. What'd you give for the apartment?”

Almost six million.”

So they want it?”

Yeah, it's really exclusive. I bought in and all the place got sold to everyone else. Now, people are paying like fifty million for apartments in the building, and I guess mine just got considered worth a hundred and forty million.”

Is it worth that?”

I don't know, no one sells their apartments that high up. All I know is the ones down a bunch of floors brought fifty million.”

He smiled and said, “You got a deal from someone on that apartment.”

Yeah, I knew the developer. He got me the deal and I basicly got it for nothing.”

Six million isn't considered nothing.”

No, but listen to this and I'll tell you how it's nothing to me.”


I went over there and I did this deal. It was for a bunch of stuff. The old boy who did the deal was assigned to pay me a penny each for a bunch of balls going to Wal-Mart. If you go there, you'll see My Little Princess and Batman balls. They're the same balls.

As I said, I was set to make a penny each on the things, but somewhere along the line, they screwed up big time.”


Ok, listen and I'll tell you how it works for me. If you and I go into a deal, I'll import something from you to Wal-Mart for a penny each providing you deliver the amount you say you're going to get them. If you default on that contract, then there's a penalty you have to pay and it's going to be like five dollars a ball for the entire contract.

Well, someone screwed up and they didn't count the balls or something because we cruised down the road and Wal-Mart contacts me and says, “Hey, you're ten thousand balls short on this order.”

I told them I'd find the balls and called the guy. He said he shipped them, and I tell him Wal-Mart counted them and they're short.

He swears and finally, I call the government and they send out an inspector and the inspector watches the machine. Well, somewhere along the line in the programming of the thing is a flaw because it will jump from 39,999 balls to 50,000 instead of 40,000. He declared the guy in default and told him to get Wal-Mart the balls and to pay me my default money.”

Oh man, so you got paid a lot.”

Yeah, six million bucks. So, I go over to get it and while on the street learning the language, I meet an old boy at a chop chop shop. We talk and I find out he's like real well known as a developer of these sky rise apartments and he takes me up and shows me the things. He says he could get me one for six million and I hand over the check. Now you know how I got the apartment for nothing.”

Marty smiled and shook his head. “You lucky s.o.b.”

Nah, you have to put those penalties in contracts or they won't keep their end of the bargain.”

I know, but something tells me that machine did that a lot.”

I think they probably did, but who stands around and counts balls except for Wal-Mart?”

Apparently no one.”

Well, it's interesting because I learned a lot about those balls from that transaction.”

“What do you mean?”

Ever since I was a little kid, I thought they arrived like that. I thought it was crazy how they could possibly put those balls in a box and not want to play with them. Little did I know the things arrive over here flat and someone inflates them.”

He smiled and said, “I never knew that.”

Me neither, but here's what's cool. Did you know if you took a bunch of those balls down to a sunken ship, you could take the air hose down and inflate them and bring the ship up?”

I guess I never thought about it.”

Me neither. I'd love to go diving and find a P-31 Mustang and do that. I'd claim it as salvage and then have me one.”

You have enough you probably could afford one.”

Yeah, but that's no fun. I'd want to have the story which went along with it.”

Oh, ok.”

Terry brought over my phone and said, “Here, he said to call him when you guys left.”


He looked at me and said, “How in the hell do you know you're gay if you never have sex?”

Maybe it's because I know what gives me whiplash.”

He shook his head and said, “Poor Evan.”

I laughed and said, “So how did you know you liked girls?”

I decided I liked girls because my brother's dick doesn't feel good at all up my ass!”

I laughed and said, “Oh ok, so maybe you picked the wrong guy! Not everyone picks their brother, you know?”

Marty laughed and said, “Den, you're terrible”

Terry laughed and said, “No, but I figure he wouldn't tell.”

You did!”

He said, “You don't count. You're like the third one of us, so you don't count.”

I came over and put my arm around his shoulder and said, “So when's my turn!”

You've got Ev if you'd get him laid.”

I know, isn't it great?”

Ev wouldn't know. You need to change that.”

Ok, I'll change it sometime. Right now, I need to make sure he's ready for all the good loving he's going to get.”

He laughed and said, “I have a deal for you if you want it.”

Ok, tell me about it.”

Marty came over and sat down.

There's a friend of mine who owns this company up in one of those states where there's no beach. He drills oil wells and he's investing in a lot of them. They know the oil is down there, but they have to drill a different kind of well to get to it.”

Ok, so what's he want with investors if he's got the oil?”

“The wells cost something like five million each to drill.”

Ok, so he wants investors to pay for the well?”

Yeah, you put up half and you get half the profits.”

What if I put up the whole thing?”

He's not willing to do that. He's drilling the well and needs half.”

Ok, so lets say I invest the hundred and forty I was going to buy this place for. I'd get like fifty six wells?”

Something like that.”

Ok, that'd be cool. Are you guys investing?”

We did.”

What happened?”

We got more money.”

Oh, so that pissed you off so much you don't want to do it again?”

Man, we have enough already. We decided to tell you about it because we want you to have more.”

Ok, tell the guy I'll invest the hundred and forty. Do you want the money to give him?”

If you want.”

Ok, give me your bank account and I'll call my banker.”

Marty bumped my leg. I looked at him and said, “You want one Marty?”

Put in ten for me and I'll get it back to you.”


I looked at Terry and asked, “Is that ok?”


How long did it take for you to get the money back?”

It takes a week to drill a well. If he gets enough money, he can get more crews hired.”

Ok, well he has enough to hire a lot of people with this kind of money.”

Terry smiled and said, “We invested a billion. He kind of got us on the list first.”

Oh, well tell him to get more people hired.”

He's hiring people as fast as he can.”

Ok, well I'll put in the hundred and fifty and then get Marty's from him when his get drilled. He'll tell us when he's drilling ours, right?”

He didn't with us. He just set it up and we started getting checks.”

How many of these wells does he want to drill?”

He said he can drill thirty thousand of them.”

Hang on a second and let me do that math. You know that's a helluva lot of zeros right?”

Yeah, it's like out there in the trillions.”

And there's that much oil down there?”

He said it's like an aquifer of oil or something.”

Do you know where it is?”

Is there a state called Joe Montana?”


Well, that's where it is. It's under that state and a lot of others.”

How come I've never heard of it?”

They didn't know how to drill for it. Now they do.”

I said, “Let me call Ev and have him Google it.”

You use Google!”


What do you think of it?”

It's cool, I have their email service and use their earth maps and all that.”

Terry smiled and said, “Good.”

Ev answered the phone. “Yeah babe.”

I'm still here. What I need you to do is go up to your computer and Google Montana and Oil and see if there's a big river of the stuff underneath the state. It's supposed to be under a lot of states.”

It's there, I saw a show about it. It starts with a B like Bennett or something.”

Ok, we're buying a bunch of oil wells.”

How many?”

Well, I'm buying us fifty six of them and Marty's buying four.”

You know you're getting a helluva deal, right?”

Yeah, a hundred and forty million. If I have to sell it, that's what I'd get.”

Marty chuckled and Ev said, “Right babe. Call me when you leave.”

Ok, I will.”

I hung up and said, “Ok, we're in. Give me your bank account.”

He said, “You don't have it memorized?”

No, should I?”


Well memorize if for me and tell it to me when I ask for it. It'll be easier on me that way.”


Marty laughed and said, “You're bad.”

I tell you....alone....”

I called the banker and said, “Ok, I'm ready to transfer the funds.”

I gave the codeword and then asked Terry for their bank account number. He told me and I gave it. The banker said, “Ok, it's done. It should be there in fifteen minutes.”

Thanks. I appreciate it.”

No problem at all.”

Just the same, I mean it how much I appreciate you doing this.”

I know you do Dennis.”

Have a nice evening and I'll see you soon. We need to come up so I can get my partner's name on the signature cards and pull something out of the safe deposit box.”

Ok, if you arrive when we're not open, give me a call and I'll come down and be glad to help.”

“I appreciate it.”

I hung up and Terry asked, “Where do you bank that they'll do that for you?”

First Treasury in Kearney, Nebraska.”


Yeah, why, do you want to open an account there?”

My banker doesn't even pretend to like me or Larry.”

Then close the account and get it up there. You two can fly with Ev and me when we go.”

Ok, that'd be cool. When are you going?”

We'll probably go up there on Monday. I'd planned on going to Italy then, but with getting the deed and getting Ev's name on the signature card, I better do that first. It'll do me good because if you guys are there, I can just go ahead and give you the deed to the apartment.”

Does the guy do that for you all the times you call?”

Yeah, I've got him programmed in as # 1 on my speed dial. He answers every time. He just told me if they were shut to give him a call and he'd come down and open the bank for me.”

Would he do that for us?”

Yeah, he's a nice guy.”

I'll tell Larry we're moving our account.”

Marty asked, “Where'd Larry go?”

He went down to see what the hold up is with the lawyer.”

Marty nodded and said, “Could I go see the legal department?”

Sure, just go down to the seventeenth floor and you'll be there.”

Marty left and Terry asked, “Den, can I ask you something?”


How do you not get it to hurt?”

Did you all use lube?”

We used spit.”

Well, go to Wal-Mart and get lube. They sell it. They've got all kinds of it.”

Where at?”

It's on the top shelf in the health and beauty department. It's where they sell lotion. There's all kinds of it. There's kinds that warm up and kinds that feel like it sparkles and kind which is flavored so if you taste it it tastes good.”

What's it called?”

K-Y or Wet”

Ok, I'll look for it. So all we do is use the lube?”

Use lube and stretch out.”

Like on my stomach?”

No, like have him insert a finger and move it in and out until it doesn't hurt anymore and then have him put in two fingers and do it until it doesn't hurt and then do it with three and then, when it doesn't hurt, he can put his dick in there.”

Ok, thanks.”

No problem, bud.”

Have you ever done it?”

No, not yet, but I've read about it a lot on the internet.”

Oh, does it worry you that it might hurt?”

A little, but I also know if you press out like you've got to take a dump when he's pushing in, it goes in easier. Whatever you do, tell him to do it slowly and once he's in, not to move in and out until you're ready.”

Ok, I'll have to try it again” He paused and said, “Den, be ready to get lots of money.”

From what?”

The oil wells.”

Ok, how much are you guys getting?”

Each well is making three thousand barrels a day. All I know is we got a lot of money from them.”


They mail the checks once a month.”

Ok, so if we have a hundred and fifty six of the things and they make three thousand barrels, that's like four hundred and sixty eight thousand barrels a day. How much do the barrels sell for?”

Around a hundred dollars.”

Ok, so that's like almost fifty million a day!”

You get half and he gets half.”

Man! In a month, that's a lot of money!”

I told you.”

Thanks bud.”

No, we've got enough. You need to think we invested a billion and we're making a LOT of money.”

I bet. What I think we'll do is we'll invest more with him and do it that way because we won't need that much money either.”

“Thanks for the apartment.”

No problem bud. I'm glad to do it. You guys got it and Ev and I got this.”

We like the business, but it was only fun for a while.”

I'm getting it for Ev. He and his dad ran theirs and now we're adding to it.”

It should work good if you buy the things for it.”

I will. I'll find a way to do it.”

Did you like doing that?”

It was neat. I met a lot of nice people and had a lot of fun. Now, I'm ready to settle down with Ev and that will be better.”

How did you know he was the one?”

I just did. I took one look at him and knew. Why?”

I think I'm gay, but I don't think Larry is.”

Oh, does that bother you?”

It bothers me thinking we're not going to be together anymore when he finds someone.”

What about if you find someone?”

I guess it will make it better for me, but I don't know.”

How about if I introduce you to someone?”


My cousin.”

He nice?”

He's nice. He's wanting to learn my business from me, but I think he just wants to be rich.”

Tell him that's not all it's cracked up to be. People try to treat you different.”

I know, it bugs me when they do that.”

I understand. It's like one day you're you and the next day they're like different towards you because you've got a lot of money.”

Yeah, but it also bugs me when people think I've got more money than I do.”

Do they do that?”

Yeah. They think Forbes tells the truth on their list and I had to tell them I wasn' t that rich.”

I know, they do that to us too. They think because we own a website we're really rich. We make money from it, but we're making more money from the oil than we ever did from the website.”

I can see what you mean there.”

Den, do you think there's such a thing as having too much money?”

Yeah, but I don't know where the line is. All I know is if you have like fifty million, you're rich, but if you have a hundred, then it's too much. At least that's what I think.”

Me too. All I really wanted to do with the money was make enough to go out for lunch once in a while. Now I'm rich enough I can buy the company which has the restaurant I'm eating at.”

Isn't that weird?”

Yeah, but what it does is it makes me want to not spend it so much because I don't want to embarrass people with it.”

I can understand. Today, I bought lunch for a lot of people and that was ok, but I have to be careful and let other people buy lunches when we go out.”

Do you ever feel like they think just because you've got money they expect you to buy lunch?”

All the time. It bugs me, but after I do, I make sure I don't hang around that person too much afterwards.”

Me neither. They don't realize it's not fun if you do all the buying all the time.”

You have to tell them. Or maybe give them some money so they have it to spend.”

How much do you think you should give them?”

For me, I'd give them a hundred dollars and tell them to buy me lunch once in a while.”

Do they do it?”

I don't know, I've never stuck around the person long enough to find out.”

Larry came up to me and said, “There's your paper. The guy didn't know how to put on there we traded.”


What a dumb ass, huh?”

I'm glad you got it lined out.”

Not me, your lawyer went in there and told him what to do.”

Good, so what do you guys think of Marty?”

Terry said, “He's cool.”

Larry said, “He's smart, but not so smart he treats you dumb.”

He's a nice guy. We didn't get along at first, but then he got used to me.”

He fine with Ev?”

Yeah, he's great with Ev. It was me he didn't know how to deal with. Now, he's great.”

Larry looked at Terry and said “You ready to go home?”

Yeah, we need to stop by Wal-Mart first.”

What for, you want a video game?”

No, they've got something I want to try.”

Ok, if it's like that blood pressure thing which pinches, I don't want to try it.'

I walked with them to the elevator and rode down to seventeen with them. I got off and gave them hugs good bye telling them I'd see them on Monday.

Larry looked strange and asked, “What for?”

Terry said, “We're going to move our bank account to his bank. His banker treats him good.”


Yeah, he can call his bank and they move the money for him from one bank to another with no arguing. His banker will even open the bank for him if he needs them to.”


That's why I want to move the account there.”

Ok, I'm game.'

You're gamey alright. You stink!”

I stepped back and heard them bicker back and forth on the way down.

I went over to legal and quickly saw Marty. He looked up and smiled. He came over and said, “Get me out of here before I ask you to fire the whole bunch.”


They're total dumb asses. That lawyer who did that paper didn't want to put on there you traded an apartment for the company because he thought you'd screwed them. Fortunately, I told him the apartment was worth just as much as the company and not to second guess his clients.”

Good, it's true.”

I can't believe that deal with the oil wells!”

It's a damned good deal. I didn't do all the math in my head before you left, but you're going to see about twenty million a month out of it.”


Yeah, isn't that crazy!”

Oh man, they have to be making loads of it with what they invested.”

Yeah. He said 'a lot of money' and he meant it. I figure Ev and I are going to see about twenty three point four a day from ours. I think we'll probably reinvest a lot of it. As he said, it's way too much money.”

It's a helluva deal, thanks for getting me in on it.”

No problem, I'm glad we could do it.”

They're nice guys, but you're right when they're separated, they're not so smart.”

You're right there, but they love each other.”


Do they always give you deals like that?”

Yeah, for some reason, they see me as their third twin plus they see me as the one responsible for making them wealthy.”

I can see that, but you only gave them a start and they did the rest.”

Yeah, but if you ask them, they'll tell you they were planning on going to school for computers anyway. They'll tell you this business is all because of me and it paid for them to do everything else they wanted. Because I sold them the goods they sold, they link it all back to me.”

Marty smiled, “What's weird is I can see the link they do it with. I don't agree because I don't think they give themselves much credit, but I see the link.”

I do too. I'm just thankful they reach out to me when they have deals.”

This place is beautiful. Those birds in here are awesome.”

Yeah, but what I'll tell you is we now have added to our payroll a professionally trained bird keeper just for them.”

Well, it's worth it. I see this place and everywhere I look it's just awesome.”

Hard to believe what I got it for. If you saw the apartment in Hong Kong, you'd really think I stole it.”


Barren, white, and way to over rated. It's a nice building, but I've seen housing project apartments just like it over here...the same exact floor plan and walls. The floors are nicer there, but they're not much except a good hard wood veneer.”

And you still bought it?”

Yeah, over there, they'll pay a million for a bathroom sized apartment. The building is awesome, but when you get upstairs in the apartments, you see where they scrimped to get them all finished.”

And they did it with the high scale ones too!”

Yeah, but mine's not the penthouse level.”

Why do they want it so bad?”

I can tell you my guess, but I can't say exactly. What I do think is they want to go over and get involved with the influx of capital going into China. I don't think they have anything kinky in mind, but I wouldn't know. Today was the deepest I've been with them in regards to their sex lives.”

He really cracked me up.”

They're that way...balls to the wall honest. With them, there are no stop signs and red lights.”

I see. They're refreshing because I know they're so vulnerable, but I just can't believe what they go through in regards to money.”

For them, I think it's the pursuit. They get it and they build it and they throw themselves into it, but once perfection is met, they drop it.”

Then, why did they get into the oil wells?”

As you heard, it was a favor to someone. They throw money at a friend they see having a hard time like me, and then they reap the harvest and wish them well.”

But you're hardly destitute.”

No, but they don't know everything I have. They probably saw that hundred and forty and thought it was my life savings. They know I have other things, but they don't know it all.”

But you guys talked about the Forbes list! That should have told them something.”

No, here's what it told them. It told them I was below them on the list, so therefore I need help.”

He laughed and said, “I can see it. It's messed up, but I can see it. It's real child like in the concept, but I see it.”

True, but let me tell you something. Their mom is someone who is a conflict of what you see and what she is.”

What do you mean?”

Some day, I'll take you down there and you'll meet her. You'll see someone who was basicly a mental patient who couldn't get into a hospital. She got lucky and bought that little shop with a guy, and they had the boys. Then he got beat to death sleeping under some pier and she was left without anything except the shop to hold her up.

She sells sunglasses, towels, and boogie boards and supports the kids, but the kids are out there wanting food and they got a lot but they didn't get any real skills or discipline. They didn't get looked after and their lives totally revolved around the beach.

Then, I came along and they probably saw me as a sucker. Instead, I showed them some nice clothes and gave them the deal they could latch onto as to make spending money. I'll tell you I chose to give them the box of clothes because I really thought they were going to be a great pair of models for me to use to sell more clothes. For that, I'll give them a cargo of clothes.”

So you were going to have them as models?”

Yeah, but when I came back, I saw them sporting no clothes because they'd worn them and used them to sell the others and then they sold the ones on their backs. So, I shot them another box and they sold them again. When they pulled out the wad of cash from selling, they wanted to know what I wanted as my cut. I told them I'd take a hundred and eighty as purchase of their next box. They snapped up the deal and then asked me to get them all I could get them. I did and soon, they had another shop on the boardwalk alongside their mom. As luck would have it, the shop they rented was really nice in architectural style. What you see here all reflects the first shop and all their shops since look very similar to the first store.”

How'd they know to expand?”

They ordered a bunch of clothes. Somewhere in their minds, they thought if they handed me their proceeds from all their sales, they'd just get that much back in clothes. They had no concept of wholesale and retail. I went over and bought and when they received the delivery, they were swamped.”

Oh man.”

Yeah, but they were troopers and they folded up the folding tables and moved the pallets around and used the pallets as sales gimmics. That's why you now see the pallets and boxes in all their stores. They held onto the low prices and word got around. Sales took off like wildfire and soon they realized they had to open another store. They did and it began to compound.”

That's amazing.”

Yeah, but it wasn't until like their twentieth store was going, that the concept of wholesale and retail took hold. I think they thought all that time they should be giving me more than what I was getting.”

He laughed and asked, “Why?”

Ok, it's simple, but I'll tell you. If you buy from me, you hand me money and I tell you I'll get you x amount of goods. You get the invoice and you see what you gave me is exactly what your goods cost. In the math, you don't see I made anything. What you don't see is I get a commission from the manufacturer and it's in there before the wholesale price.”

Ok, I see. They thought you weren't making anything and passing along the deal to them.”

Yeah, so now, they pass along the deals to me and they're amazed I have money to buy things.”

It's interesting.”

Now, here's what I'll tell you which is absolutely scary.”

What's that?”

We walked across the parking lot and went past the fountains. “These fountains are beautiful.”

A company called Waltzing Waters makes water displays like this. I took them to Ceasar's Palace in Vegas and they saw the one there. As soon as they saw it, they wanted one just like it. So, you get this.”

Did it cost a lot?”

Yeah, it was a pretty penny, but it's a real eye catcher for that interstate over there.”

Oh, I bet it is.”

This with the beauty of the building is what's an architectural masterpiece. I don't know who designed it, but they sure did a good job.”

We continued walking to the car.

You were going to tell me what was so scary with them.”

Oh yeah, their concept of money.

As I told you, their mom was a shopkeeper. I'm guessing the woman never used a bank and kept the money on her, because the boys would walk around with huge amounts of money on them and would bitch about it.”

You're shittin' me?”

Not in the slightest. We went to a sauna once and had to get naked. Terry dropped his clothes and it just sounded like concrete hitting the floor. Naturally, I asked what the hell he had in them and he started pulling out huge bundles of cash and bitching about it weighing so much. He said he kept trying to get larger bills so it'd lighten up, but with twenty five stores all making money, both of them were just weighed down.”

What did they do with the money if it wasn't on them?”

I asked and that's when they told me they'd show me. We went through the sauna and it just stuck in my mind because I'm just thinking about the money on them. It had to be several hundred thousand dollars.”


Yeah, so we get out of the sauna, get dressed and then, they take me down to store one. We go in and out in the pallets in front, they lifted up a bunch of clothes and there was stacks of hundreds like you wouldn't believe.”


I nearly shit myself. They asked me if I could help them with it, and I said I'd get it into a bank for them. Me mentioning bank would have given someone a clue where it needed to go. To them, the concept of me taking the money to a bank had to be explained a bank is nothing but a huge place where a lot of people put their money in pallets like them.”

He laughed and said, “You didn't!”

I had to. The thought of them going into a bank and then understanding what happens to money and where it goes in there is just too foreign to them.”

And their banker gives them shit?”

I'm guessing their banker is someone who is one of those stiff shirt sorts who judges, but will kindly do them the 'favor' of taking their money, but will kindly throw them out of the bank soon after.”

Your banker isn't.”

Nope, he's the sort who looks like he was raised out on the range with a horse between his legs and didn't think to kick off his boots before he came to work. He's also the kind of guy who knows I'm his biggest depositor and is happy to serve me. I also bet when I bring him the guy's business, he'll just about die.”

He laughed and said, “You have full services?”

I have my debit card and all my credit cards. All of them are black and all of them are drawn on the bank. He knows me and he knows if I think about spending money, I'll call him so he knows I'm doing it.”

Do you think they'll get that much service?”

They'll get as good or better. What I do know is I can go to any bank in the world and tell them I want to deposit money on my card and they'll let me do it. Yeah, it costs a few bucks, but when he sees that, he gets it back to me.”

I bet!”

What's going to drive the banker crazy is he's going to see them coming in to deposit money onto their card and will know he's not getting to draw interest on that money.”

So you in turn did them a favor.”

Yeah, because I'm going to tell you a small secret.”

What's that?”

You see my card?”


When I put an airline ticket upon it, it's automatically put in at the banker's rate which is rock bottom.”


Yeah, it's not bad when you fly to Hong Kong and only pay a hundred and twenty five. Normally, that ticket costs about three almost four grand.”

That's quite a savings!”

Yeah, and considering the number of flights I have taken, it's a good deal for me.”

Do they get that?”

They have their own jet.”

You ought to get one.”

No. I've seen the depreciation on those things and I'll keep my money in the bank. You go in and buy one for sixty million and if you fly like I do, you replace an engine every year at least. That's another hundred grand and that's just for one. Then, after five years, you trade it in and you see them give you eight hundred thousand. I'd rather keep the fifty nine million and buy tickets off the interest.”

I never knew what they cost. I thought of it for the convenience.”

I'm not saying I probably won't have one, but let's get that oil money coming in and then I won't mind the pissing away of good money. At that point, I can buy one from the returns for a few days.”

I started the car and dialed Ev. “Hey babe, we're on the road.”

So tell me!”

We got it for the price of them taking the apartment in Hong Kong and....”

“How did that work? It wasn't worth that!”

Hon, I bought the apartment when it was cheap. Since then, the building has filled and they've become worth a lot. To them, it's worth something to them. To me, it's not worth much. To them, the business isn't worth much because they're tired of it, so they traded even up.”

They must be crazy.”

No, just good friends.”

I didn't even know you knew them.”

Yeah, it's my stuff in the stores. If you hear them tell it, I'm the one who started them in business. I'll tell you different, but hey, if they want to think that....fine!”

So what about the oil wells?”

Ok, the guy drills them for five million. He'll go in partners with you if you want and you shell out the two and a half. He has the oil, so when it comes out of the ground, it's a 50/50 split.”

So you invested all the money in them instead?”

Yeah, it's a heckuva deal. We get a hundred and fifty six of the things and when they get drilled, they'll pull three thousand barrels of oil from them a day and I was told oil is now like a hundred dollars a barrel.”

Hon, it's way above that.”

Ok, well, let's count a hundred dollars and that way, we're not disappointed.”

Ok, so have you done the math?”

Yeah, our share when they're all pumping is like twenty four million a day.”


Yeah, but they pay by the month, so it's going to be a huge check.”

Hang on a second and let me figure it up.”


One hundred and fifty six times three thousand times one hundred divided by two is twenty three point four million.”

Ok, multiply that by three sixty five and then divide by twelve.”

Seven hundred eleven million and five hundred thousand.”

Ok, now, before you go to counting your chickens, take twenty eight and a half percent off that.”


Corporate taxes. You gotta pay the piper.”

Ok, that's still have a trillion dollars a year.”

Yeah, but let's only figure that we'll see probably a tenth of that.”


Because if oil goes back down, then we'll receive that. I'd rather be safe than sorry.”

Ok, but that's still a lot. You're making the entire amount back we invested.”

Yeah, now the good news is we've got a lot of stores and some good people to run them.”

Ok, what's the down side to all this?”

We've got to give Marty the power to go in and fire the legal staff at Hobbs. He says they're inept.”

Ok, anything else?”

Yeah, it'll take a bit to get everything falling into line, and we've got to go out and buy a bunch of semis and trailers. I'm sure we'll have to buy, but we've got a good bunch of stores and I'm satisfied with all we've got under us.”

You coming home?”

I've got to drop Marty off at his car and then, I'll be right back there.”

Ok, then what's your plan for tonight?”

Well, we really need to see that man about the funerals. We really need to make sure your suit is clean and Sam has a nice outfit, and then, I want us all to go out someplace for dinner.”

I'm going to ask something and it's going to sound crazy, but can we go to Chili's and get a take out sack?”

Ok, but I don't want to be at the house for dinner.”

No, here's what I want to do. I want us to go out and sit in the parking lot and watch the fountains.”

At Northridge?”


Ok, but why sit in the parking lot?”

Because that's where the fountains are.”

Ok, but I do want to take Sam and Sarah in for a tour of the building.”

They'd love that.”

Hon, I want to do what they did for business.”

What's that?”

It's complex, but I'll tell you tonight. It'll make more sense while I'm telling you.”

Ok, so we got all the TL Hobbs stores and the Brand stores?”

Yeah, but I don't really like the set up with the TL Hobbs stores.”


They're all in malls. Yeah, that's where people go to shop, but once again, we're at the mercy of the mall owners not to raise rents.”

It's the way it is, what do you want to do different?”

What I'm thinking first of all is to scrap Brand's stores. If we make all of them Dollar America stores, then we've got a national name which has a ton of stores.”

Right, that's a good aim.”

Then, what I want to do is to get the Hobbs clothing into the Dollar America stores and work on us directing the brand they have over into a lot of things.”

Like what?”

Well, for one, their clothing is jeans and casuals. They're rustic and they're sturdy and they're known for a lot of stuff which is cool.”


What I had in mind when I went out to buy for them, is Levis and Gap meets a college kid and he wanted to either go out and hike, or he wanted to go out on the farm for the weekend.”

That's about right.”

Well, nowhere in the stores is there anything which is leaning to shoes. Nowhere is there a book bag. Nowhere is there even so much as a coat, slicker, or a hat.

I want to take Hobbs over to being sort of a full brand which is sexy and meets up with A & F.”

Can you pull that off?”

Yeah, all the shoes are is me going in and ordering shoes from a manufacturer and getting them into the stores. It's basicly the same for the other items, but whatever we do, I want the items to be long lasting, durable, and to be in the customer's possession for at least five years.”


Yeah, but it's possible because I know all it takes is to stress those guidelines when you order. I also know there's not much difference between makes of things except for stitching and the tag.”


When we go over there, you're going to see lines in a plant which are making one thing and right next to it, you'll see something totally different being made which you never thought would be made together. The only difference is they've got a program in a computerized sewing machine which tells it for one brand to make the stitching this far apart and to use such and such thread.”

So we go in and order and then we ask for our own guidelines?”

Yeah, that's what I've been doing. One thing you won't see with Hobbs is patterns on their shirts. Another thing you won't see is a lot of colors which are bright. You see the pastel tan and blue, but you see black, white, and red a lot.”

I noticed that, but I also like the fit of the shirts. They're loose in the shoulders and form fitting in the waist.”

True. I asked for that and one thing you probably don't know is the seams in the shirts along the sides are stitched with elasticized thread so there's a little give.”

Really? Why?”

Because let's say you and I go out to dinner. You're standing up to dress and you put the shirt on. It's form fitting and making you look sharp. Now, go sit in the car and a form fitting shirt will make you suck in your breath and only let you exhale when you stand up again. By that time, it's wrinkled all to hell.

With a Hobbs shirt, you stand up and she's going back to where she was when you dressed. Then, you make your entrance into the restaurant and you sit. You fill up and you gain an extra inch to an inch and a half around your midsection. In a Hobbs shirt, it gives and doesn't wrinkle so when you stand again, you look good.”

I never knew that.”

It's thinking through the whole experience of wearing it. Not just seeing it on a model standing up, but in use where others fail you.”

Is that why I feel better wearing them?”

That and the colors. The colors are all 'feel good' colors. You know you look good and you feel good, so you stand up taller and your posture isn't sucking.”

I never knew that!”

I wish I had thought of that, but I didn't. That came from a gorgeous little guy over in the Philippines who explained it to me and really stressed that's what he wanted to make in a shirt. I thought it was a good idea, so I ordered them and haven't stopped.

The only thing which has changed in those shirts is the pocket and the collar. Everything else is identical.”

Have you done that with all their stuff?”

For a large part, but their jeans come from China. That's a whole other experience because if you notice, I sort of took an idea from Levi and instead of grommets at major stress points, I put the H stitch which is a sewn version of the grommet except it doesn't scratch your car when you lean against it and it doesn't catch on your car's cloth seats.”

Interesting, I never thought of that either.”

Hon, it's a skilled thing you learn to pay attention to. I can tell you now if I go into a store which has Hobbs clothing which isn't a Hobbs store, it's a knock off. I can also tell you immediately it's not a Hobbs by the number of stitches which goes into that H. There's twenty different times that machine goes over it to get it made and that twenty is the number of stitches per inch in that material.”


Yeah, you're not likely going to snag that and rip it as there are too many stitches per inch. I dare you to do that with some other brands....uh uh Gap..uh uh...hmmm, I must've caught something in my throat”

He laughed and said, “So it's better quality.”

Hon, let me tell you something and you'll see how much it means to me. “


When we go to that jean factory, you're going to see a lot of makes made side by side. You'll see them coming off the line at identical speeds. With computerized sewing, the machine is sped up to get those extra stitches needed, but their production output is identical....damned fast. Now why would someone go in and pay a hundred dollars for a pair of jeans which is made in the same factory as an eight dollar pair of jeans?”

The name?”

No, and it doesn't make sense because the quality is sewn into the Hobbs jeans.”

You really paid attention to everything for them.”

Yeah, but I do that for all my clients. What absolutely galls me is if I have a customer who insists upon having an inferior product.”

What do you mean?”

Ok, here's where it's at, and then you can see. Some companies go out and pick their material. They insist upon lower thread counts or lower grade in the material so they can save a few pennies per yard of the stuff.”

Well, it all adds up.”

In clothes, it doesn't add up. Let's say you go into a Crap store and you buy a pair of Crap jeans. They look the same, but when you go out and wear them the first few times, they look good. Then, after about nine washings, you start noticing severe color fade. You start noticing frayed edges. You start noticing wear spots. You start noticing there's a hole in between the legs where they rubbed. You notice a lot of stuff and you realize you wasted your dollar on Crap.

Where brand Crap plays you is they count on you forgetting they're Crap. You'll go out and get a pair of Levis and you'll wear the hell out of them and then, you'll be in the mall and you see a pair of Crap jeans and you think, “Hmmm, they look good!” so, you buy them and the cycle starts all over again.”

Is that what they do?”

Yeah, amongst the changing of season colors, patterns, styles of legs, hip height, snap design, and belt loop spacing. It's all designed to make you think you're not going to be in style if you don't have it.”

And you don't do that with Hobbs.”

I don't do it with Hobbs, but I don't do it with a lot of other brands I import.”

I'm learning more about your line of business.”

Yeah, and hopefully, you're learning it so you can go into a factory and see good stuff and bad and know the difference.”

They let you inspect it?”

I demand to inspect it. When I go in to buy, you'll see me looking like a lineman from the electric company I've got so much stuff slung around me.”

To inspect?”

Yeah. To be sure you have to measure. To inspect, you've got to magnify. You've got to measure stitching and you've got to measure thread count. You've got check the color for consistency and you've got to make sure the one you're seeing made today is as good as the one you sold years ago. If they're not, then you're screwing your customer.”

I bet they dread you coming in.”

No, in fact, over there it's exactly opposite than over here. Over there, if you question and inspect, it's a sign you know quality and when they pass inspection, they've built quality. They smile and they bow and they love you for the pat on the back. It's the guy who won't come in and do that who gets looked at with mistrust and venom.”


Yeah, it's not a bottom line to them. To them, it's about making a product as good as it can be so they will receive that business on down the line. If you're not in business because you've run customer's off with bad quality, then you're not buying.”

I'm seeing what you're saying.”

Yeah, so when we go, I'll teach you everything and you'll see me pickier than hell.”

And you do this with everything?”

Yeah, everything. I do it with gauge thickness of metal in electric skillets and I do it with thickness in plastic in a child's toy. You'll see me be picky to a fault in everything I buy because I'm putting my name on the line.”

Ok, I understand.”

Well, that's it for the lesson. We did good with this because we've got a company which makes me prouder to be a part of it. You know I wasn't earlier, so that should tell you I'm more on line with it than anything.”

Great. I'll learn it, but I don't think dad paid attention to a lot of that stuff.”

No, and he should have. It's not all about getting a product out the door. It's about keeping it out the door instead of getting them back as a return.”

Are we going to do that with everything?”

Probably, but what's going to amaze you is questioning why others don't do it when you begin seeing us getting our items for low enough cost we can sell them for really low prices.”

You're already shown me a lot.”

Yeah, but now we're upping it a notch because I want you to have it learned so it's second nature. I want you to know it affects your customer and your billfold.”

I'm going to switch subjects on you.”


What needs to be changed with the Brand stores?”

I couldn't tell you. I never went into one and it wasn't what mattered to me to get the purchase accomplished. If they suck so bad they need shut, we'll close them and use the distribution network and I'll be happy. To me, it's not what's out front that got them bought and they know it.”

You told them?”

Yeah. Let me get off here because I've got traffic.”

Ok hon, drive safe.”


I got off the phone and Marty said, “There's no traffic.”

No, but Marty, I realize I should have taken him with me today because he's asking questions which aren't goal oriented.”

What did he ask?”

He wanted to know why I told them why I bought them.”

Why did you?”

If you're honest and upfront in business, then the other guy is going to be more inclined to understand your needs and help you. If you're secretive and deceitful, you're going to probably find you got fucked.

I went in and told them exactly why I wanted them and it wasn't about those stores they have. We needed the distribution network and that's it. Yeah, we can run the stores and that's great, but to me, unless it looks like a Dollar America store and has those items in it, then I really don't care about the store.”

Dollar America isn't all it's cracked up to be.”

No, and it's going to be changing. What you don't know is the concept I have for a Dollar America store isn't what is in the stores now, but what will be in the stores real fast. We've got to change them, but we've got to change a lot of stores anyway so we might as well make them all to looking the same.”

What's in your concept?”

First of all, before you get into the store, I want you to see the difference of what I see versus what's there now.”


That Dollar America sign is going to have leds in that o. They're going to flash to gain attention. That America is going to be having a flag motif. That Dollar is going to be green.

That's sounding good.”

Inside, when you walk through the door, you're going to see on the floor the wood laminate instead of tile. Why? Because it immediately looks different and per square foot, it looks better, costs the same, and wears just as long. It doesn't cost us nearly as much to maintain and a mop and water will do just as good as all those chemicals used on the tile.

To the left is going to be the grocery section. I don't know what's there now, and I really don't care. It's a high theft area in a store and I want them to take food instead of anything else.

Along the side is the cold and freezer section. It'll run for thirty two feet and it'll hold probably more profitable items than you've seen thus far in the stores.

In front of them, you're going to see pallets of canned goods. They're low and can be seen over so security watching that meat is easily done.”

Pallets look messy.”

Not the ones you're going to see.”


Normal Pallets have splinter and all sorts of harmful side effects due to breakage. Black heavy PVC doesn't. It's not unsightly and it holds together.”

Ok, I'm getting a better feeling.”

The key is the boxes of veggies. We're going to be selling them four for a dollar so we'll have a lot of people coming in to buy them. The aisles have to be wide and they've got to be kept up high enough so customers don't have to lean over too much.”

Can you get them for that price?”

At that price, we'll probably be making a nickel a can, but that's twenty cents a dollar, so I'm not crying. People will buy them in bulk because they get more bang with them than anywhere else.”

I never knew the cost of them.”

Not many people really do, but believe me, those who do are making nice money. They're not exactly going to scream if from a bullhorn so everyone jumps on the wagon.”

Ok, so what else?”

To the right is health and beauty. Again, it's able to be seen so the items aren't going in purses.”

Ok, what about clothes.”

Normally, you'd put clothes up front. I'll tell you now it's going to the back and it's going to require dressing rooms. Because it's going to be Hobbs items, that section of the store is going to be in a Hobbs motif. I want to dress up the store...not tear down Hobbs.”

Smart thinking.”

On the ceiling, I'm going to have ceiling fans. Dropped ceilings aren't going to be allowed. They piss me off and look like shit. Everyone has them and I'd rather put up plastic which looks like pressed tin than have what is considered normal.”

They make that?”

Yeah, if you ask them to, you can get anything.”

I never knew.”

The colors on the walls are going to be some you just don't think would look good.”

What color?”

Deep forest green with a rag finish of lighter green.”


Dollar bills are green. Green as in green light. It's psychological.”

Ok, you're talking about a lot of money spent upon a store.”

No, I'm talking about a store which is going to make money. I'm not going to low ball it because bare and serene is what everyone else does. I want people to feel good about coming in because they save money. I want them to immediately feel better while in there and florescent tube lights and white all over the place just screams it's already been done.”

He laughed and said, “Do you think they'll go over?”

Yeah, because in the end, the customer comes because of the savings. If we have wall to wall savings, they'll fill the place. I'm just hoping we've got enough room in the stores.”

We'll have to go to a store so I can show you.”

That's where you're going to be wrong. Soon, we're going to have a mock up store which is going to be for us to go in and check shelf space and make sure every store is the same.”

What if the Brand stores are different than ours.”

I'll do what it takes. You may not realize it, but if a Brand store is four feet wider than a Dollar America, guess what? I'll move those walls in on a Brand store so they're all alike. I'll paint that glass up front black so no one knows.”

He laughed. “You're set on this.”

Yeah, I'm set on it because I know it'll work. My thought process is wondering why others don't do it already. My worry is that once they see us doing it, they start copying us.”

They probably won't.”

Probably not, but one thing which is going to hurt our bottom line is a change I'm going to make across the board.”

What's that?”

Right now, if there are men in the stores working, they're probably not very many. Soon, we're going to have men in there as stockers and in the Hobbs section. I want girls to be behind the cash register and I'll tell you now even the cash registers are going to change.”


If I'm buying registers for ten thousand stores Marty, guess how much clout I'm going to have when it comes to getting what I want from the manufacturer?”

Do you think you will?”

I know I will, or I'll import the things from Japan and have what I want.”

What do you want?”

I want a plastic register which is a high rise modern version of the old brass ones. Instead of all those friggin' buttons, I want a touch screen and I want the side of that puppy to be the bar code scanner. It'll serve as a monitor and it will serve as the drawer.”

And cost a lot.”

The ones they have now cost probably four hundred dollars in volume. That tells me if I go to Toshiba, I can use that as a baseline to tell them what I want to pay and get it done.

Now, I realize I'll probably pay another hundred dollars for the touch screen, but once again, you have no idea how they listen when you are in there asking for something.”


When we go, I'm going to take you and Evan with me. I want you to see them in action because you have no idea what it's like.

The only way I can describe it is going into a steak restaurant here. At that restaurant, they come out and take your order. If you want something cooked different, then you ask and they do it. If they don't ask, get up and walk out because you went to the wrong place.”

Ok, so they ask and you tell them you want a cash register and lay out your guidelines and they build it?”

Yeah, you're ordering probably twenty thousand of them, they'll bite.”

I thought it was ten thousand a second ago.”

No, it's ten thousand of the others from the other guy. From Toshiba, I'm going to want one in the back at Hobbs, but I'm also going to want two up front.”

Ok, I'm confused. The Hobbs line will be like a store within a store?”

Yes, but no. They'll be in there like a store within a store, but if you want check out back there with Dollar items, you can, but you can also check out with Hobbs items up front...all of it goes into our central computer, so it doesn't matter.”

I'm lost again with your comment.”

Ok, tell me what you're thinking and I'll clarify.”

You're telling me Hobbs is going to be in our computer?”



Why not? The way I see it we're going to sell items from them in our stores. The only catch is we're not selling Dollar items in Hobbs.”

Ok, but what about if someone wants to buy an item at a Hobbs in a Dollar store and return them at a Hobbs store?”

Exactly! You're catching on.”

I'm confused.”

It's possible! They're in our computer, so that's fine with me. In fact, it helps carry over other items into the Dollar store from the Hobbs. And, a Hobbs bought item can be returned at a Dollar store.”

It eases communication in the computers. IS that why?”

Yeah, but it all goes to our bottom line. To me, we're keeping the Dollar name and the Hobbs name. If you look on the balance sheet, you're going to see the Dollar store has a store number in our company and the Hobbs store will have a store number in our company too. I'm not going to separate them just to piss off the accountants. To me, the only difference is the décor and that's it.”

Ok, I'm seeing you now.”


The way you're doing it is going to really ease the transition.”

Yeah, and it's going to ease a lot of things because we're not trying to have a lot of umbrellas under the same roof. We're one roof and everyone should think that way.”

Ok, so the same health plan, the same retirement, and the same employees.”

Yeah because I'm not going to have a Hobbs hat in the office and then have to change it when I'm doing Dollar business.”

Ok, that's nice.”

For you, it's under our company name and the only thing I think which will change is the Hobbs logo being on one side and the Dollar logo being on the other side of the letter head.”

That'd be fine.”

Until then, I don't even care if you use Hobbs paper or Dollar paper when you type up memos. It doesn't matter as long as we're not wasteful and throw out good paper.”

What do you want with it when we do change?”

We're going to go with a nicer weight of paper with an ecru base. They stand out and will be instantly recognized as being different in the sea of white paper. I think we're going to use the Hobbs style of envelopes too, so be prepared for that.”

I get permission to hire and fire?”

Yes. I'm glad you didn't do it this afternoon, but clean house of inept and I'll back you.”

Ok, because that one guy is gone.”

Good. Now, you happier?”

I was worried.”

Mart, think of this. You're over our legal section. There's not going to be a Hobbs section and a Dollar section. We're moving in and we're going to keep the best and get rid of the rest.”

Ok, that's good. I do love the offices they have there for legal. Well, I love the whole building.”

Good, but be prepared for the top floor to change.”

I expected that.”

It was fine for them, but for me it's not right. I sure don't think it's right for Ev. I am keeping that chair though. It might not be in the office, but it'll be on the floor someplace.”

It's surprising because I never expected anything I saw up there.”

No, but be thankful you never saw the Volleyball court when it was up there.”


All the glass behind it. I could imagine diving for a ball, going through the window and landing out there on the ground. I don't want to have to worry about dying when I'm trying my hardest for a sport....it's not the Colosseum for chrissake.”

How do you think you guy's office will look?”

If I told you, you'd laugh.”

No, I'm interested.”

Imagine a sports bar with a lot of cherry wood.”


Instead of a bar with bar stools, imagine the bar up against the wall and the back bar having plasmas on it.”


I want that. But, instead of a desk, I want a tall desk which I can stand up at and it having a tilted top so I can see layouts of advertisements and flyers. I want it to be easy to write on and yet, have me gaining information from those monitors fast and with precision.”

You make it sound more like an old school house but instead of a blackboard, there's a lot of plasmas.”

That's a cool thought. I'll run with that instead, but you're right. That's what I want but down below each plasma, I'm going to want a printer so I can get a printout fast.”

Won't they wash out with all those windows?”

They could, but we can also tint the inside of those windows. The glass if reflective outside, so no one is going to see the tint from the outside.

One thing I do want is a lot of vines and things around the place. If I'm going to be around there, I want a reflection of me which is an airy but masculine base.”

Ok, I was asking because I was wondering what you would go for.”

I love the décor up in Bran and Ev's office in the old tower. D did a heckuva job.”

Yeah, she did good work.”

We pulled off the interstate and went down the side street to where Brand's warehouse was located.

What are you going to do with this place when you have a chance?”

I'm not sure. It's good usable space, but too small for a warehouse for us. I'll probably lease it out, but one thing I imaged was having a remote control racetrack in it.”

He laughed and said, “You're a big kid at heart.”

Somewhat, but at the point in life where I'm realizing I have to be responsible.”

He paused and said, “It'd be too far away for the mock up store, wouldn't it.”

Yeah, but that's a good idea. Where I think that's going to go is in the basement of the new tower.”

How big is it?”

Huge. It's that whole floor above it with a ceiling height of about twelve feet.”

How do you know what's down there?”

Terry took me down there once to look for something in the files. That's where they keep the records from all the previous years which have to be hard filed.”

Ok, so it's all files?”

No, it's all open space with about ten file cabinets in a corner.”

Oh man.”

Yeah, so I think we could have the mock up there and not have a problem.”

Lease the warehouse.”

I probably will. I can't think of anything to use it for.”

You guys selling the old tower?”

It's up to Ev. Personally, I'm going to ask him to hang onto it. I think it's a good investment which should be kept and leased out. The neighborhood is good and it should bring in a premium fee.”

Good, I understand the need to get rid of it, but I also like the thought of holding onto it.”

That's why I'm leaving it up to Ev. Now, what I could see it used for would be the Diva D label. We could use the warehouse down there for the label too, but to me, that's something I'd leave up to Sam and Ran to operate.”

Do you think they'll make a go of it?”

I don't know Sam that well. She's got a good head on her shoulders and if she's looking for security and stability like her mom had in her dad, then she's got it with Ran. He'll stand by her because that's the way he is, but it's more up to her knowing what she wants.”

I notice you detached there.”

Not really. As I said, I don't know Sam. I do know that Ran and I are always going to be friends and that's not dependent upon them making a go of it. IF Ev makes his relationship with Ran dependent upon that, then I think he's made a mistake, but he'll have to know I'm not going to cross Ran out just because of Sam.”

Is that what you see for them?”

It's hard because I don't know what to see for them. As I said, I don't know her. I'm going to make it a point of getting to know her, but you know as well as I do there are all sorts of pressures out there for someone in the music industry. One thing I do know is if she turns superficial and crosses him out because he's not slim, trim, and pretty, I'll probably cross her out. Ev can have a relationship with his sister and I'll be happy, but I'll be cordial and pull back.”

You mean that.”

I mean it to a fault. Ran's heart is inside his body and not based upon other people's views of him. If she lets that sort of thing happen, then it's upon her. I really hope she chooses to follow D and Bran's relationship and realize the stardom is but a passing thing, but real love isn't.”

D and Bran's relationship wasn't always roses.”

None are. I know Ev's and mine won't be either. I think they had a good relationship at the end, but I don't know their past and I'm not going to believe what gossip sheets have said.”

Some of the rumors were true is all I'm saying.”

Ok, but when it counted, they died together and they were happy.”

He nodded and said, “I'm sorry. I was sort of testing you there and I don't know why.”

You're alliance with them was threatened by my saying I'd cross out Sam. I understand.”

Yes, but I also understand your point of view.”

I pulled into the parking lot and shut off the car.

One thing you'll learn about me is I trust people I know, and I don't pull in people until I know them. Ran is as close as my heart. What's interesting is you're way closer than Sam is, but that's because I've not had time with her. I'm sure when I have time with her, it's going to be a really close bond.”

I imagine it will be. I also understand your bonds are being tested and strengthened with Ev right now.”

Yes, but what matters to me with him isn't the amount of sex or even sex at all right now. We're building a foundation and strength comes from being apart as well as being together. He needs to know I'm not going to always be there because the road is going to be calling, but I also want him to learn my business so he can be a better businessman over all.”

I heard your conversation with him and I'll tell you it amazed me. I had no idea what all was required. To me, you went in and shopped and bought items and then turned around and resold them. That's all I thought your job entailed.”

No, I wish it were that easy, but I'll tell you I take it seriously. In fact, I seriously wish I could be more thorough than I am now.”


It's pretty embarrassing for me when I put my name on the line and build a relationship with a company who I think is reputable and safe and I find out later they weren't.”

When did that happen?”

I'll mention a phrase and as soon as I do, you're going to cringe.”

What is it?”

Lead based paint.”

Oh man.”

Yeah, now do you want to know who built up the relationship between those companies? Me.

I did it because I trusted them and knew they upheld their tolerances to exacting for what the build sheets stated. Little did I know it would blindside me like it did.

What I do know is I had to refund a lot of commissions to Mattel and in the letter which I wrote to them enclosing the check, I notified them I would never represent the company in question again.”

That's admirable.”

It's business. I put my name on the line and a lot of kids were put at risk. All I can say is the man over there did the right thing and killed himself because after that stunt, there would be no more business with him from me nor a lot of other people.”

Have you thought about giving the factory another chance now that he's dead?”

No and I'll tell you why. In that plant, a man mixed the paint. In that plant, he was responsible just as much as the man in charge who allowed that stuff into his plant.

Everyone kept the secret and they profited. Now, they don't profit because trust has been ruined. I'll build trust with someone else a lot better than trying to do it with them after that embarrassment.”

What would you do different if you could?”

Here's the problem I see in the world right now. The amount of goods floating out there is monumental, but when it was here stateside, we had a UL label which told us tolerances were met and an item had been tested to be safe.

We don't get that with imported goods and we're now seeing things which should be safe being found unsafe. Either the UL needs to step up to test, or the government needs to step up and have them tested. Yes, it'd take time, but if I could, I'd have my goods tested in a lab where they could be tested for all sorts of dangers.”

Ok, so what have you learned?”

I've learned to put in contracts now the manufacturer is solely responsible for all recalls, safety related issues, and sticks only to purchaser's guidelines. If they don't, then the penalty incurred is a thousand times what the item cost retail.”


Yeah, but until that happened, there wasn't anything in my contracts. Now, China doesn't question the clause in the contracts because I told their commissioner of inspections I'd gladly start farming my contracts to other countries and other manufacturers worldwide.”

Why do you do business with China so much?”

Because the products are made there. I don't do business with them exclusively, but I do a lot with them. As you've heard, I do a lot of business with a lot of countries. It varies, but I've tried to have my finger in the pie.”

He paused and said, “Den, where are we going with the company after this expansion?”

That's hard to explain because after the expansion, I'll be on coast. The expansion is what I'm geared to do.”

Ok, can you tell me what the expansion entails?”

Yeah, in a nutshell, we're reviewing our products one by one and seeing if they move and if they don't. If they don't, I'm taking a slash and burn mentality of discount and discontinue. I'll discount it to get it out the door and once it's out the door, bar it from ever returning. All I want in the store are items which move and which make a profit. All other things are going by the wayside.”

And groceries are coming in?”

Profits are coming in. Only certain grocery items are coming in. Those which people buy every week are coming in, but everything else can waste shelf space somewhere else.”

Ok, so you want to take the fat out of the company.”

A competitor is lean. It fights and it succeeds because it doesn't hemorrhage out. Bran built this company, but Ev and I turned it around today. Now it's got to be put on a diet so we can last when others fall.”

Is that what you see happening?”

I see a future in which the industry is going to start having a shake out. The financial side of this country is in bad shape. Only the strong survive a depression and we're going to be there. One reason is we don't have to answer to shareholders, but another is because we have the ability to not have to depend upon suppliers to tell us about the exciting things out there.”

One thing I often wondered about is we never had a buyer. If someone came in offering to sell us something, they were sent to Bran, are you going to entertain those people?”

If I'm there, but if I'm not, I guess it will fall on Ev. If he's gone too, then I don't know who it will be. I imagine it will be Ted.”

“Who's he?”

The guy we got in the deal with Brand. He's the distributing manager.”

He good?”

He's good at distributing, but I have no clue about the other.”

Then why put him in that position?”

I'm guessing. Don't hold me to anything until I see what we get with the Hobbs bunch. To me, they're an enigma because I have no clue who they have, or what they have, or how many. What I do know is I'm not going to run multiples unless they're needed. That means lawyers, that means accountants, and that means a lot of job titles.”

Ok, so I'm head of legal.”

Yeah, but you're also privy to a lot of information with me. I'll tell you now I'll probably lay off that woman who is head of security. I could retrain her, but for what? I just bought a lot of skilled people and now I'm wondering if I'm going to hold my promise to her and then find myself holding to other people because all of them are in that multiple classification.”

Can I suggest something?”


Leave her in the building at the old tower. Point her to a computer and offer her the option of going onto Phoenix' website and training online while she's working for us.”


It's the civil thing to do. She'll probably leave, but she's not going to stab us if she's got a ticket to something better. Be up front and honest about it and tell her you don't have anything for her so you're priming her with the schooling online and paying her while she goes.”

You sound like she could sue the shit out of us.”

Let's say she got put into that job because Bran wanted someone protecting the building whom he knew would protect him at all costs.”

You're saying he had an affair with her?”

I'm not spreading anything about anyone who could sue me for anything.”

Oh man, does Ev have any idea?”

No, but if she's let go, it could look like vindication. I'm asking you to do it that way so she doesn't scream sexual harassment against someone who's not here.”

Ok, we'll do it that way. The way I see it, you told me to step around the landmine in my path. Are there any others?”

No, not from his end.”

Ok, so she did it with our employees?”

No, none I've heard, but there were at least three others.”

And again, I have to ask if Ev knows.”

He looked at me and then squinted his eyes. “Can I tell you something off the record and you not hold it against me or ever tell another soul?”

Does that mean I can't tell Ev?”

ANY one else ESPECIALLY Ev.”

I don't want to do that.”

It's about Ev.”

Oh God, he's the product of an affair?”

Since you didn't commit yourself, I'm not saying anything. Look at his light complexion and look at his green eyes. Whatever you do, don't get a DNA test done on him against D or Bran because you'll let the cat out of the bag.”

He's not hers either?”


Ok, I'll not say anything.”

He's hers. He's not Bran's.”


I could tell you who his father is, but you could probably tell that yourself if you went back and did the math and found tabloids of who she was with at the time. She did that commercial back then with him and she sure as hell did a lot more with the guy.

What I'm worried about is I know for a fact Bran knew. I also know he had detectives following her and he had a complete file on the whole thing from the detectives, to the other guy's background, to blood tests and DNA samples.”

Where's that file?”

I haven't found it. I've looked. I'm wanting to go back in and look and get it before he finds it.”

Where are the file cabinets?”

In the outer office in a closet. She disguised them with the louvered bi-fold doors.”

Ok, get in the office and you go to the E file cabinet and you pull all those drawers out and then, find the tabs to get the bottom drawer out. I bet he dropped them behind the drawers.”


It's a trick. When you have a file you want to keep but don't want anyone to find, you pull the drawers out and slip it over the top of the back of the bottom drawer. Then you push them all in and it's not found.”

And you've done this?”

In my file cabinet in my house is all my bank records. Do I want my dad to find them? No. Do I want them in a briefcase where he can take it and run? No. So, I hide it and he thinks I must have it with me.”

Ok, I'll look there, where else do you suggest?”

Pull the bottom drawer out on the right hand side of his desk. It might be there. Usually the right drawer is a file drawer in upscale desks.”

Ok, do you want it?”

I don't know. I don't want it, but a huge part of me says to shred it. Another part says for me to be honest with Ev and tell him, but I know it'd crush him.”

Den, before you hate me too much, can I say something else?”

Go ahead.”

Sam's his.”

Thank God for small miracles.”

But he has another with that woman.”

Jesus Christ!”

Yeah, he's paid child support and somewhere I know there are those records. AND, before you ask, Ev doesn't know.”

Save me the time and just tell me who Ev's dad is. Then, go and find that file and shred the motherfucker.”

Are you familiar with an older star who sang with the name Kris?”

He sang?”

Yeah, I don't think he had hits, but he sang. He made several movies.”

Is he reputed to be closeted?”


Oh man. I know who it is and now that I've seen Ev and her and him, I can see it a lot more than Bran in him.”

Don't say anything.”

Ok, I won't, but now that I'm in this with this knowledge, I've got to ask some legal questions.”

Don't. They legal sides of things are covered. What any good lawyer would do is he protect his clients from all possible threats. Mine are covered just as soon as the Will is read.”


Until the Will is read, there's an opportunity for it to be contested on the basis of blood ties. After it's read, it's done, because the decedant's wishes are known and accepted as being their last wish.”

One thing I've never asked is if there are any insurance policies.”

Yes, and they'll be given in the reading.”

Was all that in that file?”

It was, but it wasn't. That section says for them to come to me. The Will states it more clearly, so I'll have the policies with me when it's read.”

When is that going to be?”

I don't know. I'll suggest it on Saturday after the funeral.”

Any surprises in it?”

No, thank God. But, I'll tell you there was a policy issued which took care of her and that child very well.”

Man, what a dumb ass.”

Lonely hearts do lonely deeds. What I will say is the day he started his, I do think he thought it was over for him and her.”

That doesn't excuse it. Cheating is cheating and it doesn't matter which side it was. One thing I won't do is ever succumb to that. If I get to the point with him I'm considering it, I'll sit him down and we'll call it quits.”

Marty smiled and said, “I appreciate hearing that. It tells me your morals and I don't think you've ever got to worry about it with him either.”

I hope not. I know things are rough right now, but I want to build it right. To me, it's about making it last for the rest of my life at least. I say that because I hope I don't go young like my mama, but there are no guarantees in this life.”

“What if he goes first?”

Don't say that. I'd love for him to grow old and be able to see all the things he wants in life.”

As you said, there aren't any guarantees.”

I said that because what young people don't consider is protecting each other in the eventuality they die young. Protect each other in case it happens.”

That's why I want a Will made, Marty. I want to protect him.”

Protect yourself too.”

I don't need anything from him. I've got money and I can bury him.”

Marty shook his head and said, “I realize that, but what happens if he dies tomorrow? Are you protected?”

Oh. Do you think he's ready for that? I mean all that paperwork is depressing as hell.”

How about I get the paperwork drawn up for you two to get the company into both your names. Then, at the same time, I draw up a mirror Will and get you guys signed up for life insurance and all that, so it's presented to you at once instead of having to think about everything.”

What's a mirror Will?”

It says if you die, everything goes to him. If he dies, what he has goes to you.”

I don't want that. I want what I have going to him, but what he has doesn't matter to me.”

It should. What if it all went to Sam and she didn't want to run it and sold out his share to your worst enemy? Could you run the company with your dad?”

No, I'd walk.”

Then you just gave half of what you have together, to him too. He runs it and he benefits, but you don't. Protect yourself so that doesn't happen.”

I don't want to think about him dying.”

He doesn't want to think about you dying either. Do you think he wants to run it with your dad should YOU die tomorrow?”

Oh. No, I wouldn't wish that on anyone. Ok, protect us both.”

Marty nodded and said, “I'm going home. Sometime, I'll get over there and check out the office for the files. Right now, I want to tell my wife I owe you ten million and what I did.”

Why didn't you run it by her first?”

She's way wealthier than I am. The way we work it is I have my money and she has hers.”

You don't protect each other and communicate?”

We do, but we have protected each other plus our kids.”

You have kids?”

Yeah, I don't see them often because Megan is out East in residency with Harvard Medical and Michael is over in Iraq in the Marines.”

You let him go over there!”

I let him do what his calling is. He's a chaplain, so he's not up on the front lines.”

Oh. I'm sorry. I jumped to conclusions.”

That's ok, I know you care.”

I bet you're proud of them.”

I am, but I didn't get to see them often enough while they were growing up.”

There's never enough time, is there?”

No, but I really hope these wells are as good as they seem, because I can then sit back and take time to do what I need with everyone.”

Why don't you start taking time. What I'll try doing is getting things so you have a four day week and stop asking so much of you.”

That's fine, it wouldn't help much anyways as she's rarely home.”

What's she do?”

She's an executive with Revlon. Her job is demanding and she's gone quite a bit on business.”

How about if we get a company jet and you start going, to be with her.”

I'll speak with her about it. I think I'd be more in the way than a help.”

Talk with her. If I can make things better for you guys, I will.”

He nodded and I said, “Marty, I really appreciate all you're doing for us.”

He smiled and said, “I know. I'm finding my job as enjoyable again as I did when we first started.”

Good, I'm glad to hear it. It means we're heading in the right way.”

He paused and said, “Den, you don't realize it, but for a while, this company has been going through the motions and not catching much wind. I know Bran was stuck with things the way they were, but I also think he was content enough in his marriage again he didn't want to take the time to get it fixed.”

I understand. If it came to a choice between it or us, I'd pick us. That's why I'm taking the time back from being out on the road.”

You've got your priorities in order.”

He patted my hand and then walked off. I started the car and then drove home.

When I got home, more and more camera trucks were lined up along the street. At the end of the wall, I saw the back end of a police car. I drove up and then turned around at the gate to another estate and came back. I rode up beside the police car and rolled my window down.

Evening, officer.”

Good evening.”

Everything fine?”

Yeah, I was just getting them back onto the sidewalk.”

Ok, tell everyone not to bother them. They're paying their respects the best way they can.”

You live here?”

In a way, I do. My partner is her son.”

Oh ok. If you're not concerned, we won't be either.”

I'm not concerned, but just be on guard. It's not these people I'm concerned about but one person in particular.”

He's being held and won't be released for a while.”

No, it's not him. It's a family member of mine. IF you ever get a call here, send everything you have and don't back off if he flashes credentials at you. He's way out of his jurisdiction and will be considered trespassing.”

Who is it?”

My dad. He should be in South Carolina, but he's made threats recently and has done more than his share of abuse.”

He's a cop?”

He was the town Marshall out there. He got removed from duty for fraud.”

A bad cop.”

Yeah, but in his own mind he's good because it was just me. He thinks because he sired me he should be able to do as he pleases.”

How'd he defraud you?”

It's a long story, but there's a long history of abuse. Ten years ago, I was removed from the home and placed with my grandma. When I left home, I went into business and gained quite a bit of money. When 9/11 happened, I was supposed to be on one of the flights. He jumped the gun and assumed I died and contacted the bank. Together, he and the banker drained my account and then, didn't want to give it back when I got back.”

He lost his career over a few hundred dollars?”

Dude, it was a few hundred, but you missed some zeros. It was several hundred million dollars.”

Oh, man!”

Yeah, so I had to sue the bank and my attorney got an investigation opened and filed the complaint which got him removed since what he did was a felony. Now he bears a grudge.”

You were civil with each other until then?”

Hardly. There's not been a moment of that of him toward me. I give what I receive, so you get a clue of how it is.”

He's made threats recently?”

Yeah, somewhere along the line, he caught wind I was associated with their company and started making inquiries with the company lawyer. I got the number and called him which resulted in a conversation filled with all sorts of threats.”

Do you think he'll come out here?”

He's living on social security with a brain clouded with alcoholism. I think if he thought he could gain a dime, he'd be out here or selling any tidbit of information he could to make that dime.”

Ok, I'll make a report which states we're to stop and hold him. What's his name?”

Ted Johns. His driver's license will have a South Carolina Marshall's star upon it, still, and he'll probably identify himself as such.”

If he does, he'll be arrested as representing a police officer without credentials.”

You'd probably be beat on that case.”

We could call out there to get verification.”

You're not understanding, the Sheriff in that county is his puppet. The town Marshall who replaced him is also. If you contact anyone, have it be higher than that level and they'll check with the state who will tell you accurately.”

That's messed up. I've heard of corruption like that, but this is terrible.”

Just don't let him get in there. That's all I ask.”

Do you have security?”

We've got four men and the alarms. It doesn't mean we're safe. The last altercation I had with him, he unloaded his pistol at me in the house.”

When was that?”

Two months ago.”

Did you report it?”

Again, I'll point at the Sheriff and town Marshall and ask you what's the use?”

Ok, I understand, why'd he not be able to hit you? We train here for shooting.”

He was drunk.”

Ok, we could stop him on suspicion of being intoxicated.”

Make sure he takes a blood test and you'll be fine. He knows how to operate your machinery and blow clear.”

I forgot about that. You're right.”

It's a mess, but he's the only one I'm concerned with. All these people are great. None of them will do anything rash.”

We get all kinds out here, we never assume anything.”

Ok, no problem.”

If I might ask, why are you driving the deceased's vehicle?”

They were driving mine when they died.”


It's complicated, but if it makes things better, I'll go over and get my car from the other house.”

No, I ran your plate because that turn wasn't legal.”

Ok, well, I wanted to make sure you guys had a heads up and had my back.”

Don't worry there, I'll put it on report and make sure we have this area patrolled. The neighbors haven't complained, so we're not real bothered.”

Thanks, I don't know who the neighbors are, or I'd be over asking their patience.”

Three of them aren't occupied. The people who live there aren't in often. One of them is a Japanese businessman and the others are stars who are away. We patrol them on our vacant house list.”

Ok, well, that's a relief.”

He smiled and said, “If you ever need more security, feel free to call, I moonlight in my off time.”

That's a thought. You're able to carry while you're off, right?”


Ok, how about you stop by when you're off duty. I'll pay whatever your fee is.”

Two hundred a day and any expenses.”

I nodded my head and said, “We'll use you. I'd feel better with you being here. Can you ride in the limo with us?”

Yes, but if we leave the jurisdiction, I can't do much except call for reinforcements.”

That's fine, some is better than none. The guys we have aren't assigned for exclusive protection.”

What's that mean?”

In on the front yard, you'll see thousands of flower arrangements. They're out there taking deliveries and keeping watch in that manner.”


I won't be having you do that. I'd rather have you posted in the house. Do you want the money now, or when you work?”

When I work. If I take any money in uniform, I'll be out of it fast.”

Ok, no problem. I appreciate your honesty.”

I get off tonight at eleven. Do you want me to come by then?”

Yeah, I'll get you a place to sleep.”

We work on sixteen and off sixteen.”

That's fine. I'll be here to get you in, park in one of the stalls of the garage, but if they're full, pull up into the turn around. I doubt if they'll be full.”

Ok, thanks.”

No problem. One question before I get in there.”


How long can you take the assignment?”

Until you deem me unnecessary.”

Count on it to be two weeks. I know your home life matters, so what I'll do is get you ten grand so your time is compensated. This will be under the table, right?”

He nodded.

Good, I don't want to get into the social security pay outs and all that.”

He smiled and said, “I'll be there. Do you have a cell I can call?”

Sure, here's my personal number and I'll need yours.”

I gave my number and programmed in his. “What's your name guy?”

Layne Evans.”

Ok, it might be confusing because my lover's name is Evan. I'll stick with Layne.”

He nodded and said, “Just so you know, I don't have any problems with your lifestyle.”

That's good to hear.”

Well, I'll see you later.”

I drove down to the gate and let myself in. As I parked, Ev came out and said, “That took a while.”

I saw a police car down front and spoke with the officer. He'll be here at eleven and will guard us for the next two weeks while he's not on duty.”

Cool. What's he going to think about being around us?”

He said he has no problems with us.”

“Good. I like the idea someone will be here.”

I know those guys out front are yours, but I also realize they plan on going home and having someone here around the clock is better aimed at what I want right now.”

We went inside and then sat down at the dining table. I saw he'd kept notes of all the details of our conversations. I took a look at the notes and then began adding my own notations.

What's this here?”

Brand has a warehouse. That symbol there is I'm thinking about having it as a warehouse for Diva D. We might want to keep the tower as the offices for the label.”

That'd be nice. I'd not given it much consideration.”

We really should. Right now, we're really not doing so hot with our being within the law on anything.”


Diva D isn't even a corporation. We've got a heckuva income coming in, and all I can see is it's income as being added into the inventory of the stores to get it covered with taxes.”

Oh, man, I never thought of that.”

No, but fortunately we have a tax number, so we're covered each way we go. It's not for Diva D, but it'll work.”

Do you think it'd sell in the stores?”

Yeah, but my advice is to not put many in them. At ten bucks, it's not going to hop off the shelves.”

Ok, how about six per store?”

No problem. We might tell Randy to have them state that on MTV.”

He nodded and said, “They went out already.”

They say when they would be back?”

No. I think they went to look at that house Ran likes.”


Den, are you going to mind if they want to live together?”

Are they wanting to do that?”

I don't know. I've not had much time to talk with Sam.”

Ok, well, let's cross that bridge when we get to it. Right now, I'd tell you it's not responsible and would say no. I love Ran, but I think rushing into things isn't the way for it to go.”

We're together and are basicly living together.”

Yeah, and I don't feel right about it. The way I see it, I want us to take the time to get to know each other better and to date. Yeah, we're living together, but nothing we're doing is normal right now.”

I consider us a couple, don't you?”

Yes. It's not that.”

What's is it then?”

Ev, for us to be a couple, I want us to have breathing room. Right now, we're together a lot and I like it, but I also want you to be your own person and me be mine.”

You're upset with me.”

No, it's not that. It's us having independence away from the other. I want you to be with me and I want to be with you. I want you to learn my business and me to learn yours, but there's going to come a time when I go out on the road alone and I want you to know you're pulling for us here as I am out there...but, I also want you confident enough to be able to go out there and do business too.”

That's fine. You sure you're not upset with me?”

Yeah, there's nothing wrong, I just want you to know you're not bound by me to have to be around me.”

He nodded and said, “How are you wanting to do things, then?”

I don't know. Right now, I'm speaking and I'm afraid it's all coming out wrong, but things are changing so fast I don't know what to expect from one moment to another.”

Ok, tell me what you want and I'll tell you the same.”

Ok, in my mind, you and I were living over in Bel Aire. Your mom and dad were here and Sam would be here. WE'd be a couple and I'd have my job and you'd have yours. Now, I'm in doing your job and I feel like I'm squeezing you.”

You're not. I don't feel that at all.”

What do you think?”

You're right. I thought it'd be the same way. Now, I see us here and having Sam. We've got the business and yours and a sideline into oil. I realize you're out there doing the buying of others to pull them in and I also trust your judgment to do that, because I don't think I'd be so good at it.”

I know I should have had you with me today. I realized it as it went along and I didn't like that feeling. I owe you an apology.”

Don't. There's no need.”

Yes, there's a need, because you should have known and been a part of it.”

I couldn't. We had the meeting here and thought we had the meeting with the funeral director. I realize you had to go because the iron was needing struck.”

Yeah, but I didn't like it.”

Things go that way.”

Ok, how'd the meeting go?”

I think Wanda is going to retire.”

Who's she?”

Head of security. She doesn't feel utilized with us.”

What I want to do is let her decide. What I'm going to tell you is I think we should offer her a road out which benefits her.”

What's that?”

I know she's bored out of her skull, since there's nothing to do. If she retired, she'd need to be trained to do something else, so what I think is to offer her to stay on and do schooling online while she's sitting here. It'd give her training for when she left and it'd make her feel better.”

Can't we use her someplace?”

Not really. I'd be lying if I told you she'd be needed, but the only place I think she'd be needed is at the old tower as security. She doesn't want that, and I've got no other positions in which to place her. The way it is now, I'm looking at getting rid of people.”


We're merging several into one. The people Brand has is so few, I know they'll fit perfectly into us. What we have to worry about is Hobbs. They've got a ton of people over there and I want to take that number down to where we're not so full of employees that we're paying people to sit and do nothing.”

Is that what they're doing now?”

“I have no clue what they do over there. What I can tell you is I just don't feel we're going to need them all. The way I see it, we've got people and we can have a few of Hobbs', but a lot of them will be let go.”

Ok, I'm fine with it. I think you know what we need better than I do.”

I don't really, but I do know Ted down at Brand is amazing. He works good with Eric at Hobbs, so Eric stays. Eric does good on computers, so that's fine.”

Ok, what about other areas.”

Jan stays as does the woman down at Brand in accounting. I don't know about Hobbs accounting, but I think we're going to be cleaning house there. What I will do is give Jan the authority to keep who she needs, but to also test them to see if they fit and get rid of anyone who doesn't.”

Ok, you said you were going to have Marty over legal.”

Yeah, and since Brand has no strong legal department, we're fine. What I don't think we'll do is keep many of Hobbs' legal staff. Marty has already found flaws and wanted to get rid of them when we were there. He didn't know I'd have approved it, but after we talked, he knows he can.”


The lady over Management at Brand has under managers under her which we need so they all stay. I don't know what Hobbs has, but I imagine they'd merge in good. If they don't, I'm giving her the right to get rid of anybody we don't need.”

Why not keep Hobbs person and get rid of her?”

Nope, and here's why. Over at Hobbs, it's like a walk in the park. None of them have been in combat and they don't know how it is to really have stress and work with nothing. The woman at Brand does. If you saw their set up, you'd probably have walked out laughing. I imagine your dad didn't snap them up because of how sparse it looked over there.”

He said it was bad. We never talked much, but I do know he spoke with Marty.”

Have you ever read a short book and thought it to be the best one you've ever read?”


Well, that's Brand in a nutshell. There's not a lot to it, but they've done amazing things with what they've had to work with. I can't say Hobbs has done amazing things, because it wasn't much they did to make their success.”

What was it, then?”

Low prices and a spirit in the stores of being on the fringe of something totally hot. People came in and bought and money built the company. We keep things in the stores the same because it's not broke.

What's way out of control is the amount of people in the tower. I think everyone's job is easy and they show, because the pay is that good, but ask them to multitask and to do something down at Brand and they'd look at you like you were insane. Heck, if you asked them to do anything at Dollar, they'd think they were slumming.”

Is that how you see us?”

No, but listen and I'll tell you what I see.”


Over at Dollar, you have a group of people who are like family. They've been there and they've been through the battles it took to build it. They're strong as a unit and that's cool. BUT, when they walk into the tower over there, they're going to think we just went from a Cadillac to a Rolls. They'll be proud because they will see their work is now going to go a lot easier.”

How are the people at Brand going to see it?”

I chuckled. “The people at Brand are like a bicycle going to a Rolls. They're going to show up and think they went to Heaven. To them, they'll think they retired.”

It's that bad?”

Hon, it's bad. I'll tell you it's bad and there's no way to varnish it so it looks better. I've seen a lot of bad places like it, but it's on the low end of the scale.”

And they made all that money?”

Yeah, the problem there is this....if I gave you a job to go to where you were looking for employment and you got a good check, would you go to it?”


Now, without saying anything further, you committed yourself. Why?”

I was looking for a job and got one.”

Right, now imagine this and I'll tell you the difference.”


Imagine Fred Sanford's house.” (Sanford and Son. A show from the 70's where the man ran a junkyard from his house. The house was piled high and the yard was a junkyard.)


That's Brand.”


Yeah, it's not, but it's bad. It's in a warehouse and there's imaginary walls and imaginary employees and the space in there is totally wasted. You've got a big place with part of it being used as a warehouse, but in the middle of it, you have a guy sitting with a desk and file cabinets and a little office made up with no walls, no ceiling, and no secretary, but he's the company President.”

Oh man.”

Now, here's the laughable part. Over in the far corner probably three hundred feet away is the President's brother in law who has a similar office set up. He's got a board on the wall and from it is hung a map. That's the distribution center and right in the middle of the mess is a toilet with a urnial next to it.”


It's like that area was the rest room and he tore down the walls so he could have his office there.”

They all like that?”

The accountant lady is the one who answers phones and acts as the receptionist and assistant to the President. Her office if probably fifty feet away from the President, but she actually does have walls and a door...no ceiling, but walls and a door. Right next to hers is another office and that's the management lady. I never talked with her, but I hear she's damned good.”

Then what did we buy?”

We bought warehouses way better than I could have ever got you and a distribution system which is excellent.”

How big are the warehouses?”

Ok, remember how I was going to build you metal buildings and have one for each item?”


Well, what they have is way bigger. Their smallest warehouse is seventeen acres under one roof.”

IS that a lot?”

Oh yeah, it's like the parking area for Hobbs and Dollar combined under one roof.”

Oh man, that has to be big.”

Yeah, but they've got a bunch of them and some are larger like five acres bigger.”

How do they get a building that big?”

I don't know. I know they can build factories that big, but I don't know.”

We did good then?”

We did good buying them because we got a lot of good things with them. I'm proud of buying Hobbs, but I'll tell you I'm really proud of getting Brand. What you'll not see is how Brand helps us because from the outside it looks like we bought stores and the distribution system was ours, but we did real good.”

How does Hobbs distribution system look?”

Ted said Hobbs will fit right into what he has and make Brand's better. If he says it, I know he means it, so we did good.”

And it all fits together?”

Hon, Brand fits with Dollar like a knife and fork. They're such a good fit, you just think they should have been together all along. With Hobbs, it's like putting a spoon next to them, and it fits, but it's way more usable than the others.”

Ok, so when do we begin the move?”

Well, here's what I'm going to do. On Monday, we have to go to Nebraska. It's not a want to, but a have to, because I have the deed to the apartment in the safe deposit box there. Terry and Larry are going with us there because they want to see you and they want to move their account to that bank.”

Good, I'd like to see them too.” He paused and asked, “What do you think of them?”

They're a pair. I love them, but a steady diet isn't something I could handle. I'd end up treating them like I was their parent. They consider me their third twin, but that's because I've been single and have been able to step in for them when they've been in jams.”

What do you mean?”

Ok, remember me telling you about the insurance stock?”


Well, I got it from them. Now, remember me telling you how I got the place in Italy?”

Yeah, someone lost a bet.”

Well, the person who lost the bet, lost it to them. He was going to give it to them, but they called me and asked me if I wanted to buy it. So, I bought it from the guy and he gave them the money.”


Some of my better deals have been from them because they see me as the one to go to when a deal is good.”

That's nice.”

But, they've also had me so upset at them at times I've really wanted to strangle them.”


Because they're so immature. Yeah, I can laugh about it now, but at the time, I was really pissed.”

I know there's a story there.”

Yeah, and Marty heard the story and just laughed his ass off at me, but I'm willing to forgive and forget because of today.”


Yeah, today was a big hug fest with them. I learned how close they consider me and I really feel honored.”

I like them. Yeah, they're way over the top, but when I've been in jams, I've called them and they've managed to help me.”

There a story there?”

Computer problems. I did something at the office and really had a mess. They talked me through it on the phone and I was able to save my work.”

Oh, so you don't run around with them?”

I have, but as I said, they're so over the top, I had to rein myself in, otherwise I would have been in big trouble.”


Ok, here's an example. We all went skiing together up in Aspen. Mom and dad have a place there and we all went. Now, there's things you do in Aspen and things you don't do there. I don't know if you know it, but they just don't like to wear clothes.”

I know that. But it also tells me you're close to them because they don't do that with just anyone.”

Probably not, but up at the place there, you can ski right to the back of the house. Well, they smoked some and then decided to have a wine ride.”

What's that?”

The nearest I could figure is you take off all your clothes, get stoned, and then, you put on your ski boots, open a bottle of wine, pour it into four snifters and then go out and put your skis on. Holding the wine snifter, you get someone to start the lift and take you up the hill at three a.m. Then, you make bets to see who is going to make it to the bottom with all their wine in the snifter. If you fall, you lose.”

Sounds fun.”

They were naked!”


Someone would have called the cops and I would have had to deal with mom! I wasn't doing that!”

I laughed and said, “Ev, I can understand why you didn't, but I would have probably done it and been skiing my ass off to beat them.”


Because if I hadn't, the ribbing they would have given me would have been terrible, but if I'd won, the ribbing they would have gotten would probably still be given when we're old and gray. The end result would be we had a lifetime memory from it.”

You've done things like that before!”

Oh yeah. As I said, I've hung around them a lot. In fact, for a long while, when I stayed down here, I slept on their mama's floor at the shop right next to them.”

Oh man, you go way back with them then.”

Yeah, I knew them from the beach.”

I've met their mom and like her, but she's a strange bird.”

Yup, but she refuses to go get medication to make her better and what is weird is I know they've given her millions.”

She was really nice to me and had no idea who I was. What was funny is mom had taken me shopping in one of the stores and thought it was neat I was friends with them.

Then, when I was down at the beach shop, mom came down to pick me up as my car wasn't running....well, it kind of got ran off into the ocean, but I wasn't telling mom that! What was funny is their mom didn't know who I was and when mom came into the beach shop, their mom just lost it. Mom was good about it, but I think it really shook her up.”

I imagine. I've seen their mom excited and all I can say is she'd be a great contestant on the Price is Right because she's rather bouncy.”

He laughed and said, “You got that right! Now tell me why you were upset with them.”

OK, but tell me how your car ended up in the ocean?”

I asked you first.”

Ok, here's what happened. We all went to the Philippines because they wanted to go see the plant and see the updates happening to the new line of clothing.”

Ok, I remember when that changed.”

Well, before that, they'd bought a house over there. So, for a while, they stayed there.”

I remember, and then they sold the place because of something to do with Larry and some fucking monkeys...now were they real monkeys or him calling the Filipinos monkeys?”

Real monkeys. They'd sleep and leave the place open because the house is set up like a place in Hawaii. The monkeys are those little monkeys and are all over the place.”


Well, as I said, they'd sleep and a monkey took to liking Larry. I guess he'd come in and as Larry slept, he'd stand over him and masturbate.”

Oh man!”

Yeah, so Larry decided it was time to go so that's when I arrived.

As I said, I arrived to go take them to the plant and see the revisions. While we were out, we went to a bar which was real popular, but it was also very gay. While there, we got to talking and I bought the house from them.”

You have a place in the Philippines too!”

Yeah, but I've never stayed there.”

Why not!”

Most of that business is transacted over the phone now.”

SO you got pissed over the house?”

No. What happened is at this bar, they had these drinks. Well, not really drinks, but alcoholic fruit cocktail in pineapples with a drink around it.”

Oh, I bet it's good.”

It is, but the stuff sneaks up on you. By the end of the night, I was blitzed and really drunk. I went and climbed in the Jeepney and fell asleep.

Them two apparently weren't drunk, so when they came on the Jeepney, they decided to catch a flight and drove some sixty miles to the airport and caught a flight. All I know was I woke up and they were long gone, I was someplace where I didn't know where I was, and had no idea the name of the town I was in or where I needed to be.”

Oh man!” he said smiling.

All I knew was the name of the bar from one of those little cocktail umbrellas, so I asked and people would point me in the direction I needed to head. I drove and then, I'd ask for more directions. Finally, I get there and go back in to realize all along the highway, I'd been asking for directions to a transvestite bar.”

He started laughing and then doubled over into a belly laugh. “You didn't!”

It's amazing, but Marty said the same thing when I told him basicly. All I know is since then, you can't get me to drink, much less with them two.”

From behind me, I heard a soft laugh. I turned around to see Sarah standing at the counter chuckling.”

She smiled and said, “I'm sorry to eavesdrop, but if you guys are ready, I'm ready.”

Ok, I'll go up and get Blane.”

I went up the steps and went into the apartment. I heard music playing and went towards it. Blane was standing looking at Evan's cd collection.

He looked at me and said, “Hey bud.”

Hey there, you get enough sleep?”

Yeah, it's quiet in this house during the daytime.”

Ok, we're ready to go, are you?”

Sure, one moment, I'll go in and get my cap and then meet you at the limo.”

Good, we'll be a little hampered because we've got to go to the funeral home, but then we'll go eat and then go watch a great water show.”


We went downstairs and he went on through and out the back door.

Sarah had gotten her purse and Ev was standing at the bar looking at some papers.

Ok, I'm ready.”


Notes From Retta:

Darryl, the Radio Rancher, is now editing my stories.

I could go on and on about how I've admired his work and how much I've thought of him through the years, but what I'll say is it's an honor to finally have his name associated with my work.

Thank you so much Darryl.

From My Keyboard To Your Heart”,



Copyright Notice - Copyright © 2008 by RettaMichaels

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