Write Me A Love Story
By
RettaMichaels
The Queen of Gay Romance”


Write Me A Love Story


Chapter Twelve:

At six am, we woke up and went out. Jerrett looked tired and I said, “Go get your sleep. It's going to be a long day.”


I'm ready to drop, but if you need me for anything, give a yell.”


I will.”


Go get yourself a room. I don't even want you driving to where it is you live you're so tired.”


I was fine until about an hour and a half ago.”


I understand. It's always that 5:30 hour for me also.”


He walked off and Mike, Michele, and a few others walked over. I said, “Mike, I need you, Michele, and anyone else who can drive to go get new stuff from that place in Springfield and get it back here to lay.

Things have changed. Now he's saying I'm a liar as to how things went out there. He's telling family that I strong armed him and MADE him sell to me.”


Mike gave me a look ,“How?”


I don't know, but that's his story and he's telling family of family and all of them are now wondering if they really know me or not.

Rather than beating him senseless, we're going to lay the new on that street and show the difference to everyone. We'll explain WHY it's different and we're going to sell the stuff at the same time so we're in effect putting the bastard out of business in front of him.

He's got two choices. He can either sell at 9am, or he's going to be bankrupted by 1pm.

One of the people I'm going to have here is the banker. I'm also going to have a LOT of the businesses, the city, the county, and anyone else who've bought from him indirectly seeing the difference and hearing why the new is superior and then, I'm going to ask them publicly what they support. You know as well as I that when he doesn't have it to sell, he's out of business.”


He's still got gravel.”


Yeah, and the second I buy another quarry, it's going to be bad news for him. I'm to the point that I'm not going to play with him, I'll skirt and conquer, but I strongly think that when the banker hears he lost all his customers, he's going to pull that loan and have me buy it....IF he doesn't, he's dumber than any of us can imagine.”


There is another quarry down here. It's further off the beaten path, but we have bought from them.”


I'll find out and get it bought. I'm deliberately putting a non-compete on the man just so he can think he can outsmart me, but I won't outsmart myself!”


He gave a nod ,“We'll certainly go get it!”


Take this card. You guard it with your life because there's $10 million on it and I need to have it for my company. Use it to buy those loads and I'll do what I can up here to have everything ready to lay.”


We're getting people in. I don't know who they are, but they're all congregating over at the Dairy Queen.”


I'll head that way then!”


I dialed Danny Wayne's phone. He answered, “Hello?”


Where are you?”


Out here looking at all this gravel that got laid.”


I'll be there with a bunch of people. We need to do some work because we're going to be teaching them how to lay before the stuff gets here to lay.”


Ok.”


On second thought, head this direction as I need you to drive a truck and go to Springfield to get some new stuff. I'll find two others and then, we'll be good to roll.”


I walked up to the Dairy Queen and went in. Everyone got quiet and I said, “Everyone who wants to learn what you'll be doing, come with me. Those who aren't going to be asphalting, hang back and I'll have you in your jobs.

At 1pm, we're going to have a meeting about what's been said about me. I'm going to PROVE the man a liar in front of him and then, I'm going to put him out of business by having everyone he's sold that asphalt to and through standing there also.

You might or might not like what you've heard, but by the end of the day, you're going to know how I handle a liar and believe me, no one wants to be him today!”


Donna stood up over in the sun room ,“I've explained to them what I heard and they know the truth. He's lied a time or two to everyone else, so they now know what I heard when I was there.”


I said, “Ok, you heard what she had to say, so give me five minutes of your time before we move.

You women and a lot of you men know how graham cracker pie crust is made....”


I went into the explanation ,“Now, here's the difference. Add some eggs and add in some flour to that mix. Heat it up and press...”


I walked behind the counter and took out a graham cracker pie crust and then walked over to a waffle cone ,“Graham cracker pie crust...If falls apart and if you pour milk in it, it falls apart. Sugar cone...almost the same ingredients except you heat, press, and get that waffle. Try to pour milk through it and it runs off. That's the difference between old asphalt over here and new asphalt right here.

All of you've seen the crumbling asphalt out here on parking lots and on roads. When you go to the interstate, you see the new...It's black, and beautiful. It lays there like concrete it's so strong and thousands and thousands of vehicles drive over it every day and in five years, it's still good. Look at these lots and tell me how many millions of cars have ran over them and you'll see the difference....”

I paused ,“Everyone, if you're my customer, or if you're not, you appreciate the good stuff because you got a lot more for your money.

A lot of you have heard about the slimy asphalters and how they've fucked people over. I'll tell you to point at the bastard selling them the no good asphalt and you'll see who you should've been blaming all along.

I'm selling the good stuff. I'll show everyone WHY it's better and I'll have everyone wanting the good stuff because they know in five or ten years it's still good...not needing to be replaced.

IF you buy anything, buy quality...you won't regret it in five or ten years. IF you understand me, you'll understand I fight for you, you, you, and every customer whether they be Stu here, or a theater owner down the street, or whether it's the city, county, or whomever....They're all customers and a lot of the times, it's YOUR money the city and county is spending and it's YOUR money when you're asphalting your driveway.

That man out there sees things one way. He knows he doesn't have the money to buy the new equipment and he's been trying to hold out so the season will get here. I offered him to name his own price. He said $2.1 million. I agreed to buy at that price.

IF he does not sell, I'll buy the other quarry just as soon as I find out who owns it and I'll run him out of business....It's that simple.

He can sell, or by 1pm this afternoon, I'm going to have the city, county, and all the business people here seeing the difference and wanting my stuff. Now, how long is he going to be staying in business if everyone coming to me? OR telling all the other asphalters they want the good stuff he doesn't provide?

You all know what happens if you're selling something and someone else starts selling something better....You end up having a crock pot full of something you take home and having everyone staying away from it!”


Everyone busted out laughing and I said, “I didn't mention names or colors or anything, so if you bring crock pots to the family functions, please understand I DO get things out of SOME crock pots, but others......ehhh...”


They were all laughing and I said, “Ok, let's go teach you how to lay asphalt....”


I stopped ,“Hang on a second...I need to explain some things.... So sit back down.”


Everyone sat back down and I said, “Everyone, we've got 2 shifts...6am to 6pm and 6pm to 6am. For each shift, you're going to make $200. We're not going to have 16 hour shifts paying $300 because we need to run hard and get the jobs done. HOWEVER, when we're finished, we're going to have other jobs you can do....

NOW, here's the thing....and I'm going to be as honest with you as I can...so listen up. We've got 8 crews of asphalters who are going to be operating. I'm going to have a meeting with them as a group and I'm going to lay down MY LAW as to how I'll put up with things and won't.

IF THEY CUSS YOU, you walk away and get to me, Danny, or Stu. I promise you they'll be fired at that second and will be told to get their shit off my property. You'll be moved to a different crew and we'll keep you employed rather than them.

IF THEY CALL YOU NAMES, you come to me. Don't get mad, don't cuss and call names back, you walk to me, Jerrett, Danny, or Stu and you tell us what was said. You'll stay employed and they'll be told to get on down the street.

I'm NOT going to put up with bullshit. If you want to call names and if you want to cuss someone, do it at home. I'll expect of you what I expect of everyone else and that means you'll treat each other with respect and leave your differences at home....just like I expect them to do.

You do NOT walk up to a woman here and say you'll take a “God damned” Coke, cheeseburger, or anything else. If it's my Mom, she'll see you wear the fuckin' thing as she's punching you in the mouth and dragging your ass in close to her to give a good old fashioned ass whoopin'!”


I paused ,“You respect each other and I'll respect you. If you mistreat someone, I'll be so far up in your ass telling you to get off my property and that you're fired, you'll NEVER work for me again ANYWHERE!

I'm not pointing fingers at ANY of you. I'm pointing fingers at them. I know a lot of them and I know that once I lay down the law, they're going to either put down some asphalt or haul their shit and miss out on the half million they're getting paid to do it.

YOU FOLKS will learn something here you'll be able to do at your own homes, working for someone else, and possibly working for yourselves. I own most of this equipment out here and I'll tell you now that it's yours free to use as long as I don't have it called for and you put fuel in it before you bring it back. Tear it up and you own it....but if you have something called an accident or it breaks, give me a call and I'll get someone out there to repair it.

WHATEVER YOU DO, if you do NOT have the job with me as mechanic, you do not WORK on a damned thing I own. I pay people to do that and if you want that kind of job where you work on things, you come to me and I'll hire you, but don't decide you're going to learn while working at something else without asking me because I'll fire you and we'll hire someone else who will do it my way.

I'm NOT going to come to your house and work on something without asking you, so don't do it to me. That's how I treat people and that's how I expect to be treated.

LAST BUT NOT LEAST....

I know YOU are going to be tired. I know you're going to be hot. I know you're going to be hungry, and I know you're going to be bitchy and just worn out.

I'm going to feed you. I'm going to see you don't get too hot. I'm going to give you a motel room so you don't have to drive home, and I'm going to make sure you have all you should have coming.

OTHER COMPANIES will hire you and make you buy your own food. OTHER COMPANIES will hire you and treat you like shit. OTHER COMPANIES don't PLAN on keeping you working for them, and I am. That's why I'm treating you so damned good and that's why I want you learning because some day, we're going to be out there laying asphalt where you'll be making AT LEAST $50 bucks an hour and you'll be fed, clothed, not hot, and you'll be working the same shifts whereas the other guys will have a hard time keeping employees and a hard time getting the asphalt down.”


I paused ,“I'm sorry, but there's one other thing...I'll say that's different between my company and theirs....They won't hire a woman and I will. To me, I don't care WHO YOU ARE, if you want to work, you'll work. A shovel doesn't get lifted by a dick and balls, it gets lifted by arms and as far as I've seen, trucks and most of this other equipment doesn't require a dick and balls to operate it either....Well, I don't own any equipment that does, so women get to work. Men...you suck it up because most of you ask your wives to lift a shovel in the garden and this is no different. Some WOMEN can out work men and then STILL go in and cook supper, raise kids, and have you lay on top of them when they're dead tired, so don't give me no shit or I'll ask you when the last time was that you did all they do and you damned well better tell me you do it all! THEY SURE DO!”


A lot of the women were smiling and laughing and I said, “Ok, that's that. We're going to go practice!”


We went out and I got the shovels and showed them how to lift. “EVERYONE here's how you lift. You use your foot and you step it in. THAT should be the hardest part of the whole process. YOU DO NOT lift a great big shovel full like this...You lift a little shovel full like this. ONE wears you out in an hour and the other doesn't.

IF THEY TELL YOU to do it different, you step away from that crew and come and tell Jerrett, me, Danny, or Stu. I'm telling you right and they can go to hell before I'll let you break your back for them. At the end of the day, you need to be standing, not so sore you're going to be screaming in agony.

Now, some of you WILL be sore, tired, and aching. That's why I want you here in the motel in cool comfort and I want you soaking in those tubs and getting the soreness out.

IF you still are sore, find someone who will rub your back. GUYS, it doesn't mean you like guys if you have a guy rub your back and you get hard. It happens and don't you be embarrassed. If you lift the table because it's hard, you damned well better be proud of that fucker because I sure can't!”


Everyone laughed and I walked over. “The way it goes is this...

The truck comes in. It lifts the bed and begins pouring in. As it comes in, some will leak out. Lift that and put it back into the spreader.

It's slow and it's steady. You walk and spread, walk and spread, and when you run out of that load, you spread because there will be a lot in the spreader and that next truck comes in and we do it all over again.

EVERYONE NEEDS TO LOOK UP! Beside there will be trucks. All around you, there will be rollers, compactors, and other pieces of machinery.

Keep your head up and don't get hurt. Yeah, people will get hurt. I don't fire people if they're hurt, I fire people who get their asses killed! To me, if they weren't being safe, they should be fired!

Those truck drivers are going to be keeping watch and you'll hear honks when they have someone stepping out in front of them, but the rollers, compactors and everything else don't have horns loud enough to save your lives....Step out in front of one and I promise you that you'll either be dead or you'll wish you were.

BURNS....IF you pick up the asphalt or let some get spilled on you, you'll be burnt. Stay back and respect it and if a whole bunch spills out, you yell “WHOA!” and that driver will pull that bed down damned fast.

IF you yell WHOA and you slow him down needlessly, I'll pull you from a crew. Don't be slowing us down and I'll not have you pulled.”


I walked over and pulled a woman who was stoop shouldered away ,“SHE will be driving a compact roller. You stay out of her way and I promise she won't kill you. IF you see her hot rodding the damned thing and trying to see if it'll do donuts, you let me know...I promise you she'll be fired.”


She was laughing ,“I don't know how to drive!”


You'll learn. It's real easy.” I paused, GUYS....LISTEN UP!”

It got quiet ,“IF you are young, you do NOT drive the compactor. Older men can and older women can, but no young people....

The thing shakes the shit out of you. If you want kids, you stay away from the thing. I promise you guys that you'll feel like you've had a mule kick you in the balls by the end of the day and women, I promise you the thing will feel like you've gave birth at the end of the day...It's not fun and that's why it pays extra.

When you drive one, here's how it goes. For an hour, you're on it and then, you go over and you work the food tables and cold drinks for an hour while the person who was on food and drinks does that job. In one hour, you get back on and you do it all over again....

NORMAL bosses will tell you to stay on the fuckin' thing and will tell you they don't give a shit if you're sore or not....They'll tell you that you're getting paid extra, so they don't want to hear your bitchin'.... With me, it doesn't work that way. I need you tomorrow, not with a bag of ice on your balls or woman area and begging to be shot.

IF you think I'm lying, you'll shake your head at me later when you're thinking about the people who do it 16 hours a day. All I'll tell you is this...They're the fuckers with elephant balls OR NONE because they've hurt themselves too much.

I'm paying you $500 a day to do that job. THAT should tell you how much I appreciate the people who do it and no, I won't fire you if you tell me that you can't handle it because I couldn't and DID get fired off a crew when I told 'em I wasn't going to do it anymore.

IF THEY TELL YOU that you're fired, don't leave. They're not the bosses here, they're the boss over that crew, but they are NOT the boss of this project. You walk over to me and tell me you got fired from that crew and I'll get you on a different job on another crew, or something.

IF I tell you that you're fired, don't think I'm putting you on a different job other than getting the hell away from me as far as you can. HOWEVER, if I tell you that you're fired and we see each other at a family function, don't think I hate your guts because I know some people do good at some things and other people do good at other things.

I can't make soap and I can't smoke meat. I can't brew 'water' and I can't do a lot of things you folks can do. I CAN do all these jobs out here, but I'll also tell you that some of them I don't prefer to do them. I expect some of you will be the same way.

IF you can't or don't like it, don't walk off....come to me and I'll see what I can do to find you something else. We're going to need a lot of different people doing a lot of things, and we're going to need people doing it on different shifts.

IF you find that someone else is a prick to you on day shift, it might be best for you to go to night shift when he or she is not working. I won't fire him or her if they're a prick to you and they are NOT cussing you and calling you names...I realize some people are natural born pricks and I realize other people have to work hard at it.”


Everyone laughed and I walked over ,“This is a spreader. Some of you will get to operate them and others won't. I'll try having it so you all learn, but I'll tell you right now that it's hard, complex, and it's a whole lot of jobs at once.... You will have good days on this thing and you'll have bad days on this thing because it's not working right or something's wrong.

This thing has a lot of moving pieces. In that box are two augers to spread it out and keep it from turning into a big block of asphalt.

Under it are two tracks which creep, so keep your feet and hands away from those....I promise you it hurts and I promise you that if you're dumb enough to put your foot under the track it will crush your foot into that new asphalt and I'll tell you right now we're not stopping until we move forward off of you...because backing up means we're going to burn you with that box. You'll scream and you'll think you're dying and I'll shake my head because you were that damned dumb....You do NOT step under a draft horses or a cow on the farm and believe me, this thing here is just as dumb and weighs more.

WITH THAT SAID, here's what I'm going to tell you. IF you drop a shovel or your glasses, or whatever, and it goes under ANYTHING, you step back and let it do what it wants because there's no replacement for heads, hands, arms, legs, and whatever else and yeah, you'll have to fill in where shovels and rakes all have been paved into the asphalt and you'll all see that a wooden handle comes out from under one of these tracks looking like it's been mashed all to hell.”


I started it and yelled, “THAT'S how loud it is. IF you scream, they can't hear you. IF you are begging for your life, these headphones won't allow you to be heard. They'll know you're dead when they attend your funeral....and yes, we shut the crews down for dumb sons of bitches' funerals on these crews.

I'll tell you I'd prefer you die of old age and away from my equipment, but I'll also tell you I'll stand up and call you a dumb son of a bitch at your funeral if you die on my equipment....You would if I stuck my head under your cow's foot, so don't think you wouldn't....You'd say, “There lays Jeremy who looked a hell of a lot less flat headed and alive than he does in that casket being a dead dumb ass!”


Everyone laughed and I said, “SEE! SO don't think I'm going to hold back when I'm paying for your funeral and having to pay your family to stay alive in the winter because you chose to see if you look pretty as a part of a parking lot.”


I paused and shut the machine off, “Women....Men....IF....YOU....CAN....NOT....Breath the fumes today, you won't be able to breath them tomorrow. Some of you will find you've got allergies to the fumes and others like me will smell them and not mind it at all.

I've seen some dumb asses crying with snot running down their faces, and looking like a clown all squinty eyed because they WANT to make that money. I'll pull you and I'll find you a different job....and yeah, it pays all the same...unless I tell you it pays more.

OPERATING that spreader pays more. Driving a truck pays more. Driving a roller does NOT, but a roller compactor DOES.

IF you are put on a different job driving something, you will PROBABLY make more money. If you're safe and show that you're a good learner, or if you've got experience driving a big truck, let me know....I'll try you out on some of these jobs.

IF you are unsafe, don't let me know...I'll figure it out.”


Everyone laughed and I got interrupted by my phone ringing. I said, “EXCUSE ME...Go get yourselves something to eat and drink and we'll meet up in the Dairy Queen.”


Hello?”


Mr Alberici's voice came on, “This dumb son of a bitch says you're not buying this fuckin' place!”


Ok, let me make a call.”


I hung up and dialed the Sheriff. “Hello?”


He says I'm not buying the place now. Would you like to arrest him for fraud? Or would you like for me to go there and beat him to death?”


He'll be arrested for fraud...You REALLY ought to go into law. You know a lot about it.”


“Right now, if I was making that arrest, it'd be conflict of interest and so would Donna, but I'm sure she'll make a statement as to hearing him say he was selling it last night.”


Yeah.”


That's my word and her's. I believe you've got enough to convene a grand jury on the indictment.”


He chuckled, “Ok!”


I'm calling the banker. It's damned hard for him to get his money if the man is going to be in prison. I think he should be made aware.”


Jer', let me go out and put the fear of God into him.”


If you do, bring him to stand in front of me and I'll finish the job.”


He chuckled, “I don't blame you one bit for being angry...Just let me do it the right way.”


I am....You wouldn't be speaking with me if I wasn't.”


He laughed, “I hear that!”


I'll have someone on their way out there with that crane as soon as I speak with the banker.”


What's happening out there right now?”


Mr Alberici brought in my new batch plant and was going to deliver it there. He got told by that man it wasn't going to go on that land because he wasn't selling. He called me and I called you first thing.”


Ok, I'm rolling out there.”


I hung up and dialed Stu. “Hey babe!”


Call the banker and tell him the man is now being arrested for fraud. He's told Mr Alberici that he's not selling to us and for the amount of money involved, that's 20 years....or $20 million for breach of verbal contract. Either way, it's not going to have him operating that quarry. Offer to buy the loan and let's go that direction.”


Ok.”


And Stu? If he disagrees, pull our money. I won't fuck with someone more than once when they do that to me.”


I understand. How's it going there?”


Teaching something like 200 people how to asphalt. It's a piece of cake!”


He laughed, “I bet!”


Really, it's the ideal number. Split in two, that's 100 people or about 12 people per crew with four people per crew too many.

We'll have three too many at 8, but at least we'll have the right number.”


If you think so.”


“I do. I'll get off here and get someone to operate the crane.”


Oh, you're hiring them for that too?”


Yeah, I want them seeing they're moving forward with me.”


Good!”


Let me know.”


I hung up and went in the store. I whistled and everyone got quiet. “Listen up everyone!”


They got silent and I said, “The man out there just told some of my people that he's not selling. His problem is he didn't tell me that and he didn't tell STU that, he told someone who isn't a part of my company in that capacity....so he's gossiping on top of lying.

Right now, the Sheriff is going out to arrest him. It's 20 years in prison for that amount of money and it's a $20 million dollar lawsuit because I'm not going to put up with that. IF you tell me you're going to do something, you do it or you come to me and tell me otherwise...don't let word come back to me different because it pisses me off.

Right now, I need someone who's driven a big truck and has damned good eye sight. IF you can shoot a deer on the run at 400 yards, and you've driven a big truck, come on up.”


Several guys and one woman came up. She was looking bashful, but I turned the around and pointed. “The person who can tell me what that sign down there in the Arby's window gets the job.”


The woman said, “It's advertising 5 for $10.”


I said, “Ok, you get the job, but guys, you get jobs driving big trucks, so stick around....but right now, I've got to go show her the job I'm going to be having her do.”


I motioned ,“Come with me.”


We walked down and I gave her a cell phone, “I'm going to show you how to operate that crane. It's easy if you pay attention to everything around you. Driving the truck is the easy part, but moving that hook around and judging where it's going to go is the tough part....Everything to get it there is easy.”


I started the truck and got it idling. Then, we went and I showed her how to put out the outriggers and plant them. After that, we lifted and turned it and did a lot of maneuvering of it while operating it in and out and up and down at the same time.

At the end, she had it down and I said, “When you operate this, it's $100 an hour. You'll be lifting parts of bridges into place and you'll be driving it to new jobs and setting it up.

Right now, I need you to go out there to that quarry because they're going to have you lifting some things up off low boys and standing them upright.”


She smiled, “REALLY!”

“Yeah, there's going to be a lot of use for you doing this for my company, so don't think I'll have you idle for very long...If you want, I'll have you doing other jobs while you've got down time from this.”


She smiled really big ,“THANK YOU!”


Hon, don't thank me, you're going to be busy doing this. Now put it all back down and pull everything in and I'll see you drive it off this place!”


I stepped out and dialed Stu. He answered, “Hey babe!”


What did you find out?”


He balked until I told him he needed to call his board together and get our money ready to be taken out of the bank. When he saw I was going to convene the board and show them what he was going to cost them, he suddenly got the idea it was in the bank's best interest to call in the loan.

Right now, we're going out there...If the man doesn't have the money, he's in default and that's when I'm going to be paying with a check for the place.”


Any idea how much?”


Let's just say that we bought two quarries and their businesses for less than what we were going to spend on that one. If I told you the number of acres involved, you'd probably be screaming because a lot of it is lake frontage.”


Really?”


Yeah, but we'll talk about that later....Right now, I'm driving to get out there.”


Ok, I appreciate it.”


Don't appreciate me...I'm doing this for the both of us like you are. You do your things and I do mine and together, we love each other, not appreciate each other.”


Ok, but I want you knowing you're appreciated also. You do things which probably are best left in your hands because I'd be pounding the pulp out of someone.”


He laughed, “Don't believe it hasn't crossed my mind!”


I chuckled, “We'll make it through. We've won back over a lot of the family and now, they know why the problems are there. I'm being honest and I'm keeping it real. We're having fun, and I'm surprising them with how I'm doing things.”


What's that mean?”


When you get out there, you'll see I hired a woman as a crane operator. She's got eagle eyes and she's damned good at learning complex things real fast. She already knows how to operate it and do everything and she's learned since we last spoke.”


Really?”


Yeah, so just know that I'll give 'em chances where others won't...and I'll pay 'em what they're worth and go up from there.”


How much is she making?”


A hundred bucks an hour.”


JER! You can't be doing that!”


Oh bull...When you get out there, you quietly ask Mr Alberici how much he pays a beginning crane operator per hour and he'll probably tell you that if we're not paying her $500 an hour, she's going to get taken from us with a better offer than that.”


Really? I went into the wrong profession!”


“Hon, you know how to get things upright and erect faster than she could.”


He laughed, “You too!”


Ok, I'll get off here. I'm getting beeped, so I need to see who it is.”


Love ya!”


Love you too” and with that I pressed the call over,

Hello?”


Mike said, “We're about there.”


Ok, I'll get 'em out there.”


How'd it go?”


Good, but at the same time, I'm having one crisis after another. I'm making it through them, but it's one of those days.”


We did good. They wanted to know your tax number and business license number, so I called Stu and got his. It'll get you through and it got us everything wholesale. Even that guy down there said there needs to be one up this direction.”


We're getting it, but we're getting it with a lot of hassles. The guy is now being arrested for fraud. Our banker is now staying our banker because I told Stu to pull our money if he didn't sell us the loan. The guy refused and Stu told him to convene the board and to get our money gathered up because we weren't going to do business with someone who did business like that. Needless to say, he's out there right now calling in the loan and selling it to Stu.”


Cool!”


“All in all, we got two quarries for less than what I was going to spend on that one. I feel real good about it.”


I walked down and into the Dairy Queen ,“Ok, I'll be out there.”


We're coming up the street. Work 'em like they are a crew.”


“Ok, just be patient so I can do all things at once.”


I will. I'll have Michele come back and help.”


That'd be good.”


I rang off ,“Ok, when I pull you out, I want the ones I pull down to the spreader working as a crew. All of you other people will be standing up on the parking lot watching how it goes.

I'll be moving you in and out as crews, so don't think they're getting all the fun. It's learning and we're going to do it.”


We went out and I saw Michele park and hit her flashers. I backed us down to the very lip of the creek ,“Everyone, stand aside and let him back it in.”


Mike backed and when he got to us, Michele hopped up on the spreader and I said, “Ok, you pull someone up to teach how to do it and if you think they can't do it, step 'em off and pull someone else up.”


She gave a nod and called a guy up. Mike popped the catch and asphalt slid in. I pointed and yelled, “RAKE!” and showed how to rake.

I handed the rake off to a guy ,“Keep doing that. Keep your feet up on that platform and you'll not be hurt.”


I grabbed a shovel and started picking up the bits ,“That's how it's done....Step out and step in and take turns. You'll be less tired that way.”


I went around and showed the other guy how to rake and stand on the platform. He got up and began doing it.

I stepped off and showed the people the shoveling and told 'em to take turns.


We began moving and I went up and told Michele, “I'm going to go get my spreader and start another bunch over there. When you think they've got it and when this load is finished, move 'em out and let's get another group in.”


Ok. I like how this is going!”


We're training them not to work their asses off and kill themselves for those crews. IF those crews insist otherwise, I'll fire 'em and we'll buy lots more equipment and do it ourselves.”


She laughed ,“With this many people, I'd do that!”

“I've got to get moving. I'll be back.”


I went up and pulled another 12 people for a crew ,“You folks. When that truck moves up, you get down there and start learning those jobs from them. I'm going to get another spreader and then, I'll have us doing two strips at once.”


I turned and pulled four people and asked, “Will you drive roller compactors?”


Two of the guys nodded and then, I went over to Alberta and asked, “Will you drive a roller compactor?”


She nodded and turned, “She wants to also!”

I pulled them and then, pulled four more people ,“Let's go get everything.”


We went down and I showed them how to operate the equipment and had them practicing on the front parking lot. I said, “When we get that one strip done, you start compacting and rolling, compacting and rolling.

When you do it, you do it in long continuous drives and don't stop until the end. Be mindful of others, and know we're NOT going to have this many doing something this small, but for now, I'm showing you folks and then, you'll be running things and doing it as straight as you can.


I went and got my spreader and began crawling it to the end of the property. Because it moves rather slow, it took a while.

When I got up there, I saw Mike's truck go up and saw Danny's back in.

My phone rang, and I answered it. Mike said, “I've got to go get another load. For this short street, we're going to have about 9 loads. For that much street and for that wide, $27,000 is real cheap.

With us teaching them a full 8 inches, they're learning it real good and Michele's already called me and said she loves having this many people on a crew.”


I agree. No one's working hard and everyone's staying alert. I think we're going to be laying a LOT of asphalt on some interstates.”


You need to get a bunch of those concrete barricades so we can get you set up right. With you doing this, I might even start looking at doing legit jobs more often!”


You're going to be busy here just as soon as I get a chipper, because I'm ripping up all of our parking lots and having them redone right.”


Cool!”


Before you leave, I'm going to put a driver in with you. I've got drivers and want them learning the loads and trucks.”


Ok.”


I made it to the strip and crossed it and then, got the paver swung around and shut down.


I hopped off and ran up and pulled 12 more to follow and another 24 people to go on deck.

On my machine, I demonstrated how to raise and lower and how to tell you were giving the full 8 inches. I dialed Mike ,“Pull Michele's in and give 'em blasts of the horn to clear them.”


Ok.”


Mike got in good and then, we began laying. I had a woman up on the spreader and showed her while I hopped down and around and showed everyone how to do their jobs.

I went back on and pointed ,“That laser right there is the line you're lining up with way up there. If you keep it on that, you'll run straight and true. It's that simple.”


She started asking questions and I answered them. She wanted to know why Mike and Michele's was 8 feet wide and mine is 12 feet wide. I told her the differences and why....one is for narrow driveways and one is for professional jobs.


Everything moved and when we ran out of material, we were about 40% done with the job. I got everyone into the restaurant and had them getting things to eat and drink.

After they'd sat down, I asked, “Does anyone think they can't do it now?”

No one raised a hand or spoke up and I said, “We're keeping 12 people on a crew. All of us professionals love it that way and no one's working themselves to death and no one's getting overheated or over worked.

Yeah, it's strenuous and yeah, it's rewarding, but ultimately, you all are now professional asphalters and you all will be making that $600 a day when we get the interstate or state highway jobs.

For now, we're going to do this job and we'll all have LOTS of practice because I'm going to buy more of these machines so we're doing it ourselves and working as our own crews.”


Alberta said, “I love driving that thing!”


I gave a nod ,“See, you love it and I can't stand being on the thing.”


She smiled real big and I went around and visited with everyone and told people who hadn't gotten to work yet that I'd get them to working. Everyone was excited and I was even happier than I imagined.


Sometime in there, Mr Alberici showed up with Stu. Stu....by the way he was walking, I knew he'd gotten the quarry. He got to me and was already smiling from about 50 yards away...so I knew I was right.


He said, “It's ours.”


Wonderful. Are they setting up the batch plant?”


Yeah, she's doing a right good job of it.”


Mr Alberici smiled, “She had a lot of help. She now knows about load straps! And equalizing a load.”


Ok, but don't make it too tough on her, she might or might not have went very far in school.”


How much are you paying her?”


$100 an hour.”


He looked shocked, “You pay that woman what she's worth!”


“She's my best paid employee! I am!”


He looked shocked again and got to laughing. “Ooh boy!”


I said, “She'll make more as time passes, but for now, that's how much it is and I'd like for you to have her help lifting things on your site.”


He nodded, “No problem...and by the way, everything looks A-1.”


Thanks. They're all off getting something to eat or they're in trucks learning how to drive with loads on.

You're going to think we've got way too many people because we've got 12 people to a crew, but all the professionals who have worked 'em, love that many...No one's bitching and no one's falling out because they're tired. I think we'll keep everyone we have.

Now what I need are at least five more spreaders and enough to make up five more crews. I figure we'll put crews together and work 'em and lay some serious asphalt.”


He chuckled, “Get your bids in first!”


I've got a contract right here. Does that tell you how much extra bullshit I'm going to put up with??? It tells me I'm going to point and tell 'em to get the hell gone. Either they'll play by my rules or they'll not be working here....and they'll get the clue when they have to haul from Springfield because my batch plant won't sell to them.”


He gave a nod, “I'll find you the equipment.”


I want 12' wide boxes.”


I won't buy any other. The temptation is too much to do what your friends are doing.”


I gave a nod and Stu smiled, “Is it that transparent?”


I gave a nod, “It is when there's nothing on the side of the trucks in regards to DOT numbers or names of companies. You won't believe the number of Sheriffs across the United States who would watch us pull through their town and when we stopped to get fuel, we got told to pull on out rather than stay.

If and when you have a Sheriff do that, you know he's going to arrest you as soon as you stay and yet, there are some brilliant minds who think they won't get caught.
Here, it's not happening. I refuse to sell asphalt to anyone who doesn't have a permit and Missouri DOT number. They can raise hell all they want, but I'm still not selling to them and SHOULD someone working for me sell or sell a batch pocketing the cash. I'll tell you right now that I'm going to BEAT the hell out of him and call the Sheriff to report the theft of my asphalt AFTER making the report for employee theft.

The only way I'll sell to an unlicensed contractor in these parts is IF they're using my equipment after getting permission from me. OR if another contractor calls me and tells me he's given permission to one of his family members to lay their own.”


Mr Alberici smiled ,“It's a good plan, but it'll have you in everyone's business.”


Yes, but I'd rather be in everyone's business than giving folks around here grief in the form of harassment. Word will get around that I'm not selling without permits and paperwork being in order and they'll go right on by. IF not, I'll be making calls to the Sheriff in front of them.”


He gave a nod ,“I'll get you the equipment.”


Throughout the morning, we continued to lay pavement and finally, when it was finished, I put us on the parking lot and lay all we had.


Mike taught them to park with the beds fully extended (up in the air) and we shut everything down for lunch. Most people went to Burger King, but a few went to Dairy Queen. Stu and I led a group to Dairy Queen...including Mr Alberici.

As soon as we were seated, I dialed the hospital and requested Mom's room. She answered and I asked, “How's it going?”


They found a blockage this morning. They're going to put in a stint.”


When will that be?”


This afternoon.”


Do you want me out there?”


No hon, I'll be fine.”


Ok, but I WILL be coming out there just as soon as I've got off work.”


How's THAT going?”


It's a mess. Stu's went and gotten everything finalized with the purchases of everything and I'm publicly barbecuing a man at 1pm.”


Why?”


I'll explain it when I come out. Let's just say he lied and tried ruining my reputation around here and I stayed nice and let Stu handle it. We STILL bought the place, but at 1pm, I'm going to drum up business for myself and a lot of the contractors around here.”


Your Dad is going to go back to the motel and get some rest. See to it that he does.”


Ok.”


We rang off and Mr Alberici said, “Jer', I need to speak with you for a few moments.”


Ok.”


We went out and he asked, “Do you want to make extra money doing this?”


Doing what?”


Asphalting. I'm going to show you a few things and then, you'll have a complete gamut of options to show you customers.” He smiled ,“This is where the money's made in asphalting and will separate you from the rest of them.”


We walked out to the drive thru of the Dairy Queen and he asked, “What do you see here?”


A drive-thru.”


I see an opportunity. You see a drive-thru and I see an extra thousand bucks.

What we've got is a stamping system you put in place and it stamps the asphalt to look like bricks, cobbles, or whatever. When you lay it, you put the stamp down and you roll over it. It pushes the stamp into the pavement and it looks like brick crosswalks, or whatever.

Rather than using black sealer, you can use red for bricks, white, or even go with team colors and logos.

Out there on that street, you've got a bike path. You can make decorative edging along it and differentiate and you can make driveways look custom, or build in your lines for parking, or lanes for parking out there where you're working.

What I see is them worrying about fast run off.”


They've already expressed concerns.”


Let's show them the stamping and see if they're happier. It'll make your parking lot look like it's SUPER expensive and a custom job. It'll make them happier because the grooves will slow down that run off and make it run off more smooth and evenly flowed.”


What about snow on that and ice building up? I know I was thinking about tubing, but the heat of it is what turned me off.”


We can do that. It's going to be expensive, but it's going to require you to lay several layers. You can put down two and then, you can put down a different two and put in your tube impressions and then, get those tubes into those impressions and lay a layer over and then, on your last layer, you can put your stamps and roll and compact so you've got a tougher parking lot.

The advantage of it is this....IF the parking lot cracks, it's going to crack in those seams. You have a built in groove to put in sealer and then, you're not out a lot of money.


On this parking lot, I see opportunities all over. I see bricks laid in the drive thru which clearly shows everyone it's the drive-thru and I see bricks laid for the parking strips so it dresses it up and your customer is super happy and bragging you up to everyone else.

With the product selling itself, you're not selling a figment of their imagination, you're selling something that's right there. Unlike stripes, they can't lay out what looks like embedded bricks, so you make the money rather than someone else.

When it comes to seal coating, you're back in and it's as simple as laying out the edges and spraying on the different colors and making everyone happy when the job's finished. Once again, they're happy because the cracks tend to happen in the areas where the grooves are already laid.”


Ok, do you have a mile of them? Or several miles of them?”


He said, “First things first. All we need to do the grooves for those tubes is rebar. Lay them down before it's compacted and you're good.

For the bricks, they sell patterns, but we've found rebar does just as good and you can make a pattern.”


I'm liking it. It dresses it up and I can see lanes out there for them to park in and having the brick in between will tell them where to walk and makes them more cautious.”


My suggestion is going to be to have you breaking up those spaces. If you put in long runs of areas where you can plant plants and trees, you get more beauty and people are more calm.”


I can't. I need the space to park cars. If I've got medians, they'll get confused and park so they're facing it.”


He gave a nod and I said, “For now, our beauty if going to be the painted asphalt and the theater.”


It's going to get hot out there.”


Yeah, and it's not going to cool it off to have some islands with scorched trees. You're forgetting, I have to live with it. You get to walk off and say you created something that looked good.

Go take a look at the trees you put on the sides of the highways and see if they're there in five or ten years and get back with me on percentages.

I'll tell you right now all of them up at Hannibal planted 10 years ago have been replaced twice and are now gone totally. It's a great concept, but doesn't work worth a damn unless it's desert tolerant. With the snow on, those desert tolerant varieties die.

What we're going to have here are fake trees with built in LED lights. Some of the lights might be out in 10 years, but they'll still be the same size and will still be as green as they are when they're installed.”


He smiled, “Ok, you know what you want.”


I said, “If you've got those brick patterns, let's put one across this street and show it off. I'm also anxious to show the brick edging and the way we can make it stop for the turn in at the entrances to the parking lots.”


I've got them on some trucks. They're out there in your front parking lot.”


Cool! Please tell me you've got a sprayer.”


No, no sprayer, but I've got the patterns and that's what matters.”


Ok, let's bring that truck down here and create a cross walk. Just that alone will be enough we can show them what we mean.”


We went down and I saw the huge amount of equipment. “My God this is a lot of equipment!”


He smiled, “It's all yours.”


I appreciate it, but it's so much!”


Over here is the truck with the patterns in it.”


I dialed Danny. “Hello?”


It's me. Would you go up to that equipment rental place and see if they've got a parking lot paint sprayer with yellow, red, and white paints.”


Ok.”


We need it down to the new street.”


I'll get it there...Use the Ford?”


Yeah, use that as your work truck until further notice.”


Ok!”


I got into the pattern truck,“Hop in!”


We drove down and parked on the street. When we got out, he said, “Here's your running bond. This is for sides and edging. This is your pattern here. They come in six foot wide mats.”


Cool!”


Some people came out and I said, “Ok guys, here's what we're doing. Come help unload and we'll get this explained.”


They came and we got them laid out and then, put the edges on the brick pattern. I got on the roller and went up and rolled all along and asked Mr Alberici, “Is that all?”


He nodded and I said, “Ok” and moved the roller.


I worked to pull the patterns up ,“Everyone, this is going to be painted different colors. The sides will be painted white and the middle will be painted red. It'll look like bricks and it'll be a decorative way of having something which isn't different.

I showed them how to lay the edging on the sides of the street ,“Everyone, this is to edge the street. It'll be painted yellow and when we get down to where the parking lot comes out, don't put any there and it'll let everyone know there's no parking on this side street and that's where to turn in.”


They lay them down and then, we had someone roll the roller down it and the rest move the patterns as they moved. It was cool learning something and having it turn out so nice.


When Danny got there, we painted the red with the sprayer and then, edged with the bricks with white which created SOME overspray, but all in all, it was a beautiful job.

He said, “Oh cool!”


We're doing it on that parking lot. They'll know the rows and where to park and we'll have this in between so we're able to have safe walking areas and edges.”


We went over and sprayed the yellow and at the end, we went across and went up the other side.


Mr Alberici came over ,“Out there is a turn pattern which show you to turn right or left. We've also got “Stop” and “Ahead” and “Caution” for you.”


I said, “I need one of the strips of edging to be done in four foot lengths so I can have those dividers in the middle be where the divider will be.”


Mr Alberici smiled ,“No, this is your street. Don't give it away so easily!”


I gave him a look and he said, “Three lanes. Two will turn right, and one will turn left. You want more traffic to flow UP the boulevard than down because that leads out of town. If they go up, they'll spend more money in town...That'll be the comment you use to get your signal lights at that intersection and it'll be enough to make you smile because you just created yourself a corner for the Dairy Queen to sit upon increasing the value of the lot.”


Ok, cool!”


Solid lines of that edging. Paint them white and have the turn arrows. Let THEM know why you made it. Don't let them think you created them a street.”


Ok!”


We lay out the strips and measured everything before we had them drive down the strip with the roller. After that, we painted.

Stu came out and gave me a funny look. I said, “Wait a moment babe and you'll understand.”

I lay the turning arrows and had them drive over them. Then we moved the left turn and did it again.


He asked, “What's that do?”


It gets us an intersection right there and it gets us the Dairy Queen on a corner lot. We can have them time the lights to work for when we are letting out the shows and not work when they're not needed. They'll go for that and it'll be better.”


He smiled, “I like this!”


I gave a nod ,“Thank Mr Alberici. I was about to give away the street and now, I see it as a part of our property!”


He chuckled, “I like this!”


Good because we're using it as a way to differentiate the drive-thrus and the parking lot and creating parking spaces using those bricks we've got painted white.

It cleans it up, dresses it up, and makes it look like you spent a ton of money when you didn't.”


He laughed, “What other patterns do you have?”


There's a bunch of them. We can buy more, but we can also get different colors of paints and have those also.”


He laughed, “I love this!”


Me too. It makes my parking lots in demand and it tells the others they've got to get their own. Out there on the streets, it creates a bike path and it makes it so we've got cross walks and lots of other real nice things!”


He said, “Babe, you're going to have a lot of people here within the hour. Are you ready to show and tell?”


Yeah, but I want to know where in the hell our asphalters are!”


He said, “Mike told them to put up at the motel.”


Ok, I'm not seeing anything up there!”


I turned to see Mr Alberici about 200 yards away and yelled, “Mr Alberici, I'm going to need big pavers!”


He gave a nod and yelled, “On their way!”


I nodded and waved.


He asked, “Have you seen all that equipment up there on the front parking lot?”


Yeah, and it's just nuts. That's can't possibly be $3 million worth...More like $30 million worth, but not $3!!! He showed me how he depreciates things. That's $3 million worth in his eyes.”


Man!”


I said, “Babe?”


Yeah.”


We're going to need more trucks and dump trailers. I know it's wasteful, but I have a feeling we're going to need them in the long run.

You see, he's going to be getting us bids on a lot of big projects. I want to get them, but I also want to lay really fast. My goal is to create a dependability in the government that when they hire me, they get what they paid for super fast and with Grade A results. No, there won't be crosswalks across interstates, but there will be with the city and there will be possibly with some state contracts through towns.

What I want to do is this....so envision it with me. When you lay asphalt, it's hauling asphalt from the supplier to the job. However, when you're doing milling, you're ripping up that asphalt and you're taking it to the supplier so they can rework it.

For us, I'd like to rip it up and get it treated and put it back down all in one move rather than waiting several days. That has us needing more trucks and it has us needing the milling machine which I see we've got up there.”


He said you called it a chipper.”


It's called that by some, but it's also called a milling machine in the industry. It's got gobs of little teeth and those chew up the asphalt at something like 2 inches at a time. To get deeper layers, you put the next one behind that until you get down to either four or six inches.

After you rip it up, you need some brushes and then, you need a vacuum truck. A lot of people use sprayers, but I like the idea of a vacuum because it doesn't make things wet.

After that, most people put down the asphalt. I prefer to have a spray truck drive down it and moisten the bottom layer with a coat of tar. I also prefer the tar out there on that gravel we're going to lay so that we've got an adhesion layer. It makes it better and down south, it also keeps weeds from growing up in it.”


He gave me a look, “Will we have that here?”


No, but down south, their soil is different and their asphalt is different. Their soil is so acidic that when you have the lime in the asphalt, it neutralizes the acidity and suddenly, you've got lots of lime being leeched out and places which had no grass will suddenly have lots of grass growing on that asphalt or through it. It's a mess!”


He laughed, “Ok!”


What I'm going to ask you is to spend more money. I know it's going to seem like I'm wasting money, but I'll explain myself and then, you'll understand.”


Ok.”


What do you think of the parking lot we're building?”


It's going to be great.”


I'm glad you like it. Do you know what I see? I see campground.”


Huh? No, we're not building a campground.”


I didn't say that was our intention, but late at night, when people pull into town, they're going to see that big parking lot and go “Oh, it's as big as a Walmart! They won't mind!”. The next thing we know is we're trying to park cars and there's going to be a bunch of RVs, motorhomes, diesels, and everything else out there and we're going “Damn, this sucks!”

What I want is this....I want trees to be the screen from these parking lots up here and back here. If people pull in, they don't see this and that way, we can put up chains and block it off at the outlets.”


Ok, I'm getting it now.”


Those trees help screen from this direction, but over on that parking lot, it looks like a landscaping and beautification process which looks nice. It's making the theater look more prosperous, but it's not giving us an untreated no man's land between which has people driving across it.”


Ok, I'll go for that.”


Thank you.”


He smiled, “I trust your input. You have reasons for doing things and I like that. You're thinking and you're looking out for us and I'll go for something that I know why we're spending the money.”


I appreciate it. Now, let's get these people to work so I've got things getting done!”


When are we going to find time to get the trucks?”


You'll be amazed. As a part of this project, I've got people hired and I'm actually going to let them do their jobs!”I whistled and yelled, “Danny!”


He came over and I said, “You're going to go on a buying expedition for me.”


Really?”


Yeah, on that GPS in your truck, find Webb City and bookmark it so you can take the drivers we know can drive and put them into the F-350 and the SporTrak and go to Webb City up there.

At Webb City, there's a truck dealer which has a long row of identical KW trucks and on the other side, they've got Volvo's. “You're going to have five drivers in the truck with you and there's going to be six drivers in the SporTrak.

Pull the hauler trailer behind you and haul the SporTrak home with you, but put those 11 guys into those trucks.

Here's what I want.... Tell 'em I want those Kenworths. I'm not sure if they've got the Cummins or the Cat, but I'd be happier with the Cat. Whatever you do, don't buy me gutless trucks, you tell them I want the most horsepower and then, when you've got those, you tell him we're buying dump trailers over at Springfield so you want the best truck you can get for the best price to pull those trailers.

I've already looked on TruckPaper.com and have seen they're $53,000 or thereabouts. Tell him for buying 11 trucks, you should get some discount at the very least.”


Yeah.”


Get 'em bought and get 'em fueled and over there to the trailer place which has those big pretty dump trailers. You'll recognize the place as soon as you see it. They've got all sorts of trailers there.

When you get there, tell them you want the Vantage Trailers they have and get the 39 footers. They're all like brand new, but make sure they have the cargo covers which go front to back, not side to side.”


Ok.”


What I will permit is this...You MIGHT stop at the trailer sales first and see if they've got a 58 ton low boy trailer. IF they do, buy it and strap on the trucks to it when you buy an extra semi for you to drive.

You'll have to drive a tractor up and get the lowboy and drive back to get the trucks, but I'll permit that because it gets us a dozer trailer.”


Ok, I'll do that.”


IF you find a semi wrecker at the truck place, check to see how many ton it will lift. If it's a 50 ton model or more, get it and tow everything back home. If not, we'll keep looking.

On that lowboy Danny, I'm not telling you that you can't go more on the tons. I just want to make sure we've got something to tow the biggest and baddest dozer we can haul.”


Ok.”


I stopped him, “Dan?”


Yeah.”


I just suddenly decided something. YOU drive the Range Rover and leave us the SporTrak here. Let someone else drive your Ford and see if you can put a couple of women in the back of the Rover to drive them back. I forgot about Stu's truck having the front end alignment out of whack, so don't drive that.”


Stu said, “I'll take my truck up and get it repaired.”


I put my hand on his arm ,“Tell him I need another Ford identical to the full size one we bought but I need it in a F450, 550, or 650...preferably bigger. Tell him if it's not loaded down like that F350, we don't want it...and yeah, I'll go to a different make to buy the rest if Ford doesn't sell 'em.”


He nodded, “Ok.”


I apologize for putting you in the middle like this, but I made a mistake getting that SporTrak and now, I'm not going to repeat mistakes again. Even with the F350, it's too light duty for us, so that tells you I won't do it again.”


He gave a nod and went off with Danny to get the drivers and get up the road.


I dialed Mike. “Hello?”


Let's get all the crews together so we can have our meeting.”


I was about to call you and ask when you wanted it.”


Do you think I should go that direction or have them come to me?”


Come to you. You've got people about to show over there and need to be there....I'll tell you now you're going to have to fire some.”


I know that. We're buying another 11 dump trailers and semis and have a lot of GOOD spreading equipment on the way.”


We'll be there.”


I hung up and went over to Burger King and got everyone out and then went to Dairy Queen and got them congregated out on the new street,“Everyone, we're about to have the paving meeting. The crews are on their way, so be prepared for some rough talk from me to them. I'm telling you now so you're not thinking it's aimed toward you.”


When the crews arrived I put them on the new parking lot, “Guys, stand down there and I'll stand up here. IF you can't hear me, yell “Louder” and I'll yell louder.”

I paused ,“You're standing on what will be the drive going into the new parking lot. Those stakes out there will be the boundary for my construction company's parking lot and building.”


I paused ,“All of you know me and I know all of you. I know the troubles, problems, and I know I can cut through a lot of shit if I tell you there won't be any tolerated on this job.

You're going to hear a lot of me saying, “IF you don't like it, there's the street. I'm the boss here, not you. You've had the right to handle things your way, but on this job, I'm the boss, Danny is the boss, and Jerrett is the boss. IF you have a man named Stu tell you something, you damned well better smile and you damned well better say “Yes SIR” because he's my lover and he's got cancer....

Cause him problems and I'll FIRE YOUR ASS after I beat you unconscious and then, I'll drag YOU out to the middle of that fuckin' street there and lay your unconscious ass out and call the Sheriff and tell him I've got a drunk who needs arrested. That's your hint that you're fired....”


I paused ,“Drugs are out. IF you want to do them, get the fuck gone. I've got those people here who will work without them and yeah, if you don't like them working for you, get the fuck gone...You're fired.

But before you leave, know this...I own the batch plants and quarries here. I won't sell to gypsies and if you think I will, I'll call the Sheriff and State police and tell them you've got non-conforming DOT information and trucks...We'll see if I can't buy that equipment at the Sheriff's auction.”


I paused and saw two crews leaving already.


I said, “Guys, that's fine. I'll have others following you in a moment.” I paused ,“Whiston and Michael won't be allowed down here. The first time I see them on one of the motel lots, I'm calling the Sheriff.

IF I get an inkling you're doing drugs or selling them, I'll treat you like them. ALL of us know they make the money off the users and they get everyone they can to get you to using. Well, on this job, if you use, I'll fire you and treat you to the dose of justice around here.

You might like that, but EACH of those workers out there is my family now. EACH of those workers has a name and a right to be treated with respect. CUSS THEM, or CALL THEM NAMES and you'll be fired. They've been told to walk if you cuss or call them names, and when I get told by them you've done so....you're fired, pack your shit up and get out. Sue me to get your money because the Judge is also family and I promise you there's enough for a jury trial and guess what....What isn't family is extended family and yeah, I'll smile when you're told legally that you're beat.”


Allen Young yelled, “It sounds like this is a bunch of bullshit fellas. He's got a little power and he's wanting to run with it!”


I yelled back, “Allen.....how's that jock itch treating you? You spread it when you spread those ass cheeks buddy and I receuved a whoppin' case of it. IF ANYONE has a complaint asshole, it ought to be me!”


He stopped and I said, “Yup, your business is out there in front of everyone. With your wife being Michele's best friend, I'd say she's gonna hear....pretty....fuckin'.....fast what you do when you're out on the road!”


Michele smiled and yelled, “You just told her! She's out here!”


I asked, “Bernie, you out there?”


Yeah.”


That problem is called jock itch. It's from a motherfucker not washing and drying himself like he should. IF you get some cream for it, it'll go away.”


She had a shit eatin' smile on her face ,“He's about to GO AWAY also! IF you'll do me the service of callin' the Sheriff, I'll make him go away and see to it MY EQUIPMENT stays here! It serves the dumb son of a bitch right putting everything into my name!”


Allen turned and stalked towards her, “Bitch! You'll do what I fuckin' tell YOU TO DO!”


He hauled back to hit her and I yelled, “ALLEN! IF you hit her, I promise you the ass beatin' of your fuckin' life!”


He slapped the shit out of her and I ran down and when I ran up on him, he turned and lunged at me. I threw him over and then put him face down in the gravel and brought my knee up into his lower back and applied the pressure point. I growled into his ear, “I'm dialing 911. My word against you brings the Sheriff.”


Donna yelled, “Jeremy, I'm calling Daddy!”


Do that Donna.”


A pistol came down beside my head and I heard Bernie's voice. “Let him up and let me have him!”


Bernie, keep your ass out of jail. He's not worth your future. Your future is with a bunch of people who love you, not with an asshole who knows love one second and forgets it when he's away from you.”


She said, “He was told the next time I get hit, he's a dead som'bitch!”


Let him be dead in spirit. I've already got you a better man picked out who is about the nicest guy I know. He's one of the family down here and believe me, when you hear him play the fiddle, you're gonna be in love.”


Really?”


Yeah, so don't give that up for this one....Let him be proven to be an example for the rest of these guys and take a ride to the Sheriff's office.

By tomorrow morning, I'll have divorce papers being handed to him to be signed....that is IF he's not taking one up the ass in there and is so busy he can't sign his name!”


She chuckled, “Ok, show me this man.”


In time hon....In time. Let's get this pistol out of sight so your ass isn't arrested also!”


I stood up and drug Allen up to his knees by the back of his shirt. “Make a move to run or to swing and I'll pile drive your face into this gravel.”


I went walking and got up to the parking lot. Donna said, “Let me handle him!”


She put the cuffs on him and leg cuffs. She said, “You HAVE the right to keep your fuckin' mouth shut and your hands to yourself. IF you decide you can do neither, I'll beat you down and show you a girl WILL beat your ass!

IF you want a lawyer, tough shit, you'll have to get one outside of this county with your own money if you don't want one who isn't in our family.”


I smiled ,“Donna, tell him he's entitled to medical treatment for that jock itch in the jail should he happen to want skunk oil!”


She smiled, “Ok!”


I turned ,“Guys, here's what else I'll tell you....

IF you think you can beat my ass, do so now. We'll see and I promise you there won't be any arrests. Whoever's biggest and baddest gets that chance. All the rest need to wait your turn.”


I looked around and no takers.


Ok, here's the next rule. IF you operate machinery, you WILL have it in working order. IF it breaks down, you WILL do one of two things, you'll step out and you'll leave, or you'll accept my equipment and operate it while my mechanic works on your equipment.

IF you refuse my mechanic the right, you're fired. You will NOT operate my equipment and have those people in jeopardy of operating JUNK!”


I paused and looked around ,“Fogles....step forward.”


They stepped forward and I said, “YOU are getting the biggest and baddest of my bunch over there. Call them a name or cuss them and I'll have them beat your asses OFF the place and break your jaws in so many fuckin' places you'll NEVER be healed up enough to speak to anyone with disrespect again.

Eric, none of this applies to you. You know as well as I what they do and I'm puttin' a stop to it on this job.”


He shrugged ,“They'll probably do what they damned well please.”


I walked over to Baron Sr. ,“Baron, not this time....You scream, yell, curse, and carry on to any one of my people like you normally do and I promise you I'll see you yell, scream, curse, and do all you want at the bottom of a dry well you son of a bitch!

When you see you're dumped your food in and when you see your family will be dropped in on top of you, you'll get the God damned hint that you're not going to jail, you're going to be in jail until I'm done using your equipment and teaching Eric that he doesn't need the bunch of you guys.

By the time you're pulled out, I'm going to have him working for me and he's going to know how damned much you've been stealing from him all these years.”


Fuck you, you son of a bitch!”


I slugged him in the jaw. He instantly grabbed it and I turned to Baron Jr, “Do you want some? It looks like your Daddy got shut up for six weeks!”


He glared at me and I said, “Yeah, I could've beaten your asses all along and didn't. To me, it was a job and to me, Eric was that fuckin' gorgeous that I was willing to look at him and put up with your bullshit to do it. Now, either cry and get over it, or get the fuck gone, but you're leaving and not stealing from Eric this time!”


Eric said, “What's this about me getting stolen from.”


I turned to Jr and asked, “Do you want to tell him how percentages go? OR, do you want ME to tell him with everyone seeing how you do your own family?”


I turned to Eric ,“Come on up here. I'm going to front them out and show you how percentages go.”


We went up and I yelled, “Anyone want to tell how percentages go if you're in ownership? OR, would you like ME to tell him?”


I turned to Eric, “IF you're 1/5th owner, you get 20%. You do NOT split 50% off and then get 1/5th of the half.

Those sons of bitches down there were dividing up the four pieces and giving you none. You were getting the 1/5th of half or 1/10th of everything...Needless to say, you were getting 10 percent and they were getting 22 ½ percent...THAT TO ME is called a fuckin'!”


He yelled down, “IS this true?”


Mike said, “On every crew where I'm an owner, we split it and then split the bills. You're having to pay bills out of that 10 percent, aren't you?”


Yeah.”


You're getting fucked.”


A lot of people started agreeing with him and Eric said, “That's it, I'm done with you guys. I've been feeling like it was strange that you got to eat steaks and I couldn't afford one, now I know I've been buying YOU the steaks!”


I said, “Eric, there's a job for you working for me anytime you want it. Pull off your pieces of equipment and take the spreader.”


“None of it has my name on it!”


I said, “Baron? He's taking the spreader. He's also taking the trailer it goes on. Get the rest of your shit and get out of here.

If you try taking the spreader or the trailer, I'll sue you on his behalf and take the REST of your equipment too. You'll be too busy being in jail on fraud to give one damn what I get from you and yeah, I promise you it'll be a bad fuckin' day and a slow trip through court when you're down here in this region.

Now, do you want to sign over those to him? OR, do you want to go to jail now and see how long it takes you to get to court?”


I turned to Mike, “See to it they don't drop that trailer on it's hitch and fuck up the tongue of it. IF that sounds familiar to someone else out there as to what happened to your machinery, you now know what bunch did it.”


Blake yelled, “You fuckin' bastards!”


The four took off at a faster clip with Blake on the trail. I turned, “Mike, go block the drive with that truck there. You know as well as I they're going to be in too big of a hurry to drop a trailer.”


He laughed and Eric said quietly, “I wish you were single.”


Don't wish things like that...That'd mean that Stu was gone and I don't want that. We'll find you someone and I know who it will be.”


Who?”


Patience. You'll be amazed. He's going to be on your crew.”


Really!”

I turned and yelled, “Would the crew I put together that I said I wanted the biggest people on come up here?”


The 24 guys all walked up and I said, “Eric, here's your crew.” I turned, “Guys, go stand with Eric.”


I turned, “Everyone, here's how it's going. You saw Eric get his crew. Each of you gets 12 people per crew. You each get 2 crews...one which works from 6am to 6pm, and the other which works 6pm to 6am.”


I pointed ,“These lights here aren't a joke. They're here to be used and you'll use them. I want the heads of your crews working day shift. I want your second to work night shift. That way each of you will have an owner on and each of you will know the crew your working.”


I pointed ,“ALL OF MY CREWS, form up and I'll get you to the men who you will be working for!”


I turned ,“Aside from Eric, everyone's going to have women working your crew. If you don't like that, walk....I'll build my own teams and crews for the equipment I've got coming, but you know right now that I'm watching you walk away from half a million dollars.”


Someone yelled, “We were told FOUR MILLION DOLLARS!”


Yes, and four million divided by eight crews is half a million.

You provide the equipment and I provide the asphalt and labor. You do not wear out my labor and you do not treat them like shit. IF you find them not to work to your liking, you tell them politely they need to come to me and I'll get 'em on another crew, but I WILL NOT assign you ANY people if you choose to send me all the women...I'll pull every person and you'll work your own people to death 24 hours a day and you'll do 1/8th the work or you'll be told to get the fuck gone....”


I saw the Brummel head turn to his guys and they walked. I gave a nod ,“There you go....now we're down to four crews. You can borrow some of my equipment and work with it, or you can make half a million, but if you use my equipment, you'll make a million.”


Suddenly, I saw smiles.


I said, “Everyone, I'm culling them out for a reason. You know as well as I that we've got a helluva bunch of nice people here right now and you know as well as I that I like all of you people.

The rules I've put out are rules all of us can live by if we're not overworked, tired, or hot. I'm only working 12 hour shifts for a reason....We've got enough people we can rotate and get plenty of work done.

YOU KNOW as well as I that 12 people is too many people. There's a reason for that.

I've trained them to step out if they want a drink. I've trained them to get what they want to eat without begging for it. I've trained them to go get cooled off if they're hot and I've told them they get paid $200 a day for that shift.

IF you've got a compact roller, these people in this bunch are driving them. You throw your rollers and compactors into the kitty and these people drive them.

In regards to lodgings, we've now got all the motels we need to house you....So I'm going to explain those rules. IF you do NOT leave your boots outside of your rooms, you will buy the carpet up front. I'm having people doing laundry and I'm having people guarding your boots, so IF you want a fast trip to jail, you fuck with someone else's property and get caught and I promise you that you'll regret it when you're unable to be bailed out for six weeks.

In regards to food, I'm providing it. In regards to fuel, I'm providing it. In regards to drinks, I'm providing it. In regards to beer, you EACH get a six pack of beer and that's it....Want to drink harder stuff??? Get the fuck gone, you can drink beer for the time you're needed here and you can drink the six pack you're given a day, or you can get the fuck gone.

In regards to fighting, handle it like adults. If you fight, our guards will arrest you and you'll go to jail and regret it until you're allowed to be bailed out in six weeks.”


I paused ,“There's a reason I'm saying that six weeks. I realize it's only going to take about ten days to do this job, but IF you go to jail, I'm not allowing you to be gotten out until the ENTIRE PROJECT is completed. You will NOT come back and sabotage something here just because you're pissed off....You'll sit it out and IF I catch anyone else sabotaging, believe me....you don't want that....The hospital here is pitiful and you know I'll be happy to beat your ass just to get you arrested and thrown in jail.”


I paused ,“A lot of you might be thinking that I'm planning on being a task master. I'll tell you right now I'm not....I want you to work at your leisure and I want you working at a relaxed pace. You're not getting paid MORE if you lay more, you're getting paid the same and by the job...if it takes ten days or twenty, I don't give a shit, what matters to me now is everyone's happy.”


I paused ,“The Sheriff here has given you immunity....I've pulled the immunity and told him that if I want you arrested, you get nothing but a trip to jail. IF you want immunity, you'll behave yourselves and you'll CHOOSE to do things the right way.”


I paused ,“GUYS, if you think a girl is pretty and you think you'll fuck her and haul ass, I'm telling you if you're married and I find you being insincere, I'll arrange a shot gun marriage and you'll have to tell your wife you need a divorce because of what???? The judge here is a part of our family and he doesn't take kindly to doing divorces after a shot gun weddin' he's performed.”


A lot of people were laughing and I said, “IF you want your wives down here, you're welcome to have them. I'll fly them down here on the weekends with your family and you can do things with them....You just keep your dicks in your pants unless you want to join this family.


I saw Stu walking up. He said casually, “There's a helluva fight up the way. One guy's beating the shit out of about four others.”


That's ok. He'll be back.”


He smiled, “What about them?”


They deserved it. They're Eric Fogle's family.”


Oh, which one's Eric?”


What did I say last night? Gorgeous and blond.”


He chuckled, “And he sticks out like a sore thumb in this bunch!”


Donna laughed ,“You can say that again!”


I said, “Donna, hook him up with family. He's a real sweet guy and now, he's going to learn what it's like when he's got his own money.”


Ok, I've got someone in mind already.”


If he's on that crew down there, you and I think alike.”


She laughed, “Yeah!”


Stu chuckled, “I already know that Bobby Ray's got eyes for him because Bobby Ray's staring a hole in him!”


Donna laughed and I said, “We all know it, so that'll be a good match up.”


Donna asked, “Who's the wife of this dumb ass over here gonna get?”


Did I say fiddle player? Look on her crew and you'll see him.”


Donna said, “Well I'll be darn!”


Stu laughed, “You're settin' 'em up before they're divorced?”


Divorces happen down here real fast if you want 'em. If you're dumb ass is about to go to jail for 6 weeks, I'd say you'll be divorced by the time you get out...especially if the Judge is happy to get his brother hitched off!”


They laughed and I stepped up ,“Everyone, out there is a street we laid this morning. You'll notice we've got edging that looks like bricks and you'll notice it's all the new type of asphalt. What that means is this...”


I paused ,“Right now, you're going to be witness to a meeting I'm holding for the city, county, and a bunch of the business leaders of this area. I'm selling asphalt to them and I'm showing them the difference.

After this job is over, you're welcome to stay and I'll even help to get you legit so you CAN stay and be a part of the boom.

You see, the way it's been, the batch plant here has been putting out some disgusting asphalt and pointing the finger at everyone else rather than himself.”


Someone yelled, “I hear that!”


I said, “Well, I bought that plant and that quarry and I bought the other quarry in this area and now, I've got a brand new batch plant going in and we're going to sell ONLY the new stuff.

The way I see it guys, if you're selling a good product and there's no choice in the matter, it's going to look good on you if you give people their money's worth.

If you can dress up that asphalt and charge another thousand more, it's worth it to you to be legit....Everyone will get plenty of money and you'll keep me happy and you'll be brought in on other big jobs I've got like Federal and State jobs.”


Everyone started looking at each other and I said, “Me having the batch plant, I'm going to make money....I get the stuff wholesale. If you want to buy it, you'll pay full price after this job....BUT....”


I paused ,“Hey.....listen up here everyone....” I paused and when I was sure I had their attention, I said, “Here's the catch.... Get your equipment up to working order and you get your DOT paperwork and you get it all so you're legit and I'll get you the asphalt for $5 over wholesale per yard.

You won't get the deal anywhere else and you won't see anyone else in the city or county getting that rate, but since you helped me, I'll get it for you...but you've got to be legit, otherwise, I'm not selling you a damned thing.

You might like that, or you might not, but you see, I'm operating a company there where I've got to be legit. If I do, I'm not going to take it kindly to losing business to you tomorrow by you thinking that you've outsmarted me....You can do that down the road and I don't give a damn, but you won't do it in these parts.”


I paused ,“Guys, most of you are one step away from being legit already. Use this money you're making and spend it to make your futures brighter. Don't blow it on a bunch of new trucks and eat beans at Christmas. Make your futures brighter and we'll use you on the fed and state jobs and we'll see to it everyone in this big collective bunch enjoys the bond of family in these parts....I'll tell you it's pretty down here and I'll tell you that your families will enjoy it, so let's work on pulling each other up to a better level and ignore that bullshit of running from state to state and being ran out...let them who left here do that.”


Blake came walking up and looked like he'd been through a battle. He gave a nod ,“That's handled.” He turned to Eric ,“If you do NOT dump them as a family boy, I'll beat your ass twice just to show you what I think of your family name!”


I said, “Blake, let it go....He's here and they aren't. You missed the part about fighting, but you didn't miss the part about cussing, and calling people names. You treat him with respect and get the rest from your fellas....They're going to tell you I'm offering you a once in a lifetime opportunity to get legit and if you don't, I promise you that you won't work in these parts...it's that simple.”


He squinted his eyes ,“What's in it for us?”


Five dollar above cost asphalt...” I turned and waved my hand, “All these people as customers....You being made a part of fed and state contracts I bid upon...And you having immunity from arrest in these parts if you're viewed as family in this region.”


He looked shocked, “Whoa!”


I gave a slow nod, “Is that right Sheriff?”


Yeah.”


I said, “EVERYONE, this is the Sheriff. He's my best friend down here and he's like another father to me.

IF you want the opportunities, you keep him in office. If you don't, fuck you....we'll all suffer side by side when he's out....I don't think anyone else will give you that offer and you've sure as shit not gotten it anywhere else!”


They were all nodding and I said, “BUT, here's the clue....IF you're legit, you will NOT fuck over a customer because the second that happens, you're NOT legit and you'll be arrested. We all know who they are and we all know what it's like to feel like we're having to look over our shoulders....Let's end it here and let's share in the joy that we can make a damned good living and not have to worry about all the other clowns who aren't here now.

You will learn a few things....You're going to learn I'm damned competitive, but you're going to learn I'm a total bitch when I'm crossed....”


I paused and turned to Mike, “Mike? Do you want to tell them what you told me a little while ago?”


He gave me a look, “What's that?”


About the batch plant down at Springfield?”


He gave a huge nod ,“They're for sale....We went down there to get the asphalt this morning for that street out there. In conversation, I learned they're for sale...and they've got five in the area which are a part of the sale.”


I gave a nod ,“Guys, if I had the money, don't you think I'd be buying them???”


Everyone started smiling and I said, “You're right....I've already got a phone call in with the owner so we can negotiate a price....Once again, me getting it at cost and you getting it for $5 over cost, so you decide if you want to work in this region or if you want to be illegit someplace else and stay the fuck out of this region so I can get more and more.

What you WILL NOT have to do is you won't have to worry about the gypsy bunch being your competition because I'm going to demand to see DOT and all your information in order to get on the place.

IF you don't give it, turn around and go someplace else. I promise you that us'ns here will be smiling a lot brighter knowing they're paying full price and they'll be unable to compete.

That does NOT mean I'm only selling to us. That means I'm only selling to the legitimate ones...those who are nodding that they've got the records and those who have proof the records are up to date. THEY are the ones with the DOT numbers on the sides of their trucks...THEY are the ones who have names on the sides of their trucks! AND THEY, are the ones who don't have warrants or records all over the place.”


I paused ,“Guys, if you're legit, that Sheriff down there isn't going to bug the piss out of you. He and I are going to have a talk and I'm going to show him what I look for and don't look for....BELIEVE ME, when he realizes what he's been missing and what he needs to see, he'll be doing LOTS of different things....

He'll be making arrests...THAT gets him reelected in his county. He'll be having LOTS of Sheriff's auctions because he's going to have equipment to sell. AND, he's going to smile at or he's going to arrest people who come to those auctions....And yeah, I betcha, he's going to treat you with consideration because he knows you're not a source of his headaches....

In short, you've got 2 weeks to decide. If you're not in jail, you'll be given the option with us having my lawyer here ready to do the work and paperwork that's required and then, you can stay down in these parts and work your asses off knowing I've created a playing field where you're treated like family and the rest of them are treated as equals because they're legit, but not as good as family.”


I saw the contingency of everyone standing around behind me listening to the meeting was telling me that I needed to get the show on the road in other ways.

I said, “Guys, here's the thing....I want to use your equipment and mine to lay gravel. We all know it makes a better product, so let's lay it and use our trucks and equipment to get the gravel here and laid on the ground.

These people you've been given here all know how to operate the machinery. Get to have them knowing the idiosyncrasies of your equipment and then, let them do it while you drive your trucks or while you have them driving your trucks.

Go get everything started and if any one of you needs to use my equipment, check it out and be ready to return it just as soon as my mechanic has his work done....

AND GUYS??? You pay for parts. I'll be nice, but I'm not rebuilding your junk to hand you something new....You can get that with that million dollars and be happy.”


Blake yelled, “What if we want to talk with you about that?”


Come on up? I'll speak with you. If you want to order the machinery or if you know where some is that you want, I'll be happy to buy it and hold the lien on it until you've got the money, but you will NOT haul ass out of here without getting me repaid. I know where you live....and remember that!”


He came up and I said, “For right now Blake, I know you're operating one which is junk....Use mine and we'll get you damned good. I said that so everyone got offered the same offer you did and no one's seeing me favoring you.

I know you well enough you want damned good equipment, but you've never had the money to do so until now.”


He nodded and I said, “One million payable when this job is done. You do NOT break those people's backs to get it and you let them take all the breaks you need.”


How are they going to work? I'd be taking breaks all the fuckin' time!”


I leaned towards him ,“Listen to me and listen good. Those people have honor. They're working in front of their families who are pulling the load when they slack...and yes, they will tell that person about it in front of you and everyone else!

You are now a part of this family...like it or not. You'd better like it because jail time is 6 weeks before you know the charges. Just treat ALL OF THEM like you would your mother and you'll be fine....As you know, I know your Mom would beat the fuck out of you if you treated her like dirt and believe me, I will also if you cross my family. SO you treat them like your family and you'll soon realize you're a member of a clan that holds your purse strings and holds your future in things in their hands.

They didn't realize how powerful they were until I realized it for them. Now they're working their asses off for me and they're all dreaming of the day when they are a part of all of it.

Now it's happening and soon, it'll be happening when we're all working on the fed and state jobs....and yeah, I'm already bidding because over there is Mr Alberici...recognize the name? Well, he's my mentor....so you learn beside me and you'll be a part of it. Step in front of me or cross me and I promise you won't do a damned thing in this region.”


He gave a nod, “It costs a lot to get legit. None of us have had the money.”


And now, you're going to realize you've got the money and you're at a cross roads. You can buy everyone new trucks, or you can get legit and buy new trucks from all the money you'll be making....”


I shook my head ,“Blake, here's the thing...You spend 5 fuckin' thousand dollars in fuel getting from point A to point B and don't think one thing about it...and at the same time, the paperwork to get legit is $500???

There's something wrong with that. There's something wrong with driving a brand new truck and spending money out so much that you're holding junk together with Band-Aids and prayers. Put the money into equipment and know you're running good and I'll get you those fuckin' trucks a lot cheaper.....do you know why?”


No, why???”


I rolled my eyes. “What have I been saying all this fuckin' meeting?”

“They're family?”


I smiled and Donna laughed. He smiled, “Well I'll be damned!”


You'll be richly damned if you stick around!”


He smiled real big and I said, “The Chevy dealer is also us. There are other businesses which are us also, but the theaters aren't, but the band members could be if they weren't imported in from Nashville.”


He looked surprised, “Ooh, I bet everyone's pissed!”


Donna chuckled ,“We're pissed, but now we've got a voice and we're speaking through him....Now you've got a voice and you're seeing what it feels like to speak through him....How's it feel because our entire family loves him for that very same reason.”


He smiled and nodded, “It feels damned good. All of us didn't believe it, but when we heard he called everyone down, we thought it was a set up. It was, but it's a set up so he could say he gave everyone the same option and didn't treat anyone unfairly.”


She nodded ,“The next meeting is the same way...except he's now telling them the same thing you guys just got told....That he's controlling who they deal with and either they'll buy quality or they'll pay a lot to get substandard product...because that's now got to be imported.”


He looked surprised, “That's right! Ooh man!!!”


I chuckled, “Go get your crew started and use my spreader. I've got eight more coming, so use those others when they get here.”


That spreader is like the Cadillac of spreaders!”


I chuckled, “I agree. Now you know why I want everyone operating them. When you and they see how much easier it is operating quality, they're not going to settle for substandard anymore!”


He nodded, “Thanks.”


It's a wake up call. Now tell me how you're going to live your day....Looking to the future? Or looking over your shoulder? You'll get someplace a helluva lot easier if you're looking forward.”


He nodded and ran down the hill to get to the spreader.


I started the next meeting by yelling, “Everyone, if I may have your attention, I want you to walk down here to our new street.”


I took them down and showed them the asphalt and sold them on the advantages of it and the benefits of it. Then, I told the other companies that it was and will be the only choice unless new formulations were developed.

Everyone noticed the add-ons and I said, “I purposefully left the stencils out here for you to see. There are other patterns for the bricks. There are other ways we can use them, but it's a new treatment which gets YOU the customer across as caring about your place of business and showing you off to them that you only want quality.”


I told them about buying the quarries and about the man selling EVERYONE the substandard and letting all the contractors be the scapegoat.

When I got through, I had orders coming in and told people, “Here's how we're going to work things. My people know you're businessmen and women. They know you've got show times and they know you've got deadlines they've got to work under.

After your show, or when you shut your business for the day, we're going to block your entrance and get in and rip out the old and get the new laid right then. By the next day, you'll have a new lot and you'll have things being done nice and right. You won't regret it and that's how it'll be.

I've got four crews working besides mine. We're only human and we'll do all we can so we're making sure your business is done in the right manner. You'll be charged a decent rate and no one's going to harm you in the pocket book more than what the price is for you, you, you, and you...so you know it's all the same price for everyone.

A lot of these people will look at you and charge you more....Others get charged less because they know they can't get it if they charge you too much....so it varies. With us all charging the same, you get the right price the first time for that quote.... AND, if you need it and you can't afford it, let me know, I'll arrange financing and we'll get it handled so you have a chance to increase your business.”


They looked surprised and I said, “That's a rare opportunity. Not many others give it, but I believe in the product so much and I know the abilities of my workers so much that I'll stand behind everything and back you on it so I can have you smiling and telling people you don't regret it.”


I turned to the other contractors ,“This isn't the death knell for you. I'll give you the same opportunities to work from the list, but there are guidelines we need to discuss.

To be fair, I'll tell you in front of everyone here. You must be legit. That means your trucks and equipment passes inspections. That means you've got your paperwork in order. That means you're an upstanding person and you don't rook anyone.

In return, you get to buy from my quarry. IF you don't have it up to date...if you don't want to play on an even playing field, I'll tell you right now you'll play hell before you get a speck of rock, sand, or asphalt....or soon, concrete from my company.

IF you think you'll buy from my competition, I'll smile and tell you I'm buying most of the batch plants down here....You'll run a truck out of gas before you'll make a dollar on the backs of my people or the good business people.”


I turned ,“Everyone, I'm getting off this subject and onto a new subject.

Starting real soon, we're going to have hot water and steam available. Many of you might heat with other sources of energy, but we're going to be offering those and we're going to be creating a consortium which gets that to you...and yeah, you in the city see me having the balls to tell you I'm creating a new utility and if you don't like it, you'll see me do it anyway and fight you in court for eminent domain to get it to them.

I'm not threatening, I'm making it so each and every person in this town who has a show, motel, or restaurant can get something which increases their profits because they don't have to pay for gas or electricity to heat their buildings or hot water.

What you should know is IF you fight me, I'll turn it on you so quick that your head will be spinning. I CAN do this form of utility IN their own building with very little space required and yeah, I'll hook up your police, fire, street, and city hall absolutely free of charge just to have you amazed it's possible...

You might think I'm blowin' smoke and sellin' snake oil, but Stu here already knows about it and he's authorized me to get everything we own in under it.

He knows it can be made small enough to heat a home and big enough to heat a city. We can create power from it and we certainly can make money from it...so agree and we'll be fine.”


The Mayor asked, “What is it?”


It's a water hammer. You take water and spin it with such velocity that it heats up without gas, coal, or fire.”


He looked over at Stu, “IS this true?”


Stu said, “Yeah, I'm amazed because they say it creates more energy than it takes to put into it.

From one 55 gallon drum, he can create enough hot water, he can give most of the businesses along this strip the hot water. From another, he can create the steam needed to heat everything.

OR, he can go in and install something the size of a paint bucket or five gallon drum and make it for your house, or small business. When you realize it takes about $20 worth of electricity a month versus what we pay in extra heating bills, it seems amazing, but when you realize we can pipe it under the asphalt and heat the water in those pipes and keep the streets clear in snow, it's amazing.”


I said, “Mayor, I realize this is sprung on you, but I'm going to speak to the county people right now....”
I turned and spoke to the county road commissioner ,“IF you laid tubes under the asphalt, you'd have clear roads. IF you chose to put up photovoltaic panels to create that heat by spinning the water, you could write it off as a green project as could all the businesses and home owners.

I'd be happy to help and I'd be happy to show everyone that it's not something that I'm making up, but here's what I'll do....”


I walked over and took a three foot length of rubber hose we were going to be using for irrigation ,“Stand back.”


People stood back and I spun it around and it began humming. I spun it faster and the pitch went up.

That ladies and gentlemen is the principle. Air goes in and when spun, it's the centrifugal force which causes it to be slung out and draw the air in quicker.

With water, you do the same thing. It spins like that at 3600 rpm. Because it's in a confined space, it's drawn in and slung out over and over and over so much that it heats up.

It being in a tight space, it's spun and the pressure increases in there....BUT because the water pressure into that out going pipe is constant and the incoming pipe is constant, the pressure going up creates heat.

I'd like to say I invented that, but I didn't. I'm passing on what I learned and will be happy to show everyone in a week by having the model hooked up and show you the only thing hooked up is power to the motor spinning the drum, nothing else.”


The mayor smiled, “I'd be happy to see it in a live demonstration where all the city council is available!”


That'll be fine. I'll make the call and order it now.”


I dialed the number for the company and when I got the owner on the phone, I said, “Rand? This is Jeremy Blue. We've not talked before, but I need to order a large one of your water hammers and have you pipe it in like that demonstration you showed.”


Oh! Ok...Are you thinking about ordering?”


I'm thinking about ordering six of them the size for a police station or fire department....but I think you could go with a lot less motor and make it more efficient. Have you thought about brushless?”


That's how we're doing it now.”


Ok, I'll be happy to have six of them that size, but I need one which is the size of a 55 gallon drum.”


That's going to heat up a LOT of water.”


I'm needing it for a bunch of businesses...three of them being motels. I'll be piping out to all of them and piping back.”


It'd be better to install on the premises.”


Yes, but the thought of having eleven or twelve of those motors operating versus one is what was making me pay what I'd be paying out in piping.”


Ok, what kind of heat is available there now?”


None. In the motels we've got the individual ones, but we're going to do tubing in the floors to give the heat. For our restaurants, they heat water with the gas tankless.”


Ok, it's all going to take retrofitting.”


Yes, but the savings is where we get paid back.”


True.”


So get me those and I'll get you the payment over phone.”


I gave my card number and he said, “I'd like to come up and see what's needed.”


I need those first six in a week.”


I'll have them there and will deliver them personally.”


Thank you.”


I hung up ,“He's coming to deliver them personally and then, we'll have the demonstration.”


So you're reselling what we could buy?”


“I'm reselling what you could buy and I'm offering the way to retrofit so you've got heat. If you've got a boiler, or if you use hot water now, you'll be able to switch immediately.”


Our schools have boilers and they're in sad financial shape because of the amount of money it takes to heat them.”


How many schools?”


Four.”


I pressed redial and when Rand answered, I said, “Rand, this is Jeremy Blue again. I need four larger ones for the schools. I'll donate those to the school system, but you'll need to call them and find out what size of boilers they're using so you know what you need to replace.”


I'll do that. This is for Branson, Missouri?”


Yes sir, I'll pass along word to them I'm donating them so they know when you call that you're not a salesman, you're calling for what's already been bought.”


He chuckled, “Ok!”


I appreciate it.”


I hung up ,“Mr Mayor, call the school system and let them know I just donated them to the schools, but they're going to have to have the size of their boilers handy so we can get those replaced.”


He pointed ,“He's the Superintendent of Schools.”


I turned, “Mr Superintendent, I'm donating these for the school system. Call your maintenance people and find out the size of boilers so we can get the heating switched over to this and get you to saving money.”


How much money?”


Let me brag when I tell you that right now you're probably using 90% more energy than you'll use to heat your schools this way...SO, if you do not, I'll pay your heating bills for the next 10 years if I'm wrong. If not, you'll have paid what you pay for one year in the next 10 years....I think you'll have the money you need elsewhere.”


He looked surprised and I said, “That's a gift from Stu and I. I'd say that you could name your first born after us, but since you've probably got a thousand kids, I'm sure there's a Stu and a Jeremy in the bunch.”


Everyone laughed and he said, “Probably a LOT of Jeremies!”


I'd take a bow, but Stu would probably kick me in the butt and send me sprawlin'!”


Everyone laughed and I said, “Ok, that's it for this meeting. If anyone has any questions, please feel free to stay back and speak with me. I'll answer all the questions I can, but I'd rather answer the questions publicly so everyone might have their questions answered which are the same...”


The questions got started and I answered them. By the end, it had been another hour and Mike had already gotten several rounds of gravel delivered and we were seeing LOTS of progress in the parking lot. What was nice is my offer of financing them had orders streaming in from all over.

One of the contractors stayed back and asked to speak with me. We went out and he said, “Everyone's pissed and are planning on running you out of business.”


Not happening. You see that lot over there? It's inside the bigger piece of property which is also our property. In order to get on that lot, you're going to step foot on Stu's property to get to mine. In order to get onto my property, you're going to cut through a fence and then be met with a 100,000 volt kill fence inside that fence. Touch it with wire cutters and I promise you they'll pick your smokin' ass from inside that outer fence....I'll smile as I attend your funeral and call you a dumb ass publicly.

IF you should happen to fly over in an helicopter, that's probably the best chance....but I'll tell you now you won't run me out of business.

SO far, I've spent less than one third of the money I've got in the bank. I'll tell you Stu and I have spent less than $150 million dollars buying up businesses, equipment, and property, so I doubt if I can be ran out of business.

What I think it is, is they're pissed because I'm calling everyone's records in and their records aren't up to date or are falsified.”


They're saying it's against their rights!”


Let's see...May I be blunt? It's NOT against their rights. It's against their convenience. Their right as a consumer is to go into business. If they find the business I operate not serving their needs, they can go elsewhere.

You and I know in order to start a quarry right now, you either open one and go through all the regulatory hurdles or you buy one which is already open so you don't have to play games.

Me, I got there before everyone else and own both of them in this area. I'll be selling concrete at lower prices and I'll be selling the only asphalt in the area unless other people want to buy my gravel and compete against me....I promise you that's the expensive road....so they'll be out of business WAY before me!”


I'm just telling you what I was told.”


I understand and I thank you. Now, in the future, you worry about your business and I'll worry about mine and you leave their businesses alone and meet me on the courthouse steps when their assets get sold. We'll smile and we'll congratulate each other on the fine purchases we've made and you understand one thing and that's this....

Those motherfuckers are probably pissed because they've been getting kickbacks from the quarry and you weren't. I'm now telling everyone the playing field is even and I've made it that way and EVERYONE is going to prove they are legit in order to get in the gate.

I'm not telling you the deck isn't stacked. I'm telling you that YOU aren't better than them or any other customer. I'm not giving you a rate I'm not giving everyone and I'm not giving them one I'm not giving you.

What I will say is IF you're on my preferred list, you will get calls asking if you'd like to join your equipment and men in as a part of my federal contracts for highways, roads, and interstates, but I'm not going to beg you to do so...I've got enough money I can buy and hire both.

I'm not bragging, I'm merely stating fact. We own businesses here, we plan on building a lot more businesses here, and we're going to be making our lives here doing one thing well...giving our customers the best value for their money by providing the best product.

IF they think the old asphalt was so much better, I'm sure they can buy it down the road someplace....but with me preparing to buy the five other batch plants and quarries in the area, I can tell you where they won't find it and tell you how much further they've got to drive in order to find it.”


He smiled, “Want to buy a construction company?”


Why?”


I'll be ran out of business. That's why!”


“Oh, I doubt that....I think if you are on friendly terms, you'll be a lot better than them.”


How so?”


Right now, I've got inquiries to the point that I don't know how we're going to get it done this year. I'm financing them and if you want the jobs, you bid 'em with $47 as the price per yard of delivered product. If you don't, you'll bid higher and I'll get the job.”


That's price fixing.”


That's fine. You bid it higher and I'll bid it at $47 a yard. If you'll bid it lower, that's fine, but your slitting your own throat and yeah, you'll get the job, but you had better never cut a corner that I find out about or I'll do all I can to testify against you in court you're defrauding a bunch of people.”


I don't do business that way.”


You might not. I know these people out here won't. I know I won't. And I hope those other people won't, but I'll tell you right now a few things....

Right now, I'm taking up the parking lots in these businesses we own and I'm going to know who laid them. I'm also going to know what they laid and how deep it was...as well as what Stu paid for when they were built.

IF that isn't what he paid for, I'm going to go to the Sheriff and we're going to smile because of a few things....You may NOT have laid it, or you might've. All I know is the statute of limitations has to be below 3 years in order to have someone arrested and yeah, I'll rush right to those and get that measured so I can fight dirty.”

“I know the ones I do are fair and accurate.”


And you THINK you're going to be ran out of business?”


I know you can do a lot of things to hurt us.”


And I can also divide up the pie so you get a slice...and be fair about it.

I'm being honest with you. We're offering the bids at $47 a yard. I've got several hundred orders and I'm going to sit at the table with everyone and divide them out with EACH person giving me a pledge they're going to be honest, upright, and legit.

IF you can play on those terms, you're in. IF you can't, you're welcome to seek your own business and I'll have the contracts for these jobs sewn up.

You might get contracts and you might choose to work outside of us, but I'll tell you one thing. I have the right to buy businesses and I've got the right to cancel contracts I've not made if that work hasn't been begun....You know that as well as me.

What I'll tell you is this...I'll throw you a bone and tell you you're completely welcome to go outside of me and go to the hospital and get their contract. The reason I'm doing that is because that hospital...even though my partner is on the board....is no better than a fuckin' animal hospital and yes, in the future, I will NOT go there unless it's a dire emergency.

I will NOT give my business or do business for a business which isn't giving people what they are paying for!”


He smiled real big, “How long have you been in the area?”


A week, but my Mom is in that hospital right now after having a heart attack and yeah, I went there last night and to say I'm not impressed and to say I think it's great about the phrase “wait and see” is an understatement.

I'll tell you right now Stu's got cancer and I'll tell you right now that I'm taking him to St. Louis University Hospital because they're the best at curing it....And I'll tell you if we'd waited the time it took to get a jet here to fly her someplace else, she'd be dead, so in my eyes, we had bad and worse as options...That sucks.”


He really chuckled ,“Everyone thinks that! BUT, I remember the days when we had a terrible hospital and lots of people died, so this one is better, it's just not MUCH better!”

I nodded, “I understand. And I'll also tell you I understand that 99.9% of the hospitals in this country are all the same...they all sell 'wait and see' medicine.”


Oh, I don't think so.”


Do you get given a dozen tests when you go in? Or does the doctor diagnose and treat you immediately? IF that fucker gives you one test, he's 'wait and see'.....'Oh, let's wait and see what this result is before we do anything.'

I know one doctor in this state who knew by looking at the numbers from a test someone else gave that Stu had cancer in his kidney and possibly his pancreas. When the scans came back, he was found to be right. THAT is 'let's do something' medicine.

I'm going to tell you that I'm the 'let's do something' sort of person. You might not be, but I'll reserve that judgment when I know or not.

What I mean there is this...Do you walk out of your house when it rains? Or do you shut it down if the forecast says rain.”


“Shut it down.”


How many days a year are you staying at home when the sun is shining out? Seven....eight??? I'll tell you I'd rather call a crew in and be made to stop rather than shut it down.

My Mom taught me why you do that.... In our garden, you've got ripe fruits and vegetables. You pick everything ripe rain or shine because tomorrow that one might be over ripe....or might be on the ground because of that rain or wind.

Our philosophy is this...If it's on the ground, it's God's. We leave it lay and next year, God gives it back to us in the form of a volunteer plant. In return, we thank God by tending to the plant and making it as healthy as we can....That's not waiting to see if it lives and that's not waiting and seeing it the weather is perfect to work in the garden...that's called, 'doing something' and getting it done.

I'll tell you now this....IF I'm paying people to be out and work and it's raining, I'm going to have the best maintained trucks and equipment, the cleanest trucks and equipment, and the best prepped work site you can imagine.

Now, you might wait to pound stakes in the ground, but I'll tell you a stake doesn't give a damn if it's raining or the sun is shining out. I'll tell you a truck doesn't give a damned if it's raining or he sun is shining when it's fuel tank it filled or the oil gets changed.

There are so many things which can be done, that I'll be a week ahead of you at the end of a year and that very well be likely a full project ahead when you see we aren't afraid of working 24/7 no matter the weather.”


I guess, but you've got financial resources we don't.”


How much do you want for your company?”


Oh, I don't know....”


Can you sell it?”


Yes.”


That's the first affirmative I think I've heard you say....All the rest is you think, you might, or you might not, or you don't think you can.

Let me see...Did you go into business to make money?”


Yeah.”


“Then why the fuck aren't you earning it! You're too busy telling yourself you can't! I'll tell you right now that if I buy your company, I'm going to make money with it.

There's one thing I learned. IF you're going to be on a football team, you go out there on that field to win...not to lose. You GO OUT there with shoelaces tied because I'll tell your right now, you NEVER see a motherfucker out there in the SuperBowl tying his shoelaces. You also don't hear him telling you every excuse in the book as to why he's going to not be able to win before that game! HE DOES, HE WILL, HE WINS!

Sorry for yelling, but if I were your team mate, I'd beat your ass if you told me what you're telling me now.

I'd also buy your company and show you in one year what I made by having a winning attitude....

One last thing and then, you shoot me a price.

A little over a week ago, I worked as a pool boy. I showed up for work rain or shine even though the boss told me to stay home. I went out and cleaned pools rain or shine because the water got cleaned rain or shine....Not one time did I see the bottom of a pool NOT get cleaned in that rain.

Because I showed the initiative to do the job when no one else, people learned they'd see me rain or shine, snow or not, cold or not, and I'll tell you to your face, I went to bed PRAYING for rain because tips were that fuckin' good on those days!”


He laughed and I said, “Don't have a quitters attitude before you even started. Maybe it didn't turn out the way you thought it would, but I'm telling you right now that if those other cocksuckers want to make me an enemy, I'll treat them like an enemy.

You should be thankful you're still in business. I'm looking at the books and I'm not seeing DOT numbers and paperwork done right, I'm going to socko the sons of bitches in the nuts. YOU are going to be called, or one of those guys down there will be, and we'll have work for you they couldn't complete.

When the auctions happen because they didn't measure up, you, me and those guys are going to be going and buying it....Why? Because that keeps the slices of pie bigger for us.

I'll tell you right now I'm going to use common sense in doing business....Do you want to know why?”


Why?”


Here's why....Did you build that theater right there?”


No....”


Let's go for a walk...I want to show you a few things....”


We went down and I took him in and shut the door. “Don't lock it, you won't be able to get out when I get the show started.”


WHAT?”


Common sense tells you that when you've got a vacuum happening inside something you're not going to unseal the vacuum....so you've got to create a positive pressure in it for it not to be a vacuum. Right?”


Yeah.”


All these years, he didn't know. All these years, it's been a hazard. All these years, no one knew because the fucker who built this didn't think about it....and yeah, I'll tell him to his face he's dumber than owl shit.


I walked him in ,“All these years, it's been barren like this because of moisture. No one thought it through and no one told him it was possible to do it.”


How?”


Look up there. You don't see it now, but you're going to see an air curtain. It's a bunch of clear PVC pipe with four of those dryers they use in a car wash.

The holes blow down here and any moisture in the air gets blown down. At the same time, because it's blowing in air from outside, it's creating a positive pressure and making it a neutral zone.”


Oh!”

“It's thinking it out. It's being around something enough you know what you can and can't do.

The fucker who built this wasn't around it enough to tell them what was needed, so he built the bare minimum and that was it. All these years, it's been like this and because of that one thing, we can now put in everything and it'll be better...>BUT, he's so sick of it, he wants new and modern all the way through. Needless to say, because I love him, he's getting it and needless to say, I'm praying that it's enough that during this time he isn't wallowing in self pity because he's got cancer, and gets some enjoyment from life and thinks happy positive thoughts rather than concentrating on the bad.

I'm trying to get you to think happy thoughts...Not ones which are bad....because I know what's bad will kill you and what's positive gives you life. You stick with us for a year and if you haven't made more money, you offer to sell it to me again and I'll pay what's fair market value...IF you want the money now, I'll buy it, but in one year, I'm going to show you what I made from it and then, you'll know you should've stuck it out.”

“But then again, you could shoot everything to my company and show an artificial figure.”


OR, I could send you what I'm sending to everyone else and show a realistic one which I know would be way better than it is now because of a lot of variables.”


Like what?”


IF you didn't hear me selling my ass off to those people about the new asphalt, you're blind, deaf, and dumb. If you didn't see all the orders we've gotten over that little demonstration, you are blind, deaf, and dumb.

Those orders are enough that if we have six crews going through them, we've got one job each week for a year....Think about that because that's ONE JOB per week of a rip up and lay down.

IF you think that's not an income, I beg to differ. IF you think that's not people realizing they've been sold shit and want out of it and into something new, I beg to differ.”


Yeah, I know that.”


And you think you're going to suffer? When!”


I don't have all the equipment you do.”


I rolled my eyes. “Ok, is that why you think you're not going to make money? What is it you need?”


I don't have a mill to rip up pavement.”


“Neither do they! Do you think I'm going to hoard it all and tell them they gotta suck shit? Get real!” I paused ,“Listen, the day you need it, you come to me and ask. I'll say, “Fill it with fuel and if it breaks down, you don't touch a fuckin' thing on it, you call me and I'll send my mechanic to fix it.

If you've got a job which is too tight for a mill, you let me know and I'll have a mill put on my Bobcat or on the end of a backhoe. If you can't get either into that space, you tell the fuckers they have no business being in business with that small of a space!”


He laughed and I said, “Outside the box.....IF you think outside the box, you will always win. When you're put in the box and you stay, that's called prison. It's confining and never fun.” I pointed ,“That piping that's going to go there is outside the box. I realized a fan is all it took and yeah, the principle is used in a lot of restaurants because when they've got that big kitchen blower sucking air out, it's possibly sucking the doors shut and the pilot lights out....

Someplace in the joint, they've got to have a positive pressure and let me say one last thing about that....

In Hannibal, Missouri, I knew an old boy who went huge on his vent in his kitchen. He had all sorts of problems, but he got told to put a positive pressure vent in.

He went cheap and put a flap vent which was 1 foot square into a wall. You see, he was beginning to wonder if he was going to freeze to death in the kitchen with that cold air being sucked in.

Out in his dining room, he began to get complaints from customers about it smelling like shit and the toilets barfing at people when they were flushed. You see, the sewer vent was acting as a positive vent and that air when the water was sent down the pipe was suddenly allowing the air and gases in. Low and behold, they came back and damned near shut him down.

Needless to say, I got the call to go in and give the man some help. I went in and all it took was for me to cut a two foot square in the wall and get him the vent space....but that was four times the amount of space he was giving it and suddenly, everything returned to normal and because it was up there under that hood, he discovered he wasn't going to freeze to death, but he was going to make money.”


I paused ,“I'm not selfish. If you're a friend, I'm going to share. If you aren't, I doubt if I ever will. Right now, I see so much in a potential friendship because you OBVIOUSLY have some things going for you or you'd not be in business!”


He shook his head, “I've not been into it since my wife died.”


Oh hell dude, I'm sorry to hear that! What from?”


Cancer.”


Sheesh, I'm sorry about bringing up Stu's then!”


No, I know what you're facing. I know your heart is gonna be broken and I don't wish that on anyone.”


We're fighting it. I'm determined to win, but I'm also determined to kick start your motor again and ask you one simple question....What would she say to you if she saw you this way?”


She'd probably give me hell like you.”


When in doubt, ask her what she thinks you should do. I'll tell you they're all around us because they want us to do good.

I'll also tell you that Stu's already told me to get involved again with someone he knows and likes. I think that's a bit much when he's not dead, so I told him not to concentrate on that and to concentrate on living.”


I agree.”


I know where his heart was in saying that, but I also know that IF he told me to go get in bed with a different guy right now, I'd send his ass packing.

In your situation, she's going to tell you to grieve for her as long as she thinks you need it and then, when you start hearing her tell you that it's time to get off the pot or go....you need to listen because that's her telling you that it's ok, she's been grieved, but now she wants you happy again.”


I've heard that from her.”


Then start opening up your horizons. Start looking and do it at your own pace....Don’t think you've GOT to find someone, just look and find someone who will see you on a basis which is slow and easy.

Where many people screw up is this....They get married too fast. They get into relationships too fast and they don't realize the best ones take time.

When we're teenagers, we give the relationships we have time. We take months and years to date because we're too young to get married. When we finally do, it's because both know lots more about the other than most do who jump in too fast.

With my last relationship, I was with him for 8 years and I'll tell you I hated his guts for 7 years and 11 months of it.”


He laughed real loud and I said, “I wasn't willing to admit failure. Instead, I thought and thought about every possible way I could try and finally one day, I said to myself, “Self, he's a complete asshole. You're expecting roses when you're married to manure! Get rid of it and plant some seeds already!

But no, I still went forward KNOWING I was married to shit and letting him know every time he proved he was shit that's what conclusion I came to and then, I started detesting him openly....cussing the next breath he took and hating him for being not what I wanted.

Finally, after about every abuse you could imagine, something happened and I totally snapped and beat his ass. You see, there were other times he'd hit me, but this time, it was after I had felt like I'd been raped by him....THAT was the drawing line....I said, “No, enough's enough, you're NOT going to hit me and get by with it. You're not going to scold me and get by with it. You're not going to rape me and get by with it. You're going to get your ass beat and you're going to get your clothes thrown out and then, you're going to get thrown out the window if you do NOT leave voluntarily.”

What happened is I threw a big enough fit that he tried that manipulation one more time....and then, on the way out, he said, “You were never a good lay anyway.”


Ooh!”


Yeah, I'm good enough to rape. I'm good enough to suck my dick when I'm asleep, but I'm not a good lay??? Why he hell take from me what I wasn't willing to give??? Maybe if you'd been a better human being, I'd gave and you'd be satisfied, but instead, I was giving begrudgingly, so you got the worst I had to give...You total dumb fuck!!!”

He laughed, “It sounds like it.”


I met Stu and all the pieces fit! Yeah I rushed in, but I rushed in because it feels so right and each day, it's better and better and each moment, I love him more....
It's bad to say, but in this short time, I love him WAY more than I ever did Dave and really, now that we know about the cancer, I'm not willing to give him up!”


I understand. When we got told about her's, I felt like I was handed a death sentence also.”


But you weren't....You were given a fate worse than death in a lot of ways because you got handed a death sentence of Russian roulette..... Each day, it's like, “Will today be the one? How will I handle it? How will it feel? Will she go peacefully? OR, will it be horrible.

Normal people don't have to think those thoughts. Yeah, we all have to face it, but doing it with someone you love is terrible....doing it without someone to love is terrible. At least you were there and at least she knew you cared....but she's going to tell you, 'Hey, it was me. You didn't die. You were put on the earth for something more!'

I know that and I never knew her and barely know you! It's human nature to love someone enough to let them go, but it's harder than hell.

What is Unnatural is hating someone enough to let them go!”

He laughed real loud and I said, “Believe me, I thought I hated him enough that I could put a foot print on the back of his head my enthusiasm would be enough....”


He laughed hard again.


....BUT, in my desire to wait him out and hate him sufficiently, I now realized I was robbing myself.

IF she tells you it's time, don't rob yourself....It's going to be hard, but do me this one favor....Ok?”


Yeah.”


If you catch yourself slipping dollars into the new girl's underwear while she's in a bar dancing for money...That's not the right person for you. Ok? It's not love....It might be 'Love' tattooed on her inner thigh...”


He was giggling and I finished. “....If you find the love bug sliding down your lover's thigh after sex, that's gross...not love.”


He really laughed and I said, “I know I was going to have that be the last thing, but I gotta tell you something....someone once told me.

Me and a good friend were in our motel room one night and one of the guys from our asphalting crew came in because he wanted to talk. You see, his roommate had just had sex with an inflatable doll in front of him.”


He busted out laughing.


Anyway, he went into great detail about watching this and I'm like, “Dude, you didn't get up and leave???”


He really laughed and nodded.


SO he's telling us this and the details he was talking, he was down to the hair around the man's asshole and the different size of his nuts and I'm like, “Hang on a second. How fuckin' close were you?”


He really busted out laughing and I continued, “I looked over at Mike and told the guy, “Hang on a second dude, I gotta tell Mike that if I won't give him the privacy to fuck a doll, to lock my ass out of the room or to buy a sheep at the next livestock auction we go by and to tell me it's time for me to feed the sheep...”.”


He really laughed and I said, “The situations life throws at you, you sometimes gotta wonder why someone would stay and put themselves through it! Don't put yourself through it. If you're in pain, it's not love. If she were in pain, would you alleviate it?”


“Yeah.”


She's trying to, but you're not listening....Realize that and you'll have your answers.”


He nodded and I went over and hugged him. “I'll be your friend, but you gotta at least allow yourself to look at women.”


I caught myself today.”


Good, as long as she's not married that's pretty good. If she's a child, that's pretty bad.”


“She's not.”


“Cool, at least we're getting somewhere.”


I don't know who she was, but I know she's working for you.”


Probably married. There are only four women working for me who aren't.”


Oh...”


“But, that's fine. 4 out of a hundred or so are slim odds, but stranger things have happened. The odds of her being a lesbian are greater, but...”


He laughed “That'd be my luck.”


I smiled, “Let me say this....I think it's safe to say you won't find 'love' tattooed on any of them's thigh!”

He laughed and my phone rang. “Hello?”


Mike said, “You've got four people already off to the side waiting to be relocated.”


“From one crew?”


Yeah.”


What the fuck's the problem?”


He thinks there's too many people on his crew.”


Ok, I'll be right there. Pull EVERYONE from his crew and we'll let him work HIS people to death. He's not going to do that bullshit to my people!”


I hung up ,“I gotta go. If you've got a paver, you might want to bring it over. I'm about to become a hateful bitch to someone.”


I've got a paver. Are you sure?”


No, I'm not sure....” I said, “Yeah, I'm sure.... I'm about to pull someone's equipment off to the side and let them have a time out. They'll see yours go on and that's when they'll realize either they play right or they can get the fuck gone and go home.”


We went out and down. I walked over to the Fallon bunch ,“Pull your equipment off and park it.”


WHAT!”

“You fuckin' heard me. You will NOT cull out and overwork my people!”


They were standing around!”


Believe it or not you dumb fuck, it's not 100 degrees outside! IF they're standing it's because the inner ones weren't wearing out, but they were waiting on their turn!

Needless to say, if you want to asphalt, you wear your people out working them 24 hours a day 7 days a week and we'll see how fast you want them back to working....ALL OF THEM!!!

Until then, here's how it goes. I'm putting a new crew on to take your place. He's getting paid for 23 hours which is roughly $96,000 whereas you made $4,100 or so....if you figure we'll be done in ten days and that's $1 million per person over 10 days.”

“That's just dumber than hell!”


Dude, did I fuckin' ask you? I believe the first rule is I'm the boss around here. IF you sign on to that, you just put people off your crew thinking you're over them!!! DID YOU NOT?”


Yeah.”


Then you do this...You get your ass back on with every person, or you pull your ass off and get docked for each hour you're off the line.

Starting right now, there's a fifth man because I hired him to fill your place. I damned well ought to divide your million in half because THAT MAN, THAT MAN, and THAT MAN know how to work his crews and me taking away THEIR percentage is bullshit when it's YOU!”


So you actually want me to work a bunch of people who are standing around.”


I want you working them, but you realize something...

Right now, they're training. Tomorrow, I'm going to have 8 more pavers here. HALF your people will go to those as will half of the others.

YOU culling them out sends everyone to that crew and low and behold, you're suddenly working your little group to death and no, if you pull your people off of a 24 hour shift because of your stupidity, you pack your shit and go home!

There are reasons! Now you know what the fuck they are! I know and you were told, but hey, you sure as hell didn't think I meant what I said APPARENTLY!!! Now, do you pack or do you fuckin' get on with it!”


I'll get on with it, but this is dumb!”


Hey, I ACTUALLY thought you might like it a little better if your people weren't killing themselves, but hey....it's dumb! You figure out which part I think is dumb and that's your people not dragging your ass off there and beating you to death thinking they'd like to work 24 hours a day!

MAYBE your fat ass needs to get down from there and work! Maybe YOUR FAT ass would discover one of the people who were standing around would step in to relieve you when you went to get a drink, piss, or get something to eat???

Rather than doing that, you're up there making judgments when you've OBVIOUSLY got so much time you really should occupy it with something like work!”


He glared at me and I smiled, “Yup, I said you have a fat ass....Had I been a former roommate of yours, I'd not be calling it down that you've got hair around your asshole or lopsided nuts and like to fuck inflatable dolls, but hey!”


By this time, all of his crew was laughing and he smiled, “Who told you!”


“Oh hell...he trotted right over and apparently thought we HAD to know, so we got to hear. Me, I finally asked him how fuckin' close he was while he was watching and if he's staring that close, why the hell didn't he get up and leave!”


He smiled, “Maybe I thought it was cool he was watching!”

“Dude, do you know what shrinks say about people who are exhibitionists?”


What's that?”


They secretly want the people who are watching them to join in...That might be kind of gross when it's an inflatable doll, but whatever floats your boat dude.”


He laughed ,“You're full of shit!”

“You might've asked if he liked to watch and tell him to put his nose on up your crack. It sounds like he was already there.”


I was fuckin' it facing away from him!”

“Ok, was that because you didn't want eye contact with your fella? OR was that because you wanted him pluggin' your ass? You might think about that and don't do it while wiping your ass five minutes because I'll tell you that's a finger and you're really thinking about something else...”


He laughed and I heard laughter all over the place. Mike came over, “Jeremy, step away from him. He's not once denied anything you've said....is that scary or what?”


I gave a slow nod, “Either work 'em or get fired.”


Send 'em back over here.”


No, you get down and you go over and apologize to them and tell them you'd like for them to be considered a part of your crew.

Tell them you won't do it again, but you nearly screwed yourself senseless! MAYBE they'll realize you're truly the idiot they already thought you were!”


His guys were really laughing and I said, “Because you saw error in your ways, I'm going to put the crew coming in on a different detail. You ought to be thanking your lucky stars I'm so damned nice!”


He smiled, “Yeah right!”

“Hey, do you want to do what they are gonna do and hand that man the million dollars? If so, I promise you that the other jobs aren't going to make this much....”


No, that's fine. I'll stay here.”


Screw up one more time and we'll see who stays where. You might find your big old ass in jail where you get lovin' without a doll!”

He smiled, “Stop talking about her like she's JUST a doll!”

“If you've still got her after all this time, she's a skunk whore! The miles she's been rode, you really ought to be ashamed of yourself! Does your wife know you're fuckin' a doll?”


Yeah, she says it's not cheating if it's a doll.”


I imagine she probably told Ken that when he went over to Skipper's house too!”


He laughed and everyone really was laughing. I said, “Remember this.....having a man's nose up your ass when you're fuckin' fake pussy is rather strange.... I'll leave it alone because I just had a flash image of the Pentagon and there being someone there who gets off on that also!”

Huh?”


Nevermind, you won't understand on the day I tell you or two weeks later when I've told you the fourth time real slow.”


Asshole!”

“Asshole???? Need I remind you I didn't really enjoy hearing about YOURS winking out something in Morse code?”


He laughed and I shook my head and walked off. I turned to see if he's getting off his machine and whistled, “HEY! Get your ASS over there and get your people back to work!”


I went over and Michele was smiling real big, “Only you would have the guts to tell him something like that!”


Only me would keep someone on who damned well needed to be fired. As slow as he is, we'd be finished with the job by the time he figured out he was fired one hour into all of it.”


She laughed and I said, “Shut it down. I'm pulling your night shift off and getting everyone else's out of here also.”


It took some doing, but finally, I got everyone going to the motel and then, told everyone that tomorrow, half of them would be on different crews.


Mike said, “How many drivers will we have tomorrow?”


Nineteen.”


Good. That ought to keep everyone hopping.”


Hopefully, we'll be ready for the asphalt by Wednesday.”


I think we'll be ready by tomorrow night.”


That'll be cool also. If we are, I'm going to put you guys on milling the front parking lot.”


Oh, ok!”

“I figure we'll have everything ready for the asphalt when it's time on Wednesday.”


He said, “Here comes your replacement dude.”


I'm putting him over there on my parking lot.”


He gave a nod and I walked over to where Thompson was beginning to unload his equipment.”


I said, “Hey Kyle?”


Hi!”

“Here's what I want you to do. You can drive over to the new street and park at the end. I'll ride over with you and then, you'll know what we're going to be doing.”


Ok.”


We went over and he said, “I really like this street. It's way better then the old blend.”


Yeah, it's going to dress up the town.” I pointed ,“Ok, here's what we're doing. Over here is where my shop will be. What I want you to do is I want you to start getting gravel and laying gravel like they are doing and then, on Wednesday, we're going to lay the asphalt.

IF you're finished before Wednesday morning with the gravel, we're going to go to the front parking lot of the Falls and rip up the parking lot with the mill.”


The Falls?”


We're changing the name of Viennese Waters to Hillbilly Falls.”


OH!”


I looked around, “Do you need some of these people to help?”


Yeah.”


Ok, I'll be happy to have them help.”


I went over and went to Fallon's bunch and asked, “Do you still think they're standing around?”


He gave me a wary look ,“They're rotating out some.”


Are they getting used to asphalting better?”


They're a damned good crew. They help each other a lot better than others do.”


Ok, I'm taking one person from each crew. That man over there needs them.”


Who's he?”


He's yours or anyone's replacement should anyone pull a stunt like you did again. I hired him because you WERE fired. Now I've got to find him work around here, so he's going to do my parking lot.”


He nodded without saying anything and I said, “I'm not beating you over the head with it, but don't think that when I tell you something I'm not planning on keeping my word. It's only because you were a better boss than half these people around here that I even entertained the idea of keeping you on.”


He nodded, “Thanks.”


We all have bad days. We'll have more before this is over.”


My phone rang, “Hello?”


Mr Alberici said, “Jeremy, we need to have a talk.”


What about?”


You're about to pave that lot and I'm busy trying to get where the utilities are. It seems no one knows where they are back there.”


They're probably not here. IF you need to bring them from over on the Dairy Queen side of things, I'm not even going to tell you where city sewer or anything is.”


We might have to pump up hill to the street level.”


If that means we're ripping back up that street, I'll tell you “Like hell we will!”.”

“We're going to have you grant an easement in between the Dairy Queen and the Country Kitchen, I believe.”


Tell them they better decide something damned quick because I'm going to have the need for heavy equipment rolling in and out of there! And no, I won't grant and easement if they're fucking with the progress of this project!”


I'll have them come to you.”


Be expecting me to do all that myself rather than them.”


I'd do that. They're wanting to know how you're going to do this about the hot water and steam?”


I might just go with a bunch of small ones.”


What are they like. I'm interested in them myself.”


Meet me at the theater. I'll show you.”


I got off the phone ,“Over in the back corner, don't put any gravel. The fuckin' city is trying to decide where they're going to put the easement for utilities.”


He gave me a look and I nodded, “Three or four weeks of bullshit I'm supposed to entertain the thought of working around them....I think NOT!”


He smiled, “I was thinking more about two or three months.”


“Well, I'm about to trench everything in myself. I can do that in less time than they can.”


“Do you want me to do that?”


Yeah, you start and dig a pilot hole out here on me and then, we can trench in all the lines. I'm not sure about sewage, but I know gas, water, and steam can go in underground.”


They have no ordinances about any of that. You could get big and trench it in, but that's going to be a hassle.”


We'll have to do it unless you want to zip open a big trench and lay cast iron all the way.”


No way!”


We might have to put a pump on it, but I'll tell you right now that I'd rather be the one doing it because when they do it, they're going to think that easement is granted to go over there.”


He shook his head, “Do it yourself.”


Any clue who owns that over there?”


I was under the impression you do.”


Stu says we own to the creek.”


I believe he bought it when he bought this farm. You might do some checking on that for him.”


I'll have to! Well, as you see, I've got things I need to get on...Up in the parking lot is all my equipment.”


That's ALL yours!”


Yeah, I need to park it someplace and don't really want to park it on this street.”


The people I picked came over and he started giving directions. I walked away calling Stu.


Hello?”


Where are you?”


In the theater.”


Ok, Mr Alberici is heading that way to have a look at the water hammers with me. While I'm heading that way, be thinking about where your deed is for this property.”


Why?”


Everyone's thinking YOU own that property across the creek. They're saying you got it when you got this farm.”


Huh? I was told to the creek!”


“Well, you might be taking a look. I'd rather know than not knowing.”


Ok, I guess I better get an assayer out here.”


Yup, I'd want to know where everything is and isn't.”


I'll make some calls.”


I rang off and on the way, got stopped by Michele. She asked, “I'm wondering a few things.”


What's that hon?”


Do you mind if I leave my crew and start driving a truck?”


No, if you think they're good with it, I don't mind.”


Both Mike and I think they're great.”


Fallon does also, NOW. I'm not sure about Eric.”


He's doing great. If it's any clue, take a look at how much further they've gotten than everyone else! That piece of equipment you've got is passing everyone up!”


“That's the advantage of having big versus small. They're doing it 12 feet wide versus 8 like you guys also.”


What's happening over there?”


I'm fucked to figure it out. The city doesn't know where to put the utilities.”


Can I tell you what I'd do?”


Yeah, if it saves me money and headaches.”


I'd go in up on the other end. It's all level up there and you're going to need a street up there anyway.”


Ok, let me make a call. You're right and I'm starting to wonder if I'm beating my head against a wall here.”


I pulled my phone and dialed Mr Alberici.”Hello?”


I've got an alternative plan here.”


Tell me because they're all running around with their heads cut off.”


How about if we go in up there by the Kentucky Fried Chicken and go back? WE can build my place up there and it'll all be even.”


I'd prefer that. I'll tell you it's nearly the only option you've got without a bunch of problems.”


Ok, but here's what I want you to ask them.”


Ok, what's that?”


Tell them we need to think about a bridge up there crossing that creek. We might possibly be the owner of that land on the other side. If so, I'm going to fill this full of parking lot and go over there.”


Oh boy, that's going to run up your costs some.”


Yeah, but it's going to give me a lot more space. You've Blessed me with so much equipment that I'm sort've clogged!”

He chuckled, “I owe you about $900,000 more in equipment!”


Oh jeez!”


I'll tell you I can't really spare anything right now, but come September or October, you can pretty much name whatever you want and I'll be fine.”


“That's fine, I've no problems getting things like that. I'll have a list of what I've either had to rent, or borrow by then and we'll know better.”


Ok, we'll agree to do it that way.”


Uh, I've got one request if you have them. If not, don't worry.”


What's that?”


Concrete highway dividers. I know we're going to need some of those if we get some of these bids we're talking about.”


I was steadily walking and saw him. I said, “I see you, I'll hang up and talk with you.”


You need a golf cart or something. This project is so long you're going to double your headaches when you go to begin on the other parking lot.”


I'll work on getting a few gators or something. If I'm going to buy a golf cart, I'm going to need to have a vehicle which hauls something.”


I agree.”


Let's go in and I'll show you what I'm thinking about and then, we' can call the John Deere dealership.”


I pulled my phone and dialed Donna. She answered, “Hello?”


I need to ask you if we have someone at the John Deere dealership.”


What are you needing?”


Gators.”


Uh, don't go with them. You can get a Bobcat truck, or you can get a Kubota, but I'll tell you right now you're going to want to go with Ford trucks.”


Why?”


With the discount, you're going to find them expensive. A fully loaded one with cab and snow plow is something like $32, 000.”


My God!”


Yeah, they're expensive.”


Ok, I'm about to go a different direction. I'm wanting cheap, not something where I'm buying cars and trucks to come in cheaper.”


What's that?”


Japanese mini trucks. I can get one of those and get a set of tracks for the thing and come in about $15,000. That's fully loaded and four wheel drive.”


How long would that take?”


I'll find out. I'm about to make the call.”


I don't think the Bobcat will come in any cheaper.”


Don't hate me for this, but I can't buy more trucks just to have as personal buggies. For $120,000 for four of them, I'll walk first....Jeez, for that matter, I could call a taxi!”


She laughed, “I understand!”


Ok, I'll get off here.”


I dropped in and saw your Mom. She's doing good.”


Thanks. I appreciate that A LOT!”

“We're family.”


I know, but you guys really make me feel special.”


I rang off and showed Mr Alberici up the stairs. Stu gave me a hug and I said, “Do you realize how much one of those Kubota little trucks costs fully loaded with a plow?”


No.”


$32,000.”


He looked shocked, “My God!”


I was thinking that it'd possibly be as much as $14 or $15,000, but damn!”


Mr Alberici said, “They can't sell many of them. That's ridiculous.”


Donna said that it'd be cheaper for me to get more Ford pickups than to go with them.”


Stu said, “That might be a thought.”


I'll make a call. I'd rather do that than cross them off.”


I dialed the Ford dealer and booted up the computer to show the YouTube article on the water hammers.


The phone got answered at the Ford dealer...It was the owner John.


Hi John, I need to ask you how much a fully loaded small Ford pickup would run me in four wheel drive.”


He was quiet for a moment ,“Let me look. I can get you the discount on them.”


I'll need it and speaking of which, we're going to need Stu's SporTrak taken in for repairs. The front end alignment is all out of whack.”


What!”


I hit a curb going into the hospital last night. I was driving with a busted hand and didn't realize that curve out there is as sharp as it is. Needless to say, the marks of someone going up and through the grass are mine.”


He chuckled, “Ok!” He said, “Jeremy, if you buy what I've got sitting on the lot, I can get them to you for $21,000. That's the XLT package and pretty much loaded.”


Ok, what colors do you have? I'm going to need either white or burgundy...Those are the colors I want for my company vehicles.”


I've got three white and four burgundy.”


Do this for me. Give me three of each and equip two of them with front plows. All of them are going to need strobes on top and reflective tape.

I realize you don't have that tape, but if you go to a police supply place, you can get the kind which looks like chrome and then, we can do a good lower body stripe that's real wide and do most of the top of the rear gate so it looks like it's made that way. I just need something so that when we're working out by the highways, we're seen even when the lights are off.”


Six of them?”


Yeah, believe it or not, you're coming in about $11,000 less than a fully loaded Kubota four wheeler. For the same price as four of those, I'm getting six trucks, I'd rather do the trucks.”


Let me do some refiguring. If you're going to be a volume buyer, I'll get you some more discounts.”


I can't say that I will or won't. What I do know is from now on, on the larger trucks, I'm going to be going with either F450, 550, or 650 so we've got ample power, but I'm also going to require they have as much in options as that F350 I have...and John?”


Yeah.”


I've looked at the website and saw they don't have cruise controls. You need to tell them that if I can't get a diesel that big with cruise control, I'll certainly get it at GMC. I realize that's none of your doing, but I think it's ridiculous they're built on the same line and I can't get cruise control.”


I think it's because the larger ones have different things in the computers due to the anti-lock brake functions.”


Ask your guys if I can get that done aftermarket at the shop. If not, I'll need to beg off and go to GMC. Right now, for me to have these trucks without diesel is about as much as I'll tolerate, but hey, I'll do that for the price.”


I don't think you can get a small truck in a diesel anywhere, but I COULD see about doing a special build and get one.”


How?”


I know they're exporting diesels to Asia in a small truck. I'm not sure about the emissions, but if I tell them it's for off road use only, they might sneak it through.”


No, let's leave that alone. I'm thinking about getting these through the depreciation and then, giving the family the option to buy them at reduced rates.”


That'll be good.”


I decided to close up the conversation. “Ok, get me those six down here and I'll pay you with my card. They're going to need to be titled to the construction company.”


I'll get right on that.”


I gave him the card number and then, we got off the phone. I said, “I bought six of them....three in white and three in burgundy. Fully loaded, they're $21,000. Two of them will be outfitted with plows, so we'll have those to clear and do with.”


Stu asked, “Are they needed?”


Hon, I hate to tell you they're not, but I'll tell you they are. For the time savings of me walking from end to end and for the future of me walking miles on the side of an interstate, I'd rather say they are needed.”


Mr Alberici said, “They're needed Stu. I've counted that he's walked twelve miles since I've been here and that's over an hour.

When you think about the time savings, they'll pay for themselves in labor and everything else.”


Stu nodded, “Ok, I'm just worried about us getting into a lot of things we won't use that much.”


Hon, at the beginning, there's going to be a lot of outlay. You probably had it here and I know we're going to have it at the Falls, but it's all an expense.

I'd rather have vehicles we can use on the company's tab to go to places like the quarry than to use our personal vehicles. Right now, we're using the Range Rover and I don't really want to do that again. Sometime real soon, we're going to need to set up and office and that's going to be a REAL expense!”


He nodded and I said, “What I'm considering is using that land across the creek as potential site for my company and leave this open for parking here. Would that be ok?”


Providing we own it. I'm still waiting, but I do have the original deed.”


Who did you buy it from?”


I can't remember the man's name. To be honest, he was lax with his paperwork, so I might own it and might not.”


People are assuming you do. I imagine you'll find you do and didn't get told.”


He smiled, “That'd be the way things go for me....having that all this time and WISHING that I had it!”


If we own it, I'm seriously thinking about the possibilities.”


Me too. I'd like to go with some bigger and nicer motels over there.”


That's what I was thinking.”


He smiled and I turned to Mr Alberici, “What did you think?”


Where's the company?”


Rome, Georgia.”


I want one of them for the headquarters and one for my house. You're right, from what I've seen, the savings is going to be amazing.”


I figure the retrofitting of the motels we own would be a bit pricey, but it's nothing but pex tubing under the floors and gypsum concrete.

In the restaurants, we COULD go with smaller and do that everywhere else. He said he's doing it with brushless motors which makes that motor a lot smaller.”


That was my main concern, but I'm really impressed.”


I pulled my phone and dialed Michele. She answered, “Hello?”


Would you tell the owners that I need to speak with them and would you tell Thompson I need to speak with him also?”


Yeah. What's going on?”


Plan change. I'm not building my office down there, so that will all be parking lot.”


Oh!”


I'd rather stay away from a lot of expenses with the cost of putting in utilities. For me to do that just for myself is rather dumb....We can do it different and make it so it's a lot less expensive.”


Ok, I'll get everyone.”


In a few moments, I'll have us some trucks to drive back and forth. You guys get collected up there and I'll get up there...even if I'm driving something I shouldn't.”


She laughed, “All that walking sneaks up on you!”

“Yeah, and right now, I'd rather have us driving brand new trucks back and forth than the thought of someone getting hurt and us not having a vehicle to get in and out.”


I agree, but everyone's really safe.”


When I got off my phone, Mr Alberici was on his. Stu said, “Babe, I apologize.”


“About what?”


I just heard you talk about the safety and instantly knew they're needed. I'm not going to question anything again. The thought of having you on one end and someone hurt on the other is unfathomable.”


We're getting it handled. I might have you blown away by some of the things I'm doing, but it'll make sense in the overall context of things.”


Like what?”


I'm getting tracks for them and getting the wheels and tires off. We can store them and use the tracks, but they'll go everywhere easier with them and they'll be more all terrain.”


He gave me a confused look, “I'm not sure what you're meaning.”


I pulled up YouTube and went to Mattracks and pulled up the diesel Ford Ranger and showed him. His eyes lit up and he said, “Oh man!”

“The snow is no obstacle with one. Yeah, you give up some speed, but they're able to be put on and taken off relatively easy and the thought of us having people snowed in out there is worrisome, so we can keep everyone in contact.”


He nodded, “I like them, but are they pricey?”


Yeah, but not so pricey when you consider that we can move them from vehicle to vehicle and have them for a long time.”


Get them for two of them. That way, we've got some, but that way, we're not out for all six.”


I gave a nod, “Ok.”


You don't mind do you?”


No, I'd rather you have a voice than not. It tells me you're interested, but I was only thinking about one truck.”


We've got two plows. I was thinking about that.”


Ok, that's fine.”


He smiled, “You don't mind?”


Hon, I'm never going to mind when it comes to you! IF I do, I'll let you know.

Now, have you seen those people about the log cabins?”


Your Dad and I spoke with them. It's a go for the houses, but we've went this direction with the theater and I told them to cancel that. They were relieved.”


Good, so when is it a go?”


They're going up and getting everything prepared. They need the land cleared and they need us having the basements poured, but they'll have us blueprints before that's needed.”


Ok, right now, I'm drowning in everything else.”


I understand.”


Mike called and said they were ready. I said I'd be there and hung up.


Ok, I've got to go down and fill everyone in on changes.”


I turned to Mr Alberici, “Do you want to go with?”


I'm going to see why they're taking so long on getting me word back for those utilities.”


Ok, I'll be down there if anyone needs me. You might send one of those trucks that way when they arrive.”


Stu said, “Let me know on what they're doing about my truck. I called out there and got told they were full up this morning. If you get something done, I'm going to wonder if I need to start talking with the owner.”


Start doing that. It trickles down if you do.”


I went out and looked at everything and decided to drive up a tar spreader truck. When I got to the other end, I parked, got out, and went over to the owners.

Everyone, there's good news and bad news. The good news is I'm not building my building there. The city can't get their head out of their asses in regards to utilities and we might possibly own that land.

IF so, we're putting a bridge across that creek up there and we're going to be building motels over there. If not, we'll probably be buying that land and putting motels over there.”


Everyone chuckled and I said, “Everyone, I hate to give my word and take it back, but in this instance, I've got to do something.

I hired Thompson here because Fallon damned near had himself fired. I've been telling you all that you've got a million dollars coming, so we're going to up it a million and put Thompson on.

The deal there is we're now making that area he's working into more parking space. He gets his people and we make a run with it.

As you've seen, Eric's crew is whipping up on you guys hard. It's not that he's working hard, it's that machine does a helluva lot more that much faster.

What I'm going to ask you is I'm going to ask you to limp along and then, we'll get the big spreaders here. You guys use 'em and we'll work on getting everyone those to use rather than these little ones. IF you're interested in buying, that's fine. If not, we'll be parking yours and we'll be using the big ones.

I know we've got eight more coming. For us to have ten and you each to have two per crew, we've got to find another and buy it. I'm about to do that with Caterpiller because I really like to have all the same equipment.”


Eric said, “It's going so smooth, I'm wondering what's going to happen when we get asphalt in the box.”


It's going to go the same, except we're going to be putting down two inches at a time rather than all eight. I hate to do that to you, but that's what I'm told we've got to do in order to get tubing in the asphalt to be able to heat it and have it melting snow.

WHY I want snow melted out here, I don't know, but something inside me tells me to go with that and not to think about anything less, so I'm not....needless to say, I'm not...maybe we can put water through it and use the heat from it to heat the swimming pools at the motels or something. Lord knows it's going to be a heatsink...”

I looked over at Eric, “Your crew doing ok?”


Yeah.”


I'd like to do something if you don't mind.”


What's that?”


Have you figured out who the guy is yet?”


He gave me a look, “No. I've been too busy.”


Blue plaid flannel shirt with the cut off sleeves. His name is Bobby Ray.”


His face lit up, “Really!”

“He's more than interested in you. If that man's eyes leave you, I'd like to know when. Every time I look over there, he's staring at you.

Rather than getting him killed for inattentiveness, I'd like to ask you to get him up on the box with you. That way, it opens up a rapport and you can get to know him somewhat.”


I turned to Bernie, “Have you figured out who yours is yet?”


Is he on my crew?”


Yeah, do you think I'd put him in on another?”


She smiled, “You're sneaky!”


Hon, I'm not meaning to play God with your life. I genuinely care and I'd rather have you happy and loved than have a man who loves you part time....Well, I don't even think part time counts since I saw the fucker put his hands on you.”


She shook her head, “I'm beginning if that's the reason he showed so much animosity toward me all this time...Maybe I just didn't have the equipment.”


She turned to Eric, “Is that spreader any different to operate than mine?”


He shook his head, “No.”


She turned to me ,“Find me one also. No one can promise a future, but I'm sure not going to be shown up by a piece of equipment! IF it lays that much quicker, we can be finished that much sooner.

In regards to the way we're running, I'm loving it. It's easy and I absolutely love the number of people we've got working. They work good together and they know what they're doing.

I don't know about you guys, but us having women on this is making me prouder than you'd never believe. It's telling you guys that women COULD'VE done it all along and the crews don't argue. In regards to guys being chauvinists, I'm finding it nice that they're not jumping in to help out a woman. It says they view their women as equals, not doormats.” She had an edge to her voice at the end and I nodded, “He's in the light blue shirt with the sleeves rolled up. I believe his name is Ed, Ernie, or something like that...It's an E name.”


She nodded, “Emmett. He said to call him Emmett because there's already an Em in the family.”


Em's a gay guy you all will love. He's bigger than anyone out here and is a tall lovable giant with baby blue eyes you could fall into. He'd do anything for me and thinks I'm superman or something.”


Everyone chuckled and Mike said, “Aww, do you have a little crush?”


No, if you've noticed, most everyone have the most amazing blue eyes and for me, blue eyes are the weakness in my soul. Stu's got 'em and he loves me, so I'm not crushing on anyone, I'm just describing Em.

What I'll tell you guys one and all is they accept their gays easier than most everyone else. I think I've turned on a faucet of acceptance and now, everyone knows I didn't ASK permission to be gay in front of them, I was myself.

With you guys, you'll learn they're like they are now....They are great to be around and everyone's pretty mellow. They party hard, but they party fun...We had a huge party and not one drama moment happened the entire night...Tell me when that ever happens at a party up home and I'll tell you right now I can't remember one except for maybe my age 7 birthday party.”


Everyone laughed and I said, “Guys, indirectly, I'm telling I love them like my family like I do you guys. We all know there's little differences amongst us, but we all have the same hopes, dreams, and desires....Well, maybe rubber ones like you Fallon....”

Everyone busted out laughing including Fallon. I said, “Let me make a call because I need some updates.”


I dialed Danny, “Hello?”


How far along are you?”


We've got the trucks and we're just now picking up the trailers. They're chaining the trucks onto my lowboy and sending us with a man who is driving the wrecker...It's pulling his pickup.

The lowboy we got is an 60 tonner and it's a beaut. There are so many conversions possible on it that I'm amazed we got it for the price we did.”


What's wrong with it?”


NOTHING, that's what's amazing about it! I think the problem with it is the possibilities and the work involved. When people want to haul more weight, they naturally gravitate to what's bigger and already built. For us, we've got options and can haul lower loads and heavier loads by adding axles.”

“How much did we pay for it?”


$19,800.”


That's not bad. I was expecting around $40 or $50,000.”


He's got another if you want it. He said he'd haul it to us for the same price.”


Really?”


Yeah, it's identical except this one is black and the other one is red.”


Ok, I think we'll take it. I'd rather have it cheap than have to spend a lot for one.”


Good, because they both look like brand new even though they're 8 years old.”


Really?”


Yeah, and for a 60 tonner, that's not bad at all.”


What about the trucks?”


I'm going to probably upset you there, but I'll deal with that when you're told. You said you wanted Cat engines, right?”


Yeah, but if I have to go with a Cummins I will, but I won't do anything else.”


Here's what we ran into. He had a fleet just delivered yesterday morning which are all Macks with Mack engines inside.”


Ok.”


I know they're not the KW you wanted, but these are all dream rides.”


Really?”


The company which has them trades them every five years. They're a lot like you, they care about their workers and want them to have everything.

The interiors of these are loaded. What we had to take was sleepers, but we got 505 Mack engines. Rather than getting them for the price of $53,000 like you wanted those 11, I got 19 of them for $27,000 each as these are.”


REALLY!”


Yeah, they're beautiful. Everyone's loving the drives and they're all auto everything....You press buttons and get what you want done. If you want to dump, you press a button and it pops the rear gate and dumps.

They're all equipped with GPS and they've all got CD satellite CB radios in them, so we're staying in good communication with each other.

I'm not sure if you've seen the bump shifter or not, but they have them and they're sure nice.”


“Ok, so that's a great deal. I'm happy about it.”


I knew you'd be, but I was worried about them being Macks.”


I just wanted horsepower and a good ride. IF we get that for everyone, I'll look over a whole lot. My main focus is we're sitting with a bunch of identical trucks rather than a mish mash.”


We've got them. Now, in regards to the wrecker, He had four of them. I looked them over and the price range was $73,000 from the worst to the best. The best got bought by us because of the load capabilities in lifting. If we ever have a roll over with a load, we can pick up the entire thing.”


Ok, we'll have to put that in the yellow pages because I know those trucks are in demand...Does this one swivel?”


Yeah, both directions and telescopes also....SO you're familiar with them?”


How much did we pay?”


With our discount, we got it for $326,000.”


Ok, I'm not going to complain. That's about $30,000 more than I was thinking, but in the realm of us being able to do a lot more with it and get tow jobs, that's not bad at all.”


Him knowing we're just starting out, he gave us a lot of throw ins. I'll tell you about all those when we get there, but the guy really wants our business and does things the right way.”


“Good, like what did he throw in?”


Well, first of all, delivery is free and all we have to do is shop from his website if we want. He'll get us the newest deals and if we want them, we've got to call because he does a lot of business that way and something that's on his lot fresh, might be bought real soon.”


Ok.”


“In one of these trailers, we've got the used tires for all of these trucks. They look like they're new, but the guy puts new tires on his trucks once a year and offered to throw them in for no cost, so I took them.”


Hell yeah!”


There's also 220 gallons of oil in one of the trailers. It's brand new, but he hadn't gotten a chance to change the oil, so he threw it in.”


Cool!”

“It goes on and on. He does business like I like to do business. I think we can't go wrong with him in the future.”


“Ok, I'll need to meet him...Did you get dumps for all those trucks?”


I got 14 39' dumps. I'm pulling this low boy and that leaves us four trucks which aren't pulling anything....He's leant us drivers so they know where we're located.”


Ok, do me a favor and see if they've got construction trailers.”


“They've got 42 footers which are end dump. Do you want some?”


Yeah, get the other four of those. I know they're not dumps like we've got, but I know they're more utilitarian.”


“I was thinking about calling you on them.”


Ok, do this though....when you have them come through, ask them to go on out to the quarry and load. We've got 8 more spreaders coming and I really need to buy a Cat full size spreader.”


Let me go next door here. They've got one sitting which is super nice. It's a 1000D.”


“Find out how much they want for it and get it. I'm not even going to ask the price, but here's what I need you to do...”


What's that?”


Find us a truck or a fuel tank we can roll to fill things.”


Ok, have you called the fuel companies around there?”


No, I've been busier than you'd believe.”


I understand. I'll call you when we're getting close.”


I appreciate it.”


I got off ,“We've got a 60 ton low boy coming and we've got a Cat 1000D spreader coming. Other than that, we've got 19 semis and 14 of them are going to have 39' dumps and four will have 42' contractor trailers.”


Mike asked, “What's that?”


It's like a dump, but it's more rounded at the bottom. It's used more for rock and debris...For example, when you're tearing up a concrete roadway, you put it in that rather than banging up a dump.”


He gave a nod, “Ok.”


“It's something like 89 yards. We can haul rock in it and we can haul gravel in it and we'll be fine. I just want something we won't tear up when we bang boulders and stuff around.”


Oh!”


What I need to do is I need to make some calls. You guys are going to need fuel real soon and I haven't even begun to speak with a fuel supplier or anyone else.”


Bernie said, “Let me make a call. My brother is down here someplace and that's what he does for a living. It might be a good call or it might not be. IF it isn't, I'll get names of good people.”


I appreciate it. Is everyone staying cool and well fed?”


Everyone said they were and I said, “The key there is you tell everyone it's for the Falls. They'll write it off to us and that's how we'll do it until we've got food, eats, drinks, and everything lined up.”


I pulled my phone and dialed Donna. “Hello?”


Hi hon, I'm going to beg you to do something for me. Ok?”


Sure.”


Call the Coke, Pepsi, Anheiser Busch, Miller, and Frito Lay people and set us up for deliveries. Tell them we need some immediately and tell them I need to speak with them about what's needed here.

While you're at it, let's get Dr Pepper/7-Up involved also. I'd rather have everyone involved than having them thinking they're left out.

When you speak with them, you tell them this....You tell them we just bought all the McDonald's in the area and I expect the deals McDonald's gets to be given to us also.

I figure if we've got Burger King and McDonald's pulling Coke products, we damned well ought to get some discounts from them. If not, you'll see me taking Burger King over to Pepsi faster than you'd believe.”


Can you do that?”


Yeah, they had a lawsuit about it. If you're a new franchise, you can't, but if you're an existing franchise, you can.”


Ok, that should be no problem.”


Tell them I want fountains and ice makers on those. Stu was supposed to get something done in regards to food, but I think he opted to feed everyone through the restaurants...but I'm not sure.

What I do know is we're going off the ice you got last night and I've not been near the drinks, so I don't know how they're holding up.”


Ok, I'll make the calls. Thanks for including me in on your list to call. You don't know how bored I get.”


Hon, you're probably going to have lots of calls. With my Mom being out and with me running around like I am, it's rough, but once we've got calls made, I know we're doing fine.”


I saw one of the Fords pull up ,“Ok, I've got a truck here I can drive now. I ended up calling John and getting six of these little 4x4 Ford Rangers. Believe it or not, I got six for the price of those Kubotas.”


Man!”


That Kubota took me out of the water, but I'm going to put you on calling a different company when you have these called.”


What's that?”


The company's name is Mattracks. I have no idea who makes them and I don't know where they're sold, but I need two complete sets for two Ford Rangers. While you're at it, get a set for a Ford F350 and a set for a Range Rover.”


What are they?”


They're tracks for your truck. Rather than having tires, you have tracks like a tank on each wheel and because they bolt right to the wheel, they don't violate the warranty.

The reason I'm getting them is they lift the trucks and they're way better than regular tires in snow and mud.

I figure if we have two of these Rangers with tracks and plows, we'll have our people keeping the roads open out there and we'll be sure they're able to be reached.”


Do they have them for Ford Escapes?”


Yeah, they make them for everything.”


Ok, I'll find out who makes them.”


Thank you. When you speak with them, tell them we're operating a construction company and we need them built strong.”


Ok.”


Thank you. This means a lot to me.”


I'll call you back with updates.”


The kid said, “We need you to sign for the trucks.”


I took the clipboard and looked everything over. “Ok.” and signed.”


He stood there and I said, “One moment, I'm having a meeting with these people and I'll take you back in a moment.”


I turned and the kid said, “You're supposed to tip delivery people.”


I turned ,“Ok, now do you mind? I've got a meeting here. IF you want money for six trucks right now, I'll give the tip to the owner! Now, let me have my meeting!”


It doesn't look to me like you're having a meeting. It looked to me like you were talking on the phone and everyone's standing around.”


I pointed, “Get the fuck off my property.”


I turned to everyone, “One second, I'm calling the owner out there.”


I dialed and the receptionist answered. I said, “I need John please. This is Jeremy Blue.”


He's on the phone right now.”


Tell him Jeremy Blue said to come get all his fuckin' trucks. If he wants to know why, you tell him I DEMAND an apology from him for this God damned delivery driver's comments. If that doesn't get something done, you best believe I'll have a family meeting over this...but right now, I'm calling the Sheriff to get this motherfucker off my property!”


I hung up and dialed the Sheriff. When he answered, I said, “Ben?”


Yeah, Jeremy.”


Are you close by? If not, get someone here and get this person off my property. Tell John his delivery driver has been trespassed and if he doesn't move, I'll beat his ass to the point that he'll only WISH he could interrupt me in a meeting again!”


Hang on, I'm up the street two blocks.”


We're down at the new street. You'll see us.”


I hung up and pointed, “There's your ride. IF you don't take it and get the fuck off this property, your ride will be with the Sheriff.”


Mike walked over, “Dude, get in that fuckin' truck and get to moving.”


The guy said, “I don't see what the big deal is...He's in a meeting? He was on the phone!”


I said, “I'll explain it to your boss. NOW I've got to cancel orders I was making for items which fit Ford trucks.”


I pulled my phone and it rang in my hand. “Hello?”


John said, “Jeremy? What's going on?”


Your man delivered this truck. I was on the phone with Donna buying Mattracks for the trucks as well as having her do a lot of other things.

When I got off the phone, before I could go back to the meeting I was holding, he interrupts me about the tip. He got told I'd give it to you.”


“That's wrong, there's no tip required.”


Well, that's not it...I told him he's interrupting the meeting and to wait. He came back with telling me my people are standing around and I'm on the phone....that there's no meeting taking place.

Needless to say, you got a call. Now, I'll have you down here to apologize or I'll have the Sheriff haul the fucker off my property because he's not taken the truck back and he's SURE not left my property.”


I'll be right there. You're wanting to give the trucks back over this?”


I'm telling you to shove every fuckin' truck I've bought from you if there's no apology for his actions. Either I get it, or you get trucks back and yeah, I'm pissed.”


I hung up on him as the Sheriff pulled up. He got out and pointed to his car. “Son, get in the back right now.”


The kid yelled, “WHAT!”

The Sheriff turned ,“Get in the car or I'll arrest you for resisting arrest! You were told to get off this property, and you're still here. That's all I need.”


He came over, “Anything else said?”


I just spoke with John and told him to get ALL the trucks I've bought if there's no apology for that kid's actions.”


He said, “I'll need you to make a statement.”


Just get him off the property. Tell him he's not to come back to anything we own. If I see he's on our property, I'll arrest without reservation.”


Ok. Thanks for not getting physical.”


When you tell him he's trespassed, you tell him there's no tip for delivery. I had considered $20 bucks each and had done so before he mentioned it, but that sorta set me off.”


I understand.”


Mike said, “All of us were witness to it. Normally, I don't jump in, but the kid wouldn't shut up.”


The Sheriff nodded, “He'll regret his actions. I know his parents and he's got a good future.”


Ok, you tell him my meetings are very loose. I prefer informality rather than a boardroom.”


I'm going to have a talk with him and then, I'll have a different talk with his parents.”


I appreciate it.”


I'm going to wait here for John.”


That's fine.”


I turned to the crew ,“As I was saying, we've got lots of dump trucks, and a dozer trailer which sounds super neat. We got it for a steal and they've offered to give us the other for the same price.”


Mike asked, “What is it?”


It's a 60 ton which apparently has tag axles and can be set up and reconfigured for lots of different ways to haul something.”


Mike asked, “I wonder how big the deck is?”


I'm not sure, but he'll be here soon and then, we'll know.

What's nice is the truck dealer gave us a lot of throw-ins. There's 220 gallons of oil he gave because he didn't have time to get the oil changed.

Other than that, the guy who owned the trucks changes his tires once a year. We got all of last year's tires in the deal and there are lots of other throw-ins, but these trucks.”


What kind?”


Macks with 505 Mack engines. They're not Cat or Cummins, but for that horsepower, I'll take 'em.”


How much?”


$27,000 each. They're five years old and we got that deal because we bought all of them. They just got traded in yesterday.”


Mike's eyes went big, “Man, that's a heckuva deal!”


From what Danny said, they're loaded and have what you call bump shifters.”


Mike smiled, “They're loaded!”


I know they're loaded because they've got the all in one radios in them. I know those things are like $800 each.”


Mike shook his head, “18 speed?”


I'm not sure. He never told me, but they're sleepers even though I wanted day cabs, but for almost half what I was willing to pay, I'll take 'em.”


The Sheriff said, “I don't blame you. They sound nice.”


They're all white. What matters to me is we've got plenty of horsepower and we're not sitting with a bunch of trucks which don't look like they match. I think that looks sloppy and usually, when something like that looks sloppy on someone's parking lot, it's telling that the owner doesn't care about his people, or the equipment.

With me, I'd rather have everyone seeing we've got matching and know we've got less parts to buy from all over, but I'll take these kinds of deals whenever, wherever.”


My phone rang, “Hello?”


Donna said, “Coke and Pepsi have been called.”


Don't call Mattracks yet. I'm waiting on John to get here to see whether I give him all the trucks I've bought back.”


What's going on!”

“Your Dad's standing here and the delivery kid is in the back of his car. The kid got lippy and kept interrupting my meeting. Finally I told him to get off the property. He stayed, so your Dad got called.”


Ok, I'm around the corner. I'll be there. You're going to flip when you know who his parents are.”


We'll be here.”


I hung up ,“Donna....She's making a bunch of calls for me because I'm busy.”


I turned ,“Guys, I'll get us everything handled.”


Bernie said, “Wait! I need to tell you about my phone call.”


Ok.”


I spoke my brother. He will be over as soon as possible. He's a delivery driver for the fuel company and can get you discounted rates because you're bulk.”


I hope!”


A Lincoln MKZ pulled up and John got out. He hadn't made it to us before Donna rolled up from behind.

She got out ,“John, let me speak with Jeremy before this goes bad!”

I took a breath and she said, “Daddy, just let me speak with Jeremy. You should've told him this would be handled better through the family.”


He said, “Donna, I'm wanting the fear of God put into him! From the sounds of it, it's typical smart mouthed teenager talking.”


She said, “Jeremy, come on. Let's go for a walk.”


I turned ,“Guys, I appreciate your time. Maybe the next time we have a meeting I'll lock us in a broom closet where we won't have lots of interruptions.”


I winked at Fallon ,“You can bring your gal!”


Everyone laughed and I said, “John, give me one moment. Donna usually saves my ass when it comes to mistakes.”


He gave a smirk and I went over. Donna said, “Thank God you listened!”


Ok...Who is it?”


John's grandson.”


Ok, so I'm supposed to be less pissed?”


Hey, he's a smart ass. Ok? But don't get him arrested and ruin his chances for something bigger!”


He's not arrested, but I won't put up with crap like that Donna!”


Let me go get him out of that car.”


No, you tell your Dad to get him out of that car. You don't wear a badge and with all the asphalters around here, they'll think you can get them out of trouble...which is about the same thing as buying off your Dad.”


Ok.”


I'm not apologizing for this...I'll punch the punk in the mouth before I apologize and John will take every fuckin' truck back!”


I didn't say that...Don't get so defensive!”


Ok.”


She smiled, “You have a right to be upset. Now, let's go over and get this handled.”


I went over and Donna said, “Dad, he wants him out of the car.”


I said, “I want him out of the car and if I don't get TWO apologies, I'm punching the punk in the mouth!”


I turned to John, “It's unfair of you to be put in this spot, I know, but if I'd been a stranger, you'd gotten back your trucks...and YEAH, I probably would've called Ford.

In regards to him being your Grand kid, I understand your problem...” The kid walked up. “...and I think it's good that you've got him working there, but when the face of your company is ALL of the people who interact with your customers, one can take away every single good feeling of doing business with you.”


I turned and said to the kid, “Your problem is you need to mind your own business and call people liars a lot less. You didn't call me a liar directly, you insinuated I was a liar by my actions several times. For that, you're fuckin' lucky you're not digesting teeth right now because NO ONE calls me a liar when they don't know what the fuck they're talking about!

Personally, here's how I'm doing this now....In the past few days, I've bought nearly a quarter of a million in vehicles from your Grandfather's company. That's discounted and that's me paying cash...not haggling it out and not trucking everything through the loan department....IF you do not learn one thing, that's a damned good customer you do NOT piss off!

In regards to the others who delivered, they got tips. You get a tip telling you in the future, you don't interrupt someone to tell them they need to give you a tip. You get a second tip telling you not to interrupt someone's meeting telling them they're not in a meeting! You get a last tip that when you're told to get over and away, you get over and away because I don't give a fuck WHO you are, you've pissed me off and when I tell you I'll call John, I'm calling John because you've done stepped across the line of good business.

Lastly, when you're told to get off someone's property, you move! Had you done that where I'm from, you'd gotten a load of buckshot to your face at close range because that's what comes damned fast after getting told to get gone.”


John said, “Jeremy, I hope you'll forgive us. You're teaching him what he needs to learn and really, everything you're saying is the truth....That's how you do good business.”


He turned ,“Brandon, apologize to the man.”


You could tell the kid had it in his mind to tell me to get fucked. He rolled 'em ,“I apologize.”


I said, “For what it's worth, you're forgiven. I'll keep the trucks, but I'll give the tip to your grandfather for the other guys....If you do not like that, tough.”


Donna said, “I need all the numbers of the trucks.”


We're going to have you here when we have all of them parked at 6pm. With the way I'm buying trucks and everything, it's....”


The fuel truck rolled up and I said, “Great, I can't even have an interruption of my day without interruptions!”


She laughed ,“He's family.”


He's Bernie's brother!”


Really!”


She turned to the Sheriff ,“That guy who hit his wife hit family Daddy.”


The Sheriff gave a silent nod and John asked, “Which one's Bernie?”


She's out on that paver out there. She's with the fiddle player.”


OH! She IS his sister! I've not seen her in years!”


I could tell the kid was interested. John said, “Jeremy? Do you have a place for him? He just got fired working for me.”


I said, “Brandon, maybe you'll know a meeting when you see one if you stick around me. I need someone who can work a phone and dial Donna when things get too busy.”


What's it pay?”


We'll talk about that. It depends on the hours you work.”


What are they making?”


$200 a day for a 12 hour day.”


That's not that much.”


Surprisingly, most of the people who work in that job make $150 a day for a 15 or 16 hour day. You might not find it much, but to them it's damned good.”


John said, “Brandon, would you care to tell him what you were making out at the dealership? I believe it's about HALF what you said isn't much!”


I said, “Brandon, you might not consider it much, but I'll tell you what I'm making....When you see me get a paycheck, if ever, you'll know I'm not making a dime....I'm the boss and fortunately, I've got enough money to live without it. When you're getting a business off the ground, you don't make much.”


John said, “I agree...I worked my way up, but I know my Grand Dad did without a whole lot just to get it off the ground.”


I asked, “Is it a deal?”


What do I have to do?”


I made like I was gritting my teeth and the Sheriff laughed, “Easy Jeremy!”

I said, “You do what I tell you to do. If it's making a call, it's making a call representing my company. If it's speaking with people, you speak like you care about them because if you do not, I'll yank your ass back behind a building and beat it! THEN, I'll kindly tell you that you don't need to be so clumsy and no, you WON'T be fired, you'll wonder what kind of asshole I really am!

Whoever raised you didn't do a good job. I know it wasn't your Grandfather because he looks like he'd like to back hand you at times....so that tells me what you have coming out of your head grates at the last nerve.

Whereas he probably can't tell you that, I sure can and will...AND, you might not like it, but when you call me a liar, that's not in your job description...just like me punching you in the mouth isn't in mine...but I promise you it will happen.”


John said, “He's not been raised in the country. I think if he had, he'd learned things a bit rougher.”


I smiled, “I don't THINK it John, I know it!”


He smiled and I said, “But we'll get out there. He's going to learn I care about your family and consider them my own....to which he needs to learn he NEEDS to care.”


I turned to Brandon, “For now, you follow me around and learn the business I do. I can't tell you what that will be, but I promise you it'll be damned busy. However, tonight, you get off at 6pm, but don't think other nights you will.”


I turned to the fuel driver and he said, “I'm Ernie, Bernie's brother.”


I shook his hand ,“That tattoo...You were at the family meetin' the other night!”


He chuckled, “Yeah.”


If I'd remembered you, I'd called. I didn't and I apologize.”


He laughed, “You were havin' a good time!”

“I was drunk on my ass!”


Everyone laughed and I smiled, “At the next one, Brandon gets to play the jug!”

Everyone laughed and Brandon asked, “What's that?”


It's a jug. You play it and it's sorta like the bass in a song. You tilt it for deeper and you tilt it less for less. But you keep up and you have a good time.”


Everyone giggled and John shook his head laughing. “Brandon, everyone plays the jug once in their life. Those who like it more play it more often, but those who enjoy music tend to find other instruments to play.”


He said, “What if I don't like country music?”


I gave a nod ,“If you don't like country, you do it because you like your family. I'm someone who likes all kinds of music, but I'll tell you country isn't my favorite....HOWEVER, I'll tell you country means a lot to me. As you grow older, you'll find country means more to you because it tells how people are feeling deeper. Whereas Katy Perry will tell you that you're “Hot and Cold”, Shania will call your ass a cheater and get it over with.”


Everyone laughed and I turned to Ernie. I said, “Ernie, here's what I need. I need a trailer I can roll out there to fill up our equipment and I need tanks so I can fill up all the diesel equipment and the equipment at the quarries.

With these trucks, I need gasoline. That tank is going to be a LOT less, so don't make it that big.

Now, if you can get me something mobile, that's great. If you can't we're screwed because those machines out there have to be getting low on fuel.”


I'll get you a trailer. We have them for farm implements and fueling those.

We DO have a truck with a fuel nozzle similar to this one which carries 8,000 gallons, but I need to tell you it fills real fast the fuller it is.”


Ok, can we use that? I'll buy whatever, but we need tanks and when I get my offices built, I'll need tanks there.”


Where will your office be located?”


It was going to be right there, but there's a problem getting utilities here. Rather than paying a lot to get that done, we're now checking to see if we own that land over there. If not, we're wanting to buy it so we CAN make it over there.”


Ernie said, “Sheriff, this is all the old Greening place, right?”


The Sheriff nodded. “Yes.”

“It all got sold to the same guy. I was interested in it, but got told by old man Greening he sold it all to the same man.”


I said, “That's fine, but the deed is vague. Where the problem is, is he told Stu it was to that creek.”


Ernie shook his head no ,“No, the farm goes all the way over to the other creek. Your fella might've THOUGHT it was this one, but it's the other over there.”


“Thank you. I need to call and tell Stu.”


I dialed and Stu answered, “Hello?”


Hon, Ernie is here. You might or might not remember him from the family meeting...he's the one with the blue hula dancer tattoo.”


Oh, you called her Beulah and that other woman answered!”

“Yeah, but Ernie said you bought the farm from Greening and that it goes on over to another creek.”


Really!”

“Yeah, he was interested in it and spoke with Mr Greening and Mr Greening said he sold it to you.”


Ok, I had no idea! After all this time, it's probably a mess!”


I understand.”


Ok, this is a shock!”

“I can imagine.”


He chuckled, “We got a real good deal then!”


I'm not sure. I'll take a ride across the creek on a dozer in a little bit and see.”


He laughed, “You'll probably need it with all the trees that have grown up!”

“I'll get off here, but I figured you'd want to know.”


Thanks!”

I rang off and Donna asked, “Isn't the Greening Plantation still up there?”


I heard that and Ernie said, “The house is starting to fall into disrepair, but yeah, it's still there. The yard is all grown up now, but...”


I said, “Guys, Stu didn't know he owned that. I'm sure it's been let go because he never knew! How do we get there?”


My phone rang. “Hello?”


Greening?”


Yeah.”


You mean that beautiful house?”


It's yours.”


Oh my God!”


He said it's falling into disrepair. So you know how to get there?”


Yeah! You take the road out by the hospital.”


Well, that's yours apparently.”


Oh man. Do you realize how big the farm is?”


No clue hon...I'm just learning there's a plantation around here and wondering who's gonna come out of the woodwork saying my people beat theirs'!”


We'll take a ride out there.”


Ok, I need to get off here. I'm buying fuel for everything before it runs out.”


Oh! Ok!”


I hung up ,'He knows where it is. He had no clue it was a part of what he bought. He's sorta real ecstatic right now.”


Brandon said, “It's haunted.”


I smiled, “It may be, but I sorta like speaking with ghosts.”


I turned to Ernie ,“Ernie, I really gotta get fuel for everything. Can you get that for me?”


He nodded, “Sure.”


In regards to tanks, I don't know how to tell you. I know I'm going to need them permanently, but I need mobile....” I stopped talking and got to thinking ,“Ok, here's what I want....I know this is going to sound strange, but I KNOW I need tanks out at the quarry.”


“They're there.”


Are there tanks for my asphalt out there?”


He gave me a look, “No....well, there's an asphalt tank out there.”


I'm going to need about 50,000 gallons of storage for the new blend of asphalt. I'm told I get that from the fuel supplier.”


I'll check. What's it called?”


“It's the newest. Tell them it's got ground up tires in it and polymers and asphalt. We put it through with sand and then, we roll it through with gravel and then, it goes on into the trucks.”


I'll check.”


Here, call this man. He knows what I need as he's got a batch plant.”


I dialed Mr Alberici and when he answered, I said, “I've got our fuel supplier here. Would you tell him the blend I need for that batch plant?”


Ok.”


I handed the phone and in a flash, he said, “Ok, I know what to get. I'm going to get on the phone and get that other truck readied and then, I'll be back with it so you've got something to fuel everything. I'll probably pull that trailer also so that'll give you another 1000 gallons.”


I appreciate it Ernie.”


You're going to need to get license for this.”

“Do you guys give out the paperwork for that? Or do I get our lawyer to do them?”


I'll find out.”


He got in his truck and I turned to see Donna over at the Sheriff's car with him. I said, “John, I appreciate everything. Do what you can to see if I can get those Rangers with diesel engines in them. I saw one on YouTube here in the states, so I know we can get them.”


He nodded, “I'm going to go make calls.”


I said, “I'll drop Brandon off on my way to go to the hospital. He'll be ok.”


He got in his Lincoln and left out. I said to Brandon, “Here, why don't you go to the theater and ask Stu to show you the new show. It'll show you what we're doing all this for.”


I've seen that show. It's boring.”


I stood in front of him, “Little Dude, before I step off in your ass, you GO to the theater and ask to see the NEW show. IF you say that fuckin' thing is boring BEFORE you experience it, I'll beg to differ.

EVERY single person who's seen it has said they love it. They say we're going to be millionaires so much from it that we're going to fill a 10,000 seat theater.

I agree, the old show is dated, but the new show has so much going on you won't know what to expect next. IF you think I'm going to spend nearly $40 million dollars to toss around some water, you're an idiot. IF you think I'm excited for nothing, you're a lunatic. IF you do not get to moving, I promise you a long LONG day in the shortest way possible. You got me???”


He gave me a look and I said, “You might think I'm a bossy person, but I think you're a lazy good for nothing punk! We both have opinions and you might just prove yourself wrong if you go do what I'm paying you to do.”


If it's country, I won't like it.”


If it's country, you bare your ass and I'll kiss it.”


He gave me a look and I said, “IF you DARE say one word about me being a fag, I'll beat your ass down here and now. What you will do is you'll go to that theater. You will NOT cause Stu any problems because that man has cancer and if I find out you've been as much of a smart ass to him as you've been to me, they'll have to call the police on me to get my fuckin' fingers pried off your throat when I'm drowning you in that pool just so see if those flames will burn the shit out of you!”


What!”


You didn't hear that?”


What about the flames?”


Go watch the new show. If you don't see flames, lasers, holograms, 3d projections, and ghosts, you're not seeing the new show.”


Really?”


DUH DUDE! MOVE!”


Damn you're bossy.”


Damn you're stubborn! Together we're bossy and stubborn, it sounds like a comedy routine only I'm not laughing!”


Can I drive the truck down there?”


No, that truck was brought here for me to drive. Put one foot in front of another and walk! I've walked it 13 times today, there's nothing wrong with it!”


He took off walking and I walked over to the Sheriff's cruiser. Donna smiled, “I could hear you clear over here!”


I shook my head, “I'd not be a good parent. I'd be buried under the jail for corporal punishment of my child.”


She laughed, “You'll do good. I think he's smitten with you is all.”


I gave her a look, “He hates my guts!”


She laughed, “And when you aren't paying attention to him, he's watching you non-stop!”


I think he's thinking up what smart assed remarks to say.”


She laughed and the Sheriff really laughed. He said, “Donna was the same way when she was that age.”


She looked shocked and I said, “Must've not been that long ago.!”


She hugged me ,“Yeah!”


The Sheriff really laughed and I said, “Guys, the cabins have been paid for. We need to get them moved to where they need to do. Whoever's going to get them needs to be ready and we're going to need a lot of people helping on this project.”


She asked, “How are we going to do it?”


Well, I've been thinking that we take the crane out there and lift it and get some huge steel girders under them and then, we lift the girders and put it onto a lowboy and move them.

Someone's going to have to ride on top and we're going to have to see about tree limbs and get those cut so they're not hitting the cabin as we roll along.

We're getting two of those trailers, so it's really a thing of us finding a place which will allow for us to move without a whole lot of difficulties. IF that's not possible, we'll have to tear it down or cut the cabin in two, but I think when we lift it that way, it's going to fall apart.”


She nodded, “I'll have to see if there's anything in the way out there.”


You're going to have to see how wide the road is and if there's any railings for bridges and how heavy the load capacities are for the bridges.”


She said, “I see the Coke truck up there, so you need to speak with the man.”


I chuckled, “He's going to be SO PISSED!!! I'm going to drive right by him!”


She laughed, “You're cruel!”


I said, “Ok, I've gotta go.”


I went over and got in the Ranger and drove down to Brandon. “Hop in!”


He got in and I drove on up to the theater. “I'll be in. I've got to speak with the Coke man about setting up an account.”


I got out and went over, “I'm who you're looking for.”


He said, “I've already spoke with Stu.”


Did he order the fountains we're going to need for the theater?”


No.”


You might want to do that. We're going to have it built and up and running by Memorial Day weekend and I'm not going to really want to wait on you to get me fountains.”


“What are you wanting?”


Sixteen head auto fill. Whatever you do, don't have us with high fizz because we're going to need to fill those cups fast!”


“How big of cups?”


I'm really thinking 32oz. We'll advertise you on the Coke side, but not on the Pepsi side.”


You're going to have two sides?”


Two entirely different snack bars. We'll have one line forming while the one is in. I'm thinking about 55 minute long performances and fifteen fill and fifteen empty for each show. That will be 2 hours.

While they're waiting, people can get things to eat and....”


What kind of cups? Paper or plastic?”


If it's paper, I'll take Coca Cola if you give them to us. If I've got to pay for them, I'm going to advertise us and tell you to keep your paper.”


He gave me a look and I said, “I won't owe you a thing if I'm buying my own fountains. If I'm renting....well, if I'm renting, I'm going to require huge ice machines and have it as flaked ice....not cubed, not crushed, but flakes.”


Ok, one size of cups?”


Yes. Everything's going to be on the dollar principle. 32 oz is a dollar, a bag of chips is a dollar and a sandwich is two dollars. Nachos will be a dollar, but we're going to have everything one size and you either take it as we serve it or don't.”


That's cheap!”

“I think so, and that's why I want to get everything prepared so I know I've got everything coming.”


What would it take for me to get both sides?”


An agreement to have Pepsi and 7-Up on both sides.”


He smiled and I said, “I betcha you just lost that thought!”


He chuckled, “You're going to make them share?”


No, I'm going to make both of you share with Dr Pepper and 7-Up, but they won't be in your fountain.”


How many head?”


Here's what I want. I want two 16 head fountains. I want auto fills which fills a 64 oz pitcher and that way, if we get behind, we can pour from them and move on.”


“It's going to have to be metered ice for it to work.”


Now you understand.”


I don't know if we can meter with flakes.”


Then get me fill for 64 ounce and I'll pour from pitchers.”


I'll see what we can get.”


“I need 24 oz bottles. We're going to need 40 cases of Coke 30 of diet Coke, and give me 10 of everything else. We'll ice them down here until you can get me an ice machine to put out here.”


He sort've did a stare and I said, “It's for my workers. Those people out there.”


Ok. I was worried about theft.”


Not happening.”


I heard a semi come in behind me and turned to see one semi with two spreaders on it. I said, “Excuse me.”


I went over to the driver and asked, “How far behind are the others?”


They should be here any minute.”


Ok, go on out there and off load where there's no gravel.”


I'll get it done.”


I went back ,“How often will you stop by?”


How often do you need me?”


Are those fountains going to be auto everything?”


They can be.”


Order them to be that way. We'll figure out how often we need new bags, but I want racks which have at least a dozen bags of each thing on them all set to go.”


You're not going to sell that many of the less popular item.”


Ok, but I'm planning on having at least 12 of the Coke and probably six of the diet. Whatever is left, we'll fill with slower things, but I want 12 bags for each head we've got of Coke...so that'd be 144 and then, give me 144 for back up.”


That's an awful lot.”


I'm wondering if it's going to be enough.”


Each bag makes 5 gallons of soda.”


Each performance is 10,000 seats. I promise you we'll probably have at least three performances a day which are sold out.”


He gave me a look, “I doubt it.”


Go in and watch the sample show we've got. I'm betting $40 million on it.”


He looked shocked, “Really?”


Go watch. I'll be out here.”


I took him in and saw Brandon coming down the stairs. I dialed my phone and Stu answered, “New show. Our Coke man thinks I'm full of it on the amount of soda we'll sell per week.”


Ok, I'm cueing it up now for that kid.”


Brandon...”


Here it goes.”


The stage lit up and the music started. It went into showing the theater and Eddie's voice came over.

Brandon gave me a look when he saw the outside shows ,“Whoa! Cool!”


I gave a nod and then, everything went dark and suddenly, the music kicked on and the first two songs built them up. I walked over to Brandon ,“Cool?”


If this is what you're saying is so great, it's more of the same.”


About that time, everything stopped and the voice over said, “That was then, this is now!”


Instantly, the new show kicked in and within seconds, it was going full bore. When the World Trade Centers collapsed and the fog came rolling out to have the sound of Harleys and the Patriot guard bringing the bikes out 3d onto the fog, Brandon hit the deck and I said, “More of the same?”


MAN!”


Have fun. I'm spending money on this bet!”


He smiled real big and I walked over to the Coke man, “Think I won't get people in here?”


This is great!”


“Tell Coke for $5 million a season, I'll advertise you guys at the beginning.”


He gave me a look and I waved my hand, “Don't worry...I'll tell the same thing to Pepsi and McDonald's. Someone's bound to take us up on it.”


When the flames really got to dancing, I ran up the stairs and told Stu, “See if we can get those flames to twinkle with the white or red lasers popping on them.”


Now?”


No, we're going to have to do some testing to see how it goes. It just hit me we could get a twinkle by maybe putting those lasers on them or maybe doing a micro on the closest water fountain so the water gave that twinkle”


I'm seeing what you're wanting, but I don't know if we can do it.”


I think we can, but you're going to have to trust me on a few things...”

“Like what?”


Think of different colors of flames. What gets blue, what gets white, what gets green, and so on and so forth. I believe alcohol gets white. If we can color our flames to get different effects that'd be cool also.”


“What gets green?”


Copper sulfate. IF I'm thinking that if we get blue and red together, we're not going to get purple, but more of a burgundy unless we have more blue than red and then, we're going to have to play and experiment.”


At the end of the show, when Darude began. I turned to Stu, “You have my CD!”

“Eddie's doing a lot to it.”


I watched and really enjoyed it. I said, “That's real neat.”


Mr A even likes it.”


Where'd he go?”


He's down looking to see about how to get a bridge across there.”


We're going to have to build a fifty dollar bridge for a ten dollar creek.”


“Why?”


For when it rampages. I've seen signs of when it really gets to going.”


It does every once in a while.”


It could jeopardize this project if we don't have firm foundation under the rear of the theater. I betcha he tells us we're going to have to go with solid concrete.”


Would that set us back?”


No, you're still gonna have to dance!”

He laughed, “I wasn't thinking about that!”

“I gotta go do some stuff. I love ya.”


Love you too.”


I went down and got there just in time for the music to finish. “So what do you think?”


Both of them were raving about it. I smiled at Brandon ,“For someone who DIDN'T want to go in to see it because it's boring, you're sure a changed man!”


He smiled, “SO I ADMIT I WAS WRONG!”


Thank you. Now you know why I'm fired up to get the place built! Work beside me and let's keep everyone moving forward.”


Show them this!”

“I am....each and every time they want to act like a stick in the mud! Isn't it funny how you wondered what your job was going to be and now, you're creating your own job definition!”


He smiled, “Are you calling me a stick in the mud?”


No, if you add enough water and fire, I think it becomes a drum stick!”

I turned to the Coke guy ,“Now you can tell everyone about it on your way. Tell 'em I'm giving away shows when it's open because I want everyone raving about it when the people come. YOU can decide if you want to give away Coke or not, or maybe the Pepsi man will decide that, but if worse comes to worse, I'll have 7-Up do that!”

He chuckled, “You're terrible with this!”

“You don't know that my cola war has both armies going in the front doors here to PAY! Now, let's go outside so we can see how much the world has changed.”


We went out and he said, “I'll get you an ice machine.”


Thanks.”


He chuckled, “I'm going to have to get the head of my distributorship here to see this. He's going to think I've lost my mind in give-a-ways.”


If he won't, calmly ask him if it's for sale and when he dare tells you that I don't have enough money, call me....I'll prove otherwise.”


You know, it IS for sale!”

“Really?”


Yeah, he has it up for sale for $75 million, but I was told he's said that he'd take $60.”


I dialed Stu, “Hello?”


Babe? Do you want to own a Coca-Cola distributorship? It's for sale and the guy says it can be had for $60 million.”


Get me the number!”


I held out the phone ,“He wants the number.”


He looked surprised and Brandon said, “They've got it!”


The guy took the phone and soon, he was off. I said, “Call 'em hon!”


Oh, I am!”


Call me back.”


I hung up and dialed Danny, “Hello?”


Where are you now?”


We're about to the turn off for everyone to go down the road to the quarry.”


Did you call that man about the other trailer like that?”


It's on it's way.”


Thanks. I'm eagerly anticipating you guys getting here because we've got the other spreaders. It looks like we're still waiting the fuel truck's arrival, but it's going to be here.”


We'll be there. They just turned off.”


Ok, I'll get off here and let you drive.”


I hung up and told the Coke driver goodbye.


Afterward, I turned to Brandon, “Let's go up there and then, let's go that direction to see what he's doing about that bridge.”


What are we doing up there?”


Praying the man with the fuel gets here soon. I'm not sure what everyone had in their tanks when they started, but it's got to be running low. Whatever you do, you do NOT run diesels out of fuel, that makes a bad day for everyone.”


We drove down and I pulled up in front of Eric, “Check your fuel tank! IF it's low, shut it down!”


He nodded, “I just did. We've got about 5 gallons.”


Shut it down. We'll wait.”


I turned to the workers ,“A bunch more Coke has been delivered. There's still ice, so the water in the tanks should have it cold by now.”

I told Brandon, “Drive the truck down and get them down there to the shade. Drive slow because we're responsible for those people's lives and health.”


He did and people piled on. I went over to Bernie and asked her. She said they had the fuel to keep running, but I told her to keep an eye on it.

Fallon shut his down. Mike and Michele had to shut their's down. Brandon took people down in trips back and forth and just as I was about to go see Thompson, the fuel truck showed.


He said, “Sorry it took so long, but my boss didn't want to do it without you having a certificate. When I told him you'd bought a certificate with the quarries and probably co-owned a bunch of them on the strip's gas stations, he finally relented.”


Thanks. Let's drop that trailer and go fuel everything. Those which are ultra low, we shut down.”


It's a good thing I got here when I did!”


My phone rang, “Hello?”


I'm flying to get that distributorship bought. It's one of the largest in the state, so we're going to be doing excellent.”


Let me know and I'll tell the Pepsi man we don't need him.”


“No. Keep him on. I'd rather show we don't show bias. We'll make our profits through the back side by wholesaling to ourselves cheaper on Coke.”


Ok, I love you.”


I can't believe everything we're now owning! DO you realize we've got to be one of the biggest employers in the state with the numbers of people we employ?”


That'd be cool. You might think about giving them 2 Adult tickets in their paychecks so they bring their family down and have to buy stuff. Even if they hand them off, we're getting someone else down here to be customers!”

He chuckled as he pulled up in the Rover, “I hadn't even thought that far, but let's get me out to the airport.”


Who's flying you?”


They're sending a jet.”


Is it ours if we buy the company?”


I'll check.” He gave me a look, “Are you wanting one?”


No, but if we get one free when we buy something, that'd be cool!”

He chuckled ,“Ok, take me to the airport!”


I turned to Brandon ,“I've got to take Stu to the airport. He's going to buy the Coke place.”


He smiled real big, “Man!”


I'll be back....”


I'll be here. Do you mind if I go learn on one of those crews?”


Be careful.”


We drove back by the theater down. I saw three of the trucks parked and smiled to myself,“To the airport!” I drove us out there and on the way, I saw Danny pulling onto the strip. I tooted the horn and he blasted me back. I said, “That's one of our new trucks!”


Mack?”


We got it for about half the price as one of those Kenworths.”


Ok.”


I saw another white Mack heading towards us and tooted the horn not knowing if it was ours or not. I said, “We're getting strobe for the top of all my vehicles. It's going to cost money, but I want a white one and a blue one.”


Why blue?”


Like blue headlights, blue cuts through snow better. If it keeps someone from hitting us, I'm fine with it.
The best part of it is we'll know all of our trucks at first sight and so will everyone else. It's a safety feature and we can also remove them and put them on their replacements as we renew...but whoever this owner is, I want to buy his trucks because it's apparent that he's like us...he cares about his employees.”


WE need to get with Donna about getting the cabins taken down.”


I spoke with her a bit ago.”


Good, you're on the ball!”


It's been a busy day. Are you ok?”


Yeah.”

“Did you take your medicine?”


Yeah, but I'm going to speak with that doctor about it because it makes me feel terrible.”


Ok, let's get that done. Have the bottle ready so we can read off it.”


I carry the box with me.”


Let's compare the bottle to the box and be sure they're the same thing...stranger things have happened.”


I hadn't thought about that.”


We pulled into the parking lot of the airport ,“Hon?”


Yeah.”


I'm changing my colors of the company to blue and white with a Bluejay as the logo.”


Ok....”

“J Blue Construction....”


He smiled, “I like it. I see the play on your name with the Bluejay now!”


It just came to me.”


I kissed him and dropped him off and then, went out to the quarry on a whim. When I got there, I saw the crane lifting something and drove over by it. The woman I'd hired wasn't in it and a man yelled, “Get that fuckin' truck out of here!”


Get the fuck out of MY CRANE! Where's my operator!”


The bitch is over there. We don't have women working here!”


You're not working here either. Get the fuck out and get off my property! When you go to get unemployment, you tell them you got fired for sexual discrimination and see if you get anything.”


He dropped the piece he was lifting and men scattered and yelled. I dialed the Sheriff and he answered, “I need you out to the quarry. I've got a man who just attempted the harm a bunch of a bunch of employees because he just got fired.”


I'm heading that way.”


The guy came off and yelled at someone else, “He's firing me because he wants the bitch to operate the crane!”

I turned, “He's getting fired because he just sexually discriminated against one of my workers. IF You want your job, you'll not follow him to the unemployment line!”


Out of the corner of my eye, I saw movement and turned on instinct. The guy threw a punch and it missed my cheek by about 2 inches. I went up and caught him behind his head and because he was off balance, I took him down face first into the gravel.


Oh, you want to go to jail! Well asshole, that's already been arranged. The Sheriff's been called over that stunt of you dropping that equipment!”


I stood up and he rolled and tried to punch. I dropped a knee into his nuts and head butted him into his nose. He yelled out his pain and I jumped clear with a jackass kick thrown to the side of his jaw. He yelled again and I grabbed him up by his hair and drug him to the gate. “There's your fuckin' ticket to the hospital. Your vehicle will be towed!”


I heard the siren and saw the woman come out. I said, “LynnAnne? Why the hell didn't you call me?”


He ruined that phone you gave me!”


I said, “Go get back on the crane. If they won't work with you, they're all fired. You should've had them call me from the office.”


No one would listen to me!”


I said, “Watch this...”


I went into the office and told both of the guys, “Get your shit and get out. You're fired for sexual discrimination. Don't bother going to your trucks because if you step foot on my property, I'll crush them with you in them! Follow that bastard and get the fuck out!”


I saw the Sheriff's car come sliding to a stop in front of the man with the broken jaw. I went out ,“Sheriff, two more in here to get out of my office. They've been fired and ordered off the place.

It seems they don't want a woman working here. Well, it seems I don't want them working for me anymore.

That bastard out there thought he'd sucker punch me and got himself beat down in the process. PUHLEAZE cuff me and stuff me in the back of your patrol car with him!”


Not happening.”


AND IF you tell me any of these people I've fired are family, fuck you. I'll take my chances.”


Now simmer down!”


I'm going back in this office. They're taking entirely too long!”


I walked back and went in the door to see the guy in the cash drawer. I stepped out ,“Sheriff, I'm about to commence beating more asses. They've robbed the place and are currently emptying the cash drawer.

When I get finished beating their asses, I'm going to take every damned dime on their person back.”


I stepped back in and hadn't made it two steps when I heard a pistol shot. The Sheriff walked in the door ,“Alright you sons of bitches, that's your warning shot. PLEASE produce a weapon and make this an armed robbery! Jeremy, step aside because I'm about to kill me some thieves!”


The two guys instantly went to raising their arms. I walked over and reached in the man's pocket and pulled out the cash. The Sheriff came over and looked in the till ,“All the proof I need. You've got more charges than you'd care to have men....”


He handed me the pistol ,“Jeremy, keep them under cover while I put the cuffs on them.”


I pointed at the window and pulled the trigger. It roared with a huge blast and I said, “That's just to show you I'll gladly pull the trigger you fuckers!”


The Sheriff came up from where he dove smiling, “Let me know the next time. Ok!”


I smiled, “The element of surprise would've been gone for them.”


He chuckled, “On me too!”


He handcuffed them together and took a roll of duct tape off the counter ,“Men, back your asses up to each other.”


He duct taped their free wrists to each other so they were standing back to back ,“Left leg!”


He duct taped them together ,“You've got a free leg. You two negotiate your way out of here and get yourselves into the back seat of my patrol unit.”


He said, “Want to see if everyone else is ok?”


I want to see if that piece of equipment that fucker out there is damaged. He had four men standing around it and dropped it just to harm the equipment.”


Let me know if I need to haul anyone else off.”


I went out and walked over, “Anyone else want fired or beaten all to hell?” I paused ,“You either work with women or you get fired because of your choices...I'm not fucking around with you.”


The one said, “We're not your's...We're Alberici's.”


I gave a nod, “Ok, how bad did that fucker screw this up?”


It's bent, but it'll still stand. It's nothing but a dust collector, so it's fine.”


Operable?”


Yeah, the part which is the blower was down close. They're built to take some jarring.”


She's going to work out here. Support her or get off the property.”


We had no problem with her. It's been him we've had problems with!”

“Any of you see him destroy that phone I bought her?”


It's laying over there. We didn't know it was her's, but we saw him throw it.”


I'm going to press charges on that...It's an $800 phone, and was brand new this morning. That's a felony and yeah, it'll get him some time.”


You've got two more employees down there that I know about...By the way, nice job on taking that dude down!”

“No problem. He won't try sucker punching me again.”

“It happened so soon I didn't have time to yell and am glad you turned with it.”


He'll have a lot of charges to think about everything with. Now I'm going to go down and see if they want their jobs down there.”


I went over and got in the truck and drove down to the chat piles. I saw the guy on the front end loader loading one of our trucks and drove up and honked the horn.

He rolled back and made a motion like he wanted to know if I wanted the truck filled with gravel. I shook my head and made a cutthroat motion and climbed up the ladder. He opened the door, “Can I help you?”


I'm your new boss. Everyone up there has been fired. I'm here to ask you if you've got problems working with women. If so, get off this and get to your truck because you're fired.”


Man, I've got no problems with you!”

I smiled, “I'm not female either...You've got a woman crane operator up there and so far, the two in the office have been arrested and the one who was operating the crane is being arrested and taken to the hospital for being a dumb fuck.”



Can she operate the crane?”


Better than the man who got in it, but yeah.”


That's all that matters to me. Who's gonna be in the office?”


I don't know. Until further notice, you give whomever is rolling in and out what gravel they need free of charge....Why, do you know enough to work up there?”


It doesn't take a lot of skills. All you do is weigh them in and weigh them out and charge them for it.”


Well, we're going to have new blend asphalt and concrete batch plants out here also. You guys will stay working, but I'm not going to say you won't be working harder.

With the concrete and the asphalt, we're going to need a lot of finer.”


We'll get it for you.”


If you know some people who need jobs, let me know. If they've got problems working with women, tell them I won't hire them.”


Would you hire my wife?”


Yeah.”


She can run that office for you and her sister needs a job also.”


I handed him my phone, “Give 'em a call.”


Uh, we don't have a phone.”


I dialed 1-800-ATT-2020 ,“Order yourself a cell phone and your house a phone. Tell them you want the bundle and charge it to my company so I pay that bill.”


REALLY!”

“Man, you need a phone.”


He said, “You order it for me. I need to fill this truck.”


Do it with me in here. I'll need your address.”


Your truck is in the way.”


Oh, ok...one moment, I'll move it, but I'll need your address and everything else.”


I went down and walked over and pulled the pickup out of the way. By then, I'd pressed the numbers needed to get the new installations department.

When the woman came on the phone, I said, “I need a replacement phone. We bought it today at the AT&T store here in Branson and it's since been destroyed by a co-worker.”


She got the number and information and then, I said, “I need a new installation for a different employee. I want it billed to my business, but it's going to be installed in their house and while we're doing that, you can give them basic cable television, internet, and a couple of cell phones....Whatever you do, I want that in a bundle.”


She went into the spiel of all their plans and I gave her what I wanted. She kept trying to upgrade me on everything and finally, I said, “Ma'am, they work 15 & 16 hours a day. I doubt if they'll watch a whole lot of cable television, but I thought it'd be nice for them to have. Basic is fine, unlimited is fine on the cell phones, but no, they don't need long distance on a home phone...they just need a house phone.”


You can pick up the cell phones from the phone store there.”


I'll get that done...but before I get off this phone, I'm going to tell you I'm going to be ordering a lot of these packages for other employees. If you have a number for the package or a name, I'd appreciate it.”


She said she didn't have a number as that's not how they do things. I sighed, “I'll call back.”


I have a customer service number if you're interested in having that.”


Yes, I might tell them to look it up and order the same thing for my other employees.”


I rang off ,“I'm going to speak with the other men. You and your wife are going to have cell phones, cable television, internet, and house phone. I did not get long distance on your house phone because you have unlimited on your cell phone.”


He smiled real big, “Thank you.”


I'm not going to tell you to use them just for work. What I'll tell you is to use them during work and any other time you want. Now, how many more men are down that way?”


There are four, but don't go down there. They're blasting today and you'll get yourself in trouble.

Up at the office is a radio which should be on. Speak into the microphone and do it that way. You'll be safer.”


How close do you live to here?”


Down the road that way about three miles.”


Is your wife at home?”


Yes.”


Would you leave me to operate this and go get her? I'd like to get her hired and then, we'll get her told what I need done.”


He nodded, “I'll be right back.”

“Drive my truck if you'd like. It's one I just bought for the construction company and it seems real nice. Eventually, I'll be buying a bunch of them, but I want to see if I can get them ordered with diesel engines.”


They make them.”


“We'll either do that or get full sized with diesels and four wheel drive, but if I have to pay for full sized, we're going to hang onto them longer.”


He went and I saw one of the new trucks rolling in. He pulled in and I filled him and then went down and told him, “Tell everyone not to weigh in or weigh out. I fired those people and we've got that guy who just left going to get his wife to work here.”


Are you hiring wives?”


Yeah.”


I'll call mine!”


I'm probably going to overload you, but no one's going to complain.”


He smiled and I said, “That's what I'm doing.”


I went back up to the loader and he got his load covered.


The loads went fast and I had 9 of them filled by the time he got back with his wife. I told him, “I overloaded 9 of them. They're all mine, so I overloaded them so we'd get more gravel put down up there.”


Do you want to do that?”


Yeah, no one's checking and they've all got one of the biggest Mack engines they make, so I know they can pull it easily.”


I went with her up to the office and spoke with the men on the radio. All of them said they'd work with women and all of them said they knew people who would want jobs.”


I made the call to AT&T. When I got the man on the phone, I told him the order number. When he had it pulled up, I said, “Right there what's ordered, I want that for these employees. None of them have phones or cell phones, but they do now as a part of their jobs. I want the bill sent to me and the cell phones waiting on me at that store. I'll go in and get them, but I want all of them prepared to go rather than me having to put everything together.”


He took all the information and handled it professionally, fast, and with skill. He suggested chargers for while they were in their vehicles. I ordered everyone one as well as one for me.


I hung up and asked, “Do you know any sign painters around here?”


She said, “Only those in town.”


“Ok, I need some signs painted.”


They'll get all dusty.”


You're probably right. I'll have to figure out a way to get something done so we're putting a trickle hose on it and putting it on a timer so we're watering down the sign and washing it several times a day.”


She looked surprised, “That's smart!”


It's outsmarting the problem. What I'm doing is I'm going to have it so we're telling them what we expect from here on out....

Aside from my trucks and Alberici trucks, you're going to be asking for DOT records and contractor licenses if they're driving dump trucks or dump trailers.

I don't mind a guy coming in and getting a little bit for a patch job in his pick up truck but if he's got a dump bed on the thing, you tell him we don't do business with gypsies anymore and none of my companies will.

All of the contractors up there in town have been told that way and the quickest way to know if they're a gypsy or not is to look at the door. If there's a name on it or if there's a dot number, write it down and ask for the paperwork. If the paperwork matches, great. If not, call the Sheriff and tell him you need his driver's license and license plate information.

If he won't give it, hand him back the paperwork and turn him around.

IF he goes on in, you radio the workers down there and tell them not to load him. IF he insists, tell the men to overload him to the point his tires blow and then, we'll get him charged for stealing and being over weight....He'll only deal with one overweight charge with the courts here before he realizes we don't play fair.”


She was smiling and I said, “Hon, I'll tell you that aside from a select few, men are assholes. I'm gay and I've got a keeper, but I'll admit on certain days I wake up with full asshole temperament and when I'm pissed off, it flows with a vengeance.”


She laughed, and I said, “Save the paperwork. I'm giving rock away today because I don't know what was taken or stolen and what wasn't. All I know is tomorrow, we're going to start with a clean slate and we're going to be trying a few real nice things.

One of those things I want you asking the men about is if they'll consider having a bar code on their door which gives me information at a glance...and keeps you from having to ask a lot of questions.”


She nodded, “That'll make it easier.”


I'm thinking about this because we're going to have six locations real fast. Besides that, we've got that other quarry over there and I've not even begun to know what it's like.”


She scrunched her nose, “It's no good. It's filling full of water and not that good for much.”


Even if it's hunting land for us, it's worth something....If worse comes to worse, I'll feed cattle in the bottom of the thing.”


She chuckled, “I'll take you over there sometime.”


I said, “Hon, here's the way it goes.....You're manager of this thing. If anyone messes with you, they're messing with me. IF they work for me, you stay polite and tell them to go park the truck and to get in their vehicle and leave...That your word will fire them as soon as they're told.

My rules are this...No cussing each other. No calling each other names. No sexual harassment and discrimination....and above all as tempting as it is, don't tell your hubby he's got a cute ass in front of others!”

She giggled and I said, “I about did that today and had to catch myself!”


She really laughed and I said, “If you've got ideas, let me know...but don't take bullshit off a man if he's trying to be a man. Tell him to turn the truck around and stop and to take the bullshit somewhere else, you're selling stone. When he realizes he's going to drive a helluva long way to get it from now on, he'll apologize his ass off and depending upon your mood, you decide if that's good enough or not.”


She nodded and I continued. “Your ideas are worth something around here. You're going to be working a lot of hours, but do this....work 12 and no more and make sure everyone else does that.

Pay them by the day rather than by the hour. I've no clue what they're making, but what I was told was pretty pathetic.”


My husband is making $17 an hour and $25 an hour with overtime.”


Are they all making that?”


She shrugged and I went over to the mic and pressed it. “Guys, this is Jeremy again. In numbers, I need to know what you make an hour. We're going to a different system of pay and I want to make sure I treat you fairly.”


TO a man, they radioed in the same pay. I said, “You're working 12 hour shifts now. In the fall, we'll cut it back to 8 hours, but you'll make the same pay. In the spring, when we kick on the asphalt plant, we're going to go to 12 hour shifts.

Currently, because I'm running 24 hours a day, we're going to have you working 24 hours....which I think everyone's aware of how that is to be.

What I'm seeing here as I run this calculator is you're making about $50,000 a year. IF you'll agree to it, I'll pay you $60,000 a year at $5,000 a month. I'll get you a truck to drive and I'll pay for your phones and your cable television service.

We're going to get you better equipment, but here's the deal. If it rains, you show up. If it's cold, you show up. I'd rather us have huge piles than working like crazy when I'm operating my construction company and doing everything else.

I'm not opposed to you having your wives work here and I'm not opposed to your families work here. IF need be, I'll build you houses to live in out here somewhere so you're not paying rent or whatever.

If you own your houses, great. If not, we're going to take care of you rather than anyone else. That way, I know you've got good places to live and you're happy.”


I paused and asked, “Is anyone opposed to that?”


I pulled off the mic and one of the guys said, “No one's bitching. I need to know how many wives I can have working for you before you'll tell!”


Everyone including me laughed and I said, “I'm not hiring a sheep...it's baaaaad for business!”


Everyone laughed and she was really laughing. “You'll get along with them fine.”


Here's my deal. You heard me promise them $5,000 a month. You pay them $5,000 a month in a check....once a month. If they can't budget worth a shit, they'll be sorry they lost it...but you tell 'em I expect faithfulness and loyalty. The bullshit that happened here earlier and what happened here last night is no more.”


She nodded, “I knew there was something more to it than that.”


I was madder at that man than I've been in a LONG time towards anyone. I don't take kindly to being called a liar when I do all I can to make everyone happy.

You just saw how I deal with people. Once I put it in my mind what they need, I give it.”


She said, “We live on you down the road. Is that ok?”


Is it a good house?”


It's not the best, but it's not trash.”


Let's make it nice. I'm not telling you that I want you living in a mansion, but I want you guys really thankful you're working for me and wanting to do so forever.

We don't know what the future brings, but I know if I have you as an employee, I'm going to have happy people.

Now, he mentioned about your sister working...”


I'll speak with her tonight.”


I shook my head ,“Do this....call Conseco Direct and ask to have a life insurance and health insurance person out here. I'll deal with Donna on vehicles, but I won't deal with her on life and health.

When that man comes, you tell him you want the plan with eye, dental, and low deductible as well as $5 and $10 on prescriptions. THEN, you tell them you need $100,000 life insurance for each employee and if you or they've got families, get everyone covered under the insurance and get your family members $30,000 life insurance on them.

Chances are, we're going to be employing them in some facet somewhere sooner than later, but I want your benefits being what has you protected.

The way we'll do vacations is this....I know this is going to suck, but let's shut it down from December 15th to February 1st. You get your vacation and you get your pay as if you've been here working.”


I looked around ,“One last thing. GET a telephone here which has the ability for you to dial on speed dial just by holding down the numbers.

Put 911 on #1 and put my number on #2 and your number as #3. After that, put our biggest contractors in there because I'm going to hold surprise sale days....I know it's unheard of in this business, but here's how I want to do that...”


I walked over to a calendar ,“Today was a surprise sale day. We're not charging anyone a dime and tomorrow will be one also. If they can haul it out of here, it's a day they can come and get it.”

“Everyone?”


Yeah.”


Can I make some calls using this phone?”


Yeah, but here's the deal, so you know what I'm planning on doing with your employees.

Every month on the same day, you hold that sale on the same day. Weigh them in and weigh them out and keep the receipt so we can take it as a write off.”


I paused and pointed, “Right out there, we're going to build the concrete batch plant. Beside it, we're going to have a big building with a mixer inside it which we're going to make cinder blocks and all sorts of different things.

THOSE don't get given away on the give-a-way days...but they do get sold at a steep discount....something like 3cents a pound, so that'd make a cinder block 50cents or thereabouts.

When it's too cold to work out, or too rainy, or too snowy, they're to make cinder blocks and things like that...It's not hard, it's just a monotonous thing.

What else we're going to make are those concrete divider things for highways. We can use 'em and we can sell 'em or lease them.

Another thing we're going to make are big offset U channels. I'll design the things, but I want more of them stacked out there than you can ever imagine because one day, there will be a major flood someplace and we'll be able to use those as a way to protect levees and people's homes.

They've got to be offset so we can stack them on top of each other and they'll be a wall....sort've like a hollow lego block we fill with sand.”


Oh ok!”

“It gets our names in the press and it gets us seen as doing good things. No one needs to know we're writing the things off and no one needs to know how little hey cost us, but they'll see the good we do and that's what matters.”


My phone rang, “Hello?”


Stu said, “Hon?”


Yeah babe?”


I took a side trip here to speak with that man at that batch plant. We can buy the other five for little of nothing. Three of the batch plants don't have anything...no quarry, or anything but a big vacant lot they bring everything in and dump the mix ingredients on and that's it.

Two of them have quarries. One is really sizable and the other is basicly a hole in the ground.”


Ok, what are they wanting for it?”


He said, “$40 million.”


Is that his price or is that the price you've talked him down to?”


That's his price he's asked.”


How much land?”


900 acres for the one and 50 acres for the other.”


Pay the man what he wants. I'm trying to decide why he's marking it up, but you tell him we insist on a non-compete with J Blue Enterprises on everything J Blue does.”


Ok.”


Tell him if he'll commit to that, we've got a deal. Tell him if he won't, I'm going to knock $10 million off as a counter offer.....You tell him I can buy equipment up and set it on vacant land and call myself something, but it sure won't cost me that much to haul materials there.”


He's wanting to retire out.”


They all say that until they get it sold and then, they correct the mistakes they made....No, here's what you do. You pull up a map and you tell him you're going to insist in a non-compete for a period of 15 years for the entire states of Missouri, Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Kentucky....and add in Texas. IF he wants to bitch, tell him your offer just went to $30 million and you'll be happy to allow him to compete and then, he'll get back up to the $40 million.

Now, how did the Coke thing go?”


Great. I've got some surprises.”


If it has a name, four legs, and requires feeding, you milk, you shoe, and you do whatever maintenance on it required.”


He laughed, “You're a nut!”


I saw her smiling ,“When are you going to be home?”


Real soon.”


Ok, let me know...Now, how are you feeling? Better?”


About the same.”


And this just started when you started taking those pills?”


Yeah.”

“Ok, we'll call the doctor. I want to know if this is normal or if it's something we should be leery of.”


I'll call him if you want.”


Do that..and let me know.”


Ok.”


Let me know when you need picked up and I'll be there. I'm getting this quarry lined out and then, we'll have it in great hands and good people working here. I had to beat the hell out of a man and fire two others, but I was pissed to the point that I told the Sheriff that if the man I beat the hell out of was family, I wasn't pulling off.”


What happened?”


I hired the woman to operate the crane. When I got out here, she wasn't in it and he'd destroyed the cell phone I'd bought her...saying he wasn't going to work with no woman.

Well, that got him fired and that got him told to get the fuck off the property. He tried to throw a sucker punch and had I not saw it coming out of the corner of my eye and turned, I'd caught one to the face.

Instead, he didn't connect and it knocked him off center. I put him down on the ground and when I went to let him up, he came up trying to swing, so I gave him a jackass kick to the jaw and broke it...and probably his nose also.

Needless to say, after that, he got drug to the property line by his hair and the fight was out of him.

After that, I asked her why she didn't use the phone in the office and she said the men in here wouldn't let her use it. They got fired and told to get off and I caught them filling their pockets with the money. The Sheriff and I both handled them after that.

With the rest of the men, they're fine. They're surprised I'll allow their wives to work here, but they're happy with everything else....but all in all, we're going to be paying them around $100 grand a year with benefits and percs.”


Is that normal?”


Yeah, it's normal. I'm not sure how it goes, but I'm taking care of them and they'll be here working and faithful.”


“Ok. You know what you're doing.”


I'm implementing everything company wide and have a lot of this stuff figured out how I want to do it.”


Good.”


Anyway, you sling that deal and see if he takes it. If he doesn't, he's an idiot.”


Ok, I'll be finished soon.”


Thanks.”


I hung up ,“He's doing the deal for the other 5 batch plants right now. As you probably heard, the man wants $40 million for them.

I told Stu to either pay $30 million for them or to get an agreement for him to sign a non-compete which means he will not do business anywhere in this area for as long as the next 15 years.

I'll pay the $40 million for them, but it's only because I'm trying to tie up all the good asphalt for the entire southwest portion of Missouri. Then, I'll lower the price so no one else will be able to get a foothold due to it not being competitive for them.”


Won't you lose money?”


No, I'll have all the business. I'm getting the stone, sand, and everything else free with the exception of the asphalt mix. When you buy the asphalt, you'll see it's a good deal, but you'll see it's a better deal for me to use it because I don't have hardly anything invested in it.

Your husband will probably tell you that I've already told him our plans. Those plans include getting as many contracts for the interstates, highways, county roads, and whatever we can.

What you're seeing is us doing that in a lot of things. He went there because we bought the Coca-Cola distributorship and bottling plant for southwesten Missouri for $60 million. It gets us Coke super cheap and it gets us everyone buying Coke from us.”


He has that much money???”


We have that much money. He had a lot of money and I just received an inheritance from a really wealthy friend of mine. I've got to invest it or it's going to be stuck in a bank, so that's why we're getting me established and getting him his theater rebuilt so it's a lot bigger.”


She nodded, “You don't seem like you've got a lot of money.”


Thanks. I don't want to appear like I've got money. It makes me nervous.”


She smiled, “What's it like?”


It scares the dickens out of me, but if I'm able to do good things with it, it feels good.”


She nodded, “I'd want to help people also.”


My goal is to see people down in this area have telephones. It might not be much, but it's more than they had and if we're helping each other pull ahead, it's worth it.”


She nodded, “I'm glad someone is! It seemed like Branson boomed and everyone forgot to be told that the locals would like to have jobs also.”


It's coming about. We're hiring locals and we're buying and building a lot more up there so everyone's got opportunities.

The blessing of it is I learned real fast what the locals think and now have communicated that with the other business owners up there. They weren't aware, but now they are and are doing more for locals.”


Good.”


Well, he's going to be calling and telling me that he's ready to take off up there and I've not even gotten you guys your phones yet. I'll go run and do that and then, I'll get back and then go pick him up.

You just hold down the fort and nose through all this stuff and see what it is. If you don't think we need it, throw it out. If you think we need it, but don't know why, we'll go through it together. If we need it, sort it however you want things because this is your's now.”


So I'm making as much as the guys?”


Oh man... No, I'm afraid you're not...” I smiled ,“You're making $30 grand more a year than them. You're running this whole thing and you're the boss. You get paid more.”


She smiled really big, “Really?”


Yeah, but here's what I want you to do. I've promised those men trucks. I'm going to make a call on THIS phone so you can speak with John and tell him what you want...but here's the deal.

These are your work trucks. If you quit, you leave the truck and your phone gets canceled. Make them give their's back also.

You get to hire who you want. What I do is I make sure everyone has work to do.

That asphalt plant is going to need four workers. I'll tell you right now I don't THINK there's anything which requires a man doing it...If there is, I've not seen it.

What I'm going to tell you is my personal policy with anything that vibrates, so listen close. That crusher out there vibrates, so either a woman over 35 or a man over 35 operates it. Don't put anyone...man or woman...on it who might want children. The vibration causes lots of problems to both.”


She nodded, “Ok. That's probably what he (her husband Kurt) was on for a while. I know he had a lot of problems.”


I understand and that's why I have the policy I do. A lot of companies will tell you to run the machine if you want a job. Me, I'll tell you to stay off it if you want to have kids and if you're old enough not to have them, then do so, but you get extra money to do so.”


How much do you want to pay people on the crusher?”


Here's the thing. I've not yet seen the crusher. Before I tell you, I want to see if we can put another crusher or two in line and have them do the work faster and more automated.

The thing I THINK there is this... If it's an old hopper crusher, there should be no reason whatsoever the control house is on it.”


They have to stand up there and watch everything go in.”


Then whoever set it up is dumber than hell.” I gave her a look ,“Hon, go to that computer and take a look on YouTube. IF we don't have internet here, get it ordered because it's going to help you a LOT by telling you what you need to buy.”


I don't know how to use a computer.”


They're easy. My Mom started out telling me it was the 'devil's machine' and then saw everything I learned and did on it. She got started and suddenly, she's on everything!

Now she's doing way more social media than me and tells me everything.

What I'll do is I'll go check here and get you on YouTube. I'll arrange it so you can get to it real easy, and then, we'll get you set up.

I went over and opened up the computer's files ,“Well, I'll buy you another computer. First of all, this is like the dinosaur of computers. Second of all, it's tiny hard drive is full of porn. Third, it's Windows 95 which was sort've funny to see since it's been so long since I've seen it.”


Can I have one of those new little computers?”


Yeah, how about you go in to get the computer with me. None of these people are going to stop and really, it'd be nice for you to get your truck while you're in there.”


I pulled my phone and dialed John. He answered and asked, “Where are you?”


Out at the quarry.”


Brandon was worried. He said you were supposed to go to the airport and then, he didn't know what to do.”


He was supposed to be working on the asphalt equipment and learning that. That's why I left him.”


Oh!”


The reason I called is this...I've switched for my company's colors. I'm now going to have white and blue.”


Ok.”

“So rather than burgundy trucks, I'm going to either want white or blue.

Right now, out at the quarry, I need 7 F-350's or bigger. I need them all in diesel and all of them like the one I bought. I'd prefer bigger, but that's up to you.”


Let me think here. I'm going to have to order some.”


Did you get it figured out if I could order diesel Rangers?”


Not yet. I've got a call in and they're going to call me.”


Ok, what do you have on the lot in that capacity right now?”


I've got an F450 Lariat Ultimate out there in White that's pretty much loaded. It's coming in at $70,000, but with your discounts, it's going to be about $42,000.”


Does it have a tonneau cover?”


Yes.”


How about 5th wheel and goose neck?”


We can add them.”


It's in white?”


Yes.”


What interior and please tell me it's not that black I saw in one of them.”


“Tan ultimate leather.”


Ok, what can we get for her warranty.”


Her?”


Georganne Lynch. She's my new Supervisor out here.”


OH!”


“I'm going to bring her into town and let her have the truck. That way, right from the get-go, it's known that she's the boss and the guys have to wait on theirs.

I've got to drop by and get her a computer and pick up a bunch of cell phones also, but after that, I'll be free until I have to get Stu at the airport.”


Do you want their trucks like these?”


I'd prefer heavier duty, but if that one's heavy duty enough, I'll be fine with it. If it's not, we'll have problems with you ever getting me in another one of those trucks.”


I think it'll be tough enough.”


Ok, now what I want you doing is the same as the little trucks. I want that chrome and blue and white strobes on the roof...I'm going to want that for everything I order from you.”


They're not going to like the blue strobe. Rural fire departments have that.”


Ok, get me full time blue fog/driving lights. I'll give the strobe up on top, but get me a yellow and a white both strobing...That way, I know it's one of my trucks when I see it coming at me.

And John, don't think you'll ever talk me out of those blue headlights. I saw on Ice Road Truckers that all the truckers up there are going to the blue driving lights because it cuts through snow. With the fog we've got and snow also, I want our people having everything safer than everyone else.”


Ok. I wasn't aware of that.”


One thing on there has caused me to want blue lights on everything I own now.”


I don't blame you. I might just get them put on mine now that you mention it!”


I figure they'll catch on, but that's why I want the twin strobes. One is plenty, but if I'm looking at blue headlights, I'll be sunk, so I want two.”


I'll get 'em ordered.”


“LED if possible. The lower profile we can have things, the better. IF you could put strobing roof lights, that'd be fine, but I don't want them thinking my people are the police.”


I'll get you these trucks. Do you want them delivered out there?”


Yeah, but her's is going to be picked up by us. I'll sign, but you make it quick because I'm playing beat the clock it seems all day long.”


I understand. I've had days like that.”


And John? I'm going to ask when you do that diesel in the Ranger that we ask them if we can get a special order all the way through on those.”


How do you want them?”


Take her's and make a Ranger version out of it. Give it duallies and give it blue leather interior rather than tan and dress it up like a King Ranch except have white over blue.

Go ultimate with everything, but I'm going to want it fancy, but have the ability to put plows on in the winter.”


Do you want a plow kit put on her's?”


Her's yes, but not their's. She's going to be the first there in the morning to open up, so she needs one, but in regards to their's...no.

However, here's what I'm going to start asking you to do...I'm going to ask that you get me Mattracks as an option. With this one, I'd bought it...Instead, I'll be going to the company and getting them for her.”


I'm not sure what it does to the warranty.”


“Nothing, that's why I like them. They're better than tires and they're getting you up higher so you're out of the snow...but give extra grip so we can push those plows.”


I'll get you a set just as soon as I find out where to get them.”


Donna called to find ours. She wants a set also so she's able to get and go everywhere.”


You're probably going to have me in a set of them also.”


They're expensive, but worth it.”


How do they get put on?”


You take off the tires and bolt them on. It's that simple.

If you've got YouTube there, look them up!” I spelled it for him and he said, “I'm pulling it up now.”


There's a diesel Ranger there with them on it...BUT, for the best videos, look for the Hummer with them on and look for the extreme off roading in lots of mud. You'll see how much superior they are than tires right then.”


But you can't go on the highway.”


You can go on the highway, you just can't go real fast. In the winter time, if you're intending on going that fast, you don't need to be out; but here's what I'll tell you.

When you find the company, find out if we can get a set made for an ambulance and I'll donate them...You just agree to have your people install them for them.”


“Ok!”

“I'm not going to suggest we do it for a fire truck because we'll have the roads cleared for them if they have a call out in the middle of nowhere.”


Ok. That's a good idea!”


WE're more likely to have an ambulance call when the roads aren't cleared than a fire call. People roll over and all that, so we need to think about safety, but not get nuts with it.”


I'm looking at the site of the company right now. I'm really surprised!”

“Ok, I'll get off here. You've got my credit card number. I'll be in to sign.”


I'll have it prepped.”


I rang off ,“Ok, let's go into town.”


We went out and got in the truck and drove into town. When we got to the Ford dealer, I said, “That's your truck right there.”


It's beautiful!”


We got out and went in. John came over with his clipboard ,“I've got them ordered.”


Did you put them on this bill?”


Not yet.”


Ok, let us know when they're ready.”


I signed ,“We've got to run to Walmart and to the AT&T store, so we need to get a move on!”


Brandon should be there at the theater someplace.”


I'll find him.”


We left and went to Walmart. I said, “We'll make a short trip in here and get you what you need by the way of computer.

You're going to see me being a tightwad on some things and other things, I'll be spending lots of money.”


We went to the Electronics department and I got her the largest screen laptop, an additional keyboard, an additional mouse, and then, went over to the software and started dropping boxes into the cart I thought she'd need.

I turned ,“Hon? I'm getting this for you, but I want you to know it's NOT for dummies. They do that so you know it's for beginners...Everyone who's been on a computer a while knows all this stuff but get impatient when they have to teach someone all this.

This teaches you the basic fundamentals of a computer and then, it'll have you knowing WHY you do things and why you don't.

I've put some games in here I like because I know that if you play games on it, it teaches you not to be so afraid of it and teaches you in a fun manner.

These here are Quicken and Microsoft Office. Both are real good and easy to learn and use.”


On a whim, I tripled everything I got with the computer, mouse, and keyboard ,“This is for your office assistant and one for the office. You're going to think you don't need one and I'll tell you that you will.

Brandon is supposed to be mine, but as you see, he got left because I'm not going to wait around and do things with him and do things without him.

What I mean there is I had to take Stu to the airport. Rather than kissing him in front of Brandon, I left him at the theater and then, decided to go to the quarry...Which I'm glad I did.”


We went into the AT&T store and saw a pile of boxes. I told the girl my name and she said, “These are yours!”


I looked at them ,“Hon? If I take that pile of boxes, I'm going to be on the complaint line all night long.

First of all, YOU were supposed to have them ready to go. Second of all, I specifically told the man I wanted the travel cords to charge in a car and DID get billed for them.

He assured me and assured me I'd not be pissed. Needless to say, I'm staring at a lot of boxes with nothing ready to hand to people. SO, on top of my busy day, I get to put together phones and see if they work when I was assured they'd work...

Needless to say, complaint lines will be the first phone calls on each and every one of them and then, I'm going to start considering the move of my corporate account to some other company who DOES keep their word.”


She sort've stared and Georganne said, “He was told that because I overheard the phone call.”


The girls said, “We can set them up for you, but it'd be tomorrow and an extra charge.”


I gave a nod ,“Listen to this phone call on THIS phone.”


I dialed AT&T and when I got through to the new accounts department, I said, “I'm going to need a Supervisor.”


I can help you with that.”


Ok, I've ordered 15 cell phones and 7 home accounts and 7 phones on those home accounts and 7 hook ups for cable television on those home accounts and not only would I like to cancel ALL those, I'm going to cancel my corporate account because AT&T are liars.

I'm going to give you numbers of conversations I had which I DID ask it be noted on the notes what I was told because I wanted it in writing what I was told.

Now I'm being told everything is extra when in fact, it is NOT. I'm told I'm going to PAY for MORE car chargers when I've already PAID!

Here's what I'm going to do. I'm giving you these numbers and then, I'm calling my credit card and canceling the transaction UNLESS something is done REAL quick!”


We went into the notes and I said, “You're on speakerphone, read those notes to this store manager again. I promise you that with a several hundred million dollar business account, you're going to kiss pretty high on the ass when I'm speaking with the CEO of that company...and yes, with my money I CAN speak to him personally.”


The girl said, “I'll need to put you with the supervisor.”


I gave the girl working with us a look ,“You're either a supervisor or I'm going to need one.”


She walked away and Georganne chuckled, “You're polite, but I like how you speak with everyone. It tells them you're meaning business.”


The girl's supervisor came on the phone and started apologizing. I said, “Ma'am, apologies don't cut it here...actions do.

I've got my husband who has cancer. I've got my MOTHER who has a heart attack in the hospital...and BOTH of them need attention paid to them tonight.

INSTEAD, I'm getting an apology that's dry as a bone and no one telling me that I'm going to get these phones handed to me WITH charger cords and already activated and put together.

If you see your time stamp on that call, you see I've allowed ample opportunity to have something if not everything done at this store. Instead, I see plenty of nail filings and dates scheduled with the Maytag Repairman because they are in fact....that....damned....lonely in this place.

SOMEONE COULD HAVE put together phones. SOMEONE COULD HAVE gotten together this order so it's correct...and yes, even though I've bitched going on five minutes, no one has YET to get the car charger cords you billed me for.

SO, what are we going to talk about in the area of discounts for me to keep this corporate account open as well as the accounts of all my other businesses?”


Georganne was giving me a smirk. The woman said, “I need to transfer you to my supervisor.”


I closed my eyes and pressed STOP on the call. I looked up on my computer AT&T corporate and dialed. When I got an answer, I said, “Your complaint department please.”


One moment.”


The manager came over, “How may I help you?”


That stack of phones there aren't put together, activated, and no car charger cords are there which I paid for. I was told I'd get the LATEST iPhone and that's the last model. THIS busted one is the new model and this one here is mine which is a new model.”


We've temporarily ran out of new ones.”


Then don't defraud me and dump last models on me unless you're writing off a LOT of the price I paid. I'll tell you I'm upset enough I'll deliberately pay for them just to have everyone in this store arrested for fraud. Right now, it's attempted fraud which carries just as much of a sentence.”


It will take us until tomorrow to get the other phones.”


Ok, replace this one and be honest with me. Where are the charger cords?”


I don't know.”


I closed my eyes. “Ma'am, I've got corporate headquarters on the phone right now. I'm waiting to go up the chain there because your call center's already played hot potato one too many times on that complaint thing.

I know and YOU KNOW the call to corporate got serious shit happening. I know and YOU KNOW that if I put up a billboard out there that I just switched every account in my name to Sprint, that some serious stuff is going to happen because I'm going to have SPRINT in every Coca-Cola truck, in every McDonald's I own, in ever Burger King, and Dairy Queen I own as well as five motels here.”

She smiled ,“I know for a fact you don't own the Dairy Queen around here because I know that man.”


“Hon, call the man....His name is Stuart Reddington the third. He's in Springfield right now spending $100 million of my money.

When you get him on the phone, ask him this question...Besides a gorgeous little cocker spaniel, who do you share your bed with? If he tells you that's none of your business, tell him that there's a lunatic here telling you that he's the one fucking him!”


With that I gave her a look ,“And sugar, before you tell me I don't own half of everything that man owns, you damned well better speak with your lawyer because mine will have you for breakfast just to spit you out at my banker to show you that I DO in fact have joint accounts all over this little town and more of this state than you'd even want to imagine.

ALL those phones are for my employees at the quarry out there. We just bought that this morning and as a perk, I gave them phone bundles which included those phones....and yeah, I paid extra 14 times for charger cords to the tune that it'd be a felony with the amount of money that's stolen from me in that one full swoop!

Now, do you want to call Stu? Or do you want to take my word for it?”


I heard Georganne giggle and the manager said, “I wasn't aware he had a partner.”


“He keeps me in the dark hon. On rare occasions, I get out and when I do, I'm nasty mean to people.”


Georganne really laughed and the manager smiled, “Let's see if we can handle this. Ok?”


That's what I've been begging for until I've begun to think I need oxygen I'm so blue in the face!”


She smiled and I said, “Those phones....First of all, I'm not taking $300 phones when I paid $800 each for the new ones. Second of all, I've already paid for this phone once and had a man who is now requiring medical attention rip it from the hands of a woman who works for me and crush it. In doing so, he told her that he doesn't work with women and wouldn't let her perform her job.

Needless to say, on the scale of 1 and 10 on piss offs, that was a 11 and I went over the edge. Lucky for him, the Sheriff came and saved his life because if he'd thrown another punch at me after having some pretty severe judo whooped up on him, I'd probably killed the bastard!”


She said, “I'll have to charge you for this.”


Hon, pull the sim card and see that I've not already paid for it on my credit card. You'll find that I've already paid.”


Ok.”


While I'm in here, I'm going to ask you to look up the quarry and see how good their internet is.”


What's the name of it?”


It was Branson Stone, but it's now J Blue Enterprises on the billing and the company name is Branson Paving and Stone.”


She got on her computer ,“It's our dial up.”


Please get it over to your highest speed internet without taking us into the stratosphere on cost.”

“It's a business line. It's all going to be expensive.”


Yes, but I don't need T1 out there. If T1 is what I've got to have, I'll take it but your DSL would be plenty good.”


We got to going on everything and finally I said, “I'm going to hang up on corporate. As you see, they parked me on hold and I'll speak with them through my lawyer...and no, that's NOT a threat. You see, in my investment portfolio I saw the other day, there's a LOT of telecommunications stock with your name on the certificate.

If you MUST know, it was bought in 1979, so I think it was before everything got broken apart....but whatever your stock is going for today, multiply that by 2 million PREFERRED shares and you'll see I'm a heart attack in the happening for the man who is in corporate who did NOT get to speak with me.”


I hit 4 on my speed dial and when Skip came on, I said, “Hi Skip, it's Jeremy. What did you find out about that AT&T stock.”


Are you sitting down.”


No, I'm in a God damned AT&T store unable to get corporate on the phone!”


WHAT!”

“Yeah, so tell me what I own of them so I can REALLY be pissed?”


168 million shares. When they split up the company, they broke it apart into 7 units. You got 2 for one on those stocks because you had preferred. Since 1987, the stock has split multiples of times so you're owning 12 times that 14 or 168 shares for every one you owned.

Today, that AT&T preferred is selling for quite a bit, but I'm telling you to hold onto it because you get $1.56 per share in dividends per year. That right now is $262 million a year.”


Ok, so if I hold onto it and throw it in a box for four years, I'll be a billionaire?”


No, you'll be worth around $700 million because of the taxes.”


Ok, buy hypothetically speaking it'd be a billion in my pocket in around 6 years, right?”


Yeah, but you're going to see around $200 million a year out of it just in dividends.”


And yet I can't get customer service. Go fuckin' figure!”


He chuckled, “If you want to sell those stocks, it'd be worth around $300 billion.”


Uh ok, let's not sell them just yet. I'm having one helluva time investing the half a billion I got the other day.”


I'm seeing lots of movement in your bank account.”


Yeah, I'm buying a lot. We spent $100 million today on a Coca Cola bottler down here and another business.”


“Interested in those?”


I'm interested within reason.”


What about the one in Quincy?”


Yeah.”


I can get it for you for about $50 million.”


Let me discuss it with Stu. We will probably tell you yes, but I'm going to tell you I need to speak with him.”


Ok, I understand.”


Now how did I sneak past the tax man on those stocks?”


They're bearer certificates. You pay for them when you pay your taxes on the dividends.”


And he's been getting this much every year?”


Yes sir.”


Damn!”


He chuckled, “Now you get to invest that!”

“I'll get it done, but it's going to be a job....Well, I'll get off here.”


I rang off ,“Now you know how damned much I own of this company and how worthless it is when it comes to me getting customer service. For that damned price I ought to get gold plated phones!”


The manager said, “I'm going to get you your phones. They'll be in about 10am tomorrow.”


Ok, what about the internet out there?”


By tomorrow afternoon at 5pm. You'll need to have someone on site.”


I turned to Georganne, “You're stuck there tomorrow. I guess I'm glad you've got a computer to learn!”

She smiled and I said, “Let her have one of those phones as a loaner until you get them in...and get me the replacement for this one.”


She got them and I said, “Thank you, but don't even TRY speaking with me if those charging cords aren't there.”


They will be.”


Call her when those phones are activated and ready...Don't have her standing around when she gets here. I have a feeling she's learning how to be like me on things!”


Georganne giggled and I said, “You have a good day.”


We went out and I said, “Ok, When you open your computer box, it's going to have directions what to do right there. Read those and it's all pretty straight forward.

When you plug it in, it's going to turn on and take a while until it finally starts asking you questions. You'll have to do that, but whenever it finally gets up to your desktop page which has a Start or Begin down in the corner and the clock in the right corner, you know you can take that Ultimate and put that one in and let it do it's thing.”


She nodded, “Ok.”


Now, do you know how to operate your phone?”


Yeah, if I want to call you, I press 2.”


I smiled, “No, that's at work. Your hubby better always be Number 2 and 911 is always 1.”


She smiled, “I'm going to be so confused!”


Let's put your hubby #1. You can press out 911.”


She smiled, “How do you have your's set up?”


My Mom is always #1. She'll be there when a man won't. I might not like what she has to say, but she's still there.”


She nodded, “That's sweet.”


It's gotta be, but with me having Stu, he's blessed so many different ways in my family, it's amazing. That's what he means to me, my Mom, AND my Dad. My cousin is working for me and HE even likes him!”

I punched in her husbands number ,“What we're going to do is we're going to get his picture in here. That way, when you're speaking with him, you'll have a little picture up there of him.

This one is me. I didn't put in an address yet because we just found out we own a plantation earlier today and from the sound of Stu's voice, it's gorgeous.”


The Greening place???”


Yeah.”


Oh man, you lucky dog. It's beautiful! Every person in these parts has dreamt of owning it at least once in their lives, but it's went downhill in the last few years.”


He's owned it for over 20 years and didn't know it. When he bought the farm, he was told “to the creek” and he thought it was to the creek behind the theater. Now he realizes it's the creek over the hill.”


She smiled, “Anyone in these parts would've told him!”

I nodded, “Now you know what's different with me being here and getting everyone local and business together. The two sides are talking and realizing they've got more in common than either thought.”


You make people feel like you're no different than them.”


I'm not. A week ago, I was in a loveless relationship and working my butt off to pay the bills. I dumped the dude after he hit me and came running down here to get over it. That's when I met Stu and it's like the clouds rolled back from the sun.

Last Friday, a dear friend of mine who was a doctor passed away and left everything to me. As you can see, I'm still learning what I own and don't own...and how much money is coming in.

Stu's got surprises for me when he gets home, but wait until I tell him that no matter what, we're going to have that much money coming in!”


It's sure nice to hear it happened to someone good.”

“Hon, here's the thing. Doc...the doctor who passed away... He was like you and me. If you'd met him, you'd swore he was common ordinary people and wouldn't even know he was a doctor.

Yeah, he lived in a gorgeous house and drove a gorgeous vehicle, but I thought that was just the trappings of him being a doctor. Little did I know he had all that money, but after he passed away, we learned and now, we're learning more.

With me, I've got friends who I'm making life better for them down here. You're one and yeah, you work for me, but you're the sort of person I'd enjoy knowing anywhere else.

Each and every day, I meet people who are that nice down here. It's not stuck up people like up home. It's not people who look down their noses because I might work for a living, but it's people who got to know me as a person.”


She nodded, “I think it's because you work for a living. Normal people when they think about getting rich all think about quitting their job and going to someplace where the rich and famous hang out.”


I've GOT to work. You see, we found out Stu has cancer and the first thing I thought when I learned that is this....I thought, “Ok, I've got to keep him busy. If he doesn't have time to think about it, it's not going to bother him.”


How bad?”


We're finding that out. We were in Hannibal on Friday to learn that when Doc passed away while working on him.”


Oh dear!”


Yeah, and with me knowing Doc didn't want any life saving measures to happen, I was really torn....Do I save him to work on Stu? Or, do I let him go? Well, I had to think of Doc also and let him go. Now, we've got a doctor in St. Louis who is supposed to be the best, so we're going to him and he's supposed to know more by Wednesday. Until then, we stay busy and we work.”


She shook her head, “You poor kid. You need to think of yourself also.”


I am. I've got someone to love now and I've got lots to keep me occupied. With both, I'm happy because I get to help others and do a lot of good. Yeah, I'm saying a lot of prayers along the way, but they're not for me.”


She nodded, “Anyone would.”


A lot of people think otherwise. They think that because two guys get together, it's just for the sex. It's not. It's like any two people who want love and to be loved.”


She nodded, “I guess I've never thought about it before. You're right, when Kurt and I got together, I met him at a picnic a bunch of us were on and instantly, I knew.

It was rather funny because at the end of the picnic, he said, “We're going to be married.” and I said, “Yeah.” and thought that was the most unusual way anyone had proposed to anyone ever!...That's how much I knew he was the one and he knew also. When he DID get around to asking my Daddy and proposing, I said, “I already told you yes!”. “


I laughed and she said, “He wanted to know when he'd asked and I told him. He said, “If I knew it was going to be that easy, we'd already be married!”


We laughed and my phone rang. It was Stu. “Hi hon.”


I'm leaving here. We're out on the tarmac at the airport and we're heading that way.”


Ok.”


And babe?”


Yeah hon?”


You're going to know as soon as you see the plane what your surprise is, but keep back.”


Ok. You better not have bought me a plane.”


I didn't. It was included in the deal.”


Really!”


You'll see.”


Ok, but I've learned some more also. I'll tell you when you get home.”


We're going out to take off, so be there!”


I rang off ,“WE got a plane in the deal. That's my surprise. Needless to say, I'm surprised.”


She smiled, “Will you use it?”


Yeah, it's amazing how many times I've needed a plane since last week. If it keeps up, we'll need it a lot, but just for us flying back and forth to St. Louis, it's worth it in time savings...and today, when he needed to go do the business, he took that plane and when we went to Hannibal, we flew up there, so yeah, we'll use it...but we've got vacation homes all over in this inheritance, so we'll get to use it and so can you and Kurt.”


Really?”


Yeah, they're beautiful. I've not seen them yet, but everyone who's seen them have thought they're beautiful, so what I'm going to do is I'm going to go to Florida and see that one and put a car there so that when you, or my parents, or my other friends go, they all have a car to drive rather than having to rent.

What I'll do is I'll do the same everywhere else, but I'll probably not do that when we buy the place up in New York City because I hear it's terrible to drive there.”


You're going to buy a place up there!”


Here's what I want. I want a place so that when we want to take a romantic weekend, we can go up there and see a Broadway show or go see the sights or watch the Thanksgiving Day parade.”


Where are your other ones?”


Las Vegas, Hawaii, Lake Tahoe, and a skiing place in Idaho. The place in Florida is close to Disney, but close to everything else also, but it's a condo which we own period.

I know that's confusing, but all the other places are like hotel rooms we own. You pay a certain amount and then, you get the hotel room guaranteed when you go and it's always the same one...but when you die, it goes back to the hotel.

Fortunately, I got to buy into that and yeah, it cost a lot, but it's worth it because when they rent it out, they give me some of the money and they keep some.”


That sounds strange.”


I like it because of this...Each night we stay there, we get dinner and it's always kept clean and it's not sitting vacant so that there's a chance of it being robbed.

Besides that, we've got my house in Hannibal and everything here, so we're doing fine.”


And you're going to let us stay in them?”


All of them but the one in Hannibal. You're welcome to come visit and stay over there when we're there, but that to me is home...all the rest are just places to visit.”


I understand. Will you have that here?”


Yeah, it's going to happen here, but I don't know where. From the sounds of it, it sounds like it might be at that plantation place.” I paused ,“Well, we better get going. Will you explain to the guys why they didn't get their phones?”


She nodded, “Yes and I'll tell them you weren't very happy and tried your hardest.”


I don't like feeling like I've been lied to.”


She smiled, “No one does, but your eyes show when you're angry...I sure know that!”


I chuckled, “I show it when I'm angry. Stu, he does it more calmer. Me, it's like a volcano.”


She laughed, “I'm more like you. Kurt, he's never angry.”


Well, let's go and I promise I'll be out there sometime tomorrow to see how it's going, but you've got me in your phone and if you need anything, give me a call.”


I will. I'll probably be asking a lot on this computer.”


I'll definitely help you as much as I can.”


We left and I went out to the airport. When I saw the plane come in, my first thought was, 'A red plane???' and then I saw the Coca-Cola script down the side.

About the time the plane was touching down, a red helicopter landed closer to the building and IT had Coca-Cola written on it also!

The plane pulled over and the stairs folded down and Stu got out and motioned for me to come out. I ran out and he said, “Did you see the helicopter too?”


Yeah, we got both?”


Yeah, and when I got told about them, I said, “They go to Branson. He's going to want them in Branson where we live.”


I went through it and it just amazes me how big they look on the outside and how small they are on the inside, but how fast they go.”


I said, “It's beautiful.”


We've got to pay the pilots and the one doesn't know if he'll move here, but the other will.”


Ok.”


It'll always be available to us to go wherever.”


Ok, I need to ask you a few things, but what do you think about Coca-Cola as an investment in those things?”


It's really good. Why?”


There's one for sale in Quincy, up by home. It's $50 million, but I know the area is great big and huge that it covers.”


If you think so. We're spending quite a bit of money.”


Hon, that's one of the things I need to tell you.”


Ok, what's that?”


Remember seeing that AT&T stock?”


Yeah.”


We're not going to sell it, but the income coming in from it is $1.56 a year for every share.”


Ok, that was a couple of million shares.”


Right...but Skip's did some searching on it and it's not a couple of million shares anymore....it's like 168 million shares.”

“My God, so we're getting a couple hundred million a year from it???”

“Yeah.”


He sat down on the stairs of the jet ,“And you can't get good customer service...???”


I giggled ,“Nope!”


He laughed, “I bet you were pissed!”


I was willing to sell it all until I heard that, but you can damned well guess that I'll be flying in this to go to a shareholder meeting!”


Ok, let's buy the one in Quincy, but do that tomorrow because I'm tired.”


Did you call that doctor?”


Not yet. I've been busy.”


Ok, do that now and let's go.”


Don't you want to fly in the helicopter?”


Babe, if it would land at the hospital, I'd fly in it. Right now, I've got to be back at the theater for shift change and see how everything's going and THEN, we've got to go to the hospital. After that, we've got to get something to eat, but right now, call your doctor and I'll drive!”


He smiled, “I love you. You're so intense.”


It's been a day!”


We drove in and he called the doctor. When he got off, he said, “What I'm feeling is normal.”


Ok, I'm still worried.”


We pulled onto the lot and found the mill work finished. I said, “Remind me we need to get someone on this truck and to get it filled so we can spray this.”


Rather than driving on it, I backed out and drove around. When we got to the other lot, Brandon, Mike, Jerrett, and Danny all were there. Danny asked, “Where'd you go?”


To the quarry. I had to fire several people out there and one got himself thrown in the hospital.”


Mike chuckled, “How bad did you beat him down?”


Here's the deal...Do you guys remember LynnAnne, the woman I put on the crane?”

Everyone nodded and I said, “She went out there and some wise ass told her HE didn't work with women. He threw her out of the crane and when she was going to call me, he threw her brand new $800 iPhone and busted it all to hell.

She went to the office and those pricks wouldn't let her call me on that phone, so she sat out there and waited for me to arrive.

Needless to say, I arrived out there and the prick wanted to get lippy, I wanted to know where LynnAnne was. After he said he didn't work with women, he got fired and dropped a bin he was lifting with the crane and nearly hurt a bunch of men.

What was bad there was I was busy watching them to see if anyone was hurt when he tried to take a swing at me. I saw it when it was about here and turned and because he missed, he went on around and that's when I planted him face first into the gravel.
I rode him down and thought that'd be it, so I kneed him in the nuts and got up. He came up swinging and that's when I jackass kicked him in the face and drug him off the property by his hair.”


Stu asked, “What's a jackass kick?”


Have you ever seen a jackass kick anyone?”


No.”


“Both legs back straight out full force. You put your hands down on the ground like a push up and kick the shit out of someone.”


He smiled and Mike said, “We were in a fight down on the quarter in New Orleans. He grabbed a light pole and did a double kick like that sent two muggers flying. They had a pistol on us and when that gun went off, the police came running and it took me telling them they were robbing us to get him out of the squad car.”


I said, “Anyway, the two men in the office are fired and under arrest for trying to rob the place and that guy is fired and under arrest for damaging her phone.

What we ended up doing was I went out and spoke with a man on that bucket loader and he asked if I'd hire his wife....So, I sent him home to get her and started loading trucks. He got back and that's when you guys started getting the overloaded trucks.”


Mike smiled ,“Brandon, what did I tell ya!” Brandon smiled ,“He told me you had probably called them and gotten the load size increased.”


I figure we've got nearly brand new trailers and trucks with huge horsepower, we can pull the load.”


I looked around ,“Jerrett, I need someone on that truck over there and going to get tar from that asphalt hopper out there. Have them drive it and really coat it well and that should stay solid.”


I said, “Ok guys, do you have everyone you need for the second shift?”


Mike said, “We have everyone we need. They're going to fuel when they stop and then, they'll fuel at 10pm and 2am. We got Eric covered so he can go rest, but he's been being threatened by his family.”


I pulled my phone and dialed Sheriff Ben. He answered and I said, “When you get a chance, I need to see you. Eric Fallon is being threatened by his family. We ran them off earlier and now, they're making threats.

I'm going to put him in our room until you get here so that he's at the end of the walk and Mike and Michele are between them and my room.

I'm going to tell you I'll take threats to my people only so long before I tell them they gotta stop bein' pussies and come and get them some. As dumb as they are, they'll show and that's when you're going to see the biggest fight you've ever seen in this town...and yeah, you'll see our family fightin' for the kid along with asphalters....that's not gonna be good.”


I'll come, but I don't know how we can trace them.”


Without their equipment, they either stayed around here or they went back to Hannibal. The Sheriff up there would be one to call because he knows where they all live.”


Ok.”


The Sheriff's name is Jimmy Shinn. We all grew up together and he's real young for bein' a Sheriff, but he's damned nice.”


I'll call him. Does he know you well enough that if I mention you, he'll know who I'm talking about?”


Yeah, tell him that if he doesn't know me by name, he'll know me by face when you tell him 'pool boy' is what he called me.”


Ok, I'll start making calls.”


We're going to clan around him to make sure and Sheriff?”


Yeah?”


Find out how much an infrared camera costs for a chopper and let me know. We bought a jet and a helicopter in the Coca-Cola deal, so it's ours to use.”


Ok!”

The guys were looking all excited and I said, “IF you hear of a low flying Coca-Cola red helicopter flying, it's me and Stu looking at everything. If you'd like to go up, let me know.”


I'll do that! I know Donna's gonna beg for a ride.”


I figure she and Danny can take a ride someplace for a picnic and he can get the question popped.”


He laughed, “You might do that too!”


I know when I'm gonna pop the question. It's gonna take a lot of work between here and there because he's gonna be dancin' in a little red thong when it happens....We've got a bet that I dance if it's not ready by Memorial Day weekend and he dances if it is.”


He laughed and all the guys were really rolling. I said, “Needless to say, I'll let him get that dance done before I get on my knee in front of him.”


He laughed, “I'll get off here. From the laughing, I know he's around and embarrassed.”


Yeah.”


I hung up ,“Guys, I don't care what you do, but you see my ass doesn't get in that thong!”


Everyone really laughed and Stu said, “Jer', you're stackin' the deck!”


I've got purpose. When they see me out there in pouring down rain workin' my ass off, they'll know why now!”


Everyone was really laughing and I said, “Ok guys, do your shift change and make sure your people all know they can go out to eat on us. Use your card and get me receipts.”


I turned, “Did my beer men show up?”


Mike said, “I never saw any.”


Ok, go to Walmart and start buyin' beer. Each person gets a 6 pack and no more. Tell them if they don't want to use their's, it doesn't get traded, given, or sold to anyone else on our crews. It's for them and them alone....and remind them if we have fightin', they're fired.”


Mike nodded, “I'm putting the non-drinkers on the top walk. That way, we're not having to hear a bunch of loudness.”


Ok, let's get to going. Jerrett, if you have any problems, give Danny a call or if it's with the equipment, give Mike a call. IF it's with personnel, you give Danny a call and Danny, if it's bad, you call the Sheriff and then, call me in that order.”


He nodded and told Jerrett. “They're a real good crew. I'm going to suspect you'll have to call me or Mike when it's time to go to the lights, but I'll try being around here and have them operating before you even need them.”

He turned to me ,“I'm going to ask that you leave us the trucks and that we can get some balls for the bumper hitches to move them down to that end of the project.”


I gave a nod, “That's absolutely fine.”


We broke apart and Stu and I went to the Range Rover. I said, “Babe, you drive and take me out by that plantation house before we run out of daylight.”


He asked, “How much does your phone camera hold in shots?”


About 2,000 pictures with my memory card. Why?”


I'd like to get some photos.”


I gave a nod, “Ok, how bad is it?”


It's going to cost some money to put back into repair.”


“Do you want that to live in close by rather than the house on the back of the theater?”


He smiled ,“That's up to you. I know you're going to fall in love with it, but you're going to be hurtin' when you see the old girl in the shape that she's in.”


Let's go look, but I'm going to make a call right now.”


I pulled my phone and called Scott at Hannibal Restorations and when he answered, I said, “Scott, this is Jeremy Blue. I've got a job for you down here at Branson. Right now, I'm going over to a house which was an old plantation that we bought. I've not seen it yet, but everyone loves the house, and everyone says she's hurting...so before I even get there, I'm calling you.”


He said, “What is it...wood frame or brick?”


I turned, “Is it wood frame or brick?”


Wood. It's an Italianate mansion which they added lots of embellishments onto around the turn of the century.”


I told Scott and he said, “It sounds interesting.”


We went onto the hospital road and I said, “Hang on, we're on the road now. I'll tell you what it is when we get there....Now, if you don't want to waste a bunch of time driving, let me know and I'll have you flown down.”


Wait a moment and I'll see what we've got.”


We turned the corner and I said, “Scott?”


Yeah.”


Uh...Think of Rockcliffe Mansion except she's all wood.”


Oh man!”


“You're going to tell me it's going to be expensive, but I'm going to tell you to give it all you've got. I know you'll do it proud. I'm about to send you a picture as soon as I can get Stu to stop this truck.”


Stu stopped and I got out ,“Let me call you back. I don't know how to shoot a picture and talk at the same time.”


Ok.”


I looked at my hands and they were shaking. I said, “Stuart?”


Yeah babe.”


I love it. Whatever it takes, she's going to be back up to what she always was.”


I took the picture and dialed him back. He answered and I said, “Ok, let me send this to your email.”


I'm sitting right here.”


I sent it ,“You should be receiving it here shortly. I'll tell you right now I'll have video to send to you tomorrow...even if I've got to buy a digicam.”


I'm opening it now...it's a huge file.”


That's one picture.”


I could tell when he had it open because he said, “Oh man!”

I said, “Yeah, I'm getting back in the truck so we can go see her.”


Send that plane. I'll show this to Jeff.”


I'm calling the pilot now.”


I hung up ,“He's showing the picture to Jeff now. He wants us to send the plane.”


Who is he?”


Scott Meyer. He and a guy named Jeff own Hannibal Restorations. They've done work on a LOT of famous old houses. If you've ever seen the Lincoln home in Springfield, Illinois, his company did all those houses in that area.

There's a WHOLE LOT of houses he's done all over the place as well as businesses and churches.”


We got out and Stu asked, “Does he have a website?”


Yeah, I imagine.”


We got there and the closer we got the bigger the house got. I said, “12 feet tall ceilings downstairs. It's gotta be!”


Stu got to chuckling, “You're in love.”


Babe, it's a house. I'm in love with a man, but oh man, is this some house!”


I went up and not one second was I afraid to walk up to her or in the front doors. A lot of the furniture was still in it. I turned, “Stu? We've got furniture to move out.”


I see that.”


I dialed the pilot. He answered, “Hello?”


This is Jeremy Blue. I need you to fly to Hannibal, Missouri and pick up a couple of guys or whoever they've got with them. They're going to be coming to restore this house....Well, they're going to be down here to talk about restoring it.”


Right now?”


As soon as possible. I'm going to call them and tell them you're on the way.”


Ok.”


I'm going to have them stay over night. Tomorrow, you'll have to fly Stu up there so he can buy another Coca-Cola bottler.”


Ok. I'll be heading out shortly.”


Thank you.”


I hung up and dialed Skip. He answered, “Hello?”


Skip, it's a go on that Coca-Cola place. Tell them we'll have Stu up there tomorrow to sign off on it.”


Ummm, I've not spoken with them about it.”


Either they want to sell or don't. Call them first thing, but either way, our jet will be heading that way.”


I walked over to a light switch and found nothing. I hung up and dialed Scott. He answered, “Hello?”


It's me, Jeremy. I'm sending our jet. When you see it, it's going to be red and have Coca-Cola written down the side of it. Bring who you want, but tell them I've told my pilot I'm not sending the plane back until tomorrow.

I'll put you guys up in our motel and I'll see to it you've got plenty to eat or whatever, but you're going to love this.

To tell you how respected this old house is....It's not been lived in for 20 years and most of the furniture is still here.”


Really!”

“I'm staring at a 10' tall four poster bed in a room that you'd kill to have. Everything's perfect but the roof on the porches looks like it's what's bad, but I've not been up on the widow's walk yet.”


Be careful.”

“Oh, I am, but here's what I'm going to tell you. IF it requires a copper roof, you tell me to shut up on the bitching about the cost and do it. This old girl is in pain, but she's not went down yet....She's just asking for some attention.”


I see that.”


The windows which are broken....Here's what I'm going to tell you I'll approve. I'll approve you taking the glass out of the back of the house and moving it to the front UNLESS you can find me a manufacturer which will do energy efficient with old glass.”


We'll see....We do restorations, not remodels.”


“I know. That's why I'm throwing both at you. You do what's going to be true to this house, but if you make me hike out to an outhouse, I'll have you building me a shitter the likes of which no one's ever seen before!”


He laughed and I said, “Oh man, that's a mirror! I damned near dropped you thinking I saw a ghost!”


He laughed real loud and I said, “The sun's going down and there's no power out here. She's got electricity in the walls, but not much because there's only one light in the room and that's in the middle.”


It's been updated. Do you want it updated so it's more modern?”


I want it updated so it's modern and liveable, but when it's.....” I paused ,“Oh man, that's marble!” I said, “It's marble floors. I thought that was some inlaid wood, but that's all parquet!” I knelt ,“It's inlaid parquet of marbles to look like wood. All around the edge is a pattern which is really geometric...Some of it's popping, but it's all here.”


Call the power company and tell them we're going to need a construction post out there for our power.”


I'll call right now.”


I hung up and dialed Donna. She answered, “Hello?”


I need the power company to put up a construction post out here at the mansion.”


Which mansion?”


Greening.”


Oh man, ok, I'll make a call.”


Tell the man I've got restoration experts being flown in right now.”


I will. He'll be out there.”


Thank you. Stu says I'm in love with a house, but I'm in love with a man...who's in love with a house. To me, the house is always secondary.”


She chuckled, “Everyone around here loves that house. I'm surprised to know you guys have it!”


We are also. He didn't know it until today, so that tells you why it's in the condition it is...but if he hadn't been living at the cabin, we'd never met.”


That's true! So it's all meant to be.”


I'll let you go.”


I hung up and went down the stairs. With stairs as wide and beautiful, you felt like you were floating going down them.

Stu was in the back of the house when I found him. He said, “What's it like upstairs?”


Beautiful. It needs a lot of work, but it's beautiful.”


From what I've seen, it's not super bad yet. There are some trees we need to get pruned, and lots of weeds, but I need to get to them before the snakes get out in full force.”


I called Donna and she's having the power man come out tonight to get us a construction post set. That way, they've got power and the ability to see things.”


So what do you think?”


I've told him we want a modernization restoration. We're going to put power in and make it livable, but we're going to bring it back to original as much as we can.”


That porch out there is history. It's falling in.”


They'll make it back to like new.”


He gave me a pained look, “If I'd known.”


Hon, don't do that...If you'd known, you'd been living here and we'd never met. It was meant to be as it was, but now we know and we're going to bring it back.”


He smiled and I saw the tear. I went over and hugged him ,“I love you and we're going to do it justice. It's only money, but we're going to spend it to get it.”


You don't know how often I've came out here and WISHED I had this house.”


I chuckled, “You should've squatted in it and kept it up!”


What?”


Squatted....moved in and homesteaded in it.”


He laughed, “Kiddo, you've got more guts than me if you'd done that.”


Apparently, you would've been doing what was needed.” I put my hand down the front of his pants ,“I've got the owner by the short and curlies and he's getting' hard in the palm of my hands!”

“Don't! You'll have me hard when we go see your Mom!”

“If only you were in those sweats!”


He laughed, “You're terrible.”


I unzipped him and knelt down. He said, “Oh man!”


I said, “As you were saying??? I think you'll be soft by the time we get to visit Mom.”


As he says it, I gave him some of the best head he's ever received. I know I toyed with him and then, got to business. By the time he came, he was moaning non-stop.


Right as we were finishing up, I heard the diesel engine ,“Either it's one of ours or it's the power company. Do you think we ought to try it with the power in the house?”


See what he thinks.”


I went out and the man said, “You were wanting a construction post?”


Yes sir, but I need to ask you a question.”


Sure.”


Do you think you can hook power up to the house and see if it'll work? We're still going to want a construction post, but I'd like to see if it works.”


He said, “It's going to cost $150 for you to have either. That's not my doings, but the company's doings for me to be here after hours.”


Ok, that's no problem. They have the same thing up home and weekends....well, it's expensive enough that you'd rather wait until Monday to have the power. It's like double that on Saturday and triple that on Sunday.”


He nodded and I got out my billfold. I handed him two hundred dollar bills ,“IF you hook up both, you can have the tip...but if I tell you to shut it down, we need it shut off fast.”


“That's not a problem.”


He got a thing and went around to the power box on the side of the house ,“Go shut everything off at the box inside and be ready for me to tell you it's ok.”


I went in and got to the throw and threw it. All of them were fuses, so I unscrewed fuses.

Stu came in and I said, “Ok, here's what I'm going to do. Go turn all the power on and when I screw in a fuse, you tell me what we've got. IF there's a problem, let me know, but if you don't have a response, it might be a light bulb or it might be a problem.”


Ok.”


The guy said, “Ok, you should be good.”


Stu said, “Try this room here first.”


I screwed in and out on the fuses until I found the right one and the light lit. I said, “Ok, go try them and see how many we have on this circuit.”


He went around and I tried and tried and tried until we had all of them going and the house lit. I said, “Leave on that front porch light.”


I went out and the guy said, “This old house needs a lot of work.”


I've got the best in the country coming to do it. She's going to be up to being beautiful again and then everyone will be amazed.”


Is it ok to have the post here?”


I'd move it closer to that fence row. They're probably going to have a lot of equipment going in that drive and I'd rather not have it hit.”


He nodded ,“I'm glad to see someone here. Everyone loves this house and everyone's wanted it. No one knew who owned it.”


Until today, no one knew we owned it...including us! Finally someone told us that it was us and since then, we've did a check and found it's true.”


Really? How'd you not know!”

“When he bought the property, the old man told him “to the creek”. He thought it's the creek over there and I guess there's a creek over there. Needless to say, all these years, everything in between was neglected. Now we're here and we're going to bring it back.”


He chuckled, “It's an easy mistake I probably would've made, but it would've been a shame to lose this house.”


I agree. I've never seen it before until about 30 minutes ago, but now I'm ready to give it everything.”


He got it hooked up and I said, “Tomorrow, I'm going to ask you to set up more construction posts out back there. It's going to take me a dozer to get through it, but I'll get there.”


What are you going to do, subdivide?”


No, we're using it, but we're going to go across with a street beside the Kentucky Fried Chicken and put some motels and my construction company up in here. We're keeping that area behind the theater pristine because we're going to have a wall of windows looking out to that view.”


It's a beautiful view.”


I'm not spoiling it for anything. We'll have some commercial stuff, but it's not going to be to where it ruins the view.”


It might ruin the view out back here if you're looking out onto some motels.”


It's not that close. We'll have a lot of space for a yard and then have some woods.”


He got in his truck and left and Stu and I left to go to the hospital. At the hospital, we went in and saw Dad. He said, “Your Mom was at wits end and just about gave up you were coming.”


We went and saw the house while we still had sunlight.”


What house?”


Go out that way on that road right there. We left the porch light on and the power is on. I'm flying the guys from Hannibal Restorations down here to do the work.”


You bought a place???”


No, Stu bought a place about 25 or so years ago. He didn't know it until today, but now we know and the house is needing help.”


What's it like?”


Dad, I'm going to let your eyes tell you. If I spoke right now, I'd be biased as hell.”


He chuckled, “You're telling me it's beautiful.”


It's amazing. It's needing help, but it's amazing. Now, you go and take a look and I'll show Mom the photo of it.”


She's getting out tomorrow.”


Really!”

“The doctor said the blockage was taken care of by the stint and she's good to go now.”


Great! But she's got to take it easy.”


She knows that, but you know she's going to try to do some things.”


I'll send her to Quincy tomorrow with Stu.”


What's up there?”


The Coca-Cola bottling company. We bought the one in Springfield and now, we're going to be buying the one up there for $50 million.”


He sounded instantly pissed, “You're going to blow all that money!”


Dad, if you knew how damned much money I found out we've got coming in, you'd shit yourself.”


Where?”


Stu came in from parking the truck and I said, “Think back to the 1970's.”


Ok.”


You buy 2 million shares of AT&T stock....Preferred Stock... Now, when did Ma Bell split apart?”


I don't know.”


When she split apart, the shares got split apart also. For each preferred stock we got 2 shares and because it split into 7 companies, we got 14 shares. Since then, it's triple split, double split, and double split, so we've got 168 million shares.”


Ok, what's it trading at?”


If we sold it today, it'd be worth 300 billion.”


Oh jeez.”


It gets better. Right now, dividends on it are $1.56 each...so we've got nearly $270 million a year coming in just from the dividends.”


Dad's mouth went into an 0 ,“Oh....”


I chuckled ,“I was told that by Skip today without a place to sit down and in a place where I was so pissed at AT&T that I was wanting every share we owned sold.”


Why?”


Lousy customer service....We own that much and can't get treated worth a damn. Go figure.”


Don't mention it to your Mom. You'll send her into making her heart monitor go off! We'll never get her out of here!”


I chuckled ,“Ok.”


He motioned ,“Go visit her and I'll go look at your house. I just go down that road until I see a house with a porch light on.”


No, you might stop at someone else's house. You just go down that road until you go “Oh