Write Me A Love Story By RettaMichaels “The Queen of Gay Romance”
Write Me A Love Story
The next morning, we woke up and took our showers. Stu said, “What's first?”
“Getting breakfast. I'm going to want to eat at Country Kitchen.”
He nodded, “They've got the best breakfasts.”
We called Mike and Michele and they went over with us. We got served quick and by 6am, we were out on the gravel.
We were nearly 80% done.
I called everyone together ,“Everyone, today, we'll be finished with the gravel. When we finish, here's what's happening.
Some of us will be going to do the take down of the two cabins. Others will be going to the quarry to see what we can do there. Others will be going out to the plantation house to see what we can do about moving furniture and getting that into storage.
you need, feel free to tell Mike, Danny, Brandon, or me that you
need. I imagine we're going to need furniture dollies and some wood
to get the furniture out of the house out there as well as gloves.
I imagine we'll need other things, but don't be afraid to speak up because we might not have everything thought out.
At the cabins, we're going to have LynnAnne lifting them with the crane. I realize we need her at two places at the same time. Hopefully, she can go to the quarry with the crane and then get on out to the cabins.
Men and Women, here's what I'm going to tell you. LynnAnne had some things happen to her yesterday that I'm going to tell everyone about. First of all, she had a man tell her he wasn't going to work with a woman. THEN, he busted up an $800 telephone I gave her to call me. After that, the people who were operating the quarry at the time wouldn't let her use the phone to call me. She sat down and waited. I can't blame her for a thing.
When I got there, she saw how damned fast I took care of things. That man is now in jail for busting up that phone and the attempted assault on me. I beat his ass good and drug him off the place by his hair.
The two men in the office no longer work for me. They were told to get out and tried stealing the money from me on the way out the door. Needless to say, they're in jail for robbing the place.
On quite a few things, I've been told this is family and have let shit slide. I'm telling you right now that if you want a fight, you'll get a fight and you'll get your asses kicked....And yeah, the Sheriff got told that if that bastard who got beat down was family, I didn't give a fuck, I'd call the highway patrol to get him arrested without him. Needless to say, he got arrested....and I guess he wasn't family....was he LynnAnne?”
“No, he's Calvin Jameson.”
A lot of them started murmuring and LynnAnne smiled, “He beat the hell out of him guys. So you know if he can put Calvin in the hospital, he can put anyone in!”
I said, “That's not the point.... All along, I've told everyone to respect each other. All of you have and I've had reports that everyone is super happy with how fast we're moving because there's no one arguing, fussing, and fighting.
SOME of you might feel like because you're working on my crew, you can't ask someone else out. Women, if you see a guy you like and you're single, ask him out. Men, if you see a girl you like AND YOU'RE SINGLE, ask her out. IF she or he says yes, so much the better! If not, leave him or her the hell alone...and IF you get asked out, please don't feel offended. It just means someone found you nice enough that they thought you a great potential date.”
I paused ,“Mike asked me last night what we'd do if we got finished asphalting early. I told him a whole list of things I want to do and all that means more work for ALL of you. Don't think we're finished, but DO think about this....
IF YOU took furniture from the plantation, let us know and we won't prosecute. Just give it back and we'll be fine.
IF YOU know someone who did, let me know or let them know that they've got until Friday to give it back before I start prosecuting.
I'm being reasonable about this because Stu didn't know he owned it all these years...much less that land over there. BUT, there's a line in the sand folks....I'll be good to those who are honest and I'll be a rotten bastard to the ones who won't give it back.
Now, IF you took something and it broke, got worn out, or whatever. I'd like to know what it was because I'd like to find a replacement for it.
You're going to notice a lot of work being done out there. We're bringing it back up and we're going to make it better than ever. I'm going to be inviting all of you out there to parties and picnics and we're going to share in it together.
Many of you love the old house and I'll tell you I think it's one of the most beautiful houses I've ever seen but I love a man, not a house....BUT Stu had better know that house is a close second!”
Everyone laughed and I said, “Last night, I laid out a lot of our hopes and plans to Mike. He's seeing how the jigsaw puzzle fits together now and he knows I plan on keeping everyone working for a long long time.
You're going to hear we're buying quarries and batch plants. IF you know of one I've not bought let me know...it's going to keep you working when I root out the unscrupulous workers.
Lastly, Eric there is getting harassment from his family. IF you see them, let me know. IF you're afraid I'll hunt them down like dogs and beat the hell out of them, let the Sheriff know and he'll cart them off because you're probably right....
The thing is I consider you all mine. I'll protect every last one of you like my dearest friend and I'll defend you likewise, but what I won't do is I won't tolerate threats being made and I sure as hell won't tolerate anyone mistreating you.
As this grows, you're going to see my generosity. You're all getting phones, internet, cell phones and cable in your houses which I'm paying for. Soon, you'll have company vehicles to drive and you'll be asked to work in different locations doing different things other than asphalting.
You see, I want to teach you ALL aspects of the construction business. I want you learning concrete work, building, construction, and how to operate machinery.
You're going to hear a lot of things about how I pay people. You're soon going to go from the $200 a day to $300 or more...does that sound like I'm planning on getting rid of anyone???
I guess what I'm trying to say is we're going to have a LOT of different jobs happening. You'll be trained and you'll be making more money real soon. The guys who I asked could drive a truck yesterday....Did you get in trucks?”
Everyone said they had.
I said, “You're making $450 a day now. It's YOUR job to be careful and not run over anyone and it's your job to keep us moving forward. I'll see to it that you're well cared for in those trucks and I do believe you're finding them damned nice trucks, right?”
All of them readily agreed and I said, “I'm going to find us trucks equally as nice or better. They've got plenty of horsepower and they've got lots of life left in them.”
I paused ,“Many of you lost track of me yesterday. I'll tell you what's going on with me and where I'll be.
I've GOT TO be at the quarry, be at the cabins, be at the hospital to pick up my Mom, take Stu to the airport, be up at the plantation house, AND be here.
As well as that, I've got to be at the AT&T office over there and make arrangements for ALL of you who don't have phones or cell phones to have them...SO let us have your names, addresses, and we'll get all that happening.
Other than that, I've got to buy some more equipment. I know a few pieces we need, so we're going to get them. IF you're a trucker, I'll send you to get them with the lowboys and just understand that's how fast all this is moving.
Other than that, this afternoon sometime, Stu, I, Mike, Michele, Danny and Donna, and my Mom and Dad need to fly to St. Louis. IF you have anything you need to discuss, get to Jerrett, Brandon, or one of your crew leaders...If you can't get to them, please go to that motel right there and tell them to call us. I'll take your call and THEY will have all of our phone numbers.
IF you have other problems, get ahold of one of your asphalt bosses or someone and we'll get things took care of. Does anyone have a problem right now I can help you with?”
A girl raised her hand, “My Mom couldn't be here because she got a job at the quarry. You gave my aunt the job of running the place yesterday.”
I gave a nod, “That's right. I want those guys out there seeing that I'll put a woman in as a boss and they had better like it or leave. None of them have problems, but your Aunt has a job where she's going to get a lot of guys in who want to treat her inferior because she's a woman. I've told her to send them packing without what they wanted and they'll get the hint I put her in charge.
Your Mom will be your Aunt's right hand woMAN. She's going to help your Aunt and get things organized out there because a bunch of men ran the place like they were pigs.”
I looked around ,“I put no one above the other. I don't put myself above you and I don't put you above me. We're all equals in this and if you don't believe so, let me know and I'll certainly show you I can do any job you've been asked to do.”
I looked around ,“Folks, whoever is fueling those out there, fuel them up. While we're doing that, let's get the equipment moved down the street.”
We got everyone moving on a piece of equipment and then, had Brandon bring us all back to the paving equipment.
Somewhere in there, Jeff and Scott called and said they were taking a truck to the plantation. I told them we'd be out there sometime and rang off.
Right after that, the woman from the AT&T store called and said the phones were ready. I asked, “Are the charging cords?” and she giggled, “Yes!” I said, “I'll be right over.”
I turned to Stu, “Well, the day's taking off. Do you want to ride with?”
He smiled, “Yeah.”
I turned to Danny, “Danny, you come with me also. I want you to get to know what's going on out there and be over those.
Mike, you can ride with me also. You know what's what and I have a feeling we're going to have you working for me sooner than later.”
laughed, “Doin' what!”
“Bein' over all the batch plants and cement operations. Danny can handle the construction, but do you think you'd want the quarry or have Mike over then Danny?”
He said, “I think Mike should be over everything on that end. I'd feel better because he could have all the quarry and batching and I'd know who to call.”
I gave a nod, “Mike, if you'd help me, it'd be a load off of me. You know the focus and you know what my goals are, so we can team this up and get it moving in the way I want.”
“What's going to be required?”
“Ride with us and you'll see, but Danny, you ride with us also so that whatever he's needing built can get built.”
“OH! Now I understand.”
“It's arms of the octopus. Stu's the heart of my operation and I'm delegating love out to him, so he gets to do that!” I said giggling. “Of course, I'll have no need for help returning that! SO wipe your brows guys!”
Everyone laughed and we went over to the AT&T store. When we got there, I got Mike and Danny their phones as well as LynnAnne her phone and all the rest of them.
When I handed two to Mike, he gave me a look, “What's this for?”
“One's for Michele and one's for you. I'm sure she'll be doing something also, so hang onto it for her for now.”
We got the phones and went out to the quarry. Mike said, “Ooh, ok, it's going to take some work.”
I chuckled, “I have a feeling all of them will! Before you walk out in that quarry, you've got to let the men know you're coming. I'll get 'em in here because they're waiting on these phones.”
He said, “Jer', it's going to take some money. The best thing going for this is the batch plant and I know that's brand new, so you know where we need to go.”
“Do what you need, but get it to making sense. That man out there is filling trucks with a front end loader I'd just as soon have on the construction side of things. It's not big enough and for him to have to fill trucks and fill hoppers for the batch plant with it is going to be a mess.”
Mike said, “We're going to need hoppers and conveyors. What I see needs sandblasted and put back up to reconditioned specs and Lord knows when that last was!”
“You're going to have to Pray and hope right now. We're about to use it in high gear for us and then, go into season. My advice is to save it for the off season because we're not laying anyone off.”
He gave me a look and I said, “Right over there is going to be a manufacturing facility for concrete divided highway barriers. We're going to make forms and pour those in the off time.
As I see it, if we have to buy something made from concrete, it's rather dumb with us making concrete and having the labor. I'm payin' everyone good now, so they're wanting to stay working.”
“Ok.... What about other things made from concrete?”
“You're welcome to do whatever you want. Get with Dan on the new concrete construction and also get with him on getting us box culverts and other things made to spec.”
He smiled, “Man, you're willing to go out there!”
“We're going to need it all when we get the construction side to building highways. I'm not shy about working it, but you don't be shy about getting what we need. I'll get you a truck and you're more than welcome to use the jet or chopper to get to and from if it saves time.”
“I probably will.”
I turned to Danny, “Trust him. I do.”
He nodded, “I already do.”
“Brandon's job in this is liason. He's going to be the one who speaks with you when I'm too damned busy. IF he doesn't work out...which I'm beginning to wonder, I'm most likely going to look towards Michele. I trust her and I know she's not afraid to get in and roll up her sleeves.”
Mike said, “She'll sure do it.”
I went in the office and gave Georganne a hug and turned to Rose ,“Hey girl!”
She smiled, “She hired me, so I had to be out here!”
“That's fine. Here's what I need you two to do...Georganne knows, but I'll tell you.
This building is on my last nerve. We're going to speak with Danny about getting something else built out here, but in the meanwhile, here's what we need to do...
It'll probably take a jackhammer to get the carpet up off the floor with as much mud, gunk, and crud it's got ground into it, but I want that taken up however we can get it done.
IF it takes you getting that end loader at the door with a chain and pulling, so be it, but me knowing that's supposed to be carpet rather than what looks like something a cow leaves in a pasture, it's gotta change.
When we get it up, I want you two to go to Lowe's or Home Depot and get us some nice wood laminate flooring. It'll mop and it'll sweep with a vacuum or whatever and it'll certainly look better.
Our first impression as a company to a lot of people starts in this room and if we're looking to them like cow dung, that's pretty bad.”
I turned to Danny ,“Here's what I want....I want a building here which is professional, but is classy. It's gotta be our concrete wall construction and it's gotta have metal roofing so we can have sprinklers up there to wash it off and keep the dust down.
Give me floor to ceiling windows, but make them tinted and having those bars in them so they look....”
I turned to Mike, “That bank they built up there in Hannibal...”'
“That's what I want, but a lot smaller. Would you pull that up for him on that computer and then, he can see what I'm talking about?”
“Yeah, I was lost from your description, but now that you've mentioned the bank, it's dead on...”
He got it pulled up and I said, “Danny, when they walk in the door, I want wood tones. I want a hospitality center there where they can refill drinks...and coffees.
You're going to get lost here, but I want a fake aviary so it LOOKS like they're in a room where birds could fly around, but the birds are stuffed. It's going to take you going to Hannibal and going to a nursing home to see what I mean, but that's what I want in this room.”
Mike chuckled, “I'll get him there. Your description of that was terrible!”
He turned to Danny, “They made it look like it's a tree shaded garden inside. They brought actual trees in and put them in there and really did a nice job of it, but he's right, they made it look like there's birds in there as well as having piped in chirps and sounds from a forest.”
Danny looked surprised, “Really?”
I said, “If I ever get put in a nursing home, put me there. I can drool in Jello a lot of places, but that's the nicest.”
They laughed and I said, “Ok, the other thing is this...I want them having a nice office. This thing here sucks....I realize the company can afford more than a double wide and we need to grow out of this thing damned fast.”
Everyone laughed and I said, “There's nothing wrong with a double wide until you put one in front of me that's about 30 years old and call it my corporate office and then, I just wanna regurgitate.”.
Danny saw the bank building ,“OH!”
I said, “It's nice enough that it makes people want to come in. It's utilitarian enough you can take a fire hose to the outside and wash it down.
In this dusty environment, we need to have that, but we also need to have paved roads around it and have landscaping so it looks like the quarry is away from it, not sounding like it's driving through it.
Where I'm at with this is this....They don't need to hang out a window to do their jobs. They can have a pass through like a bank and will be just fine.
Yeah, it's going to take some cleaning, but let's get the right place for them before we ask them to keep it clean. If I were asked to respect this place and keep it clean, you'd probably ask me why I was bringing out the gasoline and I'd tell you embers are a lot more likely to have me clean them once than this place over and over.”
Dan nodded, “Ok, Ive got it in my mind what you want. I'm finding this really neat because you said you were going into the concrete construction, and I didn't know which way. Concrete blocks and walls is something I think a lot of places will find better for them in the future.”
“When I saw the Thomasville Gallery Showroom go up in about two days, that did it for me....BUT, before you do that, I want you to see the Costco building out there in St. Peters because that damned thing will have you wanting to run for an exit real fast with all the cracks you see in that thing.”
Mike said, “We went there on the opening day and when he started showing me the cracks right under these big steel beams holding the roof up, you don't know how scared I felt.
Surprisingly, it's still standing, but I'd hate to be in that thing in an earthquake because it's gonna come down!”
Danny asked, “What do you think caused it?”
Mike pointed at me ,“HE found the cause. If you go outside, you'll see nice asphalt parking, but go around the end of the building and you see mud gumbo (clay) which stays wet.
From what we saw, they built on it anyway. It's settling like anything heavy does in mud....needless to say, the concrete pad and everything that was supposed to be solid above it is settling right with it.”
He smiled, “Both of us got lifetime membership passes to the place for being there that first day and I don't think either one of us has used it since!”
I said, “I've went to the one in Kansas City and elsewhere, but you really couldn't pay me to go back in that building...but I'll tell him to go look at it just to have him know what substandard construction looks like.”
I turned to Danny ,“Martin did the construction of it....I'm not going to tell you my opinion of Martin except this....If there's a way to shave a corner to the point they can still say they don't cut them, they do it. IF there's a way to squeeze a dollar bill out of a budget, they do it.
That means this....IF your build spec sheet calls for one gauge of wire, you better make sure it's in those walls before you think it's what you got because they've most likely had you sign a change order signing it all away.”
shook his head, “That's wrong!”
“It's the way they do business. The state and feds won't let them work on any of their projects. They built a state school for a bunch of kids and within a year the roof collapsed under snow load that wasn't that heavy.
state had to condemn the building and when they went to get Martin to
pay up, Martin had all the signed forms they needed to cover
themselves! Needless to say, the state bit it on that, but they had
something similar happen with a Dollar General Store and a prison
halfway house up there which just has you scratching your head
asking, “Ok, is it my imagination, or was Martin's trailer
parked in front of all three when they were built?
SO, understand this....In THIS situation, a blue jay will never tolerate a Martin!”
Mike chuckled, “Are you going to finally get to use your Blue jay?”
Mike laughed ,“When we were little kids, he was so caught up on that blue jay that he actually considered playing for Toronto! That was until he discovered he didn't even like baseball!”
I smiled, “I like baseball, but I don't like standing out in the sun roasting!”
Everyone laughed and I said, “But for everyone concerned, the colors will be white and blue and there will be a blue jay as a logo piece. I'm not sure which one yet, but here's what I want you to do Danny... When I get those logos made, I want you going to that one place which makes custom door pulls and having them make them for us....but yeah, I'd like to have the construction company be gray with blue concrete blocks as stripes and we'll tint that gray so it gets whiter and whiter.”
He nodded, “Ok.”
I turned to Georganne, “How's learning your computer come along?”
“Wonderful! I was about to call you and my 11 year old said, “Mom, that's easy!” and showed me everything! Within an hour or so, he had it loaded into the computer and had it all set up for me and showed me how to work it. He wants you to know that's a 'sweet' computer!”
I chuckled, “Ok, we'll have to keep that in mind for Christmas!”
She smiled, “Santa's already getting' him one since I got a new job!”
“Here's a tip. When you're wanting to buy a computer, go on Walmart.com and look at their bundles. For about the same price as one in the store, you can get a computer, case, mouse, and printer. They have them routinely throughout the year and you can find some really good deals on them that way.”
She said, “Really?”
“Yeah. Here's another pointer. A lot of times, you can go on there and get things WAY cheaper than you can in the store. You can have it delivered to the store in one or two days and really, if you're asking me to save $400 or more on a patio set, I'll wait.”
She nodded, “I'm going to go look!”
I turned to Rose, “You gals have fun. I see the guys are coming to get their phones, so we'll see you later.”
We went out and I got the guys phones. I told them, “Guys, here's the plan. I need a list made up of what you need in that quarry.
IF it's unsafe, you let us know and we'll get it replaced, but if it's something which will make your jobs easier, let us know.
I'm going to tell you right now we're going to a hopper and conveyor system for a lot of this. We're also getting you a new front end loader and we're going to be getting you better equipment all the way around.... What we need from you is your input.
You're going to see Mike around, so I want you knowing how it's working out.
Georganne is the Manager of this facility. She's who you go to when there's a problem. Mike here is over Georganne and all of our batch plants. You'll see him around and he's your 'go to' guy when you want something nicer, or makes you more productive.
Danny here is construction. He's out here looking at things and seeing how they're built so we can take what needs to go out of here and get what we need in to replace it.
I'm talking, but here's what you should know....A lot of these changes can't be made until Fall. We're going into our busy season and as you know, having everyone working around construction crews is inviting a bunch of trouble real quick.
Kurt, within a matter of hours, you'll have a different loader. They were in there getting a list of them, but I want it so you're loading a truck in one or two passes rather than working your butt off to do so.
Right now, as it is, you're going to be hopping keeping hoppers for the asphalt filled and loading trucks. I'm sorry, but that's how it's got to be. We're getting you a lot bigger bucket so you're doing it more efficiently, but try not driving over anyone!”
He smiled and I said, “Ok, what I want you to know is this....We're going to have a new system for doing things up here. They're getting asphalt plant up to speed and when they're making those test batches, we're going to have a few crews out here laying down some asphalt.
Yeah, I realize the chances of it staying on the ground is slim and none, but here's what I want from you guys.
For those who come in the gate, they're going to be told to stay on the asphalt. IF they get off the asphalt, then we've got safety problems, but that's where the liability ends.
If they're ON the asphalt, it's on you. I'm not likely to fire you if you run over a vehicle, but I'm going to frown if you've got a big dump truck over here running over them.”
Mark said, “We have a policy the big dumps don't go beyond he chat piles and no one goes beyond the chat piles except us.”
I gave a nod and pointed at us ,“Us also...BUT, before we do, we're going to be on that radio and getting permission to go in.
Right now, I'd like to go take a tour of it. I'll tell you that you're going to see looks on my face from disgust, to shock, to just outright pissed off....Don’t think it's anything you guys did, it's just that I realize you're operating junk in a lot of circumstances and I also realize you're operating things which shouldn't be allowed to be in here.
ONE THING starting now is this....If you're below the age of 35, you're NOT to operate the crusher or anything which vibrates. It'll screw up your reproductive organs and you'll probably not have kids because of it....AND you'll probably not have a good love life because of it and yeah, your dick will hate your hand it hurts that bad.
I speak from experience. You know from experience, so that's the new policy...Under 35, you're out of that until we have a control booth which is totally separate from it.
Where I'm going with a lot of this stuff is we're going to the big crusher and then, we're going to go to portable screens and crushers under that.
We'll take it up the hill on conveyors and we'll pile it in piles and put it into hoppers automatically.
The reasons are several. A conveyor when it's working right will move a whole lot more faster than a truck. I'd rather use you guys in a different capacity to where you're working a lot less than in a truck.
A part of this is going to be concrete production out here. We're going to have asphalt right there and then, concrete is going to be over there.
Why is it sitting there? I don't know...so don't blame me if that's not where it should be, but that's where it's going to be this summer.
By next summer, we're going to have this done up a lot different....so don't be thinking it's all going to be the same.”
I paused ,“Storage piles and hoppers are going to be closer to the road. I like the thought of someone going right out onto that road when they're finished rather than meandering through here looking to get hurt.
You're going to tell me that they've not weighed and I'm going to tell you a load is a load is a load when a computer is telling it how much goes into that truck.
You can weigh it if you want, but my advice is this...If you've got a 16 yard truck and you ask for 16 yards, don't bitch if you've got a 12 yard truck and we just overloaded you and you've got blown tires and a busted frame....I'll see them in court before I pay a dime because it's going to be recorded about 8 different ways what they said.
Now, can there be operator error? There COULD be, but no, there can't. Why is that??? Here's why.
In that office, they're going to put down 16 yards. In that office, that driver is going to punch a yes or no that's what he wants. Out there at that dump which is loading him automatically, there's going to be a plasma screen which shows him great big and huge what's happening and how much he's getting. UNDER that is going to be a big red button.
All the way, he's approved that load. All the way, he's riding his decision and when he's loaded, it's what he wanted...or he's one dumb....ok forget that because there are some people who can't read or write who might have a chance to mess that up, but just the same, if he knows what he's driving, he'll be loaded right. If not, I'm going to ask for a number from them before we load.”
Everyone was nodding and I said, “That's the business side of things. On your side of things, it's going to be smoother. I'm NOT going to tell you to back out just because the numbers of loads are down.
As far as I'm concerned, you go until we don't have any room in the place and then, I'll find a way to get you some space.
WHY? Because I know that right now is the time to make rocks....and quite possibly next month, all that is going to be put through the construction side of things to make a new interstate and all of us are going to be better for it.”
I paused ,“Over there, you're going to see a lot more of the finished side of things happening. We're going to be making a lot of things from concrete and yeah, if it's super slow, you'll be asked to go in there and work....Just remember it all pays the same and we'll be fine.
I've told Georganne that we've got vacations scheduled for you from December 15th until February 1st. You're welcome to use our vacation homes and you're welcome to do whatever....just clean up after yourselves and treat it like it's yours.
IF and I say IF there's ever need for the police to be called to one of those vacation homes, I'm going to prosecute YOU. I'll fire YOU later, but at that moment, your vacation is over if YOU are at fault.
If it's not you, don't worry, but if it's a drunken brawl while you were holding a 200 person party....guess what, you're fired buddy because I'm not letting you use it for that...It's for YOU to have fun and relax in, not cause all the neighbors sleepless nights.
Aside from my home in Hannibal, you're welcome to be anywhere we own. My home in Hannibal has so many antiques in it which are so valuable, that if your kid was to bust something, you'd work a year or so just to pay for it....Needless to say, I'm not opening the door for that.
Aside from that, you're welcome everywhere else and you'll probably be invited out to the plantation to have a barbecue by summer's end....and yeah, if you've not heard, we own the plantation and you'll see a lot of construction happening out there to get it back up into shape.”
We went and did the tour and basicly, we were shown everything and rejected it all due to safety concerns and it just being junk.
Other than that, we went up and checked the batch plant to see when it would be operational. They said they were adjusting burners and just as soon as they were adjusted, they'd be working on some test batches.
I turned to Mike ,“Call Eric and have him bring out the equipment. I'll have him understanding what I want because I'm going to drive that sprayer around here.”
He made the call. Stu and Danny went around looking at everything.
My cell rang. It was Dad telling me that Mom was being released. I told him I'd be there just as soon as possible.
I went over to Danny,“Ask Donna if she'd like to go to Alton, Illinois to eat dinner with us. It's a bar, but it's got some of the best food in the area.
While there, I need you and Mike to look at a brew pub to see about how to go about getting the equipment out of the building. WE need to reuse it, so it's going to take some really creative use of dollies, chain hoists, and slings.”
He gave a nod and I said, “Stu and I have to run to the hospital to pick up my Mom and Dad. Then, we're going to the plantation.
What I'll do is I'll drive you back to get your truck, but what I want today is for us to get that asphalt laid using those test batches and having it wide enough everyone knows where we want them to go and a semi can make the curve.”
He nodded, “We'll get it done.”
We drove into town and dropped him off. I dialed Skip and asked, “What's going on with the Coke plant up there?”
“The man won't go below $48.5 for it.”
“That's fine. Have it set up so Stu can fly up there and be signing papers. I'm sending the jet to Hannibal and will have Stu and my Mom going to get the Vette to drive on to Quincy, so you know the plan there.”
“I'll have it arranged here if you'd like.”
“No. I appreciate it, but I want Stu walking through the place so he can get a feel for it. If he's never seen it, it's not going to help him when someone's speaking to him over a phone about it.”
“What you COULD do if you'd like, is you could get us a video cam which has a huge card in the thing so we can video the tour and then, I'll know what we got. I'm not going to be able to be there for this, so you know how busy I am down here.”
“Ok. I'll have that done.”
“Thank you for everything. I'll tell you that until I'm blue in the face, but it means a lot to me you're doing this.”
We rang off and I told Stu what we were doing and what price we were paying. He nodded and said he'd be fine.
At the hospital, we went in and walked through to the elevators and when the doors opened, there was Dad and Mom and a nurse coming out. Mom smiled, “There they are!”
I said, “Sorry, but it's been a mess this morning.”
She nodded and turned to Stu, “Have you been with him?”
He nodded, “We went to the quarry and will need to spend a lot of money in order to make it the way it needs to be.”
She asked, “IS it a good return for the money?”
He said, “It is, but they ran it into the ground without putting any money into it. They're going to be working hard to get it the way it needs to be, but it's going to take everything being brand new.”
Dad said, “We've got a few leads for you.”
I gave a nod and he gave me a nod right back. We got to the truck and then, got Mom in. When she was in, we drove towards the plantation.
When we went around the corner, Mom saw it and instantly fell in love. As we got closer, she said, “Oh man, it's hurting, but it's really beautiful.”
We got out and went up the stairs to the wrap around porch. I said, “This is the worst part. Inside, it's old and needs to be rehabbed, but the bones are solid.”
She gave a nod and I gave the tour. All the way through, she was marveling at the place and how beautiful it is. She said, “I feel like I need to be in a hoop skirt to be around here. It just makes me feel like I'm drawn back in time.”
Jeff caught up with us ,“Guys, we have some good ideas and lots of measurements. We can get some good drawings for you, and then, we'll know what to do.”
I gave a nod ,“Shortly, we'll be taking you to the airport. You'll fly up with Mom and Stu. IF they don't have a taxi for them, would you give them a ride to the house so they can get our car?”
The nodded, “Sure!”
I shook my head, “I'm sorry I'm not more into it, but something I thought was a bargain, I now know it's going to take at least $10 million to put up into usable shape. “
They looked shocked and I said, “That's ok, it'll be worth it, but right now, it's just a shock.”
Mom said, “Now I know why you weren't attaching numbers to the scowl you had...That's a helluva bunch!”
“It'll be worth it, but man it hurts. Basicly, we bought a big hole in the ground and need to build another quarry for it to be operable. Thank God we have the licensing and everything, otherwise it'd be impossible.”
She patted my arm, “Go speak with your Dad. From what we learned, someone had an idea similar to yours and didn't have the money. Now he wants out and you can rescue him.”
“I'll head that way.”
She chuckled, “I'll keep Stu company while we look at everything.”
I went down and found Dad out back heading to the barn. He waited for me and we went in together.
Inside, we both stopped and I said, “Before we even head that way, it's a Model SJ. I can tell, but what's the other?”
We walked down and sitting with tons of dust, grime, and dirt on them were two cars. The Duesenberg looked to be in remarkable condition. Yeah, it was dirty, but it looked like it had been parked yesterday.
Dad walked around ,“Whoever had these cars took real good care of them. Aside from being shut in this barn, they look to be good.”
I opened the door and climbed in. The keys were in the ignition of the Duesey. I thought, “Ok, here goes....Choke it and let's see.”
I choked it and turned the key...then, I pushed the starter. It turned over and turned over and each time, it'd catch a little and the throw out would happen and then, the starter would whir...
Dad walked around and reached in on the steering wheel and adjusted the spark and I tried it again. It caught and then, I hurried and got the choke off.
The motor ran and he gave me a look like, “I can't believe this!”
He said, “Boy, let's get this thing shut down for a second and try the other!”
I shut it off and pulled the keys ,“I hope these keys are for it. If not, I hope they're in it.”
We got out and went over to the Packard. The keys weren't in it, but I tried the keys and the other set fit!
I adjusted spark and choked. “Here goes nothing.” I pushed the button and whir whir whir, whir, cough, sputter....I tried again and it went cough, cough, sputter. He said, “Adjust the spark a bit more and try.”
I did and when I pushed the button, it went whir, whir, and caught. There was a lot of smoke, but when I adjusted the choke and spark, it ran smoother and idled down.
He laughed ,“This is unreal!”
I turned the key off and he gave me a look, “What are you doing!”
“We gotta open these doors. Stu and Mom's gonna find two asphyxiated corpses smiling their asses off in here and say, “Well, at least they died happy!”
He gave a laugh and I said, “Speaking of which, tell me about this tip you got.”
The name didn't ring a bell with me and he said, “The guy is up near Springfield. He's got the lock on everything you're trying to do, but he's out of money and laying off lots of people.”
“Everyone thinks if you call him, you might be able to swing a deal.”
“Let's see. Do you have a phone number?”
He pulled a piece of paper out of his shirt pocket ,“This is his corporate headquarters number. People don't even know if it's going to work or not.”
I tried it and it rang. When it was answered, it was by a woman who sounded so harried she sort've spat and growled out “Ord Diamond” so fast that if I hadn't suspected what she was saying, I would've had to ask her what she'd said!
I said, “Is the owner available.”
With equal flair, she said, “One second” and put me on hold. When the man's voice answered, he said, “John Ord speaking, how can I help you!”
“Hi Mr Ord, this is Jeremy Blue of Blue Jay Construction down in Branson. I was told you might be interested in selling out.”
He was quiet, “What construction in Branson?”
“Blue Jay. We've just bought into a quarry and some asphalt.”
“And what did you say your name was again?”
“Well.....Jeremy......” His voice stopped and he said, “I've never heard of you. Part of me wants to tell you that if you're not offering at least $120 million, to get off my phone and the other part of me says you just bought some asphalt plants from me...or someone did down there and I better keep you on the phone.”
“That's probably me. Stuart Reddington is my partner.”
“That'd be you.”
“I was told you're in trouble.”
He was quiet again ,“I don't know where you get your information.”
it's someone who knows or my Dad wouldn't have the information...”
I let it hang there and said....”Let me be to the point. I've got the $120 million, but there's no way I'm going to quibble over bullshit with you. You wouldn't have thrown a price if you weren't considering it.”
He said, “I'm thinking about it more and more every day. Your money for the batch plants and quarries helped me keep my head up, but not much.”
“Then let's talk. What do you have and what are you doing with it? What can we arrange and when can we talk?”
He said, “We can talk right now. You can come up or I can come down, but you can't see much if I do that.”
“Let me make a call to my pilot. He's going to totally stroke out because my partner is about to hop in a jet and expect to be taken to Hannibal, but I'll do what I can.
What I'll say is this...IF I get up there, you're going to have to meet us at the airport. I don't have the foggiest what is what in Springfield or how to get anywhere.”
“Make your call and I'll meet you.”
“I'll call you back.”
I hung up ,“Let's go talk with Stu. He and Mom have to be in Hannibal and I've got to be in Springfield....
The man threw out a price tag of $120 million just to throw me off, but then he realized we might've just bought his asphalt and quarries, so he'd better be cautious.”
Dad said, “Hang on a second. Let's open these doors and see if these will pull themselves on out of here.”
I pulled the keys and asked, “Do you have your pocket knife?”
“Get one of the sets off this ring and I'll get the doors opened.”
I handed them to him and went and slid the door a foot or so before it wouldn't go anymore. I shut it and then gave it another hard push and got it to go about another foot.
Dad came over ,“Hang on a second. Roll it back and then, let's give it another go. Those pulleys up there are working without oil, so they're going to be stiff.”
We shut the door too and then, gave it another shove sideways and it kept moving until we had enough space.
He said, “Ok, let's try the other. IF it doesn't work, at least we've got enough we can get it turned and through.”
We tried the door and got it opened about half way before it wouldn't budge anymore. He said, “Ok, pulled the Packard out and I'll follow.”
We got in and had both of them running in short order. I goosed the Packard and it moved forward like it'd been waiting years for me to do so.
The haze through the windows and the grime on the car told me it hadn't been washed in a long while, but the motor and running gear told me she'd been maintained real well before being put away.
Out by the Range Rover, I tooted the horn and shut it off. Dad did the Duesey and did likewise.
Mom, Stu, Jeff, and Scott all came out and the guys all had their mouths opened in shock.
I walked up to Stu ,“They need washed and the oil needs changed as does the fuel in those tanks, but that Duesey is at least a million dollar car....probably a million and a half. The Packard, I couldn't tell you what it's worth, but it's a limousine, so it's gotta be worth a bit.”
He sort've gave a giggle, “This is unreal!”
“Honey, both run, but they're filthy as hell....and I need to see about us speaking with the pilot.”
“If you'd pressed a bit harder on Ord, he'd sold the whole place to you. Apparently, there's more he didn't sell.”
His eyebrows rose, “REALLY?”
“What's he like to deal with?”
“He wants out. He knows what it's worth and he knows he's not going to take less than he's asking. He'll give concessions, but he's not going to give it away.”
“Ok, I need a flight up there, but I'd like to take these in and get them detailed and serviced.”
He smiled, “Can we drive them?”
“Yeah, that's not an issue. What's an issue is how much it's going to take to get them clean and serviced. I'll ask John and then, he can let us know.”
I dialed John. He answered, “Hello?”
“Hi John. Normally, I'm wanting to buy something or there's a problem, but right now, I need to see about getting a couple cars serviced and detailed. Can you do it?”
“Sure, bring 'em on in.”
I turned to Stu, “There, drive the Duesey to John's”
He chuckled, “Oh boy!”
“Be careful. Don't go too fast should something break or the brakes go out. If it should, don't panic...just gear it down and stay calm. I'll get in front of you and slow you. It might be worth a million or so, but you've got my heart in that car.”
He hugged me, “I'll be safe.”
I turned to everyone ,“Guys, you can ride with me...or Stu...or Dad, but we've got to get moving.”
I pulled my phone and dialed Danny. He answered and I said, “Where are you at?”
“Still out here. We're going over everything.”
“Gather Mike and yourself and head to the airport. We need to go to Springfield. The guy we bought the batch plants from is offering to sell the entire works for one price.”
“What's that include?”
“I have no idea, but I betcha we find out when we get there!”
“Ok, we're heading that way!”
I hung up and dialed Skip. He answered, “Hello!”
“Hi, I need to know what I've got available to spend AFTER that Coke plant?”
“Ummm, let me take a look, but you shouldn't be in any financial mess.”
“I need $120 million.”
“Ooh boy, let me see....Forget it, I'll tell you yes because I know one call is going to easily have that covered.”
“You be ready to say that to this man when we call. I might just need you to get someone in the air and going to Springfield to give him a check or something...It's the guy we bought the batch plants from yesterday....John Ord.”
“Oh, a big name in construction down there.”
“I'm about to buy him out.”
“Let me do some checking on things and see what it looks like.”
I hung up and got in the Rover. Jeff got in with me ,“Scott's going to ride in that Duesey.”
Mom got in with Dad and as we drove, Jeff said, “It's going to be a lot to get it up into shape.”
“That's fine. How much do you need to get started?”
“I've got to do a lot of research to see if there's pictures we can use.”
“That'll be fine.”
“We're going to need to get home and then gather up and come down. Can we stay in that motel?”
“Yup, I'll get you your room.”
“We're going to need at least 8 doubles.”
“I'll have them...One second.”
I dialed the motel and reserved the suites again. When I got off, I said, “Ok, that's handled. What we're going to do is we're going to be a bit cramped when we get to the jet, but I'm flying to Springfield with Danny and Mike and then, you'll fly on to Hannibal with Mom and Stu....Seven people in that jet should be fine.”
“What are you going to Springfield for?”
“Ord Diamond is for sale. I'm going up to get it.”
“Oh! That's huge!”
“I've never heard of it.”
“If it's on the west side of the state and it's highway construction or a major construction job, Ord Diamond has it. I've never worked with them, but their logo is all over the place. It's a black diamond with a white O superimposed on top of it. Usually their equipment is all Caterpiller yellow.”
“Ok, thanks for the knowledge because I have no clue here.”
“Why's he selling?”
“Goin' broke waitin' for the economy to turn.”
'Man, that's gotta be bad. He's got a lot of big jobs.”
“Well, I'm going to be buyin' him out if it's worth anything. I'd rather buy him out and get the step up than compete against him.”
“Can I give you another name you might speak with?”
“Look up Green County Construction. They're the other big name in road projects around there. I've heard they've been bankrupt too many times and can't go bankrupt for another couple of years but they're hurting now.
That's scuttlebutt, but usually, when you hear it, it's happenin'.”
“Ok, I'll sure do that.”
“Offer what you'd pay at a bankruptcy auction. IF he's hurtin', it's not going to be worth much more than that. Me hearing Ord is hurting means the banks have shut off the funds and that's why they're hurting.”
“Ok, would you look them up on my phone?”
He did and when we got to the Ford dealership, I parked and John came out smiling, “Well I'll be! You got them!”
“Stu bought them when he bought the place and didn't know. It only took a few tries to get them running, but now I need them maintained, washed and detailed. Do whatever and go over them with a fine toothed comb, but be careful.”
He smiled, “I'll sure get 'em on it.”
“I appreciate it. I need to use your computer for a moment...”
Stu asked, “Jeremy, if you're wanting to buy something, we can't right now.”
“No hon, it's research on something I'm up to.”
“Flip that back seat in the Rover, we're going to need it.”
He gave a nod and Dad came over, “What's happening?”
“Another little birdy told me something about the other big road construction company up there. I need to see what their last bankruptcy went like.”
“If I can get both, we're damned near a monopoly in the road construction down here...but I've been told to pay bankruptcy prices on the one.”
I went in and got on the computer. As soon as I had the bank's name, I got the number and made the call. When it was answered, I asked to speak with the President or Manager, or whoever was in charge. Real fast like, the man was put on.
I said, “Hi, my name is Jeremy Blue. You might or might not have processed some transactions I've made within the past few days there. We bought the Coca-Cola Bottling plant and we bought a bunch of batch plants from John Ord, or Ord Diamond.”
“Oh! We handled the Coke plant, you're still going to have us as your banker, aren't you?”
“As far as I know, we are... The reason I'm calling is I see Green County Construction did a bankruptcy through you not long ago.”
“I know it's confidential, but I'm going to be calling the man about buying him out. I'm already going to be speaking with John Ord about buying him out also, but I need to know what Green County is worth on the courthouse steps?”
He was quiet a second ,“I can't tell you directly. I know the financing money isn't available to help them move ahead and they're hurting. They've sought ways to go into bankruptcy again, but have been told by their attorney it's not possible.
Since they've not had money to buy equipment, they've GOT to be depreciated out and running on what they've got unless they've gotten credit elsewhere...which I doubt.”
He was quiet for a moment ,“For them to be out of their debts with us, it'd take $23 million just to be paid on the loans.
Whatever they're asking on top of that would be their decision, but I'd say they'd ask very little if they could stay on. If that's not possible, they're probably going to go for what they've got in equipment and that'd be.....ehhh.....around $15 million if it's depreciated and that'd be debatable.
All of that is strictly confidential, but I have a feeling you've got ample funds or you'd not be inquiring.”
“I've got plenty. If you'd like, you can call Skip Barnes at Commerce Bank in Hannibal, Missouri and he'd be happy to assist you. He's handling a sizable inheritance for me and I DO know I've got that much in a bank down here in Branson... Louis Charleton is over this bank.”
“I know Lou.”
“Then you know my bankers. We've probably got three hundred million available down here to spend still, but I'm not exactly sure.
What I know is I asked Skip about the $120 million for Ord Diamond and he said I'm covered up there and will send someone if needed.”
He chuckled, “You're covered then! That just told me you're well funded including the transactions you handled recently!”
“Yes sir. I'm positioning myself so Blue Jay will be around for a long long time.”
He said, “Let me know how I can help you in any way....Here's a number you can reach me directly.”
I took it ,“I appreciate it. I'm sure we'll be talking later today.”
“I'll call Green County and assist you a bit by asking for payment. It's something I don't like doing, but if it helps you in this, I'd be happy.”
“That'll be fine. I'll wait a bit before I make that call. What I'd like to ask you is a favor.”
“I'm flying up in our jet, but it's flying on north because we're buying another Coke plant up in Quincy, Illinois. John Ord is going to meet us at the airport, but I'm going to need someone to fly us back.
I don't have any clue if I'm buying anything today in these transactions or what, but I'd hate to think I am when I'm not and hate to think I'm not when I am. Either way, I need to have a flight back for me and three others.”
“I'll do some checking. I'm pretty sure Ord Diamond has both helicopter and jet. I know for a fact Green County Construction does not.”
“Ok, any information you could get me would be beneficial...and since I've got you on the phone, let me ask you a question...”
“I'm looking for quarries and asphalt plants as well as concrete companies all over the southwest portion of Missouri especially IF they've got a quarry. If you'd know of some, that'd be great. IF not, that's fine, but now you know where I'm headed.”
“You're wanting to tie up those?”
“I'm wanting to eliminate my competition. IF I can get the quarry and rock, I've got them beat when I do something wholesale.
Most people don't think about slipping in under them to beat them at their costs, but if they've got to buy from me, they'll put money into my pocket to compete against me. I'll smile because it's like being a partner in their business without being a partner.”
He chuckled, “I'll certainly have you a list! I hadn't thought in those terms, but you're quite right!”
“I'm planning on getting lots of huge road contracts, but you and I will need to discuss that also. It's something which you'll probably have never heard of before, but I'm sure once it's explained, you'll understand how I think in regards to business.”
“I'll be available this afternoon or anytime.”
“That one is going to take us speaking with a lot of politicians and roads people.”
“I'm on the county road commission here in Green County. I'd better excuse myself from that, but if you'd like to speak with me about that in that capacity, I'll sure listen.”
“Ok, that's not a problem....I'm not afraid to speak because I know the competition doesn't have the funds to do it and I do.
What I'm doing is a lend/lease arrangement. Currently, you probably don't have the funds to get roads or bridges built you're needing and you're probably having to tighten belts and budgets.”
“You've got THAT right!”
“Here's what I'm proposing. IF you've got land bought for those construction jobs, lend it to me and I'll build the roads at my cost. After it's completed, I'll lease 'em to you for 10 years and then, you'll buy them at the cost it took for me to win the bid right now.
I make money all along through the lease aspect, but you get the road you couldn't afford 10 years sooner.”
I heard a gasp, “How'd you come up with this!”
“It came to me yesterday. It only works if you've got the land because I'm not going to go in and do eminent domain for anyone.”
“Let me make some calls! This is amazing!”
“It's me keeping my people employed. I realize times are hard, but it doesn't mean I have to let you suffer. With me having the wholesale cost of everything, my costs are labor and materials I have to put out for like rebar, cement, and whatever equipment, but I keep my people employed and working.”
He chuckled, “I'm making some calls. I'll tell you I'm all for this! It's astounding me no one's thought of this before!”
“They did...It was called the Lend/Lease plan when they built ships for the war.”
He chuckled, “I'm talking about roads! You're onto something here and with a contract in hand, that's money I can lend whatever you need!”
“That'll be fine, but I need you to understand that the contracts will have to be let on those terms. I don't think anyone's going to compete to get them because they're not going to have that capital, but I will. It'll be seen as a stimulus plan of sorts, but it'll be business and government working together to get something for the people rather than seen as a screw over.”
He chuckled, “I agree.”
“I'll get off here, but now you know how I'm planning on doing business and keeping my people employed. If it helps everyone else, that's great, but I imagine a lot of towns and governments will be interested....it's sort've like them leasing police and fire equipment already...except there's something tangible you'll have after the money's spent.”
“I agree...I totally agree! Could it be used for improvements also?”
“Yes sir, but don't give me a contract to replace all your water lines because that'd be a headache!”
He laughed real loud, “No, I'm thinking about some roads which are existing that we're really in dire need of doing something about.”
“We'll talk about that. Let me get these bought and then, I can commit what I'm buying towards that. I'd hate to tell you yes and then prove myself to being a liar.”
“I understand, but I want you to know I'll be 100% behind this. It's just astounding me that it's like a Godsend to a lot of things we've been trapped in!”
“That'll be fine. Well, I'll get off here and let you make your calls.”
He asked for my phone number and then, we rang off.
I went out and hugged Stu ,“I spoke with that banker and you'd be amazed at how I killed a whole flock of birds with one stone!”
He chuckled, “How!”
“Remember my lend/lease? The man is on the county road commission up there. He's so excited about it, he's on 100% and making calls about it now!”
He laughed and hugged me real tight, “Oh man Jer'!”
“Green County Construction is in debt for $23 million and might possibly want another $15 million on top for the business. I think what I'll do is I'll play ball with them and see how little I need to spend.”
Dad asked, “What's going on?”
Stu turned around and smiled and asked me, “Have you told him this plan yet?”
“No hon, you, Mike, and that man are the only ones who know.”
He laughed, “Tell 'em!”
“On the flight up. Let's get to moving.”
I dialed Brandon. He answered and I said, “I, Stu, Danny, and Mike are all heading to airport. You're going to be in charge until we get back.
I'll call Jerrett and get him up to help, but I need you knowing what we're doing. We're going to Springfield to possibly buy Ord Diamond and Green County Construction.”
“Oh man, they're huge!”
“We need 'em under us to do the work.”
He chuckled, “I'll be waiting to see how it goes!”
“It's gonna go...I'm not sure about the Green County, but I already know the Ord will go.”
“Then you're getting the best one. Green County is hurting so bad that they're making news almost every night for the wrong reasons. Everyone's saying they'll probably shut the doors.”
“I'll do what I can to see that's not gonna happen.”
rang off. We drove out and when we got to the airport, Mike and Danny
were there. We got on the jet and as we flew, I updated everyone.
Danny said, “Oh man, Ord is clear over in our area doing lots of things!”
“Now you know how it's going to go....Right now, I'm playing a Microsoft in getting things put together in a bundle so we can sell the package to everyone. It might not seem like it's fitting at this moment, but I'm buying us experience and knowledge as well as equipment.”
Dad chuckled, “Jer', never let me say I'm doubting things again, but for a few moments, I was worried. Now, I see it coming together and I'm shaking my head.”
He smiled and patted Mom's knee ,“He's gonna be just fine...”
Mom said, “You get in there and help him and it'll be something you can do together. I'm proud as punch of him, but I think it'll be something you can do so you're closer.”
I chuckled, “He can smooze the politicians! I tend to call 'em what I think they are before I want to do business with them, so they don't like working with me real good.”
He chuckled, “That's up home! When they see the track record you're amassing, they'll shut up and sit back. They tend to do that when they know they're outwitted.”
Jeff asked, “Jer', is it ok if I speak with someone up there and see if they're available to sell?”
“Yeah, providing it's one of the big 3 and I can get them cheap. If not, I'll certainly be up there in 10 years beating them all over the place!”
He nodded, “I know.... I think you'd be surprised at who I can get to the table.”
I gave a nod, “I'd appreciate it.”
The jet got landed and when it parked, I saw the Ord Diamond jet over on the tarmac ,“That's the Ord Diamond jet we'll be getting with the purchase. Someplace, I'm told there's another helicopter, but that we're not getting anything with GCC except bailing them out.”
We went into the terminal and a man walked over, “Jeremy?”
“John Ord....It's good to meet you!”
“It's good meeting you likewise. Now, before we do business, I want to ask you for a moment alone.”
He nodded and I turned, “Guys, I'll be back. I'm going to look at that jet.”
They chuckled and I said, “John, the thought of me owning another jet and it being ANOTHER is sort've blowing me away right now.”
He laughed, “I understand! It's a good jet. We bought it from a fleet the year before last. It's 10 years old now and to replace it brand new would cost almost $90 million.
They're expensive to fly, but impressive as hell when you want to go into a town and discuss business. They tend to know you're serious.”
“I called you off to the side not to discuss our business, but to tell me about Green County Construction.”
He made a face, “Let 'em die.”
“I can't. When they die, the snake isn't dead. It's just laying there waiting for someone to breathe new life into it. If I'm that person, it's us absorbing them and doing away with them completely.
I hear they're in debt to the bank $23 million...I'm not sure what they've got for equipment and I'm not sure what they've won in contracts....SO when it comes to me playing hard ball at the bargaining table, I'm at a disadvantage.
With you, I've heard nothing but glowing reports. I know you and I would be great together, but I also know I need you to get what I want done.
My partner, Stu, said you're a straight shooter, so that's why I'm asking about them from you. You've went up against them and triumphed, so I need that experience right now.”
He said, “Sit down for a moment and I'll let you know a few things.”
He started filling me in and telling me about how they do business and how they handle their debts and employees. By the end, there was nothing I could see glowing about the company itself except that they had to look up in order to see the bottom of the hole they'd dug for themselves.
We went out and I said, “You're going to be amazed, but our business is done. I trust you and I'd love to see you stay on, but if you don't, I understand and you should know I'm going to want that non-compete we had for the batch plants.'
He gave me a look, “How would it work?”
“You're on the board. Danny there is my man over construction. Mike there is my man over asphalt, concrete, and the quarries. You will be an adviser and I'll need your people who know the business to work hand in hand with us.
In regards to GCC, it's going to stink, but I'm buying them out and absorbing it all into the entire company.
In regards to Ord Diamond, it's going over to Blue Jay formerly known as Ord Diamond for a period of 5 years and then, we're dropping the Ord Diamond totally and moving it forward.
As a board member, you'll have a salary, but I'm not cutting you in on profits. However, what I'd like for you to understand is we're going a different direction with some things and you'll be amazed at how I can pull a contract for a road out of thin air.”
“You're going to need it, they're tightening the screws down!”
“Ever thought about offering them the road up front and getting paid for it over time?”
“In this business, you already know they own the land...or they know where they're going to put it in 10 years or sooner, right?”
“Yeah, but they're shelving a lot of them.”
“It's called a Lend/Lease. They lend us the land and we build it for them. After it's built, we lease it to them for 10 years at which point they pay us for the price it took to win the bid right now.
We make money in lease payments and really, it's not much to us but wholesale prices we put out for rebar, cement, or whatever, but we're making profits and keeping our people working.”
“That'd be fine if they took it up and you've got that sort've money. It's YOU footing the bills until then.”
“Right, but lease payments will cover all that....and really, if we need money, the contracts get us the loan and serve as collateral.
I don't see that happening, but should it be needed, no bank in their right mind is going to turn down that business.”
He smiled really big, “Let me make some calls! You might find yourself swamped!”
“Ok, I'm making the call to GCC. Now, who do I speak with there?”
“Rick Sinclair. He's a real som'bitch to stomach as far as a conversation goes, but you'll learn that real fast.”
I dialed and when the phone was answered, I asked to speak with Rick Sinclair.
“He's not in the office right now. Who may I say is calling?”
“Jeremy Blue of Blue Jay Construction.”
“Where are you located?”
“Here now. We just bought the asphalt plants and will be buying concrete here real shortly. I'm calling to see what terms we're going to reach before I shut the doors of your business by refusing to do business with you.
Now, would you like to get him on the phone or shall I slap a refusal order on everything I can shut down with my next phone call?”
Mr Ord was smiling, “I'd never THOUGHT of that!”
“Use what leverage you've got to your fullest potential. If he's afraid of what's happening, he'll respond. If not, you've shown your hand.”
man came on the phone, “WHAT DO YOU WANT!”
“I want to be spoke with in a calm tone first of all. IF that's not happening, I promise you the 5 o'clock news will be informing you of ways I plan on shutting your doors.
I'm willing to offer you a buy out of your business for $30 million....take it or leave it. You walk away and give me a non-compete for 50 years and if you don't take that offer, I'm not going to entertain a counter offer....Instead, I'll systematically buy up concrete and quarries and asphalt batch plants until you're shut out of the business entirely...and then, I'll buy your shit on the courthouse steps!
Now, do you want to speak in a tone I'll listen to?”
He was silent for a moment and I said, “Silent treatment Mr Sinclair??? Believe me, it's not a control factor I'll fuck with!”
He said, “I'm thinking.”
“If it's about a counter offer, understand I gave you a 'yes' or 'no' question.”
“What's the non-compete?”
“50 years. You do NOT do business in Missouri, or any state touching it's boundaries. You do NOT touch Texas either, but you MAY go away, but you will NOT siphon people off or do anything to the accounts or the assets of the company. IF I find you have or are, I'll prosecute you to the fullest extent as well as make phone calls which won't bode well for you staying healthy.
IF you consider that a threat, please realize I'm considering your potential actions as a threat to operate that business and don't think I'll not use the company as a weapon to get business in this area.”
“You're going to be competing against a motherfucker!”
“Then do we have a deal? If so, I'll get over there and sign papers. After that, I'll deal with the competition.”
“I want my company truck. Without it, I don't have a way elsewhere.”
“I'll buy you a vehicle. You will not drive a company vehicle and kill yourself so I have to pay insurance to anyone!”
He chuckled, “You don't trust anyone....I don't blame you.”
“IS that a deal?”
“Yeah...I'm going to leave without anything and won't have made any money on it, but maybe some day I'll have it in Arizona.”
“You're welcome to it. It's too fuckin' hot down there and rattlesnakes aren't friendly first thing in the morning and scorpions aren't friendly the rest of the day. It'll be a bitch getting insurance against both, but I imagine the weather is better for days of construction and you won't have a problem with either if you keep them moving 24/7.”
He was quiet, “When can we do this?”
“Bring your paperwork needed for a sale to your bank...and give me that address. I'll see those bills are paid and then, we'll do the sign over of the corporation for the rest. That negates my tax liability on the full price and it gets you handled.”
“Ok, what time?”
“Roll that way and I'll be leaving from the airport here real shortly....and Rick? IF you back out of this deal, please understand I'm recording this call and WILL have the Sheriff on your ass for fraud the second you back out.”
“It's not happening. I think I'm finally going to sleep at night for once.”
“How about this....How about you take a vacation on me. I've got a lifetime lease out in Hawaii at the Aston Maui Banyan which gets you dinners complimentary and plenty of warmth and relaxation.
IF you get a nice massage and a spell in a sauna, you'll sleep for sure.”
“Nah, I was planning on getting on down to Arizona.”
“Ok, which brand of truck would you like? I'll get on that for you... All you gotta do is name the color.”
“A white GMC.”
“I'll get it for you fully loaded, dually, and crew...within an hour.”
“I appreciate it.”
“No problem. I'm heading that way shortly.”
I hung up and chuckled. “He took the deal and doesn't realize I didn't ask his banker or the address!”
John laughed, “You spoke with that man like he usually speaks to people.”
“You should've learned to grab him by the nuts and pound a few times. It got his attention and let him know pain was all I understand when dealing with pricks.”
He smiled, “Ok, what do we do now?”
“Our deal is complete. I'm going to need to go there and get this deal complete and do so without driving one of your trucks to the meeting, but I'll be over at OD as soon as it's done.”
He gave a nod. I turned to Mike and Danny ,“Go ahead and ride with him...”
I turned to John ,“Give them a tour and I'll be there with my Dad shortly.”
My cell rang. “Hello?”
The banker said, “He just called. He said he's selling to you and I'm to have the pay off for the loans available.”
“I think that's the first time he's spoke with me civilly in years.”
“Stress makes some people assholes. Some assholes shouldn't put themselves in stressful situations so they can take it out on others. You'd learned if I were in your position, I'd shut his doors and sold him off just to turn around and tell him, “No one speaks to me that way asshole. Now, get along and learn bankers aren't who you fuck with in this life!”
You held cards and yeah, it's quite acceptable to speak in that manner to someone who isn't going to be darkening my doorstep again.
I just spoke with that man in a manner which he now understands that I'm not going to be kind all the way up until the paperwork is done. After that, he'll be given a truck and pointed the direction out of town.”
He laughed, “I think I'm going to like doing business with you!”
“How'd those phone calls come along?”
“Everyone's sort've stunned like me that it would be that easy!”
“It's not complicated when people want to do business together as partners rather than....well, I don't know what...It SURE can't be seen as adversaries when you're the one holding the contract!”
“It's just a different way of doing business.”
“When is your commission meeting?”
“Third Thursday Night of the month at the courthouse.”
“Ok, can anyone attend?”
“Yeah, I can put you on to speak if you'd like.”
“I'd very much like that, but I'd also like to have a newspaper and television announcement made of these sales.
I'm not familiar with the stations or even how to go about releasing a press release, but here's what I need for you to do for me if possible.”
“Look and see if you know of any motels which are available for sale which are nice and have quite a few rooms. I need a nice chain name.”
“Let me think. I know the Ramada is for sale. It's got a LOT of rooms, but they need extensive renovations in order to keep it a Ramada.”
“I think the last I heard, they were asking $650,000, but for the amount of rooms, the restaurant, the lounge, and the filling station on site, it's well worth the money. It sits out there by the airport.”
“I think I see it from here. I'll drive around it on the way in.”
“I can have that man available to speak real fast.”
“Do that. I'm not afraid to spend some money, but I'm definitely afraid to have my people being homeless when they're here working.”
“I'll make the call.”
“I appreciate it.”
I hung up and dialed Donna. She answered, “Hey babe! I hear you're in Springfield!”
“Yeah, I'm slingin' deals right and left.”
“I hear that!”
“Did he also tell you to leave dinner open so we can fly to St. Louis?”
“Yeah, he didn't say what, but a bunch of us are going.”
“It's a place called Fast Eddie's. You can look it up on YouTube and see several things on it. The food is real good and it's a place for us to let our hair down.
What I need from you is a phone call...”
“Would you call the Chevrolet dealer down there and see about me buying a full size GMC dually diesel with crew cab and fully loaded up here?
I'm buying a construction company and the one thing he wanted was a vehicle to drive out of town. I wasn't going to give him one of the company vehicles so he could kill himself in it and collect insurance for his family.”
She laughed, “I see!”
“His name is Rick Sinclair. Insure it for him for 6 months, but I don't know how you're going to do that without him having an address. Apparently, I'm getting his house in this deal also, so I'll take it.”
“I'll get something done and call you right back.”
I hung up and said to Mike and Danny, “You guys need to go with John. He's going to give you the tour of Ord Diamond. I'm going to get to this bank with Dad and get Green County Construction bought and then, we'll be over there.
Other than that, now you know we're good to go with the county commission...He's putting me on to speak the third Thursday this month.”
gave me a stare, “That's this Thursday!”
“Ok, that's fine. It's moving right along, but it's something we can do.”
He smiled, “We'll see you when you get there!”
Dad and I rented a Buick and got to the bank. When we got there, we parked and just as we got out of the car, my phone rang.
Donna said, “Hi hon, he's making the call now. I've arranged for insurance for the truck's VIN to be filled in just as soon as papers are signed.
Other than that, you'll be given the wholesale price on it at that dealership. He knows the man and they make those deals all the time.”
“Great! Well, we're walking into the bank now and this man is here.”
“Let me know.”
I hung up and walked over to someone who obviously looked to be construction, “Rick?”
He gave me a surprised look, “You sounded older on the phone.”
“The money's just as green whether I'm 28 or 58.”
He smiled, “Yeah, I was your age when I got in it. I don't envy you any with your competition.”
I winked ,“That's ok, I'll make do.”
He chuckled, “You're going to have to be tougher than you were with me, that's for sure!”
Norm came out, “Guys? Let's go in here.”
I held out my hand, “Jeremy Blue. Blue Jay Construction.”
“Oh, we handled the business for you yesterday!”
We went into the office and I said, “Men, this is my father. He'll be sitting in on everything.”
We sat down and I turned to Norm, “I'm buying out his loan before he and I do business. IF I absorb the loss on Blue Jay rather than on GCC first, it's mine to take off my taxes if I dissolve GCC and move it's assets into my company. IF I buy it AFTER I buy that company, it's a loss for it. From the sounds of it, I don't need that.”
He gave a nod, “Ok, so I put this down as you paying the note?”
nodded again, “I'll do that.”
He turned to Rick, “Is that fine for you?”
Rick nodded ,“Yeah,”
I turned to Rick, “In the matter of you and I's deal. I pay you $7 million and that's it. We drive to the Chevrolet/GMC dealership and I buy your truck.
I've already taken the liberty to get that rolling and getting you 6 months of Progressive Insurance also....all we have to do is call her with the VIN when we know it.
You can sign the corporation over and our contract can be here on a legal piece of paper. I'll write it out and then, we can sign it. I'm not going to pay a lawyer to do what I can do.”
He gave me a surprised look, “It leaves you open to all sorts of liabilities.”
“Not if I'm dissolving that company, it doesn't. IF you've not told me about debts you've got and are liable to pay, that's on you....Me, I'm buying it's assets, not it's liabilities and whatever business you've got going now will be concluded.”
“So you're laying off my employees?”
“No sir, I'm firing them and rehiring them as Blue Jay employees. They'll learn I'm their boss, and they'll either deal with that, or they'll deal with me shutting the business and not being rehired.
I have a feeling they'll be happy with the outcome, but we'll wait to announce that. I need to find out what contracts you've got open and what needs to be completed before that end happens.”
He gave a brief nod, “If you fire, can I hire?”
“You won't fuck with my company for 50 years. After that date, you can do what you please.”
He gave me a look and I said, “Total non-compete. What part of that didn't you understand?”
Dad turned to Norm, “Go ahead and do that paperwork. Us holding the note on that company just shut it's doors when Jeremy files the lawsuit.”
I slid over my card ,“There you go.”
said, “Hold on a second!”
I asked, 'What's the number for the Sheriff's department here? IF he'd like to stop this transaction, he's already been made WELL aware that I'll put him up on fraud charges without batting one eye. After he's charged, I'm suing the man for everything he's worth times four just to be damned sure he's paying me the rest of his life!”
Norman said, “I'm not about to make the bank liable for a transaction you and I have already gotten approved by him to complete. What you two's problem is you two's problem.”
I turned, “Slap a fuckin' lock on that company and tell your men I'm repossessing the fuckin' equipment just as soon as I can get Ord Diamond employees there to drive the shit to it's lot!”
He looked like I'd slapped him. “WHAT!”
“Yeah, I just bought that company for $120 million. You wanna fuck with me???! It took $150 million to tie up construction in this area. Have that sort of borrowing power? Do the fuckin' deal or get the hell out!”
I stared ,“Norman, the Sheriff's office number. Maybe if the Sheriff is standing here waiting to drag his ass off to jail, he'll realize I've got no sympathy for a liar!”
“You never mentioned buying Ord!”
“It wasn't any of YOUR business! Your business, I believe is GCC! Now, fall back on your sword and take it up the ass because I'm willing to go the limit to shut you down!
You walk TODAY with $7 million and pay whatever bills you owe besides this man with that or I'll kindly tell everyone you're the one responsible for that debt.
Don't pay those debts and make me liable for them and I promise you there will be NO TRUCK except the one I'm driving over you GOD DAMNED body!
Challenge me with that threat and see if it's a misdemeanor for unproper disposal of sewage in this fuckin' town because I think I can demonstrate that's what you are a helluva lot easier than an upstanding citizen!
Believe it or not, it takes 3 people to vouch for your character in a court of law either way. In this room, I've got the three I need besides JOHN ORD! He says you're the most hostile son of a bitch on the planet, but I told him he's not dealt with me on a pissed off day. Well you certainly have!”
I pointed ,“Get the fuckin' papers on the table and stop pretending you've got an inch of play in this decision. You don't!”
He stared and I said, “Norman, the Sheriff's number. When he realizes I'm moving forward with ALL I've promised him, he'll understand I'm not a game player he wants to mess with!”
Norm got me the number and I dialed it. When it was answered, I said, “This is Jeremy Blue of Blue Jay Construction. I'm here at Bank of Springfield dealing with a fraud in the millions of dollars perpetuated by Rick Sinclair of Green County Construction. He's here and I need an officer here.”
Norman said, “Let me speak with them.”
He got on the phone and apparently, his word was enough clout to get through to the Sheriff immediately. When he was finished, he said, “He's on his way over. Him doing this on bank property and making promises in front of me he didn't intend to keep just got him racketeering and extortion charges as well as those fraud ones.”
He turned to Rick, “This room is taped, video taped, and has voice recordings. We conduct business of this sort in here for a reason...so there's PROOF what was said in front of me. All of it's working and all of it's in top condition.”
Rick deflated and I said, “Get the paperwork on the table. I intend on keeping my word completely. You damned well better start keeping yours and learning people only believe you once before you're a liar.
Me getting a copy of those recordings because I'm involved will play hell with you EVER getting another fuckin' loan ANYWHERE! IF I've gotta hunt you down and follow you to the end of this planet, you'd better know the second you step into a bank, I'm going to suddenly become it's biggest depositor. Don't think you'll get a loan that day or any other!
Now, get the paperwork on the table for the LAST time!”
I slapped the table and Dad said, “I'm going out and shoving that Cadillac so far up the ass of that pickup truck out there, that he's going to run on foot.”
He walked out ,“Jer', don't physically assault him unless it's in he bathroom. IF it takes you dragging him in one, find out where one is damned quick! I'll be dealing with the Sheriff on that car accident outside....
Norm??? Would you like to come outside to be sure bank property wasn't damaged?”
Norm sounded almost like he was going to laugh ,“Sure!”
He and Dad walked out and I said, “You handled the competition the wrong fuckin' way all these years. Me, I buy 'em out and use their assets to go up against them. His assets were and are going to be used against you just as soon as I shut off your rights to get asphalt or whatever at all my points of business.
With me slapping liens and cease and desist orders on your equipment, you're out of business with lawsuits being filed on you for failing to fulfill you're agreements. Your ONE way out of this situation is signing the paperwork. There'd be another, but your banker just got up and walked out the door. Needless to say, you're NOT going to get that loan which buys me out of the money I've spent on your assets.”
He slapped the paperwork on the table. “I expect that fuckin' truck!”
“I'm not the liar here! Do you realize I don't even NEED that paperwork signed? My next course of action is going to Jefferson City and getting your corporation dissolved showing it has no assets!”
He signed and slid it across. I said, “One moment. We're not out of fraud territory yet. I'm going to make the contract for purchase and then, you'll either sign off or we'll deal with what we need to deal with.”
I took Norm's legal pad and spoke as I wrote out the contract. At the end, I signed and slid it across. “Sign it!”
He signed and I stood up, “Here's your $7 million. Pay what debts you need to pay and let's agree with what's needed so we can get you to Arizona.”
“You owe me a truck.”
“I owe you a truck and am throwing in 6 months of insurance. Your fuel in it is your concern....Now, give me the keys to that truck out there.”
He said, “I'll hold them until I get that truck.”
The Sheriff walked in, “What's the problem?”
“Fraud, Tampering with a motor vehicle since I'm not getting the keys to the truck I now own.....In there, the banker's got proof of racketeering and extortion, but IF he hands over those keys, we're in better territory. IF he does not, we'll kindly stand by so he can THINK he can get in the truck so that becomes a Grand Theft Auto charge.
Anything and everything in that truck out there just became mine since I just bought all of his assets proven by this paperwork...Including that truck.”
The Sheriff held out his hand and I handed them the paperwork. He read them and turned to Rick, “He's got the paperwork I need right now to put you in jail. I don't even need to have proof of anything else because the second the keys are found on your person, you're up on tampering charges.”
I said, “Sheriff, I'm going to hold up three fingers. When he hasn't handed them over, I'm going to need you to call a tow truck to get my truck off this property. It'll need taken to a dealership where I can have keys made for it and what you do to this man is what you need to do...but when three fingers becomes a fist, I'm punching this cock sucker in his face as hard as I can.”
I held up my fingers ,“THREE!”
Rick slid the keys and I said, “Pussy....now try getting me for the threats! Get out of here so we can go get you the truck you're owed!”
I turned to the Sheriff. “I owe him a pickup truck as a part of this transaction. I keep my words and bargains. You see how well HE does!”
He nodded, “Do you want me to follow?”
“I'd appreciate it. I've yet to begin on the cell phone he's holding which I'm sure is company assets.”
He gave a smirk, and I said, “I was going to let that one go and let it get shut off, but kindness is getting worn thin with me right now.”
I stood up ,“IF he's not coming, I'll be over at the GMC dealership getting his truck bought. How he gets there is his concern, but the ride won't be offered again.”
I collected the paperwork and walked out of the building. I shook Norm's hand ,“I'll be back to sign what's needed to get corporate accounts into my name.”
He gave a nod, “I'll be looking forward to it.”
Rick came out and went to the passenger side of the truck. I popped the locks and said to Dad, “Ok, follow me and we'll go get him that truck.”
We got in and I said, “Rick, I've already called ahead and gotten you the fully loaded white GMC dually diesel you asked for. I called my Chevrolet dealership and since he does business with them all the time, I got it wholesale.
If it's not to your liking, we'll find you something, so don't feel like you've gotta settle for what you don't want.”
He asked, “How'd you get Ord to sell?”
“We heard the other day that he had his asphalt batch plants up for sale. I'm wanting to control everything in the southwestern corner of the state, so we went and bought them as well as the quarries.
My Mom was in the hospital since then and apparently, someone told them that he had everything else up for sale or something, so I called and asked him, “How much do you want for it all?” He told me not to bother knockin' if I'm not bringing $120 million to the table and that's when he realized it was probably me that he was going to be dealing with and told me, “Head on over if it's you.”
What I got told when I took our Duesenberg in to be serviced was that you were on the ropes, so I decided to gain more competition by getting your company also. What I learned was you'd filed for bankruptcy already and couldn't file again and then, several people said you were an asshole and I thought, “Well, he's not met an asshole yet who will show him what an asshole is at the bargaining table!”
He laughed, “Kid you're just hateful bargaining table!”
“Here's the deal. My Dad has taught me everything I know at the bargaining table. Usually, it's good cop/bad cop, but today, when he walked out of the room, it told me even HE was fed up with you and to beat your ass but don't get caught.
What I'll tell you is I would've had you been speaking with my partner that way in front of me. Since it was me, I took more.”
“What are you going to do with it all?”
“Sell some roadway. We're doing a lend/lease thing where we build the road if they'll lend us the land.”
“Everyone has the land already bought if they've got plans for a road....You know that as do I.”
“In return for them lending it to us, we go ahead and build the road to their specs. When it's built, we lease it to them for 10 years and then sell it to them for what it would've cost had we won the bid right now. In return, we get the lease payments at low taxes for the 10 years and they trust us in future arrangements.”
“.....And you drive everyone else out of business because you've got the money to put up whereas we don't.”
“It's a situation of having the money, but I've been told by a banker that should I ever need a loan, I've got that contract and will get my loan.
Where it is for me is this....My people stay employed. My costs are minimal because I control the quarries and gravel and I'm cornering the asphalt or concrete.
You see, I'm not going in paying everyone for the sand and gravel, I own it. All I've got to do is pay for the rebar and cement so I can mix it up and put it out.”
He gave me a look out of the corner of his eye, “Did anyone ever tell you that you're handling it like mafia?”
“No, but should I have to go in front of the Attorney General to answer questions about it, I'll tell her or him that I'm not stopping the competitive bidding process, I'm hedging my bets that I'm gonna make money either way. Had you been bidding against me, I'd made money by selling the gravel and sand to you. Since it's me, that's all in house, so I'm fine.”
He smiled really big, “Kid, no one's took over construction like you. It's not illegal, but it's slanted as hell!”
“If you're going to go in, go in to win. If possible use their assets against them and if possible, gain as much of a foothold if you can. That's what I've done and now, we're going to have the biggest, so all we gotta do is mop up.”
“How far are you going to spread?”
“I plan on getting contracts up here and heading into Texas during the winter months so my people work year round.”
“...And my people get fired when you close up.”
“No, they get told if they want to work, they come in under me and take the pay I'm offering. If they don't, they can starve.”
“You've got to pay prevailing wage!”
“Not when it's not on those contracts I don't. When it's off those contracts, I pay them a daily wage rather than an hourly wage and they only work 12 hours, but we work 24/7 until the project's complete.
Everyone likes it because they get to pick which shift they want. Everyone likes it because they get to pick which crew they want to work on. And my rules are that if you're on a crew, you're not going to cuss or call names and should you think you can do that, you're fired...get the hell off my job and if you want to think I'll tolerate it, I'll beat your ass and then, call the law.
I had a man down in Branson who is apparently some sort've bad ass. He said he wasn't gonna work on a job with a woman crane operator and proceeded to bust up the phone I provided and got on her crane. Well, she sat it out and I showed up and he got fired.
Apparently, he thought me being with a broken wrist would be an easy fight, so he attempted to throw a sucker punch, but I saw it and ended up kicking his ass and sending him to the hospital before he was arrested...and since that phone was an $800 iPhone, it's a felony.”
“Where's this at?”
“Down at Branson.”
“I know some pretty mean characters down there. Be careful.”
“If it's Calvin Jameson, he's not an issue anymore. He'll be eating his food through a straw until his jaw gets healed.”
He looked shocked, “You beat up him! HOW!”
“Martial arts. He's an idiot and seemed to think because I'm little that I can't have stacked the deck going into a fight also!”
He laughed, “Oh man, I'd loved to seen that!”
“A bunch of 'em did, but they were so pissed at him for dropping a bunch of stuff damned near on top of them with the crane they're happy he got what he did. Since then, it's sorta been like folklore and spreading to tell the others I'm not gonna mess with 'em.”
We got to the dealership and pulled on the lot. When we got up front, the white GMC Sierra 3500HD. I got out and took a look at it and saw it was going to round up to $65,000. I said, “It's going to be around $40,000 wholesaled. Let's go get it handled.”
“Unless you want springs under it which give it load hauling that's more, that'll be another $1200, but it looks to me like it's loaded. It's got as much chrome as you can throw on it outside of going aftermarket and then, you can dress it up some more.
I wouldn't have picked the hard tonneau cover because they're a bitch to work around, but look nice.”
“I like it.”
“That's what matters.”
The man came out, “That one's sold guys.”
“It should be sold to us. I'm Jeremy Blue and this is Rick Sinclair.”
He gave a nod, “That's the one!”
“He's deciding if it's all he wants. IF so, we'll take it.”
He shook his head, “If it's HIM buying, he can't get credit here. If it's you, you can.”
“I'm paying cash. If he owes you guys some money, he needs to pay you now because I just bought him out and that truck's his way out of townd.”
He nodded, “He's went bankrupt on us too many times. If you're buying him out, you'll find it hard to get credit or any loans.”
“I'm swallowing his company into mine. There won't be any decisions if I ask for credit because mine better be impeccable!”
He gave a nod, “Ok, let's go do the paperwork on that one.”
“You do it with him and let me know how much it runs. If it's not wholesaled, I'm going to ask why the hell it wasn't and walk...”
“It should be. You've got a dealer down there who does a lot of business with us.”
“He's family. I've not bought anything from him, but I'm going to be asking my Ford dealer why he's running about $2 grand more on the wholesale level than you are. With as many as I'm buying, that's a factor.”
“I couldn't tell you. It's good to know we're beating them on price.”
We did the paperwork and Dad came in. “How are we going to do this with the rental car?”
“We'll take it and I'll follow you to the airport. Then, we'll go on over to the construction company and let him do his business at his and get those bills paid.
When it's all been said and done, at 5pm tonight, his people will get told they're absorbed into Blue Jay and they'll be notified what has changed.
In regards to the jobs, we're melding everything together and getting them finished with the current contracts and moving into the new contracts as one company.”
He nodded, “Does he know he's supposed to pay those bills?”
“Yeah, he's been told three time...twice on my voice recorder and once in that bank.”
“Then if he skips, it's on him.”
I gave a nod ,“I'm not being silent about taking the assets and scuttling the company.”
“The bastard needed the hell beaten out of him. You were mad enough I was sure you were going to fly across that table!”
I chuckled, “I was hot. Finally, I was to the point that I'd decided I was going to go ahead and put him in prison. I think he realized it when he saw the Sheriff there.”
“Well, let's get going. You make sure that man knows he's going to pay those bills one more time.”
I turned to Rick, “Rick, you've got until 5pm to have the bills paid. If they're not paid, I'm going to hunt you down....and you'd best know it.”
“I'm allowing you time to go in and clean out your office and do all that, but there's a reason I put the $7 million into the company's name. Should you not pay the bills, it's embezzlement. I want you clear on this.”
He gave a nod and looked away. I said, “Rick, don't think about it. I saw you look away and yeah, I'll have a state trooper waiting outside of town....”
I pulled my phone and dialed the Sheriff's number. He answered, “Hello?”
“This is Jeremy Blue. I'm calling you in front of Rick Sinclair to tell you that he's going to be paying the bills for this construction company by 5pm, or it'll be embezzlement of the $7 million he was paid to do so.”
“Where are you now?”
“Buying him this pickup truck at the Chevrolet GMC dealership.”
“I'll be right over.”
“I appreciate it.”
I hung up ,“The Sheriff is on his way. I have a feeling you'll have a shadow assuring us the bills get paid. Apparently, he doesn't trust you either.”
He shot me a look, “I SAID I'd pay them!”
“Make sure you do. At the last second, you've tried getting by with stuff to the point I'm deliberately going to let you hang yourself just to see you get locked up.
You decide if it's worth prison. I'll tell you it's not, but I WILL tell you I'm keeping my pilot in our chopper just to track you if you make a run for it.
Now, I'm going out here. Then, I'm going over to Ord Diamond and then, I'm going to let you do your final things and say goodbye.
Personally, I don't give a damn what you say to those people. IF you attempt to do a siphon of the talent after the signing of that non-compete, it's on you for fraud. I can make it stick.”
I walked out and Dad said something to him. He came out with me ,“I'm glad you're keeping him pinned. Had it been me doing this deal, I'm afraid I'd already have some black and blue marks on his body.”
“I'm reeling that rope out to hang him more and more. I'm telling WHAT he's facing so he clearly knows it's a violation of a law when he does it.”
“Save that voice recording.”
I dialed GCC. When the phone was answered, I told the receptionist, “This is Jeremy Blue. I'm the new owner there. I need to be transferred over to the accountant's line please.”
She said, “We don't have an accountant.”
“Ok, who keeps track of the bills?”
been piling them up here.”
“Save those, I'm on my way over right now.”
I dialed Norm at the bank. He answered, “Hello?”
“It's Jeremy. Do me a favor. Freeze the bank account for Green County and make it so I've got a debit card which can pay the bills and that's it.
I don't know if you're familiar with the way he does things over there, but there's no accounting taking place. I asked for the accountant's number and there doesn't appear to be any.
Now, tell me how far he's in arrears with the IRS and I'll know also, but right now, I'm done trusting the man and HOPING he's not going to run off with the money. I'll go in and pay the bills myself and trust it got done.”
“I've just froze the account. Would you like to have the funds moved to another account?”
“Yeah, I'll come back there and sign a signature card.”
“I think you were smart to do this.”
“I appreciate your help.”
I rang off and told Dad. “I'm taking control of the funds. They won't be stolen if I go ahead and pay the bills myself.”
The Sheriff rolled in and I walked over, “Hi Sheriff Patrick.”
“Call me Dan.”
“Ok Dan...Here's what I've done. Rather than trusting that man to pay the bills, I went ahead and called the bank and got the funds moved to a new account.
You don't know it, but he has no accountant. He throws the bills in a pile and Lord knows when they get paid and Lord knows if the IRS has been paid...or anything else.
What I'm moving to right now is I'm moving to asking you to escort him into the building and seeing that he gets his belongings out of his office and leaves.”
“Anything in that office as of the time you bought the place is yours. I'll tell him your business is transacted and he needs to move along. I'll also tell him that if he attempts to write a check on a closed account, he'll serve time.
I was just told what you're doing for the county and have to admit I took you for a kid who didn't know much about business. Now I'm thinking you're of a generation which is going to really make a difference.
On the way over here, I called my wife and told her what you were doing and she was surprised likewise. I've not mentioned it, but she's the county treasurer. She heard the plan and now, she's really fascinated with the possibilities.”
“It'll get done. Just don't say that Green County Construction will be doing it. I'm planning on rolling Green County into Blue Jay just as soon as possible. The reputation needs to be severed from Green County before it drags me in with it and really, all I need are the assets.”
He nodded, “It used to be the place to work! Now, I hear more and more complaints about it all the time.”
“Well, it's the day for changes to take place. I need to see what assets I bought and make sure I get them before he does.”
“I'll make a call and see what land titles and deeds you should have. If they're in his name, we can't touch them, but if they're in Green County's, he can't have them...You bought them with the company.”
“I'd appreciate it.”
He gave a nod, “I spoke with the Sheriff down there. He says you're the next best thing to him having a son and says nothing but compliments about you and your kindness.
He went on to tell me a LOT about what you're doing and how you adopted a great big family and got them to knowing you care....It says a lot about you when someone rails at the good someone does in such a negative job.”
“He has a lot of pressures, but like you, I call him in times of trouble and in times of normalcy. He knows what's happening and trusts me...For that, I'm grateful.”
“I hope you keep my number handy also.”
“I will....Now, what do you know about the Ramada Inn?”
“In regards to crime?”
“Anything. I'm going to buy it so my people have a place to stay when they're up here working.”
“What are you doing with the employees you've got?”
“Here's how I work. IF you give me a contract and tell me I'm going to start tomorrow and need to be finished by next fall, I'm working my people 24 hours a day, 7 days a week until that job's done.
You're going to see my people from down there up here working at 6pm until 6am. You'll see these people up here working 6am to 6pm.
When the job's finished, you'll see me moving onto the next contract and the next and not hoping I make it by the skin of my teeth to get it finished before the deadline happens.
On a lot of federal contracts, there's a reward system for that sort've thing. I disagree with that, but I'll take advantage of it and will cement our reputation on jobs being completed as promised.”
He smiled, “It says a lot about you.”
“It says a lot about my workers! However, you're going to hear I've fired some people at the drop of a hat for a wide variety of reasons. Here's why...
On my crews, everyone's to respect everyone else. You're not allowed to cuss your co-workers and you're not allowed to call names. IF you get a name called, you come to me and I'm going to fire that person. IF you're a woman and a man refuses to work with you, he's going to be fired. The same goes for any other discrimination.
The way I see it, if you're happy working and if you're not feeling stressed, you're more productive. It's working that way with my people down there.
When I saw they were going to complete a major project early, I had a meeting with them this morning and told them, “Don't think because it's over, we're done. I'll find you work, just stick around and you'll be paid whether you're standing or working.” I see it as keeping them in the loop and not being stressed by what's happening. I've promised them federal jobs and federal pay and now, I'm providing it.
These people up here might've THOUGHT they were going to get all the hours allotted in the cookie jar, but they don't know me and they don't know how I'll split and work two crews to get something done.”
“I think these people are worried about the doors shutting. IF they've got someone who is about the business, they'll work for you.”
I gave a nod ,“I'm going to ask a lot of them so they can make the money. As you probably know, this work is seasonal. That doesn't mean I can't anticipate it and be proactive with the bids and contracts I go for.
That means later this fall when it's rainy and cool, I'll be getting contracts in Texas and moving us down there. I'll buy a motel and we'll all have our own rooms until the jobs dictate we move elsewhere.
At that time, the motel reverts back to being for paying guests and it's an investment for me. However, that doesn't mean I can't use it again next year or whenever.”
He chuckled, “Before you go, let me know and I'll make a call down there to the Sheriff so he knows what kind of worker you are and how you do things.”
He paused, “Do you really have that much money?”
I smiled, “No, I'm spending the shit out of it! Within the past day or so, we've went through nearly a quarter of a billion dollars!”
He laughed, “I was told you'd surprise me if I learned how much money you really have. He said, “That kid is probably the wealthiest person in this area and you'd never know it because he acts like you or me and loves unconditionally.”
I sort've scrunched my nose, “He was right up to the 'unconditionally' part. I don't think I like Mr Sinclair so much.”
He laughed, “Most everyone feels the same way. You're forgiven the one.”
Dad walked over and I said, “Sheriff Patrick, this is my Father. Dad, this is Sheriff Patrick. We'll be on the phone a lot discussing how things are going around here and with my people.”
Dad nodded ,“He and his partner are some of the best people you'll ever meet. If he seems stressed at any point, let me know or anyone else know who cares about him because it's probably his partner's health.”
The Sheriff suddenly looked concerned, “What's going on with your partner?”
“He's got cancer. We'll find out tomorrow how bad it is and whether we can whip it's ass, but right now it's kidney and pancreatic cancer.”
“I'm keeping him busy and I'm keeping me busy so we don't have time to think about it. Until then, we've got one of the best doctors in the country and we're letting him earn his money.”
He said, “But the bad part of dealing with cancer is it's a dying game.”
“It used to be. Our doctor has done a lot with gene therapy.
Right now, he's got some of Stu's cancer and he's finding out what it'll take to manipulate it so that it can be reinjected in and go after the cancer and fight it like it's a virus.”
“Yeah, the situations and cases are amazing. Normally, when you're diagnosed, it's a death sentence...I agree, but with him, it's something he can fight, so he does.
With Stu, he's taking some pills right now which are keeping it in a holding pattern so it doesn't grow and we have a chance to find the gene and manipulate it so it can fight it and root it out.
I'd be lying if I told you I'm not worried. I mean, the chances of it winning are slim and when there's that slim chance, it's a chance I don't want.
It doesn't mean I'm going to let it win, but it doesn't mean I've got the deck stacked so it can't sneak around and blindside us.”
He gave Dad a look, “I'll keep an eye on him....well, them. I've not met his partner yet, but I've heard a lot of good things about him also.”
“They're peas in a pod. Jeremy had a previous partner no one liked and this kid did more excuses and explaining about the man than you'd believe. Finally, that collapsed and he met Stu....and I couldn't be happier.
No one wants to hear their child is gay, but no one wants to see their child suffer in a relationship either. With Stu, you're going to find someone who is like Jeremy...he's got a heart as big as he is and always puts others ahead of himself.”
The Sheriff nodded ,“Here he comes. I'll go speak with him.”
“I'll go to the bank and get the new banking information handled so I can pay those bills.”
“I'll be around over there so you're not bothered.”
I turned to Dad, “Let's go get that car returned and get to the bank.”
We drove to the airport and returned the car. When we got back in the truck, we drove to the bank and signed the signature cards and got the information I needed to pay bills.
After that, I dialed John and told him we were going to GCC to pay bills and then, we'd be over. He asked, “Why don't I send our accountant?”
I said, “It'd be a big help.”
“It won't be a problem at all. I've heard some things and now, I know them to be true.”
“I think he was planning on making a run for it. I can't say for certain because I didn't see tail lights, but when I kept repeating to him that he was going to pay the bills with that $7 million, he wouldn't act right.
Finally, I called the banker and got the money moved from that account to a different one so we'd have it to pay the bills ourselves. Call it a hunch, but I'd rather pay the bills myself and KNOW they're paid than to count on someone doing it and not running out the door.”
“Our accountant is good. If there's mismanagement, he'll find it.”
“I think he's going to have so many scents of mismanagement, he's going to go insane at every tree!”
He laughed, “Probably so!”
“Let Mike and Danny know what's happening. I didn't intend on it being this rough, but just the same, I'm glad I'm not being blind about it.”
“I'll let them know and if you don't mind, I'll be over there with them.”
“It's not a problem. I trust you.”
“We need to talk.”
“Ok, about what?”
“About how much you're paying me for this.”
“There's nothing to discuss. If you're wanting more, we've got a problem.”
“No, it's not that...not that at all. I think you're thinking you're paying $120 million.”
“Well, you're not. You're paying $70 million.”
“I got used to telling everyone $120 million, but you've already bought part of it. For me to take the extra money is wrong.”
“Well, I appreciate it. I'll spend he $50 million on equipment or something then...but I want you to show them how you account for equipment and then, we'll do it different.”
“We basicly have a loose accounting system with the equipment. So far, we've been lucky and not had much come up missing, but I ask my guys to take an inventory when they're on a site and to let me know if something comes up missing.”
“I'll explain how I want it. It'll make a lot more sense and then, you'll see how we're going to do it.”
“I'll get off here. I'm at GCC, so this ought to be fun....NOT!”
“They're good people in a bad boat. I think you're going to find they'll be more apt to bail now.”
“Bail hell! I'm seeing bubbles where a ship used to be! Call the Coast Guard!”
He laughed real loud, “Ok!”
I got off the phone and went in the building. The receptionist smiled, “How can I help you! Applications are over there.”
I smiled, “Hon, the second I fill out an application to be the owner, I'll have to tell you the job's filled already and to tell that kid to get into the office where he belongs!”
She smiled, “OH!”
“I've got an accountant coming from Ord Diamond to help pay these bills.”
She gave a frown, “Ord?”
“I bought them also. You're all a part of the Blue Jay team now....It's similar to the O'Jays except I only sing when I'm drunk and don't make much sense!”
She laughed and Dad said, “I hear he doesn't strip worth much when he's drunk either!”
I rolled my eyes and she really laughed. I said, “OBVIOUSLY someone talked in front of my Dad. If he knows, my Mom does and we're all in trouble!”
She laughed and Dad said, “Thank GOD your Mom doesn't know what I heard!”
I asked, “Ok, where are these bills?”
She got up and took me into his office ,“That credenza there.”
I stared at the pile and asked, “How many creditors are calling?”
“An hour or a day?”
She gave a nod, “Hon, I'll be happy to help if you're paying them. It's not supposed to be in my job description that I'm to lie for an owner.”
“Don't do it for me either....and IF it's a bill collector, you call my Mom and Dad and tell them I've lost my friggin' mind....”
I asked, “Anything on this desk here any good?”
She gave a look, “Not really.”
“Excuse me for a moment, but I'll show you my priorities.”
I wiped the desk's contents off onto the floor ,“That's the clean slate. Let's alphabetize these and start seeing what's a repeat and what's not.”
We started and when the accountant walked in with Mr Ord, I said, “Good, someone who can help!”
Mr Ord gave a look, “What do we need to do?”
“Right now, us three are sorting by the alphabet. We've not begun to open them, so who knows if they're a repeat or not!”
The accountant asked, “Do you have a ledger book?”
I turned, “I don't know. I've been here all of 20 minutes. This desk got cleared and we've been sorting.”
The receptionist said, “I can't tell you. In the entire time I've worked here, I've never understood how he pays the bills.”
I asked, “What do you suggest?”
He said, “I can use our software, but this is going to be a while.”
“Take as much time as you need.”
A guy came in and gave me a look, “Where's Rick!”
“He's gone. I bought the place. Can I help you?”
“My men are still waiting for last week's paychecks.”
I took a big breath ,“Do you have time cards or anything?”
He rolled his eyes and I said, “Hang on a second. Come on in here and I'll be honest with you....It's obvious you've been getting the run around...”
“That's not the half of it!”
“Well, I'm not a bullshit artist. I just paid the bank $23 million to get this out of debt and I put $7 million on the books to pay the bills. I've been here all of 20 or 30 minutes and you see how many bills I've got to sort.
In this mess, I don't see a time card one or any other way to begin knowing how to pay anyone. That doesn't mean you're not going to be paid, it just means that I'm going to have to trust YOU on what they should be paid and whether they have insurance, life insurance, or whatever....because in this mess, I don't know if they have ANYTHING.
That doesn't mean I'm making you do without. It means that when you're up to your neck in shit, you don't ask for a roll of toilet paper; you call a plumber!
I'm right there and have called an accountant. He can't find a ledger book, so that means there probably isn't one....Now, does that mean I'm going to be facing the IRS and Social Security? I don't know....Right now, you know as much as me.”
“Are you saving us?”
“I'm not saving GCC. You'll work for me and my company, but it won't be known as GCC anymore.”
He stared at Mr Ord, “Did YOU buy us?”
I said, “No, I bought him out also. You're now an employee of Blue Jay Construction.”
“Yeah....I'm Jeremy Blue and we'll be named Blue Jay Construction and so will Ord Diamond.”
“Yeah, we're putting everything together and we're going to make some money.”
“My men need paid.”
“Ok, how many hours did you work last week?”
“What's their rate of pay?”
The receptionist said, “It varies. Most of them are at $21 an hour.”
I asked, “How many work here?”
She said, “We're down to about 130.”
I turned to Dad, “Go to the bank and get $180,000 cash. Tell Norm what I'm facing here and let's get these men happy.”
John said, “I can pay them from the Ord accounts if that'll help.”
“Right now, I need to keep men. If I was waiting until Tuesday for a check I should've gotten Friday, I'd be madder than hell.
IF it had happened to the point that it sounds like it's a standard thing, I'd be beyond madder than hell.
First thing's first, I've got to apologize to these men for something I didn't do and let them understand I don't do business this way. Second of all, I've got to get on the same page and know WHAT they're doing and if they're getting screwed with pay and benefits.”
He gave a nod and turned, “Go get your men. Tell them you've got someone in here who's a new owner and tell them he's GOT money. This man just bought me out for $120 million like it was nothing.”
He gave a surprised look ,“I'll be right back!”
Dad said, “You NEED cash for this one. IF a check is no good around here and you're paying with checks, it doesn't help because the bank will be closed by the time they're off work.”
I dialed Norm. He answered, “Hello?”
“I don't know how you're going to do it, but I need $180,000 cash here to make payroll from last week. I'm NOT going to pay them by check because I want them to see I can GET cash and plenty of it.
What I want YOU to do is I want YOU to work with me on getting debit cards for their paychecks to be deposited into automatically. That way, it all spends like cash and they know it's there immediately with one phone call.”
“Ok, we'll need information.”
“Bring forms...and that cash.”
“I can get that much. It'll be no problem.”
“Whatever you need to do, do it and I'll sign.”
“That's no problem.”
“I appreciate this.”
I hung up and turned to the accountant, “We're going to have them sign stating they got paid...You're going to disregard that I'm paying them for 40 hours work when it sounds like they only did 27 hours work.”
He gave a nod, “Are you going over to salaried help?”
“Yes sir. It makes more sense to me.”
“It'll be easier for me also.”
“Over at Ord, we're going to the same style of pay....where it's deposited into a debit account for them to have in their billfold all the time.
What I want YOU to understand is the pay gets deposited at 6am by a mass transfer at 6am on Friday mornings. IF they skip work, that's on them, but I'm not going to short them for what they worked last week.”
He gave a nod, “That'll be easier.”
“YOU get whatever you need for extra help. You're going to have a conniption when you see my way of doing things, but it'll make sense eventually.”
The men came in and I said, “Excuse me...”
I went out and shook hands and asked names. At the end of the line, I said, “Guys, I've called the banker and he's bringing over $180grand. I'm paying you for 40 hours work even though I understand you've only worked around 27.
From here on out, you're going to be salaried. I'll explain it to you so you understand and then, everyone's on the same page. Starting now, you're working 40 hours a week base and making $25 an hour as general labor. IF you advance up, you'll be making more....and yeah, I'll have those sheets posted.
Most likely, all of you are here to make money and to make a living. I don't see any billionaires in this room I recognize, so if you're one, please speak up...I've gotta have some tax advice on mine.
IF that just told you I'm a billionaire, wake the hell up because I'll tell you right now, I'm a human being and put 'em on at the same way you do....and no, I don't jump both legs at the same time...The last time I did that, I was climbing out of bed with someone whose parents came home! The rack I got at that time taught me it's easier to run without drawers than to run while bent over holding your package and trying to get twisted drawers up over your knees.”
I paused ,“Today, I bought GCC. I also bought out Ord. That's why you see him in there.
On that desk are the bills they're sorting and putting into piles. I'm not happy about that many bills, but I'm happy I made the fucker get out of town rather than risking the $7 million I gave him to pay them.
IF he tells you I stole this company from him, you laugh your ass off and punch him in the cocksucker because I'll tell you right now he signed a 50 year non-compete agreement which means he's NOT to speak with anyone here or compete in any state touching Missouri, Missouri, or the State of Texas....yeah, for that 50 years.
HE assures me he's going to Arizona. I pity the rattlesnakes down there because he's got more venom and is twice as toxic to a company. IF.....”
I paused, “IF I hear you bad mouthing me, this company, or each other in the future, you're fired. I'll repeat that so you understand me clearly because I don't work with that many rules....
Call each other a name or cuss them, you're fuckin' fired. Don't come and try to explain it to me because I'll point and tell you that you're....fuckin....fired...
You and I both work better if we're happy, well paid, and being fed well...It helps if we get laid, but I'm sure some of you have no problem and others......well, let's say Vaseline should've sold us stock!”
They all laughed and I said, “You're going to understand I've been out on the road working asphalt and I've worked everything I could in between.
I inherited this fortune and I'm bankrolling it into a company which will be the toughest fighting fuckin' machine in southwest Missouri when it comes to construction.
Yeah, that means I'm going to control asphalt. That's going to mean I control concrete. That means I'm going to fight to get you all federal jobs and every other bid I can whenever wherever.
When it comes to joking, I'll take a joke. Lord knows I've fucked up enough there's plenty to laugh about and all I ask is you take a joke also.
What I WILL NOT DO is I won't joke with you about your pay, your food, or your pussy....or dick...or whatever blow up device you use...”
They all laughed and I said, “Guys, I've seen it all. I've done quite a bit of it, and I'll tell you now that I'll joke a lot.
When it comes to your safety, I'll fight like a motherfucker to get you good equipment and I'll beat a som'bitch down if he jeopardizes you, me, or anyone else's lives. A lot of you might've heard of a guy by the name of Calvin Jameson...”
Everyone nodded and I said, “He's in jail right now. He tried sucker punching me yesterday and I beat the bastard damned near to death and THEN, I jackass kicked him in the face and drug him off my property by his hair.
HE thought he'd tell a woman who is my crane operator he doesn't work with women. When SHE tried calling me on the $800 iPhone I bought her, he trashed it and then, took control of the crane.
When I got there, he tried telling ME how I'd allow him to work and who I'd hire and not hire. Needless to say, he got fired that second.
He dumped a huge hopper and damned near crushed four men...THAT was mistake two.
His third mistake was trying to sucker punch me and getting his ass beat.
He'll do time over the theft of my equipment...because IF YOU use my equipment when YOU aren't authorized to be in it, you are fuckin' fired, but you're also stealing it....
You do NOT operate equipment unless I've approved it. I don't use YOUR equipment without your permission, so don't use mine and jeopardize someone's life.”
I paused ,“IF you've got a problem working with women, blacks, Jewish people, or gays....there's the fuckin' door. I'll tell you right now I'm gay and I'll tell you right now you'll work with women and men also.
IF you think I'm inferior to you because I'm gay, there's the door....I'll tell you right now that I'm not seeking your permission on who I sleep with or fuck!...You don't ask me my opinion about yours and we'll all laugh side by side when someone brings a sheep to the company picnic!”
They all laughed and I said, “Here's the thing....We're going to be out on the road together....There are rules for that and I'm going to keep it simple.
IF you're married, don't fuck locals. I'll probably fire your ass and call your old lady or old man to tell him or her what you did and exactly why you got fired....”
I paused, “IF you fuck each other, you ask for a room together and keep it to yourselves. I'm doing the same thing, so don't think I'm going to broadcast it more than this once.
Why am I mentioning it? I'm mentioning it because I've GOT a man at home and you're bound to see him around with me at some point in time. Whatever YOU DO, you treat him with respect and I'll stay sane...I'll treat your old ladies with respect...even IF I might mistake one and ask her if she's your Mom or Grandma...”
They laughed and I said, “Hey, I did that once and didn't realize the guy I had as a co-worker was damned near 68 years old! I mean, he looked like he was 40 to me, so when he brought this old biker skank to the bar, I was like, “Ok, you his Mom?”
They laughed and I continued, “She said, “No honey, I'm his wife! Why, is he fuckin' around on me?”
And I was sort've like, “Ewww, he talked about making his old lady a duct tape thong and getting' freaky last weekend and that mental picture is enough to make me go to AA!”
They all really laughed and I said, “Guys, we're waiting on the banker to get here.....You're going to see a lot of changes around here and you're going to be amazed at how I can get us jobs when you hear there's none to be had.
You just rest assured that I'll get 'em, but you also need to understand a few things here....
IF you hear of a concrete company for sale, you call me. IF you hear of a quarry I don't own yet, you call me. IF you hear of an asphalt plant, you call me...AND, if you hear of a gypsy band of asphalters, you call me and I'll see to it they move on and we get the work they were trying to get.
WHAT I will tell you now is this....At our quarries and batch plants, we do NOT do business with unlicensed contractors anymore. IF there's no DOT number and name on the truck, you give me a call...
Now, does that mean Jimmy Joe can't come in and get himself a load of gravel or whatever in his pickup truck? No, that means that I'm fine with that as long as Jimmy Joe isn't out selling that shit and doing a job with it.
As long as Jimmy Joe is a customer, he's fine. When he steps across that line and becomes competition, he's fresh out of 'give a fucks' at Blue Jay....AND if I catch you giving Jimmy Joe loads, you're fuckin' fired and Jimmy Joe's history, so you both will need to find a different job.”
A guy spoke up, “We've got a lot of 'em.”
“Working for us or buying from us?”
“Buying from us.”
“I'll handle it....IF they don't hear so good when I tell them to get the fuck gone, they might not feel so good when I personally drive a 50 ton dump over their's....As I see it, if they think I was full of shit the first time I told 'em to get the fuck gone, they'll understand I'm not so full of shit when I make their truck scrap....AND LET that motherfucker sue me, I know I've got 7 years to drag it out in court and if need be, I'll drive over the next and the next and the next just to show the judge he's not the most brilliant motherfucker on the planet.”
They laughed Norm came in with a big satchel. I turned, “Norm?”
He nodded, “I've got it here.”
“Thank God, I didn't know they made vibrators that big!”
He looked shocked and the guys laughed. I went over and hugged his shoulder ,“I'm just joking with you....Now how is this stacked?”
“I've got it in 20's, 50's, and 100's. There are some 10's, but most of them are big bills.”
I gave a nod ,“Guys, line up and let's get you paid....On this piece of paper, I want you to sign your name, rank, serial number......Oh shit, that was the Village People a month ago, I'm sorry...”
They laughed and I held up the paper. “Guys, let me get serious on you for a moment.
Instead of paychecks, you're getting debit cards. You'll hold the cards in your billfold and if you lose it, it's 3 to 5 days to get it replaced....so put it in your billfold right next to that Trojan because you'll be equally as fucked if you lose both.”
They laughed and I said, “EVERY FRIDAY at 6am, your pay will be posted. IF it's not, or if it's wrong, or if something's wrong, you've got Friday to speak with me about it....IF not me, you'll have Mike, Danny, or someone else who is a supervisor to speak with....”
I went over and wrote on a wall, “THAT'S my phone number for this phone. IT'S THAT permanent with me so don't think I'm joking when I tell you to give me a call...and yes, I've got the best caller ID on the planet, so if you're drunk and you're lonely, you call 1900TalkSex before you call me because I promise you I'm just as lethal on your paycheck when you do so.”
I saw smiles and I said, “Seriously, it's easier if you're all salaried and it's easier if you all get paid by cards.
You'll see it's easier because you can keep the money on it and not have to worry about it going out of your billfold or whatever....No, prostitutes won't let you rub the card up a slot, but hey....IF that's your thing, get the hell out of the street because you might be arrested.”
I turned, “Slim??? Get on up here. You keep giving me those deer in the headlight looks like I'm telling your secrets when I talk about hoe's and pathetic princesses you gotta pay to get laid.”
He gave me a look and pointed at him. I said, “Yeah, you!”
They laughed and he walked forward. I said, “Slim, do me this favor. This next weekend, you drive down to Branson....I'll introduce you to a bunch of nice girls who've never heard of an 'around the world' and all that....and I'll tell you now that if you offer them $50 for a blow job, they'll probably buy you a bike pump at Walmart and a weddin' ring as well!”
He smiled and I said, “Slim.....I'd hate to say it, but you're probably the freakiest guy in the bunch and they don't know it!”
He said, “Nah...”
“Ok, maybe it's in your fantasies and you're still a virgin, but I'll get ya hooked up with a nice girl...you just leave the livestock in the barn, ya hear?”
He smiled and I dialed Donna. She answered, “Hey hon?”
“Hi Babes, I've got me a big old skinny fella here who looks like Stringbean on crack. He's going on 25 and probably hasn't ever shaved and just the same, he's probably a virgin....I'm bettin' 10 to 1 he's straight and he's a big old freak. Now, can you find me a girl who like's 'em tall and like's 'em sweet?”
“Yeah...How about Emily Jean?”
“Ok, tell her she's got a date on Friday night and tell her his name is Slim because I don't know his real name yet.”
He said, “Wesley.”
“His name is Wesley....Slim Wesley...It sorta has a ring to it.”
She chuckled, “Ok, is he coming down here?”
“Yeah, but this is their first date so you tell her pa to leave the shotgun at home. We'll save that for next weekend.”
She chuckled, “Ok!”
I hung up ,“Slim, your gal's name is Emily Jean. She works for me on an asphalt crew and her Mom is the assistant manager of my quarry in Branson.
You beg, steal, or borrow a mule to get to Branson on Friday and I'll have you a fine date scheduled. Ok?”
He gave me a look and I gave a nod, “Serious! I'll be DAYAMNED if someone's gonna celebrate his 25th birthday a virgin around me!”
The guys all laughed and he smiled. I said, “Over here, you gotta fill out the paperwork for the card you'll get which gets you paid.
I realize this is Tuesday and that I'll probably have to pay you in cash again on Friday, but by next Friday, all of you guys will be the holders of a Blue Jay Visa Card.”
He moved over and I pointed, “Rusty?”
“No, Red....Rusty's my brother.”
I smiled, “Ok Red, does Rusty work here?”
“Nah, he couldn't get on here.”
He shrugged. I said, “Tell him to give me a call at that number. There are applications over there. You give him one and when he fills it out, you hand it to her....She'll see to it that I get it. Tomorrow, you tell him if he still wants a job, to come here to work. Ok?”
I turned to the receptionist and saw her name was Betty. “Betty, Rusty's going to come in. You have him fill out a W-2 and all he needs to work for us and get him out on a crew. Ok?”
She gave a nod and I said, “It looks like Rusty's got a job, but you gotta have him fill out an application, but here's what I want you to do.”
I walked over and took the application and in the upper right hand corner, I put “Red”. I pointed. “Red, for each application you get returned to me where I hire someone, that's $50 in your pocket.”
His eyebrows shot up, “Really!”
I stood up ,“Guys, here's what I want you to do. I just hired Rusty sight unseen. Red's taking the application to his brother and in the upper right hand corner, he's putting his name so I know who gave Rusty or whomever the application.
For EACH application I take where I hire that person, I'm paying the person whose name is in the upper right hand corner $50.
The deal there is this....they have to work 30 days. If you run them off in one day, you don't get the money. IF you keep them around for 30 days, you get the money.
Bring me a thousand applications where I hire them and that's $50,000 in your pocket.”
I stood up ,“Betty, pay these guys. I need to speak with them.”
She came over and I said, “$1,000 each. Have them sign for it and give that information.
I went over ,“Guys, your attention this way...”
They looked and I said, “For us to be down to 120 or so people sucks. I know and you know why the numbers are down and I know and you know we've lost some good people with him jacking you over the pay like he's done.
My deal is this....For 40 hours, you get $1,000 when we're not in a federal job. If we're in a federal job, that same 40 hours is $2,000 a week.
IF I work you five days a week from 6am to 6pm, that's 60 hours, so I'm paying you $2,000....”
I paused ,“Guys, I know you're thinking I'm only going to work you part of a year and lay you off when the weather gets bad...
The only way you get laid off with me is this way....You don't show up to work and I'll fuckin' fire you. IF you show, I promise you that we'll have something for you to do.
Now, I'm not telling you this to blow smoke up your asses. I'm telling you this because I'm planning on getting us federal contracts in Texas over the winters, or Arkansas, or someplace where we can work through the winter without you guys freezing your asses off and us being able to work.
The catch is this....”
I paused ,“Everyone, look up here at me.... I'm not going to promise you that you'll only work fed jobs. I'm not going to tell you that it won't be asphalt. I'm not telling you it won't be concrete. I'm not telling you that it won't be bridge work or whatever.
I'm TELLING you I'm bidding on a job and telling the government, “I've got people who are willing to work no matter what the fuckin' job entails, so give it to us and we'll work that som'bitch 24 hours a day 7 days a week until it's finished.”
catch there is this...YOU guys get day shift or night shift, but we
WILL work 12 hour shifts and possibly up to 6 days a week.
IF you work 7 days a week, I promise you that you'll work 7 days this week and 5 next week. I won't work you a mandatory overtime.
IF you work 72 hours, that's $3600. IF you work 84 hours, that's $4800...BUT, the taxes on that are yours to pay and they'll come out of your checks.”
I paused ,“Health benefits. I don't know what you've got now, and don't CARE what you've got now. The son of a bitch who sold you the policy didn't speak to me and didn't sell it to me, so we're getting you on Conseco Direct.
For those of you who've never heard of Conseco, it's probably one of the best insurance plans you can buy. Your cost on shit is extremely low. You get eye, dental, and health all with super low deductibles.
How I'm working your deductibles is this way....so listen up...
At the beginning of the year, you'll have a $300 deductible...That's it. That's for your eye, dental, and health. You pay it and you're finished for the year.
What I'm doing is the first week of January, each one of you are paying in that $300 and then, it's going to a special account where it draws interest.
IF you use your insurance, I pay it out and you don't have to worry. IF you do NOT use your insurance, I pay you back that $300 and rather than there being $12 in interest, I promise you a return of $100 on that money....There's no place in this city which will pay you $100 return on your money for one year.
What I'm doing guys is this....I'm holding it so you're not screwed out of it should something happen and you can't pay it. I'm doing it so you can have life insurance and I'm doing it so you've got a lot of other options available to you.
Starting NOW, you've got benefits you won't get anywhere else....”
I paused ,“Guys, whoever has a cell phone with AT&T, let me know. For those of you who don't, let me know, but you WILL have a cell phone through your job here which has AT&T as it's provider.
Also, you WILL have AT&T as your home phone as your provider. You ALSO will have AT&T cable television in that bundle as well as internet.
I pay that because I WANT you having a phone you can be reached at and I want you to have a home phone I can reach you at. In return for you being AT that phone, I give you internet and cable television so you can have entertainment.
What I will NOT do men is I will NOT call you after 10pm unless it's a national emergency. IF a tornado blows through, you can best bet I'm going to have you called out and rescuing people so YOUR faces, names, and Blue Jay is on that newspaper's headlines as donating that service.
IF your home gets hit by a tornado, you're insured for full recovery. Does that mean I'm paying your homeowner's insurance? No. It means that should a tornado or devastating catastrophe happen, I'm stepping in and getting you in a house so you're not here getting your hand or foot crushed while you're worrying over your house.
IF something like that happens and you need time off, you come to me and you ask for that time off. DO NOT assume I'll give it to you just because you didn't show for work...It requires a phone call.
At that time, I'm going to tell you to take the time you need and yeah, I'll probably be there seeing to it you're not out in the cold, hungry, or dead!
IF YOU should happen to die, do not call me and report you've died. I expect loyalty, but I promise you I'll call you a liar if you call me and say you're dead.”
I saw guys smiling and I said, “Now, if your Grandma dies, you get to go to a funeral. IF your Grandma dies three times in a year, don't call me and tell me that bullshit because I'm going to go to her fuckin' funeral just to assure myself you're in fact related to the corpse....and yeah, I'll believe it the first time, the second....well, I'll give you this squint eyed look and say, “Uh, ok, don't tell me the bitch died again next week because I'll still be blown away the luck your family's having this year.”
Vacation days.....I paused ,“Guys, don't ask me for a vacation in June...It's not going to happen. I don't even take vacations in June, so your ass isn't gonna be on no beach suckin' up some navel shots off some Puerto Rican chick when I'm wishin' I was there beside you seeing Hector in a fishnet thong!
So NO, the answer will always be NO and you can take that to the bank. HOWEVER, come December 15th, we're holding a Christmas...not X Mas, but Christmas party and we're going to tell each other we'll see each other February 1st....not 2nd, but 1st...and I don't give a damn if it falls on a Sunday guys, you WILL have your asses here on the 1st! I'm giving you 6 weeks to have fun and play, not 6 weeks and a day!”
I saw smiles and heard Norm chuckling. I said, “Guys, to show you how helluva good employer I am, you're going to find that your income didn't go down during that vacation. You'll still find your $1,000 on there and you'll realize that IF you want to fuck me on time during the year, I'll point and you can find work elsewhere which pays the benefits I pay.
In return, here's what I want from you.....
I expect KINDNESS. No matter how fuckin' ugly you think someone's fat assed bitch is at a bar, you do not call the bitch Lucifer's sister! You find something NICE to say about the 'She Devil' even if it's got to be that she looks better walking away from you than towards you! That buddy of yours will thank you...even if he's crocked out of his God damned mind at the time!”
Guys were laughing and I said, “The next item of kindness....Babies....I swear some of them are hideous looking and look more like science fiction monsters than human beings, but here's the deal.
IF a buddy of your's shows a picture of his baby, you nod and say, “Great lookin' kid”....no matter what your first fuckin' impression is! IF I hear, “Man, did you have a car wreck on the way to the delivery room???”, I swear I'll punch you!”
They were rolling with laughter and I said, “It's kindness....but here's the deal. Wait until he walks around the corner before you laugh and do NOT put the kid up on the dart board or whatever!
Speaking of dart boards....If my picture ever goes up on that fuckin' dart board, you better be some bullseye throwin' motherfuckers because I don't want to see holes all over my face! Shoot me between the eyes and I'll enroll us in some competitions or something.”
The next thing is this men.....I don't give a damn how much money you want from me, there is NOT going to be a bowling team sponsored by this company!
it's NOT the bowling shirts I hate....I promise you that. It's the
thought that some of the ugliest and fattest chicks on the planet all
go bowling and all of them THINK they've got to wear tight black
pants so they can say they make them look thinner!
I don't give a damn WHAT you say, that still looks like two beach balls in black pants giving birth to a neon glitter bowling ball from behind!
And WHERE they still find beehive hairdo's in this day and time, I'll never know, but at a bowling alley, I swear it looks like a beehive convention and that's not even beginning to talk about the men!
Comb overs.....men who resemble bowling balls should NOT go bowling when their claim to fame is the throw back of the few strands of hair they've got covering the shine!
Excuse me, but I gotta get drunk to go to a bowling alley and Lord it's not kind the shit that comes out of my mouth when THAT happens!”
They were laughing and Betty was really laughing. I said, “Football sponsorships. If your kid is on a football team, give me a yell....Baseball, give me a yell. Soccer, give me a yell.
I'll sponsor you in most anything, but guys, do NOT make me sponsor some little heathen I do NOT recognize as being yours!
It's terrible when I go to those things because I tend to say, “Yup, there goes another one of Bubba's runts” without thinking! That doesn't go so well for Bubba when it's really Joe Bob's kid and the kid doesn't even BEGIN to look like Job Bob! And Thelma Lou over there is sort've like giving me the look of “SHUT UP! He's not supposed to know!” and I'm like, “Bitch, give me another beer and I'll tell you who I think the REST of your kids look like!”
They were all laughing and I said, “Yeah, my Mom and Dad LOVE to be seen in public with me when I keep my mouth shut! When it comes to me drinking....well, it's not a good day when that happens.
Speaking of which....I gotta tell you this...
If you drink and you're working for me, it's no more than a 6 pack a day folks...Here's why.
Most of you boozers don't realize that if you throw back a 24 or a 30 pack, you're still legally drunk at 8am the next morning. It's 1 beer an hour and then, if you have 6, you're good to drive my equipment the next morning.
IF you kill someone and you're drunk.....Here's what I promise you. I promise you an ass beating while we're waiting on the ambulance....I figure you'll need it.
I promise you an ass beating on the way to the HOSPITAL in that ambulance because I think you'll need it. I promise you an ass beating when we get to the hospital to wait on the doctor because I want it to sink in that I'm actually pissed.
When they throw our asses in the back of the patrol car, I fully intend on being on COPS for the ass beating they get on video tape that I give you. By the time we get to jail folks, I'm going to be so tired of beating your ass that I'm gonna turn to Bubba and say, “Bub, fuck him first, I'm too fuckin' tired!”
Everyone laughed and I said, “Guys, I need a list of equipment which is worn out, unsafe, or broken. IF we've got a mechanic, let me know and we'll either get it repaired, replaced, or whatever.
DO NOT operate machinery if it's broken! If the brakes were out yesterday and it's still where you parked it rather than in the repair line, the chances are you're going to go through the windshield when you slam into whatever after you realize the brakes are out today!
And yeah, here's why I hire women. IF the brakes are out, she says, “Jeremy, the brakes are out. I'm not driving it until you fix it because I do not look pretty when I'm screaming like I'm no a roller coaster!”
Men, there's something in them which thinks they can tame any beast and they just gotta....Well dammit, you don't gotta, I'll tell you your ass isn't so pretty after you crack up my ride!”
I paused ,“Asses.....”
Guys laughed and I said, “Guys, here's my philosophy on asses... Women keep their asses in the seats they were intended to use when they're driving.
Men, for the life of me, it's gotta be the primal thing of the jungle, but they gotta try standing up and doing their poses while they drive and NONE of you look worth a fuck doing it!
I'm going to call you one stupid piece of pavement if you fall off of one of my rollers and get your asses crushed!
Keep your asses in the seat or park it and let a woman drive!
My next thing about asses.... Guys, if your pants are sagging, pull 'em up. I'm not looking for a lover, so do NOT audition by showing me your asses! And yeah, if you're NOT looking for someone to look at your ass, then why have 'em hanging down so you're showing everyone???
The same goes with zippers up front. Most of you poke straight out no matter how heavy and long you say that three inches is, so keep the damned thing zipped. However, IF that puppy can unzip your fly and beg for a breath of fresh air, my suggestion is you wash the damned thing and get rid of whatever is pissin' it off and makin' it want to leave home!”
Other than that, here's my philosophy about shorts in the workplace. IF you think you look cool in shorts and work boots.....You don't.”
Betty busted out laughing. And I continued. “IF you think you look hot in shorts and boots and no shirt, you don't. And if you think you look hot in shorts, no shirt, an orange vest and hard hat with work boots on, I'm going to ask you what gay magazine you're posing for because they do it all the time there....not that I look at 'em or anything!”
Everyone laughed and I said, “Pin ups! Cats, Kittens, puppies, and dogs are cute. Girls who are nude with snakes wrapped around them aren't doing anything more than making my skin crawl.
Chickens.....IF you are a redneck, you'll have a nude picture of yourself with a chicken in front of your crotch....so there's nothing about you MIGHT being a redneck to it. Leave your livestock fantasies at home unless it's the company picnic and then, Homer, you can bring that sheep and we'll all smile until you go around the corner and then, we're gonna laugh.”
Everyone was laughing and Homer smiled real big. I said, “Guys, Homer says that's not a sheep, but a sheep date. He has 'em all the time!”
They really laughed and I said, “Ok, here's the deal.... I realize you're thinking it's taking forever for you to get paid, but I swear it's just a figment of your imagination it's taking a long time. It ALWAYS takes longer for you to get money than it takes for you to spend it...that's just the enigma of money....but try this sometime Slim....
The next time you go get yourself some hourly lovin', get a girl with some really terrible teeth and see how long it feels when she gives you head.”
Everyone really busted out laughing and I said, “I swear I was with my ex and the bastard had teeth which looked like a beaver....not YOUR kind of beaver, but the kind which knocks down wood!....Well, not that wood either, but....Well, his mouth looked like it belonged on a furry animal.
He thought himself some romantic person or something but his smile would knock the hard on off of a Viagra overdose patient!”
Everyone really laughed and I said, “Guys, if your old ladies have a set of teeth that look like that, you're going to be thankful for the dental plan...I assure you!”
They really laughed and Dad came out, “Jeremy, you gotta stop! The accountant is writing checks and he's making words look like they belong on an EKG machine!”
I said, “Ok, I'll stop, but here's what I'm gonna say for last.
When the season is over and we don't have much to do, we're going to repaint equipment so it's white with blue accents...That's the Blue Jay colors.
I've STILL yet to decide what our Blue Jay will look like, but I promise you it's going to look like a Blue Jay, not some sideways mountain.
Other than that, I'm not going to tell you when, but sometime this summer, you'll have employee vehicles to drive. I'm still working on getting diesel engines in some of the trucks as a special order, but that's a part of when I call you out to do some work thing....I might not happen, but then again, it might.
All I'm going to tell you is this... IF you do NOT show when you're called at that time, your HOUSE BETTER be destroyed, or your fired. I'm giving you phones, cable and trucks to assure myself you're here when you're needed and yeah, the man I replace you with will be happy to drive that truck and talk on your phone.”
I held up a finger....”I know you heard that I'm done, but this is the last thing and I promise.
You're going to see that truck which was Rick's truck out there at the airport. I'm leaving it there so I can fly in and out and have something to drive to get here. NO, I will NOT give advanced notice that I'm coming and NO, I will not be kind when I see people playing cards when they're supposed to be working!
I pointed, “OUT THERE on that parking lot.....There's going to be an asphalted strip which tells you where to park. You do NOT park up here close to the building....Believe it or not, we've got customers who need that parking and yeah, I'll park up here next to the building, but you DON'T.”
Ed said, “Jeremy, we've got some machinery which is old and worn out that we REALLY need. He never got it replaced because he kept saying it wasn't in the budget yet.”
I gave a nod, “Get me a list....but here's what I want.
IF you had a small roller and you needed a big one, do NOT put down a small roller! You put down what you need and then, we'll get you the equipment.”
I paused ,“Guys, do NOT think you're going to be getting brand new equipment from me if I can find a nice used piece of equipment cheaper.
Down at the quarry at Branson, we've got a huge Cat front end loader on it's way. We paid $425,000 for it, and not the million dollars it costs brand new. It's got something ridiculously low on the hour meter and it looks brand new, but that's what we bought.
Here's what I want you to do....I'm going to go out and inspect the equipment. IF it's red tagged, that means for it to be parked and prepared for us to get rid of it. It does NOT mean I thought red dots on the driver's window looked cute today!
IF it's got a yellow dot on your window, put it in to be repaired.
IF it's got a green dot, that means I want to know who's driving it because I found it filthy and your ass needs to get a clue what a waste bucket means to your work environment.
The reason I'm going to be down on you guys is this....No matter WHAT you think, there's going to be a second shift driver driving that equipment! It was NOT bought for you personally, so understand that I'm not going to tolerate funk music jamming on the Sirius when someone else climbs in. You kill the volume and you shut it off....it might save someone's life.”
I turned to Ed, “Ed, hang back a moment. We're going to go look at that equipment.”
He gave a nod and I went into the office. “Guys, I'm going to inspect equipment. Danny, come with me. Mike...Do what you can to help get these guys paid. Pay them a $1000 each and have them get the paperwork done to give them a card.”
Danny and I went out. I said, “Guys, this is Danny. He's my cousin and he's damned nice. In the realm of Blue Jay Enterprises, he's over construction. Mike in there is over asphalt, concrete, and quarries.
You'll learn it fits together like a jigsaw puzzle. Construction buys from concrete, so we keep that separate.
There's also entertainment which are some theaters down in Branson. Stu, my partner is over that.
Also down in Branson is hospitality. Hospitality are the motels. Up here in Springfield, we're buying the Ramada Inn and wherever we travel in Texas, I'll be BUYING the motel we stay so the staff can't kick us out. We'll remodel it while we're there, but we're going to keep them open after we leave and reuse them when we go down there the next year.
Other than that, we've got fast food and soft drinks. We own a lot of fast food restaurants, regular restaurants, and the Coca-Cola Bottler down here.
Stu, my partner, is currently buying another Coke Bottler in Quincy, Illinois, so you'll see I'm trying to get those.
All of them are investments. I work them, but with Stu having cancer, I'm delegating things out so I can spend time with him when needed.”
We went out and walked the lot. I turned to Danny, “Dan, I need some of those rummage sale sticker things. Red means it gets replaced. Yellow....”
He said, “I heard.”
“Ok, but right now, I'm not happy with quite a bit that I've bought here.”
“You'll like Ord Diamond better.”
I gave a nod ,“Ok, your work is going to be cut out for you here.”
Ed said, “We've got other equipment, but it's out on jobs.”
I asked, “How are you keeping those in inventory?”
He said, “We check out equipment here and take it to the jobs. IF something needs repaired...which it usually does....we usually have to get it repaired and then take it.
A lot of what we've got is held together by Band-Aids, and duct tape. The men cuss it all the time.”
I gave a nod, “I'll get stuff replaced.”
I turned to Danny, “Here's what I want us to be doing. ON the cab right under the driver's window, I want a bar code which tells us that piece of equipment.
I want you and I want Ed to have an iPad which has a scanner that we can keep inventory and know at a glance what is here, and what is where.
WHEN we've got a move of equipment, I want it all put into a certain area. No one moves it unless it's going to that site and no one moves it from the site unless it's going through Ed or yourself.
Ed, you just went to $100 grand a year in pay. You're OUR man for this site and a Supervisor until we get everything combined with the two sites.
When the sites are combined, THIS SITE is going to be fenced and be a storage site. The Ord Diamond site will be our offices.
Other than that, Danny and Mike will show you how I work. I'm going to be in and out, so don't think I buy things and let them go.”
Danny said, “Ed, Jer's got more things going right now trying to keep himself and Stu busy not thinking about that cancer than you can imagine. I've never seen someone trying to buy himself out of pain, but Jer's sure doing it...It tells me how much he loves Stu and it tells me how he's trying to deal with the pain of uncertainty at this moment.”
I said, “Ed, here's what it is...Stu didn't ask for anything from me. When we got together, he had everything and I had nothing. I inherited gobs of money and immediately went to work giving him what he wanted and putting together what I wanted. It's all going to settle out, but right now, it's just getting put together.”
I walked off and thought to myself, “And I shouldn't even be here. I should be with Stu.”
I dialed Stu's phone and got a message. I hung up and walked back. “Ok, let's get the guys used to being paid on time, and let's get the guys used to having good equipment. IF it takes us using O-D equipment to keep us going, let's get it done.”
I turned to Ed, “When we kill off a piece of equipment as a write off, here's what I want done. IF it's got wheels and tires which can be used, let's get a bar code on them and get them into storage for our maintenance department.”
He said, “We don't have a mechanic anymore.”
I turned to Danny, “Do we at O-D?”
“Three of them.”
“Talk with John and get them over here to get what needs repaired taken to the shops over there. Whatever we need scrapped gets scrapped and recycled to save us on parts....After that, sell it for scrap metal and wrote off.
For now, I'm going to be using that $50 million fund to buy equipment. Get the list and go over it with Ed and show him how we buy equipment.”
I turned to Ed, “Ed, he's going to show you how we buy equipment. It's not hard, but it's complex because once it comes into our company, it's gotta have a bar code put on it and then, it's gotta be painted and made so it looks like a part of Blue Jay.
What you'll learn is this....I'm one who finds a penny and turns it into a dollar. I'll show you how it's done, but it's not hard.
Over there is a truck with a busted front clip. DO NOT put the front clip on which is supposed to go for that year. BUY a front clip for the latest model year you can. It updates it and keep it looking like it's a new-er truck.
With trucks, you pretty much can piece them together to have a new truck. Engines, trannies, rear ends, and cabs can all be replaced and updated.
Whatever you do, do NOT use anything other than Caterpillar diesel engines in upgrades. You're going to see I want horsepower and the bigger the better. You're going to see I want heaviest springs for hauling capability and you're going to see I want those cabs in the things to have the driver's comfort number one.
In that cab, if it does NOT have air conditioning, don't buy it. Yeah, we can't have it on some of the equipment, but for a truck, we can and will have it or it's not going to be in our fleet.
What you do is you get those radios which have AM/FM/CD/Sirius/and CB. I believe they have them with business band also, so we need that because I DO KNOW we have our own channels for that.
Other than that, I want satellite on the trucks so we can track them. Put the satellites on the equipment also so we know where they are.
In regards to the guys, let them know I'm serious and I keep my word. Right now, it's us getting to know you guys, but if I gotta fire right now when it's hurting like hell, I'll do it....that shows you and it shows the men that I'll fire the whole bunch if need be for lousy attitudes.
There's no excuses Ed....When I tell a man to shut his mouth with the cussing of each other and the name calling, I've told him. The next time, it's showing by example and yeah, I'll fire a boss as well as someone who walked in off the street that morning.”
He nodded, “We're going to have to fire some people.”
“Here's what I want you to do....and then, you'll understand how this works. You find me the laziest who does hardly no work and the most bitching and you let him get on a good rant. THEN, you point and say, “You're fired....Go see Jeremy.”
You're going to learn that I intend on controlling construction in this area. IF that man is seen having to go 100 to 150 miles away to find a job that I don't control, all the others are going to be going “Whoa, I better keep my mouth shut!”
IF NEED BE, you fire someone who works his ass off, but for now, you fire lazy and make examples.”
“You're going to have ME firing them?”
“Come back in here. I want you to see how this goes.”
We went back in the building and I gathered the guys. “Guys, Ed is your Supervisor now. IF he sends you to me, Danny, or Mike, for cussing or calling names you're fired.
IF you are cussed or called names, you turn around to that mouthy motherfucker and tell them to take it up with Ed.
Ed, IF someone's sent to you, fire them.
I want everyone here knowing they work for the job, not for their mouths. If they can not, WILL not, or CHOOSE not to be respectful of each other, fire them.”
turned to the guys ,“I'm telling you guys right now a few
things. I'm buying companies like you wouldn't believe in order to
control the entire southwestern portion of the state. IF you are
fired from me here, you'll be fired when I buy something elsewhere.
When you realize you're going to have to relocate and move 100 to 150 miles, you're going to be the one who is inconvenienced, not Blue Jay....consider it the black ball in this business or whatever, but you won't hopscotch and bounce around in this area anymore.
HOWEVER, IF you think you'll go to St. Louis and work for Alberici, think again. The man is but a phone call and you'll see he's my mentor. He knows my policy on firing people in this manner and he knows I'll certainly call him and tell him, “Don't hire that man, he can't keep his mouth shut.”
I've been told I'm going to have to fire some people over this issue. It's not the first time and it won't be the last. Right now, I've got a boy working in Branson who I fired his entire family away from this company in order to keep him....and yeah, he's the only good one in the bunch.
I'll fire you and keep your wife. I'll fire your wife and keep you. I'll fire you and keep your kid, so don't think I'm playing favorites.
In regards to family working for us, a lot of companies won't allow that, but to me, it doesn't matter.
HOWEVER, here's what I'm going to tell ED in front of you guys....DO you see that phone number on that wall? IF you send someone to him, and he doesn't fire them, call that number and walk off the job until I get there.
Ed, IF I GET that phone call, BOTH you and that man who needs fired will be gone. You'd better have a damned good reason as to why you didn't fire someone when I get there.”
I turned ,“Guys, here's the thing. IF you're not cussed and you're treated bad or someone didn't tell you that you had pretty hair this morning....Fuck you! I'm not buying stock in Pampers to keep a company running, I'm buying construction companies to keep MEN working! You don't pay babies what I pay MEN and IF your thing is Pampers, keep that in the off time.”
I saw smiles and I said, “Guys, it's not hard. Treat each other like you're in church speaking to your Grandmothers. IF you'd cuss your Grandmother in the middle of church, you deserve your ass beat good and HARD! Here, we'll fire you....it's that simple.”
I nodded to Ed, “I'm done with that explanation. It can't get more direct than that, and it SHOULDN'T be more direct than that. Fire the first person and they'll see the words have teeth, but do so when you see it happening, not right now because everyone's got a clean slate with me as of today.”
He gave a nod and I said, “Guys, if it happened yesterday, fuck it. IF it happens tomorrow, you're out. When you see we'll go on without you, it'll show you that I meant what I said.
IF You think you can operate your own company. Do so. It'll take a lot of money and it's going to take you being legit with the paperwork in order to buy from my quarries and my companies....I won't compete with someone who doesn't have paperwork, I'll do all I can to drive them out of business.
Less competition means you work. More, means we stand a chance of standing around polishing each other's knobs....I'll see you don't get to be a professional knob polisher if you'll act like professional construction people.
HOWEVER, if you WANT to polish knobs for a living...!!!”
Everyone started laughing and I smiled, “Point made!”
I turned to Mike, “Has everyone in this group been paid?”
“Ok, guys, get on out of here and we'll get things better. Show up for work tomorrow and I'll be back here on Friday to see you're paid. IF there's a problem or you've got questions, call that number. I'll be on the other end.”
They went out and I turned to Betty. “Hon, pay the men and stuff away the cash. I'm sure we're going to need it paying people who won't take a check or whatever.”
I went into the office and asked, “How's it coming along?”
The accountant said, “It's a mess, but I'll have it handled.”
I turned to John, “Here's how I want this to go. If you're going to work here, come over and get the mail and take it to him over there. Do billing and realize he might have gotten advances in order to keep the doors open.
I'm going to try to get us through the current contracts and then, we're melding the companies together. YOUR office over there will be corporate home base for things right now.
When this gets shuttered, fence it and use it as a storage lot for equipment. Keep the weeds down and keep it looking nice and let's move forward.
The way it's going to work is this....Down in Branson, we're going to have a storage lot. We're going to be buying other companies and those will be storage lots.
Your helicopter and jet will be kept here, but I'm using the jet tonight...It's got more room than my little one.
Other than that, I realize it's been a mess, but it's going to take some time to smooth out the wrinkles. That $50 million is going to be used for equipment. I'm about to make the call to get you paid for Ord-Diamond, so don't think I forgot.”
Someone walked into the office and Betty pointed back to me. I walked out, “How can I help you?”
He said, “Gas company. I'm here to shut off the gas. I'm told you're the new owner.”
I gave a nod, “Let me call and get them paid. It'll probably have you shutting off the gas because the account will have to be moved over to Blue Jay's name, but I just bought the place about an hour or so ago.”
“I'll wait, but I'll take a meter reading so you can make the switch.”
I gave a nod and shook his hand. “I appreciate it.”
He winked ,“I'm not telling you what happened here, but someone made a call to get this gas shut off.”
I turned and told Mike, “Call the electric company and get this put into our name. If he's exercising his right to violate the non-compete, I'll start that lawsuit right now.”
I turned, “The man had no business calling anyone and fuckin' with this company without getting a $120 million dollar lawsuit put up against him. He signed a paper stating he'd be out and leave this alone for 50 years and I meant it.”
I pulled my phone, “What's that number so I can get the gas into my name?”
He gave it to me and I said, “I appreciate the heads up. I'm imagining the electric people would've have been as kind.”
Mike said, “We're going to have to go in and speak with them.”
I rolled my eyes. “Ok, I'm sure they want a payment.”
I dialed Sheriff Patrick. “Hello?”
“Do you still have that man close by?”
“He's driving up ahead of me.”
“Get his cell phone. The fucker's calling all the utilities and having them shut off. In my world, that's messing with the non-compete.”
“IF you'd do me the favor, you tell him my first call was to you and the next call will be to my lawyer to begin that $120 million lawsuit I promised him.”
“I'll most certainly do so. I'm making that stop now.”
I hung up and dialed Mark. He answered, “Hello?”
“I need you to start a $120 million lawsuit against Rick Sinclair...address unknown at this time....I'll have it in a few moments.
I bought his company this morning and put a 50 year non-compete clause in it. He's since started petty games by trying to have the utilities shut off. I'm getting his telephone at this moment, but I need you to start.”
“Springfield. The name of the company is Green County Construction.”
“That's a pretty big construction firm down there!”
“I own it as well as Ord-Diamond now. I'm buying others, but right now, I'm fighting to keep the utilities kept on.”
“Ok, keep me informed.”
“Your other half is in with the owner of the Coke plant doing their deal.”
“Ok, I tried to call, but it went to voice mail.”
“I'll have him call when he's finished.”
“I appreciate it.”
I hung up and dialed the 1800 number for the gas company. When I explained what was happening, she made the switch into our name and took the payment over the phone for the other portion.
John came over, “I'll take you to where the power company is located.”
We drove and got there. The girl smiled, “Hi Mr Ord. How can I help you today!”
He said, “I've sold my company to Jeremy here. He needs it and he needs the power for Green County put into his name.”
She got the files pulled up on her computer ,“There's a substantial bill for Green County. Would you like to pay that today?”
She gave me a the total and I paid it on my card. After that, it was a piece of cake. She said, “I'm taking it that you don't want the power shut off there?”
“No ma'am, but if you have a recording of who called, I'd certainly like that.”
John said, “Rick Sinclair sold out and is now trying to sabotage him.”
She asked, “That's the former owner of Green County Construction?”
I said, “Yes ma'am.”
She said, “I'll make a note here he's not an owner of the company any longer. That should stop that non-sense.”
When we were finished, I said, “John, you drive. I'll call my banker and get the money into your account.”
He drove and I called Skip and got the money transferred. He said it'd be on John's account in the morning and then, he took the transfer to move $50 million into Blue Jay's account.
He said, “Jeremy, after today's transactions, you've got $96 million in the bank until the beginning of the month and then, you're going to be flush with cash to the point that you're going to be amazed.
I made the call about those shares of AT&T. They've been rolling those dividends all these years and you'll receive a check.”
“Uh, you mean I'm like a billionaire now?”
“You will be at the beginning of the month. Those shares and those dividends haven't been touched.”
“Oh jeez, that's probably going to be several billion dollars!”
He chuckled, “I'm working it to see how much it'll be. Because it's an inheritance, you'll receive everything in a lump sum, but you've got to take the new preferred shares in order to make things legal.”
“Is that advisable?”
“They asked if you wanted more stock and I told them, I'd confer with you.”
“How many billions are we talking?”
“I'm looking at possibly as much as $7 by the time taxes are out of it.”
“Do this....IF it's $7 billion, put $5 billion into the preferred stock. That's going to give me a whole lot more in dividends per year and it'll give us a couple of billion to have on hand.”
“I'll be glad to tell them that.”
“I've told Norm, my banker down here in Springfield he's to get to know you up there. I realize it's getting to be complicated, but I want to move one of those billion down here so I've got it as capital to invest.
It SHOULD give you some breathing room on this and Skip?”
“I can't tell you how much I appreciate everything you're doing. I know this is above and beyond the call, but here's what I'm going to tell you...”
“One of those 3 construction companies is available to be gotten. John here was telling me about us possibly being able to get Bronson.”
“He said he spoke on the phone with Bronson...the old man...and the man said that if he had a buyer, he'd sell out for $230 million.
When you get us in the money at the beginning of the month, you have that man primed to take $200....I'll do all I can from this end.”
“Let me lower it to $150 and negotiate.”
“Do all you can.”
“What are you going to do with it when you get it?”
“Run the hell out of it...get more federal contracts and run the hell out of it.”
He chuckled, “Ok!”
I hung up and told John, “He's going to contact Bronson and start negotiations so that we can buy it at the beginning of the month.
I just learned the shares I inherited of AT&T are immense. The dividends along for them haven't been touched and is now around $7 billion alone. I'm reinvesting $5 and taking $2 out so we've got $1 up there and another down here to do the buys we need to do.”
He looked shocked, “And you're handling it rather calmly.”
“IF you must know, I'm glad I'm sitting down and I'm wishing like hell Stu would call so I could tell him....I'm calling my Mom who's supposed to be up there with him.”
I dialed Mom's number and let it ring. She finally answered, “Jer', we're in conference right now!”
“Mom, tell STU to go to the bathroom and call me....as soon as possible.”
I hung up and John laughed, “I'm sorry, I heard that. Your phone is loud enough I can hear everything! He's GOING to need the bathroom when you tell him!”
I chuckled, “Yeah.”
He gave me a glance, “You love him a lot...I can tell.”
“After the last relationship I had, there's no comparison. One made me cringe thinking about him and the other feels like a warm glow of sunshine when I think about him.”
We drove and just when we were pulling onto the street for GCC, my phone rang. I answered and Stu said, “What is it! Your Mom said you sounded like there was a problem.”
“I just spoke with Skip about the AT&T shares.”
“You know we wondered if he'd invested those dividends into other investments? Well, he's never touched them and they've been stored up in an account.”
“Oh man....How much is it?”
“After taxes, it's going to be around $7 billion.”
“I guess I should've told you to sit down first.”
He laughed, “Yeah!”
“I've told him to roll $5 billion back into the company and to leave $1 up there and send $1 down here to this bank account so we've got money to make investments.”
“How's it going down there?”
“Ord-Diamond was easy. Green County is being tough as hell.”
“Huh? You bought two!”
“Yeah, we control most of the construction down here now. Ord was managed very professionally and Green County was MISmanaged all over the place.”
“Ok, I'm finishing up here.”
“Tell Mom to drive you out to Bronson Construction up there and to show you it. I'm having Skip do some negotiating to get us it.”
“Your Mom was saying she hoped you'd get as big as them because they had people working everywhere.”
“Well, now you know we're absorbing them and will be about two and a half times that size.”
He chuckled, “Ok, I'll let her know!”
“Hon, I'm thinking about flying up to St. Louis in the Ord jet. It's bigger and we really need to think about that should we need to go by Range Rover to get Mom and Dad their truck.”
“Ok, I'm going to be finishing here soon.”
“I've got to go back to the bank and buy this Ramada Inn here. I'm not sure how long that will be, but I'll be doing all I can to keep it quick.”
“I'll give you a call.”
“I love you.”
“I love you too.”
I hung up and John smiled, “Bronson will be a real good fit.”
“It's gets me in the big 3 up there. Rather than having to compete against them, I'll have one so we're fighting from the inside.”
“As big as they are, you should be doing real well.”
“I need to make another call. You'll hear how it goes.”
I dialed Skip. He answered, “Hello?”
“Would you contact Huntington and see how much we can buy of them? Tell them if we do not get a percentage of them, I WILL BE buying the cement plant up there and WILL quarry my own stone, gravel, and sand to supply Bronson with what we need rather than from them.”
“IF need be, you contact the cement plant and make an offer of $250 million.”
“I doubt if it takes that. They last sold for $170.”
“They put on that new addition also. I know it's nothing but another kiln, but it's supposed to be increasing their production by 2/3. That's why I had it where it is.”
“They're not up to that yet. I'll see what we can do.”
“I appreciate it and yeah, I'd RATHER be with the cement plant than Huntington, but if I can do both, that'll be great.”
“You can afford both in 10 days.”
“It's going to take that long to get the deals swung, I think. IF need be, you put what I've got in escrow on a buy and I'll work from this $50 million fund down here.”
“IF need be, I'll get it swung and get you a short term loan. I know you've got more than anyone for capital.”
“I appreciate it.”
“I've already got a call in to Bronson. I'll make the other calls now....I'm going to do that deal with Huntington through the back door since I know the family of their largest shareholder is wanting to sell that stock.”
“I appreciate it...Yeah, I know the Cruikshanks are wanting to sell...That's why I thought it'd be an easy buy. IF they vote to sell, it's gonna sell.”
“It's going to be about $50 million for their shares alone.”
“Ok, do what you need.”
“I need to discuss some other investments with you some time.”
“How about we schedule Friday afternoon for me to be up there. I've got Friday morning payroll down here and then, can be up there to do business.”
“That'll be fine.”
I rang off and John asked, “What's Huntington?”
“The largest quarry company in Missouri. They've got eight quarries up there in that area...The sand is something unique and the stone all varies.”
“It sounded like a lot.”
“The cement plant?”
“It's Atlas Universal Cement....they MAKE the cement which goes in everyone's concrete. I figure if we need to, we can quarry from them and get the rock to Bronson.
The plus side of it is we get everyone to putting money into our pockets and make our concrete have one more wholesale item we produce...outside of that, it's just rebar we've got to buy.”
“I see...You know you're thinking on a scale which is new and different for me. I'd never thought about the possibility of going after the bottom line. I'd pretty much accepted we'd be fighting for what we could above it.”
“It's all fair when it's a dollar. I'll fight above and below the line wherever need be.”
“I see that and think it's where I should've aimed!”
“Don't knock yourself. Now you see what you were competing against from the inside and I'll tell you it's not pretty.”
He nodded, “I wonder how he ever stayed in business at all!”
“IF I'd known he was in this bad of shape, I'd drove him out rather than bought him. I'm just glad I want to be on the up and up.”
“You'll be better in the long run doing it this way, but I can't say it's going to be easy on the short term.”
“I'm just glad you have the people you do on your payroll.”
“They're your people now.”
“Yeah, but I'm giving credit where credit is due. You definitely deserve it.”
“Will you keep Bronson on?”
“Here's how that works. Bronson is going to be a tough buy....IF Skip gets them, it's because he knows something I don't.
Financially, I can't see them being that far leveraged to where they'd be in jeopardy.”
“They lease a lot of their equipment. I had a man tell me just from his percentages of the leases a year, he's building a million dollar house debt free.”
“As expensive as some of that equipment is, I can see why!”
“Son, don't think $25,000 a month rent is the way to go on anything. 40 months is a million bucks and when you pay the million dollars for the equipment, you've got it for the life of it, not a bunch of rent receipts.
I'll admit I've leased equipment when I knew I didn't have a long term need for it, but for a large part, we own everything and have a good understanding with the leasing agent, I'm not going to lease unless it's needed immediately.
Up there, I hear he's leased four pieces of machinery that with careful management, he could've had one and gotten it to where he needed it.
Also, you need to understand this past year with all the rain up there has hurt everyone and put them behind schedule. IF he's paying fines for being late, those are some pretty steep fines.”
“Ok, I'll have to do all I can to get people to work.”
don't stop when it rains. I've found a lot of things to do in the
rain so that we're keeping moving ahead on that goal being
My Daddy was a truck driver and said that truck never made a dime when it was parked. I've done the same with this company.”
“I believe like you do...People who aren't earning when they're idle quickly start thinking about ways to become busy...whether they do that looking for a different job, or whatever, it's all costing me money when I need to retrain.”
We pulled into GCC's lot and got out. My phone rang, “Hello?”
said, “I've got Bronson on conference call.”
I said, “Hi Tom.”
I said, “I'm learning you could be up for sale. First of all, I'm not buying a thing if you're not putting all of your divisions up for sale. Also, if it's without a non-compete, you can hang up now because I'll be damned if I finance you competing against me.”
“That's no problem.”
“What are we thinking about in regards to an offer.”
Skip said, “I've got him agreeing to $130. That includes the trucking division and it includes immediate take over as soon as he's paid.”
“Let me ask some questions first.”
I asked, “Tom? Where are you in trouble and let me have he honest answer....I hear you're in trouble potentially with fines for being behind on schedules, is that correct?”
“We're within the 3 month window of having fines levied.”
“Ok, are you within 3 months of completion on those?”
“We're about 6 months within completion.”
I took a breath. “Ok, what's needed?”
“Skip, call that man out there and see if I can buy the Inn. He paid $1.3 for it and I'll pay him $1.5 if he'll sell. With the fire damage in the sauna and swimming pool area, he's not renting a room out, but I can put my people up there to get them working.”
“Consider that coming out of my $50 million fund down here....It's on the construction side and then, I can move it over to our entertainment and hospitality division as soon as it's rehabbed.
Tom, we're going to have to have a meeting of the minds when it comes to my people and yours working together. Starting as soon as I buy it, we're going to need to go to 24 hour schedules.
I'll be shifting equipment up there and I'll be moving a LOT of my equipment and people there in about a week.
My people are going to work side by side with yours so they learn the jobs and then, we'll go to 24 hours a day....
Now, IF you'll sign off with me taking over, I'll make a call and get my Mom and my partner there to sign papers.
All I need is your corporate licenses and we'll work for the rest after the transaction.”
“Skip told me your situation about the money and that I'd be paid in full at the beginning of the month.”
“Ok, but here's what I'm telling you. I've got 2 miles of asphalt 600 feet wide I need to lay down here and MAYBE tomorrow, our batch plant will be making asphalt, and MAYBE it won't.
IF it isn't, I'm hauling asphalt 60 miles with 27 trucks, so it's going to be slow.
I'm unclear as to how many men I just got with the Ord buy out, so I don't know how many of them I can ship north. I DO know I've got about 260 people I can get there in less than a week and I know that I'll be doing all I can to get them to building some road.
Now, what is needed for equipment and let's get this focused so we're not paying those fines.”
“We need more mixer units. I've got 60 I can pull from everywhere, but that's going to leave us with locked doors for a while elsewhere.”
“Do this... I'll be up there on Friday afternoon. I'll have my head of construction, my quarry man, myself, and my head of Ord all with me. I'll probably have a few others, but we can have a meeting and get this all focused so we're moving into this with speed.
I understand you're going to step back as soon as you sign papers, and I understand you're probably not going to be interested in staying on, but I need you for the period of transition.”
“I'll stay and my sons will stay if needed.”
“I appreciate it. Do you want to do that paperwork today? OR are we good until Friday?”
“Whenever is fine with me.”
“Ok, let's do it on Friday. I can have Stu and my Mom there within the hour, but I'd prefer on being there in person.”
“You said Ord. Is that Ord-Diamond?”
“Yeah, I bought them today and I also bought Green County Construction. Ord is a good deal...Green County, it'll be a good deal if I can get it to stop punching me in the nuts.”
He chuckled, “You got a good deal with Ord. They've got equipment and man power. I consider them our equivalent in that portion of the state.”
“He speaks as highly of you. You two will meet on Friday and then, you'll know.”
“Ok, I'll be looking forward to it.”
I hung up and yelled, “YES!”
Mike gave me a look and I said, “We just bought Bronson.”
His eyes went wide, “EVERYTHING???”
“Everything...The construction, the farms, the concrete company, and the trucking for $130 million.”
He looked stunned, “It's worth twice that!”
“He's hurting and scared. We're going to need to take ALL of our people and equipment up to wherever this project is and get 'em to working 24/7. He's got 3 months until fines are levied and 6 months of work to complete.”
“It can happen. It's going to require a lot, but it can happen.”
“First of all, I've got Skip seeing if we can buy the St. Petersburg Inn. Yeah, it's fire damaged, but it's not fire damaged in the rooms...it's just that sauna area and that side of the pool.”
Mike said, “I think he's keeping it shut because he doesn't have the money to reopen it.”
“That's what I'm hoping.”
I turned to John, “Here's what I've got to ask of you....What are you doing on Friday?”
“We're taking all our heads to Hannibal and having a meeting with them to see what's needed in manpower and equipment. I realize you're using your equipment, but I also need it up there whenever possible.
In regards to the rest, he said he's needing mixer trucks on the concrete side. From what I'm thinking, he's hauling concrete and he's hauling a lot. Either that means he's not pouring any yet, or he's got a whole helluva lot he needs to pour.”
John said, “He's doing that 60 mile project....I bet that's the one he's in trouble on. If so, those fines are going to be enough to bankrupt him.... From the sound of it, he's not pouring yet.”
I gave a nod, “Where would I get concrete mixer trucks?”
He said, “Let me make a call.”
He went to a phone and dialed. Mike came over, “Do you realize how big this just got!”
“Yeah, now I've got to fight to save it.”
“That's not a problem. You might have to pay some in fines, but it's going to be a lot less the more you get completed.”
“You gotta remember they want it completed and cured 30 days before it's opened.”
“Sixty days to lay 60 miles of four lane highway. That's going to be scary as hell.”
He suddenly looked serious and Dan asked, “How much prep is done?”
“I don't know. They've been working on it a long time.”
Mike said, “The last time I was through there, it looked like they were still laying gravel. The good part of that is concrete's easy and getting the shoulders completed is easy after all that.
I'm not sure what else is required, but they had all the bridgework and overpasses done.”
John came over, “Jeremy, if you're interested, I've got a man on the phone who has a concrete company here which is the largest in this area. He's interested in selling 50% to you, but wants the other half.”
“What does that get me for trucks I can use up there?”
He nodded to the phone. I went over and took it. “Hello?”
I hear you're interested in buying some concrete companies.”
“I'm interested, but right now, I've got to be direct....What I'm needing for the next 60 days are trucks I can ship north to do a pour for a 60 mile project.
You're wanting to do a deal with 50% and I'm telling you that I'll be strangling you for the trucks and paying fines if I don't get that completed.”
“I heard Bronson had that.”
“I just bought Bronson out.”
“Now you understand the measure I've got to do this...He was facing bankruptcy over this 60 mile project and now, I've assumed the reins.”
“Well, here's what I'll do....I'll sell this, but I won't do a non-compete because I own two others in Kansas and Kansas City.
I'll sell this one to you, but I won't sign the non-compete like he did.”
“Ok, would you do a 75 mile exclusion zone from Kansas City?”
(It means I will agree to NOT do business within 75 miles of the business.)
He said, “Yeah, I'll do that and I'll also agree to lease you trucks if you need to. I know I've got about 30 of them sitting up there which would help you.”
“How much on this buy and how much for the lease?”
“This down here would be $30 million for everything.”
“How big is it!”
He chuckled, “We've got 6 satellite plants operating from the base. All in all, we're running right at 180 some units in trucks between Joplin, Springfield, and all the surrounding areas.”
“Ok, that's a deal. Now what about the lease on those trucks up there?”
“Let's do a lease of $500 a unit per day.”
“$200 a unit per day....The only way I'll go $500 is if you provide the drivers for 24 hours a day 7 days a week.”
“How about I sell you the trucks for $30,000 each?”
I did the quick math ,“Ok, that's a deal. When can we do this deal?”
“I'm here in our main office right now.”
“I'm heading there right now.”
I hung up and turned to Mike, “Mike, come on, we're going to buy that man out!”
I went over and hugged Mr Ord ,“Man, you saved us there!”
He smiled, “How much did you get him for?”
“The whole thing down here. We don't operate within 75 miles of Kansas City, and 20 of his trucks from Kansas City for $30.6 million.”
He smiled real big, “He wasn't wanting to sell it all!”
“No, but for him to have trucks sitting around means they're sitting around everywhere. He didn't say how many he had sitting around down here for a reason. I just THINK that he was offering to sell me the 50% because his business is down 50%. Now I'm holding the bag here and he's got excess trucks sold off up there also.”
Mike and I went out and I said, “Ok, I know this road up here is the one we want, but I have no clue how far.”
Mike asked, “Are we going to be ok?”
“We'll be fine. I've still got $20 million to play with until the end of the month, so we're going to be good.”
“Don't spend any more!”
“I'm not....Well, I'm going to try not to!”
He laughed, “It's like a snow ball!”
“Yeah, but that's the way it's supposed to be when it's going good. When it's going bad, you can't do much about it....like GCC is right now, it's terrible and it's dragging us down.”
We drove up the street and finally I saw the tower for the mix unit. We pulled in and got out.
A guy pointed at the GCC logo on the side of the truck. “Come to pay your bill? If not, he's not selling you a damned thing!”
I walked over ,“I'm here to buy the fuckin' place. I bought GCC AND Ord out today. I hope YOU'RE wanting to keep your job because IF I were a paying customer right now, I'd go elsewhere after that comment you just made.”
I walked away and when we went inside, Mike asked, “What'd you say to him!”
“Told him that what he's making fun of just bought this place...and if he wants to keep his job, he'll stop it with the references to what people owe who are customers.
For HIM to know what is owed and for him to know who are it's debtors tells me too much information gets handed out to people around here.”
The woman came over doing a sashay walk like a great big kitten, “How can I help you boys!”
“I'm here to see the owner ma'am. Tell him Jeremy Blue of Blue Jay is here.”
She looked surprised, “Right this way!”
We followed her and needless to say, she lost the sashay and walked.
She got to the doorway ,“Les, the guys from Blue Jay are here.”
He was at a computer screen ,“Come on in. I'm looking at what can be loosened up for you to have trucks. It looks like you can have 40 of them up there if you want.”
“Ok, so we're talking a deal of $31.2 million, right?”
“75 mile exclusion zone for Kansas City and all the businesses down here, correct?”
He gave a nod, “That's what I agreed to.”
“Let's get this done. I can take you to the bank or I can wire it to your account, but all I need are the papers for the corporation and the bill of sale which will be our contract. Is that fine?”
“It's rather short, but that's fine. Here's my account number.”
I dialed Skip. He answered. I asked, “Have you transferred that $50 million yet?”
“Not yet, why?”
“I need $31.2 million wired to this account.”
“What's that for?”
“We're buying Associated Concrete. They've got Springfield, Joplin, and a lot of satellites. In the deal we're getting everything, and about 220 trucks.”
“My God! Ok, I'll get on this!”
“I'm moving 60 trucks that way just as soon as we have the drivers. It's going to take me shuttling drivers and getting the jet there to pick them up, but we'll have our people where they're needed.”
He chuckled, “Did you just do this deal since we last talked!”
“Kid, you pull deals quicker than anyone I've heard!” He paused ,“Ok, I'm here....now, what's that account number?”
I looked over ,“Les, I need the account number.”
He gave me his checkbook and I read Skip everything. I said, “That's directly off his checkbook, so I know those are correct.”
Skip said, “That's fine. Give me a moment and I'll have it sent.” I heard the keyboard being clicked and then, he said, “It's sent. It should register on his account within now and the next 15 minutes.”
“Ok, I'll have him check.”
“Do you want that out of the $50 you were having sent there?”
“Ok, you've still got $95 up here, but I'm working this deal for the St. Pete. (Inn).”
“That's fine. At least we'll have this part handled.”
I rang off ,“You can call and see if it's there yet, or not, but he said it could take up to 15 minutes. While I'm waiting on you to confirm, I'll get this Bill of Sale drawn up and then, we'll be good to go.”
“I'm going to get the trucks transferred to this location from up there. You can pick them up and do what you want with them, but they'll be on your asset sheet for down here.”
“I really appreciate it.”
“How many trucks does he have over there?”
“He had 60, but now, he'll have 120 to make that pour.”
“How many power pour machines?”
“We've got 2 down here and I think he's got one, but I'm not sure what he's leasing.”
“He's leasing four of them. I've got 5 of them in Kansas City which are sitting if you're interested in doing a lease.”
“I'll lease 'em to you for $50 grand each for the next 60 days that you said you'd need them.”
“Ok, I'll pull that $600 out of my account down here. We'll get our low boys rolling as soon as they're available and then, we'll know something.”
I wired the money and then, got the Bill of Sale made up to reflect our agreement. I said, “The name will change to Blue Jay just as soon as I get the vinyl graphics readied.”
He gave a nod, “No need to hurry on that. We know who is what here.”
I asked, “What quarries do you pull sand and gravel from?”
He pointed at a map ,“Those there. You own two of them already, but the other four aren't for sale. The Miami Indians own them.”
I gave a nod, “Ok, at least I know now...”
He said, “I'll be out of this office by the end of the week.”
“I'll have someone installed in here in short order. She'll probably be up to do a walk through with you so you can show her what's what.”
He gave a nod, “That'll be fine.”
I shook his hand and took the paperwork and went out. As soon as we went out the door, Mike asked, “Michele?”
“Yeah, I think we need her in there.”
He smiled, “That woman?”
“Yeah, I imagine we'll have her resignation real fast.....IF she's his secretary, she'll stay on. IF she's his mistress, she'll leave with him.”
He chuckled, “You read that like a book!”
We drove back and I handed the paperwork to the accountant. This is more for Blue Jay's assets. We're going to be changing the name to Blue Jay Red-Mix.”
He nodded, “Ok, I need to get those books.”
“Take your time. I realize I'm handing you a lot, but you're doing great.”
He smiled, “I'm going to need more help.”
“If you know people you trust, get them. If not, I'll find some people.
On Friday, we're flying to Hannibal to do a take over there, I know they've got accountants, so we'll have those as well as maybe one or two with Associated.”
He said, “I'll go check the books and see what we've got there.”
“I don't know what you've got for office space at the other building, but we're going to have this building open when everything gets moved.
You're more than welcome to bring the accounting departments together so we've got billing and accounting all in the same building.”
He gave a nod, “From up there also?”
“Yes sir, it's all the same company. I want it all under the same accounting and billing. There might be division heads, but that doesn't mean we can't do the billing from one office.”
“I'll work on that.”
“Ok, I just wanted you to know what we've got going on for Friday so you can do what's needed also.”
He gave a nod ,“I'll go see what they've got there. Who's office is that?”
“I don't know. As far as I'm concerned, this building is yours now. Use whatever.”
“I'm going to set this up for four people to be accounts receivable and then, that can be payable.”
“That's fine with me...We'll get this cleaned out for you and put everything into storage.”
“I'll get some guys and we can move everything to my old office.”
“I appreciate it.”
I turned to Dan and Dad ,“Ok, I think we're ready to leave out of here. We need to get some drivers flown to Kansas City tomorrow and get trucks moved.”
Dad said, “You might call Bronson and let him know.”
I pulled my phone and dialed. Tom answered, “Hello?”
“I just bought Associated down here and Joplin. In the deal I just got 40 more trucks from Kansas City, so we'll have 60 heading to you by the weekend.”
He sounded surprised, “Uh! Ok, that'll be fine!”
“He's got 5 power pours I'm leasing for the job. We've got one extra down here and I hear you're leasing some.”
“Those should get our feet covered with concrete. I'll have the people heading that way, but right now, Skip's buying us St. Pete. Inn so we've got plenty of rooms for people to stay.
I'll do what I can to get us a bus or two so we can shuttle workers to and from the site, but we'll work on all that for after the meeting on Friday.
What I DO need to tell you is my accountant down here is going to be flying up to see what you've got and how we go about melding all that and getting it merged.”
“Will you be keeping them?”
“If they're interested in transferring, yes. If not, we'll be giving them notice.”
“I'll make an announcement so they will know their options.”
“Tell them if they will move, I'll find them houses and get them settled here. We're moving a lot of people from different areas and putting them all in one building so everyone's on the same page and our billing all gets done from one location.
It's going to take some doing for a while, but we'll get it all handled.”
“What time Friday?”
“Schedule lunch at Fiddlestiks in their conference room. Tell them we'll need a projector.”
“I'll do what I can to put this together as a bang up, but with everything changing as fast as it is, it's not gonna be polished.”
He chuckled, “My people understand that.”
“When this settles it's going to be huge.”
I went back to the bank. Norm got me the signature cards and I got them signed. A man came in and shook my hand, “I hear you're wanting to buy my hotel?”
“The price is $650 flat. Really, I'm losing money in the deal, but it gives me breathing room elsewhere.”
“Ok, let me get the money transferred.”
I used my card at the window and got the money transferred to his account. When it was completed, he had the paperwork signed. I read them and signed them.
I dialed Stu, “Hello?”
“I'll give you an update when you get home, but we just bought the Ramada Inn up here in Springfield.”
“The one which is the Mirage?”
“Man, do you realize they built that for $7 million???”
needs remodeled in order to stay a Ramada.”
“Ok, I'll look at the guidelines for what's required.”
We rang off and I dialed John. He answered, “Hello?”
“I'm taking the jet. If you've need for it between now and Friday, let me know. From the sounds of it, I'm ferrying drivers to Kansas City and will probably need any extra driver's you have....At least 13 or 15 of them.”
“Ok, I'll have them told.”
“We got 40 trucks from up there instead of the 20.”
“He doesn't know it, but I've got a concrete mix plant laying and waiting to be put up someplace. I have a feeling it'll be in Branson, but it might be elsewhere....who knows!”
“I'd put a little one there and get another in Owensville, and possibly Lebanon. For West Plains, I'd probably put a large one in.”
“We'll have to focus on those. I know we're going to have a lot of trucks and be needing to get things going.”
“Let me make some calls.”
“Not yet. I've got to wait until May 1st to have the money!”
He laughed, “I'll work with you on this...IF we can have some ideas, it'll be better.”
I rang off and told Mike, “She's going to have to fly all over the place by the time we're finished. I don't think she'll need a jet, but we'll have one for her, but she's going to have to fly in a chopper at least.”
I turned to Danny ,“WE need that mix plant set up at the quarry. Consider it practice because we'll be putting up another and possibly three more. With 60 extra trucks, I want them to be making us money and if it takes us opening up some new ones, we'll do it.”
He gave a nod, “I'm blown away by what's happened today.”
“It's temptation Danny....Look at it as nothing more than temptation. We went away from Branson and it's tempting me to go away.
I'm investing, but my heart is in Branson with Stu and your's will be there with Donna. Mike's is with Michele and where they are is where they'll be.
With us having as much as we've got, it's going to have us running like a chicken with it's head cut off until we get things under roof.
We're going to have to keep the jets in the air for a while, but I wasn't going to let that offer up there to buy Bronson out go. It might cost us in some fines, but it's going to pan out and then, we'll have divisions being operated out of those locations, but all of it's going to be moving to us having a corporate office in Branson.”
Mike said, “I'd rather have us being in Branson. We can fly or do whatever, but it's good for me to think about having it all being where we've got friends and family.”
Dad said, “I think the same thing. I'm seeing this take off for Jeremy and know it's going like a house on fire, but it's going to be so good I'm excited for him.”
I asked, “Dad, to make this pour, we're going to have to have those 12 machines operating and it's going to be 10 miles per machine in 60 days. Can that be done?”
He thought ,“Don't think of it in that manner. Yes, it's 10 miles in 60 days, but it's something like 100 trucks going and however much moving at the same time. I think you're going to see it being put down in a real fast pour, but then, it's going to go super slow for it to cure.
In the meanwhile, you're going to have those shoulders to lay in gravel and then, most likely, lay in asphalt.
All that can be done with the number of people you've got, but remember it all costs money and it all will have you pulling your hair out.”
“That's fine, but I need us thinking about the long term as well as the short.
For me, it's getting Mr Ord and Bronson focused at getting bids made and us doing whatever is needed. I'd like for it if you were in there with them when those bids were made. I'm planning on being in there also, but I'm not sure how or where I'll be needed.”
Danny said, “Let me make a call and see if I can get Rich here and don't you be afraid to use your people you've got hired from all those places.”
I gave a nod, “I think we're going to need him.”
We got to the airport and seeing the Ord-Diamond plane for the first time was incredible.
The pilot met us and I asked, “I need to know how you work. Are you OUR pilot, or are you a.....” I didn't want to say 'rental'.
He said, “I'm with a service, but we can be available whenever you need us. For longer flights, it will take two.”
“We own a jet already and we have this one. Today, we're flying to Branson and then, we're going to need to be flown to St. Louis where we'll be staying until late.
On Friday, we've got a flight we need from Branson to Springfield to Hannibal and then back later in the day.
But what I need to tell you is we're building into a large corporation and need at least one pilot or more...and possibly another jet or whatever... I DO KNOW we're going to need a helicopter pilot and possibly two.
I'll give you the run down and then, you'll understand....
I don't know if you're familiar with the area or not, but we bought out Ord. We also bought Green County Construction, and we also bought Associated Concrete.
Up in Hannibal, we bought out Bronson Construction and Stu's bought another Coca-Cola Bottling plant.
We're hiring another manager so we've got people going places and doing things so I don't need to be there. It's complex, but throw in us flying to St. Louis because Stu's got cancer and it's a lot.”
He looked like he was thinking and asked, “Do you need another jet?”
“I need another jet as long as it's not costing me a friggin' arm and a leg!”
He smiled and Mike outright laughed. He said, “This jet is an off-lease jet. What that means is this... When a company buys jets to lease, they buy them and then, they lease them out for 10 years. Depending on who leases them, it's flown for them.
At the end of the 10 years, they have it depreciated out and usually one this size...which is a 40 passenger...can be bought for the neighborhood of $2 million.
You'd think because it's so cheap, it's going to run you a lot of expense to replace engines or whatever. Usually, that's done in the first 10 years.
Depending upon the hours flown, you'll find you can get six more years before that's needed.”
I gave a nod, “So $2 million will get us another this big?”
“Ok, I need to know how much it's going to cost us for pilots...”
“The service arranges that and charges by the hour. However, if you want a pilot or pilots on staff, it's going to run approximately $250,000 per pilot per year.”
“So you're saying I'm going to pay more than that through the service.”
“Depending upon the hours you fly, yes.”
“Do we hire through you guys? Or how do we do that?”
“You can, but it's pretty easy to hire away or hire from a flight school. What I'd do if I were you is I'd get another jet and have the three and the chopper or two...I'd put a pilot in three of the jets and rotate them into the less flown jet or choppers.
IF you need more jets, you'll need more pilots and plan for at least 2 pilots per jet.”
“Ok, so we're going to need a total of six pilots?”
He shook his head no, “No, I'd hire four.”
“I'd be available. I know several who would also be available. You've got one for that other jet right now, right?”
“Yes, but I don't know if he's hired from a service, or what.”
He gave a nod, “He is, but he'd be willing to go over.”
“I'll need to discuss this with you. How do I find out about those jets?”
“I'm going to ask you a question and that will help me decide what you're interested in.”
“Are you interested in domestic or international?”
“Is there a price difference? I know beer is expensive ass stuff when you import it!”
He smiled and Mike giggled. My Dad said, “He's a domestic servant to Anheiser Busch...is what he's saying!”
I said, “Really, Miller Genuine Draft in the tall bottles primarily, but when in St. Louis, it's gotta be Bud Light.”
Dad looked surprised, “Is Miller good?”
Mike said, “MGD 12oz bottles. It's equally as good as Bud Light or better depending upon your preference.”
The pilot, Corey, interrupted, “I'm referring to jets. I know where there are some Bombardier coming off lease which is going to be real reasonable. They're going to run you about $3 million each if you take all five, but if you're not interested in those, Avro is selling some of it's Northwest Airlines 100 seat jets for around $1.7 each, but you've got to go with their engine maintenance program.
Another option is Sukhoi which is leasing it's SuperJet 100 which is a configuration which is capable of 100 seats, but in the business class configuration, it's quite nice...The cost for that is around $6 million, but it's going to be 15 years.”
“Ok, so you're saying $15 million to buy five jets... Then what do I do with the rest, sell them?”
“Sell them, but these would sell easily.”
“How much does it cost to paint a jet?”
He shrugged, “I don't know.”
“For me to take that Coke jet away from Stu, it's going to make me have to paint one in Coke colors...and since I'm doing that, I might as well get the new ones painted in Blue Jay trim.”
I bit my lip and thought, “Will we really need five jets?” and thought, “Buy for the future. If we can sell them, we can make money.”
He said, “I'll do some checking on that.”
“Bombardier like this...right?”
He gave a short nod and I said, “Ok, here's what we're going to do....Between now and the end of the month, you see about getting us the pilots and whether those planes are available. We'll use these we've got and then, we'll do a look at the five.”
He said, “Ok, I'll make the calls. Do you want us stationed here or Branson?”
“I'd prefer Branson. I'll get you a place to use in Hannibal while you're there, but when we're flying to and from our vacation homes, I'd say for you to fly us there and then, fly back. I know it's expensive without anyone in them, but that seems to be the way it's gotta be.”
He said, “We can arrange for mercy flights and get you those dead air miles wrote off.”
“Let's get you in the air and then, I can talk.”
“Ok, I'll come up there with you.”
We went up and when we were in the air, he said, “Mercy flights are flights where people who need hospital care are taken to the hospital.
The Children's Hospital, the St. Jude Hospital, the various cancer hospitals, and some others all arrange for them.
The way it works is you make a call and see if they've got need for your plane to fly someone in. IF so, you go and then, the person is at the airport wherever and we fly there and fly them back to St. Louis. Because it's a mercy flight, that portion of the trip is wrote off. It's a savings and keeps the flight cost minimal.”
“Ok, do that!”
He chuckled, “I'll have to check around.”
“I appreciate all this.”
I went back and in no time he was telling us we were about to land. After we landed, we got in the trucks and headed to the work site.
Danny said, “I've got Rich on the phone. Would you like to speak with him?”
“I took the phone. Hi Rich. Has Danny told you what we're doing here?”
“He said you're buying up the state!”
I laughed, “It seems like it, but it's investments and lots of work for the future. What I need to know is if you're interested in coming to be a supervisor and helping out.”
“How much are you paying?”
“$100,000 to start. You get benefits. You get a truck. And you get some more stuff, but eventually, it's going to grow into quite a bit.”
“I'm really up in the air on saying yes. It's nothing you've offered, but me giving up my house in this down market and all that is going to be a damned drain on me.”
can keep it and I'll pay the payments for a year. If you're not
happy, we can sever things and you'll know it wasn't for you.
IF you're happy and you want to stay, I'll buy the house from you as long as you stay for another year.”
“Danny said you got him a girl!”
“Yeah, she's a sweetheart and most likely will be your sister-in-law.”
“Any more up there?”
“Yeah, there's all kinds. All you gotta do is look.”
“Do you know any?”
“For me to say that is rather hard. I've got probably 2000 people employed by me right now and can't tell you all of them. What I WILL SAY is there's some real sweet girls and some who aren't so sweet.
In the clan alone, you're going to probably five or ten you'll like, but you need to understand that if you fuck with one in the clan, you're most likely gonna have to marry her.”
“What the hell!”
“Dude, it's like it was in the 1950's here. You're damned lucky you're not having the first ten dates in he parent's front room! The good thing is she's most likely gonna be employed for us and her parents working with us. You'll meet them and her and know them without the shot gun.”
He laughed, “Did Danny have to meet her parents?”
“Yeah, and her Dad has two six shooters on his hip at all time.”
“Her Dad's the Sheriff.”
“He says she's gorgeous.”
“You could say that if you could get past the buck teeth, freckles, big ass, and horse whinny laugh.”
He started laughing real loud and Danny looked shocked, “I'm gonna tell her you said that!”
I smiled, “She treats me like a little brother and I treat her like a sister. Needless to say, she gets the worst of it sometimes.”
He laughed and Danny said, “Rich, it's because she can beat him up!”
I said, “Rich, how about this...You decide and if you're interested, you get packed and I'll send the jet to get you....IF you're ready soon enough, I'll have Corey fly us there and then, you can fly to St. Louis and do some inspections with us.”
“Well, here's what we've got planned. We're flying in to St. Louis and renting a van. Then, we're driving to the Range Rover dealership to get Mom and Dad a Range Rover.
After that, we've got to go downtown to a brew pub I bought which we've got to figure out a way to get the brewing equipment out of it.
From there, we'll go to another bar and get something to eat. After that, we might go to a dance club where it'll be a mixed crowd.”
“What's that mean?”
“Gays and straights.”
“Hey, you're going to be there with a bunch of straight couples and one gay couple. I'd say we can all dance and there'd not be a problem. Now, if you'd like for me to set you up with a date, that could be arranged.”
“Yeah, I'll have to find someone who's old enough....do you still want her to have teeth?”
He got to laughing ,“Yeah, and I'd prefer her boobs to be on her CHEST not her knees!”
“Ok, I'll see what I can do....You might just be singing up on stage at the end of the night!”
He laughed, “Not a chance!”
“Rich, just don't be offended at the bar. I'm taking you to two straight bars and plan on having fun. The club we're going to...Yeah, it's a gay club, but after the bars shut in Missouri, it opens up to be for both straights and gays to dance.
My best friend has been there. My Mom and Dad have been there. And now, I'm taking my partner there.”
“You don't have that one asshole as your partner still.”
“No, I have someone new. His name is Stu. You'll like him, everyone does.”
“Good. That last one was a complete asshole.”
“Well, he's gone now and we've got someone better.”
“For me to pack isn't going to take long. I'll take a taxi over to sis' house and then, have her give me a ride to the airport.”
“Don't be offended if I have a bunch of people getting off the plane. I'm having them drive a bunch of concrete mixer trucks for me and will be getting them picked up at the airport in Hannibal tomorrow.”
“Where are you getting the units?”
“Associated. I bought Springfield and Joplin's Associated mix plants and then, we get another 40 trucks from his Kansas City plant.”
“It's all a part of the big picture for me now.”
“Who are you getting for me as a date?”
“I'm thinking. It's really rough because most of them who are our age have been married for 15 years.”
He laughed and kept laughing. “There's nothing like going back to the sticks!”
“It's the Ozarks, but they're some of the nicest people you'll ever meet.”
“I imagine they are.”
“They all love me and have accepted us into their family. Danny's met 'em and got accepted instantly, but then again, he's finally going to make Donna settle down and get barefoot and in the kitchen, so they worship any man who could do that!”
Danny shook his head, “You know you're SO dead, right!”
“A man of courage doesn't die a single death. He let's 'em have it all the way to the grave!”
My phone beeped and I said, “Rich, be there at 5:30...private terminal. I gotta go.”
I flashed over and Stu said, “Hi hon, we're at the airport ready to fly that way.”
“Ok, ask Mom to call the Range Rover dealership and see if they'll be open at 6:30.”
“Why so late?”
“I wasn't sure when you were getting in!”
“We'll be there in about an hour.”
“Ok, I'll have everyone ready if you're wanting to fly on.”
“I've got to take a plane full of drivers to Kansas City.”
“You bought MORE trucks?”
“Hon, I bought a couple of concrete mix plants and 40 extra trucks. I'll explain it when you get here.”
He rang off and I dialed Rich back. He answered, “Hello?”
“It's me again. Listen IF you can get there in about 2 hours, it'd be great. If not, we'll wait.”
“I'll try. It's going to be about 45 minutes from Liz' house.”
“Ok, that's fine.”
I hung up and dialed Brandon. “Hello?”
“Where are you?”
“Out here at the cabins. We're loading the second cabin.”
“Did the first go ok?”
“She set it on that truck like she'd been doing it all her life! This second one is in the air and we had a problem with cracking the asbestos siding shingles, but we're going ahead with the lift.”
“Where are all the drivers?”
“Out at the quarry. They're laying asphalt.”
“Ok, I'll call Georganne.”
I dialed Georganne and she answered, “Hello! Errr, I mean Blue Jay Quarry Stone and Gravel.”
“Hi hon, it's Jeremy. Are ALL of the drivers out there?”
“There's a bunch of 'em here.”
“Ok, here's what I need you to do. I need all of 'em who aren't needed there. Tell them to load up into the pickups and head to the airport.”
“I'll get 'em.”
“I'm going to be making calls also.”
I hung up and dialed Jerrett's number. He answered, “Hello?”
“Are you at the quarry?”
“Gather the drivers and as many people as you can who can drive a big truck and get to the airport. I'm flying you guys to Kansas City and going to get some concrete mixer trucks and drive those to Hannibal.”
“Let me see who we can send.”
“Here's what I want you to do...First of all, there shouldn't be 27 trucks out there getting asphalt...You're AT the asphalt plant or chrissake! Second of all, if all the asphalters are out there, there shouldn't be 16 spreaders and 200 people out there.”
“They're all about done.”
“Tell those guys driving the trucks to park them out there. You can get by with a single dump truck.
THEN, tell the Bonnie, Eric, Eric's crew, and Mike's Crew that I need everyone to drive trucks. You can have Fallon and his crew to do the laying and we'll work on getting the spreaders driven into town in a convoy.”
“We can do that?”
“Yeah, they move in high gear at 18 miles an hour and if you've got the tracked ones out there, that's pure lunacy.”
“What's going on?”
“Here's the deal. We're going to lay asphalt tomorrow, right?”
“Yeah, it's looking good. Everyone says it's damned good.”
“Great. The plan is we're going to fly 20 people up to Springfield and get 20 of the concrete mixer units and send them to Hannibal.
We're going to have the big jet take 40 people to Kansas City and they're going to get 40 of the mixer units and drive them to Hannibal.
everyone gets to Hannibal, they're going to stay at our motel there
for the night, and then, we're going to fly them back in the morning
and lay asphalt here.”
“Where are we taking the trucks?”
“Out on Market Street to Bronson Construction's lot. A lot of 'em will know where that is....”
“Ok, then what?”
“We're buying the motel at the end of Market Street. You're going to have to call taxi cabs to get them there because it's something like 20 blocks away, but I'll arrange that so you've got the decent taxi cab company hauling you.”
“You want me to go?”
“I need someone to pay for the fuel with his card!”
“I'll give one of the guys from the Kansas City group my card and he can pay for the fuel with that group, but for you it's going to be a good solid 5 or 6 hour drive.”
“Here's the deal. I'm going to get all the people told to drive the interstate up to St. Louis and on up. You're going to hear some ignorant people telling me the drive is shorter by cutting through and going up to Jefferson City and I'll smile and tell THOSE who think so to go that direction and tell YOU to drive on up the interstate. You'll be there a good 20 to 30 minutes before them driving the longer way due to all the slow downs and speed restrictions going that shorter way.”
“Ok, I'll tell 'em.”
“We're going to be meeting at the airport in about an hour...Have 'em heading that direction.”
I hung up and called Corey. He answered and I said, “Hi, this is Jeremy. I need the Coke plane readied to take some people up to Springfield. You're going to have to take 2 loads because it's so small.”
“I've got the call in for them to bring those Bombardier on this way.”
“How? I don't have the $15 million to spend right now!”
“They're going to bill you.”
“And they'll let us have 'em up front?”
“Well, ok, but it going to be a bit of a mess for a moment. When are they going to arrive?”
getting the pilots for them and flying in from Chicago. He told me
they'd be here in an hour since traffic is light.”
“It must not be Ohare.”
“Midway. The company is located in Park Ridge.”
“And it's fine for us to fly them before they're paid?”
“Ok, here's what I want. When they get in, I'd like for you to have one of them loaded and flown with all the passengers you can fly to Kansas City. The other will fly to Springfield with 20 passengers.”
“My group of people will fly to Kansas City also. We're picking up a passenger and then, we're flying on to St. Louis Lambert Field.
The two who ferried passengers to Springfield and Kansas City are going to need to fly to Hannibal and pick up passengers and bring them back to Branson later tonight.”
“Ok. One moment, I'm getting a call in.”
“That's fine. I'll hang up and get the arrangements made.”
I hung up and dialed Les at Associated. He answered, “Hello?”
“Hi Eric, this is Jeremy. I need to ask you to do me a favor.”
“I've got an open window of time and can get those trucks to Hannibal. What I need you to do is I need to get the 20 from Springfield that are moving up to the airport.
The trucks need to be fueled and be ready to roll on up to Hannibal.”
“Ok, that's no problem.”
“Here's where the logistics problem is going to be....Those 40 trucks from Kansas City need to be readied to be driven to the airport and handed off to the 40 drivers who will be landing up there.”
“What we're waiting on now is for our planes to arrive in from Chicago. When they get here, they'll be loaded and the one going to Springfield will be there in about 2 hours.
The one landing in Kansas City will be there in about 2 to 2 ½ hours.”
“I'm thinking about how to do this. 40 cement trucks at the airport is going to be a nightmare.”
“Is there a hotel which has a shuttle they can ride? I'm trying to get out of leasing a bus just to ferry passengers one time.”
“Let me make a call. It might be better for them to fly into Oletha Executive Airport. That's less than two blocks down the street from Associated West where the trucks are located.”
“I'm hoping it's not a busy street.”
“It is, but it's got nice sidewalks.”
“Ok, great. I'll let you make your calls and I'll make some more.”
I hung up and dialed Corey. He answered and I asked, “Can you fly into Oletha Executive Airport?”
“Yes. If it's a public airport, we can fly in.”
“Then we'll need everyone flown there. It's less than 2 blocks from where they need to go.”
“That's not a problem.”
“Thanks, I'll see you in a moment.”
I dialed Rich. “Hello?”
“Ask Liz to take you to Oletha Executive Airport.”
“Man, that's way closer!”
“Good. We'll be flying in there.”
“Have you found my date yet?”
“Dude, if you knew how I'm burning up a phone to get 60 men to 60 trucks, you'd understand this is finally at an end. I promise you I'll have you a date!”
He chuckled, “Ok.”
I hung up and dialed Donna. She answered, “Hey ya little shit, what's this I hear about you saying I had a big ass!”
you heard was that I said you have a big ass??? I thought you
would've been pissed over the buck teeth, freckles, and horse whinny
She gave an evil laugh, “HE DIDN'T TELL ME THAT!”
I laughed, “That's because he loves your big ass.”
“It's not that big, is it?”
I heard Danny say, “God no!”
I said, “Ask him if you've got a horse whinny laugh!”
She said, “Asshole, you know I don't!”
“It'll let him know I told you what I said....If you must know I was discouraging Rich from being interested in you.”
“See, that's why I was doing it. Now what I need is I need a girl who is single and of age to drink and would be interested in dating Rich.”
“What's he look like?”
“Big ass, horse whinny laugh, freckles, and....”
She busted out laughing, “Ooh that was good!”
She turned to Danny, “He says your brother has a big ass, horse whinny laugh, freckles...”
Danny got to laughing real hard, “He says that about all the guys!”
I laughed and she said, “I think I know someone. I'll call.”
“Ok, that'll be cool.”
“I'll call her.”
“We're leaving in a little bit over an hour.”
“We'll be there.”
I hung up and called Mike's room. They answered and I said, “You guys ready?”
“Not yet. We will be.”
“You know how to get out to the airport, right?”
“Ok, we'll meet you out there. I want to see those new planes when they get there.”
“We'll be there.”
I dialed Dad. He answered, “Hello?”
“It's me. Are you ready to go?”
“Not quite. Your Mom is going to want to take a shower.”
I took a deep breath. “Ok, I'm going to go to the airport. They're going to go ahead and fly those new planes here from Chicago.”
“You didn't buy them, did you?”
“They're going to bill me for them. They're a trusting bunch.”
“I'll get a shower, but I need to be out at the airport to get everyone going to where they need to go.”
“We'll be out there.”
I rang off and hurried and got a shower. I got into a good clubbing outfit and then, threw moose in my hair. I got in the Rover and headed to the airport.
At the airport, I went over to some of the guys and asked, “Which ones are you?”
“We were told to come out here and fly to drive something.”
“Ok, what I'll do is I'll put you in the group flying to Springfield.”
“What are we going to be doing?”
“When you get to Springfield, you're going to be met at the airport so you can drive a bunch of concrete mixer trucks up to Hannibal.”
“How far away is that?”
“Six hours. You'll need to stop for fuel and you'll need to get something to eat, but we'll have the jets up there to pick you up when you get there.”
He gave a nod and I saw Jerrett driving in with Eric. They came over and parked and got out. Eric said, “I'm NOT staying up there Jer'!”
“You don't have to. I wasn't aware of it, but they're flying the new jets in right now and we'll have them up there to meet you guys to fly you back.”
“Where are we taking them?”
“I was thinking about taking them to the Bronson Redi-Mix out on Market Street, but what I think I'll do is have you park them over at the equipment yard across the highway from the airport.”
He gave a nod, “Ok, that'd be better. That way, we're not down by my house.”
“If you wanted, you could get some things from there.”
“Nah, it'd be asking for troubles.”
“How about I do this...How about I go get your things on Friday when I'm up there?”
“That might work, but you'd have to call my Mom when he wasn’t' there.”
“Would he be there now?”
“I don't know.”
I dialed and when the phone was answered, his Mom answered, “Hi Paula, this is Jeremy Blue.”
“Uh, now's not a good time. He's in the other room.”
“Ok, I'll make it quick. On Friday, I'll be up in Hannibal. I was wondering if we could get some of Eric's things.”
“I'll have them ready, but call before you come. He'll kill you just as soon as look at you.”
“Nah, that'd be him being a coward. He might threaten and put on a show, but when push came to shove, he'd not beat me out in the middle of the street....Not with Bubby living that close....Bubby'd kill him as soon as I fell.”
“He's been talking about going back down there.”
“You tell him the second I'm fucked with or any of my stuff is fucked with, I promise him that by the time he gets home, you'll be a widow and he'll be crushed to death laying in that truck in the bottom of a quarry someplace...and that's NOT a threat, that's a promise.”
“He's got hurt feelings right now is all.”
“Tell him to get over 'em. Eric's got someone now and he's happy.”
“The guy's name is Jerrett. He's super nice and he's damned smart. They make a good lookin' couple and they're good together.”
“I need to ask you if there's a place for me there?”
“Anytime you want to come, I'll find you a place and if you don't think you'd be able to make it, you can call and we'll have a jet there at the airport to meet you.”
“That might work. Do you think you could do that Friday?”
“Anytime you want.”
“How would I go about it?”
“Between now and Friday, call Bubby and have him come get boxes of clothes. Leave enough he's not getting suspicious but if you don't want to leave some favorites, I'll make a call and you can go to my house up there and pull some clothes out and use those as fillers for the drawers.
What you're going to need are the birth certificates and important papers like that. Be sure to get everything because I'm going to fight fire with fire just as soon as a threat gets made. Ok? But when things happen, you be aware there's no going back because there won't be aouse to go to.”
“I bought Bronson Construction today. Do you think I could demolish a house? Now ask me if the fucker threatens me or you guys how fast I can do it with that man sitting in that recliner. He'll realize I'm not going to fuck with being threatened before I start a war on HIS home front.
With Bubby being the way he is, the second he runs out on that front porch, he's going to be ducking and dodging buckshot and then maybe he'll realize I've got more places and more friends that can fuck him up along the way...ESPECIALLY if I have 'em flatten that truck in the process! He's been told I won't tolerate being threatened and I meant it.”
“You took his livelihood.”
“Tell him he can have it back the second he pays Eric for all the years he screwed him. I think he's been paid WELL ahead of what he gave up in machinery.”
“What did he do there?”
“How much does 5 people divide up when they split a pie?”
“Into fifths....twenty percent.”
“Eric was getting 10%. They split the 90% of into fourths. Where in the hell is that called fair?”
“I wasn't aware of this....”
“Now you're aware. Eric would go out on the road and eat 88cent tv dinners while them fuckers ate steak. There's a lot of nights that I took him out to eat simply because he didn't have the money.”
“They told him they were splitting the pie AFTER paying people and getting fuel and asphalt. I don't know how they did that so that Eric made as little as $20 a day, but it never stopped them going out and getting drunk and eating damned nice meals.”
“Do me a favor and call Bubby. Tell him that I'm going to be bringing over some things.”
“Ok, that's not a problem. I'll call you on Friday or you can call me when it's convenient. I'll be there at lunch at Fiddlestiks. You're welcome to be there if you want.”
“I probably will! Will Eric be there?”
“I'll see that he is because Jerrett will be there.”
“Good. I'll be there.”
“Remember those papers, all your valuable photos, and whatever you want.... If you'd like, I can do a few things to get him out of the house Friday morning.”
“Have Bubby say he saw us in Wayland. You know if he hears we're within 60 miles, he's going to head up there.”
“That might work!”
“If you need boxes, I'll have Bubby stockpile some so you're making a quick move.”
“That will help.”
“I'll call him now.”
I hung up and dialed Bubby's cell phone. He answered, “Hello?”
“It's me Jeremy down by the deep blue sea.”
“Hey dude. You got some people pissed at you!”
“I hear you're the shit down there!”
“I'm the shit up there too, but they don't know it yet. Are you still working for Bronson?”
“You're talking to your new boss.”
“I bought Bronson out today for $130 million.”
“I inherited Doc's estate.”
“And you bought out Bronson?”
“I bought out ALL of Bronson's shit from the farms to the concrete, to the trucks, to the construction company...
Now, tell me what you know about the 60 mile project?”
“They're going to lose their asses on it. They've got 6 months AT LEAST to do there before it's completed and we've got 95 days to get it done.”
“What are you doing later?”
“When you're given a call, go to the equipment lot out there. You'll see how I'm going to save the bacon.”
“What are you doing?”
“Well, I bought out a few construction companies and two concrete mix companies. There's going to be 60 concrete mixer units rolling in out there later.”
“Oh man! I think that's about what Bronson has in total!”
“60 is what I've got in quarter. That's having me leave 160 units down here in Springfield and Joplin.”
“The reason I'm calling is this.... Paula is leaving Fogle.”
“Friday. She's going to be sneaking boxes of their clothes over to your house and then, on Friday about 10 am, I need you to tell Fogle that you just heard I'm in Wayland.
As you know, he'll get together his guys and run up there. That'll give her time to load up everything else and get it out to the airport.
What else I need you to do is I need you to get together a lot of boxes for her. If you can't get boxes, get those totes and I'll pay you for them.
if you would, I need you to go pick up some clothes from Doc's house
and give them to her so she's able to keep the drawers full while
she's packing her stuff out.”
“He's been making a lot of threats about going back down there.”
“You tell the bastard that I told him I wasn't going to tolerate a threat one from him. What I need for you to do is I need you to go to City Hall and get a Building Demolition Permit for that address in the name of Blue Jay Construction Company.”
“Hon, I'm gonna fight fire with fire. My shot across the bow isn't going to be across the bow, it's going to be a torpedo midship to the hull. I want that fucker sunk and I want him realizing that I'm able to fuck with HIS world up there as well as everyone who sides with him.”
“He says you're blowin' smoke out your ass.”
“Well, think about this....IF I control the quarries around there and if I control the concrete and if I control the asphalt, how fast do you think I'll shut down the gypsies if I start requiring business licenses and DOT paperwork to sell asphalt?”
“Yup, you're seeing how I do business now. No one will do work down here in southwestern Missouri and no one will do work up there without me giving the go ahead.
you should know is I'm buying Huntington Stone.”
“I might possibly be buying the cement plant also, so now you know I'm going for the cheapest I can possibly get my costs down.”
“Is she going to divorce him?”
were never married.”
“WHAT! She wears a wedding ring!”
“Hon, I can buy a wedding ring at Walmart for $5 bucks! It doesn't mean I've got the license!”
“And she's going down there....” He said it like he was forlorn over it.
if you're sweet on the woman, you damned well better let her
“Could I work down there?”
“Yeah, but you've got to be ready to roll dude!”
“Are you going to be pissed if I don't give any notice up here?”
“I'll call and get you transferred down here. You just be ready to roll out of there.”
“I'll leave Friday when I know she's safe.”
“Do me a favor and have their gas and electricity shut off for Friday afternoon....the water also.”
“Bub, I plan on that man hearing from all the gossips that I'm there demolishing his house. When he rolls up, I'm putting that excavator onto his truck and then getting out of the thing and beating his ass. You know with proper permit and with everything done legal, there's not a thing he can do to stop me.”
“He can sue you.”
“He's GOTTA own the fuckin' house! By Friday, I'll own that place!”
“They're renting it from Rock Real Estate. It's part of the old Clancy Estate and Trust....just like yours and just like a lot of others down there.”
“And we can buy them?”
“If you're interested in being here with her, you don't need that house. If you're interested in owning that house, I'll call Mark and ask him to sell it to you. I believe he told me all of them are worth about $22,500 in the flood buy out and that's what he's planning on doing with them. For that little, I'll own that som'bitch they're living in.”
“You can't destroy his truck.”
“Bub, the law says I can use justified force to meet force. IF I crush that truck when witnesses say they've seen him ramming that excavator with it, that's legal...especially if I use the bucket of that excavator to pull the truck into it.”
He laughed, “There ya go!”
“Don't play a player unless you wanna get played.”
“Ok, I'll get the show on the road. What about an eviction notice?”
“Mark will deliver it to her. That way she can say it was there and that it was delivered. Whether she tells him or not is a different thing....now isn't it!”
“I'm surprised you're not with him...but then again, I was told he thinks you two are fuckin'.”
“We USED to be fuckin', but that's ancient water under the bridge. I've got someone better now and he's got a guy who's really nice.” I paused ,“Bub?”
“I'm going to have a jet up there so you can go ahead and haul the boxes of stuff out to it. You can put your things and put her things on it and that way, all she's gotta do is have you load what you've got Friday onto it and then, if you'd like, you can leave your truck up there and fly down with her.”
“What am I gonna drive?”
“I'll provide, but I'm going to be up there with about 300 or so people next week to work on that 60 mile project.”
“Where are you putting them!”
“Out at the St. Pete. Inn. I bought it today.”
What DIDN'T YOU BUY!”
“Very few items so far.”
“He'll probably burn down your house.”
“I wish! You fail to realize I've got more surveillance on that fucker and more alarms than he'd want to mess with. All of it goes to a phone box which is streaming live feeds to a server I lease in California for $10 a month.
The second it goes up, I'm pulling files and I'm providing the cops with more than enough evidence to put his ass in prison for too fuckin' long! Once again, a few well placed $1000 dollar bills and you'd be amazed at the numbers of people who will say they were in a bar and heard him saying he was going to do it.
With that kind of evidence and statements, you'd have him begging for a plea bargain and with me being the owner of one of the largest employers up there, how much do you think they're going to discount that plea bargain?”
“There ya go....He needs to realize I'm not going to fuck with him attempting to fuck me. Now, what I need to do while I have a moment is call Mark and get that house bought.”
“Ok. Give me a call.”
I dialed Corey. He answered, “Hello?”
“Would you call one of those jets and have them go ahead and land in Hannibal? I need the plane to stay up there until Friday. When we fly up Friday, we'll take 2 pilots and one of you can fly it back.”
“Ok. Who do I have them give the keys to?”
“He'll be out there. Just let me know when.”
“Let me hurry up and call.”
I rang off and dialed Mark. He answered, “Hello?”
I need a HUGE favor.”
I need you to sell me the Fogle house down there on Clay St.”
“Ok, it'll have to be $22,500.”
“Add it to my tab and do me a favor. Have an eviction notice sent over which says they've got to be out by Friday.”
not legal. It has to be 30 days.”
“Back date the som'bitch....Everyone knows mistakes are allowed to happen on paperwork.”
“What's the issue?”
“The fucker's threatening my life. I'm going to move his wife out on Friday and demolish his house. THEN, when he comes down, I'm going to put the bucket of that excavator off into the truck and crush it.”
not legal. You'll buy a truck.”
“Tell me how? IF I have a bunch of people saying he's ramming my excavator with his truck, I'm allowed to meet force with force. By the time the cops arrive, I'll have it drug into it and you won't know if he did it on purpose, or if I did.”
He chuckled, “Permits.”
“Already being gotten...Utilities already being scheduled for shut off.”
You're not joking!”
“He was told 3 days ago that I would not tolerate threats or intimidation. Rather than shivering in my boots, I'm going to fight him on his home court and challenge him. I fully expect to have to beat his ass and I fully expect you'll have to bail me out of jail by telling them that I'm the rightful owner and eviction was served. With permits and everything good and with my construction company doing the work, that's all fine and dandy.
And before you ask, I bought out Bronson today so I DO have a construction company up there and I BETTER have a motel bought.”
“St. Pete. Inn.”
a money pit dude!”
“It's one of the best pieces of property in that town! Location, location, location....IF it's not good for a motel, it's good long enough that I can house my workers up there and then, if I can't rehab it, I'll tear it down and build something a lot nicer.”
“Who's buying it for you?”
“Let me check.”
“Ok, are we good for everything else?”
“Yeah...I might just be down there laughing.”
“Here's what I need you to do....so don't hang up yet!”
He chuckled, “What's that?”
“She's packing everything on a sneak by sneak basis because she's leaving him. I need some of the clothes from Doc's dresser drawers to be loaded into a box so that he sees clothes in the dresser down there.”
“She's not taking furniture?”
doubt if there's time!”
“Man, you get her the furniture! With the number of employees you've got, you can have a Uhaul loaded in no time at all!”
“Ok, have that ready and have a tow dolly ready to pull a truck behind it. Rent it for a week one way to Branson.”
“She moving down there?”
“Yeah, her son is living down here and with what she now knows he's been pulling on her son, she's pissed enough it put her over the edge.”
“When's she leaving?”
“Friday about lunch time. She'll be out at Fiddlestiks when we're having our meeting.”
“Dude, Bronson's about to lose his ass. That's why he's selling out. It's either he sell and get something or go bankrupt.
With me buying it, I have a plan to save the farm, bacon, and everything else...but it takes more than he's willing to spend apparently.”
“What's costing him so much money?”
“Are you his lawyer?”
“No, but someone in my firm is...We talk about it a lot.”
“I want that account switched over to you. You're MY lawyer and that's my company.”
He chuckled, “It's all in house. He's a good lawyer!”
“Ok, here's the deal....Are you familiar with the 60 mile project for the interstate?”
“Yeah....I helped with those contracts.”
“When's the deadline?”
“I can't tell you.”
“It's something like 95 days. That's four lane interstate highway and they've YET to begin pouring concrete. Collectively, that's 120 miles of two lane road and that means they've GOT to let it cure for 30 days before it's turned over....so do the math and you see they've got 60 days to get the pour done.
Since he does NOT work 24 hours a day 7 days a week, and I do, he's not going to be done. I'll step in and throw all my extra people on it and we'll get it done.
Right now, we're waiting on my jets to arrive so I can haul drivers to get concrete mixer trucks I'm sending there. With 60 more concrete trucks and with 10 of those power pour units which make 2 lanes of highway super fast (300 feet an hour), we'll have it done.”
“You need to get that precast concrete.”
“I've got to find a company to buy so I'm not violating any patents. When we've got them, we'll have the factory down in Branson.”
“Let me help with that. I've got a company which makes wall panels and bridge deck and bridge trusses which is in serious financial trouble. They've already come to me for bankruptcy protection. Two of the owners want out and the third doesn't. He thinks he's going to make his millions facing a LOT of federal labor violations hiring illegals. “
“I'm familiar with the plant.”
“It's worth $75 million on paper. They're in debt $90 million. The two who want out have said they'll sell but they refuse to sell to the third party. The third party has said he'd sell if and when he got his $25 million.”
“Does he realize the most he'd see is $10 million right now?”
“IF it goes bankrupt, he's not going to see a thing. The feds are going to shut him down for violations of several statements he made to get the loans.
He said they were in good financial shape. That might've been when he was using the illegal workforce. Now that he's having to pay decent wages, it's not going well for them.”
“Offer the ones who want out $5 million each if the portions of everything are 33 1/3rd each. If that one has more, they're screwed.”
“No, it's all 33 1/3rd each.”
“Offer them both $5 million with a non-disclose charging them $75 million if they disclose.”
“Ok, whatever, just as long as they don't talk amongst themselves, offer that and then, offer the one $10 million and I take over the debts.
Whatever you do, do NOT get me into any agreements I have to keep the company there and that I can't use automated machinery as much as possible.”
“What are you planning on doing?”
“Here's the thing. For that manufacturing to work, you've got to have LOTS of straight flat ground. Kansas would work, or a former sheet glass manufacturer would work.
Where they spend their money is in the heating of the forms to cure it. You need either electricity, gas, or hot water running through the forms. With geothermal water coming up from deep deep in the earth, you've got the heat needed and can also produce electricity with it.
I'm planning on having it to move some steam turbines and to produce ethanol a lot cheaper than the way they do it now.
We can do it all at my quarry and that's where my concrete will be made.”
“But you'll be going into debt $90 million!”
“NO, just as soon as I buy it, it's going into bankruptcy like they should've! By that time, I'll have the patents and assets sold off to me and who gives a shit about what happens in Iowa!”
He laughed, “Ok, I'll make the offers.”
“Stress to them about the non-disclose and then slip them some voice recorder pens so they're being recorded. IF it goes bad, they'll have those on their persons when they're arrested so those become evidence.”
“I don't want to bug them without their knowledge.”
“Dammit, here's the way you do it! You 'ACCIDENTALLY' leave your pen in the folder with all the paperwork! If it's got YOUR name on it, it's yours! Accidents happen all the time and believe me, if they're doing what they're supposed to, it's not a problem. IF they're violating it, you've got them and then, it's evidence.
Because it's a voice recording, the judge and everyone's going to smile and wink at you because it's legal to voice record someone without their knowledge.”
He was quiet a moment ,“Let me check Iowa law.”
“Get them down there in Missouri. Tell them your buyer has to be in Missouri or something.”
He giggled, “You're so full of shit you'd be a great lawyer!”
“Dude, your Dad taught us...whether you choose to use it is up to you, but I play these people all the time! Now, I've gotta get off the phone because I see one of these five jets I just bought are about to land.”
“Hell yeah! I've got two more I gotta sell, but it'll be worth it.”
“How much are you selling them for?”
“The little one can't be worth much over $2 or $3 million. The bigger one is probably worth $5 or $6.”
“How big's the little one?”
“7 passenger, but it's real tight in there. We had six people squeezed in and it was like a fuckin' sardine can! Needless to say, I love the 40 passenger because it's like a bowling alley in there...LONG and enough room you can have lots of furniture. It's like a school bus for the air. From what I hear, both burn about the same fuel, so I'll stick with the Bombardier.”
“Are you interested in selling me the bigger one?”
“Yeah, that's no problem. It's got an Ord-Diamond logo on the tail, but it's beautiful. If you'd like, I'll send it up there for you to look at.”
“I really ought to be shot for thinking about it, but do that.”
“Ok, I'm sending two up there. There's one already out on the tarmac, but that one is one of the newer ones, so you probably don't want that one.”
“It's 2 years newer and worth more. It'd take $15 to buy that one.”
“Better engines. They're still under warranty.”
“Oh!” He paused, “I'll go look at it. Are they all similar in design?”
“They're all identical except for model years. I'm not sure if they're identical inside, but the older one has what looks like subway brick tiles on the floor done up in carpeting. It's got gold edging and then black. On the side walls, it's walnut wood and then, it's got white leather.
When you go out there, ask for the key and then, after you're finished looking at it, give the key to Bubby because he's going to be packing everything into it for her stuff to be flown down. I'll still get the U-Haul, but her clothes and stuff will be in the jet for safe keeping.”
“I'll do that business for you and get those people called about the concrete place. While I'm on the phone, I'll go look at that jet.”
“Sure, but understand this....You can pay for a pilot by the hour, or you can pay for a pilot by the year and it'll be cheaper if you use it a lot. The advantage is you can write it off with mercy flights and things like that, so you're good.”
“That sounds good.”
“I'll get off here. This one is taxiing up.”
I rang off and shook my head and giggled. I dialed Stu. “Hello?”
“Where are you at?”
“We're about to land. It suddenly got busy at that airport! We're third to land and then, there's another one behind us!”
“Ok, those are all our jets. I had one land in Hannibal. You'll die when you hear what I'm doing, but it's a part of the deal.”
“Potentially selling one to pay for all five!”
He laughed, “WHAT!”
“Mark. I have him so snow blind he's seriously considering the purchase of one of the newer ones for $15 million! I bought all five for that, but I'm not telling him!”
He laughed, “You're too funny!”
“I offered to sell him the Ord-Diamond one for $6, but I told him that one has warranties on the engines...which it does...but not $9 million worth!”
ALL bigger than this one!”
“I know, but I figured I'd have to have you one painted like a Coke can in order to have you wanting it!”
“Nah, I'm fine...”
“I'll see you when you get down here....and I love you!”
“Love you too!
I hung up and went over to Eric. “Your Mom is moving down here on Friday. I imagine she'll sneak a call in to you or me before then.”
He nodded and I continued, “I just bought that house. You tell her that Mark is going to hand her an eviction notice some time and she's NOT to mention it to your Dad.
Also, tell her that we're going to have a U-Haul truck there so we can do a super fast move job. Her job is to have HIS stuff thrown out of the way. That way, we can get in and get out damned fast.”
gave a nod, “I'll let her know if she calls.”
“Eric, she didn't know about how you were being paid. She knows now and she's not one bit happy.”
“It all makes sense now. I can't change it, but it hurts just the same. You did more for me than anyone else back then and they were fine with seeing me starve!”
“He's making lots of threats, but I'm going to stew his prunes good....She'll be safe, but I'm going to show him how I deal with threats.”
“Don't get yourself hurt!”
I turned and went out to the tarmac and went into the jet. The pilot shook my hand and I said, “You're going to be flying to Springfield and then, dumping your passengers. After that, you'll fly on to Hannibal where you'll wait for them to arrive in about 6 to 7 hours after you leave them.
welcome to go get a good meal and that'll be fine. It's a $15 taxi
ride to and from the airport, but the closest restaurant is about a ¾
mile walk unless you want Subway sandwiches and that's about half a
“Where's a good restaurant?”
“Affordable is Logue's. A good home style meal will cost you $10.
If you're wanting to spend a bit more, you can go downtown to Old Planters and that will run you about $2 more...but it's good German food by the huge plate full and really excellent.
If you go there, my advice is to get the root beer because it's some of the best ever. It's in the bottle and served ice cold.”
“I think I'll stick with that other place.”
“If you triple up with that other pilot who's there and the one who will be arriving in from Kansas City, I'll pay for everything. The taxi isn't going to cost much more....each additional person is $5 more...so you all can ride to and from for $50 and each down there for the other $50 and leave a nice tip. I'm not for sure if you're working for the service or you're one of my new pilots....”
“I'm one of the service pilots.”
“Ok, you'll probably want to fly out from one location, right?”
He gave a nod, “Yeah.”
“Ok, what we'll do is we'll put our pilots in and get you flown up there.”
Mike, Danny, and a bunch of the guys all showed up in their trucks. I said, “Excuse me.” and went out to meet them.
I dialed the pilot, “Hello?”
“I'd like for everyone who are their pilots to be flown to Hannibal where they can be fetched. That's going to require our pilots to fly them.
I need the Ord-Diamond to be one of them which flies to Kansas City and then on to Hannibal because I might have a buyer....but you radio and tell all of our pilots not to mention to that man at the airport up there how much we paid for these things! I've told him he can buy one for $15 million!”
He sounded shocked, “Man! That's a horse tradin' job!”
“He can afford it.”
He chuckled, “I'll call ahead.”
I went out and divided up the men. I went over to Alex ,“Here's my credit card. You're going to be flying in to Oletha, Kansas and then driving a concrete mixer truck on to Hannibal.
Someplace along the line, you'll be able to get fueled. There's a truck stop at Brookfield which is real nice. Have 'em get something for supper also. And make sure they've got plenty of eats.
When you get into town, you're going to take the first exit which is the hospital and airport exit. At the top of the ramp, you'll see the hospital and you'll see a motel and restaurant way up ahead. You want that access road.
As soon as you get on that access road, you'll have an entrance into the lot which has all the equipment in it. Pull 'em in and make sure they all fit. If not, it's going to be another quarter to half mile for them to walk from where the construction company's office is located.
Back over that overpass about an 1/8th of a mile is the airport. The road isn't traveled much to it, so you'll be safe to walk and with the way they charge to go to the airport, you'll be screwed senseless with this many guys....It's $15 for the first person and $5 for each additional passenger....and by the time they arrive, you'll have walked it 10 times...Their wait times are something like an hour to an hour and fifteen minutes.”
He shook his head and I said, “I'm going to TRY to have a friend of mine out there with his trolley bus. If he's there, load 'em on and I'll cover him $200 for the two loads he's going to take.”
He gave a nod and I turned ,“Guys, a lot of you are probably apprehensive because this is a first time you've been in a plane. It's not much different than a school bus except it's fancier.
When you're in a school bus, you're told to sit down and stay seated. You do the same in one of these.
Some of you aren't flying that far. You're flying to Springfield and then, you're driving to Hannibal.
Whatever you do, do NOT go the way of Jefferson City. Your GPS will be telling you to go that way because it's shorter, but because of all the little towns, you'll actually arrive about half an hour later.
IF you drive on up the interstate and drive up 40/61, you'll be fine.
My advice is this.....Eric???”
“Get 'em over in that inside lane WELL before Huckleberry Park so you're able to get into that turning lane OR take 'em out Industrial Drive from Paris Gravel. You're going to Bronson's lot out there by Shinn Lane.”
“When you get into town, you call Bubby and tell him you're there. He'll come out and shuttle you guys in his truck over to the airport and he'll get the keys to the jet at that time.”
He nodded and I said, “Bubby's going to probably be dating your Mom. He's sweet on her and I think he's a damned good man. I'm authorizing him to be transferred down here. He's giving everything up to be with her, so please let it happen.”
He nodded, “He's nice and she already thinks he's cute.”
“You might tell her that when she calls. It'll give her hope she's doing the right thing.”
He gave a nod and I said, “Guys, when you get to Oletha, the walk is about 2 blocks down that street. There's a side walk and no bus or taxi service out there.
Yeah, it's damned dumb to have an 'Executive' airport where there's no bus or taxi service, but they want you to rent their cars. I'm telling you now that if you RENT a car to go two blocks down the street, I will break a leg off in your ass when you get back!”
Everyone laughed and I said, “Ok, let's get loaded up. I'll be flying up to Kansas City on a separate jet, so be prepared for me to see you.”
The Coke plane taxied over and Mom and Stu got out. Mom asked, “Where's your Dad?”
“At the motel. He said you'd want a shower, so he's waiting for you there.”
She said, “I would've went ahead and gone. I'm going to a bar where it's going to be smokey.”
“Not in Illinois Mom. They outlawed smoking in anyplace but a casino over there. Now if you wanna get smelly in a bar, you gotta spill beer on yourself.”
She smiled, “I already called him and asked him to make me one of those roasts. He said he would.”
“You should've ordered two.”
Stu smiled, “We did!”
I chuckled and hugged him, “How are you, ya sexy man!”
He smiled and hugged me tighter. “Better now that I'm in your arms.”
“How'd it go?”
“We'll discuss it on the way into town.”
I turned ,“Guys, rest a spell. We're going to get them back to the motel and get showers.”
Danny said, “That's ok, the women aren't here yet.”
I chuckled, “You better call and see where she is!”
He smiled, “Not happening. There are two things you do not rush women with....”
“I wouldn't know...”
He smiled, “You don't rush Stu in bed either!”
I laughed, “If he's wanting something on the way to Fast Eddie's and Mom getting her Range Rover, he's gonna get a quicky!”
We climbed in the truck and went to the motel. At the motel, they got ready and then, we went back to the airport where Donna and the girl. I went over and hugged them, “I'm Jeremy, what's your name?”
She smiled, “Melissa.”
“Hi Melissa. Here's a picture of the guy you'll be dating tonight. He'll be at the airport in Oletha.”
She looked at my phone and Donna looked at it and Melissa blushed. I said, “You can say it!”
She smiled bigger and I said, “He's a sweetheart.”
I dialed Rich and when he answered, I said, “You're going to see a plane full of our men land there. Do NOT get on that one. We're flying up to get you in a different one.”
“Ok. How soon?”
“We're about to take off, so it'll be about forty five minutes to an hour.”
“That's fine. Did you find someone?”
“Your future sister-in-law found someone. Her name is Melissa and she's Jerrett's sister, so keep your opinions about gays to yourself because her brother is!”
He sounded upset, “Man, I don't HAVE an opinion about gays except for your stupid ass boyfriends!”
“EX boyfriends. You'll like this one!”
“I certainly hope so, your last one was enough!”
“Since you're so interested in wanting to talk about my boyfriends, I'll tell you that she's damned good looking and doesn't have the buck teeth, squinty eyes, hair above her lip and stuff you're wanting to refer to!”
He laughed, “Asshole!”
I said, “You make yourself all pumped up dude. I showed her your picture and her smile got bigger and bigger.....God knows why!”
“Because she likes what she sees!”
“Probably blind as a bat...”
He laughed, “You're an asshole!”
“You're an asshole's cousin and don't even get me going on that because that'd be a fuck hole or something!”
Mike came over, “Jer', get on the plane!”
“I gotta go, they're in a hurry.”
We got in the plane and up in the air in no time. When we got to Oletha, I called ,“We're about to land.”
“All your people arrived and got headed in the right direction.”
“They're your people also.”
“Nice jet by the way!”
“We bought five more like it. Stu's is a little one painted like a Coke can.”
“We own two Coca Cola Bottling plants.”
“Yeah...speaking of which, you might know this answer....Do you know if the Miami tribe ever sells any of their investments?”
“Ooh, I don't know. Why?”
“They've got some quarries in Missouri I want to buy.”
“Let me make a call. I know a tribal elder who might know.”
I rang off and we got landed. As we taxied in, I dialed a friend of mine's number and when he answered, I said, “Hey Kye.”
(His name is Kyron....pronounced K eye run...We call him Kye for short.)
“Hey! How's it goin'?”
“Goin' good. I need to ask a question or few.”
“Ok, I might have an answer or few.”
“Have you ever painted a jet before?”
“No, if you wreck one, you're usually too fucked up or dead to worry about body work and repainting it.”
“I have a fleet of six them which need painting. One already has a logo on the tail of a company I bought out, but the others don't except for some blue and gold markings down the side.”
“What are they?”
“We had one which was a Bombardier 100 and all the new ones are Bombardier CRJ 200 XR/LR.”
“That XR/LR means it's an extended range or long range plane. Most likely it'll fly from here to Tokyo or from here to Berlin.”
“How many seats?”
“I was told 40, but I've not personally counted them.”
“Ok, I've found a picture of one on the internet. It's a pretty decent looking plane.”
“I like it because we don't have to stoop down to walk like we do in the little one.”
“What's that one?”
“Cessna Citation X.”
“Damned nice plane.”
“Stu likes it. We got it when we bought the Coca Cola Bottling plant in Springfield. We also got a Bell 206 Long Ranger III ”
He giggled, “That's one of the best choppers in the world!”
“I've not been up in it yet, but it's dressed up like a Coke can also.”
“What do you want them painted to look like?”
“I want them white and blue with a really pissed off looking Blue Jay.”
“How'd I know it would be a Blue Jay?”
“Hey man, my parents named me a cool name. It could've been Ballinger!” (Ball Blue)
He laughed and Dad said, “Be thankful you were a boy. If you'd been a girl, your name would've been Sky.”
I said, “That'd been cool, but being called Baby Blue all the way up to my name mysteriously changed to little boy Blue was a bit much...You don't know how many times I got asked if I wanted to blow someone's horn.
Finally, when I started saying, “Yeah, pull that motherfucker out here I'll show you it's gonna take a TUBA Vaseline to pull it back out of your ass when I get done punchin' it!
My 3rd Grade teacher was laughin' so hard she didn't get me in trouble of that one!”
Kye laughed, “Now you probably have Tuba Vaseline in your night stand!”
“Nah, if it took a tuba Vaseline to put anything up my ass, it'd needs to stay the hell out!”
Everyone laughed and Kye said, “Oh God!”
“I gotta get off the phone. My parents are listening to me talk!”
He laughed harder and I rang off.
We landed and I got out and went over to Rich and hugged him. He shook his head, “Those are some SHARP planes!”
“They need seat covers. I hate the ones we've got. When you get a chance to order a bunch of sheep skin seat covers, order enough for the entire fleet. By the way, I just spoke with Kye and he's going to paint 'em to look like a pissed off Blue Jay.”
He smiled and asked, “IS that her?”
I turned, “No, that's your sister-in-law. The one who's about to come off behind her is your date.”
“Danny has to be walking on clouds.....Oh....my.....God! PUHLEASE tell me that's Melissa!”
I turned, ,“Yeah....But think of cold showers and your Mom naked when you walk up because you walkin' up with a boner ain't gonna help get her introduced to anything but your dick!”
He started laughing and I said, “Ok, let's get your stuff and get it in the hold.”
“Introduce me dammit!”
“She's not GONNA carry your stuff for you! That comes AFTER marriage!”
Donna apparently heard and started laughing. She came over “Hi Rich. I'll introduce you to her!”
They went over and the pilot came out. I said, “We need the baggage door opened so we can put his things in there.”
He went back and opened it and then, Mike, I, Danny, and Dad carried a box or a bag. I said, “Man, I thought only gays or women considered this packing light!”
We took thing to the back and when I went back for more, I stepped up inside ,“Rich, you've obviously forgotten your need for clothes. Let's get you packed so we can ALL meet her!”
He came out smiling from ear to ear, “Is that Stu in there?”
“Yeah, he took his pills early so he'd not be a drag on everyone tonight. He's got to take these pills for his cancer an hour before we eat supper....It usually knocks him real down, but tonight, he's tired.”
He looked concerned, “What kind of cancer?”
“Kidney and pancreatic...”
He gave me a look, “That's what Dad died of!”
“Hon, we've got a good doctor. I'll let you meet him and you'll see they've got hope now.”
He looked off ,“Jer', I'm sorry.”
“Don't be sorry. Just be his friend.”
He gave a nod, “I'd like to speak with the doctor and do all I can.”
He came over and hugged me ,“Anytime you need to talk, let me know.”
“Do the same for him. IF I ever need to talk, I'll be a wreck because that means I've given up hope. Right now, it's all I can do to keep moving forward, so let's do that.”
“Mom did that. She kicks herself because she didn't spend more time with him....Don't do that to yourself.”
“Hey, we've got a lifetime together. It'll be fine!”
We went over and got the rest of his stuff and carried it back. The baggage area filled and we took some on and put it back to the back in between the seats.
We went back and sat down. In no time, we were taking off with me holding Stu's hand.
At St. Louis, we landed and I told everyone, “Guys, I'll go get the van and drive it here so you don't have to walk.”
Mike said, “Wait up!”
We caught the shuttle together and went out to the Avis lot. The van was brought around and we hopped in and went back around to get everyone.
When everyone was in, Mom asked, “Do you think we should get our car?”
“I think we ought to keep it here for when we need it to drive around the city.”
Mom said, “It'd be an expense.”
“I can buy it from you or whatever and keep it in the company's name.”
“No, you're buying that Range Rover. That's good enough!”
“Mom, I'll buy anyone who wants a Range Rover one today. I don't know if you heard the news, but I'll be a whole lot richer at the beginning of the month.”
Stu said, “I was going to let you break the news to her.”
I smiled, “Hon, you could've told her.”
“No, it's your news to tell!”
“It's OUR news to tell!”
I took a breath ,“The AT&T shares....He's never touched the dividends. All that's been rolling and collecting interest. After taxes, it's going to be something like $7 billion.”
Mom looked schocked, “My God!”
“We're putting $5 of it back into AT&T preferred shares. It's a small return, but it'll be something like another $300 million or something like that a year.”
She smiled, “Ok, what are you doing with the rest?”
“We're investing a billion up home and we're investing a billion down in Branson. We're buying Bronson from it and we'll be getting a lot of other things like Huntington stone and possibly the cement plant.
Other than that, we're buying the St. Pete. Inn.. I've been told it's a money pit, but the location is one of the best in town.”
looked shocked, “All of those are a lot of money!”
“Yeah, but it's where I want to put it. In regards to what Stu wants, I'm not sure, but we'll figure things out.”
Stu said, “I'm happy.”
In no time, we pulled into the Range Rover dealership. Mom got excited because she saw they had their's pulled up front.
I paused ,“Everyone, if I may have your attention please.
I'm buying my Mom and Dad their Range Rover as an “I love you” present. The rest of you are employees and can pick out the one you want as an employee vehicle if you'd like.
Donna, you find one and I'll get it for you two as a couple IF it's a pre-engagement gift!”
She smiled and Danny really blushed. We got out and I went over to the salesman. “Here's my card. My Mom and Dad have already discussed their's with you, but it goes on this card. Aside from the brunette out there in the white shirt, put all the others on this card and title them as employee vehicles of the Blue Jay Corporation.
The brunette out there...put her's on this card with my parents.
Run a check on the cards and you'll see there's plenty enough to spend....but we need to work fast because I've got to be someplace else in an hour.”
He nodded, “Ok.”
Danny was inside looking at the green Range Rover SC. He asked, “What's the difference between this and your Mom's sport?”
“The front end styling. The fact that it has better availability of options...and a supercharger. Other than that, it's probably got a different ride being a sport rather than luxury.”
“I like this green.”
“Which isn't available on a sport...Sit in it and see if you like the interior. If so, have 'em pull it out so you can test drive it.”
Dad came in, “Son?”
“Yeah Dad....pick whatever you want.”
He smiled ,“I was hoping you'd say that.”
“Dad, you're welcome to whatever you want.”
He smiled and hugged me. “Thanks.”
I went over to Mike and Michele, “You guys getting what you like?”
Mike said, “See if they have one in blue. If they don't, they'll have it in two days.”
“AND, we'll have it delivered down there.”
“Let's go see.”
“What's Michele want?”
“She wants one like yours except in white.”
“Let's go tell 'em so they can get 'em ordered.”
I went over to Stu. “Babe?”
“Bullshit. What's going on?”
“It's just these pills. It seems like I take 'em and feel terrible for a few hours. After that, it gets better.”
“Let's call him. We're in town.”
“He says this is normal.”
“Ok, but tomorrow, if you're not feeling better, I'm going to have you standing in front of him. For all we know, this might be an allergic reaction to it and because it's us saying you feel bad, he's thinking it's something different.”
“I want this truck.”
“Ok, you get it, but please...” I put my hand on his, “Trucks....planes....money....they don't mean a thing Stu. I want you.”
“Thank you. I'll be here, it's just going to be a tough pull.”
He looked over and rubbed the back of his fingers across my cheek. “Don't cry.”
“Stu, several times today I just wanted you and nothing else. I don't want you thinking I'm running from this. It's life and it's us getting what we want, but not at the expense of us feeling like it's separating us.”
He shook his head, “Not happening. Tomorrow will be better....I know you love me.”
“I do. I know you love me too.”
“I fall in love with you over and over. Right now, I want nothing more than to hold you.”
“Let's pull an easier day tomorrow.”
“I'll get them to doing the paperwork on this.”
“How are we going to do this?”
“Have 'em deliver 'em. If they sell this many, they damned well better deliver 'em.”
He gave me a smirk, “Go get 'em tiger!”
“Only you make me growl.”
He smiled, “Later.”
I got out of the truck and went in to tell the salesman. “That SC out there is going to Stu, but we gotta talk.”
“Sure, what about?”
“Two things. First of all, we've got to be someplace in an hour, so you're going to have to deliver these to Branson, Missouri.”
He gave me a stare and I said, “Charge me, and I'll take my Autobiography to a Mercedes Benz dealer closer along with all these sales. I'm buying damned near a million dollars worth of vehicles...you can deliver them.”
“12% discount. I'm not going to take less. I know what you mark these things up because I see you throwing the sales online....They're marking every one of them down 12%. Tell 'em that's what I expect.”
“Those are last year's models.”
“Four of these out here are last year's. I don't see the difference between the new ones and the old ones except prices....I guess I'll work with a Benz dealer.”
“We're the Mercedes Dealer here in town.”
“And Mercedes has more dealers than Rover...Go figure, because I know there's a dealer in Springfield....and if need be, he's going to get what we need from you at wholesale....12%.”
“I'll have to run that by my Manager.”
“You already know the money's good, let's see if you see that rental driving off your lot before I get that approval...You just remember I'm working with a time line and you're not financing these things. I'll own your bank before you finance a thing I buy!”
He gave me a look and I turned to Mike, “Interested in a Mercedes?”
Mike said, “One drives as good as another. I guess that's why we don't see Range Rovers around...you can't deal with them.”
I gave a nod, “Before I take a slap to the face by this dealer, I'll have the CEO of this company on my phone asking him what $5 billion investment would get me if I chose to send the money that way....I wonder if I could get Range Rover ripped from this dealer in the most public of ways.”
He said, “I'll be back with my Manager.”
He walked away and Mike chuckled, “I think he's wondering if you have the money and why you're wanting a better deal.”
“The depreciation on these things is something terrible. I'm not jumping from the boat because ALL vehicles depreciate too fast, but I'm not going to pay full price knowing they're going to throw these on sale at any moment.”
The manager came in with the salesman, “What seems to be the problem?”
“No problem sir. I want a discount of 12% for buying all these trucks.”
“And you're wanting delivery?”
“The delivery I'm not even going to ask for anymore. You'll do that or we're walking now.”
Dad came up and heard. He said, “I'll go tell your Mom that truck isn't going to be.”
“Tell Mom she'll get a Mercedes today and a Range Rover as an apology to her in two weeks when I invest the $5 billion in that company.”
The manager said, “Let's not be too hasty here.”
“Sir, contact my banker if you think I'm filling you full of shit. He'll tell you I had nothing last week, but I've got damned near $8 billion this week and that's just dividends.”
He gave me a look and I exhaled, “I don't have to prove a thing to you. It's 12% discount for us to stay and it's a yes or no now.”
Mike said, “Let's go get in the van Michele.”
“Get Donna, Danny, and the rest, but make sure Stu isn't passed out in his....If he is, I'm calling the news channels before I call 911 and his doctor. I want proof so I can take it to the board of Rover.”
voice had went lower and less than kind....the manager had definitely
heard the pace of the sale change and the tone of my voice. He showed
by his body language of walking between me and the door.
“I'll give the 12%.”
“And the delivery.”
He gave a nod and I said, “We need your people working on this damned fast. There are two orders here for Biographies and six other outright buys.”
“What are the special orders?”
“He wants a blue and she wants a white with white....We'll see if we can do a speed round on this because I've GOT to be down at LaClede's Landing at a building I own there.”
Mom came in looking none too happy. “What's this that I'm not getting this truck!”
“He's dealing with us now.”
“We're having them delivered to Branson.”
The manager said, “Who needs one?”
I pointed, “That one out there goes to my Dad...The Black SC. IF you'd get different people taking down the numbers and getting the paperwork rolling, we'd have this done in no time.
I'm looking at the clock here and I'm seeing we've got 25 minutes to be down the street, so tell me what it's going to take to speed things up here because I'm moving that van when I've got 5 minutes to go. That's not a threat, that's a promise.”
The manager saw I was sincere and I said, “Sorry dude, but we've been jacking around here for nearly 10 minutes to see if I was going to buy something.”
I turned to Rich, “Did you find something?”
“Yeah. Can we have whatever we want?”
“That one over there in the show room....The brilliant white one.”
The manager got on it ,“Jim, get over there and get the paperwork moving on that one!”
Stu came in and saw the bedlam. He smiled and came over, “Do you do this everywhere you go? Donna came out and said you were givin' 'em hell.”
“Hon, I'd tell you it took great skill to make things as they are, but it seems to come quite easy anymore!”
He laughed and Mike really cracked up. Mike said, “Stu, I'd tell you I remember a day when he used to be shy, but you'd think I'm lying!”
Stu smiled, “It hasn't been recently!”
Mike nodded his head, “NO! He's getting to be skilled at getting things moving along.”
The manager came over, “I believe we've got the paperwork moving now.”
“Do you have Stu's out there?”
“Let me take a look.”
He walked over ,“No, I'll get that one processed.”
“Stu went over and gave his information and then, the manager had a woman take it for further processing. He said, “Ok, is everyone waited on?”
I looked around ,“I guess that's it. Let me pay and then, we'll see what else is needed.”
He added up everything and gave me the total. I looked it over and asked, “How many people did you get involved in all this?”
He looked around and did a count. “Twenty one.”
“I'm adding $21,000 for tips”...and did the transfer on speakerphone. When the woman said, “Your transaction is completed sir, will there be any others.” I said, “No, thank you.”
I hung up ,“You should get a confirmation shortly by email or however you get yours.”
He said, “It's fine. I trust you.”
“I appreciate everything. Now, I've got to roll. You'll have them delivered tomorrow?”
“Everything but the ones we ordered. The orders, I see we've got the white one in Pompano Beach, Florida and the Blue is in Mission Viejo, California. It'll take us a couple days to get them.”
“I appreciate it.”
We got out and went down to LaClede's Landing and parked. When we got out, we walked to the pub and found it really busy. The man was behind the bar and recognized me. He smiled and waved, “Hi! Come on in....come on in...!”
We went in and I walked over close to him ,“I've brought my construction people to take a look at everything to see how we're going to get it out of here. While we're here, we'll have some fun...I see you're having Karaoke.”
“How long's the line? And what kind of music?”
“There's a complete catalog. The line isn't long.”
“I'll go pick a couple to liven things up.”
I went over and picked two “Dancing On My Own” and “Indestructible” by Robyn.
When “Indestructible” came up, I climbed up on the bar and took the cordless mic and told 'em to crank up the music. At the end, the crowd cheered and we went on into “Dancing On My Own”. I put it into a Boz Skaggs/Bob Segar style of voice and did the robotic dance. The guy on the music put it up another few notches. People really started flowing in and at the end of the song, I went into an Accapella version of “Heartbreak Hotel” Hex Hector by Whitney Houston using the same voice.
At the end, the beat happened for “He wasn't Man Enough For Me” and Donna climbed up on the bar and took the mic. I got the crowd to clapping along. She worked it and really belted it out and at the end, the crowd went wild.
Danny helped her down and really lay one on her. The crowd really cheered again and I went behind the bar to help with the rush.
The guy was really smiling. He said, “You could run one HELLUVA bar!”
I chuckled and shook my head, but when I saw the guys were ready to leave. I said, “Ok, we gotta go. It's been fun. Work 'em.”
We all walked down the street back to the van and all the way, we were having a good time. We got in and began the drive up to Alton to get to Fast Eddie's.
As soon as we went in, we got in line to order our food. Ed came over. “Hey!”
I turned ,“Hey Bud! I brought the whole bunch tonight. I need you to meet 'em. Here's my Mom and Dad.”
He smiled, “I know them! They're here a lot without you!”
“Now you know who got 'em started!”
He smiled real big and I said, “Of course, you know Mike. This is his wife Michele. Right here are my cousins Danny and Rich...and these are their 'dates' Donna and Melissa. I tell ya we're tryin' to get Danny Wayne to pop the question, but he wants to make it romantic. Over here is my partner Stu.”
“What happened to the other guy?”
“I took the trash out and he went with it....OR, I could say Gypsy covered him up in her poo pan thinking him to be what he was!”
He laughed real loud, “There ya go!”
“I'm down in Branson now. If you get a chance, come down and see our theater. Here's some tickets.”
He looked at them. “Viennese Waters?”
“We're switching the name to Hillbilly Falls by Memorial Day as we're remodeling. We're taking it from the hidden gem of Branson to the biggest and the best...10,000 seats running shows which will probably be sold out 10 times a day.”
He sort've gave a frown. “To see a water show?”
Mom handed him a DVD ,“Sneak back and watch this. It's better than anything we've ever seen.”
He gave a nod, “I'll do that. Get yourselves something to eat. I'll get you some seats.”
We went through and Stu came up, “He seems nice and this place is REALLY doing the business!”
“12,000 a week...50,000 a month in foot traffic. He sells more beer, sells more hamburger, sells more french fries, sells more everything than any other private restaurant in the world. There's an award book someplace and he's got everything sewn up.”
We went through the line and got the shrimp. Stu made a face, “Why shrimp if we're ordering hamburgers? And why are you insisting I get two of those half pounders?”
“They're that good.”
Mom yelled, “You don't want to stand in this line again. You get what you THINK you'll want because you'll eat the shrimp waiting and then, you'll want that food instead of waiting again.”
We ordered and I showed him our ticket number 785. I pointed ,“They're on 695 right now. They call 'em 5 at a time and as you see, they keep all of those grills going full blast and all those fryers full of fries.”
He nodded, “This is just crazy!”
“All the time. They open at 4pm and there's a line outside. You get in early to get a seat and then, you stand if you get here by 6....However, there's a trick.”
“They never sit by the bathrooms.” I pointed over and he frowned, “Why?”
“They think it's too busy. If it comes to me sitting down and eating or standing up getting it dumped on me, I'm sitting there!”
Eddie came out and handed Mom the DVD. He turned ,“I'm advertising for you! To say I'm surprised is just shocking. I thought...'Ho hum' a water show. And by the end, I'm wanting to watch more!”
I chuckled ,“Now you know why we're building it so big! We know word will get out about it like it has here and we'll fill the seats...it's just having it ready for when they get there.”
He asked, “Can I make a suggestion?”
“Send those DVDs out to the television channels to get them doing interviews. They can show a snippet and you'll have everyone heading that direction.”
“I'm borrowing your idea for food. As you saw, we're going to have two large porches to feed 'em on.”
“I'll get you the supplier list I've got.”
“I appreciate it.”
He smiled, “You sell beer and become the biggest seller of beer in Missouri and I'll do it over here.”
“I'll defer to you.”
Stu leaned in, “I love this!”
Eddie smiled, “You fit in here. We'll keep YOU around!”
Stu laughed ,“I've heard enough horror stories about the other one!”
Eddie shook his head, “I don't get gay guys in here often. I like Jer', but hated that last one. He was a real floater.”
Stu laughed and Eddie said, “Band's arriving. Are you going to sing?”
“I'll sing a set.”
He smiled, “Ok...you'll knock 'em dead.”
He walked off and Stu asked, “Do you always sing here?”
“Hon, it started on one of those nights....”
He smiled real big. “However, the next night, I came in and he let me do it sober.”
He leaned in, “I want this menu, but I want a few other things.”
“I'm just amazed. It's non-stop! Everyone comes in and they get food and dump money into the registers!”
“Watch the ice guys. They bring ice to ice down the shrimp and dump the til in the ice bucket. That's how they get it out.”
The band got set up and I recognized Gary. I said, “Hang on a second. I'll be back.”
I went over to Donna, “You wanna sing the same song?”
gave me a look ,“Ok!”
Mom turned ,“The band is my cousin's son.”
Donna looked surprised and I said, “I'm gonna sing a set and then, I'll call you up to introduce you.”
I walked over to the stage and Gary saw me. “Hey!”
I gave him a hug ,“When you're warming up, I'd like to sing a set and then, have Donna sing “He Wasn't Man Enough.”
“What do you want to sing?”
“They usual, but I'd like to add 'Dancin' On My Own' and 'Indestructible' by Robyn....We sang them downtown earlier with Karioke and it filled the place.”
He gave a nod....and I felt a hand on my shoulder. I turned to see Scott and gave him a hug. “Hey Bud!”
He smiled, “Long time no see!”
I turned, “Guys, what are you doing Memorial Day weekend? Fourth of July? And Labor Day? I'd love to have you every weekend, but that's up to you.”
Gary gave me a surprised look, “Where?”
“In Branson. My new partner has a theater there, but I want some entertainment outside. If you have 20 minutes, Eddie will let you watch the DVD of what we've got going on. He's totally blown away.”
Gary nodded. “As soon as I get my drums set up. I'll go do that.”
“Take Scott and the band. You're going to be describing it and have them going to watch it...That's how blown away you'll be.”
He nodded. “If he'll let us. Are you going to sing that one tonight?”
“I'll start off with the ones by Robyn and then, go through the Segar, Skaggs, and then I'll get into those emotional ones so we can get out with some fun ones.”
He nodded and Eddie came up. I turned, “I'd like to ask if you'll let them see that DVD as a group. I'm trying to get them so we can have them performing on the porch for the weekends.”
He said, “Guys, don't underestimate what you're thinking when he tells you. I'm so blown away that I'd love to have a big screen here and show it. If that doesn't tell you I think it's great, nothing will.”
I said, “I'll entertain 'em while they're watching that.”
Eddie smiled ,“That's a deal!”
I asked, “I need the mic and that's it. I'll get 'em going....preferably a cordless mic with range throughout this place.”
I got given the mic and went into Pink's 'Get The Party Started' and 'Raise Your Glass'. By the time the band was back, I was moving all over the building involving everyone and keeping them entertained singing Beer For My Horse. We went into the band's segment and then, Donna came up.
When I finally sat down, the crowd realized I wasn't a part of the band and went nuts. THAT'S when the MGD's (Miller Genuine Draft) started getting delivered!
For the next 2 hours, we partied and had a good time. Then, we went to the East Side to dance.
When we went in, I think Danny/Donna and Rich/Melissa were apprehensive. Yeah, it's a gay club, but after Missouri's bars shut, it kicks into high gear and truly becomes a 'rainbow' themed club because EVERYONE goes there.
When we got inside we went up to the back side of the bar and found some tables. We got our drinks and all the girls really tipped the guys serving who were only wearing jocks. The guys were all eyes, but once they realized there were more straight couples than gays, they got into it.
What was nice is everyone had had enough to drink they were relaxed. Melissa had lost her shyness and was her smiling self laughing and telling jokes as much as everyone else.
She surprised Rich, I think, because once she got to dancing, she kept him out on the floor.
Mom and Dad being ever the dancers moved through swing and quick steps with Dad sliding and dipping Mom to the point they were being noticed by everyone.
Stu gave me a surprised look, “THEY can dance!”
I smiled ,“Every Thursday night, they went to dance lessons. If there's a dance, they can do it.”
Stu and I went out on the dance floor a LOT. We danced and danced and danced until finally Mom said, “We gotta go home. I can barely keep my eyes open!”
We left and got to the airport and got the van turned in. Mike and I got back with the group and to the plane in little time and then, we were in the air.
Back at Branson, we went to the motel and because we'd forgotten to get Rich a room, he and Melissa took the other bedroom of our suite.
Write Me A Love Story
Notes From Retta:
From My Keyboard To Your Heart,
The author, RettaMichaels copyrights this story and retains all rights. This work may not be edited, changed, or duplicated in any form, media [ known or unknown ], without the author's expressed permission. All applicable copyright laws apply. RettaMichaels does NOT give editorial consent in order for this to be published. If it is deemed unpublishable in it's context, permission much be granted before publication or changes occur.
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“From My Keyboard To Your Heart”,”'Retta”,“RettaMichaels”.“Retta”,“Rhett”, and “Rhette” are all Trademark of RettaVonnMichaels L.L.C. None of these trademarks may be used, or authorized without consent.
Disclaimer: All individuals depicted are fictional, and any resemblance to real persons, locations, or incidents is purely coincidental.