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

Write Me A Love Story


Chapter Fourteen:



At 6am, Mike gave me a call. I got up and went in and took a shower. Within minutes, Stu was getting into the shower with me.


Good morning babe. I was going to let you sleep in.”


I'm fine.”


I washed him and we made out and got out of the shower. Rich knocked ,“Gotta use the bathroom!”


We went out and he went in. “Are you working today?”


Yeah.”


Ok. Is Melissa?”


She's already out there.”


Oh! How'd it go?”


Man!” he said smiling real big.


I'm gonna tell you what I know....IF you date her four times, you might as well be married because that's the way they believe. IF you get her pregnant, you WILL be married and there's no if's, and's, or but's about it.”


He gave me a smirk, “That might be good.”


You'll be working with Jerrett today. Watch what he does and you'll know what you'll be doing.

Basicly put, you're going to be a job foreman. You'll oversee the men and you'll be working under Danny who is the main foreman.

My rules are these....so you'll know how it goes.

No one cusses my people. Not you, not them, not anyone. IF they do, they're fired.

No one calls each other names. It's the same as cussing and no, I won't put up with it.

Other than that, IF they ask you say yes....Most likely, they don't ask or complain until they need something, so you say yes and move Heaven, hell, and earth to get it for them.”


Ok.”


We're going to have a pay ranking schedule. It's all variable, but the person who makes the MOST money on the entire place is LynnAnne who is the crane operator. She's making $100 an hour and if you want to know why, you see she's damned good...She lifted two houses yesterday and broke just a few pieces of siding.”


He looked surprised and I said, “You're going to see people working in your groups who don't know what they're doing, but they're trying their best. Don't mess them up, but train if you see there's a problem.

Today, we're beginning on laying the asphalt. We're going to be laying it down damned fast and I'll tell you I'm going to be working a crew just because I want a down day.

About 2pm, Stu's gotta take his medication. After that, it's zonking his ass out, so watch him.”

Stu said, “I'm ok Jer'.”


Babe, here's what I'm concerned about. Yesterday was bad, the day before was a little less worse, and the day before was less than that. The stuff's supposed to be keeping you out of a grave and if it's sliding you closer, I'm not happy with it....so we're going to watch you.

Now, if you'd LIKE, I'll shut everything off and we'll be together every second until I know you're in the clear, but I don't want you feeling like I'm babysitting you.

You can deal with people checking on you, or you can deal with me being there, so take your choice!”


He smiled, “You'll be off at 6?”


Yeah, I'll be up here getting showered and then, we're going to do something different for dinner even if I gotta cook!”


He laughed, “What do you want?”


Your ass nude on a platter would be great, but since that's not happening, I guess we'll find something.”


Do you want to call Rhen and John and see if they'd like to do something?”


Yeah, that'd be wonderful.”


He nodded, “I'll call.”


I turned to Rich. “Take one of the trucks out to the plane and get your things. IF you need someone, let me know and I'll get you someone.”


How do I get a room?”


I turned to Stu, “Hon, that's your job. He'll probably want it with Melissa.”


He asked, “Is that why you're pressing marriage on Danny?”


I'm not pressing anything on him that he's not already thinking. Look at the two of them and you know they're in love big time.

You and Melissa are attracted to each other and think each other are sexy as hell, but Danny's in the league of “I'm gonna love you for the rest of your life”.

You'll get there with Melissa when you have your first kid, but you need to realize this....Her brother is hot. Her Mom is probably hot as hell....and you're going to need to know you're going to be dealing with someone who looks like that for a damned long time.

I'm telling you that because the genes in these hills are amazing. You're going to realize some of these guys you THINK are 40 or 50 are in their 70's...so don't pick a fight you don't want your ass kicked four or five times with one.”


Really!”

“Yeah....so don't judge a book by it's cover out there, you might just find that book has more grandkids and great grandkids than you can imagine and ALL of them will kick your ass if you mess with grandpa....including your old lady!”


He smiled, “Ok!”


Another thing....no fighting in the rooms. Leave your boots and grungy clothes outside unless you want to buy a carpet. We'll be doing that at ALL of our motels we stay at and yes, we've got guards who watch things.”


I was interrupted by my telephone ringing. “Hello?”


Paula said, “He's heading down there with a bunch of guys.”


Do this...Call Bubby and get as much moved as you can. I'll have you the guys to get you moved, but you move everything you want while we've got that time.”


He says he's killing you.”


Hon, I'm not worried. I appreciate the heads up, but how long ago did they leave?”


They just left the city limits. I wanted to be sure he was really going before I called you.”


Here's what I want you to do....I bought your house yesterday and I'm having Mark make up an eviction notice. When you get it, I want you saying you've had it for a while. Ok?”


Yeah.”


Don't worry, but don't accept any phone calls from any jails either. There will be a lot of them but I promise you HIS will be IF they allow inmates to make calls from the hospital out here...which I doubt. Now, I've got one question. Are there more than four guys?”


Yeah.”


Good. That's all I needed to know. You call Bubby and tell him that if he did NOT get the keys for that plane from Mark, he should have last night.”


Ok.”


Thanks for calling.”


I hung up and dialed Sheriff Patrick. He answered, “Hello?


Hi, this is Jeremy Blue. I've just gotten a call telling me I've got a bunch of gypsy asphalters leaving the city limits of Hannibal coming to kill me.

I'm going up in my helicopter and I'm going to radio where they are and how far they've made it. When they make it to your county, do all you can to pull over the trucks I tell you, but leave the white GMC dually diesel to drive on...I want that fucker on my property so I can beat him down.

What I don't need is the others he's involved in this conspiracy to commit murder anywhere around.

I'll tell you this....if you do NOT have them pulled over by the time they reach THIS county, you're going to have the biggest fuckin' pile up in your county's history because I'm going to be there driving the concrete trucks which are broadsiding theirs. WHEN the news gets there, I'll not be so kind. Am I making myself clear?”


Yeah.”


I want the truck registering to Fogle getting through. You just be advised his truck WON'T make it out of this county...it'll be put through a crusher out at the quarry and shot to the bottom of the pit. He's already been told I'll not take a threat kindly and now, he's going to see I fulfill my promises.”


There are a lot of charges I can put on 'em.”


Conspiracy to commit murder keeps them in jail the longest with the highest bail. Racketeering would be another since there's more than four in the conspiracy...and yeah, it DOES involve money. It also involves asphalting equipment.

What you MIGHT do is you might look through their trucks to see if there's one receipt book. IF there is, that's a conspiracy to commit theft unless you find DOT and business permits.”


He chuckled, “Ok.”


I'll let you know how close he's getting.”


I hung up ,“Stu, plan change. You and me are going up in a chopper to track some idiots.” I turned to Rich. “Eric is your brother in law's boyfriend....It's his Dad who's on his way.”


OH!”


I'd tell you the entire situation, but let's just say that the man is pissed because I told Eric the truth about how they've been screwing him out of a lot of money and took the equipment Eric was owed.

Now they obviously have heard there's money to be made someplace, so they think they can come get the equipment and kill me if need be to get go it.

If and when I call you, you get Eric to safety. He's going to look in this motel and he'll look out there where the asphalt's being laid, so take him up here to one of the fast food places.”


My phone rang, “Hello?”


Sheriff Ben asked, “Are you aware there's a death threat being made on you?”


Yes sir. I'm about to go to the helicopter to see how far they've gotten.

What YOU can do is this...Sheriff Patrick has probably called the information out along usual ways to get here from Hannibal.

I'll tell you now, they don't use usual roads...not even when they're driving without equipment. The way they'll go is they'll go over to Monroe County and head south and come down through Centralia, Hallsville, Columbia and THEN, they'll go over on Interstate 70 to Highway 65 and come on down.

At 70, they'll stop at the truck stop and refuel. They'll do that because they can get diesel on a fuel number that is so worn out that it's probably 7 or 8 years lapsed.”


Interesting.”


One time a long time ago, someone went legit and then backed out. When he backed out, that fuel number went out for anyone and everyone to use.

When you check that number, you're going to find the man whose name it's registered to has been dead four years.”


Want 'em stopped at the truck stop?”


I want all of 'em allowed to go on until they get to Springfield. The man who's making the threats is Eric's Dad. His wife is leaving him and packing up everything and if I give the heads up with them being gone just a few hours, she doesn't get the place cleaned out and packed into a U-Haul.

It's not going to matter much where they're caught, but it matters more to me that they've driven five or six hours before they've been caught...That means whoever bails them out has to drive that far to come and get them!”


He laughed, “Ok! I never thought of it that way!”


I want Eric's Dad in this county. I'll tell you now that for making the threat to kill me, I'm going to beat that man within an inch of his life and crush his truck in my rock crusher out there. IF you're interested in finding it, it'll be at the bottom of the old quarry...but I hear you'll be finding LOTS of missing vehicles there!”


He laughed, “Yeah. You're more honest than most. At least I know where you're planning on putting it!”


I'm telling you so that if you see a new oily sheen on top of the water out there, you know what it was.”


Ok.”


Other than that, you might pull them over and see if they've got any pistols or weapons. I doubt if they do other than tire irons.

I think he's going to lose his nerve when he starts seeing everyone getting arrested and picked off, but you never know. He wants the equipment for a reason and it's probably due to him being told someone's making money someplace and he's wanting to go...that's how it works.”


How does all that work?”


Ok, you have one who goes out and makes a kill. It's not news until he's made enough kills to work a week and then, that's telling everyone else the Sheriff in that county isn't arresting. THAT gets everyone descending upon that county. Word goes out like wildfire and you'll suddenly see a cheap motel fill up with asphalters.

A NORMAL Sheriff would start running and checking paperwork, but normal Sheriffs don't target them because they view 'em as good old boys trying to make an honest living. If they knew the amount of thievery which happens when a group is in an area, they'd take 'em all in.”


Like what kind of thievery?”


It's the “I'm better than you” mentality. IF one makes an honest sale, the other's going to try to make $300 more than the one so he can brag about it. The next is going to try making $1000 more and the next is going to try topping them all off by trying to make $10 or $15,000 more...

You might not hear it in a phone call, but someone's gotten fucked...and old people fearing that they'll come back and burn their house down in the middle of the night go ahead and pay it.

What I'll tell you is this....IF someone tells them they're going in the house and calling the cops, they're out of there like you wouldn't believe. That's when motels find clothes, food, and everything else left because no one's going back to get things.”


Why?”


I lost a laptop and some clothes in South Carolina when we had to leave out fast. I was told that the second I paid for that dump truck, I could go get my shit....and to go ahead and figure I was gonna lose both when I got arrested.

I left it, but after that, I packed everything in the morning and insisted for it to be put in a truck. They bitched and finally, I told 'em “Fuck you, I lost shit to your chicken shit fears before, I won't do it again. Either shut it, or I'm catchin' the next bus home!”.

Needless to say, they never bitched again, but they did make lots of fun of me having to pack and unpack....but what they did was they fucked with my stuff just once before I beat asses and totaled his truck beating the fuck out of it with a ball bat all-the-while cussing the man and telling him, “Hey, you wanna fuck with my stuff??? I'll fuck with yours and anyone else's who wants to cross that line!”

Needless to say, the reputation got put out there that I'd kill someone over my stuff and fuck up their shit WAY MORE than they would mine.

Now, have I had to go to various Sheriffs and tell them my stuff was in a vehicle they impounded? Yeah, but they usually let me do that if they see I've got a bus ticket out of there.”


It sounds like a terrible life.”


It's exciting because you're living on the road all the time. It sort've fulfills that thing of when they were young and wanted to be a rock star. You'll figure out a LOT of them play musical instruments or are into some really heavy metal music. Me, I can't say I was into the metal, but like last night, I performed and did a so-so decent job.”


I heard you took over the place and did one helluva job!”


I giggled, “Damn you talk to Donna early in the morning!”


He laughed, “She's excited about getting that truck.”


Did she tell you that she sang also?”


Yeah, she said she had a blast.”


Anyway, now you know the mentality of an asphalter. They work hard, but they make decent money and try to stay out of the hot as much as possible, but it's a helluva life.”


A lot of them working there love it and can't believe how easy it is.”


“We're going to be working our asses off next week and for 60 days laying concrete.”


“Where?”


Up between Hannibal and Mexico. I bought a construction company which IF it were allowed to stay as it is, they'd be bankrupt and out of business in 90 days...and that's after being in business some 40 plus years.

What they did was they let the employees run the place and counted on them to pull 'em through. Well, some bad luck and poor weather got 'em into trouble and now, they're going to learn I'll throw everything I have at it in order to pull 'em away from the fire.”


Instantly, I made a mental note to call Newt about having him paint the jets.


He said, “That ought to be some good money for 'em working on that job.”


Yeah, it's 12 hour days 7 days a week for probably 4 or 5 weeks, but they'll have a real heavy primer on how to build a highway. In the end, they'll see about $20,000 out of it and think I'm great, but they'll look back on it and think they worked their asses off.

What I'll tell you is this....The job is right at $400 million, but in that same 3 months they go past the due date, they could've had to pay that out plus some in fines....which is what they're looking at now.”


MAN!”


The man sold the company for $130 million rather than face it. That tells you how scared he is or was...Now, he sees me throwing equipment and people at it and we'll most likely see an extra $100 million in bonuses because we'll bring it in early.

For us, that's a feather in our cap because it gets us some equipment he should've had. It's most likely going to buy us a quarry and mining company up there which is absolutely HUGE.

Once again, you'll see me doing like I'm doing down here....weeding out the gypsies and under the table contractors and getting us out of competing against them.”


Interesting on the levels you think.”


It's gotta be. If you don't think on all the levels, you don't change anything and end up competing against those who suck at your bottom line. It's interesting because YOU see it as decreased unreported crimes which have people feeling bad about their fellow man.”


I'm learning a lot here how it works. I guess I never really thought about it too much.”


“Ben, here's the thing I'll tell you about...When you get rid of the gypsies, and when you know where to look, you can get rid of a LOT of the crimes which are in the shadows.

I'm sure you're dealing with copper thefts and I'm sure you're dealing with a lot of thefts of metals. Really, all it takes is making arrests in those scrap metal dealers and getting people in there undercover who start taking pictures and only pay in checks to those thieves.

I'll guaranty you that if you do that and you take pictures of the metal they bring in, you're going to start finding out who stole what where.”


Hmm, we're going to have to talk about that!”


It takes knowing how to look at it from the bottom side. I'll tell you they run from things which they KNOW are setting them up to go to prison, but by the time they're in there, it's already like a trap which has been sprung.

The thing there is this....Scrap metal dealers need to be arrested also. You'd arrest someone for receiving stolen merchandise if it was elsewhere, but for some reason, you protect someone who's supposed to be a businessman.

Well, keep the honest ones in business and root out all the others. It's not that hard for them to be legit and walk away from something which smells wrong...and it's certainly good for them if you tell them they're going to have to document their purchases to keep their asses out of prison.

That man isn't going to go out and pay money to have someone campaign against you because he knows you've got him dead to the wrong. He's going to start doing what it takes to keep HIMSELF out of prison and do what's needed. ALL it takes for you to see if he's actually doing that is putting some suspect metal through in an undercover operation and see if he's doing things right. If not, hold his balls to the wall when you find the thieves are selling to him....OR park a car with a video camera in it at the entrance and see the thieves shy away from him.”


He laughed, “Man you should be in my department!”


When you use that car, you video tape all sides of it. Some smart ass MIGHT leave that car's front half and the camera sitting there and cut all the metal from behind the camera and sell it OR throw a tarp over it from behind.

I'll tell you right now in St. Louis, they're taking an armored car into crime riddled areas and video taping with it. It's painted up to tell them they're taping with it and thieves and crime are going down with it.

ME, I looked at the news article ,“They're total dumb asses. I'd drive up with a tarp over my pickup truck and throw it over the som'bitch and then do my crime right in front of it and THEN possibly paint the under side of that tarp pink with swine and words all over it just to show them IT CAN be outsmarted.”


He laughed, “You're an asshole!”


“It's a game of cops and robbers to them. If you outsmart me, I'm going to get craftier and outsmart you right back. What YOU DO is you hang a video cam in a tree across the street a few days before you park that truck and they're focusing on that truck so much they forget about that camera. THEN, when they do it, you're catching the ones who think they're slick and it's surprising the shit out of them!”


He laughed, “Ok!”


You gotta think about how they're going to outsmart you before you do something novel....it's putting steel toed shoes on so that when they stomp your toes, they're the ones who are surprised.

Me. Right now, I'm working backwards and creating the plan to get WHO I want in the trap today and leaving everyone out. At the same time, it's getting Sheriff Patrick up there something he can sink his teeth into so he's got it for future reference.

For me, it's getting Fogle in the trap and letting him know I'm a rotten person to think about wanting to kill....Just don't be too surprised if you're called by the Sheriff up at Marion County asking you to investigate a kidnapping and the theft of a man's truck.”


Why?”


Because AFTER I beat that som'bitch half to death, I'm putting him in my jet and taking him back up there! He's going to go to that hospital reporting he was waylaid and kidnapped and flown back up there and the Sheriff's gonna get the report because he's not been told of the situation.

He'll be calling you and that's when you can say, “Man, I'm not going to investigate something I know to be different and if you're smart, you wouldn't be either. The kid's investing too much money in my county and yours for YOU to really be too concerned about failings you should've handled differently”...and then, you tell him what you know and he's like, “Ooh, gotta step back from that!”


He laughed, “Who's the Sheriff up there?”


A guy by the name of Jimmy Shinn. He's a sweet guy and comes from a background where they were raised in a tough environment, but he's the cream of the crop.

I'll tell you his Daddy was a cop and when he got off the force, he went into residential homes. They worked themselves up and each step of the way, they made money.

Now, he's Sheriff and I'm happy for him, but here's what I'll tell you which is the right God's honest truth.

He sees in black and white instead of grays. He does investigations and the prosecutor gets him arrests, but at the same time, the prosecutor tells him to step away from certain fires.”


How?”


Here's how....and it's the same here if you really want to think about it. IF you have a crime you know someone committed, but it's in the gray area, do you arrest?”


It depends.”


There you go with that undergarment old people use!”


He laughed and I said, “Here's your deciding factor. IF that person is poor and doesn't have a snowball's chance to lawyer up, you make the arrest. IF that person has the money to lawyer up and fight his way out of the gray into a costly trial which makes you look inept, you step back and so does that prosecutor.

Up there, IF you see arrests happening, it's because the person USUALLY turned himself in or it's such a slam dunk that you know the end result is prison. What he does NOT do is he doesn't do a real good job investigating and I'll tell you that you don't either.”


Probably not.”


Right, the money isn't there. You're spread so thin on your budget that you keep people behind the wheel of the cars so you've got presence rather than people behind desks who do the investigations.

My thought is this....Work with your investigators and teach them how to get air tight cases. THEN, if your prosecutor wants to step back, you surge forward and make the arrest anyway and use your grand jury to get your arrest with the evidence.”


You know the system.”


It's something I was raised knowing. It's human nature combined with a family who played the legal game every weekend. What YOU should be doing is discussing shop a lot more and teaching some of our people how to be working for you. THEN, it's going to work in your favor.”


Most of 'em are working for you now.”


Kids....get the kids into it. That's how we were taught. Right now, my cousin up there is a lawyer and he's telling me that I should've became the lawyer because I tell him how to do things. I'll tell you I find it fascinating, but I love where I'm at now...and yeah, I understand Stu wanting to do his job forever because I love mine...now.”


I'm glad to hear that, but you're working everywhere. Donna said the conversations you were having were blowing her away.”


I'm getting people in to delegate to. You see me hopping around, but at the same time, I planned on being a LOT less busy today in order to have a down day.

Instead, I'm running to a helicopter and getting in it and going to waste some time because someone is in his little power and control cycle. Well, I'm gonna have to show him he's not the only one and be a bit bigger of a bastard to him!”


He laughed, “All I care about in this is you. Don't you get yourself hurt.”


I'm not. I understand the game and how it's played. It's just got me pissed I gotta play it today.”


Keep me advised of the situation.”


I am.”


I rang off and Stu said, “I see what you're doing and I like it.”


What's that?”


You gave him a whole lot before you straight up told him you were going to be breaking the law.”


Here's why I'm not handling it different. IF I beat the man down and have him put in the jail down here after going to the hospital, he gets bailed out down here and stays here... fully well knowing that what's happening up there right now happened.

It's all designed to break him up there. He goes home and finds it packed up and moved out while he was off chasing the dragon who bit the hell out of him.

It has him asking the question. “Do I fuck with those people down there again? OR, do I leave well enough alone?”

IF he's smart, he leaves well enough alone and heads a different direction. IF he's not, he'll come back down here and he gets his ass arrested as soon as he steps foot in the county.”

I said, “Excuse me, but I've got a super cool idea for the paint job on those planes.”


What's that?”


Hang on, I'm making a call and you'll hear. That way I'm telling you and him at the same time.”


I dialed Newt in Florida and when he answered, I said, “Hey dude!”

“HEY! How have you been?”


I'm doing well....Do you wanna make some money?”


Don't we all?”


Well, here's what I need for you to do for me....so you'll learn I'm making money and now need you on things with me.”


Doing what?”


Well, are you familiar with Bronson Construction?”


Who isn't!”


“I own it now. I also own a few others and need equipment painted. It'll be a full time job for you making damned good wages and it'll also be a damned good job for Lo' if you'll come.”


Makin' how much?”


Dude, here's how I'll do this.... IF I tell you to work 6am to 6pm 5 days a week making $25 an hour, you'll be like running to a calculator rather than wanting to talk. I'll tell you that's roughly about $80 grand a year or so right off the top of my head.

IF I tell you that I'll pay you $100 grand a year with full benefits and lots of other things, you'll be like, “Ok, we're on our way without running to the fuckin' calculator.”


Ok, how much is she gonna make?”


I'm not sure. What I'll do is I'll throw in an employee vehicle and a house. You pick the house out and then, you pick out the furniture and all that.

You call a moving company and you let me know what it's going to take to break out of that infernal lease you're stuck in and I'll get you money sent so we've got you on the way.

In fact, IF you'll let me play with the moving people who will probably try fucking you, I'll get 'em arrested on top of everything else.”


“How?”


First of all, they're going to try telling you when you get up here that you owe them more money. IF you've got a voice recording and IF you put some GPS locators in your shit, we'll know where they are when they try doing everything BEFORE they do it.”


Umm, how do you know this?”


It's one of the biggest scams in the industry right now if you try to save some money and don't hire the best.”


Ok, let me hire the best.”


Then do that. Call Bekins and get your shit packed!”

“You're not telling me how much Lo's gonna be making. She'll wanna stay down here if I don't.”


Tell her I'll get you into something where she's making $75 grand a year at least. We own enough that I can easily do that.”


Where will we be living?”


Branson. I want you guys around us.”


You and that asshole?”


I said, “Dude, I'm on speakerphone!”


I'm not apologizing to that asshole...Fuck him!”


“First of all, I dumped the asshole. Second of all, my new guy is smiling because he's already heard from everyone I know what an asshole the last one is.

No, this one is the keeper and he's got my heart totally. You'll love him because everyone else already does.”


He's in construction?”


Nah, I'm in construction, but he's got a theater on the strip.”


He's a singer?”


Nah, he's makes me wet with other things.”


He laughed, “There can't be TWO comedians in the family! It doesn't work!”


Stu laughed and I said, “He's got the Viennese Waters theater down here. We're remodeling and making it way better.”


And you bought Bronson to do that?”


You'll be caught up on everything when I get you here. Let me just say that Doc passed away last week and left me gazillions.”


Oh man, what'd he die from?”


Heart attack. There's not gonna be a service because he wanted to be cremated and that's it. Sometime, I've got to take his ashes to California, but I'll get that done after the season.”


Let me go get her. She worked the night shift last night and is sleeping in.”


Before you do that, I want to throw something at you.”


Ok.”


You're going to hear the sound of my helicopter taking off here in a second.”


WHAT!”

“Dude, just listen! You're like some old gossip with how you wanna know everything!”


Fuck you dude, tell me about the helicopter!”


Stu laughed and I said, “It's a Bell 206 something or another. It looks like one of those they fly patients in except it doesn't have the rear body door.”


Ok. You want that painted?”


It's already looking like a Coke can. We bought it when we bought the Coca-Cola Bottling plant down in Springfield...and no, we didn't get anything when we bought the one up at Quincy.”


Uh...you're sort've putting me on overload here.”


Yeah, and I'm doing it on purpose. I'm wanting you to know that when it comes to potential jobs, I've got all sorts of them we can get Lo'.”


Do me a favor, don't hire our kid to do a damned thing except stay away.”


I wasn't thinking about it. I made him a friend three years ago on Facebook and he never once has answered an email I've sent.

I send him all sorts of birthday things and Christmas and holiday cards and not once has he ever done a thing....So no, I'm not extending the olive branch to him except to beat him to death with it. In the land of 'fuck you's', he's at the top of that list or near it.”


Now you know why we're down here and he's up there.”


He said, “Honey, Jer's on the phone and wants us to go to work for him.”


She'd been sleeping. Her voice sounded like he'd woke her up, “Huh? I'm sleeping.”


He said, “This is important. He's offering a house and everything.”


I don't want to move up there.”


Put it on speaker and lay it down by her ear.”


He said, “Honey, I'm putting it on speakerphone. He wants to speak with you.” He paused ,“You're on speaker now Jer'.”


If you have me in bed with your wife on speakerphone, you deserve to be told you're an asshole by her!”


I heard her giggle and she said, “Ok, he's an asshole. Now tell me what's going on?”


Doc died last week.”


Oh man! What of?”


Too many things on the side....but he died of a heart attack....he must've seen one of his bills.”


She giggled, “Ok, so why do you want us up there?”


Doc left me everything and I've been buying a lot of stuff. I need Newt to paint equipment and I need you to work up here also.”


“Doing what?”


I don't know, but I'll pay you $75,000 a year to do it. We'll find you something good that you enjoy.”


I don't want to move back up there. His grandma is a bitch to me and....”


I'm down in Branson now. You won't be anywhere near his grandma. We'll buy you guys a house and we'll get it furnished and we'll do a lot, but promise me you'll do this.”


How much are you paying him?”


$100 to paint in my shop.”


THOUSAND!!!”


Yeah. Full benefits and everything.”


Please tell me you're not with that creep still!”


I laughed, “Nah hon, I'm on speakerphone with you in bed. Would I do that to my fella!”


Uh....you're in bed on the speakerphone also?”


No, I'm on speakerphone and my new fella knows we're in bed together...”


She laughed, “You're ah.....I'm not gonna say it.”


I'll send a jet down there if you'll come up here. You can put your clothes and personals on it and we'll get you packed up and moved by professionals.”


She was quiet ,“I really need to give 'em two weeks at work.”


Can I have him while you're working that two weeks?”


“Yeah, he's not working anywhere....but you know that.”


When are your off days?”


Saturday and Sunday. They finally gave me the weekends off. What's that sound?”


Our helicopter taking off.”


Your boyfriend has a helicopter?”


As well as his own little jet. But I own six jets which are bigger than his now....Mine used to belong to some airline....Northwest or Republic or something like that.”


Do you know how expensive those things cost?”


Yeah, but Mark's going to buy one and then, I'll have the entire fleet paid for from what he pays for just the one.”


Damn!”


Don't tell him that though....He thinks I paid a bunch for 'em and doesn't realize I got all of them for $15 million.”


That's not bad! But what kind are they?”


Bombardier...They're 40 passenger models.”


Stu said, “44 passenger models hon.”


She giggled and I said, “Oh, that's cool!”


He said, “That one is a 52 passenger model you've got up at Hannibal.”


I nodded, “Ok, but I want him to paint them.”


She chuckled, “He's never painted a plane before.”


“No, but he's painted a lot of other things and it's not gonna be that hard to do. Basicly, you blow up the picture and print it out with a plotter and then, mask it onto the side of the thing.

What I want is a Blue Jay's head looking like it's a Philadelphia Eagle's head but I want flames coming off like it's both flames and feathers all down the side, but I want the plane itself light blue and dark blue and white.

Each plane will be named something like 'early bird' or 'cheep cheep mutha' or something which makes people know they're all different.

What I want to do then is put in special seat covers so they're not all hideous like they look now.”


What do they look like now?”


Gray with no real cool design in the fake leather. If they were cool looking, I'd be happier, but they're just yuck....and really, it looks like an econobox because they've got the seats stuffed in there.”


Ok, I'm up now going to the computer. Tell me what kind of plane it is again.”


Bombardier CRJ200 XR/LR.”


I heard Newt say, “Don't paint it baby blue. They look like shit as that color. The old Midwest airlines colors look good...I could do something with that....but I'd like to do something between the Eagles logo and a Firebird logo.....”


I want the head of that Blue Jay to be from the side....not looking like the hood of a Firebird.”


I know...We'll work on the design, but that's a cool looking airplane though...the only thing I don't like about those is how they've got the baggage compartment.”


I agree. I sorta expected the hold to be down underneath rather than all the way back in the rear.”


It is on everything else, but the roots of this plane are in the smaller and regional planes.”


Whew! Damn dude you know your planes!”

“I'm reading it on Wikipedia.”


Oh, I've already read that as well as Bombardier's website and PDF pages.”


It's a well put together plane. With the exception of a few crashes in the 100, they've got everything ironed out. That crash at Louisville was the most notable.”


And that one was pilot error. I remember seeing that one on the Weather Channel and seeing it was foggy and the pilot was brain dead.”

“What happened?”


Ok, here's the deal. Louisville has two runways. One of them is longer and one of them is really dinky....something like 30 or 40% the size of the bigger one. The pilot took off on the dinky one and didn't have enough room to get in the air before he ran out of runway....

The show wasn't on the Weather Channel, it was on Frontline or one on PBS where they were talking about the airlines having the larger airline's name on everything but when it came time to sue after a crash, it was suddenly the small regional airlines....a bait and switch which the government is helping to perpetuate.”


You sure remember things.”


That's a reason I won't fly these regional flights. If it comes to me driving or me flying, you can damned well be sure I'm gonna drive. With the way they've got them insured, if they crash, your family never sees anything because they're suddenly bankrupt.”


That's wrong.”


Yeah, and consumers vote with their dollars, but in this case, the government subsidizes a shoddy business practice and rather than it failing, the government props it up!

Yeah, it's a boondoggle for all the smaller cities who can say they've got a flight to them, but even then, the smaller cities don't know who is the one which are operating out of their airports. Ask them and they'll say it's one of the bigger carriers and when you tell them, they'll pound their desk and tell you you're full of shit....and when you prove it and tell them the situation, they're suddenly fighting mad but have their hands tied....because it's quote good for the people. Tell that to the people who can't bury their dead!

Ok, I gotta get my mouth shut. I've got a pilot from a service flying us and his service is probably not well insured. I'm probably pissing him off and scaring him at the same time! Now isn't a time to do that!”


Stu laughed and I saw Corey smile. Newt giggled ,“That was funny.”


If I crash and they put on CNN about two billionaires crashing, you tell 'em I was on a rail about regional air providers at the time....”

“BILLIONAIRES!!!”


Yeah, with the money we've got, you'd be REAL pissed off if you knew how we're so rich.”


How?”


AT&T.”

He said, “Oh God damn...”


Stu said, “I take it he doesn't like AT&T?”


Lo was an operator in Hannibal which suddenly found they'd shut the 1800 call center where you got numbers for companies.”


Huh?”


It's like operator assistance. You call 18005551212 and ask what the 1800 number is for a company and they tell you. Well, it used to be in Hannibal and then, they shut it down. A lot of people were about to the retirement age and rather than getting their retirement, they were 'bought out' of their contracts instead.”


Oh man.”


Lo was one who'd only been there a couple of years, so she got screwed. If you knew what went on with that building, you'd cringe.”


What happened?”


Lo said, “Even before we were through using the building, they'd already leased it to a home for alcohol and drug abuse. While we're trying to answer phones, we've got them in there drunk and high in d.t.'s answering the phones and pissing off customers....They couldn't lock the damned door because of fire safety.”


Stu looked shocked and I said, “It was a real mess. One of the operators got sexually assaulted out on the parking lot and that's when the police and other operators started having to guard operators when they went to their cars.

What happened is the place couldn't afford to keep up the lease, so AT&T gave the building to the city who tried selling it for too high of a price. They ended up giving the building to a college and that's what it is now....a satellite campus which STILL has young girls going to it not knowing the halfway houses in the area have drug and alcohol people who could be anyone from sex offenders to murderers.”


Stu looked shocked and I said, “Such is life in a small town. It all gets swept under the carpet and no one's allowed to have an opinion and protect each other going to their cars.

Girls who know all walk together with butcher knives, but one day, it's going to rear it's ugly little head again and be a problem.”


I said, “Newt, we gotta get off the phone. I see the trucks we're looking for.”


Ok, send that jet.”


I will. Get everything packed. Don't make her pack your underwear, she'll die from the fumes!”


She laughed ,“Thanks Jer'!”


No problem!”

We rang off and Stu asked, “What's their story?”


They're older....madly in love with each other and regretting the day they had a kid. I'll tell you it's not the kid's fault and I'll tell you a lot of it needs to have it's fault laid in their laps.

What happened is they got caught up in the chasing of jobs to Florida....There were no jobs up here and when they heard there were jobs in Florida, they up and sold everything and moved without asking their kid if he wanted to go.

They SOLD the dream to him by telling him he was going to private school. They moved and he went to private school but that lasted about two months until their son dug up his grandma's prize winning rose garden and then, she threw them out of her place.

Well, it went from bad to worse because THAT pissed the kid off and he took it out on grandma's little dog by feeding it to a gator.”


WHAT!”

“Ok, here's the deal. They lived on one of those canals and at the back of the property was a community walk. On each side of it was fencing and on the other side toward the canal was a boat dock which was her's.

She didn't have a boat, so the gators used it as a place to lay in the sun. They thought it cute that they could go out and dump table scraps right off their plates into the gator's mouths....That went bad when the kid was pissed and decided to chuck poochy over the fence.

Since then, they had a hurricane which took all that fence out and Grandma now has a nervous disorder because she got the privilege of riding out a hurricane with a gator the size of a big log constantly being blown up against her french doors. She got to ride it out wondering if she was going to have it in the house with her and seeing her house blown all to hell, so by the end of it, she was a nervous wreck and in need of massive amounts of Valium. She's since sold the place and married a guy she met who works for NASA, but that's a whole other story.”


Why's that?”


Let's just say that I side with their son on a lot of the bullshit which happened. You see, I'd get the phone calls and I'd talk with him and I'd hear everything that was going on and all the while, I'd be telling Newt, “Let me have him up here and he'll be ok.” Well, Newt might think I'm cool, but ask him if he wants his kid to be raised by a queer and suddenly he gets out the hooded white robe and starts burning crosses.”


What!”

“Yup....it's the “Oh, you're so cool!” thing and then, when he finds out his son is, it's like, “NO HE'S NOT! You're full of shit!” thing!

Well, here's how I handled that...rather than ignoring it, I called him ,“I'm sending you a website. It's for gay men....Like it or not, your son is submitting pictures of himself to the fuckin' thing. IF he's not gay, you might ask him to stop saying he's a bottom and that he'll blow people.”


Stu laughed and I said, “Newt didn't give a reply. He was in denial so fuckin' much that he looked at the website and thought I'd set it up as some sort of hoax or something. His question to Lo was, “Do you think Jer' did this on purpose?” and Lo is a realist. She said, “No, I think YOUR kid is gay!”

Well, Newt still denies to this day he ever saw the pictures and Lo just shakes her head.

What's funny is this....ALL THE WAY up to their son being 18, it was like they raised crossed fingers like they were putting a stake up to a vampire at me and told me to stay away from their kid. After he turned 18 and beat the hell out of his Mom, it's like, “Ooh, we've got a possessed little demon on our hands! Hey Jer, do you still want him?”


Stu frowned, “And you've got hurt feelings.”


His fuckin' ego ruined that kid's life! His fuckin' problem is he checked out on raising a kid when his son was about 4 years old! His kid told him he wanted to wear dresses when he grew up and Newt totally fuckin' zoned out AFTER he beat the kid half to death!”

When I entered his life, the kid was 12 years old and already learning Dad hated him and Mom tended to only pull her head out of her husbands ass to get a breath of fresh air every now and then....

BUT, here's what's strange.

Lo saw what happened with me and the kid and really got strange with it.”


What happened?”


Ok, I started going to their house when I was 18 and he's 12. Newt would do all sorts of odd jobs for his grandma and be gone all day on Saturday.

Needless to say, he COULD have took the kid, but the kid being in sexual identity crisis wouldn't handle getting his hands dirty and Newt wouldn't tolerate the kid being around him...so the kid got left at home.

Well, him being 12 and telling everyone he wants to be a girl sort've got him ostracized by everyone else except for the shrink. That was until I showed up and fell into the mess face first without being told so much as Newt having a kid AT ALL!

I showed up and got told and it's like, “Newt has a kid? Whoa, when did this happen? And did anyone tell Newt? Because he's sure as hell not telling his friends he has a kid!”


Stu smiled ,“Oh man!”


Yeah, but here's the twisted shit.... I get there and I'm paying attention to the kid and yeah, he's a little strange with the fingernail polish, makeup, and perfume, but he's a lonely kid and anyone who'd pay attention to him was super great.

So I'm there at 2 pm for supper which was at 6 o'clock and having thoughts that I would visit before hand, I'm suddenly entertaining the kid while Lo trucks off to the store!

Anyway, the kid has someone who pays attention to him and I'm fine with it because I very clearly see the writing on the wall and want to help him.
So on Saturdays I'd go and help and then, it got to be that I'd go pick up the kid and do my errands and shopping and somehow, in the kid's mind, he's seeing what we're doing as dating.”


Stu said, “Oh no.”


Yeah....all that came to a head one Saturday night when we were all downstairs watching DVDs.

Newt and Lo were over on the sofa snuggling and making out and that left me and the kid on the love seat.

Well, we cooked up popcorn and watched the movies and it was dark down there and the kid decides he wants to sit on my lap. I was fine with it at first because I thought, “He wants some affection his Dad never gave him, so that's fine.” and then, his little as was grinding down on my cock which was like, “Hang on....Ass alert! I'm going to see what's happening!”

So needless to say, I had to readjust and that's when he's like sliding up and down on my cock and I'm like, “Sit still!”

He reaches back and the second his hand touched my dick, I was like, “Oh no, I gotta get the hell out of here!”

So I feign being tired and needing to drive home and Lo's like, “Oh, just go on in to his room and bunk with him.” and I'm like, “Nah, I can only sleep in my own bed.”...so I got the hell out of there.”


Stu said, “Good thing too.”


Yeah, but what I SHOULD have done was I should have had a responsible conversation with the kid and told him that's not what I was interested in. Instead, he saw it like I was his boyfriend and suddenly had broke up with him or something. ..All I know is he was way pissed off at me and all that came bubbling out just a year or so ago.


As I said, they ignored their kid until he was 18 and then, it was like they suddenly wanted him out of the house. Well, back in the kid's mind, he was like telling himself that all he'd have to do was get to Missouri and find me and it'd be fine. Needless to say, I was with Dave and when he got there, I wasn't home and Dave was and Dave ran him off.”


Corey said, “The truck is turning off this road.”


They'll be turning left as soon as they get through that little town. If you go over there, you'll see what looks like a roadside park. It will take you straight into Columbia.

If you need fuel, we've got time to go get it and get back in the air.”


He gave a nod ,“We're insured, but not that good. I'd advise you to get better insurance.”


You guys will have to help us with that.”


You bought some damned good airplanes, but Stu, that little jet is about the worst thing money can buy. If I were to get rid of any of them, it'd be that thing...or bullet proof the sides so that when the engine disintegrates that it's not coming in the cabin and killing everyone.”


I said, “It's grounded until it's sold and that's all I'm saying. Don't let anyone fly it and if Stu heads toward it, trip him.”


Stu smiled ,“All you had to do was ground it and I'd been ok!”


We landed at Columbia's airport and I said, “Give me a moment and I'll have us some lunch and drinks out here.”


Corey gave me a look and I said, “Computer on telephone....Jimmy John's subs...”


He smiled, “Ok, let's see if they're as fast as they say!”


“They're not. If you're smart,you'll order them when you THINK you'll be hungry rather than when you're hungry because you'll swear you're starving to death when they get to you otherwise.”


I dialed and got our orders made. When they arrived, I paid the driver and we ate in the chopper. I said, “When they get fueled and fed, they're going to go over to 65 and on down.

If you'd like, we can go over and see them leave and then get back to Springfield.

We know they're heading this way still and really, I've got other things I need to do before they arrive.”


Corey said, “Let me make a few calls also. You'll be amazed at how many people I can pull out of the woodwork for this.”


I gave a nod, “We'll probably need 'em if the Sheriff in Green County can't or won't stop 'em.”


You shouldn't have to let them get that far.”


The man's wife is packing up his house and moving down there to be with her son while he's out. I don't want to jeopardize her.”


He shook his head, “Not happening.”


I dialed Sheriff Patrick. “Hello?”


They're just pulling into Columbia now. We're flying back and will be arranging things as we fly.”


You think they'll be arriving in by 65?”


Yeah, so far he's not deviated from the directions they usually take.”


How many?”


There's the white GMC dually diesel followed by two red dodges with Felicia's Construction Company and then, a White Ford 450.

None of them have DOT paperwork and none of them would know how to go about getting it even if their freedom counted on it. You'll find paperwork all over the ones with Felicia's on them which say they're owned by a man named Virgil. IF you know your DOT, all markings outside the truck have to correspond to ownership and licensing. AND, there's a real good chance ALL of them don't have proper insurance

IF you look at the last truck...the Ford 450. You're going to see a tank in the back of it. Chances are that tank is mislabeled for what's actually in it. The contents are going to be flammable and it's going to say it's corrosive. With as much water he puts in his latex paint to paint asphalt instead of sealing it, the odds of it actually burning are slim to none.”


He chuckled, “So you're saying it's not actual asphalt sealer.”


No, black paint's cheaper. It's not worth anything, but there's no way I'd seal with it.”


Anything else?”


Let me think for a moment...You might run that last truck over some scales. I'm willing to bet you that he's WAY over what that truck's licensed to carry.”


Ok, I'll have the State Patrol out there to the stop.”


If you do, you might check the mud flaps on all of them and bumper heights. I'm not saying they're breaking the law...it's pretty evident when you see them that they are.”


He chuckled, “Ok...I think I've got enough to throw the book at them.”


“You've got enough to confiscate those trucks AND throw the book at them. I'm sure with the money you get from them at your Sheriff's auction, you'll smile.”


Let the first one go?”


Yeah. His dumb ass has threatened to kill me. You can check to be sure he has no weapons anywhere and do this....IF there's a man named Martin anywhere in the bunch, pull him out and arrest him as a sex offender who hasn't registered to travel through your county.

The odds are if you're not pulling them out of the truck damned fast, they're swallowing a helluva lot of meth or crack. That'd be good for a 72 hour hold in your strip cell for suspicion.”


Will it be there?”


If they're in the truck, it's there. That's what they do when they're out on the road.”


So run a dog through?”


Run a dog through anyway, but understand that dog's gonna hit on about everything inside that first Dodge. The amount of pot that's been smoked in and around that truck probably would be a bale as big as that truck.”


He laughed and I said, “Here's what I'd do...I'd not hit Virgil too hard, but pull him off to the side and tell him he's getting arrested just for being in the company of the people he's with....and tell him that if he's got any dope in that truck, to forget it and blame it on the ones who have the crack and meth.”


You know all of them?”


I've worked with all of them. Out of that bunch, Virgil's about the only decent one, but when put to the water test, he's gonna be a floater like all the rest....You’ll need to wipe after getting done with them.”


He laughed real loud, “Ok!”


Can I make one other suggestion?”


Yeah.”


“If there's a guy with the name Cyan Morton in the bunch, let him go...and here's why.

First of all, his Grandpa probably owns the liens on most of that equipment and yeah, there's MORE than enough money for him to lawyer up. Second of all, he's a good kid. He works hard and he hangs out with scum....sorta like me and some of my friends did at that age.

I'll get him back to his Grandpa in one piece and I'll have a sit down talk with his Grandpa about being sure everyone gets legitimate or they don't roll through your county.”


I'd appreciate it.”


He'll be obliged if you leave his Grandson alone....so he might ask to get his belongings out of the truck...but be careful and have the dog go through them IN the truck because those other two might've ditched something in his stuff.”


If it's in his stuff, he gets arrested.”


And IF you ask him the question like this...”IF I find some dope in that truck and they say it's your belongings it's been hidden in, are you going to claim it, or are you going to tell me it's their stuff?”

He'll tell you it's their stuff and he'll walk away from it...but here's where you're at an advantage.

Cyan has no record. They do....You'll run rap sheets and your dispatcher will take 20 minutes reading them....so sit down and get comfortable, but you MIGHT just have them handcuffed and leaning against the car spraddled because that's one uncomfortable stance for long.”


He laughed, “It sounds like you've done it!”

“Yeah, and my thoughts at that time was “Bitch, talk a little faster. I'm about to fall asleep and you're going through each count like you're a fuckin' bailiff or something!”


He laughed real loud, “I might just have her do that!”


If you're having your drug dog go through their trucks while it's happening, you're going to have the most thorough search you've ever had!”


He laughed again ,“I bet!”


Hang on a second, my pilot wants to tell me something.”


I went over and he said, “I've got license plate information if you need it. That way, he can have everything pulled up if he wants it.”


I asked, “Did you hear that?”


Yeah, tell him to give it here.”


I handed the phone off and went over to Stu. “Are you ok?”


Yeah. So what's up with Cyan whats his name? Your voice got softened when you spoke about him.”


Cyan's a sweet guy. He's a Morton, so that means he's gorgeous as the day is long and hung like a stallion.”


You know all of them?”


My Mom damned near married his Dad. They dated for a long time and then, he said he didn't want to get married. She dumped him super fast and got together with my Dad.

I've ran around with Pete Sr., Pete Jr., Mike, and Cyan...All of them are super nice guys and all of them are hot enough to be models.”


Really?”


Yeah, you'll meet Cyan and think to yourself, “My God, that guy could make a fortune as a model and when you see him without clothes, you'll be like, “My God that guy could make a fortune takin' 'em off...”


Hon, I'm not going to see him without clothes.”


Bullshit. If he's down there, you'll see him without clothes just because he's that damned much of an exhibitionist! You'll look out and he'll be like, “OH man, I'm hot...I gotta take off this shirt.” and then, you'll hear him say, “Gotta put on some shorts....I hope you don't mind a Speedo on your crew!”


He laughed, “He's that bad???!”


“Hon, he's so damned good with it that you'll be wanting to throw dollar bills!”


He laughed real hard and Corey came over. “He wants to speak with you for a moment.”


I took the phone and Sheriff Patrick said, “From what I hear, your people might have them before they get here.”


I've approved it, but to say I have selective memory of that is a different thing.

Just in case, I'm making plans....but here's the thing. IF they get through, I promise you they won't get through when my people ram them with those concrete trucks.”


They won't get through. Any idea what they're going to do with them?”


Here's what I know is going to happen to Fogle. He's going to be taken BACK up to Hannibal and put in his house and will sit there until Friday when I tear the som'bitch down around him.

I want that fucker KNOWING I'm psycho and thinking he's going to die before I drag him out into the middle of the street and beat him down again.”


You know that's against the law.”


“And threatening my life is against the law also. And doing it AFTER he's been told I will not tolerate threats to me or to anyone I know is against his life expectancy. For him to act upon it and drive down to do it is well beyond what I will tolerate as a threat because that's acting upon the conspiracy....and yeah, him being within arm's reach of me...makes me irresponsible for my actions because I'm in fear of him....can't you tell?”


He laughed, “Ok!”


My threshold to the limit I'll tolerate in any way of bullshit's been crossed when it comes to that man. He's ONLY acting upon it because he thinks all the rest of them can distract me while he plans on his attack. Well, I don't play that way... I'll kidnap his ass and scare the fuck out of him just so he understands that when I tell him that I'm not going to put up with something, it's evident than I'm not playing nice today when I said the other day that I wouldn't.

IF that's against the law, being that fuckin' stupid should be against human nature and he SHOULD be lucky I'm not crushing him in that truck when it makes it to Branson....”


Ok. I understand.”


Think about it this way...IF someone pisses you off today, then pisses you off tomorrow, and then routinely ups it a notch just to see how far you'll go before you blow and THEN after you blow, gathers a force to come kill you two days later...are you going to stay sane on him? OR are you going to show him you can be way more wicked than he ever thought about being?

Me, I've blown and I've blown and I've blown. It's gotten to the point that he thinks that's all there is to me. I'll tell you that's all there is when I'm fuckin' your son and want there to be another tomorrow.

Well, his son and I are no longer together and his son now knows the fuck overs he's received from his own father. The man was told to leave the other day and not to think about doing or saying anything.

He's been up there talking non-stop and now, he thinks he's gathered himself an army. Well, I guess it depends which side of the law you're standing on whether it's an army or a conspiracy?

Anyway, we're refueled and we're ready to get back in the air. I'll call you when I know something further.”


I'll be here.”


I hung up. “Corey, that man's pissed because he's not involved now. His whole tone of voice changed.”


Corey said, “He can have the others. We want the one who's causing you problems.”


I dialed Sheriff Patrick back. “Hello?”


Corey, my pilot, just said he wants the one causing me problems and that you get the others. We'll radio when they're near.”


GOOD!”


I rang off and told Corey, “He's happy now!”


I heard!”


What I want to do since we're pretty much spinning our wheels up here and wasting time is I'd like to fly up to the Interstate 72/Highway 36 area and see the 60 mile project.

I know you don't know what that is, but I bought the company which is working on it and would like to see how much behind schedule it is.”


We can do that.”


I'd appreciate it.”


I dialed Tom Bronson. He answered and I asked, “Tom?”

“Yes.”


I want to see if we can do a work change order to that interstate. What I'm going to do is I'm going to make it stronger, but at the same time, see if we can build it faster.

Who is on that so I can get to speak with him?”


He'll be there Friday. I've gotten everyone who's involved planning on being there Friday. What's your plan?”


First of all, I need to know if you've got the undergravel and the rebar in?”


No, just the soil prepped in all the areas. Why?”


I'm going to ask if we can put in asphalt instead of undergravel. Basicly, the only reason they want undergravel is so it doesn't settle and crack. IF it's sturdier and acts as another level of that concrete, it'll be stronger.”


It'll add to the cost.”


Not for us. Yeah, we're going to have the expense of the asphalt, but not the gravel and sand.”


He was quiet for a moment and asked, “How do you intend on doing it?”


Taking a portable and rolling it so that we're dumping everything in and putting it right into the pavers. It'll go on hot and we'll roll right ahead of the concrete, but we can go right in and put the shoulders in now and pour concrete in between.”


You're going to need something to put the rebar ties into.”


Not if we use fiberglass reinforced concrete.”


That's WAY expensive!”


Right now, I'm doing all I can to think around the box you've built us. I realize it's expensive, but if I can get some variances, I can get us through to the other end.

I don't THINK we're going to be in a pickle, but give us a bunch of rain and we're going to be in severe problems. I can lay asphalt in the rain, but I sure as hell can't lay gravel and mud it in.”


True.”


I know I've got people who can lay asphalt damned fast. I've got the machinery and I've got everything we need, but what about your slip forming machinery? Is it operable?”


We've got several pieces leased and it's all operable. Then, we've got another which is a bit older and has been known to breakdown, but that's a Perkins diesel for you.”


Do you have the mechanics available to put a new one in?”


Yes.”


Let's get one ordered and installed. I've got some leased myself and will be bringing all my available manpower up from Joplin, Springfield, and Branson.

I've YET to call Skip at the bank to see how everything's going in regards to the purchasing of the St. Pete. Inn, but I plan on housing them there. I realize the pool and sauna area isn't fit to live due to smoke damage, but it shouldn't be that much to get it remodeled and usable.”


I've been out there as have my sons Tyler and Laramie. From what I've seen, it's NOT that big of a problem. It looks terrible, and the metal for the walkways above that (sauna) door is warped causing the walk above to be all twisted and canted, but if you ask me, I'd cut that walk off and build a new walkway which is free standing rather than being cantilevered out from the wall.

What I've seen is the smoke damage...Their problem is they built it so it's all indoors and have that atrium. All the glass is smoked and everything has a tendency to drain to the pool which is where that sludge from the fire went.

It's going to take a trash pump to pump out that pool and then it can be Shop Vacuumed, but I doubt if the brick is damaged. It's just going to take power washing and keeping the ShopVac filling in that pool.”


So maybe a week at tops?”


May I offer a suggestion?”


Yeah.”


It's rustic in theme right now. There are several ways to go. That walkway can be built reusing bricks and covering up steel, but right now, steel can be built if you use metal shelving units bought and making wooden floor walkways.

Really, I don't even know why you'd need it because all that's up there is an arcade/pool hall and some storage rooms which used to be old man Pennewell's offices.”


Interesting, because my Dad bought Mr Pennewell's farms and I'm buying his businesses now.”


The Mark Twain Dinette and the Twainland Express are for sale.”


I might just take Stu down there Friday and if he's not dead from the heart failure of their prices, he might see it for the investment.”


He chuckled, “They ARE high priced, that's for sure!”


(Author's note: It's a Maid-Rite franchise. 3 ounces of scrambled hamburger on a bun is $3.99...that's the same amount of meat as a double cheese burger at McDonald's. The 6 ounce with a bit bigger bun is nearly $7.00.)


I asked, “Have you seen 'Trip Advisor' on the web? It says “McDonald's would be better!” and lots of people lambasted it.

For me, the price is terrible. When I think about $12 for one person, I'd better be sitting in a much nicer restaurant.

It USED to be nice when they remodeled and then, they built those plywood boxes they call booths which are big enough for six and yet, so tight to sit in I was squeezed between the table and the back.

My Dad couldn't fit in it. They had to get a chair and put him at the end!”


He's not a big guy at all! How'd they do it for overweight people!”

“Sit 'em in the smoking section. That's why everyone complains.

For me, it'd have to be brought back to the old way of things before they built all those booths. Then, I'd have to go back to 1982 pricing because all I've ever known was high prices there for as long as I've been alive.” (The booths aren't normal booths. They're made from plywood and look about as cheap as they sound. Routinely, diners get splinters from them as there's no pads.)


I've not went that often. I DID go when they first remodeled and thought it was quite nice.”


It was. Go there now and you'd be horrified at what they did to the place. They took out all those nice tables and chairs and built booths everywhere to fit more people.”


Oh no....”


For me, I'd rather go to Logue's. It has the same feel they had and tables and chairs.”


We usually eat at Fiddlestiks, TJ's, or Lullabelle's.”


All of those are nice, but Fiddlestiks is noisy as hell during lunch. That's why I requested the banquet room, so we can shut all that out.”


I agree, but it's the closest to the office and that's why I tend to go there.”


I understand.”


What are you going to be doing with these offices?”


We're keeping a division office up there. I'm THINKING about having all the accounting in Springfield and having everything for our planning in the Ord offices, but I'm also seriously considering a build of new corporate offices here in Branson so we've got everything under one roof.

I realize that'll be a stretch for up there, but not really with all the computerization we can have moving information around and putting things on plasmas so it's seen like bulletin boards and having the ability for conferences to be held with our field managers.

For me, I've got the jets and the helicopter and right now, I'm about to head up there to see the 60 mile project and see what we're facing.”


It's going to be a somewhat easier pour than you'd expect. The bridges and on ramps are poured. The retaining walls and barriers are poured as are the guttering and off road enhancements.”


Good, that'd slow us down big time.”


Do you mind if I have Laramie call you? He can look over the contract we've got and tell you what variables we can consider.”


That's not a problem.”


“Off the record, I HEAR some news in regards to Huntington which MIGHT be what you are doing.”


What's that?”


I spoke with someone who said he thinks the Cruikshank's portion sold. From what I hear, the person paid enough the others are seriously throwing offers to see if the person will buy their shares for that price.”


I'll do so gladly.”


Can I pass that along?”


Do so, I'll be happy to have all of it I can get.”


I'll tell you now that I can't speak with Letterer's wife. She hold's a grudge from years ago and wouldn't speak with me at all.”


How much does she hold?”


30%...I know she'd be willing to sell it because it's not doing her any good since he passed away and I don't think the investment is paying her enough to be worth anything to her.”


I'll call her. My Mom and she are friends...of sorts. She's a bit distant even with my Mom because my Mom and Dad were friends with his first wife and him when they were married.”


That's to whom I'm referring. His new wife didn't get much when he passed...he had it Willed to the first.”


Ooh, I bit that pissed the 'gold digger' off!”


He laughed, “Is that what you think of the new one?”


Tom, let me tell you how she is...When my Grandmother passed away, she was working at the bank and I went in to handle the business of my trust and all that.

That day, she was wearing a zippered sweater which zipped all the way from here to there...and to say it was tight is an understatement and to say she wasn't wearing a bra should tell you that you could see nipples and everything through the material.

I'll tell you I was grubby as hell and sitting there wondering if my ass had asphalt on it and whether I was going to stain the leather of the chair, so you know I wasn't looking none too good.”


Yeah, I've had days like that...”


“Well, here's how it went...For the first hour, we worked on this and she didn't know I was inheriting $400 grand because I didn't either.

After we figured out that's how much it'd be and that I'd have the house and everything debt free and still have over $370,000, that zipper started working it's way down.”


He started laughing.


By the time it was time for us to break for lunch, she was hanging her boobs over the table doing all she could because the zipper was damned near to her navel.”


He really laughed.


That's when I said, “Uhh hon, I'm gay and your zipper's coming down....” and she got embarrassed. Since then, I've called her the 'zipper girl'....but I'll tell you that's not the only one who's done that.”


Really???”


Have your sons go get their eyes tested out at Walmart. This girl is beautiful and she wears what looks like Hillary Clinton business suits, but she keeps her shirt undone enough that when she sits down to have you look through the thing so she can stare into your eye and adjust the thing to get a prescription, she lifts 'em up and she might as well have the eye chart there because that's all you see from there on out.

Now, I'm gay and I'm like, “My God!” so you know it's bad.

I told a friend of mine about it and he thought I was lying, but I went in for a check up and took him. Sure enough, he saw that happening and did all he could to keep from laughing, but it's a bit much when you were a breastfed kid because you see that and she asks, “Read me that line” and you're going 'num num, nuk nuk!”


He busted out laughing, “You're a nut!” He paused, “Listen, Laramie is out there on the project over by Brookfield.”


It's CLEAR over by Brookfield?”


That's a different project. We're not behind on that one. Our problem one is between Monroe City and Macon.”


Ok...”

“What I was going to say is I can have Laramie fly with you guys and show you what is what. You can land right there on the job and I could have him turn on his strobe so you'd know where he is.”


Let me ask my pilot.”


I turned to Corey. “I'm on the phone with the guy who I'm buying the construction company from. He'd like to know if we could land on an unfinished highway and pick up his son to show us a project. It's not anywhere near a traveled highway as that goes a different direction over there.”


Tell him I can do it, but I'm not going to be responsible for debris which gets blown up or around. If it damages this chopper, we're grounded.”


I thought ,“Tom, we're going to try it. Tell Laramie he's to stand clear because there will probably be debris blown up until we're set down. I'd rather see what problems there are first hand rather than guessing on Friday.”


Ok, I'll give him a call.”


We're in Columbia now, so it won't be that long for us to get there. Cross country, we're probably 40 or 50 miles from where he is.”


I'll give him a call.”


I rang off ,“He's over by Brookfield. We're going to be going to Highway 65 and going North. IF you cut up Northeast, we'll get there in no time.”


He gave a nod, “I've flown to Chillecothe many times. That's where Mr Zangerlese is from.”


Tom Zangerlese?”


Yes.”


How do you know him?”


He's one of our clients.”


My God, what's he doing now?”


He smiled, “He's buying and selling plutonium and making a fortune.”


I smiled, “Ok, it's good to hear he's doing good.”


He chuckled, “Did you know him before he got wealthy?”


I calmed myself, “I knew him when he asked me if I wanted to get into the stripping with him...if that's what you mean.”


He chuckled, “He's damned good looking and built.”


Stu asked, “Who?”


It's a guy I used to work with asphalting. He's Italian and is known for the size of his cock.....let's just say a foot long pounder hot dog is what he's working with....but he's Italian and built like a brick shit house.

We worked together for four months and he thought I was fit and toned enough that I could've went into stripping when he put together his troupe of guys and started stripping.

Now, he's wealthy enough selling plutonium that he can afford a pilot.”


Stu asked, “Where's he getting plutonium?”


Corey said, “Southeastern Missouri. They found a source while drilling water wells which wasn't worth much until this new style of oil drilling happened. Now they can go in like they're drilling for oil and fracture the rock and pull it up like it's a slurry...It's something like 70% plutonium and making poor folks down there who are leasing their land overnight millionaires.

It's safe to say that if Mr Zangerlese comes knocking on your door, it's not IF you are a millionaire, but that you're already one and don't know it. From what I've heard, if you own a small farm down there, you're a multimillionaire and if you own a large one, you're going to be nearly a billionaire. People who couldn't afford a used car last year are driving Cadillacs and Rolls Royces this year...go figure.”


I shook my head, “I'm glad he's being honest with them, but that's the way he is....He's one of the most fun loving people I know.”


He smiled, “Did you know him in any other way?”


I shook my head, “No! As I said, I only knew him for a few months and that's when I first started.”


Corey smiled, “He and I were partnered for about 6 years.”


I looked shocked, “REALLY!”


He chuckled, “Yeah, I imagine you're asking how I took it all!”


No, I was going to ask how you put up with him stripping!”


He shook his head, “He wasn't stripping when we met.”


Oh ok! I don't think I could handle it if my partner were a stripper. Call me selfish, but I'd prefer to have what's private be private between us.

Yeah, I realize everyone has their pasts, but I'd prefer to forget all that and leave it in the past.

Now, call it a double standard, but here's what's ironic....IF I were a stripper and he were a stripper, it'd be different...isn't that strange?”


He and Stu laughed, “Yeah.”


I shook my head, “Well, you've got FINE tastes in men, that's for sure!”


Stu smiled, “So you're saying you would've if you could've?”


No, to be honest, his build didn't excite me at all. He's fine, but I don't like 'em muscled like that. He's fine from the neck down and I'll admit that, but from the neck up, he's a helluva lot finer....especially what's inside his head and heart.”


Corey nodded, “I agree. It wasn't him who split us up.”


What was it then?”


His mother came to live with us. She's a bitch.”


I'm sure I looked surprised, “What the hell happened to his Dad!”


He passed away from a heart attack.”


My God, that had to've ripped Tom's heart out! They were SUPER close!”


Corey nodded, “Yeah, and in his grief, he invited her to come live with us. I tolerated it and tolerated it and finally, I told him, “I'm not going to ask you to choose between us, but I'm not giving you the option of having me stay. I hope some day you can find someone who will love you both, but I don't love her at all...She's mean, vile, manipulative, and disgusting and those are just the nice things I can say.”

I said those things in front of her and him both and then, while I was getting called names and dealing with her being in my face, I packed. He didn't even have the consideration to tell her to stay back.

Finally, I packed what meant the most to me ,“Tom, you can pack the rest and if this bitch touches my stuff, I'll sue the both of you. I fully expect there will be beer and whatever she's drinking spilled on my things, and when that happens, I'll not wash a thing, it'll be drug into court and it'll be used as evidence.

You COULD HAVE asked her to give me the privacy and didn't...That tells you why I'm leaving.” and left.

I shook my head, “I don't get it. He couldn't stand his Mom!”


He nodded, “I know. One second he's cussing her on the phone like she's a dog and the very next day, he's inviting her to live with us. I was like, “WHAT! ARE YOU INSANE!”


I turned to Stu, “Everything he's said about the woman is the truth. I could tell you some things Tom had told me in privacy about the way he was abused and you'd puke.”


Corey said, “The toast?”


I turned, “Yeah.”


Corey said, “He told me that and I DID PUKE!”


Stu asked, “What about it?”


I shook my head, “Hon, I'll have Corey tell you. When you go running to that ditch upchucking your lunch, you're going to hate a woman you don't even know so bad that you'll race me to punching the bitch in her face.”


Corey laughed, “Oh hon, I was there....believe me! It took every ounce of resolve I possess not to!”


Stu said, “Just tell me!”


I said, “I'm going to call Skip. You two talk.”


I went over and dialed Skip. He answered, “Hello?”


It's me, how goes it!”


Slow and steady. You now own the St. Pete. Inn.

I'm working on the Cruikshanks but don't know how it's faring.”


Well, they're telling people it's sold. I was hoping it's you.”


“Then they're milking me for more money.”


Tell 'em it's the final offer and while you're doing that, I need Lana Letterer's phone number.”


OH! Do you think you can get her shares?”


I know her enough I think if I ask, I can get them.”


I watched at Stu took off running and didn't make it to the end of the tarmac before he was puking.


(The story is this...Tom's Italian...He had a severe acne problem and his bitch of a mother chose to pick at his face over breakfast and FORCED him to sit there and tolerate it.

When she'd get an oozing pimple, she wipe it on his toast. She'd say, “Now eat your pizza...FACE!”

All that came to a head one day....literally...when his Dad found out and slugged the woman so hard it broke her jaw. He cussed Tom for tolerating it and told him that if his mother ever did that bullshit to him again he had full rights to beat her down like a dog.

Tom being the nice guy he was wouldn't do that and she chose to violate him in MANY other ways.

Fortunately, his Dad was smart enough to get him to a dermatologist which gave him a real good antibiotic and cream which did miracles. There were some scars, but his skin was real clear after that...BUT...he was super tanned because he used tanning booths AND working outside to keep his skin dried and clear.)


Stu finished, stood up, and stalked over to the chopper and wiped himself with a napkin. I asked, “Are you ok?”


He glared ,“Yeah, but you're right...you'll have to race me on that day!” His face crumpled and I could tell he was tearful.


Skip said, “Here's her number. She's home most all the time. I think she's only known to go out in public with your Mom and a few chosen friends. The only time I've EVER seen her out at night was with your Mom and Dad.”


It's going to take me handling her with kid gloves to get it, but you tell the Cruikshanks that IF they're reporting to people you've over paid, they need to shut their fuckin' mouths. Our advantage is they're telling other shareholders who are now saying that if you'll pay them that much per share, they'll gladly sell.”


Really?”


I heard it from Tom Bronson just a second ago. He's making some calls to those shareholders himself.”


Interesting....it's good to hear this from someone who's hearing what I haven't. They've told me they've got to decide and that it might go up for auction.”


Bullshit. They're bragging and the second they realize I'm the other shareholder and they want to run a fraudulent auction, I'll fracture that son of a bitch apart into so many pieces with lawsuits, they'll own what USED to be a quarry!

You just tell them that Mark is going to be laying out a lawsuit the second an auction is decided and that was your final offer. I'll sit on it, but you just be prepared to go full speed on that cement plant because I've got to have rock!”


The cement plant has a board meeting at the beginning of the month. They've received our offer and it has to wait until then.”


Bullshit....you tell that CEO or CFO that he CAN convene a board as soon as he receives an offer. Maybe he doesn't know his bylaws as much as me, but you tell him that's his DUTY and the second I'm made to wait, I'm going to fire that man!

We could be in CLOSING at the beginning of the month and taking possession!”


If you'd like to speak with him, you may.”


I'll do so. Let me have his number.”


He gave it to me and gave me the man's name. I said, “Ok, I'll call.”


It's not going to behoove you to upset them. They ARE the sellers and you're the buyer.”


And THEY are the one who is making their creditors sweat....What did you offer?”


$140.”


I'll offer $155 and tell him I'm going to contact the largest shareholders to let them know he's not convening the meeting. THEN, I'm going to tell him the second he decides to wait until the beginning of the month, that offer goes back to $140.”


That would probably get it.”


I'll fire the man anyway for the decision to wait right now. His responsibility is to his shareholders. Had I not wanted it so much, we'd walked. Now I'm gonna play rough.”


I was worried how you'd react.”


Now you know. You need to understand I'm using that as a gauge to see what construction and concrete companies are in trouble and can be bought. If they're late on a payment, I'm going to be staring at them to see if they're in trouble. If not, I know all is good.”


Interesting...I hadn't thought of that!”


Use what you've got to see...Little things mean a lot when you're dealing in business.”


I'm going to ask you if you'd be interested in a different company.”


Possibly. What is it?”


Leighton is interested in selling IF it's to you.”


I'm interested IF it's including the property, concrete, construction, AND that quarry out there behind the old headquarters. Because it's a quarry and it's on their asset sheet, it should be able to be quarried right now. Them owning that lands all around it up on that hill should be fine....AND, you tell them that if I'm buying that waste site which used to be where they made the dynamite, I'll do so, but you'd best understand I'll clean it up by running it through an asphalt plant and burning it.”


“What made that place a waste site in the first place?”


Ok, here's what they did and then, you're going to understand it was a mess from the word go.

Because it was the original quarry, and it drained out and down that dry creek if it rained, they found it to be suitable for mixing the ingredients for dynamite.

They did so and if you go back in there, you'll find there's a bunch of long wooden warehouses built up on pilings which...if you must know....I could film a concentration camp scene and not have to change a thing.”


Really?”


That's what I thought it was the first time I saw it. Then, I saw the mining equipment and thought, “Man, they used this as a mine and had people from the war working here!” and then, I found out it was all storage for the ingredients to make dynamite and they needed wood building so no sparks would happen.”


OH!”


Well, what happened is the stuff went from being shipped to them in wooden kegs to being shipped in burlap bags....ALL of them porous.

The wood rooves leaked and got into those kegs and bags and when OSHA inspected, they called in another inspector who checked the floors and under those buildings and declared it contaminated and shut 'em down.

What you'll learn is somewhere around here, there are four guys who have some form of paralysis from that ground. The stuff leached into them as they lifted those kegs and bags and paralyzed them. That's why OSHA was there in the first place.”


I never knew this!”


Hush hush'ed....they settled out of court and fucked those guys by not paying them that much.”


Where's this located?”


Ok, drive out there to the old headquarters and right before you get to the fences, you're going to see an old road which goes back to a pipe gate. IF you go on back up in that ravine, you'll get to the old quarry and where all that's located.”


Oh ok!”


Some of the best damned mushroom hunting on this planet is right in that ravine...but beware because there's mountain lion tracks all over the place on those hillsides.....I'll tell you I outsmarted them and would trade them tit for tat....I'd go buy a five gallon bucket of chicken livers and gizzards and let it thaw and then, I'd open it out on around the bend and let it scent the air with the blood. THEN, I'd go hunting.

It never failed that I'd go back to get the bucket and it'd be devoured....A few times I saw the she cat.”


Oh man, that'd be dangerous!”


Nah, they're as afraid of you as you are of them. If they're hungry, you'd better watch out, but the way I see it, there's enough wildlife there it's not going to be a problem. I mean, if I can trip over lots of rabbits and squirrels, they've got plenty to eat.”


...But still.”


Corey motioned and I said, “You're going to hear the chopper starting up here, so I better get off here.”


Ok, make those calls and I'll be glad to hear what you find out. I'll be dealing with the Cruikshanks.”


We rang off and I got in. Stu said, “Good conversation?”


One which sort've pisses me off, but I'm making a call now.”


I dialed the number and when the guy answered, I said, “Hi, I recently had Skip Barnes call you and make an offer.”


Oh, ok, it's you who he was referring!”

“I'm telling you the bylaws of your corporation right now. As you being the primary financial officer, it's your duty to convene a board meeting when an offer has been made. I'll sweeten the offer to $155 if it's convened, but if we've got to wait until the beginning of the month, it's going to be back to $140.”


“I've been told by the board not to convene any meetings.”


I'm telling you I know two of them and I'm about to make a couple of calls. I think you and I BOTH know that me being the buyer that if I don't get that meeting convened, you're fired as soon as I take ownership.

If I were you, I'd think of the future of having an owner who can AFFORD the place and pay it's bills rather than a bunch who can't seem to get things done.

Personally, I know what the problem is there and I know how to get it turned around....and IF I've got to start my own short line railroad, you can best be damned well advised that's what I'll do.”


I'm not sure why it's not making as much.”


“You've got people who would buy rail cars full of the stuff, but can't afford to send a truck. When they hear it's going to take them putting a truck on their asset sheet, hire a driver, and pay for the fuel, it's not economically feasible.

Many of these places have sidings they can put a rail car or few on and it sitting there being unused is senseless....so they buy from sources which WILL ship to them.

Right now, you're seeing a LOT of the ones who WILL do business with the place hiring Gully Shipping to get their cement from the place. If Gully can afford the trailers, it would seem that we certainly can, but somehow, you guys found that to be impractical and sold off the equipment from your trucking company...which was beyond stupid....that financially is what sliced your own throats!

Now, if it's financial worries, you know I can afford it. If it's you being worried about whether they're going to appreciate being inconvenienced, I'll inconvenience the whole lot of you when I put you all out the door after it's bought.

Just the same, they're going out the door. It's being taken private and will be absorbed into my company.”


It's worth a lot more.”


It's worth whatever it'll take to buy it! They can hold out for more and I'll wait until they're out of business and get it for HALF the valuation!

You know as well as me the second you go out of business, it's going to take a ticker tape parade through hell to get the government to allow it to be reopened as a quarry and mine. You're at those doors right now and it'd seem you knowing the condition of the books that if I KNOW you're going to be out of business by New Year's, a lot of others do also.”


He was silent and I said, “No, I didn't hear that from Skip Barnes, I heard that while getting my hair cut from one of the officers of your company.”


Who?”


I'll allow that to be known the second I take ownership. Now, let's keep the doors open and let's get that meeting convened for Friday afternoon at Fiddlestiks. I'll book it, but you best know that if I've got an empty room, I'm going to have your pink slip handed to you in front of those fuckers at the same time I'm asking to see the books...in front of them before I make the offer.

Now does that sound like I know how bad of shape financially it's in? OR are you trying to hide that from them?”


They won't listen to me. I'm making it a purposeful thing that I get the financial statement made a part of the minutes of the meetings so that when it's out of money, they can't say it was me who wouldn't tell them.”


Convene them. I can't ask you how bad it is, but if you've been telling them, it's time for them to wake up. The second their creditors would've heard that, you'd all be drug up on charges!

I won't fire you if you get this done, but I'm telling you now that the second you EVER withhold information or the second I'm too fuckin' busy to hear something, you punch me in the nuts and when I'm down, you yell in my ear I'm being a dumb fuck!

Now, it's up to them if they won't sell but I'm going to go from that meeting on Friday right to the press with an announcement. Either it's that I've bought, or that I offered and they are in sad shape financially and for the creditors to beware. If I can't get them, you'd better know I'll start nailing the coffin lid shut. And yes, as soon as I hear I've not gotten it, I'm going to be on the phone with the Attorney General's office.”


I'll convene them, you just get it bought.”


Will it sell for $140?”


It's the only offer they've got!”


That's what they bought it for, so I thought it'd be the price to offer.”


They've added improvements.”


Yeah, and let that be the penalty they pay for being so stupid as to operate it the way they have. I know if I offer $155, it's right at what they've got in it...but that's ONLY if we're closing by the beginning of the month!”


Make the offer for both. If they know the ramifications, I think they'll take it...but you're going to need to infuse in some capital for us to make it beyond July.”


I exhaled. “How much?”


We're losing about $17 million a week. Our orders will take us until July, but if they don't pick up soon, we're not going to make it beyond that and going into the off season is NOT a possibility. I'm figuring that for us to make it until September, we're going to have to sell off some assets.”


Ok, take the offer to $100 and $140 if they sell on Friday. I'll keep you on, but we're going to have to do a lot of finagling to get it to where I want it. I realize we can't raise prices because they're already where the market is, so either we start doing something creative or we stop selling concrete.

I'll tell you before we stop selling cement, we're going to start packaging it different and selling it at Walmart. I realize our problem currently is we're competing against ourselves, but selling it in bags is sorta outta style. It gets hard and solid in bags and once it's opened, it's gotta be used.

I'm thinking we sell it in 5 gallon buckets. I'm not sure how much you get of a bag in it, but maybe we can do that and get a customer to buy it.

Other than that, what do we offer in ways of discounts?”


None than I know of.”


As soon as I buy this, I want you on the billing department sending fliers and pamphlets to every concrete company in the world advertising two things. You advertise that we're giving a 10% discount for all contract buyers and a 25% for all first time orders.

What I'm going to tell you is this...IF that order comes in which is a first time buyer, I expect us to break the bank on finding a way to get it to them quicker than the other guys. I don't care if we have to have it flown in a jet, I want that stuff getting to them so quick that they're wondering how in the hell they missed ordering with us all this time. Whatever we do, I want follow up from them people. I want us there and advertising they bought with us and how they liked their product.

Also, IF someone's canceled their orders or has stopped ordering with us in the last 15 years, I want the name of that company sent to me directly and a personal phone number of the owner. I'll sell to those people directly.”


He chuckled, “Man!”


Hey, it's business lost and me getting it back. IF I gotta go and sit down with them over coffee or learn Portuguese or Swahili, I'll do what it takes to find out what pissed 'em off so bad and to beg for them to try us again.

You don't know it, but I'm the customer everyone hates because I'll tell you to your face what pisses me off and exactly how fast I'm move my business elsewhere if I'm continued to be allowed to be pissed off. The way I see it, the squeaky wheel gets the oil, but it take a pretty dense motherfucker to realize he's lost a wheel and goes on.”


He laughed and I saw Stu smiling. I said, “Ok, you call 'em and let me know if you've got 'em coming in.”


“I will.”


I hung up and dialed Fiddlestik's number by memory. When the phone got answered I asked for the banquet room to be booked on Friday. The girl said, “I'm sorry, it's reserved.”


I said, “Hon, I reserved it. It should be reserved for Bronson Construction, is it not?”


It is.”


“We're only using one room, but I want both rooms reserved. I'll be holding two meeting simultaneously and need both of them. One will be for the cement plant and the other will be for Bronson Construction.”


They're not owned by the same company.”


Hon, this is Jeremy Blue. I own Bronson Construction now. I'm meeting with the board of the cement company on Friday to do the purchase of it there. I WILL OWN it by the time I'm finished with that meeting or they'll be sorry when I'm standing in front of the press at that time. And yes, I'll be using that room as a press conference also.”


Let me have you speak with the manager.”


Do you have it booked for me already?” I was speaking to myself...I'd been put on hold!


The manager came on. I said, “This is Jeremy Blue.”


Oh hi Jeremy! This is Carla!”


Hey babe! The girl didn't understand a word I had to say....You seriously need to tell her to put her finger in the other ear so shit will stay in.”


She laughed, “What can I do for ya!”


“Ok, as I was telling her, I need both rooms on Friday.”


They're booked.”


Honey, put your finger in the other ear.”


She said, “Why?”


So you can hear me clearly.”


I understood you and it's booked!”

“I booked it. It's booked to Bronson Construction. Right?”


Yes.”


I own that now.”


REALLY!”

“Yeah. On Friday, I'm taking possession. With some luck, I'll be taking of quite a number of things on Friday also.

I believe he ordered for us to have one room. I need the other room booked for me to hold a meeting with the cement plant at the same time. In THAT meeting, I'll be doing the purchase of IT.”


Ok, so you want both banquet rooms?”


Yes. Now, what got that girl in a tizzy is I told her I'd have press there to do a press conference at that time. YOU can have something behind me to get the publicity, but I plan on having newspapers, television, and whatever there to make the announcements....Lord knows if I'm spending damned near a quarter of a billion, I better be able to tell SOMEONE about it!”


She laughed, “You could tell me how you got that much money!”


Hon, I'd love to tell you I blew the balls off of a man by the name of Reddington, but you'd think I was referring to the Prosecuting Attorney and there'd be no way. My Mr Reddington is from Branson and has prettier balls.”


She laughed, “They're all nasty!”


Nah, look down at your shoes. If your balls ain't polishin' the fuckin' things, you bought new underwear! You've got more than most men put together!”


She laughed real loud, “You asshole!”


Anyone who'd throw mashed potatoes on a customer who's involved in an argument with his boyfriend deserves a back pat in my book. That was one for the records.”


“The man mentioned the word bitch at the table when I was there. I REALLY thought he was referring to me!”


I laughed, “No, he was referring to me...but I'm glad you did that because THAT argument was over those mashed potatoes.”


Why?”


Ok, here's the deal....He had this thing about eating. That night, he said all he wanted was mashed potatoes. I told him Fiddlestiks has the best in town, so we went out there to eat.

When we got there, he ordered EVERYTHING BUT mashed potatoes and that instantly had me pissed because he was being a bitch.

When I ordered, I made it a point of ordering a baked potato AND mashed potatoes because he was going to eat them whether he liked it or not by that point.

When they were forgotten, if you remember I said, “Make 'em to go. He'll get 'em for breakfast, lunch, and supper until I'm done being pissed!

That's when he called me the fuckin' bitch and you went and got the throwable kind. When you threw 'em, I was like, “Yup, you got your fuckin' mashed potatoes the way I wanted you to...prick!”


She laughed and Stu was really smiling. She said, “He was a drama queen. I hope you're done with him.”


Done with him and moved on. I couldn't tell you WHAT his nuts looked like, but this one's are gold plated...with little diamonds spelling out 'For Jeremy Only”.”


She laughed, “You're a nut....No, really, how'd you get the money?”


Doc passed away and I inherited it.”


OH, I heard he passed and that there's not going to be a funeral or memorial service.”


He didn't want one. A lot of people disagree with that, but I had to abide by the man's wishes.”


I'm glad you got it.”


I'm glad too, but please try to keep food off my other half this time!”


She laughed, “Tell him not to call you or me a bitch and we'll be fine!”


He won't. Now, I need to ask you a question.”


Sure.”


“Has Lana Letterer been in there today?”


She's here now.”


Would you tell her she'll be receiving a phone call from me.”


Would you like for me to have her come to the phone?”


No, I'm going to need her in a quiet area to speak. Whoever's doing those dishes in the background sounds like he's breaking the hell out of them.”


He is...those are our chipped ones. We break 'em before we put 'em in the dumpster so no one can pull them out and reuse them.”


Ok, I was thinking...Man, when's she gonna throw that guy out! He's the worst dishwasher I'd ever heard!”


She laughed, “Kid, you're crazy! I'll go tell her to go to our side porch as she's going to receive a phone call on her cell.”


I'd appreciate it.”


She said, “Whatever you're doing, you sound like you're in a helicopter!”


“I am. We're flying from Columbia to Brookfield right now to pick up Laramie Bronson”


Now there's a babe, but I think he swings for your team.”


If he does, I'll let you know. If he doesn't, I'll steer him clear.”


Now listen, I've not cussed a customer in a long time!”


I laughed, “I'll let you know....”


I'll go tell her. You're probably doing her a favor because she's having her Bridge Club here.”


Yuck.”


Do you play?”


Hon, if you do, let me know what I missed. My Grandma loved the game and I couldn't ever figure it out....”


Me neither.”


Ok, I'll give you a reprieve and give her a few minutes.”


I hung up and waited a minute and dialed Lana's cell number. When she answered, I said, “Lana? This is Jeremy Blue.”


Oh Heavens. Is everything alright?”


Yeah, Mom had a heart attack, but they put a stint in and she got out of the hospital yesterday.”


HERE?”


No, down in Branson.”


“Oh, I never heard about it. IS she ok?”


Yeah, you know how it goes....wild sex and my Dad being a beast and all that...”


She laughed, “You lying sack of.... You had me going there!


“Nah, she really had a heart attack, but didn't want anyone to know....She was afraid of stirring everyone up.”


“Well, I'll give her a tongue lashing later.”


The reason I'm calling is this....You own 30% of Huntington Stone. Right?”


Yeah.”


Are you interested in selling?”


I don't know. Is it worth anything?”


It is to me, but the Cruikshanks would have you think otherwise the way they run things.”


“I never saw eye to eye with that man.”


Here's what I'm paying Cruikshank for his 51%. I'm paying $40 million. For your 30%, I'll pay you $15 million.”


My God!”


Are you interested?”


Sweet Jesus...YES!”


Ok, on Friday, I'll be up there at Fiddlestiks having a luncheon in the back there. You're invited because Mom and Dad and a lot of people will be there for me to announce that I've bought Bronson and quite possibly Huntington as well as the cement plant.”


Ok, wait a minute....Where'd you get this sort of money...”


Doc passed and I inherited everything.”


So it was you who got everything!”


Now you know....”


Who from the board at the cement plant have you spoke with yet? I'm not on it and haven't heard a thing.”


How much do you own?”


20%.”


I'll give you the good news and the bad news. The good news is I'm offering to buy. The bad news is this....IF you've been going to the board meetings and you've not been allowing the CFO to speak, you should have.”


I don't go to those things.”


You should have. You're probably thinking your 20% is worth something and I'm telling you now the books say you'll be lucky if it's open by July 1st.”


“WHAT!”


You heard me. They're hemorrhaging money and no one's wanting to listen to the man. I'm offering them $140 if they'll meet there on Friday. If they refuse, I'm offering $100 at the board meeting. Your 20% is worth $28 million on Friday, but only $20 at the beginning of May and by July 1st, it's going to be worthless.”


How are they losing money?”


They've lost customers. They shut that trucking company. And they don't have the ability to haul out towards St. Louis by rail. In order for them to haul out to St. Louis, it takes a whole lotta maneuvering and all that's going to cost you money.”


“You're offering $140 for it by Friday?”


Yeah hon. We'll make the offer on Friday and by the beginning of the month, we'll be closing and you'll have your money for both sets of shares.”


I'll vote mine to sell to you. I had no idea what any of that was worth, but I'm glad to know I can get something for it.

Now, do you want me to have 'Tunia Gardner speak to you? She's got some of the cement plant and some of the Stone company also.”


Is that one of the Gardners from Quincy?”


Yes. She and her brother are one of the last remaining who are still alive. Both have shares in both, but not that many.”


“Sure, I'll speak with her.”

“One moment...”


It sounded like she walked through the entire restaurant and when she got to the table, she said, “Tunia, it's Jeremy Blue. He needs to speak with you. Go to the powder room, it's quiet in there.”


I chuckled and Tunia asked, “How do you speak into one of these things!”


She said, “Just put it up to your ear like this...”


I heard Tunia say, “Hello?”



Hi Tunia, this is Jeremy Blue. I was told you have shares of Huntington Stone and the cement plant I could buy.”


“I'm not interested in selling dear.”


Ok, you and I will be partners then. I'm trying to help you not to lose your money.”


What's going on that I'll lose my money?”


By July 1st, the cement plant will be out of business if it's ran the way it is now.”


My man hasn't mentioned this to me.”


Ask your man if the Financial Officer has asked to speak at those meetings and he's told him not to speak? IF he had listened, he'd heard they're losing money to the point that someone's going to have to come up with $68 million a month to keep it open.”

“WHAT!”

“Yes ma'am....Ask to get minutes of the meetings. You'll see it's all been there and no one's wanted to listen.

On July 1st, he's going to have to start selling assets in order to keep it open. By September, there won't be anything left...It'll be broke and that's when he's gotta slap the padlocks on it.

I'm offering to buy it, but when they won't sell, I'll wait and buy the assets for about a third what I'm offering now.”


What are you offering now?”


How big is your percentage?”


15%. My brother has 14%.”


If you sell on Friday, it's worth $21 million and your brother's share is worth $19.6 million.

I'm asking for a meeting to be convened there at Fiddlestiks in that conference room on Friday to make the offer, but IF I have to wait until the beginning of May to use the board meeting, I'm only going to offer $100 million and you'll lose $6 million and your brother will lose $5.6 million....BUT, if you wait until July 1st, it'll be worth nothing and you'll have to start paying in to keep the doors open.”


Heavens, we weren't told anything! You say you're wanting this meeting on Friday?”


Friday right there in that conference room. I'm buying Lana's shares in both Huntington and the cement plant and I'll gladly do the same for you and your brother, but you're going to need to vote for me to buy them, they won't sell them if you say no....

At that point, I'll wait and make a lower offer at the beginning of May and if you say no, I'll walk away and let the doors shut. At that point, I'll buy up the assets for about $20 million entirely.”


I'll sell to you. I'm going to make a call as soon as I find a way to have her call. My brother's been a fool and I'm not liking it very much!”


“Be at the meeting and I'll have the books there to see. The CFO has been trying to get people to listen and no one's wanted to hear it.”


And they should have! My Daddy always said to listen to your money men and now, I know I should've been there!”


I'm sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but if I can buy it and have the risk of turning it around I will.”

“What are you going to do different?”


Are you aware they sold off the truck line which delivers the stuff?”


WHAT!”

“Yes Ma'am...Schwerman's (silent ch) is no longer in business. They dissolved it and made the rail lines only be available to be used for the toxic waste coming in....Nothing can go out by rail.”


She sounded flabbergasted. “When did THIS happen!”

“Mid to late 1980's. Now you know why everyone's going to other cement plants and buying their cement.”


How are they selling it?”


Barge and mostly by bags. IF it goes out in trucks, the customer has to buy their own truck.”


Well, no one wants to do that!”

“The board made those decisions. Now you know why they're going broke.”


My GOD! Anyone in their right mind would see you don't cut off ways for the customer to buy something!”


You and I both know that. Now I've got to get it all corrected and it's going to take a lot of money....Money they don't have and money the board is going to have to find.”


I should've known something was wrong when my checks kept getting smaller. They kept telling me there were less and less people buying concrete.”


I think we both know that's wrong. More and more highways are being used all the time.”


I'll be here on Friday. I'll have both MINE and my brother's shares in hand.”


Tunia, this is just for the vote. If you agree to sell on Friday, you'll have to turn over your shares at the board meeting at the beginning of the month. At that time, you'll get a check for the shares...That's the way it's done.”


Can you hold them?”


Yes ma'am, I certainly can, but they're worthless to me until I have a receipt showing that I paid you for them.”


I'll have our Huntington shares in your hands at that time also. Now, do you want our Cruikshank shares?”


You own Cruikshank shares?”


Our Mother was a Cruikshank. We're the only two people left who have any.”


Your brother is making the deal right now to sell those to me. He's got me so upset about that, that I'm about to walk away from the deal.”


“What's he doing?”


He's bragging that he's putting the screws to me. I've decided to buy the cement plant and open a quarry in order to buy stone from them for Bronson and Leighton rather than do business with you!”


WHAT!”

“You heard. I was about to tell him to get screwed on all that. Yeah, I'd bought Lana's shares, but your brother's not keeping me happy at all.”


I'll tell him to get it sold to you and to be quiet! I think he's probably worried because that leaves us with very little shares left.”

“You don't think your Marblehead shares are worth a lot?”


No, they're not!”


Want to sell them? I've been led to believe by your brother that they're worth a LOT!”


Oh for Heaven's sake, he's fibbing to you! He's been telling me they're worthless for years! He said that when we had to dissolve the company in 1972, there wasn't anything left, but we hold the shares and pay the property taxes in order to hold onto the land. He and I own that in halves. I'll sell it to you for what I pay per year in property taxes....$72,000.”


You have yourself a deal. To make it so you've got a profit, I'll pay you $100,000 and will do the same if your brother wants to sell....and yes, I'll have the cash there for that since I'm not having to have a board's decision.”


Good, we'll be there.”


I rang off and shook my head, “Stuart? IF this helicopter falls out of the sky right now, you'll see my dead ass smiling from the deal I just got.”


What's that?”


Marblehead Stone. She thinks it's worthless.”


Is it?”


Well, let's see....Look it up on the internet here. She's thinking because she pays $72,000 a year in property taxes and see's nothing, that it's worthless. I'm buying 50% of the company for $100,000.”


I pulled it up on my phone's internet and while I was doing so, I said, “Corey, down there at that work project. When you see the truck with the flashing strobe beacon, that's where he's located.”


Ok.”


Stu said, “Let me get this clear. Marblehead owns all these companies and no one's seeing a thing from it? HOW?”


Either her brother is the biggest liar on the planet, or he's the most gullible person on the planet....I'm beginning to wonder which.

First of all, he doesn't allow the CFO to speak at the cement plant board meetings. Second of all, she's not seeing much coming in from either the cement plant or Huntington Stone....when they're expanding and expanding.

I have a feeling that because they're living off the Gardner Foundation's money, he's letting the money roll over in those companies without asking what they're doing with it.

I'll tell you right now she's BRINGING me those shares and HIS shares for everything and wanting me to buy them right then.”


Call Skip at the bank and get a short term loan. Get them in hand and have her paid so she's happy. I can't believe she thinks this company is worthless!”


IF you take a look, this subsidiary sells the grit that goes into Spic & Span, Comet.”


Really?”


Yeah, they just built a new plant right there in Quincy.”


Interesting.”


If you look further into the money and ask my Dad, he'll tell you Marblehead SOMEHOW is owner to a bunch of Pfizer shares.”


“WHAT!”


Yeah, but that company right there is oil and gas drilling everywhere.”


My God....she doesn't KNOW!”


No hon...IF she knew, she'd not be selling 50% of the company for $100 grand.”


Oh my Lord!”


I chuckled, “Now do you see why I offered to pay for that in cash!”


He laughed, “Oh man....What if he learns about it!”


Then they pay us the money we were going to pay them and most judges are going to smile at the boondoggle we damned near pulled off. If not, you and I are going to be laughing our asses off Friday afternoon.”


He shook his head and stared at me, “How do you get so lucky!”


“Friends and friends of friends. If it's right, it's right. If it's wrong, you can't believe the turmoil it causes you.”


My phone rang. “Hello?”


This is Laramie. Tell him about 2 more miles east. My guys saw you.”


Ok.”


I hung up ,“Two more miles east. His guys saw us and called him.”


Stu said, “It looks like this is all on schedule.”


“This one is....It's the 60 mile project which is giving everyone fits.”


This is a different project?”


Here's the way Missouri does it's road projects.

Unless it's a federal job like this, they break it apart into 10 different bid lettings.

One year, you'll get a mile of highway here. The next, you'll get the next year's worth. Then so on and so forth until you've got all 10 parts of the 10% finished. Usually, the first part is ready to be rehabilitated, so you start all over....That's the reason construction never ceases and that's the reason we've got some of the worst roads in the country.

Personally, I'd rather build decent roads and offer them a warranty than I would to be known as a shady contractor, but they see it as a life source of constant money coming in.”


I saw the strobe ahead and Corey apparently did also because he began to descend. We approached and then, flew down into a median where we landed. Once we'd landed, Laramie ran over and hopped in smiling. He held out his hand, “Hey!”


I shook his hand, “I'm Jeremy. This is my partner Stu. And our pilot up there, his name is Corey.”


He turned, “Hi Corey.”

Corey said, “Hello!” and then turned ,“Jeremy, you need your headset on for a moment.”


I took it and put it on. He said, “Yes or no, but is that guy good looking or what!”


Yes and he's family.”


“Really!”


That's what I hear. I'll know here real soon.”


I took off the headset ,“Let us know when we get to the 60 mile project. We'll be flying fast, so feel free to let Corey know.”


He nodded ,“You're not going to be happy about the project. It's got a lot started, but a lot isn't done.”


I'm told that. Now what's it going to take to get a spur in your guys' asses to let them know that I'm going to own the equipment whether it's bankrupt or not?”


He stared and I said, “Don't think I won't go bankrupt on it and buy myself back out. If it requires me to do that and lay a helluva lot of people off and hire people who REALLY want to work, I will.

It seems to me everyone ought to be working their asses off for the sorts of money they're making on these jobs, but from what I've been told, you're either the most lenient bosses on the planet, or you're the dumbest. With my people they show up and WORK on rainy days...You tell yours to consider it a lay in bed day and take the fuckin' on the contracts.

Like it or not, that's about to change. Like it or not, the second your men slow down and fail to get the lead out, I'll hand out pink slips by the thousands and hire people who actually know what they're hired to do....WORK!”


He shook his head, “We've had a lot of bad weather.”


I understand that, but if I can lay asphalt in rain, you sure as hell can also. It's PROBABLY going take us laying asphalt to get the bed in on this so we can pour concrete over it. If that doesn't tell you the fuckin' I'm willing to take to get it so we're making money rather than paying it in fines, nothing will!”


He nodded, “We can do that, but what are you going to do about the concrete on top?”


If I have to do continuous pour 24/7 and go with fiberglass strand, I will. It seems I have 60 of my trucks here already and whatever we can get from your side of things to do the work and we've got 12 power pour slip form machines to do the work.

We can, but your men better be willing to work 24/7 and they had better be ready to do what it takes. IF I get told NO by you or any of them, I'm going to point and tell you that your men and you are fired. I'll finish the job with my people and I'll be all too happy to give them their share of the bonus money when we bring it in on time.”


He stared and I said, “Yeah, I pass along the bonus money. It buys loyalty at times like this and it assures me that in times like this in the future, we never see times like this.... I'll tell you right now that I'm in the process of buying out Leighton. That gives me the BEST of the big 3 up here...Martin can go fuck himself.

Where we go once Leighton is bought is this...Bronson does the road jobs. Leighton does the contracting jobs to build things. And when needed, Ord or Green County come up and helps. IF you have to go down and help Ord or Green County do the work, that's what we gotta have done, but right now, you're getting Associated up here and you're getting Ord and Green County. You're also getting my people and you need to tell your men this...

MY PEOPLE do not get cussed. The second they do, they have phones to call this phone right here and I show up and fire the person who couldn't keep a civil tongue in his or her head.

My PEOPLE do not get called names either....Once again, if it comes about that someone gets stupid, I'll be there to see that stupid is what stupid gets...fired. They will NOT run to one of the other guys because I'll own them...unless it's Martin and then, I'll smile and let him have all he can handle.

IF you can't treat my people right as their foreman, manager, or whatever, I'll replace you. If you choose to not listen to them, I'll fire you as soon as I'm called...and if your people want to voice complaint, they can join you on the unemployment line.

On Friday, I'm having the meeting with you guys at Fiddlestiks in one conference room while I buy the shares which are needed to OWN Huntington and the cement plant. I'll own ALL the quarries in Northeast Missouri, and Southwest Missouri....IF that doesn't tell you what I'm going for, nothing will...

The other guys MIGHT get some contracts, but in doing so, they'll buy from me....Me being the supplier gets them to buying my concrete, my stone, my gravel, and my sand. They'll buy my asphalt as well.”


They can go across the river and buy from Diamond.”


Diamond is mine. That got bought in a phone call right before we picked you up. I'm paying the woman for 100% of it and a lot of her companies on Friday.....in cash.”


He sort've had his eyes bulge out. “Where'd you get the money!”


“I inherited it. Now I'm making a run and seeing to it that I get the bulk of the business. When I make a deal, I keep my word and when I don't, I'll do all I can to find a way to make a dollar out of your labor....”


He shook his head, “That's pretty smart, but they're about to shut down a lot of the road projects.”


On Friday, I'm going to unveil a new plan. When you hear what it is, you're going to shit yourself as to how I can make them give me jobs.”


HOW!”


Be there Friday. I'll tell you right now I've told the county road commission down in Green County and they're willing to give us everything we need to do it.”


Stu said, “Go ahead and tell him. He's not going to tell anyone....”


Stu leaned forward and held out his closed hand. “Family?”


Laramie gave him a look, “Family?”


Stu said, “Either I'm an idiot or you live under the rainbow flag also.”


Laramie gave a nod, “I do, but no one knows.”


I smiled, “Are you available and interested in seeing someone who's already saying you're hot as hell?”


He gave me a look, “Who?”


Corey, that's why he wanted me on the headset.”


He smiled, “Yeah, I'm available!”


I said, “Corey, let's refuel in Macon.”


Ok.”


I said, “Ok, here's the plan. It's called Lend/Lease....Are you a history buff?”


Nah.”


Ok, I'll tell you what it's about.... As you're aware, the state goes in and buys all the land they need to do a job well in advance, right?”


Yeah. They're buying land for the new interchange out there right now.”


Right and within a year, we'll be building that interchange.”


HOW?”


By Lend/Lease....What it means is this.... The State or Federal government lends us the land. In return, we build their highway and then, we lease it back to them for 10 years.

At the end of the ten years, we sell it to them for what we would've won the bid for right now.”


He gave me a look, “And they're going to go for that?”


Yeah.”


How much money are you going to be paying up front?”


Let's see....I control cement. I control concrete. I control sand, stone, and gravel. I need to buy rebar or I need to buy fiberglass strands to go in my cement....those are cheaper than rebar. I provide labor and I provide all my materials I get free of charge and I build the roads.”


You'll have to have bridges.”


I smiled, “Let me make a phone call and see how that's coming along.”


I dialed Skip and when he answered, I said, “I've got Lar Bronson with us and you're on speakerphone.”


Ok, what's going on?”


I'm about to ask you that in regards to the place in Keokuk.”


It's yours.”


Ok, now I'm going to ask you how much I can get short term....I've got Cruikshank shares bought...He BETTER have told you he's selling by now because his sister is about to break her foot off in his ass as soon as she learns how to work a cell phone.”


He laughed, “How in the hell did you get that one!”


Here's how....Lana Letterer plays Bridge at Fiddlestiks today. Tunia Gardner is a part of the Bridge Club. Tunia is Cruikshanks sister.

I bought Lana's shares of everything and then, she told me about Tunia's shares. She put Tunia on the phone and needless to say, Tunia's a done deal...She'll drag her dumb ass brother to the meeting kicking and screaming if she's gotta.

Now, are you sitting down?”


Yeah.”


Tell me about Marblehead.”


“The town?”


The company....”


Uhh.....What do I need to know about it?”


So you don't know either???”


No, I'm afraid not...Tell me.”


Ok, here's what you probably don't know or remember, but over across the river is the little town which USED to be owned by Marblehead Stone and Lime. ALL that farm land is owned by Marblehead right now.”


Ok, I'm aware of that.”


Look further up toward Quincy and you'll see a lot of companies all owned by Marblehead Stone and Lime. I'd give you a name of a company, but it'd start you on realizing all the subsidiaries and divisions of subsidiaries we're dealing with, but ALL THAT is owned by Marblehead.”


Ok, I'm now looking on the internet.”


Look a little deeper and delve off into the ownership of Pfizer.”


Pharmaceuticals???”


Yeah.”


“Oh-kay, what's going on?”


Marblehead....You gotta chase the money, because it's like quicksand....you look in, under, around, and in the back deep dark recesses and when you realize it's a whole ecosystem....you realize how big it is for supposedly being a defunct quarry.”


Ok.”


Are you aware I just bought Marblehead for a total of $200,000 cash?”


WHAT!~”


Tunia Gardner and her brother own it. She thinks it's worthless because she has to pay $72,000 in property taxes per year on it. I told her I'd pay her and her brother $100,000 each if she'd bring those shares to the meeting on Friday.

As soon as I do, you're going to handed those shares and that's when I want you go to on a hunt for everything in that company....and then, I want you to find out when and where the money's going.

I'll tell you I know what they're doing and I'll tell you it's the bubble they were afraid was going to pop. It didn't pop and it wasn't inherited....It was sold for $200 grand....now tell me how many billions I just bought!”


He laughed, “My God kid!”


All because of a little phone call where an old woman wanted to kick the shit out of her brother by the end of it. I tell ya if I look hard enough, I don't think I'd ever find a deal like this again in my life.”


Skip laughed, “I'm looking and it goes on and on and on! There's oil and oil companies and all sorts of divisions!”


Laramie asked me about Diamond across the river and I told him I just bought it. That's correct right?”


Yeah, it's here as a division of Huber which is a subsidiary of Marblehead.” He laughed ,“I can't believe this!”


I'll tell you I really don't believe they know what they own. I think they're making the money off Gardner Trust and living off that. Yeah, they go to board meetings, but really, when it's all said and done, they don't really WANT to hear about the financials.

I'll tell you I spoke with the CFO of the cement plant out there and he's telling me that if he's not given a life line on July 1st, he's shutting the doors or he's gotta start selling off assets.”


“It that bad???”


“$17 million a week....It's hemorrhaging out. We've got to stop the flood of money and it's going to take me not being afraid to step in and make some decisions and fire some people.

I'll tell you right now, I'm going to need to buy a LOT of trucks and trailers and get the truck fleet back there. I'm also going to tell you Gully is going to scream blue blazes when I do that because he's got at least 18 trucks and trailers traveling every day just as fast as they can haul out of there.

It's going to take a massive campaign to rejuvenate and win back the business. It's also going to take me rebuilding the rail spur and getting it so that I'm hitting that main line which goes to St. Louis.

I can do that, but it's going to take us buying locomotives and it's going to take us buying rail cars....All of it costs money and all of it's gotta be so we win back the customers.”

“It's all a pretty penny.”


Yeah, but I'll do it....Now tell me about that 51% of the cement plant?”


It's yours...They're not even worried about the rest of the percentages, they know the writing on the wall says it's bad, but they're willing to do the deal on Friday.”


“Ok, we own 100% of it for $140....Do we pay then, or do we wait until May 1
st?”


I'll have you the money short termed. Do you want to roll it into the Huntington buy also?”


Yeah...call Cruikshank back and tell him his sister's already sold the shares to us at the price he was offered. Tell him he'd better be bent over when she gets to his house because she's gonna be too pissed to chase his ass around that house to break her foot off in it.”


He laughed, “How come I get the feeling you struck a chord with her?”


I told her the truth as I saw it....By July 1, she'd have worthless shares and by May 1st, she'd have shares worth only $100 million because we were going to devalue while we waited.”


Do I tell him you bought Marblehead also?”


Tell him I made the deal to buy ALL of Marblehead's shares for $200,000. Tell him I'm just crazy enough that if he brings those shares to you this afternoon, I'll pay a quarter of a million.”


He laughed, “Let me off here. I'll do that!”


I hung up smiling and Laramie shook his head, “Are you kidding me!”


No, it was there for the taking and I took it. She thinks I'm buying a worthless company....You and us now know different.”


He shook his head, “I can't believe the luck!”


Here's the deal....Her Daddy told her to ALWAYS listen to their money men. He died and she put all her trust in her brother. Had it been me, I'd be ASKING why I'm paying $72,000 a year in property taxes when we own all that farm land and it's being farmed.

I'll tell you that if they'd looked or even thought about it, they'd realized something was fishy because they sold off most of that town in the 80's and STILL paid taxes of $72,000 each!”


He said, “Maybe the $72,000 is on the quarry property alone....You do realize it's still open, right?”


Yeah, and let me tell you something....I had no idea how damned big it was until I went on Google Earth and saw the pictures.”


Really? You had no idea?”


No, I've never been back in there, but when we get a chance, I'm going on Google Earth because I'm going to show Stu here the Leighton property and all that we're buying with that.”


Lar shook his head, “It's a bunch....Are you getting the old dynamite plant also?”


Yeah, and I'm running the place through an asphalt plant. It's only a dump site until it's incinerated and once it's done so, it'll be good for asphalt to be mixed and laid.”


I never thought about that, but you're right. We did that down at Times Beach!” (Look Times Beach up on Wikipedia if you don't recall all that from the early 80's. It was the poster child for toxic waste for nearly 20 years.)


I asked, “Did you do that job?”


Yeah.”


Get tested for cancer.”


It's not that bad.”


Bullshit. Get tested. I'm telling you right now my Aunt's kids and her grand kids have had a lot of cancer which is attributed to what they had down there.

Are you familiar with any acne products in the 60's and 70's called Phiso-Scrub? It was a little sponge you used to scrub your face to keep acne gone.”


No.”

Stu said, “Yeah, I used it all the time!”


Don't ask yourself where your cancer came from, get in on the lawsuit. It's the commercial application of the same stuff they sprayed down there. It was also manufactured in Missouri someplace, so you know they considered it cancerous down there and yet, didn't bother telling the employees a damned thing.

You're going to also see a little town called Verona which is right up the road from Branson. You'll probably realize we know a lot of the people who worked there and probably bought a lot of the stuff they made or took it off their hands thinking it was some nifty stuff because it worked so damned good!
Well, it did the job...It kills things. That acne, the hand washes they say is antibacterial, baby shampoos, the whitening toothpastes all have it in it....They don't bother telling you that it's commercially made of something they consider dioxin or breaks down to be dioxin in your system.

I'll tell you right now Stuart, we only use baking soda on our teeth and we only use lye soap on our bodies. If it's a shampoo, it's a shampoo we educate ourselves on what's in it BY the chemical name and chase all of it down until we know.

My DAD has to use all that antibacterial soap and now, I'm reading on the internet that all of it has carcinogens in it as well as Johnson's Baby Shampoo.

As I said, we're not trusting anyone or any THING because it's a chemical and they tend to lie.”


He said, “I've been sitting here thinking about how I could've gotten it and now I realize I played on those streets there....We lived right by it!”


I asked, “Where?”


Eureka...right down the road was Six Flags!”


I shook my head, “Ok, I can't say anything....I'm just as prone to it as you. We used to play on the streets of a little town called Frankford, Missouri and now we're learning that all the roads around there got sprayed down with stuff by the same man also.

I'll tell you I ran barefoot down those streets and I'll tell you I had a bike wreck which face planted me and gashed open my chin to the point I'm STILL digging gravel out of it 20 years later!

So when it comes to thinking I'm different, I realize we all have chemicals around us and right now, I'm doing all I can to buy a plant which burns all that dioxin and toxic waste....so no, I'm no different.”


I looked over at Lar ,“I want you tested. You're not Superman and I'd prefer to know you're going to be healthy....as a friend, not anything else.”


I turned to Stu ,“IF that doctor doesn't call by 3:30, you call him....or I will.”


I looked over, “Stu has cancer in his kidney and pancreas right now. We're fighting it with a doctor who does his work at St. Louis University Hospital. He said he might know something by today or it could take up to 2 weeks, but he has a way of fighting cancer by mutating it's genes so that it thinks it's supposed to go kill the unmutated ones inside your body.

It leaves all the healthy ones and only kills the bad ones, so we're wanting to go that route. “


He said, “I've heard of that. I didn't know where they were doing it, but it's supposed to be the new way they're doing things.”


I gave a nod and saw we were to Bevere which is 5 miles out of Macon. I said, “Stu, we're about to Macon.”


When we got to Macon, I said, “Corey, outside of town here about 3 miles is where the four lane ends and becomes two. We need to get low and we need to see where the project is going.”



We went down low and rode along until I saw it go a different way. Corey asked, “Which way?”


To the left.”


We routed through and I got the headset on. “Would you go back around so I can see where it's supposed to tie in. IT looks like they don't even have the land cleared.”


They don't.”


I took an earpiece off ,“Lar, get some people over and clear that land and prep it to be laid.”


They don't want us clearing it until it's been inspected and made ready.”


Is that on the contract?”


He nodded.”


Ok, if I'm told we gotta pay a fine, they'll see my ass in court before I do...providing we have the rest finished.”


I said, “Corey, take us on along this....and try to get us within 150 feet. I doubt if there are any power lines in this area.”


We went down and went along. I said, “Corey. Do you see where that washout is and that huge crack is? Land right there. I want to inspect it.”


We landed and I got out. Lar and Stu got out and I walked over ,“Lar, had we had gravel laid here, this wouldn't have happened. An inspector going to reject us for this?”


We'll fill it in.”


You didn't answer my question. Are we going to get a fail on this?”


They let us fill in and as long as our concrete passes, they're fine with it.”


I don't want to see it again. We could've had asphalt laid here and had the water running to where it was supposed to.”


He gave a nod, “How soon until we're laying asphalt?”


Five days. Within a week, we'll be laying. Now tell me how much we've gotta lay?”


We're going to need to call Tyler and see. It's changing a lot when you change it from from gravel to asphalt and from rebar to strand.”


We'll work with the state on it....Are they going to be available to inspect 24/7?”


They HAVE to have people here when we're on the sight laying whatever, but we usually forewarn them.”


Forewarn them that in a week, I'll have our people laying. You have the batch plants forewarned we're going to be running wide open expecting them to keep up with us.

We'll be bringing at least 27 trucks from Branson and I'm not sure from Ord or GCC. How many will you have?”


We've got 30 dumps of varying sizes.”


All of ours are semis and trailers. I'm not sure what Ord or GCC has, but I know we haul and we lay fast. Just the same, we'll have the same equipment eventually. We'll make an order once a year and we'll keep an extra shift open at either Cat or Mack.”


What sort've equipment do you want?”


I'm to the point with most equipment Cat is the way to go. With trucks, we just bought a bunch of Macks and they're enough to make you WANT to get into the cab and work!”


He nodded, “We've had Macks for years.”


I realize that. Leighton is pretty much catch as catch can and although I respect their ability to get a deal, I do not respect their ability to keep it looking the same on the line.

We're at a point where we're covering a large area and can order enough to get discounts from one company for a long term commitment, or we'll take it elsewhere.”


A lot of them won't deal that way.”

“The companies will. They realize an order of the size we're making affects their bottom line.

We're reopening the trucking company out at the cement plant. We're buying trucks for five different concrete companies now. We're buying for five different construction divisions now. We're buying for nearly 6,000 employees, so yeah, I'm gonna flex that muscle.”


He gave me a look and I said, “Lar, I'm not getting in a pissing contest with you. There's a reason I bought it and there's a reason I could. We're standing ON the reason I could buy it and buy it so cheap.

I've already told your Dad we're moving and consolidating except for zone supervisors and to be honest, I'll tell you I think you're a supervisor for one reason...you were the owner's kid.
Since you were told I'd gladly get rid of you unless you got me results, you've been pouting. You're NOW showing me bullshit and expecting me to pass it...just because the state approves it. To be honest, that's not how I do business.

I'm selling a company's products which say this.....I'm building a highway which will be in AS GOOD SHAPE in 10 years as it is today when you lease it. That requires we build things better and get USED TO building things better. It's not skating on shit like this and it's not allowing things like this to happen in the first place.”


As I was speaking he was getting progressively more and more agitated. It was obvious in his appearance and I could tell he was about to blow.

I continued, “Our obligation to our employees is this...That we provide the jobs, that we get the bids, that we DO the jobs and move on, and that we don't waste time when we've got the dates open to work.

We're going to have a meeting with our employees which tells them, their supervisors, and you and the rest of my supervisors these things....you don't accept bullshit and unless mother nature throws up something we can't deal with, a little rain isn't going to hurt us in the slightest.”


They won't work in it!”


Bullshit, you tell them they work in it or they don't work in CONSTRUCTION!”


He shook his head, “They'll go to St. Louis then.”


Bullshit, that man and I are in too good with each other.”


He gave me a look like I'd slapped him. I said, “If you're referring to Alberici, you'll see equipment on my books which gave me my start. You'll see an old man who's going to be smiling his ass off because I bought everyone out rather than took the time to run them out of business.”


So you're in cahoots!”


I stared, “Did I fuckin' say that?”


Stu interrupted ,“Nowhere in this is Mr Alberici's money. Nowhere in this are agreements which Jer's not been honorable and made himself a very good offer and put him in a good position.”


I said, “Here's our agreement...and so help me, if you misinterpret this when you choose to spread it, I'll break your fuckin' jaw.

Alberici gets 61/40. I get 36/72. He gets 66/44 to the Fort Leonard Wood exit and I get it south from there. ALL OTHERS are competition baby.

Now take a look at 61/40....is it nearly completed? Yeah. I think I got the better deal. On 36/72, it's being completed but after that, we've got quite a bit we can do. In regards to 66/44, it's maintenance. It's older and it's going to require maintenance.

Where WE beat them and create jobs is we're doing the lend/lease thusly BUYING our own jobs. For the next 10 years, we'll have those jobs being pulled out of the hat where THEY are asked, “Can you do that?” and YOU and LEIGHTON would have been asked that also.

The reply you WOULD HAVE given would've been, “Who can afford to?” and I'd be there smiling with my $7 billion and more ready to get my people jobs. IF THAT wouldn't have ran you ALL out of business, I beg to differ.”


It's unfair.”


Bullshit. It's the way the economy is moving. Look at the way the police get their cars now. They do it because they get more cars and the cars stay fresh.”

“But they also give the cars back. You're not doing that.”


No, I'm making the agreement they buy them and IF THEY DO NOT buy them, I slap toll booths on them and take it so that anyone who wants to drive on it pays me to do so, but they give up the right to say the land was 'LENT' to me....it was bought from my labors, they gave that up when they didn't move to buy it from me. Once again, maintenance is mine....there are no contracts and we work.

In regards to the future, they keep designing and they keep letting them out for bids. The same agreement rides and you see us having that foot in the door and all the rest either having to PUT UP or shut up in order to compete.

Once again, IF you compete, you do so on a slope where I make money through the cement, through the quarries, through the concrete, and through bridge decking and trusses up in Keokuk.

Each step along the way, I've got my hands in not just my competition's pockets, but the pockets of construction companies and concrete companies across this nation and world.

Each step, I'm making the money because I've positioned myself. Whereas you guys were looking at the little picture, I was looking at the big and nodding to myself, saying that's what I want to be in because it makes more sense.

Now you see me moving and having the money to do so. I'm not afraid to use the money and I'm not afraid to make it either.

IF you see me having attitude, it's for this....I realize if you cost me money today and think that because you put us into bankruptcy that I'm going to roll over and play dead, you're an idiot. I'll pay the fuckin' fines. I'll fire you and anyone else who doesn't want to put up results. And I'll get people in who DO.

My agreement with your Dad is this...I buy the company without his divulging what the problems were and me asking a whole lot of questions. He's now aware I can work around him and he's now aware that if I gotta, his ass goes out the door and I move people around to replace him.”


They won't stay faithful.”


Want to challenge that?” I shut up and stared. “I'll start with you. You're fired!

Now go get another job in construction and see how many people are willing to go off the job to get a paycheck or an unemployment check. NOW see us continue to work and see it move on down the road without you, your opinions, or your input.

As I see it, your Dad and Tyler are going to see two things. They're going to see that I'm not afraid to fire someone and show the men I WILL start at the top and kick asses out who have been keeping them from getting promoted. And that I'm not afraid to use their brains and ideas which move us ahead.

The other thing I show them is their asses can go out the door also. I'll absorb and I'll make the competition so rough that they'll not go into it again.

As a consolation prize, I'll throw you the landscaping business. You can plant trees and flowers and beautify things and gulleys and wash outs which were ok and acceptable with you. You can plant grass and you can do all that up to my standards, or you can be told to stay off my projects and we'll find someone who WILL do them the way they need done.”


I motioned, “Call your Dad. Tell him I just fired you and see how fuckin' loyal he is. He'll apologize and tell you, “Sorry, but I'm determined to see this through until the end or I don't recognize it anymore.

I'll tell you right now, I'm respecting the man, but I'm not allowing it to stay the same. We're moving OUT of leasing our equipment and we're buying whatever we can and moving it to wherever is needed.

YOU can make the call to get yourself a ride. Do NOT call my people because I'm about to put the announcement out that you no longer work for us. IF you're so pompous as to think people won't shake their heads and smile who are supervisors, think again....They've had opinions and had to swallow them and let you get your way until it was fucked up and they finally got to show you their way was the way of 'tried and true'...They'll smile and think to themselves, “Yeah, the new guy's getting rid of the right people....It shows how long the owner's kids last when the owner's no longer in.”

That's the way it always is. Stu and I have it built into our organization that not even us gets to be secure. The second I step out, people who know the business can step in. The second Stu steps out, people who he's taught and trained can step in.

In each of our divisions, we have that. We're not firing people out, we're utilizing them and seeing if they'll stay, however if they choose not, they're at the disadvantage because we've got 50 year non-compete contracts which states that IF they choose to violate those, it's multi hundreds of millions of dollars to pay me before they even get a good foothold.

Now, try getting your Dad to do so and you'll see him give you a horrified look and ask you if you're nuts. Try getting anyone who I've bought out to do that and you'll see the same reaction. I've got the size and momentum and you're going to be starting and acquiring...THAT is why I bought existing and didn't start up around here. I now own 2 of the big 3 I intended on putting out of business and really, IF you want to work for Martin, great...go do it.”


I turned to Stu...”No holy grails?”


He shook his head, “None....leave the relics to be worshiped in the churches they built. It's a different kind of reformation.”


I turned ,“Lar, you've got one chance to get back on board with me before I get in that chopper and leave you here. Would you like to see if your Dad or any member of MY company will step out to come get you?”


He gave me a look and I said, “I'm not blinking, I'm offering you this one lesson as to how I could give a fuck less if you are in or out. You'll be amazed at how fast I get back in that chopper...and how fast I'll tell you to get off this property because you're officially trespassing when you don't have reason to be here.”


I turned and went to the chopper. I opened the door for Stu and helped him climb in. I turned, “In or out!”

He stood there and I dialed Tom. He answered and I said, “Laramie is fired. IF you or anyone wish to give him a ride from where he is and you think you can use my equipment to do so, you'll be fired also.”


What happened?”


He apparently thinks I'll keep him or others around just because they're a supervisor. He's been told he's going to produce results and each step of the way, I've been getting challenges and arguments.

When he got fired, he was told how I'm moving forward and building it so he's kept out. He was told to go to work for Martin because Leighton is now mine as well as Huntington and the cement plant.”


Really!”


Yeah, he knows that and he knows Marblehead is mine, so all the divisions and subsidiaries are mine also. In this area and in construction, that means he works for Martin or he doesn't work.

He SEEMS to think people are going to step out and go onto the unemployment line beside him out of loyalty. I think you realize he's quite wrong.”


Let me speak with him.”


Call him, but don't think I'll give him the respect to get back in this helicopter and ferry him to wherever. A part of this is the lesson that I'll take you to the middle of nowhere and dump your ass and move on.”


It's a lesson he needs to learn, but let me speak with him because he was under the impression all this started on Friday. So was I.”


Call him. I'll give you until Friday, but IF misinformation is given to the employees, I'll sue you to oblivion and kick your asses out of your own homes when I am awarded them.”


That's not going to happen. I've already spoke with enough people who like the way you do things that I know we're moving in a different direction and think it's needed.”


I'm not saying I won't use your input.”


I understand that. I think that's what I like best. You're amassing a lot of good minds and using those collectively.”


I rang off and Lar's phone rang. He answered it and when he hung up, I said, “In or out? My advice is to get in, but then again, you might just walk because I said it...If that's your way of thinking I'll put up with things in the future, you'll be wrong.”


He walked over, “How is it you want things?”


Be at the meeting on Friday, but you already know. If you weren't listening, you'll hear it again then. IF you don't think I'll hold you accountable for getting it passed along, you'll be fired again.

With the exception of Friday, I'm not thinking one thing about what happened. I don't hold grudges. You and I will learn how each other works within our worlds and now you understand me.

Here's what you should know...On my chest is a scar. It goes from my back to my front. It's from a doctor who LISTENED whereas the doctor I had for a bunch of years did NOT listen and did NOT even do a chest xray which would've told him I had a baby's lung in a 20 year old's body.

I'm so small from all that bullshit...I think. I pay the price daily and wish I was your size but I'm not....Yeah, I think it's from malpractice and neglect and someone NOT doing their job right.

When I work, I do the job right. People all over town will tell you I'm the only person who cleans their pools the RIGHT way...because I actually cleaned them. When someone doesn't do their job or it's not done right, I immediately think of a doctor and what he didn't do which put me through pain needlessly.

For you to tell me we're going to half ass something.....Well, it's not going to happen. You now know my reasons and personal reason.”


What happened?”


I got a lung transplant. I'm not telling you WHOSE lung is in my body, but let's say it's pretty safe to say I know whose it is because they had a car wreck out there by Mt Zion Church that night and two kids got killed. That's the night I got my lung.”


He nodded and looked away. I said, “Lar, IF you want to know, he was laying on the table beside me getting his organs harvested as I was getting readied. You don't know what it feels like when you know someone's dying in order for you to have a chance at life without pain.

I see his Mom all the time and each time, I want to tell her Thank You, but I know me saying so would rip her heart out all over again. I've told her Thank You in a card and I've done all I can to say Thank You in my actions by living life to it's fullest.

I realize he was gay and I realize it was a terrible situation. I heard the call on my police scanner and I thought, “Oh Jesus, I know all of them!” and called my Mom telling her about it.

In less than 30 minutes, I had my call telling me to get to the hospital as we had an organ. That's the night I was elated and sickened at the same time because I knew the gay community was saddened.”


He was my lover.”


Well, now you know who got his lung.” He nodded and I said, “I'm sorry you weren't allowed to be involved. I know his family treated everyone terrible and I know they flew into a full fledged denial.”


He nodded, “I got to see him at the funeral home, but they wouldn't let me stand up there.”


You've got another chance here Buddy. Corey there is older, but he's a damned good man. He'll be flying for us, but I'm sure he'll have quite a bit of his time free.

What I'll do is I'll keep you on days working from 6am to 6pm currently. As we put things together more and more, you'll have to switch up.”


What's that going to involve?”


Ok, here's what it's going to involve. You guys do a lot of job shadowing like me. That means you train your people ON the job rather than hiring from a construction school.”


We do both.”


Well, I've got nearly 300 people who have done NO construction except laying asphalt. They do that real good and they'll lay it so fast you're going to wonder how long they've been in the business. I'll raise one finger and tell you that many weeks.”


His eyes bulged, “WHAT!”


I trained 'em and we laid a street. Right now, they're laying 2 miles of parking lot 600 feet wide and we'll have it done by the end of the weekend.”


He looked surprised, “Man!”


8 crews of 12 people working 12 hour days. When one gets tired, he steps out and one who's taking it easy gets in there and works. They move fast and they're keeping up with the 27 trucks.

How we're doing that pour down there is this way. We're laying two inches and moving. We'll come back and lay another two inches and then, we'll put in some pipes and roll.”


Why?”


We're heating the parking lot and using the hot water from the parking lot in the summer to save on hot water heating for all of our restaurants”


Oh!”


We're laying another 2 inches on top of that and then, going back and getting the last 2 inches and doing imprinted stenciling.”


I've heard about that!”


It's beautiful. We did our street we paved with it and imprinted the turn signs and the cross walk in brick. The stripes are also done in a running bond of what looks like brick, but we were testing it so we could see how it'd be. I'll tell you I like it enough that I'm making our parking lot look really nice.”


You're having parking lots 2 miles long?”


Two parking lots which are a mile long. You see, we'll have shows every two hours....While one is in, the other side can be loading up and then, we can have a faster turn around.

Whenever you'd like, we can go down there and I'll show you the new show. Alberici is doing the construction of the building and will have it finished by Memorial Day.”


Man, that's fast!”


“He's getting paid a pretty penny to do it. I want the crowds filling the place and word of mouth spreading like wildfire.”


What sort of show?”


It's a water fountain show.”


“How big are you building this theater?”


Hang on, let's get in the chopper. I'll take you down there, if you don't mind.”


Ok, but I'm going to have to call 'em and let 'em know.”


WE got in and I winked at Stu. “Things better?”


Yeah. I'm going to take him down to see the show.”


He started chuckling. “You're bad with that!”


Hey! I think it's cool!”


Corey asked, “Things better?”


Yeah, we're dealing with things LOTS better.”

“You had me worried.”


Let's go down 65 and see where those trucks are.”


Ok, I'll cut across country.”


Fly to Buffalo. They always stop there and load up on liquid refreshments and go pee. IF we go cross country. We should be there in time to see them roll into town.”


We flew and I dialed Tom. He answered, “Hello?”


I'm keeping him on, but we're flying to Branson. I want him to see a few things and to meet our crews we've got down there.”


Ok. I'm glad things are better.”


It took me showing him I wasn't afraid to fire him to have him realizing I'm not going to take or put up with half assed work. If you saw the gulleys washed into that dirt on the side of that highway, you'd cringe.”


Are they bad?”


I could stand up in one and not be seen.”


Oh my...”


That doesn't happen anymore. When we get the dirt work finished, we're going to be getting it paved with asphalt and protected with barrier. It might cost us some money, but I'd rather us do things right.”


Dave Leighton called me and asked what I knew about you and I told him we were learning things right now, but I'd heard a LOT of good things from Ord. He hadn't heard you'd bought out Ord and was REALLY shocked.”


I laughed and he said, “He's now thinking you're buying out all the good ones and when I told him you weren't touching Martin, he really laughed. Are you going to want his equipment in on this job?”


Yes sir. I'm going to have YOUR concrete trucks covering everything and using both yours and his concrete plants to pull from so we've got concrete moving.

We'll also take all his trucks and that way, we're laying down at a fast clip.”


He's got a lot of the pieces of equipment we don't have.”


I realize that, but I need to speak with him and get him on board. Do you know if he has an architect on staff?”


I think so, but I'm not sure. He probably works with engineers like us.”


Ok, I was wondering because we've got both coming from Ord. I'll use them for our corporate office in Branson.”


It's probably better to use Leighton. I hear he's got an open spot after this school he's building is finished.”


I'll have to see. I know I'm going to upset some people with how I'm wanting to do it, but you'll understand when it's explained on Friday.”


Are you going to have him there?”


Yeah, but I'll make the call....I hate to sound like an idiot, but do you have any idea how much I paid for them?”


Less than $50. He asked if I got more than $50 and I said we did. That's when he said, “I didn't.”, but to be honest, you didn't buy that good of a construction company. Yeah, they've got some real nice concrete divisions, but for road construction, they're about zero.”


I'm not even going to consider using them on road construction. I'll move their machinery over, but after what they did on jobs in Hannibal and how long they took, there's no possible way.”


Hannibal is getting to be a hard town to work in.”


Bullshit. Everyone's had it so easy in Hannibal, they didn't know how to handle it when they got someone in there who wasn't costing them lots of money. You're just pissed because you pulled some greasy shit off and got caught.”


I wouldn't say that.”


How much did you have to pay over that bridge it took 4 years to build and you got 8 times the money you were supposed to build it for? By the time they were tired of fucking with you, the rest of the city was also....”


They gave the wrong specs.”


And you sure didn't check behind them. I'll tell you right now that was a lesson learned and IF you're not doing it, you'd best be well advised my people will be...and the second I catch you or anyone falsifying paperwork, not only will I sue you, I'll have you taken up on charges.”


We didn't falsify paperwork!”


No, I'm saying that YOU and those guys are all going to check their paperwork behind them. IF your specs don't match theirs, you're going to be there scolding them like amateur school children asking them to sign waivers of liability.

IF they do not, begin the lawsuit asking for a third party arbitrator. When that happens, you best be well advised we'll sit it out and wait and wait and wait until they begin their lawsuit for fines against us. That's when we'll go in and show our documentation where they screwed up.

YOUR PROBLEM with that bridge is you didn't have our people checking what you pulled out and demolished to see if that's what you were putting back in.

I'll tell you I'm a history buff and there's 3 bridges which got washed away in flash flooding at that location in 1906, 1909, and 1913. I KNOW there was a work order change from 1906 to 1909 because they went from a flat iron bridge to a girder truss type. THEN, it went to the concrete span you replaced.”


All I know was it was a mess. We didn't get sued, but it left us with a bad taste in our mouths for dealing with Hannibal.”


“You got even on that chip seal job....I was home the day you did my street and as soon as I saw them putting down that cheap shit you were putting down, I was like, “Ok, where's the roller?”

When I got told there would be no roller, I told them, “It's all going to wash down off this hill and Broadway will be a sandbar with all the gravel you've lost.”

I was told I didn't know what I was talking about and that's the day I called the City Manager and told him you were doing it wrong. He assured me that if it was done wrong, you'd correct it, but THAT sure didn't happen!”


He said, “They gave us a waiver of liability for the loose gravel coming off the hill.”


Well, it got you suspended from doing contracts in the city limits. I'll tell you the next time we get suspended, it'll be for life. YOU might think that's ok, but I find it a huge insult to not be able to do business WITH the town which is your corporate home.”


I'm finding it a relief. They now have others they're kicking around and who are finding it's not a pleasure to do business with them. That asphalt job on Industrial is a story in itself.”


Yeah, it's covering up the mess of concrete you poured less than 10 years ago! Don't think you'll gloss that over because I'd be in there ripping it up and putting it back down and apologizing for the bad job I did....WHY concrete can't be poured on level even ground by this company, I don't know, but you sure gave us 14 miles of realizing it can't!”


I'm not sure what went wrong with the concrete.”


Can I offer you a suggestion what went wrong?”


What's that?”


You had a crack addict in the batch plant. You were told the batches were good, so you went with it. DEPENDING upon what day he was good is what day you got good concrete.”

“Is he still working there now?”


No, he's doing 30 years for meth production in Illinois. When he reapplies, I'm going to have it in our database that NOT NO, but FUCK NO will he ever work for me!”


I didn't realize that.”


I understand. It shouldn't be your position to micromanage behind people. You should be able to count on professionals to do their jobs, but I'd say it would behoove you to piss test your employees.”


Will you be doing that?”


Yup, Each and every one of them. I'm NOT going to be doing it, I'm outsourcing it and dropping on them so sporadically that it's going to be every 106 days. They'll figure out that I'm intending on doing it every other two months, but three times a year at least, they'll drop and they'll get it that I'm suspending the first time and will call them back when it's time to drop again. IF they go bad the second time EVER in their lifetimes, they're fired permanently and I don't care WHO they are.” (365 – 45 vacation days from December 15th to February 1st is 320 days divided by 3 is 106 or thereabouts.)


How will it work?”


I'll arrange it with the clinic out there....And yes, I realize it costs us $58 for each person, but I don't really care how much it costs.....How much did that pour he fucked up cost?”


I understand.”


2000 Employees times three times is $360,000 a year, more or less. Right now, I've got something like 10,000 employees working in our divisions...does that tell you my priority for this?”


I guess we should've been stricter.”


Your policy was your policy. I know for a fact you had and have alcoholics working for you driving equipment and I know you've got LOTS of addiction working there.

In order for me to weed....pardon the pun....them out, I've got to spend $1.6 million a year. I DO THINK that after five years, they're going to be getting word out that if you want to work there, you'll be clean and sober or you won't be working! BUT, they'd better be damned smart about it because I'll tell you right now that the first time will be out here. IF they go bad, they'll have to drive to the labs in Troy and give hair, piss, and blood....or they're fired. They OUGHT to be lucky I'm not charging them for that second time, but in order for me to make the report to OSHA and Department of Transportation to get their driver's license tagged, I've got to be the one paying for the test.”


I'll tell our insurance people to be expecting that.”


Tell your insurance people I want them to be awaiting us to be moved over to Conseco Direct. I'll get our guy to go get everyone signed up, but that's who we'll be going through.”


Is it better?”


It's the second best insurance in this country. The first best is the one I've personally got and our company can't afford it. I'm paying nearly $16,000 a year for it.”


My God!”


Hey, when there's something wrong, you get a battery of people called in right now, not in a week or six weeks, but you get THE BEST at that very second.

With Stu, I made the call when we were driving home from the hospital in Springfield and had us flown to Hannibal where the battery of doctors met with us the very next morning. Yes, it's true Doc died right after the team met up, but that wasn't the team's fault.”


Doc Graper?”


Yes sir. He's who I inherited all this money from. It's air tight and written in his Will I receive it along with the Humane Society. THAT should tell you what that man thought of his children.”


He was a very nice man. When I needed to speak with a doctor, he's who I called.”


Me too. He saved my life.”


I saw the trucks ,“Corey, there's the trucks!”


I said, “Excuse me Tom, but I need to get off here.”


I rang off and said to Stu and Lar', “It's official, we now have Leighton under us.”


Stu asked, “Is that all you're going to be buying?”


No. I've got one more I'm putting into the fold, but that's not for a bit yet...”

He asked, “Which one is that?”


Tree House Construction...They're real good sized and have a LOT of experience to bring to the table.”


Laramie smiled, “That's who my Dad thought you were! He heard 'Blue Jay' ,“A division of Tree House just bought us.”


I smiled ,“Nah, but if they had, you'd had quality buying you out.”


He gave a nod, “I agree. They do a LOT of work down around the capitol.”


Let me tell you something. Ancient forever years ago, they were the first people in construction who hired minorities before the government mandated it. They had women working for them before the government mandated it.

They've got openly gay people working there and have a rainbow flag as one of the flags which represents their company. ALSO, if you look in the gay yellow pages for Missouri, you'll see them there.

It might sound bad, but let me tell you a little story...

Back when I was a little kid, some ancient dinosaur of a relative of mine got put in a nursing home in Jeff City out there by that ice skating rink......Villa something or another...

Well, there was this dinky damned bridge which shouldn't have had cars going across it period, but they did.

We drove across it and went up this drive which was the worst washed out gravel mess you'd ever seen and really, there were times I would wonder if we'd get stuck in the gravel...that's how bad it was. I mean, my Dad would have to give it hell just to get it up the hill and give it hell to get DOWN it!

Mr TreeHouse got the job of building that road. We saw him stuck with a dozer in that gravel one day and my Dad and I found a perfect excuse to go speak with someone rather than going into the nursing home.

Needless to say, we went there and he's rocking back and forth in the dozer and my Dad said, “Raise the blade some!” and he said, “That's what got me into this mess!”

My Dad said, “Nah, you're going to have to raise the blade to get the gravel dug back under you! I think you're down in that river bed and no one bothered telling you that you're where the bedrock is and you're not going to MOVE all that gravel until you get a crane and dig it out!”


Well, sure enough, he raised the blade and I mean, for a dozer, he had it raised at an angle which was all out...so you know it was way up in the air, but sure enough the weight canted that dozer and it began raking in the gravel with those tracks and got enough that it made itself a ramp up.

He got out and my Dad said, “Before you take that damned dozer back across that bridge, you let me get my car out of here! I hate bein' in this town just about as much as I hate walkin' back to Hannibal!”


Everyone laughed and I said, “Let's put it this way to make the story shorter....HE had a contract to build that street for something ridiculously low. It took him digging all that gravel out and pouring forms and pilings in order to get it in. He lost his ass on that street, but to this day, it's one of the prettiest drives in that entire town...BUT, I saw what he made into a road and if you'd ever seen it, you'd said, “No fuckin' way!”


Lar asked, “How bad was it?”


Ok, Lover's Leap Road in Hannibal? Remember that before they paved it? Now, just think about it all being about 9 inches of gravel going up that steep som'bitch and you'll have what they had.”


Lar said, “My Dad built Lover's Leap Road! I remember it!”


Remember it before they made the new one?”


Yeah!”


I turned to Stu, “Someplace in there, on the side of that road is a beautiful little park they about half buried putting that road in there.

You can still get into the park, but no one can park there, so it's allowed to be overgrown with weeds.”


Lar asked, “Really?”


I'm going to ask for that park so I can put it in the front area of our Corporate home.

Here's the story of that park...

Back in the old days, going to the grave yard was a family outing. You went on Sundays and you carried a picnic and you walked your ass up Riverside Drive and you split off if you were on foot and you went up through the park and on up the hill which all that is still there.

All along the way, they had stone fountains, statues, angels, and so many cool things that by the time you got up to the original entrance to the cemetery, you were in a mindset of seeing things for their beauty.

Now, the entrance to the cemetery now is what was the caretaker's entrance. It is the ugliest part of the cemetery and yet, when you get up to the original entrance, you stand and stare at it and wonder why they ever did that.”


Really? I'm learning a lot here!”


We'll walk up there some time. You'll be pissed at what they've allowed to happen.”


I pulled my phone and dialed Skip. He answered, “Hello?”


Hi, it's me. I know you're busy and I've got to be getting off here real shortly, but I need to know if you'll call City Manager Jeff LaGarce and see if he'll sell me Riverside Park and all it's stonework. He'll tell you there's no such thing as Riverside Park on the city's books and you'll have to tell him different.”


I know where it is...”


You'll probably have to take him there, but I'd like to have that park.”


I think it belongs to the cemetery board now. I think the city deeded it over, but they're so strapped for cash, that if you donate them a sizable endowment, they'll gladly give it, I think.”


Tell them this...Tell them I'll pay $20,000 for all the statuary and stonework and throw in an asphalt driveway up in through there if I can advertise we did it in the newspaper.”


Ok.”


Now, did Cruikshank bring those shares?”


He brought everything. You paid him $250,000 and I'm now calling all the corporations to notify them you're the new owner.”


I betcha they're shittin' golden bricks!”


They were unsure WHO owned them. Does that tell you how long ago anyone's ever expressed an interest in them?”


What about the CEO of Huber. He's been acting like the buck's stopped with him and he's got all the control for years.”


I've spoke with him and he immediately gave his resignation.”


Then go through the books. IF he's been playing God with the money and drawing off himself a God-like salary, he can certainly give charges for what's been stolen the last 3 years.”


No, I'm not going to do that. Do you realize the man HAD to siphon off some funds in order to work for them?”


Huh?”


Since 1967, there have been 22 CEOs....Do you know why?”


No, why?”


No one's had a raise. The salary for the position is $22,000 a year to be one of the biggest corporate CEOs in the State of Illinois.

With that, he heads all the corporations and can decide what everyone else makes. Needless to say, it's like an old boy's club which is like a 2 year hot potato. You get the job and agree to steal for 2 years and then, you give yourself a promotion to being a CEO for one of the other corporations where you're legally making a living.

When I called him, he knew the gig was up and offered his resignation with excuse. I listened and now, you're going to have to call the man and give him a raise so he's making what he should be making.”


Ok, we're not going to fire them. It sounds like it's a mess structurally, but we will give them the thanks they deserve.

What's that phone number?”


He gave it to me and I said, “Skip, I appreciate you handling that business.”


You deserve it. They think they dumped a loser on you and you had the nerve to ask for it! I'm sitting here staring at all the divisions and subsidiaries and know that IF they'd paid attention, they'd realized what it was...I mean, it didn't take me two seconds to call the phone number and have the CEO's office.”


Do they know what we paid?”


No.”


Good. Now let's get all that under the Blue Jay Holdings and see how we can put everything.”


You're going to need to become a fan of basketball.”


Uh, why?”


You own one of the best franchises in the nation.”


Don't tell me the Lakers!”


He laughed and continued to giggled, “Think Illinois....namely Chicago.”


Ok....I own 'em???”


One of your CEOs is handling them but it's your money.”


I'll let Stu handle that. He's head of the Entertainment division, but if I tell him right now, he'll probably tell me “Oh Bull!”


We laughed and Stu gave me a look. I made a bouncing motion with my hand and he sort've frowned. I said, “Oh BULL!”


His eyes lit up and I said, “You're over 'em.”


I said, “Skip, I gotta get off here. We're chasing down these men in their trucks and usually, they stop in Buffalo to get drinks and go to the bathroom, but they didn't.”


Ok, call me back.”

“Will do.”


I hung up and called Sheriff Patrick. “Hello?”


They just rolled through Buffalo without stopping. Usually, they stop there to go pee and get drinks, but they didn't today.”


Fly forward about 10 miles. You'll see us doing the road block. IF you go 5 miles, you won't see the back door of that trap, but I've got 4 pieces of your construction equipment acting as the back door.”


Ok, that's fine. They're just leaving Buffalo.”


I'll give you a call when your people can have the one you want. I'm glad you told me to get a printout of these people.”


I instantly thought, “I didn't tell you to do that fella!” and asked, “Did it come in helpful?”


Lots.”


Ok, give me a call. We'll be prepared for them.”


I hung up and got on my headset, “Corey?”


Yeah.”


Did your people ask the Sheriff to get printouts on everyone?”


Probably.”


Good, because he was thanking me and I had no clue. He said he'd give me a call when he's through with them, but let's stay up here because I've got four pieces of equipment about to fall in behind them acting as the back door. The Sheriff is 10 miles ahead and the pieces are at 5 miles.”


They're not deviating from the route.”


We watched and just as soon as they got to where the equipment was, the police blocked the road and had my equipment fall in behind them blocking both lanes of the four lane. They then began following and when they neared the blockade, it was perfect because there were no off ramps, or anything except for 2 hills on each side of the highway...The four trucks were blocked in.

Corey pulled his phone and texted something and then said, “We're free to go on to Branson. They'll be delivered to us.”


Great.”


I said to Lar, “Ok, when we get to Branson, we'll go to the work site to check on everything and then, we'll go in and show the show.”


Me mentioning the show, he asked, “Tell me about the show. I've seen Vienese Waters, it was nice but 10,000 seats?”


I smiled, “Great isn't it!”


He sort've blinked twice, “How many shows do you think you'll have a day?”


From noon until 10pm...all the even hours. We'll have matinees and switch it up and have evening and then, switch it up and have a late night one.”


What's the difference?”


Music and effects with the water.”


He sort've gave a smirk, “Can I be blunt and tell you I wasn't impressed after about 15 minutes with Vienese Waters??? It got monotonous and really, I decided to go to the bathroom and found a lot of people there all acting like they'd taken a Valium because it's relaxing, but boring as all get out.”


Ok, maybe you'll be bored, but entertain me with watching it. You might find something totally mind blowing and worthy of telling others about so they'll come.”


He asked, “How much are you spending on it?”


Around $40 million altogether, but it's paid in cash so there's no debt.”


Your payback will be a long time.”


I figure by the end of July we'll have it paid back.”


He sort've did the double eye blink again and asked, “What year?”


Stu's smile from repressed laughter was causing my stomach to hurt from keeping in the laughter and me playing the gullible naïve part. I said, “Of course, this year....There ARE a lot of visitors to Branson and they'll all want to see cool refreshing water when the heat is blazing down outside.”


I said, “Corey? Would you like to see it also. You two could share in it.”


Corey said, “Ok.”


When we got to the airport, we went to the Range Rover and got in. I kicked on the AC ,“Lar, if you gotta go to the restroom while the show is going, let me know. We'll pause it so you won't miss a thing. I agree there's some repetition of the sways in the water and things, but I'm sure you'll find something exciting.”


He said, “Don't pause it on my part.”


No, I want you to be able to tell others about it. We're counting on word of mouth.”


We drove into town and saw trucks rolling from the site and to it. We pulled on and saw all the crews working and Lar said, “Man! You've got a lot of crews!”


Yeah, they work fast.”


We drove through and when we got to the theater, I turned to Stu. “You go get it started and I'll show him where the restrooms are.”


He gave me a smirk, “He'll be so enthralled he won't need 'em.”


Just in case....He might have a bladder thingy....you never know!”


Lar gave me a look and I said, “It's our first show together. I'm real excited. Stu's had it for years and he was sort've ho-hum about it, but with the new effects, it's sort've real exciting for me...You might not find it exciting, but I do.”


We went in and I went all out making sure their seats were front and center and they had drinks ,“The show starts off slow and then, you'll see how it's going to change.”


I made a rolling motion with my hand and the music started. When it got to the point it interrupted itself, I stepped back and watched. When the introduction of the new theater and all it's benefits were finished, it went into the new show and I went upstairs.

Stu was already laughing. “You know, you're heartless with this!”


Hon, it was so cute when he was doing that eye flutter thing. You know he was like, “You're crazier than hell! But was too polite to say it!”


We laughed and when the towers fell, they ducked and the Harleys rolled out. I said, “We've got 'em.” and giggled like a mad man.


Stu hugged me, “Babe, you're loving this.”


I know it's going to be this way for a lot of people.”


By the time DaRude was being played, I went down and stood to the back. When it went into the swaying and thanking them for attending, I asked, “Is that the Valium performance you were talking about?”


They really got to talking and Stu came down laughing. He said, “Guys, he plays this game on everyone. He KNOWS they found the other one boring and wants them to think it's more of the same so he can shock the hell out of 'em. Needless to say Lar, you fell for it hook, line, and sinker.”


Lar was really still too excited about it. “Yeah, I know, but this is NOTHING like it used to be. At first, I was like, “Ok, yeah, it's boring.” and then when it skidded to a stop and showed how it's going to be and kicked into the new one, I was instantly taken to a different place and NONE of it's boring!”


Corey was equally as excited. I said, “Guys, that's our little show. Now you probably understand why we're doing 6 shows a day now rather than 1 and 2 on weekends.”


My cell rang and I answered, “Hello?”


Sheriff Patrick said, “Your guys have the ones you wanted.”


Thank you.”


I have the truck. He's lost it due to drugs being found in it....Well, three of them lost their trucks. The last one has more charges than you can shake a stick at, but he's paying those and heading back to Hannibal.”


Did you find Martin and Michael?”


We sure did...and like you said, there were drugs all over them. The Cyan Morton person is going to be arriving with your person. He was allowed to get his belongings after they'd been gone through.”


I appreciate it.”


You weren't kidding. We found charges upon charges.”


It gives them a message not to come back through your county....and it tells everyone else they tell not to go through your county either.”


My phone beeped telling me I had a call. I said, “Sheriff, they're calling me now, I'll let you go.”


I flashed over, “Hello?”


Mike's voice said, “We've got company out here. Four of the roughest people I know just landed in a chopper with Cyan Morton and Fogle on board.”

“Keep Cyan and introduce him around and get him to working. Where's Fogle going?”


They're holding him here for some reason.”


Ok, I'll be right there.”


I said, “Guys, let's go down here. I need to make an example of someone in front of all my people.”


We went down and I skidded to a stop and got out. I walked over and shook the four guy's hands ,“Thank you....I love it when a plan comes together.”


One gave me a smirk because he obviously knew the line... I turned to Fogle ,“You're a complete dumb ass.”


Fuck you!”


No, fuck you in ways you never thought you'd be fucked! Do you realize when you get home, you'll have no home to go home to? I bought it. You're evicted. It'll be demolished on Friday.

Do you realize the price for threatening me? How about threatening my life? How about ACTING upon that threat?”


He kept cussing me and finally, I walked over and did an upper cut. His mouth snapped shut and his eyes rolled into the back of his head. He fell and I said, “God damned glass jawed son of a bitch!”


I dialed Paula's cell phone. “Hello?”


Hi. I'm standing over the unconscious body of Fogle. I hope you got packed alright.”


Packed just fine. We're on the road now. You weren't kidding about having lots of guys packing you gets you moved lots sooner!”


We will find you a place down here.”


We'll be there!”


I hung up and turned to the guys. “Guys, what's advisable for us to do with him until Friday? I'd love to have lots of photos showing him enjoying his little vacation....but I don't want any marks.”


All four smiled and I said, “Yup, he's your toy.”


What if we break him in to enjoy it a lot? Do we have to take him home on Friday?”


I don't suppose you have to....I mean if you have him all the way up to your elbow and he's saying 'yes' a lot, then I guess he qualifies as being a puppet! It doesn't really matter if he's back home or not because there's no home for him to go to.”


They hauled him off and I said, “Lar, this is our work group. As you see, they can put down some serious asphalt. We're going to train 'em to do the same for concrete.”


I'd hate to tell you, but they're laying 8 inches.”


I immediately went over to Danny. “Why are they laying 8 inches?”


I was told by Alberici that mat we're putting under it is all we need.”


Ok, but I was worried for a moment.”


He said he'd like to speak with you.”


Ok, I'll find him. Is he here?”


They went to get some lunch with your parents.”


It sounds like we're getting some lunch also!”


He smiled, “How's it going?”


If I told you, you'd wonder how many hours I can pack into a day! Let's just say I found out I'm able to be a lot richer and then, I made an investment for very little and got a whole LOT. Any news on the trucks?”


They're going to be here at 4pm.”


Good. You be prepared to fly with us to Hannibal on Friday. You'll be amazed at all we own now.”


Ok.”


We'll sit down later and discuss it, but I'm not sure what all we own yet. I'll have them give me a run down and how it all fits into us.”


You don't know what all you bought???”


I bought one company which has subsidiaries and divisions all over the place. I know it's a real good investment, but I'm not sure how good.”


He gave a nod, “Ok.”


I went over to Stu, “Are you ok?”


Yeah, why?”


Ok, let's do a walk across to the crews and tell them how good we think they're doing.”


I went over to Lars ,“Come with us. I want to introduce you and show you how we keep up morale.”


We went across to each crew and Thanked everyone and congratulated them on being so good and fast. When we got to Mike's group, he said, “Hi Laramie.”


Laramie said, “Hi Mike.”


I said, “Mike, we own Bronson and Leighton now. Huntington Stone is ours and so is the cement plant. Other than that, I bought Marblehead which is a lot of companies.”


He gave me a look, “How much have you spent?”


I'm not sure. The banker knows.”


Be careful.”


We can afford it. We're going to have a meeting tonight telling us how many companies and what they are. I know we own basketball in Chicago.”


He gave me a look, “Are they the Bulls!”


I said, “From the looks of them, they were. They had horns and no udders.”


He smiled and gave a giggle. “You're crazy!”


IF you knew what I spent to buy them, you'd REALLY say I was nuts.”


We'll be there!”


We got over to Eric. He said, “What are they doing with my Dad?”


Probably having their way with him a lot and then, if he's a good boy, he might get a turn.”


He smiled, “So he's not a problem?”


No.”

“What about his friends.”


All seem to have gotten themselves thrown in jail except for Cyan.”


He smiled and nodded over, “He's already got his shirt off.”


I said, “Stu?”


Yeah babe.”


Cyan's got his shirt off.”


He turned and looked and his mouth went open. I said, “Watch this....” I whistled and yelled, “CYAN!”


He turned and I motioned him to come over. He came over and I said, “Hand me that shirt. I'll take it to the truck. Do you want me to take the pants also?”


Yeah, but how much am I making?”


Where you're standing, you're making $200 for a 12 hour shift. If you get your happy ass in a dump (truck), you'll make better.”


Where do I get in a dump?”


Let's find you one.”


I turned and saw Danny coming. He got there, “Everyone's staring at him.”


I need a dump truck for him.”


He gave a nod, “Rich is in one. We'll get him out.”


I said, “Cy, here are the rules. IF you fuck one, they're yours for life. If you have 3 dates, you're expected to pop the question because the fourth date will be you standing in front of the justice of the peace with her.

The way it goes is you name the first one after your Daddy, the second is after her's, the third is after the justice of the peace because you're so deliriously happy.

IF she's a fella, you're had for life on the first date because the way some of these fellas are built, you're ruined for everyone else.

I don't give a shit what you do, but you do NOT cuss 'em and you do NOT call names. IF you do, you're fuckin' fired. If you make a big enough ass out of yourself, I'll beat your ass and THEN see to it you don't threaten me when you THINK you're away from me to build a posse who will come back and kill me.

IF you are a part of another posse Cy, you damned well better get the job done because I'll make you wish you were dead. Right now, Fogle is getting taught what it feels like to have someone give him a round of applause in his guts.

By the time they're finished, he's going to be begging for more. If that's what you want, then be man enough to ask some of these guys to get out the cattle glove and get busy....”


Nah, I think I like it the way it is.”


I figured you would. Now go wait and get dressed because you're slowing progress. I COULD be a bitch and stand your ass down at the other end and tell 'em that whoever gets to you first gets you....”


He smiled, “Just say you want me and get it over with.”


Not happening. I want this guy here too much for you to be a part of a fantasy.”


Stu smiled ,“Cyan, he's already told me you're fine, but you're the wrong body type. You're a mini van and he prefers Corvettes!”


Cyan looked shocked and I smiled ,“Cy, here comes Rich. Get ready to drive.”


Where am I going?”


Follow a truck out. You're going to our quarry out off the highway.”


How much am I making driving a truck?”


$500 a day for a 12 hour period, but you're fired if you drive over one of my people. However, you'll be making a helluva lot more next week when we're up there working on Interstate 72.”


He looked surprised, “Man!”


I'm buying these companies so we can have everyone good jobs!”


He smiled real big, “Well I guess!”


Rich backed in and put his load onto the paver and got out. Cy went up and climbed in. Rich came over, “What now?”


I need you, Laramie here, Danny, and Mike to go up North. You're going to be on one end of the project, Danny's going to be at the other end, and Laramie's going to be running his and running back and forth to you guys.

He'll be shooting you GPS coordinates and you'll be operating off them in order to get the highway lain, but I want you guys familiarizing yourselves with everything.

Mike is going to be going to Huntington Stone and making sure the batch plant there will be putting out what we need as well as the Bronson and Leighton and Diamond (asphalt Illinois, not Ord-Diamond) plants.

I figure if we're pulling from all four and hauling gravel from Huntington to the plants for them to put through, we'll have a good triangular route and plenty so no one's saying they're out of anything.

A lot of the drivers will be driving some long miles in order to get places, but we'll have what we need.”


Lar said, “We've got a portable set up in Mexico.”


Where are you pulling your gravel and sand from?”


Huntington.”


Ok, we'll do that, it's just about as far as driving to Diamond, so we'll be fine. Take the chopper and IF anyone has any problems with anything, let me know.”


Mike asked, “Be back down here?”


Yeah, I'd like for everyone to be down here so we can have a meeting tonight. By then, I'll have a computer hooked to a large monitor someplace and then, we can figure things out.

Laramie, I promise you I'll give you plenty of time to get to meet Corey, but bear with me. It's like a jigsaw puzzle right now...I need to put it together to get the big picture and while I'm putting it together, if I've got my leaders here, it'd be good so they all know what we've got.”


Do you want my Dad and brother here?”


I'm about to make the calls. I'll have them here and Ord here as well as Leighton if he's willing to play along. If not, I'll fold it into you guys and roll right along without him.”


He'll play. I think he's really wanted to be something bigger and didn't have the money to do it.”


Not having the wife he has! I've seen that woman spend some money!”


He smiled, “My Dad says that's a dime buying a dollar hoping she'll make him look like a quarter.”


He's correct there, but what's bad is I grew up with Bridget and she's just as blown away by her Mom's spending habits as everyone else.”


He nodded, “I like Bridget. She's down to earth and has enough tomboy in her that I doubt if she finds a guy.”


She will down here. These guys grow up with sisters and Moms who are tomboy. As you see out here, none of them shirk away from work.”


He nodded, “I'm seeing that. Do you think it'd work up home?”


Yup. When you lay down the rules and make the playing field fair, it works. The problem is guys get egos and think because they've got a dick, they can do more than a woman....I beg to differ.”


My cell rang, “Hello?”


Skip said, “Jeremy, I got you Leighton. He'd like to talk.”


Tell him I'm sending a jet that direction to bring him and Bridget as well as Bronson and his sons down here.

What I want from you is a computer thing where I can show everyone what we own and then, we can put it together and see what fits best where.”


Do you want those CEOs down there?”


Yeah, let's do that. PLUS get me the heads of the divisions which have something construction involved down here.”


Would you send a jet to Quincy?”


“I'll send the one going to Hannibal to Quincy, but you're going to have to tell them to get the lead out because we're going to be having a meeting and putting this together and then, getting them all back home.”


What do you need Leighton to do right now?”


I'm going to see if he has a portable asphalt plant and a portable concrete plant. IF he does, I need it taken to Shelbina. That way, it's in the middle of everything and we can get to work hauling sand and gravel to it...but I'll speak with him.

Other than that, I'm wanting to see what equipment he's got and what we need to get.

It's tough because I'm sending some up in a chopper real fast here so they can see the job. IF he'd like to see the job, he can, but IF he'd like to send Bridget, he can do that also.”


How about you call him. I'm drowned with information.”


“I realize that. I'm appreciating all you're doing.”


I rang off and dialed Mr Alberici. He answered, “Hello?”


Hey, it's me.”


Where are YOU at!”


Out there with the paving crews.”


I'll be right there. We gotta talk.”


No problem.”


I rang off and dialed Dave Leighton. Bridget answered ,“Dad's outside. What can I do for you Jeremy?”


I'm calling to see if you two can come to Branson tonight. I'm sending up a jet so we can all have a meeting and put this together.”


Dad's wanting to know what you need done?”


Here's what we're doing. RIGHT NOW, we're laying asphalt in Branson 24/7 until it's finished which will be this weekend sometime. THEN, we're moving everything up and getting prepared to work on the 60 mile project between Monroe City and Macon.

What equipment you've got for roads and what extra men will be pulled in. Other than that, I'm leaving you guys to do the construction of buildings.

The way I see it, I'm pulling Bronson out of that business and putting you guys into it 100%. I'm merging all my concrete, your concrete and Bronson concrete together and we're going to make all of them divisions of me.”


Ok, we've got better concrete than them.”


I understand that. I'm thinking about taking their Hannibal plant and moving it to Mexico or Macon, but from what I understand they've got four portables and I've bought a LOT I don't know about yet.”


Like what?”


I bought Marblehead.”


DAMN! How'd you get that!”


If you knew, you'd slap yourself silly for not getting it...but I'll tell you and then, you just keep your mouth shut and smile at the deal I got.”


Ok.”


Tunia and her brother owned it.”


WHAT!”


I chuckled, “They didn't KNOW they owned it. Does that tell you how dumb they were with money?”


DAY-AM!”


I bought it for a quarter of a million.”


WHAT!” She paused and laughed, “Now let me hear this again! You just sat my ass down on that one!”


You heard right. She's pissed because she was paying $72,000 a year in property taxes and thought it to be worthless. I told her I'd pay $100,000 for her part and the same for her brother's.

Needless to say, she called him and he called Skip. I told Skip, you tell him I'm just crazy enough that if HE brings all those shares today, that I'll throw in another $50,000.”


She laughed real loud, “You horse's ass! You robbed them!”


I chuckled ,“Nah, I bought something they thought was worthless and I knew otherwise.”


She laughed real loud, “You're right, if ALL of us had known, we'd snapped it up and broke our arms off to pat ourselves on the back!”


Anyway, I'm putting together one of the best construction companies in the country. Right now, I need to see what we've got for manpower, equipment, and what we need. I can get it bought or ordered, but we're going to need to have divisions and zone offices, but I'm not doing it unless it's computerized and we've got everything down here under one roof...which I want you guys building that office, so I need you working with my architect.”


That's no problem. When we've got the school we're building finished, we're done until next spring. It'll be good to tell our guys we've got something, but they're going to have to travel.”


“What I'm going to do is I'm going to send my guys from GCC up there to help you guys. They're good for buildings construction also, so they'll be better.”


GCC? What's that?”


Green County Construction.”


“DAMN, you bought them too!”


Yeah hon, but I want to speak with you on a personal level if you will...”


Ok.”


Off the record, are you even LOOKING for a man?”


She giggled, “Not YOU!”


Oh hell no! I like men too much for that!”


I like guys, but all of 'em are intimidated by me. Either I'm too rich, or I'm too opinionated, or something.”


That's all I needed to hear. You head down here and we'll find you someone. Guys down here are different, they're used to their sisters and their Moms being tomboys.”


I'm coming down there anyway with Dad, remember?”


Yeah, and what I'm doing is this....I'm sending a jet, but first, it's gotta go up to Quincy and pull on all the CEOs of Marblehead and the division managers which are over something construction related.

Then, it'll come through Hannibal and get you guys, Bronson, the head of the cement plant, and Huntington Stone and then, come on down.”


You've bought them too!”


“Yeah hon, while you guys weren't looking, I was making it so our wholesale pricing was putting money into our own pockets...I control quarries in the northeast corner and the southwest corner and by the time I'm done, I'll have the middle to connect them.”


Man, that sounds good!”


“In the winter, we're going to go South and work projects down there. I'm going to be getting us some bids on a lot of projects and getting us known for doing lots of big ones, but the first thing is first....I've got to get our collective shit together so I know and everyone else knows what we've got and what we need.

What I'm going to tell you is I'm going to need an asset sheet. NOT TODAY, but I'm going to need it. Also, I'm going to tell you I want that quarry 1 opened out there and everything cleared out.”


It's no good.”


It's good if we run it through an asphalt incinerator. They require we burn it...they don't say how. I figure if we burn what's in there and blast the rock and get it in through an asphalt plant, we'll be fine with everyone.”


I never thought of that, but you're right.”


That's why I want it back open. As long as your name was on it, it should be fine to be opened, so we'll open it and say it wasn't shut. Is that fine with you?”


Yeah, because the regulations for all that are hell.”


Don't we know it! Needless to say, I'm opening that and pulling gravel for asphalt from there.”


What are you doing with our offices?”


Your offices are going to be moved here. I'm not sure what your Mom and Dad want to do, but I think they'd be happy moving to Branson and with what we own for entertainment, I think your Mom would be happy working with Stu as long as she realizes he's the boss.”


Probably not a good thing.”


I don't know...I think when she hears we already own 2 Coca-Cola Bottling plants and a very large lucrative basketball franchise, she'll understand that Stu wants to be here and that she very likely could be flying and handling the Chicago basketball without a problem.”


HUH!”

“That was bought as a part of Marblehead.”


Hang on while I bang my head against my desk!”


Now don't start telling me you want to be an athletic supporter!”


She laughed real loud, “Like you bitch!”


My personal thoughts are that I overpaid.”


She laughed real loud, “I hear that!”


Well, call Tom Bronson and see what time he and his guys want to get on the plane.”


How big is your plane?”


We've got one out there right now, but no pilot for it. It's a 40 passenger or 50 passenger Bombardier. We've got five or six of them plus Stu's little one and the copter. I have a feeling we're going to need another copter for up there because this one's getting it's little wings flown off flying back and forth.”


Wait until you know what they've got. You might find you own a whole air force or something!”


I'll do that, but I've got a meeting walking toward me right now, so I need to get off here.”


I'll call you back.”


I hung up and walked over to the edge where Mom, Dad, and Mr Alberici were. Mr Alberici hugged me and smiled real big, “I suppose you want to cancel our deal about up there!”


No, you get 61 and I get 72. I made that in good health and have already intended upon keeping it.”


What are you going to do about that 60 mile problem?”


I've got 60 plus Bronson's 60 concrete trucks. I'm using Leighton's concrete trucks and my Associated to cover the gaps while we do the pour.

What I'm going to need are a lot of the power pour double lift concrete paving machines. I've got 14 so far, but I really would like to have another 10 to feel comfortable....Any idea where I can get 'em?”


You can lease 'em, but they're expensive.”


I might do that this time, but I might go ahead and buy 'em. I realize they're $1.2 million each, but with the manpower and bids, I can lay fast and get more bids.”


“Tell me what all you've bought?”


Well, here's the deal. I'll go in order that things were bought. I bought Ord-Diamond and then, bought Green County Construction.”


You probably got screwed there, but ok.”


I agree they're not in good financial shape, but they don't have me looming over the precipice of bankruptcy like Bronson does right now.”


Is it that bad?”


They've got at LEAST 6 months worth of work to be completed in 90 days. I flew up there this morning and didn't get 15 miles into it before I was sick to my stomach.

What we're going to do is we're going to change a lot of things. I'm going to throw money and people at it and pray we can have good weather.

Rather than laying gravel, we're laying asphalt. Then, we're going in with fiberglass strand concrete rather than reinforced with rebar and doing a continuous pour 24 hours a day 7 days a week and have lots of machines where we're doing them in short time.”


He nodded, “That'd get it done. Now what are the problems?”


They've let it lay there prepared and there's gulleys the size of me down the sides of the som'bitch. They casually say they can be filled with gravel and I'm stroking out.”


He shook his head, “You can, but it's going to be a mess if the feds don't want that.”


We both see that and for them, that's the way business gets done. Me, I can't see paying fines when we could be getting bonuses.”


How are you going to organize it?”


Here's how. Let's go for a ride.”


I turned to Stu, “Come on dear, I want your opinion on some things.”


He smiled and we hopped in the Rover. I said, “Hey, this isn't mine!”


Mom chuckled, “It's mine. They just delivered them!”


Oh hell, I was going to four wheel with it for a second. We'll have to go get mine.”


We drove up and got into mine and I took 'em down by KFC ,“This is going to be the street. We'll have a bridge here and then, we'll be going up the incline to up here.”


I dodged some trees and pointed. “As I see it, we're going to have back yard for a ways down that slope to here where I want our headquarters to be. Stu can decide if it's ok here, or if he wants a hotel here, but if the hotel's here, we'll have to have a street going up to our offices up further.

On down this way, we'll have hotels. I want it to be four hotels and then open grassy area where our theater looks out and has a view of the field. Yeah, there will be a street, but I'm thinking about cutting down so when we look out from the theater, we see field, not cars moving across.

All this will be one way in....The one we built at the other end will be one way out. It'll be confusing, but it won't.”


Stu said, “We can make it 2 way up here and leave that alone down there.”


Ok, that's what we'll do. I'm not bothered because I don't want that field bothered.”


We own clear down to that creek. I'm not opposed to having things on down to there. IF you want your headquarters up so we can walk across the back yard to the offices, that'll be fine.”


“Hon, you're not getting it. It's world headquarters for you as well as me. I'm of the mind that you're a part of all this and you're in the Entertainment division along with all the shows, the basketball, and everything entertainment.

There will be food and fast food in that and there will be construction and mining, but there will be power production and a lot there also.

It's a lot, but tonight, I'm having a meeting and bringing them down so we know what goes where and don't have a lot of chiefs and not enough indians....BUT, I want US being leaders and not them thinking we're leaving it the same totally.”


I turned to Mr Alberici ,“It's going to take an engineering and architectural branch so we've got all them together. It's going to take an accounting wing for everything to be under the one umbrella rather than us having everything in everyone's pockets. It's going to take us having a virtual boardroom in this place as well as in each area so we can have meetings for the day and them getting out to the jobs rather than having a lot of people in each spot.

As I see it, Green County's office is going to be a storage spot for equipment. We'll have the one up at Bronson also, but Leighton's will be storage for rarely used equipment...and probably refurbishments.”


He said, “Just be mindful of overhead. It gets expensive quick.”


I am, but I understand I'm pulling a lot out of my hat and probably having you scratching your head, but what I figured was I could buy rather than competing and get their knowledge also.”


You're doing good. I'm not complaining about anything I've heard.”


What I'm doing is I'm leaving Leighton in the building construction and taking their road equipment over to Bronson and bringing Bridget in on the ranks so she's got an opinion which doesn't get me too pissed at Bronson....She'll be the check balance to the scales up there for me.”


He gave a nod, “Is she willing?”


She's willing, but I don't know about her Dad yet.”


Mom said, “You should be worried about her Mom. Her Dad will be fine with anything, but her Mom is the one who will pull a corkscrew on you.”


I'm having them come down tonight. The way I see it is this....I figure if I threw the woman a big enough bone, she'll leave everything alone.”

I turned to Stu ,“The thing here is this....I'm NOT going to drown you and call it progress. I want you happy, but I'm not going to throw too much at you because that's not what we're gonna do....”

“Don't worry about me. You're treating me like I'm real sick.”


No hon, think about this....Right now, you've got this and I'm talking about another 4 hotels....and I'm talking about the need for more restaurants to feed those people and more theaters like Vegas....IN those hotels.

The way I see it, it's all running like clockwork down here and I'm thinking...Ok, that's working great, so why throw Chicago at you?”


He nodded, “Give it to her if it keeps everyone happy.”


I nodded, “That what I was thinking. I think it's a big enough bone that she'll feel all important and it'll be JUST far enough away she'll burn the wings off a jet and yet, we can sell it to her that she's in under you in that division and yet, she'll see it as the opportunity of a lifetime.”


He smiled, “You're so full of it sometimes I wonder.”


It's knowing how to deal the cards babe....It's a fun game if they sit down and play, but if they pull other players from the table, we're sorta having to adjust seating arrangements.

With Bridget, she WANTS to be a part of it. Tom Bronson thinks Dave wants to be a part of it, but we're going to be doing business a lot different when we deal with cities rather than counties, states, and fed projects.

With Hannibal, I've been blaming the contractors and really, we all know there's a lot of bullshit which goes on behind the scenes. I blame Leighton for slow work, but if you look at it, they've been allowed to bid on projects because everyone else has seen the trouble and stepped back.

On the Grand Blvd project, there was a creek under there which they laid a sewage main in and allowed the storm run off to run beside the main in box culverts and leak and seep everything into the soil. They didn't know it until it got dug up and all the Department of Natural Resources got in and did a check. Needless to say, all that took time and then, you had the phone company play hell with them and tell them they were NOT moving the poles.

Had it been me, I'd played hard ball with the phone company ,“Hey, on such and such date, we're cutting the lines and removing the poles because it's in our way. Either play along or find your own way after we do what we gotta do...I sure as hell wouldn't have changed everything to suit them.”


Mr Alberici asked, “What?”


I said, “Drive down the street and you see curbs going in and out. The phone company wouldn't move the poles, so they changed everything so the poles stayed where they were and everything got changed around them.”


His eyes bulged out, “AND THEY LET THEM DO THAT!”

“Yeah. The city hurriedly said, “Oh don't piss off Ma Bell, we can't have that!”


Dad said, “It looks ridiculous. I'm in agreement with Jer. The second you would've bulldozed everything down, they would've attempted to sue and found out they had to move things just like everyone else.”


Mr Alberici shook his head, “What was their reasoning?”


That they'd been left out of the loop and that it'd cost too much money to move the lines.”


Bull!”


I understand, but their word is their word.” I paused ,“In regards to the West End Road project, I wasn't aware for a long time that they had a LOT of things go wrong for it also. They got into all that and the Board of Public Works suddenly wanted to rip up sewage and storm drains and put all new in as well as water and electricity underground. The gas company had their's approved and the Board of Public Works didn't, so it suddenly became a work order change for the city to have to approve which by all means was a whole new contract, but Leighton had to sit there and twiddle their thumbs for four months while it all got decided and THEN got told in September what was needed.

They built it, but it took another 9 months and then, the city wanted to bitch at Leighton and what happened there is this....Dave hit the roof and Bridget got on the phone and told 'em, “Sue us....PUHLEAZE sue us for the fines and late fees. When it goes to court, I'm going to have our lawyer run up what it actually cost us in overages and THEN, we're going to countersue for those fees. As it is, we made a whole dime an hour we invested in on that project and that's it....So PUHLEAZE sue us!”

Needless to say, they didn't. Instead, the city did their damnedest to smear Leighton with the press releases and finally, Leighton had had enough ,“Fuck ya, I'm not bidding on another thing with you guys.” and hasn't bid one thing. Instead, he's building schools and buildings.

Where Hannibal's screwed the pooch is they're forbidding Bronson from bidding on a thing for 10 years and Leighton is refusing to bid on a thing, so Martin either gets it or out of town bidders get it. Now, even the out of town bidders are finding the City of Hannibal is a problem and won't bid.”


What's the city's problem?”


We had a city engineer who pretty much threw up his hands in the air ,“Screw us...but get it built!” and they certainly did that!

When he retired, they brought in a cocksure newbie fresh from school who sniffed and smelled shit ,“Nope, I'm not going to play it that way. It'll be by the book or it won't happen.”

Well, that might be good if you're in a computer world where all the streets are straight and all the land is flat, but when you follow the cow trail and the creek to build a town, you get a bunch of junk which works. However, go look in the back yards of some of these places and you see things which scare the hell right out of you.”


Like what?”


Ok, back in the 1920's the city had their power plant burning coal and there were two railroads burning coal and a lot of factories all burning coal....Guess where all the slag piles went? They went in as fill in those back yards! It's an avalanche waiting to happen. You've got maybe 2 feet of top soil on a bunch of coal slag.

The retaining walls trying to hold all of it in which are now 90 years old and cracked all to hell. They're giving way and falling into alley ways. When those fall, the yards all give way because it's nothing but dirt on a lot of loose fill which have had rain water running off and running down through it all, so it's a mess.

That old boy has seen that and he's fearful of a major catastrophe happening and he's determined it's gotta be done the right way or no way. He's unaware people don't have the money and when they're told it's going to take $80,000 to shore up a wall in their back yard and rebuild their yard the right way, they look and allow the city to condemn the property and walk away and buy something outside of the city.

Needless to say, the tax base is leaving the city limits, and the city's trying to find other ways to supplement. Each time they get together, they screw the pooch and the citizens.”


Dad said, “He's right more than you know. We left because we could buy a piece of property for $120,000 in a subdivision which wasn't an acre or we could buy a whole farm for $150,000 and build a house on it. We did and we've not regretted it.”


Mr Alberici said, “I was seriously thinking about getting in some bids up there, but I won't now.”


My advice is to don't consider it unless it's for something commercial. If you go commercial, you won't be sorry, but if you go to something for the city, you'll regret it.”


Mr Alberici pointed, “That bridge down there is going to be $4 million at the cheapest. I know that's a lot, but to be safer than sorry, we're building it to cover a span of 120 feet for a piece of water which is 4 feet on average, but shows us it will go 80 feet wide in a matter of minutes.

What we're suggesting you do is pile in pilings to keep your property where it is. Since you own both sides, that shouldn't be a problem.”


I asked, “What about putting in box culverts?”


Mr Alberici said, “It'd take box culverts 2 miles long and 72 feet wide and 8 feet tall in order to do it. It could be done, but it'd be about $7 million.”


And how much are those pilings going to cost to hold everything back?”


I'm not sure.”


Let's do the box culverts. I hate to sound the pessimist, but here's where I'm at with this....

Right now, we don't have motels on that other side. Families are going to want to walk to the strip because it's not that far and we're going to have nice sidewalks.

They come down and it's not raining, but it's raining like hell in between the time they go out and come back and that creek is raging. A kid looks over the railing and kerplunk and suddenly we're on the national news with parents and siblings bawling as a search is underway to retrieve a body.

I'd rather have it all underground going by in a rage than above ground. Yeah, it's not going to be good down stream, but hey, it's not going to be that damned much difference downstream than what is already. For $7 million, I'd rather us not being on the national news.”


I turned to Stu, “Is that ok with you?”


Yeah, it's pricey, but that bridge would be pricey also. It's the cost of doing business as we see it.”


I said, “Mr Alberici, do what you gotta. I'm not sure if you have to have all that approved since it's not even a named stream, brook, creek, or whatever....”


I'll see. The city says it's your decision.”


If it is, let's do it this way and not look back.”


I'll do it, but I want you to know I might need to cordon off some of your parking lot to lay it.”


That'll be fine. When it's done, we'll find a way to do something with it so it's beautified and landscaped, just make it so we've got manholes or something which will get our run off into the thing.”


He laughed, “Ok!”


I said, “I'm going to get over that bulldozer and make a run up that hill tomorrow. I want us having a straight run up to the house and knowing where all of it lays in with each other. I'd do that now, but the helicopter is gone.”


Stu said, “Just use your GPS!”


I never hooked it into the one in the house.”


Mom said, “I did!”


Ok, that'll be cool!”


She sent it to me and I programmed it into my phone. I said, “Ok, I'll ride the dozer tomorrow.”


Mr Alberici said, “How about you just giving that to someone who will do it for you?”


No, because I'm saving some trees and having a yard which looks like it was planned to be that beautiful and flowing right into the back of our corporate office. IF we put someone on who all they want to do is bulldoze everything, that's what we get take down.”


Stu said, “Let's go up through and mark trees and then, we'll have them saved.”


Mom said, “You two can do that tomorrow.”


We turned and drove down and out. I dialed Michele and she answered, “Hello?”


Where are you?”


Springfield.”


Ok, your truck's here.”


Ok, Mike said he and a bunch of guys are on their way to look at the job up North?”


Yeah. I want everyone to be involved. You will be also, but they'll all be back and then, we'll have our meeting down here.”


Out on the parking lot, I saw a man standing and Bonnie pointing at me, I drove over and got out, “Hi, you looking for me?”


Jeremy Blue?”


Yeah.”


“Cole Sampson, MoDot. I hear you're wanting to do some experimental construction up North?”


Word travels fast! Who told you?”


Tom Bronson said speed was of the utmost importance.”


It sure is.”


He asked, “What are you thinking about doing?”


Ok, here's our plan. Feel free to jump in because this is pretty much seat of our pants....


I don't know if you've seen the 60 mile project up there, but they're afraid they're going to lose their ass so much they sold me the company. I see 6 months worth of work and then some that we've gotta do in the next 90 days or 60 days with cure time. I'll tell you I'm good, but putting 3 days into one is a totally different story, so what I'm thinking is saving ourselves some time in any way we can.

First of all, I'm not going to lay gravel. We'll put a contact coat of asphalt down and then, run a second over it and get our layer. It'll be fast. It'll be solid, and it'll do all we need to get that slip form on and get it laid.

Rather than going with weeks and weeks of rebar, I'm thinking about macrofiber concrete and laying 24/7 until it's done. The cure time should be a lot less and then, it's us doing the asphalting on the sides and finishing it.”


He pulled out a computer ,“Let me show you a few things which might save you some time. I'm fine with everything you said, but if you'll consider this, you'll have a lot better result.”


Anything will help.”


Mr Alberici walked over and I introduced Cole. Cole instantly gave him a look of respect. “It's good meeting you!”


Mr Alberici said, “Jeremy's my protege'. The kid's buying damned good companies and will be super good when everything's rolling. He wants only quality product and results.”


Cole nodded, “I'd wondered where you'd gotten big so fast.”


Mr Alberici smiled, “The kid's a billionaire in his own right. I helped him by selling him some used equipment, but he quickly decided to buy established companies and has already made decisions which are commendable.”


Cole turned to me and asked, “As in?”


Green County is no more. I'm moving equipment and men into Ord-Diamond and using Ord on my board to make decisions.

Up North, we're keeping Leighton for building construction jobs but moving all the road building over to Bronson. Both are going on the board of advisers.
Yes, I'll keep Bronson and his sons on, but either they move down here and agree to be a part of decision making where it's a group deciding which results are best, or they're out.”


He nodded, “Good.”


It's their fault they're in this position, but it's my fault if I keep the decisions being made. I already know Leighton isn't good for roads and I know Bronson had a good day, but someplace along the line, they started cutting corners and now, you see where they're at....sold and me making things way better for the future.”


Any other construction bought?”


Lots. I bought Marblehead which has GOBS of different companies under it this morning.”


He gave a surprised look, “Have any money left?”


If you knew what I bought it for, you'd be amazed. Let's just say the owners didn't know what they had and I did. They thought they had farm land and a quarry which had no base of operations. I made an offer paying roughly about twice what the property taxes are a year and that's it.”


His eyes bulged out, “WHO HAD IT!”


Cruikshank and Gardner. They're brother and sister. He handles the money and didn't know what he had all these years, so the CEOs ran it themselves and did a good job rolling the profits back in. That's how it got so big, and that's how I'm going to let it run except use it knowing what I've got.”


Mr Alberici said, “The kid owns the cement plant up there also....as well as Huntington Stone.”


I said, “Those were bought today also.”


He smiled, “Did you get those for as big of a steal?”


Nah, I paid about a quarter of a billion for both combined, but I'll make changes which keep the doors open.

Now, I need to speak with you about the future.”


He gave a nod, “Ok, you're buying into a market where we're not going to have the money.”


I understand that, but I'm creating jobs like you won't believe because it's taking some creative effort on my part. What I need from you is for me to be allowed to speak with who is in charge so we can come to an agreement.”


In regards to....”


Ok, Green County...I've spoke with the County Roads Commissioners and we're going to hold a meeting in regards to the bids and future contracts for roads they want, but don't have the money to pay for....

As you know, most everyone's gotten the right of ways bought and have the designs sitting there and seeing their budgets shrinking.”


Yes.”


What if I told you I've got a way to get the next 10 years of road built with very little money invested on your part.”


They won't go with toll roads.”


I understand that.”


I turned and looked at Mr Alberici ,“You either be prepared to act or I'll be winning all these bids, ok?”


He gave me a look, “I'm not even sure what you're talking about.”


It's called lend/lease. You, the state, the counties, the cities, or whomever LEND me the land and I'll build the roads. You'll have good quality roads, and what happens then is I lease them to you for a period of 10 years and at the end of the ten years, you buy them from me for what the bid was won at right now.

IF I don't win, someone else has to get it built, but they've got to have the financial ability to prove they can afford to build it now like it's a normal contract.

Me, I've got $7 billion this year I can put into the projects. No, it's not a lot, but $7 billion on my part wholesale when I've got the wholesale goods and labor, I'm really paying myself everything and keeping people employed and not losing people to an unemployment line or a down economy.

YOU get roads and you lease them for so much a year which we'll agree upon. IF they need maintained for the 10 years, it's on me....I guarantee you that I'm not going to be building shoddy roads if it comes to that, and you're getting what you want like there's no down economy.

When the economy picks up, you pay me the full price of the road and of course because it's all tied into the purchase, you get your matching funds at that time and I'm fine because your lease basicly covered my costs.”


Mr Alberici smiled real big, “You're sly as hell! You KNOW they're going to take it because it's getting them what they want with minimal down!”


It keeps my people working. In a way, it's sly because it keeps me competitive and it knocks the others out and yet, I've already been promised by my banker that should I need funds, that because I've got the contracts in hand, I'm going to be guaranteed the money.

Where I'm at with all this is it's a gamble on their part, but hey, it's a gamble on my part that they'll have the money to pay me. However, if I go from a standard lease arrangement at the end of that 10 years to a 1/10th the price plus interest for the next 10 years, I'll finance the fuckin' thing, but they're most likely going to get a lot less preference than states which have their money together eventually.”


Why not just finance it over 20 years?”


That's fine, but will the federal government go for that?”


He made a face, “Ooh, I don't know...”


Cole was grabbing for his phone, “I'm making calls!”


He walked off without saying “Excuse me” or anything. Mr Alberici was hugging me ,“Kiddo, you just brought us back from the edge of one HELLUVA bad bunch of years!”


I said, “It's being able to afford things.”


He shook his head, “It's being able to name your own price. You know there are very few who will be able to compete and you're setting yourself up to be in that select few.”


I said, “Excuse me, but I'm getting to him before you do.”


Who's that?”


Tree House.”


He'll be able to afford the contracts.”


I'm talking about offering to buy him out.”


He won't sell. He's got his kids and family involved.”


Bronson did also. All of them are thinking the future's going to be terrible. We know different, so we're appearing to be stupid.”


I dialed the corporate offices and asked for Bill. The woman asked, “What may I say this is in regards?”


I winked, “Lon Alberici said he might listen to me when I'm asking to buy him out. I realize it's a long shot, but I know we're looking at an economical future which is bleak as hell. It's those who are able to stay to the other side who make it and it's those aren't afraid to gamble and compete who will make it.”


Who is this again?”


Jeremy Blue. My name doesn't ring a bell, but I'll tell you I've bought out Ord, Green County, Bronson, and Leighton so far today. I think I'm meaning business and can compete against him.”


I'll put you through.”


The phone got patched and a man said, “Bill Tree House here.”


Bill, Jeremy Blue here.”


Ok, where do I know you from?”


I bought Ord, Green County, Bronson, and Leighton out. I'm calling to see if you want to sell or compete.”


I'm not interested in selling.”


Umm, Bill, have you heard of Cole Sampson at MoDOT?”


Yeah.”


I've got the man changing the business environment as we speak. You're about to learn the contracts for the highways will be going to whomever will be able to do the jobs without any financial input from the state or the federal government.”

“What?”


They're going to be making a new agreement where the companies build them and then lease them back to the state for 20 years.....IF you do sloppy work, you pay for the maintenance....sound like something you want to do?”


Who can afford that?”


Me... and Lon Alberici doesn't seem to be worried.”


How is this again?”


You bid on the contract. IF you win, you get the project and build it. When it's inspected, they agree to buy over 20 years with a lease to buy arrangement.

Of course, you get interest, but you'll have your costs for everything and your labor to cover, so you're going to have to bid accordingly.”


I'll be out of business!”

“Hmm, I guess I'll meet you at your auction. Until then, I guess I'll put ads in the papers there telling people that as they get laid off, they can come to where the jobs are.”


I think you're trying to pull a fast one on me.”


Hang tight, Lon Alberici is standing right here as is Mr. Sampson, except Mr Sampson is on the phone with the head of MoDOT seeing what it'll take.

What it'll take is a lot of our legislators wanting roads now, not later and seeing that if they promise the roads and jobs, they'll be reelected. However, if they don't, I can promise you I'll have money pouring into whomever's running against them to lobby my damndest to get it this way. After all, I'm an employer and keeping my people working makes me a happy man.”


Put Sampson on the phone!”


I walked over, “Cole?” He looked up, “I'm on hold.”


Bill Tree House is on the phone. He thinks I'm full of shit. Tell him what we're trying to do.”


Does this phone do video?”


I don't know how to do it and talk at the same time.”


He did something ,“Bill?”


Yes.”


Call this number back on your cell phone. You'll be able to see it's us and yeah, that's what we're trying to get done. It's a whole new concept on the way things are done with the highways and most likely with the counties and cities, but it's going to cost a lot upfront, but it's going to be great for the state.”


Bill asked, “You're really going through with this???”


Cole said, “Yes, I think it's a great idea!”


Well you just bankrupted this company!”


Cole said, “If the state isn't buying highways from anyone, a lot of them are going under. With this, the strong will survive, but those who can't afford it won't.”


Let me speak to that guy again!”


I said, “We're on speaker Bill.”


IF you're serious, it's going to take $130 million.”


Make that $125 for indirectly calling me a liar and insisting that you speak with him. IF you've got a deal at a buck twenty five, we'll sign papers this afternoon and I'll close at the beginning of the month.”


He said, “Split the difference....$127.5.”


Apologize for calling me a liar and keep your fuckin' job when I take over! If not, cry when I run your ass out!”


He said, “Ok, I apologize. I realize I don't know you and had to have confirmation. It's going to hurt a lot of people.”


I realize that, but here's what I'm doing. I see this coming like a bad headache and I'm buying people out. I've got the money to make it through to the end and I know it's going to either take creativity or a whole lotta blood, sweat, and tears of laying off and losing valuable manpower because without the men, you don't get contracts, with them, you've got to make payroll.”


I don't understand how you can be throwing money like that.”


Lon said, “Bill, it's Lon Alberici. If you knew the money this kid has, you'd understand he's brilliant when it comes to getting a deal.”


Why hasn't he bought you!”


I'm his mentor, but I know the way his brain works. When you hear he's already bought more quarries and the cement plant in Hannibal, you'll see he's putting a lock on the market to which he's going to make profits no matter what.

Aside from that, he's got two corners of the state sewn up in regards to construction and you were the ONE he said was on his 'wish' list.

I WILL tell you that you need to be thankful because he's naming names of those he doesn't want and WANTS to see go under. You were on the 'buy' list, so that says something.”


Who didn't make the cut?”


I said, “Martin. I'm firing people and sending them that way just so he gets the lousy workers and has to try saving his ass with them.”


He chuckled, “I'll have a list of those to give you from here. Now, are you coming here or how do you want to do this?”


I'll send a jet for you. You'll be flown down here to Branson, and just for a word of advice...IF you're wanting to stay on, you'll have to be moving here. I'm bringing everyone in under one roof and having us teleconference out to the various divisions.”


You're based out of Branson?”


Lon said, “Bill, he's building everything yet. He's in the process of buying the pieces. I'm standing here believing in him after putting together a deal to build he and his partner a theater.

He just sprung this lease thing in front of me to Cole and totally took me out of the water with it. I'm thankful I'm on his side because if he'd approached me by wanting to compete without me knowing how it would be, I'd probably folded. Now I see it's going to be a different way of doing business, but ultimately, we'll make more.”


It's paying for everything upfront!”


Lon said, “Yes, and it's building a highway right the first time so we're not maintaining a bunch of junk, but he's changing construction on highways too, so it's going to be interesting.”


How?”


Get on down here and we'll go through it with you.”


How soon?”


I said, I'm calling the jet now. They'll be there within 45 minutes. All I need are your corporate papers and then, we'll do a contract the old fashioned way, we'll shake on it and write it out so we understand it.”


What if I don't stay with the company?”


You sign a 50 year non-compete which says you do not do business within Missouri or Texas, or any state bordering Missouri or Texas for 50 years. I sent the head of Green County packing earlier today and bought him a new truck to leave, so that tells you how much I wanted him around!

I'd appreciate it if you'd stay because I know you're a damned hard worker and a brilliant mind when it comes to construction and keeping your word.”


He laughed, “How do you know that!”


Remember that road you built out there by the ice skating rink?”


Oh God yes!”

“Remember the day when you had that dozer buried and the guy told you to lift the blade and get it out backwards?”


Yes?”


My Dad was that guy. I was the kid climbing all over that dozer.”


REALLY!”


I know the fuckin' you took on that road and yet, you got it built. For that, it taught me a lesson about being a true businessman and not to go short on a contract.

Since then, I've measured people by your standards and NOW, you know why I had you on my 'wish' list.”


What was the matter with you physically? I'll always remember you as the kid with the purple lips.”


I had a lung which never grew from the time I was a baby. It caused me a lot of personal pain and finally, I went to work as an adult as a pool boy for a doctor who met me and actually listened.

Instantly, he had me in the hospital x-ray and sure enough, he found the lung was no bigger than my hand and then, they tried making it grow, but it didn't, and eventually, I had a lung transplant.

Throughout all that, I made friends with the doctor and we became as close as a father and son. He passed away last week, and now, I'm spending the inheritance.”


Wow...I knew you didn't look healthy and had you, you'd probably not stuck out in my mind, but I thought, “Let the kid play because he's not healthy and who knows whether he's terminal or not.”


Now you understand how it works. You stuck in my mind because of reasons and I stuck in your mind for reasons and we still remember after all these years.”


He said, “I'll be bringing my wife. Through the years, it's stuck in my mind and I've often told her I wondered what had happened to that kid. Now I can show her!”


I appreciate you thinking of me. I'll get off here and call the pilots and see which jet can go get you. It might be a big one or it might be a little one, but most likely, it's going to be a big one.”


You have more than one!”


Yeah, we bought a bunch of them. If you're interested in one, let me know. I've got the old Ord one which has no warranty on the engines and then, I've got the others which have warranties on the engines.”


What's the difference?”


About $10 million on the price. The one without any warranty is $5 and the ones with warranties are $15 each. They're big, but here's the way I see it.

When the fuel costs the same for a big one which you can walk down an aisle and take up to forty or fifty of your friends someplace or you've got the option of walking like a duck and can't stand up straight and only get to carry 5 or 6 friends, I'll carry a bunch or have a lot of space just so I can walk upright.”


How about we do this? How about you sell me one for $10 million and I knock it off that price?”


Ok, so we're talking $120 or are we talking $117.5?”


He chuckled, “Do the $117.5.”


Ok, I'll send the one which carries forty people.”


What kind is it?”


Are you sitting at your computer?”


Yes.”


Do a search for a Bombardier CRJ440 or CRJ200....I'm still trying to figure out if they're the 200 or the 440. The 440 has 44 seats and the 200 says it seats 50 people, but made the 440 so people had more room....It's all confusing, but they're all 200 and supposedly have the 44 seats, so who knows? All I know is it's not that hard on fuel, but in answer to the silent question, I believe they're 2005 models but I could be wrong on that. All I know is they're 2 years older than the Ord plane which doesn't have the maintenance program on the engines, but we get the maintenance program on the engines for another 2 years with these and they're nice planes.”


Send one. I'll make the deal. I see they were around $45 million brand new.”


I rang off ,“That man is a horse trader.”


Why?”


I sold him one of the jets for $10 million.”


Ok, that's not bad.”


Want one?”


He laughed, “You said that fast enough I know you're making a fortune on that sale!”


Stu laughed and I said, “Stu, shush! I might make LOTS of money on these things!”


He laughed harder and I said, “Here's the deal. I'll TRADE you one of 'em for yours. Mine are commercial models and yours is a business model.”


Ok, do that.”


Great.”


Now how much did you really pay for the things!”


I bought all five of 'em for $15 million.”


He looked shocked, and asked, “WHERE?”


They just came off lease. My pilot turned me onto the deal. I bought all five of them thinking I was buying for the future, but not knowing exactly what...but let me make sure I've got some left. I told my lawyer about it and he's probably selling planes for me now!”


He laughed and I dialed Mark. He answered, “Hello?”


It's me. Did you want that jet?”


It's too big.”


How about this? I just traded a guy one of them for his business jet. You've been in Alberici's plane, right?”


Yeah, I love it.”


How about you buy that one for the same price.”


Really?”


Yeah, that'll be cool. I'm getting the same price and what's it matter to me?”


He said, “Ok, send it up!”


Let people know about the others. I've got 3 left and they're nice, but I don't like the seat covers.”


So you're selling them?”


I told my pilot to get some seat covers. I doubt if he's had time, but I'll gladly sell you the one I traded since you know that plane and like it.”


How much is it going to be to park it out there?”


I don't know. I know hangar space down here is running me $1500 a month for one.”


Man!”


It's out of the rain which is good.”


I guess so.”


Well, I'll get off here.”

“I'll ask around. The hospital might want to buy one from you.”


Let me know, or do you want me to call Louis myself?”


I'll call him.”


Let me know.”


I hung up ,“I'm sending your's to Mark. He just bought it from me for $10 million.”


He laughed real loud, “You're making money on them too!”


Hell, give me a chance and I'll buy some more! With the way these things sell, I might be in the wrong business!”


He, Stu, and Cole all laughed and I said, “Ok, I need to send a jet to get Bill down here.”


I dialed Corey, “Corey?”


Yeah.”


Who do I call when I need a jet sent someplace?”


I'll arrange it.”


Ok, I need a jet sent to Jeff City. I'm selling it to Bill Tree House. I traded one to Mr Alberici for his and just sold his to my lawyer for another $10 million.”


WHAT!”


You heard me. So far, I'm $5 million a head on the things and MIGHT just happen to have another one sold for $10 million to the hospital up there!”


Let me know because I might be able to get you some more!”


“You gotta get me something which has difference seats. I like the seats, but those seat covers are ugly.”


He laughed, “Ok, so the Alberici plane is going to Hannibal. The plane up there might be going to the hospital and Alberici is taking one down here. Right?”


Yeah, but I need one of them going to Jeff City....Send one which has seating for 44 people to him because that's what I told him.”


He chuckled, “Ok! I'll make a call and let you know what I find out.”


We're going to keep the Ord jet. I know it's engines don't have a warranty, but I like it.”


“That's a business class one. Would you prefer those?”


Not really. I need the two we've got to fly our people back and forth, but to be honest, if you can find one with the baggage compartment underneath rather than at the rear, let's get one of those, but don't be having me walk like a duck in the things!”


Ok, let me make a call.”


I hung up ,“Ok, that's all arranged.”


My phone rang and it was Louis. “Jeremy?”


Yeah Louis?”


Mark just called me and said, you've got jets for sale?”


Up there on the tarmac in Hannibal, I've got a Bombardier 50 passenger jet. I bought five of them and have sold 2 for $10 million each. He said you might be interested in buying one for the hospital, so I told him to ask you.”


I'm interested. I saw that plane last night and wondered who had it! It's beautiful!”


“Ok, so you'll take it? It's got a warranty on the engines for 2 years, so that's a plus.”


Will our pilot be able to fly it?”


I think so. Ask Mark for the keys and have him give you the tour. If you get in and hit the three turbines, it'll produce power for the lights without starting.”


Nah, I'll take it as it is, but you have more?”


Yeah, why?”


Dean Luger out at the college was with me and he was really interested also. I could call him if you'd like.”


“Sure! Tell him I'm not sure whether I've got 50 passenger or 44 passenger ones left, but I've got 2 and they're all pretty much identical....all they did was took out 6 seats to give more leg room.”


Oh, ok, I'll call and tell him.”


Let me know.”


I hung up, and sang, “Another one bites the dust....another one bites the dust....” I smiled, “He's calling the college up there. Dean Luger was with him last night when they saw that one on the tarmac.”


I dialed Corey, “Hello?”


Sorry for interrupting you, but that one on the tarmac just sold to the hospital, but I need to know if we've got 44 or 50 passenger ones here?”


One of each.”


Send a 50 passenger to Hannibal because it's probably sold.”


WHAT!”


The college up there. The Dean of the place saw that one up there last night and right now, he's being asked...so I might wait to see which size he wants, but now you know how this is going.”


He laughed, “Ok, I've not even had time to make a call yet!”


Let me know.”


I hung up ,“Ok, he says I've got one of each out there.”


My phone rang, “Hello?”


Louis said, “Dean Luger said he'll take whichever. He knows he can get that swung by the board with little difficulty.”


Ok, I'll have one sent up there. It will probably be the 50 passenger one so neither of you can say I gave one to one and a different one to the other.”


So that leaves you with one?”


I've still got 3 which is fine with me. I've got Stu's little one and mine and one for our people to fly in.”


He chuckled, “Has Stu heard anything yet?”


Not yet, but if we've not heard by 3:30, I'm having him call the man.”


Do you want me to call?”


I want you to be on that team. It should still be with us having the team and the team being involved, but I realize it's been a shock with everything happening with Doc and all.”


It's been a different week, that's for sure. You don't know what it's like to have to deal with four of your key people out grieving.”


I understand.”


I rang off ,“Ok, one more call and I PROMISE I'll be done selling planes for the day!”


They all laughed and dialed Corey. “Hello?”


It's me. We need the 50 passenger one sent to Hannibal from down here. That leaves us the Ord plane, the Coke plane, and the 44 passenger, right?”


Yes. Now, do you want to sell the Ord plane on trade for one you'd like?”


Yeah.”


They've got an Airbus and a Boeing 777 Air Freighter.”


Which do you think would be best?”


My suggestion would be the 777C. It's able to be configured for executive use and then, have everything removed and be usable for cargo.”


Does that have a bigger door?”


Yes, but hang on....I'm seeing a pair of twin Boeing 777 Air Freighters here which are for $9 million for the two. They've got 20 passenger seats along with full executive suites. They've got the extended range tanks and low hours on the engines.”


Do you think we should go with that?”


If you should happen to sell the last Bombardier, you'd be fine to get them.”


“Buy them and I'll deal with having them and an extra.”


I'll do that.”


I hung up ,“That's it. We're getting 2 more and trading in the Ord to get 'em.”


Stu looked at me with a frown, “Why?”


Because they're executive jets with 20 additional seats each. That means they're decked out AS GOOD as the Bombardier and $9 million for the two. They're twins, so you can have one and I can have the other....OR we can fly whomever and have one of our own....At $9 million for the 2, I'm not going to complain.”


He gave a nod, “Ok, then consider selling the little one?”


Hon, the little one can go to flying our executives to different places...or family.”


Just don't have us carrying a lot of liabilities financially.”


“I won't. Now, let's worry about bigger things.”


I turned to Cole, “You were going to explain to me the faster way of building these highways.”


It's going to require you getting some Fastlane equipment.”


“Ok, I've got that in mind already.”


If you use the Fastlane as your shoulders, you can use them as your forms for a constant pour of steel strand which would be a liquid pour and level.”


I gave a nod ,“We'd need pumps for that, wouldn't we?”


He shook his head no and Mr Alberici said, “No, it's self leveling. You dump right out from the truck onto the ground and then, use your guys to rake and level. With a power screed, you level even with what you've got on the sides and then, it's curing right then.”


Ok, let's count on doing it that way. If it's faster and gives us some breathing room, I'm fine.”


He said, “Let's have a meeting of the minds this afternoon and get everyone on it. I think if we put too much thought into it, we'll have 100 different ways to do this job.”


I turned to Stu, “Ok, here's what we've got to do. We need a place to hold this with audio/visual and plenty of eats for everyone.”


He gave a nod, “Our convention center. I'll call and tell them to be expecting us. How many?”


Tell 'em to have eats for fifty. We'll probably have less, but if we have less food than people, our first impression is we're some cheap employers.”


He nodded and smiled. I winked and he chuckled. He said, I'm taking your truck.”


Ok, we'll walk.”


Cole said, “I've got mine.”


Mom and Dad said they were going to the hotel and I gave them hugs and kisses. I turned to Cole, “Ok, what can I count on in regards to inspectors being there 24 hours a day 7 days a week when I'm going with this?”


If you need 'em, I'll have 'em there.”


I'm gonna need 'em. I can lay asphalt in rain. It's not fun, but it can be done. I won't do it in pouring rain, but mists are fine and sprinkles are fine, but the second we go to full pouring rain, I'm done...and finding something else for everyone to do.

Now, up there, we've got piss pour lookin' beds. It's rained on them unprotected and I'm going to have it recompacted where the gulleys have washed. I realize you'll fine me for not having it done right and I realize you're going to be having me take credit for a lot of stuff I had nothing to do with, but you understand that in the future, I'm going to have things done a lot different.”


He nodded and I said, “Less than a week ago, this was open field. Today, it's becoming a parking lot. Tomorrow, we'll be way down there. As for how thick it is, it's thick because I don't want to redo this thing for a long long time. I realize you could run it as a state highway with this thickness, but we're parking a LOT of cars on it and need it in use for a good four months out of the year.”


It's well built.”


My people didn't know how to build anything less than a week ago. Now you understand why I'm buying companies to keep them employed.”


He nodded, “You're employing a lot of people in the process!”


Yes.”


I turned to Mr Alberici and asked, “What's needed next?”


He shrugged, “The meeting and then, you'll have everything put together.”


I said, “Excuse me.”


I dialed Skip. “Hello?”


It's me. Would you send me the powerpoint presentation you have of the corporate structure and all I've bought? I want to have everything moving forward for the meeting.”


Would you like for me to come down?”


Sure. I've got a bunch of people heading this way on one of the jets. I'll stop and hold them up so you can get a ride also.”


My wife and I will both be coming.”


Great!”


I hung up and dialed Corey. “Hello?”


It's me. Skip Barnes is going to be heading that way from Hannibal also. Please make sure he and his wife are on the plane before you leave.”


I'll pass along the message. I think we're going to be landing in Hannibal and getting a ride on the plane also.”


That'll be fine. I think we need to look for another chopper also.”


I called about those 737's. The man has his own pilots and will be having them flown from Houston. They should be at Branson within the next couple of hours.”


Great!”


He's going to take the Ord as trade in. Is that ok?”


How much does that make the deal altogether?”


$6.2 million.”


That's fine.”


Each has seating for 42 each. I would beg to differ, but they count them differently than me. IF you go online, you'll be able to see them. They're identical and virtually brand new. One's been used 4 times and the other has been used 16 times.”


MAN! Who had 'em!”


I wasn't told. What I was told was it took some real diplomatic skills to get them out of the area, but the family was just ousted from power in the mideast. The man kept the ruler's aircraft and you're buying the two children's aircraft.”


Hmm, are they nice?”


Beautiful, but you'd expect them to be arabic, but they're not...They look more asian than arabic.”


Interesting, I wonder why?”


They did a lot of their entertaining flying business people from Asian countries in to buy their oil. They wanted to make a good impression.”


Well, it doesn't matter to me as long as the seats aren't that hideous grey.”


“They're not dark grey, but they are light grey.”


That'll be fine.”


In some of the photos, they look nearly light blue but the sofas are white.”


That's fine.”


The things I noticed with them are as follows:

You'll have to get new bed linens. For some reason, the beds are stripped. There are two twin and one queen size beds on board each. There are four sofas which also break down to lay as full size beds like futons, so it technically sleeps 8, but those can not be counted as seats because they're counted as beds...see what I'm saying?”


Ok, so it seats 42, but the seats on the sofas can't be counted as seats because they count as beds?”


Right.”


If you sit three per sofa, you've got seating for 54, I'd figure.”


I chuckled, “It's funny how they do that.”


Other than that, here's what you might like. In the master bath, there's a stand up shower. There's also a tall refrigerator in the galley.”


Good. I'm not sure we'll ever take a shower in the thing, but who knows!”


Here's what I see...Should you go to some country where the facilities are primitive, you'd have a hotel on the tarmac for your guests. You'd have to remember to take food and not be afraid to cook on board, but you'd have breakfast if nothing else.”


That'll be fine.”


The same man has a jet copter which is a dream, but it's expensive at $3.2 million.”


Why so expensive!”


It's one of the best in the world. It's like the Rolls Royce of copters. Few are made each year and rarely do they ever come up for sale.

This one has a very storied life. It's followed it's owner from Ireland to New York back to Ireland and then, went into livery for a year before being traded in.”


I'm guessing it's someone in U2.”


Very astute!”


What do you think?”


I think if you're going to buy one, that'd be the one to buy. The air frame time on it is miniscule at 742 whereas others would be nearly 3 times that much.”


Do you think they rolled it back?”


No, I think the livery fee was so high it sat unrented.”


The same man has it also?”


Yes.”


Let me make a phone call. I'm going to ask Stu. I'd tell you to go ahead, but he might tell you otherwise.”


I hung up and dialed Stu. He answered, “Yes!” real comedically.


Hey babe. I've got a question for you.”


Ok, what's that?”


There's a helicopter for sale which is a jet copter.”

“What's the difference?”


About 70 to 90 miles an hour.”


Ok.”


It's expensive, but I've been told it's expensive because they're rare and sorta like the Rolls Royce of helicopters. He said this one is cream of the crop at that and I believe him because it's one of U2's former choppers.”


Huh?”


The band U2.”


OH!”


It was bought new and moved from Ireland to New York and then back to Ireland and then put into livery and all through that, it's only got 700 and some hours on it's air frame.”


“What do you think?”


I think we need another chopper and he's about to land ours up there in Hannibal and ride the jet down.

Other than that, I'll tell you whoever he's getting jets and things from is like a sales person to the stars or something because the two jets we're getting are from one of the ousted ruler's families in the middle east.”


Really?”


We're getting the two kid's jets. One has been used 4 times and the other has been used 16 times.”


MAN!”

“He went on and on about the thing, but here's what you're going to hear and what you don't hear is strange.”


Ok.”


It seats 44 people.”


Ok, what's strange?”


BECAUSE the sofas break down into beds and are counted as sleepers, they can't be counted on the list of seats.”


Huh?”


For some reason, if you have something on a jet which sleeps two people, but when it's sat up can seat 3 people, you can't count it as a seat even though it can be holding 3 people in it's normal use.”


Oh!”


Needless to say, we can carry something like 56 people on them....

But what I'm getting is this... This salesman has jets which are from influential families and choppers which are from really wealthy celebrities, so we know they've been maintained really good and IF this helicopter is $3.2 million used, it's probably an $8 million chopper brand new.”


What's the resale on them like?”


I don't know, but I imagine it's outrageous since it's like a Rolls Royce of a helicopter.”


If you think we won't be hurt, I'd say get it. I agree it's expensive, but yesterday showed me one thing about a chopper that you probably didn't realize.

That's the fact that IF we flew in a jet to a good airport up there and got into a chopper to fly out to the site and land, it'd take us flying time to Hannibal and then, flying time to the site.

IF this thing flies about 250 miles an hour, we're going to be able to fly up in it and be there in about the same amount of time that it'd take to do the other two flights.

I'd rather have one inconvenience rather than two.”


I agree. I hadn't thought about that, but you're right.”


Yeah, it's expensive, but due to the low air frame time and all that, I'd say it's probably well worth the money....and it's commendable that our pilot cares enough to buy quality, so let's keep him happy rather than going cheap.”


Ok, our jets will be landing within the next couple of hours out here. And WITH the amount of trade in we got on the Ord, we're spending about $10 million for the chopper and the two jets.”


That's not bad! So you're saying we're money ahead in this!”


I chuckled, “Yeah, we're about $20 million ahead in it!”


He laughed, “Hell of a deal!”


Ok, I'll call and tell him we want it.”


I hung up and dialed Corey and he answered, “Hello?”


It's me. Stu agrees we should get that chopper.”


Ok, I'll let 'em know. I think you're going the right direction getting it.

What I need to tell you is this....He just called me to tell me they will pay for the global satellite telephone service on the jets for a year as a throw in. I told him you're discussing the purchase of the Agusta (pronounced Ag ooh stuh) with your partner and he said, he'd do the same for it also.”


Ok, is that something special?”


It's nearly $30,000 a year for each as a throw in. When you were using your cell phone on board, you were using the satellite link and probably paying $300 an hour to do so.”


“My GOD!”


He laughed, “I was wincing. They're some pretty expensive phone calls.”


Well, thank God I was making money while I was on the phone, but DAMN!”


I'll make the calls.”


Tell him Thank you for the throw ins. At least I learned the cost of making a call while in the air!”


I hung up and Mr Alberici and Cole were smiling. I said, “$5 bucks a minute to make a phone call while in the air and I stayed on that phone like I wanted to get rid of a billion!

The man selling us the jets is throwing in the sat links for everything for a year....That's $30,000 each.”


They looked shocked and I said, “I had no idea, but now I do!”


I smiled, “The chopper we're getting is an Agusta. It's supposed to be really elite.”


Cole said, “The Governor flies in the state's all the time.”


We can afford an expensive helicopter like that for him to fly in???”


He smiled, “They lease a new one every year.”


My God, do you realize that's gotta be something like $2 million a year to lease the thing??? Find out who he's leasing from and I'll buy one and lease it to them!”


Mr Alberici said, “No you don't. It'd appear to be a conflict of interest and a bribe.”


Man....Ok, scratch that. I was just trying to make money off the backs of the tax payers. I'll figure out a different way.”


They laughed and we rode down to the front parking lot. My phone rang, “Hello?”


This is your pilot from your Boeing speaking. I'm under way and am confirming we're to leave these at Branson Airport and picking up a jet there?”


Yes.”


We'll be there in an hour to an hour and a half. I'm going to be testing flight controls and afterburners if you don't mind.”


Afterburners on a Boeing?”


They increase fuel distance.”


Ok, if you think they need tested, go ahead, but don't crash! I've no idea what insurance runs on those things!”


It's safe to say if you can afford the jet, you can afford the insurance.”


Probably, but let's not test that theory out. I've not ran it by my agent yet....For that price, I'm probably buying Flo from Progressive a fuckin' mink coat!”


He chuckled, “You're probably right!”


I hung up and dialed Donna. She answered and I said, “Hey hon, I need to make a call and shock us both.”


You're straight?”


Nah, nothing THAT damned shocking!”


We laughed and I asked, “Does Progressive insure jets?”


You know, I don't know. Why?”


Well, I've been trading and selling the things like a mad man and now, I've got two Boeing and an Agusta helicopter heading this way.”


What happened to the one we rode in?”


Sold. I made money on 'em, so I'm buying some different ones....You can probably find 'em online, but he said they're royalty or presidential or something from the middle east.”


Ok, what kind of Boeing?”


I'm not sure. They're Business jets.”


Complete coverage?”


Yeah, but if you have one which kills the pilot should he make it in a crash and I don't, that'd be the policy I'd be interested in!”


She laughed and asked, “Surprisingly, we do!”


Do I need to be sitting down or bending over for the prices?”


Ummm, I need to find out some things first.”


Oh hell....”


She laughed and I said, “Let's wait until they arrive in an hour and a half. He's trying the afterburners and seeing how fast he can make it scoot.”


Afterburners?”


Yup.”


I thought that was for fighter jets.”


He says afterburners make the thing go further on fuel. I'd prefer it go further than just beyond the end of the runway when it takes off, so I'm not gonna complain.”


Why'd you get different planes?”


Sold 'em. I called Corey and he told me he could get us these and so far at the end of the last hour, I'm something like $20 million ahead buying these!”


Man!”


“Needless to say, I'm smiling.”


I'm pulling in the lot now. I see you!”


Your honey will be here soon.”


I rang off ,“Guys, you're going to shoot me, but here's the good news and the bad. The good news is we're going to have a real nice dinner in our conference center. The bad news is I've no clue where our conference center is located!”


They laughed and Mr Alberici was really giggling. I turned to Cole, “We had motels. THEN, I told Stu to go ahead and buy some more and he spent something like $120 million on a bunch of other stuff. I've not went and seen what he's bought, but the motels we owned didn't have a conference center, so I'm not sure what we bought that does.”


Donna pulled up ,“You didn't tell me our trucks were here!”


Hon, the trucks are here!”


She came over and play acted like she was slapping me. “A girl doesn't get but one first Range Rover in her life and you kept it a secret it was here!”


Nah, I figured you'd know from the scuttlebutt!”


No one told me a thing!”


Well, now you know, but which motel did we buy which has a conference center?”


That'd be the Bald Ridge Inn.”


Is that nice?”


One of the nicest.”


Cool, how do I get there?”


Shepherd of the Hills Parkway. Right up there. As soon as you turn on it, you'll see the Inn on your right.”


Ok, I need to tell my parents and get everyone going that direction when they get here. Would you be a sweetheart and help me get people out at the airport when they arrive?”


Yeah.”


When we get 'em, we're going to have a meeting there to update everyone on what I've bought and what is a part of the company so we're all on the same page.

You'll need to be there for the insurance part of things, but I'm having Conseco Direct for the health and life part of it.”


She nodded, “Ok.”


I'm telling you that, but I'll tell you now that if I have bought an insurance company, I'm self insuring.”


You don't know?”


No hon, this meeting is as much for me to find out what I own now as much as everyone else.”


How would you not know?”


I bought a company for a steal of a price and it has lots of little babies which are super well known companies. In that bunch is the Chicago Bulls.”


She stared like she was waiting for the punch line, “Please tell me you didn't buy a basketball team!”


I did.”


Why?”


Let's see....The jersey looks cool. They've got a real nice contract with Nike, so I figure I'll get free tennis shoes, and really, I couldn't pass up the deal.”


Mr Alberici was smiling and she asked, “And you couldn't go buy a jersey and some Nike's cheaper!”


No hon, it was sorta hidden in amongst all the other companies I bought.”


Oh, so that makes it all better! How much money did you spend!”


Not much....”


Does Stu know you bought a basketball team?”


Yeah, he's laughing his ass off at the bargain I got!”


Mr Alberici was openly laughing and she said, “Ok, he's laughing and I'm waiting for you to tell me I'm Punk'd or something!”


No, you would have probably made the deal also.”


“Like hell! I don't even like basketball!”


“Me neither. That's why it's so funny.”


Ok, so how much was the deal which you got a ball team as a throw in?”


A quarter of a million dollars.”


Cole looked shocked and she said, “Ok, you're wrong on the price. IF you got it thrown in, it's probably a quarter of a billion.”


No, I promise you it's a quarter of a million.... I bought a company called Marblehead which is a defunct limestone and marble company, but still operates the quarry as a division of a larger company.

Marblehead had a lot of different companies under it when it went broke and shut down. What happened then, was no one bothered to tell the owners all the lesser known companies were a part of it so they thought they were just getting farm land...or something.

The old woman and I talked because I wanted to buy Huntington Stone and she sold that to me. Then, we got her shares of the cement plant and in learning that she was nearly left without anything else to sell, she mentioned Marblehead which she said was costing her $72,000 a year in property taxes and considered it worthless.

I happen to know Marblehead was the nose of the Golden Goose and knew a few of the companies, so I asked her if I could buy it for $100,000 for her part and $100,000 for her brother's part. She agreed and then, my banker called and said he'd agreed and I told my banker to tell the man that if he would bring the shares in today, this wild and crazy guy would pay an additional $50,000 for those shares. He did and needless to say, we're now seeing how many eggs are underneath the old bird.”


She looked shocked and Cole was outright laughing. She said, “And THEY didn't know?”


Would they have sold a multi billion dollar company for a quarter of a million if they did???”


She smiled, “You're a horse's ass, you know that right?”


Yup, but hey....They think I'm crazier than hell for buying it! So in today's age, I'd say it's a win/win.”


She laughed and Cole was really losing it. I said, “Donna, this is Cole Sampson. He's with MoDOT and Cole, this is Donna. She's my sorta like sister, cousin-in-law gonna be, and friend when I'm not harassing the hell out of her. Her Daddy's the Sheriff, so I can't be real mean, but he says whatever I do is fine by him.”


She said, “I'm dating his cousin. That's the ONE good thing he's done for me!”


I shook my head, “Uh uh, I do nice things for you all the time! You just forget real fast!

Now, I've gotta call my Mom and Dad and see if they'll drive their nice new vehicles over to get people also and then, we'll have everyone going to the Bald Knob.”


No, Bald RIDGE! You'll be on a bald knob later!”


Cole smiled and Mr Alberici really laughed. I said, “Sis, you need to behave!”


I will when you start. By the way, you own several shuttle buses from your motels.”


Ok, so I'll get those sent out there.”


I dialed Stu, “Hello?”


Babe, we need the shuttle buses sent to the airport. I'm not sure how many there will be, but I figure if we take enough to haul 60, we'll be fine.”


Ok, I'll make calls. Are you ready to head out there?”


Yeah, but I need to know where the Bald Knob Inn is...”

He laughed, “Bald RIDGE!!!”


Oh hell, I'll probably mess that up all the time now.”


We're not at the Bald Ridge, we're at the 4 Diamonds.”


I said, “Ok, I'll have Donna show me where that is.”


It's the great big one.”


Uh, ok...there's a lot of big ones.”


On 76. Have her show you.”


I'll be there.”


I hung up ,“Donna, it's the 4 Diamonds.”


She looked surprised, “You guys own THAT now???”


Yeah. You gotta show me where it is.”


She smiled, “Ok, let's hop in my truck!”


Hang on, I gotta take mine.”


WHY?”


Babe, here's the deal. We're picking everyone up at the airport in the shuttle bus and taking them there. I want my truck there so we've got another ride for some people.”


She gave a nod, “Ok, follow me to the interchange and then hang a left off the bridge if you lose me.”


Ok.”


We all got in and drove out to the interchange. I kept following her and KEPT following her ,“Damn, what'd he buy out HERE for!”


Mr Alberici was giggling and when we turned onto 265, I said, “Huh? We're going OFF the beaten PATH? My God!”


We rounded the bend and suddenly, I was like “Oh....my....God! He didn't!”


Mr Alberici really got to laughing and Donna turned into the drive saying 4 Diamonds Lake View Resort & Convention Center.

We pulled around and I said, “Oh man, I hope he got a deal on this! This has to be a hundred million dollar place!”


Mr Alberici said, “This is NICE!”


We got out and I was staring up at all the floors. She came over giggling, “Nice?”


I betcha we have a chef at this place and snails on the menu.”


She laughed real loud and doubled over, “Hon, you take someone you LOVE here for the engagement.”


I'd say, but give me a chance and we'll remodel the joint.”


She looked shocked, “Why?”


Way up there in the sky ought to be one helluva restaurant. I'm not seeing anything like a wall of windows, so I know it's down here.”


We went in and a man came over in a informal tuxedo, “Hello, my I help you?”. He said it nice, but his face was registering horror in my clothes.


I said, “Yeah, I'm looking for the convention center.”


His nose crinkled, “The help goes in the back.”

“Hon, the second I go in the back door, you'll be out of a job.”


Donna nearly yelled, “En'ri! He's one of the owners!”


The man looked surprised and gave me a mistrusting look. I said, “Dude, just show me where Stu is....AND, if you have that Range Rover out there towed, I promise you no job for En'ri! Leave it where the hell it sits!”


Donna said, “Jeremy, follow me. I'll show you where the convention center is located.”


I texted Mom and Dad. “Here's the GPS coordinates where we are. Park behind me at the main entrance.”


I said, “En'ri, my Mother and Father are going to be parking right out there behind me. She looks like Suzanne Plechette and he looks like Tony Danza with huge arms. THEY will probably be dressed real nice, but me, you get what you see...IF I gotta dress in a suit, someone's dying or already dead.”


Mr Alberici giggled my phone rang, “Hello?”


Mom asked, “What's this?”


I followed Donna and started walking. “That GPS coordinate is where the meeting is going to be held tonight. When you get here, park behind me at the main entrance. I've told En'ri that if he has anything towed, his ass is fired.”


I typed it in and it says it's the 4 Diamonds!”


Yeah.”


Why there?”


We own it.”


My God! It's beautiful!”


Yup, this convention center floor looks like a casino without the machines. We're going to have buffet, so bring an appetite.”


Ok, I gotta dress nice?”


“Oh hell, come in a pair of blue jeans and a Brett Hull Blues Jersey....En'ri will have a conniption!”


Tell me you didn't!”


Yeah, yeah I did!”


You and your Dad are too much alike!”


I walked over to the buffet and took a saucer and went over ot the meats. I took some pot roast and a couple of barbecue ribs. The chef came out and stared. I licked my fingers ,“Uh, Mom, the Chef is giving me a look like you do. I need to get off here.”


I hung up ,“Barbecue sauce is good.”


This is reserved for a dinner tonight.”


Yeah, and I'm testing to see if you're to get anything off my buffet. Where's Stu?”


He said, “I don't KNOW any Stu.”


I pulled my phone and dialed. He answered, “Hello?”


Get in here and meet this chef.”


What's going on?”


Well, either I just made a puddle on the carpet, or he looks like Bette Midler in that witch movie.”


I heard him yell, “Hang up your phone.”


I looked up ,“That'd be Stu. I want you to meet the new owners....Me and him.”


He and I.”


Me and Him. HE won't fire you. I WILL! Whatever you do, if you have snails on the menu, have a going out of business SNAIL for them and remove them from the menu.

Always remember I prefer my steaks medium rare and he likes his burnt like it's taken a trip through hell.”


He cracked a smirk and Stu came up ,“You're not supposed to be sampling!”


Babe, I've not had any lunch. The chances of us having ham and swiss grilled cheese on rye sandwiches here are slim to none, but that's what I'm craving or a grilled cheese rueben...”

The chef said, “My name is Doug.”


I gave a nod, “I'm Jeremy and this is Stu.”


He said, “Our deli downstairs has bistro style sandwiches. Would you like some home made chips with that?”


I stared ,“Yeah, I'm glad you suggested it!”


He gave a nod and I said, “I've got to go to the airport in a few moments, so if there's not enough time, I understand.”


I'll have it for you super fast.”


He took off and Stu said, “They're going all out for us.”


He didn't know you were the owner?”


Stu smiled, “No!”


Babe, you gotta let 'em know! En'ri was a jerk until Donna swooped in and told him.”


Really?”


He took it that I needed to be at the back entrance where the help arrives.”


Ooh, did you explode?”


I told him the second I went there, he'd lose a job.”


What do you think?”


I think that if we put slot machines on this floor, it'd be a casino!”


The place is gorgeous.”


How many rooms?”


Just over 300.”


How much land?”


Quite a bit.”


Can we think about adding some bungalows?”


Yeah.”


I'd tell you I'd want a restaurant up top with that view, but it'd probably take twenty or thirty million to get it done.”


It'd be nice though. Maybe we can incorporate that into our new one we build.”


He gave a nod, “Ok.”


I ate the pot roast and rib when Doug came back with the sandwich. I asked, “What meat was that in the pot roast?”


Chuck roast.”


Ok, it was very good. Well, everything was really good. I'll ask you keep me a hunk put back about 3” in diameter. I love a good sandwich with grilled onions and mayo only made from it.”


He smiled, “Me too.”

Stu said, “Man that sounds good!”


I smiled, “I was getting ready to say a nice potato soup on the side would top out an awesome lunch!” I gave Doug a nod ,“I'm glad we bought this place. You'll probably see us out here a lot for lunches or later in the evening for dinners. If I happen to give you a call, could you have someone deliver us meals to the theater?”


Which theater?”


Currently, it's called Viennese Waters. We're changing the theming and calling it Hillbilly Falls or something like that.”


He gave a frown, “You guys own that?”


I smiled, “Yeah, we're building a new theater. You might want to come get a preview.”


I've seen it.”


What do you think?”


The look on his face showed me, “It wasn't bad.”


Stu walked off giggling and I said, “Doug, if you'd said, “Complete and utter boredom out of my freakin' skull”, you'd matched the look on your face!”


He smiled, “Was it that obvious?”


Do yourself a favor and come get a preview of the new show. I'll tell you on a scale of 1 to 10, the show now is probably in the fractions where the new show will be a 10.”


Really? What's different?”


It needs to be experienced to excite you. Let's just say we amped the hell out of the fun meter and hooked it to the show!”


He chuckled, “SO you're shooting people with the water to keep them awake?”


No, but that'd be a thought!”


I said, “How about this....It's going to be about 30 minutes before the people arrive at the airport. I can give you the keys to my Rover and you can go there and have Jerrett give you a sample of the show.”


How about later after this tonight? I've got a lot of preparations to do yet.”


Oh...sure....that'll be fine. Here's my phone number. IF you need anything, give me a call and if you need something in regards to input, let me know. I'll admit I'm not up 100% on fine and fancy food, but what you're serving here is wonderful.”


Some things are an acquired taste.”


I'm going to ask your input on some things. We're going to be designing a hotel real soon which is completely Vegas with everything you'd expect, but a LOT of dining options as well as theaters.

I want quite a few things which are late night fare for when people are here and don't want to drive to a restaurant or get ice cream or sweets.”


Ok! I'll be happy to do that.”


I'd spend the 20 or 30 million to get you a roof top restaurant here, but there's no way it'll happen without us having an opportunity to get into gambling. Should that happen, you're going to see me popping a helluva chunk of change into this place and killing them with nice.”


You'll need a LOT bigger convention center.”


You're right there! I'd not hardly say this qualifies as a convention space at all! What's it hold, 5 or 600?”


We can get 1100 in comfortably, but when we push in another 100, it gets cramped.”


I'll work on that side of things...Give me some time and I'll make it so you've got input on your kitchens.”


Are you going to update things in there?”


Do we need to?”


He was quiet for a second ,“Yeah.”


I'll get the architect up here. Let me call him.”


I dialed Brent's number. He answered, “Hello?”


It's me, Jeremy. Later tonight, we're going to have our chef at the theater. He's wanting an updated kitchen at that 4 Diamonds. I'm authorizing whatever he needs done. All I ask is you keep him happy and get us through so we can add a larger convention center onto the place.”


I'll need to see what they've got out there.”


Here's the GPS coordinates. Catch one of the trucks and head on out.”


I've got my car here. I just received the coordinates.”


Here's what I'm going to tell you....From what I've seen, they've got this place space managed down to a postage stamp.

I want this place on the list as #5 on our list of hotels we're going to redo unless some of the ones we've bought are unsafe.”


We might need to speak about the Alders.”


What's going on with it?”


To be blunt, it's terrible. I'm trying to think of a nice way to say it needs to be torn down and rebuilt, but rebuilt with a lot larger building and use of the lot.”


Ok, let's limp through this year and I'll work with you on it. If it's unsafe, let's shut it.”


It's probably one of the oldest ones here. Having no sprinklers and flamingo pink bathrooms isn't what I'd call real good accommodations.”


Yuck!”


He didn't pay much, and you can sure tell, but the land is amazing and so is the location.”


I'll go through it with you tomorrow. How many rooms?”


76. There are four strips of 18 and then, there's four suites which look like they were an after thought.”


Are you staying there?”


Yeah.”


Ok, be prepared to move. Pack everything up and get out here to the 4 Diamonds. I'll get you a suite here.”


Thank you.”


How many of the others are staying there?”


You've got it booked solid with workers.”


Jesus! They gotta be thinkin' we're nuts!”


He laughed, “I was wondering if you'd been through it!”


No, it'd probably be shut if we had.”


I'm not telling you to go super nice, but you could really put a lot more on the property and even a Motel 6 would be a step up from what it is now.”


Oh man.... Get packed and head this way. I'll go get you a room reserved.”


I hung up and smiled a cheesy smile, “Doug, he's moving his things out here. I'd stick around, but I just learned I've got to book and move 75 more people because one of our places would qualify BEST as a roach motel.”


He gave me a shocked look. I said, “The Alders. I really hope he didn't pay much because I'm about to put a dozer through it!....Flamingo pink bathrooms, my God!”


Doug laughed, “Oh boy!”


I turned, “STUART!”


Yeah dear.”


DID YOU....” I paused and regained my composure....”Did you tour the Alders before you bought it?”


No.”


WE'VE got to move people from there. I don't know what you paid, but you bought a nice chunk of ground and that's about it.”


What's wrong with it?”


Are you aware Brent's staying there?”


No.”


The first THING he says which is scary about it is that it doesn't have a sprinkler system...does that tell you it's a nightmare?”


Really?”


It's got flamingo pink bathrooms.”


Stuart smiled, “You say that like it's a bad thing!”


Honey, I don't know what they're getting per night for the place, but he says a Motel 6 would be a step up!”


He really laughed, “My God!”


Needless to say, I'm making them abandon ship and getting them out here.”


I bought it because I got several with tree names....The Cedars, Willows, and the Alders. I know the Cedars and the Willows are beautiful.”


Honey, that might be, but I'll tell you I'm really torn between a dozer and using it as a cheap rent motel for the imported workers...who work for the competition!”


He smiled, “We'll have to go look at it.”


We'll do that. I'd like to see what all we bought. This one is gorgeous and if you say the Cedars and the Willows are gorgeous, I'll believe you, but I'm really not happy hearing we're having our people stay there.”


He gave a nod, “We got a good deal on everything. If you don't want them there, let's move them out here.”


I'll get everyone rooms.”


Do you want to keep it open?”


Let's limp through, but we've got to go see it before we make that decision. I'm just glad Brent has the nerve to tell me he doesn't like something.”


Me too.”


Do you think we can put another building project on the burner?”


Let's wait until we see what we've got.”


I nodded, “Ok, I'll agree to that.”


We REALLY need to get out to the airport.”


I looked over ,“Ok, let's go.”


I turned and saw Doug was gone. I said, “I'm taking this with me. I'll bring back the plate.”


Let me have some of that!”


I took half of the sandwich and fed it to him. He took a big bite and started chewing and then, held up his thumb. “Mmmm!”

I said, “I love this Swiss...It's aged better than what you get in a grocery store.”


That ham is amazing.”


It's probably imported from Italy. They've got some of the best ham in the world.”


Really?”


Yeah, there's a guy on the travel channel....Burt Wolf...who raves on and on about the ham of Italy. It's called Prosciuotto. I've looked it up and it's amazing the skill and the care which goes into it. ”


(Very rarely will I endorse something as a part of my writing so blatantly. Volpi's on the Hill in St. Louis, Missouri quite possibly has some of the best ham I've ever eaten. For a long time, I've been importing Prosciuotto di Parma from Italy because I thought IT was the best, but recently, I was turned onto Volpi's and now, I'm buying their's.)


Really?”


Hon, I'm seriously thinking about asking Rhen and John if they'll work with us and make some deer ham and traditional ham in the Prosciuotto style.”


Do you think they could?”


Yeah, it's not really a big thing, it's a style of the way it's cured. We could do it, but it takes a long long time...a minimum of 11 months to get it done.”


Whoa!”


Yeah.”


We were out at the truck when Mom and Dad pulled up. I went over, “We're going to the airport to get everyone. We'll be right back.”


Where do we go in here?”


When you go in, you can take a right or you can go forward to the atrium and see it. My advice is to go to the atrium and see it. You'll be amazed.”


She outright asked Stu, “How much did you spend on this place? It's beautiful!”


He smiled, “$11 million.”

/

I 'm sure I looked surprised, “Really?”


He smiled, “It's been operating with a foreclosure trustee operating it. Since it hadn't had a bidder for the property at the $11 million they wanted, the court had made it a term of the bankruptcy that until it was sold, it'd be operated by the trustee.

When I went to the banker, the first thing I asked was that I be allowed to put in a bid and he made the bid on Sunday. Needless to say, we got it Monday morning.”


I smiled, “Good!”


He smiled, “I've very seriously thought about buying it from my personal funds, but not having the money to keep it operating for a year, I decided to wait. Fortunately, this came in and we're now the owners!”


I gave a nod, “I'm glad we got it!”


Mom said, “We'll go in.”


I said, “You look wonderful. I'm sure En'ri will be happy...”


She gave a smirk, “That had enough bite in it I can tell you're less than impressed.”


Mom, it shouldn't matter what someone's wearing when they go into a hotel. This is a vacation spot for chrissake and people getting the first impression that they don't measure up makes them resentful and have hurt feelings.

The way I see it, he either gets INCREASED tips because people are trying to measure up, or he gets told to stuff it. Needless to say, I would've told him to stuff it.”


She nodded and Stu said, “I'll have a talk with the manager.”


We're going to have a talk with the manager because the second my people think they have to bow and scrape in order to be a guest here, I'm going to tell him to get his ass to the property line as fast as his two legs can move it.”


He nodded and said in a soothing voice, “Stay calm.... We'll get it done!”


Mom chuckled, “See you guys!”


We got in and drove. Stu said, “Babe, don't take this the wrong way, but let me run the entertainment and hospitality side. They're not well paid and their egos and attitudes are what gets them through trying times.”


Ok, but please think of yourself as one of our customers. It's how I've learned to deal with the public and give good customer service. IF I think it's something which needs improving, I come out swinging for the little guy...usually, it's me.”


I understand, but we can't be firing everyone.”


I smiled, “Ok, you stay employed.”


He chuckled, “Thank you! I needed this job SO much!”


I giggled ,“Thank God you're so pleasing on my eye. I might just tell you to walk away to watch that ass and then tell you to come back so I can watch you walk away over and over again!”


He held my hand, “Thank God for small favors!”


We rolled out to the airport and when we go there, I saw the shuttle buses. I said, “Stu, may I teach your shuttle drivers how I'd like for them to park?”


What's wrong with the way they're parked now?”


Let's see...If I'm carrying luggage and the last bus is mine, it's too fuckin' far!”


How are you going to do it different?”


Let me show you. You stand back where the door is to that last one and I'll repark them so it makes WAY more sense.”


Ok.”


I went up to the first driver ,“Hi, I'm Jeremy. I want to show you how to park from now on.”


She said, “Who are you?”


Co-owner of your motel.”


OH! You're one of the new guys!”


Yes ma'am, and when you see how I'm going to do this, you'll understand I'm thinking of things from the point of view of the customer and their comfort.”


Ok!”

I hopped in and drove it around and angled it in so I could go to the second and put the front bumper of it at the door way of the second and did all of them at angles until I had 'em situated the way I wanted.

I said, “Guys, he's down there where the door to the last one was located. See how much less walking time they've got with their luggage? It's a lot easier on the first impression from the tarmac to the front door of the motel.”


Stu came walking up ,“It's a lot better.”


My phone rang, “Hello?”


Corey said, “We're about 5 minutes out. Your Boeings are within' 20 minutes.”


Great!”


We went in and watched the Bombardier land. When it taxied up, it parked nose in and then, we saw Corey get the door open and people begin debarking.

They walked to the terminal door and in. I went over, “Everyone, welcome. I'm Jeremy Blue and he's Stuart Reddington. We're the owners of the holding company which has purchased your companies.

Outside there are the shuttle buses which will take you to the hotel, but first, I'd like to ask for you to wait an additional 10 minutes so we can watch our latest purchases land.”


My cell rang and I answered it. Newt asked, “Are you sending a jet?”


Yeah, let me see which one the pilot wants to fly down. I might divert one which is about to land here and head it that way.”


Lo is going to come on up. She went in and told 'em she wanted to give 2 weeks notice and they went ahead and gave her the vacation time she'd accrued. That combined with her off time gave her the 2 weeks, so they basicly cut her loose.”


Ok, that's fine.”


“Do you want us to start packing everything?”


Not yet. Let's get you guys up here and then, we'll have a company go over there with our cargoes we're buying so we can get everything packed in them.”

“Why?”


We bought a couple of Boeing 777 Air Freighters which have been converted into corporate business jets.”


Wow!”


Anyway, rather than moving you guys up in a moving van, we can put everything into the cargoes at your apartment and bring 'em up on the plane.

The plus side there is I know it's not going to be stolen. Yeah, it'll take us getting a scissor truck borrowed or rented, but after that, it's not going to be a problem.”


Ok, that'll be fine.”


Hang on, I hear the first one coming in.”


I watched and sure enough, the big jet came in like it was a perfect landing....I did a quick look, 6 wheels per truck (on the landing gear) and pin tail...sure signs it's a 777, “MAN that's a big plane!”


He laughed, “Really?”


Our Bombardier is maybe 24 feet tall and that thing has to be 3 times the height at the tip of the tail! ”


(All the specs for the Boeing are nearly 3 times the size of a Bombardier. I'll list them here so you'll see.


Tail Height

Bombardier 20 ft 5 in

Boeing 777 61 ft 1 in

Length

Bombardier 87 ft 10 in

Boeing 209 ft 1 in

Wingspan

Bombardier 69 ft 7 in