Sentinel Mountain


Chapter Fifty-six

Brazilian Breakfast and Bororo Tea

by Sequoyah

Previous  warnings apply

edited by Jesse and Scott



While the bedroom windows in the apartment did not face east, the outside wall was mostly glass and the morning light was very bright. Josh enjoyed waking up to a bright room and especially when Alex was in bed beside him. That was one thing both loved about their room in Vic House. Josh awoke before Alex and had gone to the bathroom, taken care of his bladder and scrubbed out the mess left in his mouth by the dragon that spent the night there before Alex stirred. He put on coffee and when it finished, put two cups and the coffee carafe on a tray and took them back to bed. When he reached the bedroom, Alex was in the bathroom and when he returned, immediately started making out with Josh. The coffee was forgotten for the next hour as the two made love, then showered together, changed the bed, again--the third time since they arrived--and decided they'd rather have coffee at the table overlooking the bay.


Josh was thinking about just having a buttered English muffin and jam for breakfast until he realized even as well as Alex was doing, he still needed good and substantial food. He was just going to suggest they find a place for breakfast when Cândido called and invited them to breakfast. Josh quickly accepted. He served a couple of different kinds of fish along with cheese and fresh fruit and a very different french toast, all delicious. “Kinda what we would eat in Brazil,” he said. They had Brazilian coffee during and after the meal and Alex said he thought he was fully wound for the day. “Mormons do not drink coffee and I am still getting used to having it, but I do love it and this with all the hot milk is really good.”


As they were finishing their coffee, Josh's phone rang. “Josh, June VanWinkle. Glad I reached you. I suspect you had a day of sight seeing and packing lined up, but James Davis just called and wanted to get together with you. Mrs. Blankenship had a major stroke last night and is brain dead. Fortunately she had an advance health directive so there's no question about what will happen. James says we should be prepared for any moves Kelly makes. Life support will be turned off twenty-four hours after she was pronounced brain dead, that will be at seven this evening. Anyway, can you be at his office at nine thirty? He asked about me, but I have something else I can't turn loose.”


Sure, no problem.”


When Josh told the other three what was going on, he said, “Luc, I guess that's a heads up for you because I suspect Blankenship LLLP will be involved sooner or later.”


I'll tip the company lawyers when I get to the office.”


Alex, I hate to abandon you, but I guess this is important. Maybe you'd like to join a tour and see the city.”


Better yet,” Cândido said, “I don't have anything today except to put the finishing touches on a lecture series I'm doing in a couple weeks, but there's no rush on that. Why don't Alex and I see the city?”


Sounds like a real winner to me,” Luc said. “Cândido is an excellent guide and really knows the city better than most natives. Josh can give you a call when he's finished.”


Sounds good. Babe, be sure you have you phone and wallet.” Realizing what that sounded like, Josh added, “Not really babying him too much since he's not had either until recently and often forgets them.”


After thanking Cândido for breakfast, Josh and Alex went to their apartment where Josh changed into business attire. “You look like the head of a corporation, Beloved, but I like you better plain, plain beautiful,” Alex said.


I just hope this doesn't get complicated, and it will if Kelly gets a toehold. I don't know when I so misjudged a person. I guess the Old Man was right when he said doesn't matter how smart we are, the little head can over-rule the big one. I also know he was doing some major shit. I don't know all the drugs he abused, but I knew enough to know he will eventually die as a result, one way or another unless he makes a drastic change. Well, have a good time with Cândido. He's a wonderful fellow.”


Both he and Luc are great,” Alex agreed.


Do remember not to get too tired. I'll get back as soon as I can.”


Josh, weren't the movers to come today to pack stuff?”


Damn! I forgot. Call them and reschedule for tomorrow, better yet, see if they will be put on call. Don't worry about the cost, which will be high, but we need that flexibility with all that's going on. If I can't be here, we'll go through tonight and decide what to take. By the way, if Shawn's classmate calls about the apartment, have him call for an appointment. I don't know what's going on with Mrs. Blankenship's death and Kelly's stunts.”


In the car, Josh set the GPS for James Davis' office and wasn't surprised when it was in the high rent district. When he told the building guard who he was, he checked his list and said, “Mr. Taylor, take the elevator to the top floor.” The elevator opened to a very elegant foyer. A young man sat behind a French Empire desk in a matching chair. Josh was sure Napoleon might well have used both.”


Josh Taylor for Mr. James Davis.”


The young man stood and it was clear he spent time in the gym and tanning bed. There's an obvious difference between a body that comes from hard work and one which comes from sweating in the gym and a tanning bed tan always betrays it's origins. His immaculate attire didn't come off the rack somewhere either. Either he had an outside source of income or Blankenship would have to triple Prue and Elizabeth's salary to keep up. “I'm Andrew, Mr. Taylor. Mr. Davis is expecting you. If you'll follow me,” he said as he pushed a button on his desk and a panel slid open behind him. He motioned Josh through the door and they walked into another large reception area with several doors opening off of it. He opened one and again motioned Josh inside. “Lucia, Richard, Mr. Taylor for Mr. Davis.” Lucia and Richard might have worked for the same agency as Andrew.


Lucia was a stunningly beautiful, statuesque African-American, woman. Richard was not young, maybe mid-fifties to sixties, but definitely TV model material, the ‘I’m not a doctor, but I play one on TV” kind of model. Lucia said “Richard, Mr. Taylor.”and left.


Mr. Taylor, Mr. Davis was very pleased you could come in. He is waiting for you,” Richard said as he came from behind his desk, “This way.” He opened the door to James Davis' office and said, “Mr. Davis, Mr. Taylor.”


Come in Mr. Taylor, have a seat. I really appreciate your coming over, something to drink?”


Just water. Does your firm raid model agencies for your people? So far I have met an Abercrombie & Fitch, a TV doctor type and a women who would not be out of place on a magazine cover.”


The firm, as I suppose all firms, has a history. Mr. Augustus Adams started on his own as a young lawyer. His first case involved a model, Sylvia Yelton, who was sent into a situation the agency knew was not all that savory. As a result, she was posed in some S&M situations against her will and was finally raped before she escaped. The agency claimed she had gone off on her own and they had no responsibility for what happened. Mr. Adams proved otherwise and won a pile of money for her—and himself, of course. After that news spread, he found himself representing an increasing number of models.


He, by the way, ended up married to Sylvia and she is the mother of Augustus Adams the second and grandmother to the third Adams in the firm's name is Silvana Adams, professionally and Slivana Adams Davis at home. I married her. She handles most of the models these days.


Anyway, Sylvia and Augustus remained concerned about models and decided those who had looks and brains should had experience which would serve them when their modeling days were over. The scheduling is a nightmare better left to Silvana and her staff, but the beautiful people you see around here are actually working models—when they have a job. Most do TV and magazine work, none are, obviously, the emaciated runway models. Richard has been my sectretary since I joined the firm. Lucia is my paralegal, but working on her law degree.”




Well, to less pleasant things. I really, really appreciate your coming over, especially after last night. I got a call from Dr. Hinkley at the facility where Mrs. Blankenship is living, well, technically living because of life support. She had a severe stroke about noon yesterday and then another massive one about six last night. She was declared brain dead at seven. Fortunately, she had an advance health directive made after her first minor stroke. In case she was declared brain dead, life support is to be ceased twenty-four hours later and her organs donated. That will be carried out although Kelly went into all sorts of carrying on, but the grin on his face behind all his crocodile tears and lamentations were not perfectly hidden. As you know, the Old Man was pretty upset over what Kelly pulled in Hawaii. Kelly will be mightily surprised when Mrs. Blankenship's will is read, immediately after her funeral. Without breaking any confidence, I suggest you be present. Don't worry about it being a private affair. I'll take care of making sure you have a right to be there.


What I really wanted to see you about before the latest development, was some hanky panky concerning Mrs. Blankenship's money. Kelly got a signature card to her account and has withdrawn her 'walking around money' provided by Blankenship each month. He has provided her personal needs beyond what the facility provides—maybe fifty dollars a month outside. What happens to the remaining money? I don't know and haven't been able to find out.


I also found out he filed claim to the one hundred thousand that is still tied up in your account. To do that, I guess he doesn't realize, he's going to have to come up with a reason he gave that to you, especially since he claimed you were paid that for company secrets. He talked the facility into moving his mother into a less expensive set up and depositing the difference in her account and has taken that too. Think there may be a lawsuit there since Blankenship agreed to pay for her keep in that facility. If she got a reduced rate that should be reflected in what Blankenship pays. It has not.


Finally, there's the suit he has filed claiming you stole the company. If he could prove that he has a chance of taking it over—again. I'm going after Kelly about the money. Maybe there was nothing illegal about his taking her spending money since, I guess, she was free to give it all to him if she wished, but she didn't give it to him, he took it from her account. Fine legal point there. I want to bust his chops for his suit against you because that had a direct effect on my client. I think, when you stopped paying Kelly, you should have done the same thing with her.”


Had I known it wouldn't have hurt her, I would have. I'll get the Blankenship lawyers right on the reduction in the cost question. I agree, seems if there was a reduction it should have come to Blankenship. Our agreement was to pay the facility for her keep. It had nothing to do with Kelly. Because she was the Old Man’s wife, I thought Blankenship should provide the very best the facility had to offer and that’s what we wanted and what we paid for.


Good point. Someone or ones in the facility should be held responsible for that and if I don't miss my guess, will roll on Kelly. “


I'll have Mr. VanWinkle look into the question of the one hundred thousand. If Kelly claims it, he will be admitting guilt in attempting to frame me.”


More than that, it can be seen as an attempt to do damage to Blankenship. Expect some of this to take ages to play out in court. I wonder where he's getting the money for his lawyer? Of course, the lawyer he has on retainer is a sleaze bag if there ever was one and is no doubt taking this on for a major cut of any settlement. I'd like to nail him as well. Also, let me know what you find out on Boles, he's another shady character.”


Mr. Davis. . . .”


James, please since we're on the same side this time.”


James, Bull Marino is investigating both the lawyer and Boles, but I have had no report yet. I want this over and out of my hair. I have endured enough from Kelly and I have a paradise and a beautiful man waiting for me.”


I'd like to put Kelly away for a very long time. . .” His intercom buzzed. “Excuse me. Yes, Richard? . . .Thank you, Richard. . . More good news. Kelly has just been released to attend to his mother's funeral and will remain out while he waits for his latest appeal to be heard. Let me make a call or two and see if I can find out something.”


Fifteen minutes later, he hung up the phone again and said, “You can thank the good State Representative Boles for Kelly’s release. He pulled some strings and Kelly has been released on his own recognizance. Only real restriction is he can't leave the state and has to wear an ankle bracelet. Nothing we can do about that.”


Do you, by the way, know when Mrs. Blankenship's funeral will be?” Josh asked. “I haven't heard anything, of course and I expect to be there out of respect for the Old Man.”


I don't think it has been announced.”


Keep in touch,” Josh said, standing to go.


You too.”


He was on his way to the apartment when his phone rang. He let it go to voice mail until he could pull over and see who was calling. It was Mr. VanWinkle. When he called back, Mr. VanWinkle said, “Josh, I just got a call from Kelly's shyster. Damn fool wanted to meet concerning the one hundred thousand dollars of his client's money being held in escrow by the government, money Kelly had deposited in your account. I asked him to come to the office to discuss the transfer and to bring Kelly with him to sign for it. Barlow, the lawyer, replied Kelly was unavailable since he was handling arrangements for his mother's funeral. I didn't know she was dead.”


I guess technically she's not until seven this evening. She was declared brain-dead at seven last night and the machines will be unplugged at seven tonight.”


Barlow said there would be a private interment of her ashes Saturday and no memorial service as those were Kelly’s wishes. Anyway, I said we would postpone any meeting about the one hundred thousand until afterward since I insisted Kelly had to be present. He just called back and said Kelly wanted the matter wrapped up as soon as possible and he didn't want to wait until after the internment. Barlow said he had power of attorney, but I told him Kelly had to be present or it was no go. Fool-like, the two have agreed to be in my office at eleven thirty. Everything is set up to video all that goes on. I think I can get a confession from Kelly and if so, he can kiss the money goodbye. The government will likely take it as unclaimed, so you'll not benefit from it except to see Kelly slip and fall in his own shit.”


Kelly still owes that to someone or I'm mistaken. No one has been able to find any indication it came from Blankenship when he was running it. Maybe Mama's spending money was paying that back. If so, he had a long way to go before he was out from under that debt.”


And now she's dead.”


By the way, I got together with James Davis. He's going after Kelly for his handling of Mrs. Blankenship's money. As soon as I get to the office, I'm talking to Blankenship's lawyers. Kelly got his mother into a less expensive apartment—actually she was moved from an apartment to a single room—and cut out other benefits and took the difference. Since the agreement was Blankenship would pay for her keep, any reduction in costs should have been reflected in what Blankenship paid and not gone into Kelly's pocket, right?”


Right. How's Alex?”


Doing great. He's out with Cândido today exploring the city. If I know Cândido, they are at Golden Gate Park by now.”


Good. Keep me up-to-date.”


Alex and Cândido were, in fact, in Golden Gate Park. They had spent two hours exploring the city before Candido suggested they head for the park. When they first arrived, Cândido parked near the Conservatory and he and Alex went inside. Alex was enthralled. “Enjoy,” Cândido said. “If you'll excuse me, I need to speak to my friend the curator. Just enjoy this wonderful place.”


Twenty minutes later, Cândido rejoined Alex and proved an excellent guide to the plants in the Conservatory. “Why do you know so much about plants? Alex asked.


The life of the Bororo depend on many plants. We use them for all sorts of things. In fact, many of the modern medicines are refined products of plants we have been using for centuries. No doubt you have been given a medicine which began life in the Amazon rainforest.”


No one commented on it, but I notice people on the Mountain place great stock in the power of some plants.”


Yes, Janie and I spoke some of that. When I go back I am going to try to contact a Cherokee shaman. I thought Janie would help me, but she says Christians don’t have anything to do with medicine men and Indian superstition. Pity. Their loss. Well, interested in the art museum? Just walking? This is a place where you can spend hours. I would show you the Japanese Garden, but it is always covered up with tourists. You can tell tourist because they leave their manners at home,” Cândido laughed. “I did pack a lunch and have reserved us a place where we are due in a couple hours. We'll have to walk to it as no vehicles are allowed, but it is private and quiet.”


Then let's visit the art museum. That way I can sit down if I tire. Don't think I will, but while I'd never let Josh know it, I still do not have the stamina I should and will.”


Alex, my brother, Josh should know that. You not only suffer needlessly when you push yourself beyond what is reasonable and healthy, but also it shows a lack of trust in your husband. Don't do that.”


Alex fell silent, thinking.


They spent over an hour in the museum and actually viewed only a very, very small number of paintings as both men often found one particularly striking and sat contemplating it. They left when Cândido asked Alex if he was ready for lunch. “Actually, you need to be as our reservation for a picnic slot is in half an hour and we can take a leisurely stroll to reach it. We have it for two hours.


Cândido led them to a spot on a lake which, incidentally, was the one where Mr. VanWinkle and Josh had lunch as Josh was learning about his inheritance and great uncle. Cândido had a picnic basket which he gave to Alex to carry and he carried a backpack and a reusable bag such as one used for groceries. When they reached the picnic area, he instructed Alex to lay out the table while he set up a small folding Sterno stove and put water on it. The table was set and Alex had poured cups of water from water bottles which still had ice from being frozen. Cândido took the food from the basket, some familiar and some new to Alex. All was delicious. When they finished eating. Cândido said, “Alex, I'd like to help you in your journey to vigorous health.”


Cândido, I don't know what you did before, but you certainly helped me along. Josh and the doctors were amazed at the progress I had made practically overnight.”


Science and modern medicine are wonderful and have accomplished what even our fathers would have considered miraculous, but it does have a large blind spot when it comes to ancient medicine and practices. Some, of course, did more harm than good, but I suspect the same is true of modern medicine. Had the doctors placed maggots in Sam's wound, he may have escaped death and the world would have been changed. Makes you wonder, doesn't it?”


That is something to think about.”


Look's like the water for our tea is ready.” Cândido carefully measured a greenish powder into two cups and poured boiling water over it. “I'll give you some tea and suggest you have it after breakfast until you use it all. Teaspoon in a cup and pour boiling water over it. As soon as it is cool enough drink it—sip it—as you would tea.”


They talked about Cândido's lecturing and Alex's plans for the future—which were pretty much up in the air at the moment. “Originally I hoped I could go to medical school, but when I became a prisoner of New Beginnings, I gave up that dream. Now I could go, but that would mean leaving the Mountain and Josh for four to six years. Cândido, I don't want us to feel we are joined at the hip and grow resentful of each other, but I certainly don't want to be separated for years. We have already experienced that.”


You do have a degree, correct?”




In what?


Major in biology and a minor in computer science.”


I'm sure you could teach at the charter school which Josh will eventually get—he's got some powerful friends working for him. I met some quite by accident while I was lecturing at Duke. Work on your masters and doctorate and teach on the university level at Mountain State or even one of the community colleges to get you away from the Mountain some. Work with Louise and Jake cataloging the plants and animals of the area. You have a gifted photographer, I understand, in Nelson who, I suspect will be around for a long time. The two of you could do a book of plants and animals of the area. Who knows? You may have a poet who could work with the two of you to do an illustrated book of facts and poetry. Use your talent, knowledge and creativity and that of those around you. I'm sure you and Josh will find much to enjoy together and much to enjoy in the other, but you are also two very strong—in spirit as well as body—young men who will find much to enjoy that does not involve the other directly.”


Thanks, Cândido, that's something I really needed to hear.”


Ah, the tea's ready.”


Alex expected some foul tasting brew—it was medicine, right? He was pleasantly surprised by the taste. It was extremely difficult to describe, especially when he couldn’t think of a thing to compare it to. “This is wonderful. I've never taste anything like it.”


I'm not surprised. Some of the ingredients are not something you hop down to the local corner store and pick up. In fact, the only source of one of them I know about in the US is the Conservatory here. I picked up some this morning. The curator is gracious enough to save leaves for me when he grooms the plant. It'll have to be smoked and aged before it is usable, but I brought a supply of herbs with me when I came. Customs gave me a fit even though I had a permit from both Brazil and the US. I have plenty to take care of you until I think you no longer need it, well, until you reach the point where you just enjoy it a few times a year with special people. Would do Kelly good, but he'd not like it. You have coke or a narcotic in your system and it makes you violently ill. But I guess we need to get you back for a rest.”


Not a bad idea,” Alex agreed and they packed up and walked back to the car. They were soon back at the apartment and he stripped and climbed in the bed. He felt wonderful.



Chapter Fifty-seven

Don’t Try to Out Lawyer My Lawyer or Take on a Mad Samurai



Josh had to rush to make Mr. VanWinkle's office by eleven fifteen. Mrs. Trent announced Barlow and Kelly had arrived at eleven thirty, but Mr. VanWinkle let then cool their heels for five minutes then buzzed Mrs. Trent to send them in.


Josh, good to see you,” a prison white Kelly said. “I think about you often.”


Kelly,” Josh answered very coolly.


Josh, this is Mr. Sylvester Barlow who represents me”


Kelly, Mr. Julius VanWinkle, who is representing me.”


Josh, can't we just handle this privately, man to man?” Kelly asked, giving Josh a puppy dog pleading look, a look which usually got him just about anything he wanted, but would not this time. 


Before Josh could respond one way or another, Mr. VanWinkle said, “Mr. Blankenship, I represent Mr. Taylor and any communication will come through me. I believe Mr. Barlow is here to represent you and I suggest you let him.”


Kelly could not have looked more taken a back had he just been hit in the face with a shitty baby diaper. Josh became very clear as to how Kelly had expected to be able to manipulate him and was disgusted with how easily he had been manipulated by Kelly from the minute he walked into his office the first time, but not this time. He might be a slow learner, but he did learn.


Mr. Barlow, if you would state your purpose, perhaps we could conclude any dealing Mr. Blankenship expects to have with Mr. Taylor.”


Indeed, indeed as I am sure we are both very busy men. There are actually three matters we are here to negotiate.”


And they are?” Mr. VanWinkle asked with a raised eyebrow.


First, there is a matter of Mr. Blankenship's partnership in Blankenship LLLP which, I understand, he stands to inherit from his late mother.”




There is his challenge to the agreement establishing Blankenship LLLP, a matter in which he has filed civil suit, but which we both know can take years in court to settle and we all, I'm sure, would like to get that settled and over with.”


There is a third?”


A rather delicate matter, but there is the question of a hundred thousand dollars deposited to Mr. Taylor's account by mistake, monies rightly belonging to Mr. Blankenship.”


Shall we start with the latter?” Mr. VanWinkle asked. “It is my understanding that a hundred thousand dollars were, in fact, deposited to Mr. Taylor's account, but there was no accounting for it. However, it was used, on Mr. Blankenship's word, as proof Mr. Taylor had sold company secrets.”


I think we are all adults here,” Mr. Barlow said. “We all know Mr. Blankenship was under the influence of drugs while the unpleasantness in Hawaii occurred.”


Which doesn't explain how a hundred thousand dollars belonging to Mr. Blankenship was mistakenly deposited to Mr. Taylor's account.”


Look, I was pissed at Dad for promoting you over me and I was pissed at you for being prudish about  keeping everything just between the two of us. I like a little variety, thank you. I was also enjoying the feeling I was getting from some of the stuff a new friend, Everett Sloane gave me.”


Mr. Blankenship, as you attorney, I advise you to keep quiet.”


I feel I must advise you as well,” Mr. VanWinkle said.


Shit no! Josh has to understand! Josh, you have to understand!” Kelly sounded desperate and no doubt was. “Everett suggested a way I could get even with Dad and you. He came up with a scheme to get you convicted of selling company secrets and I went along. The hundred thousand was part of the scheme, but would be mine when the dust settled. He gave me the idea of stealing the module and the computer and helped me do it. In return, I was to be CEO of the Blankenship division of  Thomson and Morgan. I only learned later he worked for them. He was also my dealer. So, it really was the dope that made me do it, but I should have the money. Besides, I owe it to some guys who play really rough.”


You can discuss that with the Feds, Mr. Barlow, as they seized it after Mr. Taylor renounced all knowledge and claim to it. As to the first matter, I certainly have no idea what Mr. Blankenship will or will not inherit from his mother, who is, at least legally, not deceased. You might contact Mr. James Davis about her will. Nonetheless, she held no partnership in Blankenship LLLP. Again, you may check with Mr. Davis concerning that. However, Mrs. Blankenship's residency and care at Care Haven has been paid for by Blankenship LLLP as part of that agreement. Further, I understand, Mr. Kelly Blankenship has been receiving a monthly stipend and a deposit was made to an account established in his name. Those benefits enjoyed by both Mrs. Blankenship and Mr. Blankenship are  a result of the agreement which you seem to be questioning now. Acceptance of the benefits of the agreement is certainly tacit acceptance of the agreement in which Mrs. Blankenship sold her partnership. I cannot imagine a judge ruling otherwise. Can you?” Mr. Barlow did not respond.


As to the matter of the civil suit, I believe the above will pretty much convince any reasonable judge there is no case. Mr. James Davis, on behalf of Mrs. Blankenship, has entered the case with us should our position not be enough to convince an unreasonable judge. In legal terms, Mr. Barlow, you and your client are up shit creek without a paddle. As soon as the civil suit is dropped, the money being held in escrow will be paid into Mr. Blankenship's account and the anniversary payment due him will be paid on time. However, since he is not presently in prison, he is not due the monthly stipend until he returns to prison, which I am sure he will do shortly.”


Josh was thinking and saw an opportunity to be rid of Kelly Blankenship once and for all. He glanced at Mr. VanWinkle and indicated he'd like to talk with him. “Gentlemen,” Mr. VanWinkle said, “if you'll excuse us a minute, we might have one other item of business to discuss with you.” He opened the door to a small conference room next to his office and said, “If you would please wait in the conference room for a few minutes.” As he flipped on the light, he also turned on the large TV in the room and happened to glance at it just as a CNN news reader said, “We are standing by to learn of the developments in the situation at the State House involving Rep. Chester Boles.” Kelly and Barlow practically shot through the door into the conference room. Needless to say, Josh and Mr. VanWinkle were interested as well. “Nancy, what are you hearing about the FBI raiding Rep. Boles' office and arresting him?”


Max, very little. I have learned that when Representative Boles' staff started arriving this morning, they were not allowed in their offices. His Chief of Staff reportedly called Rep. Boles and he appeared about an hour ago. He was served with a search warrant and not allowed to enter his office. Since that time, we understand he has been taken away, in handcuffs and the FBI have been carrying boxes from his and his Chief of Staff’s offices. Special Agent Ralph Milner has announced a press conference  sometime this afternoon. Rumors are flying involving bribes paid to secure release from prison of Kelly Blankenship, son of the late owner of Blankenship LTD, and a scheme involving selling Blankenship secrets to Thomson and Morgan, Blankenship's major competitor. Further rumors involve drugs, but all we  have now are rumors.”


Perhaps all will become clear at the press conference.”


We can hope.”


Both Kelly and Barlow looked as if they had seen a ghost. Mr. VanWinkle closed the conference door behind them and Josh said, “Looks like the jig is up for Kelly and I can't say I'm sorry. However, before the news broke, I was going to suggest paying Kelly the money in escrow and an additional twelve thousand which would pay for the stipend for ten years in prison and the final payment due for deposit next year in return for an agreement that any and all involvement with Blankenship LLLP and any and all employees, associates and anyone or thing else will cease. ”


Still sounds like a good idea to me and I suspect they'll take it because I'm sure they have bigger worries right now.”


How quickly can you get the paperwork done?”


I thought about something along the same lines and have a contract which, with a couple changes, will do the job.”


You make the changes and I'll talk to the two.”


You think that's wise?”


Not really, but something I need to do.”


Josh went to the conference room where two very glum men sat. “Mr. Barlow, I don't know how involved you are in the mess that appears to be evolving, but I suspect maybe more than merely as Kelly's lawyer. I think you know your goose is cooked and that Kelly's is overdone. Kelly, I am sure Mr. Barlow is smart enough to tell you you face a very long time in prison for what you have done and tried to do and before you start thinking you can lie, bribe and con you way out of it all, everything said in the office today was video recorded by an independent company who will certify the tapes.


Kelly, I don't know what we could have had together. Maybe nothing more than being good friends and fuck-buddies, but you trashed that. You have tried, time and again, to destroy me. The only reason I won’t just leave you totally hanging in the wind is because of your father who was like a father to me and your mother, her only because the Old Man worshiped her. It would be very easy for me just to have security kick your ass out of this office without anything except what you have already gotten from Blankenship LLLP. Mr. Barlow can tell you if we wanted, we could send your ass up the river for the rest of your screwed up life, but I won’t and Blankenship LLLP won’t.


I say all of that so you know that the soft spot you are about to witness in me has to do with your parents, not you. Mr. VanWinkle will arrive shortly with a contract which will pay you the money in escrow and prepay the stipend for ten years in prison and the second deposit to you account. In return, you will sign away all rights, claims, etc. you hold or imagine you hold against Blankenship LLLP, me and any and all employees, staff, associates, etc. We're both taking a gamble here, you that you won't have to serve more than ten years in prison and I that you won't serve less, but I am willing to give you the money even if you never go back to prison. In regard to you reducing your mother's accommodations and pocketing the difference I will ignore so far as you are concerned. That is between you and your conscience, if you have one. The partnership will, however, be suing Care Haven.”


Mr. VanWinkle entered and said, “Gentlemen, here is the contract Mr. Taylor mentioned. Mr. Blankenship, take your time going over it with Mr. Barlow. When you are satisfied or wish clarification or changes, I'll be next door.”


Half an hour later, the two came into Mr. VanWinkle's office, ready to sign. That done, they were ushered out of the building by security.


Josh was halfway out of  Mr. VanWinkle's office when the lawyer's phone rang and he held up his hand for him to wait while he answered it. When he hung up, he said, “Josh, that was James Davis. He tried to reach you at home and when he could not, called here. When I told him of the agreement Kelly had signed, he said in that case he saw no reason you shouldn’t know what is in Mrs. Blankenship’s will in regards to Kelly since it involves the two of you. She never revised her will after she changed it when she had Kelly's apartment searched and he went to prison. She knew Kelly pretty well and her will sets up a trust fund with you as  the sole trustee. There is a rather sizable amount of money in it. As trustee, you are to receive a fourth of the interest income as payment for administering the fund. So long as Kelly is in prison he is to receive a hundred dollars a month from the fund’s income and the balance is to be added to the principle. When he is out of prison and so long as he is out, he is to receive three fourths of the monthly interest. She further stipulates that at Kelly’s death, you or the trustee who you appoint to replace you, has sole discretion in regard to interest and principle. Further, she directs that should her directive concerning her end be carried out, you and James Davis are to be in attendance, if possible. Should Kelly not be present, her wishes for the machines to be turned off is still to be carried out.


I never suspected Mrs. Blankenship would give me the time of day, but of course, I'll be there.”


Josh, she obviously thought much of you before her dementia confused her and her thinking. I'll be thinking about you.”


Thank you, thank you very much.”


It was afternoon when Josh left Mr. VanWinkle's office. He has just started toward the apartment when his phone rang. Never one to use the phone while driving, he was happy to spot a place to pull over just ahead.  When he saw it was the apartment phone, he got a huge smile on his face. He flipped the phone open and said, So how's my barefoot boy?


Mr. Taylor, I'm Office Winters with the San Francisco Police Department. . . .


Officer,” Josh's heart was pounding, is Alex all right?


I believe so, Mr. Taylor. When can you get here?


Ten or fifteen minutes, Officer. Can I speak to Alex?


Right now he is occupied, Mr. Taylor. I'll have him call as soon as he can.


He is all right, though.


He is, just needed a bit of cleaning up.


Thank you, Officer. Ill be home as fast as possible,” Josh said, very confused about what was going on. He did not spare the horses and pulled into his apartment parking slot ten minutes later and ran up the stairs, not wanting to wait for the elevator. As he approached his apartment, he was surprised to see the door standing open and more so when he stepped inside and saw no one. Alex?” he called.


In here, Mr. Taylor,” someone called from the bedroom.


When Josh stepped into the bedroom, he saw Alex sitting on the bed, covered with blood. There was blood all over the room. A female officer sat by Alex, wiping blood from his face. What the hell is going on? Babe, are you ok?


Alex looked up and grinned, Son of a bitch tried to handcuff me. He'll regret it for a long time.


What happened?


I was sleeping when I heard someone trying to get in the door and grabbed one of the swords. Two guys came in and one of them grabbed me, as he did, I slashed him across the face with the sword. The other one grabbed my wrist and I kinda went ape-shit when he  snapped a handcuff on it and started slashing him. He got a hand cuff on one wrist, but I hit him in the leg and belly and he started gushing blood. Meanwhile a neighbor heard me yelling and called the police and here we are. I'm going to take a shower and change clothes if it's ok.


Go ahead,” the lady officer said. When Alex left, she walked over to Josh and said, Mr. Taylor, I am Officer Casey. We have a crime scene unit on it's way. The two perps are in the emergency room under guard. One of them just may not make it. Mr. Bledsoe got the first one in the facelots of blood  and much of it in his eyes, so he backed off, but no serious damage done. Well, nothing that fifty or so stitches wont patch up. The other one is a horse of a different color. He has a bad belly wound and Mr. Bledsoe nicked an artery in his leg and it sprayed blood all over the place. He is in critical condition. Had Mr. Bledsoe cut him a quarter of an inch deeper, he would no longer be among us.


When Officer Winters and I arrived and went into the bedroom, Mr. Bledsoe was standing in the corner threatening to kill them if they touched him. As he said, he kinda went ape. It took some sweet talking before he would allow us to come into thr room, handcuff the two and do emergency first aide. Fortunately, we used the plastic ties instead of regular handcuff, otherwise, I think he might have attacked us.


That is a very real possibility. You heard of New Beginnings in Utah?


Who hasn't.


Mr. Bledsoe was there. When he thinks he is being restrained, he does go wild. I have been on the receiving end of one such episode.


Mr. Taylor. . .Josh Taylor, one of the raiders on that place?


Yeah, one of many.


Well, that explains why Mr. Bledsoe was so ferocious, but why was he attacked?


That sure doesn't make sense unless they broke in expecting no one was here. Nothing really, valuable here, but enough to keep someone in drugs a day or two, I suppose. Well, that's not quite true. If their fence happened to be knowledgeable about Asian artifacts, some here are pretty valuable and the swords practically priceless.


Why would they have handcuffs if they came to burgle? Doesn't make sense and apparently they went straight to the bedroom. No, I think they came for Mr. Bledsoe or you.


The second officer stepped into the bedroom, extended his hand and said, Officer Winters, Mr. Taylor. I think you are right Officer Casey. I think their intention was to kidnap you or Mr. Bledsoe.


Officer Winters,” Josh said, extending his hand, Why would they kidnap us? What would they get out of that?


“ I suspect they were after you or Mr. Bledsoe in a kidnapping for ransom, but maybe not. Know anyone with a grudge?


Well, I'm in business, so there's always someone ready to figuratively cut my throat, but actually? No, unless they were connected to New Beginnings.


Well, we'll look into that. Have any place you can stay tonight? We have a crime scene unit on the way and it will be here shortly, but they will be here awhile and you have a mess to get cleaned up after they leave.


We'll find a place.


Keep us advised of where you are. I have your cell number. Now check on Mr. Bledsoe.


Damn! I am a fool,” Josh said and ran to the bathroom. His fear was realized when he found Alex on the floor of the shower, curled into a ball, the shower still running. He turned off the shower, wrapped Alex in a towel and called out for  the officers. Both came running. Will you please help me? If one of you would go next door and see if anyone is home and if so, bring him, please,” tears were streaming down Josh's face. Two minutes later, Officer Winters reappeared accompanied by Cândido. Cândido, will you please take Alex? I'll explain everything in a minute. Right now I have to get his medicine.


Of course,” Cândido said. I will take him to our guest room.


Officers, I have to go to our room and get Alex's medicine. He goes into such as state as you see him when something causes a flashback to New Beginnings. Why I didn't realize this was likely to happen and accompany him to the bathroom, I do not know, but it was a damn fool thing to do.


Officer Casey was pulling on latex gloves as Josh talked and say, Touch as little as possible and let me open any drawer or whatever.”  


The vial with Alex's medicine, hypodermic and alcohol swabs are in a pouch in the bedside table nearest the door if you want to just go get it for me.”


Officer Casey practically ran into the room and returned with the pouch and Josh ran next door. Cândido had dried Alex and lay him in the middle of the bed. He was leaning over Alex chanting softly. Josh swabbed a spot on Alex’s ass and injected the medicine. Almost immediately Alex started uncurling and was soon deep in relaxed sleep.


Thank you, Officer, Cândido. I really feel rotten that I let him go to the shower, but he seemed as though the attack was no big deal. I was a fool.”


Maybe so, maybe no,” Officer Casey said. “I know from my handicapped brother the line between helping and over-protecting is very fine. Will he be ok now?”


He will sleep six to eight hours and wake up as though nothing had happened. He needs someone with him, so I'll stay with him.”


Everything under control?” Officer Winters asked as he walked into the guest room.


Everything's under control, at least so far as Alex is concerned. There's the matter of getting the apartment cleaned and I am supposed to be present when life support is turned off for my late boss's wife. Know a good cleaning service for handling blood, guts and gore?”


The department would frown on our recommending anyone for anything,” Office Casey said. “Conflict of interest.”


'Granting that and the fact that Officer Casey is close to the situation, it would be less kosher for her than me. You didn't hear it from me, but one of the best blood, guts and gore cleaning services, and for cleaning in general, is After the Ball is Over. It is owned by Officer Casey's brother, so forget where you heard it.”


Never heard a word,” Josh said, grabbed a phone book, looked up the number and dialed it.


After the Ball is Over, this is Kenneth Casey.”


Mr. Casey, I have been told when it comes to blood, guts and gore, you're the best. I have an apartment soaked in blood. Not sure about guts and gore, but that's possible. I'd like the blood and gore gone, but the whole apartment detailed. I am showing it tomorrow and would like it done by then. Is that possible?”


Maybe. What's the address? I have an hour right now and could take a look if it's not too far.”


Josh gave him the address and he said, “You're in luck. My crew is working a job six blocks away and I just came by to check on it, I'll be there is ten minutes.”


As Josh hung up the phone, Officer Casey said the crime scene unit had arrived and started work. “They will be finished in an hour, hour and a half, but aside from the bedroom, the rest of your place is free.”


Josh went into the guest room where Cândido  sat watching Alex. “Cândido, could Alex and I camp out here for the next day or so?”


Of course. As a matter of fact, since you are planning on leasing your apartment, why don't you just stay here until you leave? The cleaners have to do their thing and the movers will pack everything. What clothes you will be wearing and your toiletries will be all you need.”


Thanks, Cândido, that will be a big help. Hate to keep asking for things, but I really need to be at the hospital at seven when the life support machines for Mrs. Blankenship are turned off. Unless something very different happens, Alex will sleep peacefully until morning, but he does need someone around.”


Think nothing of it, Josh, we are friends and brothers.” He hugged Josh.


I am going to miss you,” Josh said, and returned the hug.


There was a knock on the door and when Cândido opened it, a young man with two elbow crutches said, “I'm Kenneth Casey and I am looking for Josh Taylor.”


I'm Josh.”


I have had a look at the apartment. You want the whole thing done, detailed?”


I do.”


We are talking serious money, Mr. Taylor, really serious money if it has to be done by tomorrow afternoon since I'll have to have a crew working tonight and that's expensive.”


Do it, Mr. Casey. Do you need a deposit?”


I usually don't require one, but since I have to field a night crew, I won't turn it down.”


A check for a thousand?”


It would be welcome, but unnecessary as the final bill will probably be in the neighborhood of fifteen hundred. I can give you an exact figure after I have a chance to really look the place over, especially the bedroom which I just glanced at. Was someone murdered there? I can't imagine anyone losing that much blood and surviving.”


Well, actually, there were two, but most of the blood was from one. I understand the doctors offered no hope he would survive when he was brought in, but they say he does have a chance. Of course, there's the gut part of the picture as well. His gut was opened and that's always serious.” Josh then told him what had occurred.


What's going on?” Luc asked as he walked through the door.


Just the usual attempted kidnapping and defense by a samurai,” Cândido  said. “Same old, same old.”


Yeah,” Josh said, “just the same old, same old.”


Luc looked ready to strangle the two.


 Chapter Fifty-eight
Logos and Mottos

Josh told Luc what had happened and how the police suspected it was an attempted kidnapping. “From what Alex said and what the police deduced, the two seemed to know exactly where to go, and I guess, that only one of us was home. A neighbor called the police when she heard Alex screaming.”


You heard nothing, Cândido? Luc asked.


I guess savage jungle boy slipped up. Actually, I had just gotten home and  hadn’t even put my things down when the officer came to ask me for help with Alex, so I wasn’t here when it all went down. I didn’t notice the apartment door being open, but I guess I wouldn’t since you don’t pass it coming from the stairs and I walked up. Wait a minute! Remember my commenting on the car following us? I bet they have been watching you and Alex coming and going. I’m sure if the police look, they will find the car in the neighborhood. I’ll go speak to them.


Cândido went next door and told the police about the car and gave them a description of it. Officer Winters said he would call it in and get some help searching the neighborhood for the car.


At six Josh left for the hospital and the unpleasant task of witnessing the machines keeping Mrs. Blankenship ‘alive’ being turned off. He met James Davis in the lobby and the two of them went to the room where Mrs. Blankenship was. Neither was surprised by Kelly’s absence. Three doctors were in the room and each examined Mrs. Blankenship and noted the flat line of the brain activity measuring devise. Promptly at seven, the life support machines were turned off. One of the doctors had told the two men that in some instances although heart and respiration should cease immediately when the machines were disconnected, it didn’t happen. “Would seem impossible, but it happens. A reminder that a human body is not just a simple machine.” It didn’t happen in this case.


I was disappointed, but not surprised that Kelly wasn’t present,” Josh said. “Seems to me, that was the least he could do.”


Josh, you still have a blind spot when it comes to Kelly. The only concern, the absolute only concern, the man has is for Kelly. That has been true as long as I have known him and that goes back to the second grade. I tried to call him today, but was never able to reach his cell—it was out of service—and no one answered the landline. Mrs. Blankenships ashes will be interred Saturday at eleven if you want to be present. There will be no service.”


I’ll be there.”


When he got back to the apartment, the crime scene unit was just finishing up. Officer Casey and Winters were just waiting until they had packed up and they would lock the apartment and leave. “Mr. Taylor,” Officer Winters said, “your observant friend has provided a major clue. The car was located and inside was a packet creating two people. Unfortunately, that has proven little help in identifying who the two are now. There were also plane tickets to Newark and from Newark to Los Angeles and from there to Cambodia—a country without an extradition treaty with the US, but I suspect that was only a stop off. Well, we are going. Give us a call if anything comes up or Mr. Bledsoe remembers anything more,” he said, handing Josh as card. Josh shook hands with both officers and they left.


When he went next door, Luc said, “Josh, I have ordered dinner, but put it on hold until you got back. I’ll give the go ahead on that. Cândido hasn’t left Alex’s side since he was brought him here.”


Josh went into the guest room where Cândido was watching Alex closely. “I wanted time to observe Alex closely and have been doing so in hopes I could determine which of what Luc calls my ‘mumbo-jumbo’ would be helpful. Luc kinda laughs at it, but I notice he is always willing to make use of it when he’s sick. Has worked for us savages for a few hundred years and has never hurt anyone.”


Cândido, I have great respect for you and your Bororo heritage. I also love and respect you as a friend. I would be honored to have you care for Alex.”


Thank you,” he replied, “and this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t call his Boulder doctors.”


Josh did just that and talked to both Shawn and Henry. Shawn had said the attack was enough to throw anyone for a loop and he wasn’t surprised Alex had reacted as he did. Henry agreed. Henry didn’t want to change his medicine—Alex was actually taking none —but did tell Josh to keep the shot and pink pills handy for emergencies. Shawn and Josh talked and agreed that Alex needed to talk with him, so Josh set up an appointment for Thursday afternoon. He and Alex had planned to leave Boulder Wednesday, but a day one way or another no longer mattered as they were free of obligation except to each other and Sentinel Mountain.


Luc came in and said dinner would be there in twenty minutes. As Cândido and Josh watched Alex, Josh asked the question which was always just below the surface, “Why would anyone want to hurt someone as beautiful, loving and caring as Alex?”


He hardly expected an answer, but Cândido said quietly, “Modern civilizations have pushed evil out of the world blaming it on first one thing and then another—heredity, care as an infant, sexual, verbal, physical abuse, etc.--so a person bears no responsibility for his or her actions. Some of us savages believe there are evil spirits in the world and a person has the power to allow them inside or banish them, the choice belongs to the individual. If one chooses to allow an evil spirit to live inside, then evil becomes his good. Primitive, sure, but it is one way to talk about an individual’s responsibility for his own behavior.” Josh nodded.


After dinner, the three talked awhile and suddenly Luc said, “I still haven’t found the art department.”


Have you looked at the directory, Lover Mine?” Cândido grinned. Luc blushed. “Leave it to the civilized boy to make simple things complicated, but he's worth putting up with his flaws.”


Not that you have any, Dark Lover,” Luc said and leaned over and kissed Cândido.


In all the excitement, I forgot about the design Linda was doing.”


Surprise, surprise,” Luc said. “One of us can stay with Alex in the morning and you can go over and look at it.”


Maybe Linda can just email it, but I’ll worry about that tomorrow. No one will have to stay with Alex unless he responds differently this time. He will wake up in the morning, a bit groggy, but otherwise, it will be as if nothing happened.”


Josh sent a fax to Liam telling him an emergency had come up and  he would have the designs to him by noon Friday and they would not pick up the truck and trailer until Thursday morning early. The stress of the day hit him and he said goodnight to Luc and Cândido and went to bed. As soon as he was in bed, Alex spooned himself into his back, put an arm over him and sighed.


Next morning, Josh awoke to see Alex leaning over him smiling. They exchanged a kiss and both headed to the bathroom. Luc and Cândido were in the kitchen and said breakfast would be ready in twenty minutes. “How are you, Alex?” Luc asked.


Fine. Hell of a lot better shape than either of those jokers are who tried to handcuff me.”


I’m sure. Well, shower and get dressed and we’ll have breakfast.”


They showered together and as they were drying each other, Josh said, “Barefoot Boy, I faxed Liam about the design last night and told him we wouldn’t pick up the truck and trailer until Thursday morning. We’ll fly into Pueblo, pick them up and be in Boulder for late lunch. It’s only a two and a half hour drive. I talked to Henry and Shawn last night and both were not surprised that the attack had provoked your reaction. Henry didn’t want you back on any medicine and only reminded me to keep the pink pill and injection handy. Shawn scheduled an appointment at four Thursday, but said only if you would like it as he thought your reaction was perfectly normal given your history at New Beginnings.”


 When Luc got to the office, things were all abuzz over the attempted kidnapping and Alex's stopping it. Promptly at nine, Prue called Luc “Luc, there is a Linda Graham on the line. Says she's the art department.”


She is, put her through.”


This is Luc.”


Mr. Soares. . . .”


Blankenship policy, Linda, it's Luc.”


Well, Luc, I need to contact Josh. It's kinda urgent since because of all the excitement yesterday, we didn't get together on a design he needs by noon today and he hasn't approved the go ahead on one. Know how I can contact him?”


Sure, he's at my place. Could you fax him a copy or email it?”


I could, but I think he needs to see them full-size as what I think he wants and what he asked for aren't exactly the same thing. I think he'll want my suggestion rather than his.”


He's usually pretty sure he knows what he wants. Maybe if I take a look.”


Sure. Do you know where the art department is.”


Sorry to say I don't. Like Josh, I didn't know we had one until Josh told me. I mean to change that and promised Josh I would. Where are you?”


Two floors down. Turn left off the elevator.”


Luc hung up, walked out of his office and said, 'Elizabeth, Prue, have all my calls directed to the art department and come with me.” The three rode the elevator down and saw the art department sign.


After introductions, Linda said, “I have a set up so I can project the designs as they will appear on a generic truck and trailer. First, Josh wanted the truck to be identified with Sentinel Mountain with Sentinel Rock as it’s, I guess, trademark, symbol, logo  and sent several photos to be the of the center of the logo. The words ‘Sentinel Mountain’ to arch above and ‘Wren, North Carolina’ below. I selected two and based three designs on them. First, the one with just the  rock. Then two with a figure, one seated on a boulder at the edge of Sentinel Rock and one as a sentinel. Here's how they would look with the lettering. Josh was concerned that using the one with the figure on the boulder would mean he could be identified, so a little help with Photoshop, I managed to change it. The sentinel not only underscores the name, but also honors the men of Elijah's WWII camp.”  The figure was dressed in a WWII style uniform with a rifle over his shoulder.


I don't think Josh will go along with the figure with the rifle as Sentinel Mountain seems to be homing in on being about Boys' Camp,” Luc said. “I suspect for many who are there, guns are bad news. I think it would be a toss up between the other two as to which Josh would choose.” Both Prue and Elizabeth nodded.


Both are really great,” Prue said. “Is the place as wonderful as it appears in photos?”


Indeed it is and I'm sure you'll see it before too long once he and Alex are there permanently.”


The trailer design is really different from what he suggested. Here's what he asked for.” The same two pictures of Sentinel Rock had been used and standing, rampant,  on one side was a black Mustang and on the other a white Mangalarga Marchador with black mane.


I can see Josh wanting that, but what's your suggestion?”


Linda projected her suggestion, 'head shots' of the same two horses, facing forward, manes flying in the wind. There was no question. The three agreed that it was the design to be used. Luc immediately called his apartment and asked Cândido to talk to Josh.


I have neither seen nor heard from them this morning.”


Well, Josh has a trip to NC hanging on getting their horses there and that depends on his approving a design. It has to be in the dealer's hands by noon, so best he get over here as he needs to see them full scale.”


I'll see what I can do.” Cândido walked to the guest room door and tapped softly.


Josh answered, “We're decent.”


Cândido  said, “Luc called and said you needed to see some design full scale and your approval needed to be done before noon. It's quarter of ten now.”


Thanks. We're on our way in twenty minutes.” Alex was now awake and the two showered together, got dressed and Josh grabbed a cup of coffee and Alex one of Bororo tea and they were off. Luc, Elizabeth and Prue had waited for them to see what they thought of the two designs. Luc had suggested Linda show her suggestion for the trailer first and when he saw it, Alex said “That's it!”


Josh wasn't ready to give up his idea until it was projected. He immediately said, “Well, I can't be right all the time. When showed the truck design, he studied all three—one with him sitting on the edge of the rock, one with a man with a rifle across his shoulder and one bare. “Before I say anything, what's your opinions?”


The Old Man can't make a decision,” Prue chuckled. “I don't believe it, but I think the one with the man with a rifle is too much if the focus of Sentinel Mountain is to be Boys' Camp and if I were in your shoes, I don't know that I'd want my face plastered all over the place and I suspect this will not be the last time the design is used.”


Well. I tried to make sure his face couldn't be identified,” Linda said.


I think you accomplished that, but anyone seeing the design and knowing Josh will supply the face.”


True,” Luc said. “I go with the plain lookout.”


There were nods all around until Alex said, “I love all three, but let's be honest, for the angle in that picture, it appears the valley below is just trees.”


True, but is that bad?” Elizabeth asked. “The focus is one Sentinel Rock, not what goes on in the valley which would be hard to discern even if the whole valley was in the photo.”


I agree with all of you. The plain Sentinel Rock is it and, Linda, I love the lettering. Get it to the dealer so he can get an airbrush artist busy working on it, but I did fax him that we wouldn't be there to pick up the truck and trailer until Thursday.”


Linda walked to her computer and send the files to the dealer in Colorado, noting that he had until early Thursday to get the truck and trailer ready.


Now that that's done, hang on to the originals because I agree, we'll be using then again. In your free time, with Luc's permission, how about working on what we need for Boys' Camp and school--shield, mascot, flags, whatever schools use. Oh, and that includes uniforms—everyday, dress and formal,” Josh said. All based on Elijah's fiery chariot and horses.  Know the story?”


Of Boys' Camp? No. Elijah's chariot? Vaguely,” Linda said.


Well, when it came Elijah's time to go, a fiery chariot with fiery horses took him into heaven.”  Boys' Camp will use Elijah's horses and chariot as its symbol because it's purpose if to take boys to a better place in life and to honor the man who first started it, Elijah Taylor. Long story. The name will be changed to honor Elijah—Elijah's House, House of Elijah, and  Elijah’s Chariot are in the running.


And just when will that be decided?” Alex asked.


I guess it's been brewing after we talked about it, but really, it will be decided on the Mountain. Rob called and said they debated a name and House of Elijah and Elijah's House were the top choices and  they couldn't decide, but decided to try them out and while almost everyone like the House of Elijah, it gets too cumbersome quickly, so they seem to be leaning toward Elijah's House and Elijah's Chariot. May end up with anyone of the three, or something else, but we'll use the horses and chariot symbol in any case. By the way, he said Louise welcomed you on her team, Alex”


Her team?” Alex asked.


Yeah, her 'We will have a Girls' Camp' team. Linda, the motto is 'To strive, to seek, to find and not to yield. Excelsior!'


I love it!” Prue said.


I have ever since I learned 'Ulysses' in high school and I love adding 'Excelsior” since it points a direction for seeking,” Elizabeth said.


Fantastic!' Alex agreed.


Since you all seem to know something about the motto, I assume it has a history?”


It does, 'To strive, to seek, to find, and to to yield,” is the last line in the English poet Alfred Lord Tennyson's 'Ulysses.' 'Excelsior' is the motto of the state of New York and the title of poems by two American poets, Walt Whitman and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. I had in mind the Whitman poem:


Who has gone farthest? for I would go farther,
And who has been just? for I would be the most just person of the earth,
And who most cautious? for I would be more cautious,
And who has been happiest? O I think it is I--I think no one was
ever happier than I,
And who has lavish'd all? for I lavish constantly the best I have,
And who proudest? for I think I have reason to be the proudest son
alive--for I am the son of the brawny and tall-topt city,
And who has been bold and true? for I would be the boldest and
truest being of the universe,
And who benevolent? for I would show more benevolence than all the rest,
And who has receiv'd the love of the most friends? for I know what
it is to receive the passionate love of many friends,
And who possesses a perfect and enamour'd body? for I do not believe
any one possesses a more perfect or enamour'd body than mine,
And who thinks the amplest thoughts? for I would surround those thoughts,
And who has made hymns fit for the earth? for I am mad with
devouring ecstasy to make joyous hymns for the whole earth.


I understand,” Luc said, “Fantastic!”


Maybe we can talk about the Boys'Camp a bit at lunch. It's almost noon and lunch is on me. A really nice place and I guess Prue, you or Elizabeth need to make reservations. Oh! Linda keep track of your time as this is a personal project.”


Linda, when we get back, I want to speak with you about an arrangement which I think will benefit both you and Blankenship LLLP.”


After they were seated and had ordered drinks, Prue asked about Boys' Camp and added further, “Why are you not honoring the whole history of Boys Camp? Why call it Elijah's House or House of Elijah or Elijah's Chariot? Why not call it Camp Elijah's to acknowledge both it's place in WWII history when it was a training camp fro brave young men not unlike those you'll be recruiting for the new Boys' Camp and  Boys' Camp which followed?


Good question,” Josh said, took out his phone and called Rob to put Camp Elijah in the pot. When he completed the call he said, “You wanted to know about Boys' Camp. . . .”


Alex laughed. “Josh said he’s tell you a little about it, but if he gets started, it may be dinner before we get to leave.”


It’ll have to be short as we have a possible tenant looking at our apartment at three, I’m assuming it will be presentable by then. After the Ball started working yesterday and were really doing a fine job. A crew worked last night and Kenneth Casey promised we could move back in today, but Luc and Cândido asked why we didn’t just camp out with them while all the packing was done.  The movers are coming at four to take a look at what we will be moving and what we will be leaving. They will be packing tomorrow.”


It was approaching two thirty when the Blankenship group returned to the office and Josh and Alex headed to the apartment.


When they had a look at the job After the Ball had done, Alex said, “Josh, this apartment has never been this clean before, I’m sure. They did an unbelievable job.”


Yeah, it’s like it has never been lived in.”


It still says ‘Josh lives here with Alex,” Alex said as he pulled Josh into his arms for a long passionate kiss. Josh could feel Alex’s erection pressing against his leg, but also felt Alex start to go rigid. They had assumed intense flashbacks were over for Alex, but the attack had, obviously, had more impact on Alex than either realized. Hoping he would snap out of the attack as he had done several times rather than having a full attack as yesterday, Josh held him, stroking his back and singing softly until he realized Alex was not recovering. He quickly took him to the bathroom and held him for the stomach emptying he anticipated. He was not wrong in his assessment of the situation as he had barely gotten him positioned above the toilet when Alex started explosive vomiting. When his stomach was empty, he relaxed and said, “Beloved, I think we just had a close call.”


Josh nodded. “I was just going for the pink pill. Do you think you need it?” he asked as he continued to hold Alex and stroke his arms. Alex shook his head. He was relaxed, so he rinsed his mouth, brushed his teeth and then kissed Josh tenderly, with muted passion.


Josh called Mr. VanWinkle and told him what had happened yesterday and the fact that Kelly hadn't shown up at his mother's bedside last evening . Mr. VanWinkle asked if Alex was up for dinner and when Josh asked Alex, he took the phone and assured Mr. VanWinkle he was. Alex especially was looking forward to it because Alex and Bull had not really had a chance to properly meet each other.



Maybe we can talk about the Boys'Camp a bit at lunch. It's almost noon and lunch is on me. A really nice place and I guess Prue, you or Elizabeth need to make reservations. Oh! Linda keep track of your time as this is a personal project.”


Linda, when we get back, I want to speak with you about an arrangement which I think will benefit both you and Blankenship LLLP.”


After they were seated and had ordered drinks, Prue asked about Boys' Camp and added further, “Why are you not honoring the whole history of Boys Camp? Why call it Elijah's House or House of Elijah or Elijah's Chariot? Why not call it Camp Elijah's to acknowledge both it's place in WWII history when it was a training camp fro brave young men not unlike those you'll be recruiting for the new Boys' Camp and  Boys' Camp which followed?


Good question,” Josh said, took out his phone and called Rob to put Camp Elijah in the pot. When he completed the call he said, “You wanted to know about Boys' Camp. . . .”


Alex laughed. “Josh said he’s tell you a little about it, but if he gets started, it may be dinner before we get to leave.”


It’ll have to be short as we have a possible tenant looking at our apartment at three, I’m assuming it will be presentable by then. After the Ball started working yesterday and were really doing a fine job. A crew worked last night and Kenneth Casey promised we could move back in today, but Luc and Cândido asked why we didn’t just camp out with them while all the packing was done.  The movers are coming at four to take a look at what we will be moving and what we will be leaving. They will be packing tomorrow.”


It was approaching two thirty when the Blankenship group returned to the office and Josh and Alex headed to the apartment.


When they had a look at the job After the Ball had done, Alex said, “Josh, this apartment has never been this clean before, I’m sure. They did an unbelievable job.”


Yeah, it’s like it has never been lived in.”


Chapter Fifty-nine

The Godfather and DAs




At three, Josh and Alex had just finished their inspection of the apartment when there was a knock on the door. When Josh opened it, a couple were standing there. Before he could speak, the man said, “Hi, I’m Gary Carson and this is my wife Judy. We’re looking for Josh Taylor.”


Come in, I’m Josh. When they stepped inside, Josh said, “Gary and Judy, my husband, Alex Bledsoe. We were just looking over our apartment after the cleaning service finished with it. We had some excitement here yesterday and had a cleaning service in to clean up.”


Nice to met you, Gary, Judy. Sorry I have to run, but if you'll excuse me,” Alex said, “Josh, Cândido wants to do something with me. I'll be back in an hour, hour and a half.” He gave Josh a quick kiss and left.


Josh explained the excitement and said, “Why don't you just make yourselves at home, look over the apartment, open the closets, look under the beds, whatever. The movers are coming this afternoon and will pack what we are taking with us -- essentially our clothing and personal things and all the Asian artifacts. Anything you would like aside from those can stay and the rest -- furniture, whatever -- will be put in storage. I'll be next door.”


Josh and Alex had spent some time looking over the things in the apartment and finally decided, as Josh had told the Carsons, all the Asian artifacts, but nothing else except their clothes and personal items, including the computer would be going. The computer had too much Blankenship material on it to leave and Josh didn't want to take the time to save what needed saving and clean the drives. It was easier just to take it.


Gary and Judy spent half an hour looking over the apartment and then came next door to get Josh. When they went back to the apartment together, Judy said, “First off, I, we, love the apartment just as it is. We have been traveling light since we married and own practically nothing except clothing and personal stuff. Sorry you're taking the Asian artifacts.”


I especially love the swords. They are wonderful reproductions,” Gary said.


Josh laughed. “Contrary to what the Japanese government tells you, some authentic ones do leave Japan. Those are authentic and they work as two men in the prison ward of the hospital can tell you. When they attempted to kidnap Alex yesterday, he grabbed one of the swords and fought off one and gave the other a couple of near fatal wounds. He's not out of the woods yet.” Shawn had told his roommate that Alex had been in New Beginnings since it was common knowledge, but didn't tell him he was on his treatment team.


Josh said, “There is one other thing. Our neighbors are very special friends and to be honest, you'll have to pass muster with them. Cândido is an anthropologist. Luc, his husband, is CEO of Blankenship LLLP. Both are Brazilian. Cândido's father was Portuguese and his mother a Brazilian Indian, a Bororo. Luc is Portuguese. If you like, we are going out tomorrow night and I am sure they would be happy for you to join us. We are having dinner then going to a club which features music from the fifties, sixties and seventies and Brazilian music. I'll check on that if you like, but the club is mostly gay if that bothers you.”


Not at all,” Judy said. “Dress code?”


Brazilian or one of the three decades, and I will warn you, Cândido, being Bororo, will be wearing mostly feathers and piercings and not a lot more.”


Sounds like fun. And they let Cândido into restaurants dressed like that?” Gary asked.


Apparently, as Luc set it up. If you are interested, I'll check with them and let you know.”


Do. Will be a good chance to get to know them and them us,” Judy said.


I would introduce you to Cândido now, but he's caring for Alex. He's a shaman and has been doing whatever a Bororo shaman can do for Alex. Shawn... Oh, Shawn was, I suppose still is, on Alex’s treatment team although Alex has officially been discharged -- anyway, after Alex had spent an afternoon with Cândido together, Shawn said he was way ahead of where he expected him to be. Now, about the lease.”


We are prepared to sign a two-year lease if the price is right since we want to make sure San Francisco is where we want to live and work.”


They discussed that and very quickly came to an agreement. A realtor would be managing the property and Josh said as soon as they had Luc and Cândido's stamp of approval, they could go by and sign the lease, pick up the keys and move in. “As a matter of fact, I think you can plan to move in anytime after you are up and about Sunday morning.”


When the Carsons left, Josh went next door and found Alex drinking tea Cândido brewed after he had performed some ceremonies for him. Cândido told the two he had observed Alex sleeping and thought he could help him with some Bororo medicine, “but, Josh, you need to keep his medicine readily available. I can't tell the future, as I have said, but I can tell you, he will be a mature man before he no longer has serious flashbacks if he has sharp reminders of New Beginnings. I suspect all who were in that place for any time at all will as well.” He didn't say so, but I learned later Cândido had contacted as many therapists of those from that hellhole as he could locate and offered to provide medicine and even personal healing sessions for them. It was a pity that less than ten percent of those with whom he talked accepted his offer. The therapists had later got together and wrote medical journal articles of these experiences. All their patients were definitely helped by Cândido's 'mumbo-jumbo'. Shawn, Helen and Henry also wrote articles for journals which included notes about Cândido.


Friday afternoon late, Alex and Josh went to aviation services in Oakland where the planes were kept when they were in town and met Walt. “How’s the fellow from Crockett enjoying San Francisco?” Josh asked. “Sorry he ended up in a hotel.”


Walt laughed. “He’s not. Says he’s never known such luxury. He was having a ball until the tremor yesterday. I hadn’t noticed it, but he said he wanted the ground to stay still under his feet. Well, I have made all the arrangements to get the planes to the Mountain. I will fly the turbo as soon as your things are loaded and I have finished up my business here. I have a co-pilot lined up to fly with you and Alex to Pueblo Thursday morning very early. The co-pilot will become the pilot for the trip to the Mountain and is picking up a co-pilot in Pueblo.” Alex and Josh would pick up the truck and trailer and drive to Boulder.


That taken care of, they drove to that special Italian restaurant in Oakland. When they walked into the restaurant, Alex whispered, “Are you sure this place is safe? I expect to see the godfather any minute.”


You will in about three minutes. This is probably the safest place in a hundred-mile radius,” Josh laughed and headed to the table where he saw Mr. VanWinkle and Bull sitting. “Josh! Alex!” Bull's voice roared across the restaurant. When they reached the table, Bull was standing, he grabbed first Josh then Alex and kissed them on both cheeks. “Sit, Sit.” As they seated themselves, Alex looked a little overwhelmed and Bull said, “You know, one of the many things I can't understand about you Mormons, even you ex-Mormons. You are cold-blooded, just like June and his crowd. When Italians meet, there's going to be some Italian spit exchanged, but I guess the cold blood doesn't carry over to the bed, huh? Mario,” he bellowed, “where's the vino?”


Coming, Grandpop,” his handsome grandson appeared with a bottle and glasses followed by a young woman with a pitcher of ice water and four water glasses. “Hello, Mr. Taylor. This is my cousin, Annata.”


Mario, good to see you. Nice to meet you, Annata. I'd like you to meet my husband, Alex Bledsoe.”


Mr. Bledsoe,” Mario said, extending his hand. “Wow, Mr. Taylor, I can see you go for the lookers. Now if I were gay, I'd give you a run for your money for this one, well, if I could have you, man, that would be a dilemma. Nice to meet you, Mr. Bledsoe.”


How's the love life going, Mario?” Josh laughed.


No more Donna, no more Italian girl. Mia mamma is not happy, but Grandpop approves. She's Spanish, from Spain and beautiful and wonderful.”


Nice girl, Mario. Never listen to mia mamma when it comes to picking a mate. How's the help tonight?"


Ignacio is coming into relieve me. Chance of getting that Rolls, Mr. VanWinkle?” he chuckled.


Possibility. Think this young lady will be impressed?”


Probably not. Things don't impress her a whole lot, but she sure won't complain.”


If you can't have the Rolls, maybe Mr. VanWinkle would give us a lift home and you could talk Josh into a Miata. Looks as if you are fixed for the evening in any case.”


Want to hit the same movie theater?” Josh asked. “Don't know what's on.”


Sure, anything would be fun with Reina.”


Mario had poured the wine and Mr. VanWinkle said, “A toast to Alexander and Joshua, reunited.”


And one to June and Bull who made it happen,” Alex said.


Food, Mario, food,” Bull said and Mario left and returned with huge bowls of pasta followed by Annata with a salad and salad plates. The four dived in and Bull kept pouring wine and urging us to drink water. Because of Alex, not as much was consumed as might have been, but we had a good time. Bull was ready to go to war over the attack on Alex. “Some son of a bitch from that hellhole is behind this,” he said, “I'll bet money on it.”


That's it,” Alex practically shouted. “I knew there was some reason the attack brought on the reaction it did. I recognized the attackers! I didn't remember when I woke up. It was Benjamin Snipes and George Mitchell. James Strang's lieutenants!”


Josh took his phone from his pocket and Officer Winter's card. He had a good signal, so he punched in the number and handed the phone to Alex. “San Francisco Police Department, Officer Whitby.”


Officer Whitby, I am Alexander Bledsoe. I was attacked in my apartment yesterday in what was apparently a kidnap attempt. Officers Casey and Winters were the investigating officers and Officer Winters gave me his card with this number.”


How can I help you, Mr. Bledsoe?”


I recognized my attackers at the time, but for reasons I need not go into, I did not recall that until now. They were second in command in the New Beginnings compound in Utah which was raided several weeks ago.”


I remember. That made the news. Who are the two?”


They may well have been using fake papers as I know the head of the compound was. The names they were using were Benjamin Snipes and George Mitchell. The compound was in two counties and the two Sheriffs are Sheriff Neil Rogers and Sheriff Peter Newcome. Excuse me a moment.” Josh was signaling Alex.


Alex, I have their numbers in my phone. Tell him you'll call him right back with their numbers.”


Officer Whitby, I am using my husband's phone and he just told me he has their numbers and I should call you right back with them.”


So you two managed to get married while the mayor made it possible, too,” he said. “My husband and I were practically first in line."


"Afraid not, but we consider ourselves married."


"What is your number and I will call you back, otherwise, the incoming call may roll over to another officer.”


Alex gave him the number, handed Josh's phone to him and he retrieved the numbers. Alex gave them to Officer Whitby when he called back. “This should be a big help. Think they might still be connected with their boss?”


I'm sure of it. Abraham Strang was the name he was using. They had plane tickets to Newark and I suspect were to meet him there after they got the ransom money.”


It sounds as though you are not home.”


No, I'm in a restaurant in Oakland.”


Have any idea when you will be home so a police artist can get a sketch of the two and Strang made?"


How long before we are home, Josh?”


Two, two and a half hours.” Alex repeated the message, gave the officer their address and suggested someone call him in two hours.


Mr. VanWinkle told them he had checked and they could go on to North Carolina and if they were needed back in Utah because of the cases coming out of New Beginnings he assured the authorities they would be back. If they could get the sketch out of the way, they should be clear to leave as planned early Thursday.


Bull was, of course, not going to San Francisco and Alex had actually drunk very little and they had been at dinner two hours before they left, so he felt safe driving Mr. VanWinkle's Rolls and leaving the Miata for Mario and his date. Josh told him he could bring the car back Sunday morning and they'd go out for brunch. “But not too early as we are going to a wild club Saturday night.”


How old are you, Mario?” Alex asked.


I was eighteen yesterday.”


And how old is Reina?”


She's an older woman. She graduated high school last year, so she's eighteen and a half.”


Think she might like golden oldies?”


I know she does. We both do. Sixties, seventies and eighties.”


Bit older than that like fifties, sixties and seventies.”


Have trouble going to a club that is primarily gay?”


Never tried it, don't think so.”


Give me a call in the early afternoon after you think about it. Josh and I and some friends are going to dinner and a club tomorrow. I'll check and see if inviting you and Reina is ok since the friends invited us. You have to dress fifties, sixties, seventies or Brazilian.”


Slight problem, Barefoot Boy, clubs are twenty-one, not eighteen.”


No alcohol at Waiting for the Sunrise, so it's eighteen and over. Cândido told me.”


My bad. Give us a call Mario.”


Will do. Right now it's home, shower and off to the movie.”


I’ll go with you to make sure you know about the car.” Outside Josh gave Mario a couple hundreds and told him tickets would be waiting. As soon as Mario left the parking lot, he called the theater and made arrangements for the tickets.


When they got back to the apartment, it was still early. Luc and Cândido were cuddled on the sofa in the living room, watching a movie. Luc paused it when Alex said, “Don't let us interfere.” Luc laughed.


Alex, we have seen this movie so often we can practically quote the dialog. We always fall back on it when there's nothing else we want to do except cuddle. Good time at dinner?”


Very good time. I do have a question,” Alex said, “I kinda stepped out of bounds, but with the clear understanding you had the first and final say. Bull's grandson is a really nice kid and I asked him if he and his girl might like to go with us to the club tomorrow night. He's straight, but assured me he would have no problem with a gay club. He'll call sometime tomorrow to check to see if it's ok.”


How old is he?”


He just turned eighteen. His girl is also eighteen, an older woman by six months.”


I have no problem with it, you, babe?”


None at all. Invite them to go to dinner with us as well.”


Well, I have a confession as well. The Carsons who will be leasing the apartment if, and I really mean the if, you two approve of them, I asked them about going with us, thinking it would give you two a chance to look them over.”


Great, the more the merrier, I say,” Luc said. “I'll call right now and add four to our party for dinner.”


This is all on me,” Josh said, “since we invited the city to join us.”


No way,” Luc said.


Then we'll pay for our four guests.”


Only if you insist.”


There was a knock on the door and when Luc opened it, a woman in police uniform was standing outside. “I’m Officer Saunders, the police artist. Mr. Bledsoe here? Someone was supposed to call.”


No-one called, but Alex Bledsoe is here.”


Is there some place we can work? Quiet would be nice.”


We can go next door to our apartment,” Alex said. “I am Alex Bledsoe.”


Alex worked with the woman for over two hours and when she finished, the sketches were clearly that of Abraham Strang. She didn't bother with Benjamin Snipes and George Mitchell since the police knew exactly where they were. “I’ll get this on the wire as soon as I get back, with a special alert for the Newark police and airport security. Maybe we’ll catch the slimy s-o-b.


Next morning, Josh and Alex were up early and went shopping for Alex a for white, tight tee-shirt and tight jeans. When they came back, Alex tossed the shirt in the washer and gathered up his and Josh's whites and found Cândido's and Luc's in the bathroom basket and added them. He took the jeans and all the other jeans next door to their apartment and tossed them in the washer there. By the time he got back, it was time to dress and go to the interment of Mrs. Blankenship's ashes. They joined Luc, Cândido, James Davis and a half-dozen others in front of the columbarium. It seemed strange to just stand there while the black plastic box was placed in a niche next to Mr. Blankenship's with no service, no words said, nothing. It took all of ten minutes. Kelly was conspicuous by his absence.


Josh told Luc he was taking Alex downtown for lunch and to get his DA and they would be back before the movers came which, he hoped, would be at three. They would pack everything going to North Carolina, except the clothes the two would wear for the rest of their time in San Francisco and on the trip to the Mountain, take it all to Oakland and load it on the turbo for North Carolina. Walt planned to leave Tuesday early after finishing the paper signing in connection with the sale of his house.


Oh, I put your white things and ours in your washer. Will you toss them in the dryer, please. Also the jeans in our apartment's washer. Do you have a key?” Alex asked.


Luc nodded and said, “Will do. We may or may not be home when you get back. The Indian is trying to get me out to the park this afternoon. We'll see.”


On the way back to the apartment, Josh decided his business in San Francisco was almost over. Packing would be completed today. The movers had agreed to be 'on call' for a substantial addition to their original estimate, but given the situation, that just about had to be the way it was. Josh called the movers and asked that they come at three and send people enough to complete the packing before five.


Alex and Josh had an early lunch, then they went to see Josh's usual hair stylist who had not seen him in well over two months, neither had any other, so Josh's hair, which was naturally half way between wavy and curly, was quite long and he made it very clear he did not want his usual executive hair cut, but wanted it left long and cut to emphasize its wavy-curly nature.


After much explaining, the young lady who was doing Alex's hair, which was very long as he had only one hair cut when he first got to the hospital in Provo, still could not grasp the concept of a DA. It was beyond her. Finally, Miss Penny, the owner of the salon, who was in her seventies at least, told the young stylist, “Ginny, let the old lady handle this. You're not likely to ever need to know how and I remember them well. Mr. Bledsoe, men would never have used hair spray in the fifties, but I will. I don't think even for a night on the town you want to be dripping Wildroot Creme Oil!” Half an hour later, Alex's beautiful blond hair was trimmed and styled and Josh loved it. It was longer than he would have worn it had they planned on staying in San Francisco and living among a business community, but on the Mountain, you wore your hair the way you wanted. Once that was done and approved, Miss Penny re-combed it into a perfect DA and made sure all would stay in place with a liberal application of spray and gel.


Three woman and two men arrived at the apartment at three sharp. The clothes Alex and Josh were taking with them had been moved to Luc and Cândido's guest room so any clothing left in the apartment was to be packed and shipped. That didn't take long as the movers brought closet boxes for the hanging things and drawers were just transferred from the chests to boxes. Packing the artifacts did take time as many of them were somewhat fragile. Alex insisted on the swords going with him and since they would not be flying commercially, it was a simple matter of placing them in their scabbards and rolling in bubble wrap.


While the movers worked, Josh and Alex had gone next door. Josh told Alex he needed to try on the tee-shirt and jeans to make sure they were tight. They were. Luc and Cândido came in while Alex was showing off. Cândido gave him a wolf whistle, then said, “You know those jeans have to be starched and ironed with sharp creases, don't you?”


"Whoever heard of starching or ironing anything?” Alex said. “You're pulling my leg.”


Afraid not, babe,” Josh said. “Where were you in the fifties?”


Alex laughed, “Well, since my dad was born in nineteen fifty, I guess I was wondering around in his baby balls wanting to know when the fun would begin. So what am I going to do about my jeans?”


Josh called the concierge and asked if there was a laundry nearby that would starch and iron some jeans pronto.


Fifties party?” she asked. When Josh told her it was, she said, “Indeed I do. When do you need them? It's quarter of five now.”


It's a real rush job. Need them by six-thirty.”


It's gonna cost, but I think I can arrange that.”


Fifty to you and a one hundred percent tip to the person who gets it done.”


Run them down to the desk while I make arrangements."



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