For years it seemed that I did nothing important for days, then all of a sudden it was run like hell. Such was the case that first week back. I did almost nothing for of the first half of it, then all of a sudden I had people demanding my attention all day and up into the night.
At midnight on that Friday I found myself sitting in the parking lot of the waffle house in Tryon. Beside me in the passenger seat was more or less a million dollars cash inside a sealed blue plastic twenty gallon barrel. I wished that he/she had made the first part of the drop a McDonald’s parking lot. At least in that case I could have gotten a cup of coffee .
The second burn phone of the day rang at exactly midnight. “Tell me what you see?” the heavily altered voice demanded.
“I see a waffle house restaurant with six cars and my truck in the parking lot. Surely you don’t want me to leave a million dollars in cash in the parking lot?” I asked.
“I want you to drive south on highway 22 until you come to an intersection with a flashing red light. At that light I want you to turn right. About two hundred yards on the right, you will see an abandoned service station, Pull over there and wait for more directions.“
“Fair enough,” I answered. I had learned a couple of things. Bullrider wasn’t following me and he/she was no genius in general. Just on the computer maybe, but all that could work in my favor. Most likely we would both play nice.
I did as he/she directed. Nobody passed me when I got to the station but there was a new black Ford midsized rental car parked under the empty canopy. Since the windows were clear of frost or dew, I judged it to be empty, and not to have been parked there long. The rental plates helped me to determine that it was my drop car. I was a little surprised until I remembered all the times that I had used rental cars to lay a false trail. This guy would actually be checking for traces on the plates and rental details. If someone traced it, then his version of the nuclear option would kick in. He would destroy my digital life. I was fine with that, since I didn’t give a crap who he was.
The phone rang a few seconds after I pulled in. I had no idea where, but he/she was watching from somewhere. “Put my shit in the trunk and drop the cell phone in with it. You do know I am going to check it for tracking devices.”
“Suit yourself, but tell me this. How many surveillance cams did I pass on the way down here? Ones that you have hacked into?” I asked.
“Only five,” he/she said with a laugh.
“Fair enough, well enjoy your shit, but please be careful that they don’t track it back to me, if you do something stupid with it.” I said.
“I won’t do anything stupid, and lady you don’t exist in my history or life anymore after I open that barrel,” he/she say said. Then added, “This ain’t my first rodeo cowgirl.”
“That works for me,” I said as I exited the truck to take care of the drop. I wondered if the fact that the barrel weighed almost fifty pounds and was clumsy as hell to handle, would be a problem at the airport for the bullrider. He/she had assured me that he/she had everything covered so I walked away with a light heart.
I drove back to Aster plugged into the cigarette lighter and listening to traveling music. Lots of motorcycle songs and of course California Dreaming, even though I had no desire to go to California anytime soon.
When I got back to the Downtown House, I plugged the MP3 Player into the wall to complete the charge. I had a burning need to close my eyes lately when I charged . I would appear to be asleep, if anyone happened to see me. That was only one of the urges that began since my last ‘upgrade’.
After what I thought of as Black Friday, things went back pretty much into my normal ‘at home’ mode. The weekend was quiet as hell with me doing nothing but catching up on my mail and making silly little business decisions.
On Monday my phone rang. “I have given this a lot of thought over the weekend Maxine. That castle thing is just too much money for me to invest right now. I like the bed and breakfast idea, but not on such a grand scale.
“I also want them out of Aster. I want them close enough so that I can check on my investment, but not so close that they can just drop in on me,” he said.
“I understand completely. I will have a friend of mine, who has access to the statewide real estate market, look around. You do know there is a problem with investment capital.” I informed him. I sure as hell wasn’t going to put up the money.
“I know but we can work something out surely.” he suggested to me.
“We can but be thinking how much you want to put into it,” I demanded. “That will pretty much tell us where we are going to be looking and what we will be looking at. I had a thought on Friday night,” I said.
“What kind of thought?” he asked.
“You know I am building small houses, and condos, but the people we are selling them too are not really poor people. Our down payment policy pretty much weeds them out. Our buyers are older people for the most part. They have large families and no where to put guests. All the hotels that I would put a friend or relative into are in Tryon. What we do need around here is a Guest House. If you get a ten or so room classy guest house, with a small wedding chapel which can be quickly converted to a reception area, you might have something.”
Let me give that a thought, but something with a smaller investment than the Castle idea,” Jerrod demanded.
“Jerrod, I’m thinking classy historic place that I can get investors in on. We can hire the sissy boys to manage it, if you like?” I said. “Or we can get them financed if we put up the money for the financing. I have a friend for that kind of thing.”
“Actually I have a lot of friends we can bring into this. Let’s meet tomorrow and we can make the decisions, but Jerrod I am going to have some people there who don’t need to know everything,” I said.
“Of course not,” he agreed.
When we finally ended the conversation, we had decided to meet at the marina for afternoon coffee and to decide how much we wanted to invest. I planned to make some calls. If we got Helen and Jack into the group even on a small scale they would help promote the place. Peter needed to be at the meeting as well. We were going to need a presence on the Internet. We would need some local event planning as well so that put Sylvia dead in the middle of it, at least until she decided to head out for the life of a hospital worker.
The meeting had grown, so before I even made the calls I moved it to the Cloak and Dagger. There we could at least get enough coffee for everyone. I could get a case of coke half diet and half regular along with the coffee pot. It was also an excellent chance to con Helen into bringing me her left over cupcakes from the last wedding. She might still have some left by the next afternoon.
I made the calls and got everyone to come along even Kate, the Realty, slut was on board. She would be doing her homework overnight and have somethings for us to talk about. Most likely she would have nothing of real value to add. She might be able to find us something in the days ahead. That is if we could all agree on anything.
I wasn’t the least bit concerned about the sissy boys. The farm had put them up in a dark safe house. The only information they got was what the farmer’s sons wanted them to have.
Upon their arrival in Aster by private plane, Jerrod, who they trusted, sat them down and explained. His explanation had just enough truth to convince anyone. In our well thought out version, the casino was raising money for terrorists. The two of them just got caught up in an anti terror operation. The bad guys would never give up looking for them, so they had to disappear. Jerrod and I never came to their attention, but Jack and Michael had. So Jack and Michael were lost at sea. Enter Sean and Billy, two new residents looking for a new start in a place where everyone was judged on their worth, not their personal lives. It was a great line of bullshit. The two of them had no reason to question us, as long as we could make it work.
Everyone was assembled Tuesday afternoon at 3PM in the basement meeting room of the Drugstore condo, aka The Cloak and Dagger. There was coffee, cokes, still in the cans, and wonderful chocolate iced marble cupcakes. Hell I almost hated to break the fun mood with business.
“I selected some of you because we were in this from the beginning or you bring a unique talent to the table. Actually everyone except me has a unique talent. Anyway, we have seen some real changes in our little town. Most of them have been for the better, but some haven’t. This time we are dealing with the happier side of the change.
We have a whole lot of new and different residents. Everyone here has benefited from that change. I would like to propose a new venture, but no one here is under any pressure to participate. I just chose to mention it to you, because of who you are. I will be happy to consult with any of you at any time.
So here it is more or less. I have been building a lot of retirement and step down housing. The one thing all these places have in common is they are built for the residents but don’t have a lot of space for guests. I am sure some of the guests sleep on the sofa and I slept on a lot of sofas in my life and do not have a problem with that.
However if my mother and father were still living and wanted to visit me, I would love to have an option. The closest place I could put them up where I know they would be safe and not approached by a hooker in the parking lot is in Tryon.
I don’t think we need a luxury hotel and thats not what I have in mind. What I have in mind is a historic guest house. Maybe ten bedrooms with some nice common areas. I am also thinking a little wedding and entertainment venue. Nothing elaborate just something like the meeting room upstairs but with an on site wedding venue and rooms for the wedding party or anyone who wants to use them.
Now I have an interest because it would make selling the next round of condos easier for sure. Helen could probably find a way to work it into her business. Everything from a catered continental breakfast, to a venue for her customers is possible.
Peter can give us a dynamite web presence, he spends too much time there already.” I did smile at him when I said that. “Sylvia could, at least for a while, help with the planning. Kate I am going to task with helping us to find the right location. Jerrod is my new investment partner on this project at least. So we are all here and I know I sprang this on you all at the same time and no one is prepared, but if you have any questions or suggestions lets have them now. If you don’t want in you can at least throw your ideas out and help us with the planning this one time.