Chapter 1

We got back last night from England. We stumbled into the waiting limo which took us to Jackson House. Our bedrooms were ready, to the point that the staff had made up our beds. Not that it would have mattered to me. I crashed for ten straight hours.

Monday I woke up still tired from the trip. Not sleepy, just tired. I hoped there wasn’t much planned for today. I went ahead and showered, which helped immensely. I almost felt human when I went down to the kitchen to find a cup of coffee.

I found out quickly the world had changed, as a cook, I don’t think it was the head chef, chased me to the family breakfast room. I didn’t even know we had a family breakfast room. Mum and Dad were there with coffee, tea and newspapers. From their subdued greetings, they weren’t in any better shape than I was.

The room was bright and sunny. There was a buffet along the wall which had a self-serve breakfast in warming dishes. I helped myself to scrambled eggs, bacon, hash browns, wheat toast, orange juice and coffee.

I think I could get used to this family breakfast room. I wondered what the lunch and dinner rooms would be like. Maybe there was an afternoon snack room, and even a midnight snack room! There would be no heavy thinking, on the agenda today.

After a while, and several cups of coffee I asked if there was any schedule or plans for the day. Dad told me there weren’t any but that tomorrow morning there would be a business review. It would be all of my companies under Jackson Enterprises: Jackson Productions, Jackson Home Products, Jackson Personal Products and the newest, Jackson Transportation.

“How long will it take,” I asked Dad.

“Plan on it being most of the day, it has been months since there has been an update, and I’m certain you will have to make some decisions.”

That didn’t sound like a thrilling way to spend the day, but I was interested to see if I was actually making any money. I certainly had been spending it like I had it.

Mum informed us she would be out with Anna Romanov and Sharon Bronson for most the day. They had some things to check out. She didn’t go into it. I was curious what they might be up to, but knew that Mum had told us all she was going to, at least to me, Dad probably already knew.

I went back to my room and changed to running gear. This would be the first time I would be able to run the trails in the park in back of the house. Using the man-sized door in the wall near the stables I ventured onto the trail. I found out quickly that the running I had done in England on their flat trails had not kept me in shape for this. It wasn’t like running up a mountain, but it still pulled muscles that hadn’t had a workout since Campbell’s Hill in Bellefontaine. My run took me past a public parking area. There was a map posted so I spent a few minutes reviewing it. This was a large park and there were many miles of trails. They joined and separated, but all circled back. If nothing else, I would not get bored by the scenery.

I headed back to the house at lunch time. I had probably done ten miles and was sweating like one of those horses we didn’t have in the stables. If I didn’t have another shower soon Mum would put me out there.

Denny and Eddie were out in the backyard when I got home. They were playing lawn darts. Mary rode through on her bike just as Eddie threw. The dart missed her, but it was close. The kids didn’t seem to think it was a big deal, but I saw disaster in the making. There were horse-shoe pits near the outer wall. I suggested they throw next to them. This would be parallel with the wall so there was fewer chances of someone running into the line of flight.

The boys saw the sense in that and moved right away. Mary was already gone like a madwoman on another round of the house.

After cleaning up and putting on fresh clothes I had lunch. It turned out, we had a family dining room which we would use for lunches and dinner. There was also a formal dining room that looked like it would sit over a hundred. I later learned that it would only seat sixty.

At lunch, there was a menu next to each place setting. It had light, medium and large meals listed. Since I had been running I was hungry and chose large.

I decided to take a ride in one of my T-Birds. Dad brought all of our vehicles from Ohio, including the Chris-Craft from Indian Lake. It was on its trailer in the garage area. All the cars were lined up, with the keys in them so it was easy to take off.

At least, I thought it was. I was stopped by the guards at the front gate, and they wanted to know where I was going, the route I expected to take and what time I would return. I must have looked like I was going to pitch a fit because the head guard quickly told me that was standing orders for all of the family. He even showed them to me in writing. Both Mum and Dad had signed them so that ended that.

I told them I was going for a ride with no particular route in mind, and that I would be back in time for dinner at six. This worked as they opened the gate with no further comments or questions.

I really didn’t have any plans in mind so I just drove downtown Beverly Hills to see what was going on. Since it was Monday, but school hadn’t started yet there were plenty of kids walking past the stores. I didn’t see any of the few I knew from Hollywood High so just kept moving.

As I drove I mentally reviewed my summer, it had been full and different, you might say it was action packed, which it was, but what I remembered most was the girls I had interacted with. There was the girl in Argentina, Dorotea. I thought I would remember how she looked forever, but now all I had was a general impression. It was a good impression that was for sure, but only an impression.

Then there was Christina, what a gold digger. I was taken in by her looks, I learned a lesson there. I was so lucky that Mary spilled chocolate on her to reveal her true character. I guess someone up there was looking out for me.

I almost missed a red light and had to jam on the brakes. I realized that I could think heavy thoughts or drive, but not both. I headed back home and got ready for dinner. Even Mary was quiet during dinner.

Later that night I read a book about Gerard Gates a sailor stranded in Antwerp with no citizenship papers. He found work on a coffin ship, the Yorikke. After spending most of my summer on a freighter what the author wrote was easy to imagine and all too real and horrifying.

Since Tuesday was going to be busy I was up early doing my exercises and then a run. I only went a couple of miles, figuring that I would be ready for a good workout this evening to clear my head. While I liked the money part, sitting in meetings all day was not my idea of a good time.

After my shower, I put on one of my best suits and tie. If I was going to be a business man, I should look the part. Heading down to breakfast I passed the kitchen and heard some very bad language. Looking in I saw the cook had cut herself opening a can of Crisco, breaking the strip the key was attached to. It didn’t look like a bad cut, and she was continuing to open the can with a pair of pliers. I went on by; we all cut ourselves that way, one time or the other.

I hadn’t put my jacket on, just slung over my shoulder when I entered the breakfast room. I stopped dead because we had company. Sharon Bronson and Anna Romanov were sitting there with Mum and Dad.

As I stood in the doorway Sharon piped up, “If you were older Rick, I would be chasing you.”

Anna chimed in with, “Sharon I would be giving you a run for your money.”

I looked at Mum because I knew she wouldn’t let this stand; she would keep my head from swelling. My Mum betrayed me. She winked at me!

Dad didn’t help; he took Mum’s hand and said, “I’m glad I got this one nailed down early.”

In my best British accent, I replied, “Good morning all. I would say ladies if any were present.”

This must have been the right thing to say as they all laughed taking the awkwardness away from the moment; at least, it was awkward for me.

“May I inquire why we are delighted with your presence,” I inquired as I joined them at the table after pouring coffee and filling a plate from the buffet.

Mum spoke up, “We are meeting with a lawyer today. Sharon is opening a rehabilitation clinic, Anna and I are co-sponsors. It will be for alcohol abuse.”

They went on to tell me that would fill several of their personal objectives. It would help Sharon’s image. It would demonstrate to the world that she had owned up to her problems and had changed. Mum and Anna needed a charity to support for their public images. Best of all it would actually help people. They made it very clear this wouldn’t be a place where a drunken actor could check into for a week, then declare themselves cured, to do it all over again.

They were throwing out possible names. Dad put in, “It is a shame Ike’s wife Mamie isn’t a drunk, naming it after a first lady would make them instantly prominent.” He was quickly booed down as this was just plain tacky. I wondered what Dad disliked about Eisenhower so much; it carried through on everything involving the President. Yet at the same time whenever Ike saw me, he was very cordial.

Sharon asked me why I was all dressed up.

“I have a business meeting to attend today.”

“Wow, I never dressed all up for my agent.”

“Yours was a slime ball, but this is serious stuff.”

“You have other businesses besides acting.”

Mum and Anna started laughing.

“Sharon, Rick is the original over achiever. He has invented things, such as the electric hair dryer you use. He invented the adjustable shower faucet, now he has a shipping container company and even his own navy,” Mum told her.

I wasn’t certain that I wanted all my business shared publicly, but I had a more immediate question.

“My own Navy,” I choked out.

“Oops, your Dad wanted to spring that on you.”

Dad spoke up, “We needed a test bed for the cargo containers, and it was easier to buy an old ship that was being retired.”

“What sort of ship?”

“You may have heard of it, the Pride of Liberia.”

“You’re kidding!”

“Nope, actually you’re in negotiations to buy the whole shipping line, plus your Mum forgot to mention Narrow Freight the trucking company.”

“You mean Popeye now works for me?”

“I’m sorry Rick, he has left the Pride.”

“That’s a shame; I would have liked to see the look on his face when he realized that he was now working for me. I would have him chipping paint all day. Nah, not really, he is a good guy, and I would treat him well, but it would have been fun for a minute.

Mum started to cough but Sharon talked at the same time, distracting me.

“Maybe Rick isn’t too young!”

Mum waved a fist at Sharon as she continued to cough. She took a drink of water, which calmed her down. She still continued to glare at Sharon.

Sharon realized maybe she had gone a little too far as she backed down.

“I want to get a better reputation, not be a cradle robber.”

I’m not sure how I felt about that, it would be a pretty big cradle to fit me.

This ended the table conversation as the ladies soon left. As they were leaving the room, I heard Anna talk about the going shopping after their meeting. They would have a whole limo they could fill with their trophies!

Both ladies quickly agreed so I knew there were no problems, well at least as long as Sharon kept her hands off of me. Mum never said anything, but I had noticed a pattern of bad things happening to people who made my life difficult, from hot chocolate to machine-gun bullets. I was beginning to suspect that my Mum was not a person to cross.

Dad and I went out to the courtyard where a second limo was waiting. I raised one eyebrow at Dad. He was blushing as he muttered about keeping up appearances. Actually, it was fine with me. I was starting to get used to this life.

At Dads office, we went to the conference room. Waiting for us was Roberta Grimes and a young man, maybe thirty years old. Dad introduced me to Don Pearson.

“Rick. Jackson Personal Products has enough going on that you need a Vice President to handle things.”

“I thought that all we were doing was licensing the hairdryer?”

“That in itself is enough to justify hiring Don, but there is something else going on.”

“What’s that,” I inquired.

“You know the electric curling iron you were going to patent, but just missed out on? Well, they want to sell the patent, and it seems like a good fit. Don was recommended by my board as meeting your needs. I asked him to look into the situation and the possibilities for the business today. It will be your decision as it is your business, and of course Don has to accept the job.”

This overview of the situation only took a few seconds. I greeted Roberta as an old friend from Bellefontaine. I asked her how she liked California and Los Angeles in particular. She smiled as she told me she loved it. She had been out here since the first of the summer. I was invited to stop by and see her new office in this building. I could find her there or in the photography studio next door. Hmm, as if that was news.

Don had a firm handshake, and my first impression was that he was a good guy. He was just a little shorter than me. He had a good tan which was highlighted by his blonde hair and blue eyes. He was dressed in a sport coat with no tie. His Bulova watch stated that he was doing okay in the world. He was married as evinced by the ring he wore.

I asked about his background. He was a graduate of Stanford University with a degree in business. He had been working with a private-equity firm which specialized in companies who had licensing agreements. When I asked him what he was looking for he told me.

“Money!”

“Good answer, now what does that mean?

“I am starting a family and want to advance. Where I am at is a good company but my growth, there is very limited. I was told by a senior partner that it would be best if I looked elsewhere.”

“How are you getting along with them?”

“Fine, my Dad is the senior partner; Mom is the other. They just feel that what they are doing is so specialized that there is not much expansion. They are in their early fifties so I won’t be inheriting the business soon, and then it will be split between five of us.”

“Well I guess your Dad will give you a good reference.”

“He would hear from Mom if he didn’t!”

I think all Mums, and Moms are the same.

I asked him what he was looking for in the way of salary. At twenty thousand dollars, it was good but I had an idea of how to sweeten that pot for him.

“Don what are your ideas for the business.”

That unleashed it. I quickly found out that business graduates knew how to make charts graphs, spread sheets and projections. He had really done his homework as he proceeded to show me. There were untapped markets around the world for the hairdryer. We had no agreements in place in Australia or most of Europe. There was even potential growth in South America and South Africa that we had not looked at. Just the licensing fees would have a possibility of ten million a year starting next year and no end in growth in sight until the expiration of my patents. He even had a plan for an R and D Division for replacement products.

This led him into the possibilities of the electric curling iron. He didn’t think it would be as great as the hairdryer but would be very good, in the five million a year range within the next two years. The patent was for sale because the holders wanted a quick payout, and they couldn’t acquire the capital to start it up. We could have it for one million dollars. I suspected that number was picked out of the air as making them rich, which it would if handled correctly.

That thought stopped me cold. Where was I in my financial life that a million dollars was rich, but only if handled correctly? I would have to give that some thought. Was I getting too big for my britches?

Don’s presentation took almost two hours. The time flew by as he worked with us. Dad, Roberta and I didn’t have many questions, but he was thorough in his answers. Roberta confirmed the accuracy of his numbers, well at least the math. Some of the projections had to be taken on faith, but they seemed conservative to me. I thought more than one in one hundred people in the US would buy a hairdryer. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was as many as one in twenty. That is if fashions didn’t change. Short hair would kill us, now men wearing shoulder-length hair would be a blessing, but that wasn’t about to happen.

At the end of the time I asked if Dad and I could be excused for a minute. In Dads office, I told Dad I wanted to hire Don, but that I would like to get him really bought in.

“How would you do that Rick?”

“By giving him a share in the Personal Products Division.”

“How much are you thinking?”

“I think five percent would be a worthwhile amount.”

“It is, think about this. I was told about a common practice by one of my advisors, it’s called vesting. In this case, we could start him out at one percent and each year he works for us; he gains an additional percent up to the five percent if he reaches his profit goals. If he misses a goal, the only penalty is no additional percentages that year.’

“That sounds good; from what I have read this should be in the form of a contract with protections for us, like firing for cause.”

“Exactly, do you want to proceed? If so you can make him a verbal offer, with me confirming it as your legal guardian, upon his acceptance of the written contract.”

“Let’s go for it.”

“On the electric curling iron, I think it will be a good product for us and certainly a good fit for this division, and I bet we could get it for less than a million.”

“You probably could Rick, but do you want it at that price?”

That stopped me cold, why would I not want it at a lesser price?

“Just think about it, is the money that you save that important to you? Consider what you have now; and your near-term potential. Then consider what it would mean to the patent holder. It makes them rich in their eyes. If the product is wildly successful later do you want them to resent you? Actually, the projected success will have them second guessing themselves, but if they get what they ask they should only complain about themselves. Mind you, I said, “should,” not will. People can complain about anything. At least this way the court of public opinion will not be against you.”

I realized Dad was right, both about the money and my public image, or as Mum would put it penny wise, pound foolish.

“Ok let’s offer their full asking price.

Later, I realized that this was a turning point in my life, I was becoming a real business man. Yes, I had made things happen, but this was the first true structured thing I had done.

It was a good thing Don was sitting down when I made the offer. It was all the money he was asking for with a world of possibilities behind it. The composed and assured young business man who had made the presentation looked a little wobbly for a moment. That didn’t stop him from getting a “Yes” out quickly.

Dad reconfirmed the offer and asked Roberta to have corporate council join us. Dad has corporate counsel? Things had been going on behind my back.

Roberta brought a gentleman into the room. In looks at least, he was a stereotype of what I thought a corporate attorney should look like. Brown suit, dull tie, shined wingtip shoes. Dad introduced me to Mr. Sam Wingate.

We all sat down, and I was waiting for Dad to start. It took a moment for me to realize that he was waiting for me. It was my business!

I recapped to Mr. Wingate what the offer was. He was making notes on his long yellow notepad. I thought the longer notepad was cool looking, as opposed to what we used in school. I would have to get some. He told us that he could have a draft for all parties written up by this time tomorrow. That worked for all of us.

After that I told Don to go ahead and start negotiations on the electric curling iron, and that he was to offer full asking price. He wanted to know why, as he was certain, we could buy it for less. I explained the reasoning, not telling him that Dad had just walked me through it.

I could tell from Don’s reaction that he wasn’t certain if I was sane, but he was getting while the getting was good. I had no problem with that as I wasn’t certain myself. One thing I had notice was that Don was Don while Sam Wingate was Mr. Wingate. The only real difference was that one worked directly for me, and the other didn’t. I had to think about that also, I wanted to respect those that worked for me.

We all shook hands and Don practically floated out of the room. One nice thing is he calls me Rick, instead of Mr. Jackson. That boded well for our relationship.

I thought we had done a good day’s work. It was after eleven, so I could get some fun in yet today. Maybe a trip to the beach?

That is when life caught up with me.

Dad commented, “That ran a little long. We will be pushing it to complete everything today.”

“Wasn’t that all,” I asked.

“I must have dropped you on your head when you were a baby. How many other business divisions are there?”

“Oh,” as my day at the beach disappeared.

“Who’s next?”

“Transportation.”

As Dad was telling me this, Roberta was escorting people into the room. They were all in suits and ties. Two of them looked comfortable and confident, one was scrawny looking, at least he was shorter than the others, and he was pulling at his neck like he wasn’t used to a tie.

Dad introduced me to Luke Harding, who told me was the leading contender to be President of Jackson Transportation, then Todd Goodson VP of Production from Transportation; Dad went on to tell me they were looking for a VP of Sales yet.

I glanced at the last guy curious as to his role; he had a silly grin on his face. It took a moment then the coin dropped.

“Popeye!” I shouted as I picked the guy up into a hug. I did glare at Dad for his little trick, but having Popeye here forgave everything.

“What are you doing here, not that you aren’t more than welcome.

Dad explained that I needed someone to go out to the docks and work with the longshoreman union. He thought Popeye was our man.

“Rick before we get started, I need to bring you up to speed on some things. Roberta would you get Helen, my secretary to bring some coffee in please?

Dad has a secretary?

Dad and I went back to his office.

“Long story short Rick. The actual waterfront is the biggest obstacle. The unions don’t want to lose jobs. Your Mum talked to Lucky. The family made a contribution to him through our Swiss accounts. That enabled us to make a deal with the major ports. We will fund training in the new equipment and not fight them when they asked for more money to operate the special cranes we will have to have in place. That is where Popeye comes into play. He will be our troubleshooter on the docks.”

That made a lot of sense to me when I thought of those bar hard fists of his.

We also will be funding the port conversions, at least New York, Charleston, Savanah, Houston, and LA here in the US. Hong Kong, Singapore, London, Liverpool, Sydney and Marseille are among others abroad. In the next two years, we will be investing over two hundred million dollars.”

“Does the family have that much?”

“We do, but you will be funding it.”

“I know I don’t have that sort of money.”

“That’s why the United States Government is giving an economic development loan to Jackson Transportation. I think I told you previously that Ike wants to accelerate international trade. He and his advisors feel this is the quickest way to do it. Look at it this way, I know you have been concerned about how being rich will affect you. Now you will be in debt up to your eyeballs. Poor boy your problems are solved! That is also why my staff has expanded to support other ventures we will be doing with government backing.”

Somehow this didn’t make me feel any better.

We returned to the conference room. The proposed President Luke Harding started a presentation on his vision for the business pathfor the next five years. It was ambitious. The one thing that bothered me, he only spoke to Dad.

At one point, I tried to ask a question. He almost sneered at me as he said, “Son we don’t have time for interruptions, let the adults get down to business.”

I went all cold inside. Normally when I was mad, I felt like I was seeing red. I had never had this feeling before. I wasn’t angry with this man, I wasn’t anything with this man, and I could have cared less if he lived or died.

“Mr. Harding, thank you for your time, I will not need your services.”

Harding gaped at me like a hooked fish. He looked at Dad for help. Dad didn’t say anything to him.

“You can’t decide, not to hire me, Jack you are the President tell this kid to butt out and let us get to work.”

I spoke up, “Mr. Harding; Dad is the President since I’m too young to sign contracts but make no mistakes about it, and this is my company and my money that is funding this operation. We will pay your expense for attending this meeting, now good day.” I hoped we wouldn’t have to call security; I wondered if we had security on site?

A very red-faced Harding left the room.

Popeye winked at me. Somehow this told me I had done the right thing.

I turned to Mr. Goodson. “I’m sorry about that. I hope that won’t prevent you from considering an offer.”

“Actually, I will now consider an offer. I wasn’t going to work for that ass.”

Dad hadn’t said a word during the entire exchange, when I looked over at him, he had a smile on his face.

“Rick, I had a brief meeting with Harding earlier. I wasn’t impressed with his attitude either. You are better off without him.”

I looked over to Popeye, “Why are you wearing a suit and tie?”

“Harding told me I had to.”

“Loose the tie, never again for me.”

“Thanks Boss.”

“Dad told me what you will be doing for us, why did you leave the Pride?”

“She is in for a major refit for handling the containers, besides my girlfriend wants me to get a job ashore.”

“Girlfriend?”

“Yeah, her name is Sybil.”

“Aunt Sybil? My Aunt Sybil?”

“Yep,” Popeye replied with a huge smile.

“That’s great.”

“Where are you going to live?”

Dad broke in, “That’s one of the things that we will have to work out. We need Jackson Transportation to be located where travel is easy. Popeye will have to be traveling the world for the next few years.”

“Popeye, what do you think?”

“Well Sybil wants to travel with me, so it really doesn’t matter to me.”

“Okay you can work it out.”

I then turned to Mr. Goodson.

“Have we scared you away yet?”

He just shook his head slightly, and said, “Not yet.”

I had a feeling we were close.

“Mr. Goodson, tell me about your-self.”

He proceeded to fill me in on his background in production of trailers pulled by semi-trucks. That sounded like as good a fit to me as we would get.

“Has anyone talked to you about salary?”

“Harding filled me in on what he thought I should get. It wasn’t enough for me to take the job.”

I looked over at Dad and asked, “Same deal as Personal Products?”

He just nodded yes.

“Okay we are going to have a production division as a separate company under Jackson Transportation.” I then proceeded to explain the salary and percentage ownership which would vest over a period of time. To say he leapt at the offer would be putting it mildly.

I told him that Mr. Wingate, Dad’s corporate attorney would be presenting him with a contract, but in the meantime we shook hands on the deal. After that it dawned on me to ask.

“Where will we be producing the containers?”

“There’s a factory for sale outside of Pittsburg, near my home, which is for sale. It is set up to build semi-trailers so it would be perfect for us.”

“You have any idea what they are asking?”

“No but I will find out.”

“Okay, it looks to me like I need to find a President for Jackson Transportation quickly. I’m certainly not qualified to run this business.”

Todd chuckled, “From here you don’t seem to be doing too bad.”

“Thanks, I will try to say Hi tomorrow when you sign your contract.”

At that Todd, as we were done with him, stood to leave, which he did after we performed the normal ritual of handshakes all around.

This just left Popeye, Dad and I.

I turned to Dad, “It seems to me the piece of the puzzle we are missing is someone to head up Jackson Transportation to run our ocean freight and truck line.”

I turned to Popeye, who I noticed had slipped his tie off and unbuttoned the top buttons on his shirt. He looked more like the man I knew.

“Popeye do you think Captain Grumby would be interested in the ocean freight portion.”

“Nah, he already has bought a boat, The Minnow. I saw it out in Hawaii. It’s a neat little craft. I think he will do well, though the guy he brought on as his first mate seemed goofy as hell to me.”

“Let’s talk about your pay.”

“Okay but I’ve not much experience with this negotiation stuff. The union always set the rates.”

“Let’s keep it simple; the same deal as Todd, but it is a part ownership of Jackson Transportation.”

“You sure Rick, that’s a lot of money.”

“Besides the fact, you are almost family now, you took a green young kid at sea and treated him right, I will never be able to tell you how much that helped me.”

That was the first time I had ever seen Popeye blush. If he had been chewing tobacco, he would have swallowed it.

“Thanks Rick, you were worth working with.”

I turned to Dad.

“Do you know what happened with the guy who ran Narrow Freight?”

“He’s still there; he works for us now.”

“Do you think he is up to the job?”

“Well Narrow ran out of money because of the owners taking all of it out of the company. He didn’t seem to be part of that.”

“Do you think it is worth trying him out?”

“Well, he actually is doing the job right now. As we expand and he proves he is up to it, we could then give him the part ownership deal. He already is making the base salary. You will have to get him down to Argentina to talk to Howell Freight to make certain they are on the same page.”

“That works for me, now the Ocean-going part.”

Dad thought for a moment, “The Scottish Lines is our partner in this; they seem to know what they are doing. Why don’t you let them take the lead? The owners made some noise about what death duties are going to do them. If the management does a decent job, maybe you could buy them out.”

“That takes care of that in the short term, but it is really critical for us. Popeye, have you met them?”

“The Owners no, management yes, I think they will do a good job.”

“Dad, could you talk to them for me?”

He smirked as he said, “I have people for that.”

Roberta who had been sitting quietly at the other end of the long conference table spoke up.

“I could check their books out for you, or at least, I have people who could do it.”

What’s this, I have people? I need people. Aargh, I have people, Dad, Roberta, Popeye, and many others now.

“Okay, but it just dawned on me that someday accounting will have to come inside.”

Dad got an embarrassed look.

“Rick that process has already started. Roberta as our outside accountant has helped set it up. She will do our independent audits. I will take you down the block after lunch and show you the Jackson Enterprise building.”

“I have a building?”

“Things have been moving quickly. I own the building and am renting it to you.”

People, a building, a truck line, my own navy, this had been some morning.

A thought entered my head.

“Popeye, where are you staying?”

“With Sybil, at Jackson House.”

“My Aunt is here?”

“Her flight should be getting in soon. I should head to the airport.”

Popeye stood to go; we shook hands again all around.

“Jack thanks again for arranging a limo for this trip. This LA traffic is horrid.”

“No sweat, I would hate to face Peg if you guys got lost.”

“Yeah, she was always a holy terror, why I remember...”

Dad shut him down. I wondered what he remembered.

When they left I told Dad that I felt so far in over my head that it was mind numbing. He told me not to worry, that he understood. I had to be in on the foundation of the operations but that the people hired would actually run it. I just had to be comfortable with the top people since I would be relying of them. Roberta agreed. Dad pulled out an organization chart and went over it with me.

It boiled down to that I would be listed as the CEO of Jackson Enterprises, Dad the President since I was not of legal age to sign contracts. When you took it down to basics, I would be a figurehead for operations but the power when it came to the direction of the companies. While all this was being discussed lunch was brought in.

We had no sooner finished up then Mark Downing: my partner in Detroit Faucet joined us. Mark was a sight for sore eyes, and I felt like I could understand what was going on in this business segment, Jackson Home Products.

After we caught up on our personal lives, and he made certain to call me Sir Richard, which earned him a slug on the shoulder, we had a financial review. Things were looking good. Sales were up; profit margins were rising. Mark wanted to expand and he had the financial plan to back him up. It looked good to me, but I asked Roberta if she had a chance to review it. She had, and the numbers were sound.

At that I sort of sat there and waited for the next step. Finally, Mark asked me if it was okay to proceed. That woke me up, heck. I’m a part owner, and he wanted my agreement to proceed.

Trying to look like I had a clue, which I didn’t really, I asked him where we would obtain the eight million dollars in financing required.

Mark told me, “Roberta found a bank in Switzerland that would loan us the money at less than market rates.”

Hmm, I wonder who has connections with a bank in Switzerland. I made a point of not looking at Dad.

Mark then brought up another subject.

“Anna Romanov’s line is doing wonders for our sales. She has a new partner and would like to open a line for the smart young set. She has the over-thirty market locked, but no one has upscale products for the younger market segment. She would like to bring Sharon Bronson in to be the face of those products.”

I took a moment to think.

“Anna is actually her own company; we just sell product to her, so she can do whatever she wants. Saying that, I think it is a great idea.”

Mark blushed before he told me.

“Just so you know; Anna brought Sharon to Detroit for a tour. Later, Sharon and I got together for dinner.”

“What’s that got to do with the price of tea in China?”

“Uh, I guess nothing but I just wanted you to know.”

“Is there any chance that this might go somewhere?”

“It’s too early to tell but I sure hope so.”

“Hope what,” asked Sharon Bronson as she and Anna entered the room.”

I just thought Mark blushed earlier. I bailed him out.

“We were discussing the price of tea in China, and Mark thinks it is looking good, very good.”

That remark got me some weird looks. Roberta was quietly choking at her end of the table. She looked at Sharon and shook her head no. Mark might hope he has a chance of catching Sharon; I don’t think he has a chance of getting away.

Boy, Popeye and my Aunt, Mark and Sharon, wonder if I will have any romantic interest today?

We then discussed Anna’s plans. She didn’t have to, but felt it was best to keep us current with her plans. Mark and I assured her then they made sense to us. I think we would both be out of our minds to disagree with the Lady so it was all moot.

One of Anna’s concerns was that she had to bring out new ideas to keep at the design front of things. She wanted to know if we had any thoughts. As she asked that, the jingle from the Spearmint ads with twins, double your fun was running through my mind.

“How about two shower heads in a shower, one for front and back?”

“That’s a good thought Rick.”

Roberta Grimes brought up. “It would be nice to have a shower head on a flexible hose but I hate those red rubber things they use.”

Mark came back with, “In the plant we have metal armor around the hose so it won’t get burnt or cut. You could chrome that up and make it look nice.”

Just like that, Anna’s product line was freshened. She promised all of us a nice gift for the ideas.

The last business item of a long day was Jackson Entertainment and my movies I had made a good salary on Sir Nicklaus but stood to do much better on future movies by having points in them.

Bandits of Sherwood was doing well at the box office and with my points in the movie lots of money was being made. Until the first payout we would not really know how much, but it would probably be several million. Payouts in the movie business were a funny thing, first the studio would want to be paid for its services. Their accountants were famous for the games they could play. I thought I would get a fair shake because of my relationship with the studio management, but I still asked Roberta to really go over the numbers they presented. Since I had points in the movie, I had access to the raw data on the books, and she could spot any over-charges quickly.

I had to confirm the details of my next movie so had better find out when I could met with the Director and Producer. They would have to schedule a kickoff meeting soon. I had no idea of what the title would be. I had been given three different titles recently. Titles changed all the time so it was no big deal, I just thought of it as the Surfing Movie with Hot Girls. Now that was something I could get excited about!

Then there was the mail. I have three major sources of mail; business mail which was delivered to this office, fan mail to the studio, and personal at home. There was only one business letter that had been set aside for me, the rest were being handled by my staff. I would really have to meet this mysterious staff.

The letter was a request from the American Shipping Association to give a presentation at their annual meeting on the future of containerized shipping. It took me almost a heart-beat to decide this was not for me. I had to wonder about a group that would want the opinion of a fifteen, almost sixteen-year old kid on their industry.

“Dad, do you know if these people know how old I am?”

“Good question Rick, I will try to find out. In the meantime, you probably want to take a pass on this.”

“You got that right.”

“Rick, have you given any further thought of what you would like to do with your life.”

“Not really, I’m still interested in space but haven’t really defined how I could be involved.”

“You do know that right now you have enough money that you would never have to work in your life if you didn’t go crazy about it. Also what benefit will you receive from further education? You normally go to school to prepare yourself for the work world.”

“I would go crazy not doing anything, and I believe you need a full education to be able to live a full life.”

“I had to present it, but I’m so glad to hear your answer. Just think how your Mum would make our lives a living hell if you decided anything different.”

I didn’t even want to think of what Mum would do. All of a sudden, I couldn’t wait to get my tenth grade started.

“When I’m at the studio tomorrow I will check on how my tenth grade can be handled. I would still like to get it done by the New Year.”

“Sounds like a plan. This has been a busy day, let’s head out.”

I looked at my watch; it was 6:00, so much for a day at the beach.

Later at dinner I decided to have a little fun with Mum.

“Mum, after the business review today, I realized that I could quit all work today, and that I really don’t even have to graduate from high school.”

Some jokes don’t work.

Afterword, Mary looked at me and shook her head.

“Stupid boy.”

I couldn’t disagree, who knew that Mum could out swear Popeye.

I retreated to my room to read for the rest of the evening. Denny and Eddie wanted to play pool, but I had some thinking to do. Not about my education, that was a given, but what did I want to do with my life.

After going in circles for several hours I gave up. All I knew was that making money was good, that I enjoyed acting, and that I was interested in obtaining an Engineering degree. Along the way, I would acquire skills such as a pilot’s license. I wondered if I should take some real acting lessons. So far, I had played Rick Jackson with a very small range of emotion. Should I try to expand? There were also the skills that most actors tried to acquire such as dancing. I had the fighting skills under control, and could ride a horse. There was still high speed driving, jumping-over tall buildings in a single bound and all that other superman stuff.

The biggest worry I had was; would I ever have a normal girlfriend, boyfriend relationship. I wanted more of what I had seen in Argentina, not what I had experienced in England.

I did remember that I hadn’t checked for mail. Our mail at home was put in a basket in the library for us to pick up. Even Mary had hers from her friends in Ohio. All the other kids got more mail at home than I did. I received thousands of fan letters, but they were all opened at the studio, and it was very rare that I even saw one of those.

In my basket was a small stack of letters, some of them had been laying there since the beginning of summer. They were from Judy King, Cheryl Hawthorne, BSA and the White House and my studio.

I opened Judy’s first as it was the oldest. I had met her at a golf tournament in Ohio, and seen her several times. We were fond of each other but never seemed to be in the right time or place for each other. The last I heard she had a boyfriend.

She started out with the usual and told me how her school life was going, Friendship and social great, learning boring. Then she got to the meat of the letter, she told me she currently didn’t have a boyfriend. Her last one was too foreign for her. He had Roman hands and Russian fingers. I felt an urge to break those fingers. She went on to tell me that she missed our short time together, and if I was ever in Columbus to look her up. Hmm, maybe I would have to buy a company or open a plant in Columbus.

The second letter was from Cheryl, who had gone to school in Bellefontaine with me and whom I had considered my girlfriend. Her Dad had received a promotion in the Air Force to Brigadier General, and they were transferred to Washington DC, ending that relationship. He may have received another star since then.

Cheryl said she had been thinking of me for a while. Earlier in the summer, she and her parents had been at a Schaefer’s Canal House restaurant on the Delaware Canal. A ship had gone through, and she swore she saw me standing on the flying wing. Her Dad had teased her about her Cowboy, but she really did wonder how I was doing and would I please write.

Would I write? It had been me on that ship!

The next letter was from the Boy Scouts of America. I would be receiving another award for heroism for knocking down that IRA gunman who was going to shoot Queen Elizabeth. The presentation would be in the Rose Garden at the White House on Friday, October 9th, 1959. There was an RSVP enclosed.

That explained the next letter which was an invitation for Mum, Dad and I to have dinner with the President and First Lady on the evening of Thursday, October 8th. There was also an RSVP enclosed with this letter.

I sat the RSVP cards aside to discuss with my parents. Besides I had a thought I wanted to bounce off them.

The last letter was from the studio, earlier on the plane ride home as I was falling asleep I had been thinking I didn’t have a movie commitment. Actually, I did, Sharon Bronson and I were going to do a California surfing movie. The only problem I had no idea when. The letter was very timely. They wanted me at the studio nine o’clock tomorrow morning to talk about the movie and my role.

I went downstairs to talk to Mum and Dad about the RSVP to the BSA and White House. They had already retired to their suite for the evening, so I would catch them at breakfast.

I went down to watch my brothers play pool but could not get into playing so returned to my room and soon had my lights off for the night.

I was up early as usual to get in my morning run and exercises. After cleaning up, I went down for breakfast. Both Mum and Dad were at the table, with Aunt Sybil and Popeye so I brought up the White House invitation. They both agreed we three should go. I asked if it would be okay to see if Cheryl Hawthorne and her parents could join us. They didn’t see why not. They knew Cheryl, and I had been close in Bellefontaine.

Of course I didn’t bring up that I wanted her Dad to see the Cowboy having dinner with the President. I don’t think they would have approved of my motive.

I spent a while exchanging small talk with our guests. I knew Popeye better than my Aunt, but she turned out to be very easy to talk to. She sounded exactly like my Mum! There was a quite tension in her. I realized it was the same as Mum. Popeye better keep on his toes, though he didn’t look or sound like he was suffering.

I asked about their plans. They were going to ride up north and tour the newly emerging wine country. Land was still reasonable in Napa Valley and they had discussed opening a vineyard. It was hard for me to think of Popeye as a vintner or oenophile. Further discussion led to my understanding this was for Sybil and that she would hire a staff to run it, but that Popeye was and would always be a sailor. Well he would end up beached and would need a place to land.

Both Popeye and Sybil expressed their amazement at our being so casual about an invitation to the White House. I guess you just get used to things.

After that I returned to my room and penned a reply with my request back to the White House. I also did one for the BSA. I dropped them off in the outgoing mail basket on my way out to the studio.

Of course, I had to choose the wrong car. I had two identical T-Birds. Well almost identical. One had a studio sticker, and the other didn’t. When I got to the studio a new guard was on duty, and you would have thought I was trying to get into Fort Knox or something. After getting that straight I was fifteen minutes late for my meeting.

There was a pretty large group there, our Director and Producer were people that I had not met before, the Director Mr. Levine seemed okay but the Producer Tom Jensen came across as a little weird.

I wondered if he was on drugs. I had of course heard of drugs, and they told us how marijuana would drive you crazy in our seventh-grade health class while we watched the movie Reefer Madness, but I had never met anyone on them before. I was going to watch him carefully. I would be ready for him if he tried to hurt anyone.

Sharon was there, and she gave me a cheerful wave over to the seat she had apparently been saving next to her.

Mr. Levine didn’t mess around; he started with, “Now Mr. Jackson has graced us with his presence, we can get started.”

It didn’t come across as mean, but I also felt like it was Mr. Hurley getting ready to issue a detention. They can’t do that on a movie set can they?

“We are going to be shooting the outdoor scenes in Hawaii starting in January. You will be called in for some blocking shots individually and maybe sound checks, but most of the work will start in January. The studio will contact you in the next month with your travel arrangements.” Mr. Levine continued to explain that Hawaii had been chosen because of better weather and a lot better surfing.”

“Rick, you and Fred Madison will be taking surfing lessons in the meantime. We have arranged for that down at Huntington Beach. You and Fred stay behind, and we will discuss the particulars.”

I looked around to see who Fred Madison was. He looked about sixteen, but I bet he was older. He looked like the guy next door. Good looking but also a little goofiness about him. I bet he would be my side kick in the movie for a little comedy relief. Can’t have the star looking stupid you know!

Sharon who would be my opposite was sitting next to a girl that looked about Fred’s age. That is she looked sixteen but was probably older. She would be Sharon’s girlfriend and foil for Fred. Hmm, I wondered who the rich bully would be?

Oh, that guy over there. He looked more like twenty something, well-built and could pose as a snob easily. Later as I got to know Phil Sampson, I would realize he was the nicest guy you could meet and never a snob, but he sure could act like one!

Of course, this was all guessing on my part, but so far I hadn’t seen any depth in the plots of the various movies I had worked in.

“It is too early to hand out scripts as the writers haven’t finished, they are having some plot issues.”

Maybe there is some hope for this movie after all.

Mr. Levine then asked if there were any questions.

I asked, “What about our schooling.”

“Well Rick, you are the only one that is still in school, so we will discuss that later.”

At least, my guess on ages wasn’t too far off.

Mr. Levine droned on a bit how excited he was to make this movie. Looking around I realized that most of the cast and others present felt the same way I did. This was a B-movie if we did it right and a joke if we didn’t. It could be a stepping stone to better things, but it was a job, a job every one of us liked, but still a job.

When Mr. Levine finally wound down he asked Tom Jensen if he had anything to say. He shook his head no. His mouth was full. He had been eating potato chips the whole time he was here. I wondered what could make him so hungry.

All but Fred and I were dismissed. Our session wasn’t very long. We were told the address of a surf shop at Huntington Beach. It had just opened, and Mr. Levine knew the owner so was trying to give them a leg up. The name was Katin Surf Shop.

We would be going for lessons starting Monday, for three weeks or more depending on our advancement. Fred didn’t think it would be hard for him as he had been surfing since he was eight years old. I would have some catching up to do.

Fred knew where it was. I agreed to drive, so he gave me directions to his apartment. It was close to my old one so it wouldn’t be a problem finding it. I agreed to pick him up at six as we’re expected by seven on Monday. I guess the waves were better early in the morning. He called it the Dawn Patrol.

I think I would enjoy being with Fred. He had a ready smile but wasn’t a smart mouth.

That didn’t take long, and Fred headed out. That left me and Mr. Levine to discuss school. It was easy, I was to stop by the studio school on Monday afternoon and set up a schedule. He did ask me what year I was in. When I told him the tenth grade he shook his head.

“Looking at you Rick I would have thought you were in college. You have definitely rounded the corner from puberty. As a matter of fact, you have no signs of childhood in your face. If you keep this look you can play young adult parts for many a year.” Well, I could see what his interests were. I thanked him and left.

I did wander out to the back lot before I left, and said Hi to the guys in the stunt area. They all bowed to me and called me Sir Richard. That started an impromptu brawl. It’s my fault that Don Palmer ended up in a water trough. He wasn’t paying attention, and it cost him. It was his fault for not looking. That was my story, and I was sticking to it!

Of course it didn’t get me very far with Mr. Monroe, who walked up. I tried to explain how it was Mr. Palmers fault, but he didn’t buy it. I would have been more worried if he didn’t give a small laugh every time he looked at Don. As for Don, he didn’t seem up set which gave me concern. I remembered his comments about not going into a fight angry, and that revenge was a dish best served cold.

In the end, Mr. Monroe welcomed me back and asked me to stop by his office sometime next week when I had some free time. This left me with Mr. Palmer, who was now taking ribbing from his friends. I knew this was going to hurt sometime in the near future.

I told him I would be back on Monday for my school schedule and would like to arrange more lessons in unarmed combat. He told me he was looking forward to it. Yeah, it was going to hurt.

After that I drove back home. I went to the library and found an old friend and read for the afternoon. I wondered if there would be a woman in my life with red-bronze-auburn hair and gold flecked, tawny eyes.

For some reason, I just didn’t have much energy. I read for the rest of the afternoon. Had dinner with the family and then watched some TV with them. I have no idea what was on later. I was in bed early.

I felt rested when I woke up. After my warmup I took off on what was going to become my morning routine through the state park next door. It felt good to be running. I still had to get in shape for running up and down hills, but it wouldn’t take long.

After my morning ritual, I joined the family for breakfast. Popeye and Aunt Sybil had gone north to Napa Valley. Everyone else was there, and the talk was of school. Mary and the boys would be going to Tucker Academy, a private school in Hollywood.

According to my parents, they had a very good reputation. It was a day school only, for kindergarten through 12th grade. As a co-ed school there would be socialization. Within a brick fenced in campus like setting, with tight entrance control, one of the major concerns was addressed. The average class size was fifteen students with a maximum of twenty.

I made the mistake of saying it sounded pretty good. Mum was all over that, asking me if I wanted to go there. A quick, “No,” and I was out of there with only half my breakfast eaten.

I immediately revised my beach plans for the day. Instead, I grabbed a sport coat to complete my Hollywood day wear and headed to the studio.

I drove the T-Bird with a studio sticker so was waved through the gate. There was a new guard; they seldom lasted because it was actually considered a stepping stone to getting into the movie business. Once in the gate and meeting people a career of some sort would start. It was seldom in front of the camera, but it would be a much better-paying job.

I had thought about bringing the Bird, so I could get a sticker, but after thinking about it I remembered how people would treat me with a stickered car. Maybe I would be better off having an anonymous car. Who would ever have thought, that a T-Bird would be considered anonymous?

I was taking a chance that I could talk to someone at the school. Mum had scared me with the idea of sitting in a class room.

I was in luck. Miss Sperry was in, doing some paperwork.

“Rick, so good to see you, I heard you were back and hoping you would be stopping in to arrange classes.”

“I am so ready,” I exclaimed. I guess I gave myself away with the emotion I showed.

“How’s that, Rick, most kids hate the start of school.”

Kid? I hadn’t thought of myself that way for a while, but she wasn’t wrong. I proceeded to tell her about Tucker and Mum’s comments. She laughed then told me.

“I think she was having you on. She called yesterday, and we had a long talk about this year.”

Hmm, this revenge would be served cold.

She offered me a cup of coffee and asked about my summer vacation. She like the rest of the world knew of my knighthood, but wanted a rundown of the whole trip.

She was shaking her head about getting chased out of Argentina; I may not have been as forthcoming as I could on all of the details. Africa I told pretty straight, well nothing about diamonds. England she heard about everything but a certain blonde or a Spanish beauty. There are just some things that don’t need to be public.

Maybe I wasn’t as a good of an actor as I thought.

“Rick, when you are older I would like to hear the whole story.”

“Why don’t you think it was the whole story?”

“You blush beautifully. I suspect it was girls in England and Argentina but something different in Africa.”

“Okay, I will be fifty in 1994, try me then.” After a laugh, she let me off the hook.

We got into a serious discussion about tenth grade. There would be the required History, Math, Science and English. She had the California text books set aside for me. There would be no class lectures as long as I had the work in on time. She or Mr. Dawson would be available for any questions.

It turns out that Mum had bought a home library with a complete set of Encyclopedias, both Americana and Britannica. There were several dictionaries, one large enough that it required a pedestal stand. I suspect she just liked the look. Anyway, I hadn’t noticed any of those at home so she probably had them set aside to surprise us. That gave me an idea for my own surprise.

Miss Sperry had my lesson packet made up for the year. They had really been confident that I would be back. They had due dates on them that would allow me to take a normal tenth grade school year. I intended to have them finished by the New Year. When I expressed that to her, she shrugged like that was expected.

I would have come in for a mid-term and final exam but no other tests. On the other hand, my assignments would be graded strictly so I had better pay attention. I promised I would, but all of a sudden I did feel like a kid making a promise to the teacher. Since I was sitting, I didn’t scuff my shoes when I told her I would do all my work.

I made as graceful a exit as I could, not very; carrying my large box of books and papers. What happened to debonair Sir Richard Jackson, about to be trained in spy stuff? Maybe I still was a kid. Certainly, my confidence went down the drain when facing a teacher.

On the way out to the parking lot, I kept an eye out for a certain unarmed combat teacher who may still be damp. It would be best to give him time to dry out.

After putting everything in the T-Bird trunk I went back to the main office. I was hoping to get everything taken care of with one trip. Again, I was in luck; Mr. Monroe was in and available. Of course, the ladies at the front desk had to announce Sir Richard is here. Mr. Monroe didn’t help at all as he actually came out of his office and bowed.

My cold revenge list was getting long.

After the fun and games, it turned out he basically just wanted to say, “Hi.”

He did bring me up to date on how the studio work load re-organization was working out.

“Rick, it is paying dividends already. We are saving money, and we are only half way there. There is no way that we will ever be able to repay you for your ideas and leadership.”

“You already have, by letting me lead. I learned so much about business from working with your staff it was amazing. I think we could call this a win all the way around.”

“I am glad you feel that way, but I still think we came out ahead. Unless you are doing some things I haven’t heard about.”

“Are you aware of Jackson Transportation?”

“No.”

I then explained to him about my ideas over the summer and what was being done.”

“Rick, let me get this straight; you now own your own truck line and your own navy?”

“Calling it my navy is weird, but yes. Do you think I should wear an Admirals uniform?”

“That may be over the top. You are really talking serious money here, millions.”

“My accountants tell me it will be many of them.” I didn’t want to use the B word as that was so unbelievable.

“Do you still intend to continue your movie career?”

“I don’t know about a full career, but what else do I have to do. Frankly, I am a figure head for the business; there is a team in place to run the actual organizations.”

“Slow down Rick, organizations?”

“Well there is the holding company Jackson Enterprises which owns: Jackson Productions, Jackson Home Products, Jackson Personal Products and the newest, Jackson Transportation.”

I then went on to explain about each division.

“Maybe I had better see if I can get Nina back from Switzerland you must be the most eligible bachelor in America if not the world.”

“Uh, Mr. Monroe, I won’t be sixteen till next month, let’s not rush into anything.”

“Rick, I keep forgetting how young you are. You come across so poised and mature.”

Keeping my thoughts to myself; I wondered what he would have thought of me in front of Miss Sperry.

It was getting towards lunch, so he invited me to the commissary. It was the usual zoo of strange costumes. There was one group that was really weird. They were all dressed in black pajamas. I asked about them. Apparently, they were Japanese Ninja’s. I had read about them somewhere but never gave much thought about what they would look like.

“Someone is making a movie about them?”

“We think they will be a strong niche like Westerns. They will be all action.”

“I don’t see it. People will just laugh at men in pajamas.”

“Our marketing people tell us different, but time will tell.”

Another thing kept happening; people kept coming up to Mr. Monroe to ask questions. The questions didn’t seem very important; every time it resulted in an introduction to me.”

After the third person, I finally realized that people didn’t really have questions; they just wanted to meet me! I didn’t get it, but was polite to everyone. I learned that early on in the business world. Only be rude when it was necessary not just because you felt like it.

The sixth person that approached us was Mr. Palmer. He didn’t want an introduction as he knew me very well. He was there to let Mr. Monroe know that he would only hurt me, not break me.

The funny thing is that made me feel better than all the others. I wisely waited him out before shaking Mr. Monroe’s hand and leaving for the day.

I drove directly back to Jackson House. Mum was just coming out of some meeting in her study. I told her that I had picked up my school books. Also to make it easier on us kids I had ordered dictionaries, thesaurus and several sets of encyclopedias for the library.

It was fun to watch her face. Well this revenge was not as cold as it could be, but it was still fun to watch her to start to stutter. It didn’t last long as her eyes narrowed. Probably my grin gave it away.

“Richard Edward Jackson you will pay!”

“Oops, I didn’t mean to get the full name reaction.”

I hustled out of the house. I spent the rest of the afternoon walking and running around the trails. It gave me time to think, and kept me away from Mum.

I spent the evening playing pool with Denny. He was getting to be a shark. I couldn’t touch him. I was missing long straight in shots, and he was walking the cue ball around others to sink shots that I wouldn’t have considered.

After my morning workout, I cleaned up and spent the rest of the morning sorting out all the class work that I would have to do before Christmas. It looked like a huge stack when it was all together but not so bad when sorted by subject. I then subdivided it to the midterm and final. It actually looked doable. I made the decision to work on each course daily rather than have a math day, English day, etc. I still stuck to my plan of working all the problems at the end of each chapter or writing the essays. It gave me firm control of the material, if I was going to spend my time on this stuff, I might as well actually learn it for real, rather than just to pass a test. It took me three hours to get the first set done, but I felt like the project was very doable, as matter of fact maybe I could take my final before Christmas and be setup for the eleventh grade the first of next year.

After lunch, I drove down to Huntington Beach to check the area out. The Katin Surf shop was easy to find. It sat by itself just north of town. It was across the Pacific Coast Highway from the water but had a really good view. The beach was huge, and I wondered if they would someday build houses on the beach side of the road.

I went inside. It was a laid-back place. There was a couch and chairs upfront and some old guy all dressed in blue was talking to someone named Corky about his boat, The Southern Seas. A lady with the reddest hair I had ever seen asked if she could help me.

I explained that I would be starting lessons on Monday for a part in a movie. She wanted to know all about it as surfing hadn’t made it to the big screen yet. I ended up spending several hours there, and the old guy measured me for surfing shorts. They were made from a canvas so tight I think it would stop bullets. It would stand up to the abrasion from sand and water; at least, that is what Corky Carroll told me.

Nancy let me know he was one of the best surfers around and probably was the one who would teach me, so listen to any tips he gave me.

I went home and helped Dad straighten up things in the sub-basement. We had built the extra bedrooms down there so we had a real retreat if needed. When it was first mentioned I thought that was extreme. Now I had seen more of the world and was getting a better understanding of the money now in our life it made more sense.

Saturday I performed my daily workout and then really got into the school books. I ended up doing two complete sets of lessons in the morning and another after lunch. These lessons were not set up as one school day, one lesson; they were more like one lesson, one week. Not quite one for one but close.

I was brain dead by three o’clock so I drove down to a local driving range with my golf clubs. I banged away for an hour. I really needed the practice after a long layoff.

When I returned home, I had a message waiting. Fred Madison wanted me to call. When I got hold of him he asked what I was doing tonight. I told him I had no plans. He asked if I wanted to go cruising. That sounded good to me. We agreed we would catch a burger somewhere along the way. Mum and Dad were fine with it, especially after I told them I had no plans to stay out later than eleven o’clock.

On my way out, Dad asked if I had bail money! I wanted to know why he asked.

He laughed and said, “Well you have been known to have interesting things happen around you.”

It so happened, I had several hundred on me, but I wasn’t about to let him know that. It would be admitting that I had the same concerns as he did. There must be a teenage rule against that, if not there should be.

Fred had just learned about my T-Bird, he didn’t know I owned two of them, so he was excited to drive around with the top down. We went to West Hollywood and drove up and down Sunset Strip. We had offers to drag for pinks. That held no interest because it was obvious the cars were all set up for dragging, and I would have lost my car.

The girls were everywhere. I was ready to stop at the first ones that waved, but Fred convinced me to check out all of the mile and half drive before we committed. I was glad we did; each group seemed prettier than the last.

After two rounds, there were two girls that stood out, a blonde and a brunet. Fred wanted the blonde which was okay with me. We pulled over and asked if they wanted to join us for a burger at the drive in a block down the way. They piled in, the blonde whose name was Jane got in the back with Fred. The brunet who was Betsy stayed up front with me.

They wanted to know all about us. When Fred told them, he was an actor they squealed and wanted all the details. It became clear that they wanted a studio introduction. When I was asked what I did I told them not a lot because I was still in High School. That cooled Betsey down. As a matter of fact, when we stopped at the drive in, she climbed in back with them.

That’s how the evening went, the girls sitting in the back, hugging and kissing with Fred. I was really glad to let them know I had to be home by eleven. I dropped them off at Fred’s place and didn’t want to know what happened next. I could have told them I was an actor also, but something about them set off alarm bells.

When I got home, no one was up. I made it by eleven but would get no credit for it.

At breakfast the next morning after my regular workout, Mum let me know that I had got in at 10:47. It seems we have guards at the gate who log us in and out. That doesn’t seem fair, they don’t even have to wait up to keep track of when I got home.

I was smart enough not to say that out loud.

No one had any plans for the day. I think the busy week on top of the vacation had caught up with everyone. My brothers would be starting school tomorrow so they were dreading that. Mary was excited as this was her beginning. She was looking forward to meeting girls her age. That would be good for Mary. I don’t see how a bunch of five year olds could be a problem. It is not as though they would be underfoot here at home.

I spent most of the day getting ahead on my school work. I managed to knock out four units today and still go to the driving range to slaughter some golf balls. My long shots were still long, but I needed a lot of work on my short irons. I could hit a ten-foot circle, but not put them in a fruit basket. That was the nice thing about this range, for a fee you could try about anything.

After working in a sand trap, I needed to take a shower when I got home, I must have had a ton of sand in my hair. I never did get around to practice putting, and that is what I needed most of all.

It was starting to get dark when I got home. I skipped the shower. It seems I didn’t have as much sand as I thought. At dinner, everyone was quite, so we broke up early. I double checked my school work but my heart wasn’t in it. I finally gave up and watched TV until eleven and called it a night.

I started a book about an American Nurse, a freedom fighter and a ship that I knew started life as the S.S. President Warfield.

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Story tagged with:
Coming of Age / Young Adult /