The Richard Jackson Saga: Tenth Grade
Chapter 9

I had to hit the ground running Monday, well not actually hit the ground, but I had a very busy day ahead and had to get moving. Up at five, I still did not beat Ben Carpenter to the stables. Bob had been told of Ben’s coming on board so there was no surprise.

Bob acted relieved to be going back to the ranch. I think all the socializing he had to do was getting to him. Though I must say his nods were more at ease than they had been. I don’t think he was quite the introvert he thought he was. Why he had a three second nod last night, and it had a little side-ways bob to it. Neat Bob was bobbing his head.

I hate Mondays!

Anyway, before I even started my run I oversaw the hand over from Bob to Ben. Bob explained the daily routine to Ben. I found out Bob had been holding out. He could speak full sentences. Last night Dad had tipped Bob one hundred dollars for his efforts so that might have helped his mood.

Ben and Bob had a good conversation about each of the horses. I understood about half of that and learned a few things along the way. The horses had been vaccinated for strangles last month so they should be good for a year with the usual precautions, they had been dewormed before leaving the ranch so they would be due next month, and none of them had the laminitis stance.

I pretended to know what they were talking about, but I don’t think I fooled anyone. I finally broke down and asked questions. Turned out strangles is distemper, all horses need deworming on a regular basis depending on the climate and laminitis which results in sore feet and hunching of the back was from too much grain. Good to know.

A last instruction was to watch out that Mary didn’t over feed Misty. Misty would let Mary get her so fat her belly would drag on the ground.

After that short education Bob and I helped Ben move his things into the apartment above the stable. Bob had his truck all packed and ready to go, with a sharp nod he headed out. It was a nice nod, saying, “Hey, I enjoyed this, you aren’t too bad for a bunch of city slickers, let’s do this again some time, and if you’re out my way look me up.”

Well at least that is what I thought it meant. At long last I was able to go on my morning run. I saw the sprained ankle couple and waved. I couldn’t remember their names.

Breakfast was busy. First Dad reminded me that we had a full business review at the office on Thursday. Then Mum informed us that Sybil and Popeye would be arriving tomorrow and staying through Saturday. They would be going to Boeing with them on Wednesday.

Next was Susan Wallace who had joined us in response to the beach party news, but I had to talk to her about Dennis anyway.

Our first discussion was about the tabloids and Alice. Pictures were everywhere. I loved the one that identified her as a Hungarian Princess that was incognito. I wondered if Hungary had Princesses anymore.

Susan told me that I would pay for that. The tabloids were a vengeful bunch. I wasn’t too worried. It wasn’t as though I were courting public opinion as if I were running for office.

Sometimes things work out, the phone rang and Mrs. Hernandez answered it with her usual, “Jackson House.” It was for me, one of the tabloids competitors was on the line. They were one of the few that had not run the story. They wanted to know about the Hungarian Princess.

I explained that the other tabloid had made a terrible error; she was not a Hungarian Princess, but rather a Bulgarian Princess. They were excited by the chance to point out their competitors poor investigative reporting.

Susan was shaking her head the whole time.

“You are going to have an alien love child by the time it is over.”

“What’s an alien love child,” asked Mary.

I had an urgent need to go the bathroom so quickly left the table. I don’t know what was said while I was gone, but Mary told me I was bad when I got back.

The truth about Alice she is a sixteen-year old sophomore at Hollywood High. Her last name is Liddell and her Dad is a key grip at MGM. I wouldn’t mind getting to know her, but thought I would let things settle down, before I tried to contact her.

Next, I told Susan about how I had hired Dennis Lawson to be a publicist for the Jackson Enterprises. I could see she looked uncomfortable when I started explaining things. It dawned on me that she was in charge of my acting publicity, which came under Jackson Enterprises.

“Susan, it has just occurred to me that I haven’t thought this through very well. I do need someone to publicize the manufacturing side of Jackson Enterprise. While Dennis has a general business background, he really doesn’t know the Publicity side of things. I should be offering you the position of Vice President of Publicity for all of Jackson Enterprises with Dennis reporting to you.”

“Rick you really have started a mess. Think about what I do, it is a very specialized form of marketing; I’m marketing Richard Jackson the performing artist. Dennis will be bringing a higher visibility to the Jackson Enterprises brand. Do not confuse visibility with selling the product.”

“Think about it, companies publicly traded need visibility, so people will know about their products and services, so they will invest in the company. In your case you don’t need that. What you need is marketing.”

“Since you have licensed out most of your inventions, the licensees perform the marketing. The only place you don’t have marketing is the containerized shipping business. There you are the only game in town, so you don’t have to market.”

“Cripes I see what you are saying. I have really screwed up. I shouldn’t have hired Dennis, but I refuse to let him go. That would really mess up his life for my mistake.”

“Not my point at all. Yes, you have charged into this without thinking. So now figure out how to use Dennis’s talents in your business that achieves a win for everyone.”

The whole family was sitting at the table listening to my latest faux pas. It was Mrs. Hernandez who spoke up in Spanish, “What about your Dad’s newspapers?”

Talk about a lifeline. None of the adults sitting at the table spoke Spanish, but of course my brothers and sisters did. They all made positive sounds.

I asked Dad if he needed a business editor for his papers. He thought for a moment.

“Rick, my papers are local papers, same for the TV and radio stations. The only business news they carry is local. Anything other than that comes off the wire.”

“Could you use someone to expand coverage?”

“That was not in the business plan. I’m not opposed to it, but I’m not sure if we can recover the cost.”

“It’s my error, what if I cover the cost of starting a business news department which provides stories for all of your outlets?”

Susan spoke up, “Rick your creative mind is getting ahead of itself again. First Dennis could provide print stories for the papers with no problems. That is his background. I’m not aware of anyone providing the same services on air, other than snippets when a major company has a breakthrough, or a problem.”

“So, we could set Dennis up as Business Editor for stories in the paper, then record radio programs with those stories and some discussion about them, do you think we could sell the programs to other stations?”

“I don’t know Rick, you would have to have a sales and marketing group to handle that.”

“Groan. Okay, Dad if I funded it would you let Dennis start running business related stories in the paper?”

“I will Rick, but realize the cost is more than Dennis’s salary, it takes time to set type while the price of paper and ink in that quantity is not cheap.”

“This is my error and I will pay for it. But I’m going to try to make lemonade out of this mess.”

Susan asked, “What money have you offered Dennis?”

When I told her there were groans around the table. Well Mary didn’t groan, she just got a calculating look. I think Mum and Susan would be facing some negotiating of their own with their miniature reporter.

“Rick, what do you know about the pay scale at newspapers?”

“Nothing.”

“I don’t either, but I think you may have another problem.”

Dad spoke up, “I know he has, I’ve just been through the budgets for all these operations. That is as much as or more than the top person at each paper. Then there is another issue. I’ve no doubt Dennis is a good reporter, based on the one big story he has got into print. That doesn’t mean he will be a good editor. An editor of a newspaper not only makes certain a story is well written, but that the story should be printed in the first place.”

I hate Mondays.

Mum threw in her thoughts. “Why don’t you tell everyone that you are looking at creating a new business unit? Assign a senior editor to review Dennis’s stories, but let him pick the stories to print. Send those stories out on AP or UP and see which ones are picked up. Those which are picked up, but don’t have a critical time factor about them can be used to create a package for radio stations. Since it is a special project that is being paid for by Rick it shouldn’t cause pay problems. Just be certain that Dennis knows not to discuss his salary.”

Dad then built on it. “We can easily track the audience on the radio programming. The Nielsen rating service does that. If the ratings are good the stations do have advertising sales people in place. We will pick one of the better ones to pitch the program to other stations not in our broadcast area. If we get lucky maybe one of the networks will pick up the program.”

Even Denny got into the act. Once that is going you can see if a show on nothing but business will work on TV. Maybe you could have a group of businessmen talk about one of Dennis’s articles.”

I love my family.

“Okay, Dad what would you have to do, to start Dennis up at the papers.”

“Since I’m the owner I could force it down their throats, but I don’t like to work that way. Why don’t you come up with a presentation on how you would like to use a column on business to expand into the broadcast world?”

“That sounds doable. Susan would you work with Dennis and me to come up with presentation?”

“Rick, I would love to, do you realize that your error may result in an entirely new business? I wouldn’t miss this for the world.”

“Now I have to break the news to Dennis. Susan, I told him that you and I would meet him at my office this morning.”

“Okay we will go directly there when we are finished eating.”

“Mum change of subject. I need your help in finding a beach house on Huntington Beach. Nancy Katin helped me realize that I don’t know the first thing about selecting a house.”

“It’s seems to be your day for education Rick.”

“School work is so much easier than this life stuff.”

“Bingo! Anyway, what are your concerns?”

“Well Nancy put the question to me, was it a place to change clothes or a place to live?”

“What was your answer?”

“I would get back to her after talking to you.”

“Good answer. I suggest you think of it in the long term. Do you want a shack to change clothes in, which inevitability you will treat as a shack or a place to live which you will take care of and that will have future value?”

“Uh, that answers the question, doesn’t it?”

“If money was the concern, no, but since it isn’t yes.”

“Would you help me find a place?”

“Rick how could you!”

Oh, oh what have I done now?

“I’m sorry Mum, shouldn’t I have asked.”

She was laughing her head off. Well it didn’t fall off her shoulders or anything.

“Ask a woman if she wants to go house hunting? You do have a lot to learn. Susan would you like to go with me?”

“I would love to Peg.”

Mary piped up, “Can I go to?”

“Certainly dear.”

I think I hate my family.

“After we speak to Dennis this morning I have to pick up my dry cleaning and then I want to stop by the studio and talk to them about that fiasco Sock Hop.”

When I mentioned the dry cleaner, there was absolutely no reaction from my parents. Their tradecraft was great. I would have to strive for that level.”

At last the breakfast from Hell was over. Well to me it was Hell.

As we were leaving Dad touched my arm and directed me into the library.

“Rick, you did well, there was a problem you created, and then it was brought to your attention. You didn’t get defensive. Instead you faced it directly and recognized a solution, then accepted others help. The most important thing is you were concerned about the people involved not the cost.”

I love my family. What a great day!

Susan and I arrived at the office about the same time as Dennis. He had on a suit and tie for his first day on his new job. We settled into the conference room with coffee and a closed door. I introduced him to Susan and they made the obligatory noises. I then started to explain my problem to him.

From the look on his face I jumped ahead.

“Oh, you have a job, just not the job I first had in mind.”

You could see the relief wash across him.

I then started over and explained what we had in mind.

“Rick this is great, I was worried about the publicity end, I know nothing about it. The reporting is different. I think any reporter would give his eyeteeth for this opportunity.”

“The pay stands as is. I would like you to consider Susan as a mentor. Even though she doesn’t know the reporting business, she certainly knows which buttons to push to get a story out there. I think you would be a formidable team.”

Susan and I had discussed this and other possibilities in the car on the way down to the office so I hadn’t stepped into it again.

I then had the embarrassing task of informing Jim Wallace of my error. However I tried to learn from my mistakes so I led off telling him there would be no changes in our planned raises but that we were taking a different direction with Dennis.

He told me he wondered, but didn’t know if it was in his place to question my decisions. I informed him it was very much in his place. I also made a mental note that Jim was more of a yes man, than a no man and that I should keep that in mind when I had my brainstorms.

Susan rode with me on to Chinatown. I asked her not to mention to my parents about the pay raises I had given. She grinned and asked me what it was worth to me. As I gaped at her she giggled.

“Gotcha!”

“Of course I won’t, it sounded like it was time for a series of increases anyway. I’m surprised the compensation committee on your Board of Directors didn’t address the issue.”

I changed the subject.

The stop at the dry cleaners was short. I had remembered my ‘tickee’ so I was prepared to hand it to the grandmotherly type at the counter. The beautiful Chinese girl at the counter may have been her granddaughter.

She told me, “Bring some more clothes in for cleaning next Monday, there will be an envelope to pick up.”

She smiled, winked at me and added; “Besides we need the business.”

I was all flushed when I returned to the car. We were parked directly in front of the cleaners so Susan saw the transaction. She also saw how I looked.

“Cute, huh?”

“Very.”

We went back to Jackson House. I turned on the radio. We heard about Louie Miller, Sang Mm dooby do, dahm dahm, dahm do dahm ooby do, got stuck on a subway train, and powdered an alligators behind. I think we had the best music ever.

Susan was going to get in her car and leave but Mum waylaid us first.

“How was your trip to the office?”

“It went fine; Dennis is very much on board with the new program. Susan has graciously agreed to help mentor Dennis.”

“Good, did you remember to go to the dry cleaner?” I knew this was the real question and she really didn’t have to ask, as I had my suit in hand...

“Oh he remember and will be glad to go again,” replied Susan.

“Why is that?”

“I think Rick is in love with the girl behind the counter.”

Mum raised an eyebrow at that; she really had that one eyebrow trick down.”

I ignored her.

As Susan left she told me we had to talk.

“Rick this could be a honeypot.”

“Besides the obvious what is a honeypot.”

“In our world it is common to place someone very attractive in front of you. The ideal outcome for them is to have film of you in compromising positions for blackmail.”

“I don’t think I like our world.”

“It is what it is.”

“So if she acts really friendly just ignore it?”

“Yes, there is nothing to gain by leading her on, and possibly a lot to lose.”

“With my luck and girls, maybe I should find a Hungarian Princess.”

“Don’t give up Rick, you are still young.”

“I know but it is so discouraging, every time I think I have a girlfriend it goes bad.”

“As I said, don’t give up.”

It had been a busy Monday so far and it was only lunch time. I decided to head for the studio, I could eat there.

When I got there I was told Mr. Monroe wouldn’t be available for at least an hour so I went over to the commissary. Mr. Monroe wasn’t around, but Mr. Wayne was there.

When he caught sight of me he yelled, “Hey Pilgrim come on over.”

I joined him and Katherine Hepburn. They were working together on a film and had come to the commissary rather than eating with the crew on set. From the way they were passing a flask back and forth I think I knew why.

It didn’t take long to figure that they were more interested in drinking than eating or acting. I made an excuse and wandered off.

Over at the stunt yard I worked on my archery as it was the hardest skill for me to keep up. The sword fighting seemed to be ingrained in my muscle memory to the point I just needed to refresh it occasionally. Of course I could always learn new thrusts and parries.

After an hour I went back to the main office. I was told I had just missed Mr. Monroe as he went from one meeting to another. It would be another hour.

I went back taped my hands and worked on the heavy, reflex and speed bags for an hour.

Again I had missed him between meetings. His secretary assured me he had been informed. I asked which meeting room he was in. She pointed at one door across the hall so I sat in a chair and waited. I was beginning to get suspicious. After half an hour Mr. Monroe came out.

He didn’t seem surprised that I was there. That may have something to do with me, the receptionist making a call and my hearing the phone ring in the conference room. It was also strange that he was the only one in that room. He didn’t seem thrilled to see me.

“Hey Rick, I hear you have been trying to catch up with me all afternoon.”

“I have do you have a minute to talk about the Sock Hop?”

“Not really, let’s do it next week.”

“Okay, I will wing it in the press conference.”

“What press conference?”

“One of the papers got wind that the Sock Hop was not as presented and wanted to get my side of it.”

Of course there was no interview; well maybe Dennis could interview me. All of a sudden having our own media outlets made a lot of sense.

“Rick, don’t do anything hasty. Let’s go to my office. We are trying to straighten this mess out.”

We move into his office and he closed the door.

“What happened anyway?”

“A case of too many Indians, not enough Chiefs, do you realize that all the studios, eight different consulate schools, and three networks were involved with this dance? Each of us assigned one low level person to represent us. Remember it was just a school dance in the gym.”

“Things went awry when one the low level people at a network decided it would be a good TV special. They then set it up for one of their mobile TV crews to be there. Then someone else decided if it was going to be a TV special then they just couldn’t let the riffraff be on screen, they would hire professional dancers, next thing you know, Dick Clark is hired, the red carpet is rolled out.”

“The end result I have over twenty calls from irate agents. You are the only person who has come in to face me themselves.”

“What is going to happen?”

“I’m the leader of a group of executives deciding how to handle this. At this point we are inclined to embargo all the tape and declare it a non-event.”

“Why would you do that?”

“Because there is no way that we could get the releases signed now for a reasonable rate. Some of the agents think they have us over a barrel.”

Sometimes inspiration hits at the right time, for me it is normally when the time is passed. You know the perfect come back, when you are on your way home.

“Don’t pay anyone, make it a charity event.”

“That won’t work; we would still have to pay to scale. Some will refuse that.”

“You can pay them much more than scale.”

“How?”

“Pay them in kind?”

“What do you mean?”

“Have them list their time as a charitable donation. You issue them a letter stating that their time is tax deductible as a charitable donation. I mean do the charity for real like the March of Dimes telethon.”

“Do not put an amount in the letter; let each person decide their own worth. Their agent will get ten percent of that deduction.”

“What if they decide they are worth some ridiculous amount?”

“That’s between them and the IRS, it’s just like when you make a donation to the Salvation Army, they have you do the valuation. That way they are not in the middle. As they say pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered.”

“We would have to get everyone together again for the show.”

“Use the footage you have, then have volunteers who were present like myself make the on air pleas.”

“Would you do that?”

“For the right charity I would.”

“Rick, once again I owe you big time. Now to decide which network will carry it.”

“That’s easy, the one who created this mess. They can carry the cost, that or be sued by everyone else.”

“I love it.”

I told him I had to be going, but he stopped me.

“Rick, what did you think of the class ring design by committee.”

I didn’t know how to answer that. Mr. Monroe laughed at me.

“Horrid, gaudy things aren’t they?”

“Uh, yeah.”

He went to his desk and picked up a small jewelers box.

“You told me why you wanted a class ring. When I saw those monsters I knew it would not work. So here.”

He handed me a box, when I opened it there was a normal looking and size class ring, with WHS on the sides. It was perfect. It was what a real high school student would give his girlfriend.

“Mr. Monroe I don’t know how to thank you.”

“You have more than thanked me today Rick. I mean it if you ever have problems the studio will do all that is in its power to help you out.”

Knowing what I did about Hollywood’s past that was an enormous promise.”

“Thank you Sir.”

His phone rang about that time. After answering it he told me he had to get moving, Hepburn and Wayne were raising hell on the backlot.

I had spent the whole afternoon at the studio so I headed home for dinner. We talked about the day. I related my ideas for the sock hop fiasco. Everyone thought it was a good plan. Denny and Eddie didn’t pay much attention as they were in a big argument about who would win a fight between Batman and Superman.

I was learning to keep an eye on Mary. She was listening to the TV plans avidly. I wondered what was going through her devious little mind.

After the heady adventures of the day reality crept in as I headed to the library to do school work. After several hours the day caught up with me and I went to my room and crashed.

As I ran Tuesday morning I tried to sort out yesterday in my head. I had wins and losses. The biggest win was the charity telethon idea. The loss was my impulsive decision to hire Dennis.

My family had come together to develop a plan to straighten out the situation. The question was; how did I arrive there in the first place? After some thought, I realized I had made a decision when I didn’t have to.

As I thought more I decided my order of decision making should be; people then cost. The first question on any decision is do I have to make that decision right now. If not put it off until I consult with those whose opinions I respect. If I can’t put it off make sure everyone involved knew why I’m making the decision and what may cause me to change my mind later.

If I have to make a decision immediately and there is no way to reverse it later, learn to live with the consequences. The important thing is to put off decisions until they are thought through if at all possible.

I made a personal resolve to stop whenever I was thinking about an action that would affect other’s lives.

I was thinking so hard on these issues that I completed my run with absolutely no idea of what course I had taken. When I got back Ben was out in the yard working with the horses. I asked him how it was going. He told me that position was so far beyond his dreams he didn’t know what to say.

I asked him how his grandmother was doing.

“Not so well, she didn’t recognize me the last time I went in, she kept calling me Jason.”

“I’m sorry to hear that.”

“Thank you, it is hard, she raised me after my parents were killed in a car crash in 1952.”

“It has not been easy has it?”

“It was a wonderful life until recently, now the nursing home costs are eating up the last of her money. I don’t know what we will do when it runs out.”

I was ready to open my mouth, but shut it as I realized no decision had to be made right now. Instead I changed the subject and asked how the horses looked to him.

“They are in great condition. I checked all of their shoes this morning. None of them need new ones yet. That reminds me, what farriers do you use?”

“As far as I know none has been set up.”

“I can recommend one that will come here if you need her.”

“Her? I didn’t realize there were female farriers.”

“Jane is one of the few, and probably the only cute one in the country.”

I could see which way that wind was blowing.

“I will check with my parents. If we don’t have anyone setup there is no reason she couldn’t do the work.”

“Thanks Rick, I appreciate it.”

“Okay, see you later.”

“It will be much later I have some things to do after this.”

“Okay.”

Uncle Popeye, as he now was to be called and Aunt Sybil were at breakfast. I hugged my Aunt and shook Popeye’s hand. We exchanged a few inanities as none of us had coffee yet.

I brought up the Farriers issue. We didn’t have one so Dad was going to tell Ben to go ahead and make arrangements for her to stop by when needed.

I asked him for a private moment after breakfast. In his office I explained about Ben’s grandmother. He told me he would take care of it. The family would pay for her care. To be blunt it was not completely out of the goodness of his heart, but a desire to bind Ben closer to the family so he wouldn’t spill our secret hideaway.

As I left the room I realized this delaying bit had something going for it. In the end Dad made the decision not me, and he was paying for it!

I went into the library and sat down for a thinking session. There was a problem that I had been putting off. Namely I’m sixteen years old and have soloed, what’s next?

I can go try to become a private pilot with instruments ratings. Then I can get instructions in flying a multi-engine aircraft. I can’t get a commercial license yet but that wasn’t in the plan.

My new Cessna 310 would be delivered early March. There was no reason I couldn’t start my multi-engine training prior to that as soon as I had my private certificate in hand. My parents weren’t aware of any of this. They left all the details to me.

The question I had now; where to go and who to see to start my instruction. Ideally I would be ready to go when my plane was delivered. I needed to ask Mr. McGarry for advice.

As arranged I spent the rest of the morning with Mr. McGarry working on my instrument rating. In a way it was like flying a 707. You had to have faith in your instruments. Maintenance and flight checks make one heck’va lot of sense.

For the fun of it we buzzed Mr. Tunstall’s ranch. At least that’s what Mr. McGarry told me I did. He had a hood up and I couldn’t see anything out the canopy.

I did ask him about multi-engine training and he recommended a school at LAX. I would have to check into that. Hmm, maybe I would get a beach house sooner so I wouldn’t have so far to drive for lessons.

When I arrived home for lunch Popeye and Aunt Sybil were there. Anna Romanov joined us at lunch. After lunch the men were informed the ladies were going shopping. We could entertain ourselves.

Our entertainment consisted of going to the library where Dad and Popeye had a whiskey, while I had my Coke.

Popeye described what he had seen in the various ports he and Sybil had visited. He had changed his opinion on several ports since our last meeting.

He thought that the one which would hold promise was Singapore if it could get out from under British rule and get its corruption under control. He and Dad agreed that wasn’t likely to happen.

Haiphong wasn’t in the running because of the past problems between the French and Vietnamese. The country still hadn’t stabilized.

Sydney, Manilla, Tokyo, and Hong Kong in the Pacific; London, Liverpool, Rotterdam, Antwerp, Marseille, Hamburg, and Valencia in Europe; Colon, Buenos Aries and Santos in South America: Savannah, Charleston, Houston, New York or more likely New Jersey, Long Beach, and Seattle/Tacoma in the United States. There were others interested but these were the ones he thought would come through the quickest.

If China ever opened up it would be Shanghai hands down, but don’t hold your breath.

Dinner was very pleasant with Popeye and Sybil. I just couldn’t bring myself to call him Uncle Popeye like the other kids. He didn’t seem to mind so the other adults let it go.

We all related our recent adventures. Aunt Sybil turned out to be the story teller in the family. While Popeye would relate facts, she provided color and interest. After dessert we adjourned to watch TV but the set never got turned on as Sybil told us about the various cities and countries they had visited.

I realized that while I had been a few places it was really nothing compared to them. I vowed to change that in the future.

My morning run gave me time to think through my day. Mum and Dad were heading to Boeing. The boys were going to a homeschool outing with some friends and their parents. Mary would be taken care of by Mrs. Hernandez. I needed to check on the commercial pilot’s school at LAX about multi-engine training.

Part of my new morning ritual was to check up on Ben and the horses. All was fine. Ben as he put it was in pig heaven. The horses were looking comfortable in their new settings. How does one tell a horse looks comfortable? They just did.

Popeye and Sybil had gone with Mum and Dad so it was just us kids at breakfast. The boys were chattering on and on about the tar pits. They hoped a dinosaur would float to the top while they were there. I didn’t think it worked that way but it would be cool if it did.

The phone rang and Mrs. Hernandez summoned me.

“Hello, Rick Jackson speaking.”

“Rick, this is your favorite redhead from Katins.”

“Hi Nancy, what’s up?”

“I just had the most disturbing phone call from the accountant on your movie. They are refusing to pay for your charges from the other day.”

“That doesn’t surprise me, I figured I would owe for it, how much?”

“The total is two hundred, twenty-seven dollars and fifty-six cents.”

“Wow that was a lot of swim suits. Was the fifty- six cents for a bikini?”

“Very funny Rick, that’s not the worse part, they are withdrawing support from Corky Carrol and the world surfing competition.”

I got a cold feeling.

“Let me check into it, don’t worry about Corky, I’m good for all of it.”

“Rick, that’s a lot of money.”

“I have a lot of money, and I take care of my friends when needed. I will be down this morning. I need to go down to LAX anyway. I’ll be there before lunch.”

“Okay, see you then.”

I immediately redialed the studio and asked for Mr. Monroe. He took my call right then.

“Rick, I guess you heard, you were next on my list to call.”

“I’ve heard that the surf movie has refused to pay some bills at Katin’s and have withdrawn support for Corky Carrols world tour.”

“It’s much worse than that; the production company has gone broke.”

“How did that happen, I thought money was in escrow?”

“A lot is, but it covers future expenses like your salary for the movie. Carrols tour would come under advertising which is not included.”

“So what happens now?

“The movie is cancelled, it will go into bankruptcy, the judge will order escrowed commitments paid. Everyone else will have to haggle for anything they can get.”

“So I make money for doing nothing?”

“Consider it lost opportunity money. You could have been making another movie. Remember you had points in this. They are worth nothing now. Luckily your points were in lieu of salary so they are a debt to you and not considered part ownership, or the debtors would be coming after you.”

“Well this is a kick in the head.”

“Rick, don’t whine, think of all the production crew which thought they had a job. They aren’t under a contract so they are out.”

“Sorry if I sounded like that, this has taken me by surprise.”

“Me to, I think the accountants are going to uncover some fraud. This happened too quickly, like the money disappeared overnight.”

‘Okay, please keep me posted on what I should know.”

“You should talk to your lawyers. You may want to sue some people just to protect yourself.”

Now that was just plain crazy, but I made a mental note to talk to the company lawyers about that. Then I had a thought.

“Should I turn this over to Mr. Baxter as my agent to be my front man?

“Good idea, Rick, John will be like a pit bull, it’s also his livelihood.”

Now I had a law suit against me for flying an airplane to save us all; and facing another to protect myself from other people’s bad decisions and possible theft. What is the world coming to?

After our goods byes and hanging up I headed down to LAX. I had to be quick about all of this as I had a full day ahead.

Of course, I had time to stop and talk to the nice police officer who let me off with a warning about going too fast. I even took the time to sign an autograph, to Ponch from Sir Richard.

After that interruption to my day I slowed down a bit and went to the commercial pilot’s school at the LAX airport. I noticed some work had been started by McKee construction in the center of the terminals. I wondered what it was.

After I drove around the terminal twice I figured out I was in the wrong part of the airport. Another nice police officer gave me directions to the civilian side of the airport.

There I found the school I was looking for. I had to ask at an information desk about who I needed to see about lessons. They seemed reluctant to give me the time of day.

Finally, a pale looking young man came out of an office and talked to me in the lobby. When I explained what I was looking for he made a face and informed me that it would be very expensive, in the hundreds of dollars and unless my parents were paying I should wait until I grew up.

Maybe if my day had been going better I would have been more of an adult about it. However, the day hadn’t been going well. I pulled out my money clip and counted out five one hundred-dollar bills.

“Will this cover it?”

He blushed clear from his throat to his hairline.

“Yes, I am sorry Mr.?”

“Jackson, Sir Richard Jackson.” The day really hadn’t been going well.

“Come this way, Sir Richard.”

We went into his office, which was the smallest in a short row of offices. There he rummaged in a mess on his desk and pulled out some forms.

“You want multi-engine training. Is there a specific purpose in mind?”

“Yes, I am taking delivery of a new Cessna 310c early next year and I want to be able to fly it. Oh, by the way, I paid cash for it.” Maybe later I would feel like an ass, but not now.

“Okay, these are the forms you need to fill out and return. You will need a copy of your current physical, your log book and your pilot’s certificate; we require two hundred dollars down, the rest will depend on how many hours you need to qualify.”

I was starting to feel embarrassed about how nasty I had been, so I thanked him profusely and got out of there.

I mellowed a bit by the time I got to Katin’s. I had my checkbook along so I wrote out a check for the swim wear and Corky’s sponsorship money.

I explained that I was on a tight schedule so moved along.

I went as quickly as I could, keeping out an eye for motorcycle cops up to Hollywood and Mr. Baxter’s office. I was taking a chance on his being in. I got lucky.

The receptionist directed me to his office immediately. From the look on his face I knew he had heard all about the movie being cancelled.

We exchanged a few pleasantries and got down to business.

“Rick, how do you feel about this?”

“I think upset, but I’m not emotionally involved. I think other people have more problems with this than I do.”

“I know, but you have points in this movie, so someone might try to say you own part of the movie and should share in the losses.”

“What does my contract say?”

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Story tagged with:
Coming of Age / Young Adult /