The Richard Jackson Saga: Tenth Grade
The week sThe week started with another perfect California day. According to the newspaper, Ohio was being hit by a cold rainstorm so it reaffirmed our decision to move west. After an uneventful run, keeping an eye out for tigers, and my usual workout I headed for the beach.
We high-paid actors have to suffer for our art you know.
Now that I wasn’t being forced to go three times a week, surfing had become fun again. Not that I would ever be a great surfer, but when I did catch a wave, it was cool. Fred and Corky were both there so I had a very good time. We took a break and had a snack at Katin’s. No one had any great news.
I did share that I had a date the previous Friday. They agreed that the Mall was the place to hang out now. Fred was a little crude with his questions so I shut him down. I wasn’t as impressed with Fred as much as when I first met him.
After our break, we went back to the water. As we crossed the road to the beach, I noticed a young lady wrapped in a blanket by the bathhouse. I wondered what she would be wearing to be all covered like that.
After catching a couple of waves, I noticed she was sitting near the water, still wrapped in her blanket. The next trip she was in the water. I must admit it was a pretty skimpy bikini, yellow polka dots and all.
I wished she would come out of the water. She was still there when we left. I hope she didn’t turn into a prune.
After a hearty lunch at home, Mum took me downtown to start her version of recognizing a tail and evading them if needed.
Beginning that afternoon, the rest of my week was fun as Mum taught me how to evade a tail. I learned not to be shy about pulling twenty dollars out of my wallet and asking if there was a back door. I learned to look for buildings with more than one entrance. Getting in one side of a cab, tossing the driver a five, as I got out the other door became routine. At the same time, Mum gave me pointers on how to spot my tails.
She pointed out Mr. Robertson and his trainees to me once, after that it was up to me to pick them out. Frankly after a few days, I didn’t see that they were any better at following than I had been at spotting my tails. It was a bit of a farce in a way. I knew they were there; they didn’t know I knew. I was to evade them, and they had to follow me.
Why Mr. Robertson didn’t figure out that something wasn’t right I don’t know. What did he think I was doing wandering around downtown LA like I was? Mum had made a point of letting him see her, so he knew I was in training, but he must have formed a low opinion of me to think his students would never be spotted. This was how my afternoons were spent.
At one point, I enjoyed helping an old lady cross the street. It was my Boy Scout good deed for the day. It also gave me an excuse to look all around so we wouldn’t get hit by on-coming traffic. You would never see James Bond doing this.
Since I spent my morning being a beach bum and as a spy in the afternoon, the real world caught up with me in the evening. I had to spend time with my books. I first did my schoolwork. I was ahead in my lesson plan and wanted to keep it that way.
Even though I had soloed, I wanted to really know about flying, so I spent more time with those studies. I couldn’t wait until tomorrow when I would get to go up again.
I finished up a book I had been reading. It was grim. I hope I never have to make the choice Gordon Zellaby had forced upon him. I didn’t care for the fact we never knew what started it.
Tuesdays exercise didn’t bring out anymore tigers, so I was a little more comfortable running in the woods. I did get a minor scare when I saw a flash of black and orange run across the trail ahead, but then I realized it was a chipmunk. I guess that tiger event shook me up more than I realized.
Mum and I headed downtown early. My tails were in place, and Mum asked me how that could be. We had gone out yesterday afternoon now we’re doing a morning session. I thought for a minute.
“They have someone watching the house?”
“That or they have an inside contact.”
“What, one of our people is betraying us?”
“Well Rick it’s not like it is wartime. Well maybe the American press makes it like wartime for us. They are either watching the house or have inside information. I thought this might happen so I had security on the lookout.
“What is really happening is that each morning someone is sitting out by the drive, way down the hill. They trade off about lunch time. Our security people have been keeping an eye on them.”
Mum told them not to report it to the police as we have it in hand. It did remind her that she needed to teach me how to spot a simple car tail.
While I could tell that I was being tailed now and could spot at least one of them, I wasn’t certain that I had all of them. They would change out, change coats, hats and items they were carrying.
I felt ornery at one point and stopped a policeman. All I did was ask him for directions, but in doing so, I pointed behind me, as though I was trying to point out people following me. It did make them back way off for most of the afternoon.
Overall, I thought they were being taught much better than I had been. Of course, Mum and I discussed all this on the way home. She gave me tips for the next day. She also gave me a mild scold for playing with my food.
As they upped their game, mine was also getting better so I felt most days were a draw. They had followed me, but I knew I was being followed and had spotted enough of them that I could lose them if I had to. Mum didn’t want me to lose them too often or thoroughly so we could keep playing them. As Mum put it, the US government was kind enough to provide a team to train me; it would be rude not to use it.
Lunch was the usual cold setup on the buffet. Eddie and Denny told me they liked studying at home. They could move at their own speed, run a lesson long or short depending how interesting it was. Being able to have their questions answered immediately was cool. It made learning fun. Having a good looking teacher also helped.
What they missed was the interaction with kids their own age. I had to agree with them as it was my same exact experience. The only difference was they were looking forward to going back to the classroom, so they could be with friends. These days I could hardly communicate with kids my own age. Well except for going on dates with girls.
For me, it was back to the books after dinner. Tenth grade was proving easier than I thought it would. I was getting ahead on my timeline. I had planned to be finished by the New Year. At this rate, I would finish before Christmas.
The piloting studies were more difficult. Not that I wasn’t getting it, I had to read and reread to ensure that I understood things. I even borrowed one of Eddie’s balsawood airplanes to go through motions to understand some concepts. I don’t think I will be trying any stunt flying soon.
I read about the city of Diaspar by the radar technician before falling asleep.
The next morning it was a drizzling rain. Since it was warm, I went for my run anyway. That was probably a mistake as I slipped on the trail. I skinned up my left knee, but it wasn’t a big deal. However, I was a muddy mess entering the house.
As luck would have it, Mary was at the door with camera in hand. Oh well. After making several worthless threats on her life, I got cleaned up before breakfast.
The whole family was at our buffet breakfast. Mary took great delight in describing her latest ‘scoop’. Denny being ever helpful volunteered to develop her film right away.
My ever-loving family then speculated on a story to match the picture. Their thoughts went from Rick takes a tumble, to Jackson flees another tiger. I’m glad I hadn’t mentioned my chipmunk scare.
I drove over to the studio and spent the morning practicing my skills. My bow work was current. My recent sword bout with Basil Rathbone while not a winner demonstrated that I still had my edge, pun intended.
Working on hand to hand was a different story. While I still had the muscle memory of a lot of the moves, others needed brushing up. I spent until lunch time doing that instead of learning any new moves.
When I went home to clean up and have lunch I had a story waiting for me to review. Mum had called Susan Wallace over; she along with Mary concocted a short story to go with my muddy picture. Its title was, ‘Jackson chased by another Tiger?’ It went on to say that rumor was flying upstairs and downstairs at Jackson House about me being chased by another tiger. However, the inside reporter had it on good authority that clumsy Ricky had slipped on a muddy trail.
I looked up as I finished reading to hear a giggle and a flash of blonde hair leaving the room. I started in immediate pursuit with Death by Tickling or at least tickle until she pees in mind. She got away. I spent twenty minutes searching the house and could not find her.
Since it was getting close to my flying lesson time I grabbed one of my T-Birds and headed out. As I drove up to our security checkpoint to exit the property, I saw a blonde head in the checkpoint building. I was about to open my mouth to say something when the two people on duty, Jim and Connie opened up on me with their weapons!
My little sister had issued a squirt on sight order!
I did the only reasonable thing. I fled the scene before I was drenched.
My flying lessons were fun. Mr. McGarry as usual quizzed me while I flew. He had me stalling the plane both high and low speeds and recovering. I handled that okay. When he had me put it in a spin, I almost peed my pants, but managed to follow what I had been taught so we didn’t crash.
All the while, we were going through these motions he appeared almost bored. I asked him about his flying career. He only told me that he had started young, learned in a tough school and had been doing it ever since.
Not being completely clueless I had looked up the Flying Tigers and their record in China. In doing my research, I saw his record listed; tough school indeed.
He changed the conversation about what my goals were in flying. He had brought this up before in the context of what type of aircraft I wanted to buy. Apparently, he also had done his homework, as his conversation assumed I could purchase any aircraft I wanted.
I still hadn’t given it a lot of thought, but did know that I enjoyed flying, that it could be useful in my business ventures. I didn’t intend to become a hobby flier, going to fly in breakfasts. On the other hand, if I was hungry, and I could get fed, I was all in.
He chuckled at that.
“If you can afford it the Cessna 310C with 260hp is what I would buy. It is a six seater, and costs sixty thousand dollars. The Piper Apache also has six seats and a lot cheaper at thirty-six thousand. Its drawback is it has only 160hp.”
“That translates to 191 knots vs 135 or 155 mph vs 215. The drawback to the Cessna is its maintenance costs, if earlier models are any indication, they will be much higher than the Piper. I would recommend you do your homework first. You might even want to look at a Beechcraft Travel Air, but it only holds four with a fifth fold down jump seat. Its speed and cost are between the other two.”
The Cessna speed interested me.
After logging another three hours I touched down for the umpteenth time that day for real and taxied in. While doing my post-flight walk around and refueling we talked about the hours, I would have to log cross country, night time and how I should be ready to start instrument flying soon. We then shook hands and called it a day.
As I started home, I wondered what would be waiting for me at the security checkpoint. Believing in peace through superior firepower I pulled over at a G.C. Murphy’s five and dime. There I bought a package of five balloons for a nickel.
Stopping at a service station, I loaded my weapons and headed home.
As I pulled in the checkpoint and stopped, I decided upon a pre-emptive strike. Jim and Connie were both outside so two quick heaves, and I had my revenge. I also had two very wet guards who were not armed with squirt guns. Fortunately, they didn’t draw their very real pistols.
It was shift change time so two other guards were in the shack signing in. From the looks on their faces, they had no idea what was going on.
When I walked into the kitchen backdoor, the cook told me Mum wanted to see me as soon as I got in, she was in the Library.
When I got there, it was Mum and a crying Mary. I wondered what had been going on.
“Rick, Mary has something she would like to say.”
A sobbing Mary said, “Rick, I’m sorry that I had the guard’s squirt you. They should not be made to join our games their job is serious.”
Ever feel the floor open under you?
Before I had a chance to say anything two people walked into the room; a very wet Jim and Connie. They looked like they knew they were going to be fired.
Mum looked at them and then me. She shook her head and told the guards they were excused and not to worry; she knew they weren’t the problem.
“Rick, Mary is five years old; the guards like her, so I understand. You are sixteen and should know better.”
Before you walked in I made certain the guards knew not to get involved with anymore of your children’s games. Now both of you go wash up, and we will talk about your punishment at dinner.
Mary and I got out as quickly as we could. Mary apologized again once when we were out of the room. This time I even believed her. I told her not to worry, that I thought we both had bigger concerns now, and how about a truce.
She agreed quickly. She also let me know that the picture and story were worth one hundred dollars to her, so she could take whatever was coming. Lord, help us when she grew up, five years going on thirty-five!
I arrived at dinner full of trepidation, but determined to take what was coming to me like a man, or at least a non-pouting teenager.
Dad was the speaker for the sentencing.
“Mary will be spending one hour a day for the next week after school, helping the maids with dusting and other inside chores.”
“Rick, you will be cleaning out and refurbishing the stables.”
The stables were in terrible shape. They needed a good cleaning, then a lot of wood replaced, then painting. This did not seem fair or reasonable to me, but I knew when to say, “Yes Sir.”
Eddie picked up on it first, “Are we getting horses?”
“Yes, we have the room and facilities, except Mary will not be getting a horse.”
You ever want to see a kid’s face crumple? It made me forget the unfairness to me.
“She will be getting a pony.”
Wow, want to see a million watt smile as a face lights up? It was there in front of us. The dinner conversation revolved around horses, and instruction. Mary and Mum realized the important thing. They would have to shop for riding clothes.
Dad told me, “Rick once you clean out the stables obtain quotes on the wood replacement and painting.”
That didn’t seem so bad. I did have something coming for not thinking.
After dinner, I went out to the stables to see what needed done. Since the stables hadn’t been used in many years, they weren’t a stinky mess, a small favor. All I needed was a wheelbarrow and pitch fork to start, then a broom and water for a rinse. This would not be as bad as cleaning up after Brahma Bulls.
I went back in and changed into work clothes. This was one of those jobs sooner started sooner done. In the garage, I found a wheelbarrow; and a pitch fork in the stables as one would expect. All I had to do was scoop the decomposed straw into the wheel barrow and take it to the compost pile next to the stable.
I don’t think we would want the pile there after we have horses. It would grow rapidly and be a health hazard. I would have to see about it getting taken away.
As I worked I had time to think. I replayed the day in my head, especially the squirt gun incident. The guards did what Mary requested, they really shouldn’t have, but they did it. This made me think about Mary’s comments when that CIA guy first showed up.
Her being friendly with the guards got her help when she needed it. Now I didn’t want to be friends for those reasons, but it rang true to me that I should be friendly with those that worked for us.
That thought ran around my head for a while and settled on the fact I had to acknowledge all people I dealt with in a good manner. Not that I wasn’t nice when we were together, but that I had to show I thought about them when we were not together.
It could be simple things like sending birthday cards. How could I implement such a plan? I finished up my work on the stables for the day and cleaned up. Since it wasn’t late I went in search of Mum and Dad.
They were watching the television, but weren’t that into the show, so turned it off for me.
“What’s on your mind, Rick?”
“I have been thinking about all the people I’m involved with and my relationships with them. I don’t think I’m doing enough to foster those relationships and recognize them for their efforts, nothing big, like remembering their birthdays.”
Dad replied, “That’s an interesting thought. The same thing has been going through my mind recently. We are meeting so many new people in our different endeavors; it is hard to keep track of them. At the same time it is in our best interest to do so, and the nice thing to do. What I’ve noticed recently is more people remember me, than I them.”
“Yeah, we usually are in the more memorable position, so they remember us, but most of them are in a crowd situation, and it’s almost impossible to remember them, and yet at the same time I want to.”
Mum chimed in, “Anna gives every business card she receives to her secretary. In turn her secretary keeps a file on who she met, where, what the meeting was about and any personal facts that Anna noted on the back of the card. That way if she ever goes back to that group or organization, she can refresh her memory.”
“That’s a good start, but I want to go even further. I’m going to talk to others like Mr. Monroe at Warner Brothers.”
“That’s a good idea Rick, keep me posted.” Dad replied.
I returned to my room and picked up a book to read, but realized I was tired and went right to sleep.
After my normal morning rituals, I headed over to the studio. I was half way there when I realized I hadn’t thought about tigers once, which was a good thing.
I was lucky. Mr. Monroe was in and had time for me.
“What’s up Rick?”
“I have a few questions about contacts. I meet many people and feel that I should do something to remember them and also treat them like real people rather than just a face in the crowd.”
“Ah, some people never catch on to that. Most actors are rather poor about it, letting the studio track fan’s. etc. The best at it are politicians.”
“I don’t know about politics, but it seems it is in my best interest to build a true contact base.”
“What sort of contacts do you have in mind?”
“I was thinking more in the business sense rather than my fan base.”
“That’s good thinking Rick. A fan base is great, but you need to hold them to a certain distance. Most of them are good people, but there is the occasional fruit cake out there.”
“Oh, I hadn’t thought of that.”
“What levels of business contacts are you thinking of?”
“Well I thought of sending everyone a birthday card.”
“If I remember right you have several factories with quite a few workers.”
“The last number I heard I have almost a thousand employees now.”
“Wow Rick, you really are going places, why do you even bother to act?”
“It’s fun, and keeps me out of a classroom, plus you never know when being a little famous might help.”
“A little famous, let me see; acting, singing, saving the Queen of England, working as a deck hand, multiple lives saved, tigers shot, robbers captured, even bad guys killed, yeah I’d say you’re famous.”
“When you put it that way I must be, but none of it seemed a big deal at the time.”
“That is why you are not only famous, but also liked. You are truly modest, without being falsely modest. I keep telling Nina she shouldn’t have gone to Switzerland.”
The look on my face must have been something because he bursts out laughing.
“Got you Rick, Nina and you are both too young to settle down. Now let’s get back to the subject, acknowledging people you have met, or who work for you, and you may never meet.”
“May never meet?”
“Certainly, you will have people who work in your factories you will never meet. You may visit the factory occasionally but people will not always be there, or would have come and gone between visits.”
“I hadn’t thought of that.”
“I have that problem here at the studio. Now let’s talk about birthday cards. Is it appropriate to send a card to someone you have never met?”
“Think about sending a thank you card for each year, they work for you. Do that for every level of worker that you don’t deal with. It is a personal touch, but it is an appropriate touch.”
“Now those that you deal with on a routine basis might merit the card. I would suggest that you also have a clipping service keep track of those at a certain level of acquaintance, that way you can send an appropriate message.”
“What’s an appropriate message?”
“It depends upon the event, a birth and a death would rate different cards.”
“Oh, I get it.”
“I assume you have a business office.”
“Yes over on Rodeo Drive, in one of Dad’s buildings.”
“You need to have someone on staff over there take care of that for you.”
“That all makes sense, thank you very much, Mr. Monroe.”
“While you are here I have a favor to ask. Jim Garner was supposed to play golf on Saturday morning with a couple of investors. He can’t make it for personal reasons, could you fill in for him?”
“I have no plans so sure.”
He gave me the guy’s name which meant nothing to me and our tee time at the Calabasas Country Club. Mr. Monroe had never met the guy so knew nothing about him or his golf game.
From there I headed to my office. There I sat down with Jim Wallace and explained what I would like to accomplish in recognizing people I dealt with. He in turn explained a fact of life to me. I would have to hire someone to handle this as the staff was overbooked as it was.
We discussed this some more. I gave him permission to hire someone, and that he was to handle the entire issue. My job would be to sign cards and write messages. Of course, I would have to come up with the initial list and update it as time went on.
We decided on three levels. Close friends and family, I would write a personal message and sign a card for each significant event, birthday, Christmas, graduations, etc. I would be on my own with gifts, other than a reminder to purchase one. Next would be people I met but wasn’t close to such as the makeup people at the studio, my old scout leaders and others. I would sign a card but no personal message. The last group would be people who worked for me. They would receive a congratulations and Thank You for their service on their employment anniversary. This would be a card with my signature printed on it. There would also be Sympathy cards as needed.
We would also contract with a clipping service to track stories on people I had met such as General Hawthorne or the Mayor of Vincennes Indiana and about my various products and companies. These were to be reviewed before showing them to me, or I would do nothing but read articles.
I felt lucky to get out of a large project so easily. Well, I still would have to sign a lot of cards, and make certain the project got off the ground okay.
I was given an update on my businesses. They had it down to a fifteen minute presentation if nothing major was happening. This week it was money in and money out, fortunately more in than out.
Hairdryers were way ahead of projections, and the head of home products thought we would continue like this for some time. It currently was acting as a cash cow as Jim Wallace called it, but the real money would be in the containerized shipping business.
The government subsidies to expand the ports and ships that could use the system were being spent rapidly but the GAO who had just audited the expenditures reported that this was one of the most efficient operations they had ever seen.
Apparently, what had been considered a nest of corruption, the unions on the docks, weren’t only doing their part; they were keeping the port operators on the straight and narrow. I wonder why, well not really.
I had a while before my date with Emily so I headed home and wrote two essays that were required for my schoolwork. They both were on required topics. One was so-so, but the other was very interesting. What would be the future effects of Presidents Eisenhower’s interstate highway system?
His reasoning was as a defense highway, based on the logistics support the autobahn gave the German army. He also remembered a trip when he was a young officer to San Francisco. It took over a month to lead the convoy he was in across the continent.
I had seen the TV special where they talked about going across the entire country without having to stop for one traffic light. Certainly, it would have to have an effect on the economy and where people lived.
The other essay was boring. I had to write about how air conditioning might change where people lived. I couldn’t see that would have much effect, but put some stuff down that it would make the South more livable.
Emily answered the door wearing a black dress with pink poodles and a pink blouse. Her hair was tied in a ponytail with a pink scarf. She looked pretty sharp.
We picked up the others and went to the local roller rink. It was a modern rink with plastic floors and the skates all had plastic wheels so it was quiet, well as quiet as a roller rink could be. It was fun all evening. At one point, we stopped for a sandwich and drinks. A group of three guys joined us. Emily introduced me to them.
I didn’t really catch their names, but one of them, Tom was Captain of the football team and the quarterback. I found this out from Emily, who gushed over him as she introduced us. They didn’t stay around very long.
After skating we went back to Emily’s, she seemed anxious to get home and call it a night. I did get a peck on the cheek. I had a good time skating, but the evening wasn’t what I had thought it would be. A little necking would have been great.
Saturday morning after my usual daily ritual I headed to the country club for my foursome. At the Starters desk, I found out the other people were a Judge Smails, Mr. Noonan and Mr. Loomis. They had arrived and were on the putting green.
Usually, when meeting people on the golf course the first time, there are polite introductions all around. This was not to be. Judge Smails thought James Garner would be there and was upset that I was sent instead.
He wanted to know why some kid actor was sent instead of Mr. Garner. When I explained the situation, it didn’t calm him down. He finally seemed to accept the fact that I was going to be his fourth. The other guys had shaken my hand and not got involved in the conversation, well not a conversation as it was Judge Smails doing ninety percent of the talking, most of which was complaining about someone of his stature being stood up.
He asked if I knew how to play golf. I replied that I knew the rules, and didn’t think I would embarrass myself on the course.