No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friends or of thine own were; any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.
John Donne, 1624
Author's Note: This is an action adventure story, but it's also about a boy who suffers a terrible loss, and then he just exist while he learns the truth of the quote above. Through the journey in this tale he finds a new family and his way home to them.
This is a work of fiction. All the characters and events portrayed in this book are fictional, and any resemblance to real people or incidents is purely coincidental. All rights are reserved by the author, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form.
Product names, brands, and other trademarks referred to within this book are the property of their respective trademark holders. Unless otherwise specified there is no association between the author and any trademark holder is expressed or implied. Nor does it express any endorsement by them, or of them. Use of a term in this book should not be regarded as affecting the validity of any trademark, service mark, or registered trademark.
The image used is cgbc fademan 811 from the Lulu cover art page, and used with their permission. The trimming, manipulation, and adding of text is by Ernest Bywater. All rights to the cover image are reserved by the copyright owners.
11 November 2018 version
Published by Ernest Bywater
E-book ISBN: 978-1-312-12237-6
The titles in use are a chapter, a sub-chapter, and a section.
Entering the classroom of my new school I try to look calm, casual, and cool. I'm a little apprehensive while thinking, Maybe selecting this school out of all the schools in Frederick wasn't such a good idea? All the other students are seated, and I've a choice of five empty desks. Applying my usual rule of being hidden in open view I head for the only vacant desk in the front row: it's the second desk from the window, and right in front of the teacher's desk. The fact a nice looking red-haired girl is in the window seat of the front row makes it a very easy choice to make.
Although nervous about the school due to an unsettling encounter this morning, plus some things I saw yesterday, I'm not prepared for the way the students' expressions change from interest to disdain or hate when it becomes obvious which seat I'm heading to. Even the teacher raises an eyebrow when I put my bag down to sit in the chair. The girl has a very surprised look on her face when I say, “Good morning.”
The teacher glances around the room, then picks up her roll book, and says, “I take it you're the new student expected yesterday - Allen Adams. You best stand and tell us about yourself.”
Due to my misgivings about the school I give her a small smile when I stand, “Yes, I'm Allyn Adams. It's Welsh, and pronounced with a drawn out 'A' sound as Aa-lyn - not Al-n, but most people call me Al. As you can tell by my accent, I'm Australian. I didn't ride a kangaroo to school as I went by bus, just like the rest. My father's here on a five year contract as an adviser with a security company. We live in a hotel while looking for permanent housing. Yesterday was spent doing exams because the school had me do tests to enter the classes I listed for. I give fair warning - I'm a militant pacifist. Which means I'll take some steps to avoid any physical confrontation, but I won't stand for anyone picking on my family, or friends, or bullying. I prefer to avoid fights if I can; but when pushed hard, or confronted with bullying, I strike hard, fast, and ruthlessly. My sole intent is to be very quick to put the other person down and out of the fight in the long term. So, if you're thinking of picking on me, I strongly suggest you think again. I'm here to learn, and to get a diploma so I can go to university. I think you call it college.” I nod at the teacher, and I sit down again. From her expression it's clear she didn't expect a speech like that, but she'll learn about me as we get to know each other. I notice some students are taking a good look at my well-muscled body while my above average height is also a concern for some of them.
She says, “I'm Miss Waters, and this class is the advanced class in American History. I do hope you've been able to study the previous years' work, because it's needed to do well in this class.” I nod yes to show I had. Studying for the US Civics and Government class as well as this class is most of what I've done since Dad said he was taking a job in the USA some months ago. I was able to get the syllabus and class studies information through the US Embassy in Canberra when Dad made the decision to take the job offer. She adds, “Am I right to assume you've had an altercation today?” I nod yes again. She gives a slow nod while she picks up her book, “Right, a check on yesterday's work. Why was the invention of the Cotton Gin so important to the economy of the Southern states?” And, thus, my first US class lesson starts.
We're all quick to leave the room when the bell goes, heading to our next classes. Being unfamiliar with the school I'm soon passed by the other students hurrying about, because they know where they're going while I make my slow way by following the map I was given yesterday morning. I'm the last to enter the room for the double period of Advanced Mathematics class, to find the same girl sitting in the same spot by herself, and many of the other students are from the last class. Shrugging, I walk over to sit down beside her again, getting an odd look from this teacher too. He asks my name, and checks off the roll when I give it. Math is the same the world over, so this class is no problem.
The next bell signals the start of lunch at noon, so I head for the school cafeteria where I buy a lunch of two salad sandwiches with a fruit juice. Looking around I see plenty of empty seats guarded with 'keep away' glares from the few people already at the tables. The only non-hostile table is one at the back wall with the red-haired girl sitting by herself. So I walk over, and ask, “Mind if I join you for lunch?”
She glances up, shrugs, and says, “Why not! It'll make a nice change, until someone tells you I'm the school pariah since my mother isn't rich. I only get to come here because her employer pays for me to, and having me go to the same school their kids go to makes the transport easy on them with just the one car. The fees mean nothing to them.”
Pleased with her attitude I laugh, “I was the school pariah at my last school because my mother was seen as rich, due to owning a business. So far I prefer to be with the nice pariahs than with the not nice accepted crowd. I think the rest will class me with you because my Dad works for a living. Oh, he's well paid, but he can't afford the fees to send me here. I'm only here because I chose this school on the advice of a friend who went here fifteen years ago, and he has some family here now.”
She gives me a questioning look while saying, “I'm Kathleen, Kath to my friends. Please call me Kath. If your Dad can't afford to pay the fees how come you're here, then?”
“It's a long story. You'll need the whole lunch break.” She nods yes, so I take a deep breath, and start. “Dad is on a good wage, but my fees are paid by me via my trust fund. I put everything through the trust fund because it saves on taxes while it makes the overall management easier. As I said earlier, Mum was rich. However, she was killed several months ago in a car collision, along with the rest of my family. Dad was in the Army, and he was often away. Mum and Uncle Rob owned and managed a good business together. Aunt Betty, Rob's wife, was a senior executive of the business too. Two or three of the four were often away for work, so we sort of lived as a large family with four kids and four parents. That way there was always one parent around. As the oldest kid I was also kept busy looking after my younger sister and cousins; but it was more like had two sisters and a brother.”
My happy mood fades quite a bit while I talk of the past, “Anyway, they were all in the car together on the way home from a trip to a theme park a short drive out of Sydney. I was supposed to go along, but I begged off on the day because I was trying to get a birthday present for my cousin Alice. She wanted a new album by her favourite band, and I had five copies on special order to be put aside by the local record store. One of the staff didn't like me, so he sold my reserved copies to his mates. From the sales records the manager worked out who sold the reserved copies, and he fired the person for selling them. That made me happy and him angry, but it didn't get me the CDs. So I spent the day searching all over Sydney for a copy for Alice, and four more - I hoped: one for my sister Gwen's birthday the next month, plus three for some good friends with birthdays due soon. I'd found four during the day while I spent six hours walking about twenty kilometres in and out of every possible store in the Sydney Central Business District, North Sydney, and a few other close suburbs. I took a taxi home about mid-afternoon because I was tired. I wasn't surprised they hadn't got home first, since Sunday afternoon traffic back into Sydney is always very heavy.”
“I put the albums away, and fixed myself a light meal. About seven that evening the doorbell chimed, it was the police.”
All of a sudden it's like I'm transported back in time to that night when my memories swamp my mind to takeover my sensory input while I relive that terrible time during my recounting of the events, and I feel very depressed again. I'm no longer happy, not happy at all.
The chimes are still ringing when I walk down the hall while I wonder who it can be calling, unexpected, at this time of a Sunday night. I open the door to see two police officers, one male and one female. The male officer, Harris, according to his name tag, asks, “Excuse me, is this the residence of Robyn Adams, Robert Evans, and Betty Evans?”
I nod yes while saying, “Yes, it is. They're all out, and due back any moment.” Both seem to flinch a bit, and I wonder why.
“Is Mister Adams home?”
I wonder what's up, “I'm the closest to a Mister Adams here, even if I'm only sixteen. Mum and Dad are in the middle of a divorce, and Dad is overseas on duty with the Army right now. So I'm it.”
The female officer, Jenkins, by her name tag, says, “Oh, sorry. We didn't know. Can we come in, please?” I nod yes while I point them toward the front lounge room, it's reserved for visitors. I'm thinking hard. They enter, and I close the door before following them to the room. After we all sit down she says, “Are there any adults in the house or nearby?”
I gulp, because I now suspect there's a big problem. I've seen far too many shows with police procedures that start with something like that. “No. What's happened? Where are they?” I'm very worried now.
“I'm sorry, there's been an accident. Their SUV was hit by a drunk.”
Standing up I go to the hall to get my coat, “Take me to them, now.” They glance at each other, and he starts to speak. It's clear he's about to refuse. I put all the command tone I can into my voice, “I said now!” They both sigh, and stand up. I show them to the front door, turning off lights and setting the alarm as we leave. In the drive I get out my cell phone, and I call the family solicitor, Mr Belling, to tell him what I know. When we near the police car I ask, “Where are they? Which hospital?”
Harris says, “Hornsby Hospital.” I nod thanks, and tell Mr Belling.
About half an hour later we arrive at the hospital to find Mr Belling just pulling up as he lives more north than we do. We enter the hospital with Senior Constable Harris leading. At one turn we take I notice Mr Belling glance over at Constable Jenkins. She nods yes, nods at me, and shakes her head no. I wonder what that's all about because Mr Belling goes very white while glancing at me, and nods. A moment later I know what it's all about when we approach a set of doors marked 'Morgue.' My heart stutters while I think, Oh God no! Not this, not all of them.
My mind is almost numb when we walk into the chilled room. There are six cloth covered trolleys in the middle of the room with two staff beside one of them. One's writing and the other is holding up the sheet while they look at the body and describe what they see. They look up at us when we walk in, and stop what they're doing. I halt, and take several deep breaths while I go through a calming routine to prepare myself to do what I've got to do, because I owe it to those I love to do this right. So I clamp down on my emotions, clamp down hard, very hard.
After a moment I open my eyes again to see them all watching me. I slowly nod yes to them, and so does Mr Billings. The staff fold back the sheets so we can see the faces. Although there's bad bruising and cuts I can recognise Mum, Aunt Betty, Uncle Rob, Gwen, Robert Junior, and Alice. Steeling myself as best as I can I walk up to give each member of my family a gentle caress of the face when I say goodbye while naming them for the police and hospital staff. By the time I reach Alice at the end of the line I've got my emotions under a very, very, very tight control.
Turning to Mr Belling I say, “Please see to the paperwork, and get the details of how it happened.” He nods yes, and I turn to leave. Outside I stop and step aside while I get my cell phone out to ring Gramps.
My grandfather answers, and I say, “Gramps, turn the extra speaker off, please? I need to talk to you in private,” while I lean against the wall.
“Sorry, Al, the switch is broken, and it's stuck in the on position. Anyway, your grandmother will kill me if I spoke to any of you kids on my own. So just go ahead and speak, I doubt there's anything you can say we both shouldn't know at once.”
I know it's no use arguing with him when he's in one of his moods, so I bite the bullet, and talk, “This afternoon there was a car accident on the way home from the theme park. I was the only one who didn't go. They got hit by a drunk and are at Hornsby Hospital, in the Morgue.”
Silence. Then a squeaky, “All dead?”
A teary, “Yes, Gramps.” Two thuds, and silence. I shout, “Gramps, Gramps.” No answer. After hanging up I hit speed dial number eight to ring the medical emergency service for Gramps and Gran. They answer. I say, “Client echo one six niner four, code blue, code blue! Heart attack while on phone to me! Don't waste time trying to check, get going!”
I hear the emergency alert operator call to another, “Forget trying to check with echo one six niner four, roll the ambulance now.” There's an indistinct response.
Then she says, “Thank you, Sir. I've got your number from the ID system, and I see you're on the response list. Can you tell us why you think it's a heart attack, please?” Mr Belling walks out, and joins me.
“I was informing them of the death of the rest of the family in a car accident, and I heard two loud thuds when they hit the floor with no reply from either when I shouted. I can only assume it's a heart attack.”
“I wouldn't be betting on any other cause, either. We'll do what we can for them. You best look after yourself now, Sir.”
“Thank you, I've one more call to make.” I hang up, and hit speed dial six, then I hear a long series of signals while the international satellite call is made. A woman's voice answers with the phone number, and I say, “Urgent for Centre Two, please.”
A polite, “Sorry, out of office at the moment, Sir.”
“Centre One, please.”
“Also out of the office.”
“Then Centre Dingo One must be available.”
“Sorry, also out of office.”
“Can't be, that's in violation of S.O.P.s! Damn! Who's in charge?”
I hear a muffled voice talking with someone else, they must have a hand over the phone. My emotions are starting to overwhelm me when a familiar voice says, “Excuse me, Sir, can I help you?”
The emotional shock is swelling up, and I'm losing control. I'm quick to blurt out, “Powder, Archie. Urgent for Centre Two. Blue fire, boomer, bang, goner, rushmore.” That's it. Losing control I slide down the wall as the tears flow and I start to sob, but I got the essentials across to him.
Sergeant Steve 'Powder' Curry's exclamation of “Shit,” sounds so far away. Constable Jenkins kneels down, and puts her arms around me when she tips my head on her shoulder while Mr Belling takes the phone out of my hand. I can see them while they move about, but they're very slow, and then it all goes dim when I slip into a blessed blackness.
Sergeant Curry hands the phone to the soldier, “Corporal Sims, keep this line open with the person on the other end of the phone.” He turns, walks to the Colonel's office, knocks, and waits to be called in.
When he enters he gets glares from two Generals, the Colonel, the Major, and the Regimental Sergeant Major while the Colonel says, “No disruptions, was that too hard to understand, Sergeant?”
“Sorry, Sir, but this is extremely urgent for the Major.” He turns to face Major Adams, “Sir, urgent phone call from Archie for you. He said 'Blue fire, boomer, bang, goner, rushmore,' then he totally lost control.”
Major Peter Adams and Colonel Barry Phillips both go white. The Major glances at the Colonel, he gets a small nod yes, and says, “James or Moore. I'll have Sergeant Curry brief you when I know more about it.” Another nod from the Colonel, and Major Adams leaves the room while the Generals turn to look at the Colonel.
Colonel Phillips says, “Archie is a nickname for Major Adams' son Al, initials AA, get it?” They both nod yes. “He's very smart, and has never called the Major at work before. He has another nickname, some of the troops call him 'Arctic' because he's always cool and calm. The code words are old ones from a few years back. Essentially, they mean extreme urgency, mission aborted, abort all other operations, unit not effective, need major assistance for retrieval as we're unable to move, casualties total. I take it to mean there's an extreme family emergency involving multiple serious injuries. If that's even partially true the Major won't be of any use for this operation, because their family's small. He's suggested alternates.” He picks up the phone, and calls for Captain Moore to join the meeting as Major Adams' replacement.
In the office Major Adams takes the phone from the corporal, and is given a full briefing by Mr Belling while nursing staff place Al on a gurney to wheel him away for an examination. After a check by a doctor they put him to bed, and keep him under observation for the night. After hanging up Adams briefs Sergeant Curry so he can tell the Colonel. Major Adams is soon very busy filling in forms for emergency leave and travel while Corporal Sims makes calls to organise his urgent travel home to Australia from Afghanistan. An hour later Major Adams has a bag in one hand, travel papers in the other, and is boarding a USAF plane heading to the USA via Darwin, Australia.
Note: AA is a common abbreviation for anti-aircraft fire. This was also nicknamed as 'ack-ack' and 'Archie' during World War One, and many people continue to use the nicknames today.
Waking up in a strange bed I can see it's mid-morning by the sun. After a moment I realise I'm in a private room in a hospital. I lie there and wonder why, until the memory of last night catches up with me. I roll over, curl up, and start to wallow in self-pity while I cry again.
A little while later a young nurse comes in to take my pulse, etc. As she writes them on the chart she says, “Time you were up and showered. You can either smile at me and go have a shower, or I can get a male nurse to give you a bed bath. Your call.” I give her a smile, and start to get up. “I've seen nicer smiles on corpses, but it'll do, today. You'll have to do much better tomorrow, or it's a bed bath by a hairy man.” She leads me down the hall to the shower, and sits down on a chair after putting a change of hospital pyjamas on a small table in the room. It's clear I'm not going to be left alone, so I strip and get into the shower. I get out after a thorough wash, to find her holding up a large towel. I step up close to the towel, and she dries me, giving my skin a very vigorous rubbing with the towel while saying, “I'm rubbing hard as it invigorates the skin and gets the blood flowing. That should wake you up properly, and make you feel a bit better.” I nod at her explanation. Soon after I'm returned to the room she brings in a nice meal for me to eat. A little after the meal Mr Belling walks in, sits down, and starts talking about what happened.
A drunk had cut off a truck and slowed down by heavy braking. The truck driver tried to avoid an accident, but he had no room to fully stop. He hit the drunk's car very hard, punching it into the next lane. The car crashed into the side of Rob's large SUV. Hitting just behind the front wheel to push the SUV's wheels off the road, across the emergency lane, and onto the grass at the roadside. Anywhere else it wouldn't have been a problem, but the drunk's car knocked the SUV off the road just at the approach to a bridge. The SUV was off the road and into the deep gully before Rob could react. My whole family, except Dad, dead while the drunk went to hospital because his car rammed the end of the barrier he'd pushed Rob past. The medical alert people in Brisbane advise Grandmother was dead on arrival at the hospital while Gramps is unconscious. The doctors are unsure if he'll wake up or not. In either case, they don't expect him to last the week. In less than a day I've gone from a family of ten to just Dad and me, since we can't count my dying grandfather. What a bastard! He adds, “I explained it all to your father after you collapsed. He's on his way home. He left soon after the call, and should be here late today or early tomorrow. You're staying here until he arrives to sign you out.” I look at him, and I'm about to speak, but stop, and nod yes. I may as well stay here to keep everyone happy while the medical staff keep a close eye on me, as to go home and stay in a house that's empty of everything except memories that are very hard to take right now. He smiles at my acceptance of his arrangements for me.
“What do you know about the drunk involved?”
He loses his smile, “This is his third drunk driving incident in four years. He's still got a licence as the second one hasn't gone to court yet.”
I feel my blood boil when a great rage goes through me at the fact such a bastard is still on the road. Mr Belling flinches when I look back at him. “I want that bastard's arse; marinated, and well grilled. Sue the hell out of him, and include a motion to have all assets frozen until the case is over. I don't want him moving things out of sight.” Mr Belling nods yes, and I take some deep slow breaths to calm down again. I stop to think while he writes. “Something else you'll need to do.” He looks up. “My trust fund. I've been thinking of changing the rules for some time. I want full voting beneficiaries to be myself and my descendants, with non-voting non-blood beneficiaries if eighty percent, or more, of the voting beneficiaries approve them. The same percentage can also revoke their membership, and their descendants are not automatic beneficiaries. The trust manger must be a qualified licensed financial adviser and licensed trustee, but can't be a beneficiary. The Trust Board is to have a maximum of ten members, the trust manager plus up to nine members who are full beneficiaries and are sixteen years of age, or older. In the case of a split vote the board chair has an extra vote. The chairperson to be the oldest beneficiary on the board, unless they don't want to be the chairperson. Any full beneficiary sixteen years of age and older has a vote in electing members of the trust board, those twenty-five and older have a second vote, and those thirty and older have a third vote; that should provide a long term balance. Day to day running of the trust is in the hands of the manager under the direction of the chairperson. Together they've full control of all assets as directed in the quarterly board meetings. Each year the board will approve the manager's salary for the next year, after it's set by the chairperson. If the board or the manager disagree with the figure from the chairperson the matter is to go to an external arbiter to set the salary at a rate currently paid to people in jobs of similar responsibilities elsewhere in the industry. The board is to give an annual approval for the list of benefits to be paid, as set out by the manager and chairperson.”
He looks up, and smiles, “That's neat. It gives you control of your assets now instead of waiting until you're eighteen, and it's legal. I take it all of the inheritances etcetera are to go into the trust too?” I nod yes. “Good. With your mother and uncle dead we need new trust managers. We can change the trust rules to ease the selection of new ones. By the end of the week you'll be the chairman of the AREA Trust.” My full name is Allyn Robin Evans Adams. Mum's name was Robyn Evans, she was proud of her Welsh ancestry, and her father wanted the Evans name to continue in all us kids, so I end up with a combination of both wishes. The trust is named after my initials. I nod again. “I'll get my staff started on the paperwork. Is Bryce acceptable to you as the new trust manager?”
“Is Bryce's public trustee sub-office doing well?” He shakes his head no. “I like Bryce, so having him as the trustee and manager is perfect, I know he's good and meets the criteria. Why not have the sub-office and staff you've set up for Bryce become the AREA Trust offices and staff. As of today the cost of the downstairs area can be charged to the trust, and he has everything needed to do the job well. You'll stay on as the trust solicitor, and as mine.” Mr Belling smiles, and nods agreement. We talk for about another hour while we iron out other details and matters. Mr Belling leaves when the nurse returns with another meal for me. Then I'm given a sleeping tablet to have me sleep some more to help deal with my stress from the events. I'm soon asleep after taking the tablet.
A different nurse wakes me up at after five thirty to have my dinner. After dinner, when I ask, I'm given a robe and taken to the children's ward; but my nurse stays with me. It's boring to be in a room by yourself with no good shows on television, no books, and nothing to do. I spend a nice hour or so playing games with the children in the ward.
At seven fifteen I walk out of the children's ward with my nurse still following me. I see a doctor I know, the mother of a classmate. She has a very angry look when she charges out of an office, slamming the door behind her. I call out, “Alert all regions, very bad storm on the way.”
Doctor Rita Storm spins around snarling a retort, until she sees it's me making the commentary. “Al! What the hell are you doing here?”
In a dry tone I say, “Observation! I'm on a suicide watch.” My nurse blushes, and Doc Rita looks puzzled. “Yesterday a drunken piece of shit killed Mum, Rob, Betty, Gwen, Alice, and Bobby. The news killed Gran and Gramps is in hospital, not expected to live. I did the formal ID in the morgue. When the shock caught up with me I collapsed, and got put to bed here. Now I can't take a piss without a watchdog. I wouldn't mind so much if she'd offer to hold it for me. But she just stands there watching me.” The nurse blushes again.
Rita's eyes go wide while I speak, “Shit! I'm sorry, Al. And I thought I had problems. We usually don't have nurses following people around, so you may be right about the suicide watch.”
“Speak to me about your problem. It may take my mind off mine.”
“I've a young girl with a cancer that's currently small, but we can't seem to get it to stop. We've tried everything. There's a new drug out that may work. However, the powers that be refuse to spend the ten grand for the drugs, since there's no guarantee it'll work. Hell, you can't be sure any cancer treatment will work. So her best chance for treatment is dead, due to a bean counter trying to balance a budget. So I'm pissed off.”
“Come with me to my room for a moment. The drugs, how can they be got and paid for?”
Her eyes go wide again. “The best way to get them would be for me to ring and order them. I know one of the people at the drug company and I can get things done immediately with money or an official order form. They're in India and can ship today. But an order form requires a hospital order number, and that takes days after the finance people agree.”
Back in my room I grab my wallet, and have her take us to her office. Once seated at her desk she calls the drug company's research lab to discuss her needs. After settling on what's wanted I say on the phone, “Excuse me, can you please check with your accounting people if they'll accept American Express phone codes to pay for this?” A few minutes wait, and I'm transferred to accounting. I give them the card details and the check code for phone charges. They confirm authorisation, say they'll have it on the next plane, and they'll call back with the flight details.
I hand Doc Rita the phone. Both she and the nurse sit and stare at me. “Shit, Al. How come you just paid twelve grand to help someone you've never met? And how can you afford it?”
“Doc, just the thought I may make that girl's life a bit better makes it a bit easier for me. It gives me something to look forward to, other than going home to a house full of memories and nothingness heartaches.” I get up while she gives me a slow nod, and I leave to go back to my room for tonight's sleeping tablet and a dreamless sleep free of despair, I hope.
Dad arrives, and takes me home. We go through the house to sort things out: what we wish to keep and what can be sold. The house is way too big for just me or the two of us, and it's too full of memories that are hard to take, so I'm selling it and the contents. I've got five bags of clothes plus some boxes of keepsakes and photo albums, etc. After all the other clothes and personal effects are disposed of we move to a hotel suite while a real estate agent organises the sale of everything else.
Mr Belling often pops by to brief us on things, and get papers signed.
A Friday two weeks after the crash we've a meeting with the drunk and his solicitor in the drunk's office. The man is very wealthy, and he's very upset we got a hold order on his assets; thus making it hard for him to do any business. The meeting is to see if we can reach a quick out of court settlement. Despite his wealth he prefers to drive himself about in a fancy car instead of using a chauffeur. If the bastard had used a chauffeur we wouldn't be having this meeting, and my family would still be alive. I'm very angry at this arrogant bastard, and I want him to pay for what he's done. I want to hit him where it hurts him the most.
The first order of business is a list of all his assets. They pass copies down the table until we all have one. The solicitors start talking while I open a folder I have, and I lean back in the chair. They all talk while I sit there looking from the list in one hand to a sheet of paper in the folder. A minute later I smile, and say, “Excuse me, gentlemen, is this list a full and correct list of all business and personal assets?” The solicitor and his client nod yes. “So, if I can identify any properties or businesses or bank accounts that aren't on this list you'll have no problem with signing them over to me as mine without involving them in the main discussion we're about to have? I'll get them as a bonus for catching you out, right?” The drunk driver looks at my large predatory smile, and it frightens him.
He leans down to open his briefcase to get some papers, and we soon have a new list with several more items on it. His solicitor gives him a dirty look for trying that trick. I let the two legal eagles talk to do the initial negotiations while I read the new list, and mark things on it.
About thirty minutes later I give a gentle cough, and they all turn to look at me. I slide my copy of the new list along the table, and say, “I've marked various things on the list. The items marked are to be signed over to me as compensation for the murder of my family. The others are to be signed over to a trust fund for his family. He's to immediately give up his licence to drive, sign a contract to never drive a vehicle again, go into full retirement today, and to undertake substance abuse counselling. All the required transfers to be completed by next Friday.” I'd marked just over three hundred million dollars of assets, about fifty percent of the total.
He examines the list, and goes very red with rage. He looks up, and is about to speak. So I add, with a voice full of hate and venom, “I'll happily take an alternative of spending thirty minutes in this room with just you and me, no weapons, no legal action about the results, and I promise I won't kill you. I'll just leave you wishing I had killed you.” I give him my most feral smile. His face goes dead white. He jumps up, and dashes to his private toilet. We hear the sounds of him throwing up. When he returns I say, in a flat and totally emotionless voice, “You can accept this settlement and be out of business in an easy retirement, or you can go to court to risk losing everything.” Fifteen minutes later we've a signed settlement contract with only one change: when the criminal case for the homicides goes to court I've got to support his solicitor's argument for a non-custodial sentence.
Later Mr Belling asks where I got a list of his assets from. I smile, and I hand him the shopping list I have in the folder. It was all a bluff, and it worked. He laughs, then calls his colleague to tell him, and he laughs too.
Note: After I argue on his behalf, and show I've punished him in the civil settlement (via his no driving, forced retirement, and counselling), he's fined two hundred thousand dollars, and given three thousand hours of community service. The judge smiled on hearing the personal aspects of the private settlement.
Gramps does wake up after two days. He signs a new will and he dies in his sleep the next night. Mr Belling and Dad follow my request to have the one funeral for them all, and it's held five weeks after the incident.
On the Wednesday before the funeral Mr Belling sits me down to talk about money. The wills and life insurance policies have been paid. All of the adults had large policies with lots of special indemnities. As per my instructions it's all put into the trust fund, along with the compensation, a total of four hundred and twenty million dollars. About forty million in company and trust bank accounts with the rest in shares and other assets.
Bryce is there too, and I ask him to get a full list of all the assets with their current status for me. He hands me some credit cards against a new trust operating account then he asks for my current ones. He needs them to clear up all of Mum's bank accounts they charge against.
We discuss managers for the major businesses I just inherited. Most have managers already, and I know enough about Mum and Rob's one to select someone. I also know enough about Evans Publishing, Gramps' main business, to select an existing staff member as the manager to run it.
While I'm involved with sorting out my financial and legal affairs Dad is putting in for early retirement on compassionate grounds by saying he needs to look after me. I tell him I'll be OK, but he goes ahead, and they approve it. Then he has to look around for suitable work.
I decide not to go to school this year, because I've too much to do and I'm waiting to see where Dad gets a job. If we move I'll worry about fitting into the new school instead of fitting back into my current school.
It takes some weeks, but we do get on top of everything. Both Dad and I are pleased with the turnout of our friends and employees for the Saturday funeral. It helps me a lot to know how well loved they were.
I hear from Doctor Storm, the new drugs worked, and the girl is much better with the cancer not only stopped, but reducing. That's good news.
While my mind goes back through the memories I recount the main events for Kath. I don't realise the memories have made me cry, until she reaches out to touch my face. She has a sad look when she wipes my tears away. I can see she's saddened by my tale. After a while I shiver, and sit more upright while I finish my tale by saying, “I'm extremely wealthy in my own right. Bryce, my trustee, manages everything for me, but he does exactly as I want him to. So I'm here at my own expense. I think life may be easier if I let the rest of the students know Dad is on a good wage, but my fees are paid by a company. Let them make up their own minds about who pays the fees. See if they like me for me, or not.”
Kath smiles, “I like that. We can be two pariahs together, and I won't be so lonely. The kids I travel with don't shun me, but they don't seek me out, either. They're in different grades and have good friends there.”
We'd both finished eating so we stand up to shake hands on the deal. Just before the bell for the next class goes I ask, “Which way's lab two one seven?”
Kath grins, “Advanced Biology?” I smile, “Follow me,” and we head off to the next class. On the way out we talk a bit louder than needed on how my father can't afford the fees and they're paid by a company. This gets a few looks from some students when we go by them.
I arrive at the lab quicker than my earlier classes, due to having a guide. We get seated, and we've time to learn we've the same electives and class schedule. So we agree to sit together in all of our classes. The afternoon's two classes of Advanced Biology and Advanced English go well. Each period is an hour long with the first five minutes of it to change classrooms, and to get ready for the class.
After school Kath is picked up in a limousine with two younger kids; a just turned sixteen year old from year nine (Debbie), and a fifteen year old from year eight (Jon). I wave goodbye to them, and turn around to go to the administration building to finish sorting out this morning's little adventure.
I arrive in the administration centre at the set time of a quarter past three. The principal's secretary tells me to sit and wait, which I do. Half an hour later he comes out to call me in, and points me to a chair.
With a grim expression Principal Walker says, “I suppose you're happy to know Mister Williams' car keys were found on one of the school buses when it arrived this afternoon. They've been returned to him, so he's not taking any further action. You're lucky there. Because Mister Williams isn't taking this any further I'm not, either. But I've got my eye on you now. Care to explain about your actions this morning?”
Half grinning I say, “It's a shame they found the keys. Having to get the car re-keyed may have made him think about his stupid behaviour. He's a lot smarter than he acts or looks, because only an idiot would've tried to take this any further. He was totally in the wrong, regardless of what his friends said in the way of lies for him. There's no way they can possibly account for the keys being in my hands once anyone looks at the security cameras. But I bet you didn't waste your time with that, did you?” He looks shocked, and shakes his head no. “I got out of a taxi just as Mister Bighead Williams pulled up in his fancy sports car. He stopped in the middle of the car park behind some other cars, got out, and tossed the keys to me while saying, 'Be a good attendant, and park my car when your chauffeur moves away from my space. Do a good job, and I may even tip you.' There were several other open spaces he could park in, but he chose to show he's important and put me down. I simply caught the keys thrown at me, and tossed them in his direction. He made no attempt to catch them, and they flew in the window of a departing bus. By the time he realised what happened the bus was driving down the street.” I pause to examine the principal's expression, and it's clear he doesn't believe me or want to hear my side. “Williams tried a put down, and lost out. Then he threatened me, and I ignored him while I walked away. His problem, not mine. I don't care if he's the senior Big Man on Campus while I'm the new nobody in year ten. I don't take that shit from anyone. I admit I don't think much of his intelligence, because my size and body build are not what one would expect a bully to pick on. But it's clear I'm a new boy here, so that may be his motivation.”
My using a bad word got a reaction, so I smile wider. “In my last school the principal had a Zero Brains policy on fighting, and nothing on bullying. As you're no doubt aware, from my transcript, I spent several weeks on suspension due to fights with bullies. But they spent a lot longer in hospital. I still ended the year with the highest marks they've seen at that school. I don't mind going toe to toe with bullying scum, so get a handle on the physical and emotional bullying I've seen going on, or expect to see a lot of me after I put the bullies down. And don't ever expect me to apologise for downing a bully.”
Principal Walker puffs himself up, “I don't like being threatened in my own office, so just watch yourself. We've a Zero Tolerance policy on fighting here, also one on weapons, and one on drugs.”
Slowly shaking my head I reply, “Not more Zero Brains policies. It's a pity you don't have one on bullying, and use it! I don't make threats, just promises. No bullying, no trouble. I've been here just two days, yet I've seen a couple of dozen cases of bullying. You stop it, or I will.”
After sighing, I add, “I bet our friend Williams is a leading light in the seniors' football team as well.” Walker's eyes go wide, so it looks like I called that one too. Damn, that means trouble, because he'll try to get back at me by using the whole football team to help him. I may not be American, but I know how that works from talking to Americans in Australia. Way too many of the schools and colleges allow their football players far too much leeway in behaviour so the school can look great with a good team, and many of the students involved with the team take every advantage of this they can get away with.
After some more meaningless mouthing from Principal Walker I'm allowed to go home for the day. While I leave I wonder how Williams and his friends are going to react to his being shown up by a new kid in year ten. Oh well, I'll worry about that when it happens.
Once outside again I call for a taxi, and head to the hotel. On arrival I leave my bag in my suite when I change before going to the gym for some exercise plus a relaxing swim to keep fit and burn off some anger.
In the gym I start my exercise circuit while flirting with the female medical technician the hotel has in the gym to ensure the guests don't overdo their exercise. The hotel is a top class one which really needs this service as a lot of the guests are older while many are recently retired and not back in a decent health condition after too much time in chairs. Most of the male guests seem to feel compelled to get back into top health in a minimum of time, and they think a lot of gym exercise will do that. They often end up with a few other health issues. The paramedic is here to see they don't go so far overboard they have a heart attack and die in the hotel. I'm not sure if this is to cut insurance costs or if they really do care; either way, it's good for guests and a great idea for all concerned.
On arrival I ask the paramedic in charge to play a CD I brought to my first session in the gym just after we booked in a few weeks ago. It's nice and soothing Chinese music designed to help with meditation and exercise like Tai Chi. I spend five minutes on each device I use: walking machine, push bike, rowing machine, and the upper chest muscle machine - one day I must try to find out what they call that. Followed by twenty minutes on the bench press doing repetitions of five at fifty kilograms then work my way up to repetitions of three at one hundred and twenty kilograms in two and a half kilogram steps. I finish by taking time to settle down while doing Tai Chi forms before thanking the gym supervisor while leaving on my way to the pool and spa area.
It's late Tuesday afternoon during the school term, so most of the guests are people travelling for work or retired people travelling around to see the country or family. Some of the men staying, due to work, have no children and have their wives with them. Some of the ladies are what the Americans call 'Trophy Wives:' very good looking women in their mid-twenties to mid-thirties married to rich men in their forties or fifties. Most such women stay at home as part of the country club set, but a few travel with their husbands to avoid the boredom, or to keep an eye on their husbands. At the moment the hotel has three such wives staying with their men in the hotel, all very lovely ladies with little to do until their husbands turn up in the evening. They've got serious boredom issues during the day. I've noticed, because they're worth noticing.
When I walk into the pool area I can't help noticing all three lovely women in their late twenties lower their books to watch me walk to the pool to dive in. After swimming to the other end and back I stop to move to the side while I look at the ladies. All three of them are watching me while relaxing on the lounges under the sunlamps. I smile, and nod to them. I'd be a liar if I didn't admit I like their attention, and the idea of some personal fun times with no concerns for the future. I'm almost certain they all think I'm older than I am because of my size and build.
It's been several months, but I'm still very depressed about the death of the rest of my family. Since I've been in Frederick, Maryland, I've met a few people who are helping me to get on with life. People like Jerry Stein, Lia Stein, Sharon, and some of the other hotel staff. Meeting Kath today also helps me focus on the here and now. But there are times when I'm alone and very lonely, and that's when the depression starts to sneak up on me. At such times it's good for me to be interacting with people or doing something to take my mind off the past. Spending some up-close and personal fun-time with some lovely ladies with no strings attached sure ranks well up there for taking my mind off the past. It's sad such times are often superficial, but they can't be much else because of the situation, and they only divert my attention for the period of the contact.
I best talk about Dad and me to explain why I'm not surprised at the ladies' reactions. Dad is tall, and often described as ruggedly handsome. He's very fit due to his work as an Army combat officer until he retired a few months ago due to a special approval on compassionate grounds to look after me since he had another two years to go in his enlistment. Dad once served a period as a senior hand-to-hand combat instructor in the SAS (Special Air Service), the Australian equivalent of the US Special Forces like the Green Berets. He's always been tall and very fit; he stands just under two metres in his bare feet, a solid build with lots of muscle and no visible fat. At a few months short of forty he's still a good catch after just over twenty years as a combat soldier who started as a private and made it to being a major. He turned down a promotion to colonel twice, because it'd take him away from the troops and combat. He hasn't been all that happy since he retired, but he's directing his intelligence to his new work. That's my father, Major Peter Adams, retired.
Mum was tall too, only a little shorter than Dad, and very beautiful. She was into fitness and martial arts. So it's no wonder I'm tall for my age, the same height as Dad, and a head taller than most seventeen year old kids. Mum insisted on a healthy diet with plenty of exercise like martial arts, so I'm fit and can look after myself in a fight. Like Dad, I'm solid but not heavy; no fat, but a lot of muscle. In looks I take after Mum more than Dad, and with some make-up I can pass for a tall woman. I'm what some call androgynous, and others call effeminate, looking. It's nice for me that many women like my looks. Aunt Betty used to say I'd make a good living as a gigolo on my looks alone. Mum would laugh and nod her agreement with her. Back in Australia I'd often walk into clubs and pubs without being asked for identification, either they thought I was old enough or looked too big and tough to tackle; I never asked them which.
The mixing of their genes and ideas on a healthy lifestyle means I'm well above average height with better than average looks, and a very physical presence. My Mum and her parents were what some people call Alphas - natural leaders of any group they join, and Dad is a good natural leader as well; but not as good as Mum and her family were.
Mum was a genius, so was everyone else on Mum's side of the family, and Dad isn't far below being a genius. According to the experts I rate up there as a genius higher than anyone else in the family. One thing I know about my family is when we apply ourselves we soon take charge of any group we're in. But I'm not that interested in doing so, and I often take great pains to avoid being in charge. Also, when I want to, I dominate almost anyone I'm dealing with, except my family; which was a shame, because it would've been good for getting out of trouble with them.
In summary; both Dad and I are smart, tall, very fit, able to handle ourselves, and good looking - according to many females we know. I do appreciate being mistaken for someone from two to five years older than I am, since it can be very beneficial at certain times and situations.
Taking into consideration my looks, and being at the hotel by myself in the late afternoon, it's no wonder the women think I'm older than I am. It's probable they think I'm a very good young executive who's not too obsessed with their work, thus their interest in me for some personal fun.
I make a point of returning the interest in full, and also in showing off a bit by getting out of the pool to do a number of dives from the low diving board. I give them time to run a few ideas through their heads before I walk over to stand in front of the ladies while drying myself with a towel. While smiling at them I say, “Good afternoon, ladies. My name's Al Adams, and I don't mind getting involved in a little private fun with such lovely ladies as yourselves, as long as it doesn't involve anyone thinking it's the start of anything long term. Any fun would be just that, a fun-time between friends.” They all smile, and nod yes to show they agree. “Good. Since we all know where we stand why don't you ladies work out the details of how to spend the afternoons so you all get a fair time while no one runs any risks with the other members of their party getting upset.” They all lick their lips, and start a quiet talk together while I move to the next lounger where I turn on the sunlamp to work on my tan a little while they sort out the arrangements.
A few minutes later the one beside me says, “Hi, I'm Beverley Spinks, and my friends are Melissa James beside me with Alison Howard on her far side. We think it best we stay together as a group, if you think you can handle the three of us. That way it looks better when we get a call our husbands are looking for us. All our husbands work for the same company, and they're here to be involved with a major reshuffle of the corporate arrangements for an acquisition expansion. Since they're all senior executives and workaholics they usually don't get back to the hotel until late, very late.”
I smile, and reply, “Well, I don't know about being able to handle three such lovely ladies at once! But I'm certainly willing to try, and to do my best at making you all happy. Why don't we adjourn this discussion to the spa in my suite?”
That gets more big smiles. Most of the better suites here have two person spas, while only the top five have larger spas, and I'm saying my suite has a large spa. That means I'm not in the cheap rooms, so it's not like I'm running a con on them. Actually, the rooms the company booked for Dad and I were cheap, but I upgraded us to the penthouse for some luxury and privacy. The company is paying Dad the amount they set out in the contract direct to his bank account while I'm paying for the suite on my trust account credit card. Yes, it's expensive, but it's just a flea bite in my current daily income. It took some arguing, but I convinced Dad to keep the money he's getting, and he can pay for some nice meals for us when we go out for dinner.
After the ladies nod agreement to my question I stand up, and turn off the sunlamp. Moving to their lounges I offer each lady a hand to help her stand up then I turn off the sunlamp for each of them. We leave the pool as a group, chatting while heading for the foyer.
At the front desk I ask for messages, and the senior clerk hands me one. She also hands each of the ladies a message. While the ladies open and read their messages the clerk, Sharon, smiles and winks at me, so I smile and wink back before opening a message from Dad. His meeting is going into overtime so I'm not to wait for him for dinner. Turning from the desk I lead the way to the penthouse lift.
When we get in the lift Beverley sees there's only two buttons, so she realises I live in the penthouse. She laughs while she points this out to the others. Then she tells me their husbands will miss dinner.
It could be a coincidence, but I have to ask, “Excuse me, but are your husbands involved with the Strong Security takeover by US Security?” They all look surprised, and nod yes. “Well then, this looks interesting, my Dad's involved with that too, and he's held up in a meeting that's going into heavy overtime, so he'll have dinner at the meeting. I wonder if they're all involved in the same meeting?” They all smile, and I can see their minds turning over how to relate where Dad and I fit, since we've the penthouse and they don't. “Don't worry about it, Dad's not a senior executive with either company. We've got the penthouse because I want some privacy so it's all on my charge card, not his.” This gets some very wide-eyed looks from the ladies. However, I'm not sure they believe me.
We arrive at our floor, so I use the swipe card and a code number to enter the penthouse from the small lift lobby. They all smile when I stop at the bar to get two bottles of Bollinger, a bottle of orange juice, two ice buckets I fill with ice, three champagne glasses, and a normal glass.
Within a minute we're sitting in the spa while I pour champagne for the ladies, and orange juice for me. “I don't like alcohol, and I certainly don't want it impairing any of my physical abilities.” This gets smiles while I hand out the champagne. The twelve person spa was empty, so the water's still running when I turn the jets on while it's only half full.
I wait for Beverley to put her glass down after taking her first drink before pulling her onto my lap. Settling her down on my thighs I undo the bow of her bikini top to slip her top off, and toss it to the decking beside the spa before leaning in to kiss her. A few minutes later I have her stand while I slide her bikini bottoms off, and she sits on my thighs. I caress her body while we talk. After several more minutes I ask her to switch places with Alison, but I strip Alison's bikini off before I let her sit down. Melissa stands and takes her one piece swimsuit off while I sit there caressing Alison. I smile, because all three women are very nice to look at as all three of them are well endowed with trim figures. In a few minutes more it's Melissa's turn to sit on my lap.
Several minutes later I move Melissa off my lap so I can refill their glasses. While doing so I empty the first bottle of Bollinger, and open the second. Alison asks, “When are you taking your trunks off?”
With a smile I move to stand in front of her, “Why don't you take them off to see what you can find to play with?” She half smiles, and licks her lips while she slides my swimmers down. When she has them right down I step out of them. She sits up, and flips them onto the decking.
Melissa looks across, and says, “Fuck me! That's a big one.”
Turning to her I smile while saying, “Oh, I'll will fuck you, a few times, while we both stay here.” She smiles at me while Beverley gives a slow head shake as she licks her lips.
I move to Alison, and lift her out of the water to kiss her. We spend a few minutes kissing and caressing each other before I lay her on the decking, and start to fuck her. She moans, half whispering, “Oh fuck, yes.”
After a few minutes I grin at a happy Alison when I move her to the spa, and lift Beverley to the decking. I kiss her, and start to fuck her. Melissa stands beside me when I enter Beverley, and Melissa says, “They want kids, but no luck yet. Fuck her to motherhood.” Damn, thinking I'll get her pregnant is a hell of a turn on. A little later she says, “Come on, fuck my sister into motherhood, and you can get me pregnant too.” That idea is so sexy I'm soon filling Beverley with seed.
I lower Beverley into the spa while I'm thinking I may have got her pregnant. I can't help but think about doing the same to Melissa when I lift her up to kiss her, and fuck her after she gets me ready to go again. A few minutes later it's an effort to lower Melissa into the spa and sit down beside her. I'm very tired. I'd always thought I was fit, but I sure feel stuffed now. I laugh when I realise I'm totally fucked - literally.
They smile at me while we sit in the water talking, making it clear they've enjoyed themselves. I pour them a glass of champagne each, emptying the bottle before I refill my orange juice. We sit around relaxing for a while. With great reluctance we get up, shower, and dress. We set a time to meet for dinner when I escort them to the foyer. After seeing them to the main elevator I go to the front desk to ask Sharon, “Please see if you can get us a table for four at a decent restaurant?” She smiles while she picks up the phone. I go upstairs to get dressed for dinner.
It's a quarter to eight when we meet in the foyer again. Sharon hands me a slip of paper with the dinner booking information, and I slip her a ten dollar tip. We both smile when she tickles my palm while we swap papers. We leave notes about going out for a late dinner.
The doorman has a taxi ready and has given the driver the address, so I slip him a ten dollar tip. The taxi takes about ten minutes to get us to the restaurant. We're shown straight to a table when I give my name. While we walk to the table I look around, and see quite a few students I know having dinner with their families. Including my not friend, Williams. His eyes seem to pop out of his head when he sees me shepherd three beautiful older women to the table, and help seat them.
We're soon handed menus. I ask a few questions of the ladies, and close the menus. One thing I can thank my mother for is a very sound education in food and wines. When the waiter returns I order for all of us, including drinks; suitable wines for the ladies and chilled mineral water for myself. We've a fun time during the meal. I like watching the reactions of the kids I know from school.
Sharon must've told the maître d'hotel I'm using their penthouse suite, because every time I turn around for a waiter I've the maître d'hotel on hand before I can finish looking. So we get excellent service, surprising the people like Williams. When we finish dinner, about nine fifteen, I pay with my American Express gold card, and I put a very hefty tip on it for the staff, I also leave a ten dollar note for the bus boy. When we leave I make a point of thanking all the staff who served us by their names.
Outside I tip the doorman ten dollars for being quick to get us a taxi and giving him the hotel name, confirming they'd been told to treat me right; because I didn't tell him where we were going or our hotel name.
Fifteen minutes later we're getting out of the taxi at the hotel when another taxi pulls up behind us. I turn from paying the taxi, with another good tip, to see Dad and three men getting out of the other taxi.
With a big grin I walk up to Dad, introduce the ladies, and say, “I met these three lovely ladies at the hotel pool today. Their husbands have left them sitting around so I took them out to dinner in the hopes of seducing them while their men are away. No luck yet, but I've got until the men turn up.” Dad slowly shakes his head, and laughs at me while the ladies walk forward to kiss their respective husbands, introducing me to them. While looking the shocked men over I say, “Damn, well that ruins my plans for the evening. Looks like I can forget about organising a game of strip poker.” They all laugh while we head inside the hotel.
In the foyer I mention the name of the restaurant plus the quality of their food and service, explaining to the men it was my treat for the company the ladies gave me at the pool during the afternoon. At the desk I stop to thank Sharon for making the booking for me, and I tell her of the great service and meal we had. Everyone collects their mail, and the others move off while I talk to Sharon and Dad reads his mail.
“Sharon, what time do you finish tonight? It seems I'm now all alone tonight, and I thought you might help me finish off a bottle of Bollinger. Oh, before I forget, please have the housekeeping staff check and restock the bar tomorrow. If you wish to come up to spend some time in the spa just ring me to let me know you're coming up, organise some nibblers on my account, and bring them with you.” She glances at Dad, and he just slowly shakes his head while he walks away, smiling.
With a sudden grin she says, “Let's see if you can live up to the big words. I'll see you just after ten.” I grin, smile, and go to the elevator.
On the way up I tell Dad about Williams and the meeting with the principal. His response is, “Let me know if you need my help. It's clear you've got everything under control, much more than I do.”
“OK, what's the problem? You know problem solving is my job.”
He sighs, “It doesn't matter how good the idea is, anything I come up with is instantly disliked by my immediate boss.”
I turn to him, “Has he been like this since you arrived?”
“Yes. I was hired by Strong Security, by the guy who's now his boss, for my knowledge and ability to train others. With the takeover and restructure I've got a new boss, and he seems to hate me. Damned if I know why, because I'm sure we've never met before.”
I think a while before asking, “You're sure it seems like a personal dislike and not a professional one?”
“Yes. I spoke with one of the others and I put up an idea. The boss was against it until I mentioned it was the other guy's idea. The good points made no difference to him, but finding out it wasn't mine did.”
“OK. That makes it very clear it's personal. There must be a personal crossover somewhere in your past. If you don't know his name or face, then it may be through Mum or he just hates all Aussies.”
“We've got two other Aussies on the team, and he has no trouble with them. But how can it be through your Mum, this guy's a Yank?”
“Maybe he went to school in Australia, and he knew Mum there. You're still in contact with some of the others Mum went to school with, email them his name to see if they recognise it.” He nods agreement. By now we're inside the suite and heading for our rooms. A little later I hear him at his computer, soon followed by his light going off. Dad is a great one for early nights, unless he has to be up late. A hangover from his early Army days with the need to catch any sleep he can when he can.
Just after ten o'clock I go to our little foyer to check on the lift. When I'm turning away it starts to descend. Just inside the suite door is a closed circuit television that shows the inside of the elevator, the area in front of it in the foyer, and the area of our little lobby. The elevator's empty, but Sharon is standing in the foyer waiting for it. She has a large pile of mixed sandwiches with a fruit platter on a two deck tray. Smiling, I go to the bar, and prepare a cold bottle of champagne in an ice bucket with a champagne flute. I also get some orange juice with a normal glass.
I get back to the door a few seconds before the elevator arrives with Sharon. Smiling, I help her carry our plunder while I lead her to the spa. After setting the tray on the deck I open the champagne, and pour her a glass. I turn on a low light over the food and drinks, turn off the main lights, and open the curtains of the scenic windows. This gives us a view of most of the city to the airport with the open country beyond it, a very pretty night view of the city and this part of Maryland.
Handing her the champagne from behind I reach around to undo the company tie she's wearing. While I undo her blouse she asks, “Al, how old are you?”
“I'm not sure you really want me to answer that. Let's leave it at: it's legal for me to have sex, but not legal to have alcohol. I'm younger than you, but I'll make you forget that. Help me get you undressed so we can get into the water. Dad's already gone to bed. The only question left is are you leaving during the night or having breakfast with me?”
She leans against my chest while I undo her front clip bra then fondle her breasts. She sighs, and uses one hand to undo the corporate slacks she's wearing. In a few minutes I'm gazing at her nude body while I fold her clothes up, and place them on a chair with mine.
When I help her into the spa she says, “I don't normally get involved with guests, but there's something about you that makes it hard to say no to you. I do like you being tall. Being taller than average I find most men are too short for me.” I smile when I sit beside her in the spa, and lean her head on my shoulder. We snack and sip drinks while we watch the night through the window. During the next half hour or so I caress her body all over while we talk, but I make no overt moves to go further, because it's clear to me she needs to relax quite a bit first.
At eleven I get us both out of the water and dry us. We've finished the food and drinks. I leave everything where they are when I turn the spa off, and let the water out. With an arm around Sharon I lead her to the bed, stopping only to pick up the phone to ask the desk to change our usual breakfast order from two people to three; they make a note. In the bed I cuddle up behind her, and cup her breasts as we go to sleep.
In the middle of the night I wake up to the great feeling of being kissed by Sharon. We kiss and caress each other for quite a while before making love to each other. After a little while we get tired, and stop. Sharon pulls the covers over us, hugs me to her, lays my head on the pillow beside her shoulder, and we're soon sound asleep again.
When the alarm goes off we wake up in the same positions we went to sleep in. We make love again. A little later we head for the bathroom. Sharon goes to the toilet while I turn on the shower. I adjust the water, and signal for her to join me. She smiles at me while she does.
I take very quick showers, but today it takes thirty minutes of fun while we wash each other, several times. We're out and dried in time to put robes on to meet the arriving breakfast.
When we walk into the main room Dad looks surprised to see three meals being laid out by the Room Service people, until he spots Sharon walking from my room. He smiles at me while the staff do a double-take on spotting Sharon. They're quick to hide their surprise, and they smile at us while they set the food out for our breakfast.
While we eat the eggs and toast Dad says, “I've already got a reply from Jackie about the question last night. Care to take a guess about the name of the guy your mother dumped two days before we met?” I just smile while I slowly shake my head. “Yep, you called it. He's now my very angry boss! How do I deal with this?”
“You don't, Dad! Take time to talk to the guy who interviewed you. Tell him what's been happening, and tell him what you found out overnight. Then you let him deal with it. It's not your job to sort out your boss, that's his boss' job.”
Sharon asks, “If you're his father, how come you're asking his advice on things like your work problems?”
Dad smiles while saying, “I'm a highly experienced combat officer. That means I know how to deal with a direct threat, weapons, and training people. But I've had no experience with office politics and that sort of thing. Now, Al here, he's had a lot of experience with the office politics side of things in sporting associations and clubs. He's also had a good apprenticeship on this sort of stuff with his mother and uncle at their business. Add in his experience in running the business he inherited from them, and you can see why I'm asking for help in this field which is outside of my knowledge. When I've got a genius to advise me, I'd be bloody stupid to not use the resource.”
Sharon glances between us, blinks, and lets out a quiet, “Oh.”
Dad grins, “That's why he's paying for the penthouse. He's a lot richer than I am. I'm just a poor working class guy.” We both laugh.
After eating breakfast Dad and I are talking about a few things while I check my emails. Near the end is one I've been waiting on from Bryce. With the settlement from the wrongful death cases plus my inheritances I've a fair sized business network that includes many operations around the world. It's taken Bryce some months to sit down to find out all of the businesses, their current status, and list them all for me. I now have to decide if I want to unload some of them or to make some changes. My computer is continuing to download the huge file on how they're going, but I'm glancing through the short file which is just a list of companies sorted by country. In the list of US businesses is this hotel, it's a publicly listed company, but I own shares through a number of sources. All up I own eighty-two percent of the hotel shares. I send an email back saying I want him to start buying up all of the other shares in the hotel as well as how to sort out the portfolio. I want full ownership of all the businesses where we've more than fifty-five percent ownership, if possible, and all shares held by ones we do own are to be transferred to the head company - AREA Trust. I explain I want to simplify ownership and holdings, either by buying total control at a reasonable price or by selling what we have and don't need. This'll allow him to put pressure on those who want to hold out for premium prices. They can either sell to us at a fair price or watch us dump our shares on the market which will make their share's values plummet to next to nothing.
I tell Sharon I've got to go to school when I'm ready, but she's free to stay as long as she wishes. She nods to me, and goes back to bed after putting in a wake-up call with the desk for lunchtime. I check the school website for photos of the whole football team. They have them with biographies, and I memorise the faces of my probable attackers.
While I'm dressing Sharon asks, “How come your father lets you have so much freedom?”
“I've always been very mature for my age, and I spent a lot of time looking after my younger sister and cousins until they died. Add in the fact that, for a few days, I had to deal with their deaths and my grandparents deaths while I got everything sorted out before Dad could join me, and you can see how he accepts I'm able and old enough to look after myself, because life has made me an adult early. I've handled things like an adult for some months, so he treats me like one. Dad is a very pragmatic man, he has to be one in the work he's done all his life, until now.” She nods her understanding, and lies back in the bed.
I'm soon leaving, after kissing Sharon goodbye and wishing her a good rest. Downstairs I stop at the desk to pick up a nice package from housekeeping, my bagged lunch I asked for while breakfast was being served. A taxi from outside the hotel soon has me at school.
On the drive to school I think a lot about Sharon, her behaviour, and her responses to me, and others, I've seen. Earlier I noticed an interesting pattern in there, and wonder if I should take advantage of it. I decide I will, because it'll be good for her as well as me. We'll both benefit in the short term, as well as in the long term. It'll be very good for me, because it helps me develop skills to handle others now I'm developing more mature behaviours, and I now have to manage so many adults in the businesses. She'll also make a good adult assistant to help me in that work. I think it'll be much better for her own peace of mind, too.
I find the US school system somewhat confusing, because it's so different from what I'm used to in Australia. I'm used to the school year being from the start of February to late December. The US school year runs from late August or early September to late May or mid June, depending upon the state, with only very short holidays of about a week for Christmas and New Year, and again at Easter; plus they throw in a couple of extra days for Thanksgiving. They make up for it by a much longer summer holiday break.
High school in Australia is years seven to twelve with most students starting there at twelve or thirteen, but most US high schools are years nine to twelve. Lucky for me this private school covers years seven to twelve, and is more like what I'm used to. But the year terms are mad, because they don't go by the year or grade number. The first two years are known as Junior High, while the rest have special names for the grades; from year nine they're freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior. Being in year ten I'm a sophomore. I'm not familiar with the names so I rarely use them, which sometimes causes trouble with the teachers and students. This is because they understand those terms quicker than the year numbers, while I have to take time to convert the names to numbers.
This is a private school which isn't dependent upon any government funds, but it still comes under the general supervision of the state government to see it operates within the rules. Between the principal and the School District Supervisor is the School Board of Governors, things very rarely go to the District Supervisor or the education department because the School Board handles them quite well.
After the deaths in my family I didn't go back to school at the start of the year. I expected to be moving since both Dad and I needed a change. Under Australian law it's voluntary schooling for people sixteen or over, so I didn't have to go. When Dad said he was looking to the US for work I delayed starting school until we settled in the US. That put me level with my peers, where I used to be ahead a year. I don't mind it, because I needed the break to get myself sorted out. I also used the time to catch up on the extra subjects I needed to learn for the US education system.
When I walk across the car park Williams walks up, and stops to talk to me. While I answer him I keep walking until I reach a point where I can see behind me by glancing at the reflection in a dark tinted car window behind him. He makes some noises about yesterday being a joke and all is forgotten. I let him control the conversation as I watch the car window reflection while a couple of the other football players move about behind me, but a bit further down the car park.
After getting set the two take something out of their pockets, and start a wind up to throw them. I can't understand Americans; instead of just tossing something at you they feel they have to go through a baseball wind up almost every time. While they get ready to throw I shuffle a bit left while I say goodbye, so I'm now between Williams and the two getting ready to throw. They adjust aim. When they release I move off.
My timing's perfect! I'm only a pace away when I hear two splats. I turn around to see Williams' chest covered by a purple fluid, and his clothes are ruined. I say, “Shit, man. Did you see the bums who tossed those at you? I think they should be reported.” The whole incident happens with both Williams and I in front of a group of students and two security cameras while the throwers are further away in the car park.
Trying very hard not to laugh I nod at him, and head off into school. Meeting one of the teachers just inside the front door I tell her what I just saw happen to Williams. She leaves the building, and goes to the car park. From the doorway it looks like Williams is arguing with the two throwers. They shut up when the teacher arrives. I smile, because I got an official there before they could agree on a fake story.
I've got some spare time today, so I head for the gym to talk to the coach. It only takes a few minutes to find the senior football coach. I knock on his open office door, and get called in. After entering the office I tell the coach about yesterday morning's activities, and today's, before asking him to warn his players to lay off me or he may not have a full team after I'm forced to defend myself.
The coach says, “Son, we've a Zero Tolerance policy on fighting. You get in a fight and you'll be suspended.”
Giving him a weak smile I say, “Coach, I'm aware the school has a Zero Brains fighting policy, but not a bullying one. Some of your boys are bullying most everyone in the school. I won't take that shit. After being embarrassed yesterday and today Williams is likely to get some of the team to get physical with me. When they start something I'll finish it! I may get suspended for a few weeks, but they'll be side-lined for injuries for longer than I'll be away. That, I can guarantee. So you better get your boys under control, or start planning on playing with a few players out for injuries. I told the principal that yesterday, and now I've told you. I've given you all a fair warning. What happens now depends upon how well you control the animals on your team. Good day.”
I leave before he can start to reply, and I head to my first class.
Walking down the hall near my classroom I see two of the football team standing in the middle of the hall waving their arms about while they talk. I smile. I know this dance well, far too well, from the past.
Walking up behind the one with his back to me I go to pass on his left while keeping a close eye on them. When I'm about a pace behind them the guy facing my way nods toward me, and the other speaks while making a fast and expansive arm movement with his left arm, his hand is in a fist like he's about to backhand someone. Taking two very fast steps right at a forty-five degree angle I dart past both guys on the right side of the hall while the one with his back to me half windmills around to his left. He almost falls over when he fails to hit me. I smile at them when I'm passing them, and I'm soon in the classroom.
I've still got a few minutes before class so I have a word with a boy at the back of the class, the only member of the football team I saw in class yesterday. To be in the advanced classes I saw him in means he must be smarter than the rest of the players. Walking up to him I say, “Morning, Greg. I see you've a higher IQ than the rest of the football team together. Please try to get them to stop these silly games Williams and some others are trying to play, because I'll fight back, then they'll get hurt, not me.”
He smiles while saying, “Yes, Williams and his friends can be real kids. Don't worry about me. I'm not interested in those pecker games! I just like to play football. Sadly, I've got little choice about who else is on the team. Later I'll talk to them to see if I can stop them, but I doubt I'll be able to do anything.”
“That's a shame. Thanks for trying, when you do. Then I hope you've got a good set of back up players.” He laughs while I go to my seat.
Sitting down by Kath I start to tell her about the morning events, but she already knows about the car park incident. The teacher enters, so the class begins. It's soon over, too.
Due to Kath guiding me and my starting to learn the buildings and rooms I'm a lot quicker moving between classes today. Even so, I need a bit of fast footwork to avoid attempted attacks by two football players while moving between classes. The same happens at the next break.
Third period class is over, and we're off to lunch. Today I brought my lunch, as did Kath, so we go straight to our table. When we do I notice a number of the football team standing around near the queue for food as if waiting for someone. Our table's at the back wall, so it's easy for me to sit with my back to the wall. After I pull my lunch out of my bag the group of football players is very quick to break up.
Because the morning classes pass without any real incidents I think they haven't formulated a new strategy yet. Lunch is nice, because Greg joins us as a way of showing he's not involved in the trouble. I ask him about American Football. “Greg, out of interest, what positions do you and Williams play on the team, and what do they do?”
“I'm the team's QB and he's the WR.” I give him a very vacant look. He smiles at my expression, and starts again. “I'm the quarterback, I take the snap and either pass the ball or hand it off, depending upon the play.” After a series of questions and answers I learn he controls the plays on the field as per the coach's instructions. He accepts the ball from the start of play and passes to where the others are supposed to be to take it to make a first down or touchdown; or hands it off to another player, most often the running back. Williams is a wide receiver, the best in the state for the last two years. His job is to run down the field to catch the passed ball, or go along the scrimmage line to take a lateral pass to run down the field, or similar moves. The coach thinks the loss of either one of them will be a serious cut in the team's performance. Greg finishes with, “I think you'd be a better wide receiver than Williams. Over the last few days I've seen the way you move. You're faster and you think quick on your feet. That means you're more able to respond to developing situations. You're also much more athletic than he is, so you can dodge better, like I heard you did in the hall this morning.” It's clear to me they're not great friends.
“Tell me more about the game and rules, please.” He does, at some length. I listen to him while I wonder if joining the team will help me.
After a pleasant lunch Kath and I leave a bit early. We go out one of the doors to the outside to walk around the building while we talk about visiting her grandmother tomorrow. Being careful of our path we take the long way around to our next class. Arriving on the second level by the stairs furthest from the cafeteria I notice a small knot of football players hanging around near the top of the other stairs, another ambush avoided. I wonder when they'll get the message and give up.
During the afternoon I'm a bit worried when neither Williams or any of his mates come near me during the class break. I figure they've planned something for straight after school.
When the final bell goes I head for the exit. I stop when I see some of the football team near each gate. Hmm, do I have a confrontation now or do I try to avoid it. I decide to try and avoid it today, if I can.
I say goodbye to Kath, and head back into the school. Leaving by one of the rear doors I make sure it locks behind me when I walk out. I walk close to the buildings in full view of the cameras. I walk around the outside as if heading to go out one of the side gates. When out of view of the cameras I double back to the sports ground. I figure this will be the last place they'll expect me to be, so I'll hide around here for a while.
After searching and studying the various constructions I find the perfect hiding place. The sports ground has both a football field and a baseball field. The football field has a nice electronic scoreboard while the baseball field has a large manual board where someone stands on a wide ledge to place painted number plates on hooks on the board. The ledge is reached by an almost upright ladder going up about three body lengths, and the ledge is a body length wide to allow two people to pass each other in safety while they work on the scoreboard. It has a railing around the edge of it at waist height as well.
In my bag I've a nice compact digital video and still camera that has a detachable viewing screen. I place the camera against the rail's middle post, and set it to watch the field. Plugging in the extension cable I detach the viewing screen, and move back against the board. Like this I'm not visible from the ground, because to be far enough away to see onto the ledge they're too far away to make out anything as small as me lying at the back. I settle down to wait, glancing at the camera screen every few minutes because it'll take anyone several minutes to cross the field to the scoreboard. I pull out a text book to study while waiting.
About fifteen minutes later someone walks out to take a long look around the fields and the spectator stands before heading back toward the main school. After another fifteen minutes a second searcher makes the same inspection. About thirty minutes later there are three doing the search together. I continue to wait where I am.
When almost forty-five minutes go by without any more searchers I decide they may have gone home. I pack up my gear, and leave my hiding place. I take care to walk around the field, keeping close to the fence and surrounding buildings. Nearer the school buildings I give them all a careful study before moving out to cross the open ground between the sports field and the main buildings. I circle very wide of the buildings to be sure I stay out of the view of the security cameras. Reaching the front I see all of the regular gates are shut and locked, but the wider one the cleaners use is open. The only cars in the car park are a few older model ones parked near the cleaners' gate. I smile while I walk out, and down the street as I head away from my hotel. When I'm a few streets away I call for a taxi, and take it to the hotel.
I arrive back at the hotel at five thirty. In the mail is a box from Evans Publishing, the one of my companies which was my grandfather's. Seeing the box reminds me of the work inside it. Smiling, I look at the desk staff (Sharon, Melody, and Robert), and say, “Do any of you like reading the Lyn Evans stories?” Sharon and Melody are quick to nod yes while Rob looks embarrassed. “Good, then you won't mind helping me out with a little task, later. One of my jobs is proofreading the test print run of the Lyn Evans books. If you don't mind noting any errors in format, story continuity, spelling, etcetera then I can give you a copy of the next book due out to proofread for me.” They all give eager nods of agreement.
I'm about to turn away when the manager, Mr Jerry Stein, walks out of his office followed by his fourteen year old daughter, Lia, he says, “Ah, Al, got a moment? I need to check something with you.”
I smile, “Let's see if I can guess right. One, I had some adult guests yesterday afternoon and evening. They had three bottles of champagne I served them, just replace them and put them on the bill, please. Two, staff and guests. I'd think a smart manager wouldn't worry about it when a guest sweet talks an older member of staff into spending her off duty time with him. Does that cover everything?” He nods yes. “Don't worry about any alcohol used, I'll never let any non-adults drink any here, nor will I drink any. Years ago Mum taught me how to select wines, and I tried them. I don't like wine or any alcohol, although Mum did teach me how to drink slowly for when I have to drink at formal meals etcetera; but I hate the stuff. I always have, and more so since the rest of my family were killed by a drunk driver some months back.” He nods again.
I look at Lia. I like her, have since we met when Dad and I arrived, eighteen days ago. It was school break, and Lia took the time to show me around Frederick, all the sights etc. We got to know each other well, and got on very well. I say, “Lia, do the kids at your school have a status order, and where are you in it?”
She smiles at being addressed, because most people ignore her, she says, “Yes, they do, and I'm near the bottom. Why?”
“Do you like the Lyn Evans books?” A vigorous nod. “Good. Then, if I can arrange for you to have a copy or two of the new book before it hits the stands next month you'll move up a bit in status, won't you?” She gives a very eager nod, more for the book than the status - I think.
Just then Dad and his three work colleagues walk in. Mr Stein says, “Mister Adams, I need to check you've got no issues with Al offering alcohol to his adult guests while putting such expenses on the bill. Sorry, but I need to confirm this for legal reasons.”
Dad smiles, “I know Al doesn't drink any alcohol. He even gets into trouble at some functions because he insists on water instead of the wine offered for toasts. I know he'll only allow adults to have alcohol, so I've got no worries with him serving it to them. As to the cost, that's his concern, not mine. The company's paying me the rates for a basic twin share room, because that's what they're required to pay for under the contract. Al's the rich member of this family who's paying the bill for the penthouse with all the costs of it. He's not old enough to legally have a credit card, but one of his companies issued him a couple of corporate credit cards where he has to account for the expenditure each month. Some of the expenses are worn by the company while all the other charges are deducted from his owner's income account. Since he's using a corporate credit card it's legal for him to charge things against it, as the risks are being taken by his company. It's convoluted, but legal. So, any talk about charges should be directed to Al, not me.” This gets a few strange looks from everybody nearby, especially the staff. It's clear they thought I was spending Dad's money, now they find out it's my own. Mr Stein thanks us. I suggest we all gather again about six thirty for dinner, and I ask Sharon to book us a table for eight people in the dining room. Picking up the mail I head upstairs when Dad asks about today. I tell him all that happened, and he just nods while I talk.