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Thread: Lucky

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    Lucky

    PROLOGUE


    Wednesday, 6:30 AM, Denver, Colorado


    Jim Williams was a successful man. He had worked hard in his life to get where he was at and had everything a man could want for. He had started out his career in a large brokerage firm before making a small fortune in the dot-com bubble before selling off just in time to avoid a complete wipeout. Afterwards he had started his own business taking several wealthy clients away from the firm and investing their money wisely and, more importantly, at a profit. He could evaluate market trends just by taking a glance at a daily report, identify which companies would be successful just by reading a news article and which currencies would be ahead of the game three months down the road. All in all, he was considered a genius by his counterparts and extremely lucky by others.

    A millionaire by the age of twenty-four, his own personal fortune had continued to grow as he played the markets shrewdly and without hesitation. Careful planning and quick actions were his watchwords and even in the depressed economy of late he was doing just fine when others were failing badly. And although he was straight as an arrow, he had been investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission a half dozen times for insider trading. However, there was no impropriety on his part and they had always chalked it up to
    Last edited by Grand58742; 12-09-2011 at 03:24 PM.

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    CHAPTER 1


    Wednesday, 4:37 PM, Denver, Colorado


    “Anything else I can get for you Mister Williams?” asked the maid as she finished cleaning up the office area while he was busy studying three computers and making annotations on two legal pads.

    “No thanks, did that last transaction come into your bank account?” asked Jim.

    “Sure did and my husband and I thank you. We wish we would have known a guy like you in our twenties and maybe we would have been living in a big house by now,” she laughed.

    “Still on track for retirement?” he asked, looking away for a moment.

    “Two more years, God willing and your investments keep producing. You know, my husband spending thirty years at one place and retiring and then having to get another job just to make ends meet just doesn’t seem right. And me having to get a job along with him doesn’t seem right either, but we do like what you did with our money,” she said.

    Jim had taken them on as maid and lawn maintenance three years prior. They both were having trouble making ends meet with his retirement checks and had to seek additional work just to keep up. Jim had taken a personal interest in their financial status and invested their savings in various stocks and funds and watched as the money poured in. They could officially retire in two more years and never have to worry about another paycheck again. It meant Jim would have to find another maid and groundsman, but he would start off again with another couple and see if he could help them as well.

    “It was no problem and Beth insisted. And you know what happens when a woman gets insistent,” he laughed.

    “We typically get our way,” she laughed. “Is there going to be anyone around this weekend?”

    “No, and you have free reign of the pool and grounds. I’ll leave a letter and a number to call in case of trouble. It’s your…daughter’s birthday?” he asked.

    “Granddaughter turning seven,” she answered.

    “They do grow up quick,” said Jim.

    “And when are you and Miss Beth going to have some children?” she asked, quite informally.

    “We’ve talked about it, but we just don’t know. When the time’s right I suppose,” said Jim. What he didn’t explain was the fact they couldn’t have children. Beth had been in a car accident as a child and would never be able to have children. They had talked of adopting, but it just never came to more than just talk. The closest thing they had come to children was a German Sheppard dog that had recently died of old age. Adopted from the pound, he had been a faithful dog to them and it was something Jim planned on rectifying sooner rather than later since Beth had loved the dog. Not that she had hinted on anything in particular, but he liked to surprise her from time to time with a present.

    “If there’s nothing else, I’ll get out of your hair,” said the maid as she turned to leave.

    “Yeah, one thing. Do you know any dog breeders?” he asked.

    “Can’t say that I do. What kind in particular are you looking for?” she asked.

    “Beth was pretty upset when Barry had to be put to sleep two months ago. I was thinking another German Sheppard,” said Jim.

    “We always got ours from the pound or the humane society. You could try there again,” said the maid.

    “Might just do that,” said Jim.

    “But if you are looking along the same lines as a Sheppard, why don’t you try the Belgian Malinois? My son had one he adopted from the police force and it was a good dog. They are loyal and work good as a watchdog for those times you are away,” said the maid.

    “Can you spell that?” asked Jim.

    She spelled it out as he wrote it down. “They are kind of a special breed. Expensive, but I think you can afford it.”

    “What do you mean by special and how much exactly?” he asked.

    “You have more computers sitting there than NASA does down at Houston. You can look it up just as easy,” she laughed. “Time you took a break anyway.”

    “Yeah, it is quitting time,” said Jim as he looked at the screens and figured he could pick up later with what he was doing. One of the advantages of working from home meant he could work whenever he wanted to. The disadvantage of it was the fact he typically worked more than most since it was right there and if he had an itch, he would act on it. He would put in sixty to seventy hours a week doing what he did best. He knew he would come back later on and finish up what he was doing, but taking a break for the moment sounded pretty good. But he had a particular thought pattern going and didn’t want to step away right then.

    “Okay, I’ll look it up later. See you in the morning,” said Jim as he waved his hand at her and went back to writing down the trends he saw in the market. He took another half an hour to finish up and went downstairs to get something to eat. The dog situation was still on his mind and he resolved himself to rectify that sooner rather than later since the idea had slipped his mind more than once. She had mourned enough and he figured it would be the best time to get one. He made himself a simple sandwich since Beth was away and his cooking skills were horrid. She enjoyed cooking even though they could have afforded just about any cook in the world. It relaxed her and made her seem far more down to earth than most women in her same economic status.

    Getting his corned beef and Swiss sandwich made, he went back upstairs to find out exactly what kind of dog the maid was referring to and more precisely, where to get one locally.


    ********************


    Wednesday, 7:42 PM, Los Angeles, California


    “You know, just a dash of ginger to this would make it even better. Ever give that a thought?” asked Beth as she moved around the kitchen of the five star hotel.

    “No ma’am, never occurred to me to try,” said the cook as he looked at the dish he was preparing and thought about the woman in front of him. His first thought on when she asked to come into the kitchen was she was there to complain. But after several minutes, he saw she wasn’t the kind of haughty person he typically had to deal with when the food wasn’t done to perfection. “I’ve just always done it this way.”

    “Maybe you could give it a whirl and see how folks like it,” she suggested.

    “I’m kind of set in my ways,” he laughed.

    “Okay, I’ll order it tomorrow and you give it a try,” said Beth.

    “May I ask you a question ma’am?” the head chef asked.

    “I’ve always loved cooking, that’s why. And when it comes to cooking, there is no reason we all can’t share,” she said.

    “It’s kind of competitive in my line of work,” he laughed.

    “That’s why I’m not in your line of work. I have a husband with money and furthermore, my parents were rich. You ever hear of Ron Hampton?” she asked.

    “Former White House chef Ron Hampton?” he asked.

    “The very same. He worked for my dad for a while I was growing up and taught me a lot about cooking. He always said each and every cook had their own special techniques, but sharing wasn’t a bad thing,” she said.

    “If you were taught by Ron Hampton, you were taught by one of the best. I’ll try it with some ginger, but you can’t blame me if it doesn’t turn out okay,” he laughed.

    “I promise not to chase you around with a meat cleaver or yell at the waiter like that old hag did a while ago,” she laughed.

    He laughed and was relieved that the woman was so down to earth. She didn’t seem like the typical clientele that frequented the restaurant but he knew she was staying in the executive suites and that meant she had to have a pretty decent bankroll. She stayed around talking with him for several minutes and watching what he was doing, picking up some little tidbits herself while he prepared some of the dishes being ordered. He didn’t mind as the patrons rarely asked about such things except to tell him it wasn’t done right. She politely excused herself and went back to her table where her dinner dates were at, old friends from her childhood. Julie and Chad Woods had moved out to California some years prior and gotten into the Hollywood scene.

    “Did you tell the man the fish was horrible?” asked the woman.

    “No, just a way of improving it,” said Beth.

    “As much as you are paying for it, he should have kissed your feet and begged for forgiveness,” said the man.

    Beth looked at him like he had lost his mind. She hadn’t seen her friends in several years and had recognized in the first ten minutes of dinner they had become “those” kind of people. Their stuck up attitude grated on her throughout dinner and was quickly becoming tiresome. In a classless society, they certainly had taken on royal airs.

    “Really Chad? Is it that big a deal? The fish wasn’t done to my perfection, but you know what? Nothing in life ever is unless you do it yourself. I never expect royal treatment even in a place like this and don’t expect to be treated any differently because Jim made it big,” Beth said with cold eyes.

    And the polite chit chat at the dinner table came to a screeching halt at that announcement. They both looked at her like she had suddenly sprouted horns. Beth’s friends were nouveau riche but had forgotten they had begun in a one bedroom apartment in the low rent area of the city. And although Beth came from a rich family, she had a background of never flaunting her money or more importantly, never thinking she was better than anyone else. Her parents had always taught her to remember everyone was a person with dreams and aspirations and to never forget the fact that money came and went.

    “So…plans for tomorrow?” asked her friend Julie diverting the subject.

    “Doing some shopping early and catching the flight into San Francisco. Jim’s due in sometime in the afternoon,” said Beth, bouncing back from the almost confrontation with Chad.

    “Heading up to Rodeo in the morning again?” asked Julie.

    “Probably not. I was thinking of hitting some smaller shops in the city. You never know what you might find,” said Beth.

    They spoke for several more minutes before finally saying goodbye. They were off to some party or other and invited her along. However, she had no plans to stay with them any longer than necessary. She politely declined using an “oncoming headache” as an excuse to leave. Goodbye hugs and kisses were given and they departed the hotel.

    She was slightly depressed her friends had changed so much in the five years it had been since she had seen them. He was an executive with a movie studio and she was a part time actress still waiting for her break out role. While they had plenty of money, they weren’t that high up the food chain and probably never would be. Her butt was too large to get a decent role anyway, she giggled to herself and wondered what to do while waiting for Jim’s call. He called every night and this was another reason she still loved him. From humble beginnings to their current status, she admired and loved the way he loved her. He was highly successful when they were first introduced all those years before, but it was his down to earth attitude that impressed her the most. While some men would try to be impressive with a fancy house or a nice car, he would show up with a simple rose at that unexpected time and steal her heart away. After nearly eight years of knowing him, he still had a few surprises in him that kept her enchanted.

    She wandered into the hotel bar and decided on a drink before he called. She didn’t drink in great amounts, but from time to time, she would have a few. And in her mood, she decided it would be better to forget her so called friends and have one while waiting.

    “Vodka martini, extra dry, extra olives,” she announced to the bartender as she sat at the bar and collected her dress below her legs.

    She took her cell phone out and sat it on the bar, waiting for Jim to call. She didn’t know exactly when he would, but decided to have it immediately available just in case. Soft jazz played in the background, further darkening her mood instead of relaxing her. She was almost finished with her drink when a voice came from behind her.

    “Seven and seven and a refill for the lady,” announced the male voice from her six o’clock.

    “Thanks, but I’m-” she started to say as she turned around. The man behind her was handsome and automatically she was attracted to him for some reason. She had no idea why, just for some reason she automatically felt charmed. Her guard instantly went up and she would watch herself carefully.

    He saw the look on her face change and knew he was already at a good start. “Mind if I sit down? You look like you could use some company.”

    “I’m waiting on my husband to call,” she said.

    “If I were him, I wouldn’t keep you waiting,” he said with a charming smile and very straightforward.

    “It isn’t going to happen, but feel free to have a seat if you want,” she said with a wave of her hand.

    “What isn’t going to happen? Conversation between two people?” he asked with the same charming smile.

    “Look, you’re cute, but not that cute. Want to drop the act?” she said, fairly straightforward, but not hateful.

    “And what act would that be? I’m just making conversation, that’s all,” he said.

    “With no other intentions?” she asked.

    “Then to sit for a few minutes with an attractive woman? No, nothing further,” he said, still charming.

    “Okay, here is the deal,” she started. “You obviously have been checking me out since I walked in. I saw you sitting by yourself in the corner waiting for something or someone to arrive. There are plenty of single unattached women in this bar, so why me?”

    “Why not you? Yes, you are an attractive woman and there are plenty of men checking you out maybe even wanting to make the same move I just made. But I’m the kind of guy who sees something and goes after it. Maybe I feel safer talking with a married woman rather than someone else. Maybe I just want to have a decent conversation and nothing more. Maybe the other women in here just aren’t up to your standards. Maybe you look like you need someone to talk to. There are several different reasons I might have come over,” he said.

    “And I obviously need your company or something?” she asked.

    “Maybe I’m just a nice guy who doesn’t expect anything in return for a little talk,” he said.

    “Probably not. I know your type,” she said.

    “And that type might be? You might have me all wrong,” he said.

    “I think you are a charming man who is handsome enough to bed down ninety percent of the women in this town after a few drinks. You play the whole ‘I’m not interested but just want to talk routine’ and get my guard down after a few drinks. You find out what my pet peeve is with my husband and go after that angle. Sorry, but that’s not going to work,” she said.

    “Maybe I’m just a nice gentleman who just wants to talk?” he asked.

    “My husband is also a nice gentleman and frankly, I’m not interested in ruining what I have with him,” she said while tapping her wedding and engagement rings on the table. “Or you could be what you say. Now if you want to sit down and have a conversation, that’s fine, but as soon as my husband calls, I’m out the door alone. Would you still like to have a seat and pay for the drink?”

    The look on his face was priceless and the bartender had to bite his lip to keep from laughing as he delivered the drinks. After he walked away, the man was able to utter a reply. “Okay, you got me.”

    “On which part?” she asked.

    “The first answer,” he said with the same charming smile.

    “And?” she said.

    “You obviously are onto my game. Is there any reason for me to stick around trying to charm your dress off?” he asked as he collected his drink and prepared to leave. It wasn’t the first time he had been shot down and probably wouldn’t be the last. However, it was the first time it had happened so quickly. But the night was young and he would seek other prey.

    “Sure isn’t…thanks for the drink though,” she said and turned back to her drink and away from him.

    But for some reason, he felt enchanted by her as well and stopped before he left. She wasn’t your run of the mill airhead who frequented the hotel bar looking for a little excitement in her life and an escape from a disinterested husband. He was instantly charmed by her as well, but didn’t know exactly why. He thought it was just the audacity of her remarks and how quickly she had caught on to his game. He typically dealt with fairly na

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    Chapter 1 continued


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    CHAPTER 2


    Thursday, 10:10 AM, Castle Rock, Colorado


    “How long before they are weaned?” asked Jim as he looked at the puppies in the kennel with the mother.

    “Maybe another two or three weeks. They are growing pretty quickly. They have good bloodlines on both sides and are probably going to be in the eighty pound range when fully grown,” said the dog breeder.

    “And how much per?” asked Jim.

    “Call it a grand total. Two hundred more for pick of the litter. They come with the proper AKC paperwork, a small kennel, with shots already and a week’s worth of food to start,” said the breeder.

    “Kind of expensive,” said Jim, starting his wheeling and dealing.

    “Yeah, but these dogs are in high demand. Mostly as police dogs and for the military. You won’t find a better dog for training,” said the breeder.

    “How often do you sell them?” asked Jim.

    “Actually, I have a hard time keeping them in stock. They do make good family pets since they are very loyal and affectionate,” said the breeder. “But a lot of my sales are to trainers for police dogs.”

    “Sounds like a good business to be in,” said Jim.

    “It is actually. With the proper females, I can get four or five good litters of four to five pups throughout the lifetime. I try not to do more than one litter per year with the females before I sell them off. With a good male, I can get at least four studs a year to other breeders. At a grand a pop for stud fees plus the pick of the litter, it does tend to make a tidy profit,” said the breeder.

    “All for letting a dog be a dog,” laughed Jim.

    “So how about it? You interested?” asked the breeder.

    “Yeah, I am actually,” said Jim. “How do you work the payment?”

    “I require half up front for pick of the litter, otherwise it’s a quarter down for my selection,” said the breeder.

    “And if they were to take ill? Any kind of refund?” asked Jim.

    “Only in the first year that can be directly linked to my business here or the particular litter. If it’s normal dog sickness, it’s on you. And as for refund, I offer full up refund if I am at fault or personal choice on the next litter,” said the breeder.

    “All that in writing?” asked Jim.

    “Of course. Plus I send out e-mails in case one of the others turns up sick. I run an investment business here and wouldn’t want my clients to go away unhappy,” said the breeder.

    “What kind of payment do you accept?” asked Jim.

    “Cash, credit, debit or check. I’ll even do an EFT if you prefer,” said the breeder.

    “Debit will be fine. Do I have to make the choice now?” asked Jim.

    “No, you can when they are weaned and ready for pick up. But it’s first come, first serve,” said the breeder.

    “Okay, add in another ten percent on top and make me your first call,” said Jim. “And I’ll pay in full up front.”

    “I won’t argue with that,” said the breeder. “Want to get the paperwork started?”

    Jim sat down at the desk in the small office and started filling out the contract for buying the puppy for Beth. Again, he liked surprises and wanted to see her face as she got to pick out her new puppy. It was the simple things in life like that she enjoyed.

    “This going to be a gift?” asked the breeder.

    “Yes, for my wife,” said Jim.

    “We do a special ‘gift wrapping’ for the ones given as presents,” said the breeder. “At no cost.”

    “She would probably like that,” said Jim.

    “Okay, mark yes in block seven,” said the breeder as his phone rang. “Excuse me.”

    The breeder took the call on the cordless phone and walked out of the office. Jim continued filling out the paperwork with the information needed to purchase the new puppy until the pen ran out of ink. He shook it and tried writing again, but it still didn’t work. He looked over the desktop and saw a pen on the other side just out of arm’s reach. He went around to grab the other pen and the computer caught his eye.

    It was one of the same web sites he had been on the night prior. The firearms related one. He took a closer look and found the site was on the specific survival board with one of the many threads open. Not wanting the man to think he was snooping around, he grabbed the pen and went back to filling out the rest of the paperwork. The breeder walked back in and sat down to review what had been written and to take payment.

    “Looks like everything is in order Mister Williams. Let me go ahead and run your card,” said the breeder as he took the debit card from Jim.

    “Please call me Jim,” he replied. It took a couple of moments for the machine to connect with the bank and the money to go through.

    “Okay, I’ll print two copies, one for my records and one for yours. Total will be thirteen-twenty plus tax as we agreed on,” said the breeder.

    “No problems,” said Jim. “Might I ask you a personal question not related to the transaction here?”

    “Sure, what’s on your mind?” asked the breeder.

    “Well, your pen ran out of ink as I was filling out the application and I had to grab another one from your desk. I wasn’t snooping, but I saw the screen on your computer open…” said Jim, letting the information go at that.

    “And?” asked the breeder, suddenly wary of his new customer.

    “Are you what they call a prepper?” asked Jim point blank.

    “Does it matter?” asked the breeder.

    “Not for the business, no. I was just curious. I’ve kind of started prepping myself,” said Jim.

    “Okay, and?” asked the breeder.

    “I think I’m what’s called a noob in those realms. I just never thought I meet another prepper so quickly,” said Jim.

    “We like to keep a low profile. Too many news articles about the crazy survivalist types out there,” said the breeder, but confirming what Jim was thinking about by his statements.

    “How long have you been at it?” asked Jim.

    “Quite some time. Listen, I’m not entirely comfortable talking about it with someone I don’t really know,” said the breeder.

    “I’m sorry for intruding. I was curious mainly,” said Jim.

    “You said you were starting?” asked the breeder.

    “Let’s just say I was hit by a revelation recently about how unprepared I am for emergency situations,” said Jim.

    “And that makes you no different than ninety-five percent of the population in the United States,” said the breeder. “But what are you going to do about it now?”

    “I want my family safe during emergencies,” said Jim.

    “Want some advice?” asked the breeder.

    “Sure,” said Jim.

    “Okay, read up on the net forums. There are a few out there that can help you quite a bit. Read and ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask about something you don’t know. I mean, better to ask the questions and know rather than try to wing it in an emergency. And don’t just pick what advice you want to have from one sole person. Use the group discussion mentality. More often than not, survivalists are pretty opinionated. We tend to like certain things, dislike others and tell you in no uncertain terms how we feel about a particular subject. But don’t just go all out and buy what one person tells you to. But the most important thing to remember it’s not just a pastime. It’s a lifestyle. If you aren’t willing to stick with it, you will ultimately fail and shouldn’t have started to begin with,” said the breeder.

    “Okay, anything else?” asked Jim.

    “Yeah, lots of bright and shiny toys out there at the start. Don’t get caught up in buying the top quality gear at the start. Learn what works best for you,” said the breeder.

    “Thanks for the advice. I’m just the kind of guy that is pretty straightforward about things like this,” said Jim.

    “No problems. But remember, most of us are pretty low key about the whole thing. We don’t like advertising as it makes us a target. You would do well to remember that little piece of advice,” said the breeder.

    “Got it,” said Jim. “When can I bring my wife back to let her pick?”

    “Say in about two weeks. At that point you can choose, but maybe a little longer on the pick up,” said the breeder.

    “Okay, a pleasure doing business with you,” said Jim.

    “And you too sir. Maybe I’ll see you around the net,” he said.

    “Maybe so,” said Jim as he walked out of the breeder’s office and back to his vehicle. He wondered how fate would allow him to meet someone so quickly and wondered if the arrangement might bear a potential friend in the long run. One thing he had learned the night before was a term called a MAG. A Mutual Assistance Group and how valuable they might be. So much to learn about and in a short time. But again, with the markets playing the way they were, he wasn’t in a rush to get everything at once. As he pulled out of the driveway, his phone rang. He put in the Bluetooth earpiece and answered with a simple “Williams.”

    “Jim, Jackson here,” he said.

    “Yeah, what’s going on?” asked Jim.

    “The Standard Metallic deal went through. All the shares you asked for and their stock is nudging upwards. I even went in for five thousand shares myself. The Star Drive Robotics deal should be done by this afternoon. They aren’t interested in changing their name just yet,” he laughed.

    “Okay, just let me know when the deal is processed and how much is left over,” said Jim.

    “Okay, I’ve got a line on another potential up and coming company as well. I’ve got the name around here somewhere, hang on…Volunteer Foods. It’s an LLC. Ever hear of them?” asked Jackson.

    “No, new business?” asked Jim.

    “Yeah, sort of. Just went from local to regional distribution. It’s in the food service arena,” said Jackson.

    “How are they doing?” asked Jim.

    “Up a point and a quarter in the past two weeks,” said Jackson.

    “What do you think?” asked Jim, letting his prot

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    Chapter 2 continued


  6. #6
    Looking forward to Chapter 3! Great writing so far!

  7. #7
    Very nice! Thank you for posting!

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    "Don't be too proud of this technological terror you've constructed..."

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    Oh my, now I addicted to another e-novel. Great read - I like the characters.

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    Sorry I haven't kept this up like I wanted...

    But also a small problem for the mods. A lot of the chapters I've written are too large to fit into the posting sections. Is there a way to up the limit of characters in this forum specifically? It's hard trying to make it "fit" just right.

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    CHAPTER 3


    Saturday, 9:19 AM, Pebble Beach, California


    “Are you the two we are to pair up with?” asked the older of the two men that approached Jim and another man.

    “I believe so. I’m Jim Williams,” he said, sticking out his hand. “This is Don Pepper.”

    “Rob Moore,” said the man after taking the offered hand. Jim scheduled a tee time the previous day, but found himself paired up with three people he didn’t know. Beth was taking her time at the spa that morning and getting “all girled up” as Jim put it along with other wives she had met yesterday. She already played a round of golf yesterday afternoon and beat Jim by a stroke. He actually let her win, taking bad chip shots on the last three holes for her to come in ahead of him.

    “Hal Charles. So you guys want to play for skins or for fun?” asked the second member as he walked up fairly confident.

    “Depends on the skins,” said Jim. “I mean, I’m not that good.”

    “Oh come on now. You are good enough to come here and play. You can’t be that bad,” said Rob.

    “I don’t know,” said Jim.

    “Say a hundred a hole?” asked Hal.

    “I’m in,” said Don.

    “I’ll have a go at that with the way you were playing yesterday,” said Rob Moore.

    “I don’t know, a hundred a hole is a lot of money,” said Jim.

    “Come on, you scared?” asked Hal.

    “Okay, I’m in,” said Jim.

    “Well, no matter what, we’ve got five minutes to get to the first tee,” said Don.

    They got into their golf carts and headed off for the first tee box to start their round. Jim actually felt sorry for the men, seeing as how he had come in one under par yesterday and this course wasn’t as challenging as the other.

    They tossed the tee to determine who would be up first and went from there with Jim hitting second. They had to wait for the group in front of them to clear out before teeing up and playing what amounted to the most infuriating game on the planet. The first hit a nice shot down the fairway to a point two hundred seventy yards before it came to a stop. Jim hit his shot, bouncing past his and ending up at two hundred ninety yards.

    “You want to warn us?” asked Rob.

    “Lucky hit,” said Jim bashfully, knowing full well he was going to make money today. And so he did, at hole seventeen, he came in at twelve total wins, two ties and two losses. They were on the seventeenth green while he was looking to make his twenty foot birdie putt for win number thirteen.

    “Wish I’d kept my big mouth shut,” said Hal.

    “Remember Hal, he didn’t think it was a great idea,” said Rob Moore with a chuckle until he remembered he was out a lot of money as well.

    “Booger conned us,” he said.

    “You took the bet thinking you were going to be good to go. He hustled you,” laughed Rob as they got quiet as Jim finished looking over the green from several angles.

    “That little runt should be on the PGA tour! Even the pros don’t come in here and go two under par most of the time!” protested Hal in a whispered voice.

    Jim lined his shot up perfectly, took a few practice swings and moved up to the ball. He had this shot in the bag as long as he played into the right break and uphill grade. He got behind the ball and tapped it as he always did with a good follow through. The ball was rolling perfectly towards the hole, turning with the green and forward as he had planned it. Even if it just rimmed the cup or stopped short, he would still make par fairly easily.

    But three feet in front of cup, the ball wiggled slightly then took a sharp bounce. The rest of the men felt the rumble under their feet as the minor earthquake ruined the otherwise perfect shot.

    “Man, that sucks-” Rob Moore had started to say when the group felt a larger jolt. Much more than the first, they were about thrown off their feet by the sudden movement of the earth under their feet. They looked around for anything to steady themselves with as the ground continued to rumble under their feet. The brake on one of the carts unlocked and the cart went rolling away from the green. After thirty seconds, it was all over as the rumbling and shaking dissipated. The other three were from California and somewhat used to the earth moving under their feet, but Jim was a little ashen faced over the ordeal.

    “Big one,” said Hal. “Wonder where the epicenter was?”

    “Five point five, maybe a six depending on the distance,” said Don. “Jim, you okay?”

    “Sorry guys, it’s my first earthquake. We don’t get these out in Denver,” he said. “I’d like to go check on my wife.”

    “Yeah, we’ll call it quits on sixteen,” agreed Hal, not wanting to lose two hundred more dollars.

    The other two agreed and went back to the carts. It was a little longer walk for Jim and his partner since their cart had rolled away, but it wasn’t bad. Once they got back to the clubhouse, they found complete pandemonium. People were rushing this way and that, demanding answers to questions nobody could answer at that moment, but they still demanding them nonetheless. Jim looked through the crowd for Beth and couldn’t find her. He continued to pace around, looking at all the faces he could looking for his wife. He began to get nervous when the head pro stepped up to create some order out of the chaos.

    “Ladies and gentlemen! Ladies and gentlemen please! I’ll tell you what we know. Please remain calm and just listen!” he demanded. The crowd continued murmuring for a moment until they were ready to listen.

    “Okay, we know the ‘quake was north of here around the San Fran, San Jose or Oakland area. Reports coming out of that location are sketchy right now, but we know it was at least a seven point five, maybe more. Telephone land lines in the Bay area are down and all cell towers are jammed. Yes we were hit here, but we have an on call engineer coming out to look over the structures out here to make sure everything is okay. Now first off, is anyone injured?” he asked.

    A couple of people mentioned various cuts and bruises and were taken over to the medics which were employed by the resort.

    “Okay, for now, we can’t allow you to enter the buildings until the engineers can make them safe. We are getting the portable coolers brought out and the patio areas offer shade for everyone. We will have cold water and snack type food served for those who want it free of charge. We aren’t sure how long the power is going to last, but with an earthquake this large, I’ll be willing to bet we will lose power any time now,” said the pro.

    And as if mystical forces were at work, the hum of the air conditioning units was dropping and the automatic doors shut down halfway through their cycle. The area was eerily quiet for a moment and the crowd started muttering once again. The pro knew he needed to keep them calm.

    “Ladies and gentlemen. We have some generator sets that we can run the coolers and the reefers. I just need you all to remain calm and wait for more information. I understand if you have family in the San Francisco area and are concerned, but trust me, you don’t need to go charging up north until we know more of what’s going on. I hate to put it this way, but right now we need to just wait and see how bad it was,” said the pro. “Jerry?”

    “Yeah boss?” asked another of the club pros.

    “I need you to get together a team and head out to the courses. Check on the others out there and make sure they are okay. Ask them to come back to the clubhouse and check for any injured,” said the pro.

    “You got it,” he said while he turned to grab a dozen of the staff that had come outside. The gas powered golf carts the staff used would come in handy for the trips out and about and they carried spare fuel just in case. The shuttle would need to take them to the neighboring golf courses the resort owned, but they were still running as well.

    A woman, the same that had checked in Jim and Beth the previous day came running out of the building. “Bart, I found a radio that works. It’s got batteries.”

    “What are they saying?” asked the pro.

    “It was in the San Jose area from what they can tell…they are playing the emergency broadcast again,” said the woman, looking quite pale at the news she had received.

    “…please stand by for an emergency message from the California Emergency Management Agency… please stand by for an emergency message from the California Emergency Management Agency…The California Emergency Management Agency has released the following information pertaining to the earthquake in the San Francisco, San Jose and Oakland area. The epicenter of the quake was approximately five miles west of the city of San Jose and measured 8.3 on the Richter Scale. All power, water and gas lines in and out of the Bay area are currently down and phone lines are jammed. If you live outside the affected areas, the Governor of California has instructed you to stay out as you will hinder rescue operations. If you wish to assist, please go to your nearest Red Cross Office, CEMA Office or call 1-800-555-3214. Damages to the surrounding areas are unknown at this time, but are expected to be ‘heavy.’ The Governor has also activated all Army National Guard and Air National Guard units with instructions to report to their duty stations unless they are already involved in rescue efforts. All air traffic in and out of the Bay area is currently down with international flights being diverted into Las Vegas, Phoenix and Seattle and stateside flights being diverted into the nearest airport capable of handling the type of aircraft. Again, an earthquake measuring 8.3 was recorded at 12:49 local time near the city of San Jose. The California Emergency Management Agency will release additional information as it becomes available. This message will repeat every two minutes…”

    The emergency broadcast alert tone was heard on the radio indicating an emergency message was about to come through along with the message to “please stand by…” The entire group looked a little pale at the information they had received. Beth came running up to Jim on the outside and they hugged the daylights out of each other.

    “Are you okay?” demanded Jim as he looked over his wife.

    “Yes! I was thrown from the massage table, but I’m okay!” she cried and he grabbed her in close once again as if he could protect her from the unseen threat.

    “You folks doing okay?” asked Hal as he approached with his wife who had also been in the spa.

    “Yeah, first time for us,” said Jim as he continued to hold Beth.

    “Hey, first big one we’ve been through in a long time. We’re all a little scared,” said Hal with a nervous laugh.

    “Where is home for you?” asked Beth, gaining some composure.

    “Palmdale so we are used to the ground shaking,” said Hal. “Don’t worry, we should be okay here.”

    “The State has good plans for emergencies like this. We will be okay,” said Hal’s wife Linda, reassuring the two.

    “I think I would rather have my blizzards,” laughed Jim nervously, still a little shaken. But he tried to put on the brave face for Beth, utterly failing.

    “Nothing to this. Most of you out of town folks run around like crazy the first time, but for us? No big deal,” said Hal, trying to calm the two.

    “How bad is an 8.3 earthquake?” asked Jim.

    Hal nodded with his head to take him off to the side. Jim released Beth only after a moment of pause and went over to Hal. Hal spoke in a soft voice as not to be overheard by Beth.

    “Listen, a seven is a pretty big deal out here. A lot of structures are rated at a seven or more as long as they were built right, but an eight? That will remodel downtown San Fran and Oakland fairly efficiently. The last eight that hit out here was in 1906. You study history?” asked Hal.

    “Yeah, the 1906 San Francisco fire, right?” asked Jim.

    “Started after an earthquake around eight or so. While the news won’t say it, this one is a big deal and the damage is going to be extensive. Probably like billions of dollars in property alone,” said Hal.

    “Compared to the one in Haiti?” asked Jim.

    “That was a seven I think. After seven, it goes up exponentially,” said Hal. “It’s pretty bad, but no reason to worry your wife about it.”

    “She’ll ask, be sure of that,” said Jim.

    “It’s going to be okay. I’ve known the club management out here for years. They are prepared for this kind of thing. You live close enough to an earthquake fault and it pays to be prepared. They have plenty of food and water stocked up so we won’t have to rely on the State or Federal boys, at least for about a week or so,” said Hal.

    “You think we’ll be stuck here that long?” asked Jim.

    “Nah, probably a few days at most. Shouldn’t be any longer than four or so,” said Hal.

    “And your family?” asked Jim, composing himself.

    “I retired out here. They are all out in Georgia and Tennessee where they don’t have earthquakes. Well, at least not this big,” laughed Hal.

    “So okay, what should we do?” asked Jim.

    “Just remain calm and wait for news. I mean, you’re lucky. You folks are just out here on vacation and shouldn’t need to worry about anything but each other,” said Hal. “You go on over there and stand by your wife. She looks a little scared.”

    “Like I’m not?” laughed Jim.

    “Try to act calm. It’s reassuring,” said Hal.

    Jim went back over to Beth who was talking with Linda. She went back over to Jim after thanking Linda for the advice. “What did you two talk about?”

    “He told me to be calm for you,” said Jim.

    “Funny, she told me the same thing. Also told me this wasn’t just a little quake like he was letting on. It’s going to be bad,” said Beth.

    “Yeah, he told me the same thing,” said Jim. “But he told me the course was set up for this kind of thing. They have enough food and water for a week.”

    “Well, I would rather not stay here for a week if it’s all the same to you. I think Denver is calling about right now,” said Beth.

    “And it is. But we do need to get more information about the roads and airports before anything else. It’s not like we are going to be able to fly out of San Fran about right now,” said Jim.

    “So we just wait?” asked Beth.

    “Until we get more information about what’s going on, yes,” said Jim, thinking it wasn’t such a bad idea.

    “You eat yet?” asked Beth, trying to act as normal as she could after the scare she had gone through. She hadn’t told Jim, but the ceiling had partially come down in the massage room. Just the tile portion, but he wouldn’t make the distinction. It hadn’t hit anyone, but it was enough to scare them all. And she couldn’t tell Jim as he would freak out.
    Last edited by Grand58742; 09-08-2010 at 04:38 AM. Reason: had to replace a word...odd choice of questionable word

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