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Chapter 4 of
Monday Bill saw the arrival of a large group of people and the return of Dave Wells. He brought them over.
"Mornin' Dave." Bill greeted him.
Dave was in his usual attire of camo pants and combat boots. He wore a different t-shirt though. This one had the Airborn banner on it.
Dave shook hands with Bill. "Morning Bill."
"Those folks here to help you?" Bill nodded to the group of workers.
Dave smiled and handed him a sheet of paper. "No Sir. They're here to help us. We have an assortment of trades here. Apprentice level and up. They get their pay from us, but get their orders from you."
"They're going to be the staff here after the park is finished." Bill guessed.
"Yes Sir." Dave confirmed then addressed the group. "Ladies, gentlemen. This is Bill Roanoke. He's the contractor. He'll give you your assignments. Clock in at zero-seven at the office trailer then report to Bill for your daily assignments. Work safe, look after yourselves and each other. Any problems, see me first. Let's go to work."
Bill began lining them up by trade then called over his crew leaders. Some of the new people were being sent over with the crew for Tessa's house. The rest were given assignments with the park crew. All the underground services were being dug up. Wire and cable was important. It couldn't be re-used, but it could be recycled. Also were the metal and PVC pipe. Those needed to be recycled as well.
Tuesday, the two nurses arrived. Tessa quickly sent them both to Trent to get their paperwork updated, they had to apply for licenses in that state. Until they were accredited, Tessa had them working in the office. Not that there was much to do. When Dave wasn't out looking over the work, he was in the office working.
Dave Wells was efficiency in motion. He was definitely no stranger to office duty. The man was almost a machine. He was organized to the Nth degree. He was practically all over everything. He even found time to become Red Cross certified for First Aid and CPR. Thursday, the slab was poured for Tessa's house. Friday the framing order arrived. The forming crew shifted over to the dorm site and began working on it. Bill had tweaked the work schedule so that there was work going on every day.
Monday a Framing crew went to work building the walls for Tessa's house. Wednesday, in the park, all the underground services had been removed. Trucks of fill dirt were being brought in. A crew was now demolishing the parking lot. It was asphalt, so it was being sent to a place that would reclaim or re-purpose it. Dave had taken the day off to see to personal business. He stopped by at lunch time and of the workers that saw him, they were impressed by his uniform. He wore the current issue Army dress uniform, which is blue instead of green. Several of Bill's crew were veterans, current National Guardsmen or Reservists themselves and saluted out of habit.
Bill noticed and asked. "Captain. I'm a bit confused. The Army wears dress blues now?"
Dave sighed. "Unfortunately. We switched over back in 2010. Almost eight years now and I still hate it. I liked the Dress Greens better. These Blues make me think D.O.D. wants us to imitate the Marines, but a white shirt? The Navy wears whites, but they complain about being dirt magnets and I can understand."
"I see that's a sore spot for you." Bill remarked. "Now that I've seen 'em, personally, I think the greens looked better too."
Dave chuckled as he headed out. He had spent the morning at the VA building, now he would spend the afternoon at the VA medical building.
He passed eighteen-wheeler dump trucks coming and going from the park. These were the dump-trailer trucks bringing in fill dirt to build up the park's elevation. So far, the weather had been good. It wouldn't last forever though. The forecast was predicting rain in the next two days. Rain that would last for at least four to five days. This would slow down the work at the park. That was the down-side. The up-side was that it would settle the dirt and help it compact.
Tessa had been shopping for rides and now had reps from three companies over with the Park designer, Dominic Hadley. One of Tessa's hires was a landscaper and was also consulting. She had also found two industrial mechanics and four electrical engineers right out of the local technical college after the suggestion of the reps. If she sent them to their facilities, they would train them to service the rides. She hired them and sent them out. The training would take almost a year.
Thursday morning it was cloudy. That afternoon it began to drizzle. All crews were called to secure the site and park the equipment over by the office trailers. An hour later it began to rain as the crews waited under pavilion by the trailers where they usually had lunch. It was light, but obvious that the bottom could fall out at anytime. Another hour passed without a let-up so Bill sent all his regular crew home for the day, except for certain crew leaders. He had them work with Tessa's workers on any academics they needed for accreditation. When Tessa asked what was going on, she acted in her usual way. She had the teaching crew's time shifted to her own and informed them that the next morning they would have use of the hotel's conference room to continue the teaching and testing.
Friday the two nurses received their licenses from the state. Tessa surprised them with several polo shirts embroidered with the park logo and their names. Also they were given skirts that coordinated to the shirts. Both were beside themselves with joy. In typical female fashion, both spent the next ten minutes debating the right shoes to wear with the new uniform. Tessa recommended a light sport shoe, then showed them a model on a website. The nurses liked the look and said so. Tessa grinned and told them she had already ordered them two pairs each. They laughed, as they should have known she would do that.
The rain continued through the weekend. Monday morning it finally started to break as Tessa pulled in the old gate. She noticed the nurses standing back from a group of workmen peering and pointing under her office trailer.
Tessa got out and heard the men calling out angrily. Something was under the trailer and they didn't want it there. It took them a moment to realize she was there and suddenly grew quiet as they all turned to look at her.
"Is this a new thing for the crew to start a week?" Tessa asked.
One of the workman slipped off his hardhat and said. "When we pulled in, your ladies there pointed and said somethin' was under your trailer Miss Frost. We was about to go under and drag 'em out. Ma'am."
Tessa remembered this man was called Grady and he ran one of bulldozers. "Exactly what is under my office Mister Grady?"
"Just Grady, Miss Frost. It's, uh, not a what. It's a who. We don't know who though. Me and Fred was about to go up under there Ma'am." Grady replied.
Tessa began approaching the trailer, the steps of her high heels were sharp on the concrete. Quickly the workers moved to give her a path. She didn't bend down when she reached it.
"Whoever you are under there; I'd like you to come out from under my office. The men have better things to do for me than this and my office staff do as well. I'm Tessa Frost and you'll be talking to me." Tessa said clearly.
After a moment of silence, Grady and another workman start to come forward.
Tessa held up her hand to stop them. "That won't be necessary gentlemen. This person will come out on their own. We don't have all day, but I will not have someone be treated like a mongrel. There's work to be done."
A moment later there was a shifting and scuffling sound and a head slowly came out from under the trailer. A man that had quite clearly seen better years slowly looked up.
"I'm waiting." Tessa reminded.
The temperature was cool, but not so much Tessa felt the need personally for a jacket or even long sleeves. She wore a lightweight pale blue dress and white high heels. The rough looking man though was clearly shivering.
"Bring this man some coffee." Tessa said without looking around.
Quickly one of the workmen rushed over to Bill's office and came back with a Styrofoam cup. "Right here Miss Frost."
"Thank you." Tessa took it and offered it to the man. "Here. You look like you need it."
Shaking hands reached out and carefully took the cup, as if it held the elixir of life itself. Slowly he drank. Of those close by, the smell of the man made them edge back unconsciously. Tessa though, remained where she was unfazed.
"Leslie." Tessa spoke to one of the nurses. "Go get something from drive-thru for him."
Leslie nodded. "Yes Ma'am."
Bill's work truck pulled in and he got out. "What's going on?"
Grady went over and spoke quickly and quietly to fill him in.
Bill nodded. "Ok Grady. You all go on and get to working. I'll keep an eye on things here."
Slowly the men went off to their jobs, not wanting to leave Tessa possibly vulnerable. Bill looked to Tessa and nodded to the man then the tables under the pavilion.
"Let's go over to the tables over there." Tessa said then turned and walked over that way.
Hesitantly the man followed, glancing over to Bill nervously. He was still shivering and looked to be completely soaked from the rains and mud-splattered. He sat down where Tessa pointed and hunched over the now empty cup that was still steaming. He looked to have been on the streets for a long time from the state of his hair and the length of beard.
Tessa's eyes never wavered. "As I said before, my name is Tessa Frost. Who are you?"
"Z-Zeke." The man croaked out.
Tessa guessed the man wasn't shivering from the actual temperature, but more likely from illness. Malnourished, lack of sanitation and exposure would weaken a person and make them susceptible to illness.
"Bill. Bring him some more coffee please." Tessa requested.
Bill shook his head. "He can have some more, but I ain't about to leave you alone, Your Ladyship. No Ma'am."
Bill leaned in the door and called for the coffee pot. It was handed to him and he went over and refilled the cup.
"Pshew! Son, you're rank!" Bill declared.
Tessa said flatly. "I think that may the least of the problems here Bill, but thank you for pointing that out."
Leslie pulled back in, followed by Dave Wells. Both came over to the pavilion. Tessa took the food bag and handed it to Zeke.
"Thank you Leslie." Tessa said to her then turned to Zeke. "That food is for you Mister Zeke. I suggest you eat it. When you are done, I'll ask some questions."
Dave spoke up. "Just one thing first Tessa. Full name Zeke."
Zeke waited to take the bag. "Zeke. Malone."
"Zeke Malone. Ok. You eat, I'll be back." Dave said then went to the trailer.
Zeke took the bag and slowly ate. Tessa waited. She could tell by the way he was eating, he had been starving but knew to eat slow or risk not holding it down. She had seen it before, in the group home. A brother and sister had been brought in, it was easy to see they had been living in alleys and other hiding places. Both had eaten so fast, they promptly threw up, then cried and huddled in the corner out of fear. Tessa knew street-wild when she saw it. She also knew what to do about it.
She continued to wait as Zeke took his time to finish the food. Dave came back and handed her a sheet of paper.
"Zeke Malone. Age 31. No home of record. No contact information. Misdemeanors; vagrancy, loitering. No warrants." Dave recited.
Bill looked over. "You sure Dave?"
"Positive." Dave assured.
Tessa looked over to the man. "Is that true Mister Malone?"
Zeke nodded. He still looked nervous.
"Alright then. I'll give you a choice. I can give you two hundred dollars right now and Bill will take you into town to the shelter. Or, I can have Bill take you somewhere to clean up and get you some clean clothes. You give Dave your fingerprints and if you come back clean, I'll hire you to work with my people. You can stay at the hotel and I'll pay you cash for two weeks to get on your feet. After that, you get paid like everybody else." Tessa said.
Zeke nodded. "I'll work. Ma'am."
"Dave." Tessa nodded to Dave and turned to Bill. "Handle it."
Dave reached into the thigh pocket of his pants and pulled out a pad and fingerprint sheet. Zeke gave Dave his hands and let himself be fingerprinted.
Tessa was about to walk away to the office, but turned around and said to him. "I'm giving you a chance Mister Malone. Don't disappoint me."
Bill waved to him. "Come on. You're gonna ride in the back though."
Zeke climbed into the back of Bill's truck and they left. Two hours later they returned and the difference was dramatic. Zeke looked gaunt but clean. He had even shaved off the beard and given himself a ragged haircut. The clothes looked old, but clean. Bill led him into Tessa's trailer.
"Here he is." Bill announced.
Dave nodded rounding his desk. "Thanks Bill. Have a seat Zeke."
Zeke sat down in the chair Dave had pointed at.
Leslie came in with her bag and began to take his vital signs.
"Well. He's running a slight fever and he's nervous." Leslie informed Dave then asked. "Have you any cuts or bitten by anything?"
Zeke shook his head. "No Ma'am. Are you a doctor?"
"I'm a nurse. Mister Wells, I suggest he get checked out, but that's just me." Leslie stated.
Dave noted her suggestion. "Do you need to see a doctor, Zeke? If you do, say so now."
"I'll be ok." Zeke said then asked. "Could I have some water or more coffee?"
"Yes, I have both." Dave said.
Dave gave him a cup of coffee and bottle of water. The coffee went fast and he started on the water.
Dave handed him a clipboard with papers and a pen. "Fill these out Zeke."
Zeke started to write then looked up. "I don't know what day it is."
Dave gave him the date. Zeke filled out as much as he could. He reached into the pants pocket, pulled out an expired driver's license and handed it, along with the clipboard back to Dave. Dave wasn't looking at it though.
"You served in the Marines from 03 to 07, Rifleman. A Corporal in your Platoon, you were on a four-man Fire Team as the Team Leader. You got out on Medical, shoulder was broken in Afghanistan. You can't shoot a rifle. You came here and worked for a while. You worked for a warehouse that was run into the ground. After that, all that was available was grunt work, physical labor and your shoulder couldn't handle it. No work, no unemployment, eventually you went out into the streets. Is that about it?" Dave asked.
Zeke was surprised. How could he know all that?
"Yes Sir." Zeke answered. "You really Army?"
"Captain Dave Wells, I resigned a couple of years ago. Now I work for Tessa Frost." Dave said then pointed to Tessa standing in the doorway.
"Ma'am." Zeke stood up and nodded to her then slowly saluted Dave. "Skipper."
Tessa walked over and looked at Zeke. "They say on TV, the Marines are a few good men. Is that so?"
"Yes Ma'am." Zeke said firmly. The first time his voice showed strength and pride.
Tessa nodded to Dave. "Dave says that you got hurt in the war and have had a hard time since then. If I give you a chance, will you disappoint me?"
"No Ma'am!" Zeke said firmly, standing at attention.
"So if I give you a job to do, you'll do it?" Tessa asked.
Zeke answered fast. "Yes Ma'am!"
Tessa looked over to Dave. "What do you call it, when you get somebody taken care of to do what they need to do?"
"Squared-Away." Dave replied.
"I'm having a building delivered in a couple of hours. It'll be for a guard at night. Get Mister Malone Squared-Away, as you call it." Tessa said then held out an envelope. "This is an advance of pay Mister Malone. Two weeks. Dave will take you to do what needs to be done then the hotel. He'll bring you back at six this evening. This is your chance."
Gently Zeke took the envelope, his eyes glazing with tears threatening to leak. "I won't disappoint you Ma'am. I swear it."
Leslie spoke up. "Miss Frost? I really think he should see a doctor, just to be safe. He is running a fever."
"Make it happen." Tessa said and went back to her office.
Work went on through the week. On Friday, Dave brought in a woman and her daughter.
"Tessa, Jennifer Colefield and her daughter, Bethany." Dave announced.
Tessa stood up and came around her desk. "Welcome Mrs. Colefield. I'm Tessa Frost."
Jennifer shook hands then Tessa bent down to the little girl and smiled. "Hello Bethany."
Bethany smiled shyly. "Hi."
"Please have a seat. Would you like a drink? Would you Bethany?" Tessa asked then sat down in the chair beside her.
Jennifer nodded. "Just a water, we'll share it."
Dave reappeared and handed Jennifer the bottle. "Here you go. Anything else?"
"Thank you. This will do us just fine." Jennifer nodded.
Dave left them to talk.
"Ok Miss Frost. What can I do for you?" Jennifer asked.
Tessa liked she was straight-forward. "I'm looking for a computer specialist. This is going to be an amusement park and many things here will be computerized. Plus there's the website and social media and so on. I'm told I will need someone that can maintain very complicated systems. Does that sound like a challenge you are up for?"
"Who would be my boss?" Jennifer asked.
Tessa pointed to herself. "Me. You would answer to nobody, but me. You would be in total charge of all computer systems for the park. You would run the team of technicians that maintain those systems."
Tessa handed her some papers. Jennifer read them over.
"Ok. That's a serious package." Jennifer remarked.
Tessa asked. "Is that a yes?"
"To be honest, I'd have to be a complete idiot to say no." Jennifer remarked seriously. "Yes. I'll take your offer."
Tessa handed her a pen. Jennifer eased Bethany off her lap and leaned to the desk to sign it then handed it back.
Tessa went out and came back, handing her a copy. "Here is your copy. What do you need?"
"I'll need to get a place here then go back and pack up our apartment. When do you want me here?" Jennifer asked.
Tessa sat back behind her desk. "How about the first of the month?"
There were three weeks left of the current month.
Jennifer nodded. "That works. Do you know somebody I can talk to about a place?"
"I'll have my lawyer Trent get you with the right person for that tomorrow morning." Tessa assured her.
Bethany piped up. "Are you really gonna be a queen?"
Tessa laughed. "That's right. When I was little, I wanted to be a princess. Now that I've grown up, I'll be a queen instead."
"I wanna be a princess!" Bethany said.
Tessa smiled. "Maybe you will be someday."
Jennifer arched an eyebrow at the statement.
"This park will have princesses. Maybe one day she can be one of them." Tessa said.
"Can I Momma? Please?" Bethany plead.
Jennifer patted her back. "We'll see, but you'll have to ask Miss Frost about it though when you get old enough."
"Ut-uh Momma. We can't call her Miss. She's the Queen. We have to call her Queen Tessa!" Bethany corrected her.
Dave chuckled at the doorway. "I think you might be right, pipsqueak."
Bethany giggled then stopped and whispered to her mother.
Jennifer nodded then asked. "Do you have a restroom in here?"
Tessa nodded. "It's back down the hall. On the left."
"I can go." Bethany said then went to find it.
Tessa smiled. "She's adorable."
"A treasure. It's been hard on her though." Jennifer admitted.
"Dave mentioned your husband had died in service. I'm very sorry." Tessa said. "A training accident, was it?"
Jennifer sighed. "That's the official statement."
"I don't follow." Tessa commented.
Jennifer nodded. "You wouldn't. My husband was a SEAL. The only time SEALs are announced as KIA, is when the media knows about it. That's all there is to say about it."
Tessa sighed. "I see. I won't pry. I will say though, if you need help, come to me or if it is with the military, confide with Dave. Also, just call me Tessa."
"Thank you Tessa. I'm already starting to think we're going to like it here." Jennifer confided.
When Bethany came back Jennifer took her hand and they left, waving.
Every morning, Zeke unlocked the gates and nodded to the work crews as they came in. He even went over to open the car doors for the two nurses and especially Tessa before going back to the hotel to sleep for the day. As soon as he came in every evening he went around and checked any gates and locked them. Dave wasn't surprised that for clothing Zeke had simply bought for himself khaki cargo pants, similar to BDUs and black polo shirts and black ball cap. The fever he had, came from exposure to the elements and malnutrition and was gone with two days.
Over the next month Zeke recovered from his time on the streets, put on weight and even exercised as he could to make sure it was healthy weight. Dave got him registered for care at the Veterans' clinic and even re-issued a Marine Class-A uniform. He was even more surprised when Tessa came to him with a box. Inside were polo shirts with the park logo, his name and security under that. A ball cap in the same color was inside that had the logo and security on it. She also told him he would begin the Security Guard training course the following week and she expected him to complete it with the top rank. He did exactly that and showed her the certificate. Tessa personally pinned a badge she had in her desk on his shirt. The next day a side-by-side was delivered that had Security decals applied on it and the flashing yellow light bar.
Bill looked over at Dave Wells as Zeke walked around it in wonder. "Dave, is it my imagination or does he look like he's trying not to cry?"
"Not your imagination." Dave confirmed.
Bill lifted up his hat and scratched his head. "Still don't know why Her Ladyship would take the chance on that guy. She was gonna do it before you even told her he'd been in the service. He didn't look no better than a stray. Why?"
"Because I wasn't much better than a stray, at one time." Tessa said behind them.
Bill looked sheepish. "Sorry. I didn't mean."
Tessa held up her hand to stop him. "It's fine Bill. I had the feeling that all he needed was a chance and he'd make good. After Dave told me he had been in the Marines and why he wasn't anymore, I knew I was right. When he got to the point he was being forced to ask for help, he was too ashamed to. He felt like he didn't matter anymore and just wanted to fade away."
Dave knew now why she had done it. She saw in Zeke, what had been looming for Dave. It was a last chance at salvation. Now Dave saw a look in Zeke's eyes every time he saw Tessa. The man would lay down and die for Tessa, without even needing to be asked. From the second they met, she treated him like a man, not something for contempt. Dave Wells suspected that the man went to sleep and woke up, thanking God for the appearance of Tessa Frost.
To Dave Wells, some things were certain. The sun would rise in the East, the government could not function without red tape and the people Tessa hired personally would do anything she asked without fail. Including himself. He knew that, just as sure as he knew that everyone on the site now called him Captain Dave, except Tessa and Bill.
Work continued to progress. The walls of Tessa's house were up along with the plywood decking of the roof. They were now putting on the faux stone facing and the shingles. Over at the dorm site, the slab had been poured and finished. In the park, the main complex was at its final elevation. The parking lot area was almost to its desired level. Soon they would begin installing the lighting and pouring the concrete for it.
Tessa, Bill and Dave met in Tessa's trailer and watched as Dominic Hadley unrolled a diagram proudly.
"MiLady. Gentlemen." Dominic announced. "I give you, VentureRealm Park!"
Tessa looked over the main drawing. Carefully she examined then nodded. "I like it, Dominic. Well done. Bill, make this happen."
Bill and Dave looked it over. Both of them stared in wonder.
"This is amazing!" Dave remarked.
Bill reached over and patted Dominic on the back. "Dominic, you beat all I ever seen. When her Ladyship said we weren't gonna do this right, we're gonna do it even greater, you took her to heart. Your Daddy'd sure be proud of you, son."
Dominic brought out another, more technical drawing. "Captain Dave, I think you're going to like this. It's the security overview. With those special cameras you want, there will only be two blindspots and you said those would be manned locations."
After those being pointed out, Dave nodded. "Outstanding! You are definitely high-speed, low-drag, Dominic. You have my approval, too."
"I'm glad to serve." Dominic bowed to Tessa. "Queen Tessa."
They all laughed. Tessa walked over and kissed his cheek. Bill took the technical drawings over to his trailer. At the end of the day, all the crews came in and were directed over to stand in front of Tessa's trailer.
Tessa waited as they all quieted down then smiled. "Everyone, the news is fantastic. Mister Hadley has finished the layout. Presenting VentureRealm park!"
A large drawing in color was unrolled. It was big enough many could see easily. After a couple of minutes, applause began then cheers followed.
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