Chapter 3 of
Tuesday morning Bill Roanoke pulled in at a back gate and saw a new Trans Am parked inside the park. He drove in and parked close by.
"Morning Bill." Terry called out.
Bill got out of the truck and walked over. "Morning there."
Terry led him over to his car, took out a portfolio and laid it open on the hood.
"I'd like to be responsible about this Bill. All the metal here, I want taken to the recycling plant nearby. How does that sound to you?" Terry asked.
Bill nodded and handed her a card. "Already talked to them. Expecting a call from you. They'll take any man-made stuff."
Terry liked that the old man was thinking ahead, but decided to throw him a curve. "All the recycling money, give to the crew as an incentive. How does THAT sound?"
"You want to do that?" Bill asked, finally taken by surprise.
Terry gave him a flat look. "Will it motivate? They get paid whatever you usually pay them to work, but they get that recylce money as a bonus, or more like, a bounty. The less going to the dump is more money for their pocket."
"Hell yeah, that'll motivate. My crew'll go bonkers looking for stuff to send!" Bill said.
Terry pulled a page from the pad and handed it to Bill. "These are some items that are here in the park. I want them pulled, pressure and steam cleaned and delivered to these locations. I need it done no later than noon tomorrow."
Bill read the page. "You think this kitchen stuff will still work?"
"Yes. It's all gas so it just needs to be cleaned up. Pressure washers and steam cleaners will do it." Terry answered.
Bill nodded. "Might be right about that. All these are shelters and free kitchens. I see now. You're donating this stuff."
"That's right. Everything going in will be new and under warranty. All this old stuff may be serviceable, but no warranty. If these don't work, then I'll pay to get them working, but I can't get a warranty. I'll try to do some good for people that need it the most." Terry explained.
"Well, you keep thinkin' like that and you're gonna make a name for yourself before you even get the gate open." Bill remarked.
Terry flipped the portfolio closed. "I got lots of ideas."
Bill eyed the young man in front of him intently. "This ain't no overnight thing. You been thinkin' on this a long time, ain't you?"
The feminine voice that answered took Bill by surprise. "Since I was six years old. I wanted to come back and be a princess. I'm older now, I'll build a better park and be its queen."
"I see fire and ice in them eyes of yours. I'm guessing I better get a name or two straight before we get on this." Bill remarked.
"The real me is Tessa. The disguise you and everyone else around here has seen is Terry." Tessa replied.
"Tessa, huh? Queen of the park, too?" Bill adjusted his ball-cap then nodded. "Well, your Ladyship, guess this old man best get started on your kingdom. I got me some mountains to move."
Tessa nodded. "Yes you do. And Atlas is holding up the world, so you and your army will have to do it for me. This is the last week I will be disguised. Get used to seeing the real me around."
Bill tipped his cap. "Your Ladyship."
Tessa saw him wink as well. He was teasing, but in a kind way.
"You'll need this." She tossed a key that he caught. "It goes to every lock here. I'll see you every morning."
Bill pointed to a spot. "My work trailer will be right there."
Tessa nodded then slipped into her car and drove away.
Dave Wells went into Trent's office. "Morning."
"Morning. Hotel ok?" Trent asked.
Dave nodded. "It's fine. What's on the agenda for today?"
"The same realtor I used is coming by in ten minutes, she'll show you four condos they have listed. One of them is furnished, if I remember right." Trent said. "Coffee?"
Dave held up a go-cup. "Sure. This one is pretty much done."
Ten minutes later, he left with the realtor and an hour later chose a condo. It was unfurnished, though.
Dave didn't mind that, he would be staying at the hotel for a while anyway. Trent was going to let him use a spare office, that would be his research room later, until Dave settled in and could work from home while the park was being built. That suited Dave just fine. The Army had taught him to be flexible. Gather everything thrown his way and sort out what was important for himself. That's what he had done in Military Intelligence. The Army hadn't really cared he was gay, since he kept his romantic interests out of the Army.
As an officer, he led by example and that example was professionalism. He did all he could to solve every problem in-house before it went higher. If a problem did have to go higher, he took it there personally and made damn sure it was taken care of. Only once had there been comment about his sexuality shortly after getting married. He shut the snide higher rank down fast.
"I'm an officer and a gentleman. My priorities are beyond clear. My Men. My Mission. My Self. In that order Colonel. Anything else is a disgrace to the uniform and conduct unbecoming!" Captain Dave Wells said with conviction.
Two platoons had been in a loose formation behind him. Immediately they all snapped to attention and yelled out, saluting, "HOO-AHH CAPTAIN WELLS!"
From then on, no one scoffed or sniped at him. Those under his command would follow him anywhere. That was how it had been. Whenever his post changed, his husband joined him within a week. Until the last posting. A local police officer had a serious mean streak. The only people he hated more than soldiers, were gays and lesbians. The problem was, he had connections. Deep connections. Two on the city council, three more were cops and one in the District Attorney's office.
Erick Delone pulled over when the lights were flashed and the siren chirped. He didn't object when the officer demanded to search the vehicle, he had nothing to hide. Unfortunately a picture of himself and Dave was in a clear frame attached to the console. Sneers and slurs later, the bigoted officer punched him then decided to just outright shoot him.
Army CID got involved when the Army MP's hit the Blue Wall. The department desperately tried to sweep it under the rug. From the mayor on down there was effort to bury it. Dave took the advice of one of the Special Agents and went to the press. The spouse of active duty decorated military personnel was big news. The fact the victim was in a same sex marriage practically threw napalm on the fire. When all was said and done, an eighth of the city's administration and legal apparatus was in shambles and the State services had to come in. The dirty cop didn't even make it to prison. It was unclear who was actually responsible, but he had been found dead in his holding cell waiting to be arraigned.
Dave was disgusted about the whole thing and resigned his commission. He found himself in Vegas working casino security. It wasn't bad, but he refused to pursue any personal relationships. The occasional drinks or breakfast after shift, but that was it. Until he met a transgender woman that won big money and requested a security escort. That was when he met Tessa Frost. She had some spirit, there was a will to fight that wouldn't settle for anything less than what she wanted. On the day she left, at the steps of the private jet, she asked for his information and said flatly, be ready in six months. He knew then, she wasn't lying.
Six months later, she kept her promise. She called and outlined what she was going to do and when she'd need him. Now he was there. After setting up housekeeping for himself, she wanted him to start seeking out people they would need. Dave still had pull in government circles, he could find who he needed or check out who Tessa found on her own.
"Yes Tessa?" Dave answered the new cellphone Trent had given him.
Tessa asked. "The condo is paid for. You want a car here or are you going to bring yours from Vegas?"
Dave had to smile, that was so like her to be on the ball. "I'll bring my car. I have enough to keep me busy all week. Sunday I'll fly back to Vegas and get my things shipped here and drive back. I should be back the following weekend."
"Sounds good. Trent told me you have your bank accounts set up already. I've just transferred some money in. Is there anything you need?" Tessa asked.
"Not at the moment. After I get settled in I'll need a day or two to deal with the VA here. I have some news." Dave said
Tessa asked. "What kind?"
Dave smiled to himself. "I may have a line on a computer specialist. She's ex-Navy. I can't tell you much, because I don't know enough yet."
"Where is she?" Tessa asked.
Dave replied. "San Diego. Word I got is, she's freelancing right now."
Tessa paused then said. "Go check her out while you're out that way. If you like her, say so and I'll make arrangements for her. If we can use her, I'll pay her five grand plus expenses just to come meet me."
"Ok. Anything else?" Dave asked.
Tessa answered. "Yes. Meet me at the park at eight tomorrow morning. Back gate two."
Dave affirmed. "Tomorrow at zero-eight."
Tessa disconnected so he went back to his tasks.
The next morning, two workmen were loading coolers of ice water into a side-by-side cart when two cars pulled in and parked at the office trailer. They had to suppress the urge to whistle when a platinum blonde woman got out of the red Trans Am. A formidable looking man in a long sleeve shirt and chinos joined her from the other car and they both went inside.
"Mornin'." Bill greeted them when the two walked in.
Tessa returned it. "Morning Bill. This is Dave Wells, formerly, Captain in the U.S.Army and later one of the better casinos in Las Vegas. He's my Head of Security."
"Captain?" Bill noted then shook hands. "Good to meet you. Bill Roanoke, but just call me Bill, Sir."
Dave shook hands. "I have no problem skipping formality. Dave is fine, Bill."
Bill directed them to a diagram on the wall. "I got my guys swarming section by section. Today they're taking down the old roller coaster. Now I have a handful over in this area here. They're getting this area ready to start building your house."
"I spoke to the people that the appliances were taken to. Some needed work, but I had it taken care of." Tessa informed him.
Bill smirked. "Along with grocery deliveries? Heard 'bout that. That's a good thing you did. Heard the local kids' home got Christmas early too. Sure you aren't Mrs. Claus in disguise, your Ladyship?"
"I thought you had enough going on to be listening to town-talk, Bill. Shall I find you a hobby?" Tessa smirked back.
Bill chuckled. "I think I can find myself something to do. Next week we should be done with the tear down."
Dave looked the diagram over. "If I'm reading this right, and I believe I am. The whole compound is going to be raised, ten feet at the center and a gradual slope to eight feet at the perimeter. Tessa's house and the barracks here don't require the lift. Right?"
"Mostly right. We are going to build up that area, by five feet. There's nothing underground there so the dirt work is about to start." Bill pointed out.
"I'd like to bring in another trailer for an office. For myself and Dave. I think I found one." Tessa stated.
Bill nodded. "Fine by me. You tell me where it is and I'll have my guys bring it over."
Tessa nodded. "That works. I'll give something on the side for that."
"Bill when do you think you will get to the point that the actual layout can go on paper?" Dave asked.
Bill shook his head. "Not for a while. After we break up all the pavement, we have to dig up all the underground service. Then we start bringing in the dirt to raise the whole place. Once we get to that part, then the designer lays out the park. Why do you ask?"
"We want to make this the new standard in security. More camera coverage than a casino gaming floor." Dave explained.
Bill nodded. "That's a good reason."
Dave went on. "I have a line on some people in Vegas that are great monitors. They're top-notch. The problem is; they want to get out of Vegas, but for what they are capable of, the options are limited. This is their ticket out."
"I thought Las Vegas was supposed to a great place?" Bill asked.
Dave shook his head. "That's just the bright lights. Visiting, it's like no other place. Living there is a different story. It's expensive, uncomfortable because of the dryness and the biggest problem, gambling. It's easy to get hooked and over your head. Addiction is heavy over there. Hard to beat too, because pretty much you're surrounded by bad influences. Its like Hotel California, you can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave."
"It's that bad?" Bill asked.
"Worse than you realize. People gamble to get up enough money to escape, but then the fever hits and they lose it all." Dave explained. "It's a never-ending circle. Tessa got me out just in time. I'm going to matter again. I'd go to Hell and drag the Devil out for Tessa Frost. She saved me."
The older man looked at the younger and saw the look in his eyes. He saw truth. The ex-Army Captain wasn't lying.
"Well. I guess I got a real job ahead of me. Making her dream come true." Bill said.
Tessa spoke up. "You'll do it Bill."
Bill chuckled. "I do like your confidence and spunk."
Tessa stepped forward. "No confidence needed. I want you to do it, because you're the right man for the job. You'll make it happen. That's why I chose you, Bill. It's that simple."
The old man now got it. She wasn't hoping, she was determined. She would have what it was she wanted. Period. In her eyes was the look of someone who knew what it was like to lose everything and refused to let it happen again.
"I won't let you down." Bill said.
Tessa nodded then turned to Dave. "Let's go."
At the door Tessa turned back. "I don't do Faith Bill. I do fact. Fact is, you're the only one that can do this. I know it, you know it. All that's left, is to do it. I'll call you later about the trailer."
Bill watched them leave. A minute later one of his crew leaders came in.
"Hey Boss. Who was that?" The worker asked.
Bill looked over. "That was the Boss and her security man, Drew."
Drew let out a low whistle. "Wow. She's a looker."
"You watch that kinda talk. She's the Boss. On top of that, a damn fine person. Respect her, at all times." Bill glared.
Drew held up his hands. "Easy Boss. I'll be good."
"Bring everybody in for a meeting. We need to kick this in high gear." Bill said.
Two hours later he sent two of his men with a truck to bring Tessa and Dave's office trailer.
The next day saw a delivery of office furniture and electronics. The trailer was hooked up to the temporary service and internet service was hooked up by the end of the day. Dave was there almost from sun-up to sun-down. Tessa came and went with no set schedule. The workers were surprised on Friday when they began seeing a drone overhead. One thing for certain, they could tell whoever was operating it knew what they were doing.
Bill already had his men in high gear. They tore down structures enough to move the pieces to his company yard, from there a three man crew broke the pieces down to sizes small enough to be accepted at the recycling center. Four equipment men were now over at the area where Tessa's house would be built and they were moving dirt around as it was brought in. Basically, two acres were set aside for her home. The outer perimeter would be a tree-line for privacy.
The construction crew had quickly grown accustomed to seeing Dave walking around the site in camo pants, ARMY strong t-shirt and combat boots. They were surprised to learn that he had taken the Combat Lifesaver course, which made him the site's First Responder. Wednesday had also seen the delivery off a yellow side-by-side that he applied Emergency Vehicle decals on. It had a modified flat bed that was long enough for a person on a stretcher to lay on. On Sunday Dave turned in his rental car at the airport when he flew back to Las Vegas. The workmen on Monday were surprised to not see him.
Monday, Tessa showed up as herself for the counseling session. That, of course, brought even more questions. Brad took his time though. He didn't want to rush anything. In fact, he was doing his best to ensure that Tessa lost track of time. He found her to be very resolute in her course. There was no doubt or hesitation. As if those things did not exist to her. To Tessa, her body was wrong. That would be corrected as current medical advances would go and she would be right with the world as she saw it. The session ended up being two hours instead of one.
Despite his attempt to persuade her not to pay for the extra time, she insisted anyway and would not accept otherwise. The argument truly ended when Tessa threatened to buy him a timer that came with a klaxon siren. He knew with her wealth, that wouldn't be a problem so he accepted the check. Brad Waverly now understood, Tessa would get her way or Tessa would get her way and it was a good idea to let her in most cases. She made her own way in the world and would refuse to owe or perceive to owe for anything.
Brad held her up for a moment. "I'm going to give you this. I see it would be pointless to delay."
Brad handed her a single page after signing it and made a copy.
"Official statement of Real Life Test." Tessa read. "Terry Frost is under supervised care of Brad Waverly, Psychologist, now undergoing the Real Life Test of transition process. Male to female. Et cetera, et cetera. Individual is to be addressed, referred and regarded as female. Yada-yada, so on and all that. Ok so this makes me 'official', yes?"
"Yes. Keep a copy with you at all times. We'll discuss the impact of me giving you that next time." Brad said.
Tessa folded the page in three, carefully, and slipped it into her purse. "You'll have a working timer next time, too."
Brad laughed. "Or else you'll get me one that goes off with a one hundred decibel AH-OOGA! I won't forget."
Tessa gave him a sly look then left.
Back at the park, Demolition continued. Bill found a use for much of the broken concrete and other rubble. It was used to build a ramp off the road going around the back of the park to the new pathway leading to Tessa's house. It was covered by three feet of packed dirt that was seeded with grass. The rest of the debris would be used in the same way for the entrance road to the dormitory area. Dirt work was now underway over there.
In her office, Tessa was searching for staff and cast members to hire. Her objective was to hire as many as she could find within the LGBT community. Especially transgender. She found some that had trades, mostly apprentices. That was fine by her. They would be able to continue training and learning during the construction phase of the park then take over to be the full time laborers after it was complete. By the end of the week, twenty-four new crew would on their way and arrive over the weekend.
Two prospects came as surprise. They were both Registered Nurses that had been run out of their jobs by higher-ups for being transgender. She had found them in a transgender chat-room. An hour phone call with both and they were on their way.
"Two nurses. That's something I hadn't thought about before. Lucky find for me. I guess they could help out with information or something like that until there's an emergency." Tessa mused to herself.
The trailer door opened and a voice called out. "Hello?"
Tessa went to the main room. "Yes?"
A middle-age man with several rolls of plans smiled. "Dominic Hadley. Are you Tessa?"
"Yes. Come in Mister Hadley. I wasn't expecting you until tomorrow." Tessa greeted him.
Dominic continued to smile. "I finished the plans for your house and a rough of the dormitory, so I rushed right over."
Tessa waved him over to a long table. "Nice. I'd like to see them then."
Dominic unfurled one roll. "Here we go. This is a design with all the features you said were must-haves."
"I see. Good layout. This outside looks strange though." Tessa commented.
Dominic laughed. "The finishing touch is totally up to you. The exterior can be block, faux log OR FAUX STONE! If you choose the block it'll look contemporary. The log, it will look like a cabin and if you go with the stone, it'll look like a miniature castle or chalet! The balconies can even be done to look like crenelated battlements if you want."
Tessa stared at the drawings and slowly began to smile. A moment later she snerked then began to laugh.
"I take it, you like the castle-chalet idea?" Dominic asked.
Tessa nodded, calming down to a giggle. "Yes. Go with that Mister Hadley. I think it's appropriate."
Dominic looked pleased. "Excellent! Please call me Dominic, Miss Frost. Or shall I start calling you Queen Tessa?"
Tessa smiled back. "Just Tessa will do, Dominic. Let's see the dorm."
He rolled up the house plans and unfurled another roll. "Certainly. I took a liberty, since you wanted so many rooms. I've designed it as an angled H. On each side is a pool. I thought that having two smaller pools and spas, instead of the one big pool and spa would work better. Also, having them located like this, would make them more private. One hundred and thirty rooms, each with attached bath, as you wanted. The middle ground floor is the cafeteria and kitchen. A laundry room for each wing on every floor."
Tessa listened carefully and looked to the points he indicated on the diagram. She liked what he had come up with. He even had covered parking for the dorm residents. The parking lot adjacent to the dorm's lot was for the other cast and staff. She liked what he had planned so far and called for Bill. Bill joined them and looked over both sets off plans.
"I like these Bill. I want them." Tessa said.
Bill nodded. "Yes Ma'am. You want 'em, Your Ladyship will get 'em. Good job Dominic."
Dominic was happy with the praise. "Just wish Dad was here. He'd love to be a part of it. Do it right this time."
"No Dominic." Tessa said then corrected. "It's not just going to be done right, it's going to be even greater."
Dominic thought for a moment then smiled. "I think I'll follow Bill's lead; yes, My Lady."
Tessa giggled when he bowed with a flourish. "Go on you two. Let's get to it."
Wednesday Tessa answered her phone, recognizing the ring tone. "Afternoon Dave."
"I'm in San Diego." Dave informed her.
Tessa commented. "That was quick."
"I drove over yesterday. I'll head back to Vegas this afternoon. I'll be heading back to you Friday." Dave told her. "I already met with my security people Monday afternoon. They want to give notice before they go."
"That's fine. Any problems?" Tessa asked.
Dave answered. "One had to sell his car, so he'll catch a ride with one of the others. All of them are renters here so no need to sell any houses or such. About seven rental trucks will be needed."
Tessa thought about it then said. "Would probably be cheaper and better to hire a couple of eighteen-wheelers and just have them consolidate."
"I'm surprised I didn't think of that. It would." Dave chuckled.
"Good. Now, tell me about why you're in San Diego and how it's going." Tessa said.
"Jennifer Colefield, 34, ex-Navy. Systems operations and management. Widow of a Navy SEAL. Being a single parent now, she was encouraged to retire with a promotion to Lieutenant Commander. Apparently she gets better benefits at that rank." Dave called off, as if reading personal notes.
Tessa was letting that register. A question suddenly seemed relevant. "Dave. Did she lose her husband in combat?"
Dave paused before answering. "Death was a training accident."
"I know bullshit when I hear it." Tessa warned him.
"Not now. Not like this." Dave said.
Tessa understood, it was something that shouldn't be talked about over the phone. "Very well. What else?"
"She has an adorable five year old daughter. You'll love her, she's all about princesses and ponies." Dave chuckled. "Jennifer will meet you in two weeks. I'll send you her info after we hang up."
Tessa asked. "Do you have any cash on you right now?"
"How much do I need?" Dave asked.
"Seven grand." Tessa said.
Dave replied. "I can have it in thirty minutes."
"That's fine. Give her seven grand and tell her I'll have flight reservations for herself and her daughter on the following Friday for the weekend here. I can reimburse you through the Vegas account or the local account, you choose." Tessa stated.
"Local. I already have a card for them. I'll transfer from Vegas on my way back." Dave said.
"Done. Be safe. I want you out of Vegas clean and clear." Tessa instructed.
Dave smiled to himself. "Yes Ma'am. See you Monday."
"Monday." Tessa affirmed then disconnected.
A minute later her email pinged with the information Dave sent. Tessa went online and made the reservations then called the local hotel and made reservations as well. She sent the confirmations to Jennifer Colefield's email along with a brief greeting.
On Friday Bill oversaw the marking off for Tessa's house for Monday, when a crew would begin forming up for the slab. He was expecting to pour the slab on Thursday or Friday.
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