Chapter 17 of
The Friday morning's newspaper had bold headlines. The morning news shows led with similar by-lines. Even social media was running, but with more blunt wording; Hate-group suffers Native Americans' warpath! Essentially the articles and commentaries highlighted the fact that an area of WildForest was actually a combined Nations Reservation, offered by personal treaty between Tessa and representatives of those four Nations while being protected by previous treaty agreements between Native American Nations and the U.S. Government's Department of Interior. Some outlets received anonymous releases suggesting that the Hate Group had been duped by a Real Estate developer, reputed to have used similar strong arm tactics to devalue and acquire properties in the past.
One television reporter commented. "It's been implied that a person has tried to slander the owner of VentureRealm Park. Though she admits freely to being transgender, following approved guidelines for transition, Tessa Frost outright denies any implication of Drag Queen performances of any kind, Miles."
"That she does Cathy. I was very surprised to find out that A Drag Queen is actually a parody performance artist, lip-syncing to songs. Tessa is quoted to say 'that she regrets she, herself, is not a performer of any kind. More that when she is away from her office duties, she takes on a Hospitality role. Interacting with the guests, pointing out features and attractions, in general; being a guide. Her primary role is the owner and chief administrator of the park'." Miles added.
Cathy nodded. "Well with all the effort that's been put forth to ensure the safety and well-being of the park's guests, it's fairly easy to understand why she's called Queen Tessa. After the break we'll check in with Lori over in the weather center."
Tessa clicked off the television in her office with a smirk of satisfaction. Emily on the P.R. team had reached full saturation with an hour of Dave's call. It had been a full-on blitz attack. Mass emailings, faxed statements and social media postings that went viral. Strategically worded disclosure had cut off Nably's knee-jerk accusation dead cold. Tessa had even managed to get live call-in interviews with a select core of on-air personalities. Even two that were openly anti-LGBT, featured her. Unfortunately for them, Tessa bested their obnoxious diatribe with cold statements of logic. It had the effect she wanted, infuriating them and reducing them to frothing and impulsive responses.
She had followed Dave's strategy to the letter and he had not been wrong. The former Intelligence officer had been dead-on as to what words and phrases to use to hammer away at the ego-driven, ignorant, hate-mongering hosts. The one that purported to have vast evidence that transgenderism was a form of brianwashing got slammed the hardest. Tessa knew his material better than he did and it's verified detractions. She then challenged him to come up with a stronger argument and shot that down as well.
Tessa's coup de-grace came when she said flatly. "I find it beyond pathetic when people of so-called high morals and family values realize that praying and various other pleas to desparately make a member of their family more acceptable to their own brainwashing have no effect and resort to beatings and isolated incarceration to force somebody to submit to superstition that has NO basis in reality. Transgender peoples have been around far longer than that pack of fairy tales they call a religion. We aren't leaving. We won't submit. We are, and always have been, here. That nonsense was tried on me. It had all the effectiveness of throwing bricks into the Grand Canyon. By-the-way, how is your fiance doing? This is the third surgery on her face now, isn't it? How did that last breast augmentation go? You had her go up two cup sizes, right? Are you still introducing her as your 'Fix'er upper'? You weren't happy with her 'as God intended and in His own image'? Poor woman, she's going to suffer self-esteem problems. Not being 'pretty enough' for you."
The line went dead immediately, making Tessa smile in satisfaction. "Gotcha."
Elaine Oberline had been tipped off about the call-in interviews and listened to them. In no time at all, Tessa had her howling with laughter. She quickly drafted a letter and sent it to the Editor of the local newspaper then called him to ask that it run immediately. She wanted it known that she had always been supportive to the local LGBT community, proprosing and implementing city ordinances that met or surpassed the state laws for fair treament. Her only regret, that she still felt there could be more done. LGBT peoples in Bayleston were friends and family after all, therefore should not be snubbed or forgotten. The Editor told her that she just barely made it and the letter would be printed in the morning paper.
Michelle joined Nicole and Danica at the table for breakfast. Nicole was giggling.
"Ok. What's going on?" Michelle asked.
Nicole smiled. "Queen Tessa get them loudmouth good yeah!"
"She's talking about those hater-talk-show guys last night." Danica explained.
Michelle frowned. "I was catching up with friends back home. So what'd I miss?"
"Loud fool, he get slam left 'n right." Nicole laughed. "Big mouth think he know stuff, Queen Tessa know better and hit harder and harder each time. Every time he throw somethin' out, she slap him right back with why no good."
Danica shook her head. "It was both funny as all get-out and appalling. The guy had to have been foaming at the mouth by the time Queen Tessa was done with him. That guy threw the 'Nature-Nurture' bit at her."
"Oh Hell." Michelle winced.
Nicole sighed. "I get it don't mean nothin'. I just don't get why it come up."
Michelle explained. "A long time ago twin boys were born. Well during circumsism, one of the baby boys was almost castrated. So the doctors feed the parents a line of crap and call in this old psychiatrist. Now this guy was more of a researcher, but more importantly, he wanted to be a BIG name. He was trying to pass off this b.s. hypothesis that if you start from the beginning, you can raise the child to turn out the way you want. Specifically, if you raise the boy as a girl, he will be."
"Didn't work. Kid didn't even get into his teens and rebelled. He lives as a male. It all came out in the wash. Total failure. Unfortunately, that quack went around proclaiming success. People want to believe, because it's more palatable than having a transgender in the family." Danica clarified.
Nicole had been listening intently. "Brainwash? This guy say; you babe no the way you want, just brainwash?"
"Yep. Pretty much." Danica and Michelle replied in tandem.
Nicole looked angry. "Where this guy?"
"If he's lucky; an unmarked grave. Finish up sister, we're princesses." Michelle remarked.
Quickly, Nicole finished her breakfast and the three princesses began heading toward the park to get ready for the day.
Joe Nably's secretary walked in and found Nably sitting behind his desk. His personal office was trashed. Knowing he had done it all himself, she went to her desk without a word and began her day.
"Lynn." Joe called from the doorway. "Find me a church group. One that hates queers and freaks."
Lynn turned around. "Mister Nably. What are you hoping to accomplish?"
"I want that park! I want that freak run out!" Joe hissed.
Lynn stood and picked up her purse. "Mister Nably, you've paid me fairly decently. Also, you've never tried to make a pass. that's the only good things I can say. That woman, and yes, that's what she is; will never sell. You will not run her out. If you continue to try, you will find yourself so deep in legal trouble, no one will help you. Or worse, you're going to find yourself sued into a bankruptcy you'll never recover. If you will not let it go, I have to leave."
"Where do you get off throwing ultimatums at me?" Nably snarled.
Lynn glared. "I have a son and daughter, both under ten. If you stay on this, you'll go down. Nobody will hire me after that."
"What makes you think anybody will if you walk now?" Nably hedged.
Lynn leaned in close. "The recordings I have of over twenty illegally acquired properties. Those are with somebody I trust, you'll never know who, and will take them directly to the State Attorney General, with copies also going to the major media. Oh yeah, and I'll sue. For everything."
Nably glared at her. "Get! Out!"
"Reference. And my check." Lynn said coldly.
He went back into his office and came back a couple of minutes later and tried to throw it at her.
"You'll get the damned reference. Now get out!" Nably growled, of all people, he knew she wasn't bluffing.
Lynn picked up the check, glanced at it then tucked it into her purse and set a keyring on the desk. "Goodbye."
After the door closed behind her, Joe Nably grabbed the cup of pens and flung it at the door. "BITCH!"
Tessa looked up from her paperwork to the knock at her office door.
Zeke walked in and stopped in front of her desk then saluted. "I spoke and acted without thinking the other day. I apologize. It won't happen again."
"Go close the door Mister Malone then sit down." Tessa said.
Zeke immediately obeyed.
Tessa looked at him intently. "Apology accepted, Mister Malone. However, do not ever reveal any personal business of mine you may be privy to. Do not ever argue this; the only thing I ever gave you, was a chance to prove yourself. All that you have gained since then, is of your own doing. You have the respect of everyone working here and the construction crew. You earned that for yourself. You have much to be proud of, Mister Malone."
Zeke nodded. "Yes Queen Tessa."
"Mister Malone. So far things have been good for us here. I believe that is going to change. I feel we are going to have serious problems." Tessa said.
Zeke frowned. "If you mean that private investigator, he won't be back."
Tessa shook her head. "I'm referring to the man he was working for. That man is greedy and underhanded. He isn't done yet, Mister Malone. He will come after the park and us again. Particularly me. I own the park, so I stand in his way. He wants to destroy me, everything I've built and all I stand for, Mister Malone."
"Not going to happen, Queen Tessa. He'll have to come over all our dead bodies to do that. He's going to need all of North Korea to even think of that." Zeke said firmly.
Tessa arched an eyebrow. "Well, since we lack a cuisine appropriate to distract them with; let's sincerely hope it doesn't come to that."
Zeke smirked. "You could always have Casey Malorian yodel them into surrender."
Tessa laughed. "They would definitely attack if he did that! On sheer principle alone!"
"Alright Mister Malone, get going. Sleep well." Tessa waved him to go.
Zeke stood and saluted. "Queen Tessa."
Tessa was still chuckling as the former Marine left.
Dave Wells answered his phone. "Wells."
"A friend said you needed help, Captain Wells." A feminine voice stated. "Major Morehouse should ring the bell."
Dave chuckled. "Ah. And that would make you Lieutenant Westin. So very nice to make your acquaintance. Call me Dave."
"Michelle, Dave. How can a little Financial Officer be of service?" Michelle Westin asked.
Dave got serious. "One: Joseph Nably. I believe he is on your radar."
"He is. If word is right, he's out to get your current employer. What's up?" Michelle asked.
Dave said bluntly. "He's too brave. I think he's been purchasing political protection. I know he has a pitbull for an attorney, but that's not enough. He's got people making things happen. I'd like to know who. Probably somebody local here."
"Bayleston, right?" Michelle asked, more to herself than him. "He made a several campaign contributions over the years to a Conway, Ralph."
Dave began looking through some files on his computer then found it. "Conway. City Councilman. He does a lot of work in Zoning. Mostly commercial."
Michelle didn't sound surprised. "Nothing new then."
"It is to me. Thank you Lieutenant, much appreciated. I owe you." Dave remarked.
Michelle disregarded it. "That was nothing. If you get anything, let me know. The AG's office has been after him for a while, but we can't get anything that'll stick. Take care, Sir."
Dave hung up then headed out. He was heading into town. Sitting on a bench outside the local VFW was who he wanted to see.
"Mornin' Top." Dave greeted and handed over a go-cup of coffee.
The old man took the coffee in his left hand and tossed the handful of bread crumbs in his right on the ground for the birds hopping around and chirping.
"What's got you out 'n about? Ain't you supposed to be watching over the folks at the park?" The old man asked after taking a sip of the coffee.
Dave grinned. "I could do with some Intel, Top."
"Your troops had to love you, somebody schooled you well." The old First Sergeant chuckled. "Ask me questions."
"Ralph Conway." Dave replied.
Top grunted in disgust. "Hookers on corners deserve more respect. At least they're honest. He's about as crooked as they come Captain. Give him money and he'll do whatever you want."
"I see. What happened during the last election?" Dave asked.
Top adjusted his hat. "Damnedest thing. Everybody thought it was all over, but the shouting a month away. Out of nowhere, be bounces back. TV ads, radio, heard he was all over the computer stuff too. then the week before he comes up with young Ed had a DUI and wreck a while back. That slammed the door shut. Won for the fourth time."
"Let me guess. By a landslide?" Dave commented.
Top nodded. "It was worse than the Tet."
Dave shook his head. "That's just disappointing."
"To be honest, I'm surprised the park got built." Top remarked.
That surprised Dave. "Why's that?"
"Well, anytime somebody showed any kind of interest in the place, Ralph claymored the advance. Don't know how your boss-lady got around him." Top stated.
Dave shrugged. "The only person she talked to about it was the agency selling the place."
Top looked over. "That's why. She didn't ask around. See, people always went through the City to ask about the place. First one they saw, was Ralph. About seven years ago, some big money man from out west came. The guy got permission to go inside, to look around, he got sprayed by a skunk. Word has it, that weren't no accident or chance."
"You mean he had somebody in there wrangling a skunk to intentionally spray the guy so he'd run off?" Dave asked.
Top shrugged. "Pretty much. There is a guy here in town that has a trained skunk. He can handle it without getting sprayed. Says he can get it to spray on command, too. He's about an odd individual. Definitely a few rounds short of a full magazine."
"Is Conway visibly connected to a guh name Joe Nably?" Dave asked.
Top thought about it then nodded. "Believe so. There was a big parcel on the other side of town, sat for a long time then Ralph rezones it and it got bought. Now that we're talking about it, more than one place got rezoned then sold. Places that nothing was going on with then they got rezoned for commercial and a week later, sold signs went up. Can't be no coincidence."
"Top, a coincidence is out on a sly date and running into your other's sibling, doing the same thing." Dave said.
The old man laughed hard then shook his head. "That's a good one! Yeah, that'd actually be a coincidence. Or Murphy's Law!"
"Thanks Top. Always good talking." Dave said.
Ralph Conway had been surprised when the call came. Now he was walking into the office of Tessa Frost. He was surprised to see two Security members posted outside her office. One knocked then let him in.
"I must say, I'd never have imagined a queen doing office work in full regalia." Conway oozed.
Tessa finished signing the paper then slipped it into a file and put it away. She gave him her full attention.
"Mister Conway. I'm glad you could find the time to come down." Tessa gave as a greeting. "I have quite a bit going on, so I'd like to simply get right to this."
Conway nodded. "I'm not one to beat around the bush, myself. Go ahead."
"What is Joe Nably's unhealthy obsession with my park?" Tessa asked point blank.
Ralph was truly taken by surprise. "I have no idea what or who you mean."
Tessa pulled over a folder, opened it to read off locations and dates then looked at him. "You rezoned and he bought within seventy-two hours then resold within four to five days. He also contributed to your campaign fund during the last election at the last minute. A rather sizable amount as well. Even I would find it very hard to forget somebody that dropped close to a hundred thousand dollars on me. No way in Hell would you not know nor be on good terms with them."
Conway could only sit there in silence. Tessa had him cold. She knew what he'd done, why and for whom.
"You've also run off any party interested in the park. I find it amusing that after all you did for him, the favor went to me." Tessa said flatly. "I'm guessing you were forcing devalue to the property then when it hit his mark, you'd rezone it and so he could grab it up. He makes a bundle and you get a piece, by way of campaign funds, consulting fees and get to stay in office another term."
Conway's eyes looked like they were about to pop out and bounce off the wall. Tessa's supposition was actually dead-center. He recovered quickly though.
"I made jobs possible." Conway retorted.
Tessa kept a neutral expression. "Not that many. Those companies brought in automated lines and relocated most of the personnel here to run them. All in all, less than three hundred new jobs. I brought on over seven hundred local employees. The companies increased revenue by only one percent. I increased revenue already by fifteen. Amateur hour was over when I came to town Mister Conway. Welcome to the big league, you're in deep shit."
Tessa looked down at her phone. "You can come in now."
The door opened, Captain Dave and Elaine Oberline came in followed by the Sheriff. The District Attorney was with them.
"They were listening in the conference room. Captain." Tessa said.
Dave handed over a folder. "This only took half an hour to assemble. All of it found in public records. His campaign contributors, the rezoning and property sales."
The D.A. flipped through the pages then glared at Conway. "Ralph, the only thing I find harder to believe than you doing this, was us not seeing the truth. Roy, take him into custody. Influence peddling, bribery."
The Sheriff waved him to stand up. "You're under arrest Ralph."
Conway was shocked and could only nod numbly after his rights were read. They stopped at the door when Tessa spoke again.
"Mister Conway. When you speak to Mister Nably, inform your owner the game is now over. Anymore foolishness and his ass will belong to me." Tessa said setting out more papers to go through then waved them out, never looking up.
Elaine commented to the D.A. "I think I'll thank my lucky stars tonight, that Queen Tessa liked my record."
"I think I'll do the same." District Attorney Howard O'Neil muttered.
Dave arched an eyebrow looking at Tessa. "I thought Trent would be here for that?"
"Since you gave me a certain report that I liked reading. I have him up in Massachusetts making a visit for me. He'll be back in a day or two." Tessa replied.
Dave nodded. "Finn Foundation."
Tessa nodded. "I'm sure they'll appreciate a contribution and find my offer appealing. While he's up there, he'll check on that girl in college. The one from Mississpi I personally sponsored. Grady's cousin's girl. The one he told us about that needed to get away from a crappy family. She seems to have been ambushed. Some individuals that should not be allowed around, drugged her and some other boy; to get her pregnant by him. The situation has been resolved and she's assured me that it's already been sorted out. The father and his fiance will adopt the baby from her. something about her not being able to have any children."
"I remember. She's going to intern during the summers. Yeah, Trent should check on her, make sure everybody is on the up and up. Well, back to work. As the chopper-jocks used to say; you're screwed when you've run out of Cyclic, Collective AND good ideas. Nably hasn't been neutralized yet." Dave turned and went out.
"Yet." Tessa muttered then hummed a tune and softly sang to herself. "Teardrop on the fire, fearless on my.....BREATH."
If you liked this chapter of VentureRealm Park, please do Kudo. No membership needed.
If you liked this post, you can leave a comment and/or a kudos!
Click the Thumbs Up! button below to leave the author a kudos:
And please, remember to comment, too! Thanks.