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Subject: DOOBY rhymes with Scooby Part 28 Dooby rhymes with SCOOBY Part 28 By Jamie Haze (NOTE: Somehow, I screwed up the chapter numbers, but the chronology remains correct; Part 27 is really 26, 28 is actually 27 and this one is the real 28. Sorry about that. JEH) Rodger was shocked but very pleased. He instantly wondered if his gaydar wasn’t as broken as he’d thought; three of his dream imaginary gay partners, lovers, whatever, were in his room and they happily admitted that they were and better yet, they were more than pleased to discover that he was too! Rodger’s roommate made his continued presence known by snorting as he turned over. “What the fuck is that?” Dooby asked in a whisper. “Those dirty clothes just moved.” “You don’t have to whisper,” Rodger said in a normal voice, “THAT is my roommate. He drank and smoked his breakfast and lunch so he’s comatose for a few more hours.” “So the rumors about that asshole are true?” Cory asked. Rodger shrugged, “I don’t know what you heard, but whatever it was, probably wasn’t exaggerated. Want to see his entertainment center?” He didn’t see three cautious nods; he was already in the closet wheeling out a big suitcase. The guys were shocked to see the contents. Two of the gallon bottles were empty and a third was seriously depleted and what was once a one–pound bag of marijuana had been reduced to a bunch of much more convenient sandwich–size zip lock baggies. “I’m afraid that when he gets caught, I’ll get dragged down with him, but I don’t know what to do. He was smoking just outside the main door until I reminded him the bushes have dropped their damn leaves and smoking there was like him in an aquarium; he was visible from up on the steps and from the sidewalk. I don’t know where he goes now.” Cory got out his phone, and started to dial, “Who are you calling?” Dooby asked. “I thought Steve might be on campus…” “DUH, it’s Saturday and he’s got a special date tonight remember?” Dooby interrupted with a giggle. “Duh yourself,” Cory retorted, “he keeps a room in the senior dorm. He uses it to study occasionally during the week and it’s where he takes his dates after dinner. He’s on a stricter budget than any of us so he doesn’t squander his cash on motel rooms; plus renting a room is like announcing that he’s planning to get laid, a dorm room is more subtle.” Steve answered. He was on campus and in his room, setting it up with a bottle of costly Dom Perignon Champaign, cheese, crackers, clean towels in the bathroom and a firestorm of candles for atmosphere, all purloined from home. Cory explained the problem briefly, gave him Rodger’s dorm room number and disconnected. “We need witnesses and advice from someone in the `in’ crowd,” Cory used finger quotes. They were a part of the in crowd too, but only on the periphery; they were not `old money’ but Steve was. Rodger was in the same crowd too but seemed unaware of his status. The first thing that Steve did when he arrived was to joyously hug and high five Cory, Dooby and surprisingly, even Christian when he remembered that he’d gotten into Christian’s pants although Christian wasn’t wearing them at the time; it was the sensuous thought that counted. When Cory introduced him to Rodger, Steve looked him over quickly but differently; more like Rodger stared back. His eyes settled on Rodger’s worn out shorts and widened when he saw the front begin to balloon as the two finally shook hands. Still innocent Rodger realized what was happening and almost dove into the closet to change into something less revealing, but didn’t think of closing the door and his selection was sweat pants and hoodie. The tighter stretchy pants were even more revealing but he didn’t seem to notice and the four guys watching him change didn’t bother to enlighten him as they appreciated the better view. Rodger realized that the guys had seen him naked when Dooby assured him that his still present but fading tan lines would disappear after they got to Coral Place. “You mean we can go around buck naked down there?” Steve asked before Rodger. “Man, after I explained the deal to dear old Daddy, he was so happy that I got a part-time job that paid that much, he said he didn’t care if I paraded my naked ass down Broadway, which means I got permission, he’ll sign the contract and get me out of school a week early so I’m good to go.” He stopped laughing suddenly and first looked at the entertainment center and then at the inert body on the bed. “This is bad guys; what we should do is call campus security or just call the cops but then Rodger would become involved and the possibility of the arrest and the quantity of shit would become public. This school doesn’t need that kind of publicity, so I think what we need to do is call in some heavy hitters and let them handle the whole thing.” Dooby looked aghast, “You know any hit men? I can see maybe someone beating the shit out of the dude somewhere else, not on campus, but not killing his sorry ass.” Steve grinned, “Not hit men Doob, I said heavy hitters. Two that I can think of are playing golf with my Uncle Bart,” he looked at his watch, “Oops, check that, they should be in the card room or maybe just finishing up.” Cory giggled while Dooby still looked confused; Christian playfully smacked the back of Dooby’s head before he explained, “Heavy hitters as in Gramps Charlie and Gramps Carl. They’re both Trustees, remember? And Carl is the Chairman. Bart isn’t on the Board yet, but the guys are twisting his arm for a big donation so he will be soon, he said after he recovers some of his losses he donated to little old me this morning.” Steve almost fell over laughing, “Are you still the Sarcastic Prick?” he gasped. “Yup, no mercy on the course, but I did promise to play with them next week after the game. I may take them down in the card room too since the money I’m playing with is all theirs.” While the guys laughed and joked, Cory talked to his father. The fun stopped when his phone clicked closed, “Dad is happy, Bart is very happy, Gramps Carl, not so much, and the two other guys that were in the game are in tears,” he reported, “oh, they’re on the way, he added.” The boys discovered that the three men; the heavy hitters, rode to the school together and had discussed some sort of action plan but they wanted to actually see what marijuana looked like as well as the unconscious owner before they implemented their plan. The three men used their cellphones to make separate calls. Bart ordered his plane to proceed to Marathon to pick up two passengers and return immediately. Cory and Doug realized that Charlie was chatting with Auggie when he switched to talking in his country bumpkin mode and mentioned Auggie’s two `no account’ cousins, Thirsty and Argyle by name; they were to be the two passengers. The boys couldn’t hear much of what Carl had to say nor could they figure out who he was talking to, except at the end of the conversation. “That’s what I thought,” Carl stated, “The man even financed his son’s board and tuition and hasn’t made a payment yet. Buy up all his outstanding paper you can find and foreclose on every asset that isn’t protected. Be sure to check out his wife and any other relatives too. I want him homeless and on foot as soon as possible, certainly by the time he gets out of jail.” After Carl ended his call he sort of grinned at the four open mouthed boys. “No one will ever drag this school’s name through the mud as long as I’m on the school’s board,” he promised. “Damn Gramps,” Dooby piped up, “if I ever piss you off please let me know before you go after me like that,” he begged. “Now can you tell us what we need to do and what about Rodger?” That got a chuckle from the men. Charlie answered; “You’re safe from us for the time being. Now about you young man,” he looked at Rodger, who wished he could disappear. “I swear I never had a drink of that stuff and I don’t even like the smell of cigarettes,” Rodger protested. “Relax son, I was about to suggest that you spend the rest of the weekend with Cory and Dooby, come back to school with them Monday morning. By then your roommate and all his possessions will be gone.” Charlie assured. Rodger looked at Dooby and Cory hopefully, “I, I’d like to, if it’s alright with you guys. I wouldn’t want to impose.” “Of course it’s okay, after dinner, maybe we could go for a swim,” Cory suggested. “And take a long relaxing soak in the spa,” Dooby ended Cory’s sentence while both nodded their heads. Rodger couldn’t believe his good fortunate; he’d won the contest, he was about to get rid of his useless roommate and best of all he was invited home to spend two nights with Corry and Count Dooby. Suddenly, things got even better when Mr. Spelling invited Christian and his friend, someone named Tommy, to dinner as well. Christian accepted and even agreed to go swimming with them as well and after, or during, they’d all hang out in the pavilion, whatever that was and maybe even spend the night. Big beautiful Steve, a senior varsity wrestler, suggested that he might stop by later, after his date was concluded so Count Dooby drew him a precise map detailing how to get there from the main driveway. Rodger ignored the fact that Count Dooby used the back of his finished Spanish homework; he could always print another copy. While Roger packed a small case, he heard Dooby ask, “What are Argyle and Thirsty going to do with this asshole and what are you guys going to do to his father?” Charlie laughed, “Nothing more than they did to Brian Conner…” As soon as the words were out of his mouth, he knew, once again he’d said too much when he saw Cory’s expression change. “Those two,” Cory asked quietly, “what did they do to my sperm donor?” Dooby accused Charlie of having a bigger mouth than he had before he hugged Cory and explained that Auggie wanted to `hep’ or help out Cory and Charlie, Cory’s new father to be, by getting Brian Conner, Cory’s real father, to agree to the latest financial settlement offer. He’d sent the two overgrown teddy bears who only looked mean, to New York to `reason’ with Brian by threatening to relieve him of his balls after being thoroughly molested, if he failed to sign the agreement. Of course he signed, but then the two hapless men crossed out Charlie’s name and address on the postage paid envelope provided, and wrote in Auggie’s name with the simple address; `Redlands Plantation, Georgia, fortunately one of them knew and included the zip code; the only reason, Auggie claimed, that the envelope arrived. Cory frowned while Dooby giggled during his explanation. He was really pleased that Auggie helped him out so quickly and efficiently but he wondered how Dooby knew all about the incident. “Who told you about all this and where was I?” he asked. Dooby’s eyes glittered, a harbinger of a really good jibe, “Ryan let the old rebel cat out of the bag. I think you were standing right there with us,” he hesitated and tried to get out of Rodger’s chair but forgot about the arms. He just could not resist, “That whole conversation must have gone right over your head.” Rodger’s eyes turned to saucers when Cory pounced on Dooby and the force carried the chair, Dooby and Cory over backwards, with Dooby already screaming, “Uncle!” and, “I give, I give!” or trying to, he was laughing too hard Rodger looked at Christian, and Steve, then at the three men to see if someone would break up the fight but all of them were laughing. Normally, Cory would apply the most opportune wrestling hold in his arsenal, but this time he went for Dooby’s vulnerable crotch. He ignored Dooby’s clearly outlined cock to reach for his less well defined balls and when he had them firmly in his fist, Dooby went inert as Cory asked in a calm voice, “When will Auggie’s cousins be here? I want Harold made into a Harriet as soon as they get here and I hope they use a butter knife!” Charlie was used to Dooby’s assorted agitations so he went behind the desk and shoved Cory off Dooby and none too gently either. “That’s enough you two; any more out of either of you and I’ll see to it there’s both a Harriet AND a Courtney wandering around the house lookin’ for where I hid their balls. Can’t you see you’re scarin’ poor Rodger to death? He’s not used to how you guys play–fight every ten minutes.” Cory sputtered, “But Dad, he started it and this time he got more than a wrist lock.” “I said that’s enough! An’ Dooby boy, if you start up again, you’re movin’ straight back to Tommy’s.” Charlie promised with a hearty finger shake under Dooby’s nose. “Gramps,” Christian exclaimed, “we didn’t do anything, so why punish us?” Dooby dismissed the altercation by dusting his clothing free of imaginary dirt and of course promised Cory that he would never, ever make cracks about stature if Cory promised to never again use his God given name when others were present. The boy’s makeup kiss got more and more passionate until Christian broke them up by squeezing the back of their necks. Rodger spoke up to change the subject back to the problem at hand, “I don’t understand how the guy’s father can be broke, he claimed he made a killing from the dot com mess.” Carl nodded, “He did, lots of people made fortunes but not many kept their winnings when the bubble burst; they were just too greedy. They reinvested everything into other dot coms. Our subject lost everything and is living on the hot air he generates by bragging. Creditors are in the process of recovery but this gentleman is just one of many so I plan to buy as many debts as possible and since I’m not involved in the lending business, I will devote my full attention to this one individual to speed up foreclosures and repossessions.” Charlie continued, “Carl is lending a car and driver, and as soon as Auggie’s cousins arrive, they will return this boy AND all his luggage to the family home on Long Island. Once the boy and this piece of luggage are safely inside, the police will be called anonymously to report that a boy at that address is unconscious and may have overdosed. The police will investigate and if they’re efficient, they’ll discover these drugs.” “I get it,” Christian concluded with a giggle, “this much grass packed in baggies is way too much for personal use, so if we’re lucky, the old man will be charged with possession with intent to distribute,” he chortled. “You could even post a bond for his release and as soon as he gets out of jail, you could revoke the bond; that would be something else to sue him for and meanwhile he’d be back in jail.” Rodger volunteered. When he saw that everyone was staring at him he shrank back, “It was just a suggestion,” he said meekly. “How would you like a summer job working in finance?” Carl asked. “Or selling groceries?” Charlie asked even more enthusiastically. “Thanks, but if I worked part-time I’d work for my father since I need to learn the business.” “Good answer,” Carl and Charlie said together. The boys walked over to the senior dorm after Rodger’s room was restored and the `entertainment center’ was closed and returned to the closet. They had to return to campus when the cousins arrived so Rodger could supervise loading all of his roommate’s things but none of his, so they had the rest of the afternoon to kill. Steve led them to the parking lot end of the building where the first thing they saw was his Porsche Boxter parked in a space marked `Reserved’, the closest space to the end door. “How the hell did you get a reserved space, none of the others are?” Cory asked with a giggle. Over time he realized that Steve was a so called campus heavy hitter except he was in training. Steve shrugged, “Easy, I had the sign made and paid the custodian fifty bucks to install it. Since he has a vested interest he sees to it that it doesn’t disappear.” He pointed to a window, “My room’s right there so my parking space is most convenient.” He giggled while the others shook their heads. Steve’s room looked more like an upscale hotel room than a typical room in a boy’s dormitory. The single bed had been replaced with queen size; there was an elegant modern desk and matching chair, a modular over-stuffed sofa in one corner and a combination wet bar/efficiency kitchen unit in another. The cheap plastic mini-blinds had been replaced with naturally finished real wood plantation shutters (according to Dooby) and the walls were decorated with a big flat screen TV and enlarged sports photos that frequently included Steve in wrestling tights as well as other teammates including Cory. “I’ve never seen you with a camera,” Cory began a question. Steve tapped his head, “Yearbook photographer. Until very recently, I couldn’t figure out why he was always hanging around the wrestling room and he was so attentive. I picked out the shots I wanted; he enlarged them, then matted and framed them for me. I still have to insist on paying him. Do you think he is?” he asked Cory cryptically. Cory shrugged and giggled, “Don’t ask me, ask Count Cock Magnet.” All eyes except Rodger’s shifted to Dooby. Rodger’s eyes caught up when he realized what Steve was asking. Dooby’s gaydar apparently was very fine tuned. “That dude,” Dooby answered at once, “well, of course he is, but he’s a really nice guy.” At that point the guys left Steve. He had to go home and get ready for his dinner date. Dooby wanted to see how far the pool enclosure had progressed at Christian and Tommy’s, so Christian drove them there, pleased with Dooby’s wording. He wasn’t surprised to see that both Dooby and Cory chose to ride in the back seat with Rodger. Neither was Roger, although there was no touchy-feely, close proximity was enough. “GUESS WHO’S HERE?” Dooby shouted from the kitchen door. “NO CLUE!” Tommy returned with a laugh from the depths of the house. “He’s in the den,” Dooby advised, “come on, let’s get him.” Since the cousins hadn’t seen each other for a number of days, Christian allowed the certain interruption and inevitable wrestling match that would last until Dooby started screaming `uncle’ through his giggles. Rodger followed closely until they were halfway across the great room and he saw the grouped paintings. He diverted to get a closer look so the others stopped as well. “Wow, these are beautiful. I recognize you three guys of course, but who are these two other guys?” “That’s Tommy, Christian’s partner, he’s the guy who didn’t recognize my voice just now and this goof ball is my future brother-in-law, he’s a bi-boy like Steve. Lane could be gay, except my little sister gives him all the nookie he can handle but he’s definitely bent. You’ll meet him on the plane when we go down to Coral Place.” “Where…” Tommy started to ask from the hall doorway, “Oh, I didn’t know you brought home company, a warning would be nice,” he accused Dooby with a frown. “Don’t frown at me,” Dooby protested, “Cory and I don’t live here so we’re company too.” Rodger’s eyes made several round trips between Tom’s portrait and the naked subject walking toward them. He liked what he saw and said so. He mumbled, “Beautiful,” realized that he’d verbally expressed his thought and leaned closer to the painting, “ah, I mean accurate.” Dooby slapped Rodger on the back and agreed, sort of, “Yup, we all are, even Cory, but with his painting, you have to use your imagination until you see the real thing, otherwise he’d look kind of out of scale. Would you believe the artist is standing behind you? Isn’t he just so cute the way he blushes?” Christian easily blocked Dooby’s hand that reached out to pinch his rosy cheek and a frown was ample warning. After brief introductions Christian and Cory brought Tom up to speed about Rodger and why he was with them while Dooby served longnecks before he ventured out on the pool deck to review the finished columns and roof trusses that were waiting for the actual removable custom panels that would finish the job of enclosing the pool. Rodger stretched his neck to see where Dooby had gotten to, “Why is he crawling around on the deck? He looks kind of demented.” That last observation got everyone laughing. Cory agreed, “You’ve only really known him a few hours and you’ve already got the big picture. You either love him the way he is or you want to beat the shit out of him.” “Actually, he’s checking the heat coming off the deck,” Tom explained, “I put radiant heating in the deck and I’m hoping that the space will be warm enough combined with heat loss from the pool.” Dooby agreed after a door crashed open and slammed, “I think it’s going to work Uncle Tommy, the deck is really toasty. Does anyone want another beer? Check that, we better not until we get home and we still have to get that pot head loaded.” Dooby’s mind switched gears again, “Hey Cory, what are we having for dinner?” “Here we go,” Cory mumbled, “Pot roast,” he announced. He knew Dooby’s tastes. Dooby scrunched up his face as if he’d been poisoned or was about to be, “Man that’s a horrible choice,” he protested. “The meat has been cooking for hours already so it’s all dry and stringy and the vegetables taste like the meat and after you slather on the gravy, the whole mess tastes like gravy. Remember we have a guest, can’t we serve him something better, like maybe steak?” “Okay Rodger, what would you like to have for dinner?” “Well, you guys don’t have the pleasure of eating dinner on campus; when steak is on the menu, it’s always prefaced with like, Cubed, Salisbury, or sometimes Chicken Fried,” Dooby scrunched up is face three more times as Rodger continued, “if you gave me a choice, I’d pick a real steak on the rare side that was smothered with pot roast,” he giggled at his preposterous combo. Without thinking, Dooby jumped into Rodger’s lap and almost kissed him but settled for a hug, “You got it Bro; you’re a man after my own heart.” “We had steak for lunch Doob,” Cory reminded although he knew he was fighting a lost cause. “Yeah, but they were rib eyes with shrimp skewers, maybe we should pick up some nice T-bones or Porterhouse for a change of pace.” He paused to look down on Rodger since he was still comfortably seated on his lap and Rodger was idly rubbing his back without thinking about what he was doing, “Instead of fucking up the steaks with pot roast, how about some nice Portobello mushrooms grilled to perfection?” Dooby asked Rodger, while nodding his head, willing him to agree. “Sure, as long as we’re dreaming,” Rodger nodded, “we may as well add a baked potato and a tossed salad to the menu, but I’ll really be happy with the pot roast.” The subject of dinner was forgotten when Cory’s phone chirruped. The famous cousins had arrived at the local airport and they would shortly be on their way to the school. Tommy hurried to dress so he could go along, then he and Christian wouldn’t have two cars to drive back from Charlie’s. One of Carl’s limos was parked near the dorm and when Thirsty and Argyle saw Dooby and Cory they stumbled out of the back of the car. When they got into the room they discovered that apparently, the boy had wakened and had gone outside to have his `dinner’ since he was once again on his bed, dead to the world but was wearing a very nice ski parka. Rodger directed the gang in packing everything the boy owned, while the cousins helped the boy out and into the back of the limo, climbed in themselves and closed the door. Dooby and Cory talked to the driver to be sure that he understood what was going on and that his passengers wouldn’t be much help unless he asked them or ordered them to help when they arrived at their destination. The gang watching couldn’t hear the discussion but saw Dooby burst out laughing and open the car’s back door. Both Dooby and Cory stuck their heads in and talked with the cousins for a minute before they backed away and barely able to stand from laughing, waved at the driver. “Man, we have got to call Auggie tonight.” Cory told the others, “those guys already had the kid half naked, and by now, the other half. Thirsty told us it was so the boy wouldn’t try to escape during the trip.” “And they brought along a whole case, four gallons, of their super cleaner,” Dooby joined in the telling. “They’re planning to make some sales calls while they’re up here!” “Of course after they drop off their charge,” Cory added, “They want to surprise Mattie with the news that they’ve taken their moonshine business international! International meaning anywhere north of the Florida, Georgia borders I guess!” “Don’t worry, the driver has the doors locked and they’re already half smashed, so they’ll never figure out how to unlock the doors.” Dooby told Tom when Tom frowned. Dooby handed Rodger a Sharpie pen as Christian parked in their favorite Spelling’s store parking lot, “If anyone asks for an autograph just sign, be pleasant and move on,” he advised. “What are we doing here and why would anyone want my autograph?” Rodger asked cautiously. “DUH, steaks, and mushrooms, remember, and anything else we can find that looks good.” Dooby rammed a shopping buggy, handle first, into Rodger’s gut. “Here, since you’re new you get the honor of driving, just stay close to Cory,” he warned, “he gets all pissy if you lag behind.” Rodger trailed Dooby and Cory directly to the meat department where they were welcomed like old friends before a discussion began about steaks; what was best that evening that the store had on hand. Cory nodded and asked for T-bones, full cut and tails on. He ordered eight, should Charlie and Laura decide on steaks over the much maligned pot roast. Rodger pulled Dooby aside to whisper; “I’ve only got about a hundred bucks on me, but I’ll contribute that to the bill. I kind of thought you were joking about having steaks.” Dooby paused to sign an autograph and passed an eight by ten photo of him and Cory to Rodger for his signature as well before he pulled Cory back from his dash to produce so he could also sign. “DAH again new guy, haven’t you ever watched our cooking show?” “I heard about it, but it’s on way early in the morning,” to redeem himself; Rodger blushed and admitted, “but I never miss the late night shows as you guys found out.” Dooby shook his finger at Rodger in a motherly way, “You’re excused this time, but there are a few points you missed somehow. First, if you look up at that wall sign you will see it says, `Spelling’s’ because the old guy you met this afternoon is Charlie Spelling. Now, Cory’ last name is also Spelling because Cory is Charley’s adopted son. Next, my cousin Tommy is talking to the Manager on Duty as if they were bed buddies because he likes the condition the store is in after a busy Saturday, because he’s the President of Spelling’s. Last, all the signage you see looks just like Christian’s signature on the paintings because that’s the way the big goofball writes; he’s in charge of Spelling’s advertising. All of the above means this is the one place in town where we have some juice; we aren’t allowed to pay.” “DOOBY!” Cory shouted from across the store. “Shit, now you got me in trouble; I told you to keep up to the big prick,” Dooby scolded Rodger. Once back home in the Spelling mansion, the boys became all business. They all carried the food into the kitchen and Cory almost kicked them out so he could put everything away and prep the revised menu. Tom and Christian had no plans to get all dirty feeding the deer but when Dooby looked at them with pitiful, pleading eyes, they relented. Rodger, far from being intimidated by the size and number of so many wild animals, was fascinated and even joined Dooby singing `Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer’, which Rudy seemed to appreciate more than Dooby’s rendition when he searched Rodger with his nose for food in preference to Dooby. At the storage shed Rodger embarrassed the others by hefting two sacks of feed; one on each shoulder so they had no choice in following his lead. “Goddamn Rodger,” Dooby puffed, “what sports do you play, or do you just work out?” he asked while he filled the buckets and watched Rodger adroitly flip his sacks into a trough so they broke open on the edge and the contents fell into the trough. Roger giggled, “Actually my father is what you might call a gentleman farmer, I like helping to feed the cows and horses. Our real farmer showed me how to do it this way. I ride, play golf and tennis, ski both snow and water, swim of course and I also enjoy sailing. I guess you could call me a geek who enjoys the outdoors.” While Rodger and Dooby talked, Christian and Tom disappeared back into the house unnoticed. Dooby discovered them missing when he looked for help with the dirty job of filling and lighting the charcoal grill while he got some mesquite wood chips soaking. The grill was bigger and could accommodate all the steaks at one time. Rodger accepted the dirty job of messing with the charcoal and promptly lit up the night sky after using a whole bottle of lighter fluid while Dooby wasn’t watching since he was fiddling with a few wood chips. “Damn Rodger, you didn’t mention one of your other hobbies was pyromania.” Dooby observed sourly. “If you wanted to burn down the house, you should have squirted that shit around the foundation.” That got another giggle from Rodger, “Well, I enjoy grilling and I found that if you don’t use enough lighter fluid the first time; squirting more on is dangerous, it could flare up unexpectedly, this way, no problem.” A minute later, as the conflagration began to die, Charlie opened the nearest door. “DOOBY, goddamn it,” he shouted, “what the hell are you doin’ out here? NASA just called, wantin’ to know if we just shot off a missile, and the Defense Department wants to know if one landed near here,” he advised and was just able to hide his laughter after he noted that Rodger was still holding the empty half gallon bottle of lighter fluid and looking perplexed while Dooby went to his defense. “Rodger just showed me a sure fire way to get the charcoal lit the first time, that’s all. The house only looked like it was on fire for just a few minutes; everything’s gaziantep travesti under control out here,” Dooby assured. Charlie slammed the door mumbling, “Sure fire, right.” All thought of any designs Dooby had on Rodger’s very fine, sleek, muscular, geeky body left when he suddenly asked; “Do you think that Steve will show up to swim after his date?” Dooby noticed that Rodger said `date’ as if it was a particularly distasteful, dirty word. “I think he will. He stared at you as much as you undressed him with your eyes.” “I did not! Did I? I guess I did kind of, do you think he noticed?” Rodger denied, questioned, admitted and feared, all at once. Perverse Dooby giggled, “I don’t think he liked what he saw when you started to get hard in front of him in the middle of your room with all of us watching. And, as I recall, I’m sure he covered his eyes when you got naked to change clothes in your closet without closing the door, or that your tight sweat pants were even more revealing than the shorts. He sure wasn’t happy when I couldn’t give him directions to the pavilion in exact lineal feet along the drive before he had to turn. Don’t worry, he’ll find us, ah, I mean you, I think you two made a connection,” he assured with an approving smile. As Rodger followed Dooby upstairs for the first time he asked; “I forgot to ask if we have to dress for dinner?” Dooby frowned over his shoulder; he chose to misunderstand the question, “Well of course we have to wear clothes around the house here, remember Laura, Cory’s mom, lives here too, we even have to wear at least a tee shirt to dinner, but no clothes at Tommy and Christian’s as you may have noticed and no clothes are allowed in the house at Redlands or anywhere at all on Coral Place unless you’re a beautiful woman named Mattie or Auggie since he owns the place; Auggie and Mattie his housekeeper, like looking at young, good looking, naked guys like us. Later when we have time we’ll show you and Steve some DVD’s of the gang who live down there. These DVD’s will blow your mind and are totally unsuitable for viewing on national TV.” As soon as Dooby walked into their living room and found no one there, he knew he’d made a dreadful mistake; Tommy and Christian had showered already, dressed in their own clothes from his prized collection and had gone back downstairs. “Shit, shit, shit, I was going to ask if you wanted to get in Christian’s pants…” he said as he looked in the big closet and saw the special drawer open and empty. “Hell YEAH,” Rodger almost sang. “Cool it doofus, I meant his real pants, like wear a pair of his shorts to dinner to piss him off, but he cleaned me out.” Dooby saw Rodger’s enthusiasm wane as he explained and undressed as once again Rodger’s eyes grew to saucer proportions while he watched. “Ah, what are we doing here Count Dooby? I mean, I thought we were going to wait for Steve.” “We are, but first we have to take a shower, which I can see is going to be difficult for both of us, but sometimes looking is good. Now get undressed!” Dooby ordered from over his shoulder on the way to the shower. Rodger frowned when he finally got to the bathroom door; both showers were running but Dooby was just exiting the commode closet wearing a satisfied smile. Dooby laughed when he saw Rodger attempting to hide his very nice erection without touching it. “If you have your cock protected by a force field you silly geek, this is going to be one very long night for you,” he giggled, “now that shower is yours to start with, consider it a cone of protection and this one is mine. All bets are off if you step one little pinky toe outside. Contrary to what you may have heard, I have almost no willpower at all.” Rodger burst out laughing, which relieved the built up tensions although he choked on a gulp of water since he was wetting his hair. He bent to look at a number of bottles on the bench seat and quickly picked out the shampoo from looking at the different images on the bottles without comment except to ask; “Where did you find all of this?” he read the bottle, and looked at Dooby from his cock up, “Count Dooby?” he asked before searching the other bottles until he found the body wash and frowned, “If this is your personal line, it would be really neat if this guy was you and you could sell a billion bottles if you weren’t holding a damn towel in front of the important stuff; at least to every gay guy and maybe even girls who like looking at a guy’s junk.” “Those are all just mockups, that stud is a professional model. The real deal will have images of us and there won’t be any towels on some of them if the contents are appropriate. The question is would you pay from thirty to fifty bucks for just one bottle?” Dooby asked cautiously. “Shit yeah,” Rodger answered immediately, “I know we aren’t typical teenagers; we have a bit more spending power than guys who go to public schools, but with like buying a good pair of brand name shorts, all guys buy the same popular brand names and pay, what, fifty or sixty bucks a pair for shorts and think nothing of it even though they might not fit in six months.” He giggled suddenly, “One difference I can think of between me and other guys, is that after I buy new clothes I take them to my dad’s tailor.” “I noticed that; you have a very good tailor,” Dooby laughed. The discussion resulted in a pronounced drooping of body parts until Rodger reached blindly for the hand held which Dooby left running at a dribble. His head was covered with a rich layer of suds and his hand encountered a nozzle instead of the expected spray head. “I have to get out of here now. The spray head you want is under this shower. We use that one for other things, ah, make that one other thing.” Dooby stepped out of the shower and watched Rodger. Rodger’s cock rose to the occasion as the light dawned, “You mean you used this before I got in here?” “Yup,” Dooby giggled, “and we can assume that Steve already has too if he shows up.” He ran but called back, “And hurry the fuck up! We still have time for a beer but the snacks may be all gone. Remember we have to do the grilling. Hey, do you want to get in Cory’s pants?” “Yes please,” Rodger returned and then moaned distinctively. “That sounded very wasteful,” Dooby shouted. “Nope, I got it all.” “Was that it for the night? What’s your limit?” “That’s unknown from just using my damn imagination. Would you do me a big favor?” Rodger asked. “Sure, name it.” “Shut the fuck up please.” Rodger ate his dinner slowly and with perfect table manners as if it was to be his last or perhaps the first good meal he’d eaten in a month or two. Dooby frowned as he watched Rodger and then switched his attention to Charlie. “You know Gramps; there may be a problem in the dining hall at school.” Cory giggled, “No there isn’t Doob, he’s sitting right here between us.” Rodger was about to give Cory the finger since his mouth was full, but then he glanced at Laura and just frowned. Laura smiled, “Rodger dear, when I’m around, you should just scratch your nose with your middle finger; that’s what they do,” she advised with a wink. “What’s the problem?” Charlie directed his question at Rodger, but he wasn’t about to impugn the school to a Trustee. Dooby had no such reservations, “The problem is the food quality; there isn’t any.” He looked to Rodger for support, “Give us the names they use for steak.” Rodger hurried to swallow, put down his fork and ticked the names off on his fingers; “Cubed, Salisbury and Chicken Fried,” he shivered on the last one before he giggled, “I’ve got another one they haven’t thought of yet; Tube,” even Laura frowned at that, “Not that tube, I meant Tube Steak instead of hotdogs!” “Good recovery dude,” Dooby congratulated. “Back to business,” Charlie interrupted, “I know about tuition but how much does the school charge for room and board? I should know these things but I don’t right now.” “A little bit steep,” Rodger hedged, “but that’s to maintain the exclusivity of a world class school.” “We know all that Rodger — give us numbers,” Cory urged. “Twenty-five for room and I think thirty for board.” “A LITTLE BIT STEEP!” Dooby exploded as he embarked on a seated Dooby dance, “Holy shit, thirty times two roommates is enough to rent a big ass house for just nine months of the year. I wouldn’t mind getting some of that action. Does the school sell stock?” he asked Charlie eagerly. Charlie tried to calm Dooby by reminding him, “Remember Dooby, new buildings, renovating old ones and scholarships.” Rodger looked surprised, “Scholarships, what scholarships? I was with my parents for every meeting and those weren’t offered or even mentioned.” “About scholarships, I misspoke, they’re granted from a private foundation,” Personally, Charlie sometimes agreed with Dooby; he did occasionally have a big mouth. That comment caused Rodger to frown even more. “I didn’t hear about any kind of scholarships, academic or sports or even see any applications. I know I’m not an athlete, but academically, I’ve always been at the top of my class. Right now, I’m bored stiff in some of my courses; like in Computer Science, I could probably teach that class.” He paused to elbow Dooby, “You know what I mean; stop laughing. This is serious; when I apply to MIT, I’m going to apply for every academic scholarship available even though my family can afford to pay. I think of an academic scholarship as an honor and recognition of what I’ve accomplished here at Blair. If I get any kind of scholarships I think my dad will reimburse the fund, but the honor remains mine.” Cory nodded his agreement, “You may as well explain Dad; you’ve gone just far enough to piss the new guy off. What Gramps Carl is doing is very noble but some of those schippers are really pretentious jerks.” “As well as dumb assholes,” Dooby felt free to add. “Schippers, you mean the guys the gang calls schippers means they’re going to Blair on scholarships, meaning for FREE? I think there are some who couldn’t pass the school entrance exam if that’s all they studied all through four years of any high school!” Rodger was properly incredulous. His voice even squeaked. Charlie winced, “When you say it like that, it doesn’t sound very good. Let me find out more from Carl Bradley; meanwhile, let’s talk about food, that’s a subject I know a great deal about. Do one of you guys still have one of those big school brochures around? I seem to recall some photos of food and a paragraph about the high quality of the meals. Dooby shook his head, “Nope, I gave mine to James, he and Zeek want to come up here to Blair if they can convince their mom.” While Dooby explained the brothers to Rodger, Cory ran upstairs and returned leafing through the expensive brochure that Tommy printed for the school. “Hey, you were right Dad; look, here’s a shot of the steak dinner we just ate!” He giggled, “As Auggie would say, `Don’t that just beat all?’ you must be a chronic, complaining troublemaker Rodger.” “Let me see that,” Rodger demanded. He snatched the booklet from Cory’s hand and carried it to Charlie. “Mr. Spelling, I swear no one who boards there has ever seen that steak, not to mention hundreds of them served as a dinner. Where would they grill them? See the grill marks are hashed just like I always try to do.” “Rodger, please, call me Charlie or just Gramps like Dooby does; we don’t stand on much formality around this house.” “Okay, thank you, Gramps, but do you think this steak is real?” “”I think it was real until a food stylist got done with it. What do you think Christian?” Charlie passed the booklet over. Christian barely glanced at the printed photo, “Nope, the grill marks are just too perfect,” he grinned at Rodger, “I like my steaks to look just the way you grill them; imperfect but delicious.” Charlie stared at the ceiling a moment, “Let’s see here, thirty thousand a year per student boarder; to keep it simple, say just one hundred-eighty school days a year, that’s about one-sixty-five give or take, per boy per day.” He looked at Cory and waited. Cory grinned, “Actually, it’s one sixty-six and change.” Rodger agreed but added, “The change is sixty-six cents or rounded off, sixty-seven.” Dooby giggled, “Wow, now I’ve got someone to handle my phone calls and two walking calculators; I’ll never have to carry a pencil again!” “You don’t now,” Cory reminded. “That’s what shippers are for; they’re always grateful after I remind them about keeping the pointy end on the paper.” “After dessert, I think I’ll run over to Carl’s to have a chat. What are we having for dessert anyway?” “Is ice cream okay?” Cory asked. “Too bad we did pies two weeks ago.” Laura grinned at Dooby, “Did I tell you, you’re mother came over today? We went shopping.” “And…?” Dooby asked, already on his feet. “And she brought brownies, but I can’t seem to recall where I put the box.” “The Dubois nose, KNOWS!” Dooby said dramatically over his shoulder as he disappeared into the kitchen. The five guys stopped suddenly when they got to the marble steps that descended to the pool on the next lower level below the garden. As they promised modest Rodger, the over-heated pool was already covered with rising steam so there was no chance that they could be seen from the old mansion’s second floor widows since the plan was to skinny-dip. The pool, the new spa, the pavilion and surrounding landscape lights were already on to create a beautiful ethereal scene, but Rodger wasn’t looking at it. “Hey,” he said and pointed, “there’s a car!” The car in question had its lights on so its outline could be seen from a distance parked near the pavilion. “Call the cops Cory, that’s a Volkswagen; we’ve got a damn trespasser!” Dooby ordered without laughing after he slapped his pants pockets looking for the phone he never carried anyway. “That is not a VW, its Steve’s Boxter! How could he be over with his date already?” Rodger, who was emerging as the eternal innocent, wondered. Dooby did giggle at that question, “Well we know for certain he’s not a premature ejaculator, so I’d guess that he didn’t get laid. The best way to find out is to ask him, after we toss him in the pool, let’s get him!” Dooby charged down the steps without listening to Cory’s shouted warning; that Steve was nearly twice his weight AND in addition, was a very good wrestler. “Hold up guys,” Tom suggested, “Dooby can get wet all by himself, and personally I don’t want to go home wearing wet clothes. These steps are just like bleachers; it’s cold, but this shouldn’t take long.” Dooby ran to the driver’s side and pulled open the door without warning Steve and without looking back to see that he wasn’t being followed and therefore supported — until it was too late. Both Dooby and his audience sitting on the marble bleachers were surprised at how fast Steve was able to unfold his body after he adroitly exited the drivers’ cramped space. Dooby fell backward and didn’t have time or the need to regain his feet because Steve took two giant steps forward, scooped Dooby up in his arms and ran toward the pool. He nimbly halted at the very edge and swung Dooby back to throw him out as far as he could. At the very last split second before he was released, Dooby managed to lock his fingers around Steve’s neck, that was just enough weight to pull Steve off balance and both boys fell into the pool when Steve flung him forward. “Utoh,” Tommy said out loud, exactly what the rest of the small audience thought. Unfortunately, Steve was still dressed for dinner at a very fine restaurant or the country club in clothing that was dry cleaned, never laundered. Dooby swam away into the mist while Steve just pulled his big bedraggled body from the pool, walked to the nearest table and chair group and began to strip off his wet clothes. “Are you pissed?” Cory asked from a safe distance but was still ready to run. Steve turned his back to the pool so Dooby couldn’t see him grin, “You have no idea,” he whispered, “how pissed I am, but more at myself than at Dooby. He scared the shit out of me when he opened the car door. I was half asleep listening to some tunes. I over reacted and I’m just getting to know Dooby, I thought he was really begging me to toss him. I didn’t expect him to turn into a leech at the last second and I don’t think he expected the hold to work.” Just then a voice came from the mist, “I’m sorry,” it squeaked, “I’ll pay you for whatever got ruined.” “You certainly will,” Steve returned in a loud, half gruff voice, “I accept checks, but cash works.” Helpful Rodger began an inventory, “Matching belt, billfold and shoes; all alligator.” He fingered Steve’s jacket that was draped over a chair, “Cashmere?” he asked softly. When Steve nodded, he sang; “One Cashmere, double breasted blazer; beautiful, or it was.” The trousers were no challenge; “The slacks are a wool-silk blend, but remember all Steve’s clothes are monster size, they cost more. One silk shirt,” he giggled, “I guess you could call it watered silk now.” “What about socks and underwear?” Dooby asked sourly. Rodger giggled, “Are you joking? Those are very out this year! You don’t wear them either.” “Rodger, do you know what GQ is?” The mist asked from quite close to the nearest pool edge. “The magazine, sure, want to borrow my copy?” Rodger asked helpfully. Tommy and Cory burst out laughing at Christian’s frowning face. He grinned and shrugged, “So sue me, I forgot about gay, rich boys; of course they would know about GQ.” That retort drew frowns from Rodger and Steve until the guys explained, then they all laughed. Steve shivered, “I’m freezing, let’s go inside,” he suggested, then turned back to the pool, “Dooby, you can come out of there now, I’m not really mad, except at myself. All is forgiven!” Dooby didn’t answer. “Dooby?” he called. “You don’t think he drowned?” He asked the others. Tommy rolled his eyes, “I think he’s already back up at the house; he’s getting his money or his checkbook. Let’s go inside. Is the heat on?” he asked Cory looking back as he led the way. He grinned when he saw Steve tentatively place his arm over Rodger’s shoulders and Rodger grabbed and held his hand and fitted his body against Steve’s side. It was clear that the heat was on and rising between the two eager, clearly excited rookies. Steve was standing tall and quivering while Roger’s hardness wanted to be free of Cory’s shorts and could be seen struggling to rise against the material of his left leg in the dim outside lighting. Cory rushed ahead and turned on the fireplace before arranging a mess of pillows and a fat comforter into a nest close by. It seemed Steve understood that the space, prime warm real estate, was to be his and Rodger’s. He had Rodger stand in the nest and stripped him, he thought with speed until he glanced at the bed to see that Cory, Christian and Tommy were already sitting on the side, naked, hard and watching. He took Rodger down with a light touch behind his knees. It was then that Rodger asserted himself. He whispered directions followed by taps and pushes until Steve understood what was wanted. Steve swung his body around until he was stopped by a firm small hand. Steve also ended the developing show by pulling the comforter over their bodies including his head so only his and Rodger’s legs and feet remained exposed. Tommy and Christian both frowned at Cory. “What’s with the blanket?” Tom asked in a disappointed whisper. Cory didn’t seem to think that they would miss too much of the action when he pointed to the fireplace and whispered, “It was cold one night, that’s our favorite spot, that has blowers, give them five minutes and they’ll be roasting.” It didn’t take five minutes for Steve to yank the comforter off them and push it aside without altering the movement of his head and ignoring the sweat running in his eyes. Dooby appeared like a wraith, already naked and excited; he ignored the guys’ whispered pleas to leave the new couple alone and settled down near them sitting on his heels. He placed a substantial wad of money bound by a wide elastic band near Steve’s head so he could see it when he or they finished and Steve opened his eyes. It soon became apparent that he planned to offer some helpful hints when he leaned close to Steve’s bobbing head and jabbed his shoulder to get his attention before he whispered, “What are you doing? Get up on your knees and stay there. Are you trying to smother or stab Rodger to death?” To Rodger, he advised, “Don’t just lay there like a rag doll; use your hands on his hips to control his speed and depth of thrust.” When he wasn’t satisfied that they were following his directions, he pulled the nest apart, stretched out beside them and waved Cory over just by using a lecherous grin. “Slow down and watch us for a while,” was his last directive before he lost all interest. Much, much later, the three couples took a break. Cory and Dooby served longnecks and one bourbon on the rocks for Tommy. “So,” Cory began, grinning at Steve who was sitting on the floor in a throne made from pillows, with a very happy Rodger acting as his lapdog, sitting on one thigh. “So what?” Steve frowned. “So what happened on your date? You got here way too fast.” “That bitch turned out to be a climber; she wanted to get engaged before she’d put out, and the cunt didn’t spring that news on me before I opened the Dom.” He looked down on Rodger adoringly, “We’ll have to drink that soon, before it goes flat.” “What’s a climber?” Cory asked for the others. Steve sighed, “Believe it or not there is kind of a pecking order among adults just like we have at school. It mostly depends on money; there’s old money, there’s new money — like you guys, I guess — and then there’s a lessor money group. The system is like a ladder with infinite rungs and branches. For some reason, some on lower rungs try to climb higher by kissing ass,” he grinned at Cory, “others actually succeed by not trying at all except for threatening to break Zack Bradley’s arm after telling him to get fucked by way of introduction.” Steve waved off Cory’s finger and continued, “Another way to go climbing is to marry above one’s station as my dear old granny refers to the art. That’s what this bitch tried to do tonight. She knew about my great-great-great grandmother’s engagement ring and she thought I was so hot to trot that I would give it to her, like I had it in my pocket. She, and I guess her mother, imagined that if we married; the Gray and Cain families would accept them with open arms. “I’ve only seen that old fucking ring two times in my entire life, the real one, although my mother wears the paste one to a social function occasionally if friends want to see it or if she wants to slap someone like this bitch’s mother down by casually waving it under her nose.” “What’s so special about this ring?” Cory asked. “It’s an eight carat fancy yellow diamond surrounded by white diamonds,” when Steve saw Dooby do a nose scrunch he explained; “White diamonds are the most common and popular, but diamonds also come in lots of colors. Most colored diamonds aren’t valuable because they get their colors from impurities and flaws, but, there are just a very few that are clear but still colored, they are very rare and worth many times more than a white diamond of equal weight and clarity, or whatever. Like I think the famous Hope diamond is actually blue, not white. Our rock goes from mother to son when he gets engaged, to present to his fiancé and so on down through our family history. I guess lots of people are aware of the tradition but in this day and age, I could never just propose to a girl unless my grandmother and mother approved my choice.” “If you don’t mind my asking,” Dooby ventured, “how did your three times great-grandfather come by a piss colored stone?” Steve shook his head and grinned at Dooby, amazed that he, just a few hours earlier, feared for his life at Steve’s wet hands. “The Gray and Cain families owned fairly big and reasonably successful neighboring farms in Oklahoma. My 3-X grandfather Steven and Jeb Cain were young, unmarried and wanted to do something with their futures that didn’t involve farming. They read about the growing need for oil and recent discoveries in Texas and Oklahoma and wondered if there just might be oil under their farms. Drilling water wells was a do-it-yourself, relatively easy and inexpensive project in those days so they talked their fathers into drilling an oil well right on the property line. I think they understood that if they found any oil, it would be much deeper but if they didn’t they’d still have a new source of water.” Steve fell silent and waited, of course he was wearing a shit eating grin. Dooby went spastic, “Don’t stop now motherfucker,” he warned, “did they find oil, was it a gusher like we always see in old movies?” He demanded to know. “Yes they did, as a matter of fact but the well turned out to be low yield, meaning it only put out a couple of barrels a day but it was proof that there was oil in the area. That’s when they capped it and the well became a deep dark two family secret for over a year.” Once again Steve stopped the story and waited, but seemed to be looking at Dooby. “Man Steve, you are one piss poor storyteller. Why did they hide the well and keep the news secret?” “Well,” Steve answered, “with proof, they talked their fathers into mortgaging their farms to the hilt, of course without telling the bankers what the money was for, and with cash in hand, they went to every farmer in the county and then into neighboring counties and bought up the mineral rights for every acre they could, until every dollar was gone. In those days, ten dollars was a fortune to a subsistence farmer so they ended up owning the mineral rights to thousands of acres of land. That’s when they uncapped the well and allowed the news to leak out.” “That’s it? They drilled more wells?” Dooby looked deflated. “That story sucked the big one Steve,” he said with a glance down at Cory’s `big one’ to make his meaning clear. “No, you fucking grump. Drilling wells of any kind was too much work for the 3-X grandfathers, but what they did do was to whack up all the acres they owned the mineral rights to and leased the tiny parcels to speculators who flocked to the area and begged the 3-X’s to take thousands and thousands of dollars for each of the tiny plots and they also kept a percentage or royalty per barrel if the well proved to be productive.” “I don’t suppose you’re planning to tell us about the piss diamond until breakfast?” Dooby wondered, although the others agreed with a nod. Steve giggled, “Do me a big favor Doob, if you ever meet my mother or grandmother, please don’t call it a piss diamond. In fact, it would be better if you didn’t even mention the word, diamond, at all. In fact, now that I think about it, it would be best if you never meet them,” Dooby agreed with a nod and Steve concluded the story. Since the 3-X grandfathers were overnight millionaires, both felt the need to get married. 3-X grandfather Steven Gray went to New York City, bought the big fancy yellow diamond ring to woo and marry 3-X grandfather, Jeb Cain’s younger sister and 3-X grandfather Jeb, followed by marrying old Steven’s sister and the two families have been intertwined ever since, although succeeding generations limit occasional intermarriages to second or third cousins. Steve added that the two families have continued to be close in business with partnerships and joint ventures all down through the years. Dooby grinned, “Here we go again,” Cory warned. “So, Steve, with all this intermarrying, are you your own cousin or maybe an uncle…” Dooby knew that Steve was handicapped because Rodger was still ensconced on his lap, but he didn’t expect him to use Rodger’s body as a short range missile to hinder his escape. Of course neither did Rodger, but Rodger was game. He latched on to Dooby until Steve lifted him away to give Dooby a severe tickle torture before switching to a hold he saw Cory use that afternoon, that brought Dooby’s struggles to a standstill. “Anyone got a butter knife handy?” Steve asked. “Hey yeah, good idea; how about a nice cold pot roast sandwich for a midnight snack?” Dooby suggested between clenched teeth, anticipating Steve’s squeezing his balls. Steve let go at once and pulled Dooby to his feet, “What a negotiator you are Doob. Oops, I don’t have any dry clothes,” he snapped his fingers, “Oh yes I do, in the car. I was going to return them, but I’ll see you get them back personally.” He looked at Christian as he made the promise. Dooby realized what clothes Steve was referring to and wailed, “Not those clothes, those were my favorites!” “Were, is the correct tense, you fucking clepto! And stay out of our closet in the future too!” Christian warned with an evil grin. “So there you have it, due to my big mouth. The boy, Rodger, a brilliant boy, is offended and angry about others, some dumb asses, who attend Blair on scholarships regardless of passing their entrance exams and they get to stay there no matter how low their grades,” Charlie finished recounting part of the dinner conversation. Carl sighed, “I must admit I hadn’t considered that the boys might not be too swift academically. I don’t know why really, their fathers lost their family fortunes somehow when all they really had to do was sit back, clip bond coupons and deposit quarterly dividend checks from blue chip stocks. Damn it, I screwed up rather royally just by trying to help some old friends’ children or their children.” “Well old friend, I think this situation is correctable. Certainly not all the boys that benefited from your generosity are idiots, despite the pressure they’re under; bullying from boys who think themselves better than they are.” Charlie commiserated tactfully. Carl chuckled, “You needn’t beat around the bush; I know exactly who the chief bully is. Zach has made no bones about his gaziantep masaj salonları objections to this particular philanthropy, but he and his troop of sycophants concentrate their efforts on the most arrogant idiots fortunately, and I don’t think he’s aware of who is providing the support to the scholarship fund.” When he saw Charlie wince, he said, “Oh dear, from that look I gather that he will as soon as he talks with Cory and Dooby.” Charlie shrugged, “Perhaps or perhaps not, they’ve both known from the start that scholarships were one of your pet projects. You could make this all go away if you just withdraw your support from those students who haven’t been making their grades. Some may wake up and succeed, others, well, you tried.” Carl agreed, “That is exactly what I’ll do. I’ll advise the Headmaster on Monday; he can review transcripts and take any action he deems appropriate. I’ll give them all until after finals this term to be fair, but I’m afraid there might be some empty rooms come spring term.” He picked up the school brochure that was open to where the plastic steak was pictured. “Now this baffles me completely. A major draw for new students was intended to be chef prepared food of the highest quality and in sufficient quantity to satisfy every teenage eating machine on campus. The boarding fee was pegged high enough to meet that goal, plus of course a profit. I would rely on your expertise to correct this problem Charlie, and quickly please.” Carl rolled his eyes heavenward, “Salisbury steak, really? As the boys would say; `give me a break!'” “Can the Board send in auditors unannounced?” Charlie asked. When Carl nodded, he said that someone from his company accounting department would be there Monday. They would concentrate their efforts in food services; staff, and suppliers or vendors’ invoices. It was then that he grinned at Carl and asked, “Do you think Andre would be interested in going in to the school kitchens undercover, just for a few days? We need someone on the inside in a position to accept deliveries so we can compare purchases with invoices,” he explained. Carl didn’t answer at once; he put two fingers in his mouth and whistled shrilly. When he saw Charlie’s surprised expression, he shrugged, “That’s what he does to call us to dinner occasionally, if he thinks we’re late. Turnabout is fair,” he defended. Carl forgot that a whistle in his home was like calling Pavlov’s dogs; all the boys showed up in the library looking for unexpected food, while Andre appeared looking for the perpetrator of the false alarm since whistling was his personal prerogative when summoning tardy boys or his employer to dinner. The boys all cast angry looks at Andre while Andre kept frowning and pointing at Carl as the guilty party before everyone began to leave the room. “Wait, since everyone is here,” Charlie called, “we seem to have a problem with food at school. You guys don’t eat dinner there, but can you tell us about lunch? Cory and Dooby didn’t mention lunch.” Since the subject was food, Andre sat down to listen intently and grew more and more agitated as the tales of poor food quality were relayed. Since David and Alan had the most experience having been homeless, David compared the school’s lunch food quality to somewhat poorer than average shelter food they’d eaten in New York City. That observation garnered frowns from Carl and Charlie while Andre was almost in tears while enraged at the same time. He hated the thought of his boys suffering such continued indignities until Zack enlightened the men. “Actually what we’ve been doing is eating out and so have lots of other guys. Cory, Dooby and Christian hand out coupons for Justa Pizza and Kerry Kohn and his buds always have coupons for Top Dog; Kerry’s family chain of hot dog restaurants that sell really good burgers and deli sandwiches too. Any guy without his own wheels just has to wave a coupon and he’s off to lunch or even dinner.” Kurt with a `K’ piped up suddenly, “I have an idea Gramps, if you want to change the food around, to make it better. Do you guys remember the great breakfast and lunch we had at the golf club?” When everyone nodded he continued, “Well, why not bring in that George guy to fix the guys breakfast and dinner every day, and then get Kerry and you, Gramps Charlie in every day to cook lunch? Would that work? If you did that the guys would stay on campus to eat since it’s paid for and you could fire all the motherfuckers who work in that kitchen now.” Charlie and Carl looked at each other in total pleased surprise. Charlie blundered; “Out of the mouths of babes,” he quoted. Contracting out food services was a highly workable solution that could be implemented in a matter of days. Kurt jumped to his feet, grabbed his substantial package through his loose fitting shorts, that were probably someone else’s and wagged it at Charlie, “In case you haven’t noticed Gramps; I ain’t no babe,” he corrected with a frown. After Kurt was mollified by Charlie’s profuse apologies, Kurt turned his attention to Andre. He batted his eyes, he hoped seductively, “Since we’ve been talking about food…” Andre rolled his eyes, “Don’t try that with me you little slut, get your own snack. You know where the cake is, there are pies that should still be warm and the ice cream is in the freezer.” He had to shout at the backs of the retreating stampede; “AND DON’T YOU DARE MESS UP MY KITCHEN!” Andre turned back to the men with a smile, “That boy is such a dear; he thinks of me as his mother, which I appreciate, but that does not include serving him whatever he wants. He’s capable of getting his own snacks. Now, did you wish to see me?” After Carl explained the school’s enormous food budget that was being spent for low quality product that even Chef Andre himself would have difficulty in improving by preparation, he hesitated in suggesting Andre’s help working as a menial in the school kitchen as an undercover investigator. Carl knew he made a mistake when Andre frowned mightily, he was clearly insulted. “I shall take tomorrow off. I will need to go into the City to shop. What color wig should I get? Will the eye glasses be equipped with a camera and what about sound? I’ll need new clothes that appear to be worn. Perhaps I should allow my beard to grow. This will be so much fun!” Andre clapped his hands together while he bounced around in his chair. “You mean that you’ll do it?” Carl asked, astounded with Andre’s enthusiasm. “Why of course. I know just where one of those spy shops is on Broadway. Should I get a mustache? I wonder if they sell one of those laser-Taser things, just for protection you understand, in the event my identity is discovered. I’ll need a clever cover name and we must think about code words, oh and tiny ear pieces for radio communication,” as Andre thought out loud he stood up and wandered from the room. “Get whatever you think you’ll need, just put everything on my credit card!” Carl called after Andre. Charlie was almost in tears from laughing. Carl offered Charlie a withering look, which for him was the equivalent of one middle finger “I believe we just created a monster,” he observed dryly. Charlie laughed harder, “What’s this `we’ shit? You got a mouse in your pocket? I believe Agent 007 works for you, Mr. Q!” Charlie walked into his kitchen as the boys were demolishing their second sandwiches. He was wearing a silk robe and was surprised to see that the boys were still dressed or had redressed in shorts and shirts. “Hi kids, is there any pot roast left?” “Hi Gramps, sure, want me to make you a sandwich? We have pot roast or pot roast.” Dooby welcomed Charlie and made a space for him to stand at the island counter with them. “I thought you didn’t like pot roast?” Charlie asked, noted that Tom and Christian were missing and wondered where they had gotten to. “Like I told everyone else Gramps, I like it cold in sandwiches. When it’s cold, it’s really easy to slice just like left over prime rib. Christian and Uncle Tommy are meeting with Dom Orsini in the City tomorrow, um, today, so they wanted to be sure everything is perfect for their presentation.” “You actually have prime rib left over?” Roger squeaked, after nods he added, “Please, I want to heave.” “Should we do a rib roast for dinner tomorrow,” Cory looked at his watch, “I meant today, in Rodger’s honor?” he asked. Dooby looked at Rodger with a grin, “Either that or we have pork chops. How about two nice, thick, center–cut chops stuffed?” “You know Dooby, I may not be as big as you but I could hurt you for saying dirty words like rib roast and pork chops,” Rodger warned playfully. “I can settle this conflict before Dooby finally has his balls removed,” Charlie began. “GRAMPS,” Dooby shouted, “not while I’m making your sandwich!” “Relax boy, your balls are at risk every time you open your mouth.” Charlie warned, just before he got serious. “Since you guys are all here, I’ve got an idea I’d like to run by you.” Charlie explained Kurt’s inspired yet simple idea of hiring contractors based on serving good food, three times per day and then when he named the contractors, Rodger began to dance big Steve around the room, since he’d been in the gallery to watch the famous golf match and had eaten George the caterer’s food. Charlie arched an eye brow at Steve when he saw Steve’s back. “Have you been living here son? I guess it’s alright as long as your parents know where you are, but you should come down for meals.” “Huh, me Sir, no, why would you think that?” Steve stuttered. “You’re wearing the same clothes you wore to dinner earlier this week and Christian was all pissed off when he couldn’t find that jersey, or I think those shorts tonight.” When the laughter died, Charlie asked Rodger, “When is the next steak night?” “Wednesday, it’s the famous chicken fired style; a little slab of tough meat breaded and deep fried. It’s a really good night to have dinner off campus.” Rodger answered. “Well, we’ll go out for dinner after this steak dinner. Would you make reservations for two guests please?” “Sure, you know there’s a charge for guests, it’s a waste of money, but I’ll handle it. Who’s coming for dinner?” “Carl Bradley and me,” Charlie did a double take, “Charge, what charge? There shouldn’t be any charge for an occasional guest.” “Fifty bucks per person,” Rodger answered, “I kind of think it’s so there are never any guests.” Charlie’s frown got Dooby going, “Oh boy, can I come with you guys Gramps?” “Why, you know the food’s no good?” “Yeah, but with you and Gramps Carl making a surprise visit, I just know there’s going to be an ass kicking, and for a change, I know the ass isn’t going to be mine! Remember good old Uncle Richard at the first ever store we toured with you? You took his sorry ass into the back room and we never saw him again.” “No, you can’t go with us, but if you can wait for us on campus somewhere, we can all go out somewhere for a real dinner,” Charlie giggled, “after the ass kicking. In fact be up early tomorrow and we’ll go touring. While we’re out we can get poor Rodger a nice big roast AND some pork chops for dinner tonight and maybe enough for Steve if you’re interested.” The intercom crackled to life in the boys’ suite far too early. It was Charlie calling to say that breakfast was ready. Dooby and Cory attempted to roll over but Steve and Rodger were excited at the prospect of touring Spelling’s stores with Charlie even though they had no clue what `touring’ meant; the adventure promised to be fun. With tickling, a brief pillow fight and as Charlie anticipated, an extended stay in the shower, the foursome arrived in the dining room in only forty-five minutes, more or less as he planned since he was cooking and had just placed steaming platters of pancakes, sausage links, toast and scrambled eggs on the table. Steve and Rodger raced through their meal because Steve had to return to Blair to change and Rodger was going to ride with him to `assist’ in any way possible. “Just stay there, we’ll pick you up,” Charlie advised the two boy’s backs as they ran from the room. “What stores are we touring out that way Gramps; did you build a new one we don’t know about?” Dooby asked. “Nope, the school’s just off the Interstate on the way into the City. We’re going to tour a new store we just opened in midtown Manhattan.” “Ouch,” Cory grimaced, “that’s expensive real estate.” “You got that right, but Tommy worked out a deal with the builder of a mega high-rise condo who wanted to include as many amenities in the building as he could so he gave us a huge break in the lease price so we can keep our food prices in line with our other stores; if he didn’t, a pound of ground chuck would have been upwards of twenty-five dollars. The builder is even advertising a Spelling’s on the premises, so we’re starting off with almost nine hundred condo dwellers upstairs; a short elevator ride away, plus a million other potential customers within a long walk and almost no competition in sight right now.” “Too bad the space is too expensive; that would have been a great site for a Justa Pizza,” Dooby opined. Charlie agreed with a nodding laugh, “That’s what Tommy thought too, so he stuck one inside the store space. He also bought a Top Dog franchise and all three stores are open twenty-four/seven; so far, revenues have exceeded Tommy’s forecasts.” “Shouldn’t we start being involved in grand openings Dad? We always draw a pretty good crowd locally whenever we show up, expected or not.” “You will be from now on; this prototype opened two weeks ago to work out the kinks. Its grand opening will be the same Saturday we head down to Auggie’s for Thanksgiving. We’ll officially open the store in the morning and then head straight to the airport.” “Good deal Gramps, we’ll clean up and you go get into your disguise,” Dooby suggested. “If we hurry we’ll just get to the store in time for our mid-morning break.” Charlie giggled; Dooby was already considering what to eat mid-morning as he swallowed the last breakfast sausage link. “Here comes my beautiful disguise right now,” he pointed to Laura as she walked into the room carrying a purse and coat. “Wow,” both boys managed to say together. Cory extended their view, “Full war paint and a nice dress, you look beautiful Mom, you must be going shopping for something besides groceries.” “Yeah Mom,” Dooby agreed, “Gramps is lucky I’m not into girls very much; if I was I would have put the make on you and he’d be out of the competition if I saw you first.” “Why thank you boys, I think. We are going shopping after we tour the store. You can either come with us, or maybe ride back with Tommy and Christian if they get done meeting with Dominic.” Laura returned and watched them closely as they looked at each other. Both boys nodded, Cory reached for his phone to call Tommy and Dooby carefully stacked the remaining breakfast dishes and carried them to the kitchen in one trip. By the time he returned looking hopeful, Cory was grinning, “Okay, we’ll see you later,” he said and closed his phone. Dooby mopped his brow dramatically, “Another shopping trip avoided, man that was close. Sorry Gramps, you’re on your own this afternoon, but that’s what you get for trying to lure us into a `mom’ shopping trip.” “Brats,” Charlie exploded with a laugh, “just go get your coats, caps and sunglasses. We’ll meet you in the garage.” Charlie parked near Steve’s car and wouldn’t allow Dooby or Cory out to go into the dorm to hurry Steve and Rodger for surmised but unspoken reasons, but there was no need, the boys burst from the door. Both were laughing and both were reading something they held in their hands. “What a clothes horse Rodger is; he had time to change again.” Rodger was wearing a fishermen’s turtle neck sweater, jeans and a leather jacket. “Think we should invite him into the Orsini project?” Dooby asked Cory as they watched the two negligently approach Charlie’s truck until Rodger walked into the side of a parked car because he was reading. “He’s as geeky as Billy Kidd, I bet they could become really good friends after they realize that they’re both gay, and yes, I think he’d be perfect for Orsini and I think Dom will agree as soon as he sees Rodger,” Cory agreed with a giggle as Steve began steering Rodger with a big hand on the back of his neck. The group played musical seats briefly; Charlie asked Steve to drive because of his long legs. Of course Rodger rode shotgun, Charlie and Laura sat in the middle seats, which forced Cory and Dooby into the third row in the back of the big truck. Rodger passed the papers back as he got comfortable. He explained what was so funny and his inattentive walking. “I ran back to my room to change while Steve changed in his room for obvious reasons.” Rodger and Steve both blushed furiously at Rodger’s verbal goof before he continued, “Two guys ran at me in the hall to ask if what they read on the Net was true. They said there was a major drug bust in South Hampton of all places, that my roommate OD’d and was in the hospital and his big mouth father was in jail. I did a quick search through the news services and this is all that I found so far. I left my machine running with key words to watch for and print, so by tomorrow morning we should know a lot more.” Charlie and Laura held the printouts to read while Dooby and Cory looked over their shoulders. It didn’t take long before everyone’s laughter grew as an over-view of the story emerged. Anonymous phone calls to local, county and state law enforcement agencies reported a drug overdose that led all three agencies to send officers to converge on a prestigious ocean front home in South Hampton. When the officers arrived at the front door they heard shouting until they knocked and identified themselves. The officers saw a drape flutter briefly. After that, the shouting stopped, silence reigned, but no one answered the door. A state cop produced a blank search warrant magically and they broke the door down and entered to find the report accurate; there was an unconscious boy on a sofa. An open suitcase found near the victim contained numerous baggies of a suspicious substance. Officers heard doors being slammed and suspected that there might be other occupants in the home…” It was obvious that Dooby read that far, “Duh, who the hell did they think was shouting? It sure wasn’t the kid, and the suspicious substance was not likely to be a ten year supply of oregano.” Cory agreed with a giggle and reminded Dooby, “The cops are all that careful; like if they find some dude who’s been stabbed fifty times, with a butcher knife planted in his heart they always announce that the cause of death would be determined by an autopsy the next day, and the knife was only a suspected murder weapon.” “Yeah, I guess,” Dooby agreed. “The good part is further down on the next page,” Rodger directed from the front seat between bouts of laughter. “Holy shit, a thousand pounds of, this time they say it’s definitely marijuana, stacked in the asshole’s wine cellar…” “Along with over five pounds of coke,” Cory finished the observation, “which he was attempting to flush down a toilet without removing the crap from the plastic bags.” “And he plugged the toilet,” Steve concluded before he frowned slightly. “You know Uncle Bart owns a house just down the beach from this one. I can’t wait to see how he reacts when he finds out that South Hampton has been harboring a major drug distributor or the rest of that summer mob either for that matter.” He looked in the rearview mirror until he had Cory’s eyes, “You know here’s a perfect example of climbers; they thought if they bought that house, they’d have it made. First, they didn’t realize that there’s some resident out there who knows what they paid for the house and whether they paid cash or how much they financed, after all those are just summer houses and no one finances a summer or a winter place they only use a few weeks a year; that area is a ghost town after about Labor Day. One thing no one ever does is announce to everyone how much money they have like this guy did.” Rodger spoke up suddenly, “Didn’t you see the funniest item? It’s a comment made by an ER doctor about the boy; when they started to undress him, they found that his pants were on backwards, but they were zipped, buttoned and the belt was fastened properly. I wonder how that happened.” “The cousins,” Dooby howled and laughed harder as he and Cory reached behind them and tried to repeat the feat in their imaginations without much success. “You don’t think those men, ah, did anything, ah, to the boy back there do you?” Laura asked hesitantly, which sobered the mood in the truck. Cory answered with a shrug, “Probably not, Auggie said they like to play but weren’t hurtful, whatever that means.” Dooby agreed, “When we looked in the car, those guys were more intent on molesting the guy’s front after they got his clothes off. When he comes to, he may just think that he had a series of wonderful dreams that we call nocturnal emissions, just to be polite, although he might wonder how he got razor burn down there. Those guys are not into shaving very often.” Steve handed the parking garage ticket back to Charlie after they parked in the condo’s multi-story garage. Dooby glimpsed the hourly rate, “Fifty dollars an hour to shop for groceries? Gramps, you should convert all your stores into parking garages!” he declared. “Relax Doob that charge is to keep out people who work around here from parking in here all day. I’ll be sure to get the cashier to stamp the ticket, so the charge is only five dollars an hour, but with a two hour maximum I think.” Charlie answered. “Yeah Dooby,” Steve assured, “the people that live in this City are used to being punished. Like a condo owner in this building with a car would lease a space annually for maybe fifty, or even a hundred large, that would be in addition to annual condo fees and monthly maintenance.” “Ouch, I think we should stay out in the country where the living is free, don’t you Sprout?” Dooby asked Cory on the elevator ride up to the Spelling’s store. Even mostly naive Rodger laughed at Charlie’s unique expression as he rolled his eyes and head at the same time and mumbled “Yup, free.” It was obvious that Dooby never considered the cost of running a forty room home plunked in the middle of a thousand acres of prime residential real estate, or just the cost of feeding a large herd of hungry deer through the winter months. Dooby and Cory left their caps, coats and sunglasses in the truck, and armed with Sharpie pens, which Cory handed out to everyone; they were ready to go on `stage’ by the time the elevator doors slid open. Steve looked at Rodger blankly, in question, “Just sign your name on the guys’ pictures if anyone asks,” Rodger whispered. “What pictures?” Steve wondered. That question was answered when they faced Scott, his production crew and a surprising number of other photographers with a mix of video and still cameras as well as a crowd of shoppers who each already held eight by ten glossy photos of the dynamic cooking duo passed out freely by Team Spelling members. “Gramps, you set us up,” Dooby accused with a photogenic smile. “Yup, ain’t nothin’ free in Spelling country,” Charlie answered, “Go get `em boys, make me proud.” The mob waded through the store slowly with Dooby constantly in the lead, breaking up blockages caused by paparazzi that pushed shoppers out of the way to stay near the boys. They managed brief interviews with men and women holding labeled microphones from NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX and others. Even Steve and Rodger were asked questions about who they were where they were from, why they were with Dooby and Cory and surprisingly, were they in the Tarzan contest. Those last questions were asked mostly by women, girls and a few men. When they answered in the negative, they were asked why not. The boys’ photos also changed, sneaky Scott had been busy; they were group shots of all the Tarzan gang and some, candids of just Dooby and Cory wearing just their Tarzan suits. Rodger disappeared briefly only to reappear offering a collection of prints, to Dooby to autograph. Dooby giggled and whispered; “Not now, you silly doofus,” just before he was distracted by an elderly lady being pushed aside by one more obnoxious paparazzo. They had just reached the produce department. Dooby made his way to the lady, took her arm and apologized as he led her unerringly to the despised rutabagas. He whispered to the woman as he hefted each of the rock hard root vegetables. The woman giggled after a threatening, withering stare at the offensive photographer. Dooby found one about the size of a hardball and placed in the lady’s upturned hand. She in turn tossed it up in the air several times; her dexterity and hand-eye coordination belied her apparent age. “Perfect,” Dooby declared. He and the lady were standing on one side of a low free standing display of vegetables like onion varieties, assorted kinds of potatoes rutabagas and others that didn’t need refrigeration. They looked across the display at the mob massed on the other sides of the display. “What’s he going to do?” Rodger whispered to Cory. “I’m not sure, but he’s pissed off about something to do with the lady he just armed with one of those cannon balls. See the color in his cheeks?” Cory returned. “Do any of you folks ever watch Judge Judy on TV?” Dooby asked the crowd. He got a number of nods in answer. “I never get to see it when it first airs, but I record it and watch late at night sometimes. If you pay attention to what she has to say to the contestants, or whatever they’re called, you can learn a lot about what’s legal and what isn’t, like pushing someone to get them out of your way. Did you know that just pushing someone could legally be considered assault? AND the person pushed has the right to retaliate before they call the cops. These things are called rutabagas; they’re like living rocks and the perfect defensive weapon if you get shoved around in a grocery store. If you watch our hour long Thanksgiving show, you’ll see how Cory prepares them so they really can be eaten after they get turned into cooked mush.” He looked all around the crowd specifically avoiding the guilty over-eager photographer, while the lady’s eyes bored into him alone as she deftly popped the rutabaga in the air several more times. Since it appeared that Dooby planned to help the lady finish her shopping; Cory, Steve and Rodger accompanied them and acted as bird dogs as the lady pointed to items she wanted along the aisles, and they retrieved them and placed them in her buggy. Dooby noticed that their forward motion through the store was unimpeded after they left the produce department. Belated introductions were completed along the way. The lady, Margery Thurston was a widow and semi-retired from business, but she didn’t say what business. She lived quite close by and found that a Spelling’s market was very convenient and allowed her to shop more frequently so she could buy fewer things at any one time, so fresh foods were always fresh. Sunday mornings were usually quiet and a perfect time to shop. Dooby giggled and apologized for their impromptu intrusion and the resulting mob scene for the third time and by the time the group reached the end of the second aisle, Mrs. Thurston was Granny to Dooby and he was Dear Dooby to her. Along the way, they passed the entrance to Justa Pizza and Top Dog without comment although Granny Thurston noticed that all four boys took unusually deep breaths and shortly thereafter, she paused, took a note pad and pen from her purse and wrote a short note, which she folded and gave to a uniformed building porter who seemed to appear from nowhere. She checked out her order at the mini-mall entrance that opened into the building’s interior and was surprised when Dooby snatched the receipt from the cashier and signed it after he marked it, `Paid in Full’. Dooby didn’t notice that yet another building porter separated him from Granny’s groceries. Dooby slipped into his Mother DuBois mode when Granny began to object. He whispered; “Now Granny, buying your groceries is the least we can do to pay you for all this inconvenience, and since I see you’re just wearing a sweater, I’d like to take you to some lady’s clothing store and buy you a nice heavy winter coat; it’s very cold outside and…” While Granny Thurston’s smile grew, Steve interrupted, “Dooby, ah, excuse me, but I think that broach on Granny’s sweater is real and she probably doesn’t need a coat.” Dooby bent to squint at the broach from six inches away, “Are you on drugs? That is not a real praying mantis, anyone can see that,” he protested, as Granny began to giggle over the exchange. The piece in question was about four inches long overall and was obviously fashioned after the large insect except it was covered in gems; it was indeed uniquely beautiful. “Doob, I didn’t mean real, as in alive, I meant that I think the gems are real. That is one fabulous piece of jewelry,” Steve explained, “I think she might be exiting into the mall because she lives upstairs and doesn’t need a coat, just an elevator.” He looked down on the smiling woman, “Am I right Granny?” Granny nodded and burst out laughing, “Very astute Steven. Dear Dooby, you are so sweet. Didn’t you recognize my name?” Dooby looked dejected and shook his head. “Well, I guess there’s no real reason you should. This building is Thurston Residential Tower One; number two is under construction just now across the park. My dear departed husband and I are the developers. Now since you bemoaned the fact that residential buildings don’t have observation decks, perhaps you all would join me in my apartment where you will find the view equally nice.” Dooby saw his mid-morning snack, already long overdue, disappearing entirely until the odor of hot pizza entered gaziantep escort bayan his nose. He turned back to see the porter Granny gave the note to standing behind him with another buggy that was stacked with pizza boxes and lots of large bags. Granny took Dooby’s arm and began to march him into the mall. “I took the liberty of ordering an assortment of food you might enjoy along with the view. Is there anyone else in your party in addition to Mr. and Mrs. Spelling?” Granny asked. “Christian and Tommy are at a meeting here in the City somewhere, we were supposed to meet them in the store, but they’ll wait for us, I hope.” Dooby replied while they waited for an elevator. Then he whispered, “I’m sorry I kind of thought you were down on your luck, you know like a bag lady; I’m not always aware of how rich people live, but these guys are helping me.” Margery began to console Dooby as an elevator opened. Tom, Christian and Dom Orsini stepped out. The first person Dom greeted was Margery with a bow and a kiss on the back of her hand, “Madame, it is so good to see you again,” he intoned formally. “Please Dominic, you must stop calling me Madame, you make me feel like I’m running a whorehouse here.” Margery protested with a grin. After introductions were completed, Dom, Tommy and Christian reversed course to re-enter the elevator for the trip up to Granny’s apartment. Dooby was mightily impressed with the long bench in the back of the car and opined that it would be useful if a resident returned home drunk; he could stretch out and snooze the rest of the way home. He wasn’t aware of just how fast a high speed elevator was or see Dom insert a key where the top button would normally be until the doors whooshed open way too fast for them to have reached the top floor of the high rise building. There were only four obvious apartment doors leading from the square windowless lobby. One led to Dom’s apartment, one was Margery’s and two remained vacant, although Margery explained optimistically, that while there was considerable interest, only one individual, an alleged Arab prince even qualified to get in to look at the vacant spaces so far. He was qualified to buy one unit but not both, which is what he wanted and in fact demanded. “Money talks,” Margery concluded her explanation, “and so far the man is only squeaking above a whisper.” The group was drawn to the floor to ceiling windows of Margery’s three story corner lounge and Dooby promptly managed a nose print in an effort to see the street seventy stories below where he stood. Impeded by glass, he ran out onto the adjacent terrace despite the cold wind and leaned out over the evergreen hedge and railing to again look down, too far out, Charlie thought. He ran to the door mumbling; “That kid is going to be the death of me,” he shouted, “DOOBY, godamn it, get back in here! What if you fell?” “Sorry Gramps, I wasn’t…” Dooby began the usual litany. “Thinking…I know,” Charlie finished. While the group was occupied with watching Dooby, the two buggies had disappeared, a butler took everyone’s coat and he was back to take drink orders. Granny broke the morning drink taboo by having her usual Bloody Mary, which allowed the adults to have any kind of beverage and the boys to ask for a beer. The butler finally asked Dooby if he would also enjoy a Stella, which the other young men were having. Dooby nodded and as soon as the man left the room, he made his way to Granny Margery’s side. “Granny,” Dooby confided, “I know you told Dom not to call you Madame in public and all, and you claimed you weren’t running a whore house, but your butler just asked me if I would enjoy Stella like the other guys. I said yes, but couldn’t we at least see what she looks like first?” The Grande Dame of New York real estate developers, developed an incredulous expression, began to giggle, and then roar her laughter as she thumped Dooby on the shoulder, unable to answer. Dooby took on a forlorn expression while she wiped her eyes with a tissue. “Dear Dooby,” Margery half whispered when she could, “I think he asked if you would enjoy a Stella; a Stella Artois, an imported brand of beer. It’s very flavorful but also very potent, you may only have one, and you must eat something, if everything is ready in the dining room. Shall we go in and see?” She didn’t have to ask a second time. Dooby turned courtly and took Margery’s arm and was surprised that she was almost faster than he was whenever approaching an unmolested source of food. They were surprised to see that all bags, wrappers and boxes were gone, replaced by platters and plates, and the selection included hot dogs and deli sandwiches from Top Dog. Dooby giggled when Granny chose a hotdog and topped it with almost every condiment. “We go to school with Kerry Kohn; his father owns Top Dog, but he’s like you Granny, only he collects real bugs and doesn’t care much about the business. Kerry is almost running the whole operation from his dorm room between classes; so far, so good. If he manages through school, look out for Top Dog when he graduates; that business is going to be a boomer selling franchises,” he prophesied. Margery grinned at Tom, “Speaking of franchises, Tom, you were very clever to sneak two into your Spelling’s lease space,” she held up her hand to stop him from explaining, “I know it wasn’t prohibited in your lease, only because my idiot lawyers didn’t think about it, they aren’t, and never will be good business men but I assure you the area will be addressed in future leases, that is, all except yours if you decide to build a store in number two across the park. By the time that building is finished I suspect I shall need every advantage to sell those apartments. I foresee a rather nasty economic decline on the horizon and real estate will suffer the most.” “I’ve got an idea Granny, how about a steak and seafood restaurant? Tommy and Christian are working on the first one now in their office park, slash, mini mall. They’re going to be called Charlie’s and stuff will be grilled over a mesquite wood fire out in the dining room so customers can watch to see that no one hockers in their food while its being cooked or for sure if they send it back.” “Damn it Dooby, we’re trying to eat,” Laura warned, while Margery giggled again or still as she tried to open her mouth wide enough to encompass the girth of her hotdog hidden by chili, sauerkraut, onions, etc. “Sorry, but you get the idea, there’s a restaurant near us who uses the mesquite wood, you should come out sometime Granny and have a steak with us, you’ll be convinced that the concept is sound and you’ll want us to put in a Charlie’s right downstairs.” Laura piped up, “That’s a splendid idea Dooby. Margery, you must come out to see us for a weekend sometime soon, whenever you’re free. You could even watch the boys tape one of their shows.” “There are times when I’m glad that I’m too old to hem and haw about invitations. How about next weekend, if you are free?” Margery answered at once. After arrangements were made, Dooby lurched off in another tangent with a frown at Christian. “What?” Christian asked suspiciously. “Well two things, since we’re talking about Charlie’s. One, I was just thinking about dinner tonight. A great visual in Charlie’s would be to keep a rib roast turning on a rotisserie over the grill.” He looked at Rodger, “I think we should try that tonight just using the chips; we should get some of the flavor but not like burning the logs.” Rodger agreed instantly. Dooby moved to his second thought, “Next, have you guys thought about finding a constant and almost unlimited supply of mesquite wood for Charlie’s?” Everyone saw that neither Tom nor Christian had considered that firewood would be a problem until Dooby asked, evidenced by their expressions. “I don’t even know where mesquite grows,” Christian admitted. “I can help you there,” Steve volunteered, “It grows like mad in the southwest. It thrives in semi-arid desert areas like Uncle Bart’s ranches. Early on, ranchers tried burning it off, but that just stimulates a whole bunch of suckers from the roots, so it grows back twice as thick. Now I think they either cut or grind the tops and then actually use huge machines that turn up the roots so they can’t sucker. Once the area is cleared and seeded it makes for good grazing land or pasture if it gets irrigated.” Charlie giggled at Christian, “If you boys have to buy wood from Bart, you know he’s going to charge you a dollar a piece just to get all his money back, but don’t despair, you might just call the place that already uses the wood and if they won’t tell, we’ll send in these snoops to look for an address on the pallets we saw in the back when we take Margery there for a steak.” The boys were allowed another Stella to toast the success of the new business relationship between Orsini, and Dunn and Paterson Advertising, and Christian was persuaded to open his portfolio to show Margery some of his art work; lifelike sketches of some of the boys in lieu of photos for the proposal. Margery immediately grasped the concept as she looked at the boxed shower gel with a lifelike Dooby holding the towel and then the flat sided bottle with Dooby reaching for the towel, wet head, running water droplets, goofy grin and all. She looked at the bottle and then up and down at Dooby, “Oh my,” she said with a wistful smile, “if I was just fifty years younger…” she shook her head to clear it of pleasant images and looked at Dom, hovering nearby to gauge her opinion, “You have how many boys in the assortment?” “I believe fifteen now, if Rodger’s parents give their permission.” “They will,” Rodger assured, “money talks pretty loudly in my family too.” “Splendid, I’ll take a case of each. These will make wonderful Christmas gifts as boxed sets for all my friends. It will be very interesting to see how they react outwardly and how many actually give their grandsons certain of the bottles.” Just before they left, Margery asked Tom to look at one vacant space remaining in the mini-mall that had an outside entrance that she thought essential for a City restaurant, the perfect place for the next Charlie’s. A leasing agent met them at the elevator with keys and it was obvious that Margery had advised the man that a discounted rate was in order if the group was interested in leasing the very costly space. Christian and Dooby slipped into their design modes as they approached the covered windows and door from the mall. They agreed that all Charlie’s Restaurants should continue with the rough Victorian theme, with used brick walls broken up on one side with potted palms, frosted glass, back lighted French doors accented by red velvet curtains and art work in gaudy gold frames and even horrible old photo portraits in black and white where the formally dressed subjects always stared at the camera with straight faces or frowns but no smiles. Dooby and Christian both looked at Charlie and grinned together. Charlie shrugged, “If you want to photograph me like that, you won’t have any trouble getting me to frown if you remind me how much this is goin’ to cost me. But I won’t be alone, you boys will look cute dressed in nickers, ruffled shirt fronts and cuffs and patent leather buckled shoes and them damn short coats,” he warned. That promise erased their grins. With the street door unlocked, Dooby ran out into the middle of the street to look back at the exterior façade and was almost run over by irate cabbies approaching from both directions. He displayed his probable bull fighting skills so both missed. Dooby and the drivers traded insults in three languages and all three shot fingers at each other until the cabs were out of sight. Dooby made believe that there was no incident except to express the need for a valet parking service since the street seemed somewhat dangerous to unsuspecting pedestrians and that no New York cab drivers spoke English. Monday morning when Christian pulled into the day student parking lot with Dooby and Cory, they found that Zack and the Bradley bunch were already there. All four of the Escalade’s doors were open and the boys were all peering into the back, that is, all except Kurt; he was sitting in the truck and seemed to be talking to the roof liner. “This is Foodie Base testing.” Kurt said. He listened and then protested, “What the fuck do you mean, say `over’? It works, you answered me. Okay, okay, this is Foodie testing, OVER! Top Chef, you are starting to piss me off, I don’t have to say Foodie One, there’s no fucking Two; I’m it. If you don’t like it you can take this ear piece and stick it! OVER! Okay, the video feed is working perfectly and I have it on record. Are you on the john? Well if you don’t want us to look at your jamoke; don’t look down. Oh, OVER!” The boys surrounding the truck were laughing their asses off as they listened to Kurt’s side of the conversation and crowded each other so they could see the small monitor. “Remind Top Chef that if this setup kills my battery he’s going to push us home.” Zack warned. “What’s going on?” Christian asked, “Is Andre really working undercover in the kitchen? Gramps mentioned the possibility. What’s he disguised as?” Kurt interrupted by shouting; “No goddamn it! I told you this morning, I can’t answer you when I’m in classes; instructors don’t like us listening to music and if they see my ear bud, they’ll confiscate my shit and you can either talk to them or yourself the rest of the day and I’ll get detention. If that happens, I’ll show you a messy kitchen when we get home. No, that’s wasn’t a threat, it’s a promise. I have to go; I’ll call you between classes, Foodie, OVER AND OUT!” Zack answered Christian’s earlier question, “By now you must have figured it out. Andre showed up at the kitchen bright and early. He told them that he was hired late Friday afternoon and knows nothing about paper work. Apparently they have a lot of turnover so he was accepted and has been given all the shit jobs so far. He’s already reported that the kitchen is filthy and the oil in the deep fryers needed changing a month ago. He accepted one delivery already after they told him that suppliers rarely make mistakes so he can just sign the receiving copy, unload the shit and put it away. He held up the copy to the lens and he sort of talks to himself”, he laughed, “which for him is normal, as he stocks the new stuff so he actually lists what he puts away, that would be the real stuff if there’s any difference.” “What’s he disguised as?” Dooby asked, “Will we recognize him if we see him?” The Bradley bunch thought that last question was hilarious and everyone laughed harder as they alternately shrugged, nodded or shook their heads while they grabbed their book bags. “We aren’t telling you what he looks like, but if you recognize him at lunch, please don’t give him away.” Billy asked and changed the subject, “Any news about the pot head? Hey where’s Rodger? I thought he was staying with you guys this weekend?” “He was and did, but he rode in early with Steve Gray this morning; they had to get dressed. Check with him for any updates when you see him.” Cory answered as he and Billy split off from the group since they had first period class together. Billy looked depressed, “Shit, Steve stayed over with you guys too? Man, you and Dooby have all the luck. I think Rodger’s hot and I thought he might be one of us, but I’ve known Steve for a long time through Zack. I think he’s hot too but I never dreamed, well, you know, I thought he was straight.” “You silly dweeb, Steve is exploring his opportunities right now, Dooby calls him slightly bent and remember he graduates this year. I’d bet big money that you never tried to talk to Rodger have you?” “I’ve said `Hi’ a couple of times,” Billy defended meekly. “Well, this morning ask him about the pot head, don’t be so shy, and start talking more. I’ll tell you a secret, Rodger thinks his gaydar is busted too, and he’s just as much a geek as you are. Ask to see his custom built, heavy hardware, and by the time we head to Florida, you two might end up being very good friends. Did I mention that Rodger’s going along too? Of course Steve is too but I think Steve is interested in Zack right now, just as much as he was interested in Christian, so maybe he really prefers messing with guys his own age, but one thing he isn’t, is shy.” Later that morning, between classes Cory saw Rodger and Billy walking together toward Rodger’s dorm; both were laughing and chatting like old friends and he even saw Billy loosen his tie. “Match maker, match maker, make me a match…” he sang to himself. The boys were in first class when four auditors arrived carrying laptops and their own printer. Slightly later, Carl Bradley’s limo pulled in to park in front of the administration building in the `no parking’ zone. Carl departed an hour later and soon thereafter some boys were summoned individually to the headmaster’s office during the middle of their classes. When they exited, a few were smiling; some wore expressions of grim determination as they returned to classes. Others, known to be the most arrogant were already talking or screaming into their cellphones pleading for an intervention from their grandfathers or fathers. By noon, the school grapevine was in unusually high gear. News of the pot head’s sudden exit was expected and welcome. Rodger became an overnight hero by simply being the creep’s roommate and somehow ridding himself and the school of the problem without any adverse publicity. His popularity increased further when he got tired of telling the story; or the highlights, and resorted to posting all his accrued news bulletins that his mighty machine continued to belch out sporadically, on the student union bulletin board. Real news in black and white was welcome for a change. Next, what was hoped by Carl and the Headmaster to be confidential concerning the loss or potential loss of some scholarships was screamed to one and all by those boys who should have been packing to leave campus quietly. This was welcome news to all, even to some boys receiving scholarships; they appreciated the support and were always making exemplary grades to show their appreciation. The last item of gossip in real time concerned a new kitchen worker who was working behind the steam table serving the day’s hot lunch items. The gang, with Dooby, Cory and Christian in the lead and with the Bradley bunch following intentionally since they’d seen Andre that morning; burst into the dining room. The three froze in place after five feet into the room, covered their mouths to keep from laughing, reversed course and ran outside to collapse on the lawn. “How rude,” Andre sent to Kurt, “I think they recognized me.” “Do ya think?” Kurt asked. “You’re just lucky no one else in here knows you. If you look around you can see that everyone knows you’re a guy dressed in drag.” Andre was dressed in whites, as required kitchen dress; except his shirt was a silk blouse that was under considerable strain from a pair of mammoth, obviously artificial boobs and his trousers were toreador style and way too tight. His wig was a bright, impossible red, accented, or Kurt suspected, held in place by a long violently contrasting pink scarf. His video camera equipped, secret agent eye glasses had white frames, at least what anyone could see of them that wasn’t hidden by sparkling rhinestones, and were an ancient, elongated `cat’s’ eye model that were in style fifty or sixty years earlier. “You just march your pretty little ass out there, and demand that they return to have lunch. We have boiled burgers or meatloaf slathered in gravy, which one must eat rapidly before it cools and the grease begins to congeal,” Andre insisted by apparently mumbling to himself, only half seriously. “No way, in fact I think we’ll all go out for lunch together. We’ll leave our truck so the recorder doesn’t get out of range. Other than being exposed, how’s it going?” Kurt asked as he and the others retreated to discuss where to have lunch before they ran for the day student parking lot. “Quite well actually,” Andre reported quietly, “I think my work is done. I received a weekly meat order that included rib roasts and steaks and lamb chops on the invoice but was actually those horrid cubed steaks, fatty ground beef and off colored hotdogs. Someone here is getting rich and I hope dear Carl prosecutes the miscreants to the fullest extent of the law, and adverse publicity, be damned.” Kurt relayed that last conclusive bit of information to his soon to be guardian- grandfather, Carl, who called Charlie to advise him that it definitely would be necessary to contract food services out, beginning with Thursday mornings’ breakfast. Charlie immediately called George the caterer, with fingers crossed, to see if he would be interested in providing breakfast and dinner to an average of over four hundred teen eating machines, for the balance of the school year. The food would have to be as good as or better than he served in the tent at the country club. George didn’t hesitate or quibble over prices, he agreed instantly, but did ask if he could see the kitchen, as he might want to bring in some of his own equipment that he normally used in what he called the `field kitchen’ — equipment he used for large parties such as the country club tent. Charlie was inspired, “I’ll tell you what, go over to the school, to the dining hall in the student union building. Tell the Director of Food Services that a Trustee is donating a new kitchen and renovating the dining room, and you’re there to get measurements and see what needs to be done. Under no circumstances tell him that he won’t be around to benefit from the renovations; the son-of-a-bitch will be in jail,” he mentioned as an aside. “Then come over to my office if you can, and go over everything with Tom Paterson, he’ll need to add what he needs for Justa Pizza and Top Dog to serve the boys lunch. If you can get over there pretty quick, we can have your new kitchen up and running by Thursday morning.” George was hesitant about Charlie’s boast of such a speedy commercial kitchen renovation until Charlie assured him that his store renovation crew — seventy-five experienced men and women — was used to working fast at night and included all trades and that any kind of equipment could be delivered from almost anywhere overnight. He did suggest that George rent a reefer (refrigerated) semi-trailer to store his initial food order until the new walk in cooler and freezers became operational. Charlie then called Tom and dropped the whole mess on his shoulders. He asked Tom to proceed with no budget limitations and even suggested that Christian might have some ideas about the dining room décor including new tables and chairs. He then met Laura to enjoy a quiet lunch. The dining room fell silent as Rodger led his two guests in; he’d waited until everyone was already seated so the men could see the number of empty chairs. The dining room manger rushed up to them wearing a small frown that deepened when he recognized Carl Bradley as Chairman of the Board of Trustees. His wrinkled brow deepened further and began to glisten when Rodger handed him a hundred dollar bill and said he had two unexpected guests for dinner; his grandfathers. Rodger watched his hundred disappear into the man’s billfold and was thankful that he’d glanced at the serial number should the bill be needed as additional evidence. The man protested weakly by saying advanced notice was normally required and that the executive dining room wasn’t ready. Carl’s eyebrows shot up; he wasn’t aware that there was a private dining room. “Well, we’ll take a look, if we can’t make do; we’ll just dine out here with the boys.” The man led the unexpected party to a locked door and had trouble finding the proper key. He explained that Food Services managers and supervisors normally used the room as a lounge and for meetings and entered from the kitchen. The door finally opened with the last key. Carl entered first, followed by Charlie and Rodger. The man was last after he considered running for his car after hearing an explosion of anger from Carl, but he entered when none was forthcoming. “Wow,” Rodger exclaimed, “just look at this table and twelve chairs. This furniture is either real or really good reproductions, early nineteenth century I think.” Rodger was on a roll, “And look at this matching server, it makes a great bar, and look Gramps, all top shelf, even your favorite brand of bourbon, Gramps Charlie. We could eat in here if someone had picked up the lunch dishes and cleaned up all the shit, oops, I mean stuff, stacked all over the place. Hey, did you guys have steaks for lunch?” He asked and pointed to naked bones on the plates. The man shrugged in answer and managed to mumble, “I wasn’t here for lunch; I only work dinners.” Rodger continued his verbal sarcastic assault; “In the name of the school, as Trustees, I should offer you a drink before dinner, but there aren’t any clean glasses. Sorry guys.” The man changed the foot in his mouth by pointing at the server, “Underneath, in the cabinet.” Rodger looked and sure enough, there was plenty of clean glassware in every size. He chose two double old fashions and peeked into the ice bucket, “Wow again, it’s full!” He poured Charlie his brand after using tongs to properly capture enough ice cubes for both glasses. “These things are a pain in the ass,” he mumbled, “at home we just use our hands.” He looked at Carl and waved his hand at the assortment of bottles. “That single malt scotch looks nice,” Carl opined. With fresh drinks in hands, the men opted to eat in the student dining room, wherever there were three empty chairs. Rodger led the way to a special table for ten that was easy to find because even sitting down, Steve was a head taller than the other six boys sitting at the table. It was obvious that Rodger had arranged with the boys there to keep three empty seats. Steve was sitting next to Charlie. He thought he knew him well enough to sniff the air and direct a stare a Charlie’s drink. “Say Gramps would that be an alcoholic drink you have there? Did you know that alcoholic beverages are strictly forbidden to have or consume on campus?” “Really?” Charlie returned with a straight face as he took a sip, “Well, I’ll be sure to tell the big mouth boy who lives in room 101 in Rhodes Hall, the senior dorm, about that rule when we search his room after we’re done here. That would be just before we suspend him through next June, just after graduation, for violating the rule. Now Steve, do you still suspect this drink is twelve year old bourbon on the rocks?” “Why no Gramps,” Steve corrected his impression, “Surely it’s very strong iced tea. Do you think it will rain tomorrow?” “Can I take your order?” The beleaguered dining room supervisor interrupted the fun. Carl had just closed his phone. He took a sheaf of papers from inside his coat, “I’m tired of this charade,” he said with a glance at the man’s name tag and then at what appeared to be a list of names on the top sheet. “Ah, Mr. Wallace, here’s your name.” Just then there was a disturbance at the entry. Two men in suits and two local uniformed police officers walked in and stopped to look around. Carl waved the men over. He offered all the papers to one of the suits, “Here’s the list; names and home addresses, then there’s a list of proposed charges I wish to swear out against these men and lastly, you’ll find a synopsis of the auditor’s report that supports the charges. The list is alphabetical. This is Mr. Wallace; his name is near the bottom of the school employees group. Mr. Wallace, these are two investigators from the State Attorney General’s Office, and I think these two officers are here to take you and your friends into custody.” Cheering spread out from Rodger’s table like wildfire and grew more intense as the reason followed, table to table by word of mouth. Carl stood up to wave for quiet without result until Rodger and Steve managed to whistle together. Carl announced that there was a number of chartered coaches outside that would take all students to any area restaurant where they could enjoy dinner at no charge. He got no further with his planned speech as the big room was evacuated within three minutes amid renewed cheering. Charlie rubbed his ears as he frowned up at Steve and then at Rodger in the sudden quiet, “Just for breaking my ear drums, I am going to search that senior’s room, I believe there’s a party goin’ on there and some woman named Stella is the hostess; that would be according to Dooby.” He giggled at seeing Steve’s sour expression. “You two boys better hurry over there before poor Stella is all worn out,” he warned, “we’ll be along after we make sure that things are goin’ smoothly around here.” Outside, the school roads were jammed with semi-tractor trailer trucks, step vans, utility pickups and Spelling craftsmen’s personal vehicles. No less than three large construction dumpsters were dropped at the kitchen doors and two in front, there was no thought of salvage since the kitchen and dining room were last renovated in 1992 according to the old drawings the happy chef provided when George and Tommy visited on Monday. There were also a number of police cars and one converted school bus with heavy steel mesh covered windows. George the caterer was directing a crew installing his field kitchen in a tent, erected on the lawn fronting the student union in the event that the kitchen renovations weren’t completed in time to serve breakfast although he looked forward to having a new, modern, no–budget kitchen and already had two reefer trailers packed with perishable foods parked in the day student parking lot and another with dry goods on the way. Charlie clapped Carl on the back as they viewed the organized chaos and said, “Carl my friend, I think we did some damned good things this week.” “Yes, indeed we did,” Carl agreed, “but now we better go break up that party and get some food into those boys before they’re all snockered.” That’s it for this chapter. My continued thanks go to Emoe for his fine editing efforts. Remember, Nifty remains a FREE site because it depends on donations; your continued support will keep it that way. HAPPY READING! Jamie Haze

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