Tag Archives: true life

Sucked into the dream.

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Walking-meditation

December finally came and with it came the month that Andy had to vacate the office building and begin the next chapter of his business life.

Andy planned on running his business out of his home office and within a week sold all of the office furniture and remnants of his company from the last 20 years to start over and full commit himself to his Pink Town Foundation and charitable event.

I wavered on my commitment to Andy and started looking for a new job with another website company, this scared Andy when he realized that I wasn’t committed to his business dreams anymore and he tried anything he could to lure me back into the business.

After being out of communication with Andy for two weeks Andy called me one day with a desperate computer problem and asked me to come over to his house and help him out. I drove over to his house with the desire to help him with his computer problem, ask him for my last paycheck and go home.

“How are you Jeremy? I haven’t seen you in a while, come in,” Andy said to me when I arrived at his house. It was 5 p.m. and Andy was drinking a beer and asked me if I wanted one, I accepted and kicked back in his house until he was ready for me to look at his computer.

“I didn’t really call you over here for a computer problem,” Andy said.

“I figured you didn’t, what do you want?” I asked.

“I need you to help me launch the Pink Town Foundation,” Andy said.

“What about Mike and Steve?” I asked.

“Mike started his own business venture and I have no idea what Steve is doing,” Andy said.


 

I wasn’t excited about continuing to work for Andy because he hadn’t paid me in weeks and over the last few months had bounced three of my paychecks.

“I don’t know Andy, I’m tired, I just want a regular job where I can earn a regular paycheck,” I said.

“What about your dream to become an artist? What are you doing with that?” Andy asked.

“Hopefully when I get a regular job I can have the energy to get back to that,” I said.

“Jeremy, artists need to make lots of money so they can work on their artwork full time, where are you going to be able to find a job where you can make the money that you deserve?” Andy asked.

“Where had I heard that before?” I thought.

“I have a proposition for you. Would you be interested in owning your own website business?” Andy asked.

“Where would I get the money to invest in my own website business?” I asked.

“It’s easy, you don’t need a lot of money to start your own business, you can start reselling websites on our server under your own company name, you will have your own website builder like do but won’t have the hassle and responsibility of maintaining your own server,” Andy said.

“I don’t know, it seems like I would have to invest a lot of money for that,” I said.

“What would you say if I can make you a website re-seller for only, $500.000?” Andy asked, and then reclined in his office chair for dramatic effect.

$500.00 was money I could easily spend but would I be committed to the business to spending thousands on advertising, marketing and other business related expenses off the ground?

“I’ll have to think about it,” I said.

“What’s to think about? It’s a great opportunity. You can take all of your old leads that you had when you worked for me and sell those companies websites under your own business! You can start making thousands of dollars in sales next week!” Andy exclaimed.

I started dreaming of what it would be like to be making thousands of dollars in my own business and started to smile when I thought about the possibilities.

I could make it happen; I knew how to sell websites and could see myself making money in my own business. It would be a smart decision and I was going to go for it because I thought that if I was in business for myself I’d have the time to work on my art fulltime and develop my art into a full fledged career.

“What do you say?” Andy asked.

“I’ll do it!” I said.

“Great! I already have the contract ready for you to sign,” Andy said.

“What about the $500.00 payment? It’s going to take me a while to get you that money,” I said.

“I owe you $500.00 for your last paycheck don’t I? Well, that can be your payment to me and you can sign the paperwork today,” Andy said.

Andy always seemed to think two steps ahead whenever he owed anyone money. For instance, when he owed the IRS money, he sold his office building, when he couldn’t pay his credit cards, he sold his cars and now when he owed me money, he convinced me to invest in his business venture.

Investing in the website business seemed like a logical step because I knew the business, inside and out and realized that with my sales leads I could be making sales for my business within the next week.

“Where do I sign?” I asked.

Andy pulled out a contract he had written on Microsoft Word and handed it over to me. I signed the contract, he shook my hand, and I was in business.

The next day I went to the county recorders office and registered my business name and opened up a bank account for my new business. The future seemed bright and all I could do was see streets paved with gold in front of me.

A few nights later I went back to Andy’s to help him fix problems with his network and website, after I finished my work a group of Andy’s friends arrived with alcohol and party supplies.

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“It looks like you’re planning a party, I better go,” I said.

“You’re staying, we’re celebrating the launch of the Pink Town Foundation and since you’re a part of it, you’re going to party with us!” Andy said.

I stayed at Andy’s party until late that night and went home with a beer buzz, happy and optimistic about the future and decided to call Mike to tell him the good news about my new business and continued working relationship with Andy.

“You did what?” Mike asked.

“I invested in Andy’s website product and now I have my own business!” I said, excited.

Mike sighed, “Jeremy, you know that anything Andy does in business will fail. How many businesses did he start and give up during the time we worked for him?” Mike asked.

“It’s different now, my business will work,” I said.

“I have faith in your business but since you’re still working for Andy he’s going to keep using you like he used to and where are you going to find the time to make your business work?” Mike asked.

“Don’t worry Mike, my plan will work,” I said.

“Any website you sell is going to be on Andy’s server so what happens when he forgets to pay the bill to his data center and his server gets turned off? All of your websites will get turned off and you’ll have a lot of angry customers,” Mike said.

“I’ll make sure that doesn’t happen,” I said, optimistically.

“Don’t say I didn’t warn you,” Mike said.

“I heard you started your own business?” I asked.

“Yeah, it’s great, I’m selling ‘how to’ books from home and I’m making a fortune from it. You should consider selling your own ‘how to’ book,” Mike said.

“Maybe I’ll consider it,” I said.

“Have you heard from Steve lately?” Mike asked.

“Nope, I haven’t seen him or heard from him in weeks,” I said.

“That guy was such a loser, I have no idea how he can afford to live the lifestyle he’s living without making any money,” Mike said.

“Maybe he’s a gigolo?” I joked.

“I wouldn’t be surprised.” Mike said.

Mike and I talked about business and old times back at the company and we said our goodbyes and promised to go to lunch in the future.

I went to be that night dreaming of a bright future and looked forward to getting started with my own business.


I spent the next six months working hard on developing my website business but didn’t get far with it because like Mike predicted, I was busier than ever working for Andy, every day, helping him launch his Pink Town Foundation and keep his other business ventures alive.

Mike continued selling “how to” books from his home and made a few hundred thousands dollars in a year and was able to customize his Corvette and buy a new condo in La Jolla, California.

And Steve eventually contacted Andy again, asking for money and Andy hired him to market his Pink Town Foundation but now that Andy was short on money to pay Steve he quickly became irritated when he saw that Steve never actually did any work and he fired him immediately.

Andy’s Pink Town Foundation never amounted to more than a business name and a logo because, left to market the event himself Andy floundered in a sea of paperwork and was unable to turn his idea into a profitable business. By May of 2003 I finally had enough of working for Andy and cut my ties with him and stopped working for him for good.

Since my Dad was re-hired at Rohr / Goodrich Aerospace my Mom was able to retire from her job that she worked at for over 10 years to help support the family and as my Dad got closer to retirement they enjoyed life even more and began dropping hints, wondering when I was going to get married, and hoping that they would have more grandchildren running around in their golden years.

My sister, Becky, was able to turn her life after her marriage to Joe finally ended and got her own apartment and went to college to get her degree while supporting her son Caleb who brought energy, joy and excitement to our family.

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As I got closer to turning 30 years old I started to review my life and asked myself, “What was most important to me?” Was money, security, success, family or wealth the things that motivated me in my life? It had now been almost ten years since I graduated from high school and I hadn’t accomplished much of anything other than learning some important life lessons and gaining a good education in sales and business that I could take with me wherever I went but, was that enough? Was I happy with where I was at in life or was there something missing?

One day, I went out into my garage studio, at the duplex I shared with my cousin Brian, and realized that due to my job, working for Andy for almost two years I had neglected working on my art and had left my paintings and art supplies in the garage to collect dust. I also realized, once again that my goal to be in business for myself, “So that I could have more time to work on my art”, actually took me away from my art more than ever and that if I continued on the road I was on, I would never realize my artistic dreams.

I decided to be honest with myself and realized that if I ever wanted to do anything with my art I had to sacrifice one of my goals for another if I truly wanted to be happy, and so I gave up on my business aspirations, to focus on my art, full time, in the evenings while I worked a regular job during the day.

“That decision was a long time coming,” My dad said one day.

Dad was right; it finally sank in that, the path to my happiness was in front of me all along and that all I ever had to do was be honest with myself and admit what I really wanted.

THE END.

A few months later and another business..

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After the new company had been off the ground for several weeks, I began selling websites and was soon able to cover my own salary and expenses in the sales department.

This excited Andy, and gave him hope for the future but since Mike and Steve weren’t making sales of their own the company was still losing money and Andy started looking for another business venture to “bail out” the website business.

Andy disappeared for a few weeks and only stayed in contact with Tina, his assistant. We didn’t think anything of this because he had been gone before for long periods of time. When he finally returned three weeks later he had a new girlfriend and a new business.

“What do you guys know about microdermabrasion?” Andy asked one morning as Mike, Steve and I sat in his office.

“That’s when they scrape the dead skin off your face isn’t it?” I asked.

“That’s right, it is! I’ve been in Dallas for the last few weeks, I’ve invested in a microdermabrasion business, became certified in the process and we are going to start selling it!” Andy said with excitement.

“Andy, where did you get the money to invest in another business?” Mike asked.

“I sold the office building!” Andy said.

“You sold the freaking office building?” Where are we going to have the company headquarters at?” Steve asked, suddenly sounding very businessman like. Mike and I wondered if Steve was a male gigolo because even though he was earning a small salary he wore the best clothes, jewelry and always had women in his office.

“We have 6 months left in this building and afterwards we’re going to consolidate and move to a smaller location,” Andy said.

“What does microdermabrasion have to do with websites?” Mike asked.

“It’s simple; we can use the website product to promote the microdermabrasion product!

I’m going to an adult entertainment convention in Las Vegas next month to promote the microdermbrasion product and also see if we can design websites for actors in the porn industry. Hell, you guys should be selling websites to porn actors already! Think how huge that could be!” Andy said.

“Andy, why didn’t you invest the money you got from the building into the website business?” Mike asked.

“Mike, the microdermabrasion business is hot! This business has potential to make huge profits! I want you and Steve to market it!” Andy said.

“What about me? Where do I fit in?” I asked.

“You will be fully in charge of the website business and can also use our website product to design a website for me to use in the microdermabrasion business!” Andy replied.

Andy’s excitement was infectious and once again we saw ourselves making lots of money when the company was flush with cash once again.

“Don’t worry about Andy, he will take care of all of us financially when the company gets on it’s feet,” Mike said one day after I asked him if there would ever be financial bonuses in our future.

After the meeting was over I went back to work selling websites while Mike and Steve went to work marketing the microdermabrasion product. Andy set up a microdermabrasion “clinic” in an old office in our building with the hopes that once a client had the treatment done they would be coming back for regular microdermabrasion treatments.

Andy’s new girlfriend volunteered to be his model and they took off for the adult entertainment convention with high hopes for sales and profits. Andy returned from the convention a week later with a stack of business cards but no microdermabrasion or website sales.

“This microdermabrasion product is harder to sell than I thought,” Andy said.

“Every business takes time to get off the ground Andy, look at the website business, it took a few months to get off the ground and now I’m able to cover my own salary and expenses,” I said.

“Yeah, but overall my companies are losing more money than we have coming in every month and I have a major IRS bill that due and I have no idea how I’m going to pay it,” Andy said.

This wasn’t news I wanted to hear, because after working over ten hours a day for months to get the website business off the ground the company was still on the brink of collapse financially and all my hard work would be for naught.

“Just give it time Andy, stick to your business plan and the microdermabrasion business will turn around,” I said.

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“What business plan? I’ve never written a business plan in my 20 years of business and I’ve made over 20 million in profits,” Andy said.

“Yeah, but look where you are today,” I thought.

“Maybe I should hire a person to sell the microdermabrasion product? Yeah, I think that’s what I will do.” Andy said.

Andy got a wild look in his eye and ran out of the sales office with the same excitement that he had for his full body massage appointments. I went back to work and continued focusing on my job and tried to not think about the impending financial doom of the company and the possible loss of another job.

One week later Mike, Steve and I had another meeting with Andy and he introduced us to his new outside sales rep, Katrina, who would be responsible for selling the microdermabrasion equipment, supplies and treatments to beauty salons countywide.

Katrina was in her early 20’s, had long blond hair, well built body and would be an asset to Andy and help him sell the microdermabrasion product to clientele where youth and beauty mattered.

The only thing about Katrina was that behind those good looks, she was totally clueless and had no idea what he job in the company was other than to sit around and look pretty in her office all day.

“Guys, this is Katrina, she’s going to be our new head of sales for the microdermabrasion product. She’s also a Scorpio, likes red wine, and has a funny giggle if you tickle here….”

“Oh, Andy, stop..” Katrina giggled.

“Anyway, guys, she’s going to help us sell the new microdermabrasion product and I want you guys to show her the ropes,” Andy said.

Andy left the conference room for conference call he had in his office and Mike and I went back to the sales office while Steve stayed in the conference room chatting with Katrina.

“So, do you like sushi? I know a place downtown that we can hit after work,” Steve said.

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“I like totally love sushi! My girlfriends and I go out for sushi at least once a week!” Katrina said.

“You have girlfriends? Maybe they can come along?” Steve replied.

Once Mike and I were back in the sales office he launched into another one of his tirades about Andy and his stupid decisions.

“I knew it! He only hired that girl because they are sleeping together! That’s just great, now we have two idiots that are supposed to be doing outside sales for this company!

We’re going to be out of a job thanks to them! I don’t know what possessed Andy to invest in that business in the first place, why didn’t he take the money and put it into the website business? What an idiot!” Mike said.

“Calm down Mike, I’m sure it will work out,” I said.

“It’s not going to work out, Andy wants me to market the microdermabrasion product, what do I know about microdermabrasion?” Mike asked.

Mike was right, what would an overweight, chain smoking sales manager know about microdermabrasion? How would he market the product when all he knew was the life of a sales manager and the world inside his little office.

Later that day Andy pulled me away from selling websites and made me work fulltime on designing a website for his microdermabrasion business. I used our new do it yourself website product and was able to have an e-commerce website online in a matter of days to sell the skin creams and other microdermabrasion products.

A few weeks later it quickly became clear to Andy that all Katrina was doing every day was flirt with Steve and talk on the phone to her girlfriends he fired her.

This put added pressure on Mike, Steve and I because since no microdermabrasion sales were coming in Andy became desperate and starting looking to cut costs, sell off excess office equipment and bring in money any way he could.

I focused harder than ever on selling websites and was able to keep selling when I could but I kept getting pulled away from selling by Andy when he needed to use me to help him on another project for one of his other businesses.

Andy eventually stopped paying Steve a salary and promised to pay him 80% commission if he sold something, which never happened and he became indebted to Mike when he had to borrow money from Mike to pay the electric and phone bills to keep the company afloat.

Every night I went home exhausted from work, too tired to work on my art or do anything creative because after working ten hour days, week after week I didn’t have the energy to do anything when I got home but lie on the couch and watch TV.

Andy tried to get more control over his company and actually sold the microdermabrasion products and websites himself for a time but any new revenue that he brought in quickly went out the door to pay bills, salaries and other expenses and with our final month in the office building fast approaching he became desperate for the “magic bullet” that would turn his company around and make him a rich man once again.

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Do it all businessmen

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The next morning Andy ushered me, Mike, Steve and Andy’s assistant, Tina into the conference room to outline his business strategy and plan for the next 6 months of the new company.

We sat down around the conference table and devoured coffee and doughnuts while listening to Andy’s plans for reorganizing his business ventures and keeping the company alive long enough for me, Mike and Steve to turn it around from the sales and profits we would get from the selling websites.

As the sole employees of the company we were expected to do everything ourselves from sales, marketing, advertising, customer service and even website design.

When we would ask Andy if he was going to hire someone for a much needed customer service position Andy’s response always was, “Sell more websites and then we will have the money to hire someone new.”

 The new website business would be called Amazing e Business, and we were going to sell an easy to use, template based, e-commerce website to business owners nationwide.

Andy had bought a license to sell the software from the developer a company in Orange County, California called WebCreators and assured us when he said: “Selling websites is going to be so easy, you guys should be able to sell 3-5 per week!”

By the time Andy formed Amazing e Business do it yourself website companies like homestead.com were going strong and dominating the market.

Andy didn’t anticipate this and neither did we, everyone in the room thought that the new product would be “gravy” to sell and we bought into Andy’s pitch hook, line and sinker.

Andy spent the next 2 hours training us on how the new website software worked and after we felt we were sufficiently trained he ended the meeting and told us all to go sell.

Mike and I walked back to the sales office discussing the good and bad aspects of the new product while Steve, the outside sales manager went back to his office to continue his usual routine of drinking coffee, listening to Howard Stern and talking to his girlfriends all day until he went home at 3 p.m. looking worn out and tired, like he had been working on business deals all day long.

I could never understand why Andy hired Steve or what he actually did for the company.

Once Mike and I were back in the sales office Mike told me how he really felt about Andy’s new business idea and the direction of the company.

“I can tell you right now, I’m not going to be on the phone trying to sell this thing,” Mike said pointing to my computer screen with one of our new websites on it.

“Why don’t you want to sell it? Andy made it sound like we can easily sell 3-5 of these websites per week,” I said.

“Telemarketing isn’t my job, I’m supposed to be running telemarketing rooms not be on the phone calling every day like everyone else,” Mike said.

“Well, so far the company only has one telemarketer, me, so I don’t think you have that many employees to manage unless you count Steve,” I said.

“Steve never does anything but sit in his office, talk to his girlfriends and drink coffee all day,” Mike said.

I sat down at my desk and shuffled paperwork while Mike continued to complain about Andy, Steve and anything else he was upset about that day until he finally ran out of hot air and went outside for his mid day cigarette break.

By 11 a.m. I decided to stop wasting time and picked up the phone and started making my first sales calls of the day and by 3 p.m. Andy walked into the sales office to see how I was doing.

“How’s it going? How many have you sold?” Andy asked.

I didn’t know if he was joking or really expected the sales process to be as easy as he thought.

“I’ve already sold five websites,” I said grinning.

“No, really, how many have you sold?” Andy asked.

“Andy, I’ve only been on the phone for a few hours, it’s going to take a lot longer than that for me to start making sales,” I said.

“I expect good things from you guys, don’t let me down okay? I’ve got a lot riding on this business.” Andy said.

“I know, Andy, but you’re going to have to give us at least a month to start bringing in sales and get this business off the ground.” I said.

“One month? We need money now, I don’t know how I can keep this company going if it’s going to take you guys that long to start bringing in sales,” Andy said.

“Andy, please just give us time to sell and you should start seeing sales come in very soon.” I said.

Andy looked depressed and then a wild look appeared in his eyes and he looked at his wristwatch.

“Oh, shit, I’m late again.” Andy said.

Andy had his briefcase with him and a big stack of unopened mail and paperwork.

“I have a full body massage from this hot Asian chick that a friend recommended to me. Have you ever tried a full body massage before? If you ask them to they will always do a little something extra for you, if you know what I’m saying,” Andy said with a wink.

That was a typical Andy moment. He could be worried about pending lawsuits against him, bankruptcy and financial doom one moment and the next he could be racing off to a party with friends, wild weekend with a new girlfriend or fun and games with his children.

Andy grabbed his briefcase and paperwork and raced out of the sales office for his massage appointment while I continued making sales calls, contacting prospective business owners and sending them information about our new website builder.

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Mike left after having his mid day cigarette break and I was lone employee there for the rest of the day and responsible for locking up the building at night.

Since Andy had laid off almost all of the employees in the company he had rented out all of the remaining offices in the 2 story office building and we now had tenants that paid rent for their office space every month.

I quickly became friends with the new tenants in our building because I always staid late and was the last employee to lock up the building at the end the day.

My favorite tenant was the owner of a small collections business, a middle aged, married, overweight, African American guy named Larry.

After my day ended I walked over to Larry’s office to see how he was doing and to get a dose of his “wisdom”. Even though Larry was a middle aged, married man he still loved women and never stopped talking about women and giving me advice on romancing them anytime I was around him.

“Are you dating anyone new?” Larry asked.

“Nope, I’ve been unlucky with the ladies for a while,” I said.

“Man, you have to get out there and start playing the field. When I was your age I dated a different woman every night and I loved every minute of it,” Larry said.

“I don’t know man, I think I want to wait until I get a better car before I start dating again,” I said.

“If you wait that long, it’s never going to happen! Don’t you have any women you admire now?” Larry asked.

“Yeah, a few,” I said. I didn’t really feel like dating or being socially active since my marriage to Becky but thought I’d play along with Larry.

“I once had a business where I was a ‘love doctor’ and I helped men and women get dates and here’s some sage advice for you. All you need to do to get women interested in you is compliment them, talk with them, listen to them and let them be your muse. Once they see that you listen to them then they will want to spend more time with you,” Larry said.

“I’ve already tried that before,” I said.

“Well didn’t it work?” Larry asked.

“I had a woman friend that I used to work with and I would talk with her at different times during the day. One morning she came to work and told me that she had a dream about me,” I said.

“She had a dream about you? That’s good. Was it a romantic dream?” Larry asked.

“No, she said that in her dream all we did was talk and it wasn’t romantic at all,” I replied.

“She probably only saw you as a friend, you have to stay out there and keep looking for women because there’s ‘plenty of fish in the sea’.” Larry said.

“Larry, aren’t you married?” I asked.

“Yeah, I’m married, but I tell you if I wasn’t I’d be out there showing you young bucks how it was done,” Larry said.

“I better get going, I’ll see you tomorrow.” I said.

“Yeah, my wife is expecting me home for dinner so I better get going too.” Larry said as he shut down his computer and closed down his office after another dismal business day in the collection business.

I locked up the building and drove home to work on my art and forget about work. When I finally got home Brian was out on the deck in front of our duplex with his friend Sal and his girlfriend Betsy, barbecuing steaks, drinking beer and anything else we had left over in the fridge.

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“Dude you’re right on time!” Brian said as he handed me a beer.

“What am I ‘on time’ for?” I asked.

“Sal bought the latest Tiger Woods game and we’re about to start playing,” Brian said.

Playing Tiger Woods golf had become a fun addiction for us and we played the game anytime we could during the week, sometimes staying up until the early morning hours when we still had to go to work.

Brian’s girlfriend Betsy tolerated our video game playing ways but would quickly become bored and would always fall asleep on the couch while we enjoyed our game.

Our other favorite ritual that we enjoyed during our time living there was watching wrestling every Monday night.

Life was good even though I had the stress from work I didn’t worry about work when I went home at night because I continued working on my art and enjoyed hanging out with my cousin Brian and our friends.

Even though I tried to not let work seep into my personal life it would soon consume a big part of it as I took on more responsibility in the company and I became the company “go to guy” whenever Andy, Mike or Steve had computer problems, needed research done on the Internet or errands run I was the man to get the job done.

I didn’t mind being so busy with work because I felt like I was a part of something special and would have done anything I could to help the company.

The downside of this was that the more time I spent working on other projects the less time I could spend on making sales for the company and new revenue wasn’t coming in.

Mike stood by his word and never picked up the phone to sell websites and Steve continued being Steve which involved staying in his office every day, in his own world.

This upset Andy but he continued to keep Mike and Steve employed because he wanted to believe that they would bring in the one “big sale” that would turn the company around.

With little to no revenue coming in, paydays were always a hectic experience and I always had to rush to Andy’s bank to cash my paycheck before it bounced…

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The Journey

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Christmas arrived quickly for me and on what was supposed to be one of the most wonderful times of the year; I was worried sick about the journey that awaited me. The planning and all of the little details involved took weeks to finalize, and as my relatives and friends learned about my plan I gained wide spread support especially after everyone learned the true about who Becky’s father really was and how he treated her.

On Christmas morning my parents drove me to the airport, gave me hugs and kisses, and watched me board the plane. And as I traversed the terminal I mentally went through every last detail of my trip and prepared myself emotionally for what it would be like once Becky and I would finally be together as husband and wife.

It had now weeks since we had spent real time together and yet I could still remember what it felt like to hold her hand in mine, to smell the scent of her hair as she sat next to me, to look into her eyes and have her know my desire for her without saying it. It was those things about her that kept me going during the long weeks that had passed since we were last separated. and it was every other thing about her that made me hunger to return to her once again.

The plane ride to Portland, Oregon only, lasted a couple of hours and before I knew it, I was searching for the next gate where I would sit and wait once again before boarding another small airplane that would take me to a small county airport in La Grande, Oregon, which was very close to Becky’s home.

I felt like a spy on a secret mission to retrieve a priceless jewel from my enemy.

I was on a long journey to an unfamiliar city where I had to navigate my way in the dead of winter through snow and ice to rescue my wife from her vengeful father. By 3 p.m. the next plane was ready for me and the other passengers. We boarded the plane and sat there for a few minutes before the pilots voice announced on the intercom that our plane would be delayed for one hour because of snow and ice. We would stay on the plane and wait it out, hoping that the plane wouldn’t be grounded for the night. I began to grow nervous.

We waited on the plane until 4 p.m. when the pilot announced that the weather had cleared and he’d been given go ahead to fly. I began to relax and wondered about what I would have for dinner that night.

The plane took off. It felt like it was flying smoothly for a few minutes when it began to shake and the pilot advised us to buckle up due to turbulence.

“Shit!” One of the passengers next to me said.

I started to freak out and pictured the plane crashing into a small field, with my parents learning about it the next morning from an early phone call from the F.A.A.

“This can’t be happening!” I thought as the plane was tossed back and forth like a flimsy trashcan.

The other passengers on the plane were also visibly shaken and holding hands. Some were even saying prayers when the pilot’s voice came on the intercom again.

“Folks, as you can see, we’ve hit some bad weather this afternoon and will have to divert to Washington for the night.”

“No shit!” Said the passenger sitting next to me.

“Please keep your seat belts buckled because we will be landing in a few minutes.”

Washington?

After more shaking and rolling, the plane finally touched down in Washington. We exited the plane and were greeted by a heavy snowstorm that blanketed the area with snow and ice. I walked inside the terminal with the other passengers and stopped to look out of the windows facing the runway. There were dozens of other planes that were grounded by the heavy winter storm. When the pilots and flight attendants walked into the terminal I went over to ask them if they thought we would be able to fly to Oregon the next day.

“I don’t think so, sir. The weather report is saying that this is the worst winter storm up here in 20 years.”

“We might be grounded tomorrow,” The pilot said.

My plans were falling apart, again.


Feeling depressed, I went to look for my bags unsure of my next move. Airports were typically happy places for me, full of people eagerly coming and going to different destinations and cities but on that afternoon, the airport in Washington was full of displaced people who all had a glazed-over look in their eyes as they sat around waiting for welcomed news of departures. After searching and grabbing for my bags I found a corner of the airport and decided to lie down and rest. It was going to be a long night. So I accepted my fate and fell asleep.

I slept for a few minutes when someone started to shake me awake. “Son, you better get up.”

I opened my eyes and was greeted by an elderly looking cowboy who was holding his hand out to help me up.

“The airlines chartered a bus to take everyone to the hotel up the street where we can stay for the night,” He said.

I got up, rubbed my eyes and remembered that it wasn’t a dream, and that I was really one 1,000 away from home in the middle of nowhere.

“You look like a man on a mission,” The man said.

“You’re right.” I said.

“I can always judge a man by the look in his eyes,” he said.

“My name’s Angel Johnson,” he said as he positioned his hand for a handshake.

“My mother named me Angel in the hopes that I would stay out of trouble as a kid, he said, laughing.

Angel looked like the classic 1970’s T.V. character, “McCloud”. He was dressed in faded blue jeans, rough-looking boots, a long winter jacket, and a cowboy hat.

cast

“Let me help you with your bags,” Angel said.

“Thank you,” I said, feeling at ease.

“Where you heading?” Angel asked.

“Lostine, Oregon. My plane was supposed to land in an airport in La Grande, Oregon, but it was diverted here because of this winter storm,” I said.

“You have family in Lostine?” Angel asked.

“Yes,” I said.

What I didn’t tell him was that I was on a secret mission to save my wife from the hands of her psycho parents who forced her to accompany them.

“So you’re far away from home?” Angel asked.

“Yes. I’m from California.” I said.

“How about you?” I asked.

“I’m from La Grande, Oregon.”

“I’m heading back from a yearly fishing trip that I go on with old friends,” Angel said.

We walked over to the bus that was waiting for us and were driven to the hotel that was conveniently right up the street from the airport. Once we arrived at the hotel I was feeling more exhausted than ever, and walked over to the front desk and paid for a room for the night. As I walked to my room, Angel came up behind me pulling his luggage and said, “Son, the hotel manager just informed everyone that the airline is going to make another attempt to fly to Bend tomorrow, so everyone is supposed to meet at the front desk by 7 a.m. for our 8 a.m. flight.”

“That’s great news!” I said.

“Just thought I’d let you know,” Angel said as he opened his door.

“See you tomorrow!” He said.

I found my room and once inside, called my parents to brief them on where I was and what had happened that day.

“What’s the weather like at home?” I asked as I looked out the window at the heavily falling snow landing outside.

“Santa Ana, It was 80 degrees in the shade today,” my dad said.

“Save some warm weather for me, okay?” I asked.

“You got it. See you soon, son,” my dad said.

I hung up the phone and wanted to go home that night, but instead, I stuck to my plan and kept assuring myself that it was going to work.

The next morning, I woke up early, showered, and ate breakfast in the hotel lobby. I went over the remaining details of the trip in my head.

Step 1 – Arrive in La Grande, Oregon.

Step 2 – Drive to Lostine, Oregon.

Step 3 – Arrange a meeting point with Becky.

Step 4 – Get Becky and drive like a madman back to the airport to wait for the flight back to San Diego.

“It’s going to work, it’s going to work,” I kept telling myself.

After I finished breakfast, I went over to the hotel lobby, checked out, and was greeted by my new friend, Angel.

“Mornin, I thought you might need this,” Angel said as he handed me a large cup of coffee to go from the hotels restaurant.

“You read my mind,” I said, smiling.

As we sat there talking, the other passengers from the night before began to walk up to the check out counter. Everyone waited anxiously for the bus to arrive and take us back to the airport. Angel and I chatted with ease like two old friends about everything, from bass fishing and country music, to politics and religion, when the bus arrived and we boarded it with the other passengers and to head back to the airport.

“Looks like were on our way now.” Angel said.

“Thank God,” I said in relief.

The bus quickly drove us through the deserted streets and made it back to the airport in minutes. I looked out at the town, wondering where everyone was.

“It’s Christmas day. Nobody will be out today especially in this weather.” Angel said.

“It sure is cold,” I said.

“Bet it’s not like this in San Diego,” he then said.

“How’d you know I’m from San Diego?” I asked, feeling like Angel knew everything about me.

Angel smiled and said, “We better get goin.”

We walked into the airport and were greeted by dozens of angry passengers who were shouting and screaming at airline officials.

“Damn! I’ve got a business meeting today at 3 p.m.,” a businessman said.

“I have to get home to feed my dog,” and elderly woman declared.

“You bastards are always screwing us around,” claimed a young snowboarder.

“Yeah, man, typical bullshit from the Man!” said another snowboarder.

“Screw it bro, let’s go find a bar and get drunk!” another  snowboarder said.

“Must have beer!” They all said in unison as they went looking for the airport lounge.

“I’m sorry ladies and gentlemen, but the airline has informed us that there won’t be any planes coming or going for the next few hours because of ice on the runway,” the airline official said. “For those of you who can’t wait, we have car rental facilities inside the airport that can rent you a car for anywhere you need to go. For those of you who are going to stay and wait you will find our facilities comfortable. We have a Starbucks and McDonald’s in the terminal.”

“When is the earliest that we can get in the air?” I asked the airline rep.

“Probably not until 3 p.m. today,” he said.

That would screw up my plans and I wouldn’t be able to get to Becky’s in time.

“But that’s hours from now!” I exclaimed.

“I’m sorry, sir,” he said as he squirmed out of my way.

“I’m never going to get to Oregon,” I said.

Suddenly, Angel appeared out of nowhere and said, “Looks like everyone is in the same boat.”

“No kidding,” I said.

“I got an idea. Why don’t you and me rent ourselves a car and you can drop me off in La Grande on your way to Lostine, Oregon. I’ve got plenty of cash and can pay for half of it,” He said.

I thought about it for a minute and once again, my overactive imagination pictured Angel murdering me and dumping me on the side of a country road.

I was prepared to say no, but realized that he was probably a lot older than my dad was and couldn’t possibly pull a fast one on me. Besides, I was out in the middle of nowhere, with no friends or family, and decided that having Angel, as my travel companion and guide on this trip was probably the best decision I could make.

“That sounds like a great idea to me,” gleefully.

“Good, because I sure don’t feel like hitch-hiking my way home today,” Angel said.

We walked over to the rental counter, rented a brand-new Ford Focus and quickly got on the road. During the first few minutes in the car, Angel instructed me on how to drive in the winter weather and navigate through the completely foreign weather conditions I had never driven through. Angel really was my guide that day and made me feel completely at ease behind the wheel, even though it was snowing again outside and we continued to pass cars that had gone off the road every few miles, reminding me how dangerous the driving conditions were.

After driving for a while, I started to relax.

“What kind of hobbies do you have, Son?” Angel asked.

“I’m an artist,” I said.

Even though I said it, I didn’t really feel like one because I hadn’t painted or made anything new in over a year because of my relationship with Becky and everything that came with it.

I just didn’t have the heart to touch my art supplies or create anything new.

“An artist, huh?” Angel grinned.

“What kind of work do you do?” He asked.

I told him about my love of modern, abstract art and artists like Picasso, Matisse and Braque and how some day, I wanted to follow in their footsteps.

“Sounds like you have a lot of talent, Son.” Angel said. “Have you produced anything lately?”

I sighed and said, “no”.

“Why not?” He asked.

This gave me a natural opening to talk about my story. I talked for over an hour with my new friend and told him everything about my relationship with Becky and why I was really in Oregon.

Angel sat quietly for a minute and finally said, “son, I got one question for you. Why the hell are you going after this girl after everything she’s done to you? Especially with all your of talents and gifts, it sounds like you can have any girl you want.

I thought it over and said, “I have to try and make it work one last time. All of my life I’ve given up on things when the going got rough and I don’t want to give up on my relationship with Becky, especially if there is any hope left,” I said.

“Well, I don’t envy you with the path you’re walking because you sound like you face a great deal of opposition from her parents and that’s not easy to deal with, especially now that you two are married. You know that what you want to do might not work out right?” He asked.

“I know,” I said.

“It might not work out,” had been one of the main topics of conversation in my family lately. Nobody wanted to see me fail and witness my hopes and dreams fall flat, even though at that particular time my dream seemed like just that: a dream.

“Can I give you a word of advice, Son?” Angel asked.

“Sure,” I said, not knowing what to expect.

“Don’t give up on your other hopes and dreams after your journey is over. Even if your plans with her don’t work out, don’t give up on your art when you get back home. God gave you those artistic gifts for a reason, and I don’t think he’d want you to waste them. Take it from a guy who’s walked in your shoes and seen it all, okay?” Angel said.

“I appreciate the advice, but I’ve got to see this journey through and give it my best shot.” I said.

“I know you do, I just don’t want you to come home a broken man if your plans here don’t work out,” he remarked.

“You sound like you’re speaking from experience,” I said.

“Son, it would take me a few days and lots of beer to tell you all of my stories. Unfortunately I can’t drink anymore and we don’t have a lot of time left together.”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“Look,” Angel said, pointing out the window to a sign that read, “Welcome to La Grande Oregon.”

I looked at the clock and realized that we had been on the road for hours. It was already 1 p.m. and time seemed to fly by quickly while we drove on the empty, icy roads.

“Why don’t you drop me off at the town hall? Then I can get you a map and show you how to get to Lostine,” Angel promised.

“That sounds great.”

“I can’t believe that we’ve been on the road for this long!” I said.

“Well, the Good Lord has been looking out for us,” Angel said.

Grande_Ronde_theater

La Grande Oregon

 

La Grande, Oregon, looked like Mayberry and with the prevalent snow-capped rooftops it looked inviting to a tired homesick traveler like me. Once we found the town hall, Angel and I got out of the car and entered the warm town hall building and were greeted by friendly, cordial faces.

“Welcome to La Grande!” A girl behind a nearby desk said to me.

“Ma’am, this young man needs a map of Oregon so he can route out his trip to Lostine to see his family.”

“Well, you’re in luck! I just happen to have one right here!” The girl said.

She opened her desk drawer and pulled out a well-worn map of Oregon. She then proceeded to highlight the easiest route into Lostine. Things were now going exceptionally well and I was developing confidence in my plans once again. While she highlighted, Angel stood calmly next to me and when she was done, we thanked her and walked back outside.

 

We outside looking at the snowy day for several minutes when Angel said, “Son I better get home because I’m dogged tired and, besides you got a long drive ahead of you.”

“You want to go get some lunch or something?” I asked.

“No. I appreciate the offer, but I think it’s time we get going,” Angel said.

Once again, the kind old cowboy and I shook hands like old friends.

“Son, it was great meeting you. Don’t forget what I said about not giving up on your goals or dreams if your plan doesn’t work out okay?”

“I promise,” I said.

“And if I’m ever back here, I promise that I will look you up and take you out for a steak,” I said.

Angel chuckled and said; “I’d take you up on your offer if my doctor would let me eat red meat. Those hippie doctors won’t let old folks like me touch that stuff anymore.”

We laughed and stood there for a few more seconds before Angel said, “You better get goin.”

I thanked him again and we parted ways. I walked back to the car while Angel started up the street towards the direction of an old hotel in town. I got into the car, rolled down the window, and looked up the street for him, but he was gone. “Thanks again Angel,” I said into the wind and continued on my way.

The drive into Oregon could have been a lot worse if I didn’t have an experienced traveler like Angel to guide me on the roads, and give comfort to me after I told him my story.

I was in La Grande, Oregon, only a few hours away from my wife, a few miles away from seeing her again. I was getting excited, so I raced along the snowy roads anticipating our reunion.

En route to Lostine I drove through the remaining little towns with ease until I finally reached Becky’s new home. The town wasn’t much to look at. With no major stores, buildings, developments, stoplights, or civilization around for miles, I could see why this town appealed to her father’s nature. He didn’t move his family up here because of the great weather and atmosphere. Fred moved his family to Lostine because he wanted to hide them from the real world, keeping them locked up in his own little world until the day he died.

Nobody knew who he was, people would easily fall for his deception, and neighbors would welcome him into their lives, appointing him their new religious leader. I pitied the people in this town and couldn’t wait to get Becky and leave immediately. I was already sick of the constant snow, cold, and steel grey skies. I wanted to see sunshine again; I wanted to get back to the blue skies and warm weather of San Diego with my wife by my side.

Once I pulled into town, I drove around for a few minutes and surveyed the scene to make sure that I knew all the towns’ roads and was familiar with the major intersections. I knew that if Becky’s family saw me outside their house, they would call the police to arrest me. Or even chase after Becky and I in the rental car. I didn’t want either scenario to happen and prepared myself emotionally for whatever was in store for me.

I found the old, beat-up house where Becky’s family now lived and slowly drove past her kitchen window, catching a glimpse of her inside doing the dishes. It was around 3 p.m. and I knew that her parents had asked Becky and her other sister to get things ready for dinner at 5 p.m. As I drove past her window, I waved, turned a corner, parked the car up the street from her house and waited. After a few minutes, she slowly came out of her house, walked up to my car, and got inside. She wasn’t excited to see me.

There wasn’t a passionate embrace or speedy exit like in the movies. Becky was indecisive again and giving me the cold shoulder. I grabbed her and kissed her, but she was like kissing a cold fish.

“Are you ready to go?” I asked, sensing what she was thinking.

“Becky? Hello?” I said, waving my hand in front of her face.

She just sat there, thinking over what to say.

“Jeremy, I don’t know if this was the right idea,” she said.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“We broke my parent’s laws and God’s laws.” She said.

“Becky, I’ve just come 1,000 miles to get you because you asked me to. We’ve had this conversation again and again about what the right decision is, but the question isn’t what your parents want, it’s what you want. What do you want, Becky? The dream we had is now a reality and we can make it happen if you leave with me right now.” I said.

“I don’t know, I don’t know,” Becky kept saying, acting like she was doped up.

“Becky, what’s wrong with you?” You begged me to come and rescue you, and now that I’m here, you don’t want to go?” I said.

“I’m sorry, Jeremy,” she said.

“I’m sorry to,” I said.

“Can you give me until tomorrow?” She asked.

I laughed and said, “What’s a few more hours going to do? If your mind is already made up, I can’t change it for you in a few hours,” I said.

She looked at me clearly and said, “I don’t have a bag ready and will need one more day to get prepared,” she said.

“Alright, if I come and get you tomorrow morning, do you promise that you will leave with me?” I asked.

“I promise,” she said.

Suddenly, Becky’s parents pulled into their driveway in their old beat up station wagon.

“Oh no!” She screamed.

We slid down into the rental car seats and waited until they went inside.

“Alright, I’ll come back for you in the morning at 6 a.m. and you better be ready!” I said.

Becky agreed and we kissed quickly, and she exited the car and ran back inside her house. The plan wasn’t working out like it was supposed to, but plans often changed. And since I was here in her town, I didn’t plan on leaving without her. Once I was certain all of her family members were inside their house, having dinner I started up the car and quickly drove away in search of a motel.

Because Lostine had no major developments and no hotels, I was forced to drive to the next town a few miles away, where I found a nasty rat trap hotel that I could stay in for the night. The room smelled like cat piss and cigarette smoke, but it was a roof over my head, and once inside, I slumped down in an old chair and immediately fell asleep for the next few hours. I awoke around 11 p.m. that night hungry because I hadn’t eaten anything since breakfast. I decided to get in the car and go looking for the nearest restaurant. I couldn’t find any restaurants, fast food joints, all-night gas stations or any place to buy food late at night. Evidently, Oregon shutdown early, every night at and everyone was tucked away safely in their comfy beds. I was tired, hungry and homesick.

Lostine Oregon

Lostine Oregon

 

I didn’t know what else to do that night but drive so I stepped on the gas to see how fast the rental car would go.

Since the streets were deserted and there were no stoplights or other traffic for miles I went faster and faster until the car reached 100 miles per hour. After a few miles of driving at race car speeds I slowed down and was doing about 55 miles per hour along the country roads when a police officer pulled out from nowhere with it’s lights flashing.

“Shit!” I said laughing at the situation.

Here I was racing the car at 100 miles per hour a few minutes ago, through the deserted roads of Oregon and now this cop was going to give me a speeding ticket for driving at a measly 55 miles per hour? I hated getting a ticket but laughed at the irony and rolled down my windows as the cop walked up.

“You’re out here kind of late, aren’t you?” He asked.

“Yes, sir,” I replied.

“You know how fast you were going?” He asked.

“No, I’m from out of town,” I said, ready to laugh in his face.

“Don’t get smart with me, Son, you were doing 55 in a 35 zone.”

“Officer, it’s midnight. Unless there are cows out walking the streets at night, I don’t think anyone was in danger,” I said.

“Give me your license and registration, Smart Ass,” he said.

I handed it to him and he walked back to his car, never failing to keep his spotlight flashed through my back window while he checked my license.

Finally, he returned and handed me his notepad for me to sign his ticket.

“You’ll get your ticket mailed to you in 30 days,” He smiled.

“Excuse me, Officer Johnson; is there a McDonalds in this area? Because I’m starved,” I said.

“My name is Officer Smith,” He grunted.

“I advise you to go back to wherever your hotel is and stay there before you get into more trouble,” He said.

I mock saluted him, rolled up my window and drove away, leaving him standing out in the cold. When I got back to the crappy hotel I looked at my watch and it was 1 a.m. In a few hours, I knew there would be a final resolution: she would either come with me to the airport and we would go home together, or I would leave her in Oregon and never see her again. I didn’t want to think about what would happen if she changed her mind on me again, so I tried to keep such thoughts out of my head as I drifted off to sleep.

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