Chapter 3: The Dream Takes Shape

1 Some things go wrong…. Scrooned Again?

Amanda was the first one to arrive for Wednesday’s meeting. Jake greeted her with a hug and a kiss. Tuesday did not go the way I expected it to go, but I am hopeful. If she does not stay over tonight, we will meet again this week. I know, as well as I have ever known anything that we will be together. “You’re early,” he commented, happily.

“I thought I would help you set up, if you’d like.”

She wants to be here with me as much as I want her here. “The Chinese food should be here any minute. Plates and silverware are still in the kitchen.”

She followed him in, and he handed her all he thought needed on the Conference Table. She’s the artist. I am sure she can do this without direction from me….

“Are you serving anything to drink?”

“Oh, yes, I have coffee and Chinese tea. I’ll bring them out and put them on the hotplate.” We sound like an old married couple… How did this happen?

The bell rang for the food delivery, and Jake ran down the stairs as a squirrel rushes to grab corn from the crib. He came back with several bags, and the table was set both for food and for work, with yellow pads and pencils. He reached over and squeezed her shoulder. She looked up and smiled.

The bell rang again, interrupting any other thoughts Jake might have had.

This time, Vince was the first to arrive, on his roller blades. “Hope you don’t mind,” he said over his shoulder as he rolled to the couch. “I forgot to grab my shoes…. Know it’s not business attire….” He was taking off his roller blades, revealing big feet covered by bulky grey cotton boot socks.

Jake laughed. “As long as they’re clean….”

“Ship’s protocol, I promise.” He turned to Amanda and greeted her before explaining. “Never try to get away with wearing your socks twice when you have 53 roommates in a small room! They don’t appreciate it and they are not quiet about it.”

She laughed. “You know, I can’t imagine having 53 roommates in one room…. I don’t think it would be possible to do that with women….”

Vince smiled and responded, “We didn’t need that many mirrors for our makeup….”

Jake added, “And we didn’t all try to tell long stories that no body was listening to….”

Vince looked at Jake as if he had just learned something new. “My boy, I think you’ve hit on a truth about women. Perhaps if they stopped listening to each other, as we do, or don’t, they would stop valuing conversation the way they do, and we don’t….”

Amanda added, “And you didn’t have to share your last pair of good panty hose without a run….”

Vince continued, “And how could you tell your best friend a secret with 51 other women feeling left out?

“It would be a dangerous enterprise indeed,” Amanda admitted, laughing at the thought. “And you guys don’t know PMS…. Women living at close quarters tend to synchronize their monthly schedules…. That would be the best time to go to war.”

They were all laughing with her now as they sat down to enjoy the food while they waited for the rest of the team.

Justin and Charlie arrived together. Justin looked much better than he had at the last meeting. They enthusiastically joined the others at the table.

“Thank goodness,” Justin explained, “that the food isn’t gone, and it looks like you finally ordered enough!” He turned toward Amanda. “For the first month, he ordered only a little bit, hoping, I think, that we’d get to work sooner and get more work done. He didn’t understand that if we were hungry, we’d be too distracted to get any work done at all.”

Charlie looked up from a full plate of food. “Where I come from, we don’t criticize the host….”

“Where you come from,” Justin responded, “You barely talk at all…. Ohio isn’t it?”

They all laughed, including Charlie, and enthusiastically polished off the food. When they all had refreshed their tea or coffee, Jake started the meeting by picking up his pad and pencil. Vince passed the garbage bucket but all were attentive to Jake. There seemed to be more enthusiasm, or perhaps it was anticipation, than at the last meeting.

Jake spoke with his usual excitement. “I know you’ve all been busy this week, and I want to remind you that in about an hour, we are going to be joined by Wanda and Peter who will be introducing us to Pre Paid Legal, not as our product, but to become our legal advisers.

“Meanwhile, we have an agenda to get through. I apologize for not going in order, but I know that some of us are visual people and Charlie has a picture for us of our product….”

Charlie stood up, and opened a small portfolio that was tied together. There were several papers in it, but he held up the first. It was an outside picture and looked like a shed made of fiberglass, but with a few windows and a sliding door. The top looked a little unusual, but it was hard to tell.

“It’s 11’ by 15’ on the outside, and a shy 9’ by 12’ on the inside,” he said. “The top is made of embedded solar panels, and the structure is molded fiberglass for maximum insulation, both for coolness in the summer and heat retention in the winter. The windows are aluminum and scratch resistant plastic because the units have to be loaded on trucks, and delivered without breakage to an executive’s back yard. It doesn’t look like much from the outside, but neither does a million dollar yacht. The inside is where the elegance is…..”

He pulled out the second drawing. This showed a desk area formed of molded fiberglass, but finished in polished mahogany. It included a dock for a laptop and a cell phone, and a camera and mike for audio-visual conferencing. Discrete speakers were set at the corners of the roof and under the desk. Lighting appeared to be a combination of natural lighting enhanced by a moon roof, and other subtle, cool looking lights built in to the desk area itself and into the corners of the fiberglass structure. Along the walls were built in drawers with mahogany faces, both lateral files and storage.

A third sheet showed an inside view of the area behind the Executive’s chair, which included a comfortable looking couch along one side and a stowaway conference table and two or three well padded, stowaway chairs for meetings. In addition, every square inch of extra wall space seemed to be hideaway file drawers.

Another view showed the Executive’s Chair, with nearby controls for temperature, audio visual setup, and settings for window blinds that allow the sun side to shut down and the side in the shade to be opened. Charlie explained that the blinds are also solar, so when the sun side blinds are closed, the window becomes a solar collector.

The others nodded or made notes, but no one said a word.

Charlie continued. The final view was of 4 modules on a flatbed truck with a crane. “And, for the sake of being complete in our visualization, we deliver these to each recipient ourselves. The driver is trained to do the installations. There is a ring set into the fiberglass, just as in small boats that are hauled out of the water at the end of each day. The crane can be extended to reach all the units without the driver needing to do any shifting. – They won’t be light…. You all have been unusually quiet. Don’t you have any questions?”

Justin spoke up with his New Orleans accent. “Those are wondaful drawins, well, renderings aren’t they? I am almost too impressed for wurds….”

Charlie just laughed, and reassured them that even though they seemed finished, the renderings could be redone to incorporate any needed changes. The other guys jumped in with all their questions. Some were easily answered and a few Charlie wrote down for additional thought.

After they all understood the module, they turned to the audio visual technology that Vince had investigated and to the cell phone information as organized by Justin. He had found some interesting solutions from Sprint and T-Mobile. They discussed whether they should provide cell service, or whether the executives would already (more likely) have their own service that would need to be incorporated into the module system.

The audio visual system had more solutions that were small and easy to install. They were all assigned the job of going to the internet and to U-Tube to witness the range in quality. They also were concerned about the longevity of each product because the industry hadn’t been around long enough to answer that question.

Jake had found only two companies that would make molded fiberglass to their specifications, in quantities that they could afford – at least for their start-up operations. One was on the West coast, and shipping would present a significant expense. The other was in Maine, Brunswick, Maine – Delany Boat Builders. Neither would give him an estimate until they produced blue prints.

Jake asked Vince, “Hey, Vince, you’re from Maine. Are these guys any relation to you?”

“Yes,” Vince answered so quietly it was hard to hear him. “But I think you should ask for bids from any reasonable builders. Please don’t give the work to them just because they’re family.”

“Okay. Whatever you say, Vince,” Jake answered, although he was confused. “We’ll ask for both bids.”

The team discussed having a small operation on the West coast, since it was likely that many of their sales would occur out west. There would be a minimum amount of installation required, which would make it easy to have sites at multiple locations. They would think about whether they would recruit someone who was a West coast partner, or whether a member of the original mastermind group would relocate. None of them had families yet, although Justin’s fiancée and her family were here. He would have to find out whether she would consider moving so far away.

This is really something, Jake mused happily. I could not be working with a more “can do” bunch of guys. And, Amanda. She’s quiet, but she’s listening and watching. I wonder whether she’s “cleaning” or whether she’s just getting to know everyone…. I love you, and if I, or any of my ancestors have ever done you or any of your ancestors any harm, I’m sorry; please forgive me. Thank you….

They hadn’t gotten to discussing possible names, when the bell rang. It was Wanda and Peter. Amanda took the almost empty coffee pot back to the kitchen for more. The tea drinkers were still well supplied. She’s fitting right in. She’s as perfectly comfortable here as she was on Serpentine…. I can’t imagine that she has ever been out of place…. Come to think of it, I have never felt out of place either…. Well, maybe the first week in kindergarten….

Wanda and Peter came in like a fresh North Westerly on the Port Jefferson bluffs – a gust of fresh air followed by salt spray and rainbows in the air. Jake introduced them to the mastermind group and thanked them for coming. They shook everyone’s hand, seeming to bring with them enough energy for a group that had been doing nothing more than talking, sitting and eating already for two hours. He looked at his group. Everyone was smiling broadly.

Charlie grabbed two more chairs and set them at the table. Wanda did not sit down in hers. She looked around and then asked, “Jake, do you have a DVD player and a TV?”

He smiled, “I don’t. I’m afraid that’s one of the sacrifices I’ve made for the business….”

“That’s ok,” she quickly said. “I can use my flip book” and she positioned herself at the top of the table so that everyone could see. Peter handed her a flip book without her needing to make a request.

Wanda’s presentation included the origins of the company which was begun because the founder suffered from a 3 year law suit after a car crash that was not his fault. The company was now nationwide. They did your will, and would represent you in traffic court, and were available 5 days a week for advice, or 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for emergency legal assistance and would monitor your credit or represent you if you needed help with the IRS. As Jake listened, he was impressed that they seemed to do everything. Wanda told a story about one member whose daughter was involved in a multi-car accident on an icy road. One of the other motorists was killed and the member’s daughter was accused of vehicular homicide. Out of curiosity the member checked and couldn’t find a local lawyer who would take the case for less than a $60,000 retainer. His Pre-Paid law firm asked for a $4,000 retainer, and his daughter was acquitted without any additional charges.

The business package included setting up a web site, and 24 hour advice on any business subject, via fax or email, and access to their web site which included a large on line library of business articles, which covered taxes, accounting, marketing, personnel issues and anything else that might be needed by the budding business. Jake was delighted since his only concern was his own lack of experience. This would provide a long distant team of experience entrepreneurs who would be available for all of his questions. The team was pleased with the package which offered more than they had expected and excited about the opportunity it offered. Wanda promised to stop by at the next meeting in case they had any questions or needed help getting onto the website.

It was a good day for all! Wanda and Peter left with 2 business memberships (Amanda also signed up her business because each account wanted a different contract and the PPL lawyers would review them for her) and a few private memberships (Justin who was plagued with speeding tickets on his ’06 Porsche, and Charlie who liked to be prepared and Vince who always worried). Jake thought that he would make do for the time being, although getting a will done for only the $24 monthly membership fee seemed like a wise decision. Even so, at this time he wasn’t spending any time or resources that didn’t have an immediate effect on his business.

The process took about two hours. Afterwards, it was evident that everyone was pretty tired. When Wanda and Peter left, the air seemed to leave with them. Jake silently nudged himself to replace their energy. He got up quickly and encouraged everyone else to get up as well and found reasons for everyone to move. He sent some people off to the kitchen to put away the food, and others to get more hot water, and got the others to move over to the computer to look at the PPL business website. When he looked over to Amanda, he caught her looking at him and smiling. He smiled back. She’s too beautiful! What a joy to have her here in my home…. I wonder if she will stay for a while after the others leave….

Once the hot water came out of the kitchen, he got everyone back to the table and asked for suggestions about the name of their new company. They weren’t going to chose tonight, but they needed one of their new lawyers to do a search to determine which of their suggestions were actually available. Next meeting, set for Sunday evening, would be soon enough to conclude the discussion.

Justin suggested “Homebridge would remind them that they are at home, yet they have a continuous bridge to their office.”

Charles said, “That’s good. I like that. But, in case it’s not available, I thought something that suggests success such as Winsome or Great Escapades, or Super Nova would give it the pop and the edge that we want.”

Vince added, “Those are all possible. I don’t know how we will choose…. I had thought of Slow Guy.”

Jake chuckled. “Based on what? Why would they want to buy from Slow Guy?” Yet, I can picture us being on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart holding up our logo which is: “Slow Guy, Inc.” We’re all enjoying ourselves and Jon loves a good joke.

Vince’s eye gleamed. “Because our customers are people who no longer have to commute, even if it’s for a short time as necessary after surgery. But for the time being, they will never again get stuck behind the slow guy on the single lane highway…. Or, because they now get to take life a little easier, they might relish the idea that the slow guy always wins. He always comes in first because the faster drivers always line up behind him! Or, they might have enough experience and seniority to know that speed doesn’t work for long in business, that persistency and consistency are the ingredients of success.”

Amanda and Jake (the 2 who deal with Long Island traffic the most frequently) nodded at first and then both cracked up at his explanation. They laughed until tears were running down Amanda’s cheeks. Their laughter was infectious and Vince, and then Justin and Charlie joined them. They seemed to need a release and as they finally got control of themselves, they seemed refreshed and more alive than they were a little earlier. Jake decided that this was the note he wanted to end on, and closed the meeting with the promise that their new lawyers would be sent the list to check out and report on. He also was feeling a little strange and didn’t know where the feeling came from.

Amanda was clearing the table, so the other guys left quickly (Justin winked at Jake as he left) leaving them alone.

Jake joined her in the kitchen. “The reason for using plastic is to minimize the cleanup,” he mentioned as he saw her starting to clean the plastic forks in the sink.

She grinned. “Habits die hard. I’ll clean on it.”

“Do you have time to have a glass of wine? We’ll use the crystal.” While she’s cleaning on that, I’d better clean on my predatory impulses. I just want to grab her and carry her over to the bed. Ho’oponopono, I love you; if I or any of my ancestors have done you harm, I’m sorry and please forgive me. Thank you.

“I’d love one, and thank you” she answered graciously.

He opened a bottle of red wine, and took two good glasses off the shelf, all practically without taking his eyes off Amanda. What does that whimsical look mean? How does she have such beautiful skin on her face and hands when I know they are often wet and in the harshest sun, or even soaked with salt water?

He handed the wine to her, and she held his hand momentarily before sliding her hand down to the stem of the glass and taking it from him.

He smiled, and she smiled back. She is the most enticing woman I have ever met, and I’m terrified. Terrified of messing this up, and terrified of not taking action. Ho’oponopono. I love you, and I’m sorry if I’ve ever done anything to frustrate you or if my ancestors have ever done you any harm. Please forgive me. Thank you.

She took a sip of the wine. He took a sip as well. Their eyes were locked on each other. Did she just blink? I remember a childhood game…. His smile broadened, as did hers. She leaned forward. He didn’t move a muscle. Ho’oponopono. I love you. I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you. She leaned forward a little further and took another sip of wine.

“Do you like it?” he asked and mentally kicked himself for being so inane and breaking the moment, if you could have a moment standing in the kitchen with dirty plastic ware in the sink. What’s that? A vision of Oprah Winfrey asking him when he was going to marry Amanda….

“It’s delicious” she answered. It is a moment. You can have a moment anywhere. She put her glass on the counter and reached over to take his glass from him. He let her have it without an argument. I think there was curare in that wine. Who poisoned me? Was it Amanda?

She reached up to the back of his neck and pulled his face down to where she could comfortably reach his mouth with hers. I think the curare is burning off. I don’t feel numb or paralyzed. In fact, I am aware of every part of my body, and can feel the energy from hers…. I can take it from here….

…………

Meanwhile, the rest of the team was headed home -- all but Vince who was on his rollerblades and home in a few minutes. He got there just in time for a phone call from Jules who was in town and had been looking for him all day.

“Jeez, Vince, you work a long day for a young’un.”

“Jules?” Vince guessed.

“How could you doubt it? Of course it’s me. It’s a good thing your number was listed because I don’t have a cell number for you…. And, I’m nearby. Why don’t you join me?”

“I just got in. I was with Jake, Charlie and Justin. Where are you? I’m still in work clothes.”

“Well, I’m at The Pharmacy, on 14th Street. I think we’re between …”

“The bar, right? I know where it is. Give me a minute to change, and I’ll be over.”

“Well, hurry because I’m getting tired of this place. Bring over the other guys!”

“I’ll call Charlie. They are headed home; all but Jake and I think he’s busy, and maybe Justin is too…. I’ll just be a few minutes.”

He took a minute to place a call to Charlie, but didn’t reach him. He left a message on his cell phone, explaining that Jules was in town. He was probably still on the subway. Vince changed into jeans and put on a fresh shirt, and his Top Siders. The bar was on the next block so he headed out without his rollerblades.

He found Jules in the back, standing at the bar. “Hey, you, Navy swab!”

Jules looked up. He had been talking with the young woman standing next to him. This was a NYC meeting place. The owners owned several bars, each with a different theme depending on its former business. This was The Pharmacy, and still looked like an old fashioned pharmacy. They also had a hair parlor, with swivel chairs at the bar, and a bank. “Back here. It’s about time!”

Vince squeezed past smaller men and flirtatious women to get to his friend. They gave each other a quick, one armed, hug. Jules introduced him to the woman he had been talking to. Vince thought her name was Kathleen. She looked Irish enough.

“What are you doing in town?”

“First things first; I’m a little bit ahead of you, so you need to talk with my friend here.”

The bartender came over quickly. He seemed to be keeping track of Jules. Vince was not surprised. Most bartenders quickly assessed who their best customers were, and Jules had always been a good customer. Vince ordered a double, Dewers, neat. Jules asked him for a pint of Beck’s Dark.

“I think I’ll just take care of my thirst for a while, and give you a chance to catch up,” Jules explained when Vince looked shocked at his order.“Never mind, Jules. You are years ahead of me….”

Jules laughed, and proceeded to answer his first question. “I’m here for a job interview, with Kathleen’s company. She was just giving me some insider’s information. – We’re hoping it’s not illegal.”

“So, Kathleen, tell me, what kind of company is it?” Vince asked her. She was cute, and had the Irish accent to match her name. Vince listened for a few minutes, and then tex’d Charlie. He watched the phone as he listened to Kathleen. No answer. Odd. He didn’t live that far away…. It had been just almost an hour since the meeting ended…. Perhaps he was doing some shopping on the way home….

Vince didn’t stop fretting, or watching the phone and the time. He was more concerned about Charlie than he was interested in Kathleen. He vaguely heard her say that she had to get going. He came back to the present. “Well, thanks honey. It was an education” he said hazily.

She left and Jules poked him impatiently. “What’s wrong? This is strange behavior even for you, Vince.”

“I am worried about Charlie. He should not have been on the subway more than 10 minutes. He only lives in Chelsea. He usually answers my text messages pretty quickly….” He polished off his Scotch in a gulp.

“C’mon,” Jules said. “Let’s head west and see if we can find a place closer to where he lives. Then when he finally gets home, we’ll be able to get him to come out again.” And, he finished his beer.

The two decided to walk for a while. Jules seemed to need the airing and it helped Vince’s anxiety to be walking.

“This is a perfect city for you,” Jules teased, “because it’s never dark….”

“Oh,” Vince answered halfheartedly, “it’s dark enough in some areas.” They had gone west past Union Square and 5th and 6th Avenues were headed north of 14th Street, and some of the cross streets were not well lighted, especially on such a moonless night.

“But, not Scroons dark,” Jules continued.

“Oh, I think it is,” Vince said. “There are unsolved crimes in this city that are mysterious….” He tried dialing Charlie again, and still only got the answering machine.

“Sometimes, Vince, you give me the creeps,” Jules answered edgily.

“Sometimes, Jules, I give myself the creeps…. I know a bar just up the block, with a good bartender. If Charlie shows up at home, we’ll be just a block and a half from him.”

“See, man, that’s what I’m talking about. What do you mean, ‘if he shows up’?”

“I know what you’re saying Jules, but the last time I felt this way was on the ship….”

“Stop it.” But, Jules began to pay attention to their environment, and he couldn’t help but notice that things had changed. On 14th Street near Union Square, women were giving them the once over, and smiling, but now, it was men. He normally didn’t mind attention from either sex, but he began to wonder if Vince didn’t have something real to worry about. Often people thought about gay men like Pinky Lee, small and frail and harmless, but these guys clearly went to the gym and were weightlifters and kick boxers and Tri Athletes. Most were dressed nicely, like male models at the sea, and didn’t seem to be a threat, but a few looked like thugs. Perhaps they weren’t gay….

Vince called Jake. He knew that he’d be interrupting something, and hoped that Jake would forgive him. Jake answered sleepily, “Vince, if it was anyone else….” He spoke with a bit of a threat in his voice.

“Listen, Jake, I’m worried about Charlie. He’s not home yet. Did he say anything to you about doing something after the meeting?”

“No.” Damn it, Vince. What are you doing to me? “Ahh, Vince, I’m a little busy now. I don’t think I can help you. He knows a lot of people. He could be anywhere.”

“But Jake, he always answers my text’s. It’s been over an hour. Unless he headed out to Kennedy, he’d be off the subway by now…. Is Amanda still there? I’m sorry….”

“Yes,” Jake answered his question. Damn. What do I do now? I feel torn between my team and Amanda and this is probably nothing…. But, it doesn’t feel like nothing. Vince is a little weird, but he is never wrong. When something was going wrong on the ship, he always had one of these feelings…. “Where are you?”

Vince felt like a heel, but he had a strong feeling that Charlie was in danger. He told Jake where he was, and that Jules was in town which was why he started looking for Charlie.

“OK, Vince,” Jake stated with more assurance and authority. The sleepy quality was absolutely gone. “Call Justin, and then call me right back if he doesn’t know anything. I’m making some coffee.”

Vince winced. “Making some coffee” was their code for taking a cold shower. “Will do….” He couldn’t hang up quickly enough.

Jules looked at him, waiting for a report.

“He’s ‘making some coffee’”

Jules shrugged. “What else could you do? He’d want to know if anything was wrong….”“You haven’t seen this woman he’s with, Jules. She’s a young Sophia Loren with the body of … I don’t know …”

“Britney Spears?”

“Better, taller, more sophisticated and … more Bionce or a tall Jennifer Lopez is closer. Yet, she’s a smart business woman who would remind you of Katherine Hepburn in Kate and Mike.”

Jules laughed. “Vince, you’ve been in this part of town too long. Next, you’ll be comparing her to Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s or whoever it was in The Sound of Music.”

Vince was too worried to be irritated. “Mary Martin” he admitted and Jules frowned. He was already dialing Justin. He answered almost the same way that Jake answered, and he hadn’t heard Charlie say anything about plans for after the meeting either.

He reported quickly to Jules. They were now standing outside the Rum’s Way bar. Jules was grateful to see almost as many women as men standing inside, and embarrassed that he felt the need to look. Vince dialed Jake back and reported when he answered. “Talked to Justin, and he doesn’t know anything either.”

Jake sounded better to Vince, more resolved as he answered, “Are you still in Charlie’s neighborhood? Tell me where you are exactly. I can be there in 20 minutes.”

Vince gave him the address and name of the bar/restaurant, and told him that they’d be inside.

…………

Jake and Amanda had just about made it to the day bed when Vince had called the first time. They had progressed slowly, enjoying each other without feeling any need to hurry, from the kitchen to the library, to the conference room, through the living room to the bedroom. Yes, it is a studio apartment, but all those spaces are there in Jake’s mental floor plan, and he went through each one without hurry.

When Vince called, and Jake hung up, Amanda already sensed there was something wrong. She asked right away, giving him space and opportunity to shift gears. He then explained about Vince and his connection to Harry and to each of the guys up to Will O’Neill whom Amanda had heard about from her friend Morgan.

“Vince has a gift” he said. “It’s a dark gift, but I wouldn’t have been able to help Will if it weren’t for Vince. He had a premonition every time, as if he was connected to that monster Sims.”

“He might be clearer than the rest of us,” she explained. “It doesn’t mean he’s connected to anything dark, but, actually, he’s connected to the light and sees any interruption of that light when it concerns people he’s connected to.”

“Are you clearing on this?”

She smiled an answer. He leaned over and nuzzled, putting his nose between her neck and shoulder where he could smell her perfume. Closing his eyes, he sighed.

“You are going to have to go,” she said. “When Vince calls back, you should be ready.”

“Can you help?” he asked, getting up.

“I’ll go home. Call me if you need anything. I might be able to help but I can best work from there. – A bar just isn’t conducive because there’s too much … noise.”

They were already out looking for a cab when Vince called the second time. They rode together to the Rum’s Way. Jake got out, paid the taxi driver with a big tip, kissed her, and she continued on home.

He cleared as he watched her drive off and before he went in. I love Charlie and my team. I don’t know what has caused this, but I’m sorry. Please transmute whatever program in me has caused this. Forgive me. Thank you.

Jake found Jules and Vince inside, sitting at a table. Vince had a cheeseburger in front of him, and Jules seemed to be nibbling on a roast beef sandwich.

“Hey,” he said as he sat down with them. “Planning to stay a while?”

“Jake, how did you get here so fast?” Vince asked. “We didn’t expect you just yet.”

“Clearly.” And he squeezed Vince’s shoulder in solidarity. “Are you really eating?”

“I thought we should buy something while we waited, and we didn’t want to drink,” Vince explained, “although, this burger is perfection.” He took another bite. He had done better than Jules.

“I think we should go over to Charlie’s, and poke around,” Jake suggested.

“I’m ready,” Jules stated quickly. “I never did well just sitting around.”

Vince took another bite, all but finishing the burger. “Me too. I’m ready.”

Jake put some money on the table for a tip, and they all headed toward the door. Charlie had a doorman/elevator operator who would know if he had made it home. When they finally found him, he didn’t recall seeing Charlie after the meeting. So, the team gathered outside and looked around.

There was a newspaper stand near the corner. There was a juice bar in the middle of the block and a pharmacy across the street. There were some hookers on the corner in front of a hotel, and 4 guys in leather with their wallets chained to their pockets sitting on a stoop. Jules went into the juice bar. Jake and Vince started at the newspaper stand.

“I’m looking for a friend of mine who lives here,” Jake said, and realized that the guy probably hears stories like that too often. “Charlie lives in that building,” and Jake showed him a picture he had brought from home, “and I know that he reads The New York Times every day, and prefers Coke to Snapple which he probably buys here. He’s 6’ 4”. I am sure you know him. Have you seen him tonight?”

Vince and Jake couldn’t help but notice the stand owner kept looking at the guys in leather on the stoop, nervously. Even so, he denied having seen Charlie tonight. He admitted that he did buy his paper from him, and then tried to say that if he was busy, he wouldn’t necessarily notice who was around.

Jake challenged that and very quietly said, “I think a veteran New Yorker like you would make it his business to notice what’s going on. I am sure you would have seen him if he came home….” The guy was glancing nervously towards the guys in leather.

Jake said to Vince, “You go talk to those women, and I’m going to talk with those guys, just in case.” The stand owner looked more nervous than ever, and Jake was sure that the stoop sitters knew something, but he respected the businessman’s position in the neighborhood, and didn’t want to appear to have gotten any information from him.

Vince went off to talk with the women, and Jake headed casually over toward the stoop. At the same time, Jules was coming out of the juice bar and walked over to intercept Jake.

When Jules and Jake were within 20 yards, the guys jumped up and ran in 4 different directions. Jules and Jake ran after 2, and Vince, ready for this, joined them, running to cut off the guy closest to him. He tackled him at the curb, and landed on top of him. Jake’s guy jumped off those stairs and made it to another building, and just got the door partway open when Jake grabbed him, and threw him down the stairs. Jules’ guy was faster than Jules, and ran down the subway steps, jumped the turnstile and jumped onto a subway just as the doors were closing. The 4th guy was gone without anyone to take up the chase.

Jake and Vince pulled their guys around the corner, out of the vision of the newsstand owner. They emerged a few minutes later, without the thugs. The newsstand man would have nothing to say later when questioned by the police. In the meantime, Jake and Vince were in a hurry.

Jules had gotten a cab for them and they all jumped in. The cabbie didn’t look happy about the address, but Jake was sitting next to him and made it clear that they were taking his cab to Harlem, with or without him. He decided to go with them.

They were racing the subway, fearing that the one who got away was going to warn his buyers. Jake made the cabbie go through several red lights, explaining the importance of their mission. The cabbie knew a couple of other cabbies who had disappeared and wondered if it was the same group. He was only too happy to help. When they got to the intersection, there were two bars close by.

“Damn,” Jake exclaimed. “Vince, you and Jules go to that one. Try to get the feel of the place without alerting anyone. I’m going to try over here. If I don’t notice anything, I’ll join you in 5 minutes. If I don’t come, I might need rescuing….”

As Vince walked off, Jake could hear him muttering, “Damn Scroons.”

He was smiling when he walked into his bar. It was dark and a dirty smelling place. Between the door and the bar were tables. To the right was a raised stage with an overweight middle aged woman dancing on a pole. The music was incidental to her dance. The men at the tables were nodding and all but drooling. The sawdust on the floor was dirty. The bartender was not looking at him when he came in. There was nothing here. He couldn’t bear the idea of Ho’oponopono in such a place although he felt he had never been in a place that needed it more than this one….

He turned around and went across the street. This was another story. Vince and Jules were at the bar. The barkeep was attentive as Jake walked in and went by himself to another section of the bar. Vince and Jules were just being given beers. Jake hoped that they didn’t drink any. It was too easy to drop a drug into a foaming beer without being seen. A little powder in the bottom of the glass before pulling the tap…. They seemed to be ignoring their drinks. Good.

He ordered bourbon, hoping to be mistaken for a drunk. There seemed to be plenty of them scattered about. He spilled some bourbon on his shirt, and seemed to spend some ineffective time attempting to clean it as he observed who was who and what was going on. There was a hallway off to the side of the bar, and a few guys came out. They were toughs, and wouldn’t be so easy to intimidate as the guys downtown who were only lackeys.

He was a little concerned about time. The guy on the subway should be here any minute if he isn’t already here. Jake decided to risk heading down the hall. He got up and stumbled, and staggered convincingly over toward the hallway as if looking for the urinals. He could tell that Vince and Jules were keeping an eye on him and they started a ruckus to get the barkeep’s attention as he passed under the archway. There were several doors. He “stumbled” down the hallway, leaning against each door and listening. At the last one, he heard a noise followed by a muffled cry. Perhaps….

He “fell” against it, opening the door, as he noticed Vince and Jules enter the hallway behind him, dragging the barkeep. Two large goons were standing by the door, and would have grabbed him if he wasn’t already halfway down. He continued his fall, grabbing at their hands and confusing them since they thought they were grabbing at him. He pulled on their pants before he was finished, further distracting them while Vince and Jules got to the door and finished them off, knocking their heads together.

He somersaulted into the room, and was able to spot Charlie at the back, bound and gagged. Charlie saw him as well and tipped over his chair to get out of the line of fire, and closer to Jake who already had his knife out, reaching over to cut the ropes that were binding Charlie to the chair. ( – In the Navy, or on a cruising boat, a knife must be sharp enough that it only needs to be swiped against a rope to cut it. If a line is pulling you over or under, you need to be able to free yourself without a lot of sawing.)

The 6 other guys in the room were just starting to move, but Vince and Jules were moving so fast and throwing chairs (that had been stacked near the door) around so fast it was impossible to see what was happening to whom. Everyone had to keep ducking or dodging. Charlie followed Jake out the door, followed by the other two at top speed. Someone thought to slam the door behind them, and to use a chair to lock it and the unconscious barkeep as a doorstop. That allowed them time enough to hit the street and to turn the corner. Charlie wasn’t able to run on his own, so Jake had thrown him over his shoulder. And Vince and Jules were on either side to run any interference that was necessary. A cab let out a passenger just in front of them. Vince sprinted for the door, and held up the cabbie that was happy to get a fare back to Manhattan until he saw the other passengers. He didn’t look so happy at the sight of two runners with a body over the shoulder of one of them, but Vince was sitting next to him with his hand on the key, so the cabbie wasn’t going anywhere without them. Jules helped Jake get Charlie into the cab, and he and Jake jumped in just as the first of the pursuit was coming around the corner. The cabbie sped off, understanding well enough that he didn’t want to know what those guys wanted.

He headed west for the west side highway. Jake was distressed about the number of deserted streets along the way, but Vince had already turned off the cabs lights so they were all but invisible if anyone was looking for them. They reached the highway safely and headed downtown. Not many cars were on the road, and the cabbie was comfortable with speeding. As much as these guys didn’t want to be caught, he didn’t either.

“What did you guys do?” he asked hurriedly.

No one answered.

“Who were those guys chasing you?”

“Scroons,” Vince answered calmly. “Keep driving. They make people disappear. You don’t want to get to know them.”

Meanwhile, Jules had carefully removed the tape over Charlie’s mouth, and removed some horrible rag that had been stuffed into it. Jake was still trying to catch his breath after his sprint with 190 pounds over his shoulder. The cabbie got off at the 79th street exit, preferring to get lost in the congestion of Broadway going downtown, rather than to try to outrun any pursuing vehicle.

When no one got off right behind them, they breathed a little easier, until Jake remembered that they knew where Charlie lived. “You better not go home tonight,” he said quietly.

Jules gave the cabbie the name of his hotel, which was the nearest address, in the west 60’s. They didn’t talk more than that until they were inside Jules hotel. They headed for his room. He ordered room service. Tea with honey for Charlie’s throat, and a bottle of chilled Ouzo for everyone else.

Charlie protested when it arrived, but he obliged them by drinking the tea before they let him share the Ouzo. This was a drink they had learned to drink in Switzerland from a Danish mountain climbing guide. He swore that it healed everything from frostbite to asthma to pneumonia. Charlie’s voice was pretty raspy. It would be good for him too.

In a few minutes they were laughing over their rescue mission.

“What a bunch of businessmen!” Jake exclaimed. “Watch out for us!”

“The best” Charlie rasped. “How did you know what had happened and how did you find me?”

They all looked at Vince, and Jules said, “It’s the Scroon hound. He alerted us.” They all laughed.

“We should have been SEALs” Vince said. “We were great!”

“You and Jules were so quick. Where did you get the idea to use the chairs like that? What a mess you made,” Jake stated.

“Honed my skills in 5th grade,” Vince chuckled. “We didn’t like our teacher much and used to terrorize her…. I’m happy that it still works well.”

“Where did you learn to be so sneaky, Jake,” Jules asked.

“My older neighbor was a bully when I was young, and he was a drunk when I was in High School. I learned both evasion and how a drunk acts from him…. Navy drunks weren’t as awkward…. Mostly, I’m glad you guys were right behind me. What a team,” and he passed the bottle around again.

Jake went out on the terrace and called Amanda to fill her in. She was happy to hear from him, but already seemed to know how it turned out. He wondered if Ho’oponopono did have more to it than he already believed it had….

2 Vince’s Story, or, how a boy became a scroon hound

Vincent Delany was the youngest boy of 4. They lived outside of Boston and life was grand until he turned 7 years old. That was when they moved to Maine because Vincent’s Dad was a shipbuilder and the industry was in flux. Real Estate was more affordable in Maine. They moved down east with many other New Englanders who couldn’t compete for space with the wealthy developers in the Boston, Marblehead, and Cape Cod area.

Vincent’s dad, Michael, was happy enough. He had his work and business at Delany Ship Builders was as fine as it ever was. His fleet customers continued to buy from him in spite of his move “down east”. He was closer to the source of wood for his wooden fishing boats, or wood for the interior of his fiberglass cruising boats. Workmen didn’t expect as high a salary and were happy to be trained to an honorable profession. But, Maine was isolated and cold for any woman who hadn’t stood the test of time along that coast. Neighbors would say “hi” but they didn’t invite any “Southerners” to dinner, or chat with them about upcoming events. Vincent once protested that they weren’t “southerners” and was told that if they weren’t from Maine, they were “Southerners”. His mother, Rebecca, got the local paper and tried to attend events and fundraisers, but no one gave her the key to acceptance, which was just that she needed to last through one winter. After that, she would gain more and more friends. Until then, she was just “summer people.” They didn’t trust that “summer people” had enough heart, or enough guts, to be worth making friends with.

The boys, Bill, Jim, Paul and Vincent, were able to make friends easily. They soon discovered the “pond” where they could swim since the waters of the Bay of Fundy off Eastport were too cold for even the locals to swim in. Rebecca was told that if a lobsterman fell off his boat, the crew just let him go because the cold waters would take his life before they could get to him. It was a hard reality that most Eastporters didn’t even learn to swim, so sure they were that the waters would kill them. (Later in the Navy, Vince learned that the cold waters would preserve your life for longer in a case of drowning because your system would be so slowed….) At the pond they made friends and won admirers because they were great swimmers. They were fearless, and were the first Southerners anyone remembered to jump off the overhanging tree limbs into the pond. In truth, the boys were enjoying a sense of freedom they couldn’t have had if they had stayed in Boston.

Winter came fast after Labor Day, and with it, the occasional Northern Lights. As Michael made business acquaintances and the boys made friends at school, Rebecca was restricted to very superficial conversations at the supermarket or the pharmacy with the checkout person. Some days she would go to the store several times just to have some conversation. She was desperately lonely during those short winter days that were mostly grey. If the sun was out at all it was for a few hours between 9:30am and 3:00pm. It lasted just long enough for the fastest or closest kids to get home from school. By the time Rebecca’s boys were home, it was dark and she had the lights turned on.

Michael used to joke that what he was saving in property costs, he was spending to pay for lighting at his boatyard. He realized fairly quickly that all the large windows he had installed didn’t have more than six hours of light to let in, and that would make heating a more costly project during those bitter winter nights. He had metal shutters installed that he could close when it was cloudy or after sunset. They would add needed insulation and protect his property during the especially fierce blizzards.

He didn’t know how to protect his wife during those long, dark winter afternoons while he was at work and his sons were at the library or a friend’s house. Rebecca eventually found that the friendliest checkout person was the owner of the liquor store, Marge Somerfield. Marge always had something new to recommend. She was an inventive cook and helped Rebecca to find new recipes to dress up beef chuck, hot dogs, salted or fresh codfish, iceberg lettuce and frozen vegetables. There just wasn’t much else at the local supermarket. Shipping costs were high, and the locals didn’t buy, or couldn’t afford, anything they considered exotic. The store provided only what sold.

Marge also introduced her to other good customers who were more inviting than Rebecca’s neighbors. They had a sort of “cooking club” which was a misnomer for a drinking club that she ran out of the kitchen behind the store. At first, Marge would spend two or three afternoons a week with them, and later she was there almost every day. The boys were the first to alert their dad, but it took a few months for them to do so. In the meantime, life deteriorated for the youngest. Vincent was so small, that he wasn’t allowed at the library without an adult and had nothing to do but to come home after school, and most days he’d be home alone because his mom wasn’t there.

The dark house was a frightening place for a second grader with only the family dog for company. The cold stiffened the wooden frame, and when the wind blew, the house creaked in protest. The furnace came on frequently and the pipes rumbled and banged. There was a loose shutter on the north side of the house, and the east wind would get under it and cause it to bang. Most winter afternoons were grey, without a moon to help him to identify the shadows outside. For several weeks, he stared out the windows waiting for someone to come home. But after a while, he was too frightened to look out the windows any more, and would sit in his bed reading. He shared his room with his second oldest brother, Jim, but Jim had a paper route and preferred to do his homework at the library so Jim was always the last one home. Since Vincent was only seven years old, the books he had to read were pleasant enough, but not fully engrossing. Good Night Moon, Make Way for the Ducklings and various Dr. Seuss books or Berenstain Bears were fun to read, but he had now read each one several times over and could probably recite them without prompting. Jim tried to bring home a new book for him every night from the library, but sometimes he forgot.

When Vincent would become bored with his reading, he would listen and imagine what was causing the various sounds around the house. It was at this time, that he remembered the Scroons that his father had told him about when he was two or three years old and had learned to climb out of his crib. From birth, Vincent had never slept more than 4 consecutive hours and thus didn’t make it through the night. They got the dog, Vixen, a large Airedale bred as a watchdog, to keep him company during the night. As an infant that stopped his nighttime crying. Later, Michael tired of being pounced on in the middle of the night by both Vincent and Vixen, and so he told his son about the Scroons who traveled in the dark in order to keep Vincent in his crib. This worked as well. It is too bad that parents don’t reconsider the fears that they instill in their children, because these fears often last a lifetime.

As Vincent listened to the sounds in the dark those first weeks alone in the Maine winter/fall, he remembered the Scroons. He believed that his family coming home one at a time through the dark woods, was in terrible danger and all but held his breath until the last was safely inside. He kept the light on in the bathroom just next door to his room, and felt safe to use it when he needed, but he never went downstairs and didn’t let Vixen go downstairs until everyone was home and all the lights were on. Rebecca would check on him when she came home. He was always sitting safely and quietly in his room, so she didn’t worry about him being home alone and never said anything to Michael.

There was no reason for Michael to know that Rebecca was out almost every afternoon, because she always brought home dinner from her “cooking club.” She was usually home before most of her sons, and was always home before Michael. When he arrived everyone’s homework was done and dinner was ready. He had no idea that Vincent had spent 1.5 to 2.5 hours alone in a dark house. Vincent didn’t mention it because he didn’t know that it was something to mention. Children believe that the life they lead is a normal life, no matter how abusive or negligent their parents might be. Normal is defined by the life you live.

Vincent tuned into the Scroons at a psychic level at school the day that the nor’easter hit and was so nervous that his teacher talked another mother and asked her to give him a ride home. They didn’t think anything of the dark house. Most people in that part of the country were frugal and didn’t put on the lights until it was necessary. “Didn’t want to supprt Maine Lights and Power, no sa. Aayahh.” He got home from school just before the rain started, but the wind was already fierce.

As soon as he was inside, he was greeted by Vixen. As he did every day, he let her outside. Usually, if no one was walking with her, she did what she had to do, and came right back inside. She and Vincent would then retreat to his room. But, this day, she didn’t come right back and for a little while Vincent heard her barking retreating into the distance. He waited and waited for her scratching on the door, and it didn’t come. He listened to every sound from outside, and there were hundreds, if not thousands to identify. The winds were gusting to 60 mph, and when the rain started, tree limbs were covered in ice and many were breaking from the weight and the wind. Vincent heard them cracking and either ice falling or limbs falling. Vincent waited and waited for Vixen to return. He turned on the lights in the living room, but other than that, he stayed by the door, listening and listening for his dog who never returned.

By the time Rebecca came home, Vincent was cold and shaking from the draft that came under the door. She took him, protesting all the while, up to the bath and got him warmed up. So concerned she was about him, she didn’t realize at first that Vixen wasn’t home. By then, Vixen had been gone almost 2.5 hours. She called Michael at work, and he closed down early, using the storm as his excuse, and went around to the library to pick up his older sons. They went out in the car, and spent over an hour trying to find Vixen, but the wind was blowing the rain so hard even their young eyes couldn’t see very far beyond the car. It was but a premonition of harder things to come.

Michael had hope that she had taken shelter, and that she would return in the morning, but she didn’t come home that day either, or the next. They never found Vixen, and she never returned. Michael was pretty sure that she wouldn’t have left Vincent except to protect him against some predator that was outside. Sometimes moose, bear, coyote or even wolves made their way into the towns. Vincent thought it was Scroons.

That was the night that Bill, Jim, and Paul had a meeting and decided to tell Michael that Rebecca was out almost every afternoon and that Vincent was usually home alone. They didn’t see the result of their disclosure, because Michael calmly waited until everyone was safely in bed that night. Then, quietly in their mutual bedroom, he asked his wife what she was up to every day that she had to leave her 7 year old son home alone in the dark. She talked about how lonely she was, and what a relief it was to have friends. She complained that there was not enough variety in the supermarket to provide interesting meals without the creativity of a group. She didn’t mention the drinking, but Michael could smell it on her and realized that he had been ignoring it for quite some time.

That was the only time Michael ever hit her. She was contrite and promised never to do it again. He was an honorable man and expected her to keep her promise.

If she had ever been, Rebecca was not honorable and was no longer even adequate as a mother. She was a full fledged alcoholic and as with any addicted person, their only true love is their drug – in this case, alcohol.

Life was even worse for Vincent afterward. Rebecca did not keep her promise, but became better at hiding her secret, or off-site, drinking. She made it home before any of her sons, except for Vincent. And Vincent no longer had Vixen to help him to endure those seemingly endless hours alone. He had his books, and he had the sounds outside; the sounds of the Scroons doing their evil deeds. Every once in a while he would mention them to his mom when she came home. She would dutifully tell him that there were no such things as Scroons, and he would be quiet. However, if she had ever noticed the news on the next day, there was always a disappearance. In the Maine winters, it was not a particularly unusual occurrence. People and animals had always disappeared. They were lost in the dark, or they wandered into the woods and froze to death. There were animals in the woods that were capable of eating even a frozen carcass, so hungry they were. And, they didn’t turn their noses up at bone and cartilage in the winter. It all helped to prevent starvation among the nearby wildlife.

To Vincent’s 7 year old consciousness, it was the Scroons. There might have been other reasons for people’s disappearances, but Vincent always knew when a Scroon had taken someone. His mother, Rebecca, should have paid more attention to her son.

It was near the end of the second winter that Vincent’s father got a call from Jim one evening, that Rebecca was not home and all the boys were home alone. Jim and Bill, the eldest, had made hamburgers for the younger ones and given them potato chips as their side, but they didn’t know where Rebecca was. Michael left work and made the rounds of all the stores he knew she frequented to see whether anyone knew anything. Every one claimed ignorance. He went over to Marge Somerfield’s home, and she claimed not to have seen Rebecca at the cooking club for weeks and weeks. Michael didn’t believe her, but had no proof that she was lying. He went to the sheriff, and reported her missing before going home to be with his children.

Vincent told him that the Scroons had her, and he was bereft and sobbing most of the night. Michael brought him into his bed to comfort him. Neither got any lasting sleep.

Marge Somerfield eventually had to tell the sheriff about Rebecca’s participation in their “cooking club” during the year that Michael thought she was home, but that didn’t help the sheriff to locate her. Neither Marge, nor any other member had any idea where she might have gone, other than home that night. Rebecca became one of those “lost in the woods”. Bill had to give up doing his homework at the library until Vincent was old enough to join them, and then he became the dinner chef until Vince was in high school. By that time, Bill was at a local college and needed the extra money that his dad paid him to watch out for Vincent and to cook for the family. For those years, Vincent, mercifully, didn’t think much about Scroons.

Vincent’s family expanded the boatyard at about the same time he left for the Navy. Vincent never had any desire nor need to return. Unfortunately for us all, when you travel you might forget your favorite book or your best jewelry, but you always take your fears and your addictions with you. Vincent did not leave the Scroons behind in the dark Maine woods. His brothers Bill and Paul stayed working in the family business. Jim had left for graduate school. Vince had never gone home to visit although he always called on Father’s Day and Christmas. He and Jim would have lost track of each other if it weren’t for his dad keeping him informed on his bi-annual phone calls.

3 “Energy flows where attention goes”

Dr. Michael Beckwith, DD

The following morning, Jake was sore. His shoulders were sore, and his back was strained, and he had a stiff neck, and one knee was complaining by cracking whenever he straightened it. His arms felt tired and one ankle felt as if he had twisted it, although he didn’t remember doing so. His head didn’t feel great either, but he knew what had done that – Ouzo.

Ho’oponopono. I love you. Please take away and transmute any program that is causing this pain or these difficulties. I am sorry. Thank you.

He thanked every part of his body for helping yesterday, and thanked Divinity for everything he had, his home, his family, his friends, Georgia and Bruce and Amanda, and his great team, and Napoleon who was, by now, asking for some attention. He was hungry.

He wondered how Charlie was feeling this morning. In spite of the positive result, it had to be unsettling to have gone through. He would give him a call a little later.

Jake stretched and got up to make coffee and to feed his cat. It was a grey morning although it was still early. Perhaps later the sun would burn away the morning fog. After getting coffee started, he put some oatmeal with a little Maple Syrup in the cooker. It would take some time and give him a chance to review.

Ho’oponopono. I love this business. Please transmute any program that might hold us back. I am sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you.

He sat at the conference table with a yellow pad and reviewed their progress. They had a marketing expert, and were close to having a blue print of a product. As soon as Charlie could get that to him, he would send it off to his new lawyers to protect. Then he would be able to send it off to the fiberglass molders for an estimate. Then, he would be able to start a budget.

He pulled out his laptop from under the table, and opened up the internet. He looked first into his bank since he was thinking about a budget. His balance was a little lower than he had thought and he felt a twinge of fear. Ho’oponopono. I love you. I am sorry if anything I have done or not done has caused you to diminish faster than I expected. Please forgive me. Thank you.

He mentally figured his household budget for another 6 months and deducted it from his balance…. He would have to raise some money for the business because it wasn’t going to be enough. He had gotten some minimum figures from the fiberglass men, and a few 9’ x 11’ shells without much detail would wipe him out if they wouldn’t be ready to produce them for another 6 months. Even if they were ready in January or even if they were ready to begin marketing in December, that would still be too close and he would run out of money. He needed more of a cushion. What is this? A daydream of the Oprah show, and I am her guest! That feels good.

It was time to visit Bruce and Georgia for advice on raising funds.

And, as if on cue, the phone rang. It was Georgia. He was not surprised. “Hi, there.”

“Hello to you. I have already heard that you had an adventure last night – besides your meeting.”

“We did, but all turned out just fine.”

“What was that? Who would kidnap a grown man?”

“Anything can happen in NYC I guess, although it seemed more like something I’d expected in Casablanca, or some exotic cities in the East. We were lucky that they had contacts in the area and it wasn’t just a grab from a car.”

“Speaking of which, would you like to get out of the city this weekend?”

Jake hesitated. He was hoping to see Amanda again although he had just established that he needed to see Bruce about finding investors for the business…. “I would love to, Georgia, if it would mean a chance to see you and your Dad…. I was just thinking about you both when you called….”

“Good, so we let Dad pay for the call.”

“Are you out there? I knew you were trying to go out Thursday nights, but are you now going out Wednesday mornings?”

“I had some time and where better to spend it?”

“I can’t argue with that.”

“You are welcome to invite Amanda out. I was going to, but wanted to talk to you first.”

Ho’oponopono. I love you. Please forgive me if I am now interfering with your friendship. Thank you. “Georgia, I never thought that my relationship with Amanda would affect your friendship….”

“It doesn’t, Jake, Darling,” she answered energetically. “I spoke with her this morning. She wasn’t sure whether you’d be going out or not. She said you both were interrupted last night and she wanted to give you an opportunity for a rain check. And Jake, you really should be more attentive. You haven’t called me in days, and Amanda has already had several phone calls this morning….”

“I stand corrected, Georgia. It seems I am a late sleeper compared with my friends….”

“Always. Well, call her now. She’s still at home. I’ll save rooms for the two of you and tell Dad that you are coming.”

“Thank you Georgia. I’ll see you Friday.”

He didn’t like being told what to do, but since he knew that Amanda was awake…. He was fairly certain that Charlie and Jules would still be asleep.

He dialed Amanda and she answered right away. “Hello Jake.”

“Is that Ho’oponopono?

“No. That’s Caller ID.”

He was relieved. He liked the idea of clearing away negative programs, and she had told him that when he has done enough clearing it will open his intuitive channels. He was a little uncomfortable with mind reading or pre-cognition. But, as far as he knew, those weren’t part of it. “How are you this morning?” He asked with real caring, not the way the telephone operator or bill collector asks.

“Whole and perfect” she answered. “How are you?”

“A little the worse for wear,” he answered honestly. “But, I’m moving toward ‘whole and perfect; strong and powerful.’ – I talked to Georgia this morning and know that you did too. She invited us out and I want to meet with her and her father about raising funds. I was hoping that you could come out as well and we could spend some time together….”

“It would be delightful,” she answered happily.

“Great,” he answered. “Shall I pick you up Friday? How early can you leave?”

“I can clear my calendar and leave as early as you’d like,” she answered. “I’ll bring my computer with me so I can do some work while you’re meeting with Georgia and Bruce.”

Why is it that I have the feeling she’s already cleared her calendar? “Alright then. Let’s leave early and perhaps I won’t miss lunch this time…. I’ll loop by your place around 8:45am. There’s no point in being part of the morning commute to the east.”

“Sounds good, Jake. I’ll be ready.”

They said goodbye and got off the phone.

He dialed Charlie’s cell phone and Charlie answered. “Hi, Jake, how are you today? I have a sore rib on the right, and was wondering about your shoulder and back….”

Ho’oponopono, I love you, and please take away or transmute any program that has contributed to this man’s troubles; I am sorry, and thank you. “I’ve got some sore spots too, Buddy. But, it’s worth it for all the memories as they say.”

Charlie hesitated, mulling that over. “You’re right about that, Jake. I would have given up the knock on the head, and the kidnapping, but it was, actually, worth it for confirmation that I am working with the best damn team in the country! Six professionals and you guys made them look silly!”

“Speaking of which, Charlie, were you thinking about going to the cops about that gang?”

“I wasn’t sure. I’d love to report the dive uptown although it’s likely that they have already moved their operations…. I don’t want other guys to disappear who don’t have such friends. Other than that, I can’t even identify the guys who picked me up. They came from behind and threw a sack over my head and left as soon as they delivered me.”

“I know. Part of the trouble is the way that we found out about the place uptown. Vince and I made sure that at least two members of that group are never going to be heard from again. However, there were two others who seem to frequent your neighborhood, at least enough that the newsstand owner knew them, and I am not sure what to do about them. If you can’t identify them, all we can say is that they ran when we wanted to talk with them. The cops won’t be able to do anything. And, then, who brought you uptown?” Jake asked.

Charlie seemed to remember slowly. “Right, it was more than one guy, but I am not sure whether it was two or more. I was hooded and tied pretty tightly. That was why my legs weren’t working for a while after you guys found me. One guy could have handled me, but I know that there was one on each side. Then, they put me on the floor of a van or SUV or truck, so there had to be a driver as well….”

“That’s the other trouble. There are five guys who know your neighborhood, you, and know that the police can’t do anything. That’s not a great position to be in.”

“Have you got any ideas? I bought the apartment with the re-up money I saved, but the housing market in this neighborhood is great and I could probably sell it for a profit in a week.”

Jake smiled. “That would be better for our karma than persuading these guys to leave you alone. I don’t have a lot of room, but you are welcome to stay with me for as long as you need.”

Charlie laughed. “I love you Jake, but I’ve seen your space. I will talk to Vince. He’s got an extra bedroom, and we’re not talking about a long time. I’m sure he won’t mind.”

“OK. Well, let me know if you need anything.”

“Will do, and thanks.” They said goodbye.

…………

When Jake picked up Amanda on Friday, he called her from his cell phone. She came down with coffee and fresh sage bread on a tray that smelled fabulous, and a small overnight bag. This is a feast of sensation! The sight of beautiful Amanda and the overnight bag, and the smells of that bread, and fresh coffee are almost overwhelming.

She leaned over and gave him a more than friendly kiss which was the topping on the cake, as they say.

She said, “I hope you don’t mind crumbs in your car, because there is no way to cut this without crumbs. If you have a strong feeling about it, I’ll save it until we get to Mattituck.”

“It smells fabulous, so I will make an exception this time. The car can always be swept….” Who cares about crumbs in this old car…? I want the whole enchilada!

He liked leaving from her home, because it was an easy entrance onto the West Side Highway, and from there they could just head up to either the Cross Bronx (or the Cross County if that was congested) to the Throgs Neck Bridge. In the worst case scenario, they could cross Central Park to the eastside and take the Bruckner Expressway to the bridge.

As soon as they were on the highway, she cut the bread, buttered him a slice, and handed it to him. She had already set a coffee mug in his cup holder. He put the car on cruise and tasted the bread.

“…Amanda, even for New York this is great. Please tell me where you got it.”

“It can’t be bought. The baker is no longer in business.” He looked at her quizzically, and she grinned. “I made the bread, Jake, with Georgia’s sage and rosemary. I used to bake during college and graduate school to pay my way. Now, I just bake for myself and for friends. Georgia supplies me with her own fresh organic herbs when she wants some herb bread.”

And what do you have in store for me? I will supply whatever spice you want…. For Amanda, he cleaned. Ho’oponopono. I love you, and for whatever my family might have done to you or yours since the beginning of time, I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you. For Georgia he cleaned. I love you, and for whatever I’ve done to slow you down or make you sad, I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you. For the traffic he also took responsibility and cleaned. I love you, all of you. For whatever I or my family might ever have done since the Creation, I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you.

“Normally, I resent the fact that I have to drive to Mattituck when I’d be happier on my bike, but I expect that this trip is going to change all that,” he commented.

“Don’t you think your life has already been changed?” she asked.

She can’t know how much I feel has changed…. But, she’s right. Everything is different. “Excuse me,” he answered defensively. I can’t leave it at that. Perhaps I can talk with her honestly…. “Have we met?” Go on. Give it a try. Really talk with her. What else are you going to do for 3 hours? “I only ask because I would like to get to know you.”

She smiled and tasted her coffee carefully. “It’s still a little hot. You should be careful.”

Ho’oponopono! Clean, clean, clear. “Well, that’s exactly what I was thinking. But, since you’re going to be about a foot and a half away for three hours, I figured that there was no way to avoid it. Anyway, I like my coffee hot.”

“I like mine any way it comes, as long as it has flavor. I’ve gotten used to cold coffee on boats.”

“I always add a little cinnamon,” he responded. I can’t believe I said that. What, am I applying for a job or having a conversation with a girl friend?

“….especially good on French Roast,” she added.

“That’s where I learned it. I had a Cajun friend from New Orleans on the ship and his mother used to send him coffee from there. It also had a little chicory in the blend.”

“You must have met a lot of different guys on the ship…. In college, people who chose the same school, or perhaps because the school chooses them, tend to be more the same.”

“Good men for the most part,” he agreed. “And, a few women…. But, I didn’t ever work with a woman. They pretty much kept me with the same team – Vince, Charlie, Justin and sometimes Jules and Harry, and then later, Will….” It’s not fun to think about Harry and Will…. What should be happy memories has been ruined by that guy…. Ho’oponopono. I love you guys. If I neglected you or missed any earlier clues, I am sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you…. I can’t do Ho’oponopono for the perp, not yet.

“Sims was the name you mentioned that first night in my apartment.”

“He wasn’t someone I worked with,” he answered quickly. “He was an officer, but never my CO.” What made her bring him up?

“I’m talking about 100% responsibility,” she answered. “I have been cleaning on him because he became part of my responsibility when you brought him into my life….”

“I’ve been cleaning, Amanda, but I’m not ready for him yet, or the guys who snatched Charlie….”

“100% responsibility,” she answered simply. “Everyone who comes into your life is connected to you or to me if you bring them into mine.”

“I’ve wanted to talk with you since the other night,” he said. “Were you helping us by cleaning?”

“Yes. I was, and I believe it helped. Did you ever feel in danger?”

“No, I didn’t,” he answered thoughtfully. “They didn’t really have a chance to fight back. Vince and Jules were so distracting.”

“Well, you men are professionals too…. And, they used advanced Navy tactics?”

“No,” and he laughed to remember. “Vince used tactics he learned in 5th grade!”

“… and these were professional toughs?”

“Yes.”

“Did you ever wonder about that?”“We did. We all were amazed afterwards, although we felt very good about ourselves,” he admitted. “But, how could Ho’oponopono have worked so fast?”

“I called Morgan when I got home, and he called his teacher. We were all cleaning on those guys, loving them and asking for help to transmute any programs that kept them violent. It sounds as if they were less than violent.”

“They seemed stunned. No one reached for a weapon, and they probably had them now that you mention it….”

“100 % responsibility. You have to wonder what brought the violence into your life. It’s not about loving the violence, but about loving the men you have affected so negatively. It will keep coming back into your life, and mine, unless you clean yourself of that program.”

“Sims, and now these guys…. Vince calls them Scroons.”

“They may be part of his program as well…,” Amanda ventured.

“Do I have to tell him about Ho’oponopono? I’ve been a little shy about sharing it. I trust you, but I haven’t really seen its affect yet. I haven’t really felt clearer than I have in the past.”

“But, you are. I can see it. I understand that you have always been inspired, but soon you will notice that it’s more consistent. You will begin to receive…, well…, Morgan calls them ‘messages’ about people, as soon as you accept 100% responsibility.”

“You mean, Sims?”

“And, the guys the other night,” she added. “We knew they wouldn’t hurt you, because we received that message about them. But, your vision was clouded because you were protecting the program that brought them into your life.”

“So, I have to ask that the program be transmuted?”

“And, send love to the guys who were so cooperative with your program. It has not been to their benefit, either.”

Oh, my god. This is not easy. It’s hard enough to take responsibility for the traffic! At least that helps everybody… Oh, so does this…. “Amanda, this is more complicated than I thought initially.”

“And, that’s why we have a teacher. That’s why I called Morgan, and he called Dr. Hew Len. At first I didn’t see that Charlie’s disappearance was connected to Sims either. That was Dr. Hew Len. He has been doing this for years and years, but now he’s connected to you too. He felt terrible that he had brought this on you….”

“But…, Oh, I see. He takes 100% responsibility and you too?” I didn’t expect to feel disappointed that we didn’t do this on our own. But the idea that those guys had their hands tied sort of takes the joy out of the win….

“Yes. I must have a program too, that has brought this into your life. I have been clearing on it.”

“If I talk to Vince, and if he begins to ‘clean’ as well, this will cure the violence in our lives, and our business more effectively?”

“Yes. Although, I think technically, we can do it without Vince’s assistance. However, if he leaves NYC and our influence, the violence might return to him. At least, that’s what I think….. As you say, it can get a little complicated, especially when so many people are involved.”

The rest of their conversation was about lighter topics. They arrived in Mattituck in almost record time, even though it was Friday.

…………

Georgia came out of the house as soon as they pulled into the driveway. She must have been watching at that moment. She directed Jake to a corner under the large pine tree.

“It will be out of the sun there,” she said as he opened his door.

“I appreciate it,” he said. “She’s had too many sunny days as it is.”

Georgia led them into the house. “You guys are in time for a little aperitif? We have some Lillet, or something else if you’d rather before lunch…. Mom has been working in the kitchen for a while, and I think we’re in for a special treat.”

Amanda handed her a bag, of bread Jake guessed. Georgia gave her a hug and a kiss. “You two look wonderful….” She leaned over and greeted Jake as well. “I’ll just bring this into the kitchen. Why don’t you join my dad in the Living Room?”

“Whatever you say,” Jake answered.

“I’ll just stop in to say ‘hi’ to your mom,” Amanda said.

Jake smiled and touched her hand before she left, and went to find Bruce.

He was standing by the library shelf, apparently looking for some particular book. When he heard Jake, he turned around.

“Hi, Jake. How are you? I was so glad when Georgia said that you and Amanda could come out.”

“Yes, Sir, I was happy too when Georgia called. I am hoping that we will have some time to talk this weekend.”

“Of course. Business or pleasure?”

“I would like to think both, but business provided the impetus,” Jake answered.

“Good then. I am glad that you took me up on my offer and will give me a chance to help. I think my wife will be serving lunch soon, but afterward. Would you mind talking on the boat?”

“No, he wouldn’t,” Georgia answered for him as she walked in. “We all have been looking forward to a sail, and it’s such a perfect day!” She walked over to them, and handed each a chilled Lillet, a French aperitif. She had one for herself. Bruce made a toast to old friends and each took a sip. It was a perfect, light drink for the early afternoon. Jake never drank it anywhere else, but always enjoyed it here.

“I believe you were looking for a book when I interrupted you?” Jake reminded Bruce.

“Yes, my Collected Works of Robert Collier. Are you familiar with him?” Bruce asked.

“No. The name is vaguely familiar, but I haven’t read any of his work.”

Georgia had joined in the hunt. “I probably misplaced it, Dad. I was looking at it again yesterday…. Oh, here it is.”

“Good, yes, thanks.” Bruce went over to take it from her, and said to Jake, “Look, here’s something for you,

You can do anything you think you can. This knowledge is literally the gift of the gods, for through it you can solve every human problem. It should make of you an incurable optimist. It is the open door.

Robert Collier

“And, here’s another:

There is a Napoleonic feeling of power that insures success in the knowledge that this invincible "Life Principle" is behind your every act. Knowing that you have working with you a force which never yet has failed in anything it has undertaken, you can go ahead in the confident knowledge that it will not fail in your case, either. The ingenuity which overcame every obstacle in making you what you are, is not likely to fall short when you have immediate need for it. It is the reserve strength of the athlete, the "second wind" of the runner, the power that, in moments of great stress or excitement, you unconsciously call upon to do the deeds which you ever after look upon as superhuman.

But they are in no wise superhuman. They are merely beyond the capacity of your conscious self. Ally your conscious self with that sleeping giant within you, rouse him daily to the task, and those "superhuman" deeds will become your ordinary, everyday accomplishments.

It matters not whether you are Banker or Lawyer, Business Person or Clerk. Whether you are the custodian of millions, or have to struggle for your daily bread. This "Life Principle" makes no distinction between rich and poor, high and low. The greater your need, the more readily it will respond to your call. Wherever there is an unusual task, wherever there is poverty or hardship or sickness or despair, there is this Servant of your Mind, ready and willing to help, asking only that you call upon him.

And not only is it ready and willing, but it is always able to help. Its ingenuity and resource are without limit. It is Mind. It is Thought. It is the Telepathy that carries messages without the spoken or written word. It is the Sixth Sense that warns you of unseen dangers. No matter how stupendous and complicated, nor how simple your problem may be - the solution of it is somewhere in Mind, in Thought. And since this solution does exist, this Mental Giant can find it for you. It can Know, and it can Do, every right thing. Whatever it is necessary for you to know, whatever it is necessary for you to do, you can know and you can do if you will but seek the help of this Genie-of-your-Mind and work with it in the right way.

Robert Collier

From The Book of Life

“Isn’t that powerful!” Bruce commented. “I think you tapped that source the other night from what Georgia tells me.”

“Indeed, it’s impressive.” Jake responded, “I certainly think that Vince is connected. He always seems to know when something that seems unusual, but not especially troubling to the rest of us, needs immediate attention.”

Bruce frowned slightly. “I think you don’t credit yourself enough, and forgive me, but I’m not going to let you get away with that here. You seem to ‘know’ when it is necessary to respond to Vince’s worries, as you did the other night. And then, who was it who decided on what action to take? I appreciate your readiness to credit the team, but it is important for you to take responsibility. It is important for you to honor your muse, or your intuition, or your hunches, whatever you may call it.”

Jake smiled, and glanced from Bruce over to Georgia. “This seems to be my theme this week, taking total responsibility.” To an outsider, Jake would have looked like an athlete waiting to hear the score for his performance, but on the inside, Jake felt like a barrel about to go over Niagara Falls.

Bruce continued, “100% responsibility is for the good as well as for the bad. Your team trusts you for good reason. You need to trust yourself as well.”

Jake sighed. I wonder if Bruce is an advocate of Ho’oponopono as well. I won’t talk with him about it unless Amanda brings it up. In the meantime, I have to be honest about this. “This seems harder than taking responsibility for the muck-ups. As oldest brother, I was trained from early on to take responsibility for whatever went wrong….”

Georgia laughed. “I can vouch for that. But, Dad is spot on. You are usually right. You have a good intuitive sense when you appreciate it, and when you honor it you encourage it to continue working on your behalf. Half the time you belittle it or make light of it, or credit someone else. As Dad says, you will lose it if you continue to disregard it.”

Jake looked over at her, smiled, and prayed for an interruption the way a high school student prays that no teacher will follow him into the bathroom. “I am grateful that we arrived today, safe and sound, and in time for lunch!”

Bruce chuckled. “As am I. Georgia, please go see if your mother needs any help. If she’s not nearly ready, we are going to have some more Lillet.” As Georgia left, he turned to Jake. “Jake, you are an energetic and talented leader of men. This is your greatest asset right now. You don’t have any business experience, but that will come. Other business men will help you because of your maturity, your dynamism and commitment. Do not make the mistake of being humble. This may be an asset on Sunday in church, but, I promise you, it is not an asset in business.”

Jake did not have time to comment before Georgia returned to let them know that Amanda and ‘Mom’ were setting the table and expected everyone to join them in 5 minutes. Saved by the bell! This feeling of being lectured while everything they are saying is good, or better, is weird…. Ho’oponopono. I love you. Please, Divinity, Creator, transmute any program that has anything to do with ego. I would like to be clear now in this area. I am sorry if I have invited this program or harbored it. Please forgive me. Thank you.

Georgia and Bruce were talking, and started to head toward the Dining Room. Jake joined them enthusiastically. He was looking forward to being with Amanda and Bruce’s wife, Margo, and to enjoying whatever food she was serving.

The dining table was set with crystal water goblets and with both white and red wine glasses. There was fresh bread, and butter at both ends of the table in covered butter dishes. The centerpiece of flowers was a combination of the last roses of summer with fall decorative grasses and some pods or gourds that Jake had never seen before. The roses, somewhat muted, looked so alive among the almost colorless grasses, pods and gourds.

Margo directed them to their places. She was at one end of the table and had put Jake next to her left, and Amanda was next to her on the right. Georgia was on Amanda’s other side, and Jake was centered on his side of the table. Bruce commanded the other end of the table and had the platter with perfectly cooked fillet mignon steaks; garlic, chives and parsley flavored new potatoes; marinated beets and, finally, beet greens lightly sautéed in garlic and olive oil.

Jake knew how meals went at the Bradfuit residence. Bruce served each person their first serving, and then the platters were passed around as folks wanted seconds. The insured that Bruce would also be able to enjoy his food, which, Jake remembered hadn’t always been the case in his house. They often had enough guests that by the time his father had finished serving each guest, those who were served first were already looking for seconds. But, at this residence, everyone waited until everyone had been served.

Breads were passed early. There was a choice between fresh sage bread, and sourdough, and two wines. Jake chose the sourdough since he had already been eating sage bread, and the white wine in spite of having steak, because it went better with sourdough and he wanted to see how it worked with steak. He had one bite of the sourdough baguette with butter, and then saved it for his meal. It was amazing, but he showed great self control to anyone who might have been noticing. He looked around. Not even Georgia or Amanda is paying any attention to anything but the food.

“Ms. Bradfuit, you’ve outdone yourself. This is spectacular,” Jake commented.

She laughed. “Jake, you haven’t even tasted it. It’s all very simple.”

“Take notice,” he responded as he was passed his plate, “everyone is tasting everything with their eyes.”

Georgia chimed in as she passed a plate to Amanda. “Jake is right, Mom. You hardly notice because your table is set so beautifully, and the food is so colorful, people can’t talk until the food is in front of them and they can finally put it in their mouth.”

“Life is good to us,” Margo answered, “and I like to share it with as many people as I can coax to join us.”

Bruce looked as pleased as everyone else as he finally served himself. “I don’t know whether to say, “Amen,” or “Cheers”, Margo. Indeed, life is good to bring such food and our good friends to our table.” This time, he held up his glass, so that it was clearly a toast, and his family joined him.

Jake looked at Amanda, and she nodded to him. He held up his glass and said, “And, we would like to thank you for the opportunity to be again in your beautiful home, and for this food, even the bread that Amanda brought, because you didn’t have to share that.” Simple and short.

They enjoyed their meal, and talked about politics and the economy while they ate. No one was allowed to become too boisterous. This was Margo’s rule. She also coaxed Jake into telling the story of the rescue. He embellished some parts, and diminished other parts in an attempt to be more sensitive to his audience.

Bruce started looking at his watch an hour into the meal, yet he allowed it to progress another hour. They were drinking coffee in demitasse cups when Bruce finally said, “Thank you so much Margo. We need to head off to the boat now if we’re going to be back before low tide, and you know how I dislike fiddling around, trying to get the mooring when the tide is low….”

“Go then dear, but you might ask Jake to make the mooring run for you. You know he never misses….”

“Not on your life, my Darling. Since he is the only other man on the boat, I want him in the bow with the boat hook.”

Georgia took exception to the implication that neither she nor Amanda could handle the boat hook, but her father wouldn’t be swayed.

Jake interjected, “Wasn’t it Robert Collier who said that you can do anything you think you can? I think we need a little more optimism and support here.”

Bruce and Georgia laughed and Bruce answered, “Here, here. Good for you, Jake. I admire a man who can memorize instantly and use the quote appropriately. I will certainly change my visualization about the end of our sail.”

…………

Once underway, and heading off on a reach across the Sound in the beginning of a wonderful Southwester, Jake sat near Bruce. He wanted to be sure to have time to talk, even though the friend in him didn’t want to take Bruce away from his pleasure at being at the helm of his boat. As it happened, he didn’t have to interrupt anything. Bruce remembered. Georgia and Amanda sat forward of the mast, on the cabin cover. It gave them a chance to catch up, and the men a chance to talk uninterrupted about the business.

“So, Jake, I am guessing that you would like to have a boat like this someday?” Bruce asked.

Jake looked at him and answered, “No doubt at all. I would love to have a boat like the Serpentine some day.”

“Then, we are going to have to get that business of yours launched,” Bruce said, matter-of-factly. “Georgia has told me that you now have legal advice, financial advice, and marketing advice. That’s a lot of advice for someone who doesn’t have a plan yet.”

“Pardon me Sir, but wasn’t it you who told me that I couldn’t have too much advice early on?”

“Well, it probably was, but I’m going to ask again whether or not you have a product yet, or a business plan?”

“Not quite.” Jake admitted. “We are almost finished with designing the product. Then, I’ll send the blueprint to the builders to get prices. Once we have prices, we can do the budget for the business plan. We wanted the lawyers involved early so they could get to work protecting the product.”

“Getting a product patented is expensive.”

“And, that’s why I’m here. I have looked at my finances, and they are not going to last much longer. I certainly can’t afford to buy the modules with my own money…. I am here for advice on fundraising.”

“Ahh. The core of every business is start up money. But, you need a business plan to sell a non-existent business. You are not selling bricks and mortar, but an idea. The investor needs to see that you have thought long and hard about this, and that you have developed a truly doable and practical plan. I almost want to ask, ‘What are you doing here?’ because you should be working on the plan until it’s done.”

“Yes Sir.” Jake felt chastised. He was waiting for the blueprint, and couldn’t get back to the manufacturers until he had the blueprint which did hold up the budget, but there were other parts of the text only that he could be working on. Bruce gave him an outline a long time ago. After a brief attempt at a start, he had never worked on it. Ho’oponopono. I love you Bruce for your honesty and integrity. I am sorry that I have not paid much attention to what you have told me. I will do better starting now. Please forgive me. Thank you.

“Well, that’s an improvement.”

“What’s that?” Jake questioned. He’s almost as disconcerting as his daughter who is a mindreader.

Bruce smiled at him. “I think a couple of weeks ago, I would have heard excuses, or reasons why it isn’t yet done. One of the first writers on successful businessmen, Napoleon Hill, stated that you have to take responsibility. Even if you are just looking in a mirror, you need to take 100% responsibility.”

“Thank you.”

“And, remember, for both the good and the bad….”

“Yes, Sir.” Jake answered. However, he still didn’t know whether Bruce would help him with fundraising, so he had to press on. “And, what will be the next step once I have the business plan?”

“Then, you will come back here with it, and we will look at it together, Georgia, Amanda if she’s ready, and you and I. I want Georgia to take responsibility for the financial side of it and Amanda for the marketing. – You don’t have to write this all by yourself. You just have to understand it well enough to be able to present it. I will read it as any potential lender will. That is why I don’t want to be on the team of writers.”

Bruce continued, “If it doesn’t need a lot of corrections, then we will plan a business presentation out here. I will invite men who can afford to be interested and who are always looking for a good investment. Margo will cook and I will pull out my best wines. – But you and your team will do the presentation.”

Jake was grinning. “With you and Margo behind this, it can’t fail!”

Bruce frowned. “100% responsibility, Jake. You need to take 100% responsibility. We will make sure that the evening is comfortable, but they will only invest if they are impressed by your passion and commitment.”

Ho’oponopono….

…………

Later that night, Amanda, Jake and Gretchen stayed up way past the time when Bruce and Margo said “goodnight” and headed off to their suite above the library. The master suite was an extension that was not accessible from the rest of the 2nd floor. This ensured that they did not have to bother about the sleeping arrangements of their grown daughter or her friends, or about the amount of noise generated by music, enthusiasm or conversation in the rest of the house. Their suite was private and quiet.

In fact, by the time the small fragment of the mastermind group was finished planning their meetings and their work for the following week, the sky was beginning to show the first light of morning. Amanda was the first to spot it and called the others to stop talking and to come out on the porch to watch it. There were still stars in the sky. The moon had set sometime in the night. There was just the faintest golden glow starting above the horizon. They sat and marveled together as the color spread upward, with some red reflecting off some high, thin ice clouds in the east, which then spread out across a mackerel sky.

This is truly a time to be grateful for….

The three sat together on a swinging chair, holding hands as if they were 5 years old and best friends. They laughed at the fact that their sitting heights were different from their standing heights. Amanda was the shortest when sitting, but due to her long legs, when standing, she was taller than Georgia. Georgia was almost Jake’s height when sitting, but much shorter when standing. They decided to raid the kitchen for breakfast food before going to bed, and laughed at that too.

The world seemed friendly and good. Georgia shared a story about the setting sun. A little girl and her father were sitting on a hill. As the sun was about to drop below the horizon, the father said, “Going, going, gone.” The little girl looked up at him and said, “Do it again, Daddy.”

Once the sun was above the horizon, they let go of each other’s hands and left their swing. Georgia took charge of eggs (cooked with mushrooms and fresh herbs from Margo’s herb garden) and Jake and Amanda shared the toasting and buttering of the English Muffins, and made decaf coffee. It was time to be winding down, not waking up.

It was a simple meal, but felt and tasted like a feast nevertheless. Afterwards, the women loaded the dishwasher and Jake cleaned up the omelet pan, stove and counters. Georgia went to bed ahead of them. She had arranged for two adjoining bedrooms for Jake and Amanda, leaving them to sort out who would be where. Their decision was made with very little discussion, to go to bed in separate rooms since they were both exhausted but Jake followed Amanda to her room to kiss her goodnight and ended up staying. There wasn’t enough time during the week to touch and hold each other. Yes, this was a weekend opportunity to focus on the business but that didn’t mean to the exclusion of love which added passion and greater incentive to their work. They were also learning to appreciate and respect each other through sharing the work.

4 “Plant a Radish; get a radish, never Brussels sprouts”

The Fantastics

Tuesday night was not to be like any other Tuesday night in Jake’s life. Monday had been a whirlwind of activity for Charlie, Gretchen and Amanda who were working with him most of the day. In the evening, Justin and Vince had joined them and they worked the way they made habitual on the ship, focused and full speed ahead. Each was working on a section of the business plan. Gretchen was responsible for the budget; Justin and Amanda on sales and marketing, and Charlie and Vince on production, and Jake was creating all the other parts such as history, rationale for the product and management.

Tuesday afternoon, Jake went up to Amanda’s because Morgan Mallory was back in town. She was hosting a welcome home dinner for him. Gretchen was also to join them, and Morgan had asked if Wanda and Peter could attend as well. And, because of his desire to expose Vince to Ho’oponopono, Amanda was including Vince. That made 7 for dinner, 3 women and 4 men. When Jake heard that Amanda fully intended to cook for the group, he went up to Amanda’s early in the afternoon to help prepare the dinner. Gretchen was bringing the wine. Wanda was bringing dessert.

Jake had not been consulted on the menu. He was simply to provide help as assistant chef to clean shrimp and vegetables, to chop, mix, and dice. It was akin to a vacation for him to have someone else was in charge, at least for a few hours, like being back on the ship. Meanwhile, Amanda put the dishes together, spiced and cooked to perfection every part of the meal. She did so with little effort or concentration. It seemed to him as if all her mental attention was on her conversation with Jake, although, she did have to look at what she was doing.

During the course of the afternoon, Jake found out from Amanda that Morgan was not only a teacher of Ho’oponopono, a Platinum Executive Director of Pre Paid Legal Services, and a member of the Millionaires Club, but he also had worked in advertising (which was how he and Amanda had met) and had been a lead act or speaker for Anthony Robbins. Jake was more impressed than he had been the first time, and more enthusiastic than before about having another chance to meet with him.

Meanwhile, he and Amanda cooked in denim. By late afternoon, they were spotted and bespeckled with cooking sauces and oil, with flour and with garlic and spices. They were laughing much of the afternoon, and had more than one start at a food fight. Their shoes were covered with the evidence of the meal as well and they had to be careful not to track food all over the house – the rest of which started out clean. Jake cleaned the kitchen as Amanda took the first shower.

Amanda’s apartment was set up so that as you entered, the kitchen was to the right, and straight ahead was the dining area and the living room and then finally the terrace was through a door. If you turned to the left, there was an alcove. The bathroom and bedroom were both off this alcove. So, as Jake cleaned the pots and pans at the sink, and then wiped the counters and mopped the floor, he couldn’t help but keep one eye on the alcove. This is probably adolescent, and I will never admit it, but, I enjoy looking at her whether she’s covered with food, or dressed for a presentation, or when she’s in shorts on a boat. It’s only natural that I would also look when she’s running from her shower to her bedroom to dress….

He was only slightly disappointed when she emerged in a full length terrycloth robe. Whatever she is wearing, she is elegant. She saw him watching, and smiled. “You can use the bathroom when you’re ready, she said, “and I’ll put clothes on first so you can come into the bedroom to dress. We don’t have that much time before Georgia will arrive.” There is always someone about to arrive, or who still hasn’t left….Once we finish this business plan, I would like to spend a weekend with her.

“I’m not sure I want to see the makeup process….”

She laughed, “I don’t spend that much time on it. I will probably be done when you are ready.”

Jake looked around at his work before quitting. Ok. I don’t see any spots, any food or pots or pans out of place, and the floor and counter are shining. Done. Now, go turn yourself into a handsome devil. You know that Morgan will come looking fine, with his monogrammed sleeve, soft leather shoes and jeweled watch. You were seriously under dressed the first time you met him. Ho’oponopono. Please transmute any program that causes me to doubt myself or to compete with others for self worth. I am sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you, it is done. He headed into the bathroom. His suit was hanging on the back of the door. He had been hoping that the steam would remove any wrinkles, and it looked good after Amanda’s shower. One more would provide the final touches. He showered quickly, and shaved carefully. There was a nail brush on its own shower caddy which he used, grateful for the chance to remove the food under his nails. He wondered whether the enthroned position was for the sailor’s hands or the baker’s hands.

He wrapped a towel around himself, wiped off the mirror, and before he was finished inspecting, Amanda knocked on the door to let him know that she was finished and the bedroom was his. If only that was true….

The bedroom was comfortable. Wall to wall carpeting, a double sized walk in closet with room to spare, a queen sized bed, low bookshelves under the large windows that filled the eastern wall, a desk separate from the computer setup for those who still use pen and paper, or who still read on occasion. This room by itself was about half the size of his apartment. I think Georgia was right when she said that my place was too small for Amanda. I would have to move out if she moved her clothes in, or her books, or even just her art books or just her women’s lit collection.

He quickly put on his clothes, and hid his duffle bag now filled with cooking clothes under the bed. He hoped that they wouldn’t scent the room with “Oh de garlic”.

He heard the doorbell as he was joining Amanda in the dining area, and opened the door for Georgia as he was walking by. It seems there’s always someone about to come or we’re waiting for someone to go….

“Hi there. The doorman didn’t warn us” Jake commented as he held the door.

“Hello yourself, and he didn’t think you needed warning about me – silly him. Hey, it smells great in here. Is everything ready or can I help?”

“Everything’s ready,” Amanda commented with a smile as she walked over to give Georgia a hug. “Just waiting for the guests. Would you like something to drink?”

“I was going to say, I’ll wait for the guests too, but I’ve quickly reconsidered. – I’d like a red wine. Let’s get this party going! Whatever you have open, is fine. Oh, and here’s the wine for tonight” and she ducked back outside the door, and dragged in a carton marked Pindar Vineyards.

Jake took it from her and brought it into the kitchen. He emptied it, and it wasn’t just from Pindar, but held a selection of Long Island wines. There was a red wine that Amanda had already opened, so he poured Georgia a glass from that bottle and brought it out to her.

The plan was that as other people began to arrive, the three would greet each and get those who wanted a drink whatever they wanted and find them a place to sit. This worked for Wanda’s and Peter’s arrival. When Morgan arrived, Amanda gave him time to greet Peter and Wanda, and then quickly introduced him to Georgia who, it seemed, hadn’t met him before. My goodness, I have never seen her light up like this before. And, Morgan always seems to have his light on. I hope that Georgia doesn’t think it’s personal with him. Amanda took them both out onto the balcony to give them a few minutes alone. Jake was careful to talk with Wanda and Peter about his contact with Pre Paid Legal lawyers, and how helpful they were being, while Morgan was busy. I am so grateful that Amanda invited Georgia and is introducing them. I am just not that comfortable with Ho’oponopono yet. If I was, I would have told Georgia about it when I first heard about it…. I was so sure that she and Amanda would have talked about it….

Vince was announced by the doorman and Jake went to open the door for him while Georgia and Morgan made their way back into the apartment from the terrace.

Morgan sat down in a chair alone by the terrace door, and Georgia sat on the other side of the door, near Amanda’s piano. Amanda got him a beer, waited near the patio door for folks to settle down, and introduced him as a representative and trainer of Self Identity through Ho’oponopono, or SITH, as well as a representative of Pre Paid Legal Services. She said that he had agreed to talk about Ho’oponopono with this group this evening since some of them had asked for the time.

I hadn’t actually talked to Vince about this. He was only aware that we would have the chance to meet a very successful businessman who was a good friend of Amanda’s. Since he’s been working with her on the business plan, he probably assumed that it had something to do with that. I hope that he doesn’t feel tricked.

Morgan started. “I should probably start with my story. I was already successful in Pre Paid Legal when I met Dr. Ihaleakala Hew Len. I wish you all could go to Hawaii since he seldom travels to the mainland any more, much less to the East Coast…. At the time, I was having some health problems which I won’t go into, but these were things I thought I would have to live with for the rest of my life. After a single weekend workshop with Dr. Hew Len, and several “cleanings” I was feeling 70% better. Since then, all my symptoms have disappeared. My doctors don’t know what to make of it. I credit it to Ho’oponopono. Since that weekend, I have been a practitioner, a student, and a trainer.” I have seen how cleansing on a problem, any problem, can bring about tremendous improvement outside oneself.”

He looked toward Amanda. “I don’t know whether I should start with a simple explanation, or whether it would be better to let people ask specific questions. What did you have in mind?”

“Some of us don’t know anything about Ho’oponopono, while others have been practicing for a little while, haven’t had a formal training but have had some experience with cleansing.”

“Well, a brief definition, or explanation of the practice, is that Divinity was there in the void, and then created everything. For us to return to Divinity, we have to return to the void. We do this by cleansing ourselves of as much of our habitual responses, brought about by our history, as we possibly can. We take care of and honor ourselves and others by loving, and by taking 100% responsibility. This connects us to Divinity. This is the primary task of cleansing. Whenever we have a critical or judgmental feeling, we need to clean. Whenever we have fear or hesitation, we need to clean. Divinity is not fearful or critical.

We also have 3 levels of consciousness that comprise our soul. The Unconscious does most of the work, taking in and processing millions of bits of information. The Conscious takes in or processes only 15 bits of information at a time. Then, we have a Supra Conscious brain that is responsible for correcting requests and transmitting information to Divinity or to the void. At first, the Unconscious full of memories and programs (habitual ways of reacting) is largest and controlling most of your life, but you are only aware of about 1 millionth of what is really happening in you, so it doesn’t seem that way. As you cleanse, this Unconscious diminishes and your Consciousness becomes more equal in size and function. This is when you become more sensitive to insight and inspiration from Divinity. Prior to this, we are pretty much run by our unconscious programs.” Morgan looked around. This is a lot of information for those of you who are hearing it for the first time…. Are you all with me?”

Vince crossed his eyes, which Jake and Morgan both caught, and laughed. Then he asked, “I think I understand that the point is to gain awareness of and cleanse ourselves of our unconscious programs. How exactly do we do this?”

Morgan nodded, and seemed to be seeking the best way to explain this to Vince. “As I am interacting with you, I take 100% responsibility for the fact that you don’t yet comprehend this. I am cleaning whatever program I have that has failed you or blocked you by pronouncing that ‘I love you, I’m sorry for whatever program in me that has caused your lack of understanding, I ask Divinity to transmute that program so that I can return to the void where I will see how or be inspired as to how to best communicate with you. I state my thanks and know that it has been done.’ -- I actually did receive a message to tell you about blue water. This is water that is put into a blue glass container and placed preferably in direct sunlight, or at least in a window, and then you drink it several times a day. This will help you clear. Our bodies need a lot of water.”

This is a little metaphysical, and weird. But, water is necessary and healthful, and I certainly don’t know much about the physics of color, so take it with a grain of salt. It could be true.

Amanda went out to the kitchen and came back with a blue glass container. “You are welcome to this, Vince.” She put it on the table in front of him.

“Thank you, Amanda”, Vince said softly. I used to attend meetings…” Vince said more clearly, “well, without going into a long explanation; it took me a long time to learn that I am not responsible for everything that goes on around me. How is what you are talking about not codependency?”

Morgan smiled. “A lot of people think this, but there are some significant differences. They are actually the opposite of each other. Codependency is one of the programs of the Unconscious, or a set of programs that run from the Unconscious. The child has learned to take responsibility for behaviors or events that were part of the adult’s errors usually because the adult wasn’t taking responsibility and passed it along. A child cannot be responsible for an adult. This erroneous thinking then became habit, or an erroneous program that runs in that person without conscious growth or adjustment as they age. Now, the flip side, Ho’oponopono, requires us to consciously take 100% for the person who is acting in an unhealthy or erroneous fashion. This does not mean that we try to correct the person, as a therapist would do, but that we work on correcting the program in us that is causing this manifestation of our illness. In the first case, we are talking about overly responsible caretaking of another and in the second, we are talking about taking care of ourselves. It just so happens, that as we clean ourselves, the other is also cleansed.”

Morgan does not know Vince’s history. How is Vince going to be able to be polite in the face of how his mother neglected him and then disappeared? Jake was aware that he was watching both men intensely, and hadn’t looked at Amanda in more than 5 minutes at least, so he looked at her. She returned the look and smiled at him. I could sit through a weekend workshop on how to build a spark plug without any impatience if Amanda was also there….

Morgan continued. “Therapists are master manipulators, first convincing the patient that they have a problem, and then trying to get the person to change the way they are responding to life. Dr. Hew Len healed an entire ward of men diagnosed as mentally ill criminals by cleansing himself. He did not even meet with the patients clinically because since he was 100% responsible for their troubles, he could heal them, and did so, within himself.”

Amanda is attentive even though she must have heard this 100 times…. Her eyes are glistening with attention and feeling like a woman at a wedding, and her skin is glowing. And, look how she’s sitting with her legs outstretched and ankles lightly crossed. No one in the room has longer legs. Can my heart feel any bigger without causing damage?

Vince smiled at the idea. “I have known some therapists who would have agreed with Dr. Hew Len that he was diagnosable, but we can’t fight success can we?” He looked down at the blue glass and picked it up. “How do you know whether you are being inspired or whether you are running a subconscious program?”

Yes, I wonder about this too.

Morgan was chuckling. “Most therapists would admit that they became involved in their field because they had issues about their internal world that inspired their curiosity. They just never connect it with their patient’s ill health. What we do is clean, clean and clean some more. After a period of time, you get a sense about what is inspiration versus program. In the beginning, you can’t know until you see the results. Even then, for me, it was only when I began to see results that seemed close to miraculous when I got it. Then, I realized that there were other results that were not so extraordinary by themselves, but by their consistency they were astounding. For example, I am never late anymore. For almost ten years, I take subways or I drive my car. It doesn’t matter. The subway I am on, and all the subways in front of me, are whole and do not break down. Whatever time I leave the house, and whatever route I take, there are only drivers who do not have accidents in front of me and on the other side. Or, if there is an accident, no one in front of me is rubber necking. Or, if there is a traffic slowdown along my route, I don’t fret about it, and then I find that it has run so well before and after that the time is made up.”

We don’t have to understand the how, but only trust in the process that Collier’s Genie of your mind will let us know what we need..

Vince nodded. “For ten years you haven’t been late? Now, that is impossible. I think curing cancer is more likely, ‘more easier’ as my nephew says. Childs play by comparison.”

The group was laughing at the truth of Vince’s statement. Amanda took the opportunity to ask whether they would like another drink. She did not have to ask Morgan. Jake wondered about the food, but he cleaned on it after figuring that Amanda must be doing the same thing. Georgia bounced up to help her replenish the drinks. Both seemed relaxed and at ease so Jake decided it wasn’t necessary to worry.

Vince and Morgan had continued talking, and Jake had missed some. I didn’t hear what they were saying, but Vince is looking better than he has in some time, perhaps since the night that Harry disappeared. So, good is good.

Peter spoke up and asked if it would be helpful for the rest of the group to begin to ask their questions. Morgan thought it was a good time for the others to ask their questions or to talk about their experiences.

Peter explained, “Morgan, we have seen so much great change in our business since we have been sending Ho’oponopono love to our clients and to our business. We wanted to thank you and to ask you if some programs take longer to transmute, or if we are making some kind of error. We have great trouble with the people who ask us to call, and then never pick up the phone. Like the overweight child in the classroom who is always telling the others ‘no running!’ these clients seem to want PPL, but then make it all but impossible for us to help them out.”

Morgan smiled and said, “Love them more. You simply have to love them more because they need it more. You have to clean on the program before you go to bed because it’s not just these clients, but will happen over and over again until you have cleansed enough. There is a world of people who need more love and the only way to reach them is to give them what they really need. And, love yourself more as well, and each other, because the only way you are going to have enough to give is to connect the love inside each of you with Divinity.”

Wanda, who was always smiling; who was full of sunshine, clouded slightly. “New York City is tough, and the whole state is slower to grab on to PPL than other states, even though we need it more. I have talked with other associates in other parts of the country, and they don’t have to chase people down the way that we do. I recognize that persistency is necessary, and love and that this is not for everyone. Even so, I want everyone to have access to ‘equal justice’ and am sometimes confused when people who I know need it, and can afford it, don’t take it.”

“Yes,” Morgan added. “We are in a city that is filled with morbidity and fear, as well as courage and faith. We are inundated with bad news from all over the world. Businesses have a need to know about the world because they are in the world, but this is a new phenomenon for humanity. News used to take weeks to travel from one state to another, and now we know in the blink of the eye about the floods and the fires, the earthquakes and the tornadoes all over the world. I would guess that most of NYC knew about 911 before the second tower was struck and the rest of the people knew and were monitoring the situation before the first tower collapsed…. This city needs a lot of love, and we all need to do a lot of cleaning.”

Peter asked, “But, Morgan, if it is not our program….”

Morgan reminded them, “But, it is your program. Each and every one of us was affected by that event and the more of us who clean on it; the faster we all will heal. Remember that anything you see, anything you feel, and anything that you sense or hear about becomes your responsibility 100%.”

Georgia chimed in. “Morgan, you mentioned traffic earlier. How can a traffic tie-up that occurs before you even get there, be your responsibility?”

Morgan nodded. “it’s difficult to accept, and more difficult to understand how it works, but everything in your life has occurred for your benefit. You have caused it all. The Law of Attraction states that ‘what you think about you bring about’. You do have to remember that your Unconscious does not recognize negatives, so if you are thinking, ‘I don’t want a traffic jam today!’ your brain will transmit the request to provide a traffic jam. This parallels Ho’oponopono because in both cases you might not be conscious of intending a certain result, but since your Unconscious is so much more active than your Conscious brain, it is overpowering. This is where cleaning is helpful. The only way to attract what you consciously want to attract is to ask Divinity to clear your Unconscious of unintended goals. For example, how many people in NYC love their work and are happy to go to work every day? When you think about that, is it any surprise that we have such slow traffic? When Vince was implying that it is a miracle to be on time for 10 years, it was because he intuitively knows that those of us who want to get where we’re going each day are fighting, or going upstream, against millions who don’t. Even so, Salmon successfully make their trip every year. They persist against dams and bears and droughts and fishermen and luckily, we still have wild Salmon available.”

What a wonderful image, millions of New Yorkers swimming up a river filled with rocks and bears…. I have to remember that the need for healing from 911 is going to affect the business we do in this town. Maybe it will increase the desire for our module! Who wants to travel to work during rush hour if you can simply put on a shirt and jacket and walk out into your back yard to your module while still in your pajama pants? People are going to want our module. The question is whether or not businesses will actually provide them.

“If you truly want to get where you’re going on time, you must clean on it. Visualize the location and your safe arrival. Ask Divinity to remove any program that would prevent your safe and timely arrival and do not give any attention or any energy to any slowdown you experience along the way. Be grateful and trust. Focus on the end result, not the journey. If you are inspired to go a different way than you normally go, listen and act unless the impulse comes from a feeling of fear or doubt. That would be a sign that it is not an inspiration, but an old memory replaying.”

This is just the recommendation I need for our business…. I am inspired to take care of others as I take care of myself and to start serving the food….