Chapter 4 Popping the Balloon

1 You become the average of the 5 people closest to you

The evening ended reasonably early. Jake was staying to help Amanda clean up, or so they said. Wanda and Peter were the first to leave. Vince left alone, and shortly afterwards, Morgan left with Georgia.

Vince was sure Jake and Amanda had more in mind than cleaning dishes, such as some Ho’oponopono clearing, and then acting on whatever inspiration comes their way. Vince did too. He was on his way to go meet Charlie, Justin and Jules at Jules’ hotel. He was hoping they had something fun in mind. He hadn’t expected anything in particular for the evening, but certainly he hadn’t expected a presentation on Ho’oponopono..

The evening ended reasonably early. Jake was staying to help Amanda clean up, or so they said. Wanda and Peter were the first to leave. Vince left alone, and shortly afterward, Morgan left with Georgia.

Vince was sure Jake and Amanda had more in mind than cleaning dishes, such as some Ho’oponopono clearing, and then acting on whatever inspiration comes their way. Vince did too. He was on his way to go meet Charlie, Justin and Jules at Jules’ hotel. He was hoping they had something fun in mind. He hadn’t expected anything in particular for the evening, but certainly he hadn’t expected a presentation on Ho’oponopono..

Vince wanted to try some clearing. He had liked Morgan. He felt a little tricked by Jake who had led him to believe that they would meet a man who might be interested in their business. Perhaps someday, but it was not on Morgan’s agenda this evening. It was all about Ho’oponopono. He supposed that it was possible that Jake hadn’t known this when he invited him…. He would talk with Jake about it before their meeting tomorrow if there was time.

He turned left when he exited Amanda’s building, toward Central Park. The Independent Subway Line ran under Central Park West and then continued down under 7th Avenue and then 6th Avenue. If he had gone the other way toward Broadway, he could have gotten the Westside IRT which is faster, runs more frequently at night, and has more people in the subway stations, but wouldn’t take him as close to his destination. Besides, the stations near Central Park were comfortably spaced and Vince had decided to walk for a while.

Even to walk along Central Park West, he needed to do some clearing on his fear of Scroons. The park was just too dark for his comfort, and there were too many stories of people who had been attacked and killed in the park. Since Charlie’s abduction, he hadn’t been near the park and had crossed every street anytime his destination took him past an alley. That fear put him back in the mindset he had been in as a child. Where is Mom? Why didn’t she come home? Dark, empty spaces held no allure for him. He thought of this as a test of Ho’oponopono. As he looked into the trees, and could see that there were things swooping. Bats for insects he comforted himself. Ho’oponopono. And there were shadows that moved swiftly between the trees as he walked along. It could simply be the shadows of the trees from the street lights up here. Was that a bark? Vixen is still chasing them….. He was careful not to look too long or too carefully. Ho’oponopono. “I love you, and if I have entertained and welcomed this fear of Scroons, I am sorry. Please take this program and transmute it into the Void. Please forgive me. Thank you.”

He repeated that clearing verse, many, many times in slightly different ways as he walked south. But, the idea was the same. He loved himself and wanted to be done with this fear. It became a mantra as he walked. And, as he walked, he began to breathe more regularly, more slowly and deeply. He realized that he was glancing into the park less and looking up to the moon and stars more. There were some people walking up the street toward him. Some were well dressed and seemed to be coming home from dinner or the theatre, and others were more casually dressed, perhaps coming home from a friend’s house or a movie. He looked at them, and was less afraid, or perhaps he was not afraid at all for them or of them. He remembered “CEEPort. Clean, erase, erase and return to port.”

Even so, there was a voice, a timbre, a pitch, among all the voices, that seemed to be staying with him. He couldn’t make out the words, but it almost seemed to be saying his name, “Vince, Vince”. He kept his breathing slow and deep through will power only. Was it telling him to “Come out and Play?” He kept walking quickly, never daring to look for the source, believing that it was better to appear not to hear it. What was it saying? “Vince, Vince, come to the fray.” It’s a challenge, he thought, from an old friend. Ho’oponopono. “Please transmute this program that makes me hear voices and threats. I am sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you.”

Did it get a little better for him? He couldn’t tell although he thought it did. It’s not easy to know how afraid you would be if you were doing something else. He went back to continual cleaning as he walked and felt better.

When he reached Columbus Circle and the southern border of Central Park, he realized that he was only about 10 blocks, or half a mile from the Hotel. He looked at the cab drivers, and they all looked at him as if they might be the ones who were talking to him, slightly sinister, if not demonic, and red faced. Their windows were open and many were looking out. It was a tricky circle even if you had a fare, but if you were navigating the circle and looking for a fare, it was doubly tough. Some were smoking. Some were yelling or cursing or honking. It was a hard group to care for, much less love. There were bicyclists and pedestrians coming and going from the park, even at this hour. They looked more innocent. He focused on them.

He decided to walk the rest of the way. It was manageable. There were more pedestrians for these last blocks, more lights, and more cars. Some were in his way, and he did his best to get around them. Others acted as if he had been in their way, and they pushed past him. Each time that happened, his stomach tightened and his hands automatically clenched – at the ready. CEEPort, CEEPort, CEEPort.

The voices all but stopped once he got a few blocks from the park and he relaxed a bit. Another 10 to 15 minutes and he’d be at Jules’ hotel. He considered that jogging in the street would be faster, as so many New Yorkers were doing in that area, but in his dress clothes, and good shoes, he decided to stay on the sidewalk and at a reasonably quick but walking pace. Broadway was busy and direct.

Once inside, he headed right up to Jules’ room. He heard boisterous laughs and talking as he knocked on the door. The sounds were familiar and he relaxed.

He must have looked pale because Jules right away went to get him a drink and Charlie and Justin both told him to sit down and asked him what had happened.

Vince wasn’t sure. “You know, I think your abduction Charlie, has put an old fright into me. I haven’t been this skitterish since the ship after Harry disappeared, and then the other guys began to disappear as well. Before that, the only time I was afraid was when I was a kid.”

Jules said as he handed him a large scotch, “You don’t drink nearly enough. What party ends before you have a proper amount of false courage?”

Vince laughed in spite of himself and took a sip. “Wine. That’s all they were serving. This is nice…warm….”

Jules responded, “Charlie brought us a single malt…. What’s wrong with Jake? He should know better than to serve only wine, even if they don’t know better in this town….”

Charlie, always the realist, asked what had happened exactly but Vince said it was nothing. Charlie reminisced, “…The time after Harry disappeared, and then the others, was gruesome ….”

“Nothing happened,” Vince said again. “I was just feeling spooked as I was walking down along the park. I actually thought I heard my name being called, over and over. No big deal…. Enough about me. What’s the plan for tonight?” Vince just didn’t want to talk about it. He figured that he’d been spooked and followed all his life by scroons and no one, not even his family had ever understood. There was no way these guys, who had not lived in the Maine woods with him, would get the picture.

Justin was never one to hang on to an unpleasant subject. He couldn’t have joined with Vince any faster in his desire to let it go, let it all go, then if he was a flea who’d been sitting next to a sleeping dog. He answered Vince. “We were thinking about going out and doing up the town before Jules was going to leave. But, we just found out that Jules doesn’t have to leave NYC because he has been let go by Xerox who has had to cut back on staff. Last hired, first fired, or some such thing. I am definitely going to stop calling copies, “Xeroxes” from now on. That company doesn’t deserve the respect or the free advertising…. We were trying to convince him to join our team….”

Charlie gave up on his attempt to gather any more information from Vince. “So we might just hang out and drink here. Seems that might suit you….”

Vince perked up. “You bet I’d be fine with hanging here with you guys for the evening. When did we ever need any girls to bud in? Although, the clubs are always distracting aren’t they?” Then as an added thought to address Justin’s suggestion, “Hey, Jules, that would be great if you joined us! Isn’t there some law against firing US Veterans?”

Justin said, “There ought to be. But Jules doesn’t seem very unhappy about this.”

Charlie added. “There are protections for those in active service, but not much anymore for us. I don’t think they care about Veterans anymore, particularly if they didn’t serve in a war. Hey, we ought to call Wanda to get him signed up with Pre Paid Legal – ‘Equal Protection under Law.’ Let the lawyers fight our battles from now on.”

Jules chimed in, shaking his head, “No lawyer can help with this. SSDD ( ‘Same Shit Different Day’). It’s company policy. It’s just a layoff and there’s nothing personal. It’s the kind of thing that has always happened to me. I should have stayed in the Navy. At least in the Navy you expect SNAFU’s (‘Systems Normal, All Fucked Up’). I was taught to get a good job at a big company and I’d always be safe. – What could be safer than Xerox?”

Justin answered, “There’s no such thing as safe, unless you own your own company. Come on, Jules, come and talk with Jake tomorrow. It’s just a formality. We all want you in, don’t we guys?” Without waiting for an answer he continued, “You are actually the only one with sales training, courtesy of Xerox….”

Vince felt lighthearted and much more generous. Perhaps it was the scotch. But, he was off the hook, not on the chopping block, and no longer on the agenda. “Sure, Jules. We could use you on our team. The meeting tomorrow is at 6 pm. Come. What have you got to lose? There’s nothing safe about our enterprise. You’d feel right at home!”

Jules laughed along with Vince and agreed to go to the meeting and talk with Jake. Vince promised to meet him a little early, and Justin promised to call Jake to talk with him before the meeting. From their perspective, Jules had been one of their teammates on the ship, although he had not been core. They knew he could work, and they knew that he got along. They did not know that his drinking had progressed since he no longer had to wait for shore leave to party. They also didn’t know anything about his youth, which was a little strange because they had all, from time to time, talked about home except Jules.

…………

Just after Vince left Amanda’s, Georgia left with Morgan, and both seemed totally involved only with each other. They were “standing just a little too close” as the song goes, and “looking just a little too long” into each other’s eyes. They left with barely a “goodbye.”

That left Jake and Amanda alone at a reasonable hour, for the first time since they were interrupted by Vince’s call. They were standing at the door, after locking it behind the last two to leave, and Amanda just leaned into Jake who was only too ready to catch her and hold her. For a while, neither said anything. They just reveled in each other’s warmth.

“It’s been nice to have your help,” Amanda said simply.

I think she’s sniffing my neck. I didn’t have any aftershave or cologne with me. I wonder what her soap smells like on me….It smells great on her! She probably likes it.

He responded out loud, “It was an incredible afternoon…. I have never before seen a foredeck crew so covered in food that she looked like sea spray.”

“Some men don’t approve of their women coated in crispy oil and flour…. Did you enjoy the food?” she asked, still in his arms.

I don’t dare tell her that I barely tasted it. Once Morgan’s presentation was over, I was chiefly interested in serving the food so that everyone would leave. I only wanted to watch her….

“I did, although I am never as hungry when I’ve been cooking, and when I’m attending to guests…. I thought it was inspired having the shrimp with pasta shells – keeping the sea theme. And what was that white sauce? It was delicious even after waiting hours.” However much he enjoyed the food, he was totally enjoying having Amanda standing so close, and in his arms.

“I didn’t really eat either,” she answered. “Just a taste of everything to make sure I wasn’t poisoning our guests. I was most worried that the salad would fizzle, but the dressing was so light, it was fine. I would say the salad was flavorful but crisp…. I think I’ve been in the advertising business too long. I am beginning to speak like a TV ad….” She backed away from him, but held his arms, not letting them release her. “So, it’s still early. Any ideas? What have you got on your mind?”

What I most want to do is to take her back into her bedroom, remove her clothes, and take hours to make love to every inch of her. I want to know what she smells like and tastes like….Yet, it’s been a long week…. “So you think we should sit on the couch together, and enjoy a glass of wine, and maybe talk with each other for a change, about stuff we care about?”

“As long as that’s simply an intermission …. You abandoned me last week, and I believe, you owe me some serious kissing and hugging….”

He was delighted and tickled. What are these business women coming to? “Well, perhaps we could amend that request…. The wine could come later….”

“…And the conversation,” she added. She held her head just so, and he bent his head, just so, and they re-discovered that kissing was very easy for them, and most satisfying. “And, forget about going home tonight….” Her hand slipped to his waist, with some fingers beginning to explore his muscular back and his lean and bony hips, and his well formed buttocks.

He couldn’t help but smile like a love sick adolescent after the prom queen asks him to dance, and he followed her into her bedroom.

…………

As they were deciding on the rest of their evening, Morgan and Georgia wasted no time in making a decision and went out to a nearby restaurant for coffee and desert. Amanda, who knew both, had thought that they would enjoy each other but everyone knows this often doesn’t work. How many friends have set up blind dates that totally failed? The difference was that Amanda had cleaned on this for a few months before acting on it. If an inspiration persists, it’s a true inspiration.

Mozart’s was a small place just a block away from Amanda’s on West 95th Street that Georgia had known about. It was a place where she often waited for Amanda to come home and they knew her. The host smiled whimsically when he saw her with Morgan because he was so used to seeing her alone, and without being asked he led them to a table in the corner, far from the music. He took their orders, and left without further discussion.

“Finally we meet,” Georgia said. “Amanda has been talking about you since you both met, and then and Ho’oponopono when you discovered Dr. Hew Len.”

“And, you. It is astonishing that we haven’t met before now, but so often she spends her free time out on Long Island rather than in the city.”

“And, you are often away. I talked her into having a party a few years ago so we could meet, and then at the last minute you were off covering for another PPL speaker whose baby was born early….”

“Oh, yes,” he said. “I remember that. I felt terrible that I had to miss her party, but owed coverage to Patrick who is one of the men who started with me. I know his story because I lived it with him. We started with PPL at the same time when we both owned old, old cars. He was missing a window, and I was missing a windshield wiper…. Since then, metaphorically, our cars have steadily improved with our businesses but I am still grateful for that first one.”

She said, “Together you would have had a functioning car.”

“Barely. There were other things wrong. Those were just the high points. But, it was an incentive for us both to work hard.” Morgan smiled the smile of an innocent youth.

“Were you still working in advertising then? When were you working with Anthony Robbins?”

He appeared happy to remember that time. “That was one of my first jobs. And, I am sure that it was the skills I learned from Anthony that allowed me to win the advertising job…. I am not a graduate of an Ivy League school which, as you know is how they generally pick their apprentices…. In fact, I am not a graduate of any college. I have a GED, or good enough diploma.”

He watched Georgia’s reaction as a miner tests the air. As he had come to expect, some women turn down their light immediately when they are no longer interested. It does not matter to those that Morgan is over 6 feet, athletic and fit, bright and successful, a member of the Millionaires’ Club and personal friend to hundreds of other millionaires, and a charming nationally known speaker who sells his product to over 90% of his audience. These women are only interested in one’s past and paper credentials. Other women seem to be reverse snobs, and become more interested in Morgan as they might be in a professional baseball player or a fireman – a hunk who is not expected to challenge them intellectually.

Georgia simply laughed at his joke, and continued. “I’ve known Amanda since we were kids. We went to the same little school in Orient, Oysterponds School. Her dad was a bayman. When I was starting high school, my family moved a little closer to Riverhead, just to make the commute easier for my father, but we still saw each other on weekends and shared friends. We knew almost every high school student on the North Fork. It was really quite a wonderful time…. We didn’t see much of each other in college, but both came back to the East Coast to work and so were able to resume our friendship. I remember when she met you. She was so excited to have someone she could trust and enjoy being with at that company.”

Morgan leaned forward, smiling a great smile and taking her hands in his. She felt totally captivated by his powerful attention. She could not remember ever being so close to such a passionate, self assured, man. He responded, “Amanda is a wonderful friend. I would not have been able to enjoy going to work every day if she wasn’t there. The job was horrible, tedious and stressful most of the time, but Amanda was my light, the humor and joy of every day…. I can imagine you two in high school and am not at all surprised that you knew everyone. She is one of those rare people who are equally at home with prince and pauper. She was as relaxed and funny with the president of our company as she was with the maintenance crew. You are the only other person I know from Orient Point, and it seems that you are more like her than not….”

Georgia smiled back, also leaned forward and gave his hands a teasing squeeze. “Not, completely according to your description, but I will leave that up to you to discover how we are different.”

The waiter brought their coffees and pastry and departed without additional interruption.

“If that is a challenge, I accept it,” he responded.

“A bit of one,” she answered.

“I will be around more this winter than I have been in the last few years….”

“I am often in Mattituck,” she answered, extending the challenge.

“I have a very nice car that I enjoy driving.”

Like two children playing a game, neither one had blinked or moved their eyes from the other’s gaze for this entire exchange. Georgia finally lowered her eyes to glance at her Napoleon, and then looked back at him again. “Do you sail?”

He grinned and leaned back. “No. I was more of a life guard and surfer on the south shore…. I will agree to spend a day on a sailboat on the Sound, if you will let me take you to the ocean….”

She took a bite of her pastry, and licked her lips clean before saying, “I’ve always been a little curious about surfing….You look like a skier as well…. Are you willing to learn to race? It’s probably not as thrilling as surfing, and it’s not as fast as water skiing, but it can be a challenge both physically and mentally to your endurance and determination.”

“I have never shied away from a race. I’m sure it would be a pleasure if you would also be on the boat.”

“I expect it to be.”

They made plans for Morgan to visit Georgia and Serpentine over the weekend. She wondered whether this was not a bit premature, but Amanda was to be there as well, and she trusted Amanda’s intuition about people implicitly. In that way, they were like sisters. They had always shared information about food and men. She would have to check on Jake. It would depend on whether or not his business plan was ready to show to her father, but it seemed to be going well. They hoped to finish the first draft before the weekend.

…………

When the other guys left his hotel room, they had all had quite a bit to drink. Jules was already suffering from a headache, but still would have preferred that they stay a little bit longer. He had no desire ever, to be alone at night. Of all the guys, Vince seemed to understand this although his reasons were different.

Jules was all too familiar with headaches and this was an “ongoing, persistent Air Hammer.” These were the consequence of drinking for a long time, or most of the day as he had today. Other times he might experience the “flaccid, Vice-grip” or the “unscrupulous, scurrilous stabber” or, the “cruising curriculum” or last, but not least, the “crushing helmet.” He may or may not have nausea with any of them, but always there were the bad dreams that took him back to his childhood.

While Vince’s childhood had been notable for neglect, Jules often wished to be left alone. He was an only child. His grandparents lived with him, and his mother didn’t work, and often his dad, a construction worker, was in-between jobs. When he was working, he earned a great salary which was more than enough to carry them over the hump, but when he was home he was miserable and everyone suffered.

“Hey, You, Dipshit” was one of his Dad’s calls. Jules also learned to respond to “Where’s the Idiot” and “Hey Cocksucker” or “Come over here MoonHead.” For some reason Jules never understood, this was the worst and Jules had learned to expect the worst treatment when he was called this way. He might expect to be hit when called “Hey, You, Dipshit” but he expected a long painful session when addressed as “Moonhead.” These sessions often included assaults against his ears with Cue tips coated in mineral oil. In spite of the oil, his ears often bled for a couple of days. The reason his father gave was that he hadn’t heard something that someone had said that he was expected to hear. Other times, there would be some painful session related to his mouth if he hadn’t answered his father with appropriate deference, or his hands might be the target if he knocked over and broke something. But, his few friends all had to put up with punishment, and name calling, so he did not consider any of this unusual.

Through repetition, the others in the family also learned their particular names and each was specific. His mom knew, for instance, that if he was yelling for “My Big nosed Cunt” he meant her, but if he was calling for help from “Bertha Booby” he meant his mother – Jules’ grandmother. His grandfather was most often “Useless” or the “Dripping Spigot.”

As if they were all rival siblings, each adult passed on their pain to a smaller, less defended person. Jules was the smallest, and he received the most torture. The CIA would never dare utilize the tactics this family perpetrated on this little person. His grandmother preferred enemas, and these would go on and on through several bags of hot water, sometimes laced with vinegar or castor oil, or some other ingredient she thought would be helpful. She claimed that he didn’t drink enough water, and she wanted to be sure that he didn’t hold back his feces. The result was that when in school, he did attempt to hold them back. This was usually unsuccessful since he was so stretched that “stuff leaked out” and often he was laughed at by his peers and teachers for being “stinky.” He realized that this was not common, but blamed himself, not his family. Luckily, this got a little better after his grandmother’s death as he grew to fit his anus.

His grandfather, “Useless” believed in work and punishment which was how he had raised Jules’ father, and was how he had been raised. (This contributed to Jules success in the Navy where he was known as a “tireless” worker. It did not help him at Xerox where he had to be more creative and flexible in order to develop his own weekly work plan which included meetings with potential customers.) “Spare the Rod” was too mild for this family. They believed in “Corporal Punishment” (sometimes to be self inflicted) which included metal rulers, the 18 inch variety, which were sometimes used for “whipping” and sometimes were heated for branding. This was undesirable, so, like a saint from the Middle Ages, Jules learned to raise welts on him self quickly.

Punishment also included outdoor work such as naked kindling gathering or log splitting (when he was older) in the snow. Gathering kindling is not easy in the snow because the twigs or broken limbs are all buried. Digging through the snow caused bleeding fingers, broken, bleeding nails, and frostbitten feet and knees. The local hospital was led to believe that Jules was a kid who often refused to wear the proper clothes outside, and was prone to frostbite. They had not had to amputate anything, but Jules had been subjected to tissue removal by the local surgeon when it was particularly bad. He had also come to learn that a cold bath follows this outdoor punishment, because even a warm bath is intolerably hot to nearly frostbitten tissue. Beyond that, he didn’t think that this part of his life was unusual, but normal. All his friends had chores and all were punished.

Jules’ Mom was not habitually mean. Sometimes she would comfort him with a little of what she used for comfort. This involved Southern Comfort in hot chocolate (Jules) or tea (Mom), and what she called, “Cozy hugging.” Cozy hugging was only engaged in when Jules’ father was in a working period, preferably out of town, because it took a long time, and involved not only hugging, but tickling. Whenever he was working, the old man used to go out drinking afterwards. He never got home before midnight so there was little worry the he might interrupt. Jules and his mother got naked “because the tickles work better that way. After enough tickling, they both could sleep.” This went on until he left for the Navy. He never told anyone about it although, when he thought about it, it wasn’t something shameful as much as the one “nice” memory from his childhood. Still, it was something private between his mother and him.

Whether at work or school, Jules suffered from anxiety when he thought of stopping, or resting. For this reason, he had trouble with time off, and had learned to play music to “fill the time.” He also came to think of his harmonica as his friend. He learned to compose music in his head. This was a great distraction from whatever “good” his body was being subjected to. It was like stepping out of his body into a padded sound room. He was no longer aware of anything beyond its walls.

Jules had suffered from sleep disorders for as long as he could remember. He could fall asleep quickly, but as soon as the nightmares/memories/flashbacks started, he would wake up. Reading sometimes worked, but when he was unable to concentrate on the story, only his harmonica brought him peace. This was difficult to do when still at home because there would be “hell to pay” if he woke anybody up. He usually just went outside in the dark, where sounds would be swallowed up by the night before they had gone very far. Once on a ship, it was easy to step out on deck, and those on watch were usually happy to have some company.

After leaving the Navy, he had met many of his drinking buddies this way as drinkers often have trouble sleeping and might be out wandering around. It didn’t cross his mind to make the connection that alcohol contributed to his difficulty with sleeping through the night, as it did for his new acquaintances. Since he had this night time problem before he was consciously drinking, he never connected the two.

Jules couldn’t sleep the night before talking with Jake about joining his team. The “ongoing, persistent Air Hammer” of a head-ache kept him from reading or from going for a walk. The solution, he knew, was to stay awake with his music to help to find some calm. With some finagling, he managed to squeeze one of the chairs out onto the little deck off his bedroom, and put his feet up on the railing, and played his harmonica until he saw the first burst of sunlight infuse the Eastern trees of Central Park and frame the buildings of the eastside in a brilliant gold.

This was his signal to return indoors. Like a vampire, he was able to sleep in the day once he had pulled the curtains. He put out the “Do Not Disturb” sign and set his clock to give him some time to get ready meeting with Vince before the meeting. He didn’t bother to think about whether sleeping all day would be a good move or not. These were his buddies. How could it be bad?

2 Bumps in the unpaved road

Vince picked up Jules as promised. He brought coffee and food up with him which was a good and thoughtful thing, because Jules was just coming out of the shower, and hadn’t yet thought about food.

“I thought you might be hungry” Vince explained, “although Jake always provides something. There’s not always time to enjoy it.”

Jules surveyed his metabolism and decided that food would be acceptable and helpful. “Thanks. I haven’t eaten yet.”

Vince was already sitting at the small coffee table in the sitting area of the hotel room and unwrapping two sandwiches. “I didn’t know what you’d want, so went simple. Turkey sandwiches with Russian dressing. Pickles and coleslaw on the side. Plenty of sugar for the coffee.”

Jules was in the bedroom area, quickly putting on some clothes. “I’ll come in a suit for my interview….”

“Don’t be silly, Jules. Jake knows what you look like.”

“I think I need to show that I can make the effort.”

“I have some Visine you could use for your eyes. I had to pick some up this morning before I went to work because my eyes looked like I had a brain hemorrhage in the night. That will take care of the eyes….”

Jules laughed. “Mine aren’t that bad…. Must be the years of constant attack…. But, otherwise, I look like I’ve been run over by the Green Bay Packers. I think a suit will be ‘suitably’ distracting.” Jules emerged in a blue suit, with a gold shirt, and blue and gold tie, and joined Vince on the couch.

Vince smiled, but winced because although the suit looked good, Jules looked just as if he had been partying all night. He thought of the movie about Vincent Van Gogh and couldn’t remember who the old time actor was. “You’ve got Justin doing your press. Don’t worry.”

Jules explained. “It’s just, after the Xerox email firing me; I’m not feeling very dynamic….”

Vince tried to be encouraging. “Come on, eat the sandwich, drink your coffee and let’s get going. There’s no help to be gained by sitting around worrying and Jake won’t appreciate it if we’re late.”

Jules had to eat a little more slowly than Vince was comfortable with and Vince was pacing nervously long before they actually left. Jules wanted to get a cab, but Vince convinced him that it was suicide to take surface transportation from the upper West Side to the lower East Side at rush hour. They speed walked to the N Subway because that went into Union Square which was only a 10 – 15 minute walk for them to Jake’s.

The twosome arrived shortly after Justin finished explaining to Jake about his invitation. Jake was annoyed because he still had some organizing to do and didn’t want to meet with anyone. However, Justin pulled the “loyalty to Navy buddies” card, and Jake agreed to at least talk with Jules, provided Justin would make it possible for him to do it alone. Justin would have agreed to any stipulation and quickly agreed.

The only way to do that in a studio apartment was for Jake and Jules to go out for a walk. Justin agreed to stay to buzz the other team members into the apartment. In his mind, Jake determined to be back in 30 minutes. That would give Jules the time he needed, and Jake would only be 10 minutes late for his own meeting. He wouldn’t give Jules, and wouldn’t have given the president of IBM, more time than that. Jake was firm about being on time for meetings.

They headed out and turned down Avenue C, so they wouldn’t be joined by any other team members coming across 14th Street. This was part of Alphabet City, an extension of Manhattan that butts out into the East River, and is home to many, many housing projects running all the way down to the Brooklyn Bridge, halted only by South Street Seaport Museum. It wasn’t crowded at this hour. A few mothers were going to the supermarket or picking up their children from their babysitters.

“So, Jules,” Jake began, “Justin tells me that you are available to join our Master Mind Group, with the idea of eventually being a partner in our corporation. I don’t know whether he told you anything about the company or our product idea….”

“No, Jake. He seemed to think that it was best to keep the product a secret, until you and I decided whether or not I would be a good addition to the team.”

Jake was nodding, pleased. “Discretion. Good. Well, it will be an expensive package product, not unlike a Xerox machine. It will be unique, and come with a maintenance agreement, and most likely be leased rather than purchased for executives who are on leave for some reason. It won’t be delivered to the corporate office, but to the executive’s home. – Sort of an addition to a benefit package.” He slowed his walking, and looked over to Jules. “It’s not going to be an easy sell, or an easy appointment to make. Whoever sells this is going to have to believe in a new direction for corporate leaders. You really will be selling an idea more than the product…. What do you think?”

“Aren’t you concerned about what happened between Xerox and myself….?”

Jake laughed. “I don’t believe you are supposed to bring up the interviewer’s concerns. You are supposed to be selling yourself, Jules. Justin said that you were laid off due to a budget crisis at Xerox.” He noticed that it was almost time to turn around. “But we have to be heading back soon. Just tell me what you would bring to our team.”

“I’m a good salesman, Jake.” Jules affirmed. “I won the award for the best salesman in my training group. You know that I work hard.” Jules chose not to tell him that once they were back at their permanent sites, he fell to the bottom of the group. It worried him that Jake might check that out, make a phone call and talk to personnel. His only chance was to bluff….

“I remember that, and you are concise. But, honestly, I also remember that you worked best with clear directions. When the job required some ingenuity or ran into a glitch, you were not the man who solved the problem. Also, you seemed to have a little problem with authority. We were all your peers, so we all got along fine, but I remember you having some problem with the execs. How did that work out for you when you had to meet with purchasing executives to sell your Xerox machines or when you had to take direction from your boss?”

Jules felt the heat building up inside him, as if he were having trouble with his thermostat. He wondered if his face was as red as it felt. He knew that he was going to have to admit to some difficulty with authority, but that wasn’t uncommon in his experience. “I didn’t like the officers very well. That’s true. They all seemed to feel they were better than us and they didn’t seem to care how much work we already had on our plate when they were assigning new work…. The purchasing executives don’t assign work. I had an easier time dealing with them.”

“And, how did you handle it when they gave you a hard time or were resistant about making an appointment with you?” Jake looked at him intently.

“Some will, some won’t, so what, next.” Jules was feeling a little more at home, and the heat began to diminish….

Jules noticed that Jake had stopped walking and they turned around together.

Jules continued. “I simply moved on to the next purchasing agent. If they didn’t need a copier, or didn’t want to give us a chance to bid, then there was no point in pursuing them.”

Jake wasn’t pleased with this answer but tried not to give any indication…. He understood that salesmen needed a way to move on without being discouraged or they couldn’t continue to sell, but he also didn’t think that Jules had the persistence that would be needed to make an appointment with someone who didn’t yet know that his company needed their product…. “Did you consider that you were selling a copy machine, or the idea that advanced capability or capacity was needed by your buyer?”

Jules thought for a moment. “The machine. There are many companies out there selling copy machines. We were selling the Ford. We were the first company and have had the most experience. We provide the most service and the most sophistication for the best price. If they want the BMW or the Mercedes, they go to another company. If they want the VW, there is another company for that as well.”

I like that he is still referring to Xerox as ‘we’ even though they canned him. It shows a great deal of company loyalty. Even so, I know that some salesmen do better selling ideas, and others sell a product. Our product will require selling the idea first. He didn’t have to sell the idea because once he announced where he was calling from, they were already thinking ‘copiers’. I am afraid that he is a product man, and not an idea man. “I have to be honest with you Jules. I am not sure this is going to work out. Have you really thought about leaving the world of safe salary, bonuses and direct deposit, for a share in a very new entrepreneurial venture with no immediate cash flow?”

The truth was, Jules hadn’t. And, he wasn’t sure whether he could sell a need, an idea for a product where there wasn’t already the need. However, he liked being with these guys and figured that he could learn what he had to learn. “I’d like the chance Jake. I haven’t had to sell an idea, but neither have the other guys if I’m not mistaken. At least I have sales training and some good tools. I will be getting some vacation money that I can use to get an apartment and will collect unemployment for a few months. This is the right time. Give me a chance, why don’t ‘cha?”

Jake squeezed his lips together. “Well, you have a point. None of us are salesmen. OK, Jules. Stay for the meeting. Just wait downstairs for a few minutes. I will talk with the team and then we’ll have you up if everyone can agree today. Otherwise, I’ll come down and let you know whether we need more discussion or whether some team members need to meet you.”

Jules was first pleased, and then angry at himself for being pleased. He didn’t really need anything from Jake Classen of all people and he wasn’t sure how Jake got to be the boss…. He’d make out just fine without them…. Maybe he shouldn’t agree to hang around while they talked about him…. What was there to talk about? They all knew him. He didn’t want them to think that he was desperate, especially for a volunteer position…. “I’ll wait downstairs as long as I can.”

Jake frowned a bit. What has he got to do but wait? How much can he really want this if he isn’t willing to wait until the other guys have a chance to think about this? “You didn’t mention that you had any other appointments….”

“Well, I do.”

“Then, perhaps this isn’t the right time for you to start with us. Perhaps you need to take care of whatever else you have to take care of first…. This meeting isn’t going to be over quickly, so if you have something else to do….”

Jules realized that he had made a tactical mistake. Jake wasn’t arguing for him to stay and wasn’t inviting him upstairs, but was encouraging him to leave. “I will make a phone call while you talk with the team, and I’ll be able to stay.”

The lobby of Jake’s building was small and had no seating. He left Jules standing, with nothing to do but to be looking out the front door. When Jake got upstairs, everyone was there, including Amanda and Georgia, eating the food he had ordered. He wished he could get someone like Morgan on the team to sell….

Justin and Vince had already explained where he was. Charlie knew about it too, but it was the first Amanda and Georgia were hearing about Jules, and they didn’t know him. They looked concerned.

Georgia asked first, “So, what do you think, Jake? Is he the salesman you want on the team? Will he be a solid partner?”

Jake was concerned, but didn’t know why. “He’s not Anthony Robbins or Morgan Mallory, but we know him and have worked with him before.”

Georgia persisted. “Everyone here says he’s a good man, but is he a salesman? I thought that you were looking for excellence on your team, not just bodies.”

“Truth is,” Jake began, smiling, “Georgia, you and Amanda are the only professionals. The rest of us have no idea what we’re doing other than what we have already read and continue to read about. Jules was on our team on the ship and is somewhat more experienced than we are in sales. We are doing our best to learn what we need to know. Charlie is working as an engineer in a product design firm. Justin is working for another start up company. Vince is working for a publishing group, just to pay the rent.” Am I arguing for him now? I didn’t like the idea of rejecting him for lack of experience….

Jake continued. “Maybe we could use another full timer. But, what do you all think? Can I just see hands on who thinks that bringing on Jules is a great idea and other hands on who thinks it’s a terrible idea, and finally, who would like more information? And, before I ask you to actually raise your hands, I want to confirm that this is a confidential vote. I don’t expect anyone to ever report to Jules the actual vote. If anyone thinks that is a problem, we can vote by ballot.”

“No, Jake, we trust each other, don’t we. Yes, yes they all answered.”

“First, who thinks this would be a big mistake?” Jake asked. Georgia raised her hand.He followed with the positive. “Who thinks this is a grand idea?” Justin raised his hand and was encouraging Vince to do the same, but Vince kept his hand down.Jake continued with a final query. “Finally, who would like more information?” Charlie, Vince and Amanda raised their hands.

Justin was frowning at Vince. “Vince, why? Why didn’t you vote him in? What more information could you possibly want?

Vince had felt weird about his vote and knew that he would be questioned. He was ready for a discussion. “Just a feeling. When I picked him up tonight, he wasn’t ready, and he wasn’t in good shape. Now, we all were drinking late last night, but I got to work, and I bet you did too, Justin?”

“Sure. I always make it to werk the next day,” Justin reassured everyone. “We don’t let our werk inte’fere with our pa’rties in Louisiana.”

“Well, he was just getting out of the shower, and it was his first shower. He hadn’t eaten yet all day, and had trouble getting down the turkey that I brought. He hadn’t picked up. All the glasses were right where we left them.” Looking toward Charlie, “And the night we had to go get you, he was one step behind all night. – So, I just don’t know about him.”

“What do you think, Amanda,” Jake asked. “You often have good instincts.”

“I can’t really get a feeling unless I meet him,” she answered simply. “On paper, I wish he had more than 1 year at Xerox.”

“OK. Justin, please explain why you are such a supporter,” Jake requested.

“He’s an old teammate, and we don’t have that many of them. He was th’re for Charlie, ev’n if he’s not as fast as Vince. He neva hesitated. He has sales training from Xerox and I und’astand that they provide the best training in that area other than the encyclopedia houses.” Justin was clear and concise, and always loyal.

“And, he won an award among his training classmates” Jake added. “So he has some talent.” I am not comfortable with him in such an intimate and integral position, but I also don’t feel good about tossing him out without a chance. I have always thought that he drank too much, but he seemed to function. I wonder if I should even try to steer Justin, Charlie and Vince away from him. It was different when he was living halfway across the country, but if he is going to stay around…. Jake did what he always did when he felt helplessly stymied. He turned to his most solid and practical engineer.

“Charlie?” he asked.

“There is something missing. If he was a car, or a boat, I wouldn’t buy him. I hate to say this about a shipmate. I would go out in him if he belonged to someone else as long as there were paddles or jumper cables on board, but I wouldn’t buy him for myself. The night that Harry disappeared, he just kept playing his harmonica, and Harry was his friend. The night that you all rescued me, he wasn’t concerned about me in the way that you guys clearly were. He was determined to be there, and not to disappoint, but he wasn’t concerned about me. Last night, when Vince arrived from your place Amanda, something was wrong. I kept trying to find out what it was, and Jules kept giving him drinks. – Alcohol is not the solution to everything. He’s numb. He wasn’t even that concerned about his job and we were there when he found out….. Honestly, Justin, have you ever seen such a bland no-reaction to such news? I thought you were more concerned than he was.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself, Jake thought. There is something a little off.

“Even a guy who hates his job has more of a reaction….” Justin admitted.

“Do you all want a chance to talk with him, or should I just go downstairs and tell him it isn’t going to work out?” Jake asked.

“Hey, wait a minute,” Vince interjected. “Couldn’t we try Ho’oponopono on Jules? If we are really sincere, that should help to turn him into the partner and salesman we all want, correct?”

Jake looked at Amanda and shrugged. “If it worked for the inmates at the prison who weren’t asking for help….”

Amanda answered, “Well, theoretically, yes. But, that will heal any illness, such as his lack of concern about others if it is pathological, and his drinking. It will not teach someone the skills to become a better salesperson.” She looked at Jake and he answered.

“100% responsibility” he said and she nodded in agreement.

Charlie and Justin looked at each other and then at the rest of the group. Charlie spoke for both of them. “Hey, would someone explain this hex on pono or whatever you said. We English speakers don’t know what you are talking about.”

Jake and Georgia both turned to Amanda. “When Morgan’s not here, you are the teacher” they said.

She frowned. “It’s not easy to explain, but the principle is simple. It’s about taking 100% for everything in your life, particularly everything that raises an unpleasant feeling. In this case, we all have some concerns about Jules as a new partner. We can take 100% responsibility and use Ho’oponopono to cure any problems we might have that would cause him to be less than the best that he could be.”

Jake, who was standing near Amanda said quietly, “Bravo.”

Amanda smiled and continued, “In practice, we do this by stating our love for Jules, our regret for anything we or our ancestors might have done to interfere with his healthy and whole development, we ask for forgiveness, and then we give thanks for the clearing. Or, if you prefer, you can state your love for yourself, and your sorrow that you have a program creating an error, and ask the Universe, or Creator, or Divinity to transmute the program causing the trouble, and then state your thanks for its being done. – And we can do this, each of us, right here, right now, before we bring him up…..”

Jake asked, “Is everyone in agreement?”

“You bet, boss,” said Justin. Everyone else was nodding, including Charlie who looked the most skeptical.

“It’s worth a try,” Charlie added. “And, none of this is on paper until we are incorporated…” he added already thinking of an out in case it didn’t work.

They took some time to think about and individually do Ho’oponopono for Jules, and then Jake went back down to the lobby to get him.

He was still there, sitting on the bottom step waiting, and happy to come up to meet the group. “I’m glad the group is letting me join!” he said sincerely. “I almost left several times. It seemed to be taking so long. But, then I had a feeling that everything was going to turn out right and stayed.”

“Good,” Jake answered. “Everyone feels great about it and is so happy that you are joining us.”

“I didn’t really believe that you were going to say ‘yes’,” Jules reiterated, “for the longest time. And, then, I had a funny feeling….”

“Got to watch those ‘feelings’” Jake said. “Sometimes things happen that surprise you. Come on up and meet the members you don’t know. I’m telling you, you are going to fit in fine.” And, sometimes we surprise ourselves, but there’s no point in making a guy feel unwanted. The only way this will work is if he feels 100% accepted and 100% trusted.

Jules stood and shook his hand. “I’m really proud to be a member of your mind storming group. Thanks.”

Jake smiled and realized that he really felt that this was going to work out. They walked up the stairs together. The group had added a chair to the table, and each greeted Jules sincerely. Jules was smiling broadly the whole time. Vince thought that Jules looked better than he had earlier, and wondered why he thought he needed the Visine. His eyes looked fine, if only a little glassy. Perhaps some B vitamins were needed.

Amanda, who seemed to be taking charge of the sales force, took him into her team with Justin. No man would complain about this, and Jules was no exception. Jake trusted her to do continual cleaning, as he did also. Every time he looked over, Jules seemed connected and often seemed to be making contributions. Jake would check with Amanda later, but she looked satisfied.

Vince was working with Georgia on writing up the budget. He was doing the narrative to match her numbers. He also was working with Jake on his narratives, the history, the management information, and the overall description. Sometimes, it seemed to Jake, that the team was very small, too small, but they were tight. They knew and trusted each other, and that counted for a lot when they were facing an almost impossible deadline.

By the end of the night, each group was able to report that they were finished. This was great, happy news. Georgia announced that they had a reader for the weekend, her father, and might have some editing to do next week, but if all was well, Jake would soon be able to meet a group of investors.

There was cheering all around. And, then Jake reminded them that it was time to choose a name for the company. He explained that all the names proposed by the team a few meetings ago had been cleared by the lawyers. They now had to select the name of their company. He listed the suggested and cleared names on his flip chart:

1. Homebridge or

2. Winsome or

3. Great Escapades, or

4. Super Nova or

5. Slow Guy

With some enthusiasm, Charlie explained to Jules, who had just learned what the product was, why the name Slow Guy was appropriate, especially for “recovering” commuters.

They did a secret ballot, on paper. When Jake collected the ballots and read each one, it seemed that Slow Guy had won unanimously! Given that even those who had thought up the other names voted for Slow Guy, there was no need to explain or to complain. So, they cheered again. The name of their company would be Slow Guy, Incorporated (once they had incorporated.)

Jake made a cover page with their new name and made sure that the entire business plan printed out as each team had done their section. It looked good. He closed the meeting after thanking them all for their hard work.

Now, this would have been the time in the past when Jules would have invited everyone out for a drink. But he didn’t. He was surprised that he didn’t have any desire to drink, as if the last week had been enough for a long time. He just wanted to go back to the hotel to sleep so that he could get up the next morning and begin to look for an apartment. He now had a reason to stay in NYC.

…………

On Friday morning, Jake, Amanda and Georgia were in Georgia’s Toyota Highlander with the Hybrid engine. They had decided to drive out together so they could go over the business plan, and, indeed, they went over and over the business plan until they thought they had answers for any question that Bruce might have. Georgia was driving, and Jake and Amanda were taking turns reading from the plan. Georgia was the best at posing questions. Jake thought they were a little weak on “management”, and wondered if Bruce would join them as a board member. They all agreed that their “needs assessment” was a little sketchy. But, there was nothing to be done about it now. They would just have to wait until Bruce had his chance to rip into it to try to draw blood. They finished at just about the time Georgia exited 495, the LIE, at exit 72, and began to make her way to the north road.

This is a road, along the Long Island Sound side of Long Island, which runs all the way to the end of the island at the ferry landing and State Park in Orient. Jake didn’t actually know how far west it went from Riverhead. The name changes and the structure changes from a single lane highway to a two lane highway and back again. It is descriptively known as “the north road” and used by locals rushing, rather than the main road, because it has fewer lights and less business traffic. However, it is also the road linking most of the farm fields, the vineyards and the farm stands, and on occasion, the otherwise fast road is shared with a tractor or an elder with poor eyesight, or consumers touring from stand to stand or vineyard to winery. Long lines of cars sometimes get caught behind vehicles going 25 – 30 mph rather than 50 – 60 mph, which creates visual confirmation that the slow man always wins on the one lane highway.

This happened on Friday morning, that a farmer pulling a tiller was using the north road. Those ahead of Georgia could have seen that he had his DEERE baseball cap riding high for better ventilation and was chewing on a toothpick. He was comfortably taking his time, preserving his equipment, while the car right behind was sporadically rushing up to him, ready to pass him, but was frustrated by an oncoming car, over and over. However, those in Georgia’s car sat back unperturbed, taking it as confirmation that it was the time of the Slow Guy.

Once in Mattituck, Georgia took them to a point overlooking Long Island Sound. They all felt the need for a hiatus before meeting with Bruce. It was a little cool near the water and Georgia pulled a couple of sweaters out of the back for Amanda and Jake, and put on a windbreaker herself. They sat on the bluff, breathing the wonderfully salt bitten air while they watched the waves from the north breaking on the rocks. They each did ho’oponopono for Slow Guy, and for each other.

“The Slow Guy always wins” Jake affirmed.

“On the one lane highway” Amanda finished.

“And in business,” Georgia added. “In Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill affirms that it is usually persistence rather than inspiration that makes a company successful. Henry Ford pushed his engineers to develop a piston engine that could be mass produced even though they thought it was impossible, and Thomas Edison waited a long time for his men to finally discover that, among all the different metals and elements they tested, the tungsten filament would last for a long time as the key ingredient inside the electric light bulb.”

Jake and Amanda who were just happy to be together, just nodded and smiled, and they all had one more look, and one more thought before they got up to go meet with Bruce.

3 Angels in Gabardine

They pulled up into Georgia’s driveway, and were a little surprised that no one appeared to greet them. They pulled their bags out of the trunk and Georgia knocked before opening the door.

“A little strange” she mentioned. “Usually Dad is out here to help….”

“We’re not guests today,” Jake guessed, “But business acquaintances….” I am not going to let this bother me. I am not going to be grabbing at signs all weekend. I am going to present Slow Guy the best I can and wait for Bruce’s comments.

Her mother arrived in the front hall before they had time to go further, and gave her daughter a hug and kiss, and grabbed Amanda’s hand and pulled her over to hug her as well. She shook Jake’s hand and gave it a squeeze. “Welcome. We’ve been watching out for you, but Bruce just went down into the basement to add another coat of varnish to something. He’ll be up in a minute. He asked me to escort you all into his office. Who would like tea?”

“I’ve got it, Mom, and thanks,” said Georgia.

They all agreed that tea would be perfect and Margo went off to the kitchen. Georgia led the way to Bruce’s office and they put their bags down near to door. The room was light enough due to windows on three sides although there was no direct sunlight, and airy. He preferred fresh air to air conditioning and two windows were wide open with curtains light enough to be flowing like a Styrofoam cup on a river.

He had a large, maple desk, which was never empty, but never cluttered. However busy he was at tax time, or when involved in the startup of a new company, he kept files in their file drawers except for the one project that had his immediate attention. He kept a piece of paper that was his “to do” list in the center drawer. He used this, rather than a stack of files, to track his next and future projects. He lived by the credo that a clean desk helped him to keep his focus until he finished the task at hand.

All the chairs in the office were made of both soft leather and maple, or stuffed and covered in a natural taupe, or as Jake thought of it, Harbor Seal colored upholstery fabric, and then there was one magnificent couch covered in a tapestry that depicted British ships sailing away from a Spanish or French pirate ship that was firing at them. Neutral framing around the primary point of drama in the room, Jake realized. And, Bruce was able to look up from his desk to gaze on the one treasure, whenever he wanted.

There were several old oriental carpets around the room, protecting the wide, soft pine boards from leather shoes with other than soft leather soles. There was one stove on the side wall, situated so that Bruce could use it when he was there alone and needed some heat, or in the spring and fall when it was just a bit cool. This was functional because the office was way off by itself at the north end of the house. There was no sense in heating that whole large room if Bruce was the only one in it. This day was no different although Bruce had Georgia’s guests, or business colleagues. The wing was comfortably warm in spite of the open windows due to a carefully tempered coal fire in the stove.

Why didn’t I notice all of this the last time I was here? Is this Ho’oponopono or the adrenalin kicking in?

Margo returned with their tea, and set up the pot on a metal tray on a grated shelf above the stove to keep it warm. She poured them each a cup and then left as Bruce arrived. He gave her a kiss as they passed.

“Hi, all” Bruce greeted them as he walked to his desk.

They greeted him in return, and Jake walked over with the copy of their business plan made for Bruce. This is it. If he likes it, we have a company with a product, but if he doesn’t, we’re back to square one. “This is a copy of our business plan, Sir,” he said simply. Damn, couldn’t you have thought of something more inspired, more memorable?

Meanwhile, unbeknown to Jake, both Georgia and Amanda were doing Ho’oponopono on Bruce, Jake and on Slow Guy, Incorporated.

“Please, Jake, could you summarize the plan for me?”

“Certainly,” he answered, sounding surer of himself than he felt. “Slow Guy is a company producing a portable office module that has the technological capability of putting an occupant in both auditory and visual communication with a home office, usually in an urban location. This will be used by executives on maternity or medical leave at their home so they can have virtual contact with their staff at will, or it could be used by a sales force setting up in a new location, for example. It will be powered by solar power cells, able to store enough energy for several consecutive cloudy days. We can provide the cell phone and internet access, or hook up the company’s service.” Jake paused to give Bruce a chance to ask a question.

Bruce smiled politely. Jake was sure it was a polite smile because he had seen Bruce’s sincere smiles of approval, and this wasn’t it. Ho’oponopono. I love this business, and if I have done anything to interfere or if I have failed to do anything to advance its success, I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Transmute the errant program. Thank you.

Bruce asked, “And, why would I want a module when I have a perfectly beautiful and comfortable office right here?”

Jake answered quickly without defensiveness, surprising himself. “Well, it’s likely that you wouldn’t, but a man or woman with several young children at home might not want the interruptions, particularly if s/he was regularly joining or running a virtual conference or someone with limited space might not be able to set up an office during a temporary leave such as follows a medical procedure like a knee operation.”

“And,” Bruce asked, “What will be the approximate cost of these units?”

“A few thousand dollars is our best estimate at the present time” Georgia answered when Jake looked at her.

Bruce continued, “And, do you honestly think that there will be enough such cases to warrant a whole company to service them?”

“We think so, now that FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act) is being used more and more it will provide the immediate need, and once the cost of gas doubles over the next one to three years, we think that more and more companies will be chose to offer their experienced executives a chance to work from home at least a few days a week, provided that it is efficient and dependable. It will actually save productive time since they will be able to drop their children off at school and still attend an 8:30 am meeting without being late. They will be able to pick up their children at school, and drop them off at swimming practice without missing the 4 pm conference.” Jake paused again, worrying that he was talking too much and not really listening to Bruce.

Bruce frowned slightly, although it was enough for Jake to notice. Bruce commented. “You are assuming that companies will want to improve their executives’ comfort off site – at a considerable expense. Who will be minding the store?” he asked the group.

Georgia got up to get the tea pot, and poured more for herself and Amanda. Bruce and Jake waved her off pleasantly.

Jake answered with surety since they had discussed this. “There will always be office managers, but a more sophisticated version could include several audio/visual sites at the home office so that the remote based executive could have continuous monitoring of his office, the conference room for meetings, and his secretary’s desk and a junior’s desk for monitoring and communication as the guard desk in a large operation has continuous visual feed of several locations at once. In this case, he would actually have more complete awareness of what’s going on than he now would with occasionally walks from one site to another.”

Bruce continued to query. “And, with FMLA, most companies find it convenient to replace their on leave executives with temporary placements. This gives them an actual person on site to perform whatever tasks are required for a specific period of time. Why do you think they would choose to make it easy for an executive to work from home?”

“Assuming the person on leave is a valuable player, s/he already knows the job and the team. She or he can continue to do the work they were doing before the medical situation, with very little time off. The module offices will be comfortable, and set up like the nav-console of a racing yacht so they can get back to work at least part time as soon as they are released from the hospital. If they are at home taking care of another family member, they will only be away from their desks for the time needed to do that caretaking, and can be back at their desks within a few minutes of finishing that task…. Alternatively, if a temp comes on board, the company is paying two salaries for one job, and while one of those people is not working at all, the substitute is not performing up to speed while they are learning the job. Usually, before the temp has mastered the work, the permanent employee is back. Our Slow Guy module would allow the permanent employee to stay on the job rather than going on leave.” A few thousand dollars is beginning to sound like a bargain…. They could save that amount in the first month!

Bruce finally smiled. “Good. I think you’re right about that. I am just concerned about the numbers we are actually talking about. How many modules do you think you would have to sell to support one office?”

Here is where things get a little unclear to the Slow Guy team. They just weren’t sure. Be totally honest. Bruce is here to help, not hinder. “We aren’t sure, for a number of reasons. For one, we are also considering renting or leasing the modules, to make it easier for a company with limited resources, in the same way that they are able to lease copy machines that are costly and computers that frequently need to be replaced with more current capacity and speed.”

Bruce nodded. “You have a little research to do. Find out whether Xerox started out by selling, or leasing, and how that worked out for them. IBM also had both a sales and leasing operation before Apple and Microsoft made owning computers more affordable for small operations. Check out which division had the better profit…. And, when you meet with investors, you will need to know how easily your module can be duplicated by a competitor without patent infringement…. I can give you an introduction to a patent engineer if you’d like…. Meanwhile, let me spend some time this afternoon reading this.”

“And,” Bruce added, “I like the name Slow Guy, but it doesn’t follow normal business strategy. In fact, it flies in the face of normal strategy. Can you explain how you came on it?”

Jake nodded. “We had bigger names, such as Super Nova, and more descriptive names such as Homebridge. We had names indicating success, such as Winsome and Great Escapades. Still, we thought Slow Guy had more personality, and it gave the feeling of a yoga master who knows how to relax and is able to accept the wisdom of slowing down. Finally, we have noticed that slow often wins. The fable of The Tortoise and the Hare is captivating because of the inherent truth we all recognize. The tortoise doesn’t have to rush because he keeps his focus. We hoped to indicate that the man or woman working from home might not be waking at the crack of dawn and speeding toward the office every day, but can keep focus and accomplish a great deal. Often the business that simply keeps its focus does better than the one speeding toward success. Napoleon Hill emphasizes persistence as the 8th step toward riches in Think and Grow Rich and gives us many examples of this.

Bruce nodded and said simply, “I can’t argue with Napoleon Hill. I think it’s an inspired name. We’ll see how it plays with the investors.”

Bruce turned and looked toward Georgia. “You all look pretty beat. If you’d like to take Serpentine out, it’s cool but there’s plenty of warm gear on board, and there’s a beautiful breeze…. She needs a good run….”

Georgia looked toward Jake and gestured towards him with her chin.

He took her direction. He answered for the group. “We’ll do the research, and we’d like to meet with your patent engineer very much. We were worried about our design, not the danger of being ripped off…. And, I think we could use a sail on Serpentine since you are offering.” He noted with relief that Amanda and Georgia were both smiling in agreement. I wonder if one ever feels comfortable answering for other people without any chance to consult….

The Slow Guy team left Bruce alone with their proposal. Before leaving to discuss the meeting among themselves, they headed into the kitchen to speak with Margo, and to see whether there was any food to be had. They all were aware of being “famished!” which was understandable since they hadn’t had a real meal in two weeks other than Amanda’s dinner party. If they hadn’t been hungry before opening the kitchen door, they would have been hungry at that point. Cinnamon and a touch of nutmeg. Perhaps an apple pie had been cooked recently…. And, a wiff of honey and butter…. Perhaps sticky buns Jake hoped.

Bruce had nailed their state. They had been stressed and pushing to produce the best business plan they could, as fast as they could. This had been their one focus. For a brief time, they felt a little crack with a little sunlight and air coming through that felt wonderful, and they wanted nothing more than to take advantage of it.

While they were in the kitchen, chatting with Margo who was pulling different containers out of the refrigerator for them to try, the doorbell rang. Margo left them with the food and went to answer the door. They could hear her talking pleasantly and when she came back, Morgan was with her. They all greeted him with a smile, but Georgia was radiant. Her mother caught it immediately, and cocked her head in surprise, but was too composed to say anything right then.

Georgia didn’t notice her mother’s reaction. She didn’t notice anything or anyone but Morgan from the time he walked in, and he locked on to her eyes as soon as he entered the room. Georgia had the feeling that she had known Morgan for her whole life, and that she wouldn’t mind being lost in his gaze for at least the next 50 years.

It’s almost embarrassing to be in the same room with them. I wonder if Amanda feels the same…. He looked over and Amanda was looking at him. He motioned toward the door and they exited with Margo who had caught their intention.

Jake was laughing and pulling on his collar as if to let out some heat as they moved into the living room. “Whew. What happened the other night?”

Amanda laughed with him. “They went out for coffee and desert…. It must have been some desert….”

Margo smiled. “It’s nice to see my daughter in this state. I was wondering if something was wrong and she’d never have such an opportunity…. Especially, Jake, when she told me that you and she were just friends. I began to worry that she wasn’t capable of letting go.”

He smiled and said, “I wasn’t the right person for her, but I think Morgan has the key….”

Amanda asked, “Do you think they are going to want to go sailing?”

Jake shrugged. “I think we should eat, and then see what Georgia says. Perhaps they’d prefer going tomorrow…. But, if they don’t come out in a few minutes, I’m going in because my hunger will trump my embarrassment every time.”

Margo was still smiling and looking toward the kitchen. “I think I’ll go back to my project in the den. My daughter will know where to find me if she needs anything from me. By the way, you guys are in the same rooms you were in last time. I am not sure where Morgan will be, but I will leave that up to Georgia.” With that, Ms Bradfruit retreated happily.

Jake sat down on a straight backed chair, and pulled his cell phone out of his pocket. He said to Amanda, “I’ll just call Charlie, and see what he can find out about IBM and Xerox today. The library will be open if he can’t find what we need on the internet. Perhaps Jules can help him.”

Amanda decided she would get their bags from the office and take them to their room. When she returned, Jake was just finishing his conversation. She sat on a nearby sofa.

Jake noticed her cross her legs and run her hands across the wonderful fabric, clearly enjoying the sensual feel of it. What are we doing? I wish that was me she was enjoying…. Tonight, I am not going to let business distract us. Even so, when he got off the phone, he managed to be all business and explained to Amanda, “He thought it sounded as if the meeting went well. He was happy to do the research and assured me that he would at least talk with Jules….. I am hoping that Jules will work out….”

“I think he will.” She reassured him. “He had some good suggestions for the business plan. I actually think that Bruce will be impressed when he gets to the marketing and sales section….. We will just keep cleaning.”

“You know, Amanda, it was an odd feeling I had in that meeting, almost as if the company had already started and was doing well, and I was just reliving the setup of it….”

“Sometimes I feel that way when I’m doing a presentation. I call it inspiration, or as Wayne Dyer would say, being ‘in spirit’. It’s a very strong visualization when you present as if something already exists. Usually, your audience is also able to see it.”

“Do you have an odd sense of time when that happens?”

“Sometimes. And, sometimes I think I sense a shadow in the room, which I have decided is my own spirit from the future…. Does that sound odd, or perhaps a little unsettling?”

“…Not at all after going through this myself. Perhaps that’s what I’m talking about. It’s almost as if an alternate version of our selves has come to help…. But,” and he smiled at her, “I didn’t see anything.”

“I think the visions begin later, when you’ve been cleaning for a longer period….”

I hadn’t even ascribed this to Ho’oponopono. It is a little unsettling to think that I will start to have visions….

Their thoughts were interrupted by Georgia coming out of the kitchen to get them. “Come on. We have lunch prepared, no help from you all…. I hope you don’t mind eating in the kitchen?”

Amanda and Jake jumped up without further encouragement. Jake was going to make a comment about Georgia’s subtle jab at them, and decided to let it go. Perhaps Morgan will eventually have a positive effect on her. He thought of the John Lennon song, “Love, love, love. All we need is love…” One could only hope.

Amanda recited quietly as they headed toward the kitchen, “I love you; if I have done or thought anything that would harm you, I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you.”

Jake was getting used to her almost continual cleaning, but he wondered if this one had a focus.

The kitchen table was set simply with placemats of heavy cardboard, which must have been varnished or shellacked to protect them because Jake knew that they had been around a while and seemed perfectly clean. Each had a unique country scene with a local bird as the centerpiece and Georgia directed them to their places. Amanda had the Mallards, Jake had a pair of Cardinals, Georgia had the Tufted Titmouse (which seems more appropriate than she probably realizes) and Morgan had the Chickadees. On the lazy susan in the center of the table, were a variety of salads, chicken or turkey curry, a beef with mushroom dish and a fresh loaf of French bread, still warm from the oven.

Jake said, particularly to Morgan, “I knew a woman in the Adirondacks, who trained the wild Chickadees to take peanuts off her Panama hat. It was quite a sight at cocktail time on her deck….”

Morgan answered, “She must have had a very quiet nature.”

“Not that quiet. However, she was a dancer, so she knew how to keep her body still for a long enough period of time, that they developed trust” Jake answered.

“Speaking of trust, please, help yourselves,” Georgia said vehemently. “Except for Morgan, you all are family.”

They all helped themselves to the food and Georgia poured each a cup from a teapot of Chai tea she had made for the occasion. “Good for the digestion and our energy” she explained.

I’m not the only one around here, capable of making unilateral decisions, it seems. “Thank you Georgia, and Morgan. This is outstanding,” Jake acknowledged gratefully.

“It was all Moms doing, including the bread” Georgia stated. “And, I asked her to lunch, but apparently she and Bruce had something before we arrived so it’s all ours.”

“That’s too bad,” Jake said. “And, I am surprised that she didn’t want to stay if only to have a chance to get to know Morgan.”

“He’s staying for the weekend,” Georgia said, “so they’ll have time to get to know him better at dinner. Dad wanted to get into the business plan and Mom is just giving us some time alone to discuss whatever we want to discuss without them.”

Amanda asked, “So, Georgia, I have been dying to ask how you think Bruce liked the idea of Slow Guy’s modules? I can usually tell whether he’s pleased or not, but he seemed guarded today.”

Georgia laughed. “He tries. This is the business man persona, as opposed to your second father, but I have worked with him enough on other companies to be able to see through it. He is generally positive with all his business associates, but he was impressed with us, and with you, Jake. I don’t think he expected us to have such a unique product, or that we would have thought it through as much as we have.”

They were all eating as they talked, and Morgan reached for the tea pot and poured some more for Georgia and Amanda as well. Jake just wasn’t that fond of Chai tea but he happily reached for more of the curry that he had decided was turkey after all.

Amanda responded to Georgia, “Well, yes, of course. It is a fabulous invention, Jake. Has Georgia told you about it, Morgan?”

“Not until today,” and he smiled. “Apparently it was top secret before now, and still I’ve been sworn to secrecy until you have met with the patent lawyer – which will, happily, be one of our Pre Paid Legal lawyers. I think it’s a wonderful idea. Very forward thinking. Au courant. It probably will be instantly chic and stylish to have one of your modules in the neighborhood.”

Amanda and Georgia laughed.

Jake wasn’t sure whether he was being serious or not, but smiled. “I hope you’re right and we’ll be on the style pages of Fortune Magazine,” Jake responded. “But, the first step is to find investors who agree with you and are willing to take a chance.”

“When the business plan is done, perhaps I can help,” Morgan said. “I know quite a few business men who are always looking for investments. No one believes in the stock market right at this time. Things are too uncertain in the regular financial markets. I don’t want to sound discouraging but you should know this actually bodes well for your business.”

Ho’oponopono. It does seem that Slow Guy is on a fast track, like a train heading down the mountain. It feels a little out of control. I hope that we all can keep it going without any major mistakes.

…………

The group went out sailing until a little after sunset and Morgan seemed to enjoy it in spite of the cool weather. Amanda teased him mercilessly every time he was slow to trim the sail in on his side of the yacht, but in truth, he was coordinated and learned fast. Jake only saw him wrap the line the wrong way around the winch once, and he always grabbed the right line to release and made sure it was running free and clear. No winch handle was dropped overboard, which is always a possibility with an inexperienced crew.

The wind was gusting at least 20 knots from the Connecticut shore and the waves were a couple of feet high (and waves are measured from the middle of the wave, so they were four feet from trough to crest). When Serpentine was headed north, the whitecaps were breaking on her bow and the water would sometimes flow back inside the combing and run along the splash rail and soak anyone sitting in its path. Sometimes, the splash would hit the splashboard so hard it would become airborne and then drop in the lap of one or another of the crew. By the end of the day, no one was dry, but everyone was invigorated and happy.

Georgia even let Morgan hold the wheel for part of the time although the northwesterly on Long Island Sound is wickedly variable in both direction and intensity. He learned to respond quickly and appropriately to each wind change. (His learning curve included some of their worst soakings.) Jake was impressed with Morgan, particularly after their sail when he noticed that Morgan’s hands were raw and bleeding, that he must have had blisters that broke early in the afternoon but he never said anything and didn’t complain. He could have been a member of our team if he had been on our ship. Good man.

The crew made further plans for the evening once they were on the mooring and while waiting for the launch to pick them up. Georgia and Jake were assigned the task of meeting with Bruce. No one wanted the awkwardness of going through a dinner while not knowing Bruce’s verdict, and yet not wanting to talk about business during dinner. The remedy was to talk first so they could all enjoy dinner.

Once back at home, Amanda and Jake checked in with Bruce while Georgia took Morgan off to the “first aid room”, more commonly known as her parents’ bathroom. Bruce had finished reading their plan and was happy to meet with them. He let them know right away that they had done a fine job for their first business plan, and he reminded them that he was not that generous a reader. He had a few suggestions and a few more questions once Georgia joined them. He talked with her about the budget which Jake only half listened to, and reiterated the importance of making sure the numbers were firm and clear and defendable before they presented it to any potential investors. All in all, the meeting seemed to go well. Bruce thought that they would be ready to meet with investors the following weekend.

“All you need to do is to get the financials from IBM and Xerox when they were young companies. I believe they will give you the data that investors will be interested in. They both had new products and they both had sales as well as leasing arrangements,” Bruce explained. “I am quite sure that they also took a while before they were making a profit, but that’s what you are going to find out.”

“And, once they were making profits, no one could touch them for quite a while,” Jake added hopefully.

Bruce frowned at that. “True. However, they had more complicated, technologically innovative products. Unfortunately, it sounds as if yours will be easier to knock off without violating patent. But, we will try to delay that for as long as we can.”

“So,” Jake posited, “the sooner we meet with the patent engineer and patent lawyer, the better off we will be.”

“And, if you could add that information to your business plan it would be very helpful.” Bruce added.

“We will, providing that our patent advisors are able to meet with us this coming week…. And, we will keep in touch with you regarding all the loose ends, or finishing touches.”

“Good. I will look forward to that. I am curious myself. I think it can work, regardless, particularly since you weren’t able to easily find a company to make the shells for you…. There just aren’t that many fiberglass manufacturers who do the elegant finishing required for yachts and Slow Guy modules. With a good contract, you could prevent him from doing similar work for a competitor, at least for the duration of the contract.”

“Inspired, Dad!” Georgia chimed in enthusiastically. “That’s a simple solution if the patent process won’t protect us.”

Bruce smiled at his daughter’s affirmation. If his generation said, “whatever” he would have said it. Instead he said, “Thank you for your vote of confidence…. And, if we are done, could we put aside our business personas? Your mother has been cooking up a storm the whole time you were off sailing, and I’d like to move on to cocktail time so that I can meet your Morgan.”

It was Georgia’s time to blush, and there was nothing slight about it. Jake was stunned. He had known her for over 2 years, and had never, not once, seen so much as a subtle flush.

Amanda was able to respond, even though she was also chuckling at Georgia’s embarrassment. “Thank you, Bruce. Thank you for your help and suggestions, and I think we are all ready to let our hair down. I’ll go find Morgan and let Margo know that she should join us when she can….”

Bruce led them out to the Living Room, explaining that since Morgan was an official guest, they had to “present.” Margo had moved in the “bar” which was a chopping block table on wheels, which they had bought for this purpose. This was easier for them than to be running back and forth to some permanent location, or to the kitchen which was what they did for years. The bar table included a filled ice bucket, some seltzer, some olives and some cocktail onions, several bottles of wine, Bruce’s best single malt Scotch, Georgia’s favorite Vodka, a nice gin and a sippin’ Bourbon.

Bruce got quickly to business, and fixed a “neat” Scotch for both himself and Jake, and let Georgia make herself a Vodka martini.

Jake stood with as little awkwardness as he could manage, and waited for the others to join them while Georgia and Bruce headed for their favorite chairs. He intended to sit next to Amanda in spite of social protocols at the Bradfuits against partners sitting with each other. I haven’t spent 10 minutes alone with her since this morning, and now that business has been taken care of, I am going to enjoy my evening. Just to imagine her sitting next to me my breathing has changed. I might even be able to sit close enough to her to feel her, if we can sit on the couch together. It’s a pleasure devoutly to be wished….Ho’oponopono. I love you. If there is any program running in me that might keep us apart, I’m sorry. Please forgive me and transmute the program. Thank you. And, forgive me, Margo, for what I am about to do. If there’s any program running in you…. Oh, I guess I can’t do that. 100%. I love you. If there’s any program running in me which would make you feel distress at our sitting together, I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you.

It was then that the remaining members of the group joined them. Jake and Amanda locked eyes and he motioned to the couch. She smiled understanding and agreement. Margo also saw the look, and smiled and looked away, giving her tacit consent. Jake moved to the bar to assist the new arrivals. He helped Margo, and Morgan who was called over to sit near Bruce on a comfortable smoking chair, although no one had smoked in the Bradfuit’s house for 15 years when Bruce gave up his pipe. Margo had wine, and Morgan was delighted to sample Bruce’s Scotch.

As he handed Morgan his glass, he noticed that his hands were looking better. Was he a particularly quick healer? They had udder balm from Agway’s that was almost miraculous, but this was beyond that even….

Amanda wanted a red wine, and Jake not only delivered it to her on the couch, but he then sat next to her.

Now, this is the way life should be. She reached over with the hand next to him, and gave his hand a squeeze and didn’t let go. He was aware of energy. Was it passing from him to her or from her to him? It didn’t matter, because it was sweet, sweet, sweet. Life had never been so good to him. He leaned over a bit until he could feel the warmth from her shoulder as well. This is a little greedy, but Margo doesn’t mind and that’s all that matters. Thank goodness Margo and Bruce are busy getting to know Morgan so that Amanda and I are off the radar….

For the time being, he forgot about Morgan’s injured hands, but he would remember it before too long…. When he did, it would be late at night, very dark, and he would awaken with the question, “What is an angel, really?”

In the meantime, Bruce and Margo were laughing at Morgan’s jokes, and Georgia was glowing. He and Amanda could sit together in their own thoughts and feelings without being interrupted. Life is good. For once in my life, I hope that Margo’s dinner is simple, and we can all go to bed early….

Not all things go according to plan, even for one practicing Ho’oponopono. Margo’s dinner was superb, an extravaganza even for her. Three courses, homemade bread and a homemade apple pie with espresso. There were bottles and bottles of wine, and much laughter. In spite of all the temptation, Jake remembered his promise to himself and to Amanda, not to overeat. He intended to preserve his energy and to save some appetite for later. Life is good.

4 Mixed Bag

Once back in NYC Sunday evening, Jake arranged to meet with Charlie and Jules about their research on IBM and Xerox. Amanda had her own business to attend to and was not able to join them. Jake promised to call her afterwards and hoped that they would be able to meet later. I have to remember that “energy flows where attention goes” and focus on Slow Guy for a while, even though right now all I want to focus on is Amanda…. Bruce and Margo warned me about this but somehow they got through it.

They met at Charlie’s apartment because he had the research materials there and Jake was happy to save his time packing and unpacking and re-packing.

“So, where’s Jules?

Charlie explained that he had gone out to see some apartments, but that he was on his way back.

“Too bad,” Jake said. “If I’d known he’d left, I wouldn’t have asked him to come back…. Charlie, tell me what you have learned.” Jake asked.

“Of course. It doesn’t have an easy answer. It is not easy to separate sales from leases for IBM Corporation, because IBM has a separate IBM Credit Company in Stamford that handles all the leases. So the parent company completes the sale to the credit company that then handles the lease. However, it is clear that without leasing, the company would not have done as well as it did.”

Charlie looked up from his notes. “Where are my manners? Would you like some coffee, Jake? I just made a new pot.”

“No thanks. We were drinking coffee the whole way home….. Tell me more.”

“Well, IBM Credit wrote the leases. The recipient company was required to complete the lease period of time or amount of money before they were allowed to form another lease agreement. So, they couldn’t upgrade or add units until they had satisfied the first lease. This more or less insured IBM of making whatever profit they had budgeted for. – Pretty good deal, no?” Charlie was excited.

“No one ever accused “Big Blue” of being a charitable organization….” Jake was shaking his head.

“Although, they did limit the profits during WWII to 1% on all items sold to the US for the war effort…. That sounds good unless you read on to their history of helping Germany (prior to the war), to find all the Jews.”

“Unbelievable that they are allowed to live that down….” Jake frowned. “Any person who had helped the Nazis would be relegated to a mediocre life, out of the public eye and in the shadows.”

“Unless they went to Brazil” Charlie reminded him “or unless their name is Bush.”

“Tell me about Xerox,” Jake requested. He did not want to get caught up in what families had made their money selling to, or doing business with the Nazis. Leave that to the historians and politicians. Better to change the subject quickly.

Charlie handed him a printout from Wikepedia: 1960: The Xerox 914 Copier Becomes an Instant Hit In 1958 Haloid changed its name to Haloid Xerox, reflecting its belief that the company's future lay with xerography, although photography products were still more profitable. That balance quickly changed with the success of the Xerox 914 copier. Introduced in 1960, it was the first automatic Xerox copier, and the first marketable plain-paper copier. The company could not afford a blanket advertising campaign, so it placed ads in magazines and on television programs where it hoped business owners would see them. The company also offered the machines for monthly lease to make xerography affordable for smaller businesses.

“Xerox originally was a photo paper company, and in the late 50’s they decided to concentrate on xerography. The new 914 copier was introduced in 1960, and weighed over 600 pounds. In order to make machines available to smaller companies, they offered a monthly lease. They were on a limited budget at the time, had little money for advertising, and this allowed them to increase distribution of equipment which generated additional desire for equipment.”

“The more people who had the equipment, the more people would be talking about the convenience….” Jake summarized.

“I think that’s the story. And, the photo paper company grew up in the same town as Kodak, and Kodak discovered that they made more money on film sales, so they provided their cameras almost at cost to boost their film sales. It would not have been a big jump for Xerox to offer long term leases in order to move their equipment at a price the customer could afford, while still building in profit for themselves in supplies, such as toner and paper, and replacement parts and maintenance agreement.”

The buzzer rang, and Charlie walked over to the door to buzz in Jules.

Jules came up, looking a little rocky, but not as pale and blotched as he had the night he interviewed with Jake. Jake got up and shook his hand. “We’re almost done with the history I think,” and he looked over at Charlie.

“Hi Jules,” he said. “I’ve pretty much summarized it all for Jake….”

“Did you tell him about IBM and the Holocaust?”

“Briefly.” And Charlie looked at Jake, “But that was when they were still had only a tabulating machine….”

Jules added, “An enormous tabulating machine that the US Navy purchased immediately after the war….”

Jake smiled politely. This was more gossip than information he could use in the business plan. “Thanks to both of you for your weekend work. To summarize what is applicable to Slow Guy, I think that IBM made the sale to their leasing company which then had leases that made money for the company based on the sharpness of the lease agreement. Xerox made leases available in part to supplement their advertising by increasing distribution which brought about a wider familiarity with their product and spread the information to additional potential buyers. We can use both approaches in our business plan.”

Charlie looked pleased, but Jules looked like a younger child who was having trouble getting his parents’ attention. Ho’oponopono, I love you man, and I’m sorry I didn’t want to chat with you. Please forgive me. Thank you.

He turned to him, “So, Jules, do you think you’ll be able to help me on Monday? We’ll need to add this new information. Then we need to make some phone calls to do a quick and dirty needs assessment. I could really use a seasoned, professional sales approach….” Flattery will get you where you want to go….

Jules brightened. “Sure, Jake. What time do you want to meet?”

“Early. I’ll put on coffee and order some breakfast. Come on down as soon as you get up.”

“I have one apartment to look at….”

“Oh. That’s important. Tell you what, do that and then come over. Do you think you’ll be over by 10am?”

“Easy. The current resident wants to show it before he goes to work so I should be there between 7:30 and 8:00am. I could be at your place by 9:30am….”

“Good. It’s done. See you then.” Jake got up, shook hands with both men and left as quickly as he could. He wanted to get to Amanda before she settled in.

He called her as soon as he exited the stairwell in Charlie’s building, and once on the sidewalk, he headed for the 6th Avenue uptown BMT subway. She answered on the 2nd ring. “Jake?”

I think she has a special ring tone on her phone for me…. “Yes, Amanda. How are you doing? Have you finished your work? I’m out and done, but not done in.”

“I didn’t expect you to be done so soon. I still have some more work to do for my meeting tomorrow morning, but if you want to come up you can watch, or bring a book…. I’ll be done as soon as I can, but you know it’s not predictable. I am finishing up some boards and they have to be as close to perfect as I can manage.”

He was already turning around as she explained where she was. If she’s not finished, it could be a late night. Jules isn’t coming until after 9, so with my bike I can sleep late and not have to travel on the crowded subway. “I’ll just go home and get my bike, and a book then. I’ll see you in about an hour and a half.”

“Good. I’ll see you when you get here.”

Jake still had his bag from the weekend since Georgia had dropped him off at Charlie’s, but in spite of the impediment, he almost bounced down the street feeling lighter than air. He had solved a business problem, and was about to spend an evening with Amanda at her apartment. He was happy at his apartment, in spite of the size, but he was always reminded of work when he was there. He felt slightly guilty about any time spent away from Slow Guy, even with Amanda, but this feeling was more than balanced by his elation at going up to her apartment for the night.

Amanda’s apartment was larger and when there he had no files and no computer, and at the most, one book. She had a large art table for working on her boards at home, which she kept behind her bookcases in the living room. And, she had a cabinet for her art supplies, paper, boards, inks and paints for her air brush. She had what she needed for work, but this did not interfere with parties or with spending time with Jake on a normal night.

He traded clean clothes for those in his bag, added two books so he would have choice, and gently took his bike off its hook. His cat was at his legs, and he realized he hadn’t talked with him since Friday, so he sat down with Napoleon for a few minutes. Napoleon was a great cat. He was long and lean. Jake had the feeling that if he could ever let him out in the country, that Napoleon would be the alpha cat of the neighborhood. Meanwhile, he loved to play if Jake had time, or he would sit with Jake while Jake worked on Slow Guy. Before he left, he cleaned Napoleon’s litter and gave him fresh food. “I’ll be back in the morning, Nap. Don’t wait up for me.”

The trip uptown was easy and took less than half an hour. The trip home from Mattituck requiring two and a half hours on the LIE was difficult and his body felt much better after the exercise; alive and alert! He waved at the doorman who waved back, and he headed for the elevator with his bike.

Amanda was at the door, holding it for him when he reached her floor. The doorman must have buzzed her while I was in the elevator. Oh well, just doing his job. I have to remember that if I ever want to surprise her….But doesn’t she look GOOOOD for a woman working at home. No ratty sweatshirts for this woman!

“Hello, Amanda,” he greeted her as he walked casually, Kool Operator, down the hall with his bike and his pack.

She smiled a wide, wide smile. “I wasn’t sure you’d come up tonight….”

He was at her door. She stepped aside to give him room to come in with his gear. He answered as he passed her, “And, I wasn’t sure you’d want company after being away all weekend, but I thought I’d call anyway….”

“Being away, much as I love Georgia and her family, is not the same as being alone with you….” She responded.

He had put his things to the side, and she had closed and locked the door, and he turned to her and pulled her into his arms, slowly, deliberately, the way one pulls a net into the boat. “I hoped you’d think that, because I think that too” he said. “We didn’t have nearly enough time alone….”

“Although I seem to remember these kisses” as he began to kiss her neck, “from a shadow that snuck into my bed both nights…. Don’t tell me it wasn’t you!”

He chuckled as he continued to nuzzle on and about her neck. “It was I, and will always be so.”

“Much as I love this, do you think you could entertain yourself for a while? I still have a few more finishing details to do and can’t leave them until morning. You know how that goes, when you need to print your final paper the morning it’s due, the printer doesn’t work. Or when you just have one change at the last minute to make the paper perfect, it erases several pages and you don’t notice until you’ve saved the entire change with the mistake….”

“Or, you go to bed with just the bibliography to do, and either the computer or the printer has an epileptic fit the next morning….”

She smiled. “I knew you would understand…. I think I’m almost done. An hour should do it.”

He stopped nibbling, but could not keep his hands from exploring the muscles in her back. “I brought a book. I will shower and retire, alone for the time being, to the bed….” And, he displayed a rather hungry grin, the kind of grin that you would expect to see on a marathoner at the pasta dinner the night before their competition – no regrets and no reason to hold back, but pure unadulterated delight in the entire process.

Amanda gave him one long kiss and said quietly, “I won’t be long. If you doze off I will wake you and that’s a promise.”

And she did. And there were no interruptions that evening except from Jake’s dreams later, much later.

He was on the Oprah show, and the entire team was in the audience. She invited them up partway through the segment and she held Amanda’s hand. Amanda was beautiful, radiant with her hair in a French Braid. Oprah looked at Amanda, and back at Jake, and back at Amanda, and asked them on the air when they were going to be married. They both laughed, caught out so quickly. Georgia spoke up, as she is accustomed to doing, and said, “as soon as possible. There is no reason to delay now that the business is such a success!”

Oprah agreed, and promised on national TV, that they could marry on the show if they would pick a date, during the week, this minute! Jake looked at Amanda and she looked at him. She said, “In September.” He said, “On a Wednesday.” Oprah’s producer came out with a list of Wednesday in September dates, 3rd, 10th, 17th or 24th. Amanda’s turn, and she picked the 10th.

Oprah looked at the producer, who nodded, so Oprah agreed, and asked if there was a reason that Amanda picked a date that was in the middle of the “go back to school” month? Amanda said that so much about the business start-up had required that they learn new skills, she felt that their relationship as well was a gift from the Divinity and wanted to prove from the beginning of their marriage that they could surmount any adversity, challenge or impediment.

Oprah laughed and clapped her hands, and responded, “Like my career. Some people just know how to use the Law of Attraction. How is it that two such young people didn’t get caught up in ‘ANTS’ (annonymous negative messages) as Jack Canfield would call them?”

Jake answered, “Ho’oponopono. Joe Vitale calls them ‘counter intentions in the unconscious.’ We kept cleaning for ourselves, for the team and when you clean out all the negative messages, there’s nothing left but inspiration and the creative ability of zero! But, Oprah, how did you avoid them? No one has had the success you’ve had in your field, except possibly Johnny Carson.”

Oprah looked serious, but was not reproachful when she said, "it is not often that someone takes over and I am interviewed on my own show”. The audience clapped wildly. “Answer the question, Oprah” a person in the front row encouraged her. “Well then,” she answered, “as I told Redbook not too long ago, prayer is the central thing for me. My prayer to God every morning is that the power that is in the universe should use my life as a vessel for its work."

Amanda stepped in, full of excitement, “This is almost the same. You allowed God access to you, inviting ‘Her’ to clear your programs in deference to ‘Hers’. We ask Divinity to clean away our programs, until we are absolutely clean and back at zero. At the zero place, we can hear the inspiration of Divinity. I think this is the only way to access the Law of Attraction without disappointment or failure.”

Oprah looked at the audience, and said, “So you see, it’s possible to make the Law of Attraction work to your benefit if you ask for help from God, or Divinity, to take away the ‘counter intentions’ or programs. This worked to create a miraculous business start-up for the Slow Guy group, and it worked for Joe Vitale. What have you got to lose?”

…………

The next morning, Jake was up early. He put on some coffee and then showered lightly and quickly, because he still had to bike downtown. It was ready by the time he was out. He toasted some English muffins that he found in the pantry and brought a tray in to Amanda to wake her up.

“Hey, wake up,” and he planted kisses over every part of her body that was available. This was not much as she was curled up in her quilt with a smile on her face. He almost let her sleep, but she opened one eye before he gave up.

“I thought you had to be up early for that appointment?” he asked.

“I do,” she said stretching her arms, and then wrapping them around his neck. “But, do you have to leave so soon?”

“Yes,” he said. “I already ate while I was fixing this. I just wanted to tell you that we were on Oprah in my dream, and the business was a success….” He decided not to tell her just yet about the wedding plans. There would be more time for that later.

“Hey, great. Now can you go back to sleep?”

He laughed quietly. “Afraid it won’t happen without additional effort. Got to go.”

She sat up and took a sip of her coffee. “Well then, hurry up. We have a life to live, and I need to buy something appropriate to wear for Oprah.”

He kissed her and left quickly, before he would tell her the whole dream. As he closed the door behind him, he added, “I think you were wearing green….” I love her in green. I have no idea what she was wearing, but she looked great. She always looks great but she looks especially good in green.

…………

Jake stopped to pick up some cold cuts on his way home. He had brought tomatoes and lettuce from the Island, but was pretty sure that Jules was more of a meat eater, and would not appreciate the fine qualities of a tomato sandwich with mayo, salt and pepper. Sometimes, Jake added a slice of mozzarella and a basil leaf when he wanted to treat himself. However, he didn’t even have any cheese at home, so he felt he had to stop for turkey and salami, as well as cheese.

He got home well ahead of Jules, with time to put everything away, take a second shower, and play with Napoleon for a half an hour.

Jules arrived on time, looking better than he had since being on the ship and Jake realized that since he’s been in NYC, he’s been puffy and swollen. It’s good to see him looking more normal again. Jake wondered what he was doing but didn’t want to pry, so didn’t ask. Instead he resorted to Ho’oponopono and said to Divinity, I love you, please transmute any program of mine that is holding Jules back, or causing him to have to drink; I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you.

“So Jules,” Jake said, “It’s good to have a partner to help with the work during the day. We have several things to do today, but, first, why don’t you get some coffee from the kitchen and come tell me how your apartment hunting is going?”

Jules seemed eager to talk with Jake, and started explaining on his way to the kitchen. “Many of the apartments that seem in decent locations, and are advertised as fairly priced, are either already gone or are so small they are ridiculous. One, my favorite, was a single apartment that had been divided up. The available space was the original kitchen and pantry. The pantry was the bedroom. They had a loft bed space above a closet/storage area. That room was smaller than the attached kitchen. The bathroom was in the hallway. – Have you ever seen an apartment with the bathroom in the hallway?”

Jake laughed. “Welcome to the Big Apple. Those spaces are barely real, and I always thought they should be illegal as false advertising just to get you into the realtor’s office. At the lower rates, you are competing with students from I don’t know how many colleges and universities in this town. Some of them are from other countries where that would seem a reasonable space.”

Jules shook his head. “In other parts of the country, you could have a duplex apartment for the money they wanted for that pantry.” He sat down at the table with Jake. “It’s ridiculous, but I’m going to keep at it.”

Jake asked, “Could you possibly raise the amount you’re willing to pay? You’d have a better selection….”

Jules shook his head. “I’d rather suck it up now. If I pay more, then I won’t be able to work for free as long. Frankly, I think I’ll learn more and get more out of working with you than I would with another corporation…. Speaking of which, perhaps we should get to work?”

Jake said, “If you don’t mind one more suggestion from someone who’s gone through this. There is something called an “apartment share” in the ads. These are sometimes large and luxurious apartments on the Upper West Side, or Brooklyn, with students or young execs sharing the space. Queens has some nice spaces as well, and off the ‘R’ line they’re easy to get to. This is the most reasonable way to go, allowing you to save some money and hang on to your saved deposit, if you are lucky enough to find a decent group. You don’t have to sign a long lease, and if you happen to find a gem of a deal, you can quickly move out and into your own space without much penalty. The deals are still out there, but they’re not easy to find, so you might have to wait. A landlord can only raise the rent, I think, 15% after one tenant moves out. If you find an apartment where an older person moves out, the rent can be quite reasonable. But, as you are discovering, there are thousands of people looking for those deals so you have to be fast.”

Jules laughed. “I’ll say. I will join the lines of people waiting Tuesday evening for the Village Voice to be dropped off at its first delivery point on Lafayette Avenue. I have made so many phone calls on Wednesday or Thursday only to hear that they are no longer even taking names to show the apartment because they have so many people booked to see it.”

Jake smiled in sincere admiration. “You learn fast. I spent weeks looking before I learned that trick…. Well, let me show you what we have to do this week.” He opened up the computer, and pulled out the printed business plan with the notes they made after meeting with Bruce. “These are the areas we need to flesh out a bit…. Here, is where we need to add the bit about IBM and Xerox. We should do a bit of a study to see how much interest we can find at as many companies as we can get to speak with us. Finally, we need to secure appointments with the patent engineer and with our lawyer. Finally, we need to ask the module builder to give us an exclusive contract and if he does, that should be added to the plan. It will show that we can secure the value of our idea for a period of time even if we don’t get an ironclad patent. If we can do all that this week, we can meet with a group of investors over the weekend….”

Jules rolled his eyes a bit, but laughed. “No moss grows on you, Jake.”

Jake shrugged and raised his eyebrows. “This is NYC. This is the pace of business here. We’ve got some good advisors who expect us to respond in good time to their suggestions. They don’t want to be wasting their time on people who aren’t serious.”

Jules nodded. “Well, I’m in. You know me, Jake. I never liked just sitting around. Too much free time and I get into trouble….”

“All right then. Let’s figure out who’s doing what and get to work. It would be great to have much of this done before the team meets tomorrow. That’s when we have to decide whether to go ahead and meet with investors this week, or not. For you and me, the sooner the better!” This feels good. I like working with a team again….

…………

By Thursday afternoon, part of the Slow Guy team was on its way out to Mattituck. They had an appointment to meet with several investors on Friday afternoon. They had redone and updated the business plan (with the help of several emails back and forth to Bruce to fine-tune it), and had several printouts on good linen paper and nice folders with their corporate name on it. (Incorporation was still in process, being done for them by their Pre Paid Legal lawyers, but it was in the works.)

Charlie, their engineer, was along this time, with the blueprints, and an exclusive intent to contract with the builder who was Vincent’s father. He also had estimates by most of the other fiberglass builders to show that their prices were much, much higher and they were promising much less. Any one trying to duplicate their product with another builder was going to run much higher costs. Vincent’s family had given them a sweet deal in part because it would enable Delany’s to keep their best men employed through the winter. This would prevent turnover time and costs to his yard.

Amanda was there, complete with marketing plan, and boards to mimic actual ads, and presentation material to be used by the sales team. Georgia was to tag team with her, to present marketing costs, along with a complete initial budget.

Jules had contacted many companies who were interested enough to give him appointments, but he had only been able to meet with 3 this week, two with Jake and one with Justin. Jake was delighted to find that they were interested, and not put off by the proposed pricing.

Yet, Jules had not been invited to Mattituck. Jake didn’t think that he was ready yet to carry the future of the company on his shoulders. Instead, Justin was with them. Justin with the Louisiana golden tongue. Justin had gone along with Jules to meet with one of the companies, Consumer Electronics Publishing Company, so he had some actual experience to speak about, and some stories from Jules. Jake wasn’t sure whether he or Justin would present that part yet, but he wanted Justin to be there to experience their presentation. In the future, Justin would be the presenter of their sales plan.

They had time to practice their presentation with Bruce on Thursday evening. He had several helpful comments, and they made some slight adjustments in their verbal presentations. Bruce didn’t think it would help to be over prepared, but believed in enthusiasm and spontaneity. He encouraged them to go for a walk together in the morning, and to just talk with each other about Slow Guy.

…………

Friday morning, Georgia took them to the Long Island Sound beach, and they walked east along the water’s edge for a couple of hours, and then turned around, and walked back. There were nesting hawks and early arriving ducks as well as the Common Egret and American Egret. They were treated to a herd of deer running down the beach, and the landing of a Blue Heron in a lagoon. Besides the wildlife, they only talked about Slow Guy, and their hopes and dreams. After that, they were ready for a shower, lunch, and then each found a quiet place for a rest. They had about 2 hours before their meeting. Amanda and Jake found a place outside in the garden, nestled in a sunny nook where they could view the last rose of summer and doze in each other’s arms. He thought Justin and Charlie had gone off to town to see what was there; at least, they were talking about that at lunch. He expected Georgia to call Morgan from her room. He was planning to meet them on Saturday although he had a meeting in NYC that morning.

Jake was leaning against a brick wall, with his jacket folded behind him as a pillow to cushion his back. Amanda was leaning onto his chest. His arm was around her, supporting her head. The sun was facing them, and had warmed the wall. The wind was blocked behind the wall, and didn’t touch them. It was a warm, lovely little hidden nook in the formal garden. In front of them, were the roses, and to the right, the herb garden. There were not many roses left, but that almost seemed to accentuate those that were. They were perfect in shape and color. He wondered whether Mrs. Bradfuit had clipped those that were past their prime. She might have. This garden was just outside her kitchen and sewing room. It was a nice place to sit and dream.

“The beach out here is uniquely wild,” Jake said. “I’ve never seen a beach made up of such colorful stones, all the size of small eggs, or walnuts.” He paused. “It’s not an easy beach to walk on. I’m tired.”

“It’s good we have some time to rest,” Amanda agreed.

“And, for Ho’oponopono.”

“Yes,” she said. “And, I love you. And, if I have ever done anything to harm the team, or Slow Guy, I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you.”

“I love you. And, please transmute any program that is holding us back in any way. I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you. It is done” he reiterated to Divinity.

“Just keep cleaning,” she said. “If we fall asleep, it’s alright. Divinity will understand. As long as we keep cleaning, we’ll be as inspired as we can be at the meeting.”

The two sat in each other’s arms for the remainder of their rest time. Both fell asleep and Georgia had to go looking for them fifteen minutes before the meeting.

…………

“Hey, you two,” Georgia said, shaking Jake’s shoulder. “Time to put on your bells, polish your whistles, and apply your lipstick, and your suit jackets. The guests will be here in 15 minutes. We’re all meeting in the office.”

“We’re ready,” Amanda said, “all but jumping up. “We’ll meet you in two.”

In truth, Jake just had to put on his jacket, and Amanda put on lipstick she had in her pocket, and slipped into her suit jacket that was hanging nearby. Both went in through the kitchen, smiled at Mrs. Bradfuit who was busy but wished them all good luck, and they were in the den in the promised two minutes.

Jake looked around. They had set up the presentation boards on easels the night before, when they showed Bruce their presentation. Bruce had set out the folders with their business plan at each place on his conference table. He had also set out place markers for his guests so no one would have to wonder where they were to sit.

Georgia and Bruce were already in place sipping coffee. Bruce greeted them and pointed out the coffee table set up off to the side. They helped themselves and sat at their places.

“Have we heard anything from Charlie and Justin?” Jake asked.

“Charlie called a few minutes ago. He said they got a little lost on their way back, but I gave them the shortcut from where they were. They should be here any minute” Georgia explained.

“Thank goodness they called,” Jake said, “and didn’t act like men and try to find their own way.”

Bruce laughed, but Georgia and Amanda politely kept silent on that issue. Just about that moment, a car pulled up. It was the two missing team members. At least they were dressed and in the office in a few moments because right behind them was the first car of guests. Jake had already decided to introduce Justin, but to do the presentation for him. He wasn’t comfortable with his being late and didn’t know where his head was.

“Ho’oponopono” Amanda mouthed to Jake across the table, and he nodded and did his own clearing while they waited for Mrs. Bradfuit to bring in the first investor.

It was Jeri Sonkin, Long Island Real Estate investor. Right behind her, was Linda Marie Paul, also a Long Island Real Estate investor. Jake was surprised that the first two were women. He hadn’t thought about speaking to women at all, but he shouldn’t have been surprised because he knew how Bruce felt about Amanda and Georgia of course. He and Bruce both got up to help them with the coffee, and Bruce introduced them to Jake. They were very pleased that Bruce had included them. This was their first venture outside of Real Estate. They gave each other a hug which Jake thought was genuine.

Theodore Forstmann was the next to arrive. I know this man from the Forbes billionaires list. He had been affiliated with the Gulfstream Aerospace, Chrysler Corporation and Allen Paulson and was a founder of his own investment firm Forstmann Little & Company, whose final fund expired in June 2006. He grew up in Connecticut, went to Yale for his BA, and Columbia Law and now owns a penthouse overlooking Central Park, a summer home in Southampton and at least one Gauguin and one Van Gogh. He once was one of the “Masters of the Universe” due to his leveraged buy-out enterprise. He came in with his arm around Margo and gave Bruce a big hug and slapped him on the back. As Bruce introduced him, he was now was looking for more quiet investments. He chose green tea rather than coffee.

Ann Marie Borghese was the next to arrive. She and her husband were partners in the Borghese Vineyards, from neighboring Cutchogue. They had just won a gold medal in Florida at an International competition, in February, for their Estate Chardonnay 2005, as Bruce explained. She was very proud of this. “My husband says that our business is gambling, because we have no idea what the weather is going to do to our grapes from one year to the next. At Bruce’s urging, I have come to look at a business that seems less like gambling.” Jake thanked her and helped her to coffee as well. She will be my most difficult sell because she is looking for a more secure place for her investment than her own business, and she likes her business….

Kenneth Irvine Chenault, now President and COO of American Express, 3rd African American to run a Fortune 500 Company, a Director of IBM and born on Long Island in 1951 was the last member to join them. Jake had read that his salary was over $1 million, and his bonus had been about $6 million. He and Bruce embraced by touching shoulders and both had big smiles for each other. Another local guy Bruce happened to know and Jake chuckled inside. He had not expected big bulls like this. Leave it to Bruce. He doesn’t do anything by halves.

Bruce had introduced his guests, and Jake, and now Jake introduced his team. Georgia and Amanda both had their own successful companies, and he carefully mentioned both their names and their company identities. Don’t get defensive. Ho’oponopono…. Charlie was an engineer, and he included that. Justin was an experienced salesman, and working for another startup company. At least they had cash enough to pay some salaries…. Now, stop feeling sorry for yourself and get on with this!

Jake put down his cup of coffee and moved to the head of the table near the flip charts. He was not going to use them, but only give the summary of the company, and thank his guests for coming. He had introduced his team, and now he described the product and the potential customer in brief. He explained that they would lease as well as sell, and briefly connected this decision to the success at IBM and Xerox. He brought Charlie up to go through his blueprints and illustrations to show the flexibility of the module and to emphasize its elegance. It was, after all, designed for the executive who is used to being captain of his own yacht, or of his own jet, or the executive who will soon be.

Charlie presented his illustrations first. Good, whet their appetite with the beauty of the product. He followed with the blue prints, and a discussion of the limited number of manufacturers who were capable of producing the module for them. Hey, they’re laughing. I missed the joke. I’ll have to ask him later…. He capped the presentation with a blown up photo copy of the intent to contract that showed their exclusive rights for 50 years.

They look intrigued. Good for you Charlie. Jake again took the floor, and explained that they understood that even a great product needs to be introduced to the market place. He brought Amanda up to explain their marketing plan.

She’s smiling at each person individually. That will do it. Who could resist that? Amanda was completely at home giving presentations. She did it almost every day, some days more than once. She engaged her audience. She has them laughing too. What a team! Her boards were beautiful. Her marketing approach was fiscally conservative. Since it was not a standalone plan, but worked in conjunction with the sales plan, she brought Jake back up.

Don’t say that. Don’t be humble although you feel humbled by your team…. He explained that they were going to target the biggest companies headquartered in cities, NYC, Boston, Chicago, New Haven, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Miami, and so forth. Companies such as IBM headquartered in Armonk, had already solved part of the problem by positioning themselves close to where their employees lived. Although they might eventually want it for execs on medical or maternity leave, they would not have the same need as an incentive for execs who wanted to work from home.

He looked over and saw Mr. Chenault nodding. American Express had an urban headquarters in Manhattan. On the other hand, Theodore Forstmann was giving nothing away. He had a pleasant enough expression on his face, but he was neither nodding nor smiling.

Jake specifically went through the boards they had designed for the sales force, one by one. He felt so proud of the job that Amanda and her team had done. They were poignant and professional. They made the case, he thought, for any corporate HR exec who wanted to keep his senior staff on the job, and with the company. He was feeling more relaxed now. I can’t wait to have the modules so I can go out and actually sell them. I want to see them placed at people’s homes! He ad libed a little, and got a couple of laughs from the group, including Forstmann. He had been afraid to look at Bruce, but did and Bruce looked very happy. Ho’oponopono. I love you and I love Slow Guy. Please transmute any program that might prevent communication. Please forgive me. Thank you. He finished the sales presentation, and introduced Georgia to talk about the budget and finances.

As with Amanda, Georgia was also an accomplished professional. She took the floor with poise, and beauty, thanking Jake. I feel as if I’m handing over a mic, and she is arranging the cable behind her. She moved to Amanda’s easel, and turned over her last marketing board to reveal the first budget board. She told the group which page in the plan they had in their folders to turn to in case they wanted to make notes. She waited for them all to find the appropriate page. All the time, she was smiling and making eye contact with the group. She made a couple of comments while they were looking and the real estate women laughed. She and Amanda don’t seem at all distracted or intimidated by Forstmann or Chenault. Charlie and I have some work to do. Perhaps it’s a male thing….

This was the presentation that Forstmann had been waiting for. He had many questions. He would make notes, and then when Georgia was at a pause, he would ask them. She didn’t have trouble with most of them. Twice she took notes and told him she would have to get back to him. She worked out some percentages in her head to answer some of the questions. Even without the help of a computer, she was able to give him the formulas she had used to arrive at her final figures. I wouldn’t have believed she was so incredible! She’s a genius! How lucky are we to have her on our team? Ho’oponopono. I love you Georgia and I love Slow Guy….

As she turned the floor back over to Jake, to summarize and to field final questions, he could feel Chenault’s energy. Chenault asked a question about sales projections over time, and management goals. Of course. This is what Chenault used to build American Express back into a powerhouse after it almost crashed. He knew he didn’t have what Chenault was looking for at the same time he felt that it wasn’t malicious, but sincere interest. He admitted that he didn’t yet have a firm projection, and could only talk about the Jules’ meetings and the enthusiasm that they had seen thus far, based on a very small sample.

Bruce motioned to him, and Jake gratefully called on Bruce. “Thanks, Jake. I think it will be helpful to Mr. Chenault and to Mr. Forstmann if your team can do a small needs assessment for the product.” He looked at the two men who had been asking the questions, who nodded, and he continued. “We would like to know whether this is going to be a big winner, or not. A little profit would be alright if we knew that going in to it, but we’d be more comfortable investing a large amount to get you started right, if we knew this was going to be a big company moving forward against projected goals. Do you see what I’m getting at? This would be good for you too….”

Jake agreed, and nodded. What have I gotten myself into? I just wanted to produce a nice product and I have the feeling that I have to learn calculus to take the next step….

Bruce continued. “Georgia knows how to run the numbers, once you get a sampling of the marketplace.” He looked over at Georgia, who nodded, and then to Chenault and Forstmann, who both also nodded.

Jake took back the lead. “You all have been very patient, and we appreciate this. It was our first formal presentation of the product.” The audience smiled and seemed to be supportive. “I would like, if you don’t mind, just some indication of whether you would like to hear more about it, or whether you are fairly certain that this is something you are interested in, or fairly certain that this is not something that interests you at this time.”

Bruce looked a bit stunned, but smiled. He seemed to understand that Jake was fearless, as well as a bit unorthodox in his directness. Chenault laughed, for he had that reputation himself.

The women seemed to be in consensus that they wanted to hear more, and were waiting to see whether or not the two men would decide to support the young company. Jake already knew that Chenault wanted to hear more. Forstmann surprised him, and said that he definitely was not interested. This was just not his cup of tea although he thought it had good possibilities. He was just more interested in things that moved, preferably at high speed, rather than things that just sat there. He reiterated that this was a very personal preference, and had nothing to do with the value of Slow Guy.

Jake thanked him for his honesty, and added that he hoped he would be able to stay for dinner in spite of his decision. He laughed and said that he would never miss a Margo Bradfuit meal, especially when it was a sure thing that Borghese wine was being served.

And, thus, they disembarked to the Living Room for cocktails prior to a gourmet meal in the Dining Room. Jake and his team were grateful for the opportunity to meet these investors, and determined to get to know them a little better, but disappointed that they couldn’t go back to the rest of the team (Jules and Vince) with better news.

Morgan arrived in time for dinner. He knew Jeri Sonkin and Ken Chenault and looked happy to meet the others. Jake was glad to see him. Between Morgan, Bruce and Margo, they kept the dinner party on a positive, humorous plane. Jake’s team was a little subdued, although Georgia perked up after a while, able to catch a hold of Morgan’s mood and to hang on.