If I Had a Boat
I was born in Port Isabel, Texas. You never heard of it? Well it's right at the tip of Texas. About as far south as you can go and still be in the USA. My father was Larry Wilson, a shrimp fisherman and my mother was Annie Wilson, she was a waitress in a small café. Me, I'm Levon Helm Wilson. Yep, I was named for the singer. It seems that my fathers favorite song was "The Weight" and when my mom was pregnant he was always singing "Take The Load Off Annie", yeah I know those are not the right words, but that's the way I wound up being named Levon.
My Dad was killed in a boating accident in 2001, when I was 9. He had a small insurance policy through his employer, which allowed mom and me to survive on her tips and wages from the café. My mom never remarried and she died in 2010 of heart failure as she pulled into the parking lot at work. I was 17 at the time. But, this story is not about them, it is about me, being poor, bad luck, and the will to survive.
It was the first day of summer vacation and mom told me that Leroy was looking for someone to sweep and clean at the boatyard. Money was always in short supply at our house, and jobs for 12 year olds were in even shorter supply. I think the population was around 5000, with most being of working age. There were two kinds of jobs, one had something to do with fishing and the other dealt with tourists to South Padre Island. I walked past the elementary school on the way to the boatyard and saw a lot of boys playing baseball, but I hurried on to Taylor's.
I had seen Leroy Taylor a few times in the café where mom worked but didn't really know him. As I entered the shop, he spotted me and asked, "What you needing?"
"I'm needing a job"
"What makes you think I need anyone?"
"My mom said you did"
"Who is your mom?"
"Sir, my mom's name is Annie, she works at the café, and I really do need a job."
"So you're Annie's boy? Well ... I guess I do need a little help around here. Go through that door, it's the woodshop. Tell Lopee that he just got promoted and you're taking his place. And send him out to see me."
When I went through the door. it looked like a bomb had gone off and the air was filled with sawdust from what I was to learn was the router. The guy running the machine turned it off and walked over to where I had stopped and I explained that I was looking for Lupe.
"The name is Lopee like Low Pee, now what do you need?"
"Mr. Taylor told me to come in here, and tell Lopee that he had been promoted, and I am his replacement, and for him to go see him."
"Hey Rivera, guess what? I just got promoted and here is your new ass-sis-tant. Adios MoFo I'm outta here."
Rivera came out from behind a row of shelves with a template in his hand and said "Bull Shit, Leroy might have fired you, but I don't think you got a promotion. Maybe you better take your lunchbox with you amigo because something does not sound right."
"Yeah I better go see what the hell?"
As Lopee turned to leave, Rivera asked "What's going on kid?"
"Mr. Taylor hired me, but he did not tell me what to do, what do you want me to do?"
"Well, Lopee's job is to help whoever needs it, and sweep up. Can you handle that?" and he pointed to a push broom. Start over there behind the last row of shelves and work this way. Lopee should be back before you get that done then we'll get together and figure out what's going on."
As Lopee crossed the boat shop, Leroy waved him into the office, and sat down at the coffee table pointing to the chair across from him. As Lopee sat down Leroy said "I called you in here because you are probably the only one who will jack with that kid and I'm telling you right now, don't even think about it or I'll fire your ass outta here. You got it? Good, now here's the story on that boy. His dad was killed when the nets caught him and drug him under on a fishing boat a few years ago. His mama is Annie, down at the café. He needs a job because they ain't got a damn thing. He's going to be working with you and Vera mostly because he is not big enough to work in repair or engines. Give him a job and let him do it, don't make it hard on him or you're gonna be on your hands and knees cleaning the whole damn shop for as long as you work here. Send Rivera in."
Leroy then explained the same thing to Rivera without the threats. "Vera I want that boy to learn every job in this shop. As soon as he can do everything in your shop send him to assembly. If you see anyone mistreating him let me know. I care a lot for his mother and if I were a lot younger I would tell her so and I'm not going to let anyone cause him any problems."
When Rivera left, the secretary looked at Leroy and said " I didn't know you had the Hot's for Annie, Boss Man."
"Shut up Tina and don't you give him no shit either."
"Right you old asshole, now how do you want to handle his pay?"
"I don't know, he needs to work all the hours he can, but I think it's against the law for a kid to work over so many hours. Check it out and if I have to I'll just pay him in cash. Better fix him up with a time card, then go get him and show him where the clock is. Start him at a dollar over minimum wage just like any other worker with no experience. Show him where the bathrooms are and tell him I want them a whole lot cleaner than they have been. Then call the uniform man and tell him we have a new hire. I'll be out back of the engine shop somebody tried to get through the window last night."
I was almost through sweeping under the shelves when a lady named Tina came in to get me. She showed me a time card, the card rack, and how to punch the clock. Then she showed me the bathrooms and told me that Leroy was not happy with the job that Lopee had been doing and wanted them a lot cleaner and kept that way. I asked about cleaning supplies and we looked in a closet to find it out of most everything. She just shook her head and said she would go get us some.
I went back to the woodshop and learned that we were making parts for a 28' X 12' catamaran with a flat deck that was used by lobster fishermen. I had to lay the templates on plywood and draw around them, then cut just outside the lines using a band saw. Then I screwed the template to the plywood and Lopee ran them on the table router. The template rode against a roller bearing on top of the cutter which let it cut the plywood to the exact size of the template. Any inside square cuts had to be done with what they called a Jap Saw. It looked like just a small hand saw to me.
After a few weeks I had learned how to run all the equipment and make all the parts. The woodshop was clean, the bathrooms all clean and neat and I was on my way to assembly. Lopee was informed that he was back on bathroom duty and he better get it right this time. I don't think he liked me much but it went both ways. The guy was just lazy and always wanted to take a shortcut.
I got a real shock when I got my first pay envelope, I just took it home unopened and gave it to mom. A few minutes later she came in my room and asked me where I got all the money. I told her Tina gave it to me and it was my pay. She told me that I must have got the wrong envelope because this one had $364 in it. She called Tina and Tina told her that it was for 48 hours and Leroy had set my wage at $7 an hour and told her to pay me in cash because they had found out it was illegal to work a kid under 14 years old. Tina told mom that she had better keep it quite because nobody at the shop knew how much I made and Leroy would get in a lot of trouble if the state found out I was working there.
I liked assembly. I worked with Miguel Herrera everyone called him Mono which meant monkey. His daughter was a year behind me in school. We put the parts I had made in the woodshop together using a few screws and a lot of epoxy. We set the bulkheads up in slots cut in boards on a long table sort of thing. Once they were set up we attached stringers to them using a cement type glue in tubes. You put the glue in the notch, placed the stringer in the notch, made sure the bulkhead was straight up and down, then put one small nail through the stringer into the bulkhead with an air nail gun. Mono said it was a lot easier with two people. One bulkhead had to have several notches enlarged by hand so the stringers would go in. I was asking Mono why they didn't just change the router template, when Leroy came in. Mono said he had shown the bulkhead to Lopee several times and had marked the changes for him but nothing ever happened. Leroy asked if he had shown it to Vera. He said he didn't, he had just shown it to Lopee when he was sweeping.
Leroy left and came back in a few minutes with Lopee and he asked him if Mono had shown him the bulkhead. Lopee said yes that he had just not got around to it. Leroy just looked at him for a few minutes and then told him to go get whatever belonged to him and stop by the office on the way out and he would have his final paycheck ready.
After they left Mono and I talked about what happened. We were setting up the bulkheads for the opposite hull when Leroy came back. He was still mad and told Mono that in the future if something did not fit, to give it to me. He then told me it would be my job to make the changes on the template and make sure the part fit right. I was to get a notebook from Tina and write down the part number of the template and the change that I made. I was to keep the notebook locked up in my locker and to make damn sure it was accurate.
The next morning at the coffee table before work Leroy told everyone why he fired Lopee, and no one had anything to say in his defense. He then told Vera and Mono that they would both have new helpers as soon as he could get some hired. He told me to stop what I was doing and make a complete set of templates and mark them as the master template for that part then to route a set of parts from them and check the assembly of them and make sure they fit to suit Mono. He then told Mono that he wanted the parts to fit perfect and not to accept anything less. Nobody makes a change to those templates except Levon and then it will be his ass if the parts don't fit. A week later I had them done and checked and put on the top shelf. They are only to be used if a problem comes up with one of the work templates
Mono and Vera gave me a bad time, Mono said "Damn Levy, you only been here two months and you got two promotions. You'll be working on the big boat before long." I said "Yeah, I think he's still trying to find something I can do."
A few days later, Leroy came through the shop, and handed me a key, telling me to open the back gate. Then he yelled at Maris, and told him the engines for the big boat were here. I opened the gate and saw everyone headed to the building at the back of the lot. That was the first time I saw the big boat. It was a 46' long by 22' wide catamaran built to be a salvage boat. It had a large "A" frame and overhead rail down the center that allowed you to lift heavy loads and place them along the center of the deck. It made the 28' cats that I had been working on look very small. Mono told me that it was suppose to be able to pick up a complete 28' cat and self load it on the deck for delivery, or to bring one in for repair. It sure was a pretty boat. Oh well, back to work.
My next stop was working for "DJ", Duane James, in what was called Fill and Fair. I learned real quick that the Fill was a hell of a lot easier than the Fair, and that the length of time you spent sanding was directly related to how even you put on the filler. It also depended on how smooth Mono put the fiberglass on over the plywood skins.
School started and my hours went to 16 to 18 a week. Saturdays I would still work with DJ but through the week I was to help sweep and clean up in all the different areas of the shop. I was also given a set of keys to all the buildings and gates. It then became my job to check every gate and door to make sure it was locked. Walking back through the main shop Vera and Mono caught me and gave me the "Damn Levy, you got another promotion? I been here 15 years and I never got no keys"
Payday came and I took my envelope to Mom, she would take it to the bank with hers. I never looked at the amount of money I had and I never asked what my mom did with it. I got new clothes and had a few dollars in my pocket so I was happy. It turned out that I was paid $200 for 17 hours of work and my mom asked Leroy about it the next morning when he went to the café for breakfast. She told me he said it was a damn shame that the smartest employee he had was a 12 year old boy and it was none of her business how much he paid his employees and he didn't want to hear any more about it. That settled it and I was paid the same amount through the school year.
Saturday was another Fill and Fair day. There is one place on the left and right hulls that always takes a lot of fill to make the curve look right, I asked DJ how come and he told me that if there was something inside to hold the plywood skin out it wouldn't need so much filler. "Well why don't you have Vera add a stringer slot and they could put another stringer between those two bulkheads that would hold it out". He just mumbled something and then left the room. When he came back he said Vera was checking on it. Later Vera and Leroy came in and asked what I wanted to do to the hull. I explained the problem and added that the skin templates would probably need some adjustment also. He just said fine and pointed to me and said get on it. It took a bit of playing with but I got the stringer and the skin to the point where it took very little fill.
That night when I made my round checking the gates I saw where someone had pulled some old pallets from between the back of the building and the fence. You could see where they had walked back and forth moving them and the prints in the wet dirt looked just like those Mexican boots that Lopee wore. I found Leroy and told him he might oughta take a look at it. He said "That son of a bitch is trying to get through that window. No way of knowing when he'll be back. I was thinking about what a friend in school had said about helping his father install security cameras. Leroy looked at me and asked "What are you thinking Levy? I told him he needed to call my friends father and get a few cameras installed around the buildings. We decided it was better not to say anything to any of the other employees because we had several new guys and didn't know if they could be trusted. A week later Lopee and one of his friends were in jail for breaking in and a lot of supplies were recovered at his house. Leroy said it more than paid for the cameras and recorder.
Thanksgiving came, mom had to work but Leroy and I went to the café for dinner. I helped mom wait tables for a few minutes and then went and set with Leroy. We started talking about the shop and he asked me what job I would choose if I had the choice. I told him I wanted to drive the big boat. He laughed and said he wanted to drive it too. He told me he had been building it for 4 years as he had the money but, it was getting close and we would all be working on it through the winter slowdown. December, January, and February are our coldest months. It does stop the tourists and the pleasure boats but the fishing goes on year round, rain or shine. The 28' cats were slowing down as all the fishermen that used them had one and the dealers elsewhere were not moving many either. I told him he should give a drawing of it to Mono's oldest daughter and have her change it into a pleasure boat. Then I explained that she was an art student and a senior in high school. Her whole class might take it on as a project, I know they do a lot of design work for the Isabel Chamber of Commerce. He was shaking his head yes but he didn't say anything. Mom came and set with us for a few minutes and I got up and started cleaning tables.
I caught a ride home with Leroy and he told me that the Cat 28 was a really good boat in the rough water and that was why the fishermen used them. It works really well for the lobster guys because they can stack those wire traps all over the deck and haul more than on a single hull boat. If it works well for the fishermen, it will make a hell of a pleasure boat. I'll ask Mono if he has any problem with me asking Anita about a re-design. I asked if it would change anything from a point of safety. He said, "No, that it was rated for two 75 horse engines, but the fishermen just used a pair of 20's on it, because it would run about 20 mph with them and they didn't need to go faster." He told me that right after he bought the design they built one with two 50's on it and it was a rocket so they tried it with two 20's and it was plenty
Anita's class went all out on the boat and we had 7 different configurations of it. Some were exotic but some where nice and would not cost a lot to produce. Leroy said he was going to get some brochures printed up and let the dealers tell him which ones to put into production. He gave Anita's class $500 and I know he gave Anita a couple of hundred. He said it was the cheapest design work he had ever had done. I asked what it cost for the big boat design and he said, "A round $10K, and it was designed buy the same guy that did the Cat 28.
A week later we started working on the big boat. We had to move a lot of things around to get it up to the back of the shop. The cradle it was setting in had standard pickup wheels and tires on it. It had three axles in the middle and stands under the ends. One of Maris' people had welded it up using square tubing. I got assigned the project of cleaning the whole boat with the little pressure washer and was told not to open the doors on it until I had all the dirt and bird shit off of it. I got my first look inside; it looked like a house with a kitchen, supply room, bathroom with shower and storage on one side and two bedrooms and a bathroom on the other. There was a small storage area on each side, in the very front. I was in love with that boat. Maris said the fuel tanks were just in front of the engines, which were at the very back of each hull, and it would take around 400 gallons to fill them. Getting the engines in there, and running, was several weeks in the doing. I would bet that I made a million trips up and down the ladder. Every time I got back, somebody needed something else. The middle of April, we got a crane from Brownsville, to set it in the water. We hoisted two 55-gallon drums of diesel up, and put a barrel in each tank. Leroy, Maris, and a few of us rode over to fuel it up. The wheelhouse was full width of the boat, and connected the two hulls. It reminded me of a huge flatbed truck. We each got a turn at the wheel, and I loved it. I asked Leroy how much he would charge me to be on the crew. Nothing else in my life had equaled this. It took another month to get the Coast guard inspections, sea trials, and all the certifications. Leroy had named it "Queen Isabel" ... I loved it.
The end of May came and I had been working a year. I had one week of vacation coming, but I had nowhere to go, so I sold it back to Leroy. We were selling more Cat 28's than we ever had, and I got moved to final assembly, installing whatever deck configuration was ordered. I learned to install the engines, gauges, fish finders, radar, radios and all kinds of trinkets people wanted on their new boats. Of course, I caught hell from Vera and Mono, "Hey Levy, you get another promotion? We heard Leroy's gonna make you supervisor over the whole Cat department." About that time, Leroy walked up behind them and said, "Yes I am, and you two shit heads better keep in mind that he can fire you." You should have seen the look on their faces. It was funny as hell. As they were walking, off Leroy said, "Levy, what were those changes you wanted to make to the department?" I was still laughing and I told him," The first thing I would do is hire Mono's daughter, to put the graphics on, because they were a pain in the butt." Ole' Leroy could pull some good ones, as he walked off he said "She has an application on file, I'll have Tina call her in, and you can interview her"
I looked over at Maris and asked if Leroy was bullshitting me. He said "I don't know Levy, I don't think so, you better wait a little bit and go check with Tina." I waited a while, and went in the office to check with Tina, and she told me that Anita would be here at 9 o'clock tomorrow, for me to interview. By then I had decided that everyone was in on it, so I said, "Yeah right, I'll believe that when I see her." She said "I thought Leroy was shitting me too, and he told me this was his company, and he would make the decisions as to who was supervisor and who would do the interview, and he told me he was training his replacement." I said "Tina, he's lost his 'god damned' mind. I'm 13 years old not 40" she said, "Well, just come on in here in the morning, and sit here at the coffee table, at least you know her, just explain the job she'll be doing, the work hours, and tell her that she will be making $7 an hour. I mean, how hard could it be?"
When I got home I told mom what had happened she said, "Listen to me Levon, I have talked to Leroy, almost every morning, for at least 15 years. We have a lot in common, and if he were a younger man, I think he would ask me out. I would go out with him, despite the age, but he won't ask me. He is like us in many ways. He has no relatives and all he knows is hard work. I think he considers us his family, and he says that you will do a great job running the shop someday, and if that makes him happy, why can't you just accept it, and do the best job you can for him. We needed help and he gave you a job. How many people would hire a 12 year old boy to do a man's job? The only advice I can give you, is just step up, be a man, and do it. It makes him happy, and it makes me happy. What were your plans for life? Work on a fish boat? Wait tables in a café? No Levon, you do whatever he tells you, and you will always come out ahead."
And that is how I wound up sitting at the coffee table, looking at her application, when Anita came in, followed by Leroy. I was wondering if the joke was over and it was time for me to leave, when Leroy told Anita, that since it was my first time interviewing a job applicant, that he would sit in and help me, if I needed it. I don't think Anita was nervous, but I sure was. I explained the job in final assembly, and that she might be needed to work in other areas. When I said it, it didn't sound all that wonderful to, me so I told her that if any design or art work came up, if she could do it, it would be hers. I then told her she would start at $7 per hour, that the workweek was 40 hours and that in the summer we worked almost every Saturday. I then asked Leroy if he had anything, but he said I had covered it. At that point I didn't know what to do, so I just said," OK your hired." She thanked me for the job and promised to work hard, and I knew she would. She then looked me square in the eyes and said, "Never forget that I was your first." and then she, Leroy and Tina about died laughing. I said "OK, but I do wish my memory was better." I told her that Tina would get her a time card and show her the clock and restroom and where to find me.
Anita was a hell of a worker. She could put the graphics on, by herself, before I could figure out which side was up. It never got too hard or too dirty for her. She knew everything about final assembly within two weeks. She always had a smile on her face, and cheered up the whole shop. I told Mono I would send her over to wood assembly and maybe she could get his ass straightened out. Everyone in the shop just had to ask Mono where she had learned her work habits because it sure wasn't from him. And did I mention that she really looked good in a shop uniform
The fenced in area down to the water had junk and trash scattered from one end to the other and the old dock looked like hell. We needed to clean it up, but couldn't afford to lose the shop time. We wound up with half of the High School working for about 6 hours. It was picked up, mowed, cleaned and raked. Nobody could remember it being so clean and neat. We had quite a few part time people, working all over the shop, and 2 of them were fair carpenters. They were put to work replacing boards on the dock. Leroy hired a company to dredge our water front. Along the back of the lot there was a short canal type thing that ran the length of the lot, they brought in a barge with a pile driver on it and hammered in posts, for a special made dock, for the Queen Isabel, which brought it right up to the building. I wondered if we would ever get to use the boat, but Leroy said we needed to stay on the Cat 28's, as long as they were selling so well. We did get everything fixed up, and painted the building, inside and out. By the end of summer, things had slowed down a little, and most of the part timers were laid off. They knew when they hired in that it was just for a few months but it still was not a happy occasion.
Leroy and I took two cats to Port Lavaca. We hauled one, and pulled one, and brought back an old shrimp boat that somebody wanted fixed up. I got to drive the boat most of the way. I thought there would be more boat traffic around Corpus Christi, and was a bit disappointed. I had never been there, but then again I'm not sure I had ever been anywhere that was over 25 miles from Port Isabel. Over the next few months, we picked up, and delivered, several boats, and Leroy bought a couple at a boatyard near Houston.
The summer went by in a flash, and the school year almost over, and my birthday was coming up. I wanted a small motor scooter or motorbike to get to school and to the shop. I traded a 50 hp Honda motor, that I had bought, and rebuilt, to a shop in Brownville. I only had $400 in the motor, so I got a bargain. I could cut a lot of walking time from what I considered wasted time. I almost lived at the shop, and would have if mom would have let me. Leroy gave me a set of books for a Captains license. The guys were giving me a bad time and telling me that it might be a close thing as I had four books, and four years till I was old enough to get the license. Tina told Vera, that if he didn't leave me alone she was going to show me where he had made an "X", where his signature went on his job application.
We hired on the summer help, and I asked Leroy if Anita could supervise them this year, as I would like to work with Maris in repair a bit more. I could tell he was not totally behind that idea, and I asked him about it. He told me that he was afraid that the part timers might not listen to her, because of her happy go lucky attitude. I told him, that if anyone gave her a problem, he would have the whole damn shop on his ass. That girl does not tell anyone what to do, she just smiles and asks and they do it. He said," Yeah, I've noticed how she plays you like a fiddle." I said, "Not really, I just have the same problem that you do." He wanted to know what that was and I said "My Mom and the age difference." He just ignored me and said,"Don't let it stop you." I replied, "Don't let it stop you either."
Well, my heart was broken, Anita has a boyfriend in the Coast Guard. Damn she is pretty. Mom told me there was a bigger difference between 14 and 19 than there was between 38 and 67. I'm going to have to think about that for a while. Mom did suggest that I might start thinking about her little sister, as she was just a year younger than me. "Ain't no way, she's the 'whine bag' from hell. Pretty, but still a 'whine bag'. Maybe I better stick to boats."
We had the part timers tear down an old wood building next to the street. It didn't take a lot of effort, I think they pushed it over, and then picked up what was left. I don't think there was a 6" square anywhere on the concrete slab that wasn't cracked, so we got a local guy to bring his Bobcat and a dump truck, and haul it off. I was surprised when a crew of builders showed up and started building a new building, which turned out to be two apartments, both had two bedrooms. I was still wondering about it, when mom told me we were going to move and that she was buying a car. Dad had an old truck, but we never had a car, that I could remember. Before school started again, we had moved into the apartment, at the boatyard, and mom had a car. I didn't even know she could drive. It didn't come as much of a surprise when Leroy moved in to the other apartment. He told us he had sold his house for more than the two apartments had cost. Living at the boatyard? Hey! What could be bad about that? Now I could work on whatever I wanted to on Sundays. The guys gave Leroy a bad time about, it and he told them he had checked into what 24 hour security would cost, and the apartments had cost about what a year of security would, and it would keep me out of trouble.
The years passed by, and I was thinking that I was probably the luckiest person in the world. I wouldn't trade my life for anyone I could think of. I had bought and sold a few boats of my own and had made some good money on them. Right after Christmas, when I was 17, my mom got sick and didn't work for a few days. When she did go back to work she had a heart attack and died. I was pretty tore up, but it almost killed Leroy. I was a senior in high school and having to run the boatyard, because Leroy just didn't seem to give a shit. I took off a day from school, and called everyone in the shop in for a meeting. Leroy was still in his apartment and had not come out yet. I told them that they would either have to run the place, until Leroy decided to take control again, or look for jobs, because I was going to finish high school, and I had 4 more months. They all agreed, and I put Anita in charge of production, and Maris in charge of service. Tina still had the office, purchasing, and sales. I'll get Leroy to go to the bank with me and get it where I can sign the checks.
By the first of May, Leroy was back running things, and called for a shop meeting. He apologized for letting us down, and said he was leaving management set up the way I had it, and said it made more sense than him trying to keep up with everything. I thought it was pretty cool, because I didn't include myself in a management position. He then said that, "As of June 1st, Levy will be taking over, as General Manager, of all of Taylor Marine." I held my breath, until I damned near passed out, and then asked what he planned to do. He said,"Well, I thought I would see if Maris could use me in the engine shop." Mono said," God damn' Levy, you got another promotion, and I'm still gluing sticks together." Anita told him if he didn't shut up he would be gluing them somewhere else. He said, "Damn girl, what did I teach you about family sticking together?"
The first week of June, I went to take my Coast Guard Captains Certification, and passed it. I had been kinda maybe breaking the law a little bit. There are some fine lines in the law, about hauling passengers for hire, including any type of payment. When I hauled in a boat, and the crew was riding on my boat, I was actually getting paid for what I was doing, and they were in the boat with me, but I'll let you be the judge. When I got back from the test, Leroy handed me the papers for the "Queen Isabel", and told me, "It didn't belong to the shop, it was his, and he was giving it to me, and I could do what I wanted with it." I almost cried, but I held it together, and told him that the 3 most important things in my life were mom, him, and that boat. All he said was,"That's why it's yours."
We were still building the Cat 28, but sales had slowed down again. We really needed to come up with something new, if we were going to grow any. I asked Anita if she could come up with a cabin that could be made and shipped in a flat box to the dealers. I think everyone in the shop had a little input in it. Mono started calling it the "Cat House" project. It was kind of a cute little box, with plastic windows, and a front and back door. The walls had 1/8" plywood skins with 1" X 2" for studs. The walls were filled with closed cell foam, the corners pinned together similar to house door hinges and the top in a similar manor. I told Leroy that if a wave hit those windows they would be gone and he said yeah but you wont know it because if a wave hits the "cathouse" it'll be gone too. The panels were coated with epoxy resin and a white gel-coat. You had to screw down an aluminum angle to the deck, then the walls bolted to it at the bottom. It was the only way it would stand up because the doors were as tall as the cabin. Oh well, we sold over 200 of them at $3K a unit. It was some easy money but not enough demand. I was still looking for new ideas, but they were hard to come by.
I had been "The Manager", for about a year, when Leroy told me we needed to go see the lawyer again. He had set it up, where he sold everything he had to me, for the price of the use of his apartment, utilities, and $500 a month, until he died. He also had the title for the apartments separated from the business, and said that way, if I went broke, I would still have a home. I asked him how he was going to live on $500 a month and he said,"Have you never heard of Social Security?" He told me he was through working, he just wanted a place to hang out. The lawyer said that the business had always made a lot of money, and that when the business account built up to $300K, the overflow was put into a savings account that was automatically accessed if the Business account went below $100K. That was a lot of money. With the exception of buying and selling boats, which I always made money doing, I probably had not spent $5K in my whole life. I still had almost all my wages from the time I was 12. I had the money made on boats, and I had what Mom left me plus her insurance. I had a quarter million of my own money and I tried to give it to Leroy. The lawyer said," Levy, in Leroy's will, he is leaving you everything he has, so the money would just come back to you anyway so leave it be." Damn, what a responsibility, I had employees to look after and Leroy to look after.
The next morning, I followed Leroy to the café, where he would spend most the morning, talking to a lot of other retired guys. I got two burritos and went to the shop. I was in the office sitting at the coffee table when Tina and the rest of the employees came drifting in. I asked Tina what the sales looked like and she said they were fair but she needed to get on the phone and chase down a few leads. I told her to Hire a sales person, give them a base pay and to figure out a commission on new sales and repair.
Tina was looking at Anita and I could tell she wanted her to say something so I asked Anita if she had something to say. It came as a surprise when she said she wanted the job. I was shocked and asked why? She said she wanted to create sales brochures, talk to people and she wanted to wear a dress and look like a woman. Before I thought, I said," Anita you are the most beautiful woman in the world." She stood up, walked around the table, reached for my hand and pulled me to my feet. She kissed me and said,"Thanks Levy, now can I have the job?" I stood there with my mouth open, shaking my head yes. When everyone went to work, I was still sitting there, and Tina told me, "Levy, that was just a kiss, and that's all it will ever be. Get up off your ass, go to work and forget it."
I went to find Anita and I asked her how the hell I was going to decide between Vera and Mono for her job. She just said," They have both done it, and either one of them can do it, but you better make up your mind, because I'm going to Brownsville, to buy some clothes, and I'm going to sell the shit out of some boats. Oh, and I need a car and a credit card." I just looked at her and said, "What kind?" "I didn't know." Maris was listening, until he started laughing so hard he couldn't get his breath and couldn't tell anyone why he was doing it. Every time he started to tell someone he cracked up.
I went and got Vera and Mono and told them that one of them was going to have to take Anita's job. They both said,"Sheeeiit no Levy, not me." I said," OK, Vera you are the boss on odd numbered days, and Mono, you are the boss on even numbered days. Go see Tina and get a calendar and don't give me any shit because I've had a bad day." I could hear Maris laughing all the way across the shop. I stepped into the office and told Tina to get Anita a company credit card and a car. She said what kind and I said whatever she wants. She just picked up her cell phone called Anita and told her to go ahead and get the car and to have them call her with the invoice amount. When she hung up she said," Anita said you better get your ass to building some boats."
I was standing there trying to figure out what the hell had just happened, when I heard Leroy talking to Maris, then they were laughing, then I could hear Mono and Vera laughing with them. I stuck my head out of the office and yelled, "Anita called and said to get you dumb asses to building boats, she doesn't want to see nothing but assholes and elbows when she gets back. I sat back down at the coffee table, Leroy came in and sat down, got a cup of coffee, and said. "How was your morning, Levy?" Then both he and Tina cracked up. I stood up and told them I needed to go up the coast and check on some boats for rebuild. I'll see ya'll tomorrow.
The next morning, I opened the shop and went in to make coffee, and the damned coffee table was gone. In its place was a desk, chairs, a computer, phone, and surrounded by those gray carpet looking half walls. On the desk was a tray with business cards, I took one, it said "Anita Herrera, sales, Taylor Marine, Port Isabel Texas." Well that's fine, but where was the coffee. Tina came in, but walked across the shop, and turned on the light in the supply room. Ah there's the coffee. I walked in and waited while Tina made the coffee. I said "How did you get all this done in one day?", and she told me that Anita said do it and Bam it happened. Yeah that would do it alright, what the hell has got into that girl? She looked at me and said. "Levy, don't you tell her that I told you, but her boyfriend dumped her, and called her a stupid "meskin bitch." I asked, "Has anybody killed him yet?" She said "Just stay out of it, and don't say anything." Everyone started showing up for work and Tina headed up to the office.
I went in the office later, to harass Anita about her new office. I walked in, and said, "I'm so glad that you moved the coffee table, where are you going to put my new desk?" "You don't need no damned desk Levy, go build me some boats." "Well, I guess I better go back to work now. You ladies have a nice day."
Later Tina came out and asked if I could round up management, for a meeting with the new sales manager. She was smiling so I told her, "Yeah, I'd get them rounded up and bring them to the "Sales Office."
We drug up some folding chairs, around Anita's desk, for Leroy, Maris, Mono, Vera, Tina, and me. Anita said, "I'm trying to set up dealers for the Cat 28, and the inland dealers are harder than those on the coast, because most anything will get across smooth water, if you put big enough motor on it. They don't care that the Cat will get you home, regardless of weather conditions. Two of the biggest dealers in the Dallas Fort Worth area told me they would buy the Cat if the shipping from "Halfway to Central America" weren't so high. So here's what I'm thinking. I can get a 6 month old Dodge diesel short bed with 5,000 miles on it. It has been hit in the ass and the bed was torn off. The frame can be fixed and I can have it equipped with steel fenders and a Fifth wheel hitch. Even trade, for a Cat 28, with instrument pack and cabin. I can get a 40' flatbed trailer that was made to haul 10 golf carts, rated at 14,000 pounds, for $7K. Maris can build us a rack to hold 4 sets of hulls, and the decks can fit in the space behind them. I'll go up there with the first load and assemble them in their shop. I'll put on a little show for their service people and they will think we are doing them a favor letting them sell them. So, what do you think, Leroy?"
Leroy looked around and finally said, "Anita, while it sounds fine to me, and I'm sure you can handle it, the decision is not mine. I sold the company, and I'm just here to have someplace to hang out." Everyone looked terrified, and Leroy was having a good time stringing them along. "I'm sorry, I thought ya'll knew, I'm sure that if you're real sweet to the new owner, it will be OK." I cleared my throat and said, "Anita, about the desk?" She said, "I'll share it with you." "OK, that will work, and also, I've only been inland as far as Brownsville, so I want to go with you to Dallas." She said, "OK, anything else?" "No I guess not." "OK then, Levy, Please get your ass out of here, and Please go build me some boats." I thought I would take advantage while I had the chance, so I asked her if we could share the chair also. She said, "Get the hell outta here and go build some boats." Leroy said, "Well Levy, I think you had it going your way, right up to the share the chair." "Oh well, back to work."
The truck worked out good. Anita designed some graphics for it, and it looked real nice. You could never tell it had been wrecked. The trailer took some real doing, to get it figured out, to hold 4 complete Cats. Anita took 8 pennies and played with the placement until she settled for 3 rows, the outside rows were 3 high and the center was two high. The two in the center were raised, so they nested between the others. You loaded the center two and strapped them down, then loaded the rack on each side. When loaded, you pivoted it up. It used an electric boat winch on each side rack to pivot them in place. The 4 X 12 deck sections, along with the "cathouses" and steering consoles were stacked behind the hulls. The truck has a combination toolbox /luggage storage on the back of the cab.
The trip was quite an eye opening event for me. Our new truck driver went with us, and I spent almost the whole trip on a tiny seat behind the seats. We stopped in Temple and Waco and picked up dealers there. Ramon was going to have another trip to make, as soon as we got home. We delivered to a dealer near Joe Pool lake, in Fort Worth, and Anita told the owner that we would assemble one and he could have two of his guys assemble the other one at the same time. Ramon and I, along with two other guys, unloaded two sets of parts while Anita was on the phone with the next dealer. She went to change clothes, and we started setting up the hulls. None of us were ready when she came out of the building. She was wearing a turquoise with black trim jumpsuit that, looked like it was painted on her. Needless to say, she had no trouble getting help. We finished ours in about an hour and a half, then helped them finish up the other one. We put the cathouse on one. The dealer was going to sell the houses separate even though he got them as a package. Anita changed clothes and we headed across the city to Lewisville. It's a good thing that Ramon knew where we were going because Anita and I didn't have much of an idea. He said he had used a GPS for a number of years and it pretty much did away with being lost. We got to the Lewisville dealer, just before closing time, and he had already lined up two guys to stay over and help. Anita went and changed into her paint suit, and suddenly we had 5 helpers staying over, plus the owner. We made it back to Waco before stopping for the night. We bought a six pack and ordered a pizza. We had been gone 3 days, and decided that we would make it home tomorrow. I drove for a while, and Ramon got in the back, and leaned between the seats and gave Anita GPS lessons, until she had it down. When I started getting close to the next city, I pulled over and gave it back to Ramon. Anita crawled in the back, and then let me know how bad the back seat was, until I traded back with her at the next fuel stop. Ramon said he wanted an extra tank worked in somewhere back behind the cab.
When I got back to the shop, I told everyone that I was never going again. For the next week my name was "City Boy." Ramon and Mono made the next trip and drove straight through both ways with one day for assembly. Once the dealers had assembled one there would be no need to send anyone with Ramon.
Within a month we were behind on orders, had people working outside sanding and fiber-glassing, it was a mess. I called Anita and told her to, "Come on back to the shop, quit selling, and let us catch up." She was pissed and I told her to, "Get her ass back to the shop, and figure out how we were going to keep up with sales." Two days later she was standing outside the shop, watching 16 people working as hard as possible. She said, "Build a big carport type building and leave the sanding, glass, and fill out here year round. That way the shop won't be so messy. Put some big fans along the inside. Hire a person to constantly sweep and shovel. You can't slow down, because these are already sold." I said, "Well, you better go through the rest of the shop, and see if you can come up with some help there. I have a new giant compressor coming in this afternoon, because the two we have are too small and are running constantly. You really need to quit selling everything you can, and just sell at a constant level. Hell Anita your killing us. We're working 7 days a week. You're going to load up all your dealers, and they are not going to sell them as fast as you do." All she said was," I'll get more dealers and load their asses up too." Leroy walked up and said, "Stop it, both of you, I might not be the owner anymore, but I'm not letting you two get in to a fist fight in front of all these people. Come on to the office, we'll figure it out."
On the way to the office, I was thinking that I must have really screwed, up to have Leroy step in. We got to the office and I noticed that Leroy took Anita's chair. I grabbed the other one, before she had a chance to get it, and motioned for her to sit in my lap. She gave me a dirty look and said, "That's not funny.", and went and got another chair. Leroy said, "Anita, about two months ago, something happened that really pissed you off, and you changed from the person you were into a very angry young woman. I don't know if you realize it, or not, but you have taken a lot of it out on the one person, who in all this whole world, cares for you the most. I am sure that you know that Levy has been in love with you since he was 12 years old. He knows, I know, and you know, that nothing can ever come of that. He has always let you have anything you wanted, and I'll say that what you have always wanted was good for the business and the employees. Now for the bad part, Levy is right about being stretched to the limit on production capacity. We have not got the room in the shop, nor do we have anywhere to expand, to keep up with your sales. If you need more money, I am sure that Levy will give you more money, because money does not mean a god damned thing to the boy." I looked up at Leroy and then looked at Anita, she had tears running down her face. I couldn't take it anymore and I put my arm around her. Leroy got up and went to Tina's desk and told her, "Let's go to lunch, they'll get it worked out."
Anita and I talked for several hours. It seems she had decided that all white guys looked at all Mexican girls as stupid 'meskin bitches'. I would really like to kill that bastard that she was dating. I realize, and I think that Anita knows, that neither of us will ever have a better friend. I asked her if she needed more money and she said the only expense that she had was the rent on an apartment that she shared with two other girls. I offered to let her move in with me, just so she could cut expenses. She said,"Sheeeit, Levy, that'll never work." I said "Well, if you change your mind, bring your clothes and come on.
The next morning, she was knocking on my door. I said "All right Anita, you're going to move in with me?" "No, you dumb ass, let me in the shop so I can make coffee. I brought us some burritos." I mumbled something about life just not being fair and we walked over to the shop. Anita got the coffee going and said she wanted to change clothes. When she came back she had on a regular work uniform. I asked "Where the turquoise uniform was?" and she said, "I need boats Levy, lots of boats." "Ok, you'll get them, but do you think you could get one of those uniforms for the girl that works for DJ." "You mean Sandy? Damn Levy, if you want to look at her ass, just tell her to bend over, she'll do it so fast the dust won't settle for an hour." "Do you really think so?" "Hell yes, are you blind as well as stupid." "Well, you know I'm a poor orphan, and I need to learn these things, can you teach me?" "I'm not giving you no 'god damned' lessons Levy."
We started working on the production problem. The new compressor would not be up and running for several days. We had to pour a pad and build a roof over it, then get the electricians to hook it up. We moved the sanding operation out in the middle of the yard, in the hot sun, so we could get the car port built. It was going to be a monster, 40 X 80. It was almost as big as our building. DJ knew somebody at a rental place in Brownsville, and got two gas powered compressors that helped quite a bit. People were bitching about the sun, so Anita went and got a few cases of cola and water, two cases of beer and a tub of ice. She had a girl hauling water to the workers, and let them have one beer at break. I didn't hear anymore about the heat. She sent Ramon to town for some box fans.
The car port was up in 3 days. The top was white but the posts and metal frame were just a red primer, it would just have to wait until later. The new compressor was a screw type and it could handle the whole shop and sanding operation with plenty to spare. With DJ being outside we would have room for a paint drying room. Mono moved most of his people outside also which gave us more space. Maris built 4 more paint cradles for hulls. The gel coat that we used was catalyzed, and dried hard in a couple of hours. I rented a small building and moved one of the old compressors to it. We put the whole flat panel operation for the cat houses in it along with four people. The panels would still need to be painted at our shop, but it would be doable. They would build them, roll the epoxy on them, and sand them. Well Tina was right, Anita told them to do it and Bam, it happened.
Anita and I decided that she could only sell 20 boats a month until we were completely caught up. We would see what our monthly output, without killing the employees was, and go from there. I did convince Anita to look for some repair work and engine rebuilds. I also told her I had made a lot of money buying old boats and rebuilding them. She had been around enough rebuilds, to know if it was worth it, so I didn't worry a lot about her buying something that wouldn't make money.
Things sorted themselves out, and the remainder of the year went nice and smooth. Then in January, Anita started telling Tina that she needed to get her taxes done. I didn't understand what her hurry was, because I knew she was going to owe a bunch. Mine never did bother me a lot. I just did whatever the Tax Attorney told me to, and went on about my business. Well it seems that Anita photocopied all her tax records, included a 8 X 10 photo and mailed a copy to almost every ranking officer in the Coast Guard, explaining that this is the woman that Lt. Meyers considered a "Stupid Meskin' Bitch" and asked how much a Lieutenant in the Coast Guard made. I think she got several replies and a few proposals. Lt. Meyers got transferred to some place in Maryland because about half of the Coast Guard around here including the officers are Hispanic and they damn sure didn't like him. I thought it was great but, back to work.
Leroy's health is going down hill in a hurry. Tina hired a nurse to stay with him, but the doctor said there is not just a single problem, and told me of 4 or 5 things wrong with him. I spend most evenings talking to him and he seems to have accepted that he has a short time. He has always been of the opinion that it was his company and he ran it the way he wanted it. He has made me promise that if I ever lost complete control of it to take what I could, and go far away, and start over. He told me that it was what he had done, and that he was never sorry for doing it. When I asked what he meant, he told me he had been married and lost his company, wife, and a daughter in a divorce. He had to give her half the company, he took what he could, loaded a trailer, and left. I said what happened to your half of the company and he said his lawyer had traded it to his ex-wife for the equipment, truck, trailer, and his child support. She never knew that he had a bundle of cash locked in his toolbox. He then told me to never tell anyone how much money I had, and always have enough cash to move on. He gave me a key to what I had been told was the gun locker on the big boat, and told me he had moved all his personal papers and insurance papers to the boat. After that soaked in for a minute, I said "You mean there are no guns in the locker?" "There are plenty, and you might start learning to use them, because the whole world seems to be coming apart. Start looking around the shop, and think about where everything is, and what you would need to take if you had to run. Start drawing cash in amounts less than $10K, and build you up a nest egg. You cannot count on anyone but yourself. What would you do if the banks closed and you couldn't get your money? I think the time is coming Levy, and I want you to start moving your money, and thinking about what you need to survive.
I wondered, for a few days, about what Leroy had told me. At first I thought he might be watching too many prepper shows on TV. I started thinking back on what mom had told me, about doing whatever Leroy told me, and I would always come out ahead. I might have gone overboard just a little, the boat now had extra blankets, extra clothes, about a hundred cans of food, and money, lots of money. The first time I went to the bank to get cash, the bank president came out to talk to me while I was standing in line. When we got to the window, I told the girl I wanted $9K in hundred dollar bills. The banker asked if I had a big date coming up. I told him that Leroy had suggested having a little emergency cash around. He asked me to come with him to his office. He told me he had known Leroy for a lot of years, and knew that he liked to keep cash around. Then he asked me if I went to Mexico to buy a boat, say a small fishing village, would I have to take the cash with me to buy the boat? I'm sure they wouldn't have a bank that could connect with this one. Did I know I could draw a large amount of cash for that purpose from the business account? When I left the bank I had $75K to buy that boat with, and the banker had a signed letter stating why I needed such a large amount of cash. I needed to buy a few more boats in the next few months.
I was in the office, when Anita asked Tina if she could borrow her minivan. I said "Damn, Anita have you worn out that car already?" "No stupid, I need to go to the border, and pick up some people that I sold a Cat to. Believe it or not, they are going to drive it home. They're from La Pesca, about 150 miles down the coast. Somebody brought them to the border, and dropped them at the bridge." "Yeah, well you better stop at Walmart, and get about six 5 gallon gas cans, or they ain't gonna drive it home. And get them some food and water while you're at Walmart, and some of those raincoats in the little zip lock bags. This don't sound like a very good idea to me." "Levy we'll talk about it when I get back. I can't just leave them waiting at the Customs Office." "OK, but you do what I'm telling you, and stop at Walmart.
I was helping in final assembly when I heard, "Are you Levy?" Whoa, double back flip, blind stagger, run into the wall, catch my breath. My god this girl is beautiful. "Are you Levy?" I shook my head yes and she said "Anita needs you to come to her office." So I followed her. Daaaammmmnnn where did this girl come from? We reached the office, and I almost ran over a man setting in a chair. Anita said "Levy this is Carlos, and Victor Rodriquez and Victors daughter Selena, they are from La Pesca. They are buying a Cat today and plan to buy another one in about 3 months. I told them that if they bought both of them at the same time we would throw in a radar unit for each, but they cannot do both today. Can we still let them have the radar units?" I shook my head yes and she said, "Yeah, I thought so. Thanks Levy that's all I needed to know. Thank You Levy, that's all. Levy, Levy I said thank you that's all I need." By then all of them were laughing, and Victor said "I know who to send next time, maybe we can get an extra pair of motors." Anita said "I don't doubt it. Levy go get a radar and the upgrade fish finder rigged out and take Selena with you, so she can pick the graphics." Selena helped me install the radar and fish finder. The wiring harness is made to accept everything we offer on the boats. I also installed a T top over the console and mounted the radar on top. I told Selena that a 150 mile trip was stretching it a bit, and she told me they were out fishing for days at a time and 150 miles was not really that far. They were hoping to cut a lot of expense by going to the 20hp motors. The boat they had was equipped with some monster engine from some other boat and was eating them up on fuel costs. We got the boat finished and I was showing Selena around the shop, when Anita found us and told us to wash up we were going to the café. I spent my time talking to Selena and Anita talked to the brothers about boats, fishing, and American tourists in their small village. The Spanish was going a little fast for me but I understood most of what was said. We stopped at the shop, and Anita gave Tina the keys to her car and we took them to Brownsville, and Anita paid for their rooms, and told them she would pick them up at 7:30 and take them back to the boat. Anita laughed at me all the way back to the shop. I just agreed with whatever she said. The next morning we loaded their boat and gave everything a final check. After telling them that if they had any problem with the boat to just call me and I would come and check it out. I stood there watching until they were out of sight. Anita finally came and got me and said See, there are lots of pretty girls in this world you just need to open your eyes and pay attention. Everybody gave me hell for a week, but I just didn't care.
Things were back to normal for a few weeks then the nurse called Tina, and told her she was calling an ambulance to take Leroy to the hospital. We got a girl from DJ to answer the phone and Tina and I followed the ambulance. Leroy died two days later. Whoever said life is a bitch just didn't know the half of it. I thought for sure I was going to lose my mind. The funeral was Thursday and I closed the shop until Monday and really didn't want to open it then. I spent most of the day setting at the coffee table trying to think of a million things at once when Maris came in and told me I was going to have to get up and help them a little bit as we were way behind. I started un-boxing engines and test running them and hanging them on stands that had wheels. I guess I would have just kept on doing it, but I ran out of stands. Anita had on work clothes the next morning and we started working like crazy people putting boats together. She spent the rest of the week with me, and told me she had to go to Mobile, Alabama, and would be back in about a week. It took a couple of weeks but I did get my head out of my ass and got going again. Leroy's Lawyer came by, and we went out to the boat and got all his papers, and went through them. We found where his ex-wife had got re-married and another article where her new husband was now the manager of his old company. There was also a much later paper clipping that had an ad for them going out of business. There were a few pictures of the employees at Taylor Marine, Tina was very pretty when she was young. I signed a few papers and the lawyer took the insurance policy and told me I would get a check before long.
After he left, I did look through the gun locker, and found several automatic rifles, pistols, and several cases of ammunition. I guess it is time to learn to use them. Vera had a, yep you guessed it, cousin that was an ex-marine. He was going to teach me all about them. After only 10 lessons he said I might survive but he had his doubts. I told him I hit 7 out of 10 and he just said Yeah that only left 3 of them to kill you.
When I got home from target practice there was a car parked in my parking place. A woman of about 50 got out and said "Are you Levon Wilson?" "Yep that's me, what can I do for you?" She said "My name is Kathleen Taylor, and I have come to check on my fathers' property." I asked why she didn't come a year ago and she didn't answer. I said "I believe that it is because you knew Leroy would have told you to get your ass out of here. Leroy does not have any property, it is mine and you need to get off of it before I have you arrested."
Yeah Buddy! That took care of it. A week later I was in my lawyer's office, with a letter from her lawyer. I was telling my lawyer that it was my property and he said yes it is but we can't stop her from suing us. I don't think we will have any problem showing that the property is yours.
Well when you put small town lawyers up against Big City lawyers things go to shit in a hurry. They wanted the checking accounts frozen to protect her money. My lawyer pointed out that the money in the checking account was made by me, after Leroy had sold the company to me. And if indeed she did have any money coming it was from her father, not me. Her lawyers found some small problems with the sales contract between Leroy and me. Hell they found problems with everything and everybody in the whole damn company. The judge said he would give us his ruling the next morning. I was pissed off at everybody in the courtroom.
The next morning the Judge said he was leaning in favor of a split on the property, and asked my lawyer if he had anything else to add. He was shaking his head no, so I spoke up and said I had a few questions I would like to ask before he made his decision, and he told me to go ahead. I asked if I had to continue working at the company? No I did not. Could I take the employees with me if I left? They could work anywhere they wanted. Did Miss Taylor have the funds to operate the business? Not relevant. Was she going to work there and help us earn money or was she just going home and wait for us to mail her a check for doing nothing? Miss Taylor do you have a problem taking an active role in the business? No your Honor I would be happy to work there. Since we already have management set up and it is working well do I have to give her a management position? No, any job within her qualifications will be fine and wages to be in line with the job. Thank you your, Honor that is all the questions I have.
It is the decision of this court that all money made prior to today's date shall remain the property of Levon Wilson, That 25% of Taylor Marine be awarded to Kathleen Taylor providing that she is actively employed by Taylor Marine. 75% of Taylor Marine shall remain the property of Levon Wilson. The management of Taylor Marine,
is in place, and is working well, any changes will be at the discretion of Levon Wilson. Bam, court dismissed
Well, nobody was happy. I was pissed at everybody. She was pissed at the judge. Her lawyers were pissed at the judge, and my lawyer was trying to get gone. Well fine
"Miss Taylor, I will need your half of the money to run the company." Her lawyer sai "Only 25%." I said "Fine, we need to keep a $300K balance to make payroll and pay bills." Her lawyer said "Only the future bills, anything prior to today, is yours." I'm thinking this is going to be a mess. I said "Fine, I'm going to the bank and move the money, I will leave $225K in the account. I have no problem giving you a few days to get yours moved." I went straight to the bank and got the accounts changed, so they would not draw money from the savings account, when the checking got low. The banker closed the old savings, and opened a new one, that way there would be no mistake.
I went to the shop and found Vera. I told him I wanted a complete set of templates for every part of the Cat 28. I wanted them coated with epoxy paint and the part number on them. I want them perfect with all the latest changes. When they are done wrap them in plastic wrap and load them on the big boat. I need them within a week. Work overtime or whatever you have to do. I started gathering up some things, I told Maris I wanted six motors left in the shipping boxes and loaded on the big boat. I gathered all the fittings for 3 boats, boxed them up and put them on the boat.
I asked Tina where Anita was, and she said that, "She and Ramon had taken a load of boats to Tennessee, and should be in tonight." "OK, could you call a real estate agent for me? I want to rent out Leroy's apartment. I also need a large storage building to hold everything in both apartments put between the apartment and the fence. I'll pay for it out of my checking account. Things are going to change and I will let all of you know what is going on as soon as we can all be here together."
I went back to gathering parts and materials. When I thought I had enough for 3 boats I packed it up and moved it to the boat.
When I locked up and walked to the apartment, Kathleen Taylor was there. I asked her what she wanted, and she said the keys to my father's apartment. I was quick in letting her know that it was not her father's apartment. It is mine and I have the title to it in my name. If you want to rent it we will talk to an agent and sign a contract on it.
The next morning I got Anita, Tina, Maris, Mono, Vera, and DJ together and told them that I had lost 25% of the company to Leroy's daughter Kathleen Taylor. Everyone started saying "That's not bad, 25% is not the end of the world" and things like that. I said "Well, one thing is for absolute fact. I do own 75%, and I'm leaving, so I'm going to divide it up among you six. The lawyer will have the papers drawn up by tomorrow. There is no way you can change my mind, nor any way you can convince me to change the way I am doing this. If, when you retire, or anytime you want to. You can sell your share. You must let the others have first option to jointly buy you out. DJ you now own 10% of the company, Maris you own 10%, Tina 10%, Mono 10%, Vera 10%, Anita you sold over 7 million dollars worth of boats last year. You are now the President and manager of Taylor Marine, and you own 25% of the company. I know that you can make it work. You were always the smartest one of us, and you know more about getting people to work for you than anyone has a right to know. I cannot and won't even try to work with Kathleen Taylor because of things that Leroy told me, and I am not going to tell you what those things are. I am leaving and starting over in a new place. I am not trying to hide from you and as soon as I find that place I will let all of you know where I am. I am leaving $500K with Anita, to make sure you don't run short of money. If for any reason you run short, or maybe Kathleen will want to sell, go see the bank president. I am leaving instructions with him on how to handle it. It will be a loan, not a gift. I need to talk to Anita for a few minutes."
"Anita, I need to tell you what all happened in court, so Kathleen doesn't try to pull any shit on you." I told her and then added that "Whatever qualifications Kathleen said she had, she needed to check them. As I see it if she has no experience you can make her start at the bottom. Cleaning the shit house. All you have to do is let her work here."
I talked with the real estate lady and told her to rent the one apartment. I was leaving mine for Anita. I got the storage building moved in and put all of Leroy's stuff in it. I knew I would have to go through it some day but I was not going to do it now. I moved all my clothes and personal items to the boat and gave the apartment keys to Anita.
Vera told me that "Anita and Kathleen had a hell of a fight. Kathleen thought she would get her own office, and Anita told her she had one for her, in the shit house. She could either get her ass to work or get the hell out, and if she said Levon one more time she was going to run her ass through that band saw and throw the pieces to the sharks."
I decided to go to Belize. They had more boats there than you could count, and almost that many islands. I had almost everything ready when Anita told me I needed to deliver a boat to La Pesca on the way. We had to do some serious re-arranging to get it loaded. It was very hard to say goodbye and I almost backed out a dozen times, but I was on my way to where ever I might wind up. It took all day long to get to La Pesca, and I had plenty of time to think. I had Leroy's stash of money, as well as mine. I had almost 4.5 million in the bank at Port Isabel and around 3.5 million in cash hid in the boat. If the boat was searched they were never going to find it. The only one, besides me, who knew where it was, is Maris. He and Leroy built a hideout into the boat way back when they were building the hulls. It might go down with the boat, but no one was going to stumble on to it. I was not sure where I stood on the weapons in the locker. I am a licensed Captain doing business in a foreign port. Maybe I can bullshit my way through. I don't plan on staying long but you just never know what will happen.
The village of La Pesca is not right on the coast, but up a river about half a mile. Finding the right place was not a problem, the little Cat 28 looked good setting at the dock. Selena and another girl were loading something on it and they looked good setting at the dock also. Selena tied the lines for me and leaned a ladder against the boat as the dock was a bit low for the big boat. I could tell she was crying, and started wondering why my life was so much more difficult than everyone else's. She told me that Carlos was dead, and her father had been shot, and was unconscious. They had found a boat drifting and tied on to it to pull it in. Drug dealers had shown up and shot both of them and took the drug boat. Victor had made it home but the local doctor could not remove the bullet. The other girl was a neighbor who was a USA citizen. She had moved to Mexico, to live with relatives, after her mother died and her father was sent to prison. Both girls were going to make a run for it in the Cat and head to the USA. She wanted me to buy the new boat back and follow them so they could make it. Holy shit what am I going to do? I told them I was moving to Belize, to open a new boat shop, and was just delivering the boat. The other girl, Leta, asked if they could go with me. She said they needed to get gone right now. Oh shit, this is not good. I told them to move everything onto the big boat and we would tow the Cat. I asked "Whose fuel tank is that?" Selena said "It belonged to her father and uncle." I asked if it was "Gasoline or diesel?" "It's diesel, the gasoline is in the small tank." "Are those drums empty?" "Yep, they belong to the fuel company in Tampico, it is how they bring fuel." "Are they clean?" "Yep, the fuel has never been a problem." We loaded them on the boat and used the hose on the tank to fill them. With 6 drums almost full, and the boat tanks full, we can definitely get somewhere now. I showed them where to put their stuff, and by then the neighbors were all gathered round. The Doctor came out and told Selena that her father was dead. She told the people that she was afraid the drug dealers would come back and kill her and that she was going to the United States. We headed out to sea and I asked Leta what her family was going to do when they found out she was gone. That's when I found out that her uncle and cousins worked for the drug dealers. I needed to think of something quick. Selena take the wheel, when you get to open water, turn north, toward the USA. I went to the arms locker and got a rifle and 6 magazines. The Cat in tow, needed to be tied different, because the rope was pulling the nose down, causing a lot of drag. I kept watch for anyone coming after us. We went north a few miles and then I had Selena turn east southeast. It was getting dark, and I switched on the radar, and set the autopilot. There was nobody close to us so I stopped, and re-tied the towline and shortened it a bit. It let the nose come up and you could not feel it dragging anymore.