"Give it a rest, Jim," Madeline Massey said. "I went out with the guy one time. It's not like I'm dating him or anything."
"Ah, but, Maddy, even one date with Phil Anderson shows me how far your standards have sunk over the years," I teased. Phil works for me and I know what a sleaze ball he is.
"It's not that my standards have dropped," Maddy said. "I had to go to that damned dinner. I'd have been the only one there without a date and you were out of town. I'd have probably been a lot better off going by myself though. Phil made a real ass of himself."
"Oh, really? I hadn't heard anything except that you had gone with him. What did he do?"
"I probably shouldn't even tell you, Jim. It'll just give you more ammunition for giving me a bad time," Maddy smiled.
"You know it's just in fun, Maddy. Is it something I'm going to have to have a talk with Phil about?"
"No, It's just something I'd like to put behind me. Okay, here are the sordid details. When we got to the restaurant, Phil started bragging about himself to Mike and Louise. He knew Mike is my boss and I don't know if he was trying to make an impression on him or what."
"I think Mike's level headed enough he's not going to hold that against you," I said.
"That's not what bothers me the most," Maddy said sheepishly. "I had a chance to talk to Louise in the lady's room later and I told her I was embarrassed by him. I explained that I had never gone out with Phil, but that I needed someone to go to the dinner with me and he was available."
"I'm sure she could understand that."
"Yes, she could. That wasn't the worst of it though. She told me that Phil had been fondling her leg under the table. She said he probably had bruised ribs from her elbow."
I couldn't help it. I cracked up. Maddy and I are thirty-one years old. Phil is a year or two younger. Louise has to be well into her mid forties. "If the bastard was going to fondle someone, I'd have thought it would have been you," I managed to get out between fits of laughter.
"Oh, he did that too. I grabbed the middle finger on his left hand and bent it back nearly to his wrist. Then I quietly told him that if he touched me again, I'd break his fucking finger off and shove it up his ass."
Now we both cracked up. Maddy and I had always been comfortable together. At least for the last twenty years we had. We even tried dating for a while in high school, but it just hadn't worked out.
I'm Jim Silvers, by the way. Maddy and I both work for the same company, but in different departments. She's in sales and I'm in engineering. The dinner we were talking about was her department's annual management dinner.
Theoretically, the dinner was to go over the last year and to plan for the following year. In actuality, it was a time to pass out kudos and condemnations. It was also the time for upper management to make threats about the consequences of repeating past mistakes. Maddy was good. She didn't have to worry about the condemnations or the threats.
"Ah, Maddy, always the lady," I teased.
"Yeah, right. You're as bad as I am, Jim. I hear you had a confrontation with the VP of engineering last week."
"I don't know if I'd call it a confrontation," I told her with a rueful smile. "I did have a discussion about the merits of using substandard components to maximize company profits."
"Oh, shit! Not again! That bastard is going to cause the company to go belly up if he doesn't lay off."
"Yeah, that's pretty much what I told him. I know the company he's pushing makes cheaper programmable controllers than the ones we are using, but they don't last even half as long as our standard ones and they won't do half as much."
"If you keep bumping heads with him, Jim, he's going to eventually get rid of you and find someone who'll do it his way," Maddy warned.
"Yeah, maybe he'll put Phil in charge of Controls Engineering. I'm sure Phil would do just what he wanted."
"Phil would definitely do what Tom Jenkins wanted him to do. He'd probably bend over and take it up the butt if Tom asked him to," Maddy said.
"As I said, always the lady," I laughed.
Maddy grinned, but asked, "What would you do if Jenkins did fire you, Jim?"
"I've been thinking about that for a long time, Maddy. I think I'd start my own consulting company. I've got good contacts with all of our suppliers. I also have good relationships with all of the contractors who do our installations. I have enough money put aside so I could make it for a while if things didn't start off with a bang."
Maddy looked very thoughtful. "You know, I think you could pull it off, Jim. Our company turns down most jobs if they are less than a million dollars. You could make a lot of money just going after the smaller jobs. I could even feed you the names of the jobs we turned down."
"You could get into a lot of trouble for that, Maddy. I wouldn't want you to jeopardize your own job to supply me with information."
"I wouldn't have to, Jim. All I'd have to do is e-mail you a company name every time we turned one down because it was too small. That type of information would be common knowledge in the industry eventually anyway."
"Well, right now it's a moot point. If I ever have to get out on my own, I may take you up on it."
I had graduated from college when I was twenty-two with dual degrees in electronics and computer science. I had gone to work for Allied Systems shortly thereafter. I had eventually worked my way up and was now the manager of the Controls Engineering department. I'll have to admit I had enjoyed my work a lot more when I was a Project Engineer.
I had met Mitsy Green in my senior year in college. We had fallen immediately in lust with each other. Of course, we thought it was love and not lust. We were married about six months after I started work at Allied.
I know I put in a lot of hours at work over the first couple of years I was there and I also traveled a lot. Maybe that's what caused things to turn out the way they did. I had been with the company about two years and I was on an out of town job. There was a major flood in the area while I was there and it wiped out electrical power for the area. They were saying it might be as much as a week before the power was restored, so I came home.
I found out that day that Mitsy had a lot more lust than I had realized and that it wasn't all directed at me. To make a long story short, I caught her in bed with another guy. Later, during the divorce proceedings when she was trying to hurt me as badly as possible, she confessed to me that she had been with twenty-six other guys during the year and a half we had been married.
I immediately had myself tested for AIDS and any other STDs my doctor could think of. Luckily I was clean.
Surprisingly, the divorce didn't bother me nearly as much as I'd thought it would. I guess that's when I realized I'd never really been in love with her.
Maddy had gone to a different college than I had, then she had moved out of town for a job when she graduated. I hadn't seen her except on holidays for almost six years when she moved back into town and went to work for Allied. Our friendship seemed to pick right back up where it had left off. Maddy had never even met Mitsy, but when I started telling her tales about Mitsy, she started referring to her as "The Receptacle."
Maddy had never married, but she had been in a long term relationship with a guy. When he had lost his job for not showing up for work (he didn't tell her that was the reason of course), Maddy had supported him for six months while he laid on the sofa and claimed he was looking for work. When I found out why she'd left him, I started referring to him as "Lazy Boy."
It was on the Friday following my conversation with Maddy that Tom Jenkins called me into his office. "Sit down, Jim," he said. When I had taken a seat, he went on. "I don't suppose there's any chance you'll change your mind about using Mitsotushi programmable controllers is there?"
"No, Tom, I think I've made my position on that very clear. They cost less than the ones we are currently using, but they are of inferior quality. I think they'll cost the company more in the long run than the more expensive ones."
"Well, Jim, upper management doesn't agree with you. We feel that to be able to stay competitive we need to use Mitsotushi products. Since you're making such a big fuss over this, I'm afraid we're going to have to let you go."
"I kind of suspected something like that was going to happen, Tom. I hate to see a company like Allied go under, but with the policies you are instituting, I don't see how it can be helped."
"That's your opinion, Jim, and you're welcome to it. Since we're not giving you any notice on this, the company president has advised me to give you three months salary in lieu of notice. If you could please remove any personal items from your desk, I'll see that payroll has a check made out for you before you leave."
I cleaned out my desk and Julie from payroll brought around a check for me. I had two weeks I hadn't been paid for plus three weeks of vacation. Add that to the three months of severance pay and I had a check for a little over four months of work.
Maddy stopped by the house just after work. "I hear the bastard fired you," was the first thing out of her mouth.
"Yeah, I guess I'm on my own now. I talked with an electrical and a mechanical contractor this afternoon and both of them are willing to work with me if I can get a consulting business going. Both of them said they could split their crews for small jobs, even if they're doing something for Allied at the time."
"Well, that's good anyway. You're not down about this are you?"
"No, surprisingly not. Besides, I figure if you could support Lazy Boy for six months, I should be able to con you into doing it for me too."
"Yeah, right. That's not going to happen again, buster. The next guy I live with is going to support me."
"Well, anyway, I don't think I'm going to have to worry about being supported. I figure I have enough put away to last me for a year if I'm frugal. I just need to get out there and beat the streets to drum up some business."
"Funny you should mention that," Maddy grinned. "It just so happens we turned down a small job for Albertmans Grocers this week. They want to add a conveyor spur and a two to one merge in their distribution center. I was told the project would have only cost Albertmans about a quarter of a million."
"I wonder how much of that would have been profit," I mused.
"Allied usually marks up anywhere from ten to twenty-five percent over our cost. They use a smaller markup on bigger jobs and a larger markup on smaller jobs."
"So, you're saying there could have been as much as sixty thousand in profits on the job. I could live with that."
"Yeah, so could I. Do you know anyone over at Albertmans?"
"Yes, Jim Driscal is their maintenance manager. He and I got along really well while I was doing their original installation. I'll give him a call first thing on Monday. Thanks, Maddy. This is a start in the right direction."
"How long do you think it will take you to do a job like that?" Maddy asked.
"Jeez, Maddy. It won't take much time at all. Part of it depends on how fast the merging conveyors are running, and the throughput through the merge. I have half a dozen merge programs I've already written. All I have to do is pick one that'll work for what they want. Ordering the conveyor sections won't take over a day."
"How long to install it?"
"Maybe a week."
"So, for two weeks work, you could make as much as sixty thousand. Pretty damned good," Maddy observed.
"There's no way I'd put that big of a markup on it, Maddy. If they'll let me bid on it, I'll go with ten percent over cost. If there was a lot more engineering time I might consider a higher percentage, but for this, no way."
We kicked around the project for a while longer, and then Maddy decided it was time for her to leave. After she had gone, I spent some time setting up my home office. Now, I was kind of glad I had been living by myself for a few years. I had a state of the art computer system and all of the software I would need for doing anything up to and including a major project. I even had most of the controllers and I/O I'd need to test any software I wrote. Some of the controllers I had purchased myself and others had been given to me as samples by the supplier.
I set everything up so I could easily switch between the different controllers. I also organized my software so I could access whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. Okay, now I had two days to kill before I could contact Jim Driscal.
Maddy came over on Saturday morning and we washed both of our cars. Then we fixed some lunch and hung out on the patio for a while. This wasn't anything new. We always spent a lot of time together, especially on weekends.
We were sipping on some iced tea when Maddy said, "Hey, I've got a date next Friday, Jim."
"Good for you, Maddy. Is it someone from work?"
"No. He's and engineer for Racer Auto Parts. His name is Frank Dwyer."
"Uh... Maddy, did he just get a divorce or something?" I asked.
"No, he isn't married, Jim. From what he told me, he is divorced and has been for quite a few years."
"I hate to tell you this, Mad, but I had dinner with him, his wife, and their six year old daughter about a month ago," I told her.
"You've got to be kidding me. That son-of-a-bitch! I'll get even with him for that. He told me he had only been married for a short time and that they hadn't had any kids."
"Shit, Maddy, I'm sorry."
"It's not your fault, Jim. I'm just glad you told me."
We sat there for a few minutes then Maddy let out a big sigh and asked, "Did you ever wonder why some people have it so lucky when it comes to finding their soul mate and others like us never do?"
"Yeah, sometimes I think the Presbyterians are right about everything being predestined and that God had it in for us when he set it up."
"I don't know about that, Jim," Maddy said. "If I believed that, I think I'd just shoot myself."
"Well, maybe it's just that we're predestined to find our soul mates later in life. We'll never know what our destiny is until we live through it."
We were both silent then, thinking about what had been said. Finally, Maddy spoke up. "So, what you're saying is that although it may be predestined for us to live a solitary existence for the rest of our lives, we could also be predestined to meet our soul mate tomorrow?"
"Yes, if the Presbyterians are right. I've always thought that was just an excuse for doing anything you wanted to do. Ah, so I robbed a grocery store. It wasn't my fault because I was predestined to do it."
Maddy had to laugh at that one. "Well, I guess life isn't too bad anyway. If it wasn't for not having a sex life and not having someone to snuggle up to at night, It'd actually be pretty good."
"You know, we could fix the night cuddling and the sex life," I teased.
"In your dreams," Maddy laughed.
Jim Driscal was very happy to hear from me when I called him Monday morning. I told him I was on my own now as a private contractor and that I'd like to bid on their job. He was very receptive and asked me if I could come right in and talk with him about it.
I arrived at Albertmans just before 10:00 AM and a secretary showed me into Jim's office. We said our hellos and Jim wanted to know what had happened with me and Allied.
"Jim, I'm just not comfortable talking about it," I told him.
"Well, I heard from an unidentified source that you had been bumping heads with Tom Jenkins. They said Tom wanted to start using inferior quality equipment and that you refused," Driscal said.
"I don't really feel it would be ethical for me to comment on it, Jim. I will say you have a pretty good source in Allied."
Driscal burst out laughing. "Okay, it is duly noted that you refused to comment. So, what's this about you consulting on your own?"
"Well, right now, it's just me doing the engineering; Bob Arens doing the electrical installation; and Fred James doing the mechanical. We're starting small and limiting ourselves to jobs of less than a million dollars to begin with."
"Bob and Fred are good installers. They've done almost all of the installation for this center. I also know you are a good engineer. I guess you heard that Allied refused to bid on something we want done because it was too small for them to be interested. Is a million dollars the low end cutoff for Allied?"
"To the best of my knowledge it is," I told him.
"So, you're not going to be in direct competition with them. That's smart, Jim," Driscal said.
"Well, I know they could bury me in an instant, so I don't mind starting small. If things go badly for them over the next few years, maybe I can grow. So what's this project they turned down?"
Driscal pulled out a folder and we went over the specifications for the next half hour. Then we put on hard hats and went out into the distribution center to look at the physical location. It was really very straight forward. All of the support beams for the conveyor were already in place as this was something they knew they'd be adding when the original installation was done.
We went back into Driscal's office and he asked me what I thought.
"It doesn't look bad, Jim. Depending on the availability of the conveyors we need, we could be starting the installation within a couple of weeks. I'll work up a quote for you this afternoon and find out about the availability of the conveyors. I'll drop the quote off in the morning if that's okay."
"That would be great," Driscal said. "I wouldn't normally give out this information, but we do have two other quotes. One is for $243,000 and the other is for $261,000. Neither place can get to the job for two to three months. I really want to see you get started, so if you can come in anywhere close, the job is yours."
"Thanks, Jim, I really appreciate this," I told him. We shook hands and I started home to get busy on the estimate.
The first thing I did when I got home was count the number of conveyor sections we were going to need. There would be straight sections, accumulation sections, one curved section and one merge. I then called the conveyor company and had them give me a quote on what I needed.
I called Fred James and let him know how many conveyor sections and of what kind we were going to be installing and informed him we'd be removing one section of existing conveyor and replacing it with a merge. He told me he'd have a mechanical installation estimate within a couple of hours.
"Fred, why don't you do this as a sub-contractor?" I asked. "That way, if you can bring it in under what you estimate, you get to keep the difference. You do have the risk that if it ran over what you estimate, you would have to eat the loss."
Fred thought about it for a minute then said, "You know, I think I'd like that. I tried to talk Allied into doing that a while back, but they flatly refused."
After hanging up with Fred. I called Bob Arens and offered him the same deal I'd offered Fred. He was all for it and said he'd get right back with me.
While I waited for the installers to call me back, I made up a list of the electrical equipment we'd need for the job and called it in to an electrical supplier for a quote. Now all I had to do was wait.
I agonized over what to include in the quote for engineering. True, I wasn't going to be doing any new programming, or at least not much. Maybe a couple of hours at most to show the wiring connections and a couple of days for commissioning. However, I had spent the time at some point to do the programming. I decided to just wait and see how everything else came out.
The calls started coming in and my excitement was building. When everything was in, excluding only the engineering costs, the total came to $143,000. Oh shit! I went into my agonizing mode again. I was completely at a loss as to what to do, so I called Maddy and asked her to come over after she got off from work.
When Maddy got to the house I explained my dilemma to her. "So, you see," I concluded. "If I added $10,000 for engineering and a ten percent profit, I'd still only come up with a quote of $168,300. If I used a twenty-five percent profit, I'd have a quote of $191,250. The lowest quote they had before was $240,000."
"I don't see this as a big problem, Jim. If you had to do the programming of the merge, it would have added quite a bit to your quote. As it is, that's gravy. If you want to do Albertmans a favor, give them a quote for $220,000 or $230,000. They'll be happy; Driscal will look like a champ; and you'll make out like a bandit."
"It just doesn't feel right, Maddy."
"But it is right, Jim. Okay, so you come out well on this one. The next one you might lose your shirt. It will all average out in the long run."
"Okay, I guess that makes sense. Thank you for your good judgement, Mad."
"Oh, you're not going to get off with just a thank you," Maddy laughed. "You're going to take me out to dinner. Besides, I have something else for you. I've been working on a program to facilitate making quotes. I've been doing it on my own time and I haven't presented it to Allied as yet, so they have no claim on it. It kind of steps you through the quote process and when you have all of the information entered, it asks you what kind of mark-up you want, does the calculations, and prints out a quote for the customer."
"That sounds fantastic, Maddy. Maybe we should get all spiffed up and go to a really nice restaurant."
"That sounds like a plan. By the way, I made you up a logo and a letterhead and a template for the quote program. I hope they suit you. I didn't know what you were going to call your business, so I decided on Silvers Automation Consulting."
"That sounds good, Mad. That reminds me, I need to get a business license under that name and I'll need to open a bank account for the business also. Is there anything else you can think of that I'll need to do?"
"Well, if it were me, I think I'd like to get a web site going for the company and get an e-mail address set up for it. I'd also want to get a company phone line installed."
"Okay, that makes sense. Shit, I guess I'll have to learn HTML programming. I can't afford to hire someone to do a web site for me."
"Not to worry, Jim. I'll program a web site for you in my spare time. I'll also get you a domain name and find a host for you if you'd like."
"Sure, Maddy. Knock yourself out. Maybe I should just hire you to help me with this."
"You couldn't afford me, dear," Maddy smirked.
"No, I probably couldn't. Why don't you get your butt home and get dressed for dinner. I'll make reservations and pick you up in an hour and a half."
"Sounds good. See you later."
I managed to get reservations for the best restaurant in town. When I arrived at Maddy's house, she was ready to go, which is something I've always liked about her.
We had a really nice meal and decided we'd really step out of character and go into their lounge and do a little dancing before we called it a night. We had managed to avoid talking about my new business during dinner, but when we got on the dance floor, there was something I had to bring up.
"Maddy, I was teasing a while ago about hiring you, but not entirely. If this business takes off, I'm not going to be able to handle the paperwork and the engineering too. If that happens, would you consider going in partners with me on this?"
"I'm not sure, Jim. I'd have to give it some thought. They're not paying me what I think I'm worth at Allied, but there are some good benefits. It would be a gamble."
"Yes, it would be a gamble. We could go months at a time without making a dime, but we could also make $90,000 profit off of a couple of weeks work. I'll bet that half of that is nearly a years pay for you."
"Too true," Maddy said. "How much money would you want from me to buy in?"
"Nothing, nada, zero, zilch. All I would want is your expertise. You could even do it part time for a while to see if it would work."
"That might work. It doesn't seem fair though. You're the one who is risking everything," she said.
"Not really. If I set the business up as a partnership then you are responsible for half of the liabilities of the company. As long as things go well and we don't have any problems with any of the jobs, then you're home free. If I screw up on a bid and we lose our shirts, you'll have to help me cover our losses."
"What if we set it up as a corporation and we each put twenty thousand into it. We wouldn't be personally responsible for anything then would we?"
"I never thought of that, Maddy. It makes a lot of sense. I'll talk to my lawyer about it in the morning. I'll find out what it costs to incorporate and how long it would take. That might be the best all around solution even if you don't decide to come into it with me."
I don't know how many songs we had danced to while we were talking, but the band decided to take a break. Since it was almost 10:00 PM and Maddy had to be at work in the morning, we decided to call it a night.
I called my lawyer's office the next at 9:00 AM. Normally I would have had a hard time reaching him, but evidently someone had cancelled this morning and his new secretary put me right through.
Maddy and I had gone to high school with Harold Fannin. I won't say we had been friends, but at least we had been friendly. Harold had been in practice, on his own for about four years now and he had handled my divorce.
I explained to him what I wanted to do and he assured me it wouldn't be a problem. He said I should go ahead and get a business license as a soul proprietorship and that when the incorporation was completed we could just let the license expire.
He wanted to know the name of the corporation, so I told him I'd have to get back with him. I wanted Maddy's input. He said he'd get the papers filled out without the proposed name and I could let him know when I came in this afternoon to sign the papers.
I called Maddy and we kicked around different names for a while. Finally, she said, "Why don't we just call it Best Automation Inc.? We're best friends, so it would be appropriate."
That sounded good to me, so that's what we agreed on.
I dropped my quote off to Jim Driscal and he gave me an immediate approval. He said he'd send me a written confirmation and that we could immediately start buying parts.
That afternoon, I got to meet Harold's new secretary. Bonnie Roach was a beauty. I'd say she was in her mid twenties and as pretty as a picture. She had honey blonde hair with blue eyes and a figure that would stop traffic. I was smitten.
I talked with her for a few minutes while I waited to get in to see Harold and she was witty and charming as well as being beautiful.
When I came back out from signing papers and writing a healthy check to Harold, I asked her out to dinner on Friday. She seemed a little hesitant, but then graciously accepted. I was in heaven.
I went over to Maddy's after I knew she'd be home from work and hung out for a while. I told her about Albertmans and about getting the papers signed to get BA (Best Automation) going. Then I told her about meeting Bonnie.
I guess I must have gone on a little too much about Bonnie's good points because Maddy finally broke in and said, "You're going to have to introduce me to this Wonder Woman. Your description is making me feel like an old hag."
"I'm sorry, Maddy. You know I think you're one of the most beautiful women I've ever met. I guess I just got a little carried away."
"It's okay, Jim. I'm happy for you. While you're out running around on business, see if you can find me a hunky, smart, sensitive guy while you're at it. I'm almost to the point I'm ready to ask Phil out again."
We got a big laugh out of that, but I was worried a little about her.
The week went quickly. All of our parts were shipped into a staging area Driscal had set up for us. By Friday everything was set, so we decided to start the mechanical installation on Monday. Fred met with me on Friday afternoon, and we went over everything that had to be done. He said he'd need two days to get the conveyor sections all in place and that he thought we should replace the existing conveyor section with the merge bed over the weekend. I agreed and I told him I'd meet them there on Sunday morning in case they had any questions.
Bob Arens came in right after Fred and I told him mechanical should be done by Tuesday, so he agreed to get started on Wednesday. He said he didn't see the electrical installation taking more than a day and a half as they already had the motor starters in the cabinet and the wire ways run.
After we wrapped things up, I called Maddy and let her know everything was a go. "That's great, Jim," she said. "Good luck on your date with Wonder Woman tonight."
"Thanks, Maddy. I'm sorry, but I haven't found any hunky, smart, sensitive guys for you yet."
"Hey, I'd settle for hunky and smart right now. Maybe I could teach him sensitive."
I picked Bonnie up at her place at seven and we went to the same restaurant I had taken Maddy to. Bonnie was a joy to talk with. We spent about two hours eating dinner and telling each other about our lives.
"I had to leave my last job because my boss was hitting on me," she told me. "I'm not a prude, but I just didn't feel it was appropriate."
"I have to agree with you, Bonnie," I said. "I had a woman who I worked with who made it very clear she'd like to go out with me right after my divorce. She didn't have direct authority over me or anything, but she did work in personnel. I just didn't want to take a chance."
"Well, Harold is a prince. So far he's been very nice to me without coming on to me," she said.
"I don't think you'll have a problem with Harold. I've known him since high school."
"Jim, I don't know if you noticed or not, but I was a little hesitant about going out with you. The reason is, I don't want to get a bad reputation at work and I don't want Harold to think badly of me."
"Yeah, I did notice a little hesitation."
"Would it bother you if I asked you not to mention to Harold that we're going out?"
"Not at all, Bonnie. Harold is my attorney, but not really my friend. I don't think it's any of his business if you and I are seeing each other."
Bonnie gave me a smile that would have lighted the east coast. "Are you ready for some dancing?" she asked me.
Of course I was, so we went into the lounge. We got a table and ordered some drinks, then made our way to the dance floor. Dancing with Maddy had been nice, but we kept a separation between us. Bonnie didn't want a separation.
She moved into my arms like she was meant to be there. Half way through the first song, her head was on my shoulder and her breasts were pressing into my chest. I'm sure she could feel my erection pressing into her stomach as well.
We would dance for a while the sit and sip our drinks and talk for a while. I was enjoying myself immensely and she seemed to be too. She mentioned a play at the local theater that she'd like to see, so I asked if she'd like to go with me the following Friday. This time there was no hesitation. She agreed immediately.
We left the lounge a little after eleven and I drove her home. We shared a kiss in her driveway that left my toes curled, then I walked her to her door. She fumbled in her bag and said she'd forgotten her keys, so she knocked on the door and her roommate let her in. She gave me a quick peck on the lips and said she'd see me Friday.
I floated home.
Maddy came in before I was even out of bed on Saturday morning. We had keys to each other's houses, so she just came on into my bedroom and woke me up by plopping down on the bed. I groaned and rolled over, so she started tickling me.
I know a grown man shouldn't be ticklish, but there are spots that really get me going. Maddy knows every one of them. Finally I managed to grab her hands and hold them so she had to stop.
"So, how was your date with Wonder Woman?" she asked.
"It was really great. We went to dinner, then dancing. We talked for almost four hours solid and both of us really enjoyed it."
"Good for you," she said with a big grin. "Are you going to see her again?"
"We have a date for Friday night to see a play at the Civic Center. I'm really looking forward to it."
"You still haven't found me a hunk though. You know, he really doesn't have to be a hunk. I'd settle for a boy toy."
I had to crack up. "Maddy, my love, I'll buy you a vibrator if it'll help."
"I have four of the damned things, Jim. They just aren't good enough."
"You have four vibrators?" I was shocked. I guess I'd never really thought about how Maddy got herself off.
"Four vibrators and a little butterfly that goes in my panties against my clit. That one used to do the job really well, but now I feel like I need some flesh and blood."
"Awh, jeez, Maddy, I didn't really need to know all of that."
"Don't be such a stick in the mud, Jim," Maddy giggled. "Almost all women have their little helpers now days. Even married women. If The Receptacle had had some toys, she might not have been running around with all of her boy toys. A woman needs relief."
"Maddy, this man needs some relief too. My bladder is about to burst."
Maddy laughed. "I suppose you want me to leave the room so you can get up?"
"Please," I said.
"I'll give you a break this time," she teased. She did get up and leave the room though.
I took care of my bladder problem and brushed my teeth, then I put on some clothes and wandered into the kitchen to make some coffee. Maddy already had a pot made and she poured me a cup as I walked in.
We talked about the business for a while and she informed me she had two more leads of relatively small projects that we should bid on.
"That's great, Mad. I'll call both places on Monday and see if they will accept a bid from us."
"When are you going to start on the Albertmans installation?" she asked.
"Actually, we're starting tomorrow. I'm going to go in for a while to make sure everything is going okay. Why don't you give the guys a thrill and come in with me?"
"Are there going to be any hunky guys there?" she asked with a grin.
"I don't know who Fred is going to have on his crew, but there could be."
"Okay, I'll do it," she said. "Pick me up on your way in."
I hate getting up early on a Sunday morning, but there was no getting around it. I picked Maddy up and she looked like she'd just had twelve hours of sleep and was ready to go.
The guys were there and they were already well on their way toward getting the old piece of conveyor removed. Of course things never go just as you planned. The merge bed was three inches longer than the company spec said it should be, so we had to end up cutting off some of another bed. Luckily, it was at a place it could be done easily, but most of the crew had to stand around and wait while it was cut.
I was talking with Fred and I noticed Maddy was talking to one of the millwrights. I vaguely knew the guy. His name was Bobby McCloud. I asked Fred about him and Fred said he was a nice enough guy. Fred said he was unmarried and as far as he knew, didn't have a girlfriend. Maddy seemed like she was enjoying herself, so I was happy for her.
They finally got the bed sawed off and got the new merge in place. They slaved the drive for the merge off of the upstream conveyor, so there were no electrical connections that had to be made. By shortly after noon, everything was in and running the way it should be running.
When we left the center, Maddy was bubbling. "I have a date," she said, giggling like a school girl.
"Good for you," I smiled. "I've worked on a couple of jobs with Bobby and he seems like a nice enough guy. He's certainly big enough. I'm six feet two inches tall and he's at least two inches taller than I am."
"He did seem nice. I love his southern drawl."
"So, when are you going out?" I asked.
"Friday. He's taking me dancing."
"Cool. Do me a favor though, Maddy. Get to know him before you lose your heart to him."
"Okay. I'd ask you the same thing. Get to know Wonder Woman before you give her your heart." Maddy was serious now.
"I will, Mad. Just remember, you are a great person and you don't have to settle for second best."
"The same goes for you, Jim."
I did call both of the places Maddy had found who wanted small jobs done. I had worked with both of them and both were willing to accept a bid from us. After looking over the specifications for both jobs, I decided to pass on one of them. Their specifications for how they wanted the boxes coming out of the merge they were wanting installed were just too rigid. I thought it could probably be done, but I wasn't sure it was possible with the wide range of carton sizes they were putting through it.
We came in as low bidder on the second one, even with a built in twenty-five percent profit. It looked like it might be a busy year.
The electrical installation was finished at Albertmans on Thursday morning and by Friday noon, I turned it over to Jim Driscal. It worked perfectly and he was very satisfied. He told me if I ever needed a reference to just have them call him.
My date with Bonnie on Friday was wonderful. The play was a good one and well acted. For a community theater, the scenery was even well done. Afterwards we got a bite to eat and discussed the play.
When I took Bonnie home, our good night kiss turned into a full blown makeout session. I must not have been moving fast enough for her, so she pulled my hand to her breast and moaned as I squeezed it. Damn, that woman has some fine breasts.
We kissed and played and fondled for at least a half of an hour before Bonnie said she had to go in. I'll admit, I was a little disappointed she didn't invite me in, but we did make a date for the next day.
Maddy and I got together Saturday morning to discuss our dates. "I had a wonderful time," she told me as we sipped coffee. We went for drinks and dancing."
Did you like Bobby?" I asked.
"Bobby is a really nice guy. He was a perfect gentleman, damn it," she giggled.
"So, he didn't put the moves on you?"