Steve and Chuck Go Sailing
Caution: This Action/Adventure Sex Story contains strong sexual content, including Ma/Fa,
Desc: Action/Adventure Sex Story: Chapter 16 - Steve and Chuck sail off to to Europe with their families for business and pleasure. This story will be better understood if you have read the other stories within Florida Friends.
How can that be? My cell phone is ringing. I don't remember leaving it on. Jesus, who could be calling at, I lifted my head to see it was six thirty? I was on the outside of the pile of female flesh, so I was able to get up and hop to the table where my pocket stuff and cell phone was.
A sort of familiar voice said, "Hey, Chuck, how're you and that sweet Lisa doing?"
Trying to figure out who this was I said, "We're all fine, ah, who is this?"
"Hey man, this is Kenny, you know, the guy with the group you and Lisa ferried all over Europe. I gotta deal you won't believe."
Still foggy I asked, "Where are you calling me from at six thirty in the morning in Italy?"
Kenny said, "Home man, St. Pete. It's only midnight thirty here."
"Thanks for waiting until now to call. You know I'm on vacation or something like that right?"
"Ha, ha, ha," Kenny laughed, "Man, I'll bet you and Lisa have been using this vacation to really wail. You know, we're still using the vids we took instead of an opening act. Have you guys recorded anything new we can use?"
"Hang on, Kenny, I have to pee and go get some coffee. How about I call you back in five?"
"Don't forget, Chuck, call me back. I have something that you'll love, you and Lisa both."
I hung up the cell phone and hopped to the bathroom. After peeing, I hopped to the chair where my shorts, T-shirt, and leg were stashed. After dressing, I grabbed the phone and was getting ready to leave the cabin.
Lisa rose and said, "Don't leave without me. I'm part of this. I can feel it. Wait for me."
Lisa was cool. She wasn't like most women who primp for hours on end getting ready to do anything. Lisa jumped from bed, peed, dressed, and followed me from our cabin. Glenda was already puttering around in the galley and gave us both mugs of coffee. We took our coffee up to the big salon and found Dewey and Steve at the bar, constructing Bloody Marys.
Lisa said, "Maybe some of that instead of coffee would be good. You call Kenny back; I'll make us a couple."
I sucked a big slug of coffee from the mug and dialed back the number that had called. Because my hands were busy, I put the phone on speaker so Lisa could hear too. Of course, Steve and Dewey were going to be able to hear, but I didn't have many secrets from them anyway.
"It's you, Chuck, right?"
"Yeah it's me, Kenny, what's up?"
I could hear Kenny take a deep breath and start, "We're playing in Italy followed by a gig on the Riviera this weekend and next, did you know that? Well, I found out you're in Italy right now. How about that for coincidence?"
"Truthfully, Kenny, I didn't know you had a gig over here and, yeah, it is a coincidence."
Kenny said, "Well, we are going to play Italy, but we got a problem. Stick is sick, I mean really sick and Sandy, our backup lead guitar, is in the hospital for an ulcer operation. Chuck, my boy, we need you and Lisa. I know you can handle the rhythm and Lisa is more than capable to handle the backup lead. A little practice and we're golden. Stick even told me to call you instead of some schlep that isn't in tune with us. How about it, Dude, how about playing with us? Do you think Lisa could go for this?"
Since I had put the phone on the bar with the speaker phone option on, Lisa, Steve, and Dewey had all heard the conversation. Lisa was handing me a tall red drink, smiling so broad you would think she was being loved on.
I said, "Tell me more. Kenny, we'll need some heavy practice time to make your show the professional performance you're used to giving."
"Yeah, yeah, we'll get the practice. I'm having our flight prepped right now, and we're packing up to get out of here. If we land tonight, or whenever it is for you, we'll have four or five days of solid practice time to get us working together. We can also put together some more jam vids. Those things are gold. What do you think of the cut we sent you? I'll bet that was the easiest ten Gs you ever earned."
I looked at Lisa and shrugged my shoulders. She put her hand to her mouth then said, "I forgot to tell you. I gave it to Wanda since she handles your checkbook. We were both sent a check for ten grand. With everything else that's been happening, I forgot."
I spoke into the phone, "Nice, Kenny. I think we could put together some jam time for that kind of cash."
From the phone, "Forget the small change, Dude, I've got a show to put on and need you two to do it with us. Can you, or maybe I better beg, will you?"
I asked, "Is your road crew coming early too?"
"Naw, they'll come on Thursday, as usual, they don't need more than a full day to set up."My head was spinning as there was going to be the sightseeing in Italy, the State Department people were all over the place trying to keep me and the family safe, and son of a gun, a famous group is asking me to fill in for his guys.
Kenny then said, "You know I can do drums and percussion too, so you and me can switch off on bass and lead if you want. I think that would give the show some real flavor. You and Lisa could even swap around on keyboard if you wanted."
"Where did you get the idea I played keyboard?" I had never mentioned that to Kenny.
"Easy man, Pop and Rags told me all about you being a multi-talented dude. He said you had one hell of a gentle touch on the ivories."
I asked, "So when did you talk to them?"
"Man," Kenny said, "Those two are doing one of the best blues club acts I've ever seen. All the guys have even sat in with them at their place. Hell, Pop told me he was staying at a place that is your mansion. What the hell are you doing with a mansion?"
"Jesus, Kenny, are you wired or what? You're not doing anything are you?"
"No way, Dude. Clean as a pin, I'm just excited as hell to play with you and Lisa again. Tell me you can do the gig with us, come on, tell me."
I was laughing at his begging, and Lisa was moving her head up and down in an exaggerated manner. "Okay, Kenny, count us in. Call me when you get in, but not between midnight and six, local time, okay?"
"No sweat, I'll wait to call you till about eight tomorrow morning. We have a studio set up for practice and Stick is sending his show traps for you to use. He told me you might need more sticks as he's depleted his stock pretty much."
I had a thought, "Ah, Kenny, while you're here, I want you to listen to an amateur group Lisa and I have been working with. I know you'll like them and we do a couple of pieces that are Pops and Rags originals. We sometimes sound really great."
Lisa spoke up, "Kenny, this is Lisa. How about I send you a few tracks by e-mail. The recordings are not professionally worked yet, but they are pretty good. At least you'll get the flavor."
"Send them, Sweetheart, and get ready to wail with us. Bring that sweet SG with you when we practice and make sure Chuck brings all his axes with him. We're going to feature the hell out of him. You too, but that man has a talent I want to use."
I said, "You are on something, Kenny. You better be straight when you get here, no bullshit and no drugs."
"Oh, Chuck, you know I don't need any drugs when I'm talking music. I'll see you tomorrow morning."
Lisa was already over at the music console sending some cuts of our stuff to Kenny. She looked up with a smile and said, "The kids may be a bunch of students, but we've put out some good music. I want a pro like Kenny to hear it. I know he'll want to hear more or do something with them."
My coffee was cold, so I took a healthy drink of the Bloody Mary.
Dewey said, "Is that the Kenny from that big time rock and blues group?"
Lisa said, "That's him. We flew him to three places in Europe when his personal airplane was down for maintenance and became friends. We had a couple jam sessions with him. I'll get out the CDs of the jams and let you be the judge. He did market the material and as you heard, Chuck and I got ten grand each for our efforts. I didn't realize we signed a royalty contract, but I guess we did."
Lisa was sipping her drink when she asked, "I wonder how much they'll pay us for this gig. A big show like this brings in millions. It costs a lot to put on, but there is a lot of money for a show like they do."
Steve sighed, "Dewey, how are we going to compete with their music and their law enforcement adventures? They're talking adrenaline pumping stuff, while all you and I do is make deals, and money of course."
Dewey laughed, "As long as you and Chuck are in on the deal, we make money. Now that is some adrenaline pumping stuff for me."
Brandy and Tiani came to the top of the stairs. Brandy asked, "So you two decided you wanted to drink at seven in the morning instead of sleeping? What's going on? I heard Chuck's phone go off, but went right back to sleep."
The three pregnant women came up the stairs, followed by the Asian sisters, Maria, and Julie. They were all looking at me expectantly.
"What?" I could see they were waiting for an explanation, "I got a call from a guy we ferried to Europe those times Brandy and Tiani acted as hostesses. He wants Lisa and me to play a show with him here in Italy."
That was the "start" button for all of them to move toward Lisa and me, surrounding us, hugging us, as Frieda said, "Wow, you two are really going to play with my favorite group? Wow, wow, wow."
Nancy asked, "I wonder if they videotape all their performances? We have to get a copy of this one. We could sneak some video equipment into the concert and get it all down for us."
I told them, "I'll ask all the questions you want, but remember, Lisa and I are only side men for a very famous group. People won't know why we're there, but will only hear the music we put out. Lisa, do you have any of their best stuff on CD. If not, perhaps someone else has some so we don't have to go out and buy it. We need to play along some with the CDs so we have their techniques down."
Frieda said, "I have everything they've ever done with me, at least copies of my originals. I keep the originals in my fireproof safe. They are that good and that valuable to me."
Pretty soon Sue came to the top of the stairs and announced, "Breakfast is ready. We need to get ready for our first full day touring Italy. Ed will be here any minute."
Lisa and I looked at each other. Before I could say anything, she said, "Forget touring. I want to practice to be ready for them when we get together in the morning. How about it, let's stay on board and practice today."
I did say, "I was sort of looking forward to doing the tour. I guess we'll just have to come back and take a tour by ourselves. I'm sure the rest of the group will understand but I'm worried about the kids. They may want to stay back instead of going on the tour."
Lisa said, "Probably not all, but Bonita and Lizzy will want to stay. You're going to have to do some tall talking to get them to leave."
"Well, let's go eat breakfast and see which way the wind blows."
We went below to the big galley and tables. Martin said grace and we all sat to begin devouring the ham steaks on the platters, along with the biscuits and gravy.
We had just begun to eat when Eduardo came down the stairs. Sue and Mercy showed him an empty place that already had a plate and utensils. Sue asked, "Is your driver or drivers here? Shouldn't they get breakfast too?"
Ed smiled and pulled his cell phone. He said, "I'll call the only driver I have today. We're not going that far, so one bus will be fine. We're staying around Rome today."
The driver soon tentatively came down the stairs and just stared at all the adults and kids. Ed translated the guy's exclamations, "He says he's never seen such a huge family as you have here."
Steve told Ed, "Tell him there are multiple families here, but we're all the best of friends."
When all of us had eaten, the dishes were scooped up, and a herd of women made short work of cleaning up the galley and dining area. The rest of the folks had gone upstairs.
When the ladies came up, I made the announcement, "Lisa and I are going to stay back today, and probably the rest of this week. The group we flew to Europe a while ago wants us to play with them for a show here in Italy. Lisa and I need to get ready to practice with them tomorrow. I really wanted to do the tour, but Lisa and I will have to come back and have Eduardo show us around another time."
There were groans of displeasure, but there was a lot of smiles from my women and some of Steve's. As predicted, Bonita came up to Lisa and me, "If you're staying to play and practice music, I'm staying too. I can help you, and I want to learn the same as you do."
Lizzy was looking dejected next to Bonita, "What about me, I can back up on the rhythm guitar and play my harmonicas. You need me to make the full sound you need to practice."
I told them, "Look, Girls, I know you enjoy our music, but this may be the only time you'll ever get a chance to tour Italy. Lisa and I may never get a chance to play with a world famous group like this again either. If you guys get back early enough, we'll practice with you, but I think you need to go with your families."
Bonita and Liz were both ready stomp their feet in frustration. I gathered both of them into a hug and said, "You two know that I love to play music with you. Listen to me, though. This is something that Lisa and I need to do and should probably do by ourselves, alone. I'm not saying you two wouldn't make it sound better, but we're going to be really digging into the music. This will be a work practice, not one for fun."
Liz and Bonita looked at each other and looking down, not happy, Bonita said, "I, ah, we understand. But please, can we play with you tonight? We didn't play yesterday and we miss playing music."
I had not realized that we didn't play any music the for a whole day the first time in a long time. "Okay, it's a promise. We'll play a little, regardless of when you get back."
The two girls raised their head smiling, gave us each a hug, and turned toward their moms. I stretched and said to the group, "Now get. Lisa and I have a bunch of music to cover. Frieda could you loan us your CDs?"
Frieda left to get the CDs while the mothers organized and gave some instructions to their kids. The rest of the adults were all excited about seeing the sights of Italy.
As soon as they were gone, Lisa and I began getting our instruments out. It took me a while to assemble the electronic drum set and tune it the way I wanted it to sound. Arranging the heads in the right positions took some effort as the pads didn't tilt that easily.
Lisa was tuning both of our guitars and handed me my bass to tune. She said, "How about we put on the "All Time Hits" album and play along? Let's both do guitar, or you can do bass too, but let's get the flavor before we work at it. If they still do the same show, they'll do all the favorites mixed in with their new stuff and some newer originals. We should be able to stay up with them, especially if we have a couple of days of practice."
Lisa put on the CD, cueing it up on the first cut. We both played along with our Gibsons set at a lower volume than the CD. We went through five or six pieces before I pulled out the bass, to play along with it instead of the guitar.
This was fun as I was able to feel the bass and begin drawing out the notes, sustaining them with my effects, while keeping the rhythm going. Lisa said, "You know your technique is better than his. You taught him some of your tricks and he's a better player now. You're just so natural that when there is a heavy driving piece, they're going to want you on bass."
When we had reached the third CD, I began using the drums, but instead of using the big amp, I put the headphone monitor on so I could hear the mix and what the electronic drum set put out. After a couple of pieces, Lisa pulled an ear muff away and said, "Come out, come out, wherever you are. Put the drums on the amp so I can hear what you're doing. Your rhythm is fine, but I can't hear the accents. We need to see if you're mimicking Stick."
We did that for another hour, until I put the drum sticks down and said, "We need lunch and I need to buy some more drum sticks. I like heavier sticks for the rock stuff, but I also like some lighter, skinnier ones for jazz and blues. I need some brushes for the slow blues stuff too. Hey, I wonder if they're going to have you do some vocals? That would be really cool."
Lisa smiled, "That would be neat. To sing in front for a group like that. If we teach them the pieces that Pop wrote, they'll probably use both of us for vocals the way we practiced. We can use Kenny for Pop's or Rags' part."
We locked up the boat and went to the concierge at the main desk of the yacht club. When I asked him about a music store where I could buy some guitar strings and drum sticks, he became very excited. He made a couple of calls and turned to us, "A taxi will be here in a few minutes. Everyone has been listening to what you two have been playing and must be practicing, are you part of the group that's going to play this weekend?"
Lisa and I looked at each other, wondering if we should say. Lisa said, "The group you're probably referring to is going to use us to fill in for a couple of their people who are ill. Are you a fan?"
The concierge smiled, "Who isn't a fan? I live for good blues and jazz. Their rock is full of good blues sounds that always make me feel good. I traveled to Belgium to watch a show they put on a while back. You know, you two look like two of the people from their Jam Video I bought. They were playing the video as a front group before the show, and offered the audience a way to sign up to buy it. I did, of course. You two are the ones on the video, aren't you? Can I get your autographs? You're famous, at least to me and others who enjoy that music."
The man left for a couple of seconds before coming back, shoving an advertising poster flyer for the concert at us handing us an Italian Sharpie. Lisa and I signed across the bottom, as our pictures weren't on the poster. The man acted as if he really prized our autographs. That was a hoot.
When the taxi took us to a huge music store, Lisa and I were at a loss to speak the language. We wandered around a little and found the drum sticks I wanted. I pulled several pair out, along with two sets of brushes. We found the guitar string area and selected a few complete sets of the better electric strings. I pulled out a dozen sets of their best acoustic strings and half dozen sets of premium bass strings, including one set with the fifth and sixth string.
That's when a clerk noticed us. The man came to us and said, "Are you American?" When we nodded he said, "I am the dedicated clerk to help English speaking customers. Would it be good if I helped you?"
I told him, "That would be very good. I think we've found most everything we need, unless you have any vintage guitars that we might look at and be interested in."
The man said, "I see you've selected some bass strings, I do have a very nice original Harmony H-22 that has been converted to fretless. We also have several Fenders that are classics. The best is a 62 custom Stratocaster guitar, complete with a real rosewood fingerboard. Of course, you may prefer something made by Gibson.
We have something special, a 1959 Gibson Les Paul Special three quarter refinished in Black. It is something you don't see very often these days. Although it was called an SG Special 3/4 when it was introduced in 1959, this model features the full flat mahogany Les Paul Special double cutaway body and the 19 fret neck is set in farther to accommodate the shorter scale length of 22-3/4". At some point a long time ago, the guitar was apparently refinished in black over the original cherry finish which is starting to show through in places. Funky, cool, cute ... whatever you call it, this baby is a little rocker with the pair of P-90 pickups punching out a sound that defies the visual impression. If you've been looking for one of these, you may not find another for quite a while. According to one of our Gibson enthusiasts, only 19 of these were made in 1959. This is a great guitar but also a collector's item.
Lisa elbowed me and said only one word, "Bonita." She followed it up with, "She's been trying to play your Les Paul and my SG, but they're really too big for her. Something like this will last her a long time, at least until she grows a little more.
The clerk knew he had a sale, so he gently said, "The best part is we have it for only three thousand US dollars."
I asked him, "Let's see that one. I'd like to plug it in to see how it sounds. The person I want it for will want to use it as soon as she sees it. This may be a mistake, but it will be a fun mistake. We'll need an amp too but it needs to be switchable to U.S. 120V, 60Hz."
We walked to a nicely decorated backroom that had classic vintage guitars displayed on all four walls, as well as hanging from the ceiling. The man took the smaller sized guitar down from the wall, went over to a nice amp, turned it on, and plugged in. He used a digital tuner to tune the strings, before he held the guitar out to us, as if to ask who was going to try it first.
Lisa took the guitar, threw the wide strap around her neck, pulled a pick from her Levi pocket, and began running through some chords. As she became comfortable with the feel, she started picking out various riffs she liked. She was smiling and nodding, as she said, "Sounds almost like my SG. My pickups are little more sensitive, but this has a really good feel and sound, try it Chuck."
She handed me the guitar and I mimicked Lisa by putting the strap over my shoulder and finding a pick in my pocket. I went through about the same method to get used to the feel, but began a bunch of Hendrix riffs I liked to use on a guitar I had never used before. The sound was amazingly good for a small SG look alike.
Lisa was smiling and said, "We'll take it. I can't wait to show Bonita. She's going to go nuts."
I wanted to look at the Harmony H-22 he had, so he took it down, tuned it, and plugged it into a big bass amp and speaker combo. This didn't take any time at all to want it. The smooth fretless neck was narrow enough to double string, but still wide enough to pull and draw the strings. I used the effects pedals that were next to the bass amp and found the sustain and chorus. This really made the ancient Harmony talk. Yeah, I wanted this one.
We left the backroom with the Gibson 3/4 and the Harmony bass.
Our basket was pretty full by the time we made it to the checkout. The clerk that waited on us continued helping us by ringing up our purchases. I used my American Express as it paid the bill in Euros, so there was no conversion problem. Lisa was carrying the guitar in a new hard case, along with the bag of sticks and strings, while I carried the new bass road case and heavy amp. As I lugged the amp out to the waiting taxi, Lisa said, "We probably could have waited to buy an amp back home, but I figured she would like to have it below in the kids' or crew's quarters to practice with."
I suggested, "Do you think we should make sure she knows the guitar is for all the kids to use and practice on?"
Lisa grinned, "Sure, but she'll know it's for her. The other kids might play around with it a little, but Bonita will be the one that makes it sing. She'll experiment with an electric now, and who knows what we're going to be hearing from her."
Back at the boat, Lisa reminded me, "I'm still hungry. Should we go up to the yacht club or hunt for something in the galley?"
I suggested, "Let's try the galley. That way we can eat and listen to some more of the group's stuff. We're going to be really pressed to learn all their breaks and riffs to keep their music original. Live stuff always comes out different, but it's supposed to come out better than the recording, more improvising, more feeling."
Lisa was nodding in agreement as we built sandwiches from leftovers from the galley refrigerator.
We ate at the bar, enjoying some iced tea and listened to another CD. We were both stuffing our food as we were eager to get back to practicing for tomorrow.
That's pretty wild, Chuck and Lisa being asked to play with a famous rock and blues group. If I had not heard it for myself, it would have been easy to think Chuck was blowing smoke. That wouldn't be like him and he wasn't, so I guess there is going to be a concert in our near future. At least I hope he can get us all in.
Eduardo, the guide, had shown up for breakfast with his bus driver, so we were ready to leave as soon as we finished breakfast and the clean up. Bonita and Liz tried to pitch a fit to stay with Lisa and Chuck, but Chuck talked them out of it by promising to play with them tonight. The guy can sweet talk the kids. They really do like him. I guess he's become another father figure or mentor to them. Lisa is so sweet with the kids. She treats them like adults. From what I've learned about her, it's probably because she never had a chance to be a kid. Peaches told us all about Lisa losing her mother when she was young, and being raised by her dad, a professional musician. Peaches says she is really the only mother Lisa has known. Sort of an unlikely pair, but probably what Lisa needed back then.
We loaded onto the buses and were off to see some real Rome sights of interest. Chuck had talked to me about a couple of guys that will ride with us and who were going to chaperone us while we toured. Chuck said he doubted there would be any trouble, but thought it best to be safe.
As we drove away, Ed began telling us about our tour. He explained that he normally was employed by Perillo tours. He said Perillo tours had been started in 1945, right after World War II and was the oldest touring company in Italy. He added, "The regular tours are at least 9 days, but I'm going to give you the most and best I can this week, and as much of next week as you can handle before you leave for the Riviera. From what I heard, we need to return to the boat at a reasonable hour, and I also heard you would probably be attending a concert this Friday or Saturday. That band is playing both nights, and might even have a Sunday matinee concert. I know the two nights are sold out, so it's a good chance there will be a Sunday concert as well. You tell me when you need to be there and we'll have the bus ready to take you."
Ed told us, "You know it would take more than a few hours, days, months, or even years to really to get to know Rome. The cliché is true 'Rome truly wasn't built in a day' and you can't know the real Rome in a day. What we can do though, is to immerse ourselves in Roman culture, classical to modern, so you become soaked with Roman history."
"This morning, our first stop will be the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill. I'll try to give you a running history as we go."
This was going to be fun, fast and furious, but fun.
We arrived at the Coliseum and were lectured by Ed as we walked through the beautiful amphitheater, built around 80 AD, where gladiators fought man and beast for four centuries. We went from there to Palatine Hill. This is a palatial expanse where the first inhabitants of Rome lived, along with several emperors, philosophers, and noble families until the 1800s.
From the Flavian palace, built around the first century AD, there is a view of the Circus Maximus from the first century BC. We walked through the remains of the palace to the Farnese summer home from the 17th Century which rests atop the remnants of Tiberius palace. The Farnese home has beautiful Renaissance gardens which remain intact and was a beautiful place to take a short break. We finished this section of Rome by walking around the Forum to find Julius Caesar's tomb. We followed the oldest road in Rome, the Via Sacra, out of the Forum and up a staircase to Campidoglio or Capitoline Hill.
The Campidoglio is three former senatorial buildings from the Renaissance and designed by Michelangelo. The buildings now house two museums and the mayor's office. From the piazza there was a beautiful view of Rome as a modern city. We passed through the Pantheon that Ed said was his favorite building in all of Rome. The Pantheon is a round domed classic Roman temple from 27 BC, built originally by Augustus Caesar's best friend Marcus Agrippa, although the dome was added about 150 years later under the Emperor Hadrian. The piazza had a lot of cafés and restaurants facing the Pantheon, and was a great place to stop for lunch. There was the familiar McDonalds, so while the adults had some good Italian hoagies, the kids pigged out on cheeseburgers and fries.
After that short rest, we went to get a glimpse of the Baroque, disguising some ancient Roman architecture. We walked towards the Tiber River or Tevere, and next to the Pantheon to find the Piazza Navona, an oblong rectangle with three fountains. The center fountain is the infamous Four Rivers by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, where each of four rivers, the Nile, the Ganges, the Danube, and the Rio del Platas make distinct gestures to the church in front of them. Ed said the rectangular shape of the Piazza Navona has its own history. It takes its shape from the Stadium of Domitian, an 86 AD racetrack whose remains are under the piazza.
It was mid-afternoon when Ed took us to the Piazza di Spagna, a piazza built in the late Renaissance. It was famous for its beautiful staircase which has created the misnomer, The Spanish Steps. Ed told us Bernini's father designed Ed's favorite fountain that was in the center, looking like a sinking ship, complete with water trickling out of the bow.
This was a shopper's paradise that had the women looking at fashions from Prada, Gucci, Louis Vuiton, Cartier, and Bulgari, on Via Condotti or Condotti Road or Street. There was even shopping for the kids at a place called Patrizia Pepe and Gente on Via Frattina and Fornarina. Sue examined the merchandise for quality, and I'm sure she was thinking of marketing opportunities in the shops.
When we finished with the shopping, Ed said, "Let's call it a day and have some refreshments on your boat to plan tomorrow."
We were all a little tired, but the kids were still excited about seeing so many sights they had seen pictures of in their geography and history books. I also was happy to have seen the beautiful sights in person.
As soon as we were on the dock going toward our boat, we heard the eerie sounds of guitars playing some pretty far out strains of music from the past. It almost sounded like the battle of the guitars. Then there was a bass that was thumping down deep, singing along with the guitar. Hope someone is recording this.
The kids broke into a run toward the gangway. They rounded the corner and were up and into the salon before we adults had traveled a few feet. As she quickly moved ahead of us, Kathy said, "I better temper their enthusiasm a little. They need to drink some water and wash their faces before they begin playing."
We were entering the main salon as the kids came from below after washing their hands and faces. I can imagine the condition of their head or bathroom, with towels thrown in all different directions, in their rush to get back up top.
The two men in suits who had traveled with us went over to Chuck and had a few words with him before leaving, waving goodbye to all of us. Chuck immediately began organizing the kids for what he wanted them to play. He had what looked like a different bass that he had strapped on his shoulder. I heard him tell the kids, "We're going to practice doing the two pieces that we learned when we first started the trip, the one that Lisa and I do some singing on and the one really funky blues tune that has Lisa or me playing on the keyboard. I think Lisa will do the keyboard and I'll play lead guitar. I want two bass players, and you two guys can separate the drums, or keep them together and one play at a time. I want the rest of you to play your harmony parts on your acoustical guitars. Here are the music sheets for you. We'll listen to our original recording of the piece before we go through it on our own."
While they listened to the music, Lisa took what looked like a small guitar from a case and began playing along with the recording. She didn't have the volume up high, but you could hear her make the little guitar sound really good."
Bonita was sitting, holding her regular acoustic guitar with her head cocked, watching Lisa and the guitar very closely.
When the recording was finished, Lisa said, "Bonita, how about trying out this guitar and playing the heavy electric chords for this piece? That way we won't have to do a sound on sound."
Bonita was grinning as she took the guitar from Lisa and sat down in the chair Lisa offered. She immediately began going through chord progressions, racing through them with her fingers flying over the fret board. Bonita was grinning when she said, "This is just like Lisa's SG, but smaller. It fits me perfect. Where did this come from?"
Lisa said, "We found this today in a music store along with Chuck's bass. The guitar is a three quarter, but has as good a sound as my SG. We got this for all you kids to play, Bonita, so be sure to share with the others. Chuck put an amp down in your crew quarters lounge. Make sure you don't turn it up too loud and make sure you turn it off when you leave. I think all you kids will enjoy the guitar."
Liz was looking at the guitar wistfully, when Chuck said, "You'll get your chance at the guitar in just a few minutes, okay? Between now and then, we need your harmonica to make this piece sound even better." That got a smile from Liz who was forgetting about the new guitar as she put her harmonica to her mouth.
All of us guys and several women were enjoying an ice cold beer. It really hit the spot after walking all over a small part of Rome. Ed was telling the women that tomorrow would be another busy day, and that they needed to get to bed early so they could start early again tomorrow.
Sue motioned to me and said, "I think I should call the people in Ireland to see how it's going. Chanda was telling me a few things about how some Irish can be difficult to work with. She said we should talk to Mac a little more to get a better Idea. She said their family was really what we call Scottish-Irish as Mac's grandfather was from Scotland and his grandmother and mother are both Irish. She said that even today, some of their Irish neighbors and business associates give them a hard time about their name. Mac's success and position in the area are good reasons for them to keep him as a respected friend."
We went below to the office to make some calls. First, I called Tiny to see what he had heard. "Hey, Tiny, Sue's concerned about how we're going to be doing in Ireland. She wants to make sure we do this right so they don't take advantage of us. Have you heard of anything?"
Tiny said, "With their economy the way it is, they should be kissing our collective asses for opening the plants we already have, along with trying to open up the clothing plant. This cottage industry thing could get messy, but should be okay as long as you only buy a piece at a time and you only buy what you can use. If some think they can get away with it, they may try to submit shoddy work, so no contract stuff. You know how we work, you set it up. Just make sure the folks there are willing to do the same thing."
We had the phone on speaker, so Sue asked, "I guess we need a real strong local personality to make sure we are successful. This is going to be more difficult than I thought, and more difficult than Serene has intimated. I wonder if Mac is being straight with us, or just trying to get a few more jobs in Ireland? Did you hear from Jeff?"
Tiny said, "I haven't spoken with Jeff since he went to Ireland. I'd bet he's talking to our people there trying to figure a good way to do business. Call him on his cell phone. Discuss what we just talked about."
Sue said, "I'll call him next."
Tiny asked, "Did that Kenny guy from the band get hold of Chuck? He was calling around trying to get in touch with him. When I told him you all were in Italy, he got really excited."
I told Tiny, "Yeah, Kenny called Chuck at six thirty this morning. They want Chuck and Lisa to play in their band over here for a concert or concerts. The group will be here tomorrow to begin practicing, so Chuck and Lisa are neck deep in music. The two have something they are planning with the kids. I'm not sure what yet, but knowing Chuck and Lisa, the kids will love it."
Tiny said, "Well, keep me posted. That's exciting to know someone that's going to play with a group like that. You better call Jeff before it gets late. He was talking about getting out of there and coming home. He's worried about his people and what they have to do."
"I'll call him now, Tiny. Talk to you later."
Sue began dialing Jeff's cell phone as soon as I had pushed "end" on the phone. Again she put the phone on speakerphone and waited for Jeff to answer. When Jeff answered, Sue asked, "How are you doing with the Irish, Jeff?"
There was a pause before Jeff said, "We're actually doing pretty good. You see, my mom is Irish and her parents, my grandparents, still live here. I did take the opportunity to visit with them. As a matter of fact, I'm at their home now."
Another pause then, "Granddad gave me some good advice when I told him what you wanted to do with the cottage industry. His suggestion was to have some kind of open market for Sue to buy the product from whomever has good product to sell. It resolves any contractual dealings that could leave us holding the bag and it prevents us from having to deal with another Guild. Your potential new sewing plant is already targeted for a Guild, regardless of how you handle your people. Grandfather says the Irish are infamous for cheating foreigners every chance they can. Unless you can really motivate those folks you train, you're going to produce less for more in this environment. You need to find out from Steve how he's getting the work out of his people at the rebuild plant."
I said, "I'm here with Sue, Jeff. I'll talk to the plant manager to see how he's doing it. So far the plant is producing quality repairs rapidly. The plant has been successful enough that the accountants are bemoaning the taxes."