Washington is cold in January. Fortunately today was above 40. I was with a large crowd watching the inauguration as Albert Gore Jr, and Barbara Boxer were sworn in as President and Vice President. The speech was mercifully short, as above 40 is still very cold when it’s windy.
I was paying for one of the inaugural balls that evening, and would congratulate him in person then. During the election I had acted to host fundraisers. While I didn’t attend, and in many cases neither did Gore, I covered the cost of the venue, and supporters came to donate, have a meal, and listen to a speech.
In Washington I now funded two separate groups, lobbyists and think tanks. Both worked hard on the agenda I gave them. Pushing for greater testing of American beef for mad cow disease, pushing for the closure of coal fired power plants, pushing for SynFuel production to keep oil pumping unprofitable, pushing for FAA flight automation and GPS navigation, pushing for nuclear power, pushing for a national electrical grid, and pushing for drug abuse to be treated as a medical issue.
All of these interrelated with companies I owned, either wholly or in part. I was the richest man on the planet, de facto ruler of two equatorial islands, and a major tabloid figure for years. For now, though, I just warmly congratulated the President. I also warmly greeted the new First Lady, and asked her for a dance.
She was surprised but accepted. I asked her what projects she was most interested in pursuing as First Lady. We discussed it, and homelessness and mental illness were the two issues she was most passionate about. I promised to see what I could do to help her.
When I handed her back to her husband, he asked what the dance was about. “You didn’t bring any daughters for me to dance with,” I teased.
After the ball was over, I took a flight back to Tulsa. A short meeting with Matt verified that the three new branches of Rescue Squad were up and ready. Rescue Squad Ukraine, Rescue Squad Japan, and Rescue Squad South Africa. From now on, I would give him the earthquake warnings, and using the procedures developed he would fly into the countries affected to warn and mitigate the disaster, backed up by either the original Tulsa Rescue Squad or the nearest branch.
I had even given him a command plane like mine, but with more vehicles, and fewer amenities. It had room for him to bring his wife and kids along as well, if the region was safe enough, or he was just doing inspection tours. With the conference done, I closeted myself in the Lab.
It took two weeks, but I produced four new antidepressants, and a little saliva test to determine which one would be most effective for each individual. I called my contact at OKBio who would pick up the drugs, manufacturing instructions, and notes. I returned to Ocean Island.
I arrived just in time for a new crisis to develop in Papua. This time it was Papua New Guinea, last year the crisis had been Irian Jaya, which was now called Papua since independence. Papua New Guinea’s President had hired mercenaries to retake Bougainville Island from the natives that had been a part of a civil war and independence movement for nearly a decade.
The center of the conflict was one of the world’s largest copper mines. At stake were the profits from exploitation versus the human toll on residents and environment of the island. The Solomon Islands had joined the Pacific Economic Group, and adopted the Pacific Dollar as the local currency the previous year. Bougainville had asked to join, but was rejected due to political instability and ongoing war.
Papua had joined after their independence making them the westernmost member, a place previously held by Palau. What began with a newspaper story turned into a full blown military coup, when the military arrested the entirety of the Parliament and Sir Julius Chan, who had organized the mercenary forces. They had done so only after Parliament had refused to impeach Chan, partly because Chan had promised them he would resign instead.
Jerry Singirok, the national military commander who had arrested the mercenaries, putting a stop to the planned attack, and had then been fired by Prime Minister Chan, returned to take command of the army that had led the coup in his absence. I arrived at the island to talk to him. He was upset as he had left orders after being fired for the military to obey the government.
We had passing acquaintance as I had worked with him to use a military controlled airport to fly reconnaissance over Papua during the war for independence there. He assured me that he didn’t want power, but the coup had happened and he was at a loss as what to do. I gave him some advice, so he announced that Parliament and the prime minister would all be released, and a new election would be held.
The military coup had been encouraged by local nonprofit groups, and the Parliament knew they wouldn’t get elected again. They stood aside, only three attempting to run again in the special election. By the end of March there was a new Parliament, and Jerry Singirok was elected prime minister.
He hadn’t even run, but I paid for a write in campaign that got him elected, and the rest of Parliament then elected him prime minister. He was upset with me, but I assured him that he was a national hero, and he needed to resolve the Bougainville Island problem. I offered to fly him to the island if he wanted to offer them independence.
He thanked me, but asked that I wait for the new Parliament to make decisions. Eventually Parliament decided to offer independence to the island. I flew him out on a S-95 helicopter, and was there when he met with the rebel leaders. He told them that if they were willing to declare independence Papua New Guinea would accept it. But there were requirements.
They listened as he detailed the rules, greater than 66% approval in a referendum, greater than 80% participation. Constitutional framework in place, and elections set for no less than 60 days after a yes vote on the referendum.
They agreed to the rules, and a referendum was set for thirty days. I put up a broadcast balloon, and let the island and everyone else within a hundred miles know about the election. The measure failed to pass, it had 95% participation, and got a 40% yes, a 60% no.
Jerry Singirok was a hero to Bougainville, for the way he stopped the mercenary massacre planned by his predecessor. I met with the rebels and Jerry. I suggested that Papua New Guinea nationalize the mine, make Bougainville a special autonomous zone, and hand the mines ownership to the autonomous authority, made up of elected locals.
The rebels agreed, so a new referendum was held. This one passed. There was some outcry about the mine, but it had not been productively worked for nearly a decade, during the civil war. I recommended a company who could operate the mine for the government, as part of the new rules required outside management, and a bank with a very good team of auditors to watch the operating company.
Everything was resolved just in time for the handover of Hong Kong to China. I attended the festivities, and was invited as an international observer as a friend of both England, and China. The following day I flew to Bangkok.
Thailand was already bankrupt, and the floating of their currency because they couldn’t afford to peg it to the dollar anymore caused the problem to get worse. Money that had gone to Asia because of the high interest rates they were paying had dried up due to worries about Hong Kong.
I did what I could for Thailand, buying baht to help stabilie the currency. I also took the opportunity to use that baht to buy companies in Thailand that were badly hurt. The economic crisis in Thailand spread to Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, South Korea, Singapore, and Taiwan.
The Pacific Dollar was untouched as it was pegged at the center point of value between the American Dollar and the Australian Dollar. It was a slow moving collapse. The whole region was weakened first by nervous investors, then the corresponding drop in currency value. This domino effect hit the corporations that had been in an aggressive borrowing phase for expansion and growth. They had been borrowing US Dollars because interest rates were low, and as the local economy improved it gave them better power as their local currency increased in value against the dollar, shrinking the debt.
That changed, and now companies couldn’t pay the loans as their local currency was only worth half or less if what it had been. The IMF stepped in to help, worried that it would bring the world economy down.
I stepped in to help as well in South Korea, and like I had in Thailand I gobbled up companies that were now worth half or less of what they had been. While there was some outcry over the purchases, because they were made with dollars they gave both countries a boost to their foreign currency reserves. Instead of having massive layoffs and closures in Thailand and South Korea, I kept the companies open, working and profitable. Pacific Investments, a subsidiary of Barings Pacific Bank, ended up in control of a large chunk of Samsung, and Hyundai stock, and all of Kia Motors in South Korea, and in Thailand I ended up owning Finance One, and dozens of construction and manufacturing companies.
The Hong Kong government seeing what I was accomplishing did the same, using their massive reserves to keep the currency at its pegged level, and purchased shares of corporations in Hong Kong hurt by the stock market instability. With Hong Kong and South Korea acting as firebreaks, the crisis passed. With my investing in Thailand and South Korea they quickly regained investor confidence.
Thailand returned to modest growth, just not at the 9% per year it had previously. Malaysia refused IMF help and took control of its own economy. South Korea needed some IMF help, as did the Philippines and Indonesia. Japan has the world’s largest collection of foreign currency, so fought off the currency traders with success.
Things got very bad in Indonesia, with rioting and attacks on government officials, leading to the collapse of the country’s government. Papua, and Papua New Guinea called on the Pacific Economic Zone for help to protect them from Indonesian pirates that had defected from the military taking equipment with them in lieu of missing pay.
Our second helicopter carrier had arrived, and I had negotiated the continued use of the USS Saipan for regional security. The PEZ only had 50 attack helicopters and twenty five Harriers, but we had massive data resources using the Ocean Island geostationary satellite, and with the tethered balloon data network equipped with surveillance abilities and a fleet of forty Predator 4 craft we could keep a close eye on all 5 million square miles of ocean.
The PEZ seeing the benefits, had continued to work eliminating tariffs between members, and creating an open skies and open border program allowing regional airlines to start landing at other locations, and the free movement of citizens. They had taken over completely one of the second ring towers, 100 stories tall, to manage the governmental agreements being made.
Fiji with its nationalist movement and local defense force was remaining outside the new agreements. The rest of the Island Nations were contributing to the Pacific Defense Force, primarily by letting their citizens volunteer for duty. The PDF was also coordinating with Australia and the United States for security in the region.
The related crisis kept me tied to the region. I ended up celebrating my 21st birthday all by myself. The IMF assistance came with reform demands and repayment schedules. One of the reforms was higher interest rates. I was able to help the economy even more by offering loans thru Barings Bank at lower rates than the National Bank. This let the companies struggling to refinance their loans from dollars to the local currency making fluctuations less hazardous to their bottom line.
In Hong Kong I was able to buy cheap factory space to start a new food production plant making both vegan chicken, and vegan ground beef.
Finally I was able to get away in November for my traditional activities. I did a sneak preview of ‘Titanic’. I invited a few new friends in addition to the regular media. One of them, John F Kennedy Jr, had asked me to interview for an article the previous year. I did the interview, then got to know him and his wife, inviting them for dinner at my place.
After the movie he asked me to pose for an issue. He was interested in the reports of tattoos. I agreed to pose at the beginning of the year, and do a new interview. I had a talk with James Cameron after the movie and asked him to get a hold of the Hayden planetarium and correct the scenes with the night sky, as there was no reason to get that wrong. He agreed to do so, and was as pleased as I was about the response to the movie.
The week after that, the family came to my house instead of the normal Thanksgiving traditional lake house trip. They had realized that Fourth of July is much more fun at the lake house, and if they came to my house my staff would do all the work, plus I have a great view of the Thanksgiving parade.
I gave everyone their Christmas presents after Thanksgiving, as I wouldn’t be around in December. Mattie, my sister, got a replica of the necklace the diamond lab at General Atomics had made for Titanic. I gave jewelry to all the women of my family.
In December I spent a few weeks at NASA headquarters in Florida discussing the international space station, as it was now being called. They wanted to know more about my inflating habitat.
I was a straight with them as I could possibly be. I sketched out a three ring design with a zero g section, and an external experiment bay and micro satellite launcher. They explained how what I was planning was impossible as it would require too many lifts, and was too high of an orbit to be useful.
They obviously didn’t want to listen, so I told them I’d be building my own station, and do it for less than half the cost and five times bigger than what they were doing. They stormed out of the room.
I called Russia after I left and arranged to meet with Boris Yeltsin. The country was having severe financial difficulties, and there had been protests and riots against his presidency. He eagerly invited me to visit hoping I could help their economy.
We discussed my new space station technology, and we talked about what the Americans were paying for modules to be built and flown as Russian modules. He was embarrassed that it was true, but told me the prices. I verified that the payment was in dollars, not rubbles. I gave him a specification list and asked him to have the head of Rosaviakosmos give me a call. He told me that I needed to talk to Khrunichev, the company that actually manufactured spacecraft, Rosaviakosmos, the national space agency, just ordered and launched them.
I offered the use of Spaceport Island for the Proton rocket if they needed it. He thanked me, but told me that their facility in Kazakhstan had just been fully upgraded. I showed him pictures of the Buran. It had finished a complete teardown and rebuild at a facility in Nevada. He was impressed, and appreciated we had kept the name. I told him it was bad luck to change the name of a craft.
He asked why it didn’t have an American flag on it. I had decided that it would have a flag of my own design, I called it the Earth Flag it was Earth in a Waterman Butterfly on a black background. I showed him a picture and he liked it as much as I did. It was Pacific centered, and had Antarctica as a circular tail.
The octahedral butterfly was also a black and white symbol used on the wings of the orbiter, and on the uniforms. I showed him pictures of my prototype inflatable habitat, completely inflated and being tested at my Nevada production center. It was suspended in the air held up by cables attached to tethered balloons. It was able to spin freely along the axis, inflated to two atmospheres of pressure, so we could test putting weight in it to see how it deformed under use.
I returned to Spaceport Island on January 17th 1998 when the Drudge report broke the story of my children. 97 Japanese women were identified via documents showing that each pregnant woman signed a contract, receiving 50 thousand dollars when reporting the pregnancy, 1 million dollars at birth, and fifty thousand dollars a year for 18 years to raise the child. In exchange I was reported to receive visitation and naming rights of the children.
The news soon snowballed. They reported that there were similar groups in other countries, nearly ninety in Kiribati, over fifty in the United States, dozens in Ukraine, South Korea, and Thailand, and a handful in China and Taiwan. The media made jokes about how I’m getting bulk deals on jewelry, how all the building on Ocean Island is just a place to house them all. There were also questions as to how one guy could be so fertile.
Between a phone call from my Dad who thinks it’s hilarious, and Mom who’s stressed about being a grandmother, I get a call from Mongolia. They had found the sword I had requested, and would like me to visit. Seeing that I’m getting teased even by the workers at Spaceport Island with greetings like, ‘Hey stud, how are you today?’ I gladly left for Mongolia.
They hadn’t made the news, but their economy and their currency had been hurt badly by the Asian financial crisis, and the Russian financial crisis. They gifted me the sword, then asked me to invest in their country. I set out an economic reform program for the country and committed to five billion dollars in investment over the next ten years.
I outlined the investment plan, the first part being airport upgrades and a massive Genghis Khan museum and advertising campaign to boost tourism. Working with Chinese authorities to bring water into the country would also be a priority. There was already a desalination plant sending water to Inner Mongolia, a Chinese area bordering Mongolia. I offered to pay to quadruple the pipeline and bring it all the way into Eastern Mongolia. Western Mongolia has some water resources, so I offered to pay for careful expansion of irrigation there.
I offered to set up factories and production for black hemp in the East. It’s a carbon absorbing, drug free, gmo version of hemp. It produces an edible oil, and a seed that can be used for animal feed after the oil is pressed. It also can be used to create super strong manufactured timbers, with performance better than steel because of its long super fibers. Most of the east will be planted in it, as it holds down the soil in the arid regions, requires little water, and is an instant export product for the Asian construction industry. Western Mongolia would get greenhouses and orchards. In between would be traditional pasture land, and some grain like wheat, barley and oats.
They approved the plan, and I put Barings Bank on the job. They open four branches in the largest cities and offered low interest loans for companies willing to submit to our audit team.
In April I was back in China, after negotiating the water expansion for Mongolia, I was premiering for the first time Star Wars. I had missed the rerelease in the United States the previous Star Wars day in ‘97. This was a special Chinese dubbed version using China’s biggest movie stars.
I had agreed to a few minor changes in dialog, such as the People’s Republic instead of just the Republic. Congress instead of the Senate. They had no problem with the Emperor being the bad guy. China had never experienced Western style media blitz marketing. It was everywhere before the movie opened.
It was a huge hit. Everyone was very disappointed that they had to wait an entire year for the next installment to be released, but Chinese captioned pirated video tapes were flooding into the country from Hong Kong.
I did have to deal with a small problem. Rescue Squad in Afghanistan ran into trouble. They were in the North of the country where semi-moderate Muslims were fighting against the hard liner Taliban to the South. The first predicted earthquake was in February, the second in May. They were gearing up for the May earthquake, having coordinated a worldwide response of helicopters and pilots to bring in supplies for the February earthquake.
A couple helicopters had been shot down after the villages they had visited bringing radios and supplies to had been burned to the ground by southern Taliban forces. I sent in military helicopters to protect the rescue workers. They were very effective at hunting down soldiers on foot and in vehicles. The northern alliance asked for more assistance, but when I checked with the UN and others they warned me to do no more than guard civilians, and relief work.
I had Matt set up a helicopter maintenance base at the North of the country, and arranged for fuel and supplies to be brought in thru Tajikistan. Then I brought in instructors to start training northern alliance soldiers how to fly helicopters. They had to be men, married and over the age of 25, but under 35. The result was a group of well trained pilots. When the earthquake work was accomplished I had Matt take his car keys and scratch every military helicopters paint, then mark them as damaged, and sold to locals for scrap prices.
The helicopters only had a 300 mile range, so they couldn’t be used for invasions of the South without some really good logistic planning, but they could patrol and protect the region from raids. I also ensured that all the pilots and crew working on the base have the anti-drug treatments.
Before Matt left the area I faxed him a map of Afghanistan and the surrounding area with three circles drawn on it. I asked him to give it to the commanders of the northern alliance. The three circles were marked as do not enter zones, telling them they must not go into those areas.
He did as I asked, but he couldn’t give any explanation. They simply accepted it as a warning from a prophet, when they learned it came from me.
In July the Rescue Squad response to the earthquake in Papua New Guinea pushed the government there to fully associate as a new member of the Pacific Economic Zone. They officially joined on August 1st, their defense Force able to be called on by the PEZ executive council for the defense of any member.
The rest of the year moved by quickly. I didn’t join the family for the July 4th celebration, as I was busy working to coordinate the movement of some Buddhist Nepalese exiles from Bhutan to Ocean City. They were eager to live in such nice homes, but I broke them up among different towers and floors so that they were forced to assimilate.
In August we opened an entire first ring 150 story tower as a University. It was endowed and free for all citizens of the PEZ, but had twenty percent reserved for foreign students. It opened with just bachelor degrees offered, but we planned on expanding that with a robust environmentalism and oceanography programs in addition to political science and engineering programs.
It was swamped with applicants, so we selected the top 25% of test scores from each Island nation, and did random draws. Everyone not accepted was offered scholarships to attend elsewhere.
In September I traveled to Spaceport Island to witness the launch of the Buran. It launched on the first, and a rendezvous with two previous rocket launches was announced. They were the first two pieces of my new space station at an attitude of 10,000 km above sea level, considered Medium Earth Orbit. They were in a region between the two Van Allen belts, with an orbital period of 5 hours 47 minutes.
The previous launches provided by our heavy rocket were waiting in matching orbits a few kilometers apart. The Buran reached the first, and connected to it with one of its two arms. Then it gently attached it to the module in the cargo bay. Once attached it used its thrusters to move the Module to its position near the second module.
At the second module one arm attached to it, while the second arm removed the module that is carried in the cargo hold and the module previously attached to it. It carefully connected the three modules with the Buran carried module in the middle. Once all were connected, the Buran docked with the center module.
The crew entered the center module, and verified everything was as planned. Once the connections were checked, they returned to the Buran. A fourth launch of a heavy rocket brought up the next piece, and the Buran attached it opposite their docking location. Once attached, they verified the connections, and they undocked, moving from the station.
Once they were a safe distance, they ordered the station to begin inflation. The two outer modules inflated their donut rings. Between the donuts one inner module connected them, and the second reached out past the perimeter of the donuts to act as the new docking point. With the donuts inflated the space between them was deemed too tight for the Buran to safely attach to the central spar.
The two donuts had an outer radius of 60 meters, and an inner radius of 8 meters, making it instantly the largest object in space. More pieces were planned, but that would be for other crews. For the moment, they redocked at what would be the back door. They eagerly explored the 900,000 mostly empty cubic meters of space station. By running along the inner surface of the ring, they were able to simulate gravity. They couldn’t go very fast. Though 30 mph would be the equivalent of the force of gravity on Mars.
Inside each of the donuts were a few straps connecting the sidewalls together, but otherwise each was an open space of nearly half a million cubic meters. The astronauts had a small electric scooter they tried to use along the inner part of the ring. It wasn’t expected to work, but it did have a small fan that pushed the four wheels against the floor to increase traction. It was able to just barely simulate gravity, generating a force less than half of the Earth’s moon.
Because their orbit followed the equator at such a slow speed, we were able to use high powered broadcast antennas with four ground stations. Ocean Island, Spaceport Island, Houston Texas, and Sri Lanka. Much of their antics and playing were getting prime time TV around the world.
They performed one last stunt for the cameras: they strapped on butterfly wings in the pattern of our flag, and practiced flying around the big open space. It was surprisingly effective at generating speed, but not so much at changing directions. There were a few minor bruises, and then they finished.
When they returned to Spaceport Island successfully, they arrived to a hero’s welcome and a press conference. I was asked about the plans and described how a third ring was planned and that the station would have two sections, a pseudo gravity area on the rings, and a zero G section connected by a rotating connector.
They asked about NASA using the space station, and I invited them to come for a visit, but sadly noted that it was at an altitude beyond the space shuttles’ reach. I then mentioned that I had a series of upgrades I had offered NASA from materials tested on the Buran that would let the space shuttle reach that altitude.
I also announced that TWP Media was carrying our new television station that would carry live video of all launches, missions, and press conferences held at Spaceport Island, as well as a live video feed of Earth from the space station. This station would also be available for all other cable and satellite networks around the world to carry free of charge.
I thanked the reporters, and turned the interview over to the five astronauts. I left quickly before they had a chance to ask questions about my personal life that I didn’t want to answer.
I flew to New York where I had to make some adjustments. The board of TWP was very unhappy with the media storm my collection of babies were continuing to generate. I spent some time with reporters at Time honing the narrative. I released further details: all the women were between 25-35, good looking, intelligent, and ideal single mothers. I give an official figure of 350 mothers, and 364 children as there had been fourteen twin births.
I pointed out that the entire project, to expand my genetic potential across the world, had the potential cost of less than a billion dollars of my private fortune. I was asked about moving them all the Ocean Island, but I reported that only a few lived there, otherwise it would be putting all my eggs in one basket. They asked about the kids, and I handed them a stack of pictures. Three hundred sixty-five baby pictures.
They published all of them in the magazine. Each baby was dressed in its traditional national dress in the pictures, and each baby was at six months old. Jennifer was furious with me. I told her no one noticed that there are 365 pictures instead of 364. I also assured her that our daughter was as unrecognizable at six months as any other baby.
She had decided to quit her law firm, so I offered her a job at Ocean Island as a mothers coordinator. She realized that I spent a lot of time there, and it will give her more time with me. Our relationship is complicated. Ever since my 16th birthday party it had been an undefined and for a while a semi-illegal relationship. She was 32 at the time, but had been my lawyer and friend for 8 years. She was also the only baby mother without a contract.
She decided not to take the mothers coordinator job, so I offered her the job as my CEO. I’d been serving as chairman or on the board of dozens of companies. I wanted to concentrate on the Asian companies, and I offered her the seats on all my American and European holdings. I told her that she would get chairmanship of only two companies, Grandpa’s GrandLux Resorts, and my General Atomics. Since she had had significant dealings with all these companies in my behalf, she accepted. General Atomics was privately owned in full by me, and the board was more honorary, where select long term employees are offered positions on it after retirement.
TWP Media had been pushing for me to step down from the board in favor of another as chairman. She will have a seat there, at Apple where in ‘97 my 11% ownership helped arrange for Steve Jobs’ return as CEO, Euro Motors, and at Corning, which continued to make record profits making digital fiber optic cable, and continued as the world’s only supplier of carbon felt products.
The sale of Pixar to TWP Media had just completed. John Lassiter had been made President of the division, and creative director. The resulting purchase had been made in general stock, increasing my ownership percentage even higher, but not affecting my ownership of 40% of the controlling stock.
With the announcement came stories on Jennifer, labeling her the most powerful woman in corporate America. She promised to continue my policies of equal wages for equal work, and liberal time off policies for family regardless of sex. She also said that sexual harassment and discrimination would not be tolerated by any employees no matter their position, and set up a hotline for reporting it. She left her daughter out of the conversations, and little five year old Jessica Evelyn Parz never came up.
The next year for Christmas she sent me a ‘one a day’ desk calendar with the 365 baby pictures in it. It was also a big item at my fan club.
Amber Petworth called me and asked who the 365th baby was. I told her that I wasn’t telling, but that she was the only one who noticed. As President of my fan club, she informed me that she had a list of eight hundred more women who wanted my child, were intelligent, between 25 and 35, and ready to go.
I asked her if she was in the list, and she immediately said she was at the top of the list, because she was the most attractive. I told her that if we had a child, that the man she met next year would never become her husband.
She wanted to know his name, but I refused, only telling her that he would be the love of her life. I could hear the smile in her voice as she asked if I wanted the list, because Sam was number two on it. I thanked her, but said I planned on setting up a website for further baby volunteers, and I would let her know when it was up so she could inform the club first.
I promised her a dance at her wedding, and hung up. It left me in a good mood all day. I flew out later that week to San Diego where I checked on the diamond lab at General Atomics, and picked up a few items. After a quick check with Jennifer to verify everything was good, I settled on the beach near my house at La Jolla. The weather was warm, the sun bright. New York, and Tulsa were already cold, but I couldn’t go far, I had my November movie preview, and Thanksgiving with the family coming up rapidly. Plus an imminent wedding.
I was in a lounge chair leaning back, eyes closed, listening to the surf and enjoying the afternoon sun when a shadow came over me. I waited for her first words.
“Oh my God, you’re John Cook!”
Without opening my eyes I said, “Melanie Waters, will you marry me?”
“What did you say?”
“I said, Melanie Jane Waters, will you marry me?”
“That’s not what you said,” she replied.
“Already our first fight,” I sighed.
“Open your eyes and look at me. How do you know who I am?”
I opened my eyes and looked at her, the loveliest woman I had ever laid eyes on. Bright red hair, freckles, a small upturned nose, green piercing eyes, and a smile that lit her face and the world around it.
“Melanie, you’re the most beautiful woman in the world, how could I not know who you are?”
She glanced down, looking at her simple swimsuit, and sun cover. Her eyes rushed over my body, taking in my tight muscled body, blue eyes, and dark brown hair. I gave her a toothy grin.
“So will you marry me?” I asked.
“Why should I marry you?” she asked, thinking it a game.
“Because I’ll never meet anyone with a heart for adventure like you. Because you’ll never have anyone who will love you as much as I do. Because a life with me will be filled with joy for as long as you live.”
“That’s not very long,” she said softly.
“It’s long enough for us, even if it won’t be long enough for me,” I told her.
Her eyes glittered with tears, “I was hoping to spend all day not thinking about that!” she said softly.
“There’s nothing I can do to give you more days. No matter what happens you have a limit of 1100 days from today. But if you agree to marry me I’ll give you 1050 days filled with good health, adventure, and excitement.”
“You’ll cost me 50 days of life?”
“1100 is the most possible, but it’s got to be your choice, and it’ll break my heart, but I’ll not tell you no any day for the rest of our lives together, 1050 days or 1050 lives, it doesn’t matter. I’ll take every moment I can have with you.”
“When do I have to tell you yes or no?”
“It’s October 27th, 1998. If you say yes right now, I’ll marry you at sunset this evening.” I pointed up the cliff, “That’s my house. Up there is a wedding dress your size, and tux for me. The judge will be here at 4pm, sunset is at 5:03.”
“I’m omniscient, I know everything. There’s no question you can ask that I don’t know the answer to. I’m sitting here on the beach today, because this is the day we meet.” I held out a huge diamond ring. “I got this today, because this is the day I propose. I arranged the wedding because this is the day we get married.”
“Predestination? I don’t believe in that.”
“No just picking the most perfect sunset San Diego will have this year.”
“You’re kidding me!”
“I am. Tomorrow’s will be better. Do you want to watch it with me?”
“Yes, I’ll marry you. By God you must have kissed the blarney stone, but I believe you. 1050 days of adventure and excitement. That’s the best offer I’m likely to ever get.”
I stood up towering over her by a foot. I dropped to one knee in the sand, and looked up into her eyes. Melanie Jane Waters, will you marry me? Be my wife for as long as we both shall live?”
She held out her hand, and softly said, “Yes, John Wayne Cook, I’ll marry you,” as I slid the fifteen carat diamond onto her finger.
“That’s heavier than I expected,” she said smiling.
I stood, and sweeping her up into my arms kissed her as softly and and passionately as I could. I released her, and she looked a little wobbly and glassy eyed.
“Wow! I’m looking forward to a lifetime of that!”
“Are you ready for our first adventure?” I asked her.
“I think it has to be our second or third. I don’t know where to put that kiss!”
“Our third adventure then. Close your eyes for a moment,” I told her as I held her close in a hug. The helicopter roared overhead, landing near the water. Its rotors slowed to a stop as it pelted my back with sand, Melanie carefully protected by my bulk as I stood between her and the helicopter.
“Come my dear, our chariot awaits!” I told her, dragging her by the hand towards the helicopter.
We climbed in, I helped her fasten her seatbelt, and told the pilot we were ready. He fired up the engines, moving out over the water in ground effect, then increased our speed and took us up into the air. She shrieked in delight, as the helicopter circled the house giving her a view of the grounds, before settling onto the pad in the backyard.
As the rotors stopped I helped her out, and took her hand walking slowly to the house. She was looking around nervously. My hand tightened gently on hers, and she looked at me and smiled. I could see her relax again.
Inside the patio doors stood a line of people. I introduced them as her wedding staff. Their job was to get her ready for the wedding. There were hairdressers, florists, beauticians, anything she might ask for was ready.
She looked at me, and said, “I wish my mom was here.”
The doorbell rang, and I looked at my watch. “That should be both our parents.” I told her.
She looked frightened, but I smiled at her, “Ready for adventure number four?” I asked.
She took a deep breath, and grabbed onto my hand. I opened the front door to a woman who looked much like Melanie, and who shrieked and started hugging her daughter. My Mom and Dad came in afterwards.
I gave them both hugs, and thanked them for coming. I introduced everyone, “Mom and Dad, Melanie Waters, the love of my life, and her mom Jane Waters. Mel, Ms Waters, my parents Mary and Ray Cook.”