Steve and Chuck Go Sailing
Chapter 19

Copyright© 2011 by Dual Writer

Action/Adventure Sex Story: Chapter 19 - 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.

Caution: This Action/Adventure Sex Story contains strong sexual content, including Ma/Fa  

Steve

As I passed through the galley, I was confronted by Glenda, still in her robe. I asked, "Are you going to stay in today?"

Glenda said, "I think Martin and I have been overdoing it. The scooter thing we did yesterday helped, but we were both so tired last night that we thought we should stay home and rest a little. I can spend the day doing some dusting, and I need to wash some clothes for my man. The two of us could use the rest. I thought I might give home a call this afternoon to see how everyone is. Martin and I are getting a little homesick. It's six hours earlier there, right? I'm going to try to use the computer to send some of my pictures too."

I had to give Glenda a big hug and worried that we might be driving them a little too hard. I told Glenda, "Yes, Ma'am, it's six hours earlier, so if you want to catch them at breakfast, call about one this afternoon. That'll be seven there and most everyone will be there. I'll bet they put you on speakerphone. They probably miss you as much as you're homesick, and Glenda, don't do any housekeeping. You're my guest, take it easy and enjoy your vacation. We have a ton of people who can take care of the housekeeping."

As I took a mug of coffee upstairs, I considered how hard this might be on Chuck's pregnant ladies as well. Mickey was still early in her baby making, so she was able to still be active.

Dewey, Sheila, and Sheena were at the bar. Surprisingly, Dewey and Sheila had coffee, and only Sheena had a Bloody Mary. I sat on one of the tall chairs and sipped my coffee. Dewey had Fox News on, but it was last night's program that is repeated during the night on Eastern Standard Time. He switched to CNN, then finally to BBC, for some current world news. At one point, he even turned to Al Jazeera in English, which is unavailable in the States, and, you know, the coverage was pretty balanced and broad, except for some pretty obvious bias concerning news about Israel.

Dewey asked, "Is today the day you're going to your plant here in Italy?"

"Yes Sir, if you're going with me, we'll take a limo to the factory. It's located on the west side of Rome, so it isn't far. We wanted to be near the airport and seaport, along with having rail at our door for shipping and receiving."

Dewey commented, "Good choice, you have access to all forms of transportation without being in the Rome gridlock we've witnessed."

"That's why it is where it is, Dewey. Abe and Tiny were the ones who found the buildings and made the original deal. We own the property now, so we're pretty well anchored here in Italy with a production plant."

As Sue came up behind me, Sheila said, "I think this should be the last day of sightseeing and touring. We probably should begin shutting this tour stuff down and relax. I know the kids can go everyday, but I'm becoming a little weary of sightseeing. It's interesting, but tiring. There's just too much to see."

Sheena said, "I think that's a good way to do a tour of Rome and Italy would be to go out every other day, and rest between day tours. You could always go back on your rest day to something you really liked the day before to get more in depth, but I'm with you, I'm getting tired."

"Come on you two," Sue said, with a smile. "You two are both young and healthy. You should be able to keep up."

Chuck, Lisa, and Julie came up, carrying coffee mugs, and sat with us. I asked, "Do you have a full day of practice today?"

Chuck said, "We do. We're going to do two complete run-throughs of the show so we'll be familiar to what order we're doing the show and it will give us more practice. There's a lot of switching around on instruments, so this show is going to be a lot different than the way their shows usually are. The whole show runs a little over three hours. Kenny was trying to cut it down, but wants to play everything we have scheduled on the current playlist."

Lisa said, "I'm really excited to be able to play and sing with these guys. They are really good performers, and they have been great with Chuck and me. They keep encouraging us to be more up front than I would have thought them to want me and us to be. It's really great."

I told them, "Make sure you talk to them about tickets. If some of the kids don't get to see you guys in the show, they will be royally upset. I think I will be too."

Mercy came up and whispered something in Lisa's ear and the two went downstairs. Chuck was acting uneasy and said, "I've got the jitters, and it isn't because of the show. It's like something is happening and I don't know what it is. I think I'll go wake John up and see if anything is going on. I better not though, as it is only half past midnight there."

Liz came to the top of the stairs and said, "Grandma Beth said it's time to eat. Come on, come down to the galley for breakfast."

Sue said, "The boss has spoken, so we better get on the move."

We all went below for breakfast. Martin said grace and everyone dug in. Today's breakfast was lighter than usual, lots of scrambled eggs, bacon, and toast. Glenda announced, "I'll do better tomorrow. All of us ladies were tired this morning, so we decided a light breakfast wouldn't hurt."

About this time, Missy, Mercy, Wanda, and Lisa, who had been missing, came from below. The four women took their usual places with Missy next to Merlin, Mercy next to me, Wanda by John, and Lisa next to Chuck. I saw Lisa lean over and say something to Chuck. He just nodded and continued eating.

Ed had showed up for breakfast, as usual, and began telling us some tour itinerary.

Ed told us, "We will pick up our Segways and begin at the Piazza del Popolo, where we left off yesterday, and head in the direction of the Tiber River. We're going to check out the tomb of Emperor Augustus. From there, we'll visit a few relics, until we go to the Piazza Navona again. I think you'll like today's tour."

The ladies cleaned up and left for the tour, while Dewey and I went up to the yacht club to get the limo I had ordered. It was the usual near disasters all the way to the plant. I can't believe a Roman who drives has a lifespan past twenty-five.

As soon as we exited the limo, I realized I could be a little early. It was only seven forty-five, and it's possible the plant doesn't start until later.

As we approached the front door, we could hear the plant operating. That was encouraging. Inside the front door was a security guard who stopped us, and he had a working knowledge of English. We got who we were, and who we wanted to see, across to him. The man made a telephone call, and like magic, Luis DeRomano came out to greet us. Luis said, "Thank you for coming to see us, Mr. Sharp. I am proud to present one of your most productive plants. Hans and I have spoken, and we have made a wager. I think the competition will be good and the best part is that any warranty problems will deduct from the score, so you'll know we're trying to beat each other in quality, as well as production."

We were walking through a hallway into the main production floor when the man pointed at the walls, "See, we have slogans on our walls too. Over the doors we have "Is it Perfect?" or "E'Perfetto?" in Italian and what you see on this wall "S&S produce prodotto perfetto" says, "S&S produces perfect product. " A little different than in Florida, but it's what motivates my people. We are proud of our product and our production performance."

We went through the plant very slowly. Luis showed us each stage of production and introduced us to his people. They were all very courteous and didn't seem to be flustered that I was there. It was a great way to visit a plant.

We ended up having lunch in the company cafeteria. Luis said he got the idea from our home office and how we took care of the employees of our company, as well as the clothing factory across the street. He said, "We provide four to five meals a day to those people who work at five of the plants near us. The employees walk here, and we make sure they are served quickly so they can enjoy their meal. You'll like this, Mr. Sharp; our tavola calda is turning a wonderful profit while it provides your employees and your neighbors' employees a place to eat. We have shifts for the various factories, so we don't jam up on table space."

"Tavola calda?" I asked, quizzically.

Luis responded with smile, "Ah. In Italy, a cafeteria is a place that sells coffee. A tavola calda – a 'hot table' – sells various hot foods, like your cafeterias in the States."

I was nodding with pleasure with each innovation Luis told me about.

Luis showed me a special area, "This is similar to your R&D center in Florida. We are testing our products on a continuing basis. We've just finished testing one of your engines for what you call a Light Sport Aircraft. The purchaser wanted confirmation the engine produced the horsepower it boasted and wanted to test a little of the engine's longevity. I'm pleased to tell you, Mr. Sharp, the engine exceeded the purchaser's expectations."

Luis led us to his office, which was almost a twin to my office at home, with a window having a view of the production floor. We sat at the small conference table and he said, "I want to ask you some important questions. Would you consider putting a fiberglass and composite manufacturing plant here? Before you object, let me tell you that you have open space that can be converted to a plant similar to the one you have in Florida. Second, with someone to teach us, I think we can produce product for both our lines, as well as some for metropolitan police and military purposes. I really want to build some of those indestructible vehicles that I was able to watch being blown up by explosives and attacked by airplanes. That is one of the most awesome spectacles I have ever seen."

I nodded and asked, "If we were to build this plant, do you think your marketing will be able to sell enough other equipment to justify the expense of opening it?"

Luis grinned, "Many of the manufacturers are buying fiberglass products from China. Fiberglass is one product China can't produce any less expensively than we can. If we had a local plant, I guarantee we would pick up Italian business and will be producing for many other companies in a very short time. Please, Mr. Sharp, consider this proposal."

The man began digging out binders with the title, "Fiberglass Plant, Italy" on the front. Within the binders were figures that justified the expense and the proposed profitability of such a plant. All I could think of was, poor Jeff; he would be the person to come set this up. But there is another way, he could bring people to Tampa to train, while others he trains and directs can come set up the plant. I'll bet he would go for that. He would probably go for anything to keep from constantly traveling.

I told Luis, "I will take this to my chief accountant and have him analyze the figures. I will let you know as soon as possible."

"If you mean Tiny, I have sent him this complete package with an industry analysis that should help you make a decision."

"Okay, Luis," I was excited for his enthusiasm, "I'll make sure you get an answer quickly. Do you have any proposed timeframe for the space conversion or the costs?"

Luis smiled, "It's all in the package. Right down to the penny or at least to closest penny I can estimate. You'll really like what we can do."

While Dewey and I were shaking hands with Luis, he asked, "You know, there are many casting plants that would love to make your motors. Instead of shipping them from the States or shipping them from Germany, we could build them right here. It's possible we can save another twenty to twenty-five percent on production and," Luis paused, "Italians build some of best engines in the world. Have you considered a cut down version of the engine that could be used to power a motor scooter? There's a very big market here for that sort of motor."

At that I had to laugh, considering I had just listened to Hans bragging of his engines' wonderful performance.

I told Luis, "Put together the same type of proposal you've given me for the fiberglass expansion and I will consider it right away."

Luis reached over to his desk and picked up another binder. "Here, this is the complete proposal for an engine plant right here. We can have our casting subcontracted, or purchase one of the better casting companies for our purposes. Mr. Sharp, I'm proud of our plant and my people. They are making every effort to live up to your slogan, "Do it Perfect."

With that, I gave the man a warm handshake and we left his office, heading for the front of the building and our Limo. As we walked through a hallway, I asked Luis, "Can you show me the extra space you have now? I think if I see how much extra space you have, I can visualize what could be put there."

Luis was beaming and directed us back through the manufacturing floor and through some doors on the back part of the building. We entered another huge area, actually bigger than the manufacturing area we were using now. This was incredible. All this space going to waste and someone is dying to use it to make the company more profitable. Of course, he and his employees shared in the company's profit so it was a win-win situation for them too.

After a half hour spent investigating the empty space, Dewey and I headed for our ride to the boat. In the car, I asked Dewey, "What do you think? I like that guy and love his enthusiasm. His proposals appear to be well thought out and should be something the company considers."

Dewey was smiling and nodding, "If it was me, I would have told him to begin the remodeling, but I'm sure your fiberglass people have specific requirements. I think you have the opportunity to be even more successful here than you are now. Like I said, I'd say go."

I told Dewey, "Isn't it crazy. Sue is hassling over the clothing factory in Ireland and we're going full guns here in Italy. The Italians have as many guilds as Ireland and the reputation of being tough to deal with, but the company's people have been able to get along with them from the beginning. They need the jobs and I think they are appreciative that we provide jobs, training, and opportunity to better yourself."

"That'll do it, Steve. You're giving to your employees and they recognize it. They follow your lead and give you that perfect product. I'd bet your warranty repairs from this plant are minimal."

"You're right, Dewey, the warranty costs here are some of the lowest in the company. That's kept the plant profitable from the beginning. I think we need to build some kind of super safe cart or mini-auto for the population here."

Dewey laughed and said, "I think you would be doing Italy and Rome a service if you opened franchised driving schools. You could call them 'courtesy and drivers training.' If you could sign up most of the population, they could probably abandon most of their emergency rooms."

We both had a laugh at that.

When we arrived at the yacht club, I asked Dewey, "How about we check with the restaurant and see if they can seat all of us? If we invite Chuck's crowd and all of the Irish Bell, we already know that we have 75 or so. What do you think?

Dewey was nodding, "That's a great idea. It will give the women a break. I'd really like to have some of the local cuisine as long as we're in Italy."

We went into the yacht club and found the restaurant Maître D'. He was actually excited to have such a large group make reservations. We booked for six thirty as that should give the kids and ladies time to freshen up before we eat.

Back at the boat, I was going to check on Glenda and Martin, but found Ben and Merlin sitting out the sightseeing today as well. The two were up at the bar playing two-handed gin. Surprisingly, Ben was beating the pants off Merlin. He was ahead by over a thousand points. Ben smiled and said, "Merlin wanted to wager ten dollars a point, but I talked him into my big time gambling. We're playing for a penny a point and I think he's thankful for that."

Merlin said, "If I didn't know better, I'd think this man is better at sleight of hand tricks than I am. I swear he's dealing himself all the good cards."

Dewey said, "It's almost impossible to screw each other on two-handed Gin, Merlin. The cards just aren't falling for you today. I hope your luck changes by the time we reach the Riviera."

Merlin said, "Luck has nothing to do with it. If I know Chuck, my daughter, and my wife, they know what's going to happen long before it happens. There won't be any mystery when they are playing. Just follow them and mimic their bets."

Ben said, "I think you're right, Merlin. Every deal I get Chuck into turns out to be not only a winner, but another windfall. The man brings luck to everyone he touches. He'll give you the shirt off his back and the money from his pocket, then a bucket of hundred dollar bills falls into his hands. Chuck is a catalyst for a lot of the luck we've had with some of my investments."

I told Ben, "I know you, Ben. You investigate the hell out every opportunity you hear about. If the deal isn't extremely sound, or if there's too much danger in the venture, you don't invest heavily. You might work in a little of everyone's money to see if there's a return, but you save the money for a real deal."

Ben smiled, "Hey, I am supposed to be a financial attorney and to be able to advise my clients on what and how to invest."

Merlin asked, "So what is the best thing to invest in right now, Ben?"

"That's easy, Merlin, gold. Buy real gold, not paper. Buy coins or bulk, but buy gold. It's grown in value over fifty percent in the last couple of years and it's going to go higher. Keep some of your money out for regular funds, and keep some for high risk stuff, but put at least twenty-five, or even fifty, percent in gold."

Dewey said, "That's what Steve and Chuck have been preaching for the last year. I've put all of my reserve capital into gold and have put my retirement fund into gold as well. That should cover me, except I did bring along some bucks to invest in the Riviera. Hopefully you and Chuck can be as successful this time as you were last. I'd really like to get into those assholes' pockets. I know they are scamming me on profits, so it's better that Chuck goes in and helps himself to some of those profits I'm not getting."

Merlin asked, "Did you win a lot the last time you were here? Missy said you were very lucky. How lucky were you?"

Dewey chuckled, "Steve was millions and millions lucky, Merlin. This time he and Chuck are going to be billions lucky. I think the partners are sitting on about four billion in reserve. Most in gold, but Chuck is going to lighten that load. I can't wait to hear them squeal. They'll probably want to assess some of the partners' money for what you win, but since they won't provide an accounting, they won't get a hand out. They might even give me some past accounting. If they do, I'll take my past profits out first before they begin to assess the partners."

Merlin asked, "Do you have a lot of property on the Riviera?"

Dewey responded, "I don't have that much, and it's all in partnerships. I really don't own any casinos. I completely own just one hotel/resort there, and it's doing very well. I try to have good service and great dining at my hotels so they retain a reputation worldwide. We just bought into a great hotel in Amsterdam that is going to be very successful. I've already sent my chefs there so they can upgrade their food quality. The other partners in the Amsterdam hotel have told me the food quality has already improved, and it was pretty good when we first bought in."

Merlin commented, "It's nice to have two men that really try to do business in a professional manner. I've always been impressed with Steve's company attitude and his success shows the value of his leadership. Now I've met another part of Steve and Chuck with you, Dewey. You're leading them into some good investments."

Dewey said, "Merlin, would you consider a Hawaiian tour? Between the three of us, we now have several resorts over there that contract entertainment. If you were to go to Hawaii for a short, or even a long vacation, you could do a couple shows a week and stay in one of our resorts for free. You and Missy could have a wonderful time and enjoy all of Hawaii, as we have resorts on all the big islands."

Merlin grinned, "I love Hawaii! Tell me who my agent should call. I'll book something soon. I've been booking more and more shows away from our place in San Francisco. The restaurant is still doing very well because the entertainment and unique dining experience is something out of the ordinary. However, I was getting stale and have enjoyed doing shows around the west coast. My agent says I could get three or four times the shows, but I'd rather do fewer shows for more money and have my reputation for drawing crowds maintain my desirability."

"Smart," I said, as we were now having some of the excellent scotch that had been brought aboard.

I wanted to check on Glenda and Martin, so I went below to see how they were doing. I found the two sitting together watching television on a couch in the big lounge.

"How are you two doing? Are you rested?"

Glenda said, "Yes, we're a lot better. We're just getting too old to run all over more than a day at a time. If they go out tomorrow, we might join them again. I hope they get those scooters like we had. They sure save us from walking so much."

Martin was smiling and said, "Yeah, and they are fun too. Glenda hasn't quit talking about them since yesterday."

"Oh, Martin," Glenda scoffed, "You had as much fun on them as I did. You were the one always wanting to race me."

I told them, "The family should be back soon, and Dewey and I have made dinner reservations for all of us at the yacht club. We thought we might give the ladies a break tonight and eat out."

Glenda was shaking her head, "Oh, Steve, that is too much. There are too many people for you and Dewey to do that. It's no bother for us to fix supper. We have some hamburger already thawed for meatballs."

"'You can plan on having that tomorrow or the next day. The hamburger will keep, and if we get worried about it, we'll rent the cooker again and cook up a pile of hamburgers for lunch. I'm sure we can get buns from the local market."

Martin kidded Glenda, "You are a worry wart, Glenda. Let the men enjoy taking us out if they want to. I'm sure they would like to do more of that, but it's tough to find a place that can seat all of us at the same time. Come on, let's go up to the salon and have a beer."

I followed the two up to the salon, marveling at their resiliency, as they had both looked totally worn out this morning. Perhaps they took some vitamins, maybe even Geritol. It makes me happy to know they are alright.

Sue

Steve should have given me more warning. He and Dewey acted like two kids playing hooky from school. If they don't want to tour, they could just say so, but I know Steve wanted to visit his plant here in Italy. Just the same, this leaves me as the person in charge and this is a really big group. Oh well, it is what it is. At least Eduardo knows what he's doing, and we keep having a couple of Chuck's security people with us when we're out. I'll just have to have the other adults help keep an eye on the kids.

Ed handed out the headphones again and had the bus take us back to the Segway rental place. After the kids did their usual banging around excitedly on the scooters, Ed organized us to head back to where we had left off yesterday. It was still early, actually before the main morning drive time, so there were not that many crazies out yet.

As we pulled up to a nondescript concrete blockhouse of a building near an overgrown pile of rubble, Ed began, "The pile of rubble across the street was the tomb of the Emperor Augustus and has been the subject of archaeological studies for decades. Maybe it will be restored someday." Ed pointed to the big building and said, "In this building is the restored Altar of Augustan Peace."

When we were inside, where the space was nearly filled by another ornate stone blockhouse looking structure, Ed lectured, "The outer walls you see here are covered at the lower levels with carved marble flowers in low relief inside curling ornaments. "They may look all alike to the uneducated eye, but each is unique, and each represents a flower native to this area. When this marble monument was built, it was entirely covered in brilliantly colored paint. You can see, from this reconstruction over here, that the flowers were very lifelike. Above these floral panels, running all around the outer enclosure of the altar, is a carved procession of the notable citizens of Rome.

We could see about fifty feet on a side.

Ed continued pointing out another sculpture, "See the child tugging at its father's toga? Many of these figures are believed to have been sculpted from life or of a real person. When originally built, this area had been recently reclaimed from swamp along the river. This was part of the development scheme at that time."

As we moved on, Ed continued, "Augustus was the first emperor, reigning for almost forty years, setting an example for emperors of the first century of the empire. Augustus brought peace to the empire and was revered as a god in some parts of the empire, though not in Rome. This altar and its enclosure were part of an arrangement of buildings that included an Egyptian obelisk whose shadow would strike the altar at dawn on Augustus' birthday."

Using the Segways, we headed south (as I could tell from the sun). As we rolled down a street, Ed slowed and pointed out a beat-up looking chunk of stone, hardly recognizable as a statue. He said, "This is the 'Pasquino' named after a nearby barber. When Rome was ruled by the popes as absolute monarchs, notes and posters criticizing the regime were pasted onto Pasquino at night, called 'Pasquinades.' This was how dissent was expressed when it was not permitted."

We quickly emerged into an oblong piazza, with fountains at each end, and a huge one in the middle. Ed told us over our headphones, "This is the Piazza Navona again. If you remember, the Piazza Navona was formerly a stadium built by the emperor Domitian. The fountains are by Bernini and the big fountain towering in the middle is the famous Fountain of the Four Rivers. It was just recently restored and cleaned of mineral encrustations from the water." Ed pointed, "The church looming over the fountain was built by one of Bernini's rivals. Bernini accused the architect of threatening to have the wall of his structure fall over on the fountain."

We scooted from the Piazza Navona out the middle of the oblong piazza opposite the 'threatening church, ' and to no one's surprise, we came to another church within a block or so. Ed continued, "This is the church of San Luigi dei Franceschi, Saint Louis of the French."

When we went in, it looked to me like another of the impossibly ornate baroque Roman churches, but Eduardo said, "In the chapel to the left of the main altar is another trio of paintings by Caravaggio. They depict the time of the life of Saint Matthew, the gospel writer. These are all masterpieces, but notice the middle one, the "Calling of Saint Matthew." Mathew is the bearded figure in the middle of the table on the left, surrounded by dissolute companions, all in what was 'modern dress' when the painting was made, planting him firmly in the eternal present. See his right hand pointing to his chest, and the quizzical look on his face, as if saying, 'Me? You want me?' On the right, in ancient costumes, with sunlight shining from over his shoulder is Jesus, pointing at Matthew, and Peter. Their ancient dress places them in eternity, just as Matthew is rooted in the present by his then modern dress. I'm not a religious man," Ed said, "But this is still the single most inspiring religious painting I have ever seen."

I had to agree with him, but I had to tell him, "Ed, I love that you know the paintings and sculptures so well, but try not to sound so much like a travel brochure when you're talking. You're using words and language that is probably way over the kids' head. Keep it simple for them and they will enjoy it more."

Ed thought about it a while, then said, "I've been doing these tours so long, I have it all canned and just spew it out as we go. I'll try to think of less flowery ways to tell you all about what we see.

We took a lunch break, and while the kids enjoyed small Italian sausages on a roll similar to a hot dog, the adults had some special snacks catered by the Antico Forno del Campo dei Fiori. We had their prosciutto, fontina cheese and arugula on warm focaccia. It's really kind of like a Hoagie. Really good and a real treat.

From there we passed by the Piazza Venezia and had a sidelong glance at the "Wedding Cake." We went past the statue of Constantine and stopped at the Capitoline museums for a while, before going past the Great Synagogue of Rome and to the very old Roman temples. Ed gave commentary the whole way.

It had been a long day before Ed led us back to the Segway agency and our bus. We gladly climbed on, where the driver handed each of us a cold bottle of water. That really hit the spot.

Back on the boat, Steve told me that he had made reservations to eat at the yacht club tonight. That was welcome news, as I think most everyone didn't want to mess with cooking and the cleanup that follows. We were all beat.

After cleaning up, I went up to sit with Steve as we waited for Chuck and his group. Steve had called Chuck to tell him to bring his people to eat with us.

Chuck

Something was still bugging me when we reached the studio to begin the practices for the concerts. Whatever it was, I had the feeling it wasn't that good. So much so, that I had worn a sport coat today to cover a weapon in my clip-on holster. The way I wore the holster was in a cross draw manner so I could pull the piece with my right hand, but the gun wouldn't be banging on my right wrist or arm as I walked. I was so paranoid I even strapped my backup on. Lisa noticed me putting on my clip-on holster and checked her purse.

When Lisa had noticed my holster this morning she asked, "Are you expecting trouble?"

"Not really, Honey, I've just had the heebie jeebies over something. It's like I'm anticipating something happening. I don't know what it is, but I'm apprehensive. My senses are usually accurate, but I also usually have an idea of what's coming."

Lisa said, "You know Missy, Mercy, Wanda, and I have felt you being anxious over something. Missy is the one who anticipates things, but she said you have more of that ability than she does. Missy said she's really trying to feel what this is about, but she doesn't know."

I told Lisa, "Not to worry, Lisa. I'm sure I'm just being paranoid because we've been so laid back." We had gone up to the yacht club where our ride had been waiting.

The group was ready for us when we reached the studio. Kenny wanted to get right down to business. After we tuned up, Kenny handed out printed sheets that listed the music we would play in the order he wanted to present it. We had worked on transitions between the pieces, so we knew we would be doing four and five number sets, then pausing just long enough to wipe the sweat off and grab a drink of cold water. Kenny assured us that there would be a steady supply of towels and water for us while on stage.

The first run through was good. The transitions were all smooth and sounded good, almost as smooth as a professional disc jockey when he goes from one record to the next. We used the bass and drums to make most of the transitions. We made instrument changes when we ended a set so it appeared pretty professional. Carlos kept saying, "This is going to be so cool to be changing people playing whatever instrument. The crowd is going to be fascinated that the band is so versatile."

After we went through the show in three hours and twenty minutes, Kenny wanted to cut out at least one complete set. The problem was that Dan, Fred, and Carlos would say they wanted this set or that set, and Kenny didn't want to give up any of the new stuff. Dan finally said, "These people are going to get their money's worth. We'll know if we've done right if there are still people listening to us after over three hours. We'll just have to make sure the breaks are fast."

We went over a couple of pieces that were not as strong as they could be, until they sounded good too. The agent showed up at lunch time with a bunch of sandwiches. He told us the road crew had started assembling the big stadium stage and would be done by tonight. They would do the concert hall stage Friday and Saturday.

I was able to ask the agent, "I know this is a late request, but I need a pile of tickets for at least the Friday show."

He smiled and asked, "How many is a pile?"

"Somewhere around seventy-five would be good. We have people on two big boats that include some kids that have to go. We and the kids play a lot of music together."

Kenny butted in, "Did you listen to that CD I sent you? Those are the kids he's telling you about. That's really something special. You should hear them live, they are really good."

The agent said, "That's something I wanted to talk to you about, Chuck. Do you guys have representation? Do those kids? How about we work something out so I can represent you and the kids? Since I do this group, it would be easy to rep Lisa and you, possibly you two and the kiddy band."

"We'll talk about it, but the important thing is can you get us tickets?"

The agent smiled, "No problem, Kenny told me you were going to have a bunch of special guests, so I have a big block of tickets for all three concerts. You'll be in a big private box for the two stadium shows. The owner of the soccer team is letting us have his clubhouse box for booking in his stadium. That box will handle about a hundred. It is just to the right of the stage. It's fairly low so everyone will have a great sight line. It'll be safe for all the kids because it will be private. The stadium and team owner may show up, but you'll like them. They're regular people."

I told the agent and Kenny, "Thanks, Guys. This will mean a lot to those kids. They will have some real stories to take back to Florida. This will be something they will remember for the rest of their lives."

The agent wouldn't let up, "So, does that mean we can put a contract together?"

Lisa laughed and said, "Be patient, Chuck doesn't do anything half-assed. He'll probably let his financial guy and attorney work something out for him. He'll make sure you're a part of it."

Kenny said, "Enough! People, we need to run through the program again. We'll do it again tomorrow morning, then rest before show time."

I was getting on the throne for the drum set, when my cell phone buzzed in my pants. When I pulled it out, I could see it was Steve's cell. "Hey, Steve, what's up? I'm about to begin practicing again."

Steve said, "I wanted to tell you that Dewey and I have made reservations at the yacht club restaurant for tonight about six thirty. That includes all the guys in the group. Do you think you'll be back for that?"

"Let me ask, Steve." I paused and yelled, "Steve has invited you guys to eat with us at the yacht club tonight. How about it, want a free meal?"

Kenny and the guys and girls were all nodding yes and the agent was motioning, "Me too?"

I nodded and told Steve, "We'll all be there and probably early enough to raid the bar first. I'm bringing along their agent, so wind up Ben for me as this guy wants to deal."

Steve laughed, "Ben's always wound up when you're talking about making a deal. See you then, Chuck."

I hung up and Kenny went through his stage talk, introducing the band. That was the cue for me to give a strong rim shot and we took off with a high energy rock blues piece. We did a lot more of these, but Kenny wanted me to play bass on those and drums this first set. This piece had a minor break for each player and wound down to a medium speed blues beat with just the bass, backup lead guitar, and light drum. The sound guy had the volume way down with just the blues beat getting out.

Kenny used this background to introduce each of the players and said what instruments each guy was going to play. Every time he would name someone, the crowd was supposed to go wild, so he paused a little between each intro so the noise would settle down before the next one.

At the conclusion of the intros, Lisa was to push her effects pedal and really blast with a heavy metal blues riff that Fred took up to lead into the next piece. We did the entire show, swapping instruments, until we finished with Lisa singing her sultry ballads, followed by the piece that Lisa and I did the guitar battle on. Kenny whistled just like we practiced and we settled down to end the piece. When Kenny called an encore, Lisa and I were to take up the battle where we left off. This time, however, Kenny was playing the bass, Carlos was doing the drums, and Fred joined Lisa and me in a three-way battle that sent shivers up and down the spine. We really went at it until Kenny whistled again and he did his closing comments.

The agent was doing everything but wetting himself over the energy of our playlist. He asked Jack, the sound guy, "You have a copy of that for me, right?"

Jack just smiled and patted his field controller. "I got it man, every last note. I'll make you a copy. We're going to be set up to capture the live show too on four sixteen channel controllers. Between the practices and the live shows, we'll have at least two albums without a lot of single instrument or vocal studio time. There are some great cuts and the new stuff is dynamite."

Lisa was smiling at me as we both had been very much a part of the new stuff. We were heavy on the instrumental part and we both had lead vocals, including her sultry voiced numbers. I hope the original makes it big when it comes out. Sometimes a single cut from an album burns up the charts, but in the days of hip-hop and rap, who knows.

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