T.B.E.D.

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Razzleman Lockhart didn’t care about much. He wandered through life going from job to job. His current employer took a liking to Raz. Raz didn’t complain about the work as long as he was left alone to do it. The night janitorial job at the office complex aloud him be alone to do the menial job of cleaning the windows, floors and bathrooms of the office complex. He had worked there for three years and hadn’t missed a night.


He was given generous holiday bonuses and praised for the work that he did. Praise wasn’t his thing. Raz just didn’t care. He began to care less and less in high school. Razzleman was too easily transformed into Razzle-dazzle, Razpunzel and other demeaning titles. He began keeping to himself and found the less he interacted with people, the less he was irritated. He had worked other night security jobs as well as grocery store stocking jobs. The night custodian served him best. It was a job where he was completely alone.


He didn’t care about the businesses he worked for only that he had a place to not think. The memos he found in the trash hinted at some small-time embezzling. Raz figured if it was kept at such a small amount it would go undetected for many years. The variety of family photos that adorned each cubicle did not impress him. He cleaned around them and wiped down the keyboards and computer screens, careful not to disturb any sticky notes attached to the frame of the monitor. He always saved the bathroom for last as he like to stay as clean as possible.


Upon finishing his nightly job, he would head home to shower or go to the gym. The lights of Los Angeles illuminated his mile walk back to the apartment complex. The four flights of steps to the top level are hardly noticeable now compared to his first days at the complex. It was a simple inconvenience compared to someone living above him. Thundering footsteps across the floor during the day would aggravate him to no end when he usually wanted to sleep.


The simple one-bedroom apartment was enough to keep all his living necessities. Raz showered the smell of the chemicals off himself and promptly put the clothes in the tiny washer provided by the complex. Showered and freshly shaved, Raz grabbed the keys to a 24-hour fitness center and walked to check his next job at 2 am.


***** 


“I need this done today.” Jake Smith vented his frustration at the man behind the desk.The 30 something contractor pointed at the invoice presented to CEO of Dakota Energy Resources. The $57,000 invoice for services of a crane and crew sparked little interest in the man behind the desk. 


“That's not the correct amount.” A silken tongue replied to the contractor. 


“It is and that’s what you’ll pay.” 


“No,” The CEO countered. “You brought in a crane that was smaller than what was specified in the bid. According to my site foreman, your crew nearly tipped the crane over when setting up the panels. That's not professional. I will be generous and pay the wages of the crew, but not the crane operator, nor the crew foreman. Please return tomorrow with an invoice for the three crewmen and I will have a check cut for you on the spot.”


Jake paused for a moment debating the pros and cons of the event. “No. You will pay the full amount or I’ll see you in court.”


The silver haired man shook his head “Are you positive about your choice?”


 “I’ll see you in court.” Jake hissed. 


“Very well.” The CEO stood and eyed the contractor. With a sigh, Jake turned and walked out the door, hoping he was making the right decision. He needed the money to keep his business afloat. The crane he was to use, broke down just before the job began. The use of his smaller crane to set the panels almost landed him in bankruptcy. To Jakes relief, no one was hurt and they were able to complete the job. Now he’ll be spending money on a lawyer to take this to court and try to get the money he desperately needed. 


The CEO picked up the phone and buzzed the secretary. 


“Lori, who’s my next appointment?” 


“Nathan Walsh. At 3 pm.” 


The silver haired CEO glanced at the clock. Two forty-seven displayed on the digital screen. He straightened his desk putting the files away for the solar panel project that somehow had gone over budget. The risk to his employees by shoddy contractors wasn't intolerable. He pulled a new file out the cabinet and sat down to refresh his memory of the important issues that the T-BED, Terminal Binary Energy Determent program was faced with. A knock came at his office door. Glancing up he saw a familiar smiling face. “Nate! Glad you could stop in.” 


“Good to see you, Les.” Nathan Walsh was a round pudgy man. His shirt strained at the buttons around his middle. A red tie accented his dark grey suit and slacks. He strode with confidence up to Lester Rugson’s desk. Setting his briefcase on the floor, Nate stuck a hand out and eagerly shook Lester’s. 


“It’s been too long Nate.”


"It has been. It looks like you’re doing well.” 


“I can’t complain. Have you been selling your single-family homes like I told you?” Lester asked. 


“Sure have. I have been making a killing on this housing market. When did you say it was going to crash? “Soon. Very soon. When it does just sit tight for a while then start buying again. Wait for the prices to cut themselves in half. Then go mop up.” Lester grinned at his enthusiastic pupil, revealing a single dimple on his right cheek. 


“I have one more property to sell and I’ll be out of the single-family homes.” Jake announced. 


“Unload it fast. Even if you have to take a bit of a hit on it.” 


“I’ll do that.” Nate conferred. 


“Now, what’s the latest on the T-BED program?” Lester asked settling back in his plush leather chair. 


“The council met and confirmed another adjustment to the venue.” 


“Really? I thought all adjustments had been made.” Lester leaned across the desk to accept the file from Nate. Thumbing through it he found addresses of Portland, Oregon and Los Angeles, California. 


“No. We found this one and possibly two more.” Nate handed over two more files.


“Wow. This guy really gets around. You’ve been investigating?” 


“Yes. We are building extensive files on the assets, so that we can make adjustments when necessary.” 


Lester looked at the files and quickly processed the information. He handed the last two back to Nate. “Let’s let these investments build a little.” Lester turned the pages in the Double J file looking for anything that would indicate staying the course or altering it. “Let’s mature this one and see where it leads us.” 


“The council thought that would be a good move as well.” Nate said. 


“Send a messenger to our guy in LA. No rush, but soon.” Lester closed the file and handed it back to Nate. 


Writing a quick note in his own file, he closed the cover and leaned back in his chair. “I'll send one before the week's out.” Nate tucked the folder back into his briefcase and set it on the floor. “How long do you think it will be before these investments pay off?” 


“A few years, a few decades, a couple millennia. It is hard to say at this point. It’s a waiting game.” 


“I know these things take time. I just would like to see the end result.”


“That is what’s wrong with this world. Everyone is too damn impatient.” Lester was a very patient man. As a youth, he learned what patience was and to enjoy the small steps it took to make something extraordinary. He spent hours helping and learning from Pastor David Sillman as he grew his flock in central Mississippi. Pastor Sillman was a very personable man. He catered to everyone, always doing his best to see to everyone’s needs and organizing help for those who needed it. His flock grew as the hippy era exploded.


Pastor Sillman taught Lester that if you nurture and grow something with care it will let you reap the rewards for years. Up to his dying day after he retired, Pastor Sillman never wanted of money, food or medicine his flock took care of him and his wife even after they were buried. “If you grow things slow and steady, you will look back and be amazed at what you have accomplished.” Lester reverberated the sentiment that Pastor Sillman expressed. 


*****


Raz checked his locker at the gym. No note today. He didn’t care to work out at the 24-hour gym, but he did enjoy the hot tub and sauna. To say he cared about nothing is inaccurate. He did care about himself. He cooked all his own meals and only with the freshest organic ingredients. He spent a large portion of money on cleaning supplies and sanitary wipes.


His nightly routine consisted of ten minutes in the sauna or hot tub then a cold shower to close all the pours in his skin. A second shave followed by a splash of aftershave which preceded a walkthrough streets before heading back to his apartment.


A twist to the left then right then left again. His locker opened. On the inside wall, clear scotch tape held a thick envelope that had not been there when he arrived. Casually he pulled the envelope out of the locker, folded it and put it in the pocket of his coat. Raz continued with his evening, walking the streets then gradually making his way back to his apartment.


Inside the apartment he made a salad with the fresh produce he picked up during his early morning stroll. Setting water to boil, he put two farm fresh eggs out next to the cutting board. Walking to his jacket on the back of the chair he pulled the envelope out and set it on the table. Using a lint roller, he cleaned any foreign debris off his favorite leather jacket and put it away in the closet neatly hung next to his black pin stripe suit. A New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures bible sat on the shelf above the suit. Next to it was a small stack of flyers with stories and lessons from the past.


Closing the door to the closet, he made his way back to the kitchen. Checking the water, Raz then turned to the envelope. Breaking the seal on the blank envelope, he pulled out the bundle of cash and walked to his dresser in the bedroom. From the middle drawer, he opened the shoe box without pulling it out. He set the stack of hundred-dollar bills in the shoe box next to thirty-four other stacks. $216,000 now lay snuggled inside the shoebox.


Tucking everything neatly away, he walked back to the kitchen and set the two eggs in the boiling water. Sitting at the table he pulled up the phonebook for the Greater LA area. Opening the note, he found two cities and a name. Portland, Oregon. Los Angeles, California. Judith Johnston.