the MOVO

A MOVO Blook

A Billion Dollar Windfall

By Mark Allen Schmidt

 

Consider this a windfall for your world

 

Growing up I was shuffled around between different family members at different times. Some of those years were spent with Aunts and Uncles, and for a brief time I stayed with several distant relatives.  I spent one summer with my fraternal grandparents at their beach house in Maine, that was lots of fun. By far the most memorable time was the two years I lived with my Uncle and Aunt in Auburn. Auburn is a central California town that sits roughly between Sacramento, and Lake Tahoe.

It was January of 1996, I was 11 years old when I arrived at their door. My auntie greeted me with a big smile and a handshake. (she didn’t have kids and wasn’t much of a hugger) But we hit it off from the first day. My uncle worked in Sacramento, he left early and came home late. My auntie wrote the code that ran computers. I didn’t understand much of what she did but I did ask lots of questions. Somehow she managed to answer my questions with a either a custom story or an outlandish real-life comparison that would explain what she was creating. 

Once she showed me the code she was writing, to me it looked like a person trying to randomly use every symbol, bracket and slash on the keyboard. She once said, “Code is art, and art is valuable, meaningful and beautiful.” During those two years I grew into an awkward teenager and became what my auntie called, “a fairly good sounding board,” At first, I asked her all the questions then slowly things changed and she began to ask me more questions. She called me her “Magic-Muse,” She said, I helped her think like people who didn’t know or understand computers. 

She was also fond of repeating several of her “one day” predictions. Like, one day computers will be as common as toasters. And, one day people will hold a computer in the palm of their hand. And the one that always intrigued me, one day everyone will use what we’ve talked about in this room. I’d say, “Auntie, if that happens remember to share the wealth with me.” She would simply smile and turn back to work at her monitor and keyboard. 

After I left we kept in touch through phone calls, emails and texts, then we drifted apart. Twenty three years later, out of my living room window, I watched a sharp-dressed man get out of a big black car and walk up my path. He climbed the steps and knocked on my door. When I opened the door, he started to speak before I could greet him. “Mr. Jones, I have something to tell you.”

“Fine, but first, who are you?” I said.

“I work for your late aunt.”

“What do you mean my ‘late’ aunt? Are you saying she’s dead?”

“Yes. I am sorry for your loss.” He added.

After an awkward silence I asked, “what can I do for you, or I should say, what can I do for her?”

“That’s what I’m here for. Could you please personalize this.” He held out an electronic tablet that displayed a receipt with my name and photograph. 

“Where do I sign?”

“Please look into your image,” The device acknowledged my identity and the man put the tablet in his blazer pocket. “She asked me to give this to you.” He handed me a thin envelope. “I am available anytime you need me. I can arrange for whatever you need to carry out your aunt’s wishes.”

“How do I contact you?” I asked.

“Simply ask, my name is Charles.” He handed me a phone, said good-day and returned to his car and left. 

The Envelope, Please

I watched him pull away, then I closed the door and looked at the phone in my hand. When I spoke my Auntie’s name, the phone opened and an article appeared. “Pioneer of computer miniaturization dies in central California.” I read the story and I cried. She had always been good to me, she had always helped me. During my school years, she would send cash when I was about out of gas or groceries. When we conversed, she didn’t talk much about herself, she wanted to know all about me. I wish I had pressed more to find out about who she was and what she was doing. 

I slid the phone into my back pocket, then looked at the envelope. My name was handwritten in pencil, I remembered, she liked to pencil things in. The envelope was barely sealed, I ran my thumb under the flap and took out the letter. It read:

Honey: Since you have this letter, you know I’m gone.

I want you to know you have been the joy of my life. The 

Few years we spent together opened my eyes to the important things,

And closed my heart to the hurtful things. 

In the future, you will have the opportunity to learn all you want about

Me and what I’ve done with my life. 

For now I need to ask you to do something:

I’d like you to share a billion dollars for me.

Consider this a windfall for your world.

Love, your Auntie.  

The letter fell from my fingers, and I could picture her smile. I didn’t get to see her one last time. The time I spent with her were my best childhood memories, those times where one of the few things I wanted to remember from my childhood. I reached for the letter, What did she say about a billion dollars and a windfall? 

I read her words again. “I’d like you to share a billion dollars for me.” 

What could she possibly mean by that? 

What would I ever do with a billion dollars?

“Who was that ‘Charles’ person?” I said out loud.

“How may I help Mr. Jones?” Came the voice from my back pocket.

“What? Who is this?” I asked into the air.

“I’m Charles, your Aunts assistant, and now, I am at your service.” 

I lifted the phone from my back pocket. “Can you hear everything I say?”

“No sir, I’m only notified when you ask for me.”

“Oh, I did say your name.” 

“Yes you did.” Charles said.

For the next hour Charles answered my questions, and I had plenty of them. When we finished talking, he rang off, then the weight of my situation settled around  me like a hundred feet of water above my head. 

My aunt put me in control of one billion dollars. 

My aunt didn’t tell me how to use it, what to do with it, or why she did it. 

She merely said, ‘I’d like you to share a billion dollars for me.”  

Then added, “consider it a windfall for my world.”

Here are some of the thoughts that began spinning in my mind:

-Am I rich, or am I supposed to make other people rich?

-How much money can one person possibly give away?

-What good can this amount of money do for the whole world?

-Am I in danger because of this money?

-Who can I trust?

-Who should I tell? (Auntie never told me)

-What did she mean by “share?”

-What if I fail?

The New Billionaires Burden

 

A burden or a blessings the difference is in the sharing

I went to visit Charles, his office was located in a building that I now had control over. I asked him, “what do you think I should do with this money?”

Charles said, “The money is not mine to think about. I can help you once you decide how to share the money.”

“Thanks and no thanks Charles,” I said as I left his office. 

After looking around the property I stopped into the coffee shop located at street level in the building. Funny to think I almost blurted out, hey I own this place, but I didn’t. I bought a coffee then sat down, when my cup touched the table I was underwater again. I felt the crush of 100 feet of seawater. I could lift my hand, I could think, and I could feel but I couldn’t shake the pressure that was squeezing me from all sides.  

Then a child on the sidewalk holding a balloon and her mother’s hand stopped and peered into the glass directly at me. She was looking at herself but I could see her. The balloon got away from her and she leapt for the string, but missed it. We both watched the balloon fly up, up and and away between the skyscrapers and out of view. The little girl looked up at her mom, shrugged her shoulder and they walked on. That’s amazing, she didn’t cry or complain. I thought. Why should she, it was only a balloon, she still had her mom’s hand to hold. 

That kid was more anchored in life that I am. That kid could let go of something that was replaceable and hold onto what was irreplaceable. It wasn’t one or the other to her. It was one and the other, and the one that got away didn’t matter all that much. I felt the weight fall off me like a lead-balloon. A phrase started to play in the back of my mind, “yoke is easy – burden is light.” What does that mean, where did I hear that? I couldn’t remember, then one word came to the forefront of my mind, Share.

After blanking out for a few moments I grabbed my coffee mug, on the way to my lips I noticed the writing on the cup, “Windfall Cafe.” I palmed the mug and turned back toward the counter. The guy who had poured my coffee was standing tranquilly with his wrists crossed behind his back, and his eyes were fixed on me.

The Windfall Coffee Shop

The secret is who you ask, and what you ask them for

Mug in hand I ambled back toward the counter where the Coffee Man was standing. “Would you like a refill?” He asked.

“Sure, but I’d like to ask you something first.” He didn’t say anything, so I figured it was alright to proceed. “How did you come upon the name for this place?” 

“The name fits the story, and the story is the reason I have this coffee shop.”

“I’d like to hear the story.”

“Hand me your mug first.” He said with an outstretched hand. He filled my coffee, then topped off his own cup that was sitting next to the espresso machine. “To the windfall,” he said in a toasting tone.

“Here, here.” I replied.

“This is the short version of the story. I wanted to open a coffee shop in a great location for as little up-front investment as possible. Not the most sophisticated business plan, but it was all I had. I was looking for a location when I passed this spot. I stopped, and peered in the window, like that girl with the balloon.”

“She was amazing wasn’t she?” I said.

“Yes, this place seems to bring out the Amazing in people.” He paused to sip his coffee, I did the same. “Hey, this is different, its, its…”

“Better?” He asked.

“Yes it is. Is it different from my first cup?” I asked.

“No, but you are.” He added.

That’s an odd thing to say, I thought. I looked back toward him, “You were saying how you found this spot.”

“Yes, I looked in the window and I knew in an instant this was the right place for my coffee shop.”

“How did you know that?” I asked.

He didn’t answer my query, but he went on, “I went through the lobby door and walked to the front desk and said, ‘I’d like to talk with the owner about putting a coffee shop in that space.’” He said with a sweeping gesture. The person behind the desk smiled and typed something on the computer. 

“Please clip this on and go to the elevator on my left.” The person said while handing me a plain, green badge.

I clipped the badge on my shirt pocket and went to the elevator. The door opened and I stepped inside. The elevator climbed quickly to the top floor and the door opened onto a beautiful open space that was flooded with sunlight, and full of fresh flowers.”

I grinned and said, “I know that floor, I was just up there.”

“Did you meet the owner like I did?” He asked. 

“Not exactly, there’s a new owner. Hey I thought this was the short story.” I added.     

“The short of it is; I met the owner, I said I’d like to open a coffee shop in the street-side corner of your lobby. The owner looked me straight in the eye and said, ‘I think we can make a deal.’ Just like that, deal first, then we discussed the details. And here we are, in my windfall coffee shop.” He said.

“I get it, the coffee shop was the windfall.” I said. 

“No, the coffee shop isn’t the windfall, the windfall is the good thing the owner did for me, or I should say, did with me.”

“Are you partners?” I asked.

“Not exactly, but we are sharing something.” He said.

Tell Me About The Owner

Was it fate, or was it favor?

As we were talking a customer came in and stood beside me. I stepped aside and the Coffee Man took the order. He quickly pulled a few espresso shots and steamed milk for a Latte. The customer paid and thanked the man. The owner turned back to me. “Any other questions?” 

“Did you see the owner very often?” I asked.

“Yeah, sure. She’d come down here a few times a week for a coffee and to “Help.” I’ll tell you what, she was a fabulous person but a failure at serving coffee.”

I furrowed my brow and said, “That doesn’t sound nice, especially when you’re talking about the boss.” 

“She once said,’when it comes to serving coffee, I’m a software savant.”

“Oh, I get it.” I said, then I continued. “How did your arrangement work? What I mean by that is, how did you split the money, or share the profits?” 

“We never talked about money, that is unless we were talking about my money.” He said.

“If it wasn’t a business arrangement, was it charity?” 

“No, not in the least.” 

“Then what was your arrangement?” I pressed further.

“That’s between the owner and me. Part of our agreement was to keep the terms and the business plan between us.”

“Nothing in writing then?” I asked.

“Of Course, we have documentation but the paper is only as valuable as the people on the paper. I learned it was the profit in people she thought about. Face it, look around at this place. No way I could ever afford the square footage or the street frontage. 

This location and situation are the windfall. I make all the other calls. She told me to do good business and to make doing good my business. The rest was between us.” He said.

“Thanks for the story and the coffee. I’d better get going.” I said.

“Do you work around here?” He asked.

“I do now.” 

“Do you have a tough job?”

“That is the question. And I don’t have a story to go with it, yet.” I said. I set the coffee mug on the counter and turned to leave.

 “May I offer a thought?” The coffee-man said.

“Yes, please do.” I turned back toward him.

“Here’s my thought; think about what you want to do next, not about what you need to do now.” 

“Is there a difference between next and now?” I asked.

He chuckled as he looked right past me and said, “Next.” 

I stepped aside so he could serve the next person in line.

What Would Auntie Do?

If you want to share something with someone, make sure they want to share it with you

This is what I have, so far. Or to say, I think this is how she did things.  

-She didn’t give, donate or endow organizations, she shared with people.

-She was open to proposals she liked.

-She would also seek out people, (like me)

-She didn’t micro-manage her “partners”

-She made individual deals with people. 

-She did what she loved and believed in.

-She shared with suggestions, not strings.

-(My conjecture) her dream was to see other dreams come true.

-She did her part, so others could do their part

-She took the greater risk, believing in what other people could do.

-It was the profit in people she thought about.

-Do the deal first, then discuss the details

A good place to start is to list the things my Auntie, “didn’t” do. First, she didn’t put the billion dollars in a trust, a charity, a religious organization, an educational institution, or into any other well-intended disbursement system. No, she gave the money to me.

Second, she didn’t establish a way to enforce her will from the grave. When she left this life, she left what she had to the living. 

Third, she used one word that changed the dynamic and distinctive distribution of her wealth; that word is “share.”

When I lived with her there was an incident involving a rock, a plate glass window and some very breakable collectibles on the inside of that plate glass window. I threw the rock, I broke the window and the window broke in on the collectibles.

When she came to investigate the noise, I was crying and terrified at what I’d done. She looked at me and said, “this is not the kind of mess you can put back together, or even clean up. I take care of this.”

I said, “Auntie, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to…” She stopped me in mid sentence, “I understand that. It’s not what you mean to do, it’s what you do with what you mean that matters.” She didn’t ask me why, she didn’t go on, and on, and on about what I did. She cleaned up the mess and called a service to replace the window. The subject never came up again. 

Now I have a better context to understand what she did for me that day. The window and the collectibles were perishable. The tender and teachable moment was irreplaceable. As I look back at her actions, I see the compassion and wisdom that came from that incident. The money she entrusted to me is not what matters, what matters is how well the money is used to accomplish what matters. 

When I ask myself, what would Auntie do? One answer becomes imminently clear; she wouldn’t tell people she has a billion dollars to share. So I won’t either. Now job one for me is to find what matters. 

The mix that matters contains intentions, actions and subtractions

The New Billionaires Burden

I still laugh when I think of Steve Martin’s character, Navin Johnson in The Jerk; “Got a fur sink. An electric dog polisher. A gasoline powered turtleneck sweater. And, of course, I bought some dumb stuff too.” Fortunately, you don’t have to judge me on the stuff I tried, that’s why I’ll tell you some of the “dumb stuff” I did.

-I tried to talk with billionaires. 

-I tried to talk with financial experts.

-I tried to talk with religious leaders.

-I tried to talk with not-for-profit groups.

-I tried to talk with Paul McCartney.

-I tried to talk with people who had inherited money. 

Most wouldn’t talk with me. Of the few that did, most didn’t offer ideas that were helpful. One “new-money” billionaire said, “invest it and give away the return.” The rest were quite willing to refer me on to the people who were handling their distributions and charitable work.

None of the people I attempted to contact were stupid by any measure, but I came away stupefied by how difficult this was becoming. I may sound like Richie Rich the poor little rich boy, but having all the money you could ever want does not make living effortless, nor does it make life easy. 

With great power comes great responsibility

Great wealth eradicates plausible deniability 

It’s now crystal clear to me why there are so many organizations that exist to channel money from one hand into many hands. But that’s not what I need to do with this massive resource, I need to do something that matters to me and to the people who matter to me. That sends me back to job-one; what matters to me. And that includes “who” matters to me?  

Let the conclusion of all of these thoughts be heard: fear God and obey his commandments, For this is what it means to be human.

Yes, this money Is Going Out To Help People, I hope. I started humming that Bruce Cockburn song that says charity is more than a toilet and telephone

In keeping with my Aunties ways, I won’t talk about who gets what or how much whoever they are gets. (those who meet the needs, know) The first person I talked with was my uncle. The uncle who worked while I grew to know my Auntie. He didn’t know about the money she left me but he wasn’t in the least surprised. When I asked him for his thoughts he said this, “I don’t need money, and I have a group of friends who are also well off. Let us figure out how to share some of this.”

My uncle and his gang worked out an ingenious way to screen the needs, to sort out the stories and then to share resources with needy people. As we were setting up the process to share the wealth, my uncle’s people started adding their resources, their wisdom and recruiting their valuable network of individuals to the collective effort.

What we ended up establishing was a way to apply the experience, the knowledge and the compassion of people who had extensive life-histories to share in addition to the cash grants they were overseeing. 

I discovered that you can’t go out and buy that level of competence or passion because the people who have it don’t want to sell it. But they will share what they have with the people who need it.

To see what I’m talking about, go to the information desk at a local hospital or hospice and greet the volunteers who are staffing those desks. Their service is priceless and perfectly suited to their tasks.

*Another thing, my uncle informed me that my Aunt had developed some software that was readily adaptable to the IT requirements of the “star-chamber” group of people. In our case, technology is the tail wagging our dog. 

Stakeholders steady the drill as you strike the blow 

The Coffee Shop Sage

When the student is ready, the teacher will appear. For the teacher to appear, the student must be aware

We all have a Reticular-Activating system (RAS), it’s the gatekeeper of information to our brains. I call it the “Yellow-Volkswagen-Sighting-System.” The moment you consider buying a yellow Volkswagen you’ll start seeing the brightly colored bugs all over town. 

My RAS was in hyper-drive when I met the Coffee-Shop Sage. We met when I went back to “the building/headquarters” to talk over a few things with Charles and some staff lawyers. That meant I needed to stop into the Windfall Cafe for a howdy-do with the Coffee Man. 

The place was popping with people at computers and filled with the din of multiple conversations happening individually, all at once. When my turn came, the Coffee Man handed me a mug and said, “there’s a guy here you need to meet.” He pointed to a man sitting in a corner beneath a living wall of vibrant colors. 

“Okay if you say so. Who’s this guy, and why should I meet him?”

“I call him, The Coffee-Shop sage.” 

“Interesting.” I said, “what do I owe you?” 

“It’s your house, so it’s on the house.” He said with a chuckle.

“How do you know that?” I asked.

“Say hello to the new boss…”

“Same as the old boss.” I chimed in with a chuckle of my own. “I hope. Thanks for the coffee.” 

The guy was sitting in the shade with a coffee next to his Chromebook. His hair was long and curly, and it looked like he just got off a motorcycle. “You ride?” I asked him.

“I do. Do you?” He said.

“Plan on starting soon.” I introduced myself and he asked me to sit down. He closed his computer and turned his full attention on me. “What will you ride?” He asked.

“A Harley I think.”

“That’s how I roll.” He said. He took a sip from his mug. “My name is Gus, what brings you here?”

“I’m connected with the building and I always get coffee when I’m here. What about you?” I asked.

“Here to meet people and to write.”

“What are you writing?” I asked.

“The short answer. About the meaning of your life.” He said.

“What do you talk about with the people you meet?” I asked.

“About the meaning of their lives.”

I took a sip of my coffee and turned my chair away from the rest of the place so I could face him. “You don’t hear that everyday.”

“When was the last time you heard anyone talk about the meaning of your life?”

“Specifically, about mine? Not about meaning in general or in a global sense?” I said.

“Yup, just about the meaning of your life.” He said with a full face smile. 

“Okay, you got me. Give me your spiel.” I said.

“No spiel, just you and why you are you.” He said.

“Don’t you mean, why am I here?” I said.

“No, I mean why you are you. Or as I like to abbreviate; YURU. I can’t help you understand why you’re here until you’re ready to deal with YURU.” He said as he drew the acronym on the back of his hand in blue ink, upside down, so I could read it.

Something hit the floor in the distance, I turned toward the sound. When I looked back, Gus was watching me. He said, “A lady dropped a thermos and it shattered.”

“That’s why you sit in the corner.” I said. “The Coffee Man said I should meet you. Do you know anything about me?” 

“You are connected to this building. You either trade here, rent here or own the place.”

“What if I own the place, would that make any difference?” I asked.

“Maybe to you, not to me.” 

“Why not to you?” I asked.

“That’s part of why you are here, not part of YURU. I like to deal with the fundamentals before the features.” 

“For some strange reason, I understand what you just said.” I pulled my chair closer and said, “if you could do anything, what would you do?” 

“I’m doing it. And, so you know; I can’t do ‘anything.” He said.  

“Ha? What do you mean you can’t do anything. Isn’t that the great motivation to succeed, so I can do anything I want?” 

“Na. You can’t do anything. You can’t wrestle in the next Olympics or start a family on a predetermined schedule. You can do what you are here to do, and that is a crucial element of…” He held up his hand.

“YURU.” I said. “Tell me one, as you say, ‘element’ of why I am me.”

“Sure, one element of YURU is this; only you can determine what is meaningful to you.”

“How do you define, Meaningful?” I asked. 

“Two features, meaningful to me, and valuable to others.”

“You have a lot of short, pithy answers don’t you.” 

“You could say that, but I prefer to pose questions over providing answers.”

We talked for another ten minutes, he gave me his card and I took off to beat the afternoon traffic. He told me, “contact me when you’re ready to explore YURU.”

Making A Different Difference 

Blue Ocean strategy; the pursuit of differentiation and low cost to open New market space and create new demand

https://www.blueoceanstrategy.com/what-is-blue-ocean-strategy

After meeting Gus, my RAS/Yellow-VW “Spidey-sense” was clanging like a church bell. He had made the connection between meaning and who I am, or more exactly; why I am me. Not much incoherent philosophy there, but a great deal of immediacy here, in my heart.

When I think about the folks I talked with about their wealth, I don’t remember any of them asking me, “what do you want to do with your wealth?” They didn’t express concern about the details, but they all explained how they wanted to make a “difference in the world.”

When I asked them to define the “difference” they hoped to make, their responses all contained this phrase, “to do good.” The first thing that came to my mind was, do no harm. What they do with their wealth is their business and their responsibility. What I do with the wealth entrusted to me is my business. And my business is to do good that does not harm.

Money can easily do evil – money cannot easily do good – Evil is enticed by easy money

This whole “difference-driven” justification for slathering money on needs like Nutella on crackers doesn’t sit well with me. If money had the ability to fill the holes in people’s souls, then how is it that well-to-do folks can be as empty inside as the ne’er-do-wells?

How come hard working modest people in every culture are often happier and healthier than those who aren’t either? Paying bills and easing debt is part of the solution, but rigging a safety net is not the same as learning to walk the high-wire. 

There has to be a way to encourage reward-able risk without foolishly tempting fate. Instead of trying to do some generic good for everyone, I need to find how to bring out the specific good in each one. That’s meaningful to me, and will be valuable to them.

Element # 1: Find the good only you can do. (meaningful to me – valuable to you)   

Sharing My Story With The Sage

Does God make bad financial decisions and futile social investments?

Gus picked-up my call on the third rig. “Hi, this is Gus.”

“Hey Gus, I’m the potential Harley Rider from the Windfall Cafe.”

“I remember, good to hear from you.” He said.

“What’s up?” Gus asked.

“I’d like to talk about some things.” 

“What to talk now, or get together somewhere?” 

“Do you have a few minutes now?” I asked.

Gus listened while I talked. We discussed his definition of meaning and my search for meaning. I told him some big changes had happened in my life, he said, the only constant in life is change. I replied, change seems to sneak up on me, even when I’m looking for it. Gus said, change is the constant but there is a sequence that precedes meaningful change.

“What do you mean, a sequence that precedes?”  I asked.

“The reason change is so difficult, and so utterly disruptive is because people miss the two steps that precede meaningful change. Wanna hear them?”  

“I do. Tell the first two.” I said,

“First, clarity: Second, choice.”

“Sounds like you have ‘3C’s.’” I added.

 “Well of course, alliterations help activations.”

“Reticular activations?” I asked.

“Yes. You are a thoughtful one.” He said reaching for his coffee. “Don’t let that get cold.”

“Thanks, I was thinking why the first 2C’s are so important.”   

“Without the first two steps, taking the third step, change is like trying to line dance to Jazz music; great inprov music but it’s impossible to hit your steps.” Gus said.

“I”m not sure I get your Jazz analogy, and I don’t line-dance but I do get the idea of the first two steps. Without meaningful clarity, change can be more noise than progress.” I said.

“Yea, when’s the last time you had a Eureka-moment of change?”

“I can see that, Eureka-moments are moments of…”

“Clarity.” We said in unison. 

“Bingo.” He said.

We talked about that a bit longer then he asked me. Want to tell me anything about the big change you’re facing? I paused, “let me think about that. That’s the kind of info we need to discuss in person. First, answer me this; if you could do anything, and if you have everything you needed to do it, what would you do?” 

“That’s easy, I’m doing it.”

“You are, what are you doing?” I asked.

“That’s the kind of info we need to discuss in person.” Gus said.

“Touche.” I said. “Let’s meet at the Windfall cafe, I’ll text you a few times that work for me.”

“Cool, thanks.” Gus said. 

Progress On Matching Gifts

“Give me a place to stand, and a lever long enough,

And I will move the world.” Archimedes

From my perspective, there are two types of needs. First, the immediate and pressing needs we all share; food, shelter, water, care and companionship. The second are individual and personalized needs. Those are the needs we all want to discover.

Meaning, opportunity, spirituality, creativity and challenge. Neither category contains all the needs that fit, but each list contains features that will always be fitting. You could say, Always Is – Isn’t All. (AI-IA)

A qualified first-type of need would always include clean and drinkable water. (survival expedient) But, that isn’t all that people would need. They also need food, shelter and perhaps education and some form of recreation. Water Always is, but isn’t all people need.

A second need would always include meaning and purpose in life. But purpose and meaning aren’t all people need. They also need, along with meaning/purpose, a specific way to express their individual meaning/purpose.

Something good they can add to their world. Meaning/Purpose Always Is, but isn’t all people need. I guess purpose without a game plan is like playing soccer without a goal; lots of motion, lots of sweat but no way to score points or win the match.

One of my goals is to provide the means for people to accomplish theirs

The lever I want to use is a matching gift or grant that would further type 2 needs. For example, if a person, or even an organization is advancing (Soul specific) expressions that will allow individuals to offer something truly good to their world, I want to help back their play.

Granted, I understand this description is a bit esoteric and not overly-explained, but there is an element I’m going after. And I do think this is consistent with What Auntie would do. 

 

She took the greater risk, believing in what other people could do

The Lever: Type 2 needs: Meaning, purpose in life.

The World: The people who will gain Type 2 benefits.

The Stand: Back the innovators and originators.

Welcome To My Windfall

Is there any use in asking why?

The Sage was sitting in the same corner when I walked into the cafe. He was on the phone but he motioned me into the seat across from him. “…If you aren’t ready, then you aren’t ready. Hey, I gotta go. Talk later, bye.” He put the phone on the seat next to him and said, “hey, good to see ya again.” Gus reached out, and I reached over and shook his hand.

“Was that an important conversation I interrupted?” I asked.

“Naw, he interrupted us. I’m here to see you. What’s on your mind.”

“Could I show you something?”

“Sure, what?” 

“Grab your mug and walk with me.” I said.

We went to the elevator and I peered into the optical scanner. The door opened and we stepped inside. Gus looked around the interior of the lift, “I guess you weren’t kidding when you said you owned the place,” He said with an exaggerated nod of his head.

“What if I do? Would that make any difference to you?”

“Probably means you can look at the new Harley’s.” Gus said.

“No, I’m serious about that. What if I own this place, does that make a difference to you?” 

“Do you?” Gus asked.

“After a manner I do?”

“Good for you. And, no. What difference should it make to me?” Gus asked.

“I’m not sure, I’ve never told anyone about this.” I said. 

The elevator stopped and the door opened to the top floor atrium. “Let’s look around.” I said. We started toward a set of glass doors when a serious looking man in a dark suit stepped in front of us. “May I help you.” He said.

“Ah, I’d like to see Charles.” The phone in my pocket rang. I picked up, it was Charles. “He said he’d be right out.” The serious looking man paused, listened, then led us to the doors, scanned his card and held the door open for us. “Thanks.” I said. He didn’t reply.

“Nice guy, you close?” Gus asked.

“Just met.” I said. 

Charles appeared through a door next to a set of large, leather chairs. “Welcome back sir.” He said.

“Thank you, it was time to come in.” I said. “This is Gus. Gus, this is Charles.”

“Nice to make your acquaintance.” Charles said.

“Likewise.” Gus replied.

Charles turned to me, “how can I be of service?”

“I’m not exactly sure how, but I would like to sit down with my friend and talk over some things. Is there a place we could do that?”

“How about your office?” Charles said.

“My office, that would be great!” We followed Charles to an office in the corner of the building. It had glass on both walls, a view of the city, a desk and some nice chairs. Charles slipped out and closed the door behind him.

“This is like Brewster’s millions.” Gus said.

“What’s that?”

“A Richard Pryor film where he has to spend 30 million without telling anyone in order to inherit 300 million. Am I close?”

“Not exactly. In my case it would be, ‘Brewster’s Billion, and I don’t have to do anything, I already have it.” 

Gus let out a deep sigh and slid down into one of the chairs. 

“Does this make a difference now?” I asked.

Gus looked out the window, “you might need to define what you mean by difference.” 

“Can you still help me deal with the meaning of my life? Or, does a Billion dollars disqualify me?”

“No, never, in terms of disqualification. And yes, in response to the meaning of your life. God didn’t make you better or above anyone else. But you are different than anyone else, and your particular kind of ‘different’ includes a billion dollars.

“So you are invoking the Deity in your assessment of meaning.” I said.

“If I do then I risk provoking the Deity and his assessment of meaning.” Gus responded.

At that I walked toward the door, stopped and said, “want anything to drink, or eat?” 

“I’m good with this.” Gus said, holding up his Windfall mug.

“I’ll be back.” I said in a very bad Arnold. 

Do I Have To Deal With The God-Thing?

Crazy but I thought about that Navin Johnson line from The Jerk, ‘a profit thing, that eases the pressure’ or something like that. 

Once out the door, I felt the same underwater pressure. Do I have to deal with the whole God-thing? I thought. Did I read this guy wrong? Is he a bible-thumper or worse, a true-believer? 

Charles met me in the hallway. “Can I help?” 

“I’m not sure, I might have made a mistake bringing him here.”

“Why do you think that?” Charles asked.

“I don’t think, I just feel that I might have made a mistake. Can you get me out of here?” 

“Not until we determine the status of your decision.”

He Showed Me The Money

“Aren’t you supposed to help me?” I said.

“Yes, and I am.” Charles said. “Come with me.” He took me into the kitchen area. There were drinks, food and even a nice indoor grill. “What’ll you have?” 

“What’d you got?”

“Soda and spirits.” 

“Soda’s fine.” I said. 

He set the soda on the island counter in front of me. “Cheers.” 

“Thanks, cheers.” I said.

“Can I get Gus something?” Charles asked.

“He’s fine.”

“This is different, isn’t it?” Charles asked.

“Different how?” I said.

“This is real, and what you have to do is real. This is not a job, a classroom or a movie. This is as real as anything on this planet gets. You have something good you need to do.” Charles said.

“That keeps coming up, the good I need to do. How am I supposed to know what to do with all this, this…”

“This money?” Charles said.

“Yes, all this money.” I said.

“It doesn’t have to be a burden on you.” Charles said.

“Do I need to show a profit? What if I lose it all?”

“Can I show you something that might put this in a different perspective.” 

“Please, anything that might help.” I said.

We went down a long hallway and into a large open room that held about a dozen people. Some were sitting in front of computer screens, some were talking in small groups. 

“This is where we keep an eye on the money.” Charles said.

“This is a lot of people, and a lot of technology.”

“We have a lot to look after. Let me show you something.” Charles went to one of the computers and brought something up on the screen. “Come take a look.”

“What’s this?” I asked.

“You checkbook balance.” He said.

I looked at the screen, there were moving numbers, charts, graphs and a crawl at the bottom that showed even more numbers and along with numerous abbreviations. “What am I supposed to look at?” I asked.

“This.” Charles pushed a key and a number appeared in the center of the screen. 

I counted the zeros, “That’s more than a billion, isn’t it?” I said.

“Today it is. The amount changes with the velocity of money around the world.  

“Your saying that even if I don’t do anything, my checking balance will continue to grow?” 

“Yes. But if you don’t do anything, your checking account balance won’t mean anything to anyone.” 

   “Oh God help me.” I muttered. Then I remembered Gus. “Thank you Charles, I have to go.”

How Did You Figure It Out?

Anyone lucky enough to love the process more than the “goal” has already won.  Gary Vaynerchuk

When I opened the door to my office Gus was standing at the huge glass window looking down at the street below. “Pardon my departure, I had to, ah…”

“Glad you’re back.” Gus said, easing the awkwardness.

“I brought you this.” I held out a fresh mug of coffee. “Seems like the cafe supplies the coffee up here.”

“Thanks, I was ready for another cup.” Gus said reaching for the fresh mug of brew. “What were we talking about when you left?”

“You mentioned, God.”  

“I did, and it appears, that made you uncomfortable?”

“That’s a good way to put it. But you said something about God’s definition of meaning, or something close to that.” I said.

“Yes, there is a God-definition to meaning. Would you like to hear it?” Gus asked me.

“Well, yes. That’s what I was asking.” 

“Wanted to be sure. Most people have fairly strong opinions when the Deity is mentioned. With that said, this is my opinion and my experience. I believe God rolls with our opinion of meaning and reveals as much about his as is possible.” Gus said. 

“So, meaning is a process, not ah, a pronouncement.”

“Precisely.” Gus replied. He took a sip from the new mug of coffee and turned away from the window. “I have a deal for you, and it has nothing to do with money. Are you interested?” 

“But won’t the money will always be in the picture?” I asked.

“I think you’re wondering if I can separate the money from the meaning? I probably can’t, and you shouldn’t. We’re talking a great deal of loot here, and I’ve never known a person with your kind of resource. But I can promise this; I’ll share what I have with you if you’ll keep what you have to yourself.” Gus said.

I had to think about that for a moment. “Are you saying, what you have to share isn’t for sale?”

“Yup, and that’s the deal.” Gus said.      

This is the deal Gus and I agreed on: 

  1. We’ll leave God out of this. 
  2. We’ll leave money out of this.
  3. I have to define meaning, and what matters in my life.
  4. I can quit at any time, but I can’t stop. (still thinking about that one)

 

Ask The People Who Do The Work

Accepting responsibility without possessing authority is like chewing steak for someone else to swallow

After Gus left I called Charles. “I’d like to talk with the people behind the curtain.” 

“Are you referring to the people who handle the money?” He asked.

“Yup, I’d like to ask what they think.”

“That’s a refreshing idea.” Charles said. I went by his office, he led us back to the central control area. We entered the room and stood off to one side, no one stopped what they were doing. After about twenty minutes of watching, we approached a young lady who was gazing intently at a large, computer monitor. 

“One rule,” Charles said.”

“Always a rule.” I replied.

“Ask what you want, but don’t ask personal questions.”

“What would qualify as personal?” I asked.

“What do you do here?” He said, “Understand this, the people in this room are engaged in things beyond the care of your capital.” Charles said.

“I got it.” I stepped into her peripheral vision, she hit a key and the screen changed to a scene of kittens playing in a box. “Ah hello.”

“Welcome to the war room.” She said.

“Thank you, I’m… I imagine you know who I am.”

“I do. How can I help you?” She said.

“I’d like to know what you think. Or should I say, what would you do if you were in my situation.” 

“She smiled and said, “I am in your situation. What I’m doing is keeping the options open so you can decide what to do with the opportunities you are considering.”

“Wow!” I was not prepared for that response. “So, you don’t have any other ideas about what I should do with the opportunities I have to consider?” I asked.

She chuckled and said, “I have lots of ideas, we all have ideas about the things we work on but I’ve found my part. My part is doing this so you can do your part.”

“Thank you.” Charles said. She smiled, once we left the line of sight, she went back to work. 

“Who else would you like to talk with?” Charles said.

“How about you.” 

“We can do that. Are we done here?” Charles asked.

“I think so.”

We walked up a circular staircase that led to a loft the overlooked the entire floor. “This is my office now.” He said.

“Now, where was your office before?” I asked.

“In another building. This used to be your Aunts office. She liked to look out over the city, and at the night sky.”

“Why did you get this choice spot?” I asked.

“She offered it to me, and I accepted.” 

“What came with the offer of the office?” 

“You, for one thing.” He said with a smile. “The rest, as we say, is a need-to-know scenario.”

“So in a strict sense, you don’t work for me, do you?” 

“Not in the strict sense. But, my job is to facilitate what you need to do your part.” 

“There’s that word again, part. Part and share, two words that don’t often come up when money or people are discussed.” I said.

“They are words your Aunt used and they are the guiding principles in all we do.” He walked to the rail that rimmed the loft area, “that’s rather astute of you to notice. Let me ask you this; have you considered what your part is?”

“Not really. I probably need to think about that. Can you give me a hint or two about how my Aunt defined part’s?” I asked.

“That easy, we all had to answer that question in our final interview.”

“So there was an interview process?” I asked.

“Not like most. Your Aunt had her own way of making decisions. That was a piece of her part.”

“What did she ask you? Did she ask about your part?” I said.

“That’s an easy question, she presented me with a difficult solution. I had to show her what I could bring to the team that no one else could bring.”

“The right answer got you the job?” I asked.

“Not exactly. My definition got me the opportunity to create my own version of this job. She liked what I said and gave me the chance to offer what I have to share.”

“There’s that word again, share! I notice you didn’t mention a job description, or your education or family background.”

“No, because those factors pertain to where I came from and how I’ve prepared. She wanted to know what I would do once I was here. That’s how I got this job, and this ‘choice spot.’” Charles said.     

When I walked out of the building, the sunshine felt good on my shoulders. As I stood at the corner, people pressed in around me. No one looked me in the eye, even though I scanned the crowd for acknowledgement. When the light turned green, we stepped into the street like a centipede, legs moving, bodies leaning forward, the paint on the pavement marked our progress. At the curb we dispersed in three directions. Do all these people know their parts? Maybe that’s something I can share with them.

Somehow Word Got Out

To keep a secret, bury it in plain sight. To kill a secret, blog it in the night

On my way home I stopped at the corner store. I could see my house from between the gas pumps. To my surprise there were news vans, police cars and a crowd of people standing across the street. Oh no, somehow word got out, I thought as the cost and gallons added up. Who told? 

“Hey neighbor.” Came a voice from behind me. I turned, it was Bill, the guy with the RV who lived two doors down. 

“Hey Bill. What’s up?”

“I’m not sure but it looks like you are suddenly famous. You win the lottery or something?”

“Something I guess.” I said. “What have you heard?” 

“That news gal from channel 9 was saying something about you being a new millionaire, or rich of something. I’m not sure.” He walked over and leaned on the gas pump. “Are you rich now or what?” 

“Wow. Come right out and ask why don’t you…” Was all I could think to say. I put the nozzle back, replaced my gas cap, looked back at Bill, “good to see ya neighbor. Could you keep an eye on my place?”

“Sure, I guess. What do you want me to do?” 

“I’m not sure. Later pal.” I said as I got in my car and left in the opposite direction from home.

A minute later my phone rang. “Hello.” I said.

“Hey, I heard some news. Is there anything you want to tell me?”

“Who is this?” I asked.

“It’s Chris, from work. I got a text about you winning some money, or it sounded like you won a lot of money.” She said.

“You know, this isn’t the way to talk about something like that. I need to go.” I said. Charles, where are you? My other phone chimed, I looked at the name, it was Charles.

“You rang.” He said.

“Cute. Looks like we have a situation.” 

“Yes we do. May I make a suggestion?”

“Please do.”

“Don’t go home, don’t answer your other phone. I’ll text you an address. Go there.” 

“Thank you Charles.” I hung up.

The address was for a home in the hills about forty-five minutes East of town. When I arrived, the gate opened and I stared up the driveway that wound up the hillside like a Rattlesnake on a sand dune. The drive let out on an open space in front of a beautiful home that had a commanding view of the valley from all four sides.

Nice! This is where I’d want to live. I got out of the car and a man appeared at the front door. “Howdy!” I called out.

“Hello, come inside.” He called back.

I followed him inside. The place was beautiful, and comfortable, but I was starting to fade.

“Have you eaten?” The man asked.

“Not since I can remember.”

“The kitchen is over there.” He pointed. “Any preferences?”

“Anything except fish.” I said. Once in the kitchen I took a seat at the island counter. A young lady in a white chef’s coat entered the kitchen from my left, “You don’t care for fish I hear.” 

“Not at all.”

“How about a burger?” 

“Sounds heavenly.” I said. “Hold the mustard please. Could I have some water please.”  

She went to the double-door Sub-Zero refrigerator and grabbed a pitcher of filtered water. She poured the water into a tumbler and set the glass, and the pitcher in front of me. “Enjoy.” She said, then turned, put her hair up in a clip and fired up the grill in one smooth motion. Five minutes later I finished off the finest burger I’ve ever eaten.

“Thank you, I was parched.” 

“You’re welcome. I’m here if you need anything else. Help yourself to anything you find here.” 

“What’s your name?” I asked.

“I’m Rose.” Then she was gone. I poured myself another glass of water and stood to stretch.

“How was your burger?” 

I glanced to my left where the voice came from. “The best ever.”

“Rose is amazing. Somehow she knows what everyone likes. Your Aunt used to call her the Savant of the savory.

“Was this my Aunts home?” I asked.

“She loved this place. Yes, it was her home when she was here.” Another voice said. 

I looked to my right, two more men came into the kitchen. “May I?” One of the men said, pointing toward the water pitcher. “Yes, please.” I slid the water toward him. He grabbed a cup from the counter and filled it from the pitcher. Then all three men stood across the counter from me, and waited for me to speak. After downing the last of my water, I asked, “can anyone let me know what’s going on?”

 

Meanwhile, Back At The Ranch

If the strongman had known, his home would not have been looted

“Come with us.” The first of the three men said. I followed them into a room that held a conference table and six chairs, there was a large TV at the far end. “Do I have your permission to activate the monitoring of your home?” The second of the three men asked.

“The what of my where?” Came my garbled response.

“We have technology in place, around your home but we have not activated it, yet.” The second man clarified.

“Why would you do that, and what is going on at my home?” 

“First, for your protection. Second, because you are about to be invaded.” The third man said. 

“In that case, show me what’s happening.”

The screen on the wall came alive with a grid view of four sides of my property, and the inside of my kitchen and garage. “There they are.” The third man said, pointing at the video feed from my garage window. There were two men in black, wearing masks and gloves. “Who are they?” 

“Bad guys.” The first man said. 

A moment later the first bad guy kicked in the door from the garage to the kitchen. I watched another view as both men went inside. They split up and quickly searched my home. “Why are they in my house?”

“They’re looking for you. They abduct people of means.” The third guy said. The bad guys appeared in my kitchen. They exchanged a few hand signals, took a last look around them, then they went out the back door, across the yard, over the fence and were gone from the view of the drone in less than 10 seconds.

“Wow, that happened fast. Glad I wasn’t there.” I said.

“That’s why you’re here.” The second man said. He turned off the TV monitor and motioned me into one of the chairs around the conference table. “Now we can tell you what’s going on.” 

Twenty minutes later, after a very sobering conversation, I went outside for some air. The first man came with me. “So, your private security, I guess.” I said. 

“We are after a fashion. We’re doing our part.” 

“I seem to hear that from just about everyone around me, well everyone connected with my late Aunt.”

“She taught us.”

“Taught you how to secure her?”

“No, how to find and do our part.” He said.

“Can I ask you a personal question?”

“Sure.” He said.

“Are you dangerous… I mean are we, ah, is there any danger for me?” 

“The two of us handle danger for a living. The other guy is a lawyer, he’s the most dangerous.” He said with an absolutely straight face.

I looked at him with puzzled eyes. The third man came up next to us, “did you make a lawyer joke?” 

“Yeah, about him being dangerous and all.” 

“That’s my line, leave it alone.” The third man said.

“Are you guys for real? I don’t find much humor in two dudes breaking into my house.”

“It’s good to laugh at what can kill you.” The first guy said.

“It takes fewer muscles to laugh than it takes to scowl.” The third guy said.

We talked for another hour, I discovered both guys had families and quasi-regular lives. One was a Marine, the other a former Navy Seal. They told me their first names and said I didn’t need to know any more. They also let me know that they were now fully committed to my personal protection. I discovered the lawyer was also in my service. My Aunt had Pre-arranged this for me. 

 

Now, What Do I Do?

You can’t be shamed into sharing, or guilted into good

I didn’t sleep much that night. My mind was racing and my heart was burning. The added threat of physical danger was something I had never experienced before, and something I had spent my life deliberately avoiding. The reason I couldn’t sleep was I knew that was no longer an option.

The sun was almost up, and I was on the east end of the house looking out over the city, when a car pulled up in front of the house. I tensed up until I heard the Lawyers voice. “Good morning, I brought bagels and coffee.” 

“Thank you, I’m hungry, or as my niece says, “Mungry.” 

We sat at a table on the East end of the house and watched the early glow of dawn turn into the warm light of morning. After drinking half of my coffee and chewing three bites of a bagel I said, “What do I do now? Does this threat change things for me?”

“As far as the threat goes, it changes things for us, it doesn’t have to change things for you.” The lawyer said between bagel bites. “Your part hasn’t changed at all. If anything it has become even more important for you to continue doing what you have to do.”  

“Why is it more important now than it was when I first got the letter? 

“Because now you know that doing good will always require resisting and when necessary, destroying evil. Can I tell you a story?’

“Sure. About what.”

“About a situation when evil won and good lost.”

“Tell me.”

“This person, like yourself, had considerable resources at their disposal. I was advising them in a similar manner as I am prepared to serve you. Some bad people wanted my client to funnel their resources into a certain cause. My client refused, so the bad-guys presented evidence of some embarrassing behavior.”

“You mean blackmail.” I interrupted.

“Let’s call this ‘ego-mail’. This threatened embarrassment was of a political nature.”

“Your client was embarrassed by their political beliefs.”

“Yes they were. The end of the story is that the bad-guys are able to manipulate the money and adversely affect the influence my client held.” The lawyer said.

“I guess you’re not on retainer for that person anymore.” I said.

“No. I only participate when my clients are doing and pursuing their parts.”

“How do you determine what their part is?” I asked. Before he could reply I said, “Wait, you said evil won and good lost. Can a political agenda be evil or good?”

“That’s not for me to say, but I can tell you how evil wins.”

“I think I’ve heard this before, evil triumphs when good men do nothing.”

“Close, Edmund Burke said, ‘the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.’”

“Yeah, that’s better than my version. Is that what happened?”

“Evil won when my client decided to do what someone else compelled them to do instead of finding the good they were supposed to do.” The lawyer said.

“So it wasn’t political, it was personal. Your client was ashamed of who they were and what they believed in.” I added.

“You can’t be shamed into sharing, or guilted into good.” My lawyer said.

Time To Figure Out My Part

The rest of my day went by in a blur. I ate a few times, watched some TV and took three or four short naps. Once again I watched the sun rise from atop the hill at my new home, or maybe I should call the place my headquarters. When the sun was above the hills to the East I started to think about what to do next. 

Should I hire someone to manage and distribute the money?

Should I make some huge anonymous donations to good causes?

Should I mail money to random people, would that make a difference?

Should I go all Forrest Gump and endow a church and a hospital?

Should I pay off student debt like I heard one billionaire did?

Or, should I figure out what matters to me, and go from there?

I grabbed my phone and dialed, “Hey Gus, you got some time today?” An hour later I heard his Harley climbing the driveway. He pulled to a stop over by the 5 car garage. “Hey, thanks for coming. Welcome to my new pad.” I said.

“Nice place, next time let the guardians at the gate know I’m coming. I almost didn’t get in.”

“I didn’t think about that. Who let you in?”

“Charles.” Gus said.

We went inside and took a seat at the kitchen counter. “Like something to eat?” I asked.

“Please, I’m hungry.”

“What would you like?” 

“What do you have?” Gus asked.

“Anything you’d like,” Rose answered from the kitchen pantry door.  Gus gave her a list of things, I asked for eggs and toast. Rose started preparing our food, we left the counter and took a seat at a table by the huge West-facing window.

“You can see the ocean from here.” Gus said.

I looked and nodded. “You’re right, I hadn’t noticed.”

Rose brought our breakfast and a big french press flask of coffee. I poured Gus a mug full, then filled mine. After a few sips I put the cup down and said, “What If I offered to give you all the money?” 

Gus slowly set his mug down, then he put his hand on top of mine, “The ring is your burden to bear, I cannot carry it for you Frodo.” Then he laughed. I laughed and said it again, “What If I gave you the money?”

“You can’t.”

“Why?” I said.

“I wouldn’t take it.”

“Are you Gandolf or something?” I asked.

“The White or The Gray?” He said as he laughed. “I don’t want the money and more importantly I’m not the answer to your problem.” Gus said. 

“Then what good are you to me?” I said, as I got up from the table and stormed out the door onto the deck.  Once I cooled down, I went back inside and found Gus talking with Rose. 

“Rose, breakfast was wonderful. I thank you.” Gus said. Rose collected the plates and eating implements and left us alone.

“I’m sorry man, I cracked.” I said.

“Like it never happened pal. Let me say this, how can I help you? Other than your earlier suggestion.” Gus said.

In response to his question I unloaded everything that had happened since the day the letter arrived at my house. Gus listened, sipped coffee and wrote some things down on a small notepad he pulled from his coat pocket. Twenty minutes later, I wound down my monologue and asked him the same question, “how can you help me?” I poured myself another coffee.

“First, do what I’ve done for myself. I decide what I won’t do. For example, I won’t take responsibility for a big pile of someone else’s money. Second, I won’t suggest anything that I’m not doing myself. Third, I’ll tell you where I stand if you’ll let me tell you where I sit first.”

“What do you mean, ‘where you sit?’” I asked.

“Mike Rosen is a Denver area talk show host. He used to say tell me where you sit before you tell me where you stand. That clarified things and if callers wouldn’t say where they sat, Mike would cut-em-off.”

“So where you sit is what you believe and value?” I said.

“Yes, all that and more. But for now, I’ll let you know two legs of my chair that will hopefully clarify things between us.”

“Cool, I’d like to hear this.” I said.

“First leg, I do what God wants from me. Second leg, I do what I can to provide what you need. That’s where I sit when my chair is tipped back on two legs.” Gus said.

“Not God again. I don’t have any idea what God might want from me.” I said.

“I’m not asking you to do what God wants. I said I”ll do what God wants from me.”

“That’s better, I’d don’t need God staring down every move I make. The second leg was about what I need?”

“Almost, I said I’ll do what I can to provide what you need. There’s no way I can deal with everything you need. But I can provide what I have to help meet your needs. That’s my part.” Gus said.

I slammed my mug down on the table, “There it is again!”

Gus slammed his mug down and shouted, “There’s what again?”

“My part, your part, their parts, parts unknown. Everyone my Aunt put in play says they are doing their part in this expanding drama that’s consuming my life.” I looked away to allow my anger to dissipate. I noticed one of my guardians was sitting in the dark against the North wall. I stood up and pointed, “like him, he’s doing his part to make sure I can do my part.”

“Yeah, I saw him. That’s why I’m behaving as well as I am.” Gus said.

“I don’t need handlers or bodyguards, I need…I need..”

“What do you need?” Gus asked.

“I give up. I’ll give you the answer you’re looking for. I need to figure out my part in all this.” 

“Good for you.” Gus said. From the dark I heard several pairs of hands clapping.

The Posse And I Have Mexican Food For Lunch

At about 1pm I asked my attorney, “Do you have any dinner plans?”

“Yes, it’s our daughters birthday. We could do Mexican down by pier,” he offered. The other two chimed in, “sounds great…I’m hungry.”

“Is it safe?” I asked.

“You’re not in Afghanistan,” The Seal said.

“Or in Mogadishu,” the Marine added. 

“And I have you guys.” I said.

“No one knows anyone at this place,” The attorney added.

We pulled into an alley behind a wood-frame building that had a deck that jutted out over the harbor. When I opened the door the aroma from the kitchen caused my stomach to growl.

“Follow me,” the attorney said.

We walked in the back door into the kitchen and made our way past the grill and the deep fryer. The chef was gutting a large fish, he nodded to my posse members. The marine said something in  Spanish, the chef laughed and dropped the fish in the fat. 

The hall ahead of us opened onto a partitioned section of the deck. We sat at the table next to the railing. The salt smell of the ocean mixed with the fragrance of the fryer to create an almost indescribably delicious ambiance for our lunch.

“Wish I liked fish.” I said.

“I do, that was for me.” The marine said.

“You guys come here often?” I asked.

They all laughed. “Often as we can.” The Seal said.

“Who owns this place?” I asked.

“If you have to ask…” The lawyer said.

“You mean, I…ah. It is like the coffee shop in the building” 

“You’re catching on, kid.” The marine said.

The waiter appeared with water, chips and salsa. He smiled at me and said something is Spanish to the Marine. All three of the posse laughed as he walked away.

“Let me in on the joke,” I said.

“Let’s see if we can translate it…say hello to the new boss.” The Marine started. 

“Same as the old boss.” I interjected.

“We all hope that.” The lawyer said.

To Be Continued…

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