I'm tired...and I hurt. Everything hurts. If I could, I would, just find a hole and curl up.
I have known radio communications since my Navy years, long ago. Complex and finicky electronics, big old vacuum tubes, personal units, heavy, low battery power, short life time.
Now, this little device, two by four inches, less than a half inch thick, does things I never dreamed of when I was doing electronics.
It also vibrates in my shirt pocket and it tickles.
My long time friend and attorney, James Eversole, 'slim Jim',
"I'd like a French Dip today, how about you?"
"Half hour, right."
"You are building a non profit religious institution to be called, "The Church of Man", large enough to service a thousand pilgrims and land enough to feed them."
"They bought that?"
They wouldn't care if you were building a Brothel, as long as the license fees are paid and everything is in order. They just want to go right by the book and collect as much bribery as they can. Don't you get that yet?"
"Yes, Jim, I get it. Something like the doctor coming and saying, 'yep, it's cancer...' you knew it already, that just confirms it."
"I think you're wrong Jack, it's just like it always has been, everything is corrupt, everyone lies and cheats; samo, samo."
"You are a cynic, Sir James, but you do good work."
"You pay me good money. Ever gonna tell me what you are really doing out there?"
"No. How about the electrical and plumbing inspections?"
"Like I told you, ten grand each, the permits are in the big envelope. Don't put them up until you actually start wiring, okay?"
"Heh, I ain't that big a dummy, at least I hope not. Let's eat and see if that waitress has panty lines."
It was a good lunch, I thought, as I wheeled my vintage Chevy Blazer towards home, such as it is.
Seven thousand acres, plus. Five years of legal research, finding owners and estates; paying back taxes, greasing palms for school district taxes, country road taxes, land use and environmental hoops to jump through.
Four hundred and twenty thousand dollars to date, but this was the final check and paper work.
Now I could go full bore and hope I am not too late.
For the last month, not missing a day, I picked up Ramos at the corner of fifth and Elsworth. He carried the same silver lunch pail.
His lunches had more variety after the hundred dollars a day I paid him started adding up.
Ramos usually napped for the half hour drive from town out to the site; not this morning.
"Senor Jack, I feel I am taking your money but accomplish nothing?"
"Yeah, I can understand you feeling that way. But no more. Today is the day I have been waiting for."
"We have completed the survey of the foundation; the slope of the land and the soil type. It has all been approved and accepted; now we can build."
"Build, Senor, build what?"
"Two weeks ago you told me you could find at least ten good men to work with us, did yoou find them?"
'Yes, yes, and they are very anxious to work and make money, there are no jobs and no money to pay rent and feed children. My wife helps as many as she can, but it is hopeless."
"Today we will walk and talk and make plans. Then I will drive you back into town and you will see just how many really want to work for me. You know we work hard and long, tell them that is how I work."
"You will pay them the same hundred dollar bill each day, no taxes, no hassle?"
'Except now, you get two of those bills each day to control these men. I will not always be here with you."
"I will not ask how so much money comes to you. I thank you, my wife and children thank you."
"Ramos, you have a license, you can drive a truck?"
"I can drive anything with wheels or tracks, Senor, yes my license is good."
"Then I have a small surprise for you, amigo, take a little walk."
"I see the tire tracks and wonder many times what is back here." Ramos kept peering ahead through the tress and brush.
A quarter mile back the path became a gravel road and a large steel building sat on a slight rise in the land.
"Oh...why did you not tell me what is in that huge building?"
"Ramos...I must tell you, that the less you know, the better things are. You will always know what you need to know, but nothing more. Now you need to know many things."
Another little gadget with a button, and, amazing; two tall and wide steel doors slowly pulled apart.
Ramos couldn't hold back, he sprinted to the open doors and inside; I heard him shout, "Santo Dios, Jesús, María, madre de Cristo!"
I smiled; once he had hit his thumb with a hammer and I heard maybe two of those words. He must be impressed.
He was excited to say the least. "All this equipment Senor, how did it come to be here? What is it for? Who is to run it, what will it do? Por favor, señor Jack, Estoy muy sorprendido, dime? I very sorry, muy excited, please tell me what we do with all this machinery?"
We walked slowly back. "The old farmhouse will be just a façade, a face to the road to fool people that only the house is here.
We will dig a very deep basement under the old house and out in all directions to make living space for many people. We also will dig trenches for drainage to build a large sewer system on the slope of the east side of the farm house.
"For five years I have had others plant grass and hay crops and use the land. Now, you are to find those who know the land to grow the things we need and to create a crop to make money on the land.
"Is that enough new information for you to know, my friend?"
"It will take many mans ah, men, Senor Jack and very much concrete to pour. Are we to do that also.?"
"We will build the frames, then have cement trucks from the entire county come fill in the hole."
Ramos shook his head and continued to do so for a long minute and more, "Senor, Jack, something very importante I have wanted to ask. May I do so now?"
"Of course, Ramos, why have you not asked before?"
"You are so kind and the money you pay keeps us alive; I did not want to bother you and perhaps lose my job."
"I hope we will learn to understand and trust each other, Ramos, I need that from you. Please, what is it?"
The smallish but solid man in his twenties shuffled his feet and looked away. "Each day you spend time and money to come get me to work.
"If you bring many more men, the problem gets larger; does it not?"
I smiled. "I have plans for the future that you build your own houses here on my land, but now...?"
"Houses, homes of our own? That is such a dream I do not believe, Senor. But now, the old house, with just a little work, would be as good a place to live as most of us have now. I can see how it can be done for very little money."
I let my mind wander and my eyes blink, looking down as Ramos had, then up and around as my thoughts gelled.
"It is a large farm house..."
"We have electricity for our tools. It would be easy to wire the house for lights and cooking maybe?"
"There is a hand pump, a well; there are two bathrooms n the house, they must have a septic system here already."
"The men you will bring, they have skills, can fix the house?"
"Yes, sir, with the right materials, perhaps less than seven days, maybe five...we can bring our wives and family to help with the small things?"
"Very good, Ramos, you bring a smile to me. This is going to be a very good day. I think we should drive two large vans for the men and the things we need to build, then, perhaps, tomorrow, both or one of us could go back and buy what we forgot?"
Ramos laughed, reached a hand out to touch my shoulder in a friendly way then pulled it back.
"Is it certain with you also, to forget something? Always it is with my family, we laugh at ourselves."