“Good morning, Mr. Stone,” Woody’s secretary said with a smile. “Woody is waiting for you.”
“Thanks, and a good morning to you also, “Kyle said. Woody was on the phone, looking out the window toward the mountains, when he glanced over his shoulder at Kyle with a smile and a nod. Kyle took a seat on the couch and picked up the morning paper to glance at the newest crime figures in the city. The secretary came in and brought Kyle a hot cup of coffee and put it on the table.
Kyle looked up and smiled at her. “Kyle, how are you this morning? Sorry for the phone call.”
“I am doing fine, Woody. Had a good night’s sleep and was anxious to see the day.”
“I had a plan for us today, but that phone call was from NY, and they have some business they want us to take care of first before we get into our discussion,” Woody said.
“Not a problem, my time is yours. What do they have in mind?” Kyle asked.
“It seems that Mr. S is coming into Los Angeles with a couple of his buddies. He is on his seventy-two-foot sailboat, and the others are flying in. We know from past experiences that they can get into some trouble with the populace, so they want you to be in the Los Angeles area to provide some guidance as needed.”
“I assume when you say Mr. S, you are talking about The Mr. S?”
“The one and only,” Woody said.
“Why are you looking so blank?” Woody said, smiling.
“Well, let us get this right. You, they, want me to tell him what to do,” Kyle said, perplexed and smiling.
Woody laughed. “You will find out that the way the Family wants things is the way things will be. No exceptions. So do not worry because when you are representing the Family, you have all the power.”
“Good to know. When do you want me to leave?” Kyle asked.
Woody leaned over and handed an itinerary to him. “The plane will be ready for you at five this afternoon. The rest of the details are in the folder. We will be in touch with you with the latest ETA. I will be waiting for you when you get back, and we will go to lunch and continue our discussion.”
Kyle said, “I look forward to lunch when I get back. I will go pack for LA. We will be in touch.” Kyle left the office and headed down the hallway, smiling, thinking about his first mission on behalf of the Family, and it was with Mr. S. How great is that, and they say, I have all the power. He felt giddy, like a kid. It was a short flight into LAX out of Las Vegas. Kyle was getting used to this first-class treatment. They knew his name and welcomed him most politely and with a lot of respect. He was onboard the private jet with its white leather captain chairs and couches all surrounded by beautiful burl wood. He was the only passenger, as it was the other times, he flew in one of the Family’s fleet of jets. Becky, the flight attendant, welcomed him onboard.
Becky said, “Nice to see you this beautiful afternoon, Mr. Stone. Would you like your usual tequila and tonic or TNT as you say it?”
“I sure would, Becky, and how are you today?”
“Just wonderful, excited about our trip. When we leave LA, after dropping you off, we are heading to New York. I will be able to catch a show on Broadway tomorrow, and I am really stoked.”
“Fantastic, do you have an extra ticket? I wish I could go, but I am busy in LA for a few days. You have fun.”
“I will, and here is your drink, Mr. Stone.”
“Call me Kyle. I think I know you well enough. Been on a few flights with you now.”
“Thanks, but we are instructed to address all the Family members by their last name.”
“Not a problem. Don’t want to break any rules while I am still learning them.” The captain, Ron Goodman, said, “Good afternoon, Mr. Stone.”
Becky looked over at Kyle and smiled as if to say, “You see?” The captain said, “We are ready to start our taxi. Get yourself situated, and we will climb the mountains of LV and head west to the sunset. A quick flight, so sit back and enjoy.” With that, he buckled up, sat back in his chair, and tipped his crystal cocktail glass and enjoyed the taste of cold TNT. Kyle had been drinking gin and tonic for so many years and thought it was time for a change. He had always liked tequila with a lime. Add some tonic, and there it was—you have a refreshing cocktail. Upon his arrival to LAX, Kyle walked out to the street side and waited where he was told to wait, and instantly, a limo turned up and greeted him as a VIP. He had chosen a hotel in Santa Monica overlooking the ocean. He really enjoyed the restaurants and bars that were prevalent in the area, all with an ocean view. After checking into a gorgeous suite with a wet bar and hot tub in the corner overlooking the very blue Pacific Ocean, it was time to get some dinner. The bar seemed the likely place to start his evening and dining pleasure. Kyle was sitting at the bar and enjoying his TNT and looking over the menu when a gentleman approached him.
“Mr. Stone, my name is Jared, and we were informed that you would be in town a couple of days and wanted to let you know that anything you need or anywhere you want to go, just let me know. Here is my card.” Kyle looked at his card and then at Jared, wondering how he knew that he would be here.
“Well, thank you, and my schedule is pretty busy, but I will keep your card and let you know if you can be of any assistance.”
“Thank you, and please enjoy your stay, and by the way, I am with the Family.”
Kyle smiled at him as he turned and left the restaurant, thinking what a well-run organization this was. Kyle could not help but to be impressed with the Family. He had never been treated better. He did think though as long as one was scoring high on completion of missions, then it was all gravy. He did not even want to know what it would be like if he failed. He smiled to himself. He already knew. It was those guys at the dock unloading ships. He decided to do his best to stay on top, a lot nicer. The morning came with the sun shining through his window. Kyle was just finishing up shaving but still had shave cream on his face when there was a knock at the door, and his pot of coffee and breakfast were delivered. He did not have a lot of time. He needed to get down to the Los Angeles Yacht Club. There was a very special visitor arriving soon. After coffee and breakfast in his room, a beautiful new suit waiting for him in his closet. He was dressed and ready to head downstairs and out to the day awaiting. As he walked through the glass doors of the hotel to the outside shuffle of cars and people, there was a limousine waiting for him. Kyle had to smile to himself. He did not think that anyone besides movie stars got the sort of treatment he was getting. With his limo waiting for him, he was soon on his way to be the greeter. The driver gave Kyle an envelope with a letter to him with instructions on how to handle the special visitor. It seemed that a large yacht was coming up the coast and should be arriving around ten. The letter explained that the visitor was Mr. S, and the members of the yacht club did not want this vessel to dock there. It was Kyle’s job to intervene and explain why they would not be able to stop there. After reading the letter, he looked out the window of the limo and shook his head, knowing he was the one to tell them not to dock there. He kept pondering on how he should handle this. He just cannot say they were not welcome here. He had to use diplomacy so that no feelings get hurt, and more importantly, he wanted to please Woody and the boys in New York. On the dock, with the waves moving the dock up and down and seagulls flying low and singing so that the docks feel alive, a large yacht went by. Kyle looked down the coast to see if he could see the boat. With binoculars in hand, he could see a ship approaching but seemed so small. As he waited and looked again, it was now larger, much larger, and heading right for him. Kyle, feeling really anxious about this, positioned himself at the very end where they would be going to dock. What a beautiful yacht as it was now about fifty yards away, and he started to motion for the vessel to come alongside the outside of the docks and not enter the berths. As the yacht pulled alongside, the captain could be seen leaving the bridge, and Kyle waited for him to appear on the aft side.
“Who the hell are you, and why did you stop us from entering the yacht club?” The captain asked him.
“My name is Kyle.” He is immediately interrupted.
“I don’t give a damn what your name is. What the hell are you doing out here, and who are you with?”
“Well, Captain, I was going to explain.”
“Explain shit. Do you know who is onboard?” The captain was getting quite upset as he looked down at Kyle.
“Hold on, Captain. I told you that my name is Kyle Stone, and I am here representing the Family.” The captain now looked like he just got hit alongside the head.
“Did you say, ‘The Family’?”
“Yes, I did. I was hoping to talk to Mr. S?”
“Yes, please come aboard. I will let him know, and please accept my apologies for my misspoken words.” he said
Kyle, with a smile as he started to board, thought what a change in the captain as soon as he found out he was with the Family. I am going to really enjoy all this power and instant respect.
As Kyle approached the railings, the captain came out to meet him. “Mr. Stone, permission granted to board, and with my apologies, sir. I had no idea.”
“Not a problem, I am glad we cleared that up. I do need to talk to you about the situation here at the yacht club.”
“Please, please come aboard. We can talk in the main cabin. Follow me.” As they made their way downstairs to the cabin area, the captain turned around and said, “Don’t tell my boss what an asshole I was. I don’t need him being mad at me.”
“Don’t worry. All is good with me.” As they went downstairs, up on the deck were two beauties, lying on lounge chairs, taking in the late-morning sun while sipping on champagne and orange juice. They were both blondes, and Kyle always had a thing for blondes, and especially ones looking as good as these two. Getting his mind back on business, he entered the cabin and sat at the table. In the middle was Mr. S. The captain said, “As I told you, this is Mr. Kyle Stone, from the Family, and he has something to tell us.” With that introduction, Kyle did not want to wait any longer to tell them the news, in the event they would get upset. “Have a seat, Kyle. Can we get you something to drink?”
“No thanks, Mr. S, I am fine.”
“For what do we deserve the honor of your presence this morning?”
“You are way too kind. As you know, the Family sent me to greet you and welcome you to LA and to talk to you before you docked. It seems that there is some kind of a problem with the yacht club board. I am not aware of what it is. However, the directive came from the New York office.” It seemed like everyone’s ears popped up when they heard New York.
“However, I have been instructed to tell you and the captain that you are not able to dock here, and that you should dock somewhere else. Now remember, I am only the messenger, so if—”
Mr. S interrupted, “Kyle, nothing for you to worry about. You are only doing your job. Cap, find another place we can dock, and take on some fuel.”
“Yes, sir, I will get right on it.” The captain headed back upstairs, leaving just Kyle and Mr. S at the table.
“I am really sorry this has happened to you,” Kyle said. “I feel bad about the fuel situation.”
“Don’t worry about it. Cap will take care of it. He will find some way to get us some fuel. I am curious. It seems that someone on the board must have gotten the Family involved. You don’t know who that would be?”
“Sorry, none of that was shared with me.”
“It’s okay. This will be handled and outside of you and the Family. Just keep that our little secret.” Kyle now felt a part of the club.
“That’s fine. You do not have to worry about me. I am only glad you are not mad at me.”
Mr. S said, “You are new to the Family, aren’t you? I do not think you know how much power you have. Nobody will cross you and be stupid enough to argue with you, Kyle. How did you get into the Family if you can tell me?”
“Well, it is a long story, but I can tell you that when Woody found that my heritage went back to the Knights Templar, my personal stock went through the roof.”
“Interesting, are you going back to the 1100s, and how are you related?” Kyle was now happy to talk about his past.
“My dad, before he died, shared with me our heritage and how it went back to the founder of the Templars, who was my great-grandfather many times over. I wear this medallion,” Kyle showing him the silver image that hung around his neck, “and you see that there are two men on a horse. The one in the front is my great-grandfather.”
“Well, I can see why you have been given such reverence.” Kyle, feeling pretty proud at this time, asked if he could get a cocktail, and he wanted to share one with Mr. S. With the boat slowly rocking in the shiny bay waters, Kyle looked out the portal and was in amazement of how his life had changed, and he thought about this while he waited to have a drink with Mr. S who treated him with total respect. The captain joined them in the cabin.
“Don’t worry, boss. I found a fuel barge about a mile up the coast. They think they should be able to accommodate us.”
“What do you mean? Mr. S asked, ’You think they can help us?”
“Well, we take on a lot of fuel, and sometimes, the barge has obligations to other boats.”
“Let’s do this then. How about Kyle comes with us as our insurance?” Kyle smiled at being mentioned.
“What can I do that you can’t do?”
Mr. S said, “You still don’t get it. You are one powerful son of a bitch, Kyle,” smiling at him.
“I would be happy to float on for a mile and see what we can do to make sure you get the fuel you need.” On this bright, beautiful, sunshiny day with the gulls singing as they flew over the boat as if they were going to land, Kyle was above deck sitting with Mr. S and the captain.
“Come on, Kyle. Sail with us up the coast to San Francisco. I think you know the city well. If my information is correct, you have a sweetie up there,” Mr. S said, tipping a cold one back.
Kyle replied, “First, I would love to spend more time with the both of you. It has been fun, and I have really enjoyed meeting you and hearing all the stories. I am not sure what my next assignment is, and I better check in. Secondly, how did you know that I had a sweetheart in the Bay Area?”
“Well, you are not the only one who knows people. I hear she is really good-looking, and I would love to meet her and, of course, see you again.”
“Thanks, when our paths cross again, I would love to introduce her to you. I know she would love to meet you. Hey, I better get out of here. I think my job is done. I will tell Woody you said hello.”
“Thanks, Kyle, for all your help with the fuel. It has been a real pleasure.”
They started to motor over to a dock north of the fuel barge where the limo was waiting for Kyle. The deckhands were securing the anchor with the lovely young ladies watching them when Mr. S came over to help. He must have wanted to show off because this was not something he usually did. Kyle was watching from the bridge when a deckhand threw the line to the other, and it hit Mr. S and knocked him right over the sow railing into the cold bay water.
“Man overboard, man overboard,” could be heard, as well as “Where are the safety rings?” Kyle could not wait any longer, watching Mr. S slipping down into the dark, cold water and disappear into the darkness; he jumped in to grab him. As he jumped, he could feel a hand grab his shoulder and start to pull him under. This was getting a lot scarier than he anticipated it would be. He had to stop him from taking him deeper and deeper as he tried to get to the surface. Kyle, not able to see much, reached back and grabbed some of his clothing and pulled S closer to him where they looked into each other’s eyes, and for a moment, they seemed to know what to do to get to the surface. That moment was enough for Kyle to push S up into the light, but his foot stepped on Kyle’s belt, and Mr. S pushed off, sending Kyle deeper and colder. Kyle looked up to see if he could see the surface and could only see vaguely the bottom of the boat, a place he did not want to be at, and then looked down, and out of the corner of his eye, he thought he saw a light. He was now confused and looked up and down. Why is there light under the boat in the darkness? Kyle tried hard to make sense of things as he was desperately in need of air. The light had to be the surface, he thought. Now believing that he figured it out, he swam to the light, which was only taking him deeper and no chance for air. Kyle was now desperate for air. He could not keep his mouth closed. His mind was saying, “Gasp for air.” He knew he had gotten himself into a horrible situation and started to feel that he would not be able to get out of this one. As total desperation took him over and the end so near, out of nowhere, a strong flow of air grabbed him and took him like a baby and delivered him to the surface. Once he surfaced, he took a big gasp for air, and several more, as they all grabbed him and pulled him aboard. Lying on the deck, coughing water through his nose and mouth, he looked up, and there was Mr. S with a big smile on his face.
“We are so glad to see you. We thought we lost you to the depths of the ocean.” Kyle, weak from the near drowning, smiled back at S.
“I hope your fans appreciate me risking my life for you?”
Mr. S, being smart, said, “Check with my manager, and he will give you a free ticket to my next concert.” He reached down to help pull Kyle to his feet.
“Kyle, get the hell over here and warm up,” said the captain, throwing a towel at him. Mr. S was sitting at the back of the boat with a towel over his shoulders, and his pants and shoes were drying over to the side. Kyle took a seat next to him, feeling the warmth of the sun that felt so good. The captain came over after a deckhand relieved him on the bridge.
“What the hell happened? You are not new to sailing, Mr. S?
“All I can say is I am damn lucky Kyle was there, and thank you for jumping in. I was sinking fast.”
“I am just glad that I could help.”
“Help, shit, you saved my life. I was going down fast. I do not know if you were looking for a new best friend, but you now have one. I do not take this kind of bravery lightly, but I have to ask a question. When I fell in the water, I was going down fast as if the current was taking me under. How did you get to the top with that same current?” Kyle dried off his face.
“I know what you are talking about. I felt the current also, and it was scary. When I looked up, I saw the bottom of the boat, an eerie sight. I must tell you, S, I saw a flash of light underneath me when I was going down, and then it was as if the current changed itself and took me to the top. I can’t explain it but I’m very thankful for whatever happened.”
“Linda, go downstairs into my cabin, and pull out a pair of my finest slacks and white shirt. I think you and I are about the same size.”
Kyle said still with a towel over his shoulders, “You did not have to do that.”
“I didn’t. What clothes were you going to wear with what you had on is just a little wet?”
Kyle smiled. “Well, thanks, it is appreciated.”
“Speaking of appreciation, I want you to know Kyle, that I am indebted to you, and I will say this one time. Anything you want or need; I owe you big time. You just ask me, and I will make it happen.” With that, the two men hugged each other in a true sense of male bonding. Mr. S then took the medallion in his hand that was around Kyle’s neck.
“What is this? It is shiny silver and feels a little powerful in my hand.”
“This is an incredibly special piece that I always wear. It shows the founder of the Knights Templar. As you know, my great-grandfather is the one depicted on the horse.”
“It is special, Kyle. I felt it as soon as I put it in my hand.” The two men spent the rest of the morning talking about their ordeal and getting to know each other. Kyle could not believe how this turned out. Not even was anyone mad at him, but he now had a new best friend who was famous and rich. Soon, the boat was full of fuel, and goodbyes were said, and his new friend was on his way up the coast to San Francisco.