SunnyBreeze Preview


 SunnyBreeze

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Tate Sloan straightened his crimson tie as the first limousine pulled under the portico of The Mansion House, an aging resort on Dolphin Bay - classic, majestic, and long past its prime. His stunning wife, Mavis, leaned to whisper, “Marvin Standler, CEO of Brinksman Investments.”

He shook his head in awe, “Famous for massive leveraged takeovers that wring every last penny out of a company, before dumping the remnants and the debt for the vultures. Brilliant and intimidating!”

A doorman, dressed in formal black tails despite temperatures hovering near ninety in the shade, opened the rear door with a bow. Before Standler’s boot heel hit the pavement, Mavis marched down the red carpet to offer her hand and a kiss on each cheek. Her elegant gown, a sheer wisp of teal silk, accentuated long lean lines and daring cleavage, but her carriage implied much more. “Marvin, I’m so glad you could join us today!”

“I’m always pleased to spend time with you and Tate,” replied the weathered billionaire from Montana. “Especially when it’s about making money.”

Tate shook his hand with a practiced, toothy smile, “I think we’ve got a deal you can’t resist.”

“Find me some top-shelf bourbon and I’ll listen.”

Mavis took his arm as the car pulled away, “You’re a busy man, so you know we wouldn’t waste your time.”

Standler tipped his cowboy hat to brush back thick silver hair curling over the collar of a well-worn leather jacket. He patted her hand and leaned close, “I’ve got plenty of money but I’d fly these thousands of miles, just for a whiff of your scent.”

“I do like real men,” laughed the beautiful blond, “but this is about more than just money.”

“Any chance I could steal you away from your quarterback husband?”

Mavis kissed his cheek, “My daddy taught me to believe that anything’s possible, if you want it bad enough.”

Tate greeted Ned Flint, an arrogant aristocratic hotel and shipping magnate, as he stepped from a silver Bentley, “Ned, I’m so glad you could make it.”

Flint gazed around at the aging resort, “I do hope this is not an indication of the quality of your proposal?”

“That’s exactly why we’re meeting here. This was the height of glamour, not so long ago, but we’re going to be talking about the world we’re going to invent for tomorrow.”

The Sloans guided more than two dozen potential partners into a formal library off the lobby, offering privacy amidst the hushed sophistication of fine Early American furnishings, vibrant bouquets of flowers, and thousands of rather dated leather-bound volumes lining shelves floor to ceiling. Guests were invited to indulge in a full bar and sumptuous buffet, which allowed time for introductions and re-acquaintance.

Tate glanced over Ned Flint’s shoulder, watching Mavis work the crowd with flirtatious hugs and seductive whispers, taming and inflaming the infantile egos of a roomful of the most powerful and reclusive tycoons in the country.

Beneath the seductive silk clinging to her voluptuous body, behind the enchanting smile and crystal blue eyes that hypnotized intelligent men and infuriated every woman within sight, there resided a she-devil born to mold the world to suit her vision and purpose.

She first noticed Tate on a television interview, when he was a promising freshman quarterback destined to lead Oklahoma to a National Championship before he graduated. He looked comfortable and relaxed, responding to questions from the press with clever one-liners guaranteed to be featured on sports shows across the country. He was a dazzling, athletic, all-American con-artist playing the part with an ‘Aw-shucks’ countrified shtick, and what he lacked in sophistication was overshadowed by the magnetism of his personality on the screen. In spite of his boyish arrogance, his humor and his physical presence even charmed fans of the opposing teams, and he was just what she was looking for.

Each of these exceedingly wealthy investors was predictably quirky; most made no bones about wanting to bed her and each managed to touch her body, caressing her ass or brushing against her breasts, with two exceptions. Bernie Baker, eighty-five if he was a day and, certainly, long past potency, reached for her crotch and got a sharp bite on his ear for his roughish audacity. Tight-lipped Flint scanned her body the way an architect appraises a building; analyzing proportions, lines, and curves with a critical eye. Rumors suggested he was gay and she was not surprised to see him standing very close to Tate, his hand caressing her husband’s muscular shoulder, sharing seductive confidences. She was amused by one of the richest men in the world fawning over her husband instead of her, and wondered whether the elder man’s advances aroused her macho mate.

Mavis discovered her ability to flirt and seduce men of all ages when she was a precocious child, and had no compunction about using her beauty to tame the ferocious lion that guarded their egos and their wallets. Tate would play his part, because Flint’s expertise would prove invaluable.

Erwin Nash, with several PhD’s and youngest of the guests, created Primary Pharmaceuticals to market his arthritis drug, ‘Rhythmus’, and was currently bringing a genetic coding device to market. Famous for boasting that he had more money than most developing countries, he attempted to French-kiss Mavis and ran his hand down her spine to squeeze her ass, “Whatever you’re selling, darlin’, I’m buying.”

The tall blond smacked his cheek, playfully but hard enough to leave a stinging scarlet outline on his face. “Even with all your money, honey, you couldn’t begin to afford the upkeep.”

Harvey Sacks, CEO of the country’s second largest financial group, Harvard graduate, and certainly the most refined of the group, took her hand and kissed her fingers, “It is my pleasure to have a moment with you.”

“I’m pleased you decided to join us. I know your schedule is always full.”

“For you, I would make an exception.”

“I hope we can make your trip worthwhile, besides Florida’s sunshine and sultry breezes.”

“M’dear, we both know that you inspire something primal in every man in this room and I doubt that many of us would be here, if you were not presiding.”

“That’s about as honest as I’ve ever heard it put,” smiled the beauty, patting him on the chest with a kiss to each cheek. “You keep that motor running, honey, because I want you to be part of this.”

Tate raised a finger and Mavis joined him behind a covered display case. “Gentlemen! I’d like to thank each of you for taking the time join us today. I hope your bellies are full and our staff will make sure that your glasses remain topped off.”

Mavis smiled, “Our proposal involves multiple layers, so Tate will give you the overview of the first project and then we’ll move on to the rest of the story.”

Tate pulled the drape from the case, revealing an intricately detailed model of a resort development stretching across Breezy Key from a marina village on the bay to the white sand beaches of the Gulf. The town was centered around a curving complex of shops, galleries, and restaurants bounding a grassy commons with a stage at the center, shielded from the elements by a band shell sculpted to resemble an open clam. Another retail complex, with overlapping thatched roofs interlaced above a shaded promenade, snaked along the top of the dunes.

A maze of tightly packed houses, stretching for a mile in each direction along the key, ranged from tiny bungalows to multistory mansions. The expansive marina sported extensive docks and two swimming pools surrounding an entertainment complex. Forest and fences, at either end of the model, concealed clusters of housing blocks and other buildings.

“Allow me to introduce you to SunnyBreeze, a new concept in upscale resorts,” said Tate. “This town will be what dreams of paradise should be - lush and tropical, perfect in every detail, offering every luxurious amenity and service any guest might desire.

As you can see, there are no hotels or tacky motels plogging up the beachfront. Each of these opulent homes will be available for rent eleven months of the year. They range from cozy cottages, that newlyweds might enjoy for a honeymoon, to eight-bedroom mansions suitable for entire families. Our designers have arranged the houses into neighborhoods, where a corporation could rent a cluster of homes for retreats or large meetings or an extended family could host a reunion.

At the center is The Commons, which houses a conference center, themed restaurants, fashionable shops, and exclusive galleries surrounding a grassy park and an amphitheater for evening concerts and films. The only major road through town has been rerouted into a series of gentle curves to reinforce a speed limit of fifteen miles per hour. Fronting the dunes and the most beautiful snowy white sand beach in the world are restaurants catering to families with kids, casual clothing stores, and a rental shop to serve the beach crowd. We want this development to be so family friendly, it’ll make Walt Disney look like Dirty Harry.”

Laughter and the question, “What about the adults?”

He pointed to the sweeping lines of the venue on the bay, “While the beach sector is extremely family-oriented, young adults and folks without kids will find plenty to do at the marina. This complex can host more than a hundred yachts, offer charter deep-sea fishing excursions, rental boats, and the most incredible bait and tackle shop in the state, with everything a fisherman or boater might need. Add two salt-water pools, a swim-up bar, three restaurants, and a disco featuring hot bands, we’ve got the adults covered.”

“Who’s your clientele?” asked Flint.

Tate grinned, “The almost rich.”

Snickers and amusement from the moguls gathered around the model.

“And by that you mean?” asked Erwin Nash.

“I mean our society is rapidly moving towards dividing itself into two classes – the rich and the rest.”

Again, laughter.

Duffy Timmons bellowed, “But that’s the way it’s always been!”

Mavis replied, “Only more so!”

Tate pointed to the model, “This is for the brain surgeon or the overpaid lawyer or the young entrepreneur, who wants to take the family on a vacation, where everything is taken care of and everyone’s happy, to make up for his neglect the other fifty-weeks a year. We can put the whole crew in one house, which is far more intimate than a half-dozen rooms at the Hilton, and there’ll be plenty of activities to keep every age group busy.” He paused, “Oh, and we’ll be happy to charge them for everything.”

“Tell us about this housing,” said Bernie Baker. “You’ve really got them crammed in there. This looks like a miniature version of Manhattan.”

“That’s absolutely right, we’ve created five-foot lot lines within these blocks but every house is positioned, for utmost privacy and easy access, and isolated by flourishing green belts into little communities. We want maximum capacity at all times to keep the machinery running in peak form…but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Our Corporation will hold title to the entire tract, extending ten-year leases to buyers, who will pay for the construction of each unit by our contractors, to maintain cohesion and quality control. Their percentage of the rentals will result in complete repayment of their investment in six-years and four-months, plus one-month of off-season use of their home. After ten years, every structure will be torn down and replaced. The owners can choose to re-up or walk away.”

“That’s assuming nearly one-hundred percent occupancy,” said Flint.

“No, that’s calculated on eighty-six percent,” replied Sloan “but those figures do not include insurance, property taxes, management fees, community dues, landscaping and maintenance, or a host of other revenue streams.”

“They’ll be lucky to recoup half, when you get done with them,” laughed Bernie Baker. “That’s the oldest con in the book.”

“That’s Florida real estate!” replied Tate. “Every line in our sales pitch is absolutely true and meets the requirements of state, county, and local laws and ordinances. We have a pack of lawyers making sure that we’re covered in every direction.”

“What about all these shops and restaurants?” asked Standler.

Tate grinned, “All owned and operated by the corporation. I should also note that there’s a grocery store, over here on the south wing of The Commons but it won’t sell anything substantial enough to make into a real meal. Deli sandwiches, drinks, snacks, and anything else you might want after a few hours on the beach, but we do offer an incredible variety of dining options.”

“Do the homes have kitchens?” asked Timmons, a chiseled chunk of a man, who made his fortune in timber and was far more comfortable in the forest than the boardroom.

“Of course, but our guests will have to drive twelve miles to find a real grocery. We’re betting that they’ll be more inclined to walk the kids down to the pizza parlor and fill ‘em up. Our high-end restaurants will cater meals or banquets to any house in the complex and we’ll have several bars, in addition to the disco, and a fabulous liquor store.”

“Who’s going to build it,” asked JD Calhoun, real estate tycoon and power broker for southwestern Florida.

“Simons and Sons,” replied Tate.

“Why? I’ve got everything you need ready to roll.”

“Because, we want to maintain quality control through every phase of development and that can’t happen by hiring independent contractors. The only way to guarantee that level of performance is to have everything flowing through a central command.”

“Mavis’ old man is gonna make a killing on this, we put up the dough and he claims the profits. What’s he contributing?”

“His entire construction firm will be focused on this project until it is complete.”

“Well, I’ve had dealings with Selby Simonson before and once was enough. I’m not getting screwed by that bastard again.” He stood up, “I don’t know about the rest of you suckers, but I’m outta here.”

Calhoun’s bodyguard stepped out of the shadows to guide the grumbling old man outside.

“What do you want from us?” inquired Standler.

Tate flashed that practiced grin, “Your money and your commitment.”

“We all expected that, at the very least,” roared old man Baker.

“We want directors, who believe in this project and the philosophy behind it. We invited each of you because you bring not only wealth and position but the expertise and experience to make this and every future project into the finest resorts on the planet. As we’ll explain, there’s another layer to all of this but our corporation will own the land, receive lease payments and an increasing percentage of the rents in perpetuity, and take a sizable commission on every transaction that occurs on the property. Oh, and the homeowners will build us a brand-new resort every ten-years!”

Most of the crowd applauded.

Flint pointed, “What about these buildings hiding off in the corners?”

“These will be used for housing staff, administration, utilities and maintenance, as well as a school.”

“A school? For who?”

Mavis stepped forward, “Perhaps, I should interject a little bit of the ‘rest of the story’, as Paul Harvey used to say.”

The drapes closed and a slide screen rolled down behind her, displaying a chart shaped like a Hershey Kiss without the foil wrapper. “As each of you knows, the divide between the have’s and the have-not’s is expanding at a geometric rate. We, as a group, are blessed to reside in this tiny blue patch in the very tip of the top one percent and, for that, we should be grateful.”

Smiles and nods, as most of the men in the room were mesmerized by her every move.

“The greater concern is this gigantic mass of the population, forty-six percent and growing, who are working harder and harder and falling behind faster than at any time since the Great Depression. With the rapid advancements in the development of robotics, forty-percent of those mid-level jobs will be eliminated within ten years.”

She turned to point at the chart, “This huge bloated bulge at the bottom represents the poor and the destitute, and millions of middle-class families are dropping in every year, while the skinny in-between portion represents our market, those who need to flaunt extravagance to prove they’ve made it. They’re in trouble too, but most of them are too arrogant and dazzled by their unwarranted success to realize what’s happening.” She lit up her glamour magazine smile, “But we’ll be happy to take their money.”

“Your point is?” inquired Standler.

“How long do you think the struggling masses are going to tread water, before there’s a revolution?” She didn’t wait for a response, “I don’t know about you, but I’m a news junkie. I need to know real facts about everything that might affect our enterprises but I also want to understand what’s happening in the real world for the other ninety-nine percent.

Every news cycle is filled with examples of our society’s unraveling and it’s time to pay attention. The toxins festering at the bottom, out of sight in the ghettos, where uneducated young men know they have no chance to save themselves, so there’s no reason not to let it all hang out, until they or someone else gets killed. Young women get pregnant and have numerous children to collect from the government, because they have no education and, other than working as a prostitute, no other way to survive!

 Or the typical middle-income family, with two kids and two working parents. Dad’s taken a second job, cleaning offices at night, and they still can’t make ends meet. That’s paying the rent and putting food on the table and nothing else. They work their asses off to provide for their kids but they don’t have a chance, because the minimum wage is just that, the bare minimum that someone could survive on, but just barely, and it hasn’t risen in decades.

Or white cops killing people of color without any real provocation…and these are not isolated incidents in the deep South, it’s happening all over the country! Or people, driven mad by frustration and isolation, who arm themselves and go hunting for children or an audience watching a movie in a theater or defenseless parishioners in churches, in futile and senseless attempts to rekindle the Civil War! Someone has to be responsible for their fear and frustration, someone has to act to save humanity!

I’m a firm believer in the Second Amendment, my daddy taught me how to shoot before I could ride a horse, but American manufacturers produce eight and half-million guns a year. That’s enough to arm every man, woman, and child in the state of New Jersey this year and next year and every year after that forever! Who are we arming ourselves against? No one seems to know but it’s obvious that our national paranoia demands more guns!

We have, by far, the largest prison population in the world and, at more than seven per thousand, that’s more than Russia and Cuba combined! I look around this room and I know that at least a few of you are heavily invested in our private prisons and you wouldn’t have ponied up the bucks if you weren’t assured of a tidy profit. Keeping those institutions running at absolute capacity is crucial to the bottom line…but at what cost?”

“Making the streets safe for white people,” snickered Jeffry Marsh, slum lord and porn producer.

Mavis stopped to stare at the bigot, for a long uncomfortable moment, certainly testament that gaining great wealth does not ensure class. “We’re back to that kid in the ghetto shooting someone or the dad, working two jobs, who gets clobbered by a crisis and is forced to do something desperate to save his family from starvation. This whole scenario is worthy of Dickens!”

She marched to the front of the little stage, “We’ve partitioned off huge chunks of our major cities to segregate the poor and the desperate to live like caged rats in appalling conditions. As more and more people fall off the edge into poverty, we’ll pack more and more of them into hellish hovels, smoldering and decaying until they explode in frustration and, when the uprising comes, they’ll be armed with all those millions of guns U.S. companies have been producing. We’re getting ready to repeat the darkest chapters of history, where the very concept of civilization was lost to arrogance and greed, ignorance and hate. If you’ll look back through the moments before each great cataclysm, in every case, there was a brief period where history might have followed a different tack, had the powers that be made more informed decisions.”

The crowd was silent, until old Bernie Baker exclaimed, “That’s preposterous! I lived through the Depression and we got by.”

“You got through it because your old man owned half of Manhattan and, what he didn’t own, he bought at pennies on the dollar in foreclosure!” replied Mavis. “The point is, you’re the men who run this country. You choose the candidates, you chart the bills that are proposed in Congress, you own governors, mayors, councilmen, and judges, and you have your fingers on the levers that drive the economy. You manage our world, and maybe you didn’t cause this fiasco directly, but who’s going to manage this mess that’s spilling across the nation, because it isn’t going to solve itself?”

Murmurs and muffled comments.

Erwin Nash blurted, “In theory, a world-wide recession would provide an opportunity to acquire an even larger share of industry and commerce.”

“Even without a full-fledged depression, there’s no future for these people! And, if there’s no future for the vast majority of the population, then there’s no future for us either. We’re doomed to hide behind well-fortified mansion walls, while the world rots and festers around us.”

She strolled behind the model and pointed to the southern complex of buildings. “These buildings will house a school to educate a very select group of young people about our place in the world and our responsibility to manage the masses, who won’t be able to fend for themselves.”

“And who will these young people be?” inquired Harvey Sacks. “Democrats?”

“This isn’t about politics, it’s about survival,” replied Mavis. “We’ll take your children and our children and promising young talent from the local population.”

“Our children attend prestigious schools by tradition, why would we send them here?” asked Standler.

“Because, as we all realized, the only thing we learned, in those musty old museums, was how to use our contacts to keep what we’ve got. The world is about to change and if we don’t get out in front of it, by taking control, we’ll all suffer the consequences.”

“First, what are you proposing?” asked Flint. “And second, how does all of this tie into SunnyBreeze?”

“I’m suggesting that our society, world society for that matter, is about to divide itself into those few, who have acquired great wealth and power, lording over those, in this bloated bubble at the bottom of the chart, who will be forced to serve, starve, or rebel. Certainly, no one wants to return to the days of land barons and peasants but that’s where we’re headed.”

Tate interrupted, “The re-education of our society will take a generation and we’ll need an ever-expanding legion of true-believers to spread out like missionaries, preaching the truth about the new reality.”

“You sound like you’re selling religion,” laughed Sacks.

“We are! We’re going to replace them all!” replied Mavis. “What if we could do away with poverty and ignorance and petty crime?”

“And how are you going to do that?”

“By employing everyone who’s willing to work, in one giant enterprise that will supply everything our citizens need to thrive.”

Tate grinned, “The problem is and always has been the inefficiency of our system. The middle class is history, so let’s do away with capitalism. We already own everything of value, let’s replace it with a new reality.”

“Which is?”

“We’ve got a job for everyone and in return for your effort and your loyalty, we’ll provide intelligently designed housing, adequate and nutritional food, medical care, security, and a real education for every child. This looming calamity could be transformed into true and absolute equality for the common citizen. Our people will set up systems to keep everything running smoothly and we’ll maintain control.”

“That’s communism!” shouted Baker, his fist clamped to his withered chest, as if the very idea might steal his last breath.

“Our economy is based on archaic precepts, spawned during the Victorian ages. It’s time to think about building the next two or three hundred years,” said Mavis. “Do you want to oversee the transformation that’s sure to come, or should we let it fall into anarchy and inefficient nationalized industries?”

“How’s all this tie in with SunnyBreeze?” asked Timmons.

Tate replied, “Think of our new development as a testing ground for the future of urban housing, control of commerce, and re-education.”

“Of who?”

Mavis pointed to the green stripe on the chart, just below the thin blue line, “These folks, the working rich, stand in the way of this whole process. They’ll be the last to admit to contributing to the dysfunction of our society, so they should be the first to be indoctrinated, here, as well as dozens of other retreats that we’ll build in stunning locations around the world.” She grinned, “And don’t worry, we won’t be invading any of your exclusive haunts.”

“Who’s going to be doing the indoctrinating?”

Tate pointed to the back of the room, “James Robert Combs!”

The imposing former basketball forward strode to the front. Most of the guests had presumed that he was a member of the staff, dressed in a dark suit with a milk chocolate complexion, and sitting in the shadows at the back of the room. But everyone was familiar with Jimbo Combs, life-coach minister who built a glass temple in Tampa, seating ten-thousand for inspiring sermons that rambled on for hours. His programming was beamed to hundreds of thousands of disciples in every country on the planet and he was the master of evangelical entertainment.

The huge man kissed Mavis on the cheek and hugged Tate like a ragdoll, before turning to the group with that enormous smile, “I’m really pleased that all of you could attend this meeting and I promise not to hypnotize anyone or pick your pockets!”

The crowd laughed, for he was famous for taking large audiences under his spell, to convince them that they could perform extraordinary feats, like breaking boards with their hands or walking barefoot across a bed of blazing coals without injury.

“I think you all know my reputation for being a convincing kind of guy…to the extreme!”

Again, roaring laughter.

“Then let me convince you that I believe what you’ve just heard is a very clear vision of the near future. Mankind has evolved into the most prolific parasite this planet has ever known. The population is exploding, resources are overtaxed and dwindling, and the environment is telling us to clean up our mess, before we all face catastrophe.

I travel all over the world and meet with every kind of human being you could imagine; from miserable underprivileged tycoons, like you, to impoverished children in Ethiopia, who don’t have clean water or sanitation or nutritious food or adequate shelter, let alone a school or a future.

The vast majority of people are clamoring for a drastic change in the way our system works. Either someone is going to provide them with a viable and credible alternative or they’re going to create one for themselves…and history demonstrates that revolution is always messy, counter-productive, and the poorest suffer most…but dawdling aristocrats are the first to face the guillotine!” He paused and scanned from face to face, “I’ve read dossiers on every one of you and I predict that ninety-percent of your industries will become completely irrelevant and your vast fortunes worthless, when those on the margins of society revolt.”

Everyone was attentive.

“One of my techniques, in inspiring people to take charge of their lives, is to plant a seed in their imaginations. And, yes, I use hypnosis to insert an idea or a challenge inside their brains that itches like a mosquito bite until they act on it and once they start, they can’t stop themselves from accomplishing something totally beyond their capacity. I do this with thousands of people every year and it works every time!”

Applause.

The huge former basketball star raised enormous hands in appreciation with a shrewd smile, “So, let’s imagine what the outcome might be, if I could share my message with every guest that stayed in every one of these magnificent homes, through subliminal transmissions?”

He pointed to the model, “Simple math - if we average five-thousand new guests each week, I’ll be able to convince more than two-hundred-and-fifty-thousand people each year, not only to support our cause but to go back to their communities to spread the word for us. And that’s just this resort. Think about having dozens of these around the country and then the world!”

Many in the crowd cheered, some were intrigued, and a few antagonistic.

“I doubt that many of you are genuinely altruistic but I have no doubt that you are all savvy enough to recognize that, at this juncture in our history, you are the people who should take charge of this next chapter in our evolution…not self-serving politicians or theoretical economists or brash young entrepreneurs, who have no grasp of how our world descended into this state. Each of you possesses the power and knowledge to help guide mankind through this looming disaster. You will design the future!” He paused, “And I’ve been ordained to devise and implement the re-education process.”


Order it now!

The eBook is available until  May 10th  for $.99 (what a deal!) at Amazon or follow the link below to purchase it at Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Tolino, Overdrive, Google Play, and Baker & Taylor

books2read.com/u/m0M6zV

Preorder the print or eBook versions at a special introductory price at Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=SunnyBreeze&i=stripbooks&ref=nb_sb_noss_2

© rick stiller 2019