The Opportunity - Chapter 1
Chapter 1 July 4 Weekend (Saturday, July 2, 2011)
“Amy, you look like a hooker,” said Pete Taylor.
“I’d rather show cleavage and turn men on than have an extra forty pounds in my stomach pressing against my cummerbund.”
“It’s only thirty pounds which isn’t much if you’re six-two. I hope you don’t dress that way when you meet our clients.”
“You know I wear formal business attire.”
“Amy, don’t pretend you dress matronly. You dress to make your male clients helpless,” Art replied.
“You both never object when we sign contracts or task orders. Pete, if you’re going to complain quit staring at my boobs.”
“Pete can’t. He never outgrew his teenage fixation,” Art said.
“Have some respect. I’m still your boss,” replied Pete.
“We all agreed three years ago when I joined the beach house that as soon as we crossed the Chesapeake Bay Bridge we left CIN Inc. behind,” Art said.
“True, but then respect me as a friend—and don’t exaggerate my extra weight.”
Pete, Amy, and Art worked together at Computer Information Networks Inc. They referred to their company as CIN Inc.
Pete Taylor, a fifty-six-year-old teenager and the general manager of IT services for CIN Inc. sat on the front porch of their Dewey Beach summer rental house sipping his second martini at 4:00 p.m. Amy Ericson, a thirty-eight-year-old, blue-eyed, voluptuous, five-foot six-inch, blonde business development and marketing executive, sipped her second glass of wine. The contrast between Amy and Pete resembled the differences between a male and female walrus. Art Mitchell, a thin fifty-five-year-old returned from his daily five-mile afternoon run and climbed the steps to the porch.
The three retired into the house to shower and dress in formal attire for the party, returning to the porch at five thirty. Art, sipping his first beer said, “Amy, can you help me with my tie? I still can’t believe we wear tuxedos on a ninety-plus-degree July Fourth weekend.”
“It’s tradition, the thirty-fifth anniversary of the formal July Fourth party. Besides, you look great. You’ll attract every woman at the party,” Amy replied.
“I doubt it. Everyone there knows I’m dating Joan and that she’s out of town.”
“Art, don’t underestimate the deviousness of the female sex drive,” Pete said. “You’re attractive because you’re handsome and don’t hit on them. But we know Amy, not Art, is the sex magnet. She’ll leave the party with an entourage.”
“I’m faithful. I’ll leave with both of you. Art, your tie looks good. It’s almost six. Let’s catch the Jolly Trolley,” Amy replied.
“I agree. I’m in no shape to drive,” Pete said.
The three left their St. Louis Street A-frame, walked to Route 1 and boarded the trolley towed by a pickup truck. Their formal attire received minor stares from the other bikini- and bathing-suit-attired passengers, who knew any behavior could be expected at the beach.
They arrived at the Henlopen Avenue beach house party in Rehoboth Beach a few minutes after it started.
“Three champagnes?” Art asked, sweating through his white, starched shirt. He stood next to Amy and Pete at a long table under a white canvas canopy next to the entrance walkway to the party house. Twenty other guests jostled for the attention of the bartenders who offered beer, soda, wine, and champagne. Art and Amy sipped the champagne while Pete guzzled his.
“Pete, you’d better slow down or you’ll end the night early,” Amy said.
“Maybe you’re right.”
The threesome split up and mingled with the rest of the crowd. They agreed to meet in front of the house and walk into Rehoboth for dinner at eight.
Amy spent the next two hours talking to her friends, who also worked in marketing for federal government contracting firms, sharing the latest gossip about their clients and anticipated contracts. Art wandered around the party, sipping champagne, talking to his friends, and not approaching the available, attractive, sensual, and financially secure women surrounding him, thinking he’d rather be home with Joan watching a golf or a tennis match on TV.
Pete did not have another glass of champagne. He walked into the kitchen, and asked one of the hostesses, dressed in a sexy French maid outfit, “Can I have a martini?”
“Sure. Isn’t champagne good enough for you? Vodka or gin?”
“I’m getting bloated from the bubbles and just want something to sip. Vodka’s fine.”
Pete had the reputation at the beach and in Washington of being a heavy drinker. He sipped his drink and talked to anyone he met about business, the rise in the stock market, and who was dating whom.
At 8:00 p.m. the three met and walked to the Summer House. Pete had a martini and a glass of wine to wash down a sixteen-ounce steak dinner. Art and Amy ate rockfish and grilled tuna, respectively, and drank two glasses of wine during the ninety-minute dinner.
“I’m going for a walk on the boardwalk. Anyone want to join me?” Pete asked when they finished dinner.
They agreed, left the coolness of the restaurant, and began walking the two and a half blocks to the boardwalk. Even though the afternoon heat had cooled to eighty-five degrees by early evening, it hit them as they began walking, still adorned in their formal clothes. Happy adults with their young children, groups of teenagers, and young single adults packed the sidewalks searching for summer fun at the beach. Rehoboth Avenue had congested and stalled traffic. The drivers searched for nonexistent parking spaces.
Pete strolled with Art and Amy pointing out the bikini-clad young women he would like to meet. His size normally hid the effects of drinking, but he wove as he identified the bikini displaying the next nearest object of his desire. Art noticed Pete sweated profusely. After walking for five minutes, they passed a stately, barely clothed blonde in her early twenties.
Pete turned to Art and said, “Did you see…”
He clutched his chest and fell to the ground shaking.
Art bent over Pete who could not talk, but uttered gurgling sounds. A crowd formed as Art called 911. Several of them speculated that he was drunk, had a heart attack, a stroke, or experienced other fatal disorders. Art concurred with the crowd’s suggestions related to health problems, having seen Pete consume twice as much alcohol without slurring his words or passing out.
The 911 operators dispatched an ambulance from Beebe Medical Center in Lewes, a short seven miles from Pete’s shaking body. The traffic on Route 1 between Lewes and Rehoboth was as congested as that on Rehoboth Avenue.
While waiting for the ambulance, Amy and Art worried about Pete’s health. Amy reminisced about her first adult beach summer, her first meeting with Pete, and her career at CIN Inc. Art, seeing the pain in Pete’s face, wondered if he would survive.
Amy looked at Art. “Men let their weaknesses control their lives.”