Life in Stanley, California


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1. Short story

Life in Stanley, California ----------------------------

BY Katherine Kelly Lang

About the author ---------------------------

The author is American, enjoys travel, has a wonderful sense of humour, 4 kids , 2 boys and 2 girls all more or less settled in life. She is single and unattached and has 2 wonderful guy friends who are busy making big money. This is the author’s 2nd book. She has written short stories for magazines before and been the editor for a cooking magazine. She directed a tele Drama of epic proportions. It was a great success. She was born in 1984. She has a Doctorate in Aerospace Engineering and a Doctorate in Business from the prestigious Harvard Business School. She is a volunteer in the city’s hospital system. Her interests are in pain relief medication. She was Chief of Staff, Moira in 2014. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

 

A University student, Emily hears the phone ring. She picks up the phone. “It’s Trisha Davidson” “Do I know you?” “Patricia my cousin gave me your name. I am looking for a baby sitter. You come highly recommended.” “Oh....! Thanks Mrs. Davidson. I pride myself on being one of the best. I got straight A’s in Childcare. “ “Call me Trisha. I need the service this Saturday and Sunday. I understand your rate is 15 $ an hour.” “Yes Trisha, it is. Let me check my diary. Yes I am free.” “My house is well equipped. You don’t have to even feed the baby. It’s all done with gadgets.“ “Is the baby a girl? “Yes. I am also expecting a boy in April. So there is a chance of regular hours in the future. Here is my address.” Emily takes the address down. The home is not far from where she lives. She can walk down to the place. Wow! Just the income I need. Emily’s Fashion Design course practical’s is next year. An 8 month project. The house is fairly big. Trisha lets her in. “My husband is setting up the gadgets for today. Just keep an eye on the kid. If you are needed this buzzer will ring. If he is awake, you can play with him. He is used to strangers. Here is the desk for anything you want to do. Almost everyone here is related to one another or have known each other all their lives.

We will be back by 6 pm. You can watch the gadgets as they work. Some of your friends might be interested in buying them in the future. Here is a list of addresses, where you can get them. You can make some money marketing them. We can go 50:50 on the profits. Help yourself to the kitchen. There is an intercom, so you can hear the kid. Her name is Tania, Tani for short.” “Ok. You look lovely Trisha.” Trisha laughs. “Tell me something I don’t know. John dear, what have you set up for our kid today.” “Music, a few toys and the vibrator. That should be more than enough. The theme is sensations. ” Emily helps herself to a cup of Boost and admires the kitchen. It’s a room by itself with all modern amenities. She checks out the kid’s play pen. And admires the way music and the vibrator synchronize. The kid is just a few months old. She dearly loved puppies but in her present accommodation, cannot have one. She opens up the laptop and her email. Trisha has sent her a letter of offer, promising accommodation and a free puppy. Yay! She replies saying she is accepting the offer. John works at the University and accommodation is provided, close to campus, Trisha has said. She would only have to help out with the kid occasionally like this. It’s a breeze. Maybe she will now even have time for a boyfriend. The University accommodation comes with a Granny flat, where she can stay and have privacy. John has suggested his nephew Trevor and tells Emily she will like him and shows her his photo. Emily laughs embarrassed. I take that as a yes. Ok says Emily, feeling shy. Her first boyfriend and he is handsome too. “Will he like me?” “He saw you on campus. He already likes you.” “O...h! “ “With just a little makeup you can look exceeding pretty, says Trisha. Here, you can use my old makeup kit. John just presented me with this beautiful new one for my birthday.” How do they know so much about her? They must know some of her friends. She calls up her mom. “Trisha? Yes I know her. We went to the same school. I was official big sister to her. She is about 10 years younger. We have kept in touch over the years. I am glad she is looking out for you. Her cousin Patricia is almost the same age as me. “ “Yes. She mentioned Patricia. “ -------------------------------------------

Mark has just returned from a 2 year study leave from his secure Government job. The pay is good as the firm also takes on Consultancy in the private industry. He has acquired a Master’s degree in Marine theme parks. He is engaged to be married. His fiancée Kathryn has great dreams of being a Doctor in the United States and making big money. A pipe dream. A miracle has to occur before she can realize her dream. Mark knows this but allows her to dream. She has made it clear she doesn’t want kids for 5 years. She is the youngest and her family has enough kids, whenever they yearn for kids. Mark plans to get a Doctorate in the USA – he is sure of getting a placement, and wonders what he can do to help Kathryn realize her dream. Passing the exams is one thing, but getting internship is quite another. He decides to call his friend, Matt, who has contacts in the US, for more information. “A lady who is already in the USA and has completed almost all the requirements for a green card. Finished her medical recently. Her name is Caroline. Contact her. Your fiancée Kathryn can contact her. She will be able to help you. Caroline hob knobs with the rich and famous. Plenty of friends. She will also be able to give you places where you can get affordable accommodation. I would suggest you work and register part time for a Doctorate. That is not necessary. My firm is international. I can get a transfer to the USA. It’s Kathryn I am concerned about. Mark next rings up Kathryn. Kathryn is excited and tells him about the American colleague her cousin has introduced her to. He decides to call Caroline himself and let Kathryn work on getting more information from her cousin’s colleague.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Caroline is a defense force academy graduate. Though she too is from his home town, she did a bachelor’s degree in Medicine and passed the bridging exams in the USA. She works for the airline industry. Mark calls up Caroline and Caroline suggests a few Universities where Kathryn can get placement and gives the name of a contact for a job afterwards. They get chatting and find they have a lot in common. They exchange email addresses and phone numbers and Mark promises to get in touch. Mark calls up Kathryn and gives her the good news. And passes on the email address and phone number. The matter is out of his hands. He is a busy man and has plenty to do. He sends Caroline a email thanking her and a bouquet of flowers to her work place. He opens a bottle of Champagne and gets started on working on material for his Doctorate. He has some idea of what he wants to work on and is doing a feasibility study on the viability of the topic. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- “So you are a divorcee!” “No! The engagement got called off. Her cousin found a American who suits Kathryn better.” “Why am I giving you a explanation. Who are you? What are you doing in my hotel room? How did you get in? “ “I have my ways. You love me. I am a love of a lifetime. You may not remember but you introduced me to your family. “ “I am Ms America for the 4th time running.” “So! I am not enamored of beauty. “ “I have been keeping an eye on you for 3 years. So you have had closure on your previous relationship. You are a good man. And you love me.” “How do you know that?! I don’t even remember you. “ “No! That is because our acquaintance was brief. You introduced me to your family. I have been in touch with your brother’s family in Amsterdam. I used to travel a lot until a few months ago. Have a desk job now. Nice hotel you are staying in. Perks of the job hm..! You gave me a pass for the talk you are giving at the conference at this Hotel.” “There is only one way to find out if we love each other. Neither of us is committed. How about we have lunch together. Hi! I am Caroline. “ Caroline thinks of telling him it’s an eternity relationship but decides to wait. Mark has had enough surprises for the day. I am put up in a hotel nearby. “How about we do dinner tonight? It will be my treat. The food here is worth dying for .And the service is great.” Mark hesitates. “How about you share this marvelous room with me tomorrow. I understand you will be at the conference all day tomorrow. I know your close friend Matt. I am not a stranger.” Mark thinks! What the heck, why not. Caroline is very fetching. He is however not sure about a relationship. He likes his life the way it is. Breaking up with Kathryn was hard. He decides to check with Matt first. “Wait! Let’s talk to Matt first.” He puts the phone on a conference call. “Matt! A friend of yours Caroline is here.” “Caroline! What a lovely surprise! What are you doing in this beautiful city?” “I have been transferred here. If I like it, I will stay on.” “Sure do! Mark! Introduce her to all our friends. Sorry I can’t make it to the conference. My eldest is sick and Robin, my sister is working today.” “No worries! Catch up with you later. Say Hi to Robin. I will visit you next weekend.” How is Robin’s husband Mason? “Oh! They are separated.” “I am sorry to hear that.” “Don’t be. They live under the same roof and are friends. They felt the situation best described their relationship. Robin has taken on a new name. It is Hana. Got to go. Bye” “Bye” Caroline to Mark. “So it’s a deal!” “Deal! You can use my room tomorrow. We can have dinner in the room afterwards”. “Sure you won’t be too tired?” Mark laughs! “No! I enjoy these conferences immensely.” ----------------------------------------------- “Caroline! We have known each other for 3 years now. I know you love me. There is only one way to find out. Let’s spend the night together if your folks won’t be shocked? Let’s learn it from each other. We will take it slow. I am at this beautiful 5 Star hotel all week. Come with me. There is a wonderful Tiffin house next door.” “Na! My folks won’t be shocked. We are American now. And Americans don’t marry. They have girl friends and guy friends they are committed to for life.” “H...m....! I did not know that!” “There is a lot that we can offer each other.” Mark is filled with anticipation. Caroline is as nice as she is pretty. And he likes her family. And so it happened. Neither has any experience but both have attended courses. With a bit of fun and laughter and tender loving care they manage it. Both know they will marry some day. After all Caroline is only 21 and Mark 25.

Mark to Caroline “I have applied for a job on the moon. Why don’t you come along.” “And leave my Dad and Mom here? “ “They can visit us and stay as long as they like, once we settle down.” “Let me think about it.” “Ok Dear, but my going is certain. If you like, you can join me afterwards.” “Track tenure jobs apparently are easy to get. We may even settle down there. It’s a beautiful place.” “You have always wanted a farm. We can buy one with a lake. I have always wanted to raise animals and grow marine vegetables using hydroponics.” “Oh! That sounds exciting and I am sure I will say yes. The moon is only an 8 hour journey from here.” “And space travel is relatively inexpensive these days. My company will pay the airfares and provide accommodation for the 1st year.” “Mark I have never dated but you have. I can’t marry you until I have had the dating experience. I hope you don’t mind. “ “I do mind!” “I have 4 men wanting to date me. What if I like one of them better than you? I am getting anxious just thinking about it.” “Come to me. I will fix it. And if I can’t we will go to a relationship counselor.” “Does that mean a yes?!” “Sure! I have confidence in our relationship.” “What does dating mean though?” “Oh! That! You spend some time with them. “ “That’s all! I have already done that.” “With these 4?” “Yes, before I met you.” Mark laughs. He is relieved. “Feels like I have done more.” Mark to Caroline. “Na! You haven’t. You have to understand things in their proper perspective.” “You are right.” “Come on Caroline, say yes.” “Ok! Did you know that I was born on the moon?” “H...m, you are full of surprises.” ? ----------------------------------------------------------------------- It’s only been 10 years since my eldest was born. So much has happened in these 10 years. A life time of events. I am single unattached. My ex found happiness elsewhere (in a career) and I did not really mind. I had realized long ago that being single suited me better. We keep in touch as we no longer live in the same town. We decided to be friends. I have adopted some of the kids. The others were born to me by a donor process. My first few kids were born to me at the age of 10 by a surrogate process. The selection of the donor was by an elaborate selection process. (Story variation – I adopted all the kids. All my kids are from the same family and are siblings.) All the dad’s are single, so that suits me fine. Took 10 years to work out the details and become their mom officially. I am extremely happy with my life. And they are growing up on my farm. I have money and that pays for someone to chaperone the kids and a cook. Family helps with the kids. Raising the kids is done by me using modern methods and gadgets. I am registered as their mom. My cousins also act as Dads to the kids. The adopted kids’ parents are pleased and willing, as they have a say in the kid’s upbringing and have become my family too. I heard about the advertisement by Trisha and Emily about more gadgets. My friend Abby, who works in the administration department at the University, told me about it. I am interested. The ones I have are in good shape but no harm in buying more. I must call up the number and get the address. They are having a demonstration this Sunday at John’s house. I have met John when I visited Abby at her workplace for lunch. I am also interested in moving to a University house on campus and some have become available to the public. I am looking to buy a second bigger house and a University house has come up for sale. So John tells me. I am delighted. He owns a real estate company and says the house is mine if I want it. The price is a bit on the higher side but he says its fair price for the size of the house. It comes with a nice garden and I am a keen gardener. It is also nicely furnished, so I just have to move in. I am planning to adopt 2 more kids and the University has a crèche that I use. The University team is here, for the gadget info evening. Besides it’s only ½ a Kilometer from my farm house. We can move in and spend weekends at the farm house. I tell him I will take it and he arranges a viewing on Friday. The house has a big attic where the kids can play. He says bring a cheque and we will clinch the deal right away. I remembered that John is my doctor friend Aaron’s cousin. I remember the time Aaron and I were testing out a medication and almost got burnt. We had to go naked and run out of the room. It was so embarrassing for both of us. I kept in touch with Aaron over the years who is a bachelor. And now he shares house with me. I have received a bill for Aaron in the mail and it’s incorrect. Aaron and I share house, as I said before. In this country town, a house mate is referred to as husband. It’s just the way it is. I don’t particularly like it but I guess I can live with it. I would have preferred to use the term partner. I have plenty of money. Inherited most of it and the house is just too big for me alone. There’s a phone number to call so I give it a ring. The person who answers has a beautiful voice. After several minutes the issue is resolved, but I can’t help wondering who this person is with such a beautiful voice so I take a leap and ask the person to a party you are giving this Saturday. Surprisingly, the person says yes. He is a handsome guy and very good looking. Totally unaware of the impact he has on others. A fellow who likes others. That I can see. He has a beautiful voice to match. It’s not just his phone voice. Sounds slightly different though. His name is Alan. He has brought his girl friend and 2 young kids along. I tell him about the gadget demo on Sunday at John’s place. Alan and his lady Alexa are interested. Anything to help with raising kids. And they can hire if they find it too expensive to buy. That is a viable option when the kids are young. I have all the material and a team of people to answer any questions on the gadgets, in preparation for tomorrow’s demo of the gadgets. Word has got around and there is a large showing of people. I have employed caterers to handle the menu and they said they can cook with2 hours notice based on numbers. No problem. They have done it before. I remember Mark and Caroline and call them up. Mark is my relative and I tell them they can bring their families and anybody else who might be interested. Any excuse to throw a party. I am estatic. It’s been a while since I have entertained. “Hello Radhika” “Hi Mark.” Mark tells me he has decided against going to the moon. He can do most of the job from here and get a few people on the moon to do the rest. They plan to have kids in a couple of years. A 3 month trip is all he needs to do. “I am surprised. I thought you would have left by now. Is the pay good?” “It’s excellent.” “Radhika, You work for a pharmaceutical company , don’t you ?” “You know I have run out of this hair removal cream I use and it’s no longer available. Can you suggest something really good?” I give him a name. “It’s the best and affordable. Here is the online address. You can order it from the site and if you buy 2 or more jars, shipping is free. Your wife can use the same. Mention my name as reference. The same cream can be used for the face too.” “Thanks! Actually I haven’t married Caroline yet! “ “She is your fiancée?” “ Yes she is.” “We are looking for a firm that makes those gadgets ASAP. Would you know anyone? We have the design and specifications.” “As a matter I do. I will ask Matt to get in touch with you in an hour. He owns a factory that manufactures to specifications.” “On to other matters. I am planning to have a beauty pageant for men and woman as a theme for my next party and I am looking for participants. Would you please spread the work around? Or give me email addresses and I will take of it.” “No big deal, just one group email will do it. No trouble at all. My friends will take it from there. “ “The event is free if the numbers are less than 100. It will be an evening event. Thanks! You have been a great help. ‘

“What are friends for? By the way we are going to become neighbors. We are moving into the farm house next to yours. “ “That’s wonderful. I happen to own that farm. “ The caterers are passing around refreshments and plenty of finger food. I talk to the Head of the firm and they assure me that they have the numbers for lunch and can accommodate any later comers to the party. An announcement is made. There will be a brief 30 minute talk on gadgets. Somebody asks if kitchen gadgets are included? Yes they can be as it’s a popular request. 15 minute talk on Kitchen gadgets, after lunch. And a demo is being arranged. Mark comes over. He says Matt is on his way and will be here in 15 minutes, just in time for the talk. He is bringing his family over. For those who can’t make it to Sunday’s demo, there is a slide show presentation. After the talk Matt will tell me if his firm can handle the manufacturing. The price will depend on the numbers. Mark assures me that Matt quotes a very reasonable price. I am pleased. I hate shopping around. Matt will also do a market survey and tell me what other firms would charge. Some of the manufacturing may be handled by other firms. Matt will charge a small commission for finding the firms. John and Trisha will be pleased. I move around getting to know people. People are settling in for the demo. I have already seen it. That’s one reason I give parties. Getting to know people. Some of the people look very familiar but I can’t remember anything about them at the moment. I am nervous. The audience began to laugh hysterically after Jane brought up the last slide on the big screen behind her. Holding my breath and closing my eyes, I turn around to see what had gone wrong with the presentation. When I open my eyes, I let out a huge gasp. It’s a baby calendar. “Congrats Radhika, those 2 babies have become yours officially. There they are in the corner. “ I am delighted. I nod. The calendar is a complimentary gift for all the guests. Hi! A fellow waving to me. “Hi! I didn’t get your name ?” “It’s Lucy. And this is my brother Julian. We are new Americans.” “Ah….! Welcome to Stanley, you will like it here. “ “It is a very unusual place.” “Let me introduce you to everyone.” “What do you do?” “At the moment, nothing. We arrived just a month ago. Let me call my other brother and sister Ethan and Olivia. Do you prefer a group introduction or be introduced individually. “ “Individually of course ! We already have a few email addresses with us. “ They are chatty and I listen. I gather they are Australians who have lived in Asia when they were young. Their parents are in the Arab Emirates at the moment. They are looking for an apartment. I mention the rent and they say that’s within their price range. They are all in their early to mid 20’s. Julian is the eldest and looking for a nice American girl friend. I smile. Plenty of girls here. “You can have 10 girl friends if you want to.” I introduce them to a group of my friends and they say fine, we will take over from here. Cool drinks are passed around and I move on. The wind has risen causing the trees to sway on this cool spring morning. The scent of camellias, roses and frangipanis is in the air. Mark brings Matt over and introduces his wife Shawna. Shawna is an actor and gives realistic stage performances. I ask her if she would be interested at performing at one of my parties. She is delighted. Of course her drama company will be paid, I tell her. She says she can think of 2 musicals, 2 comedies and a satire that everybody would be interested in. Plus lessons in acting if anyone is interested. I have been an actor myself and say I would be interested in the lessons. As would be a few friends of mine. I tell her I also write for the local magazine when I have time. I am thinking of booking a well known function hall, which comes with a theatre, for the occasion. The function hall provides entertainment for the kids while the parents are at the theatre. It will only be open to people I know well. I say great! I am all set to host a series of successful parties in the future. I also make good money with my job as a Consultant, besides income from my inheritance. Inheritance is the wrong word to use. It’s a trust fund set up by my grandfather. I have worked hard and smart to reach this position, and now only have to put in a couple of hours a week, some of it from home. I hope to become President in a few years time.

Mark to Caroline. “ We can have a marine park theme on the farm. Yes we can. And grow juicy eggplant in water. No need for manure even. And vegetarian fish.” “Now that’s a new one.” “Yes it is. Everything is vegetarian in this city. We rarely go to the Doctors. The water has health giving properties.” “Will we have time with our jobs”? “Yes we will. It only takes a few minutes to set up. It won’t even take up much space. Did you know Caroline, that Radhika owns the farm?” “That’s wonderful. She is a wonderful lady. Girl I would say. Just 20 and done so much with her life. They tell me the kids here get their Bachelor’s degree by the time they are 7. And finish their education by the time they are 14.” “Yes that’s true. “ “I am thinking of running for the position of Mayor. You know I have dreams of becoming Premier of the State.” Mark grins! “Sure why not! How is your work at the Clinic and Hospital?” “Fine, enjoyable too. I am in the pediatrics department at the moment. “ “Have you distributed the flyers for these gadgets?” “Yes I already have. A team from the hospital is coming over for tomorrow’s demo. The demo runs over 4 weeks, just in case somebody misses out.” “I have also put out flyers for a 1000$ interest free loan available to everyone who needs it. The money will go back to its rightful owner. It’s a win-win situation. The local government is seen as helping people and the owner can tax defer the 1000$ and take it back tax free. Works out cheaper for the government. We call it the 1000$ distribution loan scheme. “ “Just because she asked you for a favor doesn’t mean you have to finance it, too,” Laura growled as she whirled around to confront her husband, Andres. “Don’t get so worked up. Look for an envelope containing 1000$ in the mailbox. You are kicking off the 1000$ dollar free loan scheme. I thought you wanted to be Deputy Mayor. “ “Yes I do. Ok ok! Does she know I am being nominated for Deputy Mayor?” “Yes she does.” “Ok ok! I will go get acquainted with her.” Lunch is being served. The food is great! And in plentiful supply. There is fried rice, a few curries, sub style sandwiches and burgers, fruit salad and lovely to die for mango and chocolate ice cream. There is cake, moist black forest cake and carrot cake and lovely raspberry cheese cake. And a Pavlov. Radhika has allowed the caterers to leave their flyers on a nearby table. She can tell that the get together has been a success. She had been nervous as this was only her second hosting of a party and the first of this type with uncertain numbers. Radhika’s kids with the help of their Dads are arranging the move to the University house. The deal has gone through. Things work pretty fast these days. She has been asked to do nothing. The move will be complete by Wednesday this week. --------------------------------------------- Radhika walks into the house on Wednesday and it’s completely different — furniture, decor, all changed. And nobody’s home. I thought the house comes furnished. She calls up Adrian, one of her cousins. “Oh! That! Did you not know? Yes it comes furnished but to the buyer’s specifications. And we have a voucher redeemable any time in the next ten years. We can change the decor anytime. I hope you liked it! The house is really big but very easy to maintain. No need for a house keeper.” “I have just entered the house. Yes you know my taste quite well. It’s wonderful.” and Radhika thanks him. Aaron has decided to stay on in my farm house. It’s not like I am vacating completely. Plans to use it on weekends. Adrian asks if he can move in. “Sure why not Adrian.” “Thaanks! Radhika. I will bring my things over and move in 4 weeks time. You know my apartment is furnished. If I find a tenant I can vacate earlier.” Radhika gives him Julian’s and Lucy’s phone number. They are sure to like the place and the rent is within their budget. Adrian calls her in 30 minutes. “Moving in tomorrow. Julian‘s family is taking the place. They just saw the place. After all 5 bedroom apartments are hard to find in this town, and that too, so close to amenities. Parking is not a problem if they pay a little extra. “ “Oh! They only have 2 cars at the moment. So it’s not a problem.” “What about paying you rent?” Asks Adrian. “Don’t worry about it. I am just glad I have your company. You have really put your heart and soul into the moving house project.” “Oh it’s nothing. The kids helped. Radhika are you going for the gadget demo the next 3 weeks. I am going and why don’t you come along ? It’s bound to be very interesting.” Radhika agrees to go along. “ It’s at John’s place Sunday Wednesday and Friday evenings. I will drive. Ok!” “Sure ! I am looking forward to your company.” “Adrian , Mark has a 3 month visit to the moon. How about we all go with him.” “It will be fun going on a Rocket – ship. Can you ask him and make arrangements. It is only an 8 hour journey. And the cost is the same as a trip to England.” “Sure.”

Trevor has said he will be with Emily when she baby sits Tani on the nights there are demos. His Uncle John has shown him how to set up the gadgets. “It’s very easy Emily, we can do it together. Takes only a few minutes.”

“Ok Trevor. I have a surprise for you. We can cook dinner together.”

Emily sits down at her computer and writes a thank you note to a friend who gave her onion and garlic-flavored chewing gum. That is going to be the surprise. It tastes great! She also packs the carton of fake cigarettes. -------------------------------------------

“Julian, the city has put together 1 Million as a gift for your family to help you settle here.” “Wow ! A Million ! We will need advice on how to make use of the money. And make a 100 Million out of it. “ “Ok ! Ok! “ Says Matt and laughs. “Thank Shawna and Caroline. It was their idea to come up with the money.” “Someday I will return it.” “No worries! It’s a gift! Every member of the community has been given an appropriate amount to help them in life. Where does the money come from?” “From the local government.“

“Radhika and Aaron are Presidents of the single’s network. Contact her if you need introductions to other singles. They run a whole series of classes for singles. Aaron particularly has time as he does not work at the moment.” “Sure, I will tell my brother and sisters.” Julian’s family owns a Hotel business, actually a chain of international hotels. All the family members have a degree in hotel management. Cash flow is tight at the moment but the hotel chain will start making a huge profit from next year. Lucy is travelling next month to Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand on a business trip. She asks Trisha if anyone is interested in coming with her. She can sure do with the company. Trisha suggests Patricia and Emily. Hotel accommodation will be provided at a discount rate. “Sure why not.” “I will be leaving next month on the 5th. The trip will be a month long.” ”That’s ideal; Emily has time off from University.”

Ethan calls up Aaron and finds out that the singles network is holding a meeting next week. The topics are very interesting. Married life is also discussed. Ethan picks up the pamphlet from Aaron on his way to work. He has found a job at the beach as a life guard. He likes outdoor activity The topics for the singles network are as follows

We are married and ready to adopt children, he can have his own children and I mine. We don’t interfere in the upbringing of each other’s children. Sure why not, 99% of all requests are catered to here in this beautiful land.

What if I want 10 wives and a 100 kids ? I have no family except for a sibling. I am handsome. I want beautiful wives. Sure why not, there are people who don’t mind that. Whatever your eternity equation is. Do you have enough money for that ? Even otherwise we can find suitable partners for you on our dating site. Rita spent much of her days daydreaming and reminiscing about her youth. She often wished she could turn back the clock—and return to the arms of Alec. That’s not her real name. She is looking for a relationship, a guy friend for companionship. He doesn’t have to live with her. She is in her mid 50’s. Topic 4 is about teenage sexuality and sexuality for the single adults. It’s ok to feel. You don’t do it. It’s called Blue Lagoon sexuality. Love and affection – affection is for the singles – how to tell the difference.And use of anchors. Topic 5 is about marrying overseas.

There is a question and answer session afterwards. A call centre will be dealing with that. The call centre also has a help line for people and offers solutions. Ethan is interested and amused ?. This can’t be true. There is only one way of finding out. He asks Aaron if the topics are hypothetical. Wait till Olivia hears about this. No says Aaron, they are serious topics. Is it legal to have more than one partner? Yes it is. These are modern times. It is better than divorce and serial monogamy. Whatever works for you.”

Adrian plans to teach his nieces and nephews cooking on the weekend. “We are making a new kind of sandwich. Come up with ideas.” “Do we have to ?” “No! This shopping catalogue has a wonderful recipe we are trying out. It promises to be the yummiest sandwich ever. “ “Yay! We are looking forward to it.” Adrian is known for his cooking talents. In fact he is good at almost everything. ----------------------------------------- Emily has never seen anything like it. The hotels are great! She can see elephants in the backyard. Real luxury. So much to see and do. And shopping for the nicest summer clothes. She has orders from a lot of the people in Stanley and she plans to make a 10% commission out of it. The hotel has guided tours and Emily books in for them. Safe enough to go alone. She makes friends with some people her own age who are there for about the same time as her. One of them invites her to her apartment in Bangkok. Malaysia is home base and Lucy will be travelling to Bangkok and Singapore from there. Lucy’s trip has been extended by 3 months. Patricia agrees to stay on. The company is paying for accommodation and they are staying in a luxury hotel which has spacious rooms that cater to long term employees. Trevor will be flying in for a short holiday and Emily will be flying back with him. A first time overseas trip for her. She is still not an adult and so has to be chaperoned. Patricia and Lucy hook up with the local community. Patricia has been asked to help out with a new born until the kid’s dad returns home from a week’s trip. Her training as a nurse will come useful. Also an opportunity to see how Americans in Malaysia live. She will be introduced to the locals. She is looking forward to it. Lucy calls home to tell them about the extension of her trip. Olivia answers. So what’s news back home? Guess what! We have a celebrity neighbor. She is lovely. Julian is much taken by her. She appears in commercials. Her name is Xandra. Her celebrity name is Xiang. She is placing a large order to model summer clothes. Tell Emily to send samples in size 14. She is 5 feet 6 inches tall. So regular pant size. Mild alterations can be made here. I have already given her Emily’s website to be advertised. Send petite sizes and samples in other sizes too. Also baby clothes. Radhika’s kids can model them. They will sell like hot cakes here. Ethan has offered to handle her photo shoot.

Emily is excited at the news. Trevor has just arrived and they have decided to go into a partnership. Wait till mom hears about it. We must include her in the partnership. She has an eye for fashion and she used to work for an alteration company. She has contacts with the companies. Xiang knows a shoe company and she can model the shoes to go with the outfit. They are the best quality, at affordable prices and comfortable and fashionable too. Ethan is much smitten by Xiang. He asks if she has a sister for Julian. As a matter of fact, I have a twin sister. Julian is out with her right now ? Her name is Fong. You must have mistaken her for me when you visited last. We look alike but have totally different personalities. Easy to tell us apart. “Are you Asian?” “Na! My parents like all things oriental.” “Is that so! Phew I am relieved. Is it ok if I kiss you then? “ Xiang giggles –“why not! Let’s give it a try.” “What does your sister do?” “ She models, just like I do. But her passion is art. We are planning to run modelling classes starting next week, if we have the numbers.” “I will broadcast and advertise. Everybody in this town is rich and always looking for something to do. If you are new here and poor, all you have to show is a willingness to work and you are guided. In no time at all you become rich. Just like us, you will be getting a cash gift to start you off. “ “Really?” “Yes. Not that you need it, but ok, it’s a gift you can’t refuse.” ------------------------------------------------

Matt to Shawna “Look I have won the price. You know the free entry for paying our bills on time. My entry won 2nd price. I have been offered to live for free on a Hawaiian island for a year. I can bring 150 people with me. If I like it, I may even get an opportunity to buy the island with a few of my friends. Another 100 who pay a discount price for accommodation and can stay as long as they like, not exceeding a year. We will be able to mingle with the locals there. Maybe we can bring some of the concepts of island living to Stanley.” Shawna is ecstatic. “It will be adventurous and fun. Apparently there is a lot one can do there. “ “Are you up to wearing grass skirt”s ? “Sure why not !” This mail here says we don’t have to pack anything. Everything is provided.” “Let’s look at our list of people.” “You know I have only 10 family members. You can invite up to 140 of your closest family. “ “I have already made a list. Here are the numbers. People both of us like.” “That’s great! We will still have 56 places left over for close friends like Mark after inviting family. “ “When do we leave? We can take up the offer anytime in the next 12 months. “ “That gives me time to get my Drama performances out of the way. How about I transfer some of my work to someone else. I can work overtime for 2 weeks and that way, we can leave early.” “They have beautiful exotic marine creatures there. All made of a kind of plastic. It will be totally safe, all adventure, no adventure. And the most exotic flowers and fruits and vegetables.” “What is the catch?” “We will be in a tele film and that will be used to market the place as a tourist spot and some commercials.” “Easy work?” “Yes! We will get paid.” “How much?” Matt names a price. “Wow! That much?” “Yes.” “Let me get some tips from Xiang on modelling. Maybe we can induce her to come along with us. Caroline used to be Ms Universe. We can invite her too to take part. She is also a Doctor.” “We will be the only people there besides some locals and island staff. It will be totally safe.” “2 trips to the mainland are allowed – 4 weeks at a time. Accommodation paid.” “What do we do about the farm house. We can sublet it with Radhika’s permission for a year. I am sure she won’t mind. Let’s invite her too. She has become a good friend. Apparently Aaron’s family is moving here and they may be willing to take up the offer for a reduced rent. We can keep one room for our belongings.” “Look at this video. This hermit crab has become a crab on land and then a turtle. Look at the transformation.” “How wonderful. And this turtle is laying eggs. We can make beautiful vegetarian omelettes with it. The eggs are buried in the sand and we just go harvest it.” “You are sure it’s vegetarian.” “Positive. Look apparently they taste of coconut. Can be eaten raw too.” “Plenty of coconut and palm fruit. “ “Yes.” Matt says “I am in charge of writing the script for the telefilm. An example is one of the character's boss invites her and her husband to dinner. Your character wants to make a good impression, but her husband has a tendency to drink too much and say exactly what's on his mind.”

“How does that sound?” “Interesting and hilarious. I can imagine a few scenarios. You don’t have to elaborate?”

“No, I give the ideas and the director and producer take it from there.”

“The character notices that a stranger is following him. He pretends not to notice. The stranger follows him home and watches him go inside. Then when he leaves, the character turns the tables and starts to follow him....Turns out to be a local kid”

“Malays in Canada. How they deal with the cold after their tropical climate.”

“Nature of the household. Examines the efforts the parties have made to physically separate themselves within the household and to live independently of the other. Important indicators to consider are: • Whether the parties share living spaces such as bedrooms, bathrooms and other living areas. • Where the property is rented, whether one party is now regarded as a boarder/sharer. • Whether the parties do their own shopping, cooking, cleaning, household maintenance and gardening or have a roster/agreement similar to a share household. Joint responsibility for children. In ‘separated under one roof' cases, the care and support provided by parents may not be an accurate indicator that a member of a couple relationship exists. The social aspects of the relationship take into account how the parties demonstrate that they are no longer a couple and live separate lives.” “3 sisters trying to find mates. How to find a fellow who is exclusive to one of them. What if all 3 like the same fellow.” “This hotel is the creepiest place he's ever seen. Why is it so creepy? Because its middle of the night. Wait till 2am. The hotel staff will start moving around. And arrivals and departures from and to the airport. Go to lounge midnight. Plenty of people there. Create the atmosphere. According to the hotel's policy, the character pays in advance for the night. Then he goes up to his room, and things get even creepier. Music turns on. The lights turn on but not too bright. The fridge door opens by itself to display a variety of foods and drinks, all complements of the house. First trip on official work. Travel after midnight. The former hospital, now turned hotel, gives you a ride to your destination and back to the hotel. People work at night when its cooler in summer. Everything is scaled down during the day and everyone stays indoors. Emergency services are available in every suburb. How? Show us. Your character wants to leave the place but tells himself he's being irrational. He's already paid for the room, and he tells himself everything will be fine. He is here for 12 weeks and likely longer. He calls the hotel staff and asks them to explain. He asks if someone can stay in the room with him. A beautiful local girl comes in. Your’s Sir for the next 12 weeks, says the Manager with a grin. Your Boss is a good friend of mine. They show him how the room works. It still takes a little getting used to. The room temperature adjusts to a comfortable level. He doesn’t have to do anything. You can use the swimming pool even if you don’t know how to swim. This girl will sleep on the bed in the adjacent room. Just press this buzzer if you need anything. He has no one in his life. He ends up marrying the girl, in a local ritualistic wedding with much fan fare. The wedding is attended by all the hotel guests and locals.“ “A family has moved to a new town. It looks deserted. Summer holidays, all the migrants and locals, skip town to visit family. They have to help with local jobs. They worry about an overload of work, even though the money is good. The jobs come with a complete 4 weeks stay in the hospital, all free of cost and child care is provided, at a nominal cost, which is not even necessary. It is totally safe for kids to move around.” “Pets that talk and dream.” “I will be able come up with 25 ideas by the time we leave. I can write the rest on the island, in my free time. I will have plenty of time there. I need to come up with 50 ideas in total. We are being paid to come up with the list of people. Make sure everyone who is coming attends acting classes and modeling classes. We will have a top up course on the island Emily can do her practicals on her fashion design course 8 month project on the island. Emily is Matt’s cousin. University in country towns is very flexible. The schedule, time table and venue keeps changing. She can sign up for other courses too. An Australian theme park and hotel on the island is being considered. “

Shawna is reading the mail. “Sure will. I will get to it straightaway. We will know the numbers by tomorrow. We also have to come up with a paid team that plans work and activity for everyone who accompanies us. Apparently the hotels and houses need no cleaning at all. I am amused and intrigued. We can use that here. You know how we both want house maintenance to be easier, especially a large farm house. Also harnessing the sun’s energy, even on a cloudy day.” “New email has just arrived. Guess who is director and producer for the film? Katherine Dekoning! The famous actress turned director / producer.” She is asking if you can come up with the 50 ideas in 4 weeks time. Her profile says she is 32, born 20-8-1984. An Aries. Very straightforward but polite. She wants to finish her work and hand it over to the team by the time she arrives there and take a holiday. She is arriving there in 4 months time. She hopes we will be ready to be there in 5 months. ” “If I work overtime I can. No worries. Where did that paper go? I had ten more ideas scribbled on it. Say yes to the 5 months.” Olivia has contacted her uncle and aunt and they are flying over to be advisers for the Australian theme park. Aaron’s family is large and they are prepared to rent out 40 houses. They are moving permanently to Stanley. They have plenty of land here and that will give them time to build homes for themselves. When did you get more ideas?” “This morning. By the way the name and exact location of the island is undisclosed for security reasons. Let’s call it the Hawaiian island. The island is 1000 miles square in area. There is an excellent school for kids though for University, you have to go to a different island. There are underwater caves.”

----------------------------------------------------------------------- Getting a nice hot breakfast in bed, daily, all these years, has been wonderful. Except when you live alone, who's making it, wonders Aaron. He can smell it in his bedroom, grilled spinach and mushrooms , onion and tomato and egg and garlic. Of late he has been making it himself. Radhika used to take care of these things. He decides to get up early and find out. It turns out to be his niece. “I have flown in early. The rest of the family will fly in when the farm house next door becomes vacant. I understand we can get 40 houses for rent. Rent is real affordable too. We know breakfast in bed is your one indulgence. ”

“News travels fast. In this day and time, yes it does. My dad and cousin are flying in next week. They will stay here permanently. “

“Wonderful! I was beginning to feel lonely. So used to having Radhika and the kids all these years. Besides they are going away for a year to a Hawaiian island, so this house will be empty. We also have Radhika’s luxury houe while she is away. A wonderful chance to see everyone.”

“You aren’t going ?”

“No ! My house is luxury itself and you already know I have had an acting career. I can model and appear in commercials here itself. It’s for the young. I have lived in fancy luxury hotels. I have ordered a carton of the plastic marine plants and fruits, veggies and creatures for us.”

“ Wonderful!”

“Do you want to go? I can pull a few strings. The telefilm theme is ‘A world where Hawaii conquered the rest of the US. ‘ ?.”

“No! I am content here! I need help with my geography homework. Can you help?”

“Yes. For starters our world is big. Occupies half the globe. The other half of the globe has other countries. All the countries are accessible by land. The USA is down to 13 states again. Thanks for the breakfast.”

The phone rings.

“Hi!”

“Am I speaking to Aaron?”

“Yes you are.” “I have fallen in love with a woman I see in my dreams. I know exactly what I want. Can you find such a lady for me? I understand the singles network caters to most requests.”

“Yes it does! Send an email to my email address with all the details and I will find you more than one lady in a month’s time. You can date them and chose one of them.”

“Gee! Thanks a lot! ” ------------------------------------------- An old man Bradley, sitting in a rickety wooden chair, fishing through a hole in the ice on a frozen lake. A loud cracking sound reverberates across the lake’s surface, and he feels the ice shift beneath him. He scurries, but the hole expands too quickly, and he goes into the icy water. The water is surprisingly warm. It turns out to be a hot water spring.

“Welcome to our hot springs”, says Mason. My wife and I run this place.

“Ice and frozen lakes in summer?” “Yes wonderful isn’t it? All your body aches will be gone by the time you get out. You will be like a 35 year old. You don’t have to die. You move from one wonderful life to another. “

“Wonderful. Do you have accommodation too?” “Yes we do. I will book a cottage for you. The hot springs come with the accommodation. You don’t have to pay extra” . Do you know my son Aaron? I am alone, never married. Adopted Aaron.”

“I know everyone in this town. We have limited cooking facilities here. We eat out weekdays and are invited to plenty of home cooked meals on weekends with plenty left over for the first few days of the week. We make do with frozen dinners. Food is not a problem. Feel free to come with us. You will also get a chance to meet the locals. We can do long term accommodation for you if you like it here. We will work out how much paying guest accommodation costs.”

“I think I will take you up on the offer. How far is Aaron’s place from here?”

“A kilometre. You can comfortably walk to his place. Even otherwise we can energise you to and from Aaron’s house. All you have to do is enter the glass elevator and type in the address once.” I will introduce you to the other guests tomorrow. We have a doctor living next door, if you need anything. No one goes to Hospital here.”

Next morning, Bradley looks around and can’t find his coat. He sees people having breakfast by the pool and approaches them.

“ Why don’t you join us?”

“Ok”.Has anyone seen my coat.”

“This one? Mason’s wife Hana probably put it out to dry. It’s a beauty.”

“Yes it is. I can wear it all year around. I have 3 of them.”

“Where did you get them.”

“I mail order and they make it to specification for an extra 10 bucks. They have a tailoring outlet in the City of Banff!”

“Where is this City of Banff?”

“ Oh! About 5 Kilometres from here. It is on the old Mandurah road.”

“ That’s all ! How come we haven’t heard about it.?”

“Its private estate. It’s off limits. You need a pass to enter it. It is a beautiful place, but very different from Stanley. We should visit the tavern there some day. What are you folks doing after breakfast?”

“ We are becoming tech savvy. It is compulsory if you want to live here. The course is free. Why don’t you come with us and we will show you the ropes. It will only take an hour and then you can visit Aaron. Maybe we can all visit him. Tell him we are coming for lunch.?”

“Sure! My friends are his friends too! He has a new cook, so it should be no trouble at all.”

“Teagor winks! We will get along fine. They are having a picnic in the woods next week. Cabins, camp fire and all. It will be a lot of fun. We can hire tents there. All my family lives in Stanley. I am on my way there. I haven’t seen them in a while. I have 24 family members who look a lot like me.” He grins. “No one will marry us for that reason! The Doctor next door is my class mate from high school. We will go meet him after the tech course.”

“By the way, won’t it be dark when we camp? “

“Yes, but there is lighting and a full moon on that day. Those who don’t want to camp outside, can camp indoors and sleep in a loft overlooking the night sky. You can see the Milky way as the moon doesn’t rise till midnight. It is an experience not to be missed.”

“Nice vehicle you have there.”

Teagor to Bradley, “Yes it’s great for a road trip. Comes with an RV.”

“What is an RV?”

“A motor home.”

“Ah...! Sell it to me.”

“No! Here is the address. You can buy one from there. Or better still come with me. I am planning a short 3 day road trip next month.”

------------------------------------------------------------

6 months later,

“The place seems empty with so many people away in Hawaii!”

“Yes it does, doesn’t it!”

“Aaron’s family is moving in next week.”

“Aaron’s order for plastic creatures has come in. They have to be trained and you can even get a talking dog if you understand it’s body language and barks. The advantage is they will never die. You know real creatures don’t exist. The ecosystem has been made by man. The turtle will also be an attraction. Only one sample. It’s not for sale. We can display it in our water fountain. Along with the frogs.”

----------------------THE END-----------------------------

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