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    C James
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Changing Lanes - 52. Epilogue


Epilogue


 



 

 

 

It had been a trying six months, time passing in a whirlwind of activity. Two weeks after their return from Israel, Eric and Brandon had organized a biker funeral for Jim and Linda, where Eric had introduced Mad Mike and his bikers to Jansen and Keith. Then, taking Mad Mike aside, Eric had made him a business offer: full employment on generous terms for himself and his entire club. The money was not an issue; Helen and the band had set aside the extra five million the Israelis had provided, intending to use it for things Jim would have wanted.

Three days later, Brian had asked Keith to accompany him on a trip he knew he had to make, and a few days later, Brian and Keith had stood in the rain in Arlington National Cemetery, to pay their private respects to Private Earl Johnson. That night, Brian told Keith that, although he’d decided to stay in the Marine Corps, he’d confirmed that he would be posted at Camp Pendleton, which wasn’t too far from the site of Carlisle’s, and living off base. That conversation led, somewhat later, to another, and a month after Private Johnson’s funeral, Brian and Keith moved into their new apartment.

Instinct, due to the massive publicity resulting from La Palma, found itself in greater demand than ever before. For Eric, Jansen, and Keith, their lives revolved around the demands of Instinct’s touring schedule, and supervising the remodeling of the building they’d picked for their club.

Like any construction project, this one had a few snags, but eventually, the huge north and south halls – each capable of seating over five hundred people – took shape, and the rest of the club soon followed.

Phil Breslin, a very recent winner of the Pulitzer Prize for his recent series that had rocked Washington in a way not seen since Watergate, found himself, due to Helen’s promise, with an inside scoop on the club’s grand opening. Entertainment was no longer his beat – his most recent story had been on the fall of the Iranian regime – but he took the story anyway due to Instinct’s role in the events that had given him his Pulitzer. His byline helped boost the already growing interest in Carlisle’s impending grand opening.

The Scar's shattered and rotting corpse, recovered from an ash-covered rocky field on La Palma, had laid to rest any lingering doubt regarding his involvement in the events on the island.

 

 

One other thing changed for Eric; his relationship with tequila. On rare occasions, when it was just the two of them, and Jansen had locked the doors of their house from the inside and hidden the keys, Jansen and Eric would enjoy a little tequila. With no one stressing out on him, Eric could be himself and have the purest form of fun, and most times he was not the terror he once had been. In Jansen, he had found his soulmate.

 

 

Opening day for the club was near at hand. Keith, after a day’s scouting to fill the few remaining staff positions, walked into the club office to tell Eric and Jansen some news. “We’ve got a problem. Remember our old boss from the strip club, George Tankardsly? Seems that either he, or more likely the owners of our old club, don’t like the idea of dancers starting up competing clubs, or hiring away their potential employees, especially at higher wages. Anyway, one of my friends gave me a heads-up; George, plus a bouncer, is planning on attending our pre-grand-opening open house and pushing for a cut of our business. Expect some threats, subtle or otherwise.”

Eric nodded casually. “Sending a bouncer to scare us, huh?” Eric thumbed the intercom and said, “Horst? Could you come in here please?”

Moments later, Horst marched in the door, saluted, and asked, “You sent for me, Herr Eric?”

Eric rolled his eyes. “Horst, please, just call me Eric, not Herr Eric, and no saluting.”

“Your wish is my command, Herr Eric,” Horst replied, and snapped off a crisp salute.

Eric glared at Jansen and Keith, who were snickering loudly. “I know you guys put him up to this…” Returning his attention to Horst, the club’s chief of security, Eric explained the situation.

Horst’s expression changed in an instant, and his smile vanished. “My force here is ten men, including five of Felecia’s former troops. However, two are away on vacation. I need no help to handle one man and a bouncer, but I think it would be advisable to put an end to this threat, not merely deter it. I can think of two ways of doing so…” Horst explained his plans.

Eric shook his head. “Forget the flying lesson, please. I’d prefer to handle this legally. Let’s go with plan B.”

That night, the club, which they had christened Carlisle’s, opened its doors to the public for the first time. The open house served two functions: a training run for the staff, and a PR event to build up a buzz for the grand opening.

Most things went well, and the club was soon filled to capacity. Still, it was frantic for the three owners, who had to dash about, handling countless small problems that appeared. Two hours into their first night, Jansen spotted the familiar face of George Tankardsly, accompanied by two very large men, heading for the bar in the north hall. He pointed George out to Horst and said, “That’s him, and he’s brought two goons.”

Horst made a few calls on his cell phone, and then on a walkie-talkie. With that done, he followed along, a few paces behind, as Eric strolled down to meet George at the bar.

George had just finished telling the bartender that he needed to speak to the owners when Eric said from a few paces to his side, “One of ‘em would be me. What can I do for you?”

George glanced pointedly at his two heavily muscled men before saying, “We need to talk to you, alone. I must insist on it.”

Eric shrugged. “Whatever. Follow me; I’m heading outside for some air anyway.”

When George, flanked by his bouncers, followed Eric out of a side door into the parking lot, he found Eric leaning up against a wall, apparently unconcerned. George pointed at the two bouncers to emphasize the implied threat and said, “I’ll get down to business. You’ve hired Jansen and Keith, and if they are going to work in this town, unless you want trouble, we’re going to cut a little deal–”

Eric smiled at George. “Trouble? I don’t think you know much about trouble, yet. Let me introduce you to a few people.” On cue, General Bradson and Felecia emerged from the shadows. George blinked in recognition; they’d been all over the news programs. Eric nodded happily. “Good, I see you recognize them. The General and Felecia, who haven’t nuked anybody lately, are Instinct’s co-heads of security. However, this club is owned by Jansen, Keith, and me, as equal partners, so let me introduce our head of security, Horst.” George’s eyes grew a little wider as Horst, accompanied by eight armed, uniformed men, emerged from the club door.

Holding up his hands, George said, “Wait, okay, forget it, I’m out of here–”

“Not so fast,” Jansen said, as he and Keith followed Horst’s men into the parking lot to face George. “Nice to see you again, George. This visit wasn’t a good idea on your part.”

Jansen nodded to Horst, who said one word into his walkie-talkie. “Now.”

The growling roar of Harley engines turning over echoed through the night, first just a few, and then dozens. Then, with Mad Mike in the lead, he and thirty bikers, some swinging chains, began to circle. Above the roar, Eric yelled, “This is just a taste of what we can put together at short notice. You really don’t know what you’re messing with here. If you ever bother us again, you and your bosses will find out just what we’re capable of. You’ve got ten seconds to get off our property.”

Flanked by half a dozen Harley-mounted bikers, George and his two men began to run. The message was received, loud and clear; Carlisle’s would not be bothered again.

“There is much to be said for an overwhelming show of force,” General Bradson said, with a strong note of approval. Then, joined by his co-head of Instinct’s security, Felecia, he went inside for a drink.

Once the doors had finally closed for the night, Eric shook his head and wiped his brow. “That was hectic, but a good hectic. I think we’ll do okay.”

Jansen put his arm around Eric. “Yeah, now all we’ve got is the wedding reception here in the afternoon, followed by opening night.”

Eric rolled his eyes. “Yeah, I can’t believe Mom’s getting married and holding the reception here. That was a shock. It’s all been so fast; François only popped the question last week.”

Jansen nodded in agreement. “Yeah, it’s been a rush in a lot of ways, but we’ll pull it together. The club staff should be able to handle a wedding reception, no problem. Look at the bright side; if anything goes wrong, we can always blame Keither.”

“I heard that!” Keith yelled from another room.

“Strippers,” Eric said, rolling his eyes towards the ceiling shrugging shoulders.

Keith entered the room as he and Jansen shouted in unison, “That’s exotic dancers, you ass!” The laughter went a long way towards easing their opening-day jitters.

The wedding ceremony for Jane and François was held at a local church. François had surprised both Jane and himself with his spontaneous proposal, but it had come from the heart.

After the wedding, the newlyweds, plus over one hundred guests, descended on Carlisle’s for the reception. The wedding guests included all of Instinct’s official family and more than two dozen of François’ mercenary friends, thus making it a reunion for most of Felecia’s force.

Carlisle’s could seat nearly five hundred people in each of its two main halls, so space was not an issue. Keeping the freewheeling mercenaries from overindulging in the open bar proved to be harder.

The party dragged on, well past what they’d planned, and Eric began nervously eying the clock. The lines for opening night had already begun to form, and it looked like the wedding party was staying for the show.

An hour later, for the first time of many throughout the coming years, Eric took the stage to a round of thunderous applause. Using the one move he knew, he executed a smooth sidestep as he whipped his shirt off with one hand. Then picking up the microphone, he waited a few long moments for the applause to die down. “Welcome to the grand opening of Carlisle’s,” Eric said, as countless camera flashes dazzled him. “We’ve got three bands lined up for you tonight, starting with Instinct. Later, we have exotic dancers for your enjoyment. The ladies will be performing in the south hall and the guys will be doing their thing right here.”

Brian, sitting in the front row, joined in the thunderous applause. Except for a few very private demonstrations, he’d never seen his boyfriend’s act. He hoped he could talk Keith into a private encore when they got back to their apartment…

 

 

Backstage, Jansen and Keith waited, listening to the applause. Eric bounded in off the stage and gave his business partners a wild hug.

Sometimes, dreams die the hardest deaths of all. But on those rare and ephemeral other times, when fickle fate is kind, dreams proffer unto those rare and lucky few the greatest life of all.

They could not know it, not then, but fate would prove indeed kind, then and in the years ahead, giving life unto their dreams….





 

© 2009 C James

Please let me know what you think; good, bad, or indifferent.

Please give me feedback, and please don’t be shy if you want to criticize! The feedback thread for this story is in my Forum. Please stop by and say "Hi!"

 



 



Many thanks to my editor EMoe for editing and for his support, encouragement, beta reading, and suggestions.

Special thanks to Graeme, for beta-reading and advice.

A big "thank you" to to Bondwriter for final Zeta-reading and advice , and to Captain Rick and Talonrider for Beta reading and advice . Special thanks to MikeL for advice

I hereby dedicate this story to my friend Wildone, who has suffered a horrific accident, but due to his strength, perseverance, and courage has pulled through and is recovering. I wish you a continued speedy recovery, Wildone.

Any remaining errors are mine alone.


Copyright © 2009 C James; All Rights Reserved.
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All I can say is one big WOW!!!

Dude you have written a story that itself should win a Pulitzer prize.

Well done on this and all your other stories, you have me glued to each coming chapter as soon as they come online.

Congratulations

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Just a sincere big thank you.. It ranks right up close to Circumnavigation, but I don't think anything can rival Trevor's single-handed battle against the Indian Ocean. Now I'll just sit back and patiently wait for the next epic.

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I was on my own adventure sailing to Spain and back when you wrote these two stories and missed them first time around. So very glad you republished. You build characters that come alive in places, often off the beaten track, that you give intimate detail on. Further you bring knowledge and detail that makes improbable fantastical situations believable. Kudos.

I hope you haven't just been galavanting about gathering background info and avoiding all our weather events but have been pumping out a new adventure. However thanks so much for all the work You and your Team does on these thrillers.

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Thank you so much for this wonderful story, it was so well written and had me hanging on almost every word. Im sad now though, as there will be no more nightly get together s with with Chase, Jon. Eric. Brandon, Keith, Jansen and the list goes on and on......I so enjoyed reading about them and their adventures ......Im bummed its over :(

 

Thanks for taking the time to tell this tale

 

Bob

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HEA's for the good guys and justice for the baddie; I guess it all worked out :*). Glad they confirmed Jerry Clump is dead for real real this time. Thanks.

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FANTASTIC story, CJ!!!!

Everyone got their happily ever afters. Loved that Jane married Francois! Lucky lady! lol

 

But...what about the General and Felecea? There was no mention of them...unless I missed it. I better go back and check. lol

 

I'm so sorry to see this story come to an end. I have enjoyed it from the first words of "Let the Music Play" to the last words of this epilogue. You are such a talented and entertaining writer, CJ.

 

I look forward to reading more awesome stories from you. :)

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I'm so happy I found this story. It and the prequel was absolutely brilliant. I know it's been a while, but might we expect Jon's story in the future? Great writing.

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Well I have read Let the Music Play and Changing Lanes and through it all I just had to keep going, just one word come to mind AWESOME.

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2 of the  best stories I have ever read. The characters are all so good, the ups and downs of the story arc was amazing.

Feel  free to revisit the cast again if you can. 
 

John Russell

Columbus Ohio

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On ‎3‎/‎21‎/‎2014 at 12:17 PM, stanollie said:

Just a sincere big thank you.. It ranks right up close to Circumnavigation, but I don't think anything can rival Trevor's single-handed battle against the Indian Ocean. Now I'll just sit back and patiently wait for the next epic.

Stanollie, I agree. I was going to make a very similar comment myself if you had not already done it. Circumnavigation is still my favorite of all stories I have read on GA and that is saying a lot, because there are a lot of amazing writers and stories on this site. But this one and Let the Music Play are very close in running with Circumnavigation. I just hope this isn't the last of the great work posted from C James on this site. Or if anyone knows where he might be post now please let me know.

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