THE BLUE DOVE#1: The Advocate Strikes! Part Three
The limousine slowly pulled into the parking lot of First John Entertainment Productions. The parking lots were full of vehicles and people were hurrying about on their way to work. The parking lots were once World War II Army Air Force air-fields, used for training pilots who ultimately would serve in the European theater. A few of the worn, barrack buildings still remained, while others had been reconstructed into sound studios. The complex itself was fairly large. The main buildings had been converted into a state junior college campus back in the 1970s. Closed by the state of Florida in the 1990s due to declining enrollment, the campus had sat vacant for nearly 15 years, before becoming the brain child of Ted Blake and his vision for a Christian entertainment company which would reach billions around the world via music, movies, internet, television and publishing. The company had grown quickly and had placed its footprint in all areas of media and entertainment.
Anthony Blake and Gabriel exited the limousine and entered the main building. A beautiful fountain gushed outside with a revolving world globe in the center. Anthony hardly gave it a glance.
“Good morning, Ms. Anderson,” Anthony politely said.
“Good morning, Mr. Blake,” the receptionist answered. She pressed a button on her phone. “Mr. Foster, I’m happy to say that Mr. Blake and Gabriel have arrived. They are on their way up to conference room G.”
Behind her desk, there was a huge plaque in gold letters which read, “Our Philosophy is Simple: Love God, Love Your Neighbor. It’s in Everything We Do.” Anthony mouthed the words quietly to himself and rolled his eyes.
They boarded the elevator. Gabriel pressed the third floor button.
“Try to be on your best behavior,” he quipped.
“I got a little over 3 hours sleep and you wouldn’t even let me get a latte at the coffee shop,” Anthony reminded him. “I’ll do my absolute best.”
The elevator began to rise.
“When he talks, my mind just seems to tune out,” Anthony said. “I don’t trust him. He wants to know too much.”
“Your father trusted him,” Gabriel reminded him.
“My father wasn’t God,” Anthony shot back.
The elevator doors opened and they proceeded down the hallway.
“Becoming a believer again?” Gabriel asked. “I haven’t heard you mention God in over a year.”
Anthony shrugged. “Don’t push it. Who knows? Maybe I will surprise you someday.”
The two entered a conference room. Anthony jumped into a chair, leaned back and put his feet up on the long, mahogany table.
“Let’s get this started,” he said, folding his hands behind his head. “Mr. Foster!”
A short, bald man wearing glasses entered the room. He was dressed in a three piece suit and carrying a stack of folders. It was quite a contrast to Anthony’s t-shirt and blue jeans. Mr. Foster deposited the folders onto the table.
“Mr. Blake, you really must take a greater interest in the company’s projects,” Mr. Foster began. Anthony stared off into space. “Mr. Blake, are you even listening to me?”
Anthony stood with his back to the conference table. He gazed out the window.
“Have you ever been sailboat racing, Mr. Foster?” Anthony asked.
“No. Actually I haven’t,” he replied. “Some of us are too busy trying to run a multi-million dollar entertainment enterprise to have such time for extracurricular activities.”
“There’s something about that wind blowing through your hair,” Anthony continued. “That sense of freedom. Oh, sorry. Maybe you wouldn’t understand that wind blowing through your hair thing.”
Mr. Foster ran his hand across his bald head.
“This is serious, Mr. Blake,” he said. “I was there when your father started this company with nothing in his basement. We’re talking about your family legacy. Gabriel, please help me out here.”
Gabriel walked over and placed his hand on Anthony’s shoulder. “Maybe you should hear the man out,” Gabriel said.
Anthony nodded. He turned and sat back down at the table, propping his feet up. He began thumbing through one of the folders. “Alright. What you got?”
“Finally,” Mr. Foster sighed. “Currently, we have twenty feature films or programs in production.”
“Yeah, yeah,” Anthony said, tossing the folder down. “I know all that already. 42 million in total production costs, projected revenues of 100 to 400 million dollars. Ten percent increase in overall operating expenses year to date. We hired 25 new employees last month. We’re changing our health care coverage plans from 5 to 3 starting next year. Mr. Foster, I am well aware of what is going on in this company.”
“We have new initiatives,” Mr. Foster gasped.
“Five television pilots, two new web series, the music label needs a shakeup in management and we’re in negotiations to acquire a small, publishing house,” Anthony responded. “By the way, did you get that list of local bands we should con-sider signing? I emailed them over last week. Natalee really loved that one band.”
“I did. We’re talking to some of them now.”
“This company is fiscally healthy,” Anthony said. “And we are growing. I intend to keep it that way. I like the money. I like the lifestyle. Maybe I’m not so hot on the mission, but who cares? So Mr. Foster, I only get so long before I have to be at school. But, don’t you or any other director in this organization think I’m not protecting my family’s legacy. And no, the company is not going public. Is there anything else?”
“There is a project in north Africa,” Mr. Foster said. “It is a documentary on first century Christian architecture. It moves to Jerusalem next month for completion.”
“Wait a second!” Anthony shot back. “I didn’t approve any filming in Israel. You know my policy on that.”
“Anthony,” Gabriel calmly said. “Remember, we’re hearing him out.”
“It’s been two years, Mr. Blake, since the tragedy,” Mr. Foster replied. “All projects in the Holy Land have been resumed. This is a Christian company. We need to have access to the holy sites.”
“It’s evolving into a mass media organization,” Anthony grumbled. “Let’s leave the Christian part out of it.”
“So what’s the issue?” Gabriel asked.
“It’s running over budget by several hundreds of thousands of dollars,” Mr. Foster re-marked. “It’s only a crew of ten people. It seems excessive for such a small project. Perhaps we should send some advisors over to check them out. Perhaps even yourself.”
“That isn’t going to happen,” Anthony replied as he rose from the table. “I got homecoming coming up. But, we’ll look into it. Thank you for the updates, Mr. Foster.”
“You are very welcome, Mr. Blake,” he replied. “It was nice to see you two again. Anthony and Gabriel, enjoy your day.”
Gabriel nodded as Mr. Foster exited the room. Anthony walked over to the window.
“He knows about our team going to Jerusalem,” Anthony said.
“He is meticulous,” Gabriel answered. “We may need to make some adjustments to our time table over there.”
“Let’s not worry too much about Mr. Foster,” Anthony commented. “You better get me to school. I wouldn’t want to be tardy.”
The cheerleading squad of West Border High School was trying to build a human pyramid in the gymnasium with little success. The two remaining girls started the climb up their classmates. They got to the top and began positioning themselves.
“Come on!” a cheerleader, who was standing near the bleachers, called out. “Get your buns up there!”
Natalee Bennett was picturesque like a statue, beautiful and popular. She was tan, had flowing red hair and her figure was perfectly proportioned. Her family enjoyed status in the community. She was the daughter of prominent and wealthy mega church pastors. She had two older siblings, both of whom had graduated from West Border High School, and had enjoyed successful high school careers in athletics before heading off to colleges on the West Coast. Natalee had dominated the cheerleading squad since her freshman year when she successfully became the only underclassman in school history to lead the squad to a state championship.
The pyramid wobbled for a moment and collapsed to the floor in a wave of human arms and legs.
“Ouch,” Natalee gasped to herself. “That looks like it probably hurt.”
Anthony entered the gymnasium carrying two boxes. He immediately started to make his way toward the bleachers.
“Just because the football team is 0-5, doesn’t mean you all have to be too!” Natalee called out, clapping her hands. “It’s homecoming, people! Show some spirit! Show some pride! And don’t embarrass me!”
The cheerleading squad crawled and hob-bled off to the locker rooms.
“Losers,” Natalee whispered.
Anthony placed the boxes down.
“So where were you last night, sweetheart?” Natalee said. She kissed him on the cheek.
“I was sleeping. I was really tired.”
“That’s certainly more plausible than out on a date,” Natalee answered. She laughed. “I mean, seriously. You, out on a date with a supermodel.”
Natalee began rummaging through the boxes. A look of disgust crossed her face.
“Anthony, I mean, seriously?” she said. Natalee held up some of the paper decorations. “You got decorations from the local Discount City party goods department? You would think a guy who inherited a movie studio could do a little better than that. You do realize how you manage to get elected to all these school committees, don’t you?”
“My charm and good looks?” Anthony replied.
“Sure. Right. You keep on believing that line, handsome,” Natalee answered. She dug through more of the items in the boxes. “I mean, I realize it’s only Coastal City we’re playing and that’s a sure “W” in our column, but it is the homecoming dance. We’re putting a float in the parade and renting out the premiere Atlantic Oceanfront Resort for our after game festivities. Not to mention that yours truly is in the homecoming court.”
“Do they really just put me on school committees because I have money?” Anthony asked.
“Of course not sweetheart,” Natalee sarcastically replied. She gave him a quick kiss. “Mostly because of your money, they are superficial like that, but also because you’re dating me.”
“Which reminds me,” Natalee continued. She ran her fingers through his hair. “Two things. First, communication is key to any relationship so don’t go to bed early because you miss my texts. Second, getting more sleep isn’t working for you. You look like a wreck.”
“If they like my money so much, why wasn’t I nominated to be homecoming king? You’re going to be homecoming queen.”
“They like renting out the Atlantic Oceanfront Resort for homecoming parties. I never said they liked you,” Natalee answered. “Money and popularity, Anthony, are two completely different things. But, let’s make this easy, can’t we? You just give me your credit card and I’ll take care of the decorations.”
“What about these things I already bought?” Anthony asked. He reached into his back pocket and removed his wallet. He handed Natalee a credit card.
“I’ll drop them off at that Saint Veronica Catholic School on my way to the mall,” she said. “Maybe the inner city kids can use them for their art club or something. Look at the bright side, you get a tax deduction for them.”
“Aren’t you glad we’re not superficial like them, Natalee?” Anthony remarked.
Natalee took the boxes of decorations and began walking away.
“I don’t know if we are or not,” she answered. “And I don’t really care. See you at lunch, bunny boy!”
Natalee blew him a kiss and walked out the gymnasium doors.
THE ADVENTURE CONTINUES..........